Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Trust Not in Deceptive Words": The Prophets and Worship

Third Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Trust Not in Deceptive Words”
For the week of  August 21-27, 2011
(PDF Link)

“Tell me the truth.”

Many times these words are breathed in moments of crisis – moments when a life hangs in the balance; when a relationship is under stress; when a disaster has separated loved ones.  At such times truth matters more than anything else.  Riches and honor and power are meaningless here.  Truth alone matters.

We are at the epicenter of the crisis of the ages.  Brilliant counterfeits envelop the world and taint the very air we breathe.  Competing theologies appeal alternately to our ego (we can do it ourselves) and our love of sin (It’s OK – God knows you are only human.  He won’t keep you out of heaven if you are still sinning!).  Everything hangs in the balance.  Truth – the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth must be had by all who would navigate this crisis successfully.

Truth is not merely a statement of fact.  Truth is a Person.  Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  It is a powerful thing to know that we are not left alone to thread our way through the conflicting claims and tainted information bombarding us at every step.  We have a Pilot, and that Pilot stands at the door of our soul temple, knocking for entrance (Revelation 3:20). 

Would we be free from all the deceptive wiles of the enemy?  "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).  E. J. Waggoner puts it this way:
The truth is the Son; the Son is the truth. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Then how much does anybody know who does not know the truth? [Congregation: He does not know anything.]…We have been educated wrong; and we have to get rid of some of the things that we think we know in order that we may begin to know. What is truth? - Christ is truth, and his name is "I Am." Three different times in the 8th of John we find him applying this title to himself. It appears only once in our version, but it occurs three times: "Before Abraham was, I am." Also, in another place he says, "If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins." That is what it is, literally. Again, "When ye shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am." It is through the cross of Christ that we know God. His name is "I Am" - that is, the one who is. He is the one who is, the one who was, and the one who is to come. It is being, being, being, all the time. He is before all things, and all things are in him, and he is the beginning of everything that is. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything. Therefore there is nothing outside of him…In the Sanskrit, to which we trace our English language, the word for "truth" is simply a word signifying "that which is." Truth is something which is. Where can a thing be which is not? Can there be any such thing? The mere statement that it is not, states the whole case. It is not there - there is nothing there. "It is not." Rachel mourned for her children, and was not comforted, "because they were not." She did not have any children. 

Then you see that you cannot have anything unless you have something that is. And there is nothing except in Christ. Is not that clear enough? Then what is not in the Lord Jesus Christ is nothing. Oh, you say, you are so narrow. It is too bad that Jesus Christ is so narrow, and that knowing the Lord is such a limited knowledge! We want to know something more than that. [A. T. Jones: So did Eve.] Yes; Eve did, and we are reaping the results.
--E. J. Waggoner, General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 23, 1899 p. 71

Inspiration records the following:  “Faith is the medium through which truth or error finds a lodging place in the mind. It is by the same act of mind that truth or error is received, but it makes a decided difference whether we believe the Word of God (That’s Jesus Christ) or the sayings of men. When Christ revealed Himself to Paul and he was convinced that he was persecuting Jesus in the person of His saints, he accepted the truth as it is in Jesus. A transforming power was manifested on mind and character, and he became a new man in Christ Jesus. He received the truth so fully that neither earth nor hell could shake his faith” (Ellen White, Selected Messages Volume 1, page 346).    

“God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride. They did not yield themselves as holy temples for the Divine Spirit. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world's buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,--from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul. "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver" (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages page 161).

It all comes down to surrender.  If we open the door to the knocking Christ, and let Him come all the way into our hearts, we will find that He becomes the author of Truth and Faithfulness in our lives.  “The Lord is proving [us] in this life, to see if [we] will render obedience to Him with love and reverence. Those who would not be obedient to Christ here would not obey Him in the eternal world. The Lord is seeking to fit them for the heavenly mansion that Jesus has gone to prepare for those who love Him” (Ellen White,Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 78).

The fact is, that we must have a character that the Lord himself cannot see a single flaw in,—a character to which the perfect law of God will witness that it is righteous,—a character that will stand in perfect harmony with the ten commandments, in their deepest, completest meaning. But we have tried our best to attain to this, but have only failed, deplorably failed. Now how long shall that thing continue before we become righteous enough to be accepted of God, and to pass the searching test of the judgment? …Another means must be resorted to. We must look beyond ourselves for righteousness. We must have something better than our own efforts to depend upon. We must look to another source for power to make us fit to stand before God. Thank God, there is a power that can accomplish that: and that power will accomplish it, if you will only let it….I know that there is power in Jesus Christ to make any man a Christian. I know there is power there, and it does not require a great deal of time for it to work. That power can make a man a Christian if the man will let it. For God has set forth Jesus "to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past." It is the righteousness of God himself, and it is a free gift unto all and upon all them that believe, and there is no difference. And the righteousness of God will be accepted by the holy law. This is the character that will pass every test of the righteous judgment of God. This righteousness, this character, is the gift of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ. There is a character which, if you will receive it and depend upon it, will safely pass you in the judgment which is now pending, and which will soon be past forever. It is the character which God himself formed in Jesus Christ. There is a character that reaches from infancy to the grave; it is the free gift of God to every one who will take it.
— A. T. Jones, Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald, June 7, 1892

Today, answer the knock at your door.  Let the Truth make you free, keep you safe, bring you to glory.  Worship Him who is Truth.
--Helene Thomas