Monday, July 30, 2012

“The Apostolic Example”

Third Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Apostolic Example
For the week of Aug. 4, 2012
The Apostolic Example (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
The word “bold” as an adjective means fearless before danger and either showing or requiring a fearless, daring spirit. Typically, those we call bold are those who are outspoken and forthright. They do not mince words; they call it as they see it. But this can also be considered rude. The Greek definition for the word bold means to speak freely. Strong’s Concordance defines boldness as being frank in utterance or confident in spirit and demeanor. 
When Paul wrote his letter to the Thessalonians he said,
“For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”  I Thessalonians 2:1, 2.
The idea here is that after the beating in Philippi anyone would probably have quit out of fear, but Paul and his companions moved forward into Thessalonica without skipping a beat. As soon as they could, they entered a synagogue and started to preach that Jesus was the Christ. As Paul says, they were bold in God to speak the Gospel, even though they knew they would probably get another beating. Nevertheless, Paul indicates that the love of God constrained him (2 Corinthians 5:14), or pushed him forward.
So how are love and boldness related? To answer this question, let’s reconsider Paul’s prior experience. Our lesson states,
Paul recalls how he and Silas were shamefully treated in Philippi on account of preaching the gospel. On the long road from Philippi to Thessalonica every step was a painful reminder of that treatment. Their physical wounds were likely still visible, and after all they had just been through who would have blamed them had they taken a more indirect approach to evangelism in the new city. But the Thessalonians proved eager and open for the truth, and despite their pain and suffering, God said “Be bold [in My might] and strong [in My strength].” So they “began to be bold.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2; author’s translation)
Paul is clear in the remainder of the chapter that he neither diluted the message, nor used flattery or deceit.  His prior painful experience in Philippi did not restrain him from preaching the truth to avoid the same consequence in Thessalonica. Neither he nor Silas moved to please men, but God, and therefore neither was rude to the opposers of the message. In fact, in verse 7 Paul says that he and Silas weregentle toward the Thessalonians, even as a mother nursing her child (1 Thessalonians 2:7).  Most often, nursing mothers are perceived as tender, nurturing, and loving, not bold, hard, or cruel.  Can these two concepts of love and boldness be reconciled? 
To speak boldly is to speak without fear. And we know from scripture that fear and love (agape) cannot coexist.  We know this because “Perfect [or complete] love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18).  So then, where does this perfect love originate?  Where did Paul obtain it, and for that matter where did the apostles?  And where might we?
If you recall, when the mob arrested Jesus the disciples fled and remained in hiding until after the resurrection for fear of the Jews.  After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, however, they left the upper chamber and spoke freely and openly to the same Jews from whom they had previously fled.  “You killed Jesus!” they cried in boldness.  What made the difference?
The same Spirit that gave them power [boldness] gave them love.  According to Paul, in Romans 5:5,“the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  He “… appeared unto [us] as cloven tongues like as of fire, and …sat upon each of [us].  And [we] were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave [us] utterance” (Acts 2: 3-4). This was the same Sprit that Ananias said would fill Paul (Acts 9:17). And Acts 13:9 states that Paul was full with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shed God’s love abroad in the hearts and minds of the apostles, including Paul, and thus they spoke openly and lovingly of Jesus, without fear.  
But we know that fear reigns in our hearts, and that - try as we might - we are not yet complete in love. Ellen White addresses this lack of love in the book That I May Know Him:
“There is nothing that can so weaken the influence of the church as the lack of love….The people of the world are looking to us to see what our faith is doing for our characters and lives. They are watching to see if it is having a sanctifying effect on our hearts…There is no surer way of weakening ourselves in spiritual things than to be envious, suspicious of one another, full of faultfinding and evil surmising….If you have love in your heart you will seek to establish and build up your brother in the most holy faith” (p. 153).
“Pure love is simple in its operations….Do not give the lie to your profession of faith by impatience, fretfulness, and repining. Let the graces of the Spirit be manifested in kindness, meekness, forbearance, cheerfulness, and love….Love is a heavenly attribute. The natural heart cannot originate it…. “ (p. 167).
According to 1 Corinthians 13:5, there is no self-seeking when true love reigns.
 What will heavenly love, as shed abroad in the apostles’ hearts by the Holy Spirit, do for the end-time followers of Christ today? In the of words of Ellen White,
“[Love to Jesus] exerts a wondrous power. It makes the timid bold, the slothful diligent, the ignorant wise. It makes the stammering tongue eloquent, and rouses the dormant intellect into new life and vigor. It makes the desponding hopeful, the gloomy joyous. [It] will lead its possessor to accept responsibilities for [Jesus’] sake, and to bear them in His strength. [It] will not be dismayed by tribulation, nor turned aside from duty by reproaches….Where love exists, there is power and truth in the life. Love does good and nothing but good. Those who have love bear fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life." That I May Know Him, p. 167.
This very love made the apostles bold, turned the world upside down in Paul’s day (Acts 17:6), and will show the world today that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). It is what the world is waiting to see demonstrated in us.  We cannot manufacture it, but may receive it in its fullness from the Holy Spirit. When we do, we too shall abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42: 6). Ellen White says that, “As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief” (Acts of the Apostles, 35). Only then did Christ pour the fullness of the Holy Spirit upon them. Only then did the disciples speak boldly. This is what it will take for us. This is what it will do for us. Until then, we will wander around in complacent spiritual stupor. 
 -Raul Diaz

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Special Event

Elder Mark Duncan, co-author of the newly printed book by Review and Herald, "The Message of the Latter Rain" - Removing the Fog that Obscures the Love of God, will speak at the Broadview Seventh-day Adventist Church, 3101 S. 25th Ave, Broadview, IL on Sabbath August 4 at 11:00am. In the afternoon, he will do two presentations - 2:30pm and 4:15pm to discuss the content and significance of the book.

Monday, July 23, 2012

“Joyous and Thankful”

Third Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Joyous and 
For the week of July 28, 2012

Joyous and Thankful
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.  I Thessalonians 1: 2,3  NIV

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, your faith in God has become known everywhere.  1  Thessalonians 1: 4-8 ( NKJV).

The Thessalonians occupied a major city in the Roman Empire. It was located on the road Via Egnatia that connected Rome with the crucial ports and cities of the Aegean region and into Turkey. When Paul came preaching, the Thessalonians turned from their idols to the living God, because they received the gospel as the Word of God that effectually worked in them.  See 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

In beholding the goodness of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ, gratitude and appreciation sprang forth.  It led them to such repentance that in turning to Him and his great agape in faith, they turned away from this world and its three-fold conspiracy of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Crucified with Christ, they then became examples embodying the faith of Jesus.

Dwelling in the presence of God means being in fullness of joy. The irony is that sometimes this joy is in the midst of suffering.  And yet this joy is our strength. Paul even prays that ”the God of hope [may] fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Romans 15:13. This joy and peace are rooted in every element of the gospel – its historical facts in time and eternity, its fruit, and its hope.

 As we examine First and Second Thessalonians, it is well to consider that Paul stands out not only as apostle, but as the inspired theologian, especially to us today. Grappling with issues of the everlasting gospel in the covenants – the history, the sanctuary, all the Old Testament Scriptures, Judaism, and the revealed mystery of the gospel to the Gentiles – the cross becomes his lens through which he brings into focus and meaning all of these issues. Paul stands at the transition of the church (the called-out ones) to a true mission orientation, but always the cross of Jesus goes on before Him.

The thirteen books of the Bible, epistles [letters] written by him, speak for themselves. But Paul was even more concerned about living epistles. This is why he commends the Thessalonians. They are not mere expositors or debaters of the gospel, but their lives exemplify the working of the risen Christ through the sweet fruit of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s theology directly undergirded his missiological work, showing that practical theology informs, infuses with power, and guides the fulfillment of the gospel commission.

The Urban Strategy 
For the Apostle, the gospel of Jesus Christ was both theology and mission, but always embodied the end goal of transformation of life.  Paul’s ministry embarked upon an intense and focused urban strategy which challenges us even today. While the difficult times and persecutions ahead encourage us to prepare for a country-living orientation, the present reality is that the greatest populations of the world are increasingly found in urban areas. Thus Paul’s work in Thessalonica, as in Corinth, Athens, Ephesus, and other cities, evidences that the Spirit led him to seek to reach the Empire of his day through its cities, along the routes of commerce and culture.

What does this mean for us in the 21st century?  Today, over 80% of the population of the United States, South Korea, Argentina, and Brazil are in urban areas.  As a whole, the population of the world is now over 50% in urban areas. This is a long way from 4% in 1800, 14% in 1900, and 30% in 1950. An urban gospel strategy, therefore, is not an option, it is a necessity.

Paul’s efforts established churches with strong Christians whose faith embraced the mission of the cross of Christ, because they experienced the transforming, empowering agape of God in Christ. This self-crucifying love liberated men and women to labor in joy and with praise that they could be part of such an awesome mission to the world.

Confidence in His love, the experience of righteousness by faith of Christ and in Christ, and the knowledge of His sustaining, sanctifying work as high priest combined with their hope of His Second coming, inspired within the hearts and minds of the Thessalonians an assurance in Christ that could not be shaken. The blessed hope generated within them endurance to face whatever might come to them, and the determination to continue laboring in faith and with joy. 

The cities await us, with their multitudes who will one day be lightened with His glory, the only sure Way of dispelling the darkness surrounding them. This will happen with His power as our authority, and His love our motivation. Christ must, and will, do this for us today.                                                                                                 
-Michael Horton

Monday, July 16, 2012

“Thessalonica in Paul’s Day”

Third Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Thessalonica in Paul’s Day
For the week of July 21, 2012

Thessalonica in Paul’s Day
The cultural context of Paul’s letters include the ideas, beliefs, and understanding of those to which he wrote. Understanding these things helps clarify his meaning and the impact this would have on his hearers. Of course, since these things are also “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11), we should look for what we have in common with the Thessalonians.
For example, the Roman republic offered security in a time of uncertainty, but the price was loss of freedom and resulting economic dislocation, political powerlessness, and excessive taxation. Does this sound familiar?
How about the response of the pagan population to these stresses? Movements arose that purported to speak for the disenfranchised and treat all classes equally were co-opted by the state, which expanded its role in an attempt to fill needs that only the righteousness of Christ could supply. This would pave the way for the rise of the Papacy, which corrupted the gospel with worldly philosophy as it became a persecuting church-state power.
People in Thessalonica were hungry for the gospel, and the self-supporting missionary Paul was effective in connecting with a wide variety of people (1 Cor 9:19-27), without compromising with the world (Rom. 12:2) or the shallowness of the popular philosophers of his day (Col. 2:8, 1 Cor 2:2). Are we challenged in similar ways as we preach the gospel today?
The foundation of the church was the home, and the early churches were actually home churches. Paul instructed that church leaders should be men who were strong home leaders (1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:6) and good witnesses within the community. This was in contrast to the confusion of gender roles and the personal immorality common in Greek philosophy. Do we see the same issues today in our church and society?
To the Greeks of Paul’s day, God was distant and unknowable. Christ becoming human flesh as an expression of divine agape was an idea repulsive to them, as they believed God would be corrupted by descending into the material realm. The papacy incorporated these distortions into an apostate Christianity which blended eros, or self ascending desire, with agape, or selfless love, in the idea of charity. The current pope, Benedict, reaffirms this:
“Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the   other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature. On the other hand, man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift.” (“Deus Caritas Est”- "God is Love"; Pope Benedict's First Encyclical Letter.)
Catholic doctrines such as original sin, salvation through works, vicarious substitution, and the immaculate conception arise from this view of God.
The close connection between God and man in Christ, the embodiment of the selfless, agape love of God, will soon be no longer a mystery to the world.
SAID the angel, "In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." Rev. 10:7. ....
BUT what is the mystery of God? The mystery of God is the gospel. Proof: In Eph. 3:3 Paul says, "By revelation he made known unto me the mystery." And in Gal. 1:11, 12 he says, "The gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Here we have the statement that the gospel was given him by revelation, and also that by revelation there was made known to him "the mystery, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. . . . Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now . . . might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Eph. 3:3-11, 17-19; Col. 2:2. 
"FROM these texts it is evident that the eternal purpose of God, which he purposed in Christ for us; that the unsearchable riches of Christ, which are brought to the children of men; that the immeasurable love of Christ and of God, for man; that the love of Christ and of God, which passeth knowledge, is the mystery of God. But this is nothing else than the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is only the effort of God to reveal this mystery, and to bring its depths to the comprehension of men." {July 13, 1888 ATJ, SITI 426.27-29} 
"That gospel is 'Christ in you, the hope of glory,'—Christ in you just as you are, sins, sinfulness, and all; for he gave himself for our sins, and for our sinfulness. And you, just as you are, Christ has bought, and God 'hath made accepted' in him. He has received you just as you are; and the gospel, 'Christ in you, the hope of glory,' brings you under the reign of the Spirit of God, makes you so subject to the power of Christ and of God that 'the fruit of the Spirit' appears in you, instead of 'the works of the flesh.'" {October 2, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 633} 
What the world needs today is fundamentally the same as what Thessalonica needed then - an experiential knowledge of the love of God manifested through Christ.
-Todd Guthrie

Monday, July 09, 2012

“Preserving Relationships”

Third Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Preserving Relationships
For the week of July 7, 2012

Preserving Relationships
We’ve just concluded a whole quarter studying witnessing and evangelism, and now we find some of these themes being repeated and enlarged this quarter in stories about the early Christian church in Thessalonica.
If evangelism today posed challenges for us as great as those faced by Paul, how excited would you be about witnessing for Christ?
Paul was unjustly thrown into prison, beaten, harassed, and followed around by a demon-possessed girl. His erstwhile church brethren (the Jews) did not look any too kindly on his missionary zeal. They did their best to hedge up his way and make his life difficult. The Scripture reveals the hidden motives that prompted these troublemakers: malice and envy. Then – as now – preachers of the gospel have suffered persecution at the hands of a church that held only a form of the godliness while denying its power.
From a human perspective, who would want to live the life of Paul?  Yet Paul chose this path over a life of ease. He almost seemed to revel in trial, for each new challenge only served to reveal more fully God’s ability to save to the uttermost.
Our memory text this week reveals Paul’s motivation to service:
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess. 2:19, 20).        
Paul had caught a glimpse of the unfathomable gift of God in Christ. His gratitude gave way to an irrepressible urge to share the good news with others. Paul was not content to bask in the blessings of the cross and be saved alone – No! – he felt compared to share the gospel everywhere he went.
“The love of Christ compels us,” he said. “Because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” 2 Corinthians 5:15.
Have you ever felt your heart “strangely warmed” by the good news of the gospel?
Were you content to just experience that good feeling yourself or did you, too, feel compelled to share what you had learned with others?
After his brilliant speech at the Areopagus, Paul observed that of the large number who heard his eloquent words, only three were converted to the faith. “He then decided that from that time he would maintain the simplicity of the gospel. He was convinced that the learning of the world was powerless to move the hearts of men, but that the gospel was the power of God to salvation” (RH Aug. 3, 1911).
Experiences such as that must have cemented Paul’s conviction “not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
Paul recognized that the “message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Therefore, Paul could exclaim, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . . for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Rom. 1:16, 17).
The closer our message and methods align with the simplicity of the gospel, the more successful will be our efforts in winning souls for Christ. 
Recently, I read a beautiful compilation of Ellen White’s writings entitled Christian Service. This book is filled with counsel appropriate for those who are seeking wisdom to know how best to share Christ. It is must-read for anyone whose heart has been touched by the soul-stirring message of the gospel.
A few excerpts are shared here:
“Every important truth received into the heart must find expression in the life. It is in proportion to the reception of the love of Christ that men desire to proclaim its power to others; and the very act of proclaiming it, deepens and intensifies its value to their own souls” CS p. 94.
“There will come times when the church will be stirred by divine power, and earnest activity will be the result; for the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit will inspire its members to go forth and bring souls to Christ. But when this activity is manifested, the most earnest workers will be safe only as they depend upon God through constant, earnest prayer. They will need to make earnest supplication that through the grace of Christ they may be saved from taking pride in their work, or of making a savior of their activity. They must constantly look to Jesus, that they may realize that it is His power which does the work, and thus be able to ascribe all the glory to God” CS p. 98.
“There is but one genuine cure for spiritual laziness, and that is work—working for souls who need your help” CS p. 107.
“We must study improved ways and means of reaching people” CS p. 110.
“When the church shall truly have the spirit of the message, they will throw all their energies into the work of saving the souls for whom Christ has died. They will enter new fields. Some who are not ordained ministers will be laborers together with God in visiting the churches and trying to strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. There will be laymen who will move into towns and cities, and into apparently out-of-the-way places, that they may let the light which God has given them, shine forth to others” CS 180.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)

-Patti Guthrie

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

What is Patriotism in the United States « Audiobooks of the Adventist Pioneers

What is Patriotism in the United States « Audiobooks of the Adventist Pioneers

“The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica”

Insights #01 July 7, 2012
Third Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica
For the week of July 7, 2012

The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica
Thessalonica was the second European city where Paul and Silas preached the gospel. The first city in Europe was Philippi where they had been severally beaten by order of the city authorities and then placed in prison from which they were supernaturally delivered (Acts 16:23-28).  As a result of their beatings the gospel was brought to Thessalonica by bruised and injured soldiers of the cross of Christ.

While preaching the gospel in Thessalonica Paul supported himself by manual labor. (1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:7-10). Funds were also sent to him by the believers in Philippi (Phil 4:15-16). The message proclaimed in power by Paul and Silas, to the Thessalonians, was about the necessity of Christ having been crucified and then raised from the dead. Paul emphasized, specifically, the necessity of the sufferings of Christ (Acts 17:2-3). Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, also placed on record the words of Jesus Himself regarding the necessity of His suffering: “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Lk 24:46–47). Jesus could not escape the necessity of suffering for us. The message Paul took to Thessalonica was an echo of Christ’s words.

In the book of Romans Paul wrote of this necessity of Christ in suffering in our behalf. While we were condemned and ungodly sinners Christ suffered and died for us (Rom 5:6-10). In Romans 4:25 (see NKJV) Paul wrote in parallel literary form that Jesus:
         was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.[1]
Here we learn of the necessity of both Christ’s death and His resurrection. He died “because of our offenses.” He “was raised because of our justification.” This justification took place in the death of Christ, “by His blood” (Rom 5:9). His resurrection from the grave demonstrated that we were justified on Calvary. This justification is the legal aspect of acquittal from condemnation and when believed is experienced by faith in Christ alone. This was the gospel message Paul took to Thessalonica (Acts 17:3).

The result of that message preached by Paul and Silas resulted in persuading some of the Jews “and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women” (Acts 17:4). This, of course, caused an uproar among those who refused to believe the gospel. To the Jews the good news of the necessity of Christ’s death was a stumbling block and to the unbelieving Gentiles it was absolute nonsense. To them it was the height of foolishness (1 Cor 1:23). And for what reasons?

In the thinking of unbelieving Jews and Gentiles Jesus was executed because He was a common criminal. To the Gentile mind, the cross was the utmost in shame and defeat. To them it was unthinkable to accept a dead Christ as their Savior. Since most of them believed in the natural immortality of the soul there was no need of a resurrection from the dead. To them, the death and resurrection of Christ was not within the range of possibility.

The thinking of Gentiles concerning the crucifixion of Christ is depicted in a very crude piece of graffiti, scratched into a piece of plaster in a guardroom on the Palatine Hill in Rome. Some people date this graffiti to about the time of Paul while others date it later. Regardless of the date, this non-art from depicted the thinking of most Gentiles. This crude depiction of Christ is known as the Alexamenos graffiti

The graffiti shows a Christian man, named Alexamenos, standing with one of his hands raised in adoration before the figure of a person hanging on a cross. The man on the cross has the head of a donkey. The caption scrawled into the graffiti reads, “Alexamenos worships his god.” This terrible description of Christ crucified illustrates the foolishness of the Gentile psychoactive mindset.

To the unbelieving Jew the Messiah was to deliver them from all oppressors. The notion that the Messiah had to die was unthinkable. They had proof texts from their Jewish Scripture showing that Messiah was to be a mighty and conquering general who would lay the glory of the Gentile world in the dust and who would exalt the Jews to the highest rank and power in the world.

Some of the proof texts the Jews would have used are found in Jer 23:5-8; Isa 9:1-7; and Zech 9:9-16. But Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world and that He must first suffer before He would enter into His glory (see Luke 24:26, NIV). Peter, after Pentecost, saw the two aspects of Christ’s experiences. He mirrored the teaching of Jesus about “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:11, NKJV).

Not only did Paul and Silas take the gospel to the Thessalonians after being severely beaten in Philippi (and still hurting), but those in Thessalonica who accepted that same gospel suffered must anguish while at the same time they experienced the “joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1:5-6; cf Acts 17:5-9).

What about today? Is not the “everlasting gospel” ridiculed and opposed by those who will not believe? And was not this the case in Minneapolis about one hundred twenty-five years ago? Mrs White wrote of the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in the presentation of the message at that time and of the ridicule of those who refused to belief. Listen to her words:
“I shall never, I think, be called to stand under the direction of the Holy Spirit as I stood at Minneapolis. The presence of Jesus   was with me. All assembled in that meeting had an opportunity to place themselves on the side of truth by receiving the Holy Spirit, which was sent by God in such a rich current of love and mercy. But in the rooms occupied by some of our people was heard ridicule, criticism, jeering, laughter…. The same spirit that actuated the rejecters of Christ rankles in their hearts, and had they lived in the days of Christ, they would have acted toward him in a manner similar to that of the godless and unbelieving Jews.” (1888 Materials, 1565).
Then comes a sobering message: “He who rejects the light and evidence God has been liberally bestowing upon us, rejects Christ; and for him there is no other Saviour” (Ibid.).
When the message of justification by the faith of Jesus comes to us as it came to Thessalonica and to Minneapolis let us experience it by faith in Christ alone, along with the “joy of the Holy Spirit.” We may suffer for a little while because being placed in a furnace of fiery afflictions caused by the enemy of all righteousness who is at war with the good news of Christ crucified. This enemy plus all other enemies are no match for the power of Christ crucified. The devil may afflict but he cannot defeat us so long as we abide in Christ, who of necessity suffered and died for us. Praise His Holy Name!

-Jerry Finneman

[1] The word translated “because of” (NKJV) is dia (διά) with the grammatical accusative case meaning that the cause of Christ’s resurrection was because justification had already occurred. His resurrection was not the means of justification. It was because we were justified on the cross, in Christ, when He died as us and for us. Christ’s resurrection is God’s evidence that we were legally justified in the death of Christ. Paul reiterated this in Rom 5:9.