Friday, July 26, 2013

“Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival”

Third Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival"
For the week of July 27, 2013

    To be revived infers that something was once alive but now is either dead or almost dead and has been brought back to life.

    If someone almost drowns in a pool, their most immediate need is air. Before they can eat or drink, they need to breathe.

    If someone is starving to death, they become weaker and weaker until they're able to eat again. 
    If someone goes without water for more than three days, they will usually die.

    We need air, water, and food to live. Removal of these three key life-giving substances causes the loss of life.

    We have been told that "a revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work." RH, Mar. 22, 1887.

    The revival here spoken of is not brought about through increased intake of air, water, or food. But the life-saving efforts that are needed to arouse us from spiritual death are no less critical than the continuous need for air and adequate water and food.

    The trouble with our church, spiritually speaking, is that we can be spiritually starved yet be completely unaware of our danger or need, according to the message to the Laodicean church found in Revelation 3:17. Have you ever noticed that prayer requests most often come in the form of requests for physical healing? We get that. But if we're spiritually dead and in need of revival, how would we know?

    The Word of God tells us so. When you're really sick, you don't feel like eating, drinking or going for a walk (breathing). You just want to stay in bed.

    When you're spiritually sick, you have no hunger for spiritual things. So it's pretty easy to do a self-assessment for spiritual deadness. It just takes a bit of heart-searching and self-examination. If we could devise a test for spiritual deadness, what kind of questions would be on it? 

    One of the limitations of self-examination is that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we're spiritually alive even when we're really dead.

    It is customary in some places that after a person has died, their body is prepared at the mortuary and placed in a casket for a viewing by family and friends. I remember seeing my grandmother lying peacefully in her casket. She was wearing a beautiful dress and her make-up was perfect. She looked very nice. But she was dead.

    Spiritually, we can do the same thing and even fool ourselves. Putting make-up and beautiful clothes on a corpse does not make it come alive, even though it looks good on the outside.

    In some of our churches today, we have spiced up our worship services and emphasized a social gospel that includes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick. We've tailored our church sermons and programs to address the felt needs of the community, which are many. Do these things give evidence that we are spiritually alive?

    In our Sabbath School lesson this week, Paul's experience on the Road to Damascus is cited as an illustration of what true revival looks like. 

    Saul, like the rest of us, was satisfied with his spiritual condition until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. 

    More than 120 years ago, the Lord "in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. . . ." TM 91.    

    I believe this experience was the Seventh-day Adventist Church's counterpart to Paul's Damascus Road vision. 

    Unfortunately for us, many of those in 1888 and thereafter "listened to the truth spoken in demonstration of the Spirit," but they "not only refused to accept the message, but they have hated the light." Our guilt is enormous: "These men are parties to the ruin of souls. They have interposed themselves between the heaven-sent light and the people." TM 91.

    What if Paul had rejected the light that shone to him on the Damascus Road? Where would we be? Would we have the New Testament Scriptures as they have them today?

    It was never God's plan for time to last as long as it has, but in His great mercy the Lord has extended probationary time. We still need to see the light of Jesus shining from Calvary, the same life-changing light that Paul saw.

    "All self-exaltation and self-admiration are the result of ignorance of God and of Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. How quickly will self-esteem die, and pride be humbled in the dust, when we view the matchless charms of the character of Christ!" 4BC 1178

    The key to revival in our church today hinges on our re-discovery of this most precious message which God sent to prepare us for His soon return.
-Patti Guthrie

Raul Diaz