Wednesday, August 21, 2013

“Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival”

Third Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival”
For the week of Aug. 24, 2013

    This weeks' lesson on Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival brings out many excellent points.

    In Sabbath School Insights, we will explore revival and discernment in the context of Seventh-day Adventist church history.

    Well over 100 years ago, our church was in such a state that the law had been preached until we were as "dry as the hills of Gilboa." Recognizing our great need, the Lord sent a most precious "latter rain" message of Christ and His righteousness to revive our church through the ministry of Brothers Jones and Waggoner.

    Recalling this experience, Sister White wrote, "We [she and Bros. Jones and Waggoner] have traveled all through to the different places of the meetings that I might stand side by side with the messengers of God that I knew were His messengers, that I knew had a message for His people. I gave my message with them right in harmony with the very message they were bearing.

    "What did they see? We saw a power attending the message. In every instance we worked -- and some know how hard we worked. I think it was a whole week, going early and late, at Chicago, in order that we might get these ideas in the minds of the brethern. The devil has been working for a year to obliterate these ideas -- the whole of them. And it takes hard work to change their old opinions. They think they have to trust in their own righteousness and in their own works, and keep looking at themselves, and not appropriating the righteousness of Christ and bringing it into their life, and into their character" (Feb 3, 1890, Remarks at Bible School, as quoted in Ellen G. White and the Loud Cry, p. 20).

    The message of Christ and His righteousness was the revival message the Lord sent to prepare that generation for His speedy return. Sadly, this message was not welcomed by all.

    Had the revival message been received and accepted, Jesus would have returned "ere this." The world would not have known another century of war, and terror, sickness and sin.

    In consequence of this rejection, the way was opened for the "alpha" of the apostasy. Man in his wisdom -- even the most intelligent and highly respected among us -- cannot discern truth from error through the foggy paradigm of "self." Thus, the highly respected Doctor John Harvey Kellogg introduced pantheistic, spiritualistic teachings into our church with the publication of his book The Living Temple

    "In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. This experience will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power. Men whom he has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth's history pattern after ancient Israel(13 MR 379.2).

    "Bear this in mind. History is being repeated. The perils that God's people encountered in past ages, they will encounter again, intensified. Satan has obtained influence over men whom God has honored above all human intelligence, as He honored Solomon" (13MR 380.1).

    We have many reasons to believe that we are living during those closing scenes of earth's history. Though claiming to preach and understand the message of the righteousness of Christ, our church has yet to fully face her history, confess her sin, and receive the healing message of Christ's righteousness which the Lord sent to prepare us for His return. We were warned that in consequence of our sin, we would likely "have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but for Christ's sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action" (Letter 184, 1901).

    In reviewing our history, we see a pattern:

    1) Light given (1888 message of Christ's righteousness)
    2) Light refused (1888 message rejected)
    3) Strong delusion = believing a lie (the alpha: Kellogg's Living Temple)

    The distress Ellen White felt at seeing this delusion come into the church nearly killed her, she says. With great distress she pleaded for physicians associated with Dr. Kellogg to speak out and warn people of the danger of adopting these pleasing, spiritualistic teachings -- God in the plant, God in the tree, God in the flower.  

    She said, "I do not want our young people to flock into Battle Creek. They would better not go there. Anyone who can be so utterly deceived as to place the misleading statements contained in Living Templebefore our people, cannot be trusted as a teacher of the youth" (91SAT 346.2).

    If Ellen White were living today, how great would her distress be? We are living in a time in which the spiritualistic sophistries of the New Age have come to church. The "new light" being heralded by some today embraces non-Christian meditation and prayer disciplines, sensuality in music and worship, a disregard for God's Word, and a pleasing "Christ only" doctrine that urges a new-styled Jesus in jeans and T-shirt who rocks on Sabbath mornings. At it's core, the New Age is self-focused, me-centered worship. Pick your god, pick your worship format. The New Age doesn't care what you choose, just so self is on the throne.

    In contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ leads to self-abasement and renunciation of self. "He must increase but I must decrease" John 3:30. 

    "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" 1 Timothy 4:1.

    "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come" 2 Timothy 3:1.

    We are living in those days. More than 100 years ago, the alpha of the apostasy entered our church with New Age teachings in its infancy. Today these teachings have slipped largely unnoticed into the church, as people are encouraged to practice the spiritual disciplines within their community of faith rather than abandoning that faith. There is only one message that will shield us from Satan's deceptions and bring true revival and unity to our church: the message of Christ and His righteousness. 

    Recently, I had opportunity to visit with a long-time friend. For the first time, she told me how she had undergone two abortions before she married. Being Adventist, she couldn't bring herself to face the shame of un-wed pregnancy, and like many other women faced with a similar dilemma, she chose to take the life of two unborn babies. 

    Secret pain, guilt, and shame have marred her happiness, despite a long marriage and the blessing of four grown, healthy children. Praise God! My friend has found freedom in Christ. She made the courageous decision to confess her sin to her children and to her church family. She has started a ministry to post-abortive women. I asked her how was it that she had found such freedom and joy. "It is the cross of Christ," she said. "On the cross Jesus was strung up naked before the world. He took the shame that was mine and bore it for me that I might be free." I believe her story gives evidence of the power of the cross. And this message alone will bring true revival. 

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church collectively is burdened with a secret akin to that of my friend. A message of divine origin was sent to our church, only to be rejected before it came to maturity. The earth has yet to be lightened with the glory of God (Rev 18:1). That secret sin must be exposed and confessed in order for healing to occur. The message in 1888 was only "the beginning" of the latter rain. The Lord had much more in store for us, but since we rejected the seed of truth, that more has not yet come. 

    "The Lord has been calling his people. In a most marked manner he has revealed his divine presence. But the message and the messengers have not been received but despised. I longed that those who have greatly needed the message of divine love would hear Christ's knock at the door of the heart, and let the heavenly guest enter. But at the hearts of some Jesus has knocked in vain. In rejecting the message given at Minneapolis, men committed sin. They have committed far greater sin by retaining for years the same hatred against God's messengers, by rejecting the truth that the Holy Spirit has been urging home" (March 1891 GC Bulletin p. 913, as quoted in Ellen G. White and the Loud Cry).

    If we want to experience true revival in our church today, we must study anew the only message with the power to bring about this longed-for fruit. Exposing and confessing hidden sin is painful, but needful. It's humbling. But it's just the work that is needed to prepare us for the latter rain.

    "What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself" (TM 456.3).

-Pattie Guthrie