Friday, September 27, 2013

"The Promised Revival"

Third Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Promised Revival"
For the week of Sept. 28, 2013

Our lesson this week contains thrilling promises of what will happen when the latter rain message swells to a loud cry and the whole earth is lightened with the glory of God.

Lately, I've been listening to the audio recordings from this summer's 1888 Message Study Committee National Conference on the 1888msc website. These sermons are tremendous, and I encourage you to listen and be blessed. In his talk about our motivation for evangelism, Will Perguson shared this quote: "We were brought into existence because we were needed." ST, April 22, 1903.

If you are alive and reading this Insights today, it is because from eternity past God looked down through the ages and saw the time in history when He could best utilize you to share the gospel with others who, were it not for you, would never hear of the wonderful gift of salvation.

We are living at a time which prophets through the ages longed to see -- the conclusion of the great controversy.

The lesson for Sabbath afternoon acknowledges that as a church we are not keeping up with the world's population growth in our evangelistic efforts. Every day, there are more people who have heard the gospel and even more who haven't. Nevertheless, our lesson says, "the mission is God's, and He will accomplish it. At the same time, however, we . . . have . . . a crucial role in that final work, as well."

And what would that role be?

In the gospel paradigm, God's first work in those who desire to have a part in finishing the work is to lay the glory of man in the dust. This is a humbling experience, and it's best if we humble ourselves rather wait for God to humble us.

Paul could have humbled himself after witnessing the stoning of Stephen. Instead, he continued persecuting Christians. God had a work for Paul, but he wasn't ready while self was still on the throne. When the righteousness of Christ was revealed to Paul on the road to Damascus, what did Paul do? Did he straighten his tie and stand erect and tall before the crowd of astonished onlookers? Did he pose for pictures and autograph the memory books of those who were fortunate enough to witness his divine encounter?

No, God's first work when He calls us in service is to lay our glory in the dust. And where do we find Paul after the revelation of Christ's righteousness? Literally, on the ground. No longer the proud Pharisee; he was lying in the dirt. Blinded by the light of the revelation of Jesus, he couldn't even see those gathered about him. It was time for him to learn the Bible all over again with new eyes.

The Lord needed Paul. Where would we be today without his letters in the New Testament? He is the one the Lord chose to explain the gospel to the Gentiles of his day and to every generation since. Under the unction of the Holy Spirit, the gospel was preached to the world in a few short years. What a thrilling time that must have been!

Have you ever been on a flight that isn't permitted to land due to some trouble on the ground or perhaps a thunderstorm? Occasionally, flights are diverted, but more often they are put in a holding pattern, flying in a wide circle above the airport until the control tower gives permission to land. During that waiting time, have you noticed how people on the plane start feeling anxious, especially if there's a lot of turbulence in the air?

Sometimes it seems like we as Adventists view the delay in Christ's second advent like being a helpless passenger on a plane that is flying in a holding pattern.

There is a big difference, though. Passengers cannot make the plane land sooner. But in the case of the future of our planet, believers do have an opportunity to bring our earthly flight to an end. The apostle Peter says it is our privilege to look for and hasten "the coming of the day of God."

The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost to make the early church efficient in communicating the gospel to the world. Paul received this gift on the Damascus Road when the Holy Spirit revealed Christ crucified to him.

Afterward, Paul eventually rose to his feet and was led away from that place. But he left something behind -- his glory. It was laid in the dust forever, and hence Paul could say, "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake." 2 Cor. 4:5. The gospel is not the story of what I'm doing for God, it's the story of what Jesus has done for me. The cross reveals that I am nothing, and that He is everything.

The work of the third angel's message that will soon lighten the earth with the glory of God is one in which "there can be no self-exaltation, no boastful claim to freedom from sin, on the part of those who walk in the shadow of Calvary's cross. They feel that it was their sin which caused the agony that broke the heart of the Son of God, and this thought will lead them to self-abasement. Those who live nearest to Jesus discern most clearly the frailty and sinfulness of humanity, and their only hope is in the merit of a crucified and risen Saviour." GC 471.

Wednesday's lesson teaches that the work of the Holy Spirit is to baptize us with fire. Those who are willing to submit to this cleansing fire now will not experience the torture of this sin-consuming fire at the end of the 1,000 years. Isaiah explains that the saved will live with the "everlasting burnings" (Is. 33:14) throughout eternity, and even now that fire can burn in the hearts of those who believe the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. As they share from place to place their testimony of what Christ has done from them, the fire of the Holy Spirit burning from within will be revealed on their countenances. Instead of expressing terror at the calamities that are coming on the earth, their faces will shine "with holy consecration" as they "hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven." GC 612, as quoted in Thursday's lesson.

By what means did God work to lay the glory of Paul in the dust? The revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the message the Lord in His great mercy sent to prepare us for Christ's coming more than 120 years ago, and there is no other way to get off this planet than by way of the preaching of the cross. "For 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

Each of us living on this planet to whom has been revealed this precious message bears the highest obligation to share the power of the cross with those around us. God needs you. He needs me. If not us, then who?

-Patti Guthrie

Raul Diaz