Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Discipling the Sick"

Insights #5 Feb. 1, 2014
First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Discipling the Sick
For the week of February 1, 2014

Who sinned?

Upon seeing a man they knew who had been blind from birth, the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-3). There was a belief in their day, as it is with some persons today, who believe that sin directly causes all suffering and disease and that God punishes this way. In those days blindness was associated with, and in many cases caused by, gonorrhea. If Jesus had said the parents sinned, the next question would most likely have been, as again it would be today, “Is this fair?” Jesus was not caught on the horns of a dilemma with that either or question. He did not give the reason for the blindness. He simply said that neither the parents nor the man caused this blindness. Jesus did say God’s glory would be manifested in the midst of this tragedy.

Similar questions, to what the disciples and most all the people of their day believed, are recorded by Luke. In 13:1- 4 the record states that some Galileans were murdered, by the Romans, while offering sacrifices on the altar. The other tragedy was about eighteen persons who were killed when the “tower in Siloam fell” on them. Jesus asked “do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” The answer is no, of course not. (Jesus did not say that sin does not cause sickness and death, because that does happen. But not here). He did tell the people to repent and to be ready to die in case a fatal accident could happen to them. Certainly the natural law of cause and effect was at work here and not God personally working to destroy people. The threat of a tragic end is present for everyone at all times. The issue, here in Christ day, and now in ours, is not when death will happen, nor why, nor how it will come, but we must avoid a terminal fate that has even greater consequences. Only repentance toward God and faith in Christ alone will prevent the death that lasts for eternity.

Jesus and Sickness

Jesus never sinned nor was He sick, but He took both our sins and our diseases upon Himself (Isa 53:4; Matt 8:17). However, He was never sick. Why not? His life of perfect holiness overcame all sickness that knocked for entrance into His body or mind. Jesus “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6).

Healing and Forgiveness

Four weary men, after carrying a sick friend on his bed, brought him to where Jesus was but could not get in to see Him because of the crowd surrounding Him. Because Jesus was inside a house, the four friends of the paralytic tore up the roof of the house, where Jesus was, and let the sick man down through the hole in the roof and placed him in front of Jesus (Mark 2:3-4). Jesus response was not “be well” but rather, “your sins are forgiven” (v 5). Mark does not mention the man’s faith, but records that Jesus, when seeing the sick man’s friend’s faith said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” “Then when Jesus perceived the evil thoughts of scribes that were there, He asked them ‘Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.'" And “immediately he arose, took up his bed and went out…” (vv 8-12).

Both spiritual and physical healing occurred. It seems that paralysis came upon the man because of his sin and he being tortured by the burden of the guilt of his sin was healed physically when he believed that his sins were forgiven. This reminds us of Psa 103:2-4 where David joins forgiveness and healing, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

Healing and Discipleship

Many who were healed in body, mind and spirit became disciples of Jesus. There may have been some who did not follow Him, but He healed them, nevertheless. Those not wanting to become a disciple were blessed with a better temporal life, but this is all they would get. By not following Jesus, they shut the door to eternal life. This is a lesson for us.

There is another lesson for us. Not all people are healed in this life. It is a fact that some who truly believe still suffer and die. They have the faith of Jesus which believes not only in the absence of feelings, but against them. This life is not the end for them. Following Jesus during this temporal life they will be healed in the resurrection. Then they will learn about all the circumstances surrounding their sojourn on earth. And they will be perfectly satisfied.

Body and Mind Relationships

In several of Solomon’s Proverbs we learn the close relationship between mind and body. In Prov 3:5-8 we learn that through faith and repentance a person may be healed of peptic ulcers which come from excessive worry and failure to trust the Lord. In Prov 12:25, the wise man wrote, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” And again in 17:22 we read that “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Most of the white blood cells and all the red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. Anger and depression affect the bone marrow. Depression affects the body’s disease fighting mechanism, but a merry heart is good medicine.

A similar thought is expressed in Prov 15:13. Follow that with verse 30 where it is written that a “good report makes the bones healthy.” Glad tidings of great joy promotes health in the bone marrow and stimulates the immune system. The best news believed that brings health to body and soul is the gospel. The Emphasized Bible puts it this way, “Good news gives marrow to the bones.” The best good news is the gospel of Christ and His righteousness. This will bring good health to body, mind and spirit. Jesus forgives our sins and heals our diseases. This causes us to say with David, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psa 103:1).

What Did Jesus do for Us?

“What now does Jesus do for us?–-He takes the weakness, and gives us in return His strength. ‘We have not an High Priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities’ (Heb 4:15). ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses’ (Matt 8:17). He becomes all that we are, in order that we may become all that He is. He was ‘born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’ He hath delivered us from the curse, being made a curse for us, that the blessing might come to us. Altho He knew no sin, He was made to be sin for us, ‘that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him’ ” (2 Cor 5:21).  E.J. Waggoner, “The Signs of the Times,”April 5, 1899.
In closing, consider the following words from the hymn “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy”:“There is mercy with the Savior;

"There is healing in his blood.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man's mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.”
-Jerry Finneman

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

“Making Children Disciples”

First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Making Children Disciples"
For the week of January 25, 2014

When Jesus said, "Follow Me" (a phrase that occurs 17 times in the Gospels), it was for the purpose of making them disciples. A similar phrase, "Come unto Me" (6 occurrences), has the same purpose, for one comes to Jesus to follow Him. One may come initially in response to the mysterious drawing of His Spirit, may be merely curious, and want simply to observe or inquire with no intent to follow. But as the contact occurs, the drawing and coming will lead to following if there is no resistance. Jesus is that charming! We were designed for that, and He has preserved in each the ability to sense His drawing, and agree with it. The Bible calls that faith.

It is in the coming and the following that the discipling occurs.1  One of the best known uses of "Come..." promises a gift--"I will give you...." And my coming and His giving leads to another dual invitation--"Take ... and learn...." That must be the essence of discipling--the ongoing coming, giving, taking, and learning. The resultant promise is redundant--"I will give you rest" and "you shall find rest." (Matthew 11:28-30).

Perhaps the most engaging picture of rest is that of a child asleep. Just go to images.google.com, enter "sleeping children" and be calmed with what innocent rest looks like. Visit Nathan Greene's art site (www.nathangreene.com), find the Family Collection, and again be charmed by Jesus and children at rest. Could discipling include, and perhaps begin, with rest? Eve began with Adam at rest. And we could say that Adam and Eve's walk with God began with rest that first Sabbath day, their first full day with Him. It does appear that the first man and woman--God's first human children--were discipled by God Himself, flowing from His creative acts.

Children at rest, secure in the care of those who enjoy being with them, and who have their best in heart and mind, is a good place to begin considering the theme of "Making Children Disciples." If we adults as God's children have entered into His rest--His finished work of creation and redemption; if we have exchanged our yokes which are neither easy nor light for His which is both; if we are His disciples, then we can lead the children into the joy of being His disciples also. We must see that we cannot give the children what we have not ourselves received. It is from the abundance of God's heart that He has given all we need to be effective teachers of the children.

Receiving "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8) poured out upon the human race in the gospel, will impart to us the value God places upon us, that we can then place on all humans, especially children. We will see them through the eye of faith--God's faith.
"Christ, the heavenly merchantman seeking goodly pearls, saw in lost humanity the pearl of price. In man, defiled and ruined by sin, He saw the possibilities of redemption. Hearts that have been the battleground of the conflict with Satan, and that have been rescued by the power of love, are more precious to the Redeemer than are those who have never fallen. God looked upon humanity, not as vile and worthless; He looked upon it in Christ, saw it as it might become through redeeming love. He collected all the riches of the universe, and laid them down in order to buy the pearl. And Jesus, having found it, resets it in His own diadem." (Ellen White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 118).

The divine view of sinful humanity provides us the grace we need in mentoring the little ones. And the incarnation of divinity "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3) gives us much instruction too, on what children need from the Savior. Consider first what the Father chose for His Son during His human childhood. How valuable were those quiet, growing years! They were not quiet through idleness and boredom, but through the simplicity of God's rhythm of life--the joy of selfless service alternating with the rest of togetherness, permeated with the spirit of devotion that was nurtured by the oracles of God (Romans 3:1, 2) and the natural world. (See The Desire of Ages, p. 74.) The picture is compellingly simple, and astoundingly profound.

"The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He was now taught at His mother's knee...."  (Ibid. p. 70).

A. T. Jones in his vital book The Place of the Bible in Education, makes the same point with a graphic story to illustrate.

"The Bible should be the first thing in every line of study, for the reason that is expressed in a saying familiar to all: First impressions are most lasting. For this reason the Bible should be the source of the first instruction that the child receives in the world; and, as everybody is a child in the beginning of every line of study, the Bible should be the first of all things in all studies....

"A notable instance of this is William Ewart Gladstone, the great English statesman, who died in 1898. He died a very old man. As his life was fading out indeed, it was noticed that he was saying over and over again the Lord's prayer in French. That excited some query: as he was an Englishman, why should he be saying the Lord's prayer in French? Inquiries were made, and it was learned that when he was a little child, he was in charge of a French nurse, and that that French nurse was a Christian, and had taught him the Lord's prayer in her native language. And as that happened to be the first thing that was fixed upon his mind, it was the last thing that was dwelt upon by his mind as it faded out in death.

"Now, if that nurse had not been a Christian, and had taught that child, 'Hi, diddle, diddle, the cat's in the fiddle,' it would have worked precisely the same way, and that would have been the last thing that he would have spoken on his death-bed. If she had taught him Esop's fables or fairy tales instead of the Lord's prayer, these would have been the last things that he would have murmured as his mind faded away."  (A. T. Jones, The Place of the Bible in Education, pp. 69, 70)

It must be significant that half of the "Come unto Me" phrases in the Gospels are in reference to allowing the "little children" to do so! Jesus' heart was open to their openness. His simplicity found fellowship in their simplicity. His invitation we considered of "Come ... and learn" described the curriculum--"I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). In teaching children to be disciples of Jesus, could we also be in school to learn the childlike traits of Jesus Himself from them? (See Ibid. p. 21.)

The lessons from our history are simple and consistent. Repeatedly in her letters to individuals regarding the Minneapolis message, Ellen White called for the simplicity that a child demonstrates. Indeed "a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6)--not just the lower creatures, but the "adult" humans who need lessons in meekness and lowliness. Recall this confession of hers at Minneapolis:

"I would have humility of mind, and be willing to be instructed as a child. The Lord has been pleased to give me great light, yet I know that He leads other minds, and opens to them the mysteries of His Word, and I want to receive every ray of light that God shall send me, though it should come through the humblest of His servants."  (Ellen White, 1888 Materials, p. 163).

This standard was repeated in case after case struggling with the message, and in need of this discipling. Read in the sources the details of the refrain noted here--

G. I. Butler (sick in Battle Creek)--"as a little child"  (Ibid., p. 97)
Ministers at Minneapolis--"of a little child" (Ibid., p. 141)
R. A. Underwood--"as a little child" (Ibid., pp. 234, 247)
Madison and Howard Miller--"of a little child" (Ibid., pp. 390, 394, 400)
Matthew Larson--"as a little child"  (Ibid., p. 585)
Uriah Smith--"of a little child"  (Ibid., pp. 795, 1044, 1045)
J. H. Morrison--"as a little child"  (Ibid., p. 1085)
I. D. Van Horn--"as a little child"  (Ibid., p. 1139)
John H. Kellogg--"as a little child"  (Ibid., p. 1160)
Frank E. Belden--"as a little child" (Ibid., p. 1190)
A. R. Henry--"as a little child"  (Ibid., p. 1654)

We all need to "come ... and learn." Then we can teach and disciple the little ones.

"The sinner must ever look toward Calvary; and with the simple faith of a little child, he must rest in the merits of Christ, accepting his righteousness and believing in his mercy. Laborers in the cause of truth should present the righteousness of Christ, not as new light, but as precious light that has for a time been lost sight of by the people. We are to accept Christ as our personal Saviour, and he imputes unto us the righteousness of God in Christ. Let us repeat and make prominent the truth that John has portrayed: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."  (Ibid., p. 1225.2, in an article "Christ the Center of the Message")
-Fred Bischoff

1. The noun "disciple" is at times used as a verb also. We see verb forms being used, as we will here employ. "Making Children Disciples" can thus be rendered "Discipling Children."  

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

“Discipleship and Prayer”

First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Discipleship and Prayer
For the week of January 18, 2014

“Prayer is the breath of the soul.”  This is evident from Christ’s words in Luke 18:1.  “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  Most folk cannot hold their breath for more than three to five minutes without fainting.  Likewise, if we cease to pray, it will not be long before we find ourselves fainting before the trials that inevitably come our way.  It is through prayer that we are braced for difficulties and trials that require strength far beyond our natural human capacity.

When Christ “took upon his sinless nature our sinful nature,” (7ABC451), when He humbled Himself, taking humanity and “thus bringing himself to the level of man’s feeble faculties,” (RH Dec. 11, 1888), He had to pray.  He came to earth to “live as a man among men” (DA515).  And while living as a man, utilizing only the equipment that man has, He prayed fervently, daily, in deep earnestness, to find the strength that He needed to live a victorious life.

He was not a sinner, as we are.  But He took the same equipment that we have and He was in the same circumstances as we, only worse because the enemy knew who He was.  He had to seek the Father’s presence daily to find “fresh supplies of needed grace” (AA57).  He is our example, in all things.  Therefore, He is our example in prayer.

Daniel, who is a type of Christ, prayed earnestly for Israel, taking their sins as his own and confessing them as though they were his own.  Verse 9 of Daniel 9 is so encouraging:  “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him” (Dan. 9:9).  If we understand where we stand as a church today, we cherish this thought, for we have rebelled and we continue to rebel as surely as Israel of old rebelled.  But just as surely, there is mercy and forgiveness with God.

Jesus also prayed like Daniel.  To realize this, we must realize that the Old Testament is about Christ.  Jesus told us this in John 5:39.  And in Luke 24:44, Jesus told us specifically that the Psalms are about Him.  “Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).

Looking at Psalm 69, we find one of Christ’s prayers.  It was a prayer like Daniel’s prayer in chapter nine of Daniel.  “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, Where thereis no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me.  I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God. . . . O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You” (Psalm 69:1-5).

Jesus confessing sin?  Yes, Jesus confessing our sins as though they were His own.  I believe this is a part of what the Lord is waiting for.  He is waiting for His people to so identify with the sin of the people of the world, that we acknowledge the sin of world as our sin.  It is, after all, actually our sin.  We live in a world where the Son of God was murdered.  And, “The whole world stands charged today with the deliberate rejection and murder of the Son of God” (TM39).

This reality is difficult to hold in parallel with the idea that it is our responsibility to “disciple” the people of the world.  Yet, there is no real irony here.  Christ was the ultimate example in making disciples.  He was not one of us.  Yet, He came to earth and became a member of the fallen race, to come close to us, to identify with us, so that He could find access to human hearts and become an effect discipleship leader.

Not until we are able to realize and embrace our position as a part of the whole, and confess the sin of the whole as our sin, and identify with humanity as Christ identifies with us, will we be used of God to give to the world the final message of warning.

We must also realize that the ultimate objective of this final witness is not the salvation of souls.  Many souls will be saved.  There is no question about that.  But the ultimate objective is not to make the Seventh-day Adventist Church one of the largest “denominations” in the world.  We are glad to realize there are now some 17 million names on the church roles, but we should be ever cognizant of the fact that the majority of God’s children are still in Babylon.  There are still more than 1 billion souls in the Catholic Church, and approximately 1 billion souls in other Christian denominations.  We are yet a very long way from becoming one of the largest Christian churches.

Yet, our mission is much higher than the salvation of human souls.  Our mission is to play a part in the final victory of God in the great controversy.  We should never become confused on this point.  This is the objective of the final gospel presentation.  Sometimes we are tempted to unwittingly sacrifice this objective in order to “make disciples.”  The two objectives are not mutually exclusive and we betray a sacred trust when we behave as though they are.

When Jesus died on the cross, we are told, “Yet Satan was not then destroyed.  The angels did not even then understand all that was involved in the great controversy.  The principles at stake were to be more fully revealed” (DA761).  Thus, the conflict has gone on.
The final proclamation of the gospel will clearly explain the issues of the great controversy.  The principles at stake are to be more fully revealed.  This will clearly show that God is just and that Satan is a liar.  Then the great controversy will end.  Then our God will come.

Let us pray earnestly, consistently, humbly, and confidently, to this end.

-K. Mark Duncan

Thursday, January 09, 2014

“Discipling Through Metaphor”

First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Discipling Through Metaphor
For the week of January 11, 2014
The whole of Scripture was written for one purpose: to reveal Jesus Christ, Savior of the world (John 5:39). Parables were employed by Christ as a teaching tool to communicate truths that might otherwise be hard to understand or unpalatable to hear. In an article elucidating the meaning of Jesus' parable of the ten virgins, early Advent preacher William Miller sets forth the biblical principles of interpreting parables which can be adapted to all such biblical metaphors and parables. This article is included here as an aid to the Bible student in understanding the biblical use, purpose, and understanding of parables:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.{MWV2 233.2}

Parables are always given to illustrate some doctrine or subject which the speaker wishes to communicate, and is an easy or familiar manner of making his hearers or readers understand the subject, and receive a lasting impression. Nothing has so good an effect on the mind as to teach byparables moral precepts or spiritual truths. In this way we are taught by visible things, or familiar objects, to realize, in some measure, the truths and subjects presented. This was the manner Christ taught his disciples and followers, that their memories might the more easily retain, and be often refreshed, when they beheld any scene like the representation of the parable; and in this way, they might always keep in view the important truth that is likened to the parable. A parable, rightly applied and clearly understood, gives good instruction, and is a lasting illustration of the truth. But if we apply the parable wrong, if we put on a false construction, it will serve to lead us into an error, and blind us, instead of producing light,—as Christ said of the Pharisees, he spake to them in parables, that, “seeing, they might see and not perceive, and hearing, they might hear and not understand.” Men often explain parables by fancy, to suit their own notions, without any evidence but their own ingenuity; and by this means there will be as many different explanations as there are ingenious men. But I dare not trifle thus with the word of God: if we cannot, by the word of God, explain, we had better leave the same as we find it, and not attempt what must only result in guess-work at last; but follow Scripture rule, and we cannot get far from the truth. Christ has given us rules by which to explain parables, by explaining some himself. The explanations given by Christ of the parable of the tares and the wheat, is a rule that will bear in about all cases. That he has given rules, is very evident in his answer to his disciples, when they asked him concerning his parables. Mark 4:13, “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? How, then, will ye know all parables?” That is, if ye understand how I explain this parable, you will know how to explain all others; but if you do not understand how I explain this, you cannot explain all others.” This is the rule. Christ made all the prominent parts of a parable figures; such as the sower, Son of man; good seed, children of the kingdom; tares, children of the wicked one; harvest, end of the world; reapers, the angels; “as, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned, so shall it be in the end of the world,” etc. Here is a sample; good seed, tares, harvest, and reapers, are figures representing other things, as we have shown. “But how,” say you, “shall we always know what these figures represent?” I answer, By the explanation given in other parts of the Bible. For the word of God is its own expositor, or it can be of no manner of use to us; for if we have to apply to any other rule, to explain the Bible, then, the other rule would be tantamount, and have a precedence, and the Bible must fall of course. But it is not so. Then, to explain our subject, I shall, {MWV2 233.3}

1. Show what is meant by the figures used in the parable.{MWV2 234.1}
2. The time to which this parable is applicable, and, {MWV2 234.2}
3. Make an application of our subject. {MWV2 234.3}
1. I will explain the figures in the parable; and, 1st, “kingdom of heaven” means the gospel day, or circle of God’s government under the gospel dispensation. This I shall prove by the word of God. Matthew 3:1, 2, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That is, the gospel day is come. Again: “Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached.” That is, the gospel day commenced with John, since which time the gospel is preached. {MWV2 234.4}

“Ten virgins” means mankind in general, in a probationary state, liable to be wooed and betrothed to the Lord, under the gospel, and during the gospel day. See Isaiah 62:1-5, “For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” It is evident, by the second verse, that Gentiles and Jews are both included in this prophecy. {MWV2 235.1}

“Five wise virgins” is a figure of believers in God, or the children of the kingdom. Psalm 45:13, 14, “The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle-work; the virgins, her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee.” “That I might comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion.”Lamentations 2:13. {MWV2 235.2}

“Five foolish” represents the unbelieving class of mankind, while in this probationary state, under the means of grace. This will be sufficiently proved by the following passages—Isaiah 47:1, “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground; there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans.” Jeremiah 46:11, “O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.” These texts prove, beyond a doubt, that the wicked class of men are called virgins by the Scriptures. {MWV2 235.3}

“Lamps” is a figure of the word of God; for that only can tell us about the New Jerusalem; that only can inform us when Christ will come again to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The word of God is the means of moral light, to light our steps through moral darkness, up to the coming of the bridegroom to receive the bride unto himself. This I shall prove by the Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Also, Proverbs 6:23, “For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” {MWV2 235.4}

“Oil” is a representation or emblem of faith; as oil produces light by burning, so does faith, in exercise by the fire of love, produce more light, and gives comfort in adversity, hope in darkness, love for the coming bridegroom; and the light of faith assists us to watch for his coming, and to know the time of night, and to go out to meet him: such are called the children of light, because they are believers, children of faith, “sons of oil.” “Because of the savor of thy good ointment, thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee,” Song of Solomon 1:2. “Faith works by love.” See 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” It is evident, that the anointing here, and elsewhere spoken of, means faith, faith in his name, etc. {MWV2 236.1}
“Vessels” represent the persons or mind that believes or disbelieves in the word of God, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:4, “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” Also, 2 Timothy 2:21, “If any man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor.” {MWV2 236.2}

“Bridegroom” is the figurative name for Christ; as the prophet Isaiah says, “And as a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” And Christ says, “How can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, while the bridegroom is with them?” alluding to himself. This proves that Christ means himself, in person, by the bridegroom in the parable. {MWV2 236.3}

“The door was shut,” implies the closing up of the mediatorial kingdom, and finishing the gospel period. I shall prove this byLuke 13:25-28, “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” {MWV2 237.1}

“Marriage” is the time when Christ shall come the second time without sin unto salvation; gather his elect from the four winds of heaven, where they have been scattered during the dark and cloudy day; when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe; when the bride hath made herself ready, and the marriage of the Lamb is come, then he will present her to his Father without spot or wrinkle, and there marry the bride before his Father and the holy angels; removes her into the New Jerusalem state, seats her upon the throne of his glory, where she will ever be with the Lord. When this takes place, the whole body will be present; the whole church must be there, not a member missing, not a finger out of joint. She will be perfect in beauty, all over glorious. See Revelation 19:7-9, “Let us rejoice and be glad, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Daniel says, “Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the 1335 days.” John says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.” All these are at one and the same time; and how can we expect to be free form sorrow, mourning, and tears, until the bridegroom comes and moves us into the beloved city? Revelation 21:2-4, “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them,” etc.{MWV2 237.2}

Midnight cry” is the watchmen, or some of them, who by the word of God discover the time as revealed, and immediately give the warning voice, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” This has been fulfilled in a most remarkable manner. One or two on every quarter of the globe have proclaimed the news, and agree in the time—Wolf, of Asia; Irwin, late of England; Mason, of Scotland; Davis, of South Carolina; and quite a number in this region are, or have been giving the cry. And will not you all, my brethren, examine and see if these things are so, and trim your lamps and be found ready? {MWV2 238.1}

“Trimming the lamps.” You will recollect, my friends, that the word of God is the lamp. To trim a lamp is to make it give light, more light, and clearer light. In the first place, to translate the Bible would make it give light, in all languages into which it should be translated. Then, to send to or give every family in the known world a Bible would make the Bible give more light. And thirdly, to send out true servants of God who have made the Bible their study, and true teachers, who would teach the holy precepts and doctrines contained therein, and to employ many Sabbath school teachers, would in the hands of God be the means of its giving clearer light. This would be trimming the lamp; and so far as the foolish virgins assisted in translating the Scriptures, in sending them among all nations, and employing missionaries and teacher to teach mankind its principles, so far would they trim their lamp: but if they had no faith in it, their light would be darkness, and the lamp to them would go out. If the friend of the bridegroom should proclaim the approach of him whom they all expected, and should prove it ever so plain by the lamp, but having no faith, the lamp would go out; they would not be ready to enter into the marriage supper, and the door would be shut. This is undoubtedly the meaning which Christ intends to convey in this parable. I shall, therefore, show, {MWV2 238.2}

2. The time this parable is applicable to. {MWV2 239.1}

In the chapter previous our Savior had answered three questions which his disciples had put to him on the mount of Olives, when they came to him privately, “saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?” That is, when Jerusalem should be levelled with the ground. “And what shall be the sign of thy coming?” That is, his second coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, as he had before informed them, which is yet future. “And of the end of the world,” or, as some translate it, “end of the age,” to which I am perfectly willing to agree; but what age? is the question. I answer, The gospel age, or the kingdom of heaven. See 14th verse, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” “The law and the prophets were until John, since which time the kingdom of heaven is preached.” The Jewish economy is no where called the kingdom of heaven; but this expression belongs exclusively to the gospel; and of course any age in which the gospel or kingdom of heaven is preached can never be applied to the Jewish age. Any novice in Scripture interpretation must readily admit this. These were the questions proposed by the disciples to their divine Master, and were answered in the following manner: From the 4th to the14th verses inclusive of the 24th chapter of Matthew, Christ informs his disciples of the troubles, trials, persecutions, and distress which they and his followers should suffer, down to the end of the gospel age. He also informs them by what means they must suffer—by false brethren, by deceit, by wars, rumors of wars, clashing of nations, earthquakes, afflictions, death, hatred, offenses, betrayals, false prophets, coldness, iniquity, famines, and pestilence, and these to the end of the gospel age. From the15th to the 22nd inclusive he alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem, and particularly gives his followers warning of what they shall suffer, and informs them what to do at that time; he tells them what to pray for, and how to escape from the siege, and how to avoid certain consequences which must follow this great tribulation. {MWV2 239.2}

From the 23rd to the 28th inclusive, he warns his disciples against the error that false teachers would promulgate, that Christ did or would come at the destruction of Jerusalem. He told them plainly to “believe it not,” for his second coming would be as visible as the lightning, and then every man would be gathered to his own company; so there would be no room for deceit. {MWV2 240.1}

In the 29th verse he prophesies of the rise of anti-Christ, the darkness and fall of many into superstition and error, and the persecution of the true church. 30th and 31st verse, He gives a sign of his coming, the mourning of the tribes of the earth, and then speaks of his coming and what he will do. 32, Is the parable of the figtree. 33, He enforces it by saying, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door.” 34th and 35th verses, He gives his disciples a comfortable promise, which was to this amount, that his children should not be all destroyed from the earth. But “this generationshall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” To prove the wordgeneration is so used, I will refer you to Psalm 22:30, “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for ageneration.” 1 Peter 2:9, “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” The word generation, in the Scriptures, when used in the singular, I believe almost invariably means the children of one parent; as the generation of Adam, children of Adam, chosen generation, children of God,generationof vipers, children of the devil. So Christ, talking to his children, and instructing them only, says, “This generation shall not p[ass till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” His kingdom shall not be destroyed nor given to another people. {MWV2 240.2}

36th verse, He informs his disciples that the day and hour of his coming is known only to God, has never been revealed, meaning day and hour only, whether at midnight, at cock crowing, or in the morning. {MWV2 240.3}

Verses 37-44, inclusive, He informs them that his coming will be like the deluge; unexpected to the wicked, as then. He tells them the manner; that he will separate the righteous from the wicked; one shall be taken and another left. He then gives them a charge to watch, and repeats, “they know not the hour.” Christ illustrates his warning by the figure of the good man of the house, and then charges them to be also ready, as the good man would, if he know in what watch the thief would come, showing us plainly that all true believers will know near the time, as Paul says, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day shall overtake you as a thief.” {MWV2 240.4}
From 45-47, he tells us of the faithful and wise servant who watches and gives warning of his coming, and speaks of the blessings that servant shall inherit when he comes and finds him so doing. {MWV2 241.1}

48-51, Christ gives us the marks of an evil servant: 1st mark, he will “say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming.” He may not preach or speak against Christ’s coming; no, he will only say it to himself. But he will not say he will never come; no, he will only think in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” When he hears the voice of the faithful servant saying, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” he will say nothing in public against it; no, not so bad as that. Neither will he say anything in favor of the cry; but mutter in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” The second mark, “And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants.” It does not say he will beat and bruise his fellow-servants, or the faithful servant who watches and cries; but he shall begin to smite, etc., meaning he will begin the persecution, set others on, and himself he will keep back, in his heart deceitful. 3rd mark, “And to eat and drink with the drunken.” To eat and drink with the drunken—it does not say he gets drunk; no, it only says he eats and drinks with them that are so. By this I understand he fellowships with them, and is engaged in, and employs his time, his talents, his mind, to build up some popular and worldly object, which men of the world would be pleased in promoting. He courts popular applause; he seeks to please men more than God. “The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour he is not aware of. And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” {MWV2 241.2}

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth go meet the bridegroom.” I think we cannot be mistaken in the application of this parable. “Then,” that is, at the time when the wise servants are looking for and proclaiming his coming, and when the evil servant says in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming. Then, too, when he will come, and they that are ready go in to the marriage, and the door is shut. This must mean the time when Christ comes to judgment, for he cuts off the evil servant, and appoints him his portion, and shuts the door against the foolish virgins; and when they knock, he opens not, but tells them, I know you not. {MWV2 242.1}

Where, then, is the millennium? say some. After the judgment sits, and not before; after the bridegroom comes, and the beloved city is completed; when Christ shall move his saints home, and live and reign with them on the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. If there could have been a millennium before Christ should come and gather his saints into one body, it must be a very imperfect one. A part of the body in heaven, a part in the earth, and the remainder under the earth; separated, divided, wounded, and torn by enemies and death, absent from our head. No, it cannot be; if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable. If we are to have a temporal millennium, why did not our Savior mention it on the mount of Olives, as preceding his coming? He did not, neither has any of the apostles; but all speak of troublous times, departure from the faith, iniquity abounding, and the love of many waxing cold in the latter days. Our parable, to which we are now attending, says, at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. “At midnight;” this teaches us that at the time of his coming there will be much apathy and darkness on this subject; that is the coming of the bridegroom. The parable implies the same. “For while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Can we not bear witness that this has been the true state of the church for a number of years past? The writers on the word of God have adopted in their creeds, that there would be a temporal millennium before Christ would come. I call it temporal, because they have all of them taught that it would be in this state of things, not in an immortal state, neither in a glorified state; and the Christians would have all kingdoms under their control; that is, in a temporal sense; and that they would be married and given in marriage, until the coming of Christ after this 1000 years, or, as some say, 360,000 years. This has been, and is yet, the prevailing opinion among our standard writers and great men. No wonder, Christ says, they will say in their hearts, My Lord delayeth his coming, and that the wise and foolish are all sleeping and slumbering on this important subject. For while we look for a temporal kingdom, behold, he cometh and destroys all that is perishable, all that is temporal, and erect upon these a new heaven and a new earth, which is immortal, and that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens. I shall now, 3. Make an application of our subject. And, {MWV2 242.2}

1st. The time of the fulfillment of this parable is evidently come, in part at least. The world for a number of years have been trimming their lamps, and the wise and foolish have been engaged in translating the word of God into almost every language known unto us upon the earth. Mr. Judson tells us that it has been translated into one hundred and fifty languages within thirty years; that is, three times the number of all the translations known to us before. Then fourfold light has been shed among the nations, within the short period of the time above specified; and we are informed that a part if not all of the word of God is now given to all nations in their own language. This, surely, is setting the word of life in a conspicuous situation, that it may give light to all in the world. This has not been done by the exertions of Christians or professors only, but by the aid of all classes and societies of men. Kings have opened their coffers, and favored those engaged in the work; nobles have used their influence, and have cast into the treasury of the Lord of their abundance; rich men have bestowed of their riches; and in many cases the miser has forgot his parsimony, the poor have replenished the funds of the Lord’s house, and the widow has cast in her mite. How easy to work the work of the Lord when the hearts of men are made willing by his power! But shall we forget those who have forsaken the land of their fathers, the home of their nativity, and have spent lonesome years of toil among strangers, yes, worse than strangers,among heathen idolaters, and the savage of the wilderness, in the cold regions of the north, and under the scorching rays of a vertical sun, among the suffocating sands of the desert, or in the pestilential atmosphere of India; who have risked their lives to learn a language, and prepare themselves to trim a lamp for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death? No, we will not forget them; the prayers of thousands have ascended before the golden altar, morning and evening, on their behalf, and Israel’s {MWV2 243.1}

God has been their protector. Surely we may hope that these have oil in their lamps, who have sacrificed so much to bestow a lamp upon others. But remember, my brethren, the Lord he is God, and let him have all the glory. This is the time, and the same time that Gabriel informed Daniel, “many should run to and fro, and knowledge should increase.” This, too, is the same time when the angel flying through the midst of heaven had the everlasting gospel to preach to them who dwelt upon the earth. Here are Christ’s words fulfilled, where he says, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” {MWV2 244.1}

2nd. It is plain to any diligent observer of the sign of the times, that all the societies for moral reform in our world at the present day are parts of the fulfillment of the parable, giving more light. What of our Bible societies? Are not these trimming the lamp for millions of human beings? thirty years past, more than three fourths of the families in what we call Christian lands were without the lamp of life, and now nearly all supplied. Many of those who sat in heathenish darkness then,, are now rejoicing in the light of God’s book. And much of this had been performed through the instrumentality of Bible societies, and not only through the agency of the church, but political men, men of the world, the great men, merchants of the earth and those who trade in ships, all who live under the influence of the gospel, the “kingdom of heaven,” have engaged in the work. Will not the most skeptical acknowledge, that this society has succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectation of its most ardent advocates? And is not this strong circumstantial evidence that the Bridegroom is near, even at the door? {MWV2 244.2}

3rd. The missionary societies of all sects and denominations, which have been established within forty years, have as far exceeded all former exertions of this kind as the overflowing Nile does the waters of the brook Kidron. See the missionary spirit extending from east to west, and from north to south, warming the breast of the philanthropist, giving life and vigor to the cold-hearted moralist, and animating and enlivening the social circle of the pious devotee. Every nation, from India to Oregon, from Kamtschatka to New Zealand, have been visited by these wise servants (as we hope) of the cross, proclaiming “the acceptableyear of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God,” carrying the lamp, the word of God in their hands, and oil, faith in God, in their hearts. All classes of men are engaged in this cause, from the gray hairs of old age down to the sprightly youth of ten years. Who, then, can doubt but that the virgins in this sense have and are trimming their lamps, and the bride is making herself ready? “Go ye out to meet him.” {MWV2 245.1}

4th. The Sabbath schools and Bible classes are but a part of the fulfillment of the parable, yet clearly an evidence that he virgins are now trimming their lamps. This system of teaching the young and ignorant took its rise between forty and fifty years since, at the very time that the Christian world were praying, and ardently praying, for the coming of Christ, before that part of the Savior’s prayer was forgotten, “Thy kingdom come.” From a little fountain this stream of water has become a great river, and encompassed the whole land. Every quarter of the globe are drinking at this fountain or stream of knowledge, and the youth are taught to trim their lamps. And when the bridegroom shall come, may we not reasonably hope that he thousands of the young men and young women who have assisted in giving light to others, may be found having oil in their vessels, and their lamps trimmed and burning, and they looking and waiting for the coming of their Master, that when he comes they may rise to meet him in the air, with ten thousand of their pupils, who will sing the new song in the New Jerusalem forever and ever? Search diligently, my young friends, and see to it that ye believe in this word, “which is able to make you wise unto salvation.”{MWV2 245.2}

5th. Tract societies are of much use, and are an efficient means to help trim the lamps; like snuffers that take away the preventives to the light, so are tracts. They take away from the mind the prejudice that thousands have against reading the word of God. They remove those rooted and groundless opinions which many have that they cannot understand the Bible; they serve to excite the mind to this kind of reading; they enlighten the understanding into some scriptural truths; they are pioneers, in many instances, to conversion; they can be sent where the word of God cannot at first be received; in one word, they are the harbingers of light, the forerunners of the Bible. And in this, too, all men in this probationary state seem to be more or less engaged, from the king on the throne down to the poor peasant in the cottage, writing, printing, folding, transporting, paying, or reading, these silent little messengers of the virgins’ lamp. “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” Has not God’s hand been seen in all this? Yes, glory be to him who hath disposed the hearts of men to work the work that God bids them, and to fulfill the blessed word which he hath given them. This institution took its rise about the same time with the Bible society.{MWV2 246.1}

6th. Temperance societies. These serve one purpose in trimming the lamps and preparing the way for the virgins to go out and meet the Bridegroom. Our world, twenty years ago, might be called a world of fashionable drunkards; almost all men drank of the intoxicating bowl, and thought it no harm. But when the lamp began to dart its rays around our tabernacles, it was found by woful experience that those who drank of the poisonous cup were totally and wholly unprepared to receive the warning voice, or hear the midnight cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh.” No, “they that were drunken, were drunken in the night,” says the apostle. “Therefore let us watch and be sober.” And Peter tells us, “But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” How foolish would it have been for a drunken man to be set on a watch, or a praying man to be found drunk! Therefore, in order that men might be in a suitable frame of mind to receive instruction at the close of this dispensation and be in a situation to listen to the midnight cry, God ordered the virgins, and they arose and trimmed their lamps; and in all human probability thousands who would have met a drunkard’s grave if this society had not arose, are now watching, with their lamps trimmed and burning, ready to meet the Bridegroom at his coming. Perhaps this temperance society is the virgins’ last resort. The Judge stands at the door; go ye out to meet him. This society, like the others before mentioned, is a general thing, and all sects, denominations, and classes of men are engaged in it, and it has an important influence upon all men who are in this probationary state, and who may be termed, as in our text, “virgins.” This society is of later origin than the others, and seems to be a rear guard to wake up a few stragglers which the other societies could not reach. And now, drunkards, is your time; Wisdom stands at the door and knocks; let go the intoxicating bowl, be sober, and hear the midnight cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh.” For your souls’ sake drink not another draught, lest he come and find you drunken, “and that day come upon you unawares, and find you sleeping.” O, be wise, ye intemperate men, for they only went in to the marriage who were found ready, “and the door was shut.” {MWV2 246.2}

“Then came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” “But the wise shall understand,” says Daniel 12:10. {MWV2 248.1}

3. And now, my Christian friends, let me inquire, Are your lamps trimmed and burning? And have you oil in your vessels? Are you prepared for the coming Bridegroom? And are you awake to this important subject? What say you? If this parable, to which I have directed your minds, has reference to the last day and the coming of Christ; if the “virgins” has reference to all men in this probationary state, and dividing them into two classes, wise and foolish; if the “lamp” is the word of God, and “oil” means faith in his word, or grace in the heart, as some say,—then my conclusions are just, and the evidence is strong that we live at the end of the gospel kingdom, and upon the threshold of the glorified state of the righteous. Then examine your Bibles, and if you can as fairly prove any other exposition of this parable, as I have this, then believe yours, and time must settle the issue; but if you can find nothing in the Scriptures to controvert plainly my explanation, then believe, and prepare to go out to meet the Bridegroom; for behold he cometh. Awake, ye fathers and mothers in Zion; you have long looked and prayed for this day. Behold the signs! He is near, even at the door. And, ye children of God, lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. For these things have begun to come to pass. And ye, little lambs of the flock, remember Jesus has promised to carry you in his arms, and that he will come and take you to himself, that where he is there ye may be also. But remember, all of you, the wise had oil in their lamps, and they were trimmed and burning. Search deep; examine yourselves closely, be not deceived; and may the Spirit which searcheth all things, and knoweth what is in the mind of man, assist you. {MWV2 248.2}

But, my impenitent friends, what shall I say to you? Shall I say, as the master in the parable, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him”? Prepare to meet your Judge. Now he has given you a time for repentance; you have had a probationary season, and possibly now the scepter of mercy is held out to you. Repent, or it will soon be said to you as Jeremiah said to the virgin, the daughter of Egypt, “In vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured;” or as in the parable, “I know you not.” Have you no oil in your lamps? Delay not a moment; believe the gospel, and you will live; believe in the word of God; receive the love of the Bridegroom, and make no delay; for while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. O, think what must be the exercise of your minds when these things shall be real; when you will stand without and knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. Again I ask, will you repent, believe, and be saved? Are you determined to resist the truth until it is too late? Say, sinner, what think ye? “We will risk the consequence. We do not believe in your day you tell us of. The world is the same it always was; no change, nor ever will be; but if it should come, it will not this ten thousand years; not in our day, certainly. You do not believe yourself. If you did we should call you a fool.” {MWV2 248.3}

Are these your arguments, sinner? Yes. Well, if I had brought no more, no stronger arguments than these, I would not blame you for not believing, for not one of yours can you or have you supported with a particle of proof. They are mere assertions; your believing or not believing will not alter the designs of God. The antediluvian believed not. The citizens of the plain laughed at the folly of Lot. And where are they now? suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. {MWV2 249.1}
-Patti Guthrie

Thursday, January 02, 2014

“Disciples and Scripture”

First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Disciples and Scripture"
For the week of January 4, 2014
As pointed out in this week's memory verse, the Scriptures testify of Jesus. And as He said, there were those who searched the Scriptures thinking that this exercise brought them life. The next verse records Jesus saying "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:40). The One who gives life was standing in their midst, but they refused to believe that "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Is this not true today? Are there people who search for all kinds of things, especially last day events, who miss Jesus altogether in their research? This is not to say we ought not to study the closing events of earth's history, but if our study does not lead us to Jesus and His salvation something is not right.

The Scriptures of which Jesus spoke, and which testify of Him, are the Old Testament. They bear witness to Him. Every book, every passage of the Old Testament reveals something about Him. I recall a phone conversation with a theology student who called complaining about one of our elders who was conducting an evangelistic series at the time. Aware that the student was not settled into the truths we hold, the thought came to me that he was no longer a Seventh-day Adventist in his thinking. So I asked him if my observation was correct. He replied triumphantly, "I am a New Testament Christian." Have you heard this sentiment before? Although there may be a triumphant declaration, there is an answer to this false idea.

Later in John 5 we find the answer. Jesus said, "if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46–47). This is crystal clear. You cannot be a New Testament Christian if you are not an Old Testament Christian because the Old Testament testifies about Jesus. It is impossible to be a New Testament Christian if a person is not an Old Testament Christian. If we are disciples, of Christ, we will believe that Moses wrote of Him as God, Creator, Lawgiver and Redeemer. Those who do not believe this are not disciples, of Christ, for this is the message His disciples believe and proclaim.

This leads us to the question, "How Shall We Consider Christ?" This question was asked by E.J. Waggoner. (This is the chapter one title of his book Christ and His Righteousness.) Waggoner followed with the answer, "Just as He has revealed Himself to the world, according to the witness which He bore concerning Himself."1 And witness He bore was that Moses wrote about Him.

Waggoner presented Christ first of all as God, the Creator, who later became part of His own creation – the flesh of mankind. Thus Christ's righteousness is the righteousness of God.

The title of another chapter in his book is: "Is Christ a Created Being?" There were persons, both inside and outside the church, who claimed Christ was a created being. In 1865 Uriah Smith taught that Christ was created. He called Him "the first created being."2 

However, he changed the wording in a later edition of his book on Revelation. In commenting on Rev 3:14 he wrote, "the language does not necessarily imply that he [Jesus] was created; for the words, 'the beginning of the creation,' may simply signify that the work of creation, strictly speaking, was begun by him."3  The following year (about 5 years before he died) Smith wrote that Christ was "uncreated" but then went on to write that Christ's deity evolved and that this evolution ceased when Christ came into existence through some kind of an evolutionary process (of which Smith did not explain nor give any evidence). Here is what he wrote: "With the Son, the evolution of deity, as deity, ceased. All else, of things animate or inanimate, has come in by creation of the Father and the Son – the Father the antecedent cause, the Son the acting agent through whom all has been wrought."4

Be that as it may, it is well for us to consider Christ Jesus as the Uncreated One, the Almighty God, the One who created all things, who gave to us His law, who took our mortal nature in order to die that He might redeem and save us. As the God-Man, Jesus did not work miracles to prove who He was. He always directed His hearers to the word of God. He did not use the doubting "historical critical method" of interpreting Scripture like much of modern scholarship today does. He simply presented Scripture as fact. He presented the prophetic word. He also presented the law and the gospel as inseparable and His "word was with power" (Luke 4:32). Enemies could crucify Him, but they could not gainsay His claims about Himself.

When Jesus began His public ministry He based it on the prophetic word. Mark records this in chapter one where Jesus gave two declarations and a double command summarizing His message: "Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.' " (Mark 1:14-15). The second declaration was "the kingdom of God is at hand." This kingdom is the kingdom of grace which is made up of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). Christ's first declaration was "The time is fulfilled."

The only time that could have been fulfilled is that part of the 70 week prophecy of Daniel in chapter 9 which states – "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…" (v 9). Daniel next prophesied Christ's death – He would be "cut off, but not for Himself." It was for us. The crucifixion of Christ was to occur during the last week of the 70 weeks – "in the middle of the week" (v 27). Jesus taught this to His disciples, but they could not or would not believe. He is still teaching this prophecy to His disciples of today. If we are His disciples we will teach this also.

After His death and resurrection Jesus shared with two of His disciples, on the road to Emmaus, the following: " 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:25–27). Later that night Jesus spoke to the disciples hiding in the upper room: "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (Luke 24:44–45). After Pentecost Christ's disciples studied and taught these things. So should we.

Following His two declarations, Jesus proclaimed a double command that summarized His message. This command is still true today: "Repent, and believe in the gospel." The words "repent" and believe" are in the plural making this command corporate in nature. There is only one gospel, and that is everlasting (Rev 14:6). As such Jesus used the singular form of the word "gospel" in His first public proclamation. His last proclamation to His people includes both faith and repentance. As Counselor and True Witness He both counsels us to accept His faith – the "gold refined in the fire" and commands us to "to be zealous and repent" (Rev 3:18-19). His commands are not grievous. It is because He loves us that He calls for repentance. Notice this thought: "God loves His people who keep His commandments, and reproves them, not because they are the worst, but because, they are the best people in the world."5  And this: "God rebukes His people for their sins that He may humble them and lead them to seek His face."6

Is it possible for us to have evidence and assurance that we are disciples of Christ? Yes. Notice this thought:

"The surest evidence we have that Jesus is abiding in the soul temple is: There is a sensitiveness to sin, a tenderness of conscience, and a growing sense of the preciousness of Jesus. The name of Jesus seems full of fragrance. There is a living sense that the soul is connected with divine power, for the heart is in sympathy with His mind and purposes."7

In closing, consider Waggoner's rules for discipled Christians entitled: "Five Short Rules for Christians."

1. Never neglect daily private prayer; and when you pray, remember that God is present and hears your prayers. Heb. 11:5.
2. Never neglect daily private Bible reading. All backsliding begins with the neglect of these two rules. John 5:39.
3. Never let a day pass without trying to do something for Jesus. Luke 5:13-15.
4. If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong, go to your room and kneel down and ask God's blessing upon it. Col. 3:17. If you cannot do this, it is wrong. Rom. 11:23.
5. Never take your Christianity from Christians. 2 Cor. 10:12. Ask yourself, 'How would Christ act in my place?' and strive to follow him. John 10:27."8
-Jerry Finneman

1. E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, (1890), p. 8.
2. Uriah Smith, Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation, (1865), p. 59.
3. Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, (1897), p. 400.
4. Smith, Looking unto Jesus (1898), page 13.
5. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol 1, p. 569.
6. White, "The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald," Feb 25, 1902.
7. White, Ms. 48, 1890, p. 9 and found in Manuscript Releases, Vol. Thirteen, p. 31
8. Waggoner, "Signs of the Times," May 13, 1889, p. 277.

Raul Diaz