Wednesday, March 19, 2014

“The Harvest and the Harvesters”

Insights #12 March 22, 2014

First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Harvest and the Harvesters”

"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. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure."  {TM 91.2}

This quote regarding the 1888 message, tells about the two vital ingredients that God intends to be in Christian experience.  These two vital ingredients are also what our lesson this week is calling our attention to.  If either one is missing, we have at best an unbalanced religious experience, or at worst, an extremist religious experience – if we have a true Christian experience at all.

The quote above talks about two areas that are vital to our experience.  One is a knowledge base regarding God and His principles.  The quote above described it in these terms:  “a most precious message,” “bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world,” “the Surety,” “many had lost sight of Jesus,” “needed their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family,” etc.  All of these phrases have to do with a need that we had and still have to understand something more completely than we ever have about the goodness, love, and sacrifice of God in Jesus for a rebellious people – us.  We need to see, to understand, to appreciate, to recognize how great a sacrifice God and Jesus have given to us as a revelation of their love for us.

•     “For the love of Christ compels us” 2Cor.5:14
•     “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us”  1Jn.3:16
•     “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice
       for our sins.” 1Jn.4:10
•     “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son”  Jn.3:16

The second area that is vital to our experience is a heart response of appreciation that leads to a change in our thinking, in our feeling, and in how we live and relate to others.  The quote above describes it in these terms:  “invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ,” “manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God,” “imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness,” “message that God commanded to be given to the world.”  This describes for us that we have the opportunity and responsibility to internalize the love that God has expressed to us, and reveal it in actual behavior as we relate to others.  Not as an obligation or requirement, but as a heart appreciation for what God has done for us.

•     “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.” 2Jn.1:6
•     “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” 1Jn.5:3
•     “That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us”  Rom.8:4

The lesson brings these points in the opening day of the lesson: “Whenever hype and publicity take precedence over spiritual growth, the results are shallowness and spiritual sterility. Whenever proselytizing displaces repentance, conversion, and spiritual transformation, the mission falters. Training leaders to conduct membership drives, media blitzes, and public relations campaigns instead of preparing them for spiritual warfare is courting disaster. True evangelism and disciple-making are centered around (1) the acknowledgment of our sinfulness, (2) genuine heartfelt contrition, (3) our unreserved spiritual surrender, and (4) the irrepressible compulsion to disseminate God’s divine message to others.”  (p.94)

Their point is the same as ours - the same as the goal of the 1888 message.  If we have knowledge without a corresponding experience, or we have an “experience” of religion without knowledge, we are misrepresenting true Christianity.  A “zeal for God” that is not according to knowledge (Rom.10:2), or a knowledge that puffs up without love (1Cor.8:1), are both Christian pitfalls that God is trying to steer us away from.
The goodness or good news about God, does lead to repentance, to genuine Christian goodness (Rom.2:4).
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”  {DA 668.3}

As we study the Bible, as we study inspired writings, as we study the 1888 message, as we pray, may this lead to us letting our light shine to represent to others the beauty of God.  May we allow that beauty, that goodness, that selflessness, to be manifest and broadcast in our lives to the members of our families, and to all of our human contacts.  God sent us a most precious message in 1888 not to only give us right doctrinal truth, but to move us to a Christlike experience and love for all of the human family.  May we study and pray and reach outward for this heavenly experience.
-Bob Hunsaker