Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“Our Mission”

Insights #9 August 30, 2014

Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Our Mission"
For the week of August 30, 2014

Our corporate mission as Christians comes as a command from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20. He predicted its end-time fulfillment earlier in Matthew 24:14. These two passages share the "all nations" extent of the task. Mark's version of Jesus' command shares the "Go" of the command in Matthew, and the "preach" and "gospel" of the prediction. The prediction adds as well the "witness" that such preaching is, more than raw spoken or printed words. But the prediction is often quoted without its supporting context, which alone defines for us the bare-bones parameters of what "this gospel" is. And that will be our focus this week on "Our Mission."

Our first premise will be that this "witness" is simply an echo of that which Jesus spoke of in John 3:11, which the Godhead gives. What is that? A word study of "witness" takes one to John 18:37, where Jesus confessed, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." And this truth is so important that it is usually called "the truth." Jesus stated that His very identity was wrapped up with it (John 14:6), and He made it clear that it was the truth about the Father (14:9) in contrast with the lie of the devil (John 8:44; compare verses 32, 36, and 40).

We are told the reason the Jews rejected Jesus' witness was failure to learn the lesson of the story of Job. (See Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 471.) In Job, Satan expressed the lie by accusing God of buying Job's allegiance with familial and material blessings (selfishness appealing to selfishness). And Job's friends echoed the lie by holding that Job's losses were God's punishment because of Job's sin (selfishness retaliating against selfishness). This selfish and arbitrary picture of God was the lie Jesus came to dispel. And His commission to the church is simply to join that witness--to embrace the denial of self (Luke 9:23), the unselfish love that defines the essence of who God is in His character (1 John 4:8, 16).

It is thus that "this gospel" in Jesus' prediction of the final success of the witness going to "all nations" is couched in Jesus' description of the final showdown between the lie and the truth--abounding lawlessness versus enduring love (Matthew 24:12, 13). Only love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). So what is the danger Jesus described in the end-time, when "the love of many shall wax cold"? The key to this is found in the command later in Matthew, the necessity "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded" (28:20). From our tendency to view things from a "legal religion" viewpoint, we think these are things we must do in some checklist fashion. But the verb Jesus used is better rendered, as it usually is, as "keep." It is the same verb used for the final picture of God's holy people (not holy in themselves, mind you) having endurance (noun of the verb in Matthew 24:13) because they "keep" two things--"the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). One cannot keep something he has not been given. So what is the giving behind the commanding? In John 15:17 Jesus simply stated what He commanded (same verb), "These things I command you, that ye love one another." So how do you keep that command? How did Jesus give that command--by some solitary verbal order? No, this command is simply a repeat of what He stated five verses earlier, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." (15:12). Can we see it? Our love waxes cold when we don't keep the love Jesus gave us.

So the command to "make disciples" is simply an expression that flows from such keeping--valuing what He has given us so highly that we are constrained to pass it on to others. The lesson points out that the primary command in Matthew 28 is "make disciples" ("teach" in KJV), with the other three actions (participles) supporting that goal. I believe they fit well a family model, which most clearly embodies the love our heavenly Father is. Thus we must see adding to God's family as the goal of such love:

"Going" (the "Go" in KJV) directs a process of meeting people where they are, not waiting for them to come to us. There is a witness implicit in the going. "They were not to wait for the people to come to them; they were to go to the people with their message."  (Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, page 28). This is reaching out to people (remember "every creature" in "all nations"), seeing each as God sees him, as he "might become through redeeming love" (Ellen White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 118). Paul had grasped this perspective. I am sure it is what made his evangelism so effective (2 Corinthians 5:16). Remember, these are people that have not yet been born into the family! But we value each as Christ values him, and ask God to give us wisdom to know what that person needs to nurture the "gestation" that Christ conceived in His death and resurrection.

"Baptizing" reflects the point in the process which is that of birthing. As Jesus told Nicodemus in their nighttime "mission" (evangelistic) encounter, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). One has to "come out" to experience what God has in the rest of the process. So we serve as spiritual "midwives" gently encouraging those we nurture pre-birth to acknowledge publicly, when the time is right (full term), Jesus' baptism for them.

"Teaching" fits best the process of raising the children. We should start talking, no doubt, to them pre-birth, but how much can really be taught then compared to what God has in store for them as growing children? This is where we are enjoined to teach each "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded." What does love look like in its multifaceted expressions in life? A child is not born inherently knowing that. Just as we have been taught by the Spirit, we are to value those lessons by passing them on, as deep as they are conceptually, and as broad as they are practically!

Is the mission becoming clearer? But, as Paul exclaimed, "who is sufficient for these things"! (2 Corinthians 2:16). It takes the supernatural power of the Spirit to begin the process and carry it to completion, both in us and through us. We can learn much from the disciples' experience. They "forsook all" to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11), but were limited and blinded by selfish plans in the "mission" (Luke 9:46; 22:24). Because of this, "all forsook him, and fled" in the crisis hour (Mark 14:50). But the trial and crucifixion of Jesus accomplished a vital goal in the process those that "endured" had to experience--the death of all their selfish plans. Of course, an unselfish future did not yet dawn on their darkened minds. That took the resurrection of Jesus, His meeting with them, and leading them through a Bible study, unfolding, if you please, how "the truth" was victorious over "the lie"--that giving defeats taking in their ultimate encounters. As Messiah, this was what His mission was all about, and theirs. Would they embrace it? He "breathed on them" the Spirit to assist them in the practical aspects of embracing it, things that involved the removal of sin (John 20:22, 23). After years of contention, rivalry, and anger, there were a lot of wrongs to make right. Would they submit to the process? They did! And the results were wonderful. Let's list them--

(1) They had "great joy" shown in "continually ... praising and blessing God" (Luke 24:52, 53).
(2) They were able to "become witnesses of these things"--not just Jesus' death and resurrection but also "the repentance and remission of sins" that His giving was all about (Luke 24:46-48).
(3) They "all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14). Unity was finally realized!

And then--what? God could combine the installation of Jesus as High Priest at His right hand (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 8:1) with an outpouring of His Spirit upon the waiting disciples, amplifying supernaturally their witness for their mission.

Can we see any parallels to us? "Our mission" is impossible without a similar imparting of the Spirit. But can we see that the Spirit cannot come without a preparation similar to the early disciples? Adventism has yet to come to face what it needs, what our own history teaches us, in a negative sense. Read the books The Return of the Latter Rain and Wounded in the House of His Friends, by Ron Duffield. Read the article, "Why the Lord Waits" (Ellen White, Review and Herald, July 21, 1896). The needs for the mission are clearly described there--

Every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous to bring others from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with his glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, whole-hearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of his Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God. God cannot pour out his Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest; when a spirit prevails that, if put into words, would express that answer of Cain,--"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Adventism is stuck somewhere in Luke 22. We have not yet experienced a death to our selfish plans that a cross-type confrontation causes. It could have happened as early as the 1850s or 1860s (Ellen White, Evangelism, page 694). Minneapolis was God's marked attempt to lead us through that. But instead, "Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world." (Ellen White, The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, page 1575). Numerical growth cannot indicate success in "our mission" in the face of multiple statements that it could have been finished generations ago (for example, see Ibid., p. 1129), and of the fact the world's population is growing faster than we are "going, baptizing, and teaching."

Will you join me in praying for a willingness to allow God to take us from Luke 22 to Acts 2?
-Fred Bischoff


Friday, August 22, 2014

“The Church”

Insights #8 August 23, 2014


Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

"The Church"

For the week of August 23, 2014  


In our lesson this week, regarding "the church," the author rightly spends the lion's share of the time on unity.  Both the words of Jesus, and the writings of the New Testament authors—particularly Paul—are replete with counsel about unity in the church.  Throughout the history of the Great Controversy, from its origin in heaven, to the aftermath of the fall where Adam and Eve accused (gossiped) regarding each other, to the division between Cain and Abel, and on to the end of time, unity has been a rare commodity in this world.  Lucifer up in heaven introduced disunity into the universe through the avenue of gossip—gossip about God.  There was the first schism in God's universal church.  The patriarchs, the prophets, the kings, the young church, and the remnant church, have all struggled for unity.


The 1888 era was a time where profound challenges to unity—both of doctrine and of attitude/spirit—plagued us.  Ellen White kept pleading with us to "press together."  Her calls frequently were unheeded as pride of opinion or position carried the day.


"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message through Elders Waggoner and Jones."  As A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner were in the center of the storm regarding this "most precious message," they wrote much about the imperative for unity, what it would look like, and how to experience it.  Below is a powerful excerpt from some of A.T. Jones' writings in the immediate aftermath of the 1888 era that is as present truth today as it was 125 years ago.


WE have noticed those scriptures which set forth the church as the body of Christ, and the members of the church as members of the body of Christ, and therefore members one of another, as they by "joints and bonds" are "knit together in love." As the members of the church are members of the body of Christ, and also members one of another, how can it be but that there shall be unity in the church. If I am a member of the body of Christ and you are a member of the body of Christ, then if we have any respect for Christ how can it be that we shall have any disrespect for one another? If we love Christ how can we have anything but love for one another? But more than this, we are also members one of another, and as "no man ever yet hated his own flesh," how then can it ever be that we should not love one another.


This is the very test of our love for Christ: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" 1 John 4:20. No man can appreciate the love of Christ while he is cross and spiteful and cruel to his brother, for whom Christ died. Church-members cannot expect to honour Christ while they dishonour one another. In dishonouring one another they do dishonour Christ, because "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." But when each one sees in his brother one for whom the Saviour died, and one who is a member of the body of Christ, then each one will treat his brother tenderly, lovingly, as the Saviour is tender and loving. When each one sees in his brother a soul so precious as that Christ died for him, he is not going to treat him slightingly, nor needlessly cause him pain. To cause a brother pain cannot be without causing Christ pain, for we are members of His body, and He is the Head of the body, and it is the head always which is really conscious of any pain in the body. The Scripture would have us realize the closeness, the intricacy, of the relationship between Christ and the church, and between the members one with another in the church.


Thus it is with the human body, as everybody knows; and thus it is with the body of Christ, the church—as everybody ought to know. Each member of the church, in his place, is necessary to every other member of the church. Yea, even "those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary." And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, upon these we should bestow more abundant honour. Christ has honoured them with a place in the church, shall we despise them? "The members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." Or as it is said in another place: "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." Heb. 13:3. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." And, oh, that everyone who is a member of the church would realize how sacred is the relationship into which he has entered! Then indeed would the disciples of Christ be one, and the world would believe that God sent Him."


But though all could speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if they have no charity—the love of God—they are but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Though all had the gift of prophecy, and the gift of wisdom to the understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge; and though all had faith that could remove mountains, if they have not charity they are nothing. And though all were so benevolent as that they would bestow all their goods to feed the poor; and though they were all so perfectly assured of what they believe that they would die at the stake as witnesses to it, if they have not charity it will profit nothing. Charity is love. It is the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. It is that love which keeps the commandments of God, "for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments;" and "love is the fulfilling of the law." Therefore, though all have all these wondrous powers, and have not the keeping of the commandments of God, they are nothing. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." But if there be in the church the love of God, keeping the commandments of God, then all these gifts, working together with charity, build up the body of Christ, make increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love, and increase it with the increase of God." {August 11, 1892 ATJ, PTUK}


When any member of our natural body is affected, or in pain in any way, it is the head which is first and most conscious of the pain. So, also, it is with the body of Christ, the church. When any member of Christ, of the church, is afflicted, it is Christ who is first and most conscious of the affliction. "In all their affliction he was afflicted." Isa. 63:9. "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." Eph. 5:30. When you or I cause grief or pain to any member of Christ, it is Christ to whom we first and most cause the grief or pain. Therefore, as certainly as we love Christ, so certainly we will never willingly or intentionally cause grief or pain to one of the members of Christ—one of these little ones who believe in him. So surely as we love Christ, so surely will we love those whom Christ loves.


The relation of church-members, one to another, therefore, is the relation of these same members to Christ.


If the relation of church-members one to another is one of hatred, the relation of those same members to Christ is one of hatred. If the relation of church-members one to another is one of variance, then the relation of those same members to Christ is one of variance. If the relation of church-members one to another is one of envy or bitterness or strife, then the relation of those same church-members to Christ is also one of envy or bitterness or strife. It matters not what they may say, or profess that it is, that is what it actually is. For from every consideration which the Scriptures present, we repeat, The relation of church-members one to another, is the relation of those same church-members to Christ.


It is clearly evident, therefore, that the only true relation of church-members one to another is the relation of the love of Jesus Christ—a relation created and sustained by the love of Christ. This is so plainly manifest from all the Scriptures, that it is not necessary to multiply references. One quotation is enough: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU." John 15:12.


"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." 1 John 4:10, 11. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." Verse 7.


Finally, brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. Let brotherly love continue. And, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Amen.

—A. T. JONES. {November 1890 ATJ, HOMI}

-Bob Hunsaker

Raul Diaz

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“Living Like Christ”

Insights #7 August16, 2014
Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Living Like Christ"
For the week of August 16, 2014

The memory text for this week is Jn.13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."  As the lesson rightly points out, this "commandment" was not something new in the New Testament, but goes all the back to the five books of Moses.  "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev.19:18), and "Love (the stranger) as yourself" (Lev.19:34).
However, if we go even further back in time, we note that relating to "others" with love, has its origin in the heart of God from eternity past before any other beings were created.  In Jn.17:24, Jesus remembers the love of the Father for Him back in eternity past – before the foundations (creation) of the world (cosmos in Greek).  "for You loved Me before the foundation of the world."
God didn't begin to engage in the attitude of loving, giving, and self-sacrifice with the beginning of creation in this world or in the universe at large.  God has always engaged in loving, giving, and self-sacrifice, because it is the fundamental reality of His nature and being.
Sadly, while our message for the world is the love of God in Jesus Christ, we have become known more for our promotion of law-keeping and obedience.  We are reminded that, "Of all professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. The proclamation of the third angel's message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath truth. This truth, with others included in the message, is to be proclaimed; but the great center of attraction, Christ Jesus, must not be left out. It is at the cross of Christ that mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other. The sinner must be led to look to Calvary; with the simple faith of a little child he must trust in the merits of the Saviour, accepting His righteousness, believing in His mercy."  {GW 156.2}
Satan has done a tremendous job both through our own failures and wrong emphases, as well as causing others to misunderstand our message, in making us appear and too often in actuality become, the promoters of obedience to the exclusion of the goodness and love of God in Christ.  How often in "living like Christ," we have ended up living with a hyper-focus on mere behavioral conformity.
A.T.Jones clarified this for us in an article in the American Sentinel where he makes the point that contemporary evangelical Christianity actually has the legalistic focus in trying to control society's behavior through legislation and not through the love of Christ.  To "live like Christ" is to work to change the heart through a revelation of the goodness of God, which leads to repentance, rather than a mere behavioral conformity legislated to give an appearance of righteousness.
"'MORE law, more law,' is the cry (that) comes from the conventions of the religious societies of the land, as they consider the threatening evils in civil government and in society. . . .

"All this they do as professors of the Christian religion. They do it in the name of Jesus Christ. But is this what Jesus would have them do? Is this the fulfilling of the mission of Christ to the earth? This is a vital question, and should be carefully considered by Christians before taking action as has been taken by these societies.

"Did Jesus Christ come to the world to condemn the world, or to add condemnation to that already upon the world?—No; he expressly declared that he came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The world is condemned already; it is overwhelmingly condemned by its sin, and unless it can escape from the condemnation, it must perish. The mission of Christ was to provide this way of escape from condemnation, and the mission of Christians is to point the people to this way of escape.

"The law of God condemns the world. Every law condemns the transgressor; and that is all it can do for him. The more law, therefore, the more condemnation. The people of the world are already overwhelmingly condemned by their sin, and now professed Christians want to keep upon all this the condemnation of new laws. . . . They want new and more stringent legislation, to make the world better! But legislation has no power to save, but only to condemn." {August 10, 1899 ATJ, AMS 485.4}

Jesus Christ came to save the world, but made no effort to secure legislation. He did however give a "new commandment," and what was it?—"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John 13:34. This is the only new law that can properly be advocated in the name of Christ.

"In the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus Christ announced his mission to the world in these words: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised.' The gospel message is a message not of repression, but of liberty. This and this only is the message of Christians to the world to-day." {August 10, 1899 ATJ, AMS 485.6}

May we as Christian Seventh-day Adventists, daily understand and pursue the experience that to live as Christ lived is to live in an attitude to giving.  The world's picture of Christianity is one of restriction and bondage, may we reveal to them in our loving and giving that Christianity is the religion not of legislation and restriction, but of liberty from sin – not in mere behavioral conformity, but liberty from the allure and attraction to sin.  The true freedom that Christ had to love without concern for Himself.
-Bob Hunsaker

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

1888 Insight: “Growing in Christ”

Insights #6 August 9, 2014
Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Growing in Christ"
For the week of August 9, 2014
The Harvest and the Harvesters
Can you pluck apples from a pear tree? The answer seems obvious, however to two young boys, ignorance was bliss.  These two boys loved to swim, and frequently climbed down the fruit tree outside of their second-story bedroom window to go swimming, without their parents' knowledge. One day, they heard their father say he was going to cut the tree down because it was dead. Fearing they would lose their escape route, the boys went to the store and bought artificial apples, which they tied to the branches of the dead tree. The next morning, their father expressed amazement that apples seemed to have grown overnight, especially since the tree was a pear tree!
A tree, plant, vine or brush, can only yield fruit after its own kind.  This is the way God designed it. We know this from Genesis 1:11–13.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Thus, pear trees can only yield pears not apples (or oranges or bananas or any other fruit).  The pear seed will yield a pear tree, which will in turn yield pears. In Matthew 13:24–30, Jesus told the parable of the tares and the field.  In this story, the land owner sowed good seed in the field, but shortly thereafter, tares also appeared.  The field workers, recognizing the tares, asked the Master where they came from since only good seed had been sown.  The Master answered, saying, "An enemy has done this."  The workers then asked their master, "Should we go gather the tares and throw them away"? And he replied, "Wait until the harvest, lest when you pull the tare, the wheat is pulled also." The workers didn't realize that the roots of the tares were interwoven with the wheat.
This certainly has spiritual implications. In Matthew 13:39 Jesus explains that "… the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."  In this parable, what is being sown is the principle of either kingdom (Satan's or God's) in the hearts of the people.  Those who are wheat belong to God and those who are tares belong to the devil.  The wheat represents those in whom Christ's principle of agape has germinated; these are the good seed in this parable.  Meanwhile, the tares represent those in whom the principle of self exaltation has ripened. The implication is that at the end of the world, there will be no doubt as to which tree the fruit came from.  Just like a barren tree is distinguishable from a fruitful one in the season of harvest, at the end of the world, each person's character will reveal clearly whom he or she has chosen.  The reason it is imperative to let the tare grow beside the wheat is because many sympathize with the tare.  In other words, the wheat must see the tare for what it is, and no longer be deceived by outward appearances; for this they'll have to wait until the character is fully developed and revealed.

This parable also has very personal implications.  Let's say we are the soil, and that God sows His good seed in us.  This should mean that eventually seeds of goodness will yield the fruit of righteousness.  But, in actuality, sinful deeds emerge as well. The angels, seeing tares in our hearts cry out to God, "Lord did you not put good seed in Janna? Then why do we see tares?"  The Lord replies, "An enemy did this."  Disappointed, the angels then ask, "Should we take the tares out of Janna's heart?"  The Lord answers, "No, let the evil grow with the good, lest by pulling the evil, the disheartened person pulls the good also."  We are to be thankful for His longsuffering with us.
How can it be that good seeds can yield bad fruit?  This is exactly what happened with Israel.  In Isaiah 5:1-7, God used a metaphor to describe His frustration with Israel:
Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

The Lord planted good grapes but harvested wild grapes.  The Lord looked at Israel, He expected to see, "… judgment, but behold oppression; … righteousness, but behold a cry."  This became a recurring theme in the Old Testament.  The Lord spoke through Isaiah in chapter 58 and verse 6, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" The same message was also spoken to Israel through Micah in chapter 6, verse 8: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" God is saying that His seed had not yielded godly fruit in those who claimed to be His people.  And, actually the seed of the enemy had been sown in the hearts and minds of the Israelites, yielding fruit after the enemy's likeness.
As good Laodiceans, we too fell into the same trap as the Israelites did in the past.  Yes, we believe we are blessed and in need of nothing.  But, God's assessment is different.   We do not know that we are naked, wretched, poor and miserable.  The indictment is that we could know our true condition but are choosing not to. The point is that, in the end, it will be evident to whom we have given control of our hearts and minds.  By the fruit you will know them. Again, we are to be thankful for His longsuffering with us.  Ellen White elaborates on this in the following quote,
When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. (The Desire of Ages, p. 173.)
Who are we allowing to sow seed in our heart?
-Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz