Thursday, September 21, 2017

INSIGHT #13 SEPTEMBER 23, 2017

INSIGHT #13 SEPTEMBER 23, 2017
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Third Quarter 2017 Sabbath School Lesson
"The Gospel and the Church"
September 23, 2017
 



 
I am thrilled to present this lesson, as I have studied the implications of this section, in terms of how we deal with people, but also, in a much larger context, in terms of the Laodicean problem, the growing critical spirit of the "superficial, conservative class", the separationist movement, and the ultimate destiny of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, seen clearly in the concept of Corporate Repentance and the prayer of Daniel in Daniel 9. Some of the counsel I will present will surprise people, but it is needed, necessary, and a corrective to the false concept that exists within the truth of the need to "rebuke sin". Many have tragically felt that as long as they are "faithful" in pointing out the sins of "Israel", they have met God's requirements, and nothing could be further from the truth. I pray you will read this section as though your eternal life is at stake, for it is. If you do not understand and experience the true fruit of righteousness by faith, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God and most clearly seen in how we treat those for whom Jesus died, we will have missed God's desire for our lives. We are to "speak the truth in love." What many do not understand is what love requires in order for us to really be "faithful" in dealing with people and the sin problem. We have been given a "Ministry of Reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5) and it is to be the expression, in the life, of the love by which Christ died for us. How did Jesus treat people? How did He treat a hard hearted Israel? What is His hope, still, for Laodicea? Corporate repentance is vital. The last deception to Christ was "save yourself." The last deception to people is to attempt to "save themselves" by seeking justification, subtly, by criticizing others, and as the church "appears about to fall", it will be a very powerful temptation. "Thank God I am not like other men." There is a time for dealing with sin, but there is a spirit, in us, that must exist if we are ever to fulfill that calling. Galatians 6:1-3 is CRUCIAL for every Adventist, every Christian, to understand. 
 
I openly admit that this lesson is VERY long, but please read all of it. I have gone beyond the lesson, for a reason. It may mean your eternal salvation. The only way any of us is going to heaven, is if we never forget that we are the chief of sinners, for our sins crucified Christ. 
 
Restoring the Fallen (Sunday, Sept. 7)
 
Gal 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." 
 
Gal 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
 
Let us study, seriously, the import of these verses. They include several factors.
 
A man is overtaken in a fault. This does not refer to overt rebellion, but to a fault, mistake. The reality is, however, that we cannot read the heart and need to be extremely careful not to judge that a sin is overt rebellion, for we are told to "judge nothing before the time", and to make our life pursuit to reclaim people, regardless of their degree of involvement in sin. 
You are to be, first, spiritual. This implies that you are walking in the spirit, not in the flesh. You have prayed for God's guidance and spiritual strength. You have taken the plank first, out of your own eye, and you are following Bible principles, not your own flesh, or desires to "save yourself" by your "rebuking", in order to do God's will.
Your motive is to "restore" the individual, not merely to rebuke them, not merely to judge them, not merely to "fulfill" your responsibility so the "blood does not fall on your head" as Ezekiel says. Many are more concerned about avoiding contamination from exposure to sin, than they are about influencing the other or "contaminating" them through righteousness, love, humility, and spirituality. We cannot help others until we are totally secure in our own salvation. I am not talking about presumption or recklessness.
The entire experience is in the spirit of meekness, or humility, meaning you recognize that you, too, are the "chief of sinners" and in need of a Savior yourself, regardless of your level of spiritual maturity. You are not a Pharisee saying, "Thank God I am not like other men", but instead, cognizant that you are a sinner, too, in need of the mercy of God.
You are aware that you too could fall as the other person has. 
The "Law of Christ" means to "bear the burdens" of those in sin. Jesus came close to sinners, at all risk to Himself. 
 
"The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy His church because of its imperfection. There have been and will be those who are filled with zeal not according to knowledge, who would purify the church, and uproot the tares from the midst of the wheat. But Christ has given special light as to how to deal with those who are erring, and with those who are unconverted in the church. There is to be no spasmodic, zealous, hasty action taken by church members in cutting off those they may think defective in character. Tares will appear among the wheat; but it would do more harm to weed out the tares, unless in God's appointed way, than to leave them alone. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God." {TM 46.1}
 
Certainly, as the degree of sin and rebellion worsens, one must pray for the strength of response that will communicate the level of danger and concern. Jesus called the Pharisees "vipers and hypocrites", but we are told that He had "tears in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes." 
 
"Christ Himself did not suppress one word of truth, but He spoke it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact, and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes.He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, that refused to receive Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness, and sorrow so deep that it broke His heart. Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He always bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save." {DA 353.1}
 
Today, often, we have people viciously denouncing the church for its sins and failures, separating from them because they are "Babylon", and justifying it because of Jesus' rebukes, and a complete misuse of Ezekiel 9 and Isaiah 58. The word Pharisee means "one who separates." We are told that the "sinners in Zion will be sifted OUT." Yet some want to claim that Zion only refers to the separated ones, having judged that the organization is already totally in apostasy and cannot be redeemed. Who has the right to play God? That isn't "discernment", for we were never given the authority to make such a judgment, and Ellen G. White is clear that the SDA church will NEVER be Babylon, for Babylon consists of believing in Sunday Sacredness and the Immortality of the Soul. We can discern that something is not in harmony with the Word of God, with the counsel given, but when one makes decisions as some do, to judge and separate, they are no longer following the Word of God. The Call to "come out of her, my people" is a call for people to leave the final satanic coalition with its errors and deceptive spiritualism, not to judge God's remnant movement, for we have light that God will "cleanse the camp of its moral defilement."
 
God's final plan for His church is based on the story of Achan, not the story of the first century, or the reformation. It is a cleansing and removing from the church those who are not walking with God, not a call to judge and separate from it. Our counsel recognizes both the "visible" and "invisible" church, and while the invisible church consists of the faithful ones, there is a visible church raised by God to work for the evangelization of the world. That church will appear "about to fall", but it will not. The shaking and cleansing of the church will accomplish God's goal, and it will remain until the end, obviously in greatly altered form, to stand for God "though the heavens fall." To 'stand for the truth, when there are few with us." 
 
Jesus left a "good place", to go to a "bad place" and risk eternal loss, to take the Second death for every human being, to redeem the race and ultimately save those who believe in the Unspeakable Gift of Christ.
 
Many leave the "bad place" or the church, to go to a "good place", to, if they are honest, "save themselves." What was the final temptation to Christ? To "come down" from the cross, and "save" Himself. What was the test for Peter? "Are you one of them?" If we are toconsider others as more important than ourselves, Philippians 2, how can we abandon people we have judged worse than ourselves, when we also deserve death. Faithfulness to the "message" is vital, for we want to show our loyalty to Christ, but if the message ultimately is to "perfect" our characters in Christlikeness, what was Christ like? Did He abandon sinners, or did He die for them? Jesus came to heal. We should make all our efforts to reclaim the lost. We also need to remember to keep our eyes on Christ, not on the apostasy, and, by the way, to abandon sinners is the worst form of apostasy.
 
"Many fix their eyes upon the terrible wickedness existing around them, the apostasy and weakness on every side, and they talk of these things until their hearts are filled with sadness and doubt. They keep uppermost before the mind the masterly working of the arch deceiver and dwell upon the discouraging features of their experience, while they seem to lose sight of the heavenly Father's power and His matchless love." {5T 740.2} 2 Cor. 3:18. By beholding, we become changed. God looks at people, not as they are, but as they might be, transformed by His grace.
 
In the book Steps to Christ, we are told that Satan has four strategies to get our eyes off Christ, and it is his "constant' effort to do so. They include looking to the "faults of others." I have met those who can list all the sins of the church, in history, and at the present time. But when it is suggested that they may also have defects, they refuse to listen to such counsel, for that would place them on the same level as those they are judging and condemning, and destroy their self-righteousness. 
 
The Laodicean problem is not simply sin. It is, in its essence, self-righteousness. How does such a person behave? They elevate their own spiritual experience, and point out the sins and defects of others, individuals, or the corporate church. There is counsel about dealing faithfully with sin, but when one is truly confronted with the reality of what has been revealed, it will prove to be a shocker to many.
 
Open sin, without repentance is to be dealt with through church discipline, following the steps laid out, and done in the right spirit. In the "right spirit" would incredibly humble many, if they are honest in their relationship to the character of Christ. 
 
Beware of Temptation Monday, Sept. 18); Bearing Burden (Tuesday, Sept. 19); The Law of Christ (Wednesday, Sept. 20)
 
We are also warned against Spiritual Pride. The issue for Laodicea is that of self-righteousness and pride in one's standing, AND total deception that one is in that condition. Human nature is pharisaical, so that every one of us struggles with pride and self-righteousness on a daily basis.
 
"Self-righteousness is not the wedding-garment. The message to the Laodicean Church reveals our condition as a people." {RH, Dec. 15, 1904}
 
Gal 6:3, "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."
 
The only answer is corporate repentance, and it is clearly seen in Daniel 9.
 
Daniel prayed, "WE have sinned." If the Book of Daniel is for the "time of the end", then the answer to create true "unity" in the church is to experience, including on a corporate level, as is witnessed in Joel 2, a unified confession that we have sinned, not THEY have. 
 
When we restore people, we are to avoid the feeling that we are spiritually superior to them, for the truth is, somewhere in their character, they may be superior to you. Our recalling our standing outside of Christ can keep us from falling into the sin of self-righteousness, and it also can give us greater sympathy for others who make mistakes. It can even give us a right attitude to those totally lost. What is God's attitude towards those ultimately lost? Jesus wept over Jerusalem. In many that form home churches and independent ministries, because of the "apostasy" of the church, I see no tears. 
 
Dan 10:8, "Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength."
 
When people truly see themselves in the reality of Christ's perfection, their "comeliness" will be turned into corruption. This verse in Daniel is the key to the experience God is calling us to in the last generation, to truly "see" ourselves, and then, to look to Christ, to His "matchless charms" to be humbled, and yet hopeful, as He promises to "cleanse us of all unrighteousness." 
 
People desire to be like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. in being used by God to rebuke an apostate people. I ask you, did Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, EVER leave a sinful church? In some cases, such as in the case of the early church, or the reformers, death threats drove them out, but they never, on their own, made the decision that they should leave. Jesus cast sentence on Israel, and He alone can make such decisions. 
 
People will cite Isaiah 58:1. "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their sins." Yet, they miss vs. 13, which says to put away the "pointing finger." More importantly, many quote Ezekiel 9, where we are to "sigh and cry" for all the abominations in the church. Yet, we are clearly told, that unless we cry for the sins of the church, AND OUR OWN SINS, we will be left without the Seal of God. 
 
The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God." {RH January 11, 1887, par. 11}
 
People often "see nothing defective in themselves, but find very much to despise in others." {RH, June 15, 1897}
 
The next quote will stun you. 
 
"When a person comes to a minister or to men in positions of trust with complaints against a brother or a sister, let the minister ask, "Have you complied with the rules our Savior has given?" And if he has failed to carry out any particular of this instruction, do not listen to a word of his complaint. In the name and Spirit of Jesus, refuse to take up a report against your brother or your sister in the faith. IF MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH GO CONTRARY TO THESE RULES, THEY MAKE THEMSELVES SUBJECTS FOR CHURCH DISCIPLINE, AND SHOULD BE UNDER THE CENSURE OF THE CHURCH." {RH, April 16, 1895 par. 9}
 
The parable of the Pharisee and the publican was given for the benefit of those who "trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." This spirit is the hidden rock upon which thousands are wrecking their hopes of Heaven; and the Savior here shows how offensive it is in the sight of God. Many are self-deceived, filled with spiritual pride and vanity. They do not see the enormity of sin, and go on parading their own virtues, those of poor, fallen humanity, before the Majesty of Heaven, whose eyes read the intents and purposes of the heart, and see disobedience and grave defects of character in these who extol self and claim superior goodness. {ST February 26, 1885, par. 1}
 
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." Do not think yourself better than other men, and set yourself up as their judge. Since you cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another. In criticizing him, you are passing sentence upon yourself; for you show that you are a participant with Satan, the accuser of the brethren. The Lord says, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." This is our work. "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." 2 Corinthians 13:5. {DA 314.1}
 
"Let both wheat and tares grow together until the harvest. Then it is ANGELS that do the work of separation." The Remnant Church, p. 53. Let the angel's do their work, and do not prematurely separate yourself, through a judgment that you were never called to make.
 
"No advice or sanction is given in the Word of God to those who believe the third angel's message to lead them to suppose that they can draw apart. This you may settle with yourselves forever. It is the devising of unsanctified minds that would encourage a state of disunion….There must be no separating in this great testing time." {3SM 21.2}
 
The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths. We must be divested of our self-righteousness and arrayed in the righteousness of Christ. {2SM 380.2}
 
"He who expects to enlighten a deceived people must come near to them and labor for them in love. He MUST become a center of Holy influence."
 
In the advocacy of the truth the bitterest opponents should be treated with respect and deference. Some will not respond to our efforts…others, EVEN THOSE WHOM WE SUPPOSE TO HAVE PASSED THE BOUNDARY OF GOD'S MERCY, WILL BE WON TO CHRIST." {Ibid, p. 121}
 
And the quote which should drive every one of us to our knees, and weep at the reality of how short we have come in our treatment of sinners.
 
Not until you feel that you could sacrifice your own self-dignity, and even lay down your life in order to save an erring brother, have you cast the beam out of your own eye so that you are prepared to help your brother. Then you can approach him and touch his heart. No one has ever reclaimed from a wrong position by censure and reproach; but many have thus been driven from Christ and led to seal their hearts against conviction. {MB 128.3}
 
What beauty of character shone forth in the daily life of Christ! He is to be our pattern. There is a great work to be done in fashioning the character after the divine similitude. The grace of Christ must mold the entire being, and its triumph will not be complete until the heavenly universe shall witness habitual tenderness of feeling, Christlike love, and holy deeds in the deportment of the children of God. {AG 235.2}
 
"If a person is in error, be the more KIND to Him. If you are not courteous, you may drive him away from Christ. Let every word you speak, even the tone of your voice, express your interest in, and sympathy for, the souls that are in peril. If you are harsh, denunciatory, and impatient with them, you are doing the work of the enemy. They will think their own way is right." {TM 150.3; 7MR #449, p. 28}
 
I am compelled to deal plainly and rebuke sin, and then I have it in my heart, placed there by the Spirit of Christ to labor in faith, in tender sympathy, and compassion for the erring. I will NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE." 
 
We need good heart religion that we shall not only reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine, but we shall (also, my addition) take the erring in our arms of faith and bear them to the cross of Christ. We must bring them in contact with the sin pardoning Savior."
 
The Day of Atonement is a time to primarily afflict our souls, in deep heart felt conviction of sin and a desire to receive the gift of surrender and repentance. It is not a time to primarily be pointing the finger at the faults of others. "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Yes, faithfully reprove sin, but do so in the Spirit and Motive of Christ.
 
The Law of Christ
 
The Law of Christ is the principle of coming close to sinners, sympathizing with them, loving them AS Jesus loved us, and always loves us, being willing to even lay down our lives to see them saved. The Law of Christ does not replace the Law of God, as some SDA critics contend. The Law of Christ is the fullest exposition of the Law of God, and anyway, Christ is God. Love is the fulfilling of the Law. Love summarizes the Ten Commandments. All Bible principles are founded on love. If we have not love, we have nothing. We labor, then, at a terrible loss. The Bible says to consider the other as more important than ourselves. How can we leave people for whom Jesus died? The Call to come out of Babylon, misapplied anyway, is necessary when people have made their decisions, and God knows the heart, and we do not, and cannot. The cleansing of the camp is God's work, based on His judgment, not ours. {Ibid, p. 29}
 
What truly is the "Omega" of Apostasy? 
 
Many feel it deals with an issue, and for many, the issue of the "Trinity". They think that since Kellogg and pantheism was the alpha, a similar issue regarding the personality of God will be the Omega. However, Ellen G. White says that for "many" reasons, people will leave us, not merely one. {6T 400.3} The real reason, simply put, is unresolved self-righteousness.
 
"… there will be apostasies among us that will startle you" {Letter 51, 1887}
 
"Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness." {5T 81}
 
"There will be a separating from us of those who have not appreciated the light nor walked in it." {Letter 46, 1887}
 
But many say, "But, we aren't leaving the "church" or the "message", we are merely leaving an apostate organization."
 
I tell you, my brethren, the Lord has an organized body through whom He will work. . . . When anyone is drawing apart from the organized body of God's commandment-keeping people, when he begins to weigh the church in his human scales and begins to pronounce judgement against them, then you may know that God is not leading him. He is on the wrong track.--3SM 17, 18 (1893).
 
Such an attitude is the height of judgmentalism, elitism, self-righteousness, and a total misunderstanding of the character of Christ, who risked "eternal loss" to save others. Also, God raised up this organization, and as we are going to see, there is going to be a great reformation in the SDA church, AFTER the shaking. To leave prematurely is to miss being a part of that event.
 
The Omega of Apostasy is the warning of large scale apostasies from the church, just as Kellogg and his friends apostasied at the time of the alpha. 
 
As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges, but have not improved them, will, under one pretext or another, go out from us." {6T 400} There is MORE than ONE reason why people go out.
 
The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances.The warnings that worldly conformity has silenced or withheld must be given under the fiercest opposition from enemies of the faith. And at that time the superficial, conservative class, whose influence has steadily retarded the progress of the work, will renounce the faith and take their stand with its avowed enemies, toward whom their sympathies have long been tending. These apostates will then manifest the most bitter enmity, doing all in their power to oppress and malign their former brethren and to excite indignation against them. This day is just before us. {5T 463.2}
 
No advice or sanction is given in the Word of God to those who believe the third angel's message to lead them to suppose that they can draw apart. This you may settle with yourselves forever. It is the devising of unsanctified minds that would encourage a state of disunion. The sophistry of men may appear right in their own eyes, but it is not truth and righteousness. {3SM 21.2}
 
Not having received the love of the truth, they will be taken in the delusions of the enemy; they will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and will depart from the faith. But, on the other hand, when the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd's voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. The testimony of one and all will be: "I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Saviour." {6T 400.3}
 
People are correct that there are serious issues in the church. Ellen G. White recognized it many years ago.
 
We must as a people arouse and cleanse the camp of Israel. Licentiousness, unlawful intimacy, and unholy practices are coming in among us in a large degree; We are in danger of becoming a sister to fallen Babylon, of allowing our churches to become corrupted, and filled with every foul spirit, a cage for every unclean and hateful bird; and will we be clear unless we make decided movements to cure the existing evil? {21MR 380.1}
 
But, we are also given a promise, which many do not recognize, nor quote.
There are always found in the church vessels unto honor and vessels unto dishonor. But the Lord will manifest Himself, and will cleanse the chaff from the wheat. He will make the church an honor to His name. {Lt190-1899.25}
 
Do we wish to be a part of the cleansing of the church, or to merely judge it?
 
God has two methods in the Bible for dealing with the sins of a body of people.
 
Come out of Her, my people.
 
But, the one chosen at the end of time is different. It is modeled on the story of Achan. God will "cleanse the camp of its moral defilement." "The sinners in Zion will be sifted OUT." God "will make the church an honor to His name."
 
"When anyone is drawing apart from the organized body of God's commandment keeping people, when he begins to weigh the church in his human scales and begins to pronounce judgment against them, then you may know that God is not leading him. He is on the wrong track." {3SM 18}
 
"You draw apart from your brethren because they do not speak and act in a way that is pleasing to you, when in the sight of God your course is more displeasing than theirs. You do not seek to establish the unity which Christ desires, should exist among brethren." {RH, April 16, 1895 par. 7}
 
"At times, with burning earnestness and words of terrible severity, Christ denounced the abominations….in the church and in the world. He would not allow the people to be deceived by false claims to righteousness and security." {Battle Creek Letters, p. 111}
 
Please note: The words were earnest, and severe. The tone was not harsh, critical, or self-righteous. He, again, had "tears" in His voice, and in His heart.
 
Reformation and rebellion can look very similar. 
 
Faithfully rebuking sin, and a critical spirit, can look very similar.
 
You will know them by their love, in motive, method, spirit, effort, patience, long suffering, bearing the burden of the other, tactfulness, etc.
 
Thus, Friday, Sowing and Reaping. If we sow to the flesh, to self-righteousness, we will bear a bitter fruit, of a character that has the Mark of the Beast, which is the character of Satan, the "accuser of the brethren." To love the sinner, and to hate the sin, is a difficult attainment. To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to show pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment.
 
To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to manifest pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment. The more earnest our own efforts to attain to holiness of heart and life, the more acute will be our perception of sin and the more decided our disapproval of any deviation from the right. We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof.... {CC 347.4}
 
When anyone arises, either among us or outside of us, who is burdened with a message which declares that the people of God are numbered with Babylon, and claims that the loud cry is a call to come out of her, you may know that he is not bearing the message of truth. Receive him not, nor bid him Godspeed; for God has not spoken by him, neither has He given a message to him, but he has run before he was sent. {TM 41.1}
 
The Lord has not given you a message to call the Seventh-day Adventists Babylon, and to call the people of God to come out of her. All the reasons you may present cannot have weight with me on this subject, because the Lord has given me decided light that is opposed to such a message. . . . {LDE 51.2} 
 
I am instructed to say to Seventh-day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time.—Letter 54, 1908 (January 21, 1908.). {2SM 397.3}
 
A Reformatory Movement
 
In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest.
 
On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great blessings were received by the true and humble people of God. I heard voices of thanksgiving and praise, and there seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844. {9T 126.1}
 
If God promises to cleanse the church, and a great reformation is coming, then it is obviously not Babylon, nor totally apostate, and the judgments of some are therefore horribly wrong and reflective of the very problem they condemn - Laodicea. The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands, and conformed to worldly customs, will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. At that time the gold will be separated from the dross.... Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness. {PK 188.1; ChS 157.2}
 
The test for Adventists will be over the Gospel, Law, and the Sabbath. At that time of testing, the true heart and character of every person will then be revealed. False tests such as the 2520 day prophecy, the Trinity, etc. are being thrust on our people. But God describes His people as "keeping the commandments of God" and having "The Faith of Jesus." Jesus was obedient, even unto death. He did not abandon those in apostasy, even after He proclaimed them "desolate." He still gave them probationary time, to the end of the 490 year prophecy, to repent. God is far more longsuffering than we are. 

There is a prospect before us of a continued struggle at the risk of imprisonment, loss of property, and even of life itself, to defend the law of God, which is made void by the laws of men. {5T 712.3}
 
We need:
 
To be converted to the Gospel of Christ and by the Gospel of Christ
A disciplined focus on Christ
A commitment to the development of a Christ like character, reflecting tenderness, gentleness, consistency of compassion and sacrificial love
A loyalty to Christ that will endure the shaking, and the persecution of the world
A right attitude towards authority and the organized church that God has raised up
Patience during the shaking as God cleanses His camp
A faithfulness to deal with sin, in a right spirit and motive, when necessary, but leaving judgment to God
A deep love for souls, and a God like view of them
 
"One theme will swallow up every other theme – Christ Our Righteousness."
 
~Pastor Thomas Cusack
 RR
Raul Diaz

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Living by the Spirit

Third Quarter 2017 Sabbath School Lesson
"Living by the Spirit"
September 16, 2017

 
Light Bulbs
 
The light bulb is nothing without electricity. It was designed for illumination, but cannot, without energy, displace darkness. The light from a light bulb is a combination of three things: an incandescent filament that is part of an unbroken and uninterrupted electric circuit and of course, electricity. To ignite the light bulb several simple things must occur. The bulb must be properly connected to an electrical source (thus closing the circuit). The power switch must be turned on. And the filaments within the incandescent bulb or the gases within the fluorescent tube must be intact. Similarly, whenever Christians shine forth, there must be spiritual equivalents to the light bulb and spiritual equivalents to what makes the bulb work. 
 
Our spiritual filaments are broken beyond repair. The Holy Spirit brings a new filament to each believer and then also makes new electrical wiring and connections within them; our old circuitry is inadequate for His electrical system and therefore, needs replacing. Once the new equipment is in place, and the Christian is properly wired to the spiritual energy source (God), he or she shines.
 
We can see it may take the Holy Spirit some time to set everything in place. In reality, we limit how He can work through how much space we give Him. Once all is in place, it should work continually, unless we find ways to interrupt it. Interruptions (for example, switches) can stop the electric flow, meaning that the hearing of faith and the believing of the Word is interrupted. The smallest cracks in the fluorescent tube or the tiniest breaks of an incandescent filament can destroy the bulb's capacity for lighting. So can a break in the wiring. We should clarify that unlike our earthly electrical sources, The Holy Spirit never has an outage. Therefore, when our spiritual bulb ceases to shine, it is not His fault it is ours. 
 
In principle, this metaphor is very similar to the one Jesus used in John 15. Which we refer to as the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. Christ told His disciples,
 
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love."
 
What is the fruit? It is found in Galatians 5:22 – 23,
 
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,  peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
 
In the same chapter, Paul contrasted the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. These works of the flesh are the fruit that those refusing to be part of the Holy Spirit circuitry or, in other words, refusing to abide in Christ will produce. Let us read what they are from verses 19-21,
 
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
 
If we were to see this passage in the light of the Parable of the vine and branches these branches produce no fruit, and the works of the flesh are evident. The Father, who is the husbandman, cuts these branches away to make sure the vine or tree does not waste resources that the good branches could be using (John 15:1). These fruitless branches refer to those of which Christ says, "depart from me you workers of iniquity, I know you not" (Matthew 7: 23); Christ is speaking here to professed believers. They attended church; they participated in church activities and programs. They sang hymns, taught Sabbath School, returned tithes, even did evangelism. They were Sabbath School leaders, elders, deacons, etc. Christ says to them "I do not know you. Go away." They did not allow the daily indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable them to live a God-honoring life. Only the infusion to the vine allows the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in them. Only being supernaturally wired to the "electric circuit" enables the Spirit to shine the Light. How do we stay fused so the Holy Spirit can work through us? Through the hearing of faith (Galatians 3:1). 
 
~Raul Diaz


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Friday, September 08, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #11 September 9, 2017

Third Quarter 2017 Sabbath School Lesson
"Freedom In Christ"
September 9, 2017
 
Freedom in Christ, the title of our lesson this week, encapsulates the entire Gospel in just those three words. In turn, it represents the primary underlying theme of Paul's writings in the New Testament as his goal was to preach and teach the everlasting gospel whenever he wrote and wherever he went.
 
It is important, therefore, that we examine this lesson and Paul's writings closely since we are told by Ellen G. White (TM 91/92) that "The Lord in his great mercy sent a most precious message through Elders Waggoner and Jones" and "This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world"—why?, because it represents "the Third Angel's message in verity" and is the everlasting gospel that needs to be shared with the world before Christ can come, a restoration of the everlasting Gospel that Paul and the disciples were sharing.
 
When we look at the word, "Freedom", questions arise immediately. Whose freedom? Freedom from what? When does that freedom occur? Why are we being freed? How much did that freedom cost? Who paid for it?
 
This week we are going to look at the answers to these questions and others as we examine some of the writings of Ellen G. White, Jones and Waggoner and their consistency on this topic.
 
The other two words, "in Christ" are equally important and represent a common thread thru the New Testament and with Paul, in particular, "in Christ" was at the core of his message. We need look no further than the words of Jesus, himself, "Abide (remain) in me, and I will abide (remain) in you." (John 15:4). In order for us to abide or remain "in Christ", we must already be in Him, which is exactly what Christ did for the human race on the Cross. Paul, explains this clearly in many places, with Romans being a good example.
 
In Romans 5:12 we read "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" and so Adam, representing mankind, we see in vs. 18, brought condemnation to the entire human race: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men".
 
Therefore, we needed a Saviour, Christ, to become the Second or Last Adam representing mankind, becoming as us, for us, in every way, including taking upon Himself our sinful human nature, yet without sin, leading a perfect life completely surrendered to His Father's will.
 
Thus, we see in Romans 5:17, "how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through one man, Jesus Christ". Then, in vs. 18 we read: "so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men". And in vs. 21: "so also grace might reign through righteousness (Christ's) to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". Thus, it is through Christ and in Christ we all have the gift of eternal life, ours to accept or reject.
 
Continuing in Romans 6:3, "all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death" and vs. 5 "If we have been united with Him like this into His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin". How beautiful! Our death "in Christ" on the Cross has freed us from sin. In vs. 8, we see that "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again: death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God".
Now, having seen that, in Christ and through Christ, all have been given the gift of freedom from slavery to sin, let's look at some quotes that help us to see what this means to your life and mine. In Galatians 5:1, we read that Christ has set us free and are admonished to stand fast. And in Galatians 5:13 we are warned against using our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Despite criticisms to the contrary, the Gospel which is encompassed by this most precious message given to us in 1888, is anything but cheap grace. 
 
As Waggoner says in Glad Tidings, p. 113, "Before faith comes we are shut up under sin, debtors to the law. The faith of Christ sets us free, but as we are set at liberty the admonition is given us, "Go and sin no more." John 8:11 We have been set at liberty from sin, not at liberty to sin. How many make a mistake here. Many sincere people imagine that in Christ we are at liberty to ignore and defy the law, forgetting that the transgression of the law is sin (1 John 3:4). To serve the flesh is to commit sin "because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."(Romans 8:7) The apostle warns us not to misuse the liberty which Christ gives us and bring ourselves into bondage again by transgressing the law. Instead of this, we should by love serve one another, for love is the fulfilling of the law."
 
Our freedom from sin was an important topic in Ellen White's writings as we see in the following commentary:
 
"When Satan was triumphing as the prince of the world, when he claimed the world as his kingdom, when we were all marred and corrupted with sin, God sent his messenger from heaven, even his only-begotten Son, to proclaim to all the inhabitants of the world: I have found a ransom. I have made a way of escape for all the perishing. I have your emancipation papers provided for you, sealed by the Lord of heaven and earth. You may have freedom upon the condition of faith in Him who is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. A ransom has been provided at infinite cost, and it is not because there is any flaw in the title which has been purchased for lost souls that they do not accept it. It is not because the mercy, the grace, the love of the Father and the Son are not ample, and have not been freely bestowed, that they do not rejoice in pardoning love, but it is because of their unbelief, because of their choice of the world, that they are not comforted with the grace of God. It is their love of disobedience, their pleasure in sin, their enjoyment of rebellion, that have blunted their perceptions until they fail to discern the things which make for their peace. If they are lost, it will be because they will not come unto Christ that they might have life." {ST June 6, 1895, par. 8}
 
"God waits to bestow the blessing of forgiveness of sins, of pardon for iniquity, of the gift of righteousness, upon all who will believe in his love and accept of his salvation. Christ is ready to say to the repenting sinner: "Take away the filthy garments from him.... Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments." "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." Christ is the connecting link between God and man. The blood of Jesus Christ is the eloquent plea that speaks in behalf of sinners. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." {ST June 6, 1895, par. 9}
 
AT Jones shares similar thoughts in his writings including the following examples:
 
"If you are in slavery, it is only because you do not know that you are free. That, indeed, is the common condition of mankind. Freedom, full and complete, has been purchased for all. The great emancipation proclamation for the race has been issued, over a name and seal that stand for all power and authority. The only thing necessary for any man is that he shall accept his freedom." {March 18, 1897 ATJ, AMS 162.5} 
 
"If the slaves of the South had refused to accept the freedom offered them in the proclamation of President Lincoln,—if they had chosen to remain just as they were, refusing to believe that they had been set free, or waiting for some law to be enacted compelling them to be free, they might have remained slaves until this day. In some instances they did, through ignorance, remaining until long after the edict of emancipation went out. But the vast majority were willing to take the freedom it brought them. They immediately took their liberty. But people are very much aloof to the soul liberty which is just as truly theirs." {March 18, 1897 ATJ, AMS 162.6} 
 
"By the sacrifice on the cross, the Lord has purchased this liberty for every individual so that it becomes to each a free gift. But not unless it is accepted. By accepting this it becomes the high prerogative of every person . . . always the dictates of his will and conscience." {March 18, 1897 ATJ, AMS 162.7} 
 
'This, of course demands faith in the person. It is faith that sustains the individual in personal freedom. His will being always to do that when he simply obeys the dictates of conscience as unto the Word, and leaves the results with God." {March 18, 1897 ATJ, AMS 162.8}"
 
Notice in this quote the connection between our liberty and God's agape love:
 
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not the liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." {September 11, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 584.6} 
 
Every soul, in being called unto Christ, is called to liberty; and every soul who receives Christ is delivered from bondage, in to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Jesus Christ came into the world only to set men free, and to plant in their souls the genuine principle of liberty. And this liberty with which Christ made men free is liberty actuated only by love. It is a liberty too honorable to allow itself to be used as an occasion to the flesh, or as a cloak of maliciousness. It is a liberty led by a conscience enlightened by the Spirit of God. It is a liberty in which he who has it, is made free from all men, yet it makes him who receives it so gentle by love that he willingly becomes the servant of all, in order to bring them to the enjoyment that same liberty. This is freedom indeed: this is the freedom which Christ gives to whomsoever believes in him: for "whom the Son makes free is free indeed." {September 11, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 584.7} 
 
And thus "all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This, because all that law, of which this "one word" is but one of the two great principles upon which the whole hangs,—that law is itself "the law of liberty." {September 11, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 585.1}"
 
EJ Waggoner also emphasizes our freedom in Christ repeatedly, and here explains how Christ has opened the prison doors through the Cross:
 
"The prison door is open; the shackles are loosed. This is the glad tidings of the Gospel to the fallen children of men. Jesus Christ has repealed the law of the realm of bondage, which is the "law of sin and death." Rom. viii. 2. He has substituted in its place the "law of the Spirit of life." He has overcome Satan, and overcome the world, so that all the power of evil in Satan and in the world is made subject to His will, expressed in this law of the Spirit of life." {November 30, 1893 EJW, PTUK 551.1} 
 
Why then are not all men free? Ah, freedom has come to them, but they do not know it. Like the poor slave who (as we are told) was kept in bondage by his wicked master in the Southern States of America long years after the emancipation proclamation by President Lincoln, so mortals are kept in ignorance now of that greater emancipation proclamation contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are kept in ignorance by their wicked master, the devil. He does not want anyone to know that there is freedom and light and life in Christ. He could not prevent this freedom to man; so he tries to prevent them from receiving it by keeping them in ignorance of it. {November 30, 1893 EJW, PTUK 551.2} 
 
But the message to you, reader, and to all who hear the glad tidings of the Gospel, is, the freedom is here. Life and immortality are here; they have been brought to light through the Gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10. The work of liberation is not a future work, but one already accomplished. It only waits your acceptance. If you say as did Paul, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?" you may also say, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." The deliverance is yours, if you will take it. The prison door is open; will you walk out, or remain in your bondage? {November 30, 1893 EJW, PTUK 551.3}"
 
Another important thought in this week's lesson is found in Galatians 5:5, "For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness." This is Christ's righteousness which comes to us with the Holy Spirit as we experience the gift of freedom from the bondage of sin. As Waggoner explains in Glad Tidings. p.111: 
 
"Don't imagine that this verse teaches that having the Spirit we must wait for righteousness. Not by any means. The Spirit brings righteousness. 'The Spirit is life because of righteousness', Romans 8:10, 'When He comes, He will convince the world of sin and of righteousness', John 16:8. Whoever receives the Spirit has the conviction of sin and of the righteousness which the Spirit shows him that he lacks, and which the Spirit alone can bring.
What is the righteousness which the Spirit brings? It is the righteousness of the law. Romans 8:4 This we know, for we know that the law is spiritual. Romans 7:14.
 
What, then, about the "hope of righteousness" for which we wait through the Spirit? Notice that it does not say that we through the Spirit hope for righteousness. Rather, we wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, that is, the hope which the possession of righteousness brings.
 
….The Spirit brings righteousness. He is Christ's representative, the means by which Christ Himself, who is our righteousness comes to dwell in our hearts. John14:16-18. Therefore, the hope which the Spirit brings to us is the hope of an inheritance in the kingdom of God, the earth made new. The righteousness which the Spirit brings to us is the righteousness of the law of God. Romans 8:4; 7:14. By the Spirit it is written in our hearts instead of on tables of stone. 2 Corinthians 3:3."
 
And so, as we conclude, may all of us come to appreciate the freedom from the bondage of sin that is a gift to all for which The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit have paid an infinite price. May we have a burning desire to share this good news of the everlasting gospel wherever and whenever God may lead us. 
 
Blessings,
 
~John and Monica Campbell
http://www.1888msc.org/article/515/resources/sabbath-school-insights/2017-quarter-3-jul-sep/insight-11-september-9-2017