Thursday, April 27, 2017

INSIGHT #5 APRIL 29, 2017

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INSIGHT #5 APRIL 29, 2017
Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"Living for God"
April 29, 2017
The focus of this week's lesson on living for God encompasses more topics than what we can possibly cover in this Insights. 
Sunday's lesson discusses the goal of believers being of "one mind."
Peter's injunctions for believers run counter to our nature. Servants, submit to your masters even if they are harsh. Citizens, cooperate with the governing authorities so far as possible. Pay your taxes. Honor the king, even if he is a despot. Wives, submit to your husbands, even if they don't obey the Word. In short, "It is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil" 1 Peter 3:17.
In cases such as these, our natural human response to being treated unjustly is to be frustrated and angry. An outward conciliation may mask a secret desire for revenge.
What is it about the gospel that radically changes our hearts so much that our one desire is that we return not "evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing" 1 Peter. 3:9?
1888 messenger E. J. Waggoner identified an underlying core issue: forgiveness. We cannot experience unity in the faith when we harbor grudges against each other. Nor can we return good for evil or submit to injustice without getting angry unless the love of Jesus has penetrated our cold, hard hearts. 
"We have said that forgiveness is not natural to the human heart. Only to the extent that one is partaker of the divine nature, can he exercise true forgiveness. God's forgiveness is the standard for us. Says Paul: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph. 4:32. No one can know how to forgive, unless he knows how God forgives; and nobody can fully understand how God forgives, until he has felt in his own soul the fullness of divine pardon. It will be worth our while to note a few texts which show how God forgives, so that we may know what spirit we should have. Let us read a few texts:- {May 5, 1887 EJW, SITI 262.12} 
" 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' John 3:16. 'But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' Rom. 5:8. 'For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.' 1 Pet. 3:18. 'In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' 'We love him, because he first loved us.' 1 John 4:9, 10, 19. {May 5, 1887 EJW, SITI 262.13} 
"We have heard it claimed that we are not required to forgive an offender unless he asks for forgiveness; that until he repents and begs for pardon, we are warranted in holding him off. But the above texts convey a different idea. We are to forgive as God forgives. Now suppose that God had made no movement towards the salvation of rebellious men until they humbled themselves before him; there never would have been any salvation for men. It is only because of his love for us while we were rebels, that we are enabled to come to him. He was under no obligation to mankind; the obligation was all on the other side; yet he took the initiative. God loved the world. He harbored no malice or enmity in his heart, because he had been insulted, and his laws trampled upon, but was filled with love and pity for poor, erring mortals. It grieved him to think that man would pursue a course that would inevitably end in his ruin, and he made the way easy for him to return to his allegiance, and begged him to come and be forgiven. The same spirit should actuate us. No matter how much we may have been misused, we are not warranted in entertaining the slightest feeling of enmity toward the offender. On the contrary, we should have such love for him that our only feeling would be that of sorrow that he should pursue a course so detrimental to himself. The thought of the personal injury we have sustained should be lost sight of in the thought of the greater injury which the offender's course will bring upon himself. It is not natural for us to do this; we can do it only when we are partakers of the divine nature. {May 5, 1887 EJW, SITI 262.14} 
"It may be said that God does not actually forgive men until they repent. This is true; but he desires that they shall receive his pardon, and therefore, so far as he is concerned, he has pardoned them. All that is lacking is for them to accept the pardon which he offers them; if they will not, he is clear, and the responsibility of their ruin rests upon themselves. God could not actually pardon an unrepentant sinner, for the reason that when he pardons it means far more than when we forgive. If a man has maliciously injured us, and we forgive him, it makes no difference with his guilt; but when God forgives the sinner, his guilt is by that pardon taken away; and it is evident that God cannot take away the guilt of a man who has no desire nor intention to abstain from his sins, but who is determined to retain his guilty practices. {May 5, 1887 EJW, SITI 262.15} 
"This brings us to another feature of forgiveness. It is very common for people to say that they can forgive but they cannot forget. That is not true forgiveness. The man who does not forget the injury, will brood over it until the bitter feelings will come up again with more than their original force; the harsh feelings are not put away, but only smothered for a time. The man who does not forget an injury done him, has never really forgiven the offender; he has not allowed love for the erring one to eclipse all thought 
of the injury done to himself, and without this there can be no forgiveness such as God exercises toward us. Divine pardon is justification; God pardons the believer in Christ, by imputing his righteousness "for the remission of sins that are past." The pardoned one is as though he had never sinned; where there was nothing but guilt before, God beholds nothing but righteousness,-righteousness put there through his own wonderful love. Then if we forgive as God forgives, we must regard the repentant offender as though he had done nothing against us. We must forget that he ever injured us. We must treat him and regard him as though he had done us nothing but good instead of nothing but evil. {May 5, 1887 EJW, SITI 262.16} 
"The man who forgives in this manner is a true disciple of Christ, because no one can do this unless he has experienced, and does at the time experience, the blessing of divine forgiveness. It is not enough that we have once been forgiven; we must have a vivid sense of the love of God toward us now, if we would not forgive as we ought. Under these circumstances the most difficult thing in the world to do, becomes the easiest. Because when we realize how sinful we are, and how much God has forgiven us, it seems a small matter in comparison to forgive the petty wrong done us by a fellow-man. When we contemplate the magnitude of our sin against God, all the wrongs that all men may have done to us, sink into insignificance. We think that the servant who had received a free gift of ten thousand talents from his lord was mean and ungrateful because he would not give his fellow-servant one hundred pence. If he had any sense of what had been done for him, he would have told his fellow-servant to keep the paltry sum, and would have thought no more about it. So if we have any just sense of God's love to us, we cannot fail to exhibit corresponding love to our fellows.  {May 5, 1887 EJW, SITI 263.1} 
Monday's lesson addresses the sufferings of Christ. 
E. J. Waggoner describes it this way:
"In the greatest trial that any being ever passed through, [Jesus] resisted unto blood. 'With His stripes we are healed.' Through His suffering, He 'obtained eternal redemption for us.' The victory over sin is to be obtained by us through our Lord Jesus Christ. So we come back to the words, 'Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.' What suffering, and what kind of suffering is here referred to?-Evidently to the suffering that Christ endured. Christ suffered for sin; we are to arm ourselves with the same mind; and having done that, His sufferings will be borne in us, and they will prove as effectual in us as they were in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. {September 14, 1893 EJW, PTUK 375.9} 
"It is no fancy that the sufferings of Christ are to be experienced by men who shall overcome. The Apostle Paul expressed this as his desire, 'That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." Phil. 3:10. And again, 'For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.' 2 Cor. 1:5. {September 14, 1893 EJW, PTUK 375.10} 
"There can be no question but that the man who resists sin as Christ did, will not sin. But the only way in which this can be done, is to have Christ Himself living in us His own life of resistance to sin. He alone of all those who have lived on earth, committed no sin. 'Ye know that He was manifested to take away our sin; and in Him is no sin.' 1 John 3:5. God was manifest in the flesh in order to demonstrate His ability to live in the flesh of man. He stands at the door of every heart and knocks, craving admittance. If He is given full permission to come in and take up His abode in any heart, He will resist sin with the same strength that He did eighteen hundred years ago, for He is 'the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.' 'Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' " {September 14, 1893 EJW, PTUK 375.11} 
Beholding the cross transforms the life. Our only hope is to turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face. Then the things of earth . . . whatever they may be . . . will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
~Patti Guthrie

Friday, April 21, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #4 April 22, 2017

Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson

"Special Relationships"

April 22, 2017

            A gospel message that is not practical and effective in our daily lives, relationships, and interactions with others – is not a gospel message!  2 Tim. 2:5 says, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."  If our gospel is not powerful or effective enough to dramatically influence how we relate to our spouses, our family, our coworkers above and below us, and our government, then it is meaningless – and a waste of time.
            The 1888 message is the gospel message that has the power to heal, enhance, elevate, and dignify, all our social interactions and relationships.  Notice the statement we are all familiar with from the pen of E.G.White.  "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."  TM91-92.  "Obedience to all the commandments of God" is a theological way of saying, to love and respect all others in your "social relationships" – which is the focus of our lesson this week.
            This "obedience" can feel messy at times due to the various personalities, characters, and circumstances that come in play in our families, at work, and in our social and civic sphere.  The 1888 message is a complete message.  A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner wrote prolifically on how the gospel principles are applied in our daily lives – practically!  To look at all the situations raised by our passages today would take a whole book, but let us look at how Waggoner did a study on how we are to relate to governments and see if that gives us a template for discerning the truths in the rest of our passage for today.  May God give us His wisdom to discern how to represent Him in any given situation.
             "Subject to God.- God's word admonishes us to be subject to the powers that be, but it never countenances disobedience to God. God has never ordained any power to be above Himself. It is the height of folly for us to argue from this chapter that it is the duty of Christians to obey human laws when they conflict with the law of God. God does not grant indulgence to sin; much less does He command us to sin. We are not to be subject to the powers that be instead of to God, but because we are subject to God. "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Col. 3:17.
             Subjection and Obedience.- Ordinarily subjection implies obedience. When we read that Jesus was subject to His parents, we are sure that He was obedient to them. So when we are exhorted to be subject to the powers that be, the natural conclusion is that we are to be obedient to the laws. But it must never be forgotten that God is above all; that both individual and national power comes from Him; and that He has a right to the undivided service of every soul. We are to obey God all the time, and to be subject to human power as well, but always so that it does not involve disobedience to God.
             Cannot Serve Two Masters.- "No man can serve two masters. . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The reason is that God and mammon are opposite in their demands. Now everybody knows that there have often been human laws that conflicted with God's commandments. There was once a law in America in the days of slavery requiring every man to do all in his power to return fugitive slaves to their masters. But God's word said, "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee." Deut. 23:15. In that case it was impossible to obey the law of the land without disobeying God; and obedience to God made disobedience to the human law absolutely necessary. Men had to make their choice as to whom they would obey. The Christian can not hesitate a moment in his choice. The law that contradicts God's law is nothing. "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." Prov. 21:30.
             Every Ordinance of Man. - "Some reader may quote 1 Peter 2:13 as opposed to this. It says, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." Others may say that we are to submit to every ordinance except when it is opposed to God's law. No exception, however, is implied, nor is any necessary. Neither does the text teach obedience to human laws that contradict God's law. The error arises from a misapprehension of the word "ordinance." It is supposed that this word means "law," but a careful reading will show anybody that this supposition is a mistake. Let us read the 13th and 14th verses carefully: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance [Greek, creation] of man for the Lord's sake." Well, what are these ordinances or creations to which we are to be subject? It makes no difference; to all, "whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him." It is very clear that the text says nothing whatever about laws, but only about rulers. The exhortation is precisely the same as that in the 13th of Romans.
             Submissive yet Disobedient. - Let the reader follow on in the chapter last quoted from, and he will see that the submission enjoined does not involve obedience to wicked laws. We are exhorted: "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." We are to be subject to rightful authority, whether the exerciser of that authority be good and gentle, or froward. Then come the words, "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." 1 Peter 2:17-19. Now a man could not for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, unless conscience toward God had compelled him to disobey some command laid upon him. This statement, immediately following the exhortation to be submissive, plainly shows that disobedience is contemplated as a probability when those in authority are "froward." This is emphasized by the reference to Christ, who suffered wrongfully, yet made no resistance. "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." Isa. 53:7. He was condemned for His loyalty to the truth, which He would not compromise in the least, and yet He was submissive to the authority of the rulers. The apostle says that in this He left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. {March 21, 1895 EJW, PTUK 180.7}
             Christians and Civil Government. - "For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Phil. 3:20. Those who through Christ have access by one Spirit unto the Father "are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Eph. 2:19. Let every man concern himself with the affairs of his own country, and not with those of another. For an American to come to England and presume to lecture Parliament for the way in which it conducts the business of Government, or for an Englishman to go to America and distinguish himself by his advice to the authorities, would be the height of impertinence. But if they should begin actively to interfere in the conduct of public affairs, or should stand for office, they would speedily be shown that they had no business there. Let them become naturalised, and then they may speak and act as much as they please; but then they must hold their peace if they return to the country to which they once owned allegiance. No man can be active in the affairs of two governments at the same time.
             This applies to the Government of heaven as related to earthly governments, as well as to different countries on earth. The one who is a citizen of the heavenly country has no business to meddle with the affairs of earthly governments. He must leave that business to those who acknowledge this earth to be their home. If earthly rulers think to regulate the affairs pertaining to the kingdom of God, they are guilty of gross presumption, to say the least. But if they may not of right presume to regulate the affairs of the kingdom of heaven, much less may the citizens of heaven interfere in the affairs of earthly kingdoms. {March 21, 1895 EJW, PTUK}
~Bob Hunsaker

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"A Royal Priesthood"

Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson

"A Royal Priesthood"

April 15, 2017

            It's amazing to me how often I'm tempted to feel or believe that the "truth" we now have has advanced us beyond the "truth" we had nearly 130 years ago in the 1888 message.  We continue to study and learn day by day, and the temptation comes to feel or believe that we've "moved beyond" the 1888 message as given by ATJones and EJWaggoner – and perhaps the day will come when there will be a sense in which that might be true.  But each time I study and look at their material again, I can say with Ellen White that they did in fact "give the trumpet a certain sound", that they are indeed the Lord's "appointed messengers", that the message the Lord gave through them is indeed "most precious", and every fiber of my heart does say AMEN!

            As I was preparing for this Sabbath School Insights, I was reading some of Jones and Waggoner's messages and came across this "Reading for Sabbath", that ATJones wrote in 1902.  It is specifically on the verses and ideas that we are studying this week in our Sabbath school lesson.  I believe and pray that it will bless you as it did me.  Maranatha!
"YE shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God." Isa. 61:6.

Every Christian is called to be a priest of the Lord, a minister of our God. The life of every true Christian is a life of ministry; ministering to mankind that which he has received of God.

"As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10. The gift of the grace of God, with every particular gift of that grace, is given only to be passed on, to be administered by the one who has received it. Thus, each one who receives the gift is but a steward, never a proprietor: he is to dispense to others, never to store for himself. And the virtue and value of our stewardship is demonstrated only by our diligence in ministering that which we have received.

God is the only proprietor; for "all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Cor. 5:18. Whosoever receives the reconciliation which, for all, God has accomplished in Jesus Christ, also in that and at the same time receives the ministry of that same reconciliation: "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."

Accordingly, it is everlastingly true that every one who has received God's reconciliation is thereby made a minister of God, and we are so to exercise that ministry that men themselves shall call us the ministers of our God. And this ministry is to be so personal and direct that it shall seem as though God Himself is present and is making Himself known. For is it not written, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ (personal representatives of the Master), as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God?"

In Christ's bodily absence from the world, we are in Christ's stead, we are in His place, in the world, between God and men; so that by us God shall reach men, as, when Jesus was bodily present, by Him He reached men. So that literally we are to minister God to men, as did Jesus; in us God is to meet and to save men, as He did in Jesus in our flesh. In us God is to dwell, to walk, to work, to speak, as He did in Jesus in our flesh. This is the very certainty of Christian truth; as it is written: "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." "And we have seen, and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." "As He is so are we in this world." Such is the only basis of our ministry; such things is our ministry; and such only is our ministry in the world: if our ministry is not that, it is nothing; and if our ministry is nothing, then our Christianity is nothing.

And so, again, it is written: "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." As certainly therefore as we are here "in Christ's stead," so certainly we are here "not to be ministered unto but to minister." As certainly as it is true that "as He is, so are we in this world," so certainly we are here "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." And so certainly therefore we are here only to minister: ministry is our only work, our only service, our only calling in the world.

Yet this is only to say that to be true Christians is our only work, our only service, our only calling in this world. For it is written: "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." That is to say, Christian liberty is Christian service: Christian liberty is the liberty to serve one another. Not so with the world: there the ambition is to rule, to domineer, to boss, to cause others to serve. "The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many."

Thus Christianity is ministry; and there is no other. Christian liberty is the liberty to serve; and there is no other true liberty. There is no other, for this itself is a fulfilling of the law: as it is written, "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law [of love] is fulfilled in this one word, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." That is to say, Christianity is ministry; Christian liberty is service; it is the liberty by love to serve one another. And the exercise of that liberty is the fulfillment of that royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And that is a fulfilling of all the law of God, "in one word." And thus, in this blessed Christian liberty of ministry and service, there is attained the purpose and the pinnacle of the Third Angel's Message,—"Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."

That is our calling.

And now to fulfill that calling, to make our calling effective, we must have the elements of that Christian ministry, of that liberty of service. We are to minister something to persons. We are to put into their lives something that was not there before. We cannot minister what we do not have. Therefore, it is first of all essential that we have the elements of this ministry.

What then are the elements of our ministry?—God and Christ. For we are "ministers of God," and are "ministers of Christ." And this is not merely ministers sent by God, to minister this, that, or the other thing, as we might choose. No; it is that we are ministers of God and of Christ, in truth. It means that we are to minister God Himself to man. We are so to make God manifest to men that they shall see Him as the loving, pitying Father, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, that they shall believe on Him and receive Him; that we shall make them acquainted with Him, and join them to Him in that blessed "perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten." It is that we shall minister Christ Himself to men: we are so to make Christ manifest to men that they shall recognise Him as the tender, sympathising Saviour, who "hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," who has taken all our sins and given us all His righteousness; that they shall believe on Him, and receive Him: that we shall make them acquainted with Him, and join them to Him as that blessed Friend who sticketh closer than a brother, and who will never leave them nor forsake them.

These are the elements of our ministry; for we are to minister the gospel, and the gospel is "Christ in you the hope of glory:" it is "God with us," "God manifest in the flesh."

And in being thus ministers of God and of Christ, we are, in the nature of things, ministers of all that is in them,—the grace, the power, peace, the joy, the righteousness, the glory, oh, even "all the fullness," of God; all of which is summed up in the one word Life,—eternal life, the life of God. We are to be so connected with the Fountain of Life, the life of God, that we shall stand between the living God and dead men to minister to men the life of God, eternal life: holding forth the word of life: being ourselves means of connecting dead men with the life of God.

These are the elements of our ministry, and it being all-essential that these elements shall be in our own individual lives, there must of necessity be an efficient means of this ministry. Ah! this also is fully supplied: "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost." "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." And "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance"—Oh, it is all the fullness of God, for the divinely recorded prayer is that ye be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

And so, "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises [virtues, margin] of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Iight."
Ye are a chosen generation, chosen to show forth the virtues, the character, the attributes, and thus the praises, of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Ye are a royal, a kingly, priesthood, anointed to minister, the virtues, the character, the attributes, and thus the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.
Ye are a holy nation: a nation in whom God dwells, a nation who are partakers of the divine nature,—partakers of the divine virtues, the divine character, the divine attributes,—ye are thus made a holy nation, expressly to show forth, to minister, the holy virtues, the holy character, the divine nature of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Ye are a peculiar people: a peculiar, a separated people, because of the abiding presence of Him whose presence makes holy, and so separates from all the other people that are upon the face of the earth. As it is written: "Wherein shall it be known here, that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not that Thou goest with us? So [in this way] shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." It is God with us, God going with us, God abiding with us, God manifest in our flesh—it is only thus that we can be a peculiar, a separated people. And ye are a peculiar, a separated people: so separated, so made peculiar, expressly that ye should show forth, that ye should minister, the virtues, the character, the attributes, and thus the praises of Him who has separated you by calling you out of darkness into His marvellous light; there to dwell, as He is in the light, in divine fellowship one with another, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleansing us from all sin.

This is our priesthood, our ministry.

In old time, when men were inducted into the priesthood, there were three steps in the process, each in its order, each essential to the next, and all essential to the ministry: without any one of these no man could exercise the office and ministry of the priesthood.

First, there must be a change of raiment: the common garments of daily life must all be laid aside, and "holy garments"—garments made at the express direction of the Lord, and under the guidance of the Spirit of Wisdom—"for glory and for beauty" must be put upon each one who was to be a priest.

Secondly, they must be anointed with oil; the holy anointing oil was put upon them,—"the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of His garments."

Thirdly, they must be consecrated: that is, their hands must be filled with the elements of their priesthood and ministry; for to consecrate is to fill the hand. We are now in the time when God is making His people a royal priesthood, indeed, when He is actually inducting us into that divine priesthood and its ministry.

He first sent to all His people in all the world the blessed message of the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ—the changing of raiment, from the filthy rags of our own works, our iniquity, our own righteousness, to the beautiful garments of the royal priesthood, the garments of salvation, the white robes of His own pure and perfect righteousness: teaching every one to say with glad, free heart, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself as a priest with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

He next sent to all His people in all the world the twice blessed message, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" receive the holy anointing unto the royal priesthood, the holy anointing poured abundantly, even without, upon every one who is clothed with the holy garments of the salvation and righteousness of God, poured upon the head and going down to the very border of the holy garments.

And now, to-day, while it is called to-day, He sends to all His people in all the world the thrice blessed message, "Fill the hand;" fill the hands full and quickly with the elements of the ministry of God in your royal priesthood. Consecrate your service this day unto the Lord. Fill the hand, even with "all the fullness of God," and, as priests of the Lord and ministers of God, go out quickly and everywhere in all the world, showing forth, ministering the virtues, the character, the attributes of God; ministering the grace of God, the power of God, the peace of God, the joy of the Lord, the righteousness, the glory of God—oh, ministering all the fullness of God to every creature going about doing good, as did He who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and who, sending us as the Father sent Him, says to every one, "Change your garments"—receive the righteousness of God; receive the holy anointing, "receive ye the Holy Ghost: fill the hand," consecrate your service this day, in the ministry of God in your royal priesthood.

The message of God to-day, "Fill the hand," "consecrate your service" to this divine ministry to men, is  as certainly and as distinctly the message of God, as was, each in its place, the message of the righteousness of God, and the message, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Those two messages were preliminary and preparatory to this: they were the first two steps of induction into the royal priesthood, of which this third is the last, the culminating step. And as this is the culmination of the induction into the ministry of our royal priesthood, there will be no other message to follow. This is the last: the three now go on together in the mighty power of God to lighten the earth with the glory of the Lord and bring the end and the glorious appearing of our glorious Lord unto which we have toiled, for which we have watched and waited, which has been delayed; but of which now God declares, "There shall be delay no longer." Bless the Lord!

And now, here is our divine commission and the divine means unto our divine priesthood, to-day and henceforth:—
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;
Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted;
To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning; and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."

And in this blessed course, "ye shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God;" and "for your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land shall they possess the double: everlasting joy shall be upon them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed."

Thus in all the world shall be the glad word, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself as a priest, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

And therefore, "As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."
And let all the people say, Amen. ALONZO T. JONES. {June 1, 1902 ATJ, UCR pp.18-20}

~ Bob Hunsaker
Raul Diaz

Friday, April 07, 2017

"An Inheritance Incorruptible"

INSIGHT #2 APRIL 8, 2017

Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson

"An Inheritance Incorruptible"

April 8, 2017

As we begin our study of the first book of Peter, chapter one, this week, it would be well for us to bow in prayer:
"Kind Father in heaven, Peter wrote a message to the elect — those to whom you have entrusted the oracles of God and whom you have called to proclaim the everlasting gospel. Peter is sleeping, but the words he wrote under Inspiration are present truth. Please send the Holy Spirit to be our Teacher, to open our minds and hearts to your Word. Help us to see Jesus in these verses, and the lessons He has for us. We thank you in Jesus' name, Amen."
The focus of the 1888 message was to pour water on dry, thirsty ground. Our church was only decades old and already our hearts were parched, barren, cracked.
In his lifetime Peter had stumbled upon some desert places in his own heart. Confident that he was truly converted, he boasted that he would never deny Jesus.
Witnessing the unfolding of Christ's sacrifice on the cross changed Peter's life. His hope was founded not upon his own merits, but in the risen Savior:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" 1 Peter 1:3.
That living hope transformed Peter's life from an ambitious, speak-first-think-later fisherman to an ardent disciple of Christ. Peter's letter is filled with encouragement and hope. He points the reader to Jesus, in whom we have an "inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" 1 Peter 1:4.
Peter's great concern was that the readers would be "kept by the power of God through faith" (vs.4). Trials would come, he freely admitted, in order "that the genuineness of your faith . . . though tested by fire . . . may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (verse 7).
Peter admonishes Christian believers of every age to purify their "souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren," and to "love one another fervently with a pure heart" (verse 22).
Peter himself at one point believed that he loved Jesus. Yet the greatest trial of his life demonstrated the shallowness of his profession. 
After Peter's denial of Christ and the resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. The first two times, Jesus said, Do you agape me? to which Peter responded that he had only "phileo" love for Christ. 
The third time Jesus said, "Peter, do you phileo me?" Peter again replied, Yes, I phileo you. (John 21:15-17)
Phileo, or brotherly love, is the warm love experienced between brothers and friends. But phileo (human) love is changeable, as demonstrated by Peter. That's all he had to offer Jesus.
Our lesson this week defines various Greek words translated as "love" in the English language. Of these three — phileo, eros, and agape — we find that agape is the word the New Testament writers most often use to describe the love of God. 
Eros is conditional, based on outward beauty or some object upon which self may be gratified. Christ did not admonish men to "eros" their wives, but to "agape" their wives, to love them unselfishly as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). 
Agape is the self-sacrificing, others-centered love of Christ. It was Christ's agape love for us that motivated Him to leave heaven in order to save our thankless race. Agape is not based on man's response but originates from the heart of God.
Unfortunately, we are prone to the same self-delusion as was Peter. We can think that we love Christ based on our belief in certain biblical truths or our profession of faith.
For Peter, the cure for his self-love came by beholding Jesus, who loved him and gave himself for him.
With Peter, our only hope is to behold "the sight of that pale, suffering face, those quivering lips, that look of compassion and forgiveness" DA, p. 713.
Our church and our world needs a fresh glimpse of Jesus. The latter rain message of Jesus and His righteousness, when received into the soul, softens our hearts and transforms our fickle phileo love for Christ into ardent, agape love. 
"There are none so hardened as those who have slighted the invitation of mercy, and done despite to the Spirit of grace. The most common manifestation of the sin against the Holy Spirit is in persistently slighting Heaven's invitation to repent" Desire of Ages, p. 324.
In Peter's words: "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before" Acts 3:19.

~Patti Guthrie