Friday, March 17, 2017

INSIGHT #11 MARCH 18, 2017
First Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"Grieving and Resisting The Spirit "
March 18, 2017
This week's lesson is one of the most solemn of all Bible topics.
"The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence." – 1888 913.1
"An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren [E.J.] Waggoner and [A.T.] Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world." – 1SM 234.6
Consequently, we are still here in this world. May God forgive us! We are counseled to repent. That light is still being kept "in a great degree" from the world. Why?
In the late 1800's, most Adventists were likely familiar with the issues pertaining to the 1888 GC session in Minneapolis. In the years following, thousands had opportunity to hear Sister Ellen White and Brothers A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner expound on these glorious gospel truths in camp meetings and schools across the land.
"The Lord has been calling his people. In a most marked manner he has revealed his divine presence. But the message and the messengers have not been received but despised. I longed that those who have greatly needed the message of divine love would hear Christ's knock at the door of the heart, and let the heavenly guest enter. But at the hearts of some Jesus has knocked in vain. In rejecting the message given at Minneapolis, men committed sin. They have committed far greater sin by retaining for years the same hatred against God's messengers, by rejecting the truth that the Holy Spirit has been urging home. By making light of the message given, they are making light of the word of God. Every appeal rejected, every entreated unheeded, furthers the work of heart-hardening, and places them in the seat of the scornful." – 1888 913.2
Is our church any closer to understanding and sharing this message today than it was then?
We note one significant difference between then and now. The issues are no longer commonly understood. A majority of Seventh-day Adventists today know little of our history or the reasons for the delay in Christ's return. Prayers for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are commonly heard. Few seem to realize that prayer was answered over a century ago.
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14.
A solemn responsibility rests upon those who have been blessed to hear the most precious message of Jesus and His righteousness to share with others the wonderful truths the Lord in His mercy sent nearly 130 years ago. It isn't enough to just intellectualize these truths. They need to be studied, lived, and shared! If we claim to believe in God's agape love but exhibit traits of selfishness and pride, people will not be very open to hearing what we have to share. The message of the cross draws us to the feet of Jesus, laying our glory in the dust.
"When the Holy Spirit works the human agent, it does not ask us in what way it shall operate. Often it moves in unexpected ways. Christ did not come as the Jews expected. . . The Jews refused to receive Christ, because He did not come in accordance with their expectations." TM 64.2
"This is the danger to which the church is now exposed—that the inventions of finite men shall mark out the precise way for the Holy Spirt to come. Though they would not care to acknowledge it, some have already done this. . . The Holy Spirit flatters no man, neither does it work according to the devising of any man…. It is man's place to hear and obey its voice." TM 64.3
"These rejecters of light cease to recognize light. Their souls are surrounded by a malarious atmosphere, and though some may not show open hostility, those who have spiritual discernment will realize the icy coldness which surrounds their souls." – 1888 914.1
"The Holy Spirit strives to make apparent the claims of God, but men pay heed only for a moment and turn their minds to other things. Satan catches away the seeds of truth; the gracious influence of the spirit of God is effectually resisted. Thus many are grieving away the Holy Spirit for the last time and they know it not. – PC 340.3
"Now the closing of probation does not make any change in the characters of men. The character of the wicked will not be different after that time from what it has been before. He that is unjust and filthy remains so, that is all. Rev. 22:11. The only difference is that at the close of probation their choice of evil is irrevocably fixed. That is what makes their probation end — they will no longer listen to the Gospel. They could be saved if they are willing to be saved. . . The reason, and the only reason, why any will be lost, is not that they are too wicked to be saved, but that they do not wish to be saved. It is not the guilt of sin, but the love of sin, that shuts men out of the Kingdom; for if men will cease to love sin, the guilt of it, however deep will be taken away." E. J. Waggoner, Gospel of Isaiah, p. 20.
We are living in a time when darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.
There is no other message that can lighten the earth with His glory than the true message of "Jesus' blood and righteousness." May God forgive our neglect of Jesus and our resistance to the Holy Spirit! The promise remains:
"But the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." Isaiah 60:2
When "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations," then the end will come. Matthew 24:14.
When that happens, "the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Isaiah 60:4. May that day come soon, for His sake.

~Patti Guthri


Friday, March 03, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 March 4, 2017

First Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson
"The Holy Spirit and The Church"
March 4, 2017
Throughout God's work for His people, He has had to deal with them (us) either running ahead, or falling behind.
At the banks of the Jordan, when God wanted to lead Israel into the promised land, they weren't ready to enter in.  Fear was their fundamental motivation, not faithfulness and love (Num. 13 & 14).  They were falling behind the Lord.  However, when they heard the consequence of their decision – that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years – they were immediately eager to run ahead of God and take Canaan – that too was a failed response.
At the time of Christ, His church was eagerly awaiting the coming of the Messiah.  But when He came, they were behind again.  They didn't recognize Him when He came.  They chose Roman ruler ship over God.  "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15).
Lest we be tempted to believe that if we had lived in the days of our spiritual fathers, we would have done differently, we have our history in 1844 and 1888 to remind us that we too run ahead (1844), and fall behind (1888), the Lord's perfect leading.  In 1844, we felt it was time for the Lord to come, but He saw that all things weren't ready.  In 1888, as we looked hopefully and expectantly for our Messiah to come, for the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower us, when He did come, we didn't recognize Him – just like our spiritual fathers didn't recognize the Messiah when He came to them.  We were falling behind His leading.
We need that lesson of 1888 – to remind us – that modern human nature, our human nature, is no different than human nature 2000 years ago, and no different than the human nature of the Israelites on the shores of the Jordan.  If we had been there, would we have believed Caleb and Joshua and Moses, or would we have believed the majority report?  If we had been at Calvary, would we have been standing up and saying we were followers of Jesus and pleading with the Jewish leadership to turn from crucifying the Messiah, or would we have been with the majority saying crucify Him, or perhaps worse, would we have been running and hiding with Peter and the other disciples?
This is what Jesus was saying to the Jews 2000 years ago, and is saying to us today – don't say, "If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets" (Matt.23:20). Don't look back at the SDA leadership in 1888 and say, "if we'd been there, we'd have responded to A.T. Jones and E.J.Waggoner's message – I mean, they were endorsed by a prophet!"
The 1888 history is a reminder, a cautionary story, a piece of history that gives us insight into our corporate heart and attitude towards God and the Holy Spirit, that we today could still – again – reject the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when we encounter it today – even if we are praying for it!
Our lesson this week is about the Holy Spirit and the church.  The lesson reminds us repeatedly how vital the work and truth and power of the Holy Spirit is for the success of the church in carrying out God's hopes and plans for the finishing of the great controversy.  But we need to step back for a moment and ask ourselves, is it possible that our superficial conscious desire for the Holy Spirit, masks a deeper unconscious resistance to the Holy Spirit – just like the Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea, just like the Jews at Calvary, and just like our church fathers in Minneapolis in 1888?
The lesson reminds us about unity in the Spirit, about the work of the Spirit in inspiring the Bible – which is the basis for unity, about being baptized with the Spirit, etc.  These are all valid expressions of the work of the Holy Spirit.  But the idea that we could inadvertently be resisting the Holy Spirit as individuals and as a corporate body, while at the same time believing we really want Him to be poured out, is foreign to our consciousness – even while our SDA history and Bible history tell us that that is what has happened repeatedly.
"There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord (the Holy Spirit), not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our Heavenly Father is more willing to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us his blessing" (RH 3/22/87).  Notice, the problem is not a resistance or busyness or lack of concern on God's part.  The issue is a lack of preparation in us!  We are unprepared to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit.  Our history tells us how true this statement is.
But we are not left without the remedy we need for our historic and collective healing.  Confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, will allow God to send us the Holy Spirit again – and this time, He will be received and appreciated unlike He has ever been before - except at Pentecost.
Remember, after the crucifixion, there were 50 days before Pentecost.  Those 50 days are important for us to understand.  The same "formula" that Ellen White applies in the above quote, is what the disciples went through to prepare them in heart, mind, and character, for the early rain.
The 50 days are divided up into two periods – the 40 days between the crucifixion and Christ's ascension, and the 10 days between His ascension and Pentecost.  The forty days were occupied in Bible study with Jesus and with each other.  "And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scripture" (Lk 24:44-45).  Notice, that for those 40 days, Jesus was taking them to the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God, to educate them about what His mission and kingdom were all about – what His life, death, and resurrection were meant to accomplish – way beyond their mundane concerns about freedom from Rome.
The next 10 days were critical.  The knowledge of the plan of salvation which Christ had just given to them, led them to repentance, confession, humiliation, and earnest prayer.  The love of Christ constrained them to these behaviors (2Cor.5:14).  "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14).  Notice the statement below from Acts of the Apostles that expresses what the experience was that the disciples were going through in the upper room during this 10 day period, and see if it doesn't match up with the Ellen White statement above and the Scriptural references, to reveal the same "formula" for what is missing in our experience that will allow God to finally "re-send" the latter rain.
"As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief. As they called to remembrance the words that Christ had spoken to them before His death they understood more fully their meaning. Truths which had passed from their memory were again brought to their minds, and these they repeated to one another. They reproached themselves for their misapprehension of the Saviour. Like a procession, scene after scene of His wonderful life passed before them. As they meditated upon His pure, holy life they felt that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great, if only they could bear witness in their lives to the loveliness of Christ's character. Oh, if they could but have the past three years to live over, they thought, how differently they would act. . . .they determined that, so far as possible, they would atone for their unbelief by bravely confessing Him before the world.
The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been theirs in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ."  AA35-37.
This week's lesson, makes very earnest and appropriate calls for unity in the Spirit, for fellowship in the Spirit, for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  But without the preparatory steps outlined above of confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, we will continue to openly ask for but subconsciously oppose the work and outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Just as the disciple before the outpouring of the early rain saw the part they played in the rejection of the Messiah, so we must see the part we individually and corporately have played in the opposition to the latter rain.  Until we do this, until – under the constraining power of the love of Jesus – we personally and corporately experience humiliation for our part in the death of Jesus, repentance and confession for our part in the crucifixion, and earnest prayer to deliver us from hearts and minds that would crucify Jesus afresh, we will continue to "wait" for the outpouring that God sent us over 120 years ago.
I pray for myself and for you, that God will give us the gift of repentance by revealing more fully His goodness, that the opposition of our carnal hearts will be healed.  May this be your prayer for me and for our beloved church also.
"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. . . .This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure". – {TM 91.2}
~Bob Hunsaker