Thursday, December 26, 2019

1888 Message Study : Leaders in Israel



As we have studied the lessons this quarter, I am sure that many of us have been struck by the leadership skills of Ezra and Nehemiah. Though the lesson covers leaders other than these two, I think it will be worthwhile to look at these two, one a priest and scribe, Ezra, and the other a cup-bearer to the King of Persia and governor in Judea, Nehemiah. What is it that made them strong leaders? I will let the Word speak for itself.

Ezra 10: 1 and 2 record the following, "1Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly. 2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this."

What would evoke this response in the people?

This is where a review of what we know of Ezra is helpful. Ezra 7:1 says "Now after these things…" After what things? Ezra 6 ended with the temple being completed and dedicated and the Passover being celebrated by the first to return from captivity. Fifty-eight years later Ezra comes on the scene and thus begins chapter 7 "Now after these things…" Verse 6: "this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him." Reading on in verses 9, 10, we see the following, 9 "On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel."

Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do the Law of the Lord, and to teach these statutes and ordinances in Israel. The Servant of the Lord, Ellen White made these observations about Ezra in Prophets and Kings: "Born of the sons of Aaron, Ezra had been given a priestly training…But he was not satisfied with his spiritual condition. He longed to be in full harmony with Godhe longed for wisdom to carry out the divine will. And so he "prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it." Ezra 7:10. This led him to apply himself diligently to a study of the history of God's people, as recorded in the writings of Prophets and Kings. He searched the historical and poetical books of the Bible to learn why the Lord had permitted Jerusalem to be destroyed and His people carried captive into a heathen land.  {PK 608.1}.

To the experiences of Israel from the time the promise was made to Abraham, Ezra gave special thought. He studied the instruction given at Mount Sinai and through the long period of wilderness wandering. As he learned more and still more concerning God's dealings with His children and comprehended the sacredness of the law given at Sinai, Ezra's heart was stirred. He experienced a new and thorough conversion and determined to master the records of sacred history, that he might use this knowledge to bring blessing and light to his people.  {PK 608.2}

Ezra endeavored to gain a heart preparation for the work he believed was before him. He sought God earnestly, that he might be a wise teacher in Israel. As he learned to yield mind and will to divine control, there were brought into his life the principles of true sanctification.  {PK 608.3}.

Eight points of true leadership are brought out in the foregoing passage: 1) He longed to be in full harmony with God; 2) He longed for wisdom; 3) He applied himself diligently to a study of the history of God's people; 4) He experienced a new and thorough conversion; 5) He determined to master the records of sacred history; 6) He used this knowledge to bring blessing and light to his people; 7) He sought God earnestly; 8) He desired to be a wise teacher in Israel.

This brings us to our earlier question. In Ezra 10:1-2, it seems that Ezra had a prayer meeting and "the people wept very sore." What would bring about such a response?

Leadership. In Ezra 9, Ezra's heart wrenching prayer is presented to us and demonstrates the eight points of leadership, just outlined. The prayer was brought about by his truly understanding for the first time, it seems, the reason for their captivity in Babylon all those years. I imagine that he realized the desperate urgency of their situation and the fact that if a change did not take place, they were doomed to repeat their history. Consider the following passage.

Ezra 9: 1-15 "When these things were done, the leaders came to me [Ezra], saying, "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass." 3 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard and sat down astonished. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice. 5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. 6 And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens." 7 Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day.  9 For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia…10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, 12 Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.' 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, 14 should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? 15 O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!"

What a prayer!! A good leader is a student of history. A good leader is not afraid to confront the truth and make tough calls. He said "Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty…" Not just guilty, but very guilty. The people's transgressions against the Law of God and His principles, resulted in their spending 70 years in captivity. And it seemed that they learned nothing from that experience. The joining together with other nations continued! One would think that being taken captive would result in self-reflection and repentance. But not so. Verse 1 of chapter 9 says "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands." It seems that Ezra understood the gravity of the situation from God's point of view. God's greatest problem was not getting the children of Israel out of Babylon, but Babylon out of the children of Israel. So Ezra, because of the commitment to know the things of God and to do them and to make Israel a blessing, had to make a drastic decision. But he did not do this by pointing the finger. He did this by identifying with the people and prayed a convicting prayer of corporate repentance and the result: Ezra 10:1-12.

1"…a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly. 2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. 3 Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 5 Then Ezra arose, and made the leaders of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel swear an oath that they would do according to this word. So they swore an oath. 6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity. 7 And they issued a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the descendants of the captivity, that they must gather at Jerusalem, 8 and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the instructions of the leaders and elders, all his property would be confiscated, and he himself would be separated from the assembly of those from the captivity. 9 So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem within three days… 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives." 12 Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, "Yes! As you have said, so we must do.

This was a tough call for Ezra. Nehemiah had a similar approach (See Nehemiah 1 and 13). Because of the 8 principles of leadership outlined above both, Ezra and Nehemiah were unwavering. They understood the implications of their history and recognized the need for an about face. It may seem drastic to put away the wives or else be separated from "the assembly of those from the captivity." Why was this so crucial? History is crucial because it answers the questions, Where did we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? The history of Israel was one of rebellion against God's call on their lives to be a light to the nations, Isaiah 49:6 "Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

This was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. However, this was the call on their lives as well, and they failed. The issue here in the post-exilic period and before is that the people lost their identity. If you lose your identity, your mission is lost, and the goal is not achieved. They even lost their knowledge of the Hebrew language. In intermarrying, they assimilated the customs, beliefs, practices and idolatry of the nations around them and they forgot what God was like. Their concept of God was bound up with the culture of appeasement and self-indulgence.

How does that apply to us today? We as Seventh-day Adventists have a history and a calling. We have to admit that we have not lived up to our calling as a movement. We have rebelled. We now look so much like other churches, that we question our uniqueness and our relevance. We have thrown out doctrines which help put together a picture of what God is like and we wonder why He delays His coming. We need leaders "in Israel" like Ezra and Nehemiah. In the words of Ellen White, "In the existing state of religious declension, there is crying need of earnest, faithful Nehemiahs and Ezras -- men who will not shun to call sin by its right name, and who will not shrink from vindicating the honor of God. Those upon whom God has laid the burden of His work are not to hold their peace, and cover prevailing evils with a cloak of false charity. Men of courage and energy are needed to expose fashionable sins. Iniquity must not be palliated and excused. Those who lead the church of God to follow the customs and practices of the world, are not to be lauded and exalted. {ST, January 24, 1884 par. 9}.

As we face the General conference session 2020, I pray that it will be less of a cause for celebration and more of a time of self-reflection, of taking stock of where we are as a people. We know well our history, "The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders [E. J.] Waggoner and [A. T.] 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." {LDE 200.1}.

We have lost the plot as a people because this message has largely gone unnoticed. As we approach yet another GC session, I pray that all who are elected will, like Ezra and Nehemiah, 1) Long to be in full harmony with God; 2) Long for wisdom; 3) Apply himself diligently to a study of the history of the Advent movement; 4) Experience a new and thorough conversion; 5) Be determined to master the records of sacred history; 6) Use this knowledge to bring blessing and light to the people; 7) Seek God earnestly and 8) Desire to be a "wise teacher in Israel" so that there will be delay no longer.

~ Andi Hunsaker

Thursday, December 19, 2019

1888 Message Study : Dealing With Bad Decisions



"And I said: 'O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens' " (Ezra 9:6, NKJV).

What was the problem? What provoked this self-abasing confession from Ezra?

He explains that after settling the financial affairs of the temple service (chapter 8), the next thing that happened was the leaders came to him, saying, "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass" (Ezra 9:1, 2).

What, specifically, is Ezra referring to when he says, "with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites . . .?"

Moses wrote, "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people" (Leviticus 18: 26-29).

A lengthy list of abominations immediately precedes this command in verses 6-23. Prohibitions included not viewing the nakedness or having sexual relations with family or extended family members, not laying carnally with the neighbor's wife, or male with male, not mating with animals, and not permitting descendants to pass through the fire to Molech. The warning was, "Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore, I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants" (Leviticus 18:24, 25).

In Deuteronomy, Moses again warned against the abominations of the heathen nations.

"When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

"For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you" (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

No wonder Ezra and Nehemiah were distraught by the mixed marriages in their midst. The abominations practiced by these heathen people groups would undermine the work of restoration and recovery so recently completed after the long captivity in Babylon.

It was the reemergence of these abominations in Israel that prompted Ezra and Nehemiah to take the extreme measure of dismantling the marriages between Jews and the heathen.

From the earliest times of earth's history, the Bible reveals that "the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose." Further, "there were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them" (Genesis 6:2, 4).

From this we see that intermarriage between believers and the heathen was a long-term problem, and these unions produced ungodly children. The ancient world was destroyed because the wickedness of man was great. But after the flood, these abominations once again manifested themselves. And in this week's lesson, we see their recurrence in Israel through intermarriage with the heathen.

What does this have to do with me? I'm married to a believer. And even if I wasn't, Paul counsels believers in 1 Corinthians 7 to remain married even if their spouse was an unbeliever.

We find an answer in the E. G. White Sabbath School Notes section for Wednesday, December 18:

"Our first work is with our own hearts. The true principles of reform should be practiced. The heart must be converted and sanctified else we have no connection with Christ. While our hearts are divided, we shall never, never be fitted for usefulness in this life or the future life. As intelligent beings, we need to sit down and think whether we are really seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. . . . What is there that I must cut away from my life in order that I shall not stumble?

"The great sin of God's people at the present time is, we do not appreciate the value of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. We serve God with a divided heart. We cherish some idol and worship at its shrine. The truth of God is elevated and holy, sanctifying the soul, if brought into the life and interwoven with the character. God is seeking with His truth to make us a separate and peculiar people"--This Day With God, pp. 48, 50.

Ezra and Nehemiah counseled the Jews to put away their foreign wives and their children. The appeal extends to us--God is calling us to cut away and separate ourselves from the sins of the world, especially the ones we cherish in our own hearts.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was raised up to proclaim the three angel's messages of Revelation 14, announcing the judgment hour of the world, a time when "God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The purpose of the gospel is to shine the light of Jesus' love into our hearts, revealing the selfishness and hidden sins buried there.

Ezra and Nehemiah sought God's forgiveness for the sins of Israel by their corporate prayers of repentance. They were not personally guilty of the sin of marrying heathen wives, but they identified themselves fully with God's people, confessing those sins as though they were their own. Today, we have opportunity to do both: confess and forsake our own sins (our "heathen wives"), as well as confess the sins of others in the church as our own. God's work for Israel was both individual and corporate. Now is our opportunity to allow Him full reign in our hearts, to cleanse our hearts from defilement while time remains.

Recently, while I was shopping at Costco, I ran into a friend that I haven't seen in several months. She shared with me how God has been working on her heart. She has been feeding on the Word by listening to lots of sermons online. As a result, she has come under conviction to take off all her jewelry. She said she didn't care about her earrings or her necklaces and rings anymore. Professionally, in her work as a therapist she has already discontinued the use of spiritualistic healing practices such as hypnotherapy. She said, "I just want to be close to Jesus, and I don't want anything to come between me and Him." But something was troubling her, she said. Since she started making these changes and becoming more serious about her walk with God, she said she has been tortured by random evil thoughts that seem to spring out of nowhere. She has also been tormented by terrible dreams at night. She prayed about this but hasn't known what to do.

I suggested that in cases like this, it's important to make sure there are no documents, books, or objects associated with spiritualism in the home. That afternoon she went home and discarded several spiritualistic books. In addition, she deleted many ungodly books from her Kindle reader. In a follow up conversation with me, she related that since discarding these items, she has slept well with no disturbing dreams. She was so relieved and was praising God.

She asked, "Why didn't I have all these terrible dreams and intruding thoughts while I was practicing hypnotism?"

In my observation people often experience increased trials when Satan senses they are slipping from his grasp. Spiritually speaking, putting away a heathen wife may present new trials and heartaches, but we can rest in Christ with the sweet peace of a clear conscience, claiming God's promise that "no weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me, says the LORD" (Isaiah 54:7).

This Insights would be incomplete if I stopped here. There is another "foreign wife" which needs to be put away: a sin of which we are collectively guilty and for which cause we are still here in this world. But for this sin, Christ would have come ere this. In reviewing Israel's history, Paul explains that they failed to enter His rest because "the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith," and "they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief," (Hebrews 4:2, NKJV, and 4:6, KJV) In our Adventist history, the Lord in His mercy sent a most precious message of Jesus Christ and His righteousness for the purpose of preparing a people for translation.

W. W. Prescott reviews this history and its aftermath in the context of our lesson's text for this week, Ezra 9. The article is reproduced here in its entirety for those who wish to review it; the section referring particularly to Ezra is in bold print.


The Promise of the Holy Spirit, #3 -- by Professor W. W. Prescott

LUKE 18:9-14: "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 103.8}


I wonder in how many minds the feeling would rise, But that was the prayer of the publican, and we are not publicans! That is just exactly what the other Pharisee thanked God for, - that he was not. That is just what the Pharisee said, - he thanked God that he was not that way. "I thank thee that I am not as this publican." The prayer of the publican was: "God be merciful to me a sinner." That is all. And the Saviour says: "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other." Why? Because he was a sinner, and he knew it; God knew it, and they agreed together that it was so. When he asked God to be merciful to him, the only way that God could be merciful to him was to forgive the sin, to make one righteous instead of sinful. God wanted this man to be made righteous, and he himself wanted it, and they could agree on that, and thus it was so. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 103.9}


Take the case of Paul as he states it in his first letter to his son Timothy: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief." 1Timothy 1:15. Now, I say this should be the experience of every one of us: "God be merciful to me a sinner." Now, Paul does not say that he was the chief of sinners before he was converted. He simply says, in the most emphatic way, in the present tense: "I am chief of sinners." What will give to anyone, whether it be Paul the apostle or whether it be you, that view of ourselves, that we will be ready to say that, not simply as a form of words, but from the heart? What only can do it? The very same thing that wrought that experience in the apostle Paul, and it works that experience in everyone who knows it, when one sees Jesus Christ.  {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 103.10}


Now, I cannot abhor myself by looking at myself, and you cannot hate sin and be troubled at your sinful condition by looking at yourselves. Not at all. To attempt to do this, would be just like this: Suppose all the lights here were at once put out. Who could say then whether his neighbor was good-looking or bad-looking? Who then, by holding up his hand before him, could tell whether it was white or black? There is no light, everything is the same, there is no chance to tell anything about it. The reason why we don't see these things, is because Satan has put his own hellish shadow over us, and has brought darkness over us. And it is only as light from God shines into our hearts, that we can have any idea of our own sinfulness before God, and our need of him. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.1}


When Paul was on his way to Damascus, what were his feelings? He describes them to us in Philippians 3, "A Pharisee of the Pharisees, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel," etc. He had everything to congratulate himself for. But, when Paul, Saul of Tarsus, even that satisfied man, who would have put to death at that very moment, every Christian, met the Lord in the way, he said: "Lord what wilt thou have me to do?" He was converted, and acknowledged the very thing he had been fighting, and yielded up the whole thing right there. The moment he said "Lord," he acknowledged Jesus Christ, the very one whose disciples he was on his way to Damascus to persecute. Now concerning his conversion, we read: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen: immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." Galatians 1:15,16. It was after this experience, and after this Son had been revealed to him, that he wrote to his son Timothy: "I am the chief." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.2}


It was the same experience in Job's case. In Job 42:1-6, we read, "Then Job answered the Lord and said, I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understand not; things too wonderful for me which I knew not. Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Now, I say, that will be the experience of everyone, and it is not an experience simply once in a lifetime. It is not simply the experience that comes at conversion: but every time that one catches a glimpse of the glory and purity of Jesus Christ, he can but abhor himself. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.3}


I am really troubled to know how to find words to express these things. It is necessary to present before our minds the need of self-abhorrence for those who stand in the presence of God. There is nothing that I can say that can help the matter, but it must be with us just as it was with those on the day of Pentecost. They really did not have any appreciation of what Jesus Christ was; but while Peter was talking to them in a plain and simple manner about the Spirit, the Holy Spirit told them about Jesus Christ: the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus Christ to them - a man they had never seen before - and instead of seeing Him merely as He had been reported to them, as a wine-bibber, as one who ate and drank with sinners, as an imposter, they saw Jesus Christ as the sin-pardoning Saviour. They saw something of the purity of His character, and they saw Him, of course, in a true light. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.4}


It is only as the Spirit teaches you and me something about Jesus Christ, that we can have any idea of how we stand before God. A good lesson on this matter is found in the ninth chapter of Ezra. In his prayer, Ezra says: "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up into the heavens." I do not know what to say. When a servant of God like Ezra comes before God with such a statement as that, what shall we say, what shall we do? That was the prayer of a man who saw something of the sinfulness of sin, who saw something of what it meant to be out of harmony with God. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.5}


Now, we are taught that the servants of God are to "weep between the porch and the altar and cry, Spare thy people, Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." But it seems to me, in considering this question, that before we can do that, we ought to weep for ourselves. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.6}


Look over the record of the past three or four years and see what God has been doing for us, and then see where we stand now. God has been dealing with His people in a very remarkable manner, and God is dealing with His people still in a very remarkable manner. God has been waiting for the cooperation of human agents in His work. That word He has sent to us again and again: but the last word is that God is waiting impatiently. It is a wonder to me, that instead of impatiently waiting, He does not sweep us out of His sight, and take a people that will be ready to cooperate with Him. What shall we do when God sends us word right here and now that He is waiting impatiently for us? How long did He wait for the fruit on the tree? He waited three years did He not? Then was He going to cut it down? No. He said just wait one more year, then if it does not bear fruit, let it go. How long has it been since God in a special manner began to send this light and this instruction and this reproof for you and me? Reckon it up. Four years. It is the fourth year since Minneapolis, and going on the fifth. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 104.7}


Now, I say, these things are terribly solemn for us to face, and I know not what to say. But from my soul I can only say that we have come to a terrible, solemn time for us. God has waited and sent reproof, and waited and sent reproof - four years. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.1}


Notice the special force of the expression found in the first appeal that was sent out to ministers and Conference committees, p. 34 {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.2}


"Will you exchange your hope of heaven for worldly gain? Many are doing this very thing. Satan has held out his tempting bribe, and they have accepted his terms. Should the tree be cut down, it would lie prone to the earth, lost, lost, eternally lost!" {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.3}


What is the meaning of this? When you put that with your own experience you can see what it means. It means that it is time to bear fruit, or to cut down the tree. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.4}


I have no disposition to try to crowd anyone, but I feel that it is my duty to present these things in the plainest manner possible, and to let the Spirit of God do its own work upon our hearts. That is all I can do. Just take a few words, to show how we are to take a view of Christ, and that we are not to look to ourselves to see whether we are wrong, but to the light from God, in Christ. "One ray of the glory of God, one beam of the purity of Christ, pervading the soul, makes every spot of defilement painfully distinct." Why, I tell you the simple fact when I say that if God would to-night let some additional rays of His Spirit shine in our hearts, we could not go home and rest easy, and sleep quietly, and take matters the same as usual. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.5}


I tell you, it is a terrible thing to be willfully sinning against God, and it is a terrible thing to be cherishing sin against Him. Words simply fail to express my horror of such a situation. Here we are, and this message is to be given with a "loud cry," and who can say in the spirit of it: "Here am I, send me to give that loud cry"? God must visit His people. God must enlighten our minds and give us some new views of Jesus Christ. I pray He may do it right early. It is only His Spirit that can do this. We have had these words before our minds for years and years, but God's Spirit must teach us what they mean. God's Spirit must really teach us what the purity of Jesus Christ is. We are utterly unable to comprehend it, to understand it. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.6}


There is another phase of this matter that I want to speak about, and that is, What are we going to confess? Now, I apprehend that many would say: "If there is anything sinful about me, I want to confess it:" and many confess to God just that way, and say: "Lord, if I have sinned, I am sorry for it." Now, when God sends us word that we have sinned, it is an insult to high heaven to come to Him and say: "If I have sinned." Well, if I have not sinned, He is a liar, because He has sent word to me that I have. How is it? Shall I come to God and say: "If I have sinned, I hope you will forgive me"? You see it is impossible to say it. There is no "if" about it. He tells us that it is so, and it is time for us to confess it without any "ifs" in the matter.  {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.7}


You do not find any such confession of sin as that in the Scripture. You don't find Daniel, the one greatly beloved, to whom the Lord sent that special word, "Thou art greatly beloved," confessing sin with an "if" in it. Not at all. Notice his confession, the way it reads: "We have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets." I will just stop there a moment and consider that. "Neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets." How is that? {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.8}


"Some criticize the message and the messengers. They dare even to reject the words of reproof sent to them from God through His Holy Spirit." - Danger in Adopting Worldly Policy, p. 8.  {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.9}


Now Daniel says: "Neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets." The fact is, as it seems to me, that we have become so accustomed to the idea of regarding or disregarding these things, as our interests are at stake, that we have utterly lost the sense of the sanctity of God's Word and of his message. It is a fearful thing to disregard God's word and message; yet we have become so accustomed to do this. Why? Because sin is there, and because God does not immediately send evils upon us, we disregard these warnings. We do not appreciate what a terrible thing it is in the sight of God to disregard the plain statement of His Word, and the plain reproofs of His Spirit. We have been doing this for years and years, and this should be our prayer: "God be merciful to us, and save us." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 105.10}


That must come from hearts that appreciate the situation. Notice these words: {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.1}


"Those who are carnally minded now, notwithstanding the warnings given of God in His word and through the testimonies of His Spirit, will never unite with the holy family of the redeemed." Special Testimony, p. 39. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.2}


Someone asks, Well what shall we confess? Let me read this statement found in "Gospel Workers," p. 83. I do not want you to lose this thought: {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.3}


"We are just as accountable for evils that we might have checked in others, by reproof, by warning, by exercise of parental or pastoral authority, as if we were guilty of the acts ourselves." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.4}


That statement almost took me out of my chair when I read it. If God does not have mercy upon us what will become of us? I want to read that statement again, to see whether we have any need of making a confession, or whether there is anything in our past experience that is not just right. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.5}


"We are just as accountable for evils that we might have checked in others, by reproof, by warning, by exercise of parental or pastoral authority, as if we were guilty of the acts ourselves." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.6}


What shall we say other than "We have sinned and done wickedly in Thy sight"? What shall we say before God? Will it not be true that we shall be obliged with Ezra to say: "I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God"? Do you think I am overdrawing the picture just for the sake of a little temporary effect, or to work up a sensation? There are the simple statements in the matter. Now, if God's word has any effect upon our hearts, if the testimony of His Spirit meets with any response from us, we shall not have to ask any more: "What is there for me to confess?" {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.7}


Take another phase of it as presented in the following familiar scripture, which I will not take time to read, but will simply bring the thought before your minds. Mark 7:21, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts." Verse 20: "That which cometh out of the man, defileth the man." We are to purify that which comes out of the heart. It is that which is evil, it is the foundation that is defiled. Now, one may address himself with all earnestness, and with all the willpower at his command, to make his outward acts perfect, and he may even be able to do it as far as his outward actions are concerned; and yet every one of them is tainted with evil, because that which cometh out of the heart of man defileth and is evil. The heart must be changed by the power of God, and until that is the case, every action is evil. Now, what is the power, how do we link ourselves to the power that purifies? It is by faith. "Purifying their hearts by faith." Acts 15:9. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.8}


Let us see how this connects with this thought: {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.9}


"A living faith in Christ will bring every action of the life and every emotion of the soul into harmony with God's truth and righteousness." Gospel Workers, p. 23. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.10}


That is simply another way of saying: bringing into perfect harmony with the law of God, with the character of God. That is the living faith that brings us into perfect harmony with God. Well, can we see the reason of that statement, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin"? Now, faith is not simply a thing that comes at conversion, and then we are through with it. Faith must be a living, active principle in us. That is the living faith that brings us into harmony with God. Faith is that power which brings the divine light into the soul, it is the only thing that brings us into harmony with God, the only thing that prevents every action from being sin. But "whatsoever is not of faith is sin," because it is faith and faith only that purifies the heart and that sanctifies its motives, so that the spring of action may be right; and unless that is so, the outward action cannot be right in God's sight. That is the teaching of the Saviour about obeying the commandments. He says "he that hates his brother is a murderer." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.11}


Last summer when I was attending the Indiana camp meeting, I was invited to speak in the woman's prison. I think there were eighty-three women in this prison. They told me that ten of them were under life sentence for murder. Well, some of the brethren afterward asked me if they were not a pretty hard looking company to speak to, whether they were not a pretty hard set. I tell you in my soul, I felt they were not any worse than many of the people I had spoken to at the camp meeting: and if all the murderers in the world were shut up in jail, there would not be people enough left to guard them. Now, you see God does not look at these things as we do. A man that walks up and down the street and hates his brother, is a murderer in the sight of God. We can't deal with that, but God does deal with that. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.12}


Now, it seems to me that that alienation, that hard feeling and suspicion among brethren, is a most terrible thing in God's sight. That is simply murder in one degree: this is murder in another degree, that is all. God has been sending us special instruction upon that point, putting away differences. (We have been talking, you know, about what it is that hinders the Holy Spirit's coming in.) Notice this statement in "Gospel Workers," p. 370: {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.13}


"It is our privilege to take God at His Word. As Jesus was about to leave His disciples, to ascend into heaven, He commissioned them to bear the gospel message to all nations, tongues and peoples. He told them to tarry in Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high. This was essential to their success. The holy unction must come upon the servants of God. All who were fully identified as disciples of Christ and associated with the apostles as evangelists, assembled together at Jerusalem. They put away all differences." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 106.14}


And the instruction that was for them is for us now, for we want the same experience, the same experience that they had: and what we are trying to find out is what hinders it, that it may be removed, and that that experience may be ours. "They removed all differences." And has not the instruction come to us that companies should be gathered together, and pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit, pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, more than the ordinary workings and the ordinary outpouring of the Spirit, the abundance of it? "They continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, that they might receive the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit." And have we not got to do that very thing, if we do anything at all? If we do it at all, we have to do that. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.1}


"They continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, that they might receive the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit: for they were to preach the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit and in the power of God. It was a time of great danger to the followers of Christ. They were as sheep in the midst of wolves, yet they were of good courage, because Christ had risen from the dead, and had revealed Himself to them, and had promised them a special blessing which would qualify them to go forth to preach His gospel to the world. They were waiting in expectation of the fulfillment of His promise, and were praying with special fervency. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.2}


"This is the very course that should be pursued by those who act a part in the work of proclaiming the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven: for a people are to be prepared to stand in the great day of God. Although Christ had given the promise that they should receive the Holy Spirit, this did not remove the necessity of prayer. They prayed all the more earnestly: they continued in prayer with one accord. Those who are now engaged in the solemn work of preparing a people for the coming of the Lord, should also continue in prayer. The early disciples were of one accord. They had no speculations, no curious theory to advance as to how the promised blessing was to come. They were one in faith and spirit. They were agreed. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.3}


"Put away all doubt. Dismiss your fears, obtain the experience that Paul had when he exclaimed, 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.' Surrender everything to Christ, and let your life be hid with Christ in God. Then you will be a power for good. One shall chase a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand to flight." Gospel Workers, p. 370. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.4}


If you have noticed in the record of the Acts, this idea of agreement is repeated. The book of Acts is specially for our study now. Acts 1:14: "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Acts 2:1: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." Acts 2:46: "And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.5}


There are other references also, containing this same idea of their being of one accord. One is found in the fifteenth chapter, verse 28: "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us." Now why did it seem good to the Holy Ghost and to them? Why was it? what was the reason for this? They were of one accord, and the Holy Ghost was right there with them, to instruct them, to teach them, to lead them; and that same experience is for us. But has not God been sending his Holy Spirit as a witness, as a seal to alienations, to any hardness, to any evil course persisted in, to those despising this instruction and refusing to give up sins willfully cherished, to any known sin? Has God not been doing this? He has been sending His Spirit to convince of sin. Whether we see it or not, there needs to be confession, restitution. Notice this word again: {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.6}


"I know that a work must be done for the people, or many will not be prepared to receive the light of the angel sent down from heaven to lighten the whole earth with His glory." Danger of Adopting Worldly Policy, p. 11. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.7}


Well, perhaps you will say: "Why, when that comes, there will be no resistance, everyone will see that, and those who have stood out will have to give in when they see this light and glory and power." Let me ask you: Did they give up when Christ was here with this light and power? Was there light? Why, look and see what the record says about the light. Did it convince those who would not believe? No. They rejected Jesus Christ and then put Him to death, because He did not come and meet their ideas, their own plan and interpretation of the prophecies, and because He did not meet their ideas and did not conform to their plan, they rejected Him and put Him to death. In the same way, Jesus Christ is being rejected today, and crucified afresh. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.8}


There is another point that I want to touch (I am not coming back to this again, and harping upon this string. I shall leave it with you and God. I had a few things that I wanted to say, and I want to finish this.) Now, some will begin to ask: How are we going to tell whether sins of the past are brought up to our minds by the Holy Spirit, or by the devil? Unless my experience leads me astray, there are many who have made this inquiry in their own minds, "How are we going to tell whether sins that are brought up to our minds are brought up by the Holy Spirit, or by the devil?" Now, let me ask you a question. Suppose you were to come into the vestibule, and you were standing out there now when somebody inside was talking, and suppose a stranger should come in with you, and he should ask: "Who is speaking?" Could you tell him? Why? (voice: "you would hear the voice.") But he would hear the voice too, would he not? (voice: "you would know the voice.") Now, how are you going to know whether the Lord is talking to you, or whether the devil is? Let us take this word: "And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice." John 10:4. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 107.9}


Now, I say to those who have been in the ministry, and who have been teaching Christ to the people and tonight can't tell the difference between the voice of Christ and the voice of the devil, it is time for us to stop and learn the voice of God. Now, if any one who has been a teacher of the people, raises that question in his mind, let him know that the very fact that that question is raised in his mind, is the evidence that he wants to learn Jesus Christ. But you still ask: "How will they know His voice?" I can't tell you, and if I could, it would not do any good. He says: "They shall know His voice," and you will have to take His Word for it, not mine. And if you take His word for it, He will see that His word is true; but I can't tell you how. I know it is true, and I know He makes it true to those who believe. But, to those who stand off as did the Jews, those will never know anything about it. On that basis, they never can and never will; and if we wait to have it all explained, we will not know anything about it, and I cannot tell you, and shall not try to tell you. I can tell you this: He says: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 108.1}


Here is a word that will help us on that perhaps, and notice how we have instruction upon every point in this way: "Amid the confusion of innumerable doctrines, the Spirit of God will be our guide and shield to those who have not resisted the evidences of truth." Now, how are you to know His voice? Because He silences every other voice. If we yield to Him, we will know the voice; "My sheep know My voice, and they follow Me." Why, I tell you, brethren, we are coming to times when we can't sit down, week in and week out, and hear God's side of the question, and wait, and consider, and see how Brother A. goes on, and Brother B. goes on, or what this one or that one says. We must know the truth because the Spirit of Truth is in us. That is the reason. We will just as surely, you and I, in spite of all the light we have had under this work, be led astray. The fact is, we will change leaders and not know it, unless we have the Spirit of God with us. That is the simple fact. We will change leaders and not know it. We have been told so, and I can show it to you in so many words. I want to read a word about it: {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 108.2}


"Every soul that is not fully surrendered to God, and kept by divine power, will form an alliance with Satan against heaven, and join in battle against the Ruler of the universe." Danger in Adopting Worldly Policy, p. 7. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 108.3}


You and I will do it, unless we are fully surrendered to God and kept by His divine power, and we will array ourselves against this work, against the truth of God, and will join with Satan and fight God's work, unless we are kept by the power of God. It is time for us to begin to mistrust self and to flee to God for his keeping power. It must be so. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 108.4}


Now, as I said, I will not come back to this point unless the Lord leads me back, (and I presume some have already thought I have dwelt too long upon it), but I have felt that I wanted to say some of these things in the plainest manner possible. But, if this instruction is from God, I say it is time for us to receive it, and act upon it, and I leave it with you, and for the Spirit of God to lead you. {February 2, 1893 N/A, GCDB 108.5}


~ Patti Guthrie

Thursday, December 12, 2019

1888 Message Study : Backslidden People

Backslidden People



DECEMBER 14, 2019



Our memory text for this week says, "And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!" Nehemiah 13:22.

Nehemiah chapter 2 tells us that in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, shortly after the month Nisan, Nehemiah was called to his first governorship of Jerusalem. As we have been studying this quarter, reforms were accomplished, and the city and the wall were rebuilt under great oppression from Tobiah and Sanballat. The people were blessed. Ezra had read the Torah and "all the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. Chapter 9 records a prayer/sermon recounting numerous redeeming acts of God in their history. Their unfaithfulness was matched only by the faithfulness of God that never failed. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13. The acknowledgment of human failure in the face of abundant evidences of God's "manifold mercies", abundant kindness, was met with appropriate praise, confession and repentance. He was the awesome God Who kept covenant and mercy. See Chapter 9 of Nehemiah. This covenant rooted in the everlasting covenant that was from eternity past to eternity future told them and us today that the covenant expressed the very heart of God manifested in the sacrificial love that existed in the Godhead- the Triune God, from before time began. He had dealt faithfully though they had done wickedly. Their response was to make a covenant with God consisting of 4 promises: they would not engage in mixed marriages, they would have true Sabbath observance, they would cancel debts and pay tithe and support God's work in His church. This sounds like a heart response to the goodness of God. All that the people had promised sounded good and they were sincere. But let us look at what the pen of inspiration says in Steps to Christ p. 47. "Many are inquiring, "How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?" You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing." Sadly, Nehemiah chapter 13 reveals the reality of the last sentence of this quote. Israel had backslidden.

At some point after this covenant was made and between chapters 12 and 13, Nehemiah returned to Babylon and although the timeframe is uncertain, two texts provide some information that can help us. "Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor's provisions." Nehemiah 5:14. He was there the first time 12 years.

 "But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God." Nehemiah 13:6,7. Sometime after his return to Babylon Israel had backslidden.

The lesson this week focuses on three of the backslidings for which Israel was guilty: allowing foreigners or idolaters in their midst, withholding the tithe and support for the Levites and the temple, and proper Sabbath keeping. We will focus briefly on the first two and then turn our attention to the significance of the Sabbath which the memory text also highlights.

Eliashib was the high priest. Tobiah was the Ammonite enemy of Nehemiah who along with Sanballat the Horonite in chapter 2 laughed at the people of God to scorn and despise them, and to hinder the work of God in building the wall during Nehemiah's first governorship. Now here was Tobiah taking up residence in one of the temple rooms. Though the room was not in the main building of the Temple, it was in one of the buildings adjacent to it, within the sacred precincts of the Temple area. It was used for secular purposes and would need ceremonial cleansing. This likely occurred because of intermarriage with the "foreigners." The quarterly mentions that the singers, gatekeepers, and other temple servants had to go back to work in their fields because the offerings had been misapplied.

As bad as all that is, a proper perspective of the purpose, power, and meaning of the Sabbath, could have been a bulwark against all their backsliding. The Sabbath had been a stumbling block for Israel and is today for many Christians. How can a true understanding of the Sabbath uplift Jesus, and draw all to the meaning invested in the Sabbath at creation? And not only that, but how a proper understanding of the Sabbath gives us a true appreciation of the truth of Righteousness by Faith. The world and Christianity at large need to understand this connection. Let us consider some Sabbath texts.

"But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:7,8.

"And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27,28

"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable and shall honor Him, not doing your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord." Isaiah 58:13,14

The question for us as a church today is how can we present the Sabbath the way God saw it at creation?

The Sabbath was the centerpiece of the creation week, the climax. God Himself rested on the Sabbath, He blessed it and He sanctified it.

"Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." Genesis 2:1-3

God had worked and now He rested. Man, had done nothing and God invited him to rest in His accomplished work.

A.T. Jones has a lot to say about the meaning of the Sabbath and its relationship to redemption.

"Faith is the expecting the word of God to do what it says, and the depending upon that word to do what it says. As that is faith, and as faith comes by the word of God, it is plain that the word has in itself power to accomplish what itself says." Lessons on Faith p.17. On the same page, he highlights the fact that "the greater part of the very first chapter of the Bible is instruction in faith." He has identified no fewer than 7 statements meant to inculcate faith. "The inculcation of faith is the teaching that the word of God itself accomplishes the thing which is spoken in that word." Ibid.

By the word of the Lord all things were created. "This is why it is, that faith is the knowing that in the word of God there is this power, the expecting the word itself to do the thing spoken, and the depending upon that word itself to do that which the word speaks." Ibid p.18.

We can apply this next quotation to backslidden Israel and to our backsliding.

"This is the difference between the word of God and the word of man. Man, may speak; but there is no power in his words to perform the thing spoken: if the thing is to be accomplished which he has spoken, the man must do something in addition to speaking the word - he must make good on his word." Ibid p.19.

Jones goes on, "He spake, and it was. Before He spoke, there were no worlds: after He spoke, the worlds were there…. In this same way, precisely it is in man's life. In man's life, there is no righteousness. In man, there is no righteousness, from which righteousness can appear in his life. But God has set forth Christ to declare righteousness unto and upon man. Christ has spoken the word only, and in the darkened void of man's life there is righteousness to everyone who will receive it. Where, before the word is received, there was neither righteousness nor anything which could possibly produce righteousness, after the word is received, there is perfect righteousness and the very Fountain from which it springs. The word of God received by faith - that is, the word of God expected to do what that word says, and depended upon to do what it says produces righteousness in the man and in the life where there never was any before; precisely as, in the original creation, the word of God produced worlds where there never was any before." Ibid p.25.

Jesus Himself rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day. On the cross He cried out "It is finished" and then He rested. Ellen White says, "When upon the cross He cried out, "It is finished," He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, O My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, "I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." John 19:3017:24. The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ's toiling, struggling ones on earth are "accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6. Before the heavenly angels and the representatives of unfallen worlds, they are declared justified." DA 834.3.

Creation and redemption meet in Christ. "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Colossians 1:13-17.

E J Waggoner says this about this text: "So the preaching of the everlasting Gospel is the preaching of Christ the creative power of God, through Whom alone salvation can come. And the power by which Christ saves men from sin is the power by which He created the worlds. We have redemption through His blood; the preaching of the cross is the preaching of the power of God; and the power of God is the power that creates; therefore, the cross of Christ has in it creative power. Surely that is enough power for anybody." The Everlasting Covenant p. 18.

Going back to Steps to Christ p.47 the rest of the quote says, "You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus, your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him…. Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith." He is the One that does the creative work and by faith we surrender to His work.

We understand that the old covenant and the new covenant both have two applications: historical and experiential and both are needed. Israel's covenant with God in Nehemiah 10 was much like Israel on Mount Sinai. What they said was good, but God's observation was, "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!" Deuteronomy 5:29.

The experiential application of the covenant is righteousness in the life by the faith of Jesus Christ. Paul understood this as did Jeremiah.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:8,9.

It is important to note that both Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:10-12 say the same thing. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Hebrews 8:10-12.

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;". Philippians 1:6


Will we grasp hold of these promises by faith?


~Lyndi Schwartz