Friday, November 20, 2020

1888 Message Study : Education and Redemption



The basis of true education, of redemption and of creation is love.

Education and redemption are one in purpose. This purpose is also that of creation. In the beginning, God created man with the ability to think and to do. The creation of planet earth and of man, the members of the Godhead worked with one purpose in mind. Mankind was to be made in the image of God. In Genesis 1:1-2 the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. The term "hover" means to "cherish" and to "move gently" (Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, p. 934). The word reveals the value God placed on the creation of earth and later in the formation of Adam and Eve. God must have been moved with great emotion, of joy, and of delight as He set about His mighty work of creation – especially that of mankind (Proverbs 8:31). The songs and shouts of joy expressed by angels, as they saw creation week unfold before their very eyes (Job 38:17), were but a reflection of the joy and ecstasy God experienced during that same week.

God's plan involved the creation of a garden paradise for mankind, who was created at the end of creation week. As the Godhead worked in concert during that week, we observe the crowning act at the end of the week (probably Friday) when One of the Members declared, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). The unity of the Godhead is shown in these words.

Waggoner put it this way: "He [Christ] brought all things into existence, and He preserves them in existence. His word caused them to exist, and His word upholds them. In all these things He acts, not independently, but conjointly with the Father. Said He: 'I and my Father are one.' John 10:30. Not a thought does one have that is not the thought of the other. Their unity in creation is shown in the words, 'And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.' Genesis 1:26. This union of the Father and the Son serves to explain why the Hebrew word which is rendered 'God' is in the plural number." (E. J. Waggoner, Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 15, 1889).

Although Adam was formed of the dust of the ground, God set him over all His works of earth (Genesis 2:7; 1:28). Being but dust, Adam had "no more power in himself than the dust of earth on which he walked" (Waggoner, American Sentinel, July 29, 1897). Being made out of dust, but in the image of God, Adam was given "power akin to that of the Creator--individuality, power to think and to do" (Education, p. 17). Adam and Eve were given dominion over all the earth.

But that mighty power manifested in Adam was not his own power at all. It was the derived power of God working in and through him. God worked in him "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" without restricting Adam's liberty, his individuality and his ability to think and to do. Adam's liberty and ability were especially manifested when Adam chose to go against the will of his Creator. Upon hearing Eve's testimony after she ate the forbidden fruit from the forbidden tree, Adam deliberately chose to sin and to die rather than to lose his wife. He chose to lose his own soul rather than to be separated from Eve.

Think of the agony within the Godhead when Adam and Eve rebelled. Angel's, too, in their grief filled hearts ceased singing songs of praise. Earlier they heard the death sentence God pronounced on Adam, if he should eat of the forbidden fruit: "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). With bated breath they must have anticipated the complete destruction of Adam and Eve, and consequently all future posterity.

But no! They saw instead, a grief-stricken God pursuing the couple who were on the run. They fled because of the terror in their hearts because of being in the presence of God. What a change took place in their hearts and mind. Before sin they were delighted to be in His presence; now they felt nothing but fear. When the second Person of the Godhead pursued them, found them, questioned them and shared with them what He would do in order to redeem them. He promised to die in their place. When angels heard the news that Christ would take the place of fallen man and would exhaust the penalty of the broken law, the angels saw the love of God displayed more clearly than ever conceived before. We are told that "The angels . . . offered to become a sacrifice for man. But an angel's life could not pay the debt; only He Who created man had power to redeem Him." (The Faith I Live By, p. 79).

"The angels, as God's intelligent messengers, were under the yoke of obligation; no personal sacrifice of theirs could atone for the guilt of fallen man. Christ alone was free from the claims of the law to undertake the redemption of the sinful race. He had power to lay down His life and to take it up again…. The Son of God came voluntarily to accomplish the work of atonement. There was no obligatory yoke upon Him, for He was independent and above all law." 4T 120-121).

Christ stepped in between eternal death and the pair who sinned. This death was the second death and Jesus took upon Himself our debt of death. He died the equivalent of the second death. "By dying in our behalf, He gave an equivalent for our debt. Thus, He removed from God all charge of lessening the guilt of sin. By virtue of my oneness with the Father, He says, my suffering and death enable me to pay the penalty of sin. By My death a restraint is removed from His love. His grace can act with unbounded efficiency." (Youth Instructor, December 16, 1897).


Creation and Redemption
It takes nothing less than creative power to redeem us. The power by which Jesus saves us from sin is the power by which He created the worlds. The power of the cross is the power of creation. In Colossians 1:14-16 there is outlined for us forgiveness, redemption, and creation. These three are inseparable from the cross of Christ. The preaching of the cross is the power of the gospel unto salvation. (1 Corinthians 1:30, 18, 23-24). And the power of the gospel is illustrated in creation (Romans 1:16, 20). The power of God in the gospel is the power that creates (2 Corinthians 5:17). The cross of Christ has in it creative power, which is the power that redeems us. Is this not enough power for you?

Redemption is simply the carrying out of God's original plan of creation – that man should be in His image. Christ, the second Adam, "is the image of God," and God has predestined us "to be conformed to the image of His Son" (2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 8:29).


Redemption and Education

It is through education that the purpose of redemption, and thus of creation, is carried out. Christ is both teacher and subject. He is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30), "in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the very Alphabet of heaven. And this Alphabet is learned in precisely the same way every alphabet of any language is understood, which is by faith alone. It is by faith alone that we learn that A is A and B is B and C is C, and so on through the rest of the alphabet. If we would have insisted on demonstration that A is A and B is B and so forth, before we believed we would not have learned to read and write, even if we should live for a thousand years.

So, whether we learn of education or creation, it is "by faith we understand" (Hebrews 11:3), and it is by faith in Christ's grace we are redeemed, "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). This brings us to the purpose of creation, redemption and education – do you know your ABC's?

It was by a measly mess of forbidden fruit that our first parents partook of the knowledge of evil. Eve "coveted what God had forbidden; she distrusted His wisdom. She cast away faith, the key of knowledge" (Education, p. 24). All Adam and Eve gained was the knowledge and experience of evil, of which we as a consequence learn and practice.

It is by faith alone that we are educated by the wisdom that comes from God. Parallel to true education there is a false one coming from another source, both of which are revealed in behavior. James wrote of this: "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17). On the other hand, the wisdom from beneath is likewise displayed in conduct: "If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts … This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there" (James 3:14-16).

In closing, I leave you with this insight from Mrs. White which is both substance and summary of this week's lesson:

"To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized--this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life" (Education 15-16).


~Pastor Jerry Finneman

Friday, November 06, 2020




The lesson this week draws from many disparate texts and passages and so I chose to focus on Monday's lesson which uses Genesis 3:1-11 and Romans 5:11-19. Before we look at these texts, the concept of Jesus as Master Teacher should be explored. We began the quarter with the title Education in the Garden of Eden. In my vivid imagination, God, in the garden of Eden, was conducting a masterclass and Adam and Eve were His master students. Wikipedia gives this definition of a masterclass: "A master class is a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline—usually music, but also painting, drama, any of the arts, or on any other occasion where skills are being developed." I have friends that went to Juilliard School of Music for violin and they were always moved by the fact that they were in Master Class with the best Violinists in the world as their teachers. Adam and Eve were in a Master Class with the greatest of all Master Teachers, the Creator Himself. Think of that for a long while. They were taught by the Creator Himself.

This brings us to Monday's lesson. We will start with Romans 5:12 "12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—" You have heard the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt." Often when we read this text, we read it devoid of any feeling, except, perhaps jubilation. But I want us to connect this verse (and the rest of Romans 5, which we will read momentarily) with what led to this passage in Romans 5 in the first place, Genesis 3.

In Genesis 3, the Master Teacher has lost control of the classroom. Rebellion erupts in the classroom because one of the students rebelled and chose to believe, what appeared to her to be, a better master teacher. We have this account in Genesis 3: 8-13 following their sin, "8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" 10So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." 11And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" 12Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" Here is the first lesson from the Master teacher. Ask probing questions. We usually focus on only one question, "Where are you?" But Jesus asks four probing questions which on the surface may seem to have rather obvious and simple answers. The four questions are "Where are you?", "Who told you that you were naked?, "Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?", and "What is this you have done?"

Before we look at the questions, I want us, as the master students now, to go to Genesis 3:24, "So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life." Think of it, God has to walk that long way back to the garden all by Himself because the man He created just a short while before, who He formed with His own hands, rejected Him and rebelled. No. This was no surprise to Him. At the dawn of creation, He made a plan to take care of rebellion should it arise. Revelation 13:8 tells us that He was the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the world. This is the second of the attributes of a great Master Teacher. He leads by self-sacrifice, self-forgetfulness, and demonstration. So, what is going through the Master teacher's mind? I can only surmise the answer based on the questions He asked them. Here is my take. "Do you realize the gravity of what you have done?" Do you realize the implications of your actions on yourselves, the rest of humanity, the onlooking universe and Heaven itself including, US, in whose image you were made?" These are all inherent in all of the questions, most obviously in the first and last questions. I am drawn to another account of creation in which Jesus tells His own testimony. It is found in Proverbs 8. We will only look at verses 30 and 31: "30Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And My delight was with the sons of men. I want to suggest that God, as He was walking back to the garden alone, His thoughts went back to the counsel of peace that was "between Them Both" and He remembered that though He and the Son enjoyed and delighted in each other's company, Their delight was also with the sons of men." Enter Romans 5.

Romans 5 is actually intimately related to Romans 3 as chapter four is parenthetical. The lesson references only verses 11-19. But we need to begin in verse 1 and I will be using the Young's Literal Translation (YLT) and the KJV. "Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ." This text is crucial to appreciation of Romans 5 because the immediate context is Romans 3 where the faith of Jesus is introduced as the way forward. Romans 3:22-24 says "22and the righteousness of God [is] through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, -- for there is no difference, 23for all did sin, and are come short of the glory of God -- 24being declared righteous freely by His grace through the redemption that [is] in Christ Jesus," (YLT). Our being declared righteous as it says here in YLT is predicated on the "faith of Jesus", the faith of the Master Teacher. The faith of Jesus is why Romans 5:12-19 is such an awe-inspiring passage. It says, "12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." KJV. The YLT says "declared righteous instead of justification. This passage is truly amazing news. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

So, let us look at what it took for the Master Teacher to bring us this ability to be declared righteous, fit to sit in the master class. We have a hint in Romans 5:6-8: "6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Christ died for us, the ungodly, while we were yet sinners and demonstrated His love to us while we were yet sinners.

What was on the Master Teacher's mind as He walked back to the garden of Eden alone? The cross certainly loomed large. It was now reality. How will He survive it? How will He make it? He had to bring about the reconciliation Paul talks about. But talk is easy. The faith of Jesus. What exactly is that? Many ideas are tossed around. I will use two sources, Ellen White and the book The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4, 11 by RB Hays, In his book, he makes the case that Paul's writings in both Galatians 3:1-4, 11 and in much of Romans is not so much a theological discourse of how we are saved. Rather it is the story of Jesus the Messiah and at the heart of that story is the faith of Jesus which Hays maintains is metonymy (shorthand word picture) for the cross event which begins in the garden of Gethsemane. God gave Him a mandate before time began and it was His faith that enabled Him to be successful in fulfilling His mandate. Hays says this, "The faithfulness of Jesus Christ refers first of all to His gracious, self-sacrificial death on the cross. The cross is the dramatic climax of the Jesus-story, and Paul uses the expression "faith of Jesus Christ" to suggest that focal moment of the narrative."

Ellen White makes similar statements: "The faith of Jesus. It is talked of, but not understood. What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the third angel's message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus." {3SM 172.3}

She further puts this in the context of the cross. "Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father's acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him Whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father's favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor." {DA 756.3}

Master class, our Master Teacher has redeemed us with the precious blood of Jesus as Peter said. The class topic is "A New Thing. My Image Recreated In You." I pray we will all sit in that master class and respond to our faithful Master Teacher. It is His faith that made it possible for us to be in that class.



Andi Hunsaker

Raul Diaz

Friday, October 30, 2020

1888 Message Study : Jesus As The Master Teacher



As we study this week's lesson together, I believe we will see that we have much to learn. Thankfully, we do indeed have Jesus as our Master Teacher! As our memory verse states: "For it is the God Who commanded light to shine out of darkness, Who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6).

That light pointing us to the Father is His Son, Jesus.

The following E.G. White quotes in Tuesday's lesson reaffirm this for us quite clearly (Education, pgs. 74-76, 82):

"The Light appeared when the world's darkness was deepest…

There was but one hope for the human race … that the knowledge of God might be restored to the world. Christ came to restore this knowledge. He came to set aside the false teaching by which those who claimed to know God had misrepresented Him. He came to manifest the nature of His law, to reveal His own character the beauty of holiness."

Everything Jesus did in His life on earth had a single purpose: "the revelation of God for the uplifting of humanity."

The core of this lesson as we see on Monday and Tuesday is Christ's teachings Revealing the Father. Why is this so important to us today? Satan has done a masterful job of misrepresenting God and His character to the world. For example, consider that natural disasters occurring around the world such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, etc. are often referred to as "Acts of God", the implication being that He caused these disasters presumably either as some sort of punishment or to establish "fear" as a motive to obey Him. As a result, many refuse to believe in such a God or to worship Him.

For various world religions, God is seen as a stern taskmaster who seeks to punish sinners and demands obedience through that same fear motive. With Christians, this fear motive is prevalent as well, and they see the Father as looking to punish sinners with the threat of everlasting agony and torment in hell. Christ, being on our side, has the responsibility of trying to convince the Father that we should be allowed to forgo this punishment and enter heaven. Even in Adventist circles, the concept is common that we have to work hard at "doing our part" before the Father will consider forgiving us, which is, of course, salvation by works rather than faith and negates what Christ has already done for us on the Cross.

The good news is that Christ came to our world as our Saviour, paid an infinite price to redeem the entire human race, and in doing so revealed not only His agape love for us but the Father's as well. The plan of salvation was not a one man show.

From the very beginning the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) have been One and before our world was created the plan of salvation was agreed to with each member of the Godhead having a specific role in anticipation of, and as a solution to, Satan and the sin problem. (the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8)

The following quote from E.G. White emphasizes the enormity of the risk taken and the sacrifice made by all 3 Members of the Godhead to save this fallen world.

"Who can estimate the value of a soul? Go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Jesus through those long hours of anguish when He sweat as it were great drops of blood; look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross; hear that despairing cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Look upon that wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all; "tempted like as we are," He staked even His own eternal existence upon the issue of the conflict. Heaven itself was imperiled for our redemption. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Jesus would have yielded up His life, we may estimate the value of a soul. GCB December 1, 1895, par. 23

The universe and the existence of the Godhead Itself was at risk for us! That eternal separation in experiencing the second death for us was felt by the Father and the Holy Spirit as well when they had always been One together.

God is love! We see this throughout God's word and through His Son, Jesus, the living Word. In 1 John 4: 8, 16 we see explicitly that "God is love" and the Greek word "agape" used to describe God's love is a totally unselfish love, vastly different from our human love. We are also told that our love is a response to His infinite, unselfish love for us. In giving us His Son forever as our Saviour to die on the cross and redeem the human race at an infinite price, He gave us everything He had to give. An infinite, unselfish love giving an infinite sacrifice. This is the Father that the world needs to see and why Jesus came to reveal the Father and His love for us. This is why we are told to share His everlasting gospel with the world.

This incredibly good news is also at the heart of the "most precious message" given to us by God through Elders Waggoner and Jones which E.G. White describes in Testimonies to Ministers pgs. 91, 92 as the message that God commanded that we (His people) give to the world. It is "a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message, in clear, distinct lines."

We see how important it was for Christ to reveal the Father and His love for each and every one of us. As Romans 8:31 says "If God be for us, who can be against us".

Let's now take a look at some quotes from E.G. White, E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones that relate to "revealing the Father":

E.G. White
"When Christ was about to ascend to heaven, He committed to His disciples the mission that His Father had committed to Him; and He taught them how to fulfil this mission. He declared that as He had represented His Father to the world, so they were to represent Him. Although He would be invisible to the natural eye, yet all who believed on Him would be able to behold Him by faith. He told His followers to work as He had worked. They were to be a spectacle to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men, revealing the Father through a revelation of the Son. RH June 16, 1904, par. 3

… Clothed with humanity, Christ performed a work that revealed the invisible Father, in order that His disciples might understand the meaning of the prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

The life of Christ must become our life, our light, our exceeding great reward. Our words and works must bear a living testimony that in our lives we are not lying against the truth we claim to believe. If Christ is indeed formed within, the hope of glory, we shall manifest that tenderness, that love, that fervency of spirit, which reveals His character. Our hearts will be humble, our spirits contrite. Our works will bear witness to His indwelling presence. His disposition, His kindness, His compassion, manifested in us, will inspire hope in the hearts of the most hopeless. Thus, in act, as well as in word, we shall reveal to the world the character of the Unseen." RH June 16, 1904, par. 10


E.G. White #2
"Man must be emptied of self before he can be in the fullest sense a believer in Jesus; and when self is subdued, then the Lord can make of man a new creature. New bottles can contain new wine. Truth will be received into the heart, the character will be transformed into the likeness of Christ; the Son of God will be revealed to the world by His followers, as the Father was revealed to the world by the Son. And all who reveal Christ, are revealing the Father also." ST November 16, 1891, par. 3


E.G. White #3
"I spoke from Matthew 11:25-27My mind was led out to dwell particularly upon the mission of Christ, which was to reveal the Father. The office work of revealing the Father and representing the character of God was reserved for Him Who had been with the Father from the beginning. The knowledge of the only true God had become indistinct, and His attributes were falsified by Satan. Satan's special work was to clothe the character of God with his own attributes, and he hid his satanic character and agency that he might be the more successful. The knowledge of God must be made known, His divine character represented." 6LtMs, Ms 51, 1890, par.4

"Christ, Who was one with the Father, laid off His royal robe and His royal crown, clothed His divinity with humanity, and came into the world to bless the world with a living personation of God. He could approach the human family only as He should hide His glory and employ the faculties of a human being. Then humanity could touch humanity, while His veiled divinity, recognized in heaven, could lay hold on the Infinite One. The Father and the Son saw that it was expedient that Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, should make Himself visible and walk and talk with men, not as an angel but as a Teacher sent from God, possessing all the attributes of the Godhead under the garb of humanity, revealing the love, the sympathy, the compassion of God. 6LtMs, Ms 51, 1890, par. 11

In a body which God—and not man—had prepared, He was fully able to unveil and disclose to man the perfection of Jehovah and reveal His paternal character as a God of infinite love. "No man," He declared, "knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son shall reveal him." Matthew 11:27 6LtMs, Ms 51, 1890, par.12


E.J. Waggoner
Christ's qualification for the work of revealing the Father, consisted in the fact that there was nothing in Him that was not of the Father. Since He lived by the Father, and there was nothing in His life that came from any other source, every thought and word and action was a revelation of God's way. It is to be the same with all Christ's followers. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God." 2 Corinthians 5 17-18 PTUK Feb. 16, 1899 p 100.4


E.J. Waggoner #2
"Jesus said, "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and He to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." Matthew 11:27. God was revealed in Christ, for Jesus said to Philip, when He had been asked to be shown the Father, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" John 14:9. PTUK June 1, 1893, p. 161.7

Immediately after saying that He alone could reveal the Father, because the Father was in Him, Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:28, 29Christ was meek and lowly in heart; but He was but the manifestation of the Father; therefore that is the character of God. It seems too wonderful to be true, that God, the great Creator is meek and lowly in heart, but it is true, nevertheless. One trouble is that we have so meagre an idea of what meekness is. What Christ was, that He is still, for He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8. So, God is now meek and lowly in heart, and that is why He can be a companion to men." PTUK June 1, 1893, p. 161.8


A.T. Jones - Christ glorifying God
"To glorify God, it is necessary for each one to be in the condition, and in the position, in which none but God shall be manifested, because that was the position of Jesus Christ. Therefore He said: "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself" (John 14:10); "I came .... not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (John 6:38); "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (John 14:10); "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30); "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44); "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father" (John 14:9)? "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." John 7:18. GCB February 27, 1895, p. 377.3

Therefore, He said: "The words that I speak .... I speak not of Myself," because, as in the other verse, He that speaks of himself, that is, from himself, seeks his own glory. But Christ was not seeking his own glory. He was seeking the glory of Him that sent Him; therefore He said: "The words that I speak .... I speak not of Myself." In so doing, He sought the glory of Him that sent Him; and there stands the record that "He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him." He was so entirely emptied of Himself, so entirely was He from being manifested in any way, that no influence went forth from Him except the influence of the Father. This was so to such an extent that no man could come to Him except the Father drew that man to Him. That shows how completely He Himself was kept in the background, how completely He was emptied. It was done so thoroughly that no man could come to Him - that no man could feel any influence from Him or be drawn to Him, except from the Father Himself. The manifestation of the Father, - that could draw any man to Christ. GCB February 27, 1895, p. 377.4

In closing, we see that Christ's role as the Master Teacher was to reveal and glorify the Father to the world. It is His desire for us individually and as His last day church to see and understand more of the infinite unselfish love and sacrifice of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit on our behalf so that our hearts may be changed and we become "new creatures in Christ" who want nothing more than to share this everlasting gospel, this most precious message at every opportunity. May that be our desire today.


John Campbell

Thursday, October 15, 2020

1888 Message Study : The Law As Teacher

OCTOBER 17, 2020


"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" Deuteronomy 6:5, NKJV.

God's law of love undergirds every commandment in the decalogue, every type, and every ceremony that foreshadowed His first advent. The everlasting covenant encompasses the entire plan of salvation from its inception to its accomplishment. 

We are living in an age in which the word "love" has many meanings, including acceptance of every perversion known to man. 

The distinction between the biblical concept of agape love (others-centered love) and self-love is almost unknown in the world. Today, society teaches that the issues of fairness and justice are better understood now than in the past. Is this true? What is the fruit of this movement? In place of God's law of self-sacrificing love, man has instated the law of selfishness and self-preservation. This false law was foretold in the Scripture as "the mystery of lawlessness," which would be characterized by the working of miracles, signs and lying wonders, as well as self exaltation and opposition to God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-9). We are living in fearful and amazing times.

Sunday's lesson calls attention to an intriguing text in Deuteronomy 31:9-13, which states that at the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel was to gather together to hear the law read.

Similarly, in fulfillment of this type, God will once more magnify His law before all people in earth's final hour. This last message is delivered by three angels in Revelation 14 and again by one final appeal of a fourth angel in Revelation 18. These last day messages will fully unmask the deceiver, Satan, in his war against God's government and His throne. In contrast, God's law of agape love will be revealed in its brilliance through the testimony and lives of those who have settled into the truth. 

Our lesson points out that Joshua, Hezekiah, and others made a careful study of the Scripture to make sure their lives and the people whom they served were in harmony with every principle of God's law as set forth in Scripture. In our day God has shed an abundance of light on His last day church so that none need be ignorant of His love as it is to be expressed in our daily lives.

The lesson for Sabbath afternoon calls our attention to Galatians 3:21, which states that "If there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Satan has developed a counterfeit system of salvation in which love of self is the actuating principle. In contrast, God's law is based on His others-centered love for us which was revealed in His humiliation by becoming a man and being humbled even to the death of the cross. There is no "self" in the love of Christ or in His law. The world will take notice when God has a people on earth who are emptied of self and governed by His others-centered love principle. The Faith of Jesus is what works by this love to purify the soul.

Since Satan is the antithesis of love, his false gospel does not instill love for others in the soul. Rather, it keeps love of self supreme. His mantra is, "It's all about me," and he bids all his followers take up that refrain. 

In contrast, Paul experienced the effect of Christ's subduing love in His heart. He was constrained to live no longer for himself, but for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15). That is the others-centered, agape love which our world needs to see in 2020, as an expression and the natural outgrowth of Christ living in His people, and their living by His faith.

Commenting on these themes, A. T. Jones wrote that "the everlasting covenant is not met in its fulness, in believers, until the second coming of Christ; that is, till the seed really comes to whom the promise of the inheritance was made.

"One provision of that everlasting covenant is, 'I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.' And that provision will not be accomplished in its fullness until, by the Third Angel's Message, men are brought to the actual keeping of the 'commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus:' so that the Lord, looking down from heaven upon them, can say, in perfect truth: 'Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus' " (Studies in Galatians, p. 96).

~Patti Guthrie

Friday, October 02, 2020

1888 Message Study : Education in the Garden of Eden



"Behold, God is exalted by His power;

Who teaches like Him?" Job 36:22, NKJV


The primary purpose of the Eden school was for Adam and Eve to not only learn about the Creation, nor necessarily merely about the Creator, but to know the Creator for themselves, through their association with Him and the study of the things He had made to teach them of His very Person and character in order that they might become like Him, revealing His glory. The Sabbath was especially designed for this purpose, as humanity was to contemplate and study these things with God Himself committing to meeting with them on this day. They would rest in the knowledge that He was sharing all things with them as a loving Father.


"Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education." Ed. p. 16


"After resting upon the seventh day, God sanctified it, or set it apart, as a day of rest for man. Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God's great work of creation; and that as he should behold the evidences of God's wisdom and goodness, his heart might be filled with love and reverence for his Maker.

"In Eden, God set up the memorial of His work of creation, in placing His blessing upon the seventh day. The Sabbath was committed to Adam, the father and representative of the whole human family. Its observance was to be an act of grateful acknowledgment, on the part of all who should dwell upon the earth, that God was their Creator and their rightful Sovereign; that they were the work of His hands and the subjects of His authority. Thus, the institution was wholly commemorative, and given to all mankind. There was nothing in it shadowy or of restricted application to any people.

"God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man, even in Paradise. He needed to lay aside his own interests and pursuits for one day of the seven, that he might more fully contemplate the works of God and meditate upon His power and goodness. He needed a Sabbath to remind him more vividly of God and to awaken gratitude because all that he enjoyed and possessed came from the beneficent hand of the Creator." PP 47, 48.

Satan, of course, hated this close communion that the human race was having with their loving Creator. So, he carried his strategy developed among the angels to the earth, sowing the seed of doubt in the mind of Eve, and then Adam. Before the first lie, "you shall not surely die," came the first higher criticism. Did God really mean what He said, or was His word conditioned on a precedent context that changed the meaning of what Adam understood God to say? In this, he attacked the credibility of the Eden school Teacher, suggesting there was a greater context in which to judge God Himself. To this day, this incredulity continues in worldly schools of so called "higher learning," in some form even affecting our own, and bleeding into our churches.


E. J. Waggoner: 

"'No Lie Is of the Truth'" The Present Truth 17, 44.

"'He is a very good man, so spiritual and elevating in his influence. You must mind, however, and be on your guard against believing his stories, for his judgment is so poor that he often tells egregious lies, supposing them to be true. He cannot tell the difference between truth and error, and is very credulous; but there is no doubt that he is a sure guide in morals and religion.

"Do you believe anybody could be found so foolish as to talk that way about any man? Would you accept, as tutor to your children, a man, even if he did not tell willful lies, gave utterance to the most ridiculous nonsense about matters which he considered it his special province to explain, in which he professed to know more about than anybody else?

"Of course, you would not; yet that is just what, following the leading of the so-called 'Higher Criticism,' a great many ministers of the Gospel are telling us now about the Bible. They will pick flaws in almost every Bible narrative, and declare that many of them are utterly impossible and absurd, and that no man of education could think of believing them, and then will hasten to assure us that 'the fact that it is mistaken in all these things does not impair its value as a religious guide.' They try to make themselves believe that they are relieving the Bible of some of its 'difficulties;' but they are, so far as their influence goes, weakening its hold on the people. Their teaching is more pernicious than that of any of avowed infidel. We know that the Bible speaks the truth, because it tells us the truth about ourselves, and therefore we know it to be true when it tells what happened before we were born." October 31, 1901 EJW, PTUK p.704.


W.W. Prescott:

"What is the difference between the true method of study, of education, and the false method of study and of education? The true method is to study all things as the study of God; the false method is to leave God out, not to get to Him at all, or have His laws control. The laws of nature are the habits of God, simply God's usual way of working. This field is as broad as the universe, and to begin to illustrate it, we begin an indefinite study. All this is Bible study. This is the study of the gospel. It is the power that attracts us to Him and keeps us from sin. The result for us of this study is growth. We will desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby, and if we are as submissive as nature, we will grow. Every product of creation was pronounced after its kind to be good. God had a certain ideal for trees, grass, plants, man, and that was submission. Perfect submission means perfect being.

"The hearers of the Word are not to be mere echoes. The Gospel plan is that everybody should be original, an original, independent thinker, in the proper sense of the term. No person is to build upon any other person, but upon the one foundation, Jesus Christ; 'for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.' The promise is, 'They shall be all taught of God.' True thinking, right thinking, is the product of the Spirit of God in the soul, the expression in words of the experience of the life. This is all the real originality that is possible. True originality is the working of 'that one and the selfsame Spirit, distributing to every man severally as He will.' Thus, there is no ground for anybody to complain of lack of education, nor any reason for one to ape another, for the Gospel itself provides the highest education for all. There is no teacher like God. 'The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.' This wisdom is not on the surface, but is in the life and character. 'A good understanding have all they that do His commandments.'" October 18, 1900 EJW, PTUK p. 663.

Restoring by true education what was lost in Eden culminates in the final call and experience of giving glory to the Creator God as the hour of His judgment arrives, an obvious reference in the first angel's message to the Sabbath commandment. Notice the relationship to Revelation 13, and the second and third angels' messages, as well as Revelation 18. False education, willful misunderstanding of God, is what undermines and causes the destruction of Babylon.


A. T. Jones:

"Now, mark the situation. Here was the world's education. The world's education had brought the world to where it did not know God. God comes to reach the world by preaching, which is simply teaching; and He sends out His apostles, those whom He had taught, to teach the world. Now, what did they use in their teaching? What did God employ from which to teach the world, when the world by wisdom had reached the point where it did not know God?—His word, the Bible. Everyone who is sent forth to preach under His commission is charged by the Lord Himself: 'Preach the Word.' They are not to diminish aught from it: 'Preach the Word.'

"Then: preaching is teaching; the world by its wisdom had reached the point where it did not know God; God comes now to teach the world, to give it the true education; and to do this, He takes His word and presents that to the world. And when that is done, it is counted foolishness, by the world. The Spirit of the Lord, when writing of it, recognizes the fact that it was called foolishness: 'It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' It pleased Him to do in that way—by the foolishness of preaching the gospel—by the foolishness of teaching the word of God—what the wisdom of the teaching of the world and of the schools of the world had not been able to do.

"'But unto us which are saved,' the use of the Bible as the basis of all education—that education which is Christian education—that education which comes from God—he who will receive that as Christianity, to him 'it is the power of God.' 'But unto us which are saved it [the preaching of the cross] is the power of God.' [Voices: Amen.] Not only is it the power of God; but it is 'the power of God, and the wisdom of God.' [Voices: Amen.]

"Thus went forth the gospel, Christian education, in that day when Jesus sent forth His disciples preaching the Word. Presently, there were those who, in their professed Christianity and half-hearted Christian experience, thought that Christian education, Bible teaching—the teaching of the word of God—was too narrow. It was not sufficiently deep, nor sufficiently broad, not sufficiently balanced, to give Christianity the proper standing before the world. To give it its proper place, Christian education must be blended with the world's education.

"Therefore they took the world's philosophy and the world's literature, and made them the real basis of education, and made the Bible and Christian education conform to them. That was the great apostasy, which finally seized upon the power of the Roman government; and of which the result was 'the beast' of the book of Revelation. When that result of the abandonment of true Christian education had manifested itself in the world, God again sent a message to the world in the great Reformation. In that again he exalted the Bible as truly educative, as that which has in it Christian education, root and branch. And that made Protestantism. But instead of Protestantism holding fast to that principle, it, too, gradually became cold and half-hearted, adopted the world's wisdom and the world's literature, and imitated the world in its work of education. And so much is this so that, as you know, Protestantism is now making the very image of the beast." October 10, 1899 ATJ, ARSH p. 647.


Ellen G. White:


"'And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. . . . And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'

"It was not the will of God that the sinless pair should know aught of evil. He had freely given them the good and had withheld the evil. But, contrary to his command, they ate of the forbidden tree. The disobedience to God's express command, opened the flood gates of woe upon our world. The tree of knowledge had been made a test of their obedience and their love to God. Satan could have access to them only at the forbidden tree. Should they attempt to investigate its nature, they would be exposed to his wiles. They were admonished to give careful heed to the warning which God had sent them, and to be content with the instructions which He had seen fit to impart.

"Filled with enmity against God, Satan lurked in the forbidden tree, making it the field for carrying out his plan to ruin the human race. Appearing to Eve in the form of a serpent, he addressed the woman, saying: 'Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. . . . For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' By partaking of this tree, he declared they would attain to a more exalted sphere of existence and enter a broader field of knowledge. He himself had eaten of the forbidden fruit, and as a result had acquired the power of speech. He insinuated that the Lord jealously desired to withhold it from them, lest they should be exalted to equality with Himself. He said it was because of its wonderful properties for imparting wisdom and power, that He had prohibited them from tasting or even touching it; that God had been seeking to prevent them from reaching a nobler development, and finding greater happiness. Satan claimed to have received great good by eating of the forbidden fruit; but he did not let it appear that by transgression he had become an outcast from heaven. He concealed his own misery, in order to draw others into the same condition.

"Satan is still doing the same work begun in the garden of Eden. He is working vigilantly, that men may accept his assertions as proof against God. He is working against Christ's efforts to restore the moral image of God in man. By every species of deception, he is endeavoring to induce man to eat of the forbidden tree. He thus tempts man to disobedience by leading him to believe that he is entering a wonderful field of knowledge. But this is all a deception. Elated with his ideas of progression, man is setting his feet in the path that leads to degradation and death. Satan, in a deceptive garb, still lurks in the tree of knowledge. The words of God spoken at creation, 'But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it,' come sounding along the line of ages to us today: for 'they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.' 'Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve.' 'If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow Him.'

"The garden of Eden was not only Adam's dwelling, but his school-room. As in that school, so in the school of earth today, two trees are planted, - the tree of life, which bears the fruit of the true education; the tree of knowledge, yielding the fruit of 'science falsely so called.' All who have a connection with Christ have access to the tree of life, a source of knowledge of which the world is ignorant. After sin entered this world, the heavenly Husbandman transplanted the tree of life to the paradise above; but its branches hang over the wall to the lower world. Through the redemption purchased by the blood of the Son of God, man may now partake of its life-giving fruit. The tree of knowledge has its roots in the earth - it is of the earth, earthy. All who have tasted of the heavenly fruit, the Bread of Life, are to be co-workers with God, pointing others from the tree of knowledge to the tree of life, that they also may partake of its fruits.

"Jesus Christ is to the world as the tree of life to which Adam and Eve had access in the garden of Eden. When, by disobedience, the fallen pair were deprived of the fruit of this tree, thy lost everlasting life. The tree of knowledge became a curse to them, not because of its poisonous qualities, but because of their act of disobedience. It was attractive to them; and in their great desire for it, they partook of it, and lost their purity and their allegiance to God. But Christ presents Himself as the Life-Giver, the tree of life for the world. By feeding upon His flesh, and drinking His blood, our spiritual life is perfected.

"Shall the education given in our schools be after God's order, or after the wisdom of this world which the Lord pronounces foolishness? Shall the hearts of the students become estranged from God by eating of the tree of knowledge, which hardens the heart into disobedience and administers to vanity and pride? Shall not the education given in our schools be of that character which will give a more decided knowledge of God's word, and which will bring the soul into a vital connection with God, keeping God before the mind's eye, and arousing every better feeling of the soul? This is the kind of education which is as enduring as eternity.

"There are many beliefs which the mind has no right to entertain. Adam believed the lie of Satan, the wily insinuations against the character of God. It is well and essential to obtain a knowledge of the world in which we live; but if we leave eternity out of our reckoning, we shall make a failure from which we can never recover. It will be as the knowledge gained by eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree. All the speculative opinions which, through the devising of Satan, have been brought into educational work, are to be separated from the truth. This was the work of the Redeemer in coming into the world. The opinions and speculations of men had become abundant; they occupied the ground with a multitude of theories which made it difficult to distinguish truth from error. In view of the near coming of Him Who is the Truth, now of all other times, we are to know the truth, and the truth is to make us free. Obedience to the commandments of God does not bring the soul into bondage. The sayings of Christ have a value above that of silver or gold.

"All who receive Christ in truth will believe Him. They will see the necessity of having Christ abiding in the heart by faith. They will escape from the control of their hereditary and cultivated tendencies, their pride, vanity, self-esteem, worldliness, and every sin, and will reveal Christ in their lives. If God's word is eaten as the bread of life, they will become thoroughly aroused to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that worketh in them, both to will and to do His own good pleasure. Men must co-operate with God. By obedience to His laws, they must reveal the respect they have for His word. They will not then disobey the commandments of God, eating of the forbidden tree of knowledge. They will heed the requirements of God. In this they are eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God, Who is represented by the tree of life.

"Age after age the curiosity of man has led him to seek for the tree of knowledge; and often he thinks he is plucking fruit most essential, when, like Solomon, he finds it altogether vanity and nothingness, in comparison with that science of true holiness which will open to him the gates of the city of God. Human ambition has been seeking for that kind of knowledge that will bring self-exaltation and glory and supremacy. Thus Adam and Eve were worked upon by Satan, until God's restraint was snapped asunder, and their education under the teacher of lies began in order that they might have the knowledge that God had refused them, - to know the consequences of transgression. The sons of men have had a practical knowledge of evil; but Christ came to the world to show them that He had planted for them the tree of life, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations.

"Satan is playing the game of life for every soul that is upon the earth. All who will study and obey the directions of God, will have the mind of Christ. Then all passions, all dissensions, will be put away. There will be a cultivation of the higher faculties of the mind. It is essential that we gain a knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ Whom He has sent. False religion and erroneous educational ideas and sentiments are prevalent. Because there is so little study of the word, there is with many scarcely any desire to know what saith the Lord. Errors have come in and usurped the place of truth. The wild branch has been grafted in and has borne wild grapes. The result has been centuries of darkness and error. Men have introduced human theories, thinking as did our first parents when tempted by Satan to eat of the tree of knowledge, that they would thus become as gods. But these sentiments are not in harmony with the Word. They are false and ruinous theories. The one, the word of God, is the tree of life; the other is the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, and all who pluck and eat of this possess a disorderly imagination. . . .

"We cannot, in this day of peril, accept teachers because they have been in school two, three, four, or five years. The question which should decide whether they are qualified for their work should be, Have they, with all their acquisition of knowledge, searched the Bible and dug beneath the surface for truth as for hidden treasures? or Have they seized the chaff in the place of the pure wheat, thoroughly winnowed? Are they partakers of the fruit of the tree of life? We cannot consent, at this period of time, to expose our youth to the consequences of learning a mixture of truth with error. The youth who come from school without feeling the importance of making the word of God the first study, the main study, above every science in educational lines, are not qualified in these days of peril to enter upon the work of the teacher. . . .

"The question of how to obtain a knowledge of God is to all a life and death question. Read Christ's prayer to His Father, intended not merely as an important lesson in education for the disciples, but to come down through all time for the benefit of those who should read the inspired writings. 'Father,' He prayed, 'the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee; as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.'

"Christ promised his disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit, Who would bring all these things to their remembrance. All those who render obedience to God's commands will be given free access to Eden restored and to the tree of life. He who is the fountain of all knowledge has stated the condition of our fitness to enter the heaven of bliss, in the words, 'Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.'" E. G. WHITE. March 6, 1899 N/A, GCDB p. 158,159.


~Todd Guthrie

Thursday, September 24, 2020

1888 Message Study : A Step in Faith



Memory text: "5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:5-7

In the teacher's edition of the lesson, the author of the lesson states this in the teacher's comments, "Philippians 2:5–11 is one of the most magnificent passages in the entire Bible on the condescension of Christ. Some authors call this passage "The Song of Christ." The entire book of Philippians focuses on three major themes—rejoicing, humility, and faith. Philippians 2 highlights the theme of humility. Jesus left the magnificent glories of His exalted state in heaven, divested Himself of the privileges and prerogatives as God's equal, entered the realm of humanity as a servant, and died the lowliest of deaths on the cross. The apostle Paul uses this example of Jesus as a model for Christian living. Christ's sacrificial life of unselfish ministry is the model for all Christian faith." I would like to tweak that a bit and say that Paul uses the life and death of Christ as his motivation for the way he lived his life which was a life wholly devoted to the "Son of God Who loved him and gave Himself for him." Hence our focus in this Sabbath School Insight will be our motivation for witnessing and sharing.

Most of us have sat through sermons in which we have been exhorted to go out and do more, witness more, and to share our faith more. Two types of responses can be elicited, enthusiasm or guilt. My mind goes back to a Sabbath morning, a few years ago, when I sat in a Sabbath School class in a church in the Northeast, where I was visiting because I was to give a presentation there. The Sabbath School teacher picked up a ledger type of notebook and went around the class which consisted of about 15-20 people and asked them to tell what they did for witnessing the past week. As I remember, only about two or three people shared and the information was carefully recorded in the "book." Most, however wished they had worn an outfit that matched the pews as they tried to be invisible. Others hung their heads in guilty shame. It occurred to me that this happened every week and a thought flashed into my mind, "they know the question is coming and week after week they keep coming with nothing." In case you think I am being judgmental, I am not. I was giving thanks that I was sitting behind a lady with a rather large hat and used this to my advantage, as I too had nothing specific nor earth shattering to share. Instead I gave thanks for the large hat and my choice of a seat.

On the other hand, some hear a wonderful gospel sermon and weep during the meetings, moved beyond measure and somewhere between their pew and the door, the fervor is gone and the fire extinguished. What happened on the way to the door?

Why is witnessing so hard? I am reminded of a quote by Ellen White in the Desire of Ages, "It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit." {DA 83.4} The author of our lesson does just that this week, giving us the reason and proper motivation for witnessing.

Our memory text, from Philippians, describes the "steps in faith" Jesus took, as He laid aside His rights. I always wonder why we begin in verse 5 because verses 2-4 describe His heart and mind as He was about to take His step of faith, and verses 5-8 describe the result. Philippians 2:2-4 says, "2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Jesus acted by faith because He loved us.

Ellen White says it this way, "The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured--the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father's face--speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. He Who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, Who made devils tremble and disease flee, Who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life--offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee." {DA 755.1} Praise God that Jesus took that "step in faith."

This is what will allow us to be like Peter and John in Acts 4:20, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Then when the brother at church gets out his ledger book and begins to record who shared, no one will seek a big hat to hide behind. We will be unable to stop talking.

EJ Waggoner's experience is worth reproducing here: "Many years ago, the writer [EJ Waggoner] sat in a tent one dismal, rainy afternoon, where a servant of the Lord was presenting the Gospel of His grace; not a word of the text or texts used, nor of what was said by the speaker, has remained with me, and I have never been conscious of having heard a word; but, in the midst of the discourse an experience came to me that was the turning point in my life. Suddenly a light shone about me, and the tent seemed illumined, as though the sun were shining; I saw Christ crucified for me, and to me was revealed for the first time in my life the fact that God loved me, and that Christ gave Himself for me personally. It was all for me. If I could describe my feelings, they would not be understood by those who have not had a similar experience, and to such no explanation is necessary."  {1900 EJW, EVCO 5.1}

"I believed that the Bible is the word of God, penned by holy men who wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and I knew that this light that came to me was a revelation direct from heaven; therefore I knew that in the Bible I should find the message of God's love for individual sinners, and I resolved that the rest of my life should be devoted to finding it there, and making it plain to others. The light that shone upon me that day from the cross of Christ, has been my guide in all my Bible study; wherever I have turned in the Sacred Book, I have found Christ set forth as the power of God, to the salvation of individuals and I have never found anything else." {1900 EJW, EVCO 5.2}

The apostle Paul is one who "could not but speak." His description of why he was all in for Christ is found in Acts 20:24, "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." And again in 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." The love of Christ compelled Paul. He continues in Galatians 2:20, "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 the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me."

I believe that for the Apostle Paul, "the faith of the Son of God Who loved him", was ever before him, He considered himself the chief of sinners, the least of all the Apostles, yet, like the experience that EJ Waggoner had that rainy camp meeting day, he saw Christ crucified for him personally and resolved that the rest of his life should be devoted to "making it plain to others.

Paul also understood the loss that all Heaven endured not only for the world but for him personally which caused him to write the following, "7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 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." Philippians 3: 7,8

So, what about us? Revelation 14:12 describes a group of people with these words, "12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." This group not only keeps the commandments but have an added attribute, an appreciation for the "faith of Jesus" which is, in Paul's writings, shorthand for the cross.

The book of 2 Timothy records Paul's thoughts and testimony as he faced death at the hands of Nero. 2 Timothy 4:17 says "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear…" Paul is facing death and has one concern…that "all the Gentiles might hear." My prayer is that we too will step out by the "faith of Jesus" as our motivation to share, because we have a message to tell to the nations that will turn their hearts to the Lord. May we see Christ crucified for us as Waggoner and the apostle Paul did. I pray that we will not hide behind a big hat but rather show forth the praises of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.



~Andi Hunsaker