Thursday, April 16, 2020

1888 Message Study : Jesus And The Apostles' View Of The Bible




"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).  "He laid aside His royal robes, clothed His divinity with humanity, stepped down from the royal throne, that He might reach the very depth of human woe and temptation, lift up our fallen natures, and make it possible for us to be overcomers,--the sons of God, the heirs of the eternal kingdom." – Christian Education p. 120.

I picture the childhood of Jesus so beautifully described in the book, Desire of Ages by Ellen White.  I imagine Him as a young child, first being read to and early learning to read the sacred scrolls for Himself.  I envision Him listening intently to portions of the Scriptures read each Sabbath in Nazareth's synagogue.  From the Scriptures Jesus learned of the creation of the world, the fall, the flood, and the history of His own people, the nation of Israel.  He became well acquainted with the law, the Psalms and wisdom literature, the prophecies of the Messiah to come, and the plan of redemption.  Surely the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah must have captivated His heart.  "My son, God will provide for Himself a lamb for a burnt offering" (Genesis 22:8).

Picture Jesus walking in the temple precincts on His first Passover visit to Jerusalem.  "For the first time the child Jesus looked upon the temple.  He saw the white-robed priests performing their solemn ministry.  He beheld the bleeding victim upon the altar of sacrifice.  With the worshipers He bowed in prayer, while the cloud of incense ascended before God.  He witnessed the impressive rites of the paschal service.  Day by day He saw their meaning more clearly.  Every act seemed to be bound up with His own life.  New impulses were awakening within Him.  Silent and absorbed, He seemed to be studying out a great problem.  The mystery of His mission was opening to the Savior.– Desire of Ages, p. 78. 

The boy Jesus returned to Nazareth where He spent the next eighteen years in relative obscurity.  "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).

Yet from His earliest days Jesus faced conflict.  "In every gentle and submissive way, Jesus tried to please those with whom He came in contact.  Because He was so gentle and unobtrusive, the scribes and elders supposed that He would be easily influenced by their teaching.  They urged Him to receive the maxims and traditions that had been handed down from the ancient rabbis, but He asked for their authority in Holy Writ.  He would hear every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; but He could not obey the inventions of men.  Jesus seemed to know the Scriptures from beginning to end, and He presented them in their true import.  The rabbis were ashamed to be instructed by a child.  They claimed that it was their office to explain the Scriptures, and that it was His place to accept their interpretation.  They were indignant that He should stand in opposition to their word.– Desire of Ages, p. 85.

"The Scriptures of the Old Testament were His constant study, and the words, 'Thus saith the Lord,' were ever upon His lips." – Desire of Ages, p. 84.

We can see from all four gospels that the Living Word's earthly identity was tied to the Written Word.  The Old Testament informed Jesus when His public ministry would begin, the duration of His earthly ministry, the nature of His work, and the year, day, and hour of His death.  He would die on Passover and rise the third day, the Feast of First Fruits.  He knew how He would die.  "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14, 15).

Themes and passages from the Old Testament are so interwoven in the gospels that it is impossible to appreciate and grasp their content apart from the Old Testament.  This is true of the rest of the New Testament as well.  Besides numerous Old Testament passages the New Testament writers and Jesus quote and reference, allusions abound.  The New Testament is rich with Old Testament typology.  Many of the Old Testament stories foreshadow the life and experiences of Jesus as well as His church.

Jesus is the new Moses.  He is the new Israel who fathers a spiritual nation.  He is the temple.  Jesus comes as the second Adam.  His three temptations - lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:16) were the very temptations that overcame our first parents (Genesis 3:6).

Jesus redeems Israel's wilderness failures.  The Israelites had repeatedly revealed a lack of faith as evidenced by their murmuring, complaining, and rebelling.  It is of interest that Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy where Moses reviews Israel's wilderness sojourn (Genesis 8:3, 6:16, 10:20).

"Jesus met Satan with the words of Scripture.  'It is written,' He said.  In every temptation the weapon of His warfare was the word of God.  Satan demanded of Christ a miracle as a sign of His divinity.  But that which is greater than all miracles, a firm reliance upon a 'Thus saith the Lord,' was a sign that could not be controverted.  So long as Christ held to this position, the tempter could gain no advantage." – Desire of Ages p. 120.

That the disciples of Jesus were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures is evident in Philip's words to Nathanael.  "We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote" (John 1:45).  For three and a half years the disciples of Jesus beheld "His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

They were members of the inner circle.  They believed Jesus was the promised Messiah.  However, their biases, education, misunderstanding of the prophecies, worldly aspirations, and false expectations set the disciples up for the bitterest disappointment.

He had prepared them for what lay ahead.  "Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, 'Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.'" (Luke 18:31).

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up"  (Matthew 20:18, 19).

"You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion."  (Matthew 26:2).

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy" (John 16:20).

"They could not tolerate the thought that He in whom all their hopes centered should suffer an ignominious death.  The words which they needed to remember were banished from their minds; and when the time of trial came, it found them unprepared.  The death of Jesus as fully destroyed their hopes as if he had not forewarned them.– Great Controversy 594.  "We had hoped that it was He who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21).

"And He said to them, 'O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?'  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:25, 26).

Their response? "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32).  Their sorrow had indeed turned to joy!

Matthew, Mark, and John all record details of Jesus's appearances to the women and disciples after His resurrection.  However, it is Luke who includes Jesus "opening their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45).

"And he said unto them, 'These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me'" (Luke 24:44).

Jesus had pointed out the harmony between the Old Testament and Himself in John 5 when brought before the Sanhedrin for healing a man on the Sabbath.  "The Scriptures testify of Me.  Moses wrote of Me" (John 5:39-47).

Other witnesses also testified of Jesus.  John the Baptist (the messenger sent to prepare the way for the Christ, exalt the Lamb of God, and preach a message of repentance), the works that Jesus did, and the Father (manifesting Himself through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) were the other three witnesses - four witnesses (John 5:31-47).

These four that testified of Jesus - the written word, the Holy Spirit, the righteous works of Jesus, and the testimony of John the Baptist we can see in Luke 24.  Jesus explained how everything about His life and death was a fulfillment of the Scriptures.  He told His disciples that He would send the Promise of the Father upon them, the Holy Spirit.  They would be witnesses, eye witnesses, yes, but also witnesses as to the transformation that the gospel had wrought in their own lives.  They were to preach repentance and remission of sins.  They were to preach a crucified and risen Savior.  They were to preach present truth.  And all of the above is just what happens in the book of Acts.

Of course, many parallels exist between the disciples' experience and the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  The Advent believers were bitterly disappointed on October 22, 1844 when Jesus did not return.  Some abandoned their former faith while others searched the scriptures anew.  Believers were led to a true understanding of the Heavenly Sanctuary and Christ's ministration therein.  They were directed to other precious bible truths as well.

As John the Baptist was sent to prepare a people for Christ's first coming so Ellen White was chosen as the messenger of the Lord to prepare a people for His second coming.  In the 1880's the Lord sent two messengers with the message of Christ our righteousness, the message that was to lighten the earth with God's glory.  History bears out how this message was received by most of the leadership.

The rejection of John the Baptist and His message by Israel's leaders led to their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. "'This is He, of Whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  For I say unto you, among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.'  And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.  But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:27-30).  There is a great lesson to be learned here.

We need to appreciate and take to heart the marvelous light God has showered upon His church.  And we need repentance.  We are living in unprecedented times, and probation is soon to close.  According to the bible and the Spirit of Prophecy devastation and calamities will continue to increase.  We are also going to see supernatural occurrences that will be hard to resist or gainsay.  How quickly events could unfold that will try our faith to the utmost.

What will see us through the coming storm?  "None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.– Great Controversy p. 593.  God has shed great light upon His Holy Word through the Spirit of Prophecy and the 1888 message.  He waits with longing desire to pour out His Spirit so the world may be lightened with His glory.  Received, the message of Christ our righteousness will bring transformation of character that will testify to its divine origin.

Many of us are familiar with the following quotes, but notice how the same witnesses that testified of Jesus in John 5 (all four are in perfect agreement) are present in these passages - Messengers sent with present truth, the righteousness of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Scriptures.  All lift up Jesus.

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones.  This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, 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. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." – The Ellen White 1888 Materials pp. 1336-1337.

"The Lord has raised up Brother Jones and Brother Waggoner to proclaim a message to the world to prepare a people to stand in the day of God. The world is suffering the need of additional light to come to them upon the Scriptures, -- additional proclamation of the principles of purity, lowliness, faith, and the righteousness of Christ. This is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. Many will be moved and humbled."– The Ellen White 1888 Materials pp. 1814-1815.

Jesus is coming soon!  We stand on the borders of the Heavenly Canaan.  The world needs to hear of and see demonstrated in the lives of true believers the power of the everlasting gospel.

The Loud Cry. — "During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere." -- Review and Herald, Oct. 13, 1904.

A Present-Truth Message. — "We thank the Lord with all the heart that we have precious light to present before the people, and we rejoice that we have a message for this time which is present truth.  The tidings that Christ is our righteousness has brought relief to many, many souls, and God says to His people, "Go forward."-- Review and Herald, July 23, 1889.

~ Martha Ruggles