Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 15, No. 12 Straight and Narrow December 2006
The Final Generation Part 3
By Allen Stump
The concept of living in the final generation is fearful for some and exciting for others. Many prophecies have been proclaimed in the past to prove we are at the end of time. In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus gave many signs to alert the believers of when his coming would be near. While Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only (Matthew 24:36).” He also stated concerning the signs he had just given, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors (v. 33).”
Christians have for centuries looked to these signs and have found fulfillment of them in their day. People who lived during World War I thought that they were surely at the end of this worlds history. Then people who lived during World War II knew that the end of all things must have arrived. Yet, that generation is now almost gone. Few who lived through those times are alive today and Seventh-day Adventists have been waiting, since the great disappointment in 1844, more than one hundred sixty-two years for the return of their Saviour.
As we examine the signs that Jesus gave in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, we find that all of these signs are of a general nature that might find their fulfillments at various times and in different ways. Virtually all generations since Jesus returned to heaven have felt that they were the final generation. Even the apostles seemed to believe that the coming of Jesus was very soon and in their lifetimes. John wrote, Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time (1 John 2:18). Peter preached at Pentecost, But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days (Acts 2:16, 17).”
While most of Christ’s discourse was of a general nature, there was a series of prophecies given by Jesus upon the Mount of Olives that was very specific. These statements involved the city he was looking upon, Jerusalem! After speaking of wars, famines, earthquakes, the preaching of the gospel, and things of a general nature, Jesus introduces events that were to occur concerning Jerusalem. He speaks of the city being surrounded by armies, following which the believers were to flee. Next, he speaks of its desolation and those within falling by the sword. His final statement is that “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24).” As we noticed in the first part of this study, we believe that Jesus is clearly speaking of the literal city of Jerusalem and speaking in literal terms concerning its desolation and its being held captive by non-Jewish, or Gentile, forces until the time of the final generation. It is clear that after Titus besieged the city in A.D. 70 that it was held by non-Jewish forces until 1967, when, during the Six-Day War, Israel recaptured the city. In 1980, the government of Israel declared Jerusalem its capital. While we have more to look at concerning this prophecy, we see that since the time period of 1967-1980 we have been living within the ending of the times of the Gentiles, the final generation, for Jesus noted: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled (Luke 21: 32).” The generation that sees the last of the signs Christ gave will be living when Jesus returns. While neither the day nor the hour is predicated, while no specific date was set that could be earlier pointed to, an event was foretold, and today’s generation has seen the fulfillment of that event!
I was stirred to write on this prophecy a few months ago after two conversations with good friends who were raised in the Advent movement and who have been looking for the coming of Jesus for years. The first friend is close to my age (49) and has always looked for Jesus to come in this person’s lifetime but now believes that Christ’s second coming will happen during the children’s generation and that the children need to be established in a business so they can care for themselves after the parents are gone. The second person is a minister just a little older than I am. He stated that he had always hoped to be among the living when Jesus comes, but now he is not sure. I find this sad, but I can see how such conclusions can be arrived at, based on the way Adventists have interpreted prophecies.
When the Advent movement was young, our pioneers could point to the dark day, the falling of the stars, and 1844 as events that were relatively current, having happened within their lifetimes, but by the time most of the pioneers died, we seemed far removed from these signs and the need was felt to somehow make the prophecies significant to the people. Even the prophecy of Revelation 13:3 that seems to point to the Lateran Treaty of 1929 has lost its luster for some.
Fulfillments of end-time prophecies of a general nature have intensified, compared to prior generations, and these fulfillments have been declared to be the way we know we are living at the end of time. This way of thinking, however, does not take into account what the degree of fulfillment will need to be in the future in order for them to be valid for the last time. Evil in this world has always waxed greater and greater; therefore, to use the fact, for example, that there were more earthquakes during the 20th century than during the 19th century and that means we are living at the end of time, while being true and while showing we are closer to the coming of Christ, cannot be used to pinpoint the last generation, for we can go back to the 19th century and show that more earthquakes occurred then than during the 18th century, and so on. The prophecy of Jesus concerning Jerusalem, however, is very specific and can be used to pinpoint the last generation! The words of Paul ring truer today than ever! “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (Romans 13:11).”
While never given a major place in Adventist prophetic study, the events concerning Jerusalem have been noted before.
James White noted in a Review article:
Our Saviour, also, declares, [Luke xxi,24,] that the Jews shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The times of the Gentiles will not be fulfilled till the end of time (The Review and Herald, May 9, 1854).
Joseph Bates, one of the founders of the Advent movement, wrote:
This then is the good news and glad tidings; the Gospel of Christ published to the Gentiles, or as Jesus said, And these good tidings of the reign shall be published through all the world for the information of all nations, and then shall come the end. Matt. 24:14. What end? See 3d v. The conclusion of this state, (Campbells trans). And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be over. Luke 21:24 (Second Advent Way Marks and High Heaps, pp. 83, 84).
After quoting Luke 21:24-27, E. J. Waggoner stated:
From the text it is evident that the times of the Gentiles reach to the coming of the Lord to judge the world. In announcing this second destruction of Jerusalem, the Lord told, as at the first time, what would take place at the end of the period of desolation. The Jews had had their time in which to accept the position and work to which God had called them, and had misused it, not knowing the time of their visitation. . . .The Gentiles comprise all nations, so that the termination of their time must necessarily be the end of the world. That is the coming of the Lord, to give to every man according as his work shall be (The Everlasting Covenant, p. 486).”
In 1863, Elder White published an article taken from the periodical, Voice of the Prophets. Though no author is credited, Joshua V. Himes was the editor of Voice of the Prophets. This article stated in part:
Christ proceeded to tell them (from verses eight to twenty-four) what signs there would be which should precede the destruction of Jerusalem. The language is so plain that it cannot well be misunderstood. “Let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains.” “For there shall be distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” All these predicted events have most certainly come on the Jews and Jerusalem. That devoted city is yet trodden down of the Gentiles; therefore, the prophecy has not yet expired. This, then, is my answer to those who would contend that the prophecy ended with the destruction of Jerusalem; it is not so, for it is yet in the course of fulfillment. In order to show that the prophecy ended then, it must be proved that Jerusalem ceased then to be trodden down of the Gentiles.
Times of the Gentiles is the period of their triumph over the church, holding it in bondage. It is shadowed forth by the metallic image of Daniel, second chapter, beginning with the Chaldeans, and ending with the Romans, in the entire destruction of the Gentile governments of the earth, and the setting up of the kingdom of God to fill the whole earth (The Review and Herald, June 23, 1863).
James Edson White, son of Ellen and James White, published a book on the signs of Jesus second coming entitled, The Coming King. After discussing, in detail, the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 he wrote:
We also read that Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Luke 21:24. Jerusalem has never again come into the possession of the Jews, and will not until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. This will be when the work of the gospel is finished (James Edison White, The Coming King; 1898).
As part of the reaction to Elder Wielands and Elder Shorts manuscript, 1888 Re-Examined, the General Conference, on September 1-13, 1952, convened at Sligo Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, the churchs first Bible conference since 1919. Different topics were assigned to ministers for presentation. These presentations were then published in two volumes under the title, Our Firm Foundation. Arthur S. Maxwell, of The Bible Story fame, was assigned the topic: The Imminence of Christ’s Second Coming. During his presentation, he stated:
The recent dramatic restoration of the nation of Israel has focused the attention of mankind once more upon Palestine. Many Christians have mistakenly permitted themselves to believe that the return of thousands of unconverted Jews to their native land is in fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not realizing that, since the death of the Son of God on Calvary, there is no salvation, nor any eternal homeland, except for those who believe in him and accept His sacrifice.
However, there is one prophecy concerning Palestine that we should all be watching with special care. Said Jesus, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled Luke 21: 24.”
For nineteen centuries Jerusalem has been trodden down of the Gentiles. It is still trodden down of the Gentiles. Despite the amazing prowess of the Israeli troops, the ancient city of Jerusalem is still in Arab hands. A Mohammedan mosque still stands upon the site of Solomon’s temple. Victorious as were the forces of Israel in every other part of Palestine, they failed to take the most dazzling object of all. Mysteriously they were held back from achieving this most cherished goal, this culminating triumph, as by an unseen hand.
What could be the reason? Only that the times of that Gentiles are not yet fulfilled.
Centuries ago Israel was not permitted to enter Palestine for a certain time because “the iniquity of the Amorites” was “not yet full” (Gen 15:16); that is, not until the probationary time allotted to the Amorites had run out.
It may well be that the same principle applies today, on a wider scale. If so, then Jerusalem is to remain trodden down by Gentiles till the probationary time of all Gentiles has run out. If this be correct, how much hinges upon the fate of this ancient city and the power that occupies it! (Arthur Maxwell, Our Firm Foundation, pp. 230, 231; 1952)
For many years, the 20th Century Bible Course was a mainstay for evangelism within Adventism. On lesson 5 entitled, “Time Running Out,” we find the following questions and answers:
2. What sign did Jesus give that would indicate when the destruction of the city was at hand? Luke 21:20
The city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the Roman armies in A.D. 66. After a period of time the army withdrew and the Christians, recognizing the sign given by Christ (Matthew 24:15-20, NT 25 [18, 19]) fled the city and did not return. In A.D. 69 the Romans returned, and destroyed the city in A.D. 70. Nearly a million people died or were sold into slavery at that time, but not a single Christian died. They watched for the sign Christ had given and obeyed His instructions. The temple was burned to the ground as Christ had foretold (even thought the soldiers had orders not to destroy it). Christ foresaw the future and outlined it to His followers so that they could be saved.
3. How long did Christ say that Jerusalem would be trodden down? (verse 24)
Old Jerusalem and the temple site has been occupied largely by the Gentile nations until 1967 when the Jews took possession of it in a “lightning victory.” This portion of Christ’s prophecy was fulfilled in our day!
To share one more piece of evidence that this prophecy has been considered in the past, we present Dr. Jean Zurchers book, Christ of the Revelation, a companion book to the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly written by Zurcher for the second quarter of 1980. There we read:
We shall not linger over the numerous signs given by Jesus in this discourse. One only will occupy our attention, the one that especially deals with time. Even in our days it constitutes a critical point in the political world: Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem is both the beginning and the culmination of Jesus prophecy. For Him, as for Daniel the prophet, the history of nations, as that of the people of Israel, is written in the setting of the tragic history of Jerusalem. The latter is the sign by which the fate of the former is determined. So having predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews into all nations, Jesus declared, Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21: 24).”
Few today would deny the precision of this prophecy. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in AD 70 is a historical fact commemorated on the triumphal arch of Titus in Rome. The dispersion of the Jews among all nations is still a reality. As for Jerusalem, nineteen centuries of history should provide adequate proof that it has been “trodden down of the Gentiles” –first by the Romans, then by the Arabs, next by different Christian nations during the Crusades, fourth by the Turks up to the end of the first world war, then by the British, and finally by the Jordanians until the Six-Day War in June, 1967.
This prophecy of Jesus was a sign for the Christians of the Apostolic Church, who lived at the beginning of the times of the Gentiles, and it remains a sign for us who live at the end of the times of the Gentiles. Again, we must know how to discern its meaning.
It is not a matter of our seeing in the return of the Jews to Palestine and in the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem a sign of the approaching conversion of the Jews, as so many Christians think. Nothing in Jesus’ prophecy allows such an interpretation. However, if we cannot see that Jerusalem is an exceptional sign of the times, then might we not be placing ourselves in the same position as the religious leaders who knew how to “discern the face of the sky” but could not discern the obvious “signs of the times”?
In order for us to understand Jesus’ statement, three questions need answering. First, what exactly does the expression “the times of the Gentiles” mean? Then, what should be understood by the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles? Finally, what connection is there between the retaking of Jerusalem by the Jews and the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles?
As I understand the Biblical language, the times of the Gentiles is the period set aside by God for the evangelization of the heathen nations. It is not the time needed for them to be converted to Christianity, as some think, but for them to hear the gospel. It is in this sense that Jesus said: “This gospel the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness onto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
I believe that the times of the Gentiles began in AD 34, when the prophetic seventy weeks that God set aside for the people of Israel ended. The baptism of the first “heathens” –the Ethiopian eunuch and the centurion Cornelius – as well as the conversion of Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles mark the beginning of these new times when the gospel would be preached to the nations. And if I have understood the prediction of Jesus properly, this time will be “fulfilled” when Jerusalem will cease to “be trodden down of the Gentiles.” The fact that since 1967 Gentiles no longer have occupied Jerusalem means, therefore, that we are now living at the end of “the times of the Gentiles.”
Jerusalem here constitutes the last sign of the times by which the Lord shows us that the history of this world is coming to its climax and that the restoration of all things is at hand (Jean Zurcher, Christ of the Revelation, pp. 71, 72; 1980).
While these studies express some differences concerning the meaning of the “times of the Gentiles,” they all agree that the restoration of Jerusalem to the Jews is necessary for its fulfillment and that this happens at the very end of time.
Daniel chapter 11 also mentions Jerusalem as being a focal point of end-time prophecy. Culminating the prophecy for the king of the north, the papacy, we find these words: “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him (Daniel 11:45).” The interpretation of a prophecy is dependent upon the methods used to interpret it. Adventist historically used William Miller’s concept of accepting prophecy as literal unless obvious symbols are employed. If obvious symbols are employed than we are to look to the Word of God for the keys that unlock the mysteries of the symbols. Miller stated:
How to know when a word is used figuratively. If it makes good sense as it stands, and does no violence to the simple laws of nature, then it must be understood literally, if not, figuratively.
To learn the true meaning of figures, trace your figurative word through your Bible, and where you find it explained, put it on your figure, and if it makes good sense you need look no further, if not, look again (Millers Works, vol. 1, Rules of Interpretation, p. 23).
Using these simple and sound rules of interpretation it is not hard to understand Daniel 11:45. The tabernacles of his palace is a place of abode for the king of the north, the papacy. Since a tabernacle or tent is not a permanent dwelling place, this is talking about a place of temporary residence, or a place of temporary rulership, since it mentions a palace. But where is this tabernacle to be? The prophecy says, between the seas in the glorious holy mountain. What is Gods glorious holy mountain? According to some, it is the United States or some other place, but if we look to the Bible for the answer it is very easy to know. Daniel, in his prayer for his people, says, O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain (Daniel 9:16). He says that Gods holy mountain is Jerusalem. Zechariah 8:3 states: Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. Further, Isaiah 66:20 says, And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.”
These verses plainly state that the literal city of Jerusalem is the key to the symbol in Daniel 11:45. Some are not content to allow the Bible to speak so clearly. They agree that Jerusalem is the holy mountain, but they then try to add that the final answer must be God’s people, for Jerusalem is a symbol of God’s people. This is trying to interpret symbols by symbols and if we are allowed to do this, at what stage do we stop? Perhaps there is a further interpretation beyond God’s people. Perhaps they are symbolic of something else. Then we might go another step and ask what that is a symbol of. There is no way to know when to stop and before long we are far from the simple answer the Bible gives. This “glorious holy mountain” is said to be located “between the seas.” This also fits Jerusalem which lies between the Sea of Galilee on the north and the Dead Sea on the south. We, therefore, fully expect the papacy, at some time in the near future, to move its see to Jerusalem. Pope John Paul was obsessed with Jerusalem. Benedict’s current intentions are not as clear, but make no mistake, God’s Word will not fail.
There are two parallel prophecies in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 that speak of Jerusalem. Notice the language carefully:
But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Micah 4:1-3; see also Isaiah 2:2-4).
The mountain of the Lord is Jerusalem. The people gather to Jerusalem claiming that they are going to worship the God of heaven and that the “law shall go forth of Zion.” But as Elder James White noted:
But the Lord speaks in verses 6 and 7, as follows: In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted. In that day, when many nations are prophesying of peace and safety, the Lords remnant people are driven out and afflicted (Bible Adventism, p. 26).
Both Isaiah and Micah declare that the people will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, declaring that the time of war is over. Vastly different is the prophecy of Joel where, instead of the people speaking, we find the voice of God speaking!
Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong (Joel 3:9, 10).
Isaiah and Micah prophesy of the people declaring a time of peace when war will be no more and their weapons will be turned into implements of husbandry. They speak of going to the mountain of the Lord to proclaim the law from Zion. In Joel, however, God is speaking and it is a proclamation of war and a time to take the implements of husbandry and turn them into weapons of war!
As Adventists, we know that Satan will attempt to impersonate the second coming of Jesus Christ. I can think of no better place for Satan to first appear and receive the adoration of his followers than at Jerusalem. To the Christians, he will be Jesus, and to the Jews and the Muhammadans, he will be the Saviour they have long expected. The pope will greet him; hand him his scepter; kneel before him; kiss his feet, worshipping him; and then proclaim him as the one to worship! Peace will be proclaimed, and, to ensure this peace, the law will be proclaimed, but do not for a moment think that it will be with the fourth commandment as given upon Mount Sinai. It will be an international law proclaiming Sunday sacredness.
Although the world may look to the papacy and the false Christ as the solution to world peace, those who are deluded by this masquerade at last realize that they have been duped and turn on the papacy. “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire (Revelation 17:16).” “She shall come to her end and none shall help her (Daniel 11:45).”
So, while the literal city of Jerusalem is no longer the chosen city of God, it is a sign to God’s people at the end of time, much as it was to God’s people during apostolic times. The very next events that come after the things foretold in Daniel 11:45 are found in Daniel 12:1: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” The standing up of Michael is the close of probation, which is followed by the time of trouble.
We need not be taken by surprise. Yet no matter how perfectly we may know the future of end-time events, if we are not spiritually ready, we are sure to fail at that time. God has made provision for us to be ready. If we are truly in Christ, then no matter what happens, no matter what surprises await us, and I am confident that there will be some for all of us, we will be able to stand, for we stand in Christ. 1 John 5:11, 12 say, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” When we have Jesus, we have eternal life for this life is in him and to have him is to have life. There is no trial that Jesus cannot overcome. Satan and this world threw everything that was sinful against the Son of Man and not once did he falter or fail. He will never fail and if we are in him, we will always obtain the victory that is his!
In our prior studies, we have seen that the term Gentiles can also mean nations and, by implication, corporate bodies, such as church bodies. If the times of the nations is over, or ending, we can conclude that this prophecy of Ellen White must be already fulfilled or will soon come to pass in its totality:
In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed. She will be judged by the privileges and advantages that she has had. If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages that Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed on her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence: Found wanting. By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 247; emphasis supplied).
Ellen White plainly stated that the church would be weighed or judged. This is not a “tongue in cheek” type of speech. She is serious for God is serious. As we noted in Part 2 of this study, this testimony was written in 1903 after the General Conference rejected the reform measures that God approved of in 1901. Ellen White later wrote:
In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.
The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and Gods people are to be true to the trust committed to them (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 19; 1909; emphasis supplied).
By her apostasy in so many areas, and especially by her rejection of the truth about God in 1980 as evidenced by the current Statements of Belief and the acceptance of the “strange god (Daniel 11:39)” of the papacy, the church has left God no choice but to find her weighed in the balances and found wanting.
Ellen White said that we have a solemn work in the proclamation of the three angels’ messages. If the church has failed to do this than those who will be faithful must give the message far and wide. There is one further point to examine. The early Adventists we cited earlier felt that probation would close when Jerusalem was back in Jewish control and the time of the end would be here. We agree that the events since 1967 signal the very end, the last generation. We agree that the times of the nations, or corporate bodies, are over, but remember in the protocol of the Day of Atonement (see Part 2 of this study) that after the judgment work in the most holy place was over, the priest proceeded to the holy place and then finally to the court yard, where the final removal of the sins of the common people took place. We are living in that time now and soon all judgment will be over and Jesus will come.
The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 11).
God has given ample warning to his people. This is the final generation. Shall we listen? Shall we be ready?
By Onycha Holt
This month we wish to highlight the value and importance of prayer. Whenever a prayer request comes into our office, we stop the “secondary” work we have at our desks, on the phone, and in the print shop, and we then gather together and proceed to our “primary” work of communicating with our heavenly Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. We are thankful that we may present the concerns of our brothers and sisters before the throne of grace. We do not always hear of God’s response, but two recent events come to mind in which a sister’s pain of several days’ duration was stopped and objections during a presentation of truth were silenced. We praise God for his willingness to listen to our cares, to bear our burdens, and to intervene on our behalf.
I am reminded of when Peter was set free from prison by an angel. Peter made his way at once to the house where his brethren were assembled, and where they were at that moment engaged in earnest prayer for him (The Review and Herald, May 4, 1911). (All emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted.) His brothers and sisters were earnestly engaged in prayer for him at the time a mighty angel from heaven was commissioned to rescue Peter, which is a wonderful example to us. I also sadly remember, however, that Gods people failed to pray in behalf of Paul. The next day the plot [to kill Paul] would have been carried into effect, had not God by his providence interposed to save the life of his servant. When Peter had been made a prisoner and condemned to death, the brethren had offered earnest prayer to God day and night for his deliverance. But no such interest was manifested in behalf of him who was looked upon as an apostate from Moses, a teacher of dangerous doctrines (Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 226).”
I hope these examples will always keep fresh before our hearts and minds the need to earnestly and perseveringly pray for our ministers and workers, as well as for each request that is made known to us, because prayer does make a difference. Angels record every prayer that is earnest and sincere (The Great Controversy, p. 622).”
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us (1 John 5:14).
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Luke 11:9).
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 18:19).
Could we see all the activity of human instrumentality, as it appears before God, we would see that only the work accomplished by much prayer, which is sanctified by the merit of Christ, will stand the test of the judgment (The Review and Herald, July 4, 1893).
He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with the merits of Christs propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable. Then gracious answers are returned (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 344).
It is a part of Gods plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which he would not bestow did we not thus ask (The Great Controversy, p. 525; 1888 ed.).
Ths month we entreat your prayers for Ben and Bethany Turner as they return to Australia (see report on page 24) and for Lynnford Beachy and his family as they continue to minister to fellow believers across the United States. At this time they are attending a camp meeting in California. Please pray that the hearts of those attending Brother Beachy’s meetings will be filled with the Spirit of God, and we here at Smyrna Gospel Ministries pray many times for you throughout the week that the newsletters and the publications you receive from us will be a rich blessing and a source of great strength for you in the troublesome days ahead.
Thoughts on the Current Sabbath School Quarterly
Was the Angel Jacob Struggled with God the Father or Christ?
By Allen Stump and Onycha Holt
Lesson 11 of The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for the third quarter 2006 is entitled, Jacob Becomes Israel, and it is a fairly straight forward lesson about Jacob and his relationship with Laban and then about Jacob returning to his homeland, until you begin to read the teachers helps. Here we are startled to learn that the identity of the angel who wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32) is in question. Is it God the Father or Christ, we are led to wonder. In the Inductive Bible Study section (p. 131 of the Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide), we read: “One of the strangest episodes in Genesis is Jacob’s struggle with the Angel, who was God the Father or Christ. . . . .At the end of this long, strange night, Jacob insists that the Angel (God the Father or Christ) bless him.” We would like to set the record straight.
To begin with, the Bible says that Jacob wrestled a man [vya iysh] (Genesis 32:24) until daybreak, when Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God [Myhla elohiym] face to face, and my life is preserved (vs. 29, 30). Chapter 12 of Hosea expands on this encounter by stating: He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God [Myhla elohiym]: Yea, he had power over the angel [Kalm malak], and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him (vs. 3, 4). These verses help us to understand that it was an angel Jacob wrestled with. The Hebrew word transliterated malak simply means messenger and it does not mean that Jesus had the nature of an angel but that Jesus simply functioned as a messenger.
We find in the book of Judges that Manoah also had an encounter with an angel, known as the angel [Kalm (malak)] of the LORD (Judges 13:17). Manoah asked this angel for his name and he received part of the same answer that Jacob received: Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret [or wonderful, margin (yalp (piliy)] (v. 18)? It is important for us to note that the name of the angel he met with was secret or wonderful because we see this same English word in Isaiah 9:6: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful [alp (pele)], Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The Hebrew word for “Wonderful” in this verse is from the same root that is used for the word “wonderful” in Judges 13:18. This repetition connects the Angel in Judges 13 with Jesus in Isaiah 9, helping us to know with a certainty that it was Jesus that Jacob wrestled with.
Perhaps the author of this section of the teachers helps is confused about whom this being called Wonderful in Isaiah really is and that is why we have the reference to the Angel as being either God the Father or Christ, for there are those who believe that Isaiah 9:6 teaches Christ to be God the Father. But Jesus is not both the Father and the Son. In this verse, Jesus is being referred to as the Father of the children which his Father has given him, as we can see in Hebrews 2:13 where Paul quotes from Isaiah 8:18 and applies it to Christ. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me (Isaiah 8:18). Isaiah 9:6 also says that His name shall be called The mighty God, causing some to believe that Christ is the supreme God. But this verse does not call Jesus the Almighty God as the Father is referred to. The Bible speaks of mighty men, but we never read of almighty men. It is certainly in harmony with the body of Scripture to refer to the Son as mighty for Jesus is powerful. It is also appropriate to refer to Jesus as God, for the Most High God himself refers to his Son as God in Hebrews 1:8.
Whatever the reason might be for the confusion in the quarterly, please be assured that we do not need to be confused. The Bible is very clear that the Angel Jacob wrestled with, the Angel Manoah spoke to, and the Wonderful Counseller of Isaiah 9:6 are all Jesus Christ.
Ellen White also understood the Being Jacob wrestled with, as recorded in Genesis 32:24, to be Jesus Christ:
It was Christ that was with Jacob through that night, with whom he wrestled, and whom he perseveringly held until He blessed him (The Story of Redemption, p. 95).
It was Christ, the Angel of the covenant, who had revealed Himself to Jacob (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 197).
Let me go for the day breaketh, pleaded the angel; but Jacob ceased not his intercession, and Christ had to make terms with this helpless, broken, penitent soul, in accordance with his own character: And let him take hold of my strength, and make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. Our precious Saviour cannot tear himself away from a soul wounded and helpless, and crying unto him for aid (The Bible Echo, February 15, 1892).
In light of plain biblical evidence and these clear statements of Ellen White, how can there be confusion on who the Angel that Jacob wrestled with is? The confusion presented in the teachers’ helps allows a supposition to grow in the minds of our people that perhaps Ellen White did not know what she was talking about, and, instead of fostering confidence in the spiritual gift God has given us through Ellen White, these thoughts in the quarterly tend to promote doubt and disbelief.
Adding to the confusion are the words found in the “Witnessing” section of the teachers’ quarterly on page 133: “So it is with the face of God. His countenance is so radiant that to look on it without a filter is impossible. God, however, has provided us with a perfect filter—Christ Jesus, Savior of humankind.” These words are expressive of truth, and we infer from them that Jacob could not have wrestled with our heavenly Father, as the author of the “Inductive Bible Study” section suggests, because it would have been “impossible” for Jacob to have been in his presence without the “filter” of Jesus. The Bible teaches us no man can be in the presence of the Father and live, for he is a consuming fire. (See Deuteronomy 4:24.) So, here we have two authors in the same teachers’ quarterly giving mixed signals to teachers around the world about the identity of the Angel in Genesis 32, and I ask you, what are we to do? Our only hope is in knowing the truth of the Bible for ourselves and to be modern-day Bereans.
Let us consider another issue in this weeks lesson. The Commentary section of the teachers guide states on page 128: A strange thing happens. The Angel says Let Me go (Gen. 32:26, NKJV), and the author of this section then wonders why the Angel would have said such a thing. His conclusion is: Perhaps God tells Jacob to let Him go because as sinful, fallen begins, we have no right to hold onto a holy God. . . . Let me go perhaps represents Jesus in His role as Judge declaring the justness of the law that says we deserve death. The author then continues his train of thought to encompass the futility of works to earn salvation, which we agree with, and the necessity of the mediation of Jesus, which we also agree with, but why, oh why, can we not put faith in the writings of Ellen White, who under inspiration wrote the following words:
Jacobs night of anguish, when he wrestled in prayer for deliverance from the hand of Esau, [GEN. 32:24-30.] represents the experience of Gods people in the time of trouble. . . . Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of Gods promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for his blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with Godhow few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God. Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of Satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test, they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God. The lessons of faith which they have neglected, they will be forced to learn under a terrible pressure of discouragement. We should now acquaint ourselves with God by proving his promises. Angels record every prayer that is earnest and sincere. We should rather dispense with selfish gratifications than neglect communion with God. The deepest poverty, the greatest self-denial, with his approval, is better than riches, honors, ease, and friendship without it. We must take time to pray. If we allow our minds to be absorbed by worldly interests, the Lord may give us time by removing from us our idols of gold, of houses, or of fertile lands (The Great Controversy, pp. 616, 621, 622; emphasis supplied).
How much better it would have been to present the perseverance of Jacob to our Sabbath School teachers, so they could in turn present it to their students, for God, through Ellen White, makes it very clear that you and I must have the same persevering experience with God as Jacob did and if we do not, we will not obtain his blessing. It is a mandatory experience for each one of us and the experience of Jacob wrestling with Jesus occurred for the benefit of each one of us living at the end of time. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Corinthians 10:11).” Jacob’s example is meant not only to give us hope that we will prevail, if we meet the conditions as he did, but it is also a lesson about how to prevail.
The Life Death Shall Not Conquer
By Allen Stump
Nobody was ever tempted as Jesus Christ was when he walked the dusty roads of Galilee. His life of perfect obedience and faith in his Father defied the best assaults of Satan. The victory of that unconquerable life may be ours as we partake of Jesus and his righteousness!
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:4, 5).
The followers of light and their ways are not understood by the followers of darkness. The way of the Christian will seem out of step with the world. It does not matter what aspect of life we consider this in, for we will find this principle to still be true. For example, the world may not see the value of health reform in the same way we do. Their understanding will seem a little out of place with us and we seem out of place with them. This is the way it always has been. People who home-school their children seem out of synchronization with the rest of society. Christianity in the end-time, is not going to fit into the New World Order’s plans either.
Who is to be the standard for us? Notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:12: For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. Paul says if we go by the worlds standard of comparing ourselves with how other people are and the way they do things, then we are not wise. In fact, he says we dare not do this! So, if we use the world as our standard for our church services, for the way we eat and dress, for how we use our time, and for the way we educate ourselves and our children, we can be sure we are wrong. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6) Jesus and his teachings are the standard for everything. Again, I want to emphasis the world is wrong on everything. Do not look for the world to be right on anything because the world rejects Jesus Christ. The Bible says that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:16),” and it is going to pass away!
Our text in John 1 says that the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (v. 5). Light is easier to define than darkness. We generally define darkness by the absence, or the lack, of light. This text says the darkness comprehended it not. The word comprehend can mean overcome in the Greek. Darkness will never overcome light. It may seem for a while that darkness on this earth appears to win and that which is wrong and evil seems to succeed and overcome, but darkness will never overcome the light.
In John 8:12, Jesus says: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” As we noticed earlier in John 1:4, Jesus is this light and life we need. It is by the life and light of Jesus indwelling in us that we receive this unconquerable life.
The Bible says this world is in the darkness of sin and this darkness is due to a lack of the knowledge of God. Notice what Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:17, 18: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” I was speaking with a gentleman recently, discussing the importance of knowing God, and he said, “Well, this is really not so important. There are a lot of other things that are more important for us to know than to know about God.” It is interesting that this man claims to be a Christian. We were talking specifically about whether God is a trinity and whether he is a sovereign and supreme God. Jesus Christ says that it is life eternal to know “the only true God and Jesus Christ (John 17:3).”
There are several key words in Ephesians 4:17, 18 that relate to the verses in John, such as darkness and life. If you are blind, you cannot see light or you cannot focus or see correctly. Most of us would not like to become blind, and when we start to have problems with our sight, we go to the optometrist, we obtain glasses, or we seek medical help. We want to keep our eyesight. There may be certain aspects of our health we are willing to be less careful about, but we are usually careful with our eyesight. We do whatever we can to maintain our sight because we treasure the ability to see. Ephesians 4:18 says that if we are ignorant of God, we are blind and this is a blindness of our hearts.
Jesus Christ came to restore what had been lost in our knowledge of God and then to live an example of the life he wants us to live. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 we read:
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
If it is hidden, it is veiled and cannot be seen. We are blinded to it. In the Bible, Satan has been called the “prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).” Satan is the ruler of darkness and he has tried to hide the character of God from man. He has tried to paint God’s character in a very dark way. Satan has portrayed God to be like men and that is about the worst thing you can do. He has pictured God as being cruel, vindictive, and even passionate. Even the Jews, the people whom God had chosen to be the light bearers to the world, departed from a true understanding of God’s character. According to Second Corinthians, Jesus came to shine forth the light of God’s character to a darkened world. God has, through Jesus, “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13).” Writing to the believers in Thessalonica, Paul also notes the Christian’s position: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5).”
In Matthew 4:15 and 16, we find Matthew quoting from the 9th chapter of Isaiah: The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. There is a parallel construction here between the concept of darkness and that of death. Darkness brings death; light brings life. It is interesting that there is hardly anything that can grow without light. Most things on this earth need light to grow and even those things that do not make chlorophyll, such as fungus, grow using the nutrients of other plants that have used sunlight to obtain their growth. If you put a rock over a section of grass and take the rock away in a few weeks, what will you find? Barren ground because grass will not grow if it cannot get sunlight. We also need light. We need the light of Christ in our lives. Darkness brings death and light brings life, and the prophet says: Light has sprung up. The Greek word translated light in verse 16 is fwv (phos) and from this word we get phosphorus, which means something that glows and emits light.
We find another prophecy from Isaiah in Matthew 1:23: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” The Father did not come from heaven to live with us, but Jesus, his Son, did. In seeing Jesus, we see exactly what God is like, and we can receive of the very life of God himself through Jesus. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto him, and Jesus said very plainly, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 14:9).” In the life of Christ we find fully refuted all the falsehoods of Satan.
The hymn, Lead On, O King Eternal, says not with swords, loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums. With deeds of love and mercy, The heavenly kingdom comes. Not by loud arguments are the falsehoods of Satan best refuted, but by living a life among men so that all might see the power of Christ demonstrated in the life, demonstrated as an unconquerable life, a life that cannot be overcome by darkness. Christ showed us the great possibilities of such a life in mankind. If you want to make the most powerful statement you can for overcoming (and the Bible does teach that Christians can and should walk in total harmony and obedience to Gods commandments), it will not be by something you preach in a sermon, write in an article, or tell your neighbor, but it will be by the life you live. This is the best way that doctrine can be taught. While the Bible says that as Christians we walk by faith and not by sight, the world walks by sight and therefore our faith must work in a visible manner.
The silent witness of a true, unselfish, godly life carries an almost irresistible influence (Christs Object Lessons, p. 340).
The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 439).
In his first epistle, Peter speaks about the life and light of Jesus. It was an unconquerable life. Peter first states that Jesus is our example: For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21). Then he tells us that Jesus did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (v. 22). Ellen White tells us that we are to strive to be among the 144,000: Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand (The Review and Herald, March 9, 1905),” and the Bible says of the 144,000 that “in their mouth was found no guile (Revelation 14:5).”
I once attended an evangelistic meeting where a minister was explaining the 2,300-day prophecy. While some arithmetic is needed to figure the dating, algebra, nor any higher mathematics, is certainly not needed to understand this prophecy. As the evangelist was explaining the events of the prophecy, he made what I would consider, at minimum, a technical error. He came up with the right numbers, but through the wrong process. So, afterward I stayed by and asked him, quietly and kindly, “Do you understand that this really works a little differently in reality?” He said, “Oh, yes, I know that, but the people cannot understand it and this is much simpler for the people to understand, so we just do it this way.” I thought, “Would Jesus do it that way?” Jesus would not because his life is one of light. His life is full of the very life force of the Father and he would never treat people like that and if we have him living in us, we will not either.
Our standard and our goal is to be like Jesus and to work in the way he would work. Even though Jesus Christ was crucified and buried, his life could not be held in the grave. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:22-24).” Death could not hold Jesus. His life could not be conquered even by death, and, if Christ lives in us, death may try but it will not be able to hold onto us either.
Many people paint their rooms white because it makes the room seem brighter as the white walls reflect some of the light. You can paint the walls black and you can put heavy dark curtains over the windows, but with enough light you will see everything well because darkness cannot dispel, or overcome, light. What we need is light, and the more difficult the pathway is, the more light we need. We live in a dark world, but Jesus provides all the light we need.
Paul describes the life of Jesus as being “an endless life (Hebrews 7:16).” This endless life that Jesus received from the Father he is able to give to us. Jesus, praying to his Father, said, “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 (John 17:2, 3).” “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself (John 5:26).” And this life eternal, this light, is in Christ who offers to dwell in the hearts of those who believe in him and he brings in light and endless life with him when he comes. Paul wrote, “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 (Galatians 2:20).” To Paul, this was a very real experience and not just metaphoric words.
Paul says something similar in Colossians 1: “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:25-27).” This is God’s great desire for each one of us. He wants Christ in us—the hope of glory. Paul said that he was praying for the church in Ephesus to have that experience: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).” Not only may we have Christ in our lives, but we may be “filled with all the fulness of God” the Father!
If we have Christ, what do we also obtain? We receive that unconquerable life, we partake of the life that cannot die, and we gain the light that dispels darkness. This light cannot be overcome by the darkness. It is a glorious light, sufficient to enlighten and overcome all the darkness of this world.
If Christ, the light of the world, dwells in the hearts of his followers, then his followers are also the light of the world. We have no light of our own. Our light comes only from Jesus who dwells within us. Christs life is to be made manifest in us. In 2 Corinthians 4:11, we read: For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. He does not say that the life might be manifested in me or that I might live like Christ, but that the very life of Jesus himself is to be manifest in my mortal flesh and the only way that can happen, he says, is if I am always delivered unto death. If I am willing to die to self and allow Jesus to live within me, then I can have that glorious, unconquerable life as my experience.
Jesus says: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). The second word translated light in verse 15 is lampw (lampo) from which we get our word lamp. Jesus says we are to let our light (phos) shine so that we become like a burning lamp. The same word that is translated “giveth light” in the last part of verse 15 is also translated in verse 16 as “shine.” Beloved, if we have Jesus living in our lives, we will have that unconquerable life. This life is not bestowed upon us so that we can do something good for, of, or about ourselves. It is given so that when people see us, our lives will glorify God in heaven. That is what we should want more than anything else. Above all the things the 144,000 have upon their heart and have a burden to do, it is to honor and glorify God.
David said, “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light (Psalm 36:9).” God is the fountain and the source of the never-ending stream from which all life emits. Of that fountain we are invited to freely drink: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).” That fountain of life represents his living water and our experience in having that life. It is never-ending and whosoever will may partake of it freely, and if we do, we shall have it then to impart to others, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).”
There is no end to this fountain. It is as infinite as God is, for it is his very life and it is available to each one of us! No wonder Paul could explain:
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things (Romans 8:31, 32)?
When God gave Jesus Christ to die on the cross of Calvary, he emptied all of heaven. All of heaven was in the gift of Christ, and in giving Christ, Paul says God gave everything. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (Romans 8:33-35)?”
After quoting from Psalm 44:22, Paul states that we are conquerors, even more than conquerors: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).” We cannot conquer through our own efforts, we cannot win any battle on our own. Even Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing (John 5:30).” Paul said, however, that through Christ we “can do all things (Philippians 4:13).” Beloved, in our lives we can do all things through Jesus Christ if we will have his light and his life abiding in us. Now, how hard is that? Jesus invites us, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” This eternal life is procured without price. We cannot earn it. It is given as a free gift in Christ. Friends, this life has a light shining bright enough to overcome every bit of darkness that is in your life and my life today. It is there for the asking. You may have it, if you wish, for it is for “whosoever will.”
Florida Revival Retreat
By David Fahnestock
There will be a “February Revival Retreat,” February 28—March 4 at the River Forest Campground, located in the southeast corner of the Ocala National Forest on the scenic St. Johns River. All are invited to attend. While brothers and sisters from the Georgia and Florida areas will be coming, many others from different areas farther north will also be attending.
The theme of the meetings will be, “Discerning The Signs of The Times.” There will be much time for prayer.
Speakers will be: Willis Smith (Ohio), Jeff Pippinger (Arkansas), Allen Stump (West Virginia), David Clayton (Jamaica), Ann Ford (West Virginia), Lynnford Beachy (West Virginia), and Barrington Hendricks (Florida).
A lunch will be provided on Sabbath. Each one will be responsible for their meals, and a nice kitchen is available. You might wish to consider bringing simple fruits and pancakes or waffles for breakfast, and simple salads and bean dishes for dinner in quantities enough for your family. This way, if you choose to combine your meals with others, they will be compatible.
There are no RV hookups, but plenty of room for RV’s and tents. There is a main building for meetings, showers, rest rooms, and, as mentioned earlier, a kitchen. If you can make it, please come. Mosquitoes may be present, so be prepared.
The River Forest Campground is approximately six miles west of Deland and twenty-five miles northeast of Eustis. It is located near the St. Johns River on County Road 42, about ¼ mile west of Crows Bluff, off of State Road 44.
For more information, please contact Jerri Raymond, (407) 291-9565. Hope to see you there!
Keeping Ladies Ladies
The Adornment of a Christian
By Joseph Sotkelaid
Our last article in Keeping Ladies Ladies was written by a sister and carried what might be considered a womans point of view. This article has been written by a man and may be considered to be a mans point of view. Paul notes, however, that as Christians we are all one in Jesus Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). He also notes that although we are all one in Christ, we do not all have the same function and place in Gods church. (See 1 Corinthians 12:20; 11:3.)
That which is truth is truth whether it is taught and promoted by a man or by a woman. We live in an age when independence is the goal of many women and there is a reluctance of some to listen to what a man might say concerning ladies issues. How do men know, a lady might think, anything about women? They are men. What right do they have to tell us anything? While it is true that men know nothing, by experience, of what it is like to be a lady, God has ordained men to have a vital role in teaching and in leadership. Truly godly men carry a Christian burden for their sisters in Christ and a great desire for them to spiritually prosper and grow in the Lord. They realize that the disregard of even one of Gods commandments is dangerous (James 2:10) and that everything possible should be done to come into harmony with Gods plan. Thats rightGods plan! Neither the men nor the women are to set the standard. Our only standard is to be God and his Word.
The Lord says that when we love God we will keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight (1 John 3:22). Our greatest goal in life should be to please God. We are told to fear God, and give glory to him (Revelation 14:7). Godly men want their sisters in the Lord to honor God and bring glory to him, so they encourage their sisters to gladly accept the desire of the Lord and to fully consider his plan for them. God has promised that no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). God never withholds good things from us but, rather, gives us the very best! What a wonderful and all wise God we serve! Editor
The Apostle Peter presents the true inward adorning that pleases God. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3, 4).”
The apostle presents the inward adorning, in contrast with the outward, and tells us what the great God values. The outward is corruptible. But the meek and quiet spirit, the development of a beautifully symmetrical character, will never decay. It is an adornment which is not perishable. In the sight of the Creator of everything that is valuable, lovely, and beautiful, it is declared to be of great price (The Review and Herald, October 31, 1871).
To some, these verses in 1 Peter may appear vague. The Revised Standard Version mentions braided hair, decoration of gold, and fine clothing, but what about silver rings, engagement rings, bracelets, ankle rings, body piercing, and even tattoos? Are these things appropriate for Christians? Recently these issues were considered at one of our Adventist schools in an effort to establish a standard of behavior for the students, and much discussion ensued, but we should let the Bible speak:
Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground. And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach (Isaiah 3:16-26 through Isaiah 4:1).
I must admit this is strong language and very specific. Someone might say, “Tut-tut, that is God’s judgment for the women of Zion and ancient Israel. This is not for us today,” but is it?
In a section called, “Perilous Times,” Ellen White wrote:
The prophecy of Isaiah 3 was presented before me as applying to these last days, and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust and will long for an experience in the things of God, which they have failed to obtain (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 270).
Is this information disturbing and even scary? Yes, I think it is. We should heed this warning from the Lord. We know we live in uncertain times, times fraught with possible disasters of all kinds. What will be next? A dirty bomb? A pandemic bird flu killing millions of people? Another war that will call for more young men and women to die? We need to decide how we should live, what our priorities are, how we should spend our money, and how we can prepare for the second coming of Jesus, for this is our greatest priority!
If we decide that our outward adorning is not of significant importance but is rather an attempt to gain salvation by our works, let us remember that our dress, for example and its arrangement upon the person is generally found to be the index of the man or the woman (Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, January 30, 1900). However, not only is our dress such an index, but also are our words (The Voice in Speech and Song, p. 20); the books we read and study (Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, p. 244); and in todays world we might add the modern-day movies and television we watch and the materials we read on the Internet; our practical lives (This Day with God, p. 244); and even our lack of stability in health reform (Pamphlet 011, “Appeal to the Battle Creek Church”; 1870). In other words, that which is perceived on the outside is generally indicative of that which is within.
It is very true that without Jesus living within our hearts and minds, nothing on the outside can be of any true worth. If we focus only on polishing up the outside, we will only be whited sepulchers. Our great need is to know Jesus and our heavenly Father through faith, but it is also true that God himself put these words in Isaiah 3 and we cannot with impunity ignore them. So, we might ask ourselves, why did God direct Isaiah to write so descriptively about outward behaviors, behaviors that will cause men to fall by the sword and the mighty in war? Could it be because God knows our hearts are deceitful above all things and that we can easily deceive ourselves into thinking we are right when we are really wrong? So, to help us see what we are really like God points us to the observable, to those things that cannot be gainsaidhow we adorn ourselves, what we say, what we read, etc. The faith that is in ones heart will be shown by the outward works, and if we are really Christs, we will be happy to follow his instructions. We learn to do his will by doing it, even if we do not understand why God requires it of us, and as we continue to do his will, our hearts become sanctified and we then find great pleasure in doing his will.
Another possible reason for Isaiah’s description can be found in the concept of cause and effect. God wants us to know the results our actions can have on other people. He understands the issue of outward adornment involves our character. He wants us to know that selfishness is the reason why women choose to behave and adorn themselves as illustrated in Isaiah 3. Not only will these women be lost because of their selfishness, but, according to this prophecy, even the mighty men will be brought down with them due to the effect their behavior has had on them.
Dear Sisters, there are three issues involved here. Not only are the eternal welfare of yourselves and the eternal welfare of the men close to you affected by your behavior and the choices you make in dress and adornment, but the glory of God is also critically affected. Is it right to emphasis self rather than the glory of God? Neatness, cleanliness, and a becoming dress are important, but not in order to draw attention to one’s self but rather to uplift the great God of the universe and to show how He can not only change hearts and minds but the outward actions as well. If our hearts and minds have an eye single to the glory of God and we have a desire to only serve him, then selfishness will not be part of the picture.
A Deep-Laid Foundation
By Allen Stump
(The following article is the first chapter from the book, The Foundation
of Our Faith, which has been revised and is scheduled to be released January
2007. See the note on page 23 for information on how to obtain the book. Editor)
The disciple Jude writes: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). The faith which Jude refers to is the body of truths we hold concerning our Christian belief. Peter says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world (1 Peter 5:8, 9).” Both these writers encourage the believer to hold onto the faith.
The faith is to be distinguished from the phrase your faith. Your faith refers to the believers personal experience: the trial of your faith (1 Peter 1:7). And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge (2 Peter 1:5).”
Revelation 14:12 states: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” While much attention has been given to the phrase “they that keep the commandments of God,” it should be noted that those who receive the seal of God and avoid the mark of the beast also “keep . . . the faith of Jesus.” The phrase “the faith of Jesus” serves as an object of the verb “keep.” Thus, the remnant will be those who “earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3).”
Within Adventism “the faith” includes not only the body of truths that were established early in the apostolic age, but also those special truths the Bible indicates would be revealed in the last days. These special truths are known within Adventism as the “three angels’ messages.” The first part of this study will cover the method by which these truths were established and give evidence for the following points concerning the three angels’ messages:
We will briefly note each point. The main doctrines and foundational points of our faith were established through much Bible study and with the aid of divine revelations given to Sister Ellen G. White. Secondly, these main foundational points were established early, by 1850. Thirdly, the Scriptures state: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Psalm 11:3)?” The Scriptures also teach that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18).” However, the “shining light” that grows brighter will not darken that which has been established as truth! Fourthly, deviation from these truths brings apostasy which, if continued, results in a city that was once faithful becoming a “harlot.” (See Isaiah 1:21.)
Let us begin first by noting the method with which the apostolic faith was developed. The apostle Peter states:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Peter tells us that “the faith” was revealed through the prophets as they were moved by “the Holy Ghost,” or as he says in his first epistle, “the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11).” Moses had prophesied concerning Christ: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him (Deuteronomy 18:18).” The book of Revelation begins: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John (Revelation 1:1).” Here we see that God communicates his will through the prophets. “The faith” is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20).” “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11, 12).”
Doctrinal Development From Bible Study and Revelation
The beliefs of Christianity were delivered by the prophets, and the special aspects of our faith occurred in a similar manner. Sister White, writing of the development of our faith, stated:
Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, We can do nothing more, the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, pp. 56, 57).
Here we see the dual aspect of Bible study and revelation. The brethren would come together for study and prayer and would sometimes continue through the entire night. Sometimes the sun would rise before they would give up (Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, p. 345). When they could go no further in their study, Sister White would be taken off in vision, and instruction would be given (Ibid.). Note that it was not new scriptures, but a clear explanation of the [Scriptural] passages they had been studying that was given by revelation. Simply, she was given understanding on how to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). As she could write later, In the word of God we have found the truth that substantiates our faith (The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, p. 257).”
Yet, as Ellen White’s grandson, Arthur White, wrote, “. . . this is not the full story. The Lord manifested Himself in a manner that made it forever clear that what took place was beyond human manipulation (Ellen G. White: The Early Years, p. 145).” Sister White wrote:
During this whole time I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 207; 1904).
In the early days of the message, when our numbers were few, we studied diligently to understand the meaning of many scriptures. At times it seemed as if no explanation could be given. My mind seemed to be locked to an understanding of the Word; but when our brethren who had assembled for study, came to a point where they could go no farther, and had recourse to earnest prayer, the Spirit of God would rest upon me, and I would be taken off in vision, and be instructed in regard to the relation of scripture to scripture (The Review and Herald, June 14, 1906).
Sister White states that during the time that our doctrines were being formulated she could not understand the Scriptures and be of help to the brethren in a normal manner. Her expression was that her mind was locked. However, when the brethren could do no more, she would be given an explanation of the meaning of the passages and this was done under such circumstances that it was beyond human manipulation. Thus, by both Bible study and revelation, the faith was established. Writing also in the Review article, she noted:
These experiences were repeated over and over and over again. Thus many truths of the third angels message were established, point by point (Ibid.).
The following statements point out the Divine help that was given in the establishing of “the faith”:
The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 201). (All emphasis in this article is supplied.)
This foundation was built by the Master Worker, and will stand storm and tempest (Ibid., p. 204).
We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth (Ibid., p. 205)?
The principles for which we fought in the early days . . . were brought out in the power of the Holy Spirit (Ibid., p. 206).
Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority (Ibid., p. 208).
The truths given us after the passing of the time in 1844 are just as certain and unchangeable as when the Lord gave them to us in answer to our urgent prayers. The visions that the Lord has given me are so remarkable that we know that what we have accepted is the truth. This was demonstrated by the Holy Spirit. Light, precious light from God, established the main points of our faith as we hold them today (Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 53; Letter 50, 1906).
We can confidently say, The truth that has come to us through the Holy Spirits working is not a lie. The evidences given for the last half century bear the evidence of the Spirits power (The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, p. 257).
Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time (The Upward Look, p. 352; December 4, 1905).
The precious light revealed to Sister White makes it clear that God was directly involved in helping the early pioneers to have a correct understanding of the major points of our faith. The result of this combination of Bible study and revelation is spoken of in the following language: The leading points of our faith as we hold them today were firmly established. Point after point was clearly defined, and all the brethren came into harmony (Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 413; MS 135, 1903).”
Major Points Established Early
The weight of evidence bears heavily that the main points of our faith were established early.
In the early days of the message, when our numbers were few, we studied diligently to understand the meaning of many scriptures. At times it seemed as if no explanation could be given. My mind seemed to be locked to an understanding of the Word; but when our brethren who had assembled for study, came to a point where they could go no farther, and had recourse to earnest prayer, the Spirit of God would rest upon me, and I would be taken off in vision, and be instructed in regard to the relation of scripture to scripture (The Review and Herald, June 14, 1906).
Writing in 1903 of her early experience, she spoke of her mind being opened so that she could understand the Scriptures as an “open book”:
For two or three years my mind continued to be locked to the Scriptures. . . . It was some time after my second son was born [July 1849] that we were in great perplexity regarding certain points of doctrine. I was asking the Lord to unlock my mind, that I might understand His Word. Suddenly I seemed to be enshrouded in clear, beautiful light, and ever since, the Scriptures have been an open book to me (Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, pp. 413, 414; MS 135, 1903).
For two or three years my mind continued to be locked to an understanding of the Scriptures. In the course of our labors, my husband and I visited Father Andrews, [December 1850] who was suffering intensely with inflammatory rheumatism. We prayed for him. I laid my hands on his head, and said, Father Andrews, the Lord Jesus maketh thee whole. He was healed instantly. He got up, and walked about the room, praising God, and saying, I never saw it on this wise before. Angels of God are in this room. The glory of the Lord was revealed. Light seemed to shine all through the house, and an angels hand was laid upon my head. From that time to this I have been able to understand the Word of God (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, pp. 57, 58; 1904).
I know and understand that we are to be established in the faith, in the light of the truth given us in our early experience. At that time one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines. We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds. Sometimes whole nights would be devoted to searching the Scriptures, and earnestly asking God for guidance. Companies of devoted men and women assembled for this purpose. The power of God would come upon me, and I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is error (Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 319; Letter 50, 1906).
All these differently-dated testimonies portray the same picture. The establishment of the main points of our faith occurred while Sister Whites mind was locked. Sister White says she was in this condition until all the principal points of our faith were made clear (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 207). She testifies that her mind was unlocked after her visit with Brother Andrews in December 1850; therefore, the main points of our faith were established by December 1850. Thus, we received as a people, A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 57).”
The Leading of the Lord
This line of truth was light which helped the pioneers to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood (Ibid.).” Further, we have been counseled:
In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history (Life Sketches of James and Ellen G. White, p. 196).
This statement, first penned in 1892, was sent to the General Conference Sessions of 1893 and 1899. Later the statement was published in The Review and Herald of October 12, 1905, and in books such as Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers and Selected Messages, bk. 3. The latter part of this statement deserves emphasis. It has two important points. We must remember first the way the Lord has led us and, secondly, His teaching in our past history.”
The statement, “His teaching in our past history” would refer especially to that time period before December 1850 when the brethren came together for study and prayer. While we have nothing to fear for the future if we remember our past history, the contraposition would be equally true that if we do not remember the past we would indeed have much to fear! This is much more than just historical knowledge, but it is also a putting into action that system of beliefs.
Foundational Points Not to be Moved
The foundation of a building is the most important feature of its construction. If the foundation is not set level and on a firm surface, the structure will have problems. God knew that in the establishment of the Advent movement, the foundation was of the utmost importance. If the foundation was correct, then the light would be able to shine “more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18).”
New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness. Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34; original source The Sabbath School Worker, March 1892).
Old truths will grow brighter and new truths will be discovered in Gods Word. Yet, those new truths will never contradict the established truths already set.
When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 161; 1905).
Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 59; 1904).
As a people we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time had not lessened their value (Ibid., p. 51).
We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are Gods word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake (Ibid.).
No line of truth that has made the Seventh-day Adventist people what they are is to be weakened. We have the old landmarks of truth, experience, and duty, and we are to stand firmly in defense of our principles, in full view of the world (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 17).
I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,the first, second, and third angels messages. Said my accompanying angel, Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received. I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform (Early Writings, pp. 258, 259; 1858).
The Early Writings statement of 1858 carries quotation marks! Sister White is not writing down her impressions or her thoughts alone, though they be inspired, but words straight from heaven!
New light is to come without contradicting established light! New light will simply build upon the foundation as a carpenter builds upon the foundation that the mason has prepared. The foundation is not changed or altered; yet, a more complete building arises. This very principle is explained by Sister White:
The Lord has made his people the depositaries of sacred truth. He has set them on an elevated position, above the world. He declares of them: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” And again he says: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Upon every individual who has had the light of present truth devolves the duty of developing that truth on a higher scale than it has hitherto been developed (The Review and Herald, September 21, 1897).
This statement tells us that it is not some “new truth” in the sense of something totally different that we are to search for, but, rather, we have the “duty” to develop “that truth” which the Lord has already entrusted to us “on a higher scale than it has hitherto been developed.”
God designs that the light from his throne is to shine with purity and clarity. He illustrated this with an object lesson to the children of Israel. God instructed Moses: And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always (Exodus 27:20). Not any oil would be sufficient in the services of God. This pure olive oil was prepared from unripe fruit, beaten, or pounded in a mortar rather than crushed in a mill. As a result, it was clear and colorless and burned brightly, with little smoke (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 644). God desires that his truths shine more and more unto the perfect day, not a flame such as the hellish torch of Satan (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 409, 410).”
New light will come from a study of the Scriptures. When a doctrine is presented that does not meet our minds, we should go to the word of God, seek the Lord in prayer, and give no place for the enemy to come in with suspicion and prejudice (Gospel Workers, p. 301). We are counseled that when discussing differences with the brethren, The only right way would be to sit down as Christians, and investigate the position presented, in the light of Gods word, which will reveal truth and unmask error (The Review and Herald, June 18, 1889).” New light is not to be shunned for there are areas of study that need clarifying today. There are many topics that are not foundational points, such as Daniel chapters 11 and 12, that should be finely-tuned; however, the foundation which was delivered by study, prayer, and revelation stands sure.
Stepping Away From the Foundation Results in Apostasy
Apostasy is defined as an abandonment of ones religious faith (American Heritage Dictionary). The English word apostasy is from the Greek apostasia (apostasia). Apostasias literal meaning is to stand away from. James told Paul that he had been accused of apostasy. Acts 21:2 states: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake (apostasia) Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. Paul himself wrote about apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (apostasia) first.” To leave established truth is to step off the sure platform into the sinking sand of apostasy.
The Lord has declared that the history of the past shall be rehearsed as we enter upon the closing work. Every truth that He has given for these last days is to be proclaimed to the world. Every pillar that He has established is to be strengthened. We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth (Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 390; MS 129, 1905).
To “step off the foundation that God has established” is equated to entering into a “new organization.” This is defined as “apostasy from the truth.” In other words, as we move away, or defect, from the truth we form a “new organization.” Those who stand with the platform of truth that God established stand with the true organization that God established.
During the early part of this century the Adventist Church experienced the alpha of deadly heresies (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 50). This apostasy concerning the nature of God was led by Dr. Kellogg, and many of the leading physicians and ministers stood with Kellogg (Jones, Waggoner, Sutherland, Magan, Paulson, etc.). Sister White had been instructed that she must meet it, referring to the teachings of this false movement. Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2 was written to physicians and ministers to help deal with this crisis. In meeting this apostasy, she wrote:
Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 55)?
Here we see what our response to apostasy should be: We are to “repudiate everything that is not in harmony” with the truth! We are to reject that which would try to destroy the foundation of our faith!
Youth’s Corner — Diligence
By Elyssa Sims
As we consider the concept of diligence, let us notice a few verses about the fruit of the Spirit and what is known as Peter’s Ladder. These verses will help prepare our minds for our study.
The Fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22, 23).
Peter’s Ladder is a progression of Christian virtues that Peter lists in his second epistle:
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Christians need to live on the plan of addition, progressively adding new graces to their characters. We are told to do this diligently, just as we climb a ladder from the first rung to the last rung one step at a time, round after round, until we reach the top.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8-11).
Here is a sure course that will never fail. If we are working upon the plan of addition in obtaining the Christian graces, we have the assurance that God will work upon the plan of multiplication in granting us the gifts of his Spirit.
What is diligence? The dictionary says it is: Determination, effort, sweat, conscientiousness, carefulness, industry. So instead of saying “giving all diligence,” we could say “giving all determination;” “giving all effort;” or “giving all carefulness”.
What is the importance of being diligent? What is the reward of being diligent? Let us look at God’s Word to see:
He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread (Proverbs 28:19).
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich ( Proverbs 10:4).
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat (Proverbs 13:4).
So those who are not careful, who fail to exert an effort at their job, or who do not exercise determination become poor; but those who are careful and diligent become rich, have bread, and are made fat. There are different meanings to the word fat. It does not only mean to be chubby or overweight but in the Bible it is a symbol of being blessed and prosperous. I would like us to consider some things that an insightful Christian author wrote about diligence:
Never think that you have learned enough, and that you may now relax your efforts. The cultivated mind is the measure of the man. Your education should continue during your lifetime; every day you should be learning, and putting to practical use the knowledge gained.
Remember that in whatever position you may serve, you are revealing motive, developing character. Whatever your work, do it with exactness, with diligence; overcome the inclination to seek an easy task (Messages to Young People, pp. 192, 193).
Something I wish to overcome, and perhaps you do also, is the inclination to seek an easy task. When I first decided to prepare this study I did not think it would be difficult. When I started doing it, however, it was really hard for me and I just could not bring my thoughts together to speak on diligence. I began to think about a different study that would be easier or even not doing one at all! But I would not have been practicing diligence, would I? After remembering the above quotation from Messages to Young People, I decided to stay with my topic and be diligent.
The following statements are both instructive and encouraging:
It is hard study, hard toil, persevering diligence, that will obtain victories. Waste no hours, waste no moments. Work, earnest, faithful work, will be seen and appreciated. Those who wish for stronger minds can gain them by diligence. The mind increases in power and efficiency by use. It becomes strong by hard thinking. He who uses most diligently his mental and physical powers will achieve the greatest results. Every power of the being grows by action (An Appeal for Missions, p. 20).
We cannot afford to neglect one ray of light God has given. To be sluggish in our practice of those things which require diligence is to commit sin. The human agent is to cooperate with God, and keep under those passions which should be in subjection. To do this he must be unwearied in his prayers to God, ever obtaining grace to control his spirit, temper, and actions. Through the imparted grace of Christ, he may be enabled to overcome. To be an overcomer means more than many suppose it means (Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 380, 381).
My dad likes farming, and every year that we have been able, we have had a garden! Every year since we have lived in our home in California, we have had a garden and almost every time, it has been quite large. Every year there is something that we have planted that did not produce well, and my father has had to replant. He has had to search for what he was doing wrong, for what would enrich the soil, and for what would help the plants to grow better, and when the next year rolled around he would start planning the garden again. I would say to him, “Oh, Dad, do we have to have a garden again? It never produces like it should and it is just a waste of time, money, and energy.” And do you know what he would say? “It is character-building, and it has always produced something.” He has diligence in having a garden every year even if it has not produced like we think it should, but it has always produced something to reward his diligence.
I have seen diligence in my mother also. When she starts sewing a skirt or dress, she will not stop until she is done. Often when she has sewn something, she takes it apart and sews it again and again until it is right! She sticks with it until it is done properly. And when she cleans, nothing can stop her till she is finished! She will continue to clean when many of us would say, “Oh, it is too dirty; I can’t clean it any more!” And then we stop half-finished.
This reminds me of what the Apostle Paul declared: “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me (Acts 20:34).” Amidst his strenuous labors and extensive journeys for the cause of Christ, he was able, not only to supply his own wants, but to spare something for the support of his fellow laborers and the relief of the worthy poor. This he accomplished only by constant diligence and the most careful watching of his money. Well might he point to his own example, as he said, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).” Why did Paul connect mechanical labor with the preaching of the Gospel? “The labourer is worthy of his reward (1 Timothy 5:18).” Paul deserved to be supported, but, although he had to spend time making tents instead of preaching, he did not regard the time thus spent lost by any means. While working at his trade, he gave an example in diligence and thoroughness. He was, “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).”
Christ has left us a most important lesson. He did not teach indolence. His example was the opposite of this. Jesus was an earnest worker. His life was one of self-denial, diligence, perseverance, industry, and economy. In the early morning hours we find him awake and out in the wilderness praying to his Father. His labor continued often until far into the night:
Throughout His life on earth, Jesus was an earnest and constant worker. He expected much; therefore He attempted much. After He had entered on His ministry, He said, I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. John 9:4 (The Desire of Ages, p. 73).
Let nothing draw you away from the work of character-building but cooperate with Jesus in this work for time and for eternity. You may cooperate with God in saving the souls of others. Live lives of consistency and fashion your character after the divine Pattern. If you live carelessly and do not watch unto prayer, you will surely fall a prey to the enemy and will yield to the enticements of sin, and thus you will lay upon the foundation wood, hay, and stubble, which will be consumed in the last day. But if you preserve a living connection with God, you may be an instrument in the hands of God for the saving of your friends and associates. To be a laborer together with God means a great deal. It means to have the life of Christ repeated in your life and activities, in faithfulness and diligence serving the Lord. Snares and perils will beset you, but if the Spirit and life of Christ are in the soul, it will be made manifest in your words and character. “Ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).”
Not in the ways of ease, of earthly honor or worldly conformity, are the followers of the Master found. They are far in advance, in the paths of toil, and humiliation, and reproach, in the front of the battle against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12, R. V. (The Desire of Ages, p. 508).
Let us be diligent in all good things and strive to please our Master. Let us glorify God with our words, thoughts, actions, and in all that we do. Let us give full-hearted, willing, and cheerful service to God, doing whatever he bids. Study the meek pattern of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and become one of his followers. You will not be understood and appreciated by this world, but our Father, Jesus, and the angels will know your heart and greatly appreciate what you do.
(This study was used for a devotional talk given at a recent youth camp meeting. Pastor Allen Stump)
A Warning Against Counterfeit Sanctification
FROM A REPORT OF THE CONFERENCE IN SWEDEN IN MID-JUNE, 1886. PUBLISHED IN THE REVIEW AND HERALD, OCTOBER 5, 1886 By Ellen White
During the meetings at Orebro I was urged by the Spirit of the Lord to present His law as the great standard of righteousness and to warn our people against the modern, counterfeit sanctification which has its origin in will-worship rather than in submission to the will of God. This error is fast flooding the world, and as God’s witnesses we shall be called to bear a decided testimony against it. It is one of the veriest delusions of the last days and will prove a temptation to all who believe present truth. Those who have not their faith firmly established upon the Word of God will be misled. And the saddest part of it all is that so few who are deceived by this error ever find their way to the light again.
The Bible is the standard by which to test the claims of all who profess sanctification. Jesus prayed that His disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and He says, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17); while the psalmist declares, “Thy law is the truth” (Psalm 119:142). All whom God is leading will manifest a high regard for the Scriptures in which His voice is heard. The Bible will be to them “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).
We need no other evidence in order to judge of men’s sanctification; if they are fearful lest they shall not obey the whole will of God, if they are listening diligently to His voice, trusting in His wisdom, and making His Word the man of their counsel, then, while they make no boasts of superior goodness, we may be sure that they are seeking to attain to perfection of Christian character. But if the claimants of holiness even intimate that they are no longer required to search the Scriptures, we need not hesitate to pronounce their sanctification spurious. They are leaning to their own understanding instead of conforming to the will of God.
What God Requires
God requires at this time just what He required of the holy pair in Eden—perfect obedience to His requirements. His law remains the same in all ages. The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God’s holy law but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts.
The faith in Christ that saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” is their cry; “only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do.” While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
It is unsafe to trust to feelings or impressions; these are unreliable guides. God’s law is the only correct standard of holiness. It is by this law that character is to be judged. If an inquirer after salvation were to ask, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the modern teachers of sanctification would answer, “Only believe that Jesus saves you.” But when Christ was asked this question He said, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” And when the questioner replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, . . . and thy neighbour as thyself,” Jesus said, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:25-29).
True sanctification will be evidenced by a conscientious regard for all the commandments of God, by a careful improvement of every talent, by a circumspect conversation, by revealing in every act the meekness of Christ.
A Sanctification That Leads Away From the Bible
A number of persons were present at this meeting who held to the popular theory of sanctification, and as the claims of God’s law were presented and the true character of this error was shown, one man was so much offended that he rose abruptly and left the meeting hall. I afterward heard that he had come from Stockholm to attend the meeting. In conversation with one of our ministers he claimed to be sinless and said that he had no need of the Bible, for the Lord told him directly what to do; he was far beyond the Bible teachings. What can be expected of those who follow their own imaginings rather than God’s Word but that they will be deluded? They cast away the only detector of error, and what is to prevent the great deceiver from leading them captive at his will?
This man represents a class. Spurious sanctification leads directly away from the Bible. Religion is reduced to a fable. Feelings and impressions are made the criterion. While they profess to be sinless and boast of their righteousness, the claimants of sanctification teach that men are at liberty to transgress the law of God and that those who obey its precepts have fallen from grace. A presentation of its claims arouses their opposition and excites anger and contempt. Thus their character is shown, for “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
The true follower of Christ will make no boastful claims to holiness. It is by the law of God that the sinner is convicted. He sees his own sinfulness in contrast with the perfect righteousness which it enjoins, and this leads him to humility and repentance. He becomes reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, and as he continues to walk with Him he will be gaining a clearer sense of the holiness of God’s character and the far-reaching nature of His requirements. He will see more clearly his own defects and will feel the need of continual repentance and faith in the blood of Christ.
He who bears with him a continual sense of the presence of Christ cannot indulge self-confidence or self-righteousness. None of the prophets or apostles made proud boasts of holiness. The nearer they came to perfection of character, the less worthy and righteous they viewed themselves. But those who have the least sense of the perfection of Jesus, those whose eyes are least directed to Him, are the ones who make the strongest claim to perfection.
The Foundation of Our Faith Reprinted
We are thankful to announce that the book, The Foundation of Our Faith, is being reprinted for the fifth time.
This volume explores the roots of Seventh-day Adventism from the Christian Connection and the Millerite movement to our present time. Believing that the voice of Ellen G. White presents an inspired history of the Advent movement, this book explores Adventist Christology and demonstrates the harmony between the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the writings of the Advent pioneers concerning the doctrine of God.
We have performed a major upgrade to this book. Several pages of truth-filled information have been added on the Holy Spirit and the sonship of Jesus Christ, and answers to many difficult Bible texts and Spirit of Prophecy references have been provided. We have redesigned the cover, and we have changed the dimensions of the book, so that it can be held more easily. The suggested donation for this book is $7.50
New Adventures for the Turner Family
When Ben and Bethany arrived from Queensland, Australia, last winter to help with the work here at Smyrna, we knew their time with us would be limited. But it has gone by much more quickly than expected. At first they only had a six-month visa, and we were all blessed when it was extended another six months. But that time is now almost over and this will be the last issue of Old Paths Brother Ben will be able to print. We will miss Ben and Bethany dearly, not only for the work that they have performed, but also for the sweet fellowship they have shared with us while here.
Currently they have family in Australia that need them to return and they hope to be active in sharing at home-school seminars upon their return. We sincerely will miss them and we pray for Gods sweetest blessing upon them. Please remember them in your daily prayers that their talents will continue to be used in Gods service and that God will richly bless them in their homeland.. Editor
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Assistant to the Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013