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. 16, No. 3 Straight and Narrow March 2007
What Does “Only Begotten” Mean?
Virtually all Christians give assent to the claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; however, most theologians do not accept that Jesus is the literal begotten Son of God. They believe, instead, that he is a coequal and coeternal “person” of the Godhead and not the literal offspring of the Father. They say “son” is to be understood as a role or a symbolic position Jesus assumed to help humanity understand the love and sacrifice of God for man through using an endearing human relationship. Is this really what the Bible teaches?
God declared Jesus to be his Son: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).” In the most well-known Bible verse ever, Jesus declared that he was the “only begotten son of God (John 3:16).” Under oath, Jesus said that he was the Son of God. (See Matthew 26:62-64 and Mark 14:62.) The apostles proclaimed him to be the Son of God. (See Matthew 16:16; John 1:49, 20:31; Acts 8:37, 9:20; Romans 1:4; etc.)
If the plan of salvation is supposed to be simple enough for a young child to understand, can we honestly accept the testimony of God, Christ, and the apostles, or must we put some mystical interpretation upon these words to make them mean something that they do not say? The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that Jesus is not really the Son of God; instead, he is a coequal with God who plays the role of a son. God plays the role of a father and the Holy Spirit plays the role of actualizer.
According to the Trinitarian doctrine, when the Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, it really means that God shared his fellow or pal with mankind. According to this teaching, Jesus did not call God his Father because he was his Father but rather to bring us into a close and personal relationship with God (Seventh-day Adventists Believe p. 20). According to the doctrine of the Trinity, The Father seems to act as source, the Son as mediator, and the Spirit as actualizer or applier (Ibid., p. 24; emphasis supplied).”
The false theory of the Trinity teaches that the relationship of God and Christ is not literal but one of role-playing or acting. The Greek word translated hypocrite or hypocritres (upokrithVhupokrites) in New Testament texts such as Matthew 7:5 and Matthew 23:13- 15 means actor, pretender or a dissembler! The concept of theatrics is also condemned in the strongest terms by the Spirit of Prophecy as being an invention of Satan and something that ministers should not use nor be found in our Sabbath Schools or in any of our evangelistic efforts. (See Counsels on Stewardship, p. 134; Selected Messages, bk. 2, pp. 23, 24; Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 253, 254; and Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 110.)
The false theory that the relationship of God and Christ is not literal is arrived at through the use of a spiritual application to the terms Father and Son.
LeRoy Froom, historian and apologist for the Adventist Church, wrote his book Movement of Destiny with the purpose, among others, of promoting the Trinitarian doctrine. Froom uses a spiritual interpretation to state that when the Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, he is not really the Son of God. Note Froom’s reasoning:
The term son is widely used in both the Old and the New Testaments wholly apart from the idea of generation or priority. Thus Paul makes a typical reference to sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2; 5:6, R.S.V.). In fact, the term son was one of the most common Biblical ways of identifying the characteristics of a personality.
In Biblical terminology son, or sons, was constantly used to indicate the distinguishing charactersuch as sons of Zion, sons of Belial, sons of God, sons of men, sons of light, sons of the prophets, sons of the stranger, sons of the alien, sons of thunder, sons of the covenant. Christ said to a certain perfidious group, Ye are of your father the devil (John 8:44). The term son was therefore used to denote the characteristic trait, the distinctive attribute. It signified the predominant character or intrinsic nature of a person (Movement of Destiny, p. 301; emphasis in original).
Froom places a spiritual application on the term son. While we acknowledge that the term son does in many places denote characteristic traits, this is not the complete picture. It cannot accurately be said that the term son is used “wholly apart from the idea of generation or priority.” There are indeed symbols and figures used in the Bible. The seventh chapter of Daniel portrays four different beasts coming out of the sea (Daniel 7:3). These beasts are noted to be symbolic of “kings” or “kingdoms (Daniel 7:17, 23).” However, the Bible student must be careful not to put a spiritual meaning where it is not intended. For example, Jesus claimed to be the “light of the world (John 8:12).” If we couple this with Genesis 1:3 where we read that on the first day God spoke and said, “Let there be light,” we might be led to believe, along with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that Christ was the first and highest of all created beings. Such an improper interpretation would be a very poor conclusion. The question now arises, is there a safe rule of interpretation to use? The Reformers and Advent pioneers used a very safe rule of interpretation. As Ellen White noted:
The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed (The Great Controversy, p. 599).
This rule does not deny the use of symbols, but it simply says that if the language is plain and simple, accept the Bible for what it says. If there is reason to believe that the terms are symbolic, then the Bible will supply the key for understanding that symbol, as it does with the beasts and kingdoms in Daniel.
With this simple plan, may we leave the thoughts of the theologians behind for a moment and examine what the Word of God says? The term only begotten is from the Greek word, monogenhV (monogenes). This is a compound word from two Greek words. The first word, monoV (monos), means one or only one, and the second word, genoV (genos), means kindred or offspring. Together they mean only born or begotten, as translated in the King James Version of the Bible. If this is so, why do many new translations fail to use the terms begotten or only born in John 3:16? Instead, they use the terms unique or one and only. Let us examine this matter carefully for there is much more to this than most people realize.
Writing in the January 2007 issue of Reflections, the official newsletter of the Biblical Research Institute, Ángel Manuel Rodriguez defines monogenes as unique. In doing this, he is following the lead of many other theologians who also define monogenes as unique or only one.
To justify defining monogenes as unique, Rodriguez makes an appeal to the Greek text of John 1:18. Before we look at the Greek of John 1:18, we should note that there are two sets of Greek texts that are used most often to translate the New Testament. (See article: “God’s Irresistible Love”)
The first set of texts is known as the Textus Receptus or the Received Text. The Textus Receptus was the Greek New Testament used by the Reformers. The different copies (literally thousands of manuscripts and portions thereof) compared quite closely one to another and the Textus Receptus was so well accepted that it became known as the Received Text. It was also called the Majority Text because it was based on the vast majority of texts still in existence.
The second set of texts is composed of two manuscripts: The Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus. Regarding the Vaticanus manuscript, Eastons Bible Dictionary states: VATICANUS, CODEX is said to be the oldest extant vellum manuscript. It and the Codex Sinaiticus are the two oldest uncial manuscripts. They were probably written in the fourth century. The Vaticanus was placed in the Vatican Library at Rome by Pope Nicolas V in 1448, its previous history being unknown (Article entitled Vaticanus Codex, reference no. 26766 in Eastons Bible Dictionary, softcopy of Online Bible).”
It is claimed that the Vaticanus manuscript was written in the fourth century, but it has no known history until 1448 when it appeared in the Vatican Library at Rome! The Sinaiticus manuscript has a similar history, being found by Dr. Tischendorf in the convent of St. Catherine in 1859. Its previous history also remains unknown.
The New Testament portion of Bibles such as the King James Version and the New King James Version have been translated from the Textus Receptus. Almost all modern translations such as the NIV, NASB, and RSV have been translated from texts based on the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts. The WestcottHort Greek text is based on these manuscripts, as is the Novum Testamentum Graece or the Nestle text.
The Textus Receptus was the Bible of early Eastern Christianity, as well as the Bible of the Syrian Church, the Waldensian Church of northern Italy, the Gallic Church in southern France, and the Celtic Church in Scotland and Ireland. Some of the reasons the Reformers accepted the Textus Receptus as the basis of their translations are: 1) Their numerous copies were in agreement, 2) The Textus Receptus agreed with the earliest versions of the Biblethe Peshitta (A.D. 150) and the Old Latin Vulgate (A.D. 157), 3) The Textus Receptus agreed with the vast majority of the more than 86,000 citations from Scripture by the early church fathers, and 4) The Textus Receptus was not mutilated with deletions, additions and amendments as the minority texts were.
While the Vaticanus and the Sinaitcus are claimed to be the oldest manuscripts still in existence, there is evidence that copies of the Received Text were in existence before the Vaticanus or the Sinaitcus supposedly existed. Benjamin Wilkinson in his book Truth Triumphant writes: “It is altogether too little known that the real editor of the received text was Lucian (p. 45).” Lucian lived circa A.D. 250-312.
The Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts differ in thousands of places from the Textus Receptus. One notable place they differ is found in John 1:18. The texts are basically the same except for one word. John 1:18 in the Textus Receptus includes the phrase monogeneV uioV; whereas, the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts read monogeneV qeoV.
Huios (uioV) is the Greek word for son. Theos (qeoV) is the Greek word for God. Thus, the Textus Receptus reads only begotten son while the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts read only begotten god. Trinitarians using the corrupted Catholic manuscripts do not believe that there can be a begotten God; therefore, they declare that the word monogenes must, instead, mean unique or only one. The New International Version translates John 1:18 as: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Fathers side, has made him known. Is such a translation, however, consistent with the rest of Scripture?
Let us look at how the term monogenes is used in the Bible. Does it really mean only born or only begotten? This term is used in reference to Jesus five times in the Bible, always by John (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). The only other references are three passages in the book of Luke and a passage in Hebrews which we shall examine shortly. I believe that an honest reading of Johns and Lukes writings, without a preconceived notion, would lead the reader to accept them at face value. The context does not give evidence to the concept of translating monogenes as one and only. Since we are looking for a usage to enlighten us on the passages from John, let us examine the three usages from Luke. The first is concerning the widow of Nain’s son:
Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only (monogenes) [“only-begotten,” Rothrham, translation] son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her (Luke 7:12).
Rodriguez in Reflections writes:
He is the only son [monogenes] of his mother. At first one could conclude that he is the only begotten son of the widow, but contextually that does not seem to be the case. That piece of information is not provided to establish a genealogical connection between the two, [if you deny what monogenes means] but to describe the desperate situation of this lady. She was already a widow and now she lost her only child; for her there is no other like him. The usage intensifies her pathos and invites those ready to sympathize with her (Reflections, January 2007, p. 7).
Actually, contextually it would seem all the more compelling to define mongenes as her only begotten son. If he was a unique son, she might have other sons or daughters to fall back upon in her distress. The fact that her pathos and sorrow is so great is even a stronger reason to define monogenes as its structure dictates.There is no indication that monogenes means anything other than only born child in Luke 7:12.
This is a photograph of the portion of the VATICANUS, CODEX (John 1:14-23) where John 1:18 is found. The term mongenes theos from the portion that is found in John 1:18 has been enlarged above. It may appear different than what you have seen in interlinear Bibles, Greek texts, Bible software programs, or in writings as earlier seen in this article. This is because lower case letters did not exist when the manuscripts were first written and the Greek letters we call capital letters were the only letters used. Greek texts, interlinear Bibles, and software programs follow the universal custom of using the lower case letters. Also, TQEOS (theos) was often abrevated in by using just the first and last letter, which in the uncial writing would be QC.
Zoomed in portion of above manuscript
The second reference in Luke to monogenes is Luke 8:42 concerning Jarius daughter: For he had one only (monogenes) [only begottenRothrham translation] daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. No indication that monogenes means anything other than only born child here.
The third usage is Luke 9:38 where a mans son was possessed with an evil spirit: And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child (monogenes). Here Rodriguez admits: one could not totally rule out the idea of generation (Ibid.) Rodriguez goes on to write, though, the interest of the biblical writer is not found there but in the fact that those individuals are facing a serious painful tragedy. In that case the translation unique is more appropriate in that it stresses the enormous magnitude of the loss. There is no other like this child/daughter; they are irreplaceable (Ibid.) This logic, however, is really more powerful if this is the only begotten child of the man than if he is simply unique. There is no indication that monogenes means anything other than only born child here. In each of these cases, monogenes makes reference to an only born child.
Finally, we shall examine Hebrews 11:17 which Trinitarians heavily depend upon and believe win the case for them. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten (monogenes). Trinitarians note that Isaac was not Abrahams only begotten son; he was not even Abrahams first son. Ishmael was Abrahams first son and Abraham also had sons by Keturah, but does this invalidate the meaning of monogenes? If we read the next verse we see a more complete picture because Paul’s thought does not end with verse 17. Reading verses 17 and 18 together in one unit as they were intended to be read, the text says:
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called (Hebrews 11:17, 18).
Isaac was Abrahams only born child to whom the promise of the seed was made! Monogenes is qualified in these verses to be limited to the son of promise. It is interesting that the very theologians who decry the proof text method in the place of “higher criticism” so conveniently neglect context in this vital verse!
Clearly, the Greek word monogenes means only born. Christ is the literal offspring of the Father and this certainly agrees with Proverbs 8 where, speaking under the symbol of Wisdom, Christ declares:
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth [Hebrew: born]; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth [Hebrew: born] (Proverbs 8:22-25).
An English translation from the Septuagint for verse 25 says, Before the mountains were settled, and before all hills, he begets (genna) me. Some have said that this verse cannot be referring to Jesus Christ, but in The Signs of the Times we read:
Through Solomon Christ declared: The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth (The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900).”
God through Christ brought all things into existence visible and invisible (Colossians 3:16). This includes the concepts of time and space; therefore, in the sense that Christ is the author of time, Christ has truly existed throughout all time with God. (See M. L. Andreasen, The Sabbath, pp. 54, 55.)
Satan is behind the false view that Jesus is not the Son of God because he does not want you to know, believe, and dwell in Gods love. (See 1 John 4:16.) Satan knows that the Bible says that we love God as a result of our understanding and appreciating Gods love for us (1 John 4:19). He also knows what 1 John 4:9 says: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Satan will do anything he can to keep the truth of Gods great love from us, and he has invented a false understanding of monogenes to keep us from comprehending Gods love. If monogenes means “unique” or “special” then the Bible writers did not understand it and neither do the people who speak Greek as their first language understand it as such.
I have talked with people whose first language is Greek and always the term monogenes is understood to mean only born, not unique. I discussed this matter with a language professor once who has himself studied Greek for many years, years in which he held Trinitarian views. I asked him what monogenes means and he assured me that it solely means “only begotten.”
As I consider this matter, it seems very strange that theologians who do not speak Greek as their first and primary language should presume to tell the Greek people what their own language means. If someone who knew or spoke English as a second language or who only studied English in part should begin to tell me that the English phrase only begotten meant unique, I would not put much stock or consideration into the rest of what he might say. Why do we dare redefine the Greek language to teach a doctrine of Satan?
Northwestern Pennsylvania Camp Meeting Announcement
We are pleased to announce that Calvin and Paula Bickle will be hosting a camp meeting held near Oil City, Pennsylvania July 11-15, 2007. The theme of the camp meeting is “Let’s Prepare for Heaven.” A schedule of the speakers will soon be announced. For more information call 814-676-8660.
Gods Irresistible Love by Allen Stump
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).”
Jesus came to our world to undo the damage of sin in our lives and to save us from its eternal consequences, but in order for this to happen we each will need to know God personally. “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace” is our instruction from Job (Job 22:21). The one great purpose of our lives is to know God and to understand the unsurpassed love he has for us. It is our only hope of victory over sin. It is the only opportunity we will ever have to be restored into full and sweet union with God.
Jesus makes a very pointed statement in John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” There is absolutely nothing we can do without Jesus. He is the vine and we are the branches. Just as one vine can be grafted into another and receive nourishment, strength, and vitality from the host vine, so we have to be grafted into Christ and draw our life and our power from him.
As we understand Gods love it draws us to him, and the best and greatest way we learn about Gods love is described in Matthew 11:25-27: At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. God revealed all things to Jesus Christ. Christ then revealed his Father to us through his life on this earth, but Philip did not understand this. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us [or will satisfy us]. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father (John 14:8, 9)? Jesus is the express image of the Fathers person (Hebrews 1:3) so that when we see Jesus, we see the Father, and as we comprehend the love of Jesus we begin to understand the love of God. Even though Satan has clouded our minds to the love of God, Jesus sought to lift this darkness. Ellen White expressed this concept beautifully in The Desire of Ages:
The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satans deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of Gods government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do (The Desire of Ages, p. 22).
It is interesting to note that she says there is only one Being in the whole universe that could manifest the character of God to this dark earth in contrast to the character of Satan, not two beings as we would expect if there were a trinity of beings in the godhead. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known (The Desire of Ages, p. 22).” Light is to shine into the misapprehension the world has about God: “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 (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).”
God has made all things beautiful, even the blue ring octopus which is very small and very poisonous. This creature works in a wonderful way that bespeaks of a Creator. His love is portrayed in the beautiful flowers that fill the landscape with color and in the song birds that fill our hearts with music, but the gift of God’s Son to save the guilty and ruined race alone reveals the infinite depths of divine tenderness and compassion. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).” This is the proof that God loves us and because of this love we are to love one another. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God (1 John 4:7).” John tells us that everyone that loves is born of God because it is only from God that we obtain love. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (vs. 8-10).”
The love of our heavenly Father in giving his only begotten Son, however, is being denied today by many theologians and by many lay people who are following the lead of the theologians and church leaders. Reflections is the newsletter of the Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Research Institute and I would like to share a couple of points from the latest issues of this newsletter because it addresses Jesus Christ, but not as the only begotten Son of God. But first, let us notice the purpose of Reflections as printed in their newsletter:
Reflections is the official newsletter of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference. It seeks to share information concerning doctrinal and theological developments among Adventists and to foster doctrinal and theological unity in the world church. Its intended audience is church administrators, church leaders, pastors, and teachers.
The Biblical Research Institute is the theological think tank of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Reflections is the official newsletter of this official organization set up by the General Conference to be the theological watchdog, if you please, of the church, and this newsletter is primarily designed for the church administrators, leaders, pastors, and teachers; those who are having an influence on others.
On page 6 of the January 2007 issue of Reflections is an article entitled CHRIST AS MONOGENES: PROPER TRANSLATION AND THEOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE,” written by Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, one of the more noted theologians of the church. There we read:
The controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity in the church is now present in several parts of the world field. One of the arguments used to support the idea that Christ was not eternal but that He had a beginning is that the title monogenes means “only begotten.
It is interesting that Brother Rodríguez says this is a problem in several parts of the world field not just for the church in the United States. I want to say “Amen” to that and I praise the Lord that this so-called problem is spreading like wildfire, so much so that we now have articles and symposiums in an attempt to defend the doctrine of the Trinity. Last year some of us at Smyrna Gospel Ministries attended a symposium on the doctrine of the Trinity held at Southern Adventist University. We were told the reason this symposium was conducted is because the Biblical Research Institute is receiving more questions on the doctrine of the Trinity than on any other subject.
Brother Rodríguez speaks on a few of the passages in the New Testament where monogenes is used. For further details on these passages, please see the front page article. There is one passage, John 1:18, however, that I would like to draw your attention to and share a thought Rodríguez has stated and then contrast it with what we believe to be truth. This passage is found in John 1:18. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (John 1:18 KJV [AV]).” What Jesus is saying, according to this translation, is that no one has ever fully known God or has ever been able to reveal him except his only begotten Son.
Now let us read the same verse in the New International Version and please compare it with the King James Version: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Fathers side, has made him known (John 1:18 NIV). Most of the verse is similar but there is a key phrase that is different. The New American Standard Bible is much more accurate to the Greek text from which it is translated and the Greek text used is where the problem lies: No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him (John 1:18 NASB). This translation says the only begotten God, but the King James Version says the only begotten Son. Why is there a difference? Rodríguez says this in his article: When the title [monogenes] is applied to Jesus several theological ideas are expressed that help to clarify the meaning of the term. First, He is the monogenes in the sense that He is divine. This is expressed in John 1:18 where we find the strange phrase, God the One and Only [monogenes theos] applied to Jesus. Rodríguez footnotes this statement by saying, There are some textual problems here, but the reading found in most modern translations appears to be the best one (emphasis supplied). Now, this is an interesting statement. He says there are textual problems but it appears to be the best. What does the word appear convey? It conveys conjecture. Rodríguez admits his theology concerning John 1:18 has textual problems and that his interpretation appears to be best, but it is really just a guess. Why do we take an interpretation that we believe has problems when we could simply believe what the Bible says so clearly? It is because it says what we want it to say.
Below you will find the Greek from John 1:18 as given by the Textus Receptus. This is the Greek manuscript that was used by the Reformers, such as Martin Luther, to translate the New Testament into the language of the common people. If you look at verse 18 you will see underlined the Greek word monogenes and the next Greek word for son. In the next paragraph you will find the same Greek word monogenes (only begotten) underlined, but right after that is not the Greek word for son but the Greek word for God, theos. If you compare these verses in Greek, they are identical except for this one word. You have the word for son or kindred in the Textus Receptus and the word for God in the other text. Now, where did this other text come from? It comes from the Westcott-Hort text, a fairly famous text that is used to translate most of the modern translations of the New Testament and it is based upon the Vaticanus Codex or manuscript. The Vaticanus Codex resides today at the Vatican. The great basis the Catholic and Protestant churches use to deny that Jesus is the Son of God is this false manuscript that is in the hands of the Catholics and is used to translate most of the modern Bibles today.
John 1:18 in the Greek
ewraken pwpote o monogenhv uiov o wn eiv ton kolpon tou patrov ekeinov
exhghsato (Textus Receptus - New Testament of the
yeon oudeiv ewraken pwpote monogenhv yeov o wn eiv ton kolpon tou patrov ekeinov exhghsato (Westcott-Hort Text based on Vaticanus codex)
Now, why would Satan want to do this? It is because the gift of Gods only begotten Son reveals a love much higher and richer than that expressed by God himself dying on our behalf, if that were even possible. The sincere appreciation of Gods love begets a love in our own hearts that reciprocates back to God and then to others. If we do not understand the immensity of Gods love in the gift of his Son, then we will have a confusion and misunderstanding hovering over our minds both individually and as a people, a darkness such as we read about in The Desire of Ages on page 22. (See page 5 of this issue.)
Where did the Vaticanus manuscript originally come from? No one knows where most of the original manuscripts were written or who copied them. The Vaticanus is one of the older translations, it is true. It is considered to be one of the oldest and this is one reason why some people consider it to be an authoritative manuscript. They think the older a document is the closer to the original it must be; therefore, it must be more accurate because it has had less copying. This thinking has the possibility of validity, for as you get closer to the original you have the opportunity to be accurate, but it does not mean the text is more accurate.
One of the reasons that the Textus Receptus was accepted by the Reformers to be used as the basis for their translations is because there were so many copies of the Textus Receptus manuscripts in circulation and because these copies agreed with one another. Other manuscripts, like the Vaticanus, did not agree with the copies of the Textus Receptus; therefore, the Reformers rejected these manuscripts, believing that it would be Gods Word that would be multiplied and made available. The Reformers did not believe that the oldest manuscript could be relied upon to be Gods Word if multiple copies had not been available and if the oldest manuscripts did not agree with the many copies that were available. It is because the Vaticanus was different from the many copies of the Textus Receptus that it was rejected by the Reformers for translation. They felt that if the Vaticanus had been Gods true Word, God would have preserved it in a better way and there would have been more copies of it, showing that it was more readily available. Clearly, the Vaticanus does run counter to many places in the Old Testament, as well as texts in the New Testament, and one of those place is in John 1:18. Modern translations of the term monogenes theologically is unique. Modern theologians say that Jesus is the unique Son of God instead of the only begotten Son of God because, and this is important, if he is a begotten Son then there is a point of time in which he was brought forth of the Father and that is considered anathema by all Trinitarian theologians today.
Understanding God’s love in the gift of his Son and that he really had a Son to give should touch our hearts. I have a son and a daughter who are precious to me and to be willing to give up either one for someone else is a deep and difficult thought. I would rather you dealt with me instead of my children. This helps me to understand the great love of God. It speaks to my heart. In Romans 1 Paul describes the ungodly who had rejected God and turned their back upon him, and in chapter 2 Paul says we are inexcusable if we judge others. Then he says how we are to appreciate the love of God: “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance (Romans 2:4)?” Beloved, it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. The Bible does not say anything else leads us to repentance. It is God’s goodness and his goodness is shown to us in his love in giving us his only begotten Son.
Ellen White speaks of this beautiful love:
Such love [referring to God giving his Son, John 3:16] is without a parallel. Children of the heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the most profound meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God (Steps to Christ, p. 15).
This is what we want. We want our minds and our hearts to be brought into captivity to the will of God because there has been a separation from God from the Garden of Eden onward. Sin has brought about separation and disunion with God, but Jesus has come to repair this separation and to bring us back into harmony with God and he invites us to participate in this great plan. We do not have to worry about whether Jesus will accept us. He has made it very plain that all that come to him he will in no wise cast out (John 6:37) and he means that. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock (Revelation 3:20). He gives the invitation to each one of us: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). He does not just invite a select few to come to him, but all. We can fight against this invitation, but God will show his love to us, friends, if we have not seen it fully yet because there will be not one mouth in the judgment that can say that God was unfair. The charge that God gave some people advantages that he did not give to others will be proved to be false.
It is true we all come from different circumstances and backgrounds, but God is so great and his knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are so wonderful that he knows the individual cases of each one of us and what we need. He will see to it that each one of us will receive a revelation of his love in a sufficient way that it will draw us to him if we let it. The facts in the judgment will demonstrate that all who are ultimately lost will be lost because they actively resisted the love of God drawing them to him.
Think about the Apostle Paul for a minute. He was someone who fought very hard at one time against Christianity. Let us notice a couple of his own statements in the book of Acts. Speaking to the crowd that had tried to seize him, he said: And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women (Acts 22:4). Paul was very wicked at one time. He put people in prison, he persecuted them, and he even brought about their deaths. Speaking before Agrippa, Paul said: I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary [or opposed] to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them (Acts 26:9, 10). He was not only responsible for the death of Stephen, but he says here when they were put to death” and in Acts 22 he speaks of men and women. Remember that although the Bible gives sufficient history for everything we need for salvation, it does not give every detail of every individual or every incident. In the gospels when we read about the life of Jesus we are simply reading the highlights of his life—the things that are essential for us to know. Obviously Jesus taught and did many other things than are recorded, and Paul tells us here of some of the things he did before he was converted, but we do not know them all. It must have been a great weight to him to know that he was responsible for the deaths of Christians.
I had never hit a deer on the highway before until recently when I hit and killed a deer. It was very difficult for me to think that I took the life of a beautiful animal, but what would it have been like to have been Paul and know that you had contributed to the death of perhaps several men and women? The grace of Christ and his forgiveness are so great that Paul was able to lay that debt behind him knowing that the blood of Jesus Christ was sufficient to cover his sin. “And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme (Acts 26:11).” Paul even forced those who recanted to blaspheme. “And being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange [foreign] cities (v. 11).” There was one individual Paul persecuted that had a particular effect on him and this is recorded Acts 7. Perhaps the last thing Stephen said affected Saul the most:
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:58-60).
Paul had probably never seen anything like this before. Being a Roman, he had seen people put to death who went to their graves cursing and blaspheming, but Stephen was a man who, acting like Jesus did when he died, said: “Lord forgive them.” The only reason Stephen could act like Jesus was because he had the love of Christ in his heart. That love had an effect upon Saul, for we read a little later in chapter 9 of Acts:
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do (Acts 9:3-6)?
Friends, this is the question we should each ask when the Lord calls us, and he will tell us exactly what he wants us to do, just like he told Saul. Saul yielded to Christ and opened the door of his heart, permitting the Saviour to enter in and direct his life. Now Saul the persecutor became Paul the servant. In almost all of Paul’s epistles we read of his servitude. Romans is the first epistle of Paul listed in the Bible but not the first one chronologically he wrote and we read in the first verse: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (Romans 1:1).” Paul always refers to himself as a servant, a slave, a bond slave, or a love slave to Christ. Instead of running and controlling his own life, Paul now had someone else governing his life because he had turned the reins of his life over to Christ. This is what we also have to do. We have to allow the love of God entrance into our lives. We have to stop holding the reins of what we want, how we want it, and where we want to go and allow God to direct our decisions instead.
In Galatians 2:20 we read: “I am crucified with Christ.” Paul is saying that he no longer holds the reins to his life. Paul is not in control of his life anymore but Christ is. “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).” Here we see a complete change that allows Christ to rule in the heart, and there is a sweet blessing in having this union with Christ. In Philippians 2:12, 13 we read: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Beloved, obedience permits God to work in us, so if we want God to work in us, we need to ask “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
The promises of God will help us in our desire to be obedient to him. Let us first look at the book of Psalms: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed (Psalm 37:3). We are to trust in the Lord and do good, but remember Jesus said that without him we can do nothing. Is there anything that we cannot do if Jesus is with us? There is nothing, for Paul tells us we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). If Christ is living within us, it really is not we who are doing the work but Christ who is living within us. We simply are submitting our wills and our lives to him, which allows him to work. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:4, 5). Youngs Literal Translation for commit says, Roll on Jehovah. When you are committing yourself to God, you are rolling yourself upon him and turning everything you have and everything you are over to him. He is responsible for you now. Ellen White beautifully states in The Desire of Ages:
The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells (The Desire of Ages, p. 300).
You may have a need. Perhaps there is a problem or issue you are dealing with. A realization of our need is good because when we understand our need, God is then in a position to withhold nothing from us. We have unrestricted access to the throne of God! There are some important people in the United States that under most circumstances we cannot have access to such as the President of the United States, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, and the Speaker of the House; but according to this statement from Ellen White we can have unrestricted access to “Him in whom all fullness dwells.”
Another promise is found in Psalm 32: 8, 9: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee [or as the margin says, or else they will not come near unto thee].” You can train a horse to be very gentle and sometimes to be very obedient, but David says there are some horses that need a bit and a bridle to get them to do what you want. God does not want us to be like that. He wants to guide us with his eye, and because we know him so well and have developed a rapport with him, he can guide us easily with his eye. God is infinitely great and wise enough to do that for each and every one of us.
A promise in Proverbs that will help us is: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6).” This is a promise for everyone, not just a few, but there are conditions to it. The conditions for God to direct our paths are that we trust him with all our heart, that we do not lean to our own understanding, and that we acknowledge him in all of our ways. In everything we do and in the way we live we are to acknowledge his goodness in our lives.
A precious promise in James is:
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit [surrender] yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he [the devil] will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:6-10).
God will do that for us, but we must have sin out of our lives and this is what Jesus wants accomplished in us.
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 59:2 that it is our iniquities, our transgressions, our sins that have separated us from God. It is what separated Lucifer from God and caused him to be cast out of heaven. Sin is selfishness and the greatest battle we have to fight is self. The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness (Steps to Christ, p. 43).” Jesus said if any man will deny himself, take up his cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24), he will have salvation. We have to deny self, but this is the most important victory we have to win.
Recently I watched a DVD about the wonders of the ocean and learned about cuttlefish. A diver video-taped cuttlefish during mating season and on the perimeter of his camera lens he mounted a large mirror. When the male cuttlefish saw himself in the mirror, do you know what he wanted to do? He wanted to fight. The cuttlefish, as well as many other creatures, only fight against equals. If one creature is clearly smaller than the other, usually they will not fight. The younger knows to flee and the older knows that he does not have to fight, but when you have two creatures that are nearly equal they will lock horns. Ibex have tremendous head-butting battles when they are equal. This is some of our trouble also. Somehow we think we are equal to Satan and that we can parley with him and deal with him, but we cannot friends. We are in a warfare that we cannot win. When we ally ourselves to Christ by dying to self, however, victory is assured.
Notice the lesson Jesus taught concerning surrender:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour (John 12:24-26).
Jesus is saying that when you put the seed in the ground it has to die for the plant to grow and this is the way it is in our lives. The seed that Jesus is talking about that must die is our own selfishness, but he says if it dies than the life within us can grow and that life is the life of God and the life of Christ. In verse 26 Jesus mentions twice that man is to serve him, and so as we become his servants we begin to grow, just as the plant grows from the seed.
Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.
Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith (Steps to Christ, pp. 47, 48).
What we need in our experience is the surrender and yielding of ourselves totally to God because we have been separated from him, but as we surrender we come back in union and in harmony with him.
Those who surrender their lives to His guidance and to His service will never be placed in a position for which He has not made provision (The Ministry of Healing, p. 247).” We know this is true because the Bible tells us: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).” God has already made a plan for us; he has made a way of escape. He has already calculated and measured every temptation that we will ever face ahead of time and as we surrender our lives to him, to his guidance, and to his service, we will never be placed in a position for which he has not made provision. No matter what our situation is, if we are doers of his Word, we will have the divine guide to direct our way. Whatever our perplexities, we have a sure counselor. Whatever our sorrow, bereavement, and loneliness, we have a sympathizing friend. God’s great love has been shown to us in Christ, and this measureless love is to draw us away from the world and away from the sin that separates us from God unto him, and as we surrender all of our will to God, he will be enabled to work in our lives so that we can walk in the path of faith, love, and obedience. He will guide and direct our ways.
When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.
The guests at the marriage feast were inspected by the king. Only those were accepted who had obeyed his requirements and put on the wedding garment. So it is with the guests at the gospel feast. All must pass the scrutiny of the great King, and only those are received who have put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds that all will be judged. Our characters are revealed by what we do. The works show whether the faith is genuine (Christs Object Lessons, pp. 311, 312).
We want genuine faith, genuine love and it comes as we receive the righteousness of Christ, his life into ours, and walking in full conformity to all of his biddings..
The family and friends of Brother Steve Sutton of Ohio have been praying for him for many months as he fought liver disease. Since the last issue of Old Paths, Steve has received a liver transplant and has endured the surgery well; however, he has been hospitalized twice since his surgery. We thank each of you for your prayers for him in the past and, we ask that you continue to pray for his quick and complete recovery.
Also, please remember the upcoming camp meeting this June and our efforts to spread God’s Word far and wide.
As many of the readers of Old Paths know, in 1981 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists trademarked the name, “Seventh-day Adventist.” In 1984 the General Conference began to bring action against individuals and ministers who could not in good conscience submit to the Conference request to stop using the name “Seventh-day Adventist,” believing the name to be a mark of their faith. When threats failed, lawsuits were filed. Two of the better-known cases involved John Marik from Hawaii and, more recently, The Eternal Gospel Church and Pastor Raphael Perez. Another special issue has come to our attention and we wish to alert the brethren concerning this continued erosion of religious liberty.
The General Conference is now involved in another trademark lawsuit case against The Creation Seventh Day and Adventist Church, formerly known as The Creation Seventh-day Adventist Church. The case is scheduled to be heard at court in January 2008. While we do not agree with all the theology and beliefs of The Creation Seventh Day and Adventist Church, we certainly believe in their right to use a name that expresses their beliefs. The General Conference is claiming that groups such as The Eternal Gospel Church and The Creation Seventh Day and Adventist Church are bringing confusion and a reproach upon their “good name” and harming their interests. It is interesting, however, that there are numerous Baptist groups (American, Southern, Free Will, Fundamental, Reformed, Old Regular, Missionary, etc.) in the United States all using the name Baptist, yet none feel the need to sue other Baptists for using their name or a part of their name. Of all the church groups in the United States, only the Seventh-day Adventist Church has taken their brethren to court over the use of a name. This article does not have the space or scope to deal with all the issues of religious liberty or specific case histories, but the sad fact is that while the Seventh-day Adventist Church gives lip service to the concept of religious liberty and even has a religious liberty department, there are few within her ranks who really understand and appreciate true religious liberty.
Rome and her daughters became harlots by sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world (The Great Controversy, p. 383). Rome became a beast (Revelation 13) when she employed the state to do her bidding! The image to the beast will be formed when Protestant churches appeal to the state to do their bidding. Shockingly, this is being done by the leaders of denominational Adventism against those who have tried to be faithful and obey their consciences. A note in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary under Matthew 26:51 is of interest here: It is only when Christians mistakenly come to believe that Christs kingdom is of this world that they resort to force in defending what they take to be its interests (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol.5, p. 527). Ellen White truthfully wrote: It is a backsliding church that lessens the distance between itself and the Papacy (The Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894). This applies to its practices as well as to its doctrine.
Please notice these important thoughts from Adventist pioneer A. T. Jones, the great champion of religious liberty:
Religious liberty is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable right of every man. It is founded in the sacredness of conscience, which is the voice of God, in man and above the reach and control of human authority (General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 15, 1891, p. 104).
It is important especially to emphasize the fact and the truth that the American and Constitutional principle of Religious Liberty is the separation of the Christian religion and the State, the separation of Christianity and the State, and not merely the separation of Church and State (Lessons from the Reformation, p. 68).
Thus by the facts and essential documents of the whole record, nothing can be plainer than that the American Constitutional principle of Religious Liberty is not merely the separation of Church and State, but it is specifically the separation of Christianity and the State (Ibid., p. 69).
The small Creation Seventh Day and Adventist Church cannot afford a lawyer who specializes in trademark issues while the Seventh-day Adventist Church has virtually unlimited resources. They would appreciate your prayers as they prepare to do battle with this Goliath. May God give them a David-like victory! If you would like details on their case their website address is http://www./csda.us.
The Loss Of A Friend
It is with great sadness that we report the death of our brother and friend, Doug Goslin. Doug died January 6, 2007. Our February newsletter was already printed at that time and so we were not able to share this news until now. Our hearts go out to his wife Terry, son Mick, daughter Elaine, his grandchildren, and the rest of his family and many friends.
Doug was born June 4, 1955, but the great event in Dougs life was when he was born again out of a life of drugs, rock music, and worldly customs. Doug quickly devoted his life to the Lords work and traveled tirelessly to speak at meetings, sharing Gods Word, visiting the discouraged and those desirous to learn more about their God and Saviour, and writing out the truth for others to read. Doug began the paper, Advent Movement Fulfilled. Later, along with Brother Lynnford Beachy, he began the Present Truth magazine designed for non-Adventists which we at Smyrna continue to publish.
Doug was a spearhead in the revival of the truth about God among the Advent people. Working early after his conversion with Fred Allaback and others, he helped to bring an awareness of the only true God and his only begotten Son to many souls. Doug’s travels took him all over the United States and he was used of God in a mighty way to help organize tract distributions that would number in the millions of pieces of literature.
Doug was fearless in giving the message. If given the chance he would have told the pope he was antichrist! He was willing to suffer the loss of all things if necessary to serve God as he best understood his will.
In the last few years Doug was on another page theologically from those with whom he labored in the early part of the work; however, Doug never changed in his attitude of caring for lost and wounded sheep. He was quick to help with the cleanup after Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf area. His care was not reserved for just those who accepted his message. Doug truly loved people regardless of their background or position in life.
After a life of dedicated service to others with an emphasis on the truth about God and the Sabbath truth, it was fitting for Doug to rest from his labors on a Sabbath. A memorial service was held January 8, 2007, at the Tobiah Seventh-day Adventist Church in Newark, Ohio. I have been asked by his brother Ed that if there is any who would like to help the family with funeral expenses, to forward your funds directly to Smyrna Gospel Ministers and we will directly send the funds to the funeral home in charge of Doug’s arrangements. Any overflow will be forwarded to the family. Please keep Doug’s family in your prayers.
We want to remind our readers that we are broadcasting our regularly–scheduled Sabbath worship service beginning at 11:00 o’clock (EST) each Sabbath morning and our midweek prayer meeting on Wednesday evening at 7:00 o’clock (EST).
These broadcasts can be accessed on the Internet via Skype, a communication program, or by simply listening over the telephone. To access Smyrna Chapel services by the Internet, you need to have Skype installed on your computer. Downloading Skype is free and easy at www.skype.com. Skype allows communication on levels from chat to audio/video conversations. You may directly access our Skypecast and/or be involved in a chat session by going to our home webpage and following the simple directions. If you are currently running Skype on your computer, you may enter +990008275126052 on your Skype call window to access our broadcast.
In addition to being able to access the services directly from the Internet, you can also listen to the broadcast through the telephone by dialing 1-605-475-8590 (new number) and when prompted enter room number 5126052. In Germany you dial 01805007620, and from the UK you dial 08701191313 and then enter the above-listed room number. Long distance charges do apply, but if you live within the United States and have free evening and weekend calling on a cell phone or a plan such as Verzion’s Freedom Plan on a land-line phone, you may listen without cost.
How to Listen to Prior Services
You may listen to prior services that have been recorded by using Skype or by calling on the telephone. The numbers are different, however, so please note them. To use Skype, you enter +990008271111 on your Skype call window to access the recording section and when prompted enter room number 5126052. After reaching our recordings, you will be given the option of listening to the most current recording by entering “0#” (zero and then the pound [#] symbol) on your Skype call window.
You may also listen to the recordings by telephone by dialing 1-605-475-8599 and when prompted enter room number 5126052. After reaching our recordings this way, you will again be given the option of listening to the most current recording by entering “0#” (zero and then pound [#] symbol) on your keypad.
If you wish to listen to one of the other recordings, you must know the reference number for the recording. A list of the most current recordings will be published each month in Old Paths, if space allows. We also keep a total listing of the messages available and their reference numbers on the Smyrna website. Please see the link under the “Audio Sermons” section of our home page.
You May Participate
When you are in a conference and wish to speak during the open part of the service, press “11” (that is, the numeral one twice) on your telephone keypad or Skype call window. When you do this, the moderator should see a small yellow hand appear under the question and answer column in the moderator’s control panel. This action will be followed by a message that says, “The moderator sees your raised hand.” Your line will be unmuted by the action of the moderator when your turn has come and you will receive the message, “You may now speak.” A message is not played when the line is muted again by the moderator.
The Simplicity That Is In Christ
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Corinthians 1-15).”
The Apostle Paul was fearful that the Corinthian believers would be corrupted from the simplicity of the gospel which is found in Christ. The Corinthians received the gospel directly from Paul and even though there are people today that we readily acknowledge as being great preachers, people for whom we have great respect and who are eloquent in presenting God’s Word, not one of them can come up to the stature of Paul as a preacher and pastor. Yet, the people in Corinth, in Galatia, and even in Ephesus became corrupted from the faith. Notice what Paul says to the churches in Galatia: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel (Galatians 1:6).”
People can be quickly, or sometimes slowly, corrupted from the truth. The church at Ephesus was once a very strong church. Paul visited Ephesus and spent about two years strengthening the church there at one time. This is also the church where the Apostle John lived and pastored. In Revelation 2, we read something interesting about the church at Ephesus. Jesus says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted (vs. 1, 2).” The church at Ephesus did well for awhile, but Christ continues, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (vs. 4, 5).” Paul did not want this to happen to the believers at Corinth; instead, he wanted them to continue in the truth and to know the simplicity of the gospel. Paul knew Satan would not easily relinquish his grasp on those who previously had been his prey.
The prince of evil contests every inch of ground over which Gods people advance in their journey toward the heavenly city. In all the history of the church no reformation has been carried forward without encountering serious obstacles. Thus it was in Pauls day. Wherever the apostle raised up a church, there were some who professed to receive the faith, but who brought in heresies, that, if received, would eventually crowd out the love of the truth (The Great Controversy, p. 396).
In speaking of the simplicity in Christ, Paul may have meant at least three things. The Greek word translated simplicity in 2 Corinthians 11:3 is aplothV (haplotes) and it can also mean singleness (Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22). Paul is saying there is a singleness of purpose that the believer finds in Christ. In speaking of the simplicity that is in Christ, Paul also expressed the pure nature of the gospel, and that it is to be simple and straight-forward. The gospel should not be something hard to understand and that you need many books to explain. The Bible is to be sufficient of itself to make us wise unto salvation, but often we do not take advantage of the Scriptures and become the Bible students we can and should be. Instead, we have a proliferation of sermon tapes, internet blogs, televangelists, etc.
Bear a Little With Paul in His Folly
Paul wrote First Corinthians while staying at Ephesus after visitors from Corinth came to him with questions. Paul answered in a straight-forward manner. He spoke very strongly and emphasized doctrine, but in Second Corinthians he wrote with a more loving and kind touch. Second Corinthians was written from Macedonia after Titus came to see Paul to share with him some concerns he had about the church at Corinth and about people who were even questioning Pauls teachings and his authenticity as an apostle. Paul wrote as a caring, spiritual father. In 2 Corinthians 11:1 Paul asks them to bear with him a little in his folly. This is an interesting way to speak, as is verse 4 where Paul says: For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. Paul seems to be saying that it is acceptable to listen to and support people who have another spirit and who preach another gospel. I believe, however, that he is using irony to try to embarrass the Corinthians in order to show how foolish their thinking was for even giving countenance to such thoughts. They were rejecting the Apostle Paul, someone who truly loved them and who had labored tirelessly and diligently for them and, instead, were receiving false teachers who had come to take advantage of them. Paul was trying to help them see their foolishness.
Second Corinthians 11:20 states: “For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.” Paul is saying the Corinthians would put up with a man bringing them into bondage and devouring them, and then, at the same time, stop listening to the gospel he had given to them.
In verses 16-28, we read that Paul wanted them to bear with him “a little in” his “folly.” He considered boasting of his accomplishments as foolishness, but to defend his apostleship he begs them to suffer with him as he mentions his service to them in Christ. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 12:11 he says: “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.” What kind of experience did Paul have in relationship to these people? Did he just happen to meet with them and then go on? No, these were people that he cared for dearly. He labored diligently in Corinth for a long time. You will find that all the churches Paul established were constantly at the center of his prayers. He wrote to the churches and stayed in touch with the people by going back and checking on the churches because he had a concern for them. Many evangelists today will raise up a church or start a program, and once it is going they will leave it. They do not go back to support the church, to check on it, or to nurture it. Some of these evangelists make a lot of money in this way, but this was not the method of Paul. Paul kept all of these people upon his heart, and he was concerned for them.
Parents are concerned about their children and they cannot easily let them go to the wayside. Children may or may not understand a parent’s godly care and concern for them, but parents continue to love their children anyway. The Corinthians were the spiritual children of Paul. They were people that he believed God had temporarily entrusted to him as a steward, and he took this responsibility extremely seriously. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 11:2 he says: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy.”
In the second commandment we learn that the true God is a jealous God. He does not want anything between us and him. In Exodus 34:14 we read, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God even says his name is Jealous. We know that there is a human kind of jealousy—a jealousy that our fallen sinful nature has that is not good. The Bible says this jealousy is as “cruel as the grave (Song of Solomon 8:6).” This is a selfish jealousy that wants things only for itself, but God’s jealousy composed of a love and desires only the best and the very greatest of things for us. Paul said that he had that kind of love—a jealous and godly love—for the Corinthians, and it was not because of what he could get from them. This he made very plain to them. Beloved, if there was any man who ever deserved financial and temporal support for preaching the gospel, it was the Apostle Paul. No man ever preached the gospel like Paul did. No man ever labored as untiringly and unselfishly as the Apostle Paul. No man ever deserved to be supported like the Apostle Paul, and yet he said that when he went to them he did not take anything from them. He said he robbed from other churches to serve them, in order to prove to them that he did not have any selfish interest in them and that his love for them was a godly love. He said, “I have espoused [betrothed] you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).”
Where did Paul get this idea of espousal or betrothal from? Friends, he found it in the Old Testament. Notice what the Lord says to his people in Hosea 2:19, 20:
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD (Hosea 2:19, 20).
We might think God is speaking here, but I believe this is actually Christ speaking to us because in the New Testament it is Christ to whom we are betrothed. It is Christ to whom we are presented as his chaste virgin. Here in the Old Testament, we find Christ speaking to his people, saying what he desires to do for them because of his great, unselfish love.
The term betroth in the Bible has a far stronger meaning than we commonly realize. It can be equated to our present-day understanding of engagement but in a much stronger way. Today people can become unengaged, but in Bible times to be betrothed was nearly as strong as being married. In Matthew 1 we read that Joseph was betrothed to Mary, but he is referred to as being Mary’s husband and Mary is referred to as being Joseph’s wife (vs. 18-20), although they were not married at the time. When people were betrothed there was no backing out, and Paul says he had betrothed the Corinthians at their conversion to Christ that he might present them as a chaste virgin.
In the New Testament Jesus is the groom and the church is the bride. Jesus is presented to us as the all-sufficient one for all of our needs. The whole chapter of Colossians 2 speaks about the sufficiency of Christ but notice particularly verses 8 through 10:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him [Jesus Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:8-10).
Are you complete in your husband, your wife, your pastor, your friend, or the fraternity or association you belong to? No! We are not complete in the church or in anything else. We are complete only in Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to present them chaste and pure to Jesus at his second coming. This same imagery is presented in Ephesians 5:25:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25).
Friends, this is what Jesus wants to do for each one of us, but it is not going to happen if we allow people to come and take away from us the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Paul did not take this lightly. We might think that pastors, ministers, or the people who have been authoritatively delegated to present the Word of God to us wish to control what is presented in the pulpit. People may think that these representatives of God act arbitrarily, and sometimes they may, but I want you to know that Paul did not take this responsibility lightly and I do not believe any true minister of Christ will take it lightly either.
Paul Warns About Being Deceived
Paul had a great concern for the Corinthian Church and this concern should be a challenge for ministers today to have the same concern that the simplicity of the gospel of Christ not be taken away from the people. Some ministers have the philosophy that allows anything and everything to be heard from the pulpit, and they will permit anyone to speak who wants to present something to the people. The fact is people can be beguiled, and it happens all the time. It happened to the churches in Galatia, at Ephesus, and it was beginning to happen at Corinth, and Paul was not going to stand for it. Paul warned them about being deceived. In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Paul is saying we should be as aware as Eve should have been.
Notice what the Bible says in Genesis 3:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (vs. 1-5).
I find it very interesting, beloved, that Satan, without exactly saying it, claimed to know the mindset of God. He claimed to know what God was really thinking, and this is the way it is with false teachers. They come to tell you what God thinks, what his mind is and his ways are, because it would not deceive you otherwise. Some of the people speaking to the church at Corinth may have been sincere and some of them may have been doing the very best they knew how to do, but perhaps some of them were trying to disrupt the Apostle Paul’s work. We are not at liberty to judge the motives of the people, but we are at liberty to judge their gospel based upon the Word of God. Satan claimed that he knew the mindset of God and if we turn back to 2 Corinthians 11, we see the proof that the false religious teachers do also. Paul says in verse 13: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” Now, of course, they were not real apostles of Christ, were they? But, they gave the appearance of being so. They gave the appearance that they were pious and that they were a select group of people because in reading the Bible there are only a very few men who were named apostles. There were many disciples, evangelists, and deacons, but only a handful of people were apostles. These false teachers transformed “themselves into the apostles of Christ.” This is no marvel. This is what Satan is doing. He transforms himself into an angel of light.
In verse 3 Paul says to not be beguiled as Eve was beguiled. As we read the account in Genesis, it is very clear that Eve knew what the Word of God was. Eve told the serpent what God had said. Eve knew the Word of God but was still deceived. The believers at Corinth, Paul said, knew the Word of God but they also were being deceived by the agents of Satan.
Attacks on the Early Church
Perhaps you are familiar with a group of people known as Judaizers. These were people who were converts from Judaism and who believed that faith in Christ was all right, but just not enough. One also needed to be circumcised (and, perhaps obey the laws of Moses, keep the feasts, and pronounce God’s name in a certain way). Paul did not mince many words with this kind of theology.
There were also people called the Ebionites and they rejected either all or almost all of Paul’s teachings. They reduced Jesus Christ to being simply a man, a prophet, or perhaps an angel, but not the very person he claimed to be—the only begotten Son of God. Interestingly, all of the non-Christian religions in the world agree with this belief. The Muslims declare that Jesus was a prophet, even a great prophet, but he was not the Son of God. The Jews acknowledge the historical Jesus but believe he was simply a man. The Hindus and the Buddhists talk about the teachings of Jesus, making him a philosopher like Buddha but deny that he is the Son of God. All these groups fail to see the truth of Romans 1:25. Prior to this verse, Paul speaks about the guilt of mankind and how people have rejected the eternal nature of God, his creatorship, and then Paul states:
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves; Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more [rather, margin] than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Romans 1:22-25).
In Revelation we are told John began to bow down and worship an angel on two occasions, and the angel told him not to do so because an angel is a created being and only the Creator is to be worshipped (Revelation 19:10; 22:8, 9). Jesus is worthy of our worship. And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him (Hebrews 1:6). The Father is speaking in this verse and he commands the angels to worship his Son. If you had been an Ebionite believing that Jesus was just a man, you would have wondered what the baby Jesus had done to be worthy of worship. It is who the baby was that made him worthy of worship—he was the Son of God.
Jesus himself fully accepted the worship of people. In John 9, Jesus told the blind man that he was the Son of God, And the blind man said, “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him (John 9:38).” He worshipped the Creator and not a creature.
Another heretical group, the Gnostics, believed in secret knowledge and that if you acquired enough of this secret knowledge you would find the pathway to salvation. The Apostle Paul tried to make it clear in 1 Corinthians 2 that this could not possibly provide the way to salvation. Paul speaks in this chapter of the natural or unconverted man. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).” The truths of God’s Word are spiritually discerned. You can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you can learn all of its history, you can memorize the Psalms, and you can study and understand some of the prophecies; but if you do not have the Holy Spirit working in your life, all that knowledge is meaningless. For instance, Jesus said: “Ye must be born again (John 3:7).” When a spiritually-hungry person who is seeking for the Holy Spirit reads this verse, he sees a need and knows that something has to be changed in his or her life. However, someone who does not have a spiritual interest, someone who has not been allowing the Holy Spirit to work in his life, will only see something in this verse that is foolishness. These two people have two totally different understandings about the same text.
It is interesting that most of these same attacks that plagued the early church are still with us today—they have just been repackaged. Old things are new; new things are old. Satan is intelligent enough to know that if something worked the first time around, it will work again with a different package.
There are modern-day Judaizers who say that faith in Christ alone is not enough for salvation and they have a whole list of other things that are also required.
We have modern-day Ebionites—people like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity. Some non-Trinitarian Seventh-day Adventists have said that they are more like Jehovah’s Witnesses than like evangelical Christians because of this fact, but I do not agree. In theology, we are much further away from the Jehovah’s Witnesses than the Trinitarians because the Trinitarians at least acknowledge that there is a divine nature to Jesus Christ. The Jehovah’s Witnesses totally deny the divine nature of Christ. They state Jesus was the first and highest of created beings that God elevated to be a lesser god.
We have modern-day Gnostics. They are at the heart of the New-Age movement today. It is of interest to me that at the very time God raised up the Advent movement, Satan (because he is a student of prophecy) was also working to bring up counterfeit movements. Shortly before 1844 we have the appearance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) with Joseph Smith as their leader. After 1844 we have groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christian Scientists evolving. The Mormons believe that they will become a god one day and that at one time the being they call god (the heavenly Father) was once a man like us.
If Paul were around today, what would he say about these teachings? Do you think he would say, “Well, you know, they are nice people and we have to be kind to them.”? We do have to be kind, it is true, but Paul would not think twice about denouncing their teachings as from the pit of hell because that is where they come from!
You are probably tired of hearing about the fable written by Dan Brown called The DaVinci Code. Dan Brown does not even believe in God and he openly acknowledges his book to be fictitious, yet many Christians have had their faith shaken over this book. I have wondered how this could be. The fallacies taught in this book are simple enough that a child who has been versed in the Scriptures can easily refute, and yet even Christian pastors seem to be unsure of their faith. Perhaps nothing else has shaken Christianity during the last one hundred years as much as The DaVinci Code has, but why should it shake any Christians faith? Are we not, as a people, to be grounded in what the Bible says? Seventh-day Adventists used to be known as the people of the Book. We used to be a people who understood the Bible. We should know Gods Word better than the back of our hand, but, friends, just as in the churches in Galatia, Ephesus, and Corinth, people are being beguiled. It is happening all around us. Paul spoke of the false teachers of his day in 2 Corinthians 11:4 with irony. The last word in verse 4, him, is a supplied word, and I believe it could be translated, it, as the New King James version of the Bible does: “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted——you may well put up with it!” Paul is saying the Corinthians showed love and respect to those who did not love them as much as Paul loved and taught them. He was saying: “These people are bringing false doctrines to you that will damn your souls. Why don’t you respect me by believing what I have taught you?” He did not endorse their apostasy at all but reprimanded them for their gullibility and lack of discernment.
We Must Not be Deceived
Our pastors today should be as concerned as Paul was. They might be called self-centered, conceited, egotistical, and, I am sure, unloving, but Paul proved over and over to the Corinthians that he did love them with a godly jealousy and love. His care and concern for the church is a challenge for anyone today who seeks to serve Gods people. We are not to let them be deceived. Paul speaks of someone preaching another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). Interestingly, the Greek word for another in this verse is allos, which means another of the same kind. In the same verse, Paul then speaks of another spirit and another gospel, but in these cases he uses the Greek word heteros which means another of a different kind. So, the false teachers come preaching what they profess to be the same Jesus, but Paul says they have a different spirit and a different gospel. It is not the same gospel at all even though it may look like the same Jesus.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; [heteros, not allos.] but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-8).” That is a pretty strong statement, but, friends, Paul had to make that statement because the gospel warranted it.
Satan uses our minds, our thoughts, and our intellects, just as he did with Eve. He spoke to her mind and appealed to her thoughts. This is what the Bible does to us also, but the appeal must be based upon truth and we must be guided and directed by the Holy Spirit of God. Beloved, if there was ever a time when we needed to know the truth of God’s Word and to stand for ourselves, it is today.
Notice what Peter said to the Christians of his time whose faith was under attack: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).” The first thing Peter says we must do is sanctify the Lord in our hearts, which means we are to make him ruler of our lives. To be Lord means to let him have total control of everything. God is to control our talents, our money, and our time, including our spare time. He is to be Lord of our affections and Lord of whom we choose as our friends. Peter says we are to do this first—we are to sanctify God and put him first in our hearts above all other things. Then we will be ready to give an answer to every man for our faith “with meekness and fear.”
To do this, we must know what our faith is based upon. The attitude of the world is that everything we believe should be open to challenge to determine whether it is true or not. The world, and even some Christians, may tell us that our belief in the Bible is wrong, but friends, God’s Word is never wrong. It is always true!
I read recently about the Salem, Massachusetts, witch hunts that occurred three hundred years ago in New England, and it is a wonder how such a thing could ever have happened among a civilized people who professed to believe the Bible. Interestingly, we have a type of religion today that is a modern-day witchcraft. I have proven to myself that witchcraft is ungodly. I have studied enough of the Bible to know it is false, but someone might come along and say, Well, you know, Allen, you should be open-minded. This person is presenting it from a different angle. Here is a book on it and you should read it. Should I? Really? The Bible says to Prove all things; hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). But how many times do I have to prove something to be wrong? It only needs to be proved one time. The idea of having an absolute openness to look at anything and everything that comes along is not good. We need to be open-minded but not about everything because some things God does not want us to be open-minded toward. Humanity fell by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Did God want them to know about evil? No, he did not. There are some things he wants our minds to be closed to, beloved. We need to be very careful, for we have been counseled to guard the avenues of our souls. All who name the name of Christ need to watch and pray and guard the avenues of the soul; for Satan is at work to corrupt and destroy if the least advantage is given him (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 476).” The two senses (avenues) that take in the most information concerning spiritual things are our sight and hearing. We need to be very careful what we allow to come through those senses because the Bible is explicit that we are not to open ourselves up to teachers of heresy.
We may not know when something is heretical and we may not know when something is good, so we will need to examine it, but friends, once it is proven, we do not need to keep proving it by going over it again and again. We need to know what we believe from the Bible about the Sabbath, the state of the dead, righteousness by faith, justification through Christ, the truth of the sanctuary doctrine, the Spirit of Prophecy, and all of the other teachings of the Bible. In West Virginia, where I live, if you ask the average church-going man, he might be able to tell you the top five drivers in NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), and a church-going lady might be able to tell you the top five songs on the chart, but would either of them be able to tell you five of the twelve apostles? We carry our Bibles with us to church, but do we know the sixty-six books of the Bible, what they contain, and the stories they tell?
Friends, God does not want us to be moved by every wind of doctrine. Paul says, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). This is what happens to children. Paul says children have milk for food but that they need to be weaned from the milk to solid food. In the same way, when we are spiritual babes, we feed on the milk of God’s Word, but as we spiritually mature, we are to feed upon the “meat” of God’s Word. To do this, we need to study and understand God’s Word for ourselves. We are not to be “carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” We need to remember, beloved, the simplicity of the gospel of Christ and not be deceived by old lies Satan presents in new packages. Christ is enough.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of ‘God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that you’re your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
There are political commentators who explain things favorably for a certain position or side, and we call them spin doctors. They put their spin on an idea to make it sound just like they want it to sound. These people are clever and intelligent and can sound very convincing. People can speak to you about spiritual matters, using philosophy, logic, and argument, making things sound very persuasive; but Paul said he did not come to the people in this manner. He came simply preaching the power of God and the cross of Jesus Christ.
This should be the basis of what we teach—that God sent his only begotten Son to die for us, that Jesus can live within us, and that in just the same way that Jesus overcame sinful flesh two thousand years ago, he can repeat the same miracle in us. This is the essence of the simple gospel. This gospel is not hard to understand, and God does not design that it should be. It is to be simple enough that young people can understand and appreciate it. We do not need the teachings and workings of men. Let us be like the Bereans. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).” Allen Stump
Report From Hungary
Dear Brethren in Christ,
It fills me with joy to be able to share with you the experiences of the past months in the work of God here in Hungary. Even though there was plenty of room for discouragement, to me it seems that the Lord wrought with us mightily and held us firmly in his pierced hands.
It seems reasonable to me to begin with the events that followed up the summer meetings held at my place with speakers Brother Allen Stump and Brother David Clayton. Immediately after the Hungarian meetings were over, I left for Romania with David Clayton and Erwin Zoor. In the meantime, however, while I was there, a resolution was passed by the church at home that my activity in the church must be checked, and that I am not to be allowed to attend any of their officially-organized meetings. (I was banned, briefly, from Sabbath services, youth activities, Bible readings, and anything of the kind.) Note that I couldn’t have been disfellowshipped since I never was baptised there to become a member.
So when I came home, the church elder and a preacher sister quickly sought me out to tell me these resolutions. They asked me whether I would accept the decision of their church and promise not to disturb them as long as I don’t change my opinion on the Godhead. Thank God, I realized at once the fallacy of their argument and decided not to give consent to a church resolution that would compel me to give up my freedom in Christ. Of course, I didn’t mean to offend them more by appearing again in such a hostile place, but I disagreed with the idea that I should accept the fallacious decision of a small group of men who set themselves against the truth as the explicit will of God. The elder and the sister were not particularly happy for my response and they threw some threats upon me, but that was all for the time being. Nevertheless, that put an end to my official church career then.
The brethren, on the other hand, who were most influenced by the pioneer teachings on the Godhead, four in number, were suspended from all service for a month–to give them more time, of course, to scrutinize the arguments again–by the end of which they were to declare whether they have changed their minds or still persisted on their non-trinitarian understanding of the Godhead. The set time passed quickly, and we fellowshipped together, mostly on Fridays, to discuss the arguments. When the time of official rehearsal came, established firmly in the truth, they were ready to be disfellowshipped from the church. And so it happened. Even though they were not banned, they were asked not to distract and confuse anyone in their church by telling them about these strange doctrines. Thank God, after an initial hesitancy, they also realised the same trap and denied unequivocally to make such a promise. The debate in the congregation that sprung up after this response, whether they can be silenced by force, or not, was later admitted to have been shameful even by the very ones that were most adamantly set against this so-called “movement”.
Therefore, from October on, we started to congregate on the Sabbaths separately at private homes. To my greatest surprise, there were many who joined us among those whom I never expected. Sometimes, there were even ten to fifteen of us, adults only, plus children at least as much. We began to study together, first from the book of Genesis, then from Waggoners Christ and His Righteousness. I believe it has been to the profit of many of us ever since.
In the meantime, I was contacted by another brother from a small town near Budapest that they would like to meet with someone who believed in the same way as the pioneers did about God and his Son. Brother Peter’s wife, Viola, is the sister of Paul Csavdari, who was a prominent church leader in Romania until he was disfellowshipped due to his rejection of the Trinity. Through him did these Hungarian brethren come into contact with the pioneer teachings and they accepted the truth as they looked more deeply into the matter.
Fulfilling their request, I began to visit them regularly and we would discuss issues relating to the Trinity, righteousness by faith, and practical Christian living. I was shocked to realize what awful worldliness exists in the practice of many Adventists, and, what is worst of all, they don’t even know it. In the churches they are educated to conform to the rules set by the group, and they are ignorant of God’s claims as to how they should live. I felt pity for these dear brethren who were kept in such darkness for so long, and I appreciated much the openness and thirst for truth and righteousness they showed. I believe there are many such sheep still in the fold who are wounded by the carelessness of self-seeking shepherds, but who, when they see the true light, change their course and begin to follow the way of divine healing under the wings of the true Shepherd.
A considerable event that happened in this connection was that due to the activity of these brethren, a knowledgeable professor of theology was invited to their church to “deal with the issue”. On this occasion, I was invited by the pastor of their church to come freely and bring anyone with me who might be also interested because this brother could perhaps answer our questions more convincingly. Of course, we could not resist such a kind invitation! Four of us visited Brother Peter and his wife and we spent the Sabbath with them in their church. The discussion part itself, in the afternoon, was open for everybody, but most of the people kept silent. Questions arose only on our part, but most of the time we received answers with feather-weight factual evidence and overweight authoritative evidence. It seemed quite distressing to me to see how blind the people can be when they adore and put their trust into man instead of the pure word of God!
But our efforts were not completely fruitless. There were some comments on our part that were attended by marked silence, and after the discussions there were some who expressed their honest interest in understanding the truth and believing it, instead of a lie. Since our visit in November, there have been many more private discussions with such precious souls and they will hopefully continue for good.
The value of our Internet site is also just beginning to show itself, for there are more and more people who find it and some of them actually contact us and ask about our availability of having discussions or fellowship with them. So God is working by these humble instruments. Please pray that we might have the wisdom and strength to be prepared in season and out of season to give an account of the reason of our hope and joy in Christ to these hungry souls. He is gathering his people in these last days from everywhere, but many ignorant souls still need to hear the gospel of our glorious God!
As to the future plans, there are many such discussions ahead of us that present some hope that there is a growing interest, even among the preachers, in regard to the truth about God and righteousness by faith. We are seeking to walk humbly with God and to look for every opportunity where we might glorify him. We don’t want to organize into yet another church but rather seek to foster the missionary spirit among us. The Hungarian field is still pretty much unworked, both the Adventist line and the world. Prayers for the advancement of the work are very well appreciated.
Let this be my last comment and a word of encouragement to everyone: “For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).” May the Lord Jesus Christ and our God the Father bless you all abundantly. János
God’s Love for Just You!
The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share his watch-care, not another soul for whom he gave his beloved Son (The Review & Herald, December 8, 1904).
This, friends, is the worth of one soul. It does not matter who you are, what your stature in this world is, or what your state in life is. The Lord Jesus looks upon you as an individual worthy of his devotion and care. We see this illustrated in the book of Luke:
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them (Luke 15:1, 2).
There are two groups of people in these two verses, one group in verse 1 and another group in verse 2. The first group is composed of publicans, tax collectors, and sinners; and in the second group are the leaders of the church—the scribes and the Pharisees. We might be tempted to think that God looks with more favor upon ministers, evangelists, elders, and deaconesses, as opposed to the common lay person in the pew or even the person out on the street who seemingly has no need of Christ. Yet, interestingly, of these two groups of people we find it was with the sinners that Jesus tended to congregate. They were the ones who received him. He was glad to receive them into his company and to fellowship with them because he has an abiding interest in everyone. Jesus would gladly have had fellowship with the Pharisees or have had the Pharisees and the scribes fellowship with him, but they did not feel the need to seek him. These two groups of people are contrasted here, and the Pharisees and scribes accuse Jesus of eating with sinners and thereby not keeping himself pure.
Jesus responds to their accusation with a few parables. Speaking to the scribes and Pharisees who are murmuring and complaining, Jesus gives this illustration:
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:4-7).
The Bible says that there is joy and happiness in heaven and an appreciation for just one individual that repents. You might think that 99 out of 100 is a very good percentage for most anything we do, but this is not good enough for heaven. Heaven wants everyone saved and it does not matter if the wandering sheep has been disobedient. The sheep did not get lost out in the wilderness because it was obedient. It did not get lost because it was following the Good Shepherd and doing what it was told. It became lost because it was disobedient and had lost its interest in the Shepherd. The sheep wandered and strayed on its own. In our own personal lives we might do the same thing. We might be tempted to think God does not care for us and then wander and stray into a situation we do not know how to return from. This parable shows us that Jesus does not wait for us to come looking for him; he comes looking for us first. Jesus is active in seeking us because he wants us in his kingdom.
Let us turn Daniel 10:11: And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved. God is no respecter of persons and if Daniel was greatly beloved, what about us? We can be greatly beloved too. In fact, we are greatly beloved because the Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son. Why? Are just the scribes and Pharisees or an elite group of people to have eternal life? Is that what the Bible says? No. The Bible says this great gift is for whosoever believes on Jesus and that includes you and me. Jesus is telling us in this parable that one sheep, which is the fewest that can be numbered, is important to him.
Jesus uses another illustration to teach how important one sinner is to him:
Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:8-10).
One sinner that repents brings joy to God’s heart, and again, one is the fewest that can be numbered. The woman in this parable represents Christ looking for that which was lost.
It is interesting that in these two parables there are similarities and also a couple of differences. In the first parable we see a different class represented than in the second parable:
The lost sheep knows that it is lost. It has left the shepherd and the flock, and it cannot recover itself. It represents those who realize that they are separated from God and who are in a cloud of perplexity, in humiliation, and sorely tempted. The lost coin represents those who are lost in trespasses and sins, but who have no sense of their condition. They are estranged from God, but they know it not. Their souls are in peril, but they are unconscious and unconcerned. In this parable Christ teaches that even those who are indifferent to the claims of God are the objects of His pitying love. They are to be sought for that they may be brought back to God (Christs Object Lessons, p. 193).
In each parable we see that God and Jesus are doing something active to recover the lost. In the first parable, the sheep knows it is lost but does not know how to return home. In the parable of the coin, the lost is already at home. We might say the lost coin represents the person in the church who sits in the pew every week thinking he is fine and not realizing he is lost. In both illustrations, we see that the Lord is looking for each one in an active way.
If you wish to know the value of a soul, go to Gethsemane and watch Christ as he struggles and prays prostrate upon the ground, looking for strength, and then follow him to the cross. Realize that for one soul, our Saviour would have died. At the foot of the cross we can begin to estimate the value of a soul.
The gospel of John is called the didactic gospel, which means it is a teaching gospel. The word didactic is from a Greek word that means teach. This gospel does not cover some of the same ground that is covered in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are called the synoptic gospels and which are all very similar. In John we find some unique stories that are not found in the other gospels. When parts of John are also found in the other gospels, details giving an added perspective are usually included by John. It is very encouraging that especially in the first part of John’s gospel that goes through the life and teachings of Christ up until the week of his passion, we find many scenarios that deal primarily with an individual or a very small group of two or three people. This tells me that God and Jesus are very concerned about individuals. Sometimes we like to think of soul-winning in big numbers and think that it would be wonderful to have an evangelistic meeting in a hall with a hundred or two hundred people attending or in a stadium with 50,000 people attending and I would not negate the privilege of preaching in these places as being anything but important, but the fact is souls are saved one at a time. No one is saved in a group with anyone else. We are all saved individually, one at a time, and Jesus knows that. So, he works for the individual. You see this throughout the other gospels, but I especially notice it in the gospel of John. The Apostle Andrew is a good example:
Again the next day after John [the Baptist] stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples [John, the brother of James and Andrew the brother of Peter] heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother (John 1:35-40).
Notice what Andrew did:
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus (vs. 41, 42).
One of the great hallmarks of Andrew is that he knew how to bring the people to Jesus. He was really good at that. In this respect, I would like to be an Andrew. “And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone (v. 42).” Jesus is showing his concern for Peter and giving him even a new name.
It says next, “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee (v. 43),” but what did Jesus do? Preach to many people? “And findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me (v.43).” Again, Jesus is looking for the one individual. “Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter (v. 44).” So, what did Philip do? He took a lesson from Andrew: “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee (vs. 45-48).” God had already revealed Nathanael to Jesus. God is interested in just one individual and he showed his Son this man under the fig tree. “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel (v. 49).” He is the first one to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. A lot of the time we center on the great confession of Peter found in Matthew 16, but this admission of Nathanael occurred long before that.
Moving on to chapter 2, we have the miracle of turning the water to wine at the wedding of Cana in Galilee. We understand a marriage is for two people. We have guests, it is true, but the wedding is for two people. Jesus attended and performed a great miracle for them, but there is no record that he gave any teachings or preached any sermon or even bestowed a blessing upon the couple. He went there, at least in part, to show his favor for this institution of God and to bring happiness to this couple. He wanted to bring happiness to their hearts. That is encouraging to me because sometimes we think of God as being a stoic kind of individual, and of course we live in a serious time and I do not want to negate that, but God is a God of joy, love, and peace. These are parts of the fruit of his Spirit. It is his nature to have joy, love, and peace.
In John chapter 3 we find the story of Nicodemus , which includes the famous verses of John 3:3, of being born again, and John 3:16. Again, how many people was Jesus primarily dealing with in the first part of this chapter? Just one. And he is dealing with someone that we might not have given much hope for. Nicodemus might have been one of the Pharisees that you just could not talk to. He was probably unreachable. He was like one of the General Conference hierarchy men who it would be no use to talk to because you know he would not listen to you, a man who could only obtain a high position in the church because he had sold his soul out. That is probably what a lot of people thought about Nicodemus, but Jesus showed his concern for him.
In John 4 we find the account of the Samaritan woman at the well. The Bible says this woman came late, at the sixth hour or around noon, to draw her water because most of the time in that area people would draw their water early in the morning while the day was still cool, but this woman had not lived a virtuous life and had become an outcast of society. Even the Samaritans treated her with contempt and disdain. She was probably mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted, so she went to the well when no one else was around, in the very heat of the day, to avoid any possibility of meeting someone. That is the kind of woman she was. She was also a Samaritan woman and the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. For Jesus to meet this woman and to have a conversation with her and give her hope said something to the disciples and to the people at that time. He was showing that he was willing to accept anyone who would listen to him. His mission is to seek and to save that which was lost. If something comes to you, you don’t have to seek after it, but it is because we have all gone astray and because we have all turned aside that Jesus comes and seeks for us. He needs to seek for us, and he is willing and wants to do this. We find that after Jesus had given this woman the hope of living water and of eternal life, she was so thrilled in what she had received from him that she went back to the city, and, even though she had been ashamed to be seen and meet with other people, she began to publish high and low about this man Jesus who had told her everything she had ever done and what she was like. They knew what she was like, and she admitted it, but she also told them that he had given her living water and he would do the same for them. The Bible says the whole town went out to hear Jesus because he had taken time to speak to that one woman.
In the last part of John 4, Jesus heals the nobleman’s son. In the fifth chapter, he heals the man by the Pool of Bethsaida. Over and over we see Jesus doing something for individuals. In chapter 6 we have the feeding of the 5,000, but if you go to some of the later chapters you find interactions with individuals again. For instance, in chapter 8 the woman who was caught in the act of adultery is brought before Christ. I read in a book recently that this incident should not be in the Bible because it could not have happened and it was not part of the actual scripture, but I assure you it is a true story. It is a beautiful story of the compassion and love of Jesus. It is a story about how Jesus stood up and defended a single individual. Sometimes we may feel people are hard on us and do not understand us and sometimes they do not, but Jesus completely understands. He understood this woman, and he knew that if she was shown encouragement, love, and compassion she would be a different kind of person.
In chapter 9 Jesus went out of his way to heal the man at the pool of Siloam. Fairly recent archeological events around Jerusalem show that the pool of Siloam was a big pool of about 20,000 square feet. The size of a standard starter house is about 24 x 40 feet, which is 960 square feet. If you take about twenty small starter homes and put them together in a rectangle, this would be how big the pool of Siloam was. If Jesus did something there people would know about it, it is true, but he did not perform miracles to gain notoriety. He went to the pool of Siloam to help one individual who had been born blind and who was in a pitiful state. The story tells us that the Jewish leadership became very upset and disgruntled because of the healing and the credit Jesus was getting for it. They called this man’s parents in to inquire of them how the healing happened. The parents said to ask the man who had been healed because he was of age, and they did ask him. The parents did that, the Bible says, because of fear of the Jews, for the knew anyone who confessed that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue or excommunicated. We would say today that they would be disfellowshipped or put out of the church. Finally, the leaders found the man who had been born blind and inquired of him. The man told the Jewish leadership that it was a marvelous thing which God had done for him and that maybe the leaders could be his disciples too. They did not want anything to do with that and said they were Moses’ disciples. “They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out (John 9:34).” The Greek is they excommunicated him.
Notice what happens next: “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee (John 9:35-37).” There are two magnificently beautiful things in verse 35. The first is that Jesus heard they had cast him out. Jesus keeps a watch on us, friends. The second is that Jesus found him. He went searching for that man. At that time, Jerusalem probably had a population of 30,000 people. It was not a small city by any means, but Jesus had to find this man and he did. It does not matter if we are a lost sheep on a hill or a lost coin in the rubbish on the floor, Jesus looks for us and he finds us. Then he introduces himself to us and gives us personal fellowship with him, just like he did with this man who was born blind. This man had a personal interview with Jesus. What a wonderful opportunity!
In John 10, we read of Jesus being the good Shepherd. In the eleventh chapter of John is the account of Jesus going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. In chapter 12, we read of Jesus defending Mary when Mary anointed him. He did not let her action be lightly passed off, but he defended her very strongly. In the gospel of John we see Jesus working mightily for individuals.
There are a few of paragraphs in The Ministry of Healing that I would like us to notice:
Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. The greater the sinner’s guilt, the more he needs the Saviour. His heart of divine love and sympathy is drawn out most of all for the one who is the most hopelessly entangled in the snares of the enemy. With His own blood He has signed the emancipation papers of the race.
Jesus does not desire those who have been purchased at such a cost to become the sport of the enemy’s temptations. He does not desire us to be overcome and perish. He who curbed the lions in their den, and walked with His faithful witnesses amid the fiery flames, is just as ready to work in our behalf to subdue every evil in our nature. Today He is standing at the altar of mercy, presenting before God the prayers of those who desire His help. He turns no weeping, contrite one away. Freely will He pardon all who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration. He does not tell to any all that He might reveal, but He bids every trembling soul take courage. Whosoever will, may take hold of God’s strength, and make peace with Him, and He will make peace. The souls that turn to Him for refuge, Jesus lifts above the accusing and the strife of tongues. No man or evil angel can impeach these souls. Christ unites them to His own divine-human nature. They stand besides the great Sin Bearer in the light proceeding from the throne of God.
The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses “from all sin.” 1 John 1:7.
“Who shall lay anything 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 Romans 8:33, 34 (pp. 89, 90).”
When we come to Jesus there is nothing, no devil and no host of evil, that can take us away from God’s hand:
And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomons porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Fathers name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:22-29).
Jesus is interested in each one of us. We can all be, if you please, the apple of his eye, and this is what he wants because his love for us is unlimited. I think of the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was ill and vexed with a demon. Jesus made a long journey just to see this one woman. That is the way Jesus is. If a single individual has a need, Jesus is willing to be involved. That was his desire then, and it is just as much his desire today. He meets us where we are. He finds us in our need today, just as he found people when he walked the dusty roads of Galilee a long time ago.
Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You can not burden him; you can not weary him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of his children. The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows, and even by our utterance of them. Take to him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for him to bear; for he holds up worlds, he rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for him to read; no perplexity is too difficult for him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of his children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our Heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which he takes no immediate interest. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share his watch-care, not another soul for whom he gave his beloved Son (The Review & Herald, December 8, 1904). Allen Stump
Lovely flowers—precious messengers of God’s love to His afflicted family here below (Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, p. 171).
Youth’s Corner — Six Seventh-day Mission Boys
(This story was presented to the children at Smyrna Sabbath Chapel on a recent Sabbath and is adapted from Wings Over New Guinea by Goldie M. Down. Onycha Holt)
Last month our story was about headhunters who lived on the island of Malekula in Vanuatu and how they learned to love Jesus. This month our story is about an island close to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and it is a special story about Leonard and some of the people on that island.
Leonard was in charge of a hospital on Papua New Guinea during the time of a very bad war called World War II. This war involved many nations and Leonard served in the Australian Army. He had been sent to Papua New Guinea to be in charge of a field hospital in the bush near the coast of the island. One day Leonard received a message from a senior officer at the command post nearby that fifty cargo boys were being sent to him to be examined because they had just come in from a three-month difficult hike through the mountains and jungles of Papua New Guinea. The cargo boys were really men that helped the Australian Army by carrying supplies on their backs and on their heads from high up in the mountains, through the jungles, through the swamps, and down to the coastline. Leonards job was to check these men out medically and give them any treatment they needed because the men were very exhausted from their trip. Leonard said, Okay, and he had the fifty cargo boys line up in front of the hospital.
When Leonard walked out of the hospital and looked at the men, he felt so badly that he almost gasped because the men looked so pitiful. They were starving and very thin and feeble, but worse than this they were filled with tropical diseases from living in the jungle. Leonard could tell at once that they all needed to be admitted to the hospital, so he sent them all inside for further treatment.
Leonard followed them in and started examining each man individually. Every man was very sick with disease, every man was malnourished and hungry, and every man was thin and weak. Every man, that is, until he reached the forty-fifth man. There were six men left for him to check but when he started examining them something did not seem right. These six men were also thin and feeble. They were very weak and very hungry, but they were not sick! They did not have any of the tropical diseases that the rest of the men had. Even their skin was clean and smooth and not scaly and dirty like the other forty-four men. Leonard could not understand what was different about these men, and so he asked them in the pidgin English that they understood: “Which way you walkabout one time other fella man all together time?” And that meant, “Have you been on the hike as long as these other men?” And they shook heads, “Yes.” “Okay,” thought Leonard. Then he asked them, “You fella kai kai all the same other fella men?” And that meant, “Have you been eating the same food that the other men have been eating?” “Yes,” they said. “We have been eating the same food.” Leonard could not figure out why, even though they were thin and weak, they were not sick like the other men. So he thought again, and then he asked them, “Ah! You fella carry medicine and take medicine on walkabout?” And they said, “Oh, no. We haven’t been doing that. No medicine on walkabout.” Leonard kept thinking, “What could it be?” and then a light came on in his mind and he asked, “Oh, you fella Christian?” “Oh, yes!” The men shook their heads up and down, smiled, and said: “Yes, we Christian mission boys!” Then Leonard said, “Me mission boy too! Me fella seventh-day!” And then the six men started beaming! “We seventh-day mission boys too!” they said.
Even though Leonard wanted to talk to them more, he knew they needed food and rest, so he told them he would talk to them that night at worship. That evening the six men who did not have any of the diseases the other forty-four men had told Leonard their story and I would like to share their story with you, for it will help us to be as faithful to God as they were.
These six men lived on the coast of Papua New Guinea when a missionary came to their village and told them about Jesus and about how much God loved them. These six men believed what the missionary said and they changed their ways. Then the missionary said, “I want to go to the top of the mountains of Papua New Guinea and tell the villagers how much God loves them. Will you go with me?” And the six mission boys said, “Yes, we will go.” So they left, hiked up the rugged mountains, and set up a little mission outpost in a village near the top of one of the mountains, but then the bad war started. The enemy threatened to come to Papua New Guinea, so the government instructed all the foreigners on the island to leave. That meant the missionary had to return home and that meant the six mission boys were left in the high mountain village without their pastor, but they told the missionary, “We want to stay here and teach the people about God.” So, the missionary left and the six mission boys stayed in the mountains. Soon two Australian officers came to their mountain area and said, “We want to make a trail from high in these mountains down to the coast and we need helpers to make this trail.” So, fifty men in the mountains agreed to help the Australians because they did not want the enemy to come to their island and hurt them, and six of these men were the six mission boys!
That is how this group left the villages high in the mountains and came down to the coast where Leonard was. They had to carry heavy burdens on their heads and on their backs while hiking but that was not their biggest problem! Something that concerned them more than the weight they carried was their safety. Their trail wound through many areas where headhunters lived! These headhunters attacked the group of fifty men and two Australian officers more than once! They had to fight to get away. The cargo boys knew they were in dangerous country and that they had to get down the mountain as quickly as possible, so they rested very little and kept on hiking. Finally, they left the territory of the headhunters, but now they faced the jungle. They had to cross crocodile-infested swamps and swollen streams with sharp rocks and slippery mud. There were poisonous snakes and even poisonous thorns in the jungle to be watchful of. There were leeches and many, many mosquitoes that carried malaria. These men carried heavy burdens and endured these hardships because they did not want the enemy to come to their country and harm them. Then the men ran out of food and for two weeks they had nothing to eat. They were so hungry they started to eat leaves from the trees but that only made them sick. So they stopped eating the leaves but they became weak from not eating and even though they were weak they still had to carry their heavy loads.
Then one day, the leader on the trail dropped his pack and started running through the jungle. He had seen a wild boar and he wanted to catch it for food! So he and some others started chasing the wild boar, and they caught it and brought it back to the group. That night they roasted the boar, but they were so hungry they started to eat the boar before it had even finished roasting! They all started eating, that is, except the six mission boys because the missionary had told them pig meat was not clean meat and, therefore, should not be eaten. Since they were now God’s children, they would not eat it, no matter how hungry they were! The officers tried to persuade them to eat so they would not be as weak for the rest of the journey, for they still had a long way to go, but they said: “Oh, no. Big fella Papa on top no want us eat pig meat!” And that meant, “God in heaven does not want us to eat pig meat,” and they chose to obey God because they belonged to him!
The next day they started on their journey again, but one of the fifty cargo boys became so sick he could not walk any further. The two Australian officers thought, “What are we going to do now? What will we do with him?”
Do you know what happened? The six mission boys said, We will carry him out. They made a bush stretcher and put the sick man on it. Even though they were weak from not eating and even though they still had burdens of their own to carry, these six men helped to carry this very sick man out of the jungle and down to the coast. They had to stop every hour or so, however, and go into the bush to ask God to give them strength to carry him and their burdens, but they did that because they knew they served a God who is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). It does not matter what kind of trouble it is. These men had problems with headhunters, with crocodiles, with poisonous snakes, leeches, swollen streams with sharp rocks and slippery mud, but because they were servants of God, God was able to watch over and protect them in a manner that he could not do for the others. This is why, although the six mission boys were exposed to many dangers, they did not become sick with disease as the others did. They honored Gods wishes and those that honor God, God has promised to honor. The Bible says, them that honour me I will honour (1 Samuel 2:30).
This story makes me think of us today because the Bible tells us in the book of Daniel that there will be troublous times for us too if we are living just before Jesus comes. We may have trouble with the people around us just like these fifty-two men had from the neighboring tribes in the mountains. We may have to hike through woods and over swollen streams, but God will be with us. If Jesus lives in our hearts, we will be taken care of just like God took care of these six mission boys. The six mission boys were hungry, yes, and they were weak, but they were not sick like the other men were and they were able to come out of the jungle. When they found another mission boy (Leonard), it made them very happy, and when Jesus comes to take us home, even though we might be hungry and we might have had troublesome times, we will have big smiles on our faces because Jesus has come. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Revelation 2:10) is a promise we can hold onto. If we are faithful, Jesus will give us a crown of life. ?
Ask The Pastor:
This month we are starting a new youth column called Ask the Pastor and we would like you to send Pastor Allen your questions. Questions can be from youth of all ages and can vary in topics from Bible doctrine to how to apply Bible principles to our daily lives in the workplace, at school, with friends, and at home. Our first question comes from a young student who says:
“What did Jesus mean in Acts 1:7 when he said to his disciples, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power?’”
This is a good question. The disciples had asked Jesus when the kingdom would be restored to Israel. This had been upon their minds before the crucifixion. Now, after the resurrection, they were sure Jesus would tell them. They were looking for a literal kingdom, but Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom and to change peoples hearts. By doing this, his kingdom of love and righteousness could be established. Jesus knows our need is not to understand when this will happen for everyone, but to allow it to happen now in our lives.
The important things for us to remember are that Jesus wants to live in our hearts and minds and that he is working with our dear Father to see that this can happen. So let us all be following our Master; praying, waiting, watching, and working for his cause to help others, as we yield to the control of the Holy Spirit and do the present duties Jesus gives us while we await for his second coming!Pastor Allen (PA)
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.
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013