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. 20, No.2 Straight and Narrow February 2011
Landmarks and Pillars of Our Faith
Last month we began a series entitled Clearly Comprehend, noting our need to clearly comprehend the gospel and how to present it to needy souls. We began with the foundational source for all truth, the Bible.
All truth is important, and no doctrine or teaching can be considered as insignificant. The truth sets us free from sin (John 8:32), and by it we are sanctified (John 17:17). Anciently Israel was not to move the landmarks of their neighbors, Cursed be he that removeth his neighbours landmark (Deuteronomy 27:17).
Some teachings serve as important foundations upon which we build our experience. Especially within Adventism we have what have been known as the pillars of our faith. These are doctrines that are vital to understand and which are used to build the full structure of Adventism. As we continue this series, therefore, we wish to look at these pillars of our faith and to begin to explore why they are so important to us.
Our concept of landmarks is as old as Adventism. In 1847 Joseph Bates published a pamphlet entitled SECOND ADVENT WAY MARKS AND HIGH HEAPS OR A CONNECTED VIEW, OF THE FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY, BY GODS PECULIAR PEOPLE, From the year 1840 to 1847, using Jeremiah 31:21 as his launching text. This pamphlet dealt with landmarks concerning the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus.
Perhaps you have studied the pillars of Adventism before, but remember the words of Paul, Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe (Philippians 3:1).
When we travel to various places, we look for signs and landmarks that help us to know we are on the proper path. For many years there was a log cabin at the end of the Smyrna Chapel Road. We could direct people to travel to this landmark, which made it easy for people to know that they were on the correct road. A few years ago the old log cabin was torn down and it became harder for people to find our little road leading to the chapel. This landmark was important to us, and without it, it is now harder for people to find the correct way.
In our spiritual life we have landmarks that help us to know we are on the right path and upon which we build our experience. David asked, If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Psalm 11:3)? The implied answer is that the righteous will have no hope. God has also been pleased to help us to understand what these pillars are and their great value. Let us begin our study by noting the central pillar of Adventism.
The atonement of Jesus in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary is the basis of Seventh-day Adventism. The 1844 disappointment was due to a misunderstanding of what the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 was and of the event that was to begin October 22, 1844. As bitter as that disappointment was, the understanding of the truth of the heavenly sanctuary and of Christs ministry was joyous to the believers who refused to concede that Gods hand had been in the movement. Writing of the importance of the 1844 atonement in heaven, Ellen White noted:
The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:14. (The Great Controversy, p. 409; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)
This famous statement tells us plainly that the sanctuary teaching is the central pillar of our faith. That certainly makes it very important. In fact, David says, Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God (Psalm 77:13)? Gods way, his character, and his righteousness are revealed in the sanctuary, even by the judgment which takes place there.
The judgment of the dead began in 1844 in the heavenly sanctuary. According to Revelation 14:7, we have been living in the time of the judgment since 1844. The Apostle Paul spoke of a judgment to come (Acts 24:25, future tense), but we speak of a judgment that has come (past tense). Paul also, quoting from Psalm 9:8, noted that God had appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (Acts 17:31). God appointed 1844 for the time of the judgment to begin, and Jesus Christ is that man who will judge.
The heavenly sanctuary is the setting for a great portion of the Revelation and also for the judgment scene of Daniel 7.
An Expanded List of Pillars
As we continue our study, we come to a famous statement in Counsel to Writers and Editors about the pillars of our faith:
The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to Gods people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus [including Righteousness by Faith]. One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of Gods law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. (Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 30, 31)
In this reference Ellen White mentions the sanctuary (as she also does in The Great Controversy quotation above); the three angels messages; the law of God, including the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; the faith of Jesus; and the non-immortality of the wicked. To this list we can add at least two other doctrines, the first of which is revealed in this statement:
Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor. (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 235)
This statement mentions the sanctuary, again, as a pillar of our faith, but it also mentions the personalities of God and of Christ as pillars, and it brings in the symbol of an anchor. The landmarks act as anchors to hold us in a steady position of truth so that we do not go adrift. I was once with my stepfather and my family on his pontoon boat. He asked me to drop the anchor, which I did, and I watched the rope quickly uncoil, as the anchor sank in the water. Then, to my amazement, the end of the rope also sank into the water! The lake was deeper than I had imagined, the rope shorter than I had expected, and the end of the rope was not attached to the boat! Now we were adrift and could not keep our boat in one position. Anchors hold you in the proper place, and when you lose an anchor, you are adrift.
We should consider one more statement that helps to define our pillars. Though this statement does not mention the term pillar or landmark, it introduces the anchor symbol as an equivalent to pillars and landmarks.
The only safety now is to search for the truth as revealed in the word of God, as for hid treasure. The subjects of the Sabbath, the nature of man, and the testimony of Jesus are the great and important truths to be understood; these will prove as an anchor to hold Gods people in these perilous times. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 300)
In this statement we see the testimony of Jesus in the same category as pillars and referred to as an anchor.
Recapping the list of pillars that are mentioned by the Spirit of Prophecy, we find the following list:
These certainly are fundamental doctrines that carry great importance not simply to Adventism, but to all Christianity, though they are not all received.
The Non-immortality of the Wicked
The non-immortality of the wicked is a fundamental teaching that is like a sharp, two-pronged fork. It safeguards against one of the main forms of spiritualism. The Scripture states:
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing. (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
His [the dead persons] sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. (Job 14:21)
Would you like some recent news that helps us to understand the value in this truth? The Vatican announced on January 14 that Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1, 2011. This is the last step before sainthood. To be beatified there must be proof of at least one miracle being performed by the person under consideration. You will find Pope John Paul IIs supposed miracle to be of great interest:
Medical and theological experts have credited John Paul II with the healing of a nun whose order prayed to him after he died in 2005. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre says she was cured of Parkinsons disease. (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/13/john-paul-beatification-news-could-come-friday-reports-say/)
The teaching of the non-immortality of the wicked is also a safeguard against the charge that God is a tyrant. It preserves the mercy of his character with his righteousness:
It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment. The religion of the Bible, full of love and goodness, and abounding in compassion, is darkened by superstition and clothed with terror. When we consider in what false colors Satan has painted the character of God, can we wonder that our merciful Creator is feared, dreaded, and even hated? The appalling views of God which have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made thousands, yes, millions, of skeptics and infidels. (The Great Controversy, p. 536)
The Scripture is plain that God is no such tyrant. The destruction of the wicked by God is called a strange act (Isaiah 28:21). On the surface the destruction of the wicked seems foreign to his character of love. God, in his mercy, will finally destroy all sin and the sinners who refuse to let go of their sin. They will not have immortality in an eternally burning hell.
For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. (Obadiah 1:16)
And they [the wicked] went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 20:9)
The Law of God
The law of God is the transcript of his character. God is holy. Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy (Psalm 99:9).
God is just: just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (Revelation 15:3).
Jesus testifies that God is good (Mark 10:18). The Psalmist says, Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart (Psalm 73:1). God is good to Israel because he is good. Jesus, who is the express image of the Fathers character, is the the good shepherd (John 10:14).
Just as God is holy, just, and good, his law is holy, just, and good: Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good (Romans 7:12).
One more character trait of God that is the most important and that parallels his law is love. First John 4:8 tells us that God is love. The Psalmist, speaking prophetically of Jesus, noted: I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8) The yoke that binds to service is the law of God. The great law of love revealed in Eden, proclaimed upon Sinai, and in the new covenant written in the heart, is that which binds the human worker to the will of God (The Desire of Ages, p. 329).
Gods law binds us to him. In Isaiah 8:16 God says, Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. As Gods law binds us to God, there is a special part of that law which also seals us to him the Sabbath.
The very seal of God is found in the Sabbath commandment, Exodus 20:8-11. Every official seal has three distinct parts: the name of the lawgiver or ruler, the title, and the territory of the lawgiver. In Exodus 20:11 we find all three parts in the fourth commandment. For in six days the LORD [his name, Jehovah or Yahweh] made [his title, creator] heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is [his territory], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
The Sabbath is even called by God the foundation of many generations:
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words. (Isaiah 58:12,13)
Those who honor the Sabbath are called repairers of the breach and restorers of [the old] paths. The man of sin has sought to breach the law of God and take away the old paths from the people, but God will have a people who will close up the breach in the Ten Commandments and clearly show the way to the old paths.
God, through Ezekiel, says that the Sabbath would be a sign between him and his people (Ezekiel 20:20), and Ellen White simply puts it:
The Sabbath is a golden clasp that unites God and His people. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 351)
The Faith of Jesus
Coupled with the commandments of God is the faith of Jesus. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12) Though sometimes ignored in the list of landmarks from Counsels to Writers and Editors, the faith of Jesus is vital to the foundation of our experience.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference. (Romans 3:22)
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. (Philippians 3:9)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
It is impossible to preach the everlasting gospel (Revelation 14:6) without teaching the faith of Jesus. Surely the plan of salvation is foundational to the experience of every person who claims to be a Christian.
The Personalities of God and of Jesus
The Apostle Peter tells us that Gods grace and peace come to us through a knowledge of him. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1: 2, 3). Not only does grace and peace come to us, but all things that pertain unto life and godliness come through knowing God.
Like our Saviour, we are in this world to do service for God. We are here to become like God in character, and by a life of service to reveal Him to the world. In order to be co-workers with God, in order to become like Him and to reveal His character, we must know Him aright. We must know Him as He reveals Himself. (The Ministry of Healing, p. 409)
God reveals himself as a God of love and justice, as a God of mercy and righteousness.
A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character.
This is the knowledge needed by all who are working for the uplifting of their fellow men. Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God. This knowledge is the essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come. (Ibid.)
Jesus plainly declares that it is life eternal to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Christs favorite theme was the paternal tenderness and abundant grace of God (Christs Object Lessons, p. 40). In order to strengthen our confidence in God, Christ teaches us to address Him by a new name, a name entwined with the dearest associations of the human heart. He gives us the privilege of calling the infinite God our Father (Ibid., pp. 141, 142).
Sadly, one of the major religions of the world, Islam, teaches a greatly perverted understanding of God. Ahmed Deedat, a well-known Muslim apologist, writing in his book Al-Quran, states the Muslim thought about calling God, Father:
In Christian theology, this simple, innocent word Father has acquired a novel meaning. He is, according to Christianity, the One Who BEGOT the son Jesus. They say in their catechism Jesus is the very God of very God, begotten of the Father, begotten NOT made. If words have any meaning, what does this mean? Of course it means what it says! God has many sons according to the Holy Bible. Adam, Israel, Ephraim, David, Solomon, etc (sic) But all these are metaphorical sons. God Almighty as the Creator and Cherisher is metaphorically the father of His every creature; every animal or human being: but Jesus (pbuh [peace be unto him]), the Christians say, is not like these. He was BEGOTTEN, not MADE! This according to Islam is the most abominable utterance, attributing to God an animal nature the lower animal function of sex! (pp. 64, 65; all emphasis in the original)
Of the 99 attributes given to God in the Quran, father is never used and was never used by Mohammed, and this is called by Deedat MIRACULOUS and DIVINE (Ibid., p. 63; emphasis in original).
The Catholic Church declares that their concept of God, the trinity, is the central doctrine of Catholic faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church (Handbook for Todays Catholic, p. 16). The very movement God raised up to war against the beast will surely strike a death blow to the beasts central pillar.
The Three Angels Messages
Some have tried to limit our foundational teachings by looking at the three angels messages in a very superficial way. Among many historic Adventists, the incarnation of Jesus is considered a landmark and pillar and much concern is expressed about this doctrine, yet it is not specifically listed by Ellen White as a pillar. However, when we speak of the three angels messages, we must understand that these messages are very comprehensive and within the three angels messages are all the details of the everlasting gospel (including the incarnation), of the sanctuary message, of the fall of Babylon, and of the mark of the beast/seal of God.
The banner of the three angels messages includes the commandments and the faith of Jesus, the sanctuary message, and the ark with the law, highlighting the Sabbath commandment. Nothing seems to be specifically mentioned about God. Surely the doctrine of God must be a pillar. Nearly all Bible students acknowledge the doctrine of God to be the most fundamental doctrine of all. As we noted, the Catholic Church declares their understanding of God to be their central pillar of the Catholic faith. The very first commandment of the Ten Commandments forbids false worship. Within the first angels message, we find the commands to fear, to reverence, and to give glory to God. Can this be done with false ideas about him? Hardly!
Thousands have a false conception of God and His attributes. They are as verily serving a false god as were the servants of Baal. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 174)
The Testimony of Jesus
Not only is the testimony of Jesus one of the characteristics of the remnant people (Revelation 12:17; 19:10), but it has been promised to the church (Ephesians 4:1-13), and the church will prosper when it believes its prophets (2 Chronicles 20:20). The history of Godís people in ancient and modern times reveals a positive history when the prophets have been believed and followed and sadness and tragedy when disregarded and disobeyed.
The Foundation of Our Pillars
Pillars support a structure, but the pillars must rest upon a solid foundation. While the sanctuary doctrine is the central pillar of our faith, even it must rest upon a foundation. What is the foundation upon which these pillars rest?
According to the Bible and according to the testimonies, the teaching that Jesus is the Son of God is the foundation for the Christians experience. When Jesus and the disciples came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am (Matthew 16:13)? After giving the opinions of others, Peter boldly declared Jesus to be the Son of the living God (v. 16). To this Jesus responded, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (v. 17, 18).
This rock cannot be Peter, for the gates of hell prevailed against him on more than one occasion (Matthew 26:69-75; Galatians 2:11, 12). The context of the scripture demands that the rock of which Jesus spoke to be the truth that he was the Son of God. The Spirit of Prophecy agrees with this:
The truth which Peter had confessed is the foundation of the believers faith. It is that which Christ Himself has declared to be eternal life .
Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the churchs faith. (The Desire of Ages, pp. 412, 413)
Pillars are important, but even they will not stand firm and straight if the foundation they rest upon is weak or sagging. God has given his church a sure foundation upon which to rest its faith:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. (Ephesians 2:19, 20)
The foundation of the apostles and prophets is Jesus, and the foundation of Adventism is that Jesus is the Son of God!
The Importance of Our Pillars
Let us continue by asking ourselves, Did God give the Advent people fundamental pillars and landmarks? I would like to appeal to the writings of Ellen White as an inspired view of our history, and they say very plainly that God did:
The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 201)
the principles for which we fought in the early days were brought out in the power of the Holy Spirit (Ibid., p. 206)
The truths given us after the passing of the time in 1844 are just as certain and unchangeable as when the Lord gave them to us in answer to our urgent prayers. The visions that the Lord has given me are so remarkable that we know that what we have accepted is the truth. This was demonstrated by the Holy Spirit. Light, precious light from God, established the main points of our faith as we hold them today. (Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 53; Letter 50, 1906)
Ellen White boldly declares that we were given truth by God and that it was established early in our experience. In fact, writing in 1881, Ellen White could confidently say:
It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595)
Ellen White repeatedly wrote that God gave us truth and that we are not to be moved from these great testing truths:
Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 59; 1904)
As a people we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time had not lessened their value. (Ibid., p. 51)
The most solemn warnings have been given to us concerning the moving of even a pin of our pillars, as noted in the following statement from Early Writings:
I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,the first, second, and third angels messages. Said my accompanying angel, Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received. I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform. (Early Writings, pp. 258, 259; 1858)
Ellen White speaks of a solid, immovable platform and directly quotes from an angel a fearful woe upon anyone who would move even a pin of the message! The sanctuary; the non-immortality of the wicked; the law of God, including the Sabbath; the faith of Jesus; the personalities of God and of Jesus; the three angels messages; and the testimony of Jesus are vital truths for today, and the God of heaven, through an angel, pronounces a terrible woe upon those who move a block or stir a pin of these messages.
The importance of these messages should be clear to each believer of present truth, for the destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.
Instead of moving these landmarks and pillars, we need to clearly comprehend them, to value them, and to share them with every nation, kindred, tongue, and people! As Paul said, Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:6)!
The Old Paths
A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? . . . They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, 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. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. (Jeremiah 5:30, 31; 6:14-17)
Jeremiah prophesied during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. He also continued his ministry after the final fall of Jerusalem. Our opening text comes from the last part of the reign of Josiah, about four years before the beginning of the captivity. Josiah had attempted worship reform during his reign but the hearts of the people were not transformed. Especially after his death, Judah sank deep into the mire of apostasy and seemed quite content with her Laodicean condition.
The reformation under Josiah had cleansed the land of the idolatrous shrines, but the hearts of the multitude had not been transformed. The seeds of truth that had sprung up and given promise of an abundant harvest had been choked by thorns. Another such backsliding would be fatal; and the Lord sought to arouse the nation to a realization of their danger. (Prophets and Kings, pp. 410, 411; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)
During the reign of Jehoiakim, Judah was a spiritual disaster. The last two verses of Jeremiah chapter 5 give Gods assessment of the spiritual condition of Judah: A wonderful and horrible thing had happened in Judah. Astounding! The prophets taught false doctrine: And they healed the breach of my people imperfectly, making light of it, and saying, Peace, peace, and where is peace (Jeremiah 6:14 LXX)? God says that the priests ruled with strong and merciless hands, and here is the disaster of it all his people loved to have it so. The false prophets cried peace where there was no peace, the priests committed abominations and were not one bit ashamed of their sins, and the people loved it this way. This kind of religious life was not so hard; in fact, it was easy to be a Jew. The priests and rulers made no requests for self-denial; there were no demands upon the people, no calls to care for the poor, and no requirements of holiness. Why, even the prophets and priests lived as they pleased. It was a sad day in Judah. Enter Jeremiah, the prophet.
The Old Paths: Jeremiah recorded the illustration of a man standing at an intersection, or fork, in the road. Perhaps this man was a traveler who had come to the crossroad and had to decide which path to take. His options included new, modern roads, which were wide and easy to travel, and as the traveler watched, he saw many people travel along these ways. They did not know there were older paths. Finally, our path-seeker finds an older traveler and asks him where the old paths lie. The old man points him to a narrow, well-worn trail, hidden in the bushes, and says, That is the good way. Yes, almost everyone travels the new way, but the old paths are the good ways that will lead to peace and rest. This is the figure that God gives to his people.
Let us look at the history of these old paths. God called Abraham from Ur to keep his commandments. God could say that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws (Genesis 26:5). Abraham also would be known as the father of the faithful (Galatians 3:7-14).
The path went from Abraham through his descendants. Isaac was the son of Abraham and his son, Jacob, with his family, went to sojourn in Egypt during a famine. God brought them out of Egypt by a mighty hand and took them to the Promised Land, where they lived under judges until the kingships of Saul and David. Davids posterity would sit upon the throne of Judah. Sadly, few of his descendants were as faithful as he, and the kingdom began to crumble and with it the spiritual lifestyle of the people.
Conditions became so bad that God called Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to be his rod of chastisement. Jeremiah tried to wake the people out of their spiritual lethargy, but their response was this prophet does not know what he is talking about. He is behind the times. He is an old fogey, living in the wrong age. We will not walk therein. How strikingly this sounds like mainline Adventism today.
The Advent Movement: Adventism has a glorious history that speaks of Gods leading, much as he led Israel. Since 1844 we have had over 166 years of history. This was to be a movement of destiny! God called Adventism out from the rest of the world and out from the rest of professed Christianity to keep his commandments, including the Sabbath, and to keep the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).
As he was leading this people out from spiritual Egypt, just as with Israel, he began revealing himself to them. He showed them the truth that he was the only true God (John 17:3) and that Jesus was his only begotten Son (John 3:16). God revealed himself as a God of free will and not of force; he is the God of beauty and holiness. God led the Advent people to conduct their worship with dignity, sacredness, and reverence.
Additional long-buried truths were given to the people, including the truth of the nature of man, of death, and of hell. The sanctuary truth and the three angels messages became the center of our teachings. With this knowledge came the understanding that the papacy would attempt to trample the truth of God, the ministry of Jesus, and the Sabbath.
God gave to his people the old paths. These paths were not followed by many, and nobody else in the world was willing to walk in all these old paths. As the movement grew and progressed, new leaders came onto the field who knew not the pioneers, nor had they their spirit. They, like Israel of old, could not see the value of the old paths.
Our Modern Age: Looking at the supposedly advancing world about them, these leaders said, We live in a modern or postmodern age. What they meant was that they lived in an age of science and technology, in an age of communication and transportation, in an age of recreation and entertainment, and in an age when doctrine means little and fellowship means everything. Unity and acceptance were to be obtained at any price. Their theology and religion had to be in step with the beast and with the false prophet, for they dared not go back to the paths of the supposed Arian pioneers!
This modernization of the church also had to include a modernization of worship. After all, modern man is best communicated to by the stimulation of the senses and through celebration. Yet, through all this comes the prophets words, Stand in the way, ask for the old paths, walk therein. Sadly the answer of many was, and is, the same: We will not walk therein.
Advancing Light?: The cry of the modern pastor is Let us follow advancing light, and Proverbs 4:18 is quoted: But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Beloved, while more truth is to come, let us remember that it cannot contradict old truth. New light does not bring a new path or change the old paths. New light is to make the old paths brighter so that we may more clearly see the old paths to walk therein.
The words paths and ways in Jeremiah 6:16 are set in a parallel construction. Way represents the general direction of the life, while path is the worn road that the way travels, but there are contrasting paths. Not all roads, or paths, lead to heaven. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Psalm 1:6). Notice that there is a way for the righteous and a way for the ungodly, or wicked, and these ways, or paths, clearly do not lead to the same destination. Jesus said, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13, 14).
The old paths are not simply old; they are ancient. The word old is from the Hebrew word olam, which means very ancient, forever, or eternal. Notice how it is used in the following texts:
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever (olam ). (Genesis 3:22)
Thy throne, O God, is for ever (olam ) and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (Psalm 45:6)
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (olam ). (Micah 5:2)
Clearly the old paths have not been recently made. The old paths have been trodden by many folks. Especially in these last days is God calling a people who will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 58:12: And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Satans Attack against the Old Paths: God desired Judah to follow the ways of the law of Moses. This would cover their way of life; their worship of God; and, more fundamentally, what and how they thought of God. From these paths, however, Judah had departed. Satan had convinced Judah and its kings that a new and better way, or path, was needed. We find a parallel attack today within Adventism, but God has not been taken by surprise. Through his prophet he sounded a clear warning:
The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.
Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? (Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 204, 205; 1904)
The enemy is seeking to divert the minds of our brethren and sisters from the work of preparing a people to stand in these last days. His sophistries are designed to lead minds away from the perils and duties of the hour. They estimate as nothing the light that Christ came from heaven to give to John for His people. They teach that the scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to receive special attention. They make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin and rob the people of God of their past experience, giving them instead a false science.
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16.
Let none seek to tear away the foundations of our faith the foundations that were laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the word and by revelation. Upon these foundations we have been building for the last fifty years. Men may suppose that they have found a new way and that they can lay a stronger foundation than that which has been laid. But this is a great deception. Other foundation can no man lay than that which has been laid. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 296, 297; 1904)
Notice that both of these testimonies were written in 1904, a time when the Kellogg crisis was escalating. Dr. Kellogg was teaching false views about the nature and the identity of God. We were warned not to step off the platform of truth then or at any time in the future, and if we did, the results would be terrible.
Today we see the fruitage of this in Adventism in the form of the worship of the Holy Spirit in a celebration type of worship service. A call has been given to repent and find the way to the old paths, but they said, We will not walk therein.
Beloved, God is a God of truth, who must be worshiped in truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; John 4:24). We have no authority to worship outside the restraints of safety that God has ordained. Today God is calling for truthfilled preaching, for holy singing, and for reverence. The true gospel commission cannot be fulfilled with drama, with movies, and with rock bands. We are to seek for the things that are good, and the old paths are good.
Seeking the Good Way: The fact that we are told to seek for the old paths indicates that they are not easily seen on the surface. Truth, at times, is like buried treasure, and we must seek for it. The path is old and wellworn. There is much grass and brush beside it, and we must seek, or look, for it. Not only are we to seek for the old paths, but we are to ask for the way. This begs the question: Whom shall we ask?
The Scripture says there is safety in counsel (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6), but which counselors? We have been told that we have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history (Life Sketches, p. 196). Ellen White counsels us to go back in our history and find the brethren of experience:
There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 293)
The new paths of Adventism fail this divine standard. There is no record or evidence that F. M. Wilcox consulted with the brethren of experience when he singlehandedly wrote a new statement of beliefs in 1931. Did Leroy Froom or Roy Allan Anderson do this in 1957 when they brought in new doctrines? Did they consult with the men (by their works and writings) who had the experience of the passing of 1844 or even of 1888? No. They consulted with Donald Barnhouse, the pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, who said that he hated the Sabbath and that Christ hated the Sabbath! They consulted with a man who fully supported the doctrines of the man of sin and who would claim that Catholicism was orthodox, while slamming the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary. Our view on Rome has been consigned to the historical trash heap and the Sabbath is close behind, while the final atonement is denied and Tammuz is accepted. Even in Ellen Whites time, there were those already clamoring for the new paths. In 1880 she wrote to the church at Battle Creek:
Men who are acquainted with the way in which God has led His people in the past, instead of inquiring for the old paths and defending our position as a peculiar people, have linked hands with the world. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 513)
Our safety is not in creeds, in councils, or in the works of men. Even Luther wished that all his books would disappear and the Holy Scriptures alone be read. We need the word of the living God and the testimonies of Jesus. When we need wisdom, we are to ask of God. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5).
In his dedicatory prayer for the temple, Solomon said that God taught them the good way, wherein they should walk (2 Chronicles 6:27). Sadly Solomon left that path and Rehoboam, his son, was illtrained to reign after Solomons death. When Israel wanted to know if he would lighten the burdening load that Solomon had put upon them, Rehoboam asked for three days to seek guidance. Counseling with the older men who knew better, older paths, he was advised to lighten the burden that Solomon had placed upon the people (1 Kings 12:6, 7).
Rehoboam forsook that counsel, however, for the counsel of younger men, who did not know the old paths, and the kingdom was divided. Ellen White says that, tragically, Rehoboam and his young counselors failed to reason from cause to effect, and thus forever weakened their influence over a large number of the people (Prophets and Kings, p. 90). One mistake caused their influence to be forever affected. When compromises were made with the Evangelicals in 1955 and 1956, we did not gain influence for truth, as some thought we would, but we forever weakened our true influence in the message of the three angels.
Walking in the Old Paths: Once we find the old paths, we are to walk in them. This means action; it is more than just giving mental consent to a set of doctrines. Walking is a progressive event. We will not stagnate, if we are walking. Yes, there is new and brighter light to come, but new truth will not change old truth. It will merely make the old truth shine brighter, with a richer luster.
Gods people walk in the light. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways (Psalm 119:13). We need to walk in all the truth because the truth sanctifies the soul.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:6, 7)
Beloved, this is no time to give up the truths that have made us who we are! The past fifty years have not dimmed one jot or principle of our faith as we received the great and wonderful evidences that were made certain to us in 1844, after the passing of the time .Not a word is changed or denied. That which the Holy Spirit testified to as truth after the passing of the time, in our great disappointment, is the solid foundation of truth. Pillars of truth were revealed, and we accepted the foundation principles that have made us what we areSeventh-day Adventists, keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus. (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 7, p. 58)
The Test is the Rest: One way of knowing that the old paths are good is by the spiritual rest they provide. Yes, they may be narrow and upward, but they give peace. Does the path you travel, dear reader, bring true spiritual peace? There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked (Isaiah 57:21).
Do your doctrines bring you rest? I think of the hymn writer, William Cowper. He wrote some wonderful hymns, such as There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, Hark, My Soul! It Is the Lord, and Jesus, Whereer Thy People Meet; but Cowper believed in the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Predestination teaches that Jesus died for only an elect group of people and the rest of the people (the majority) are predestined for eternal hell. In this system there is irresistible grace for the elect but no choice, except damnation, for the wicked. Somehow Cowper became convinced that he was not one of the elect who would receive salvation. Though he loved God and wrote some beautiful hymns, he felt he was hellbound, with no possibility for salvation. He died an insane man.
Does your worship bring you rest, not just a rest that plays on the emotions, but the true rest of the Sabbath; and does it bring a knowledge of God? Jesus gave the most comforting invitation to be found in the Bible when he said:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Some people mistakenly think they can find peace without God, but the Bible says the order is first God, then peace. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
We live in dangerous, perilous, and challenging times, but God is trying to arouse his people to listen and to prepare. How? By seeking and finding the old paths and then by walking in them. We have been told:
There is no safety anywhere. Satan has come down with great power and is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Those who do not follow in Christ's footsteps will find themselves following another leader. They have listened to strange voices until they cannot distinguish the voice of the True Shepherd. Little by little they ceased to heed the warnings, the reproofs, the instructions. Human wisdom came in, human imaginations were followed. Much reliance is placed upon human exertion and devices, and they imperceptibly go on until they are fully satisfied with their own wisdom, their own inventions, and are filled with their own doings. (That I May Know Him, p. 212)
The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 81)
Beloved, we have presented before us a broad path and a narrow path. One is the new way, and one is the old way. One way leads to death; the other way leads to life. Which spiritual path, or way, will you follow? Jesus said, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you (John 12:35).
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
on Heart Disease
(Radio New Zealand interviewed Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. on November 27, 2010, and the interviewer stated that Dr. Esselstyn was a researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States for over thirty-five years, a highly-regarded member of the medical establishment, yet his nutritional theories about the benefits of an entirely plant-based diet are less mainstream. Famously Bill Clinton took his advice after heart surgery and said that it has changed his life, maybe saved it. The following is the first part of Dr. Esselstyns remarks during the interview, slightly edited. Next month we will conclude his remarks. Editors)
Dr. Esselstyn: In the late 1970s and early 80s my principal duty was chairman of our breast cancer task force, and while I was perfectly content to do the best I could with breast surgery for the women who had cancer, it was increasingly disenchanting to me that I was doing absolutely nothing for the next unsuspecting victim. That sort of initiated a global research effort on my part to learn a little bit more about the epidemiology of breast cancer, and it was quite striking to find that breast cancer in Kenya, for instance, was twenty to thirty times less frequent than in the United States, and by looking at the Japanese women during World War II and thereabouts, it was very infrequently seen in rural Japan. Yet as soon as the Japanese women would migrate to the United States, by the second and third generation, still pure Japanese American, they now had the same rate of breast cancer as their Caucasian counterpart.
Perhaps even more compelling [evidence of an environmental influence] was cancer of the prostate. If you look at the data, how many autopsyproven deaths were there from cancer of the prostate in the entire nation of Japan in 1958? Well, the grand total of eighteen. That is about one of the most mindboggling public health tickers I think I have ever encountered, but by 1978, twenty years later, they were up to 137 deaths. Well, that still pales in comparison to the 28,000 that we will see in the United States this year from prostate cancer. So, it was getting to be pretty exciting. At that point I made a decision that might have been incorrect. I felt that my bones would long be dust before I could do a study on cancerous diseases and nutrition. In hindsight I think that that may have been incorrect; nevertheless, I felt that we could get at cancer through heart disease because here was the leading killer of women and men in western civilization, which in part of this global review it was very apparent that there were many cultures on the planet where cardiovascular disease was then, and is even now, virtually nonexistent because of their plantbased nature.
For instance, even today, if you were a heart surgeon and you decided you were going to take your trade to rural China or to the Papua highlands in New Guinea or to central Africa or to the Tarahumara Indians in northern Mexico, forget it. You had better plan on selling pencils. You are not going to have any business. They dont have heart disease in those areas. They are largely plantbased, and that was sort of the background on what inspired my research.
There has been a very interesting study done to look at the causes of death and cardiovascular disease in the Papua Highlanders who have died, and this was an autopsy study of only those who were over the age of sixty. And it is interesting that their principal cause of morbidity seems to be pulmonary. They have a very interesting habit of smoking a very harsh tobacco, which they raise, and they often will smoke this tobacco in these communal hutches, so you not only get your own smoke, but you also benefit from that of all your neighbors. Well, this has given them quite a toll of pulmonary disease, but despite the fact that they have smoked this much, when they autopsy those over sixty, there is not a whiff of any cardiovascular disease because of what they eat, and this was about nineteen different varieties of sweet potato!
If we look carefully even at our 12yearolds in school today and measure the carotid artery to the brain, it is already starting to get a certain amount of thickening. If we survive into the warranty period, into when we are in our 20s, we know from the autopsy studies that we have done on our GIs who died in combat in Vietnam and Korea, that fully 80% of these 20yearolds will already have gross evidence of coronary artery disease that you can see at autopsy without a microscope. There are some who might say, Well, maybe it is the stress of the military, but if you did the same with the Koreans and the Vietnamese, it was only 13%, not 80%.
Interestingly enough we now have another study, forty years later. No military, and this was done on thousands of young people between the ages of seventeen and thirty-four, who died from accidents, homicides, and suicides, and now the disease is ubiquitous. Everybody, even at this young age, has it, not enough to have their clinical cardiac events yet, which are probably still a couple of decades down the line, but there it is, already established. We are obviously doing something that isnt correct.
So, lets look at another interesting observation where we as a medical community really blew it, and that was in World War II. It was characteristic of the Axis powers of Germany, when they overran the low countries of Holland and Belgium and when they occupied Denmark and Norway, that they took away their livestock for their troops; that is to say, their cattle, their sheep, their goats, their pigs, their chickens, their turkeys gone. Largely these cultures now became plantbased over the war years, and in 1951 a couple of scientists sat down, Drs. Strøm and Jensen, and wrote a very fascinating article in the Lancet Journal, which is Britains primary medical journal, where they clearly showed how in Norway, from 1939 to 1945 during the German Occupation (a time of the greatest stress with the enemy in their backyard) that on this plantbased type of nutrition, the deaths in Norway from strokes and heart attacks absolutely plummeted. Its very prompt. Its a very powerful study, and really the disappointing side of it was as soon as there was a cessation of hostilities in 1949, we had the immediate resumption, of course, of meat and dairy, and back came the strokes and back came the heart attacks within two years to what they were in the prewar era.
The heart itself, the muscle of the heart, which is what comprises our wonderful pump, thats okay. It is the vessels that are going to it that are succumbing to this disease, the blockages and the plaque, and so forth. What actually we do is we injure the life jacket or the guardian of our blood vessel, which is that tiny, little, single layer of cells, which has a name, the endothelial cells, and they produce nitric oxide.
Now the endothelial cells make this wonderful nitric oxide, and we like to have nice high levels of that because of the functions that it does for us. Let us take them onebyone. Firstly, nitric oxide keeps our blood flowing smoothly, like Teflon rather than like Velcro. Secondly, when we climb up stairs rapidly, the arteries to our heart widen and dilate, as do the arteries to our legs. That is due to nitric oxide. Thirdly, nitric oxide will prevent the formation of inflammation in the walls of our blood vessels. Fourthly, most importantly, adequate levels of nitrate oxide will prevent the formation of plaque or blockages in our artery. This is the absolute key because you can gather from what I just said earlier that these young GIs who have this coronary artery disease when they lose their lives in combat at age twenty, they already now had their nitric oxide levels lowered so much through the food that they had been eating, as they grew up, that they were no longer able to protect themselves from the inception of this disease.
The research has gotten sophisticated enough so that we can actually now measure the actual output of nitric oxide indirectly. We can measure this so that we can tell literally, within minutes, what the foods are that, once they pass our lips, are going to impair, compromise, and injure the endothelial cells so that our ability to make nitric oxide is diminished. (To Be Continued)
The Bible and Human Emotions
The concept of emotion is not easy to articulate. Noah Websters 1828 dictionary gives the following definitions:
EMOTION, n. [L. emotio; emoveo, to move from.]
1. Literally, a moving of the mind or soul; hence, any agitation of mind or excitement of sensibility.
2. In a philosophical sense, an internal motion or agitation of the mind which passes away without desire; when desire follows, the motion or agitation is called a passion.
3. Passion is the sensible effect, the feeling to which the mind is subjected, when an object of importance suddenly and imperiously demands its attention. The state of absolute passiveness, in consequence of any sudden percussion of mind, is of short duration. The strong impression, or vivid sensation, immediately produces a reaction correspondent to its nature, either to appropriate and enjoy, or avoid and repel the exciting cause. This reaction is very properly distinguished by the term emotion.
Emotions therefore, according to the genuine signification of the word, are principally and primarily applicable to the sensible changes and visible effects, which particular passions produce on the frame, in consequence of this reaction, or particular agitation of mind.
We quote from the 1828 edition because these definitions would be the meanings used in the times of Ellen White, whose works we shall frequently cite in this article.
The word emotion comes from a Latin word that means to move. In its most basic sense, an emotion is something that moves the mind or soul, causing an agitation of mind or excitement of sensibility.
Emotions are closely connected to feelings. In fact emotion is one of the definitions for feelings. Ellen White connected emotions and feelings repeatedly in her writings, with neither being recommended as a guide. For example:
Gods children are not to be subject to feelings and emotions. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 518)
To be subject to someone or something means that you are under its control and that it is ruling over you. We are not to be ruled by our feelings, or emotions.
Feelings are often deceiving, emotions are no sure safeguard; for they are variable and subject to external circumstances. Many are deluded by relying on sensational impressions. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 188)
Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable. (Ibid., vol. 5, p. 513)
You are not to wait for wonderful emotions before you believe that God has heard you, feeling is not to be your criterion, for emotions are as changeable as the clouds. (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 328)
A principle that will help us as we study this quarter is to remember that Satan wants to use the flesh to control the mind, but God wants to use the mind to control the flesh.
Some people believe that the greatest and supreme emotion is love, but is this really true? The Bible states that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). God is not an emotion, but he is love.
On a lower, superficial level, love may be considered to be an emotion. Ellen White refers to this kind of love, saying:
How repugnant to every emotion of love and mercy, and even to our sense of justice, is the doctrine that the wicked dead are tormented with fire and brimstone in an eternally burning hell; that for the sins of a brief earthly life they are to suffer torture as long as God shall live. (The Great Controversy, p. 535)
Yet, on the higher level, emotions are not worthy of being called love. Ellen White noted that love is not an emotion or an impulse but a decision of a sanctified will (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1101). She also writes that love is a principle:
True love is a high and holy principle, altogether different in character from that love which is awakened by impulse and which suddenly dies when severely tested. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 176)
Because love is more than an emotion, the tired mother gets up at night to care for a crying child, and the father works himself to exhaustion to provide for his family, even if the child and the family are unmindful or unappreciative of their efforts. The Bible teaches that the main character trait of God is unselfishness love. Though humanity as a whole is not mindful of Gods care nor appreciative of the gift of his Son, God still loves humanity. That is not to say that God is emotionless and without feelings, but even with God principle, not emotion, rules. Our experience is not to be tested nor ruled by our emotions, but rather our experience is to be ruled by faith in Gods word. We have been told:
Many judge of their religious state by their emotions, but these are not a safe criterion. Our Christian life does not depend upon our feelings, but upon our having a right hold from above. (The Review and Herald, March 8, 1892)
At times we cannot control the emotions, but we can, by the grace of God, control the will, which overrides the emotions.
If you cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, you can control the will, and thus an entire change will be wrought in your life. When you yield up your will to Christ, your life is hid with Christ in God. It is allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You have a strength from God that holds you fast to his strength; and a new life, even the life of faith, is possible to you. (Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 148)
A parents only child may have died, and though the parent is in great sorrow, principled love holds the parent together and he or she is able to praise God for his goodness even amid the sorrow. The will and the thoughts of the mind are to be above the emotions. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to bring into captivity every thought into the obedience of Jesus Christ. We bring every thought into this obedience by yielding the will to God.
Our will is to be yielded to Him, that we may receive it again, purified and refined, and so linked in sympathy with the Divine that He can pour through us the tides of His love and power. However bitter and painful this surrender may appear to the willful, wayward heart, yet it is profitable for thee. (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 62)
There are those who teach that One could argue, justifiably, that emotions rule our lives to a much greater extent than reason does or ever could (Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, January March 2011, p. 2). If the last three words were left out of this statement this might be justifiably argued as true, for most people allow emotions to rule over them, but this is not so for the true Christian! The religion of Christ brings the emotions under the control of reason (The Review and Herald, October 31, 1907), and it does it all the time!
I had heard for many years that thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce actions, actions produce habits, and habits produce character, but after reading the prior quotations and the following quotation, we can see that in our Christian experience, feelings, or emotions, are not to be a part of this character chain:
Never forget that thoughts work out actions. Repeated actions form habits, and habits form character. (The Upward Look, p. 89)
Here we do not see the chain of thoughts feelings habits character, but rather the chain of thoughts habits character. We also read that:
Our thoughts produce our words and our words react upon our thoughts. (That I May Know Him, p. 137)
This is why it is so important to keep our thoughts stayed upon Christ instead of upon ourselves. It is not wise to look to ourselves and study our emotions. If we do this, the enemy will present difficulties and temptations that weaken faith and destroy courage (The Ministry of Healing, p. 249).
It is not wisdom to look at the emotions, and try to test your spirituality by your feelings. Do not study yourself; look away from self to Jesus. While you acknowledge yourself as a sinner, yet you may appropriate Christ as your sin-pardoning Redeemer. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Satan will not be slow in presenting to the repentant soul suggestions and difficulties to weaken faith and destroy courage. He has manifold temptations that he can send trooping into the mind, one in succession of another; but the Christian must not study his emotions, and give way to his feelings, or he will soon entertain the evil guest, doubt, and become entangled in the perplexities of despair. Expel the suggestions of the enemy by contemplating the matchless depths of your Saviours love. (The Signs of the Times, December 3, 1894)
Negative and Positive Emotions
Did Jesus experience both negative and positive types of emotions? That may depend upon what we define as negative and positive, but let us look at some scriptures. Jesus had righteous anger when he cleansed the temple, but was this hatred? John records the event:
And the Jews passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Fathers house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (John 2:13-17)
The Greek word translated zeal is zelos (zhlov). Zelos means an excitement of mind and is from the word zew (zhw) which means to boil with heat. There is no question that Jesus was moved in his spirit, but his anger was against sin, not the sinner. Let us always keep this distinction when dealing with our emotions.
Did Jesus worry? He was the one who said: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28) and Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you (John 14:27). In the Spirit of Prophecy, we read: Worry is blind, and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning (The Desire of Ages, p. 330). Was Jesus afraid or fearful? We read that when Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart (Ibid., p. 336). How could Jesus tell his little flock to fear not if he had this emotion?
Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but this does not mean that he was weak and subject to emotions, but rather that he understood by experience what it was like to be tempted to be fearful, to worry, to have hatred, and to be jealous, but the principle of love always overrode those emotions and controlled him rather than the emotions controlling him. Youngs Literal Translation of Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus could sympathise with our infirmities.
Was Jesus ever frustrated, as is taught in some circles today? The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for December 29, 2010 states that much of Jesus suffering had to do with feelings of frustration when His followers did not grasp His message. To many people today, frustration carries a negative connotation of being upset and angry, but strictly speaking, this is not a part of the definition of frustration. Frustration is from the word frustrate, which means to interrupt; hence, to defeat, to disappoint, to balk, or to bring to nothing. Jesus was sorrowful that everyone who heard his words did not accept his gospel message, and in this sense, he would have been frustrated, but let us be careful to not apply a further meaning to the word frustration than proper semantics affords it. We may not say that Jesus was frustrated in the sense of being aggravated and that we may also be frustrated in this sense, or aggravated, with people or events about us.
Dealing with Pain
Jesus speaks about the Christian dealing with pain and that God does have a plan to help the believer deal with pain. John 16:20-24 says:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
From these verses we find five main points:
The context of Jesus words centers around the events of Calvary. The disciples would be sorrowful, while the world would be happy; but the context for happiness is after the resurrection and not before eternity. In this world we will still have pain, but God will help us to deal with pain. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners (Isaiah 57:18), and I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow (Jeremiah 31:13). When we have pain, cares, and concerns, we are to look to Jesus and cast our cares upon him: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7). We need to turn our cares over to Jesus.
Worry is blind, and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.
Learn of Me, says Jesus; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest. We are to enter the school of Christ, to learn from Him meekness and lowliness. Redemption is that process by which the soul is trained for heaven. This training means a knowledge of Christ. It means emancipation from ideas, habits, and practices that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness. The soul must be delivered from all that is opposed to loyalty to God.
In the heart of Christ, where reigned perfect harmony with God, there was perfect peace. He was never elated by applause, nor dejected by censure or disappointment. Amid the greatest opposition and the most cruel treatment, He was still of good courage. But many who profess to be His followers have an anxious, troubled heart, because they are afraid to trust themselves with God. They do not make a complete surrender to Him; for they shrink from the consequences that such a surrender may involve. Unless they do make this surrender, they cannot find peace.
It is the love of self that brings unrest. When we are born from above, the same mind will be in us that was in Jesus. (The Desire of Ages, p. 330)
Notice the following steps of surrender that God requires in order for the Christian to have peace:
Romans 5:1 says, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (NKJV). The peace clearly follows, not precedes, justification.Allen Stump
Quiz on Job 38, 39
1. Who is the speaker in Job 38 and 39?
2. To whom is the main discourse directed?
3. Verses 4-7 speak of what common theme?
4. Who would be the morning stars that sing in Job 38:7? What evidence can we provide for this answer?
4. Read the following SOP pages (6T, p. 456; PP, p. 65; 8T, p. 42) that parallel Job 38:7. What three times are mentioned that the morning stars sing?
5. What common theme is mentioned in Job 38:8-11?
6. To what is the creation of the sea paralleled in verse 8?
7. What common theme is mentioned in Job 38:12-15?
8. What does dayspring mean in Job 38:12?
9. Explain Job 38:15.
10. What are some of the wonders mentioned in Job 38:16-30? List at least six.
11. What might we consider to be a treasure of the snow?
12. What would have been the first fulfillment of Job 38:22, 23?
13. What is meant in Job 38:26?
14. What other place in the Bible, besides Job 38:31, is the Pleiades mentioned with Orion, and what is the Pleiades called in that verse?
15. What theme begins in Job 38:39 and continues through chapter 39?
16. What two animals are mentioned in Job 39:1-4?
17. What future king of Israel lived around one of these animals, and what reference can we use to prove this?
18. What is meant by the number of months that they fulfil in Job 39:2?
19 Why would this have been hard to know?
20. What would the expression good liking mean in Job 39:4?
21. What animal is mentioned in Job 39:5-8?
22. What is the meaning of the Job 39:7?
23. The unicorn is described in Job 39:9-12. What animal is this really talking about?
24. What is implied in Job 39:10? In what ways is God contrasting this animal with its tame counterpart?
25. According to the KJV, what two birds are mentioned in Job 39:13?
26. According to the margin, what two birds are contrasted?
27. Who has made one of these birds dumb, or without wisdom?
28. What action is mentioned of one of the birds to show its great speed?
29. The wonders of what animal are the theme of Job 39:19-25?
30. What do we learn about this animal in battle?
31. What animal is mentioned in Job 39:26? What process is described that this animal does to illustrate Gods wisdom?
32. The wonders of what animal are the theme of Job 39:27-30?
33. In what type of places does this animal live?
34. What is said about this animals eyesight?
Bonus: What does Ellen White say about Orion in the book Early Writings?
Answers to Quiz on Job 36, 37
1. Elihu is to speak in Job 36 and 37.
2. Elihus arguments in Job 36:6 are the same basic arguments as those of the others.
3. Daniel 2.21 and Psalm 34:15 are cross references to Job 36:7.
4. The word unclean in Job 36:14 mean a male temple prostitute.
5. Job 36:16 means that the fetters and cords of affliction Job was experiencing were from God as discipline for his iniquity, and if he would just listen and learn from it, God would remove the affliction and place Job in a broad place full of fatness
6. The expression Desire not the night in Job 36:19 means to desire not death. References to this in Job are found in Job 10.19; 6:9; 7:15; 14:13.
7. Elihu states that we cannot number Gods years.
8. In Job 36:31 Elihu states that God judges the people and provides food in abundance.
9. Elihu uses thunder to describe the voice of God.
10. The season winter is described in Job 37:7-10.
11. According to Job 37:7 the purpose of this revelation is to reveal to man his works and give him time during this off season to think about God
12. Hibernation is described in Job 37:8.
13. Ice, or freezing of the water, is expressed in the last phrase of Job 37:10.
14. According to Job 37:13 rain brings blessings and correction.
15. Job 37:23 says we cannot find the Almighty, but this is false because, according to Jeremiah 29:13, when we seek him with all our hearts, we will find him.
16. The expression, wise of heart in Job 37:24 means inner wisdom or conceit.
Report from the Solomon Islands
By Nadar Mansour
November 24 December 7, 2010
The trip to the Solomon Islands began with an invitation to attend their 2010 camp meeting (Nov. 26Dec. 5). Brothers Peter AhKoy (from Fiji) and Nader Mansour (from Australia) travelled to the Solomon Islands in response to the invitation. The trip and the camp were a season of many rich blessings and miracles. The enemy of souls also was busy in placing hindrances and blocks along the way but, by Gods grace, these were overcome and surmounted.
The difficulties began in the Brisbane Airport, with the announcement that the departure was delayed by twelve hours. We flew through a storm pretty much the whole way, which made for a rather bouncy trip (punctuated by some screaming passengers at times), but we arrived safely in Honiara at approximately 2:00 a.m. Brother Kevis Harry, who is leading out with the work in the Solomon Islands, was patiently waiting for me. Shortly after arrival I discovered that our bags were left behind in Brisbane. Apparently, the plane was not large enough to accommodate all the luggage, so half the passengers were missing their bags. This delay upset the plans for travel to camp, which was to happen that day. Thankfully, the bags arrived on the next cargo flight, and we collected them gratefully, but now we had to travel to camp on Friday instead of the original travel plan on Thursday.
The camp was held on Malaita Island, so our travel was going to be by boat and truck to get to the camp ground. The ferry took about four hours, and we were blessed with a calm sea. The next part of the journey was by truck. We all piled in the back of the truck trying to find the most comfortable position among the cargo and luggage. The distance we had to travel was just one hundred kilometres, but the road condition forced us to travel slowly. The journey took us seven hours (our average speed was 15k/h). We were thankful that we did not encounter rain till the very last part of the trip. The camp ground was flooded due to the heavy rain that had been falling. We were thankful to have a rest that night.
Brother Peter and I shared the meetings, and the messages were very well-received. The theme of the camp was In the Hour of the Latter Rain. Brother Peter challenged the people to seek the revival and reformation that are urgently needed among us. We are told that this is our greatest need. A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work (The Review and Herald, March 22, 1887).
The other messages examined the truth about God in the context of the three angels messages and in the context of worship that will bring the whole world to a test. The message and character of Elijah were also subjects of study in response to the prophecy of Malachi 4:5, 6. The people were very appreciative of some of the new things they were learning, as well as the challenge to be zealous and repent.
The afternoon sessions were dedicated to health talks and practical aspects of the gospel, such as natural remedies and cooking demonstrations. The evening sessions witnessed many people from surrounding villages in attendance. This was a blessing, as some of them heard some truths for the first time and returned bringing other friends.
The Lord truly blessed, despite hindering factors. The heavy rain on Friday made the river swell, and by Sabbath morning we noticed the level of water in the river rising rapidly. We prayed that the river would not flood the camp (as everyone was camped along the side of the river), and the Lord heard our prayer. A number of times during the meetings, we would get a downpour of rain which would be so loud on the metal roof of the church that no one could hear what was said. When this would happen, we would all kneel and pray and ask the Lord to hold off the rain so we could have a meeting, and our prayers were heard. Jesus is still the Master of the wind and rain. This event occurred a number of times and always when we were trying to have a meeting. The enemy was intent on disrupting the camp, but the power of the Lord was seen. Praise his name.
On Tuesday morning we were awakened at 3:00 a.m. with the news that there was a medical emergency. One of the pastors who had just arrived was severely constipated and in a great amount of pain. We prayed earnestly for him and applied some treatments. Thankfully, after a few hours, he was relieved from the pain and able to go to the toilet. He still needed some more help, though, so a collection was taken in the morning and we sent him in a truck to the hospital. The place where camp was held was a simple village setting, with no power, running water, or any service nearby. It is so important that workers be able to minister to the physical, as well as the spiritual needs of the people. Medical missionaries have many fields open and waiting for them. The harvest is great but the labourers are few.
The river provided us with a place to wash ourselves, as well as our clothes. We praised God for safety, as we were informed that there were crocodiles that inhabited the river. The generator provided us with power for the evening meetings. The Lord also blessed that we did not get sick while we were there.
Some of the testimonies given at camp were most encouraging. One man got up and said I was not born a Seventh-day Adventist. I was born a heathen, but I am so thankful that I have come to know the true God and worship Him. Another lady was oppressed by evil spirits, who would make her feel like running away into the bush. She was not able to sleep well at night as a result and constantly felt troubled. We anointed her that night and prayed with her that the Lord will relieve her. The next day we asked her how she felt. She said, Praise the Lord! The darkness is gone, and my head feels light. It was such a blessing to see this sister give her testimony and sing praises to God, who delivered her.
On Friday we went to the market, and Brother Peter preached to the people there, appealing to them to accept Jesus while there is still time. There were many people there, some of whom stood by to listen as the message was shared. As a result one man came to the meeting that night at camp and was very impressed with what he heard. The Friday night meeting was to be held outdoors due to increased numbers, and the Lord held off the rain, thankfully. There were many new people for that meeting in which we studied the fearful prophecy of Ezekiel 8 & 9. It was a very solemn message, and people were deeply moved.
The final Sabbath was very eventful. Three new pastors were ordained to the ministry and to help move the work forward. There was also a special prayer of dedication for the lay workers, which numbered approximately twenty. A number of families wanted their marriage to be publicly blessed by God, and this was done. Some of these couples had married using the local custom, and they had not had any religious aspect to their union. They desired to obtain the blessing of heaven upon their union. There were also four children dedicated to the Lord that Sabbath. Brother Peter gave a powerful discourse on faith and on seeking first Gods kingdom and trusting God despite all difficulties.
There were seven young people at the camp who decided to give a public testimony of their faith through baptism. Once again, we prayed that the Lord would ease the pouring rain that we might go to the river and witness this happy moment for them. They gave some very touching testimonies. Please keep them in prayer.
We were privileged to also attend the workers meeting where the plans and organization for the work there were discussed. The ministry in the Solomon Islands is determined to do all it can to spread the message of truth in their country and hasten the coming of the Lord. Brother Kevis Harry was chosen to continue in his leading role. Please keep him in your prayers and the work that is going forward in that part of the world.
We had a safe and uneventful trip to Honiara and then on to home. We count it both a privilege and an honour to be involved in this most important work. Thank you so much for your supporting prayers before the throne of grace on our behalf. The Lord indeed has heard and answered them, praise his name.
I just want to end this report with an appeal particularly directed to the young people. If you desire to serve the Lord in the mission fields, pray about the Solomon Islands. That is a fruitful field that awaits the harvesting hands of Gods servants. The Lord is still asking the same question he asked Isaiah of old, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Youths Corner Wartburg Castle and Luther
By Onycha Holt
Our story this month is about a castle that even five hundred years ago was considered to be an ancient castle. This castle is sometimes known as Luthers Castle because it was to this castle that Luther was swished away for his own safety on his journey home from Worms, Germany. Charles V had promised Luther a safe conduct home from the Diet, but Frederick of Saxony feared that the Roman Emperor would not honor his promise and, even if he did, that Luther would not be safe in Wittenberg after he arrived, so he planned a daring capture.
Following his refusal to bend to the pressures of the Catholic Church and of the political leaders, Luther left Worms on Friday, April 26, 1517, in a wagon that was pulled slowly by a horse. He was headed for Oppenheim. A few friends joined him in the wagon for the short distance through Worms, and other friends on horseback escorted him as he left the city. By the evening of Saturday, the 27th, he was in Frankfort. Following Frankfort he went to Friedburg and then traveled to Hirschfeld. The chancellor to the Prince Abbot of Hirschfeld welcomed him at the entrance of the city, and soon after, the abbot himself embraced Luther and asked him to stay long enough to preach to him and his suite, which Luther kindly did.
After he left Hirschfeld, Luther visited Eisenach, his childhood home, and his many friends were overjoyed to see him. Everyone who loved Luther worried about his safety and feared that at any moment he might be captured and killed. At Eisenach, his friends begged him to preach, so, once again, Luther tarried long enough to preach before resuming his slow journey homeward. When he did leave, his friends were sad to see him go, and Luther himself left with a heavy heart.
From Eisenach, Luther traveled to Mora, the village of his aged grandmother, his uncle, and other of his relatives; but it was a short visit, and the next morning he said goodbye and started traveling again. His brother, James, climbed into the wagon to visit with Luther a little longer. A friend, Amsdorff, as well as the driver, was also in the creaky wagon as it slowly rolled toward Wittenberg.
When the wagon reached the woods of Thuringen, the men in the wagon suddenly heard the thundering sound of galloping horses. Soon they were surrounded by five horsemen, armed and masked. One masked man overtook the driver of the wagon; another Amsdorff. James ran into the woods, and the three remaining masked men seized Luther, threw a knights cloak over his shoulders, and set him upon an extra horse they had brought with them. This done, the five mounted, and then all six disappeared into the woods as fast as the five had come. To avoid being followed, they changed directions frequently. Luther, unfortunately, was not an experienced horseman and was soon exhausted from such forceful riding. After they were a safe distance from the highway, he entreated his captors for a rest, and they stopped by a creek. Luther leaned for support against a beech tree, drank deeply of the cool water from the creek, but then found himself again on his horse, galloping away at top speed. They were off for the castle of Wartburg!
The castle was not an architectural beauty. It was more like a collection of very heavy buildings oddly attached to each other. Saxon arches ran along only one wing, but the castle was strong and wellkept. When they arrived, the men took Luther through a low gateway and up a stairwell to a room with simple furnishings and a window that overlooked the wooded hills of Thuringen and the valley of Eisenach. His captors instructed Luther to remove his monks clothing and, in exchange, gave him the clothing of a knight to don. One of the men said, You will be known as Knight George. You must let your hair and your beard grow to look like a knight. Anyone who knows you are here will only know that a knight is visiting the castle.
Luther did not see many people while at the castle. He lived mostly in solitude, which was difficult for him, and he sometimes felt sad because he was isolated from his friends and because he was not able to preach.
He had left Worms the end of April, and now it was May. He spent the summer months translating the New Testament into German. The German people already had a New Testament in their language, but it was based upon the Latin version of the New Testament. Luthers translation, however, was based upon Greek manuscripts. Translating the New Testament kept Luther busy during the summer months, but the longer he was at Wartburg, the lonelier he became. To ease his loneliness, he sometimes chose the company of the castle pigs. When I am assailed with many tribulations, I walk out among my pigs, rather than remain alone by myself, he wrote.
After his beard and hair had grown sufficiently long, Luther ventured into the woods behind the castle to pick wild strawberries, even though he had been instructed not to leave the castle grounds. The next day he decided to travel farther from the castle since nobody had noticed him in the woods the day before, and he was able to entreat a beloved castle helper to go with him. While out, they stopped at an inn. Remember, Luther was dressed like a knight and looked like a knight. He carried a sword like a knight, so when he walked into the inn, everyone thought he was a knight. In the inn, Luther spied books on one of the tables, and he immediately went to the table. He was so happy to have something new to read that he sat down and began reading in earnest! The castle helper thought, A knight reading? No knight reads! This will surely draw attention. So the servant quickly whispered in Luthers ear, Weve got to go! And out the door they went!
After that, Luther stayed close to the castle, but by the time November arrived, he dearly wanted to visit his friends in Wittenberg. Luther had been receiving mail from them on a regular basis. At first his friends thought Luther had been killed after he was kidnaped, but slowly word filtered out that he was alive. Although his friends were not sure where he was, they knew he was alive, and soon they were able to communicate with him through letters. Luther decided it was time to visit his friends in Wittenberg, one of whom was Melanchthon. So as carefully as he could, Luther traveled back to Wittenberg and walked into the house of Melanchthon. They were overjoyed to see each other. Luther visited with him and another friend long into the night, but he knew he had to return to Wartburg. During his visit, Luther learned of the difficulties occurring in Wittenberg in his absence. He and his friends prayed together and thanked God for allowing them to visit for a short while. They also asked God for his continued blessing and protection, and then Luther left for the wooded hills surrounding Wartburg Castle.
To get to those hills, Luther first had to travel through a large section of open country. Then his path turned sharply into the woods, and the terrain started to rise. The hills increased in height and number, and dense forests covered them. Finally the hill of the castle came into sight, and it took Luther a half hour to climb the castle hill, the last part being treacherous, due to many moss-covered rocks and boulders.
Luther was usually at the castle alone, except when his meals were brought to him twice a day by two young boys or when a servant occasionally attended to his needs. One night, Luther heard a loud noise in the stairwell. He wondered who could be on the stairs because he knew the outside gate was chained and the inner gate to the staircase was also chained and locked, so he went out to the staircase and boldly called, Whos out there?! When no one answered him, Luther returned to his bed. He was not afraid because he knew he was in Gods hands and that God would take care of him.
Anyone who visited Luther in his stone room saw an old, flat desk upon which he wrote and a broad tree stump nearby upon which he rested his feet. A picture or two may have been on the wall, but Luthers room was very simple and very lonely. By the time March arrived, the news was so disturbing from Wittenberg that Luther decided he was returning for good no more castle life for him!
The only clothing Luther had was that of a knight, so he dressed as a knight, with cloak and sword, and left Wartburg Castle. On his way to Wittenberg, a terrible thunderstorm occurred, and Luther had to take refuge in an inn. He was reading at a table when he heard the door open and two Swiss entered the inn. The Swiss saw the knight reading. Out of respect for him, they sat at the door, to not disturb him, but Luther said, Come over and have a seat with me.
The Swiss came to Luthers table and started a conversation with him. Luther said, I can tell by the way you speak that you are Swiss, and if you happen to be on your way to Wittenberg, you will meet one of your countrymen there, Dr. Schurff.
One of the Swiss said, Yes, yes, we are on our way to Wittenberg, but we are not going to leave Wittenberg, unless something happens to us, until we see and hear Dr. Luther. Could you inform us where Dr. Luther is?
He is not at Wittenberg, replied the knight, but he will probably be there shortly. Philip Melanchthon is there. The knight then advised the two men to study Greek and Hebrew.
Who can he be? the two Swiss said to themselves. A knight who reads and tells us to study Greek and Hebrew and one who also knows about Melanchthon and Luther?
The innkeeper called one of the Swiss over to him, Kessler by name, and whispered to him, I understand you want to meet Luther. Well, he is at the table with you.
Kessler thought, He must be joking. Surely that is not Luther. He returned to his friend and did not believe a word of what the innkeeper had said. Instead, Kessler and his friend ate their meal with the knight. By the end of the meal, the storm was over. Luther arose and said, I must be on my way. Be sure to salute Dr. Schurff for me when you see him. He gathered his sword, flung his cloak over his shoulders, and strode for the door.
With pleasure, Kessler replied, but whose name shall we give?
Do tell him only that he who is coming sends him greeting, and with these words the mysterious knight departed.
Luther did make his way to Wittenberg and to Melanchthons home. Soon afterwards, another knock was heard at Melanchthons door. The two Swiss had arrived! Then they realized it really had been Luther talking to them at the inn! Kessler and his friend had a joyous reunion with Luther.
Luther had returned, and he devoted his time and energy to furthering the cause of the Reformation. He was a man who stood alone against the Papacy so that the Protestant Reformation could proceed.
Perhaps you would like to be brave like Luther and do a great work for God. When you help those around you instead of playing with your toys, you are being brave, even though you are small. When you offer a cheerful word to someone who is sad or when you carry a heavy burden for another instead of selfishly doing what you want to do, you are doing a great work for God. Here is a poem a young person recently shared with me about being brave:
The Bravest Thing
Many people envy heroes,
And think them brave and fine.
They say, I wish adventure
Would walk this path of mine.
But really, youre a hero
If you can only sing
And see a little bit of good
In every living thing;
If you can pray to God above
With faith within your heart,
And if, in simple living,
You can only do your part.
You truly are a hero
If you can laugh and smile
And make somebody happy
For just a little while;
If you can do a little good
To help this world along.
The bravest thing that you can do
Is smile when things go wrong.
(Story adapted from The Story of Martin Luther, edited by Miss Whately; poem taken from the Pathway Reader, Building Our Lives)
Please keep Brother Marc Fury and his wife, Sister Elisabeth, in prayer as they plan for a camp meeting this year in France. They have never held a camp meeting and sincerely entreat your prayers for this endeavor.
We are sad to report that our Sister Granny Ann recently broke her wrist and is in the process of mending and that Sister Arlene Bailey has fallen and continues to be in much pain. Will you please uplift both of them in prayer?
We recently heard from Brother Aland Ashton in Peru. He is still challenged with health issues, but his faith in God remains strong. His wife, Karina, was hospitalized recently, and we ask that you will keep them both in prayer. Justine Sherwood of Florida has recently been diagnosed with leukemia and is hospitalized. She and her family, including her mother, Bobbie, who is also struggling with health issues, need our prayers. Let us also continue to pray for Rachel Antisdel. Her brain tumor continues to grow, and she is becoming weaker. Her faith in Jesus, however, is steadfast.
This world and every one on it are groaning under the sad effects of sin, but we have the glorious promise of eternal rest with our Saviour. May that day come soon, and may each one of us be ready for his marvelous appearing!
New Bible Study
Lessons Based on the Book,
Gods Love on Trial
We are pleased to announce that Brother Lynnford Beachy has recently completed a series of Bible studies, covering the theme of the personality of God and based upon his book, Gods Love on Trial. There are twelve studies in this series. The titles are:
The suggested donation for the lesson set is $2.00.
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Associate Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org
Please also visit our Present Truth Website!
This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013