Old Paths

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.8 Straight and Narrow August 2011


For thus saith the LORD, Behold,
I will extend peace to her like a river

 

The Faith of Jesus

It is amazing to me to hear some people claim that they do not know what faith is or that they do not have faith in anything or anyone. In reality, it is amazing how much faith, or trust, we place in people and things, without giving it much thought or even realizing it. When we drive an automobile, for example, we put faith in our car’s ability to take us down the highway at great speed and to do so safely, even though our car is only contacting the road with the space of about two sheets of letter-size paper. We trust our speedometers to keep our money in our pockets and to warn us against dangerous speed. We trust the car’s seatbelts and air bags to protect us. 

We trust municipal water systems each time we take a drink in a public building and maybe even worse, we trust the Coca-Cola company when we drink their bottled water, Dasani, and PepsiCo with Aquafina

We trust the people at Subway restaurants to wash their hands before handling our meal. 

We trust pilots to correctly know how to fly, to properly direct the plane in the air. We trust the navigators to give the proper directions. We trust the air traffic controllers to keep the planes in the proper places, without colliding. We trust the maintenance people to know when the jet engines will not work properly and how to keep the engines from falling off the airplane. (It has happened!). Of course, all this adds up to our trusting our lives with these people! We show faith in all of them each time we board an airplane. 

Now the Bible tells us that the righteous are to have “the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). We are also told to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31) and to have “faith in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:4). What does this all mean? How important is having, and understanding, faith in Jesus, faith on Christ, and the faith of Jesus? According to Inspiration these understandings are very important and must be brought into our whole lives. 

The faith of Jesus is not comprehended. We must talk it, we must live it, we must pray it, and educate the people to bring this part of the message into their home life. (Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 184) 

As part of our landmarks and pillars series, we know that “the faith of Jesus” is one of our pillars (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 30), but do we begin to understand what it means? Let us examine what Inspiration says on the matter.

Basics of Faith

If we are going to discuss having faith in Jesus, faith on Jesus, and the faith of Jesus, it is vital that we understand faith. “Faith is trusting God” (Education, p. 253). We cannot see God with our eyes, and we cannot hear him with our ears. We cannot feel or touch God. How can we trust someone we cannot see, hear, feel, touch, and smell? How can we have contact with this God to be able to know that he has our best interests in mind and that we can trust him? The answer is simple. We have contact with God through his word and the words of his Son.

Jesus gave us a simple illustration of faith in Matthew 8, where we read:

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Matthew 8:5–10) 

The centurion wanted his servant healed. He expressed his need to Jesus, who said that he would come to heal him. The centurion, however, did not believe that Jesus needed to be present to heal him. Jesus would only need to speak the word, and his servant would be healed. As a leader of men, he held a position of authority under the rule of Rome. He knew that if he gave orders, those under his command would follow his directions. The centurion recognized that Jesus had come from God and came with the authority of God. If Jesus would simply speak the word, his servant would be healed.

What did the centurion expect to do the healing? The word of God through Christ. In other words, the centurion was depending upon and trusting in, or we could say having faith in, Christ’s word to heal the servant, and Jesus called this trust in the word faith. In fact, he called it “great faith”!

The Greek word for faith is pistis. The verb form of this word is  pisteuo which we translate believe. If we have faith in God, we do not say, I faith in God, but instead, I believe in God. Believing is having faith, or is trust in action.

Belief is more than having an intellectual knowledge. James says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Where there is no dependance upon God’s word, there is not true faith. Faith is living and is active. “The just … live by faith” (Romans 1:17), and faith works by love (Galatians 5:6).

When we speak of faith, there is a distinction that should be borne in mind. There is a kind of belief that is wholly distinct from faith. The existence and power of God, the truth of His word, are facts that even Satan and his hosts cannot at heart deny. The Bible says that “the devils also believe, and tremble;” but this is not faith. James 2:19. Where there is not only a belief in God’s word, but a submission of the will to Him; where the heart is yielded to Him, the affections fixed upon Him, there is faith—faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Through this faith the heart is renewed in the image of God. (Steps to Christ, p. 63; all emphasis added unless otherwise noted)

Kevin Davis tells of an interesting experiment that he did in college that clearly shows the difference between believing facts (intellectual knowledge) and living by faith and trusting what we believe to be truth.

In college I was asked to prepare a lesson to teach my speech class. We were to be graded on our creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of my talk was, “The Law of the Pendulum.” I spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum.

The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.

I attached a 3–foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. I pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where I let it go. Each time it swung back I made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When I finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved my thesis.

I then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, so did the teacher. He started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun.

Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord.).

I invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then I brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, I once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, “If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger.” 

After that final restatement of this law, I looked him in the eye and asked, “Sir, do you believe this law is true?”

There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, “Yes.”

I released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. I never saw a man move so fast in my life. He literally dived from the table.

Deftly stepping around the still–swinging pendulum, I asked the class, “Does he believe in the law of the pendulum?” 

The students unanimously answered, “NO!” (Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp. 104–106, quoted from, http://bible.org/illustration/law-pedulum)

Beloved, is our faith like that of the speech professor? Do we believe until we are strongly tested? We must believe in God’s word no matter what happens, for while we may have limited sight, we have confidence in God’s word to fulfill every jot and tittle in it because God is true, and his word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12).

The source of all faith is from the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Paul, writing to Timothy, told him “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). The word of God will build our faith and teach us what our faith is to be, as well.

Martin Luther, in one of his conflicts with the devil, was asked by the arch­enemy if he felt his sins forgiven. “No,” said the great Reformer, “I don’t feel that they are forgiven, but I know they are, because God says so in His Word.” Paul did not say, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt feel saved”; but, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

As Christians we believe in God’s Word, and then we see the reality of what the Word says. Second Corinthians 5:7 says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” The world says if I see it, I will believe it. To the Christian, however, seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing! Faith honors God, and God honors faith! Robert and Mary Moffat labored for ten years in what is now called Botswana without one ray of encouragement to brighten their way. They were not able to report a single convert. After such a long time, the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work. However, the thought of leaving their post brought great grief to this devoted couple, for they felt sure that God was in their labors, and that they would see people turn to Christ in due season. They stayed; and for a year or two longer, darkness reigned. Then one day a friend in England sent word to the Moffats that she wanted to mail them a gift and asked what they would like. Trusting that in time the Lord would bless their work, Mary replied, “Send us a communion set; I am sure it will soon be needed.” God honored that dear woman’s faith. The Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the villagers, and soon a little group of six converts was united to form the first Christian church in that land. The communion set from England was delayed in the mail; but on the very day before the first commemoration of the Lord’s supper in Botswana the set arrived.

Christ has promised, “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). With this promise you can cast yourself at Christ’s feet with the cry, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Beloved, if you do this, you cannot perish—never, for Bible faith is strong. Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). Now it may not be God’s will today for us to see literal mountains moved, but at times we have what we might perceive as mountains of difficulty, and God’s word says that faith overcomes. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells of faith living and acting out in the lives of great men and women of God. By faith the Red Sea opened, and the walls of Jericho came down (Hebrews 11:29, 30).

Faith connects us to the source of all power. Jesus told the man who had been given sight, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mark 10:52). Jesus also said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). Charles Kettering once said:

When I was research head of General Motors and wanted a problem solved, I’d place a table outside the meeting room with a sign: Leave slide rules [mechanical calculator before the days of electronic calculators] here. If I didn’t do that, I’d find someone reaching for his slide rule. Then he’d be on his feet saying, “Boss, you can’t do it.”  (Charles F. Kettering in Bits & Pieces, December 1991, p. 24)

Faith (Believing) in Jesus

The Bible speaks of believing in Jesus. Notice these examples:

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:25–27)

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)

We are to believe in Jesus, believe in all he says and what he will do, whether or not we can see it as being so. One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I'll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.” Friends even when we cannot see Jesus, he sees us and has strong outstretched arms to save us when we fall into them.

Believing on Jesus

The Bible also speaks of the concept of believing on Jesus. This is like believing in Jesus. “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

Jesus told the Jews that the greatest work they could do was to believe on the one God sent. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28, 29). The Greek preposition translated on in verse 29, as well as in John 7:38, is eis (pronounced ice) which is usually translated into or in. Here eis could have been also translated in. We see the same concept in John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on (eis) his name.” The NKJV translates this “believe in his name.”

These things have I written unto you that believe on (eis) the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on (eis) the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)

Sometimes the Greek preposition epi is used. Epi means on, or above. The English word epidural means “located on or over the dura mater” (www.thefreedictionary.com/epidural). Epi is used in Acts 16:31: “Believe on (epi) the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Thus when we read in the Bible to believe on Jesus, it is equivalent to believing in Jesus.

The Faith of Jesus

Now let us proceed to the concept of “the faith of Jesus.” Sometimes the Bible speaks of “the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). What does this mean? At times the Bible speaks of “the faith” as a system of belief. For example, in Acts 6:7, we read: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Here “the faith” means what the disciples believed. Some other verses that also show “the faith” to be a system of belief are: Acts 13:8; 16:5; Romans 1:5; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:23; 2:7; 1 Timothy 4:1; 5:8; 6:10; 2 Timothy 4:7; and Jude 1:3 which says that we should “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

To focus this concept upon our main subject, we have this quotation:

I have seen that the brethren and sisters have not understood the faith of Jesus in its true light. They have taught that it is healing the sick, etc. It is not healing the sick, merely, but it is all the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” I saw that it was the whole New Testament, which relates to Jesus.” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 290)

Thus almost the entire New Testament with its teachings on sin,  faith, repentance, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the resurrection, and many other teachings are part of the faith of Jesus.

There is another aspect to the faith of Jesus. There is Christ’s personal belief, his faith and trust in God, that is also the faith of Jesus.

Jesus was mocked at the cross. Yet, even in their mockery, the Jewish rulers stated a truth when they said, “He trusted (Greek: peitho, the root word for faith) in God” (Matthew 27:43) “That is, he [Jesus] … claim[ed] an interest in him [God], to be high in his favour and esteem, and to have great faith and confidence in him” (John Gill’s Expositor on Matthew 27:43)

The life of Jesus, as recorded in the gospel accounts, clearly reveals a strong trust or faith in his Father. Jesus knew he was sent of God. “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God” (John 10:36)?

Perhaps you have heard someone say, “My prayers never rise above the ceiling.” Maybe you have felt that way, too. But just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead he could pray, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11:41, 42).

Jesus spoke passionately about the abiding presence of his Father. “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone” (John 8:29). “Ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32).

Even when Jesus felt forsaken, he trusted in God. Though he had said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46), he could still triumphantly proclaim, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Jesus said, “Have Faith in God” (Mark 11:22), and we are told to “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead (Romans 4:24). Just as Jesus had faith that God was his Father, we are to have faith that God is our Father, as we are adopted into the family of God (1 John 3:1).

The believer is to have “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22). Paul also writes:

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)

For ye are all the children of God by the faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26, Greek)

We might wish that we had the faith of Jesus. “If only I had the faith of Jesus I could live right” we might say. But beloved, we can have the faith of Jesus, as we believe in Jesus and then have Jesus living in us. Jesus has promised to live in the believer: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). Paul told the believers in Colosse that their hope was “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Jesus has promised to live in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). As Christ lives in us, we have his faith working in our lives!

 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Because Christ lives in us, the life we live is by his faith. So the miracle of Bethlehem, the Son of God dwelling without sin in sinful flesh, is reproduced perfectly in the believer of Jesus. That faith is one that loves righteousness and hates iniquity (Hebrews 1:9), a faith that lives to obey God and not the selfish dictates of the lustful soul.

Genuine faith in Jesus leads to denial of self; but however high the profession may be, if self is exalted and indulged, the faith of Jesus is not in the heart. (The Review and Herald, March 6, 1888)

The person who is full of self has no room for Jesus or heart-felt need for Jesus, or to have faith. Those who know their poverty of spirit, who know they need to look outside of and beyond themselves, can look to Jesus. As we depend upon Jesus and trust in him, he will, by faith, come into our lives, and work out his perfect faith in us.

If you feel your faith is challenged today, that is okay. God allows everyone’s faith to be challenged. Jimmy Evans once said, “God put giants in the Promised Land to keep unbelievers out.” Our faith will be tried, but as we trust in Jesus and live by his word depending upon his strength and power we are promised to be “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The same power that lived a perfect life 2000 years ago is still alive today. Jesus says: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18). Allen Stump


Prayer Requests

If you weren’t with us at camp meeting this year, you missed a rich spiritual blessing. We ask that you pray, with us, that the blessings received by both young and old will deepen through the coming year. May we study and pray the more as the coming of our Lord and Saviour draws ever nearer.

Will you also pray for the meetings being planned in the United States, as well as for meetings planned in Africa and Europe?

We ask for your prayers also for Brother Aland Ashton in Peru, Sister Justine in Florida, and Sister Valerie in Tennessee, all of whom continue to experience serious health issues, and Granny Ann would especially appreciate your prayers for her nephew, Brian, who continues to have many struggles with his health.

Editors


The Ephesian Church

The remnant church is called to go through an experience similar to that of the Jews; and the True Witness, who walks up and down in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, has a solemn message to bear to His people. ‘I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent’ (Revelation 2:4, 5).” (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 387)

It is true that all the messages sent to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 are applicable for larger groups throughout history of which the seven churches are representative, but they are especially important for God’s people at the end of time. We know this, for one reason, because the entire book of Revelation, including its information concerning the mark of the beast, the seven last plagues, the three angels’ messages, etc., was sent to the churches of John’s day, but its greatest pertinence is for those living today.

It is the Father himself who chose which of the churches in the apostle’s day to use in representing the condition of his church throughout the ages and at the end of time—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea—and it is the Father who instructed John to write what he saw and to send it to these churches (Revelation 1:8, 11). Jesus also instructed John to write what John had seen and to write the “things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19). What had John seen to this point? Only Jesus standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, holding in his right hand seven stars, and this John wrote down, but he then wrote of things present and of things future and sent it to the seven churches chosen in Asia.

Another reason we know that the messages for the seven churches extend beyond the seven literal churches themselves is because the reward mentioned for each individual church is addressed to the overcomers of all the churches. When we read of the rewards offered to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicia, we read, each time, these words: “Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches [plural].” Each reward is for the overcomers found in all the churches, not just for the overcomers of the individual church.

The Seven Churches

Before we consider the message to the first church, Ephesus, let us briefly consider all seven churches and note the connection between them and the geography of the land or between them and the history of the city.

Christians in Ephesus had been enthusiastic but had cooled. They had been on a high plane of conduct and spirit but had left their first love. They were changing, and the history of the city itself also reveals this flux of change. The land and the site of the city varied from century to century due to frequent earthquakes and due to the silting up of the Ephesian harbor. What had once been water gradually became land, as deposits from the Cayster River slowly filled in the harbor.

The Christians in Smyrna were poor, but rich, and exposed to suffering, but the message to them is filled with joy and life. The Smyrnians were advised to be faithful, just as the city itself had remained unchanged and faithful through the centuries. Its harbor continues to this day, full of life and strength, with no changing shoreline from silt. Also remaining to this day is the fortified acropolis, Pagus, which overlooks the harbor. Faithfulness is seen as one of the characteristics of Smyrna.

Pergamos is portrayed as a city of authority, even a royal city. In the message to Pergamos, we find the throne of Satan and the power of evil mentioned, and historically the city has been the royal seat of Attalid kings and the chief center of Roman imperial administration. Pergamos has an immense acropolis on a rock, rising out of the plain like a mountain, giving the sense of impregnable, imperial strength. Overcomers in Pergamos are promised a new name written in a white stone which no man knows except he who receives the stone. This is similar to the description of Christ, who leading the army of heaven as King of Kings, also has a name written that no man knows but he himself (Revelation 19:12).

Thyatira, on the other hand, has a low and small acropolis in a gentle valley that stretches north and south, with ridges of hills ascending each side of the valley. Because of the valley and of the small acropolis, Thyatira gives a sense of mildness and an inability to surmount external circumstances, but hope is offered, and he who overcomes will be given power over nations, greater even than the mighty power of Jezebel herself.

Sardis breathes the spirit of death and has an appearance, but without life. The Christians there had works and a name, but no life, and the city had the same. Looked at from a distance, Sardis had an imposing, even commanding, appearance, for the city was on a steep spur and dominated the broad valley it was in, but looked at closely, the spur was just mud, slightly compacted, but never trustworthy or lasting. The hill crumbled under the influences of weather, but the “Sardians always trusted to it, and their careless confidence had often been deceived when an adventurous enemy climbed in at some unguarded point, where the weathering of the soft rock had opened a way” (W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches, p. 31).

The city of Philadelphia was situated on the great road that went from the harbor of Smyrna to the East and lay near where the road ascended, by a difficult pass, to the high central plateau. Philadelphia guarded this pass and held the key, so to speak, to the high plateau. Philadelphians are described as being patient and faithful to God’s word. Anciently, many of the citizens of Philadelphia lived outside the main area of the city because of the constant threat of earthquakes, choosing instead to travel to and from the city for business and commerce. God promises the overcomers, however, that they will no longer have to go in and out of God’s temple but will, instead, remain as an unshakeable pillar.

Laodicea is known by some as the city of compromise and when you understand its geographic situation, you can understand why God chose this city to represent lukewarmness. It was located on the great eastern highway and central route to Rome, but another road passed through its gates, going from Pergamos (also spelled Pergamum) to Psidia (or Pisidia). A road from the eastern part of Caria and a road from the western area of Phyrgia also either met in Laodicea or crossed through the city. People of various cultures and backgrounds passed through the city and as it grew to become a successful commercial, financial, manufacturing, and medical center, compromise was used to forge and solidify relationships. Jesus, however, cautioned against this and promises a stable, pure relationship with everyone who invites him into his or her life.

Ephesus

Let us now focus on the city of Ephesus and its message from the Father and from Jesus.

Some scholars claim the name Ephesus means desirable, though this is difficult to show with total certainty.

Ancient Ephesus was a city that faced constant change, as mentioned earlier. The Cayster River drained into its beautiful harbor, and with the river water came dirt and other detritus. What once was filled with great ships eventually became the home of marshy reeds, and Ephesus today is an inland city, lying about five miles from the coast. The ruins of the ancient city are contained on a plain that stretches east and west and that is closed in by mountains on the north and south, with no connection to the sea.

In the time of Paul, however, Ephesus was a city on the coast. In fact, “the whole Ephesian valley was an arm of the sea, dotted with rocky islets and bordered with picturesque mountains and wooded promontories” (Ibid., p. 156). It was to the Christians of this changing city that Jesus sent a warning message about their changing love. They had lost their enthusiasm and their love and tenderness for others. “The love that constrained the Saviour to die for us, was not revealed in its fullness in their lives” (Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 277). Their ardor was fading, and Jesus sent word of their need to return to their first love.

Christ told the church at Ephesus to remember from whence they had fallen and to repent. Repentance is necessary for salvation. Before a person can return to God, he or she must  acknowledge, or confess, that he or she has fallen. Repentance means to change one’s mind and results in a change of direction and conduct. It is a turning around and away from sin. Proverbs 28:13 says: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

In the New Testament, the word confess means “(of one mind); to speak the same, to agree” (New American Standard Greek Lexicon). First John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thus the sinner is to agree with God that he has sinned and agree with God that whatever sin he has committed was wrong. The promise is that if we see our sins in the light of God’s Word and turn from them, “God for Christ’s sake” (Ephesians 4:32) will both forgive and cleanse us.

Our confession should be as specific as possible. The sinner was to confess that “he hath sinned in that thing” (Leviticus 5:5). When the Israelites sinned, they were to confess that specific sin and make restitution for it. There may be sins in our past that we cannot remember, and we must allow the prayer of Psalm 51:9 to be our confidence: “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.” As God reveals our sins to us, however, our confession and repentance should be specific, for how can we truly repent without a knowledge of what we are to repent from?

Jesus commanded the church at Ephesus to repent and do the first works. Their early devotion was to be recalled and lived, just as when they were first converted. This love always brings good works, compassionately endeavoring to win the lost and serving both God and our fellow man in all the ways that we can. We are to seek God through the study of his Word and through fervent prayer. Jesus is calling the backsliding Ephesians today to walk again with him in a relationship where Jesus is in first place in their lives. As the backslider does the first works, the proof of his repentance is clearly revealed.

In addition to the warning message, Jesus also sent words of encouragement to the Ephesians. He commended the Ephesians for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Who were the Nicolaitans? Opinions vary. Some people believe they were a literal group of people, others believe that the term is used symbolically, and still others accept its use as both literal and symbolic. Those who believe in its literalness believe that the Nicolaitans were followers of a Nicolas because the Greek word Nicolaitan comes from Nikolaos; however, the only person in the New Testament with the name Nikolaos was “Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch” (Acts 6:5) and one of the first deacons. It is very unlikely that this deacon would be a leader of terrible heresy. Uriah Smith stated, concerning the Nicolaitans: “This was a form of heresy said to have originated with one Nicholas, who taught a plurality of wives, etc.” (The Biblical Institute, p. 246).

The name Nikolaos though comes from two Greek words: nikos, meaning victory, and loas, meaning people; so some people interpret this name to mean conqueror of the people. Surely Jesus hates the rule of man over man, for it is the way of Satan to force and rule.

The fact is that the Bible does not define the deeds nor the doctrines of the Nicolaitans, but one thing we know from the Bible is that Christ hates the deeds and the doctrines of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6, 15). The Spirit of Prophecy does give us some valuable insight, though, so we need not be in doubt about this teaching:

 But the doctrine is now largely taught that the Gospel of Christ has made the Law of God of no effect; that by “believing” we are released from the necessity of being doers of the word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned. To the church of Ephesus he says: “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”

Those who are teaching this doctrine today have much to say in regard to faith and the righteousness of Christ; but they pervert the truth, and make it serve the cause of error. They declare that we have only to believe on Jesus Christ, and that faith is all-sufficient; that the righteousness of Christ is to be the sinner’s credentials; that this imputed righteousness fulfils the law for us, and that we are under no obligation to obey the law of God. This class claim that Christ came to save sinners, and that he has saved them. “I am saved,” they will repeat over and over again. But are they saved while transgressing the law of Jehovah?—No; for the garments of Christ’s righteousness are not a cloak for iniquity. Such teaching is a gross deception, and Christ becomes to these persons a stumbling-block as he did to the Jews,—to the Jews because they would not receive him as their personal Saviour; to these professed believers in Christ, because they separate Christ and the Law, and regard faith as a substitute for obedience. They separate the Father and the Son, the Saviour of the world. Virtually they teach, both by precept and example, that Christ, by his death, saves men in their transgressions. (The Signs of the Times, February 25, 1897)

Jesus also said that the Ephesians had tried those who claimed to be apostles and were not (Revelation 2:2). Very few men were declared to be apostles in the Bible, yet apostles are declared to be one of the gifts of the spirit that will be in the church until Jesus comes (Ephesians 4:11–13). Through all ages there have arisen men who claimed to be apostles of Jesus but who have not had the Spirit of God as their credentials.

The promise that Jesus made to the church at Ephesus was personally applicable.  The largest temple in the world dedicated to the worship of Diana (or Artemis) was located in Ephesus and as we noted last month, in Paul’s day this temple had 127 columns, all of which were 197 feet tall. Why all these columns? Art historians have traced a strong relationship between the columns of the ancient world and trees. Trees have been the focus of pagan religious life for as far back as recorded history goes. Sometimes a single tree was worshiped, other times a grove of trees, and even today supposedly sacred woods can be found in various places of the world. People in ancient Egypt, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Canaan, China, Japan, and India (among other places) have all worshiped trees. In Egypt, for example, the sycamore tree was considered to be the manifestation of various goddesses. In Babylon, sacred trees were the principal feature of the so-called Hanging Gardens. In Ephesus, ancient literary sources “describe the foundation of the [un]holy place of Artemis as a tree-shrine” (Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, p. 44). A tree shrine occupied the early site of the temple of Artemis, and by the time the temple had become one of the seven wonders of the world, it had 127 tree-columns 197 feet tall! Also, “a tree recurs in varied contexts as an emblem of the city or its goddess, and the date-palm was the characteristic symbol of Artemis” (Ibid., p. 45) on the coins from certain periods of the city. Xenophon, a Greek writer in the 4th century before Christ, wrote of duplicating the unholy place of Artemis in Ephesus on his own estate in Greece. He built a miniature temple beside a stream with a grove of trees.

Ancient pillars were often constructed to resemble trees, with leaves, branches, and bark designed on them. Some art historians have even identified the origin of pointed arches and vaults in Gothic cathedrals to be the interlacing of tree branches and they have likened the view down the nave of a Gothic cathedral as a path through a wood of tall overarching trees (Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe at http://witcombe.sbc.edu/sacredplaces/trees.html). Probably we can all relate to the sense of awesomeness and beauty experienced when walking in a forest of majestic, tall trees, and the ancient people were no different except forests were rare in the East and groves had to often be cultivated and where this was not possible or feasible, columns were erected. Even Alexander the Great was awed by the temple being erected to Diana; its columns were very impressive and beautiful, giving a sense of the supernatural.

The connection of trees with pillars in pagan worship is significant because the reward offered to the overcomer in Ephesus is to eat of the tree of life. Ephesus was a city filled with pagan worship. Temples abounded in Ephesus, the temple of Diana being just one of them, and everywhere were columns—in the agoras, along the streets, in the temples, at the amphitheater, and even in homes. Of course some of the columns were used for support, but most were decorative in nature and had another purpose for being. Our heavenly Father, the master historian, uses the history of this city to make a point with which the early Ephesians could readily relate and which we, who are living at the end of time, can readily appreciate; that is, stop any downward spiral into a cold, reserved love and choose the tree of life which God offers us in place of the lifeless trees men have created in the worship of pagan gods.

For the Christian in ancient Ephesus, the words of Christ had a contemporary ring. They understood the reference to the tree of life and its contrast to the trees of the unholy place of Artemis. They deeply understood God’s complaint of the change in their love as they could relate to the sometimes slow, other times rapid, change in their beloved city. Earthquakes in Ephesus destroyed landscapes and buildings without a moment’s notice, and sediment from the Cayster slowly pushed the sea further and further from its gates. The Ephesians were diligent workers for Christ, however. They labored hard and fainted not. They had an abhorrence of evil and would not let just anyone come to them as apostles. Jesus commended them for all of this, but in their hard work and in their zeal for truth, they somehow left their first love. The same thing can happen to us.

Early in the history of the church the mystery of iniquity foretold by the apostle Paul began its baleful work; and as the false teachers concerning whom Peter had warned the believers, urged their heresies, many were ensnared by false doctrines. Some faltered under trial and were tempted to give up the faith. At the time when John was given this revelation, many had lost their first love of gospel truth. But in His mercy God did not leave the church to continue in a backslidden state. In a message of infinite tenderness He revealed His love for them and His desire that they should make sure work for eternity. “Remember,” He pleaded, “from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 587; emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Likewise,

The apostle urged the Galatians to leave the false guides by whom they had been misled, and to return to the faith that had been accompanied by unmistakable evidences of divine approval. The men who had attempted to lead them from their belief in the gospel were hypocrites, unholy in heart and corrupt in life. Their religion was made up of a round of ceremonies, through the performance of which they expected to gain the favor of God. They had no desire for a gospel that called for obedience to the word, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. They felt that a religion based on such a doctrine, required too great a sacrifice, and they clung to their errors, deceiving themselves and others. . . .

Paul pleaded with those who had once known in their lives the power of God, to return to their first love of gospel truth. (Ibid., pp. 386–388)

We can leave our first love of gospel truth, but we can also leave our first love for Christ and of our desire to be like him, which will result in not keeping the commandments of God and then in criticizing one another:

Self will ever cherish a high estimate of self. As men lose their first love, they do not keep the commandments of God, and then they begin to criticize one another. This spirit will be constantly striving for the mastery to the close of time. . . .

Satan exults because he knows that if he can set brother to watch brother in the church and in the ministry, some will be so disheartened and discouraged as to leave their post of duty. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit; a power from beneath is working in the chambers of the mind and in the soul temple to place his attributes where the attributes of Christ should be. (Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 636)

We also leave our first love when we place our will above the will of God:

While engaged in earnest prayer, I was lost to everything around me; the room was filled with light, and I was bearing a message to an assembly that seemed to be the General Conference. I was moved by the Spirit of God to make a most earnest appeal . . .

The eyes of the Lord were bent upon the people in sorrow mingled with displeasure, and the words were spoken: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:4, 5.

He who wept over impenitent Israel, noting their ignorance of God, and of Christ their Redeemer, looked upon the heart of the work at Battle Creek. Great peril was about the people, but some knew it not. Unbelief and impenitence blinded their eyes, and they trusted to human wisdom in the guidance of the most important interests of the cause of God relating to the publishing work. In the weakness of human judgment, men were gathering into their finite hands the lines of control, while God’s will, God’s way and counsel, were not sought as indispensable. Men of stubborn, iron-like will, both in and out of the Office, were confederating together, determined to drive certain measures through in accordance with their own judgment. (Life Sketches, p. 320)

Our first love is a talent:

This message [to the church of Ephesus] is an example of the way in which the ministers of God are to give reproof today. Following the commendation for earnest labor comes the reproof for losing the talent of love, which is a most sacred trust. It was the love of God that saved the fallen race from eternal death. (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 956)

And how does this talent of love work?

Christ carried out in His life His own divine teachings. His zeal never led Him to become passionate. He manifested consistency without obstinacy, benevolence without weakness, tenderness and sympathy without sentimentalism. He was highly social; yet He possessed a reserved dignity that did not encourage undue familiarity. His temperance never led to bigotry or austerity. He was not conformed to this world; yet He was not indifferent to the wants of the least among men. He was awake to the needs of all. (Manuscript 132, 1902; found in Evangelism, p. 636 and Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 84)

The beneficent operations of nature are not accomplished by abrupt and startling interpositions; men are not permitted to take her work into their own hands. God works through the calm, regular operation of His appointed laws. So it is in spiritual things. Satan is constantly seeking to produce effects by rude and violent thrusts; but Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought, by abrupt actions or prescribed rules.

. . . He brings men under the transforming power of truth by meeting them where they are. . . . The truth came from His lips beautiful in its simplicity, yet clothed with dignity and power. What a teacher was our Lord Jesus Christ! How tenderly did He treat every honest enquirer after truth, that He might gain admission to the sympathies, and find a home in the heart. (Manuscript 44, 1894; found in Evangelism, p. 139)

We are also told (in the following quotation) that we are “called” to be like the Jews of Christ’s day and that the True Witness of Revelation 2 gives solemn counsel to us. We are not to be like those Jews who were “set in their ideas, whose doctrines are all stereotyped and unchangeable,” and who were “walking after the traditions and commandments of men” (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 386). God’s chosen people in Christ’s day “were very punctilious in the observances of the church, very rigorous in following their forms, but they were destitute of vitality and religious devotion” (Ibid.).

The remnant church is called to go through an experience similar to that of the Jews; and the True Witness, who walks up and down in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, has a solemn message to bear to His people. He says, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:4, 5). The love of God has been waning in the church, and as a result, the love of self has sprung up into new activity. With the loss of love for God there has come the loss of love for the brethren. The church may meet all the description that is given of the Ephesian church, and yet fail in vital godliness. Of them Jesus said, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:2–4). (Ibid., pp. 387, 388)

And, most importantly, how do we follow the counsel of the True Witness?

Suppose we try daily to have our hearts united in the bonds of Christian love. “I have somewhat against thee,” says the True Witness, “because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). And He says, “Except thou repent,” “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place” (Revelation 2:5). Why?—Because in our separation from one another we are separated from Christ. We want to press together. Oh, how many times, when I have seemed to be in the presence of God and holy angels, I have heard the angel voice saying, “Press together, press together, press together. Do not let Satan cast his hellish shadow between brethren. Press together; in unity there is strength.” (Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 374; taken from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, April 13, 1891)

In the Garden of Eden, angels visited our first parents and gave them pointed instruction about the rebellion of Satan and his evil intentions, but Adam and Eve failed to heed their counsel. Here at the end of time, an angel voice has repeatedly given another warning, and failing to heed it will only bring further woe upon us. Along with our beloved prophet, we

 . . .  repeat the message to you. As you go to your homes, be determined that you will press together; seek God with all the heart, and you will find Him, and the love of Christ, that passeth understanding, will come into your hearts and lives. (Ibid., pp. 374, 375) Editors


2011 West Virginia Camp Meeting Report

“Dave … told me you had a very wonderful camp meeting, Share with me some of the twelve baskets of leftovers from the camp meeting,” so stated an email we received shortly after the West Virginia camp meeting this year. It reflected the thoughts of many that this was a wonderful camp meeting and to several, it was the best of the twelve camp meetings we have had.

While this was not our largest camp meeting (nor our smallest), it certainly was a great blessing with a strong sense of unity. Our theme for this year was “Landmarks and Pillars.”

Our speakers this year had some excellent material and endeavored to share it in a crisp and fresh manner. There were also health talks and demonstrations, two computer classes, and a three-part story, covering some of Roy and Rose Slaybaugh’s experiences, as recorded in her book Escape from Death. We even had a pre-camp meeting health presentation for the senior citizens in nearby Welch, West Virginia, the morning before the meetings officially began. Sisters Janet Cox and Elaine Nailing were blessed to lead out in this project.

As usual we had some folks come early to help with setting things up for camp, though some of those who usually come early were delayed until the start of camp. Knowing this before, God directed some new folks to arrive early. Though we failed to get a few of the wrinkles out (figuratively and literally) before camp started, all the needful things were set on time. One person wrote:

I just wanted you to know that camp meeting has definitely been a blessing. You know, that first night of camp meeting as I was sitting there in the room, I looked around me. I noticed certain things didn’t get done that normally would have, such as the curtains not getting ironed. But you know, it didn’t matter. Here were God’s people, who believed and worshiped the same God! Sure, everyone is at different stages of growth, but just knowing we all worshiped the same God and were all striving for the better country made all the difference, and at that moment, the joy I felt could not be described. There was no other place that I would have rather been at that time, except for heaven. Hearing such powerful messages, and having the sweet fellowship with others, and hearing people’s testimonies and everything has been so amazing! . . . There’s no other people I’d rather be among and fellowship, than these here. We are family, a great big family! And honestly, I’m closer to these people here than my own flesh and blood family, because we have so much in common in Christ. Everyone is so very dear to my heart and really, there’s no other place I’d rather be here on earth than here.

I believe that this letter also reflected the sentiments of many. This experience was possible because of many who sacrificed to prepare for others. A great big thank you goes out to our Smyrna family, both local and long-distant, who helped to make things ready, and to our teachers and speakers, who each put their all into what they had to share, making this camp a wonderful experience.

Two of the spiritual high points for me concerned the ordinances of the church. Firstly, there was the communion service we had on Friday morning. Pastor David Sims gave a very instructional and inspirational homily, and the testimonies that followed were genuine, vibrant, and spirited, yet done in solemn dignity. Secondly, the baptism Sabbath afternoon, with four souls sealing their decision to follow Jesus was very special. Among them was our own Ashleigh Holt, the granddaughter of Leon and Onycha Holt. We are thankful for the way that God has worked in her life and for the decisions of the other three, as well!

Last year we opened the Papa Glen Memorial Nature Center and the Three Rivers Avian Center provided a demonstration. That was hard to beat, but this year we may have done it with Brother Ron Toel, a marine biologist, who gave an excellent series of informative and interesting nature talks on ocean life. We are sorry that they could not be recorded, but Ron is anxious to return next year, so plan on being here and on learning some new things about God’s great creation!

Here is a descriptive list of available recordings. Audio CDs and DVDs from the meetings are already prepared and waiting for your request. You may request materials by the numbers shown on the descriptive chart below. Please indicate if you wish DVDs or CDs with the disc number(s). The suggested donation is $3.00 per disc, plus postage, but if you would like a whole set of either DVDs or CDs, the suggestion donation is $40.00 for the set. Allen Stump

Please specify DVD or CD when ordering 

Title 

Speaker 

WV CM 2011-01 

Landmarks and Pillars, Overview 

Allen Stump 

WV CM 2011-02 

2,300 Hundred Days and the Final Atonement 

Allen Stump 

WV CM 2011-03 

The Investigative Judgment 

Allen Stump 

WV CM 2011-04 

The Personality of God, Part 1—The Father 

Lynnford Beachy 

WV CM 2011-05 

The Personality of God, Part 2—Father and Spirit 

Lynnford Beachy 

WV CM 2011-06 

The Personality of God, Part 3—Death of Christ 

Lynnford Beachy 

WV CM 2011-07 

The Spirit of Prophecy, Part 1 

David Sims 

WV CM 2011-08 

The Spirit of Prophecy, Part 2 

David Sims 

WV CM 2011-09 

Communion Service 

David Sims 

WV CM 2011-10 

The Law, Sabbath, and the Sealing 

David Sims 

WV CM 2011-11 

The Three Angels’ Messages, Part 1 

Elvis Alberto 

WV CM 2011-12 

The Three Angels’ Messages, Part 2 

Elvis Alberto 

WV CM 2011-013 

Video Interview: Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. 
Author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease 

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. 

WV CM 2011-14 

Healthy Living—Healthy Weight, Parts 1 & 2 

Dr. and Mrs. Glenn Waite 

WV CM 2011-15 

Healthy Living—Healthy Weight, Part 3 

Dr. and Mrs. Glenn Waite 

WV CM 2011-16 

What is Man?, Part 1 

Thomas Akens 

WV CM 2011-17 

What is Man?, Part 2 

Thomas Akens 

WV CM 2011-18 

The Scattering and the Gathering 

Ed Cyrus 

WV CM 2011-19 

It Is No Secret What God Can Do 

Dennis Robertson 

WV CM 2011-20 

The Faith of Jesus 

Reuben Gomez 


Compromise in Worship

Com·pro·mise: “An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. Verb: Settle a dispute by mutual concession (yielding).” A concession is something that has been yielded. To concede is to yield.

In Christianity we often see points of faith compromised with concessions made to the devil. The sad thing is that it is not always truly compromise, for the devil many times does not need to yield any of his positions to get Christians into error. However, he will yield much if need be for he knows it only takes a small amount of error, even if we hold onto much truth, to capture us.

Compromise in areas not of faith are fine. For example, in decorating a room, a wife might like most things to be blue and the husband, yellow, so they compromise. The walls become light blue and various things in the room yellow. Of course, this is not an issue of salvation. However, on matters of faith because they are issues of salvation, Christians cannot, and must not, make concessions which result in compromise of  “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

The Bible tells of those who stood in the face of error and danger unflinchingly for God. The Bible also tells us of those who waffled and wavered and missed the great blessing that God wished for them to have. Daniel and his companions stand out in the Bible as a men of principle who would not conform to anyone or anything except to the image of Jesus Christ. Daniel did not believe in concession and compromise, but there were two other words he understood: commitment and consecration. Daniel was committed to follow God. He had “purposed in his heart” (Daniel 1:8) that he would do the right thing, no matter what happened. He was fully consecrated to God and to his service, and nothing would change his decision to fully follow God. When the Median king, Darius, made a law forbidding prayer to any other than himself, we see Daniel’s witness shining in awful brilliance:

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10) 

Many might have thought of making a few concessions. They might have thought, I can still pray, but I will pray with my windows shut; the Bible does not say your windows have to be open, but this would be making a concession. Also, all the people around knew that Daniel prayed each day.  If the windows did not open, what would the people think? Was he praying behind the windows because of the king’s decree? Is his God weaker than the king’s decree? Or maybe worse yet, maybe he is not even praying. But Daniel wanted his witness clear, he could not hide his witness under a bushel! The next day when Darius came to the den he called out to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions” (Daniel 6:20)? People who serve God continually do not worry about compromise. The moment one quits serving God continually, he or she has compromised.

Daniel would not compromise even to save his own life. When a crisis came Daniel steadfastly refused to yield his allegiance to God. The same could be said for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel 3 tells how they were determined to serve God without compromise. When called before the king, they said:

 O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:16–18)

Even if God did not choose to deliver them, they would be faithful. Even if they perished, they would be faithful.

I once saw a shirt that said “100% or Nothing.” At first I liked the idea of giving our total for God, but as I thought it over I realized that technically it gives a choice. It says “or.” Fifty percent, forty percent, and even one percent is too much for a Christian to relinquish. We cannot compromise.

Elijah is an example of someone who stood for God amid a nation steeped in compromise. The greatest example of someone who never yielded to compromise was Jesus. Jesus was so unwilling to compromise that he was willing to die the death of the cross. Jesus never compromised with Caiaphas nor any of the Jewish rulers.

Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls,—the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He labored that man should be true to himself, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth. They are to “follow after the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition.  (The Desire of Ages, p. 356)

Those who will not compromise will excite opposition. They will be charged with being stubborn and difficult because they will not make concessions and compromise.

A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ their eternal life is secure. Their only fear should be lest they surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honored them. (Ibid.)

Compromise in spiritual matters is a sin that has snared many great men. Aaron was called, “the saint of the LORD” (Psalm 106:16) yet under pressure, he compromised and made a golden calf (Exodus 32). He did not claim to accept a new or strange god, for he said “to morrow is a feast to the LORD [Yahweh]” (Exodus 32:5); however, Aaron compromised the way the true God was worshiped.

Solomon, “the wisest of the rulers” (1 Kings 3:5–12) and thrice called “the beloved of his God,”  “became a despot” and “a slave of passion, and sacrificed his integrity to the bewitching power of woman” (The Signs of the Times, July 1, 1903).

Yes, the card of spiritual compromise has taken a fearful toll upon God’s people whenever it has been played. God’s word declares he is going to have a people who will not compromise. They are depicted in Revelation 14:4 as virgins who profess a pure faith, but more than just profess, they live a faith so great that God can say, “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:5) These people live true to duty when all the rest of the world has compromised their  salvation away.

There will be two groups of people. Those who end up compromising everything that they have to try to survive, and those who will compromise nothing in moral matters! I have always been inspired by this gem:

The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. (Education, p. 57)

Beloved we expect to see compromise in the apostate churches but not among God’s professed people. But perhaps if we understand why the apostate churches compromise we can more easily see what is happening today among the professed people of God. Notice the words of Paul:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13)

There are two spirits. The spirit of the world and the Spirit of God and this compromise with the spirit of the world began even in Paul’s day and resulted in something the Scripture calls “the man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of “the man of sin” foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will. (The Great Controversy, p. 50; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Thousands were imprisoned and slain, but others sprang up to fill their places. And those who were martyred for their faith were secured to Christ and accounted of Him as conquerors. They had fought the good fight, and they were to receive the crown of glory when Christ should come. The sufferings which they endured brought Christians nearer to one another and to their Redeemer. Their living example and dying testimony were a constant witness for the truth; and where least expected, the subjects of Satan were leaving his service and enlisting under the banner of Christ. (Ibid., p. 42)

Satan tried to war against the people of God but as the martyrs died, their blood was like seed to raise up new believers. Satan, therefore, took the approach, if you can’t beat them, join them. He could not force his way in, so he got the Christians to do his work for him. How could he do this? Let us first notice Ephesians 4:

 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11–13)

Christ gave gifts to his church for the perfecting of the saints. As the truth is taught about the faith and specifically about “the knowledge of the Son of God,” the saints come into perfection. Satan would now work to corrupt the faith of the believers, and there would be no better place to do this than within the church.

  Satan therefore laid his plans to war more successfully against the government of God by planting his banner in the Christian church. If the followers of Christ could be deceived and led to displease God, then their strength, fortitude, and firmness would fail, and they would fall an easy prey.

     The great adversary now endeavored to gain by artifice what he had failed to secure by force. Persecution ceased, and in its stead were substituted the dangerous allurements of temporal prosperity and worldly honor. Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professed to accept Jesus as the Son of God and to believe in His death and resurrection, but they had no conviction of sin and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the platform of belief in Christ.  (The Great Controversy, p. 42)

Today the man of sin is as pagan as paganism can be because of “some concessions.” Remember what we read in 1 Corinthians earlier?

We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Paul is saying that those who receive the spirit of the world cannot know the things of God, for the world and the spirit are never in agreement and can never arrive at the same conclusions. Good and evil are not compatible and never can be. We are told:

 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14–18)

Good and evil have no agreement, and we are to leave the spirit of the world so we can partake of the spirit of Christ. We cannot have both.

Good and evil never harmonize.  Between light and darkness there can be no compromise. Truth is light revealed; error is darkness. Light has no fellowship with darkness, righteousness no fellowship with unrighteousness. (In Heavenly Places, p. 260)

If we have the spirit of the world, we cannot know the things of God. The spirit of the world and the spirit of Christ are not compatible. John writes in his first epistle:

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:5, 6)

John teaches us that those who conform to the world will not be able to discern truth from error. The vital ability to discern truth from error depends upon our staying apart from the world. Paul also helps us when he writes:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

The Greek word translated prove is from the root word dokimazo, and it means to try, to examine or to discern. Beloved, if we are molded by the world, we will not be able to prove or discern the will of God. The NIV says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” From these texts we see an important and sound principle of Scripture—separation from the world is mandatory if we are to discern God’s word.

Jesus gives us another important principle in being able to discern God’s will. He says:

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)

Jesus declares that one must “do his [God’s] will” in order to recognize that Christ’s doctrine is true. What does it mean to do his will? John wrote:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15–17)

It is certainly not hard to miss what John is saying. The one who does God’s will does NOT love the world or the things of the world. There is no room for compromise! This cause and effect relationship is supported by the testimony of Jesus.

The minds of many have been so darkened and confused by worldly customs, worldly practices, and worldly influences that all power to discriminate between light and darkness, truth and error, seems destroyed. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 62)

We can be sure of this, beloved. Worldly compromise will always be followed by doctrinal impurity. These two will be companions in almost every instance, standing side-by-side. The “new theology” that is becoming rampant in the church is nearly always accompanied by an entrance of worldliness. This compromise with the world and with the doctrines of the Bible will reap a terrible harvest. The prophet Hosea said to Israel, “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).

Let me now share with you five well-known statements from the Spirit of Prophecy, and please notice that in each case, Ellen White says apostasy is the result of “conforming” to the world, or “uniting” with the world.

The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. At that time the gold will be separated from the dross. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness. (Prophets and Kings, p. 188)

I would say that we are living in a most solemn time. In the last vision given me, I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved. Many will get above the simplicity of the work. They will conform to the world, cherish idols, and become spiritually dead. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 608, 609)

The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances. The warnings that worldly conformity has silenced or withheld must be given under the fiercest opposition from enemies of the faith. And at that time the superficial, conservative class, whose influence has steadily retarded the progress of the work, will renounce the faith and take their stand with its avowed enemies, toward whom their sympathies have long been tending. These apostates will then manifest the most bitter enmity, doing all in their power to oppress and malign their former brethren and to excite indignation against them. This day is just before us. (Ibid., vol. 5, p. 463)

Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast. Those who are distrustful of self, who are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth these are receiving the heavenly mold and preparing for the seal of God in their foreheads. (Ibid. p. 216)

As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them. (The Great Controversy, p. 608)

One of the most shocking elements of these statements is that it is the “many,” the “large class,” that abandon the truth and faith. In fact, Ellen White says that “the majority” will finally give up the truth.

To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 136)

We could discuss specific compromises that have been made in the areas of doctrine and worship within the church, but if we fail to realize that these compromises have, to a great degree, been  introduced by the spirit of the world, then we have not been able to understand one of the great roots of the problem. Our conformity to the world in our dress, with its revealing styles and rebellious spirit; our liberal education philosophies; our health work, now molded and patterned after the world; all have an effect, and inspiration declares this so, whether we agree or not.

Beloved, we must cease our love with the world and walk away from her and have no fellowship with that which is antithesis to the Spirit of God. Today, when reforms and standards are mentioned, the cry of legalism can be heard loud and clear. While the motive for reform or adherence to standards must be our love for Christ, we cannot afford to ignore the fact that as we lower our standards and allow the world to come in, we will lose our ability to discern spiritual matters. Allen Stump


Youth’s Corner
Miss Ahn, the Teacher Who Would Not Compromise

“Miss Ahn, Miss Ahn, where are you?” Clickity-clack came the sound of the heels of the principal as she moved toward Miss Ahn’s schoolroom. She was looking for Miss Ahn.

Miss Ahn was in her classroom, looking out the window over the school yard where all the students had gathered because it was the first of the month. In Korea during the 1930s, the Japanese were in control, and they had ordered that on the first day of every month everyone was to go to a shrine and worship Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess. Miss Ahn was a Christian and her school was a Christian school for girls. The principal was a Christian, and most of the students were Christians, but since the government had ordered everyone, school students included, to go up the mountain and worship at the shrine for Omikami in the woods, the students and teachers were preparing to go.

“Miss Ahn, where are you?” the sound of the heels grew closer. The principal was checking the classrooms for students who were trying to hide to keep from going to the shrine, and the teachers were checking the bathrooms, but the principal was especially looking for Miss Ahn because she had not yet gone to the school yard.

The principal came into her room. “Well, there you are Miss Ahn. Don’t you know it is the first of the month?” Of course, she knew. “We must go, and I know you don’t want to go. I don’t want to go. I’m a Christian, the teachers are all Christians, most of the students are Christians, and none of us want to go, but we have to go. If we don’t, they will close our school. Will you please come, Miss Ahn?”

When Miss Ahn didn’t say anything, she went on, “You are being very selfish, Miss Ahn. You are putting your ideas and what you want above what the school needs. We need to stay open and after all, we know in spirit we are not worshiping this goddess.”

Miss Ahn sighed and said, “Alright, I’ll go.” And out the door she went.

The principal followed her and said, “And you will worship, won’t you, Miss Ahn?”

Miss Ahn did not say anything. She just went down the stairs and out to the school yard. All the students saw her and some began to whisper, “Miss Ahn is coming! Surely the Lord will take care of us now.”

As soon as Miss Ahn found her place with her students, they all started up the mountain to the shrine. The students from seven other schools had already gathered, and Miss Ahn’s school was the last to arrive. She had made everyone else wait. The school children were all lined up in careful rows. Everyone stood in perfect alignment. There was no whispering; there was no slouching. The Japanese rulers were present, and no one wanted to get in trouble with them because they knew what it would mean, and Miss Ahn knew what it would mean. Many Christians had already been arrested and harmed and badly treated under the Japanese rule—missionaries, preachers, deacons—it didn’t matter. If they did not worship at the shrine, they were arrested.

As she had made her way up the mountain, Miss Ahn prayed. She wanted to do what was right, but she felt weak. When they reached the shrine, everyone got into place. The Japanese leader said loudly, “Attention!” and everybody stood taller. Each student was in line with the person in front of him or her; all the rows were straight. Every foot was placed correctly. Then the order came for them to bow before the goddess. They were to bow deeply, from the waist, and everyone did. Everyone…except Miss Ahn. She stood straight and looked to heaven. She knew her doom now was set. She knew she would be arrested, probably as soon as she made her way down to the school.

She knew intellectually, as she walked down the mountain, that she had done the right thing, but her stomach still quivered and her legs still shook. She recalled the promise in Matthew, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak” (Matthew 10:19) and that gave her courage. By the time she returned to the school, four Japanese detectives were waiting for her. They arrested her, escorted her to the police office, and led her into a room to be questioned by the officer in charge. She took a seat, and they closed the door.

The man at the desk was fuming; his eyes glared at Miss Ahn. “Who do you think you are, you foolish woman?! Do you think you can defy us?! Do you know what we can do to you?”

Of course, Miss Ahn knew. She had heard many stories about what happened to prisoners. She sat there quivering and praying, and then the phone rang.

The officer picked up the phone, and said in a different tone of voice, “Yes, sir…Yes, sir…YES, sir.” Then he hung up and turned around in his chair to the file cabinet behind him. Miss Ahn could see that his hands were shaking as he fumbled through the files, looking for the right one. Finally, he pulled it out…and he left!

And Miss Ahn thought, I can leave, too! So, she got up, and she left! She tried to walk normally through the outer office, though her legs felt like jelly, but as soon as she got past that office, she started to run. She ran all the way home. Through the streets she went; she didn’t care who was looking at her. She just ran, for she knew every policeman would soon be looking for her. She had been praying in the office for God to help her and then this door of opportunity opened up to her, so she ran right through it! But when she got home, the gate was locked. She banged and banged on it, and her mother came running out with bare feet. The mother started to cry and said, “We’ve been praying for you. Come in, come in!”

Once inside, Miss Ahn told her mother all that had happened, and her mother said, “You must leave immediately.” So Miss Ahn rubbed ashes onto her face and hands so that she looked liked she had worked outside all day. She put on some old peasant clothes and old shoes that were typical for poor people to wear. Her mother wrapped some clean clothes and her Bible in a piece of cloth, and out the door Miss Ahn went. She went to the train station. One train was ready to pull out. It was a freight train, full of freight cars, but the last car was a passenger car. Miss Ahn slipped into that car, found a seat by herself, and prayed that no policeman would board while she was in the car. No policemen boarded at the same time as Miss Ahn, but this particular train stopped at every station on the way to Shin Ei Joo. Every time the train pulled into a station, Miss Ahn tensed up and did not relax until it pulled away without a police officer. As the train see-sawed its way to Shin Ei Joo, Miss Ahn looked through the window to the starry sky above. It was the same peaceful, serene sky she had looked at the night before, but tonight was different. She was a fugitive, and she wondered if anyone up in the starry heavens was aware of what she was doing. She knew God and Jesus were, but even so, she felt so all alone. She did not know what to do next.

Finally the train arrived at Shin Ei Joo, and Miss Ahn alighted. Remember, she was dressed as a worker woman. Her face and hands were dirty. She thought the bathroom would be the best place to spend the rest of the night, but it was cold because the bathroom was not heated. Shin Ei Joo is close to the Manchurian border, and even though it was early spring at this time, the temperature at night was still very cold. Each tear drop seemed to freeze on her cheek, so she decided she would have to move out into the lobby where it was a little warmer. She washed up as best she could, changed into her clean clothes, and then found a spot away from the rest of the people and prayed that God would protect her. Before she fell asleep, she remembered she knew someone in Shin Ei Joo! One of her former students lived here! In the morning she called Kyung, who came for her right away and took her back to her warm home.

Kyung was a Christian, and Miss Ahn asked what was happening to the Christians in Shin Ei Joo. Were the Christians remaining faithful to God or were they worshipping at the Japanese shrines? Kyung said, “Well, some have fled, and some are worshipping.”

“What are you doing Kyung?”

“Well, I have stopped going to church, but in my heart I am still a Christian.” Remember this for later—Kyung stopped going to church because of the persecution against the Christians. Miss Ahn realized she could not stay with Kyung very long, as it was too dangerous for both of them, so she called her sister and made arrangements to live with her.

Miss Ahn had to take another train to reach her sister’s home in Jung Joo at the foot of a series of mountains, and she had to go at night because the police were less likely to be on board at night. When she arrived at Jung Joo, her sister waited in the shadow of a building while a servant met Miss Ahn, and then they quietly walked home where her mother was already waiting for her.

As long as she avoided contact with the neighbors, Miss Ahn did well at her sister’s home, but she knew she could not stay there very long either. The neighbors were curious. So, she and her mother looked for a place of their own further out in the country and found a nice little thatched hut that no one wanted—its previous owner and his son had both died of tuberculosis in this home, so everyone was afraid of living in it. In fact, they stayed away from it completely. It was perfect for Miss Ahn and her mother, but first the hut had to be thoroughly scrubbed, re-walled, and re-floored before they could move in.

Miss Ahn knew that she and her mother were safe here, at least for a while. Every evening after dark, her sister brought them food for the next day, and this is how they lived. During the day, Miss Ahn memorized passages of Scripture and hymns because she knew that one day she would be arrested, unless God intervened, and she wanted to be able to sing hymns and repeat the word of God. She also enjoyed being outside in nature—a lively stream bubbled nearby and the beauty of the forest was not far away.

One day she noticed an unfamiliar lady slowly walking through their little village. Right away, Miss Ahn became alert because she knew word had to have been getting out that she was a wanted person. She wondered if this person were a spy who was looking for anything unusual. Miss Ahn went home and told her mother and they decided to stay close to home, but they eventually learned that this person was Mrs. Chang. Mrs. Chang was a Christian who had belonged to a Christian church when a shrine was brought into the church and placed in the foyer. All each person arriving at church had to do was to bow at the shrine in worship before proceeding on with their own church service. They could go into their church and worship any way they pleased, as long as they first bowed at the shrine. Some people did this, but Mrs. Chang could not. She said she could never deny her Lord in that way, and so she left and became a fugitive in the mountains. She was all alone, going from place to place. She went into the little, poor villages of the mountains, and there she told the people about her heavenly Father and his gift of Jesus Christ and the opportunity each one has to be a son or daughter of God. The poor villagers had never heard such things before—Mrs. Chang had become an evangelist! However, the villagers were very poor, and Mrs. Chang had no way of purchasing food. She had no money. She only could eat what they could share with her and that was only once a day. However, Mrs. Chang was strong and of good courage.

She said, “I wish you could have been with me in the mountains! You would have heard believers deep in the mountains praying and singing to our heavenly Father. You could have visited the caves with me where the pastors and evangelists and the deacons and believers all gathered. Such faith! Their faces glowed with love for God. It didn’t matter that they were in a cave or that they were hiding in the woods or that they had to move constantly for fear of arrest. I had such a rich blessing just to be with them.” And just visiting with Mrs. Chang strengthened Miss Ahn and her mother.

It was not too long after meeting Mrs. Chang that a soft and gentle, but firm, knock after dark on their door awakened them. Who could it be? Were they in danger? Miss Ahn’s mother went with a candle to the door and said, “Who’s there?”

In a quiet, but husky, whisper, she heard, “It’s Deacon Lee. Mrs. Chang sent me.”

Well, they quickly opened the door and let Deacon Lee in. He was in threadbare and tattered clothes. His beard was long and shaggy. Remember, these people were being pursued, and they had no means of grooming themselves or of replacing worn-out clothing. They could not even buy food, and Deacon Lee was so hungry. He said, “It’s been a long time since I have eaten. Sometimes I go a week without food.”

So, they did what I am sure you would have done—they brought out all the food that Miss Ahn’s sister had brought them for the next day.

Miss Ahn said later, “I wish you could have seen him eat. He just ate…and ate…and ate!” And all the food was gone, but that was okay because Deacon Lee loved God, and he was in great need.

Deacon Lee later told them, “I left my church and my village two years ago. In the summer it is better because the woods offer protection and it is warmer, but in the winter it is very cold and that is the hardest time for me. I find a cave or something to stay in, and I wish you could meet the people I have met in the caves and in the woods. We don’t have much food. We have to dig roots of the mountain plants, and that is what we eat; and we drink the water from the streams, but we are strong! And we are swift! And we can go! It is because God strengthens us.”

Boys and girls, we don’t know where we will be tomorrow, next week, or next year, and a time may come when we have only bread to eat and water to drink, but God will strengthen us! At that time we may be skinny and our clothes may be threadbare, but that won’t matter, if God is with us; for we will have all heaven as our helper, and this will make us joyful. God will help us, just like he helped Miss Ahn, Mrs. Chang, and Deacon Lee.

Do you remember there was something in our story to be remembered? The principal of Miss Ahn’s school—was she really a Christian or only a Christian in name? Jesus says that if we deny him on this earth, he will deny us before his Father and before the angels in heaven, and Jesus will never deny a true Christian. Remember Kyung? She stopped going to church and didn’t flee, so was she worshiping at the idol shrine? Miss Ahn could not stay with Kyung because it was not safe for Miss Ahn, for if someone will betray God and Jesus, he or she will also betray you. You can never find safety among those who will compromise their faith. You will only be safe in Jesus Christ and with his disciples who fully follow him. Onycha Holt


Kitchen Herb
The Bay Leaf

It is hard to believe that using a few bay leaves in cooking can contribute to your health, in addition to taste, but it does. Bay leaves are usually added to foods for the flavor they impart, but recent research in Korea has placed bay leaves at the top of 120 spices, herbs, and vegetables that were tested for their antioxidant power. The unassuming bay leaf is stronger in its ability to reduce oxidation than is vitamin C and than are the synthetic antioxidants BHA and BHT which are routinely added as preservatives in processed foods. In addition, bay leaves may be particularly effective against type 2 diabetes, as noted by this report:

“A team of researchers (led by Richard Anderson, PhD, a scientist at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture, who is an expert in natural treatments for type 2 diabetes) studied 40 people with the disease, dividing them into four groups.

“Three of the groups took bay leaf supplements—either one, two, or three grams a day. Another group took a placebo.

“After one month, the bay leaf groups had big drops in blood sugar levels—up to 26 percent. But that’s not all. They also had a 32 to 40 percent drop in ‘bad’ artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, a 20 to 29 percent rise in ‘good’ artery-cleaning HDL cholesterol, and a 25 to 34 percent drop in triglycerides, another heart-harming blood fat. Meanwhile, the placebo group had no changes in any of those parameters” (Bharat B. Aggarwal, Healing Spices, p. 43).

Research has also shown that bay leaf fights bacteria and has a strong effect on E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria (all of which can cause food poisoning) and that bay leaf oil can slow or kill the SARS virus. Bay leaves or bay leaf oil has been used traditionally as a mosquito repellant, for the alleviation of the pain and swelling of arthritis, and to treat stomach problems.

Most of the bay leaves available in the United States are grown in Turkey, and all are picked and dried from the bay laurel tree, a densely-leafed evergreen. When purchasing bay leaves, look for leaves that are green in color—the darker the color and the larger the leaf the better.

Here are some ways to include more bay leaves in your cooking: Add a leaf or two to the water when boiling carrots, potatoes, or pasta; add bay leaves to simmering tomato sauces, even when you are heating up commercial pasta sauce; add bay leaves to lentils and soups as they cook. Bay leaves pair well with basil, cumin, garlic, onion, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

One word of caution, however. Always remove bay leaves before serving. Mistakenly swallowing a bay leaf can obstruct, and even puncture, the intestine. Onycha Holt


Country Living

“I urge our people to make it their lifework to seek for spirituality. Christ is at the door. This is why I say to our people, ‘Do not consider it a privation when you are called to leave the cities and move out into the country places. Here there await rich blessings for those who will grasp them. By beholding the scenes of nature, the works of the Creator, by studying God’s handiwork, imperceptibly you will be changed into the same image.’” (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 356) 


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 - E-mail: editor@smyrna.org.
Associate Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org

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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013