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. 21, No.5 Straight and Narrow May 2012
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
It could be argued that no group saw the value of truth in doctrinal correctness more than the early Seventh-day Adventists. This emphasis has certainly lessened in some circles the last half century, but among Adventists who hold with our historic pioneers, there is little doubt that doctrinal correctness and doctrinal integrity have a very valuable place.
Jesus clearly taught the importance of proper belief when he prayed that God would sanctify them [his disciples] through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17). Jesus declared that the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). Paul noted that salvation comes through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
There also can be no doubt that the truths the apostles taught in their day were not popular nor accepted by the mainstream, just as the truths we teach are not popular nor well-received today. The apostles most holy faith (Jude 1:20) was ridiculed and spoken of with evil intent (1 Peter 3:16; 2 Peter 2:2).
The apostles, however, had the truth because they had Jesus, who is the truth (John 14:6). As time passed after the death of Jesus, some of the early Christians began to doubt the correctness of their position, and Peter wrote to them, as well as to succeeding generations who might be tempted to doubt their holy faith, and assured the believers that we have not followed cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16).
Christianity was not well-received by the world then because the world is at enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be. This has not changed through the centuries. Gods people have never been the accepted by the world.
Today Adventism finds a great deal of acceptance among the world, but it is not because the world has been converted, but because Adventism has fallen towards the world. For the first one hundred plus years of their existence, Adventists were considered a cult. This was not because we believed in the Sabbath, though this was not usually well-received. Adventism was not called a cult because of the Sabbath, and neither was it our positions on the state of the dead and the second coming of Jesus that caused us to be labeled as pseudo-Christians. Adventism was considered a cult because it denied the doctrine of the trinity and, instead, taught that Jesus was the literal, begotten Son of God. The teachings on the nature of Christ and the atonement also contributed to our unfavorable statusthat Jesus, in the incarnation, took upon his sinless nature our sinful nature and that the atonement was not completed at the cross but was to be completed in the most holy place of the heaven sanctuary after 1844.
With the denial of the truth about Jesus shortly after the death of Ellen White, corporate Adventism was prepared to make further concessions to the oppressors of our most holy faith and during the SDAEvangelical conferences of 1955 and 1956, which led to the book Questions on Doctrine, our teachings on the nature of Jesus and on the sanctuary were changed.
This has not been in Gods order! He foresaw the attempted changes that would be made and, as he did with Peter gave plain assurances that his people had the truth. Through Ellen G. White, God sent clear, strong, trumpet-like messages to assure the remnant that they need not change, nor discard, their like precious faith.
We believe without a doubt that Christ is soon coming. This is not a fable to us; it is a reality. We have no doubt, neither have we had a doubt for years, that the doctrines we hold today are present truth, and that we are nearing the judgment. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 355; published in 1869)
It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 495; written in 1881)
These two statements are an enigma that the modern 1957, historic Adventist cannot respond to well. If the trinity doctrine is true but, as all admit, was not taught in 1869 or 1881, or not even until 1898, when The Desire of Ages was published, how can these above statements be accounted as credible? In 1869 Ellen White affirmed the doctrines then taught and stated that they had taught them for years. Twelve years later she uncompromisingly stated that they were teaching the truth as sure as God lives! If one wished to affirm the truth of our doctrines, including the truth about God, how could they find stronger language?
Having the truth is vitally important, but it can do nothing, if we do not choose to accept and follow the truth. Being born into a church means nothing. It is a personal acceptance and a living of the truth that matters. Peter noted:
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10, 11)
Ellen G. White commented upon this in her book Acts of the Apostles:
For many years Peter had been urging upon the believers the necessity of a constant growth in grace and in a knowledge of the truth; and now, knowing that soon he would be called to suffer martyrdom for his faith, he once more drew attention to the precious privileges within the reach of every believer. In the full assurance of his faith the aged disciple exhorted his brethren to steadfastness of purpose in the Christian life. Give diligence, he pleaded, to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Precious assurance! Glorious is the hope before the believer as he advances by faith toward the heights of Christian perfection! (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 533)
In 1967 Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. At that time women were not allowed to officially enter, so she signed the entry form K. V. Switzer. During the marathon a race official attempted to physically remove her from the race, only to be body-blocked off the road by Kathrines large boyfriend, who was running with her at the time. In 1967 it was not understood that women could safely run such a race, and Switzer wanted to prove that it was possible for women to succeed at such a race. After the attempt to remove her, she said: Im going to finish this race on my hands and knees if I have to because nobody believes that I can do this.
The Bible compares the Christian life to a race (Hebrews 12:1), but one that we are to finish (Matthew 10:22) to obtain the prize. While we might not finish upon both hands and knees, we certainly must be upon our knees, if we are to finish. Once we begin the race, we are not guaranteed to finish, unless we continue. Paul notes:
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14)
Entering Bible election gives no promise that we will be saved at last, unless we are sanctified by the Spirit of God.
There is an election of individuals and a people, the only election found in the word of God, where man is elected to be saved. Many have looked at the end, thinking they were surely elected to have heavenly bliss; but this is not the election the Bible reveals. Man is elected to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected to put on the armor, to fight the good fight of faith. He is elected to use the means God has placed within his reach to war against every unholy lust, while Satan is playing the game of life for his soul. He is elected to watch unto prayer, to search the Scriptures, and to avoid entering into temptation. He is elected to have faith continually. He is elected to be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and that he may be, not a hearer only, but a doer of the word. This is Bible election. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 453, 454)
Strengthened in the Present Truth
Peter speaks of present truth, when he says: Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth (2 Peter 1:12).
In the days of Peter there were truths that were especially applicable for his time, such as the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:2328; 10:1923), the acceptance of the Gentiles (Acts 10:34, 35; 11:2, 3, 17, 18), and the falling away which had already begun (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
Throughout history we find that God has had special truth for the various times in which people lived. During the life of Noah, the coming flood and promise of deliverance in the ark was present truth (Genesis 6). During the time of Elijah, as today for those carrying the Elijah message, the proclamation of the true God was present truth (1 Kings 18:21), during the time of Jeremiah, present truth was the seventy years of captivity (Jeremiah 25:411), and during the time of John the Baptist, present truth was the announcement of the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:2; 812).
Present Truth for Our Day
There is a special present truth for these last days found in Revelation 14:612the three angels messages. These messages include a call to worship the true God as the Creator during a time when false worship has become the norm. Giving counsel for his day and for all future generations, Paul declared present truth, when he warned:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
There is a lot of so-called philosophy and doctrine in this world today that is contrary to the Bible, but let us remember the words of Jesus: But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9).
Recently I received an interesting email. This message stated that although some claimed the trinity doctrine is never mentioned in the Bible such texts did exist and gave the followings texts as references:
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies. . . (1 Timothy 1:4)
But refuse profane and old wives fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (1Timothy 4:7)
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:4)
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. (Titus 1:14)
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
After reading these texts I think it is safe to say that the trinity is mentioned in the Bible, not as a doctrine of truth but as one of the cunningly-devised fables that is a commandment of men.
Satan worked to pervert the truth in the eyes of the Jewish people, and he is working hard to pervert the truth in the minds of the people today:
Satan is working that the history of the Jewish nation may be repeated in the experience of those who claim to believe present truth. The Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures, and supposed themselves conversant with them. But they made a woeful mistake. The prophecies that refer to the glorious second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven they regarded as referring to His first coming. Because He did not come according to their expectations, they turned away from Him. Satan knew just how to take these men in his net, and deceive and destroy them. . . .
The very same Satan is at work to undermine the faith of the people of God at this time. There are persons ready to catch up every new idea. The prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation are misinterpreted. These persons do not consider that the truth has been set forth at the appointed time by the very men whom God was leading to do this special work. These men followed on step by step in the very fulfillment of prophecy, and those who have not had a personal experience in this work, are to take the Word of God and believe on their word who have been led by the Lord in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels messages. These messages, received and acted upon, are doing their work to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God. If we search the Scriptures to confirm the truth God has given His servants for the world, we shall be found proclaiming the first, second, and third angels messages. (Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 111)
Linked into the three angels messages is the testing truth of the Sabbath. Exodus 20:811 gives the Sabbath commandment, as it came from the lips of God and as it is recorded on the tablets of stone in the heavenly sanctuary (see Revelation 11:19). We have been told:
Special truths have been adapted to the conditions of the generations as they have existed. The present truth, which is a test to the people of this generation, was not a test to the people of generations far back. If the light which now shines upon us in regard to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment had been given to the generations in the past, God would have held them accountable for that light.
When the temple of God was opened in heaven, John saw in holy vision a class of people whose attention was arrested and who were looking with reverential awe at the ark, which contained the law of God. The special test upon the fourth commandment did not come until after the temple of God was opened in heaven.
Those who died before the light was given upon the law of God and the claims of the fourth commandment were not guilty of the sin of violating the seventh-day Sabbath. The wisdom and mercy of God in dispensing light and knowledge at the proper time, as the people need it, is unsearchable. Previous to His coming to judge the world in righteousness, He sends forth a warning to arouse the people and call their attention to their neglect of the fourth commandment, that they may be enlightened, and may repent of their transgression of His law, and prove their allegiance to the great Lawgiver. He has made provision that all may be holy and happy if they choose. Sufficient light has been given to this generation, that we may learn what our duties and privileges are, and enjoy the precious and solemn truths in their simplicity and power. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 693)
Today, when every wind of doctrine is blowing with hurricane force, we should hold onto the Bible as the sure and true standard. Peter declared:
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:1618)
Peter had the privilege of seeing the glory of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and of hearing the voice of God. Yet, despite what he had seen and heard, he went on to say:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:1921)
Peter said, despite the fact that they had seen the glory of Jesus and had heard the divine voice, that there is something more sure than what the senses record, and that is the written word of God.
When the truth is believed and then received into the life, God knows that change will happen. Gods invitation is simply O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him (Psalm 34:8).
The apostle Paul says that God hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. Colossians 1:13. And everyone who has passed from death unto life is able to set to his seal that God is true. John 3:33. He can testify, I needed help, and I found it in Jesus. Every want was supplied, the hunger of my soul was satisfied; and now the Bible is to me the revelation of Jesus Christ. Do you ask why I believe in Jesus? Because He is to me a divine Saviour. Why do I believe the Bible? Because I have found it to be the voice of God to my soul. We may have the witness in ourselves that the Bible is true, that Christ is the Son of God. We know that we are not following cunningly devised fables. (Steps to Christ, p. 112)
Fill up the void spaces of your time with meditation and prayer.
They are the safest who are most in their closets, who pray, not to be seen of men, but to be heard of God.
It is a comfort to Christians apart, to think their prayers meet before a throne of grace; and their persons shall meet before a throne of glory.
There wants nothing but a believing prayer to turn a promise into a performance.
God is a great God, and therefore he will be sought; he is a good God, and therefore he will be found.
The breath of prayer comes from the life of faith.
Whatever you want, go to God by faith and prayer, in the name of Christ, and never think his delays are denials.
They that spend then days in faith and prayer, shall end their days in peace and comfort. (J. Mason, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 1, 1863)
The Power of the Gospel
The 747 shot down the runway with a force I had never experienced. Once in the air, Air Force One then stood on its tail to get as high as possible, as rapidly as possible. I had not been in a jet at such a steep incline. The Secret Service was concerned about the possibility of terrorists with shoulder-launched ground-to-air missiles, and wanted AF-1 out of range quickly (Karl Rove, recounting the events of 911 in Courage and Consequence, pp. 252, 253).
The Boeing 747 is a very powerful airplane. The reason the pilot of AF-1 could do this with the 747 is because the plane has such powerful engines, some of which are made by Rolls Royce. When on the ground, with its brakes locked, the 747 exhaust is so powerful that if you drove a semi-truck behind the airplane while those engines were roaring, the force from the engines would literally blow over and tumble the semi-truck like a toy.
Boeing 747s can go places because they have power, but April 3 this year a tornado near Dallas, Texas, lifted large truck trailers into the air and literally spun them around like toys. Tornados are very powerful! But, beloved, the gospel has greater power than a 747 or all the tornados combined. The plane and tornado can only move the position of people and things, but the gospel can move people and change peoples lives.
Romans 1:16 is one of Dr. Martin Luthers favorite texts: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Paul says that the gospel has power to save. We all are familiar with the atomic blast at Hiroshima and often forget there was a second blast at Nagasaki. Atomic nuclear warheads are the most powerful things that mankind has ever made, but, friends, nothing, not even atomic warheads, compare in power to the power of the gospel because, while the warheads can destroy life, only the gospel can give life.
The life of the true believer reveals an indwelling Saviour (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 67). If we are true believers, then we have Christ dwelling within usthe hope of glory (Colossians 1:29). Continuing on in Testimonies for the Church, The follower of Jesus is Christlike in spirit and in temper. Like Christ, he is meek and humble. His faith works by love and purifies the soul. His whole life is a testimony to the power of the grace of Christ. The pure doctrines of the gospel never degrade the receiver, never make him coarse, or rough, or uncourteous. The gospel refines, ennobles, and elevates, sanctifying the judgment and influencing the whole life (Ibid.; emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted). The word of God is life-giving because there is inherent power within it.
Let us turn to Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is quick, [the word quick is an old English word that means alive or living; in other words, the word of God is living] and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword. The word of God is powerful, and it is living. This makes sense because in Hebrews 3:12 it speaks about the living God. We have a living God who is powerful.
Have you heard of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the seven wonders of the natural world? Here are the seven wonders of the word:
Jesus said: It is the spirit that quickeneth [giveth life]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63). The very words of Christ, which are the words of God to us, bring spirit and life.
The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is in the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life. Every command is a promise; accepted by the will, received into the soul, it brings with it the life of the Infinite One. It transforms the nature and re-creates the soul in the image of God. (Education, p. 126)
Think of the infinite power it took to create the worlds and the galaxies which make up the known universe. The same power that created them is in the word of God, and it is there to create life in us, who are dead. Continuing in Education:
The life thus imparted is in like manner sustained. By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4) shall man live. The mind, the soul, is built up by that upon which it feeds; and it rests with us to determine upon what it shall be fed. It is within the power of everyone to choose the topics that shall occupy the thoughts and shape the character (Ibid., pp. 126, 127).
It is true, friends, that whatever we eat, we become; in other words, you are what you eat. Eating is one of the most intimate things we do because the food we eat actually becomes a part of us. You are also what you eat spiritually. It is the things we think upon, the things we dwell upon, that shape our characters and become us. When we choose the topics that we are going to think upon and read, they are the things that will affect our characters, and we need to be very mindful of that.
All things came into being by the word of God. In Psalm 33:6 and 9, we read: By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . . . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. In The Ministry of Healing, we read: The work of creation cannot be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life (p. 414)?
I would like to share with you some thoughts of Alexander Tsiaras from a talk he gave in 2010 at a TED conference entitled Conception to Birth Visualized. He began by saying:
I was offered a position as associate professor of medicine and chief of scientific visualization at Yale University in the department of medicine. [No one gets a position at Yale University unless he or she is intelligent.] And my job was to write many of the algorithms and code for NASA to do virtual surgery in preparation for the astronauts going into deep spaceflight, so they could be kept in robotic pods. One of the fascinating things about what we were actually working on is that we were seeing, using new kinds of scanning technologies, things that had just never been seen before I mean, not only in disease management, but also things that allowed us to see things about the body that just made you marvel. I remember one of the first times we were looking at collagen. And your entire bodyeverything, your hair, skin, bone, nails, everythingis made of collagen. And its a kind of rope-like structure that twirls and swirls like this [and as he talks, he is twisting and swirling his fingers]. And the only place that collagen changes its structure is in the cornea of your eye. In your eye it becomes a grid formation, and therefore, it becomes transparent, as opposed to opaque. So perfectly organized a structure, it was hard not to attribute divinity to it because we kept on seeing this over and over and over again in different parts of the body. One of the opportunities I had was one person was working on a really interesting micromagnetic resonance imaging machine with the NIH. And what we were going to do was scan a new project on the development of the fetus from conception to birth using these kinds of new technologies. So I wrote the algorithms in code, and he built the hardware. Paul Lauterbur then went on to win the Nobel Prize for inventing the MRI. I got the data. And Im going to show you a sample of the piece From Conception to Birth.
This video shows a single egg that divides every 12 to 15 hours after it is fertilized. After 25 days the heart chamber is developing. After 32 days the arms and hands are developing. At 45 days we see a vascular system and other organs developing. At 52 days the retina, nose, and fingers are developing in the child. It is absolutely fascinating. Then he said, Im going to show you something pretty unique. Heres a human heart at 25 [days]. Its just basically two strands. And like this magnificent origami, cells are developing at one million cells per second at four weeks, as its just folding on itself. You take paper and you fold it on itself to make things, and that is what is shown in the videothings are starting to actually fold over on themselves. Tsiaras continues:
Within five weeks you can start to see the early atrium and the early ventricles. Six weeks, these folds are now beginning with the papilla on the inside of the heart actually being able to pull down each one of those valves in your heart until you get a mature heartand then basically the development of the entire human body. The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these mathematical models of how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us? Its a mystery, its magic, its divinity. Then you start to take a look at adult life. Take a look at this little tuft of capillaries. Its just a tiny sub-substructure, microscopic. But basically by the time youre nine months and youre given birth, you have almost 60,000 miles of vessels inside your body. I mean, only one mile is visible; 59,999 miles that are basically bringing nutrients and taking waste away. The complexity of building that within a single system is, again, beyond any comprehension or any existing mathematics today. And its not just our own existence, but how does the womans body understand to have genetic structure that not only builds her own, but then has the understanding that allows her to become a walking immunological, cardiovascular system that basically is a mobile system that can actually nurture, treat this child with a kind of marvel that is beyond, again, our comprehension.
Why have I brought all of this to your attention? To begin with, it is fascinating, isnt it? Beloved, we have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) with a complexity, and yet there is another work that God does that is an equally great work. That is the work of redemption; the gospel has power to change sinners to saints. God has the power to create us in the first place, and his gospel has the power to change us.
The work of creation cannot be explained by science. What science can explain the mystery of life? Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (The Ministry of Healing, p. 414)
When we build houses, we get together 2 x 4 studs, other boards, sheeting, shingles, and many other things. The boards all come from trees, and the blocks come from concrete that had been made from sand and different elements. Everything has a pre-existence before it gets to the job site. Nothing came out of nothing, but the Bible says that when God made everything, he made it from nothing but his word. This is all he needed.
In the creation of the earth, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. He spake, and it was; . . . He commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33:9. All things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, came into existence by the breath of His mouth. (Ibid.)
As Bible-believing Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the active agent of creation. He is the one through whom God created all things.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:13).
Not only did Christ create everything, but he upholds everything by the power of Gods word.
I live in the Northern Hemisphere, and when we who live in the Northern Hemisphere look at a globe, we think of ourselves as being on the upside of the earth. If we live in the Southern Hemisphere, we might think of ourselves as being on the top and the Northern Hemisphere on the bottom. What keeps this earth from falling out of orbit? Everything is held together by the power of God. God has decreed these things to work exactly like they do, and it is a beautiful system that he has made.
In Colossians 1 Paul speaks of redemption and then says of Christ: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (vs. 1417).
It is not by inherent power that year by year the earth yields its bounties and continues its march around the sun. . . . It is by His power that vegetation is caused to flourish, that every leaf appears, every flower blooms, every fruit develops. (The Ministry of Healing, p. 416)
Recently I was looking at a little bouquet of tiny flowers. These little flowers were just a few of the thousands of small flowers blooming at this time. Every flower that blooms, every single piece of fruit borne, is because of Gods hand. God is not in the flower, nor is he in the fruit. We dont believe in pantheistic ideas, of course, but without God, none of this happens. Continuing on in The Ministry of Healing:
The mechanism of the human body cannot be fully understood; it presents mysteries that baffle the most intelligent. It is not as the result of a mechanism, which, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. (Ibid., p. 417)
A lot of people think that God simply wrote the laws of nature and that these laws are like an alarm clock with a big spring that God has wound up, and these laws are naturally taking their course. Ellen White says that is not the case, however. The universe is not a mechanism that, once set in motion, can take care of itself. God continually upholds it to the minutest part of the atom.
The mighty power that works through all nature and sustains all things is not, as some men of science represent, merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy. God is a Spirit; yet He is a personal Being; for so He has revealed Himself . . . Gods handiwork in nature is not God Himself in nature. The things of nature are an expression of Gods character and power; but we are not to regard nature as God. (Ibid., p. 413)
If we turn to Romans 1:25, we see the confusion that happens when we disregard Gods creation: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator. Thats what happens when we try to put God from our mindswe eventually begin to worship the creature and not the Creator of all things. In Christ Jesus is the great power that creates a human newborn with sixty thousand miles of vessels and capillaries and even more in an adult, and the same power recreates a new creature in us.
Ephesians 2:10 states For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. God takes us as we had beena sinner, as it says in verse 8,saves us by his grace through faith, and transforms us into saints, and this is a creation process. Remember David prayed, Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10), so the plan of salvation is a creative process. Let Christ be daily made manifest in you, and He will reveal through you the creative energy of His worda gentle, persuasive, yet mighty influence to re-create other souls in the beauty of the Lord our God (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 128). This creative energy will be seen in us as it changes us, as it makes us new men and women in Christ. This is something we cannot do for ourselves.
Science News magazine recently noted some of the most outstanding scientific achievements during the last ninety years. One of the milestones listed for the decade of the 1960s was when, in 1967, Dr. Christian Barnard, in Cape Town, South Africa, performed the first human heart transplant. When a heart is so diseased that it cannot be fixed, the heart has to be replaced. The person receives a new heart from someone else. The Lord Jesus, however, has been involved in heart transplants a lot longer than human beings. He gives us a new heart, and we get someone elses heartthe heart of Jesus Christ. This is what he wants to do for each one of us, for we cannot do it for ourselves.
In Job 14:4 we read: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. That, of course, is speaking of humans. The depths of sin are so great that, in a sense, even the Lord Jesus cant take and make our old hearts clean. He has to give us a new heart. In Jeremiah 10:23, he says: O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. And in chapter 13, Jeremiah asks the question with which we are familiar: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots (Jeremiah 13:23)? The implied answer, of course, is no.
The solution to our problem is to be born again. Jesus told Nicodemus, Ye must be born again (John 3:7). Peter says, Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:23). This is how we receive our new birth experiencethrough the word of God. A life of righteousness, friends, will flow from a new heart.
Ezekiel says God will take away the stony heart and give us a heart of flesh: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obediencethe service and allegiance of loveis the true sign of discipleship. Thus the Scripture says, This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 5:3; 2:4. Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience. We do not earn salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith. But obedience is the fruit of faith. (Steps to Christ, pp. 60, 61)
The kingdom of light is founded upon the word of God. In 2 Corinthians 4:6, we read: For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. How many of us have physically seen Jesus or have physically shaken his hand? Is there anyone who has had that experience? Maybe someone has, but I havent. Ellen White saw Jesus, she heard his voice in vision, but most of us do not see Jesus that way. How do we have this light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? How do we find this face of Christ? We find it through his wordthrough the Bibleand that is where we find this power.
He causes the light to shine out of darkness. 2 Corinthians 4:6. When the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. Genesis 1:2, 3. So in the night of spiritual darkness, Gods word goes forth, Let there be light. To His people He says, Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Isaiah 60:1.
Behold, says the Scripture, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. Isaiah 60:2. (Christ Object Lessons, p. 415)
It is interesting Isaiah says darkness will be upon the earth, but what will be upon the people? The earth cannot make a choice about this; it doesnt have a say. Because of the sin of man, the earth has had to endure darkness. We see in the world today animals that fight and kill each other. We see storm systems that should never have existed. We see extremes in temperature and these things do not relate to us what the original creation of God was like. Its a type of darkness, but upon people, people who are free moral agents and who could know better, the darkness is gross darkness because, by and large, most people have chosen the way of the prince of darkness. Continuing in Christ Object Lessons, we read:
It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power [Gods word has power]. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth. (Ibid.)
In Luke 4 we have a very brief commentary on the teachings of Christ: And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power (v. 32). His word had power. The authorities had sent some temple guards out to arrest Jesus, and they came back empty-handed. They were asked where Jesus was, and all they could say was: Never man spake like this man (John 7:46). His words had power and authority in them. In that word there is the power to break the bondage of sin. In Romans 6:14, we read: For sin shall not have dominion over you. Should sin have dominion over us? No!
Charles Fitch was one of the early Advent preachers. He fell out of favor with the Presbyterian Church because he taught the possibility and the necessity of victory over all sin. He wrote a little book simply entitled Sin Shall Not Have Dominion Over You. You should read it, if you have never read it.
First John 4:4 also declared the overcoming power of God for the believer who has Jesus Christ within: Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. God through his word gives power so that when Jesus comes back he will have a glorious church without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing (Ephesians 5:27). In fact, in Psalm 119:9 and 11, we find the power of Gods word poetically extolled: Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word (v. 9) and thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (v. 11). The triumph of the gospel, friends, is assured because Jesus said the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63), and Peter said, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:23).
Every promise in Gods word is ours. By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God are we to live. When assailed by temptation, look not to circumstances or to the weakness of self, but to the power of the word. All its strength is yours. (The Desire of Ages, p. 123)
It is so easy to look to ourselves, to our circumstances, and to our situations when we have problems, and when we do, we get into trouble and become discouraged. The law of cause and effect demands it because when we look at ourselves, there is nothing good to look at, and we have no reason not to be discouraged and despondent. If we look to the word of God, however, all its promises are ours, and there is power in the word of God.
Jesus told his disciples: Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you (John 15:3). We become cleansed, justified, and sanctified through the word that Christ speaks to us. Every inherited and every cultivated tendency to sin can be, and will be, overcome. I do not say that the tendencies are all going away, not right now. The tendencies are still present, but they can be overcome, and victory can be assured, for we need not give in to either inherited or cultivated tendencies to sin.
Here is Bible sanctification. It is not merely a show or outside work. It is sanctification received through the channel of truth. [Jesus said, Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).] It is truth received in the heart, and practically carried out in the life. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 339)
Dear reader, we cannot be sanctified without the truth. There are people who think that they can just be quite fine without the truth. They can sing about how much they love Jesus and that it is not material on which day you go to church or what you believe, as long as you love Jesus. But they do not understand what real love is, they do not understand biblical sanctification, and they do not understand the issue of the truth. Christians witness to the true power of the gospel by their lives because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
The gospel is the light that is to dispel the worlds spiritual darkness. It is a revelation of Gods unmerited favor to man through his only begotten Son. It is not manmade, it is God-made. It is not a lifeless theory; it is a pardoning, life-giving power through which we can understand the riches of the love of God in Christ, disclosing a grace that can change a race of rebels into a society of saints. Grace will do this for everyone who receives the word of the gospel because there is power in the gospel. Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16). You see, Satan wants us to think that our opportunity for salvation is over or that we have gone too far, but Jesus says that if you can believe in him, you have eternal life, and when you believe in him, you have power to overcome because he comes and dwells within you.
Do you remember one of the very first statements we looked at, taken from Testimonies for the Church, volume 7, page 67? The life of the true believer reveals an indwelling Saviour. Our Saviour is no less powerful today than he was two thousand years ago or when he created the universe. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18). He has that power, and that power can live within us, if we will simply surrender our lives to him and allow him to do that work.
The Value and Use of Health Reform
by Ellen G. White
I beseech you therefore, brethren, writes the apostle Paul, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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 12:1, 2]. The Lord requires a living sacrifice of mind, soul, body, and strength. All that we have and are is to be given to Him, that we may answer the purpose of our creation. But unless we take heed to the light and instruction given us in the Word of God, that in the matter of eating and drinking we may speak and act intelligently, we shall bring feebleness upon ourselves.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God [Romans 6:1113]. For Christs sake, let those that live in the last days of this worlds history walk in the light.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it unto subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away [1 Corinthians 9:2427].
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. . . . What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods [1 Corinthians 6:15, 19, 20].
It is necessary for every believer to be strictly temperate. The people of our world indulge pernicious habits, thus destroying their God-given susceptibility and the power of discerning sacred things. The moral sense of many of those living at the present day is clouded by wrong habits. With many appetite is the law that governs.
There is need of a better understanding of the principles of health reform. Temperance in eating, drinking, and dressing is essential. The advocates of temperance should place their standard on a broader platform. They would then be laborers together with God. With every iota of their influence they should encourage the spread of reform principles. Let appetite rule instead of principle, and the whole human machinery will be implicated. The violation of physical law is a violation of the law of God. Those who eat too much, and whose food is of an objectionable quality, are easily led into dissipation. In proportion to the darkness of their minds will they give license to their appetites and passions. . . .
In this place [Cooranbong] a fisherman has recently been converted to the truth. Although formerly a habitual user of this poisonous weed [tobacco], he has, by the grace of God, determined to leave it alone for the future. The question was asked him, Had you a hard struggle in giving it up? I should think I did, he answered, but I saw the truth as it was presented to me. I learned that tobacco was unhealthful. I prayed to the Lord to help me to give it up, and He has helped me in a most marked manner. But I have not yet decided that I can give up my cup of tea. It embraces me, and I know that I should have a severe headache did I not take it.
The evils of tea drinking were laid before him by Sister Sara McEnterfer. She encouraged him to have moral courage to try what giving up tea would do for him. He said, I will. In two weeks he bore his testimony in meeting. He said, When I said that I would give up tea, I meant it. I did not drink it, and the result was a most severe headache. But I thought, Am I to keep using tea to ward off the headache? Must I be dependent on it that when I let it alone I am in this condition? Now I know that its effects are bad. I will use it no more. I have not used it since, and I feel better every day. My headache no longer troubles me. My mind is clearer than it was. I can better understand the Scriptures as I read them.
I thought of this man, poor as far as worldly possessions are concerned, but with moral courage to cut loose from smoking and tea drinking, the habits of his boyhood. He did not plead for a little indulgence in wrong doing. No; he decided that tobacco and tea were injurious, and that his influence must be on the right side. He has given evidence that the Holy Spirit is working on his mind and character to make him a vessel unto honor.
Shall those who have had more opportunities and much precious light, who enjoy the advantages of education, make the plea that they cannot cut away from unhealthful practices? Why do not those who have excellent reasoning powers reason from cause to effect? Why do they not advocate reform by planting their feet firmly on principle, determined not to taste alcoholic drink or to use tobacco? These are poisons, and their use is a violation of Gods law.
Some say, when an effort is made to enlighten them on this point, I will leave off by degrees. But Satan laughs at all such decisions. He says, They are secure in my power. I have no fear of them on that ground. But he knows that he has no power over the man who, when sinners entice him, has moral courage to say No, squarely and positively. Such a one has dismissed the companionship of the devil, and as long as he holds to Jesus Christ, he is safe. He stands where heavenly angels can connect with him, giving him moral power to overcome . . .
The life that men live is not half what it ought to be. Light is shining upon the subject of temperance, and much labor has been put forth to instruct people on this point, but the dietetic habits of those who live for selfish gratification, who do not wish to be corrected, and refuse to practice health reform, leave them diseased and enfeebled. They may ask the Lord to heal them, but will He who caused the light to shine out of darkness heal them of that which is the result of not heeding the light, but continuing to eat, drink, and dress unhealthfully? Shall we not seek to do all that is possible for us to do by placing ourselves in the right relation to health reform? Then we can say, Father in heaven, I have now done all I can to place myself in a correct position by denying appetite and following the light given in regard to health. Heal me of disease that I may glorify Thee.
It is labor lost to teach people to go to God as a healer of their infirmities unless they are educated also to lay aside every wrong practice, and cease to indulge perverted appetite. They must be taught to use the provisions God has given. To refuse the remedies which they may as well have as not without paying a doctors fee, to neglect to let into every room in the house Gods pure air and sunshine, shows a lack of faith in Him. Faith in Gods power to heal infirmities is dead unless the one diseased improves the light God has given him by bringing his habits into harmony with right principles.
The grace of God is always reformatory. Every human being is in a school where he is to learn to give up hurtful practices, and obtain a knowledge of what he can do for himself. Those who ignore these things, who take no precautions in regard to getting pure air to breathe and pure water to drink, cannot be free from disease. Their systems are defiled, and the human structure injured.
Such people are careless, reckless, presumptuous, and self-destroying. Knowledge is strewn along their pathway, but they refuse to gather up the rays of light, saying that they depend on God. But will God do those things that He has left for them to do? Will He supply their neglect to cooperate with Him? Will He wink at their ignorance, and do great things for them by restoring soul, body, and spirit, while they ignore the most simple agencies, the use of which would bring them their health? While day by day they indulge their appetite by eating that which brings disease, can they expect the Lord to work a miracle to restore them? This is not the Lords way of working. By doing this, they make the Lord altogether such an one as themselves. Faith and works go together.
I beseech my brethren and sisters to lay aside their darling luxury of tea and coffee, the use of which creates an unnatural state of mind and body. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments [Revelation 3:4]. How are their garments defiled? By eating of that which brings disease and infirmity. And they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels [verses 4, 5].
All may become intelligent if they will. Those who worship God in the beauty of holiness will work in harmony with God by striving to supply the best conditions for worship. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock, Christ says. If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me [Revelation 3:20]. Those who follow Gods directions will be prepared to receive the heavenly Guest; for they have listened to the voice of God, speaking through His Word and His messengers.
But those who do not hear and obey the warnings and instructions of God cannot understand what sanctification of soul and body means. What word has God for those who ignore the light that is flashing around them, and then ask to be prayed for that they may be sanctified and healed? The same word that He had for Cain: If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well sin lieth at the door.
Let all examine their own hearts to see if they are not cherishing that which is a positive injury to them, and in the place of opening the door of the heart to let Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, in are complaining of the dearth of the Spirit of God. Let these search for their idols, and cast them out. Let them cut away every unhealthful indulgence in eating or drinking. Let them bring their daily practice into harmony with natures laws. By doing, as well as believing, an atmosphere will be created about the soul that will be a savor of life unto life.
The Lord calls upon all who think they know what faith is, to be sure that they are not pulling with only one oar, that their little bark is not going round and round, making no progress at all. Faith without intelligent works is dead, being alone. Faith in the healing power of God will not save unless it is combined with good works. Good works and faith are the two oars we need to use.
Many are made sick by the indulgence of their appetite. They eat what suits their perverted taste, thus weakening the digestive organs and injuring their power to assimilate the food that is to sustain life. So many varieties are introduced into the stomach that fermentation is the result. This condition brings on acute disease, and death frequently follows. Sin indeed lies at the door. The door is the mouth, and the stomach is made to do at one meal the work of two or three meals. Thus the delicate machinery is worn out by the suicidal practices of those who ought to know better.
Let all heed the instruction given on this subject. Let them strive to bring appetite under the control of reason. Mothers and fathers, God calls upon you to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. When you do for yourselves what as faithful servants of God you should do, you will be prepared to lead your children step by step in safe, healthful paths, and in ways of righteousness.
Physical life cannot be treated in a haphazard manner. Wake up to your responsibilities. When speaking to persons on the subject of health, they often say, We know a great deal better then we do. They do not realize that they are accountable for every ray of light in regard to their physical well-being, and that their every habit bears the inspection of God. He made the human being. We are His property, bought with a price, and what a price!
Every organ, every fiber of the being, is to be sacredly guarded from every harmful practice, if we would not be among the number that Christ represents as walking in the same dishonorable path as did the inhabitants of the world before the flood. Those in this number will be appointed to destruction, because they have persisted in carrying lawful habits to extremes, and have created and indulged habits that have no foundation in nature and that become a warring lust.
Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number that the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The mass of the inhabitants of this world are destroying for themselves the true basis of the highest earthly interest. They are destroying their power of self-control, and making themselves incapable of appreciating eternal realities. Willingly ignorant of their own structure, they lead their children in the same path of self-indulgence, causing them to suffer the penalty of the transgression of natures laws. They go to distant countries to seek a better climate, but their stomach will create for them a malarious atmosphere wherever they may locate. They bring upon themselves sufferings that no one can alleviate.
God calls upon us to stand upon the broad platform of temperance in eating, drinking, and dressing. Parents, will you not awaken to your God-given responsibilities? Study the principles of health reform, and teach your children that the path of self-denial is the only path of safety. Take an interest in their welfare.
Obedience to the laws of life must be made a matter of personal duty. We must answer to God for our habits and practices. The question for us to answer is not, What will the world say? but, How shall I, claiming to be a Christian, treat the habitation God has given me? Shall I work for my highest temporal and spiritual good by keeping my body as a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or shall I sacrifice myself to the worlds ideas and practices?
We must ourselves suffer the ills of violated laws. If we die, we die for ourselves. Is it not best to live for the future eternal life, and die in Christ? It is our duty to study the laws that govern our being and conform to them. Ignorance in these things is sin. We cannot do as we please with our bodies, for they are Gods property. Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods. [1 Corinthians 6:20]. (Ms 86, 1897; Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, pp. 19)
The Gospel Changes Lives
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 Monarch caterpillar is colorful and pretty, as far as caterpillars go, but we all know that a caterpillar does not stay a caterpillar. It goes through a transformation, and in biology the term for this transformation is metamorphosis. Through metamorphosis this Monarch caterpillar will become a beautiful Monarch butterfly, one of the most beautiful of butterflies. In fact, it is given the name Monarch because it is the king of butterflies, and the Greek word in verse 2 that is translated transformed is the same Greek word from which we derive our English word metamorphosis. In other words, being transformed is a radical change. When we are transformed, something is to happen that will make us different. We are not supposed to remain the same.
There are people today who profess Christianity and who profess to have experienced change in their lives. For example, the Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area has become well-known for a contemporary style of worship service. Many people, young and old, perform on stage, strumming guitars and playing drums, while dressed in very casual clothes, such as jeans and tee shirts. They claim to be full of joy, to have great peace, and to have had a changed experience.
Concerning the fruit of the spirit, we read in Galatians 5: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (vs. 22, 23). Two of the first three fruits mentioned are joy and peace. Many Christian people claim to have a lot of joy and think they are doing very well. In Seventh-day Adventism there is a contemporary movement fashioned after the Willow Creek type of worship called celebration worship. Most of these people appear to be very happy, and shouldnt Christians be happy? After all, isnt joy one of the fruits of the Spirit?
Paul tells us in Romans 14:17 that the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Many people emphasize our need of love, joy, and peace, yet they seem to forget careful health reform, Sabbath-keeping, and the Ten Commandments or do not consider them as important as love, joy, and peace, but are they? You see, we have to understand what real love, real joy, and real peace are all about because, friends, you can go to a rock concert and find people who are happy to be there. You can go to a football stadium and find people who are full of joy and who are thrilled to be there, especially if it is a Super Bowl game. Is this the kind of joy, peace, and love of which God speaks? Friends, if our love, joy, and peace do not bring us into conformity with Gods word, if they do not prepare us for heaven, and if they do not truly change our characters and the values we hold, then they do not bear the signet of heaven.
I am not saying that the people who have attended Willow Creek Community Church could not have become better people and could not have come to know, in a degree, Christ through their liberal worship because, friends, any time the word of God is read, there is an opportunity for that word to be as seed in someones life. For example, if you were in a Catholic mass and heard the word of God read, it could have a positive effect upon you. Sometimes in these situations people do find Christ. They move from point A to point B, but point B certainly isnt the point that God needs them to be at to be ready for the coming of Christ or to be ready for translation.
In the book Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, we read:
The Lord Jesus is making experiments on human hearts through the exhibition of His mercy and abundant grace. (p. 18)
He is making experiments! When we think of an experiment, we usually think of something in which the outcome is not known, but God knows the outcome perfectly and that it will be a good outcome, if we will cooperate with him. He knows exactly what will happen when we allow him to work:
He is effecting transformations [remember Romans 12:2] so amazing that Satan, with all his triumphant boasting, with all his confederacy of evil united against God and the laws of His government, stands viewing them as a fortress impregnable to his sophistries and delusions. They are to him an incomprehensible mystery. (Ibid.)
Satan knows that we are no match for him, but when Satan sees a believer who is fortified in Christ, a believer who is an exhibition of the mercy and the abundant grace of Jesus Christ, he is mystified because the believer is now a fortress he cannot enter.
The angels of God, seraphim and cherubim, the powers commissioned to cooperate with human agencies, look on with astonishment and joy, that fallen men, once children of wrath, are through the training of Christ developing characters after the divine similitude, to be sons and daughters of God, to act an important part in the occupations and pleasures of heaven. (Ibid.)
Were you aware that there will be jobs (occupations) in heaven? Through his grace and mercy, Christ is now training and preparing us for the occupations and the pleasures of heaven, and he has commissioned the seraphim and cherubim to cooperate with us. They look on with astonishment and joy, that fallen men, once children of wrath are now children of obedience and are developing characters after the divine similitude. Mankind, though corrupted by sin and though gross idolaters, is transformed by the gospel of God.
Let us now examine the people of Ephesus and what God did for them:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation [lifestyle] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Ephesians 2:13)
The people of Ephesus were notorious for idolatry. Ephesus was the center of the worship of Diana. The temple erected there to worship her was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Great is Diana of the Ephesians (Acts 19:28) was the chant of the Ephesians. Ephesus was the equivalent of modern-day Romea place full of idolatry and imagesand if there is any place that is more Catholic today than Rome, it is Montreal, Quebec. The people in Quebec pride themselves in this. I have been to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal, and it is full of images and stained glass. Its appeal to the eye is almost beyond imagination. It is an overwhelming experience.
From the outside the cathedral is no different from any other large cathedral. Its large wooden doors and huge metal hinges are constructed with a medieval-type of architecture, but when one walks in through the doors and first sees the beautiful lights, the colors, the sculptures, and the stained glass, ones jaw drops. It truly is amazing, and this is the way the devil works. He doesnt come to us with bright red skin, horns and a pitchfork. He comes to us as an angel of light and beauty and makes sin look beautiful, alluring, and attractive. It may appear that what he offers brings peace, joy, and happiness, but it really does not. Gods change, the change that Paul taught to the Ephesians, makes a difference in peoples lives.
But [notice this little word puts a shift in the thought] God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins [we were therewe were dead in sins], hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:46)
Notice the contrast. Paul said to the Ephesians that they were dead in trespasses and sinswere deadbut that Christ had made them alive and that they now sat in heavenly places. You see, the gospel is to bring about a change in our lives.
Ephesus was not only the most magnificent, but the most corrupt, of the cities of Asia. Superstition and sensual pleasure held sway over her teeming population. Under the shadow of her temples, criminals of every grade found shelter, and the most degrading vices flourished. (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 286)
But Gods gospel, the true gospel, brings change. In Ephesians 1:13, we read: In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. Two key points are found in this verse. They heard the word of truth, but more than that, they believed it. In other words, they incorporated it into their very beingthey had faith in that word. It is when we hear the word that we are changed. Hearing and singing a warm song does not change anyone. Good songs may encourage people, they may inspire people, but only the word of God builds faith, and only the word of God changes people.
Let us turn to 1 Corinthians 6. Of any place Paul worked, if there were a rival to Ephesus as the sin city of Asia, I suppose it would have been Corinth.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (vs. 9, 10)
It did not matter how much love, joy, and peace they claimed to have had in their lives. Based upon the latter part of verse 9, these Corinthian brethren might remind you of certain areas of San Francisco. Paul, however, says salvation is open to all people, even the most wicked. After he lists some terrible sins, notice what he says in the first part of verse 11: And such were some of you. This was the experience of some of the Corinthian believers, but they had heard the word of God, had believed it, and a change had happened. Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (v. 11).
When the apostle Paul began his ministry in Corinth, that populous, wealthy, and wicked city, polluted by the nameless vices of heathenism . . . (The Desire of Ages, p. 510)
Notice how Corinth is describedpopulous, wealthy, and wicked. The theory that if we can just eliminate poverty, the moral standard of life will improve is questionable, for the more wealthy places generally have the worst morals. But Paul said to these once-wicked people, I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
There is a pseudo-gospel, a social gospel, that tells us we need to be involved in every social issue and that the church needs to correct such problems as the inequality between races and between socioeconomic statuses, but Paul determined to know only Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Writing afterward to some of those who had been corrupted by the foulest sins, he could say, But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ. Now, as in Christs day, the work of Gods kingdom lies . . . with those who are declaring to the people in His name those spiritual truths that will work in the receivers the experience of Paul: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. (Ibid.)
The fundamental question we need to answer is: How can I have the spiritual experience mentioned in Galatians 2:20, which says 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, if I do not know who Jesus Christ is, if I have never had a real encounter with Jesus Christ, or if I have misconceptions about who Jesus Christ is? Would it be hard? It would be impossible! But friends, the gospel does have a saving power, and when the true Christnot a false Christ, not a Tammuz, and not a Baalis lifted up, the gospels saving power comes with it.
Now let us, in our spiritual journey, travel to Colosse and see what Paul has to say about the people living there. We find that Ephesus and Corinth are not the only places Paul had to deal with the problems of sin, for sin is a universal experience. Writing to Colossians he stated:
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. (Colossians 3:57)
In Ephesians, Corinthians, and Colossians are lists of things that seem absolutely wicked, and we might even wonder how more could be added to the next list, but Paul adds more, and each time he says the believers in the particular city had been like that. You notice, however, that the emphasis is in the past tense. Paul did not say that is the way it currently was. As Christians we need to be very sure of the fact that the gospel can change lives and that we do not have to be left in our sins.
A prevalent theology in most Christian churches today, even in Adventist churches, is the gospel can free us from the penalty of sin but will not free us from the power of sin until Jesus comes. Paul, however, tells us in these epistles by the use of the past tense that the people had been freed from their vices and problems. Then he tells us how this freedom happened: Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Colossians 3:9, 10). We put on the image of Christ. We are to put off the old man, self, and take on Christ. Paul is making conversion simple. When we are born again in Christ, Paul says that we have a new person living within us who has more power than the old person who has been put to death (crucified) and that we are to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin (Romans 6:11). So we are to believe that we are, indeed, dead to sin. It is a part of the faith factor that we accept and believe this and that we put on the new man, Christ. Notice how Paul addressed the believers in Colosse, some of whom in times past walked in these things and who were sinners. In verse 2 they are called saints and faithful brethren in Christ (Colossians 1:2). By the blood of Christ, he calls those who had been sinners, saints.
When men and women lose the sight and knowledge of God, they naturally become corrupt, but, just as naturally, when they receive the gospel of Christ in their hearts, they are washed, justified, and the process of sanctification through Christ begins in their lives. The gospel has power within itself to completely change in mind, body, and spirit those who joyfully receive and wholeheartedly believe in it.
Think for just a minute about the Samaritan woman, the account of whom is found in John 4. This woman came to draw water at the middle of the day because she knew she was a sinner. This was not the usual time to get water, but she did not want to do so when other women were at the well. She did not want people saying unkind things to her. Jesus did something simplehe asked her for a favorand then he began a brief theological conversation. She was thrilled with what she learned from Jesus. Notice verse 27: And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? This woman, who was such a sinner, left her waterpot. She went there with the express purpose of getting water in that pot, but she was now so consumed by what had happened that she left the waterpot. Something was already beginning; a change was taking place in her.
The woman had been filled with joy as she listened to Christs words. (The Desire of Ages, p. 191)
Do you want to know what really brings joy, true joy, Christian joy, to your heart? Listening to the words of Jesus Christ. Read them in the Bible.
The wonderful revelation was almost overpowering. Leaving her waterpot, she returned to the city, to carry the message to others. Jesus knew why she had gone. Leaving her waterpot spoke unmistakably as to the effect of His words. It was the earnest desire of her soul to obtain the living water; and she forgot her errand to the well, she forgot the Saviours thirst, which she had purposed to supply. With heart overflowing with gladness, she hastened on her way, to impart to others the precious light she had received. (Ibid.)
Sometimes we find someone who is so joyful with the gospel that he or she forgets to do something, and then we might be tempted to think, If you were a real Christian, you would be more mindful! But sometimes, friends, the experience of receiving the words of Christ is so overpowering that everything else is secondary to fulfilling the words of Christ and to sharing his goodness with others.
Think about the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. His biggest problem was that he did not know God nor his Christ. God led him to have an understanding of who he was and that he had a special Redeemer, and God did this through the work of a specific prophet. Naaman was a proud man, and the Lord healed him of more than leprosy. This is important to rememberwhen the Lord comes into our lives, he heals us, but he does something greater than healing us of physical leprosy, he heals us of our spiritual leprosy, as well, and this is promised for each who will believe it.
Today in every land there are those who are honest in heart, and upon these the light of heaven is shining. (Prophets and Kings, p. 253)
Remember, Naaman was a Gentile. He was a Syrian and not of the children of Judah, and this is the context of the statement above. In our world today light is shining from heaven upon the heathen.
If they continue faithful in following that which they understand to be duty, they will be given increased light, until, like Naaman of old, they will be constrained to acknowledge that there is no God in all the earth, save the living God, the Creator. (Ibid.)
This gospel that changes people is designed for all humanity. In 1 Timothy 2:3 and 4, we read: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all . . . Seventh-day Adventists to be saved? Is that what it says? No, it says, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Now, what is that great truth to which Paul wants us to come? For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (verse 5). He wants us to understand this great truth of Godthat he is the sovereign of the universe and that he gave his only-begotten Son to be our mediator to die in our place to give us salvation. It is interesting that if we turn to Matthew 1, something is succinctly said about the genealogy of Christ that is found in the Old Testament, as well: And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse (v. 5). Of course, we know Jesse had several sons, one of which was King David, and Jesus is the root and offspring of David. Please notice that we have two different ladies in this one verse, and they both are GentilesRuth and Rachab. Ruth was a Moabitess (the children of Moab were always causing Israel problems and were a thorn in the flesh), and Rachab was a Canaanite, and yet these women were adopted into the family of God by faith and actually became progenitors of the Messiah. So, the gospel is for all.
By faith Rahab perished not with them that believed not. Hebrews 11:31. And her conversion was not an isolated case of Gods mercy toward idolaters who acknowledged His divine authority. In the midst of the land a numerous peoplethe Gibeonitesrenounced their heathenism and united with Israel, sharing in the blessings of the covenant. (Prophets and Kings, p. 369)
Do you remember who the Gibeonites were? They were the people who tricked Joshua. Remember, they brought moldy bread with them, wore old clothing, and said they had come a long way to make a treaty with Israel. Of course, they lived next door, and Joshua did not know it, but God still loved those people. He touched their hearts and lives, and they united with Israel and shared the blessings of the covenant. So, God took something that was not what he had originally planned and worked it out for the salvation of those people.
We read about the completeness of the gospel work, both in scope and quality, in Revelation 14:6: And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. That is a pretty broad scope and includes nations like Saudi Arabia and Qater. It includes nations like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, and Slovenia. This message is to go everywhere, and it will go everywhere, whether we are a part of its progress or not. God is going to see that it gets done. The shame will be if we do not have a part in it, when we could have had.
To consider the completeness or the quality of what this work is going to do, we need to go back to chapter 5 of Ephesians. Remember, the Ephesians lived in the most wicked, corrupt city of all Asia. Notice what Paul says the work of the gospel is going to do: God is going to have a church, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (v. 27).
I sent some shirts to the dry cleaners recently and one of them came back with a little tag that said, Were sorry. We found a spot on your shirt. We tried and tried but could not get it out. And there was a little stain on the front of the shirt. It was not easy to see, but if you knew where it was, you could see it. They tried to get the spot out, but could not. Sometimes the best stain removers cannot purify things, but the blood of Christ is able to purify any spot. Christ takes care of all the wrinkles, just like a steam iron and starch, so that Gods people are holy, without blemish.
Jude 24 says: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. He is able to keep us from falling, beloved. The power of the gospel to change mens lives should be seen in every land of this world, but perhaps no place shows the contrast between the former life and the current life more than the lands where heathenism abounds. It used to be that when we thought of heathenism, we would think of people scantily dressed and with a bone through the nose, but we see that in America now. England, France, the United States, Germanycountries that were once considered bastions of Christianity and civilityhave become heathen countries, but miracles of spiritual grace and, at times, physical healing are very evident, showing the heavenly Fathers love and bringing nigh, by the blood of Christ, those who were sometimes far off.
The degraded are uplifted, the harshly brutal are made gentle, and those possessed by evil spirits are filled with the Holy Spirit. The gospel, with its saving power, friends, must go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and it must go in this generation. Isaiah 52:7 says: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Notice the punctuation. There is something about the way this was written that impressed the translators to add an exclamation mark. Thy God reigneth! And the way we know he reigns is when good tidings are published, good tidings about changes that happen in peoples livesreal changes, not hocus-pocus or pseudo-changes that mean nothing in reality. The real truth as it is in Jesus brings one into conformity to all the commandments of God, for all his commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172).
Today we may each surrender our lives to the molding and shaping of the Master Potter. When we do, we may be sure that the Master Potter is able to move, mold, shape, and smooth the clay with which he works.
The Spirit of Jesus or the Spirit of Satan
The Spirit of Godwhat a subject! It has raised many debates. Yet, truth is for the poor in spirit. They, at least, are simple and humble enough to understand and to accept the truth as little children.
In this article my goal is to show the contrast that exists between Jesus holy spirit and the devilish spirit of Satan. I would like to begin by sharing some contrasting thoughts about Jesus and Satan and then share some thoughts about those who have walked in their footsteps, showing by their lives and by their words, the master they have chosen.
Let us begin by studying Jesus and Satan because it is between the two of them that the first jealousy was born, that the first conflict arose, and that the two currents of thoughts, words, and actions were really differentiatedthe current of good and the current of evil.
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. From the days of eternity, he has been one with the Father, not as a two-headed god like the pagan god, Janus, for example, but a true Son, begotten of the Father in the days of eternity, having inherited from him his divine nature and his name, as you and I have inherited our human nature and our name from our parents.
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:5, 6)
But in Gods plan of love, his dear, begotten Son was not the only one to come to life. God wanted to share his love with myriads of angels, who were going to be created from nothing but the word alone. By the will of the Father, his Son, Jesus, created all the angelsseraphim and cherubimfrom whom the most glorious being was Lucifer, the crowning act of creation up to this point. God is love, and he couldnt accept from his creatures a forced obedience; thus, he gave them complete freedom, showing his desire of freedom and happiness for them.
But a change came over this happy state. There was one who perverted the freedom that God had granted to His creatures. Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and was highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35)
Here we come to the root of evil itself. The spirit of God was only love, joy, and peacethe three distinctive characteristics of the sacred spirit of God (see Early Writings, page 55), but the son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12), bathed in the rays of divine glory, permitted the most terrible thing to originate in his heartevil! It is thus that with the liberty God and Jesus had given to Lucifer, he chose to be the source of this devilish spirit of hatred, sorrow and anguish. How is it possible that such a thing could happen? This is impossible to explain.
Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. The Scripture says, Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35)
Christ, Gods dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created. Lucifer was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone. The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon His Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ, His Son, should be equal with Himself His Son would carry out His will and His purposes but would do nothing of Himself alone. The Fathers will would be fulfilled in Him. (The Story of Redemption, p. 13)
Here we see that our God, the great Creator, is a unique being, having supreme authority. His authority is even greater in nature than his Sons because he himself ordained that his Son might be equal with himself. More than that, his Son would do nothing of himself alone, but would fulfill the will of the Father. I then ask: Is this in accordance with the pagan dogma of a three-in-one god? Who was the third one in heaven? The first false god in historySatan himself.
Let us now return our reflections to Lucifer. Despite his great culpability, God, the Father, had not yet rejected him, and Jesus was still willing to keep him as the head leader of his angels. What goodness! But Lucifer, whose heart had been corrupted by pride, was hardened, and from that point on, he became Satan, the chief of rebels.
The angels joyfully acknowledged the supremacy of Christ, and prostrating themselves before Him, poured out their love and adoration. Lucifer bowed with them, but in his heart there was strange, fierce conflict. Truth, justice, and loyalty were struggling against envy and jealousy. . . . Unutterable love thrilled his entire being; his soul went out, in harmony with the sinless worshippers, in love to the Father and the Son. But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged. (Patriarchs and Prophet, p. 36)
It is thus that he positioned himself definitively on the side of falsehood, rebellion, and evil. With this Lucifer brought a third of the holy angels with him in his rebellion. How was that possible? You see, beloved, evil is a most fearful thing. The devil makes us believe that we are victims from a God of love, but we are responsible for our sins because of our wrong choices in thought, word, and deed. Ambition, envy and jealousy were the first three sins that existed in the whole universe. They have their roots in the spring of the devilish spirit of Satan, quickly manifested in opposition with the holy spirit of God in two very distinctive classes of people: those in whom love abides, who are wishing the good, the repentance, and the forgiveness of sinners, and those who harm them, in whom dwells hatred that desires evil, condemnation, and the death of the saints, of those who love and do good.
We know the sad history of the temptation and the fall of our first parents, when Satan succeeded in the fall of humanity. He could not stand to see the happiness of the man and the woman created by Jesus. Besides, he had not been consulted on the subject of the creation of man, who was going to live on the earth. This is all the more reason why those happy beings had to share his fate. But once man and woman had eaten of the forbidden fruit, the true greatness of the character of Jesus was manifested:
The whole family of Adam must die. I saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, He is in close converse with His Father. The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came out from the Father, His person could be seen. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and doubt, and shone with benevolence and loveliness, such as words cannot express.
He then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man. He told them that He had been pleading with His Father, and had offered to give His life a ransom, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favour of God and be brought into the beautiful garden and eat of the fruit of life. (The Story of Redemption, pp. 4142)
Here is the contrast between the character of Jesus and the character of Satan. While Satan accuses Jesus of his (Satans) own defects of character, Jesus is willing to give his own life in order to save man, who was led by Satan to fall into sin and rebellion. Jesus gives his life to save man, who is a rebel, to fill his heart with thanksgiving, and to obtain from him free submission based on love. Satan desired to take the life of the Son of God in order to maintain men in forced slavery and rejoice in the slavery of those he had dominated.
Even though it seems possible at times to hide our true character, the identity of the master we have chosen sooner or later comes to light. If not on this side of eternity, it will be clearly seen on the other side. Of course, those who walk in the footsteps of the first great apostate have no misgivings in using the same methods as their master. They seem to have the advantage over the saints of God, but the Father is faithful and always gives his children an opportunity to show the world on which side they stand.
In heaven itself, where the first great conflict took place, the angels had to take a stand for God and Jesus on one side or for Satan, the fallen angel, on the other side. And very rapidly, there were two spirits, influences, or characters manifested. The angels of God were filled with the love of their master:
At first the angels could not rejoice, for their Commander concealed nothing from them, but opened before them the plan of salvation. The angels prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the life of an angel could not pay the debt. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favour with God and enjoy heaven.
Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. And the heavenly host sang a song of praise and adoration. (Ibid., p. 44)
On the other side, inspired by the spirit of their new master, the fallen angels started, from the beginning, to work with Lucifers spirit. The fallen angels tried to seduce the greatest number possible of angels like themselves, and then to cause the fall of as many human beings as possible and, if possible, even cause the fall of the only begotten Son of God! Evil comes to us in such an imperceptible way that even the angels who were perfectly holy and innocents fell into this trap. And not only one! A third of the heavenly host! But what tactics did the fallen angels use to deceive others?
Angels were expelled from heaven because they would not work in harmony with God. They fell from their high estate because they wanted to be exalted. They had to exalt themselves, and they forgot that their beauty of person and of character came from the Lord Jesus. This fact the [fallen] angels would obscure, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and they came to consider that they were not to consult Christ. (This Day with God, p. 128)
Here we are! The same argument always comes back to us in different forms. In order to sow confusion, the tactics of the fallen angels have always been to try to obscure the fact that Christ is the only begotten Son of God. In the beginning, Satan tried to belittle Christ as a created being, in order to bring him at his level and thus justify his jealousy. This plan didnt succeed, so Lucifer pushed men to believe that the Son of God was nothing less than the sovereign Creator, even God, sowing confusion and leading many souls astray.
Filled with the spirit of their master, the angels of Satan were finding a devilish rejoicing at the thought that, as they were provoking mans fall, they were able to jeopardize the life of the Son of God:
Satan again rejoiced with his angels that he could, by causing mans fall, pull down the Son of God from His exalted position. (The Story of Redemption, p. 45)
We live in the presence of these two spirits: The holy spirit of Jesus which, flowing upon repentant humanity, brings love, joy, and peace; and the unwholesome spirit of Satan which, flowing upon impenitent humanity, brings hatred, sadness, and anguish, rooted in ambition, envy, and jealousy. Which spirit dwells within youthe character of Jesus, meaning his spirit of life, his spiritual presence dwelling in the sanctuary of your soul; or the spirit of Satan, his fiery, wayward, and stubborn character, which inhabits the father of all lies and of all evil?
The question is solemn. We must consciously choose the spirit of God to lead us into the heavenly harbor. If we do not, the sail of our boat will be filled with the wild winds of Satan, and we will sink into the deep abysses of the churning ocean.
Let us go back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve have sinned. What a shame! Through this first disobedience, they have made a gap in the hull of the boat of our happiness, creating an opening that let the streams of sufferings, we now know, to sadly infiltrate into our world and our lives. Even before Cain tragically killed Abel, Adam and Eve felt sins effects as nobody else could. Our senses today have been dulled by centuries of contact with evil of all sorts, but not so with our first parents:
As they witnessed in drooping flower and falling leaf the first signs of decay, Adam and his companion mourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead. The death of the frail, delicate flowers was indeed a cause of sorrow; but when the goodly trees cast off their leaves, the scene brought vividly to mind the stern fact that death is the portion of every living thing. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 62)
If their mourning was great when they considered the fruit of their sin in a drooping flower or a dead leaf, how much more was it when they beheld the first murder of humanity, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain! But, how could such a thing take place? How was their firstborn son led to murder his brother? They only ate of the forbidden fruit once? You see, it is like the fetid smell of a dunghill: Once it has found a way through an opened window, there only needs a draught to quickly infiltrate all the rooms of the house. And this draught came into the life of the first family when Cain, the firstborn son of our first parents, permitted jealousy to enter into his heart.
Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering: But unto Cain and his offering he had no respect. (Genesis 4:25)
Being a shepherd, Abel was able to give an offering from his own flock to the Lord, while Cain had to ask his younger brother to obtain an acceptable offering. One can think that for years Cain already had let a spirit of discontent germinate in his heart. Why couldnt he, being a tiller of the ground, simply give the fruit of the earth? Why had God asked the sacrifice of a lamb? Of course, he had understood that it was a prefiguration of the death of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. But, the spirit of Satan had entered into the world and had found an open window in Cains heart. Quickly the door of his soul opened to the devilish influence of the spirit of Satan, and the barrier of good that had before stopped Cain was now gone, and he went on to break the sixth commandment.
And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother, and slew him. (Genesis 4:68)
It is difficult to imagine what Adam and Eve felt when they saw the devilish spirit of Satan increase in such a way in their lives. In re-consecrating themselves to God by faith in the promise of the Redeemer, they had thought that the gap had been sealed, but they had forgotten one thing. God has created man free, and it was the same for their children. Even if humanity was one in nature, every human being was a free moral agent, and it is to maintain this liberty that the only begotten Son of God gave his life.
Cain cherished feelings of rebellion, and murmured against God because of the curse pronounced upon the earth and upon the human race for Adams sin. He permitted his mind to run in the same channel that led to Satans fallindulging the desire for self-exaltation and questioning the divine justice and authority. . . . Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the divinely prescribed way, but his entreaties only made Cain more determined to follow his own will. As the eldest, he felt above being admonished by his brother, and despised his counsel.
Abel chose faith and obedience; Cain, unbelief and rebellion. Here the whole matter rested. (Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 71, 72)
What can we say to that? Once again, the two spirits of good and evil were manifested: the devilish spirit of Satan, which is none other than his work and the work of his angels through evil in all their forms; and the holy spirit of God, which we call the Holy Spirit.
Gods word says, Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8). The spirit of Satan, however, does not dwell upon holy thoughts.
Cain hated and killed his brother, not for any wrong that Abel had done, but because his own works were evil, and his brothers righteous. (1 John 3:12) So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. Abels life of obedience and unswerving faith was to Cain a perpetual reproof. Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (John 3:20) The brighter the heavenly light that is reflected from the character of Gods faithful servants, the more clearly the signs of the ungodly are revealed, and the more determined will be their efforts to destroy those who disturb their peace.
Whenever, through faith in the Lamb of God, a soul renounces the service of sin, Satans wrath is kindled. The holy life of Abel testified against Satans claim that it is impossible for man to keep Gods law. When Cain, moved by the spirit of the wicked one, saw that he could not control Abel, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life. And wherever there are any who will stand in vindication of the righteousness of the law of God, the same spirit will be manifested against them. It is the spirit that through all the ages has set up the stake and kindled the burning pile of the disciples of Christ. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 77)
Beloved, this study has the double goal to show the contrast existing between the spirit of Satan and the spirit of God, and to unveil the mortal heresy that consists in believing that the spirit of God is a third being, in and of itself, entirely distinctive from the Father and his Son, co-equal, co-eternal, called God the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the wicked one is nothing else than the wicked one himself living in men, through the evil dwelling in them. And when we read that this spirit has set up the stake and kindled the burning pile for the disciples of Christ, we understand well that it was not a distinct being, separated from Satan and working through his own initiative, but the wicked influence of Satan himself, his own attributes, working in the life of the wicked.
This is the same for the spirit of God we call the Holy Spirit. It is the spiritual life of Christ. As Ellen White noted:
The Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life in the soul. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ. Only those who are thus taught of God, those who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested, are to stand as representative men, to minister in behalf of the church. (The Desire of Ages, p. 805)
Youth’s Corner — George Muller, a Man of Faith
George Muller was a pastor in Bristol, England, during the 1830s, and he was concerned about his congregation. He noticed that many were having trouble walking with God. The older members of his flock often remarked that they did not know how they would get along as they aged because they had no one to care for them and they had no foreseeable income for their needs. Pastor Muller would tell them, But God always takes care of us. You do not need to worry about that! They believed in God, yes, but it seemed they did not believe in a living Goda God who knew, understood, and cared for them day-by-day and who would never leave them.
There was another group of people in his congregation who were businessmen. As Pastor Muller watched them work, he noticed that they conducted business in the same way as everyone else and not as Christians would do. He talked to them about this, but they said, But, pastor, you dont understand. The competition is great, and if we dont do business like the rest, we will lose our customers. The pastor tried to tell them that Gods ways of doing business were always best and that he would bless them if they followed him in all their ways, but somehow the concept went over their heads. And the pastor thought, I need a way to make Gods word real to them.
Another group of workers in his congregation were professionals, but not in a job that God could bless. He tried to talk with these people about changing their jobs, but they would respond, Well, if we stop doing our jobs, we may not find other jobs easily, and we could be unemployed for a long time. How would we support our families then? No, were sticking with what we have. And the pastor thought, How, oh, how, can I make Gods word so real to them that they will have faith in God and trust him, whether they are employed or not?
In Bristol during this time, a cholera epidemic occurred. For months, thousands and ten thousands of people died. Many houses in Bristol were built side-by-side, and the streets extended for long distances. No toilets were in these houses; instead, sewage drained down the sides of the streets. Drinking water was not pure and clean, as it was in the country of England, where people had their own wells, and water was sometimes pulled in from a contaminated river. Because of these things, the cholera epidemic was devastating in Bristol. Children were left without mothers and fathers, and the pastors heart was saddened when he saw homeless children on the streets of Bristol, begging for food, for little bits of money, and for clothes.
George Muller believed God wanted him to help the orphans. He wrote in his Narratives that, yes, he wanted to give the orphans food, shelter, and clothing, and, yes, he wanted to teach them about their heavenly Father who cared about them; but the main reason he started the orphanages was his desire to show the people in his congregation a demonstration of a living God who cares for his children, if they will place their faith and trust in him and obey his word.
So, George Muller opened his first orphanagea little home in a long row of houses in Bristol, a house built only for a family of six, but which soon housed thirty orphans! Soon the orphanage spread out to include another home a few doors down the streeta home again meant for a family of six but which also housed thirty children. A third home was added. This expansion took place over several years, and then a gentleman, who lived in one of the houses in between the orphanages, wrote Mr. Muller a kind letter. He stated that he was appreciative of the fact that Mr. Muller wanted to help the orphans, but he suggested the orphanages should be relocated because ninety children were noisy for their residential neighborhood! You can imagine what it would sound like if that many children played outside your house!
So the process of finding a new home for the orphans started, and over the years, thousands of orphans were helped by God through Mr. Muller, his staff, and others, but he did not ask anyone, other than God, for help. He wanted his congregation to see God working behind the scenes in answer to prayer, providing for the needs of the children.
For example, one day when a young friend, Abigail, and her father were visiting Mr. Muller, a loud knock caused them to turn toward the study door. In came a matron of one of the orphanages which housed three hundred children. It was breakfast time. I am so sorry to bother you Brother Muller, she said, but the children are standing in their places in the dining room, the table is set, but we have no food to serve themnothing! The cupboards are empty.
Mr. Muller said, with a twinkle in his eye, looking at Abigail, Dont worry, and the lady left. Then he said, Come on, Abigail, lets go see how God works this morning. He wanted Abigail to know she could also trust God, so off they went to the dining room, where three hundred children were standing behind their chairs, waiting for breakfast.
Mr. Muller came in and said to the children, I know it is almost time for school. We cant waste time. We all need to pray that God will take care of us this morning. And they prayed. Afterwards he said, All right, now you may sit down, and the sound of three hundred chairs being pulled out filled the room and almost drowned out the knock at the door. Do you know who was at the door? The baker.
Mr. Muller, I hope you wont think I have done wrong, but I could not sleep last night. I kept thinking that I needed to get up and bake bread for you. So I have been up baking since 2 this morning. Can you use the bread?
Mr. Muller opened the door and said, Please, come in! Children, we have bread! And the baker brought in three large trays of bread. While the bread was being passed out to the children, another knock at the door sounded.
Mr. Muller opened the door, and found the milkman standing there. Mr. Mueller, my cart is broken down and I cant fix it with all the milk on the cart. I have to unload itcan you use some milk?
Yes! Bring it right in! The children had bread and milk for breakfast and then off they went to school.
Mr. Muller kept a record of all the answers to prayer he experienced, and this story is just one of them. He wrote them down so his congregation, and you and I, could be strengthened by them. When he was in his 70s, he and his wife started a missionary journey that lasted seventeen years. They went to many countries and traveled two hundred thousand miles by boat from England.
On one occasion Mr. Muller was scheduled to sail to Quebec for several speaking engagements. One half hour before his boat was to sail, he and his wife were in the ships office on the wharf, gathering together with the rest of the passengers who were preparing to board a little boat that would ferry them to the large sailing vessel. Another minister joined their group and overheard Mr. Muller ask the ships officer if the deck chair for his wife had arrived. No, Mr. Muller. We looked everywhere yesterday for it. It hasnt arrived, and it wont come today. The shipment for today has already arrived for the voyage. I am sorry.
The minister who overheard the conversation said, Mr. Muller, I just purchased my deck chair across the street. It was only $2.00. If you go now, youll have time to get one before we sail.
Mr. Muller said, Thank you, but Ive already made arrangements. The chair will be here. And he and Mrs. Muller then settled into the little boat and soon boarded the sailing vessel. The other minister stayed in the wharf office fifteen minutes longer to arrange last-minute business, and while he was there, a horse-drawn cart pulled up to the office. Guess what was on top of the cart! Mrs. Mullers chair, and it was placed on the ferry for its last trip to the ship, which also carried the astonished minister!
Mr. and Mrs. Muller werent worried. They werent surprised. They had prayed, and God had assured them that he would honor their request. The chair, I might add, was especially suited to Mrs. Mullers needs and made her journey across the ocean especially comfortable.
George Muller did not write any theological books. Instead of a scholar, he is known as a man of faith who had read his Bible through three hundred times. He preached to the people the simple words of God and gave them an example of a man who believed God lives and is the same today, yesterday, and forever. If Moses and Elijah could trust him, so can we. We do not need to worry; we just need to walk with God. Then when we pray, we can trust that he will hear us and will take care of us. Mr. Muller wrote his Narratives for the benefit of all who might read them so that they could see the hand of God working in answer to the prayer of a simple, yet profound, faith and know for a certainty that God lives and is faithful to those who trust him.
WV and CA Camp Meetings Planned
SGM and PVF wish to announce the dates for the West Virginia camp meeting (June 2630) in Smyrna Valley and the dates for the California youth/family camp meeting (July 2429). The California camp meeting is a combination of the planned California camp meeting and the youth camp meeting we have mentioned earlier. Please mark these important events on your calendars now.
The theme for the West Virginia camp meeting is Created for His Glory. Camping is free, and the Sabbath afternoon meal will be provided. We are planning a baptism and a communion service, so please be ready for these special events.
The California youth/family camp meeting will be at Lassen Volcanic National Park. We have reserved group camp sites so we can all be together. The theme is The Call of God. There will be four main meetings each day and several mini devotions during hikes and other outdoors activities. Bringing a small Bible for the hikes will be a blessing.
All attendees will need to provide their own transportation and camping gear, but we will be preparing food for a minimal cost. Since we will all eat together, if there are any special dietary needs, please let us know ahead of time. If you would like to attend or think you would like to attend, please contact Pastor Stump (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call him at 3047329204 as soon as possible. We really want to see you at these camp meetings so please plan now to attend.
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Associate Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013