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.8 Straight and Narrow August 2012
There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. (The Desire of Ages, p. 20)
Created for His Glory
By Allen Stump
This summer Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney will receive cheers and applause at their political conventions. Men will be exalting and heaping praise upon men. The Bible, however, never encourages such praise of men, for man is created from the dust of the earth, and to his humble beginnings he will return. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Genesis 3:19).
God says that he created man for his (Gods) glory: Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:7). Created is the key word here. Someone is behind all the creation, and it is not Buddha or any other false god!
The Bible teaches that, through sin, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). While sin (disobedience) brings us short of the glory of God, obedience, especially to the Sabbath truth in light of the mark of the beast issue, gives glory to God. (See Revelation 14:7.)
Christs purpose in parable teaching was in direct line with the purpose of the Sabbath. God gave to men the memorial of His creative power, that they might discern Him in the works of His hand. The Sabbath bids us behold in His created works the glory of the Creator. And it was because He desired us to do this that Jesus bound up His precious lessons with the beauty of natural things. (Christs Object Lessons, pp. 25, 26)
As the character of God puts on the aspect of love, benevolence, beauty, and attraction, they [children] are drawn to love Him. You can direct their minds to the lovely birds making the air musical with their happy songs, to the spires of grass and the gloriously tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air. All these proclaim the love and skill of the heavenly Artist and show forth the glory of God. (Child Guidance, p. 534)
God has created man and all of creation to bring glory to him. Since all that God made was “good,” and even “very good,” it is only through rebellion that any of God’s creation fails to fulfill its task.
Beloved, I marvel at God’s creative power to make billions of billions of stars and galaxies, each fulfilling its purpose.
Sir John James has written that “the number of stars in the universe is practically like the number of grains of sand on all the seashores of the world.” When we consider that there are one hundred to three hundred billion stars in a galaxy and that there are somewhere between one hundred to three hundred billion galaxies in the known universe, our minds stagger and cannot truly fathom such numbers. Yet the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the great designer and maker of all of this, and it is for his glory!
The Larger Purpose
By doing that for which it is created, an object or being gives glory to its maker. A well-made chair, house, or car brings honor to the maker.
In 1958 the Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel line of automobiles. Due to many complex circumstances, including poor workmanship, the Edsel line was a disaster and has become synonymous with failure. The Edsel certainly did not bring glory to the Ford Motor Company; it, instead, brought shame. The Toyota Camry, on the other hand, is the best-selling car in the United States, due in part, to the fact that it performs exactly as the designers and engineers designed it to perform.
The animals give glory to their Maker when they perform the roles for which they were created. Earthworms, lowly though they are, help to make the soil better. Dogs are friends of men, and cats entertain us with their curiosity and play. All of these animals are doing their part to fulfill the purpose given to them by God and in so doing bring glory to him. In Revelation 4:11, we read: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. By his creation, God is worthy to receive not only glory, but the glory. In the Greek, definite articles are attached to the words glory, honour, and power (th;n dovxan kai th;n timh;n kai th;n duvnamin) in Revelation 4:11.
Ellen White presents what she calls the “circuit of beneficence.” This embodies “the great principle which is the law of life for the universe.”
In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field. His strength setteth fast the mountains.” “The sea is His, and He made it.” Psalm 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father’s love.
Now sin has marred Gods perfect work, yet that handwriting remains. Even now all created things declare the glory of His excellence. There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud.
The angels of glory find their joy in giving,giving love and tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen and unholy. Heavenly beings woo the hearts of men; they bring to this dark world light from the courts above; by gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human spirit, to bring the lost into a fellowship with Christ which is even closer than they themselves can know.
But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. I do nothing of Myself, said Christ; the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father. I seek not Mine own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Fathers life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life. (The Desire of Ages, pp. 20, 21)
Have you ever heard of the honeyguide bird? This remarkable creature knows the location of every bee hive in its territory; however, these birds cannot break into the hive to get the honey. Instead, they guide the honey badger to the hive. Since the badger has thick skin, he cannot be hurt by the stings of bees, so he opens the hive, helps himself to a good meal of honey, making sure on his departure to leave some honey for the birds. It is as Ellen White said—“No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life.”
The trees and plants recycle the needed oxygen for man and animals. Without the rain forests of the Amazon and the other vegetation around the world, the life for man and animals would be impossible.
“The sun sheds light to gladden a thousand worlds.” You know that you receive light and heat from the sun, and the rays of the sun certainly do feel nice on a cold day, but do you know that it is solar activity that causes the beautiful and famous aurora borealis?
We are told that “the ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give.” Through the action of solar energy, the salty water from the oceans evaporates into the atmosphere and is carried over land, where the water falls fresh and pure to refresh the earth and its covering firmament.
The gravity of the earth’s moon causes the ocean tides, without which the beaches of the earth would quickly become a mess.
Yes, we see that all is created to serve in some way. Romans 3:23 tells us that sin brings us short of God’s glory. This is because sin is a self-centered experience instead of a love (self-giving) experience.
In John 3:16, we read that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Gods love is the focal point of the verse, and this love was demonstrated in giving! Isaiah 40:5 tells us that the glory of the LORD will be revealed: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. This glory was revealed in the face of his Son, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). This is not the only place, though, that God wants his glory revealed. The greatest purpose of our lives is to give glory to God. We understand our purpose better as we look back at Genesis. In the account of creation in Genesis 1, Moses emphasized that God is a good God.
God created the world in a good and orderly fashion. He provided for all life by creating beforehand what they needed (ground for plants, plants for animals, a garden for man, etc.). At the end of every creation act (day), Moses emphasized “it was good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and “very good” in verse 31.
The pinnacle of God’s creation was the creation of humanity. Why? Only humanity was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–28). Furthermore, God commanded man to spread his image throughout creation, in terms of breadth (“be fruitful and multiply”) and depth (“subdue the earth”).
What does it mean to spread God’s image? In Genesis 1, God reveals many attributes in the creation account, and the goodness of God takes center state. God wants us to reflect his goodness back to him in the circuit of beneficence. In Exodus 33:18–22, we read that God’s goodness, his character, is his glory.
Moses asked God to show him his glory, and God replied: I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you .A few verses later God said that when his glory passed by, he would cover Moses with his hand. God’s goodness is synonymous with his glory.
Gods glory is his character of love, and that is expressed in giving! So what is our purpose? God created us to reflect and spread his glory throughout creation. Gods greatest passion is for the greatest good, and there is nothing better than giving and demonstrating love by giving and serving, and this brings glory to God!
Thus, when we give food to the hungry, shelter to the destitute, time to the lonely, or counsel to the confused, we are bringing glory to God and fulfilling the purpose for which we have been created, and at the same time, we are developing a character like that of our Maker! This is letting our light shine forth like Jesus said: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The following is a testimony that has been of invaluable help to me in my Christian walk, and I am sure it will be a help to you, too! It speaks of a specific way to help selfishness, and though the application may be seen as specific, the principle can be applied in a broad manner.
Constant, self-denying benevolence is Gods remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. He has ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 548)
While we might apply this counsel to finances, it can be applied to our time and talents, as well. As we give of ourselves, in whatever manner, we are starving covetousness and selfishness to death. We have been told:
All sin is selfishness. Satans first sin was selfishness. He sought to grasp power, to exalt self. A species of insanity led him to seek to supersede God. And the temptation which led Adam to sin, was the false statement of Satan that it was possible for him to attain to something more than he already enjoyedpossible for him to be as God Himself. Thus seeds of selfishness were sown in the human heart. (The 1888 Materials, p. 1,763)
Gods ultimate act of goodness, therefore, is when he shares his glory with us, i.e., when he allows us to enjoy his glory, his glory of giving!This is a common theme throughout all of scripture.The whole history of salvation is a story of God spreading throughout the earth the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14).God makes this abundantly clear in Isaiah 43:7, where he refers to his people as those “whom I created for my glory.”
The Bible says that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22). Sin has affected, in some degree, the whole of God’s creation. Paul notes:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 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. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:12–20)
Paul says that there were things even in heaven that were not reconciled until the cross, but the blood of the cross and the sprinkled blood in the sanctuary above, along with what that blood does for the believer, will vindicate the character of God to a groaning universe in such a way that sin will never arise again (Nahum 1:9). The Advent movement with the true Jesus is the answer not just for the sin problem here, but for the whole creation! For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). The universe is watching and waiting for us to come to perfection, to bring glory to God.
The sacrifice required of Abraham was not alone for his own good, nor solely for the benefit of succeeding generations; but it was also for the instruction of the sinless intelligences of heaven and of other worlds. The field of the controversy between Christ and Satan—the field on which the plan of redemption is wrought out—is the lesson book of the universe. Because Abraham had shown a lack of faith in God’s promises, Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of its blessings. God desired to prove the loyalty of His servant before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan of salvation.
Heavenly beings were witnesses of the scene as the faith of Abraham and the submission of Isaac were tested. The trial was far more severe than that which had been brought upon Adam. Compliance with the prohibition laid upon our first parents involved no suffering, but the command to Abraham demanded the most agonizing sacrifice. All heaven beheld with wonder and admiration Abraham’s unfaltering obedience. All heaven applauded his fidelity. Satan’s accusations were shown to be false. God declared to His servant, “Now I know that thou fearest God [notwithstanding Satan’s charges], seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.” God’s covenant, confirmed to Abraham by an oath before the intelligences of other worlds, testified that obedience will be rewarded.
It had been difficult even for the angels to grasp the mystery of redemptionto comprehend that the Commander of heaven, the Son of God, must die for guilty man. When the command was given to Abraham to offer up his son, the interest of all heavenly beings was enlisted. With intense earnestness they watched each step in the fulfillment of this command. When to Isaacs question, Where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Abraham made answer, God will provide Himself a lamb; and when the fathers hand was stayed as he was about to slay his son, and the ram which God had provided was offered in the place of Isaacthen light was shed upon the mystery of redemption, and even the angels understood more clearly the wonderful provision that God had made for mans salvation. 1 Peter 1:12. (Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 154, 155)
God says that he will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir (Isaiah 13:12). Not just one man will be righteous, but God says he will have a righteous nation that will enter his kingdom Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in (Isaiah 26:2).
We can be a part of the people who have purchased gold tried in the fire and who are more precious than the golden wedge of Ophir. This process happens as we continually give.
Created for a Purpose
By Elyssa Sims
Several years ago we received a call that a friend of ours was missing. It was later discovered that she had committed suicide. It was a terrible thing! But did you know that over thirty-six thousand people in the United States die by suicide every year? In fact, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States for adults between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five. There are an estimated eight to twenty-five attempted suicides for every suicide death.
People commit suicide because they have lost hope and a purpose of living. There are many different things for which people live. I saw a magazine once, and one of the articles in the magazine caught my attention. It was entitled, She Lives to Travel. What a sad thing to live for. What sort of lasting joy, peace, or fulfillment will traveling the world bring? But there are many other reasons for which people live that have no eternal purpose. Some people live for food, some live for work, some live for a certain person, some live to be admired and praised, and some live for riches. When these people lose what they have been living for, then they feel empty and do not believe that there is anything to live for. Some live for nothing except their fear of death. But every human being was created and was born for a purpose. Genesis 1:27 tells us something about that purpose: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Our origin comes from God. The God of the universe created us in his image! Human beings are the only product of God’s creation that was made in his own image, and that should give us a picture of our importance and worth.
But God created us for a purpose. In fact, he created us for more than one purpose, but we want to focus on two of the reasons that God made mankind. The first is found in Revelation 4:11: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” God created us for his pleasure. That means that we were not created to serve ourselves but were created for God, and in Isaiah 43:7 we read that we were created for his glory. So you see, every human being was born for a purpose. Every single one of us has a reason to live and a wonderful purpose to fulfill.
It is true God has given each of us a specific calling in lifea specific, individualized work to accomplishand talents to put to use. As Paul says, Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7; see also Ephesians 4:11).
Paul says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1Corinthians 10:31). So in all that we do, we are to glorify God.
God has given us free choice to chose to make God’s purpose for our lives our own purpose for living or to find a life without a godly foundation, a life that is without meaning and purpose and that will not lead us to heaven. So, each person must decide what his or her destiny is to be. What do I want my destiny to be, and what do you want your destiny to be?
If you want to have an abundant life and want heaven to be your home, then you must consider what the Lord says:
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deuteronomy10:12–13)
We saw earlier how we were created in the image of God, but after sin that perfect image of God in humanity was lost. God, therefore, sent his only begotten Son to die for us that we might be restored into the perfect image of God, that we might be restored to communion with God, and that we might, one day, live forever with him. What a sacrifice and what love, but because of Gods great love, we are worth this sacrifice to him!
We can thank God that through Jesus we can live a victorious life and that we can give God glory by keeping his commandments and doing his will. Of course, we would never be able to do this except that Jesus came and was victorious in his battle over sin and the devil. Because he obtained the victory and comes to aid us in our trials and temptations, we may also be victorious. We have been told:
Every act of obedience to Christ, every act of self-denial for His sake, every trial well endured, every victory gained over temptation, is a step in the march to the glory of final victory. If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely. The veriest sinner need not miss his way. Not one trembling seeker need fail of walking in pure and holy light. Though the path is so narrow, so holy that sin cannot be tolerated therein, yet access has been secured for all, and not one doubting, trembling soul need say, God cares nought for me. . . . (Gods Amazing Grace, p. 264)
It is only through Christ that his people can resist temptation, and become men and women of high and holy purpose, of noble integrity, who will not be swayed from truth, right, and justice. The Christian must be much in prayer. Prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence, and gains us the victory. It was thus that Enoch walked with God. And those who thus make Christ their daily companion and familiar friend will feel that the powers of an unseen world are all around them, and by looking unto Jesus they will become assimilated to his image. (Bible Echo, October 1, 1889)
The silent, fervent prayer of the soul will rise like holy incense to the throne of grace and will be as acceptable to God as if offered in the sanctuary. To all who thus seek Him, Christ becomes a present help in time of need. They will be strong in the day of trial. (Gods Amazing Grace, p. 86)
And Christ, the Son of God, answering said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Christ had been warned not to enter into argument with Satan. And though He recognized him from the beginning, He was not provoked to enter into controversy with him. Strengthened with the memory of the voice from heaven, He rested in His Fathers love. He would not parley with temptation. (Christ Triumphant, p. 190)
As we study the temptations of Christ, we see that he did not enter into argument with Satan or parley with temptation but that he met the attacks of Satan with a simple “It is written.”
Satan tempted the first Adam in Eden, and Adam reasoned with the enemy, thus giving him the advantage. Satan exercised his power of hypnotism over Adam and Eve, and this power he strove to exercise over Christ. But after the word of Scripture was quoted, Satan knew that he had no chance of triumphing.
Satan came to Christ hoping to gain the victory. He thought that he had every advantage over Him. But he was conquered by the Saviours meekness and humility, and by His reliance on the Word of God. Meek and lowly, and seemingly helpless, Christ was stronger than the strong man armed. Oh, how Satan strove to make Him sin against God! But all his efforts failed to make Christ swerve from His allegiance. (Ibid.)
Ingredients to Victory
1. Draw nigh to God through prayer and the word of God, for here is power. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
2. Submit to God and resist the devil, for we can resist as Jesus did with the word of God, with an “It is written.” We are also told, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7–8).
3. Have faith that God is able and that he will keep his word that says for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
As we follow on step by step to know the Lord, we need not expect that the way will be free from hindrances. Just as surely as we strive to serve the Lord, so surely will Satan put forth every effort in his power to accomplish our ruin. But help has been laid upon One that is mighty, and to every struggling child of His who asks Him for grace, believing, He comes with the needed aid. We have an all-powerful Saviour who was victorious in His assumed humanity, and we are to press forward in the work of overcoming in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. In His strength, which we claim by faith, we are gaining the victory over sin.Manuscript 27, 1886. (Christ Triumphant, p. 364)
When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the soul, the vacuum is filled by the inflowing of the Spirit of Christ. Such a one has the faith that purifies the soul from defilement. He is conformed to the Spirit, and he minds the things of the Spirit. He has no confidence in self. Christ is all and in all. (Gods Amazing Grace, p. 212)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Corinthians 10:13)
And the word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6. The glory that rested upon Christ is a pledge of the love of God for us. It tells us of the power of prayer,how the human voice may reach the ear of God, and our petitions find acceptance in the courts of heaven. By sin, earth was cut off from heaven, and alienated from its communion; but Jesus has connected it again with the sphere of glory. His love has encircled man, and reached the highest heaven. The light which fell from the open portals upon the head of our Saviour will fall upon us as we pray for help to resist temptation. The voice which spoke to Jesus says to every believing soul, This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased. (The Desire of Ages, p. 113)
So, we have seen that God created us and that he created us for a purpose which is to glorify God in all we do. We can only glorify God by living a Christ-like life, by doing his will, by gaining victory after victory, and by being renewed in the image of God.
May we all make Gods purpose for us our own purpose for life, and may we go from victory to victory and keep moving forward in our spiritual experience. Let us not be satisfied to stay in one place, but to keep pressing on, and at the end of our journey here on earth, may it be said of us, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).?
(Sister Elyssa Sims writes from her home in Lookout, California, where she helps her father, Pastor David Sims, at the Waldensian Center. This devotional was presented at the 2012 West Virginia Camp Meeting.)
IntroductionAnd God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night (Genesis 1:14). Here we are told that the purpose of God in creating these two lights was to divide or make a distinction between two things, namely light and darkness, or day and night. They are two elements, or principles, which, by their very nature, stand opposed. God is the author of light, as it is written that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). To reflect that light is the great purpose of mans creation.
Adam was created for Gods glory; he was created to reflect the image and likeness of God. Yet, not only Adam but all who should spring from him were to express, or reflect, Gods glory. For you and me, however, our first parents creation is not enough; we must be recreated for his glory, for there is an element which was brought into man and which alters the face of creation, and that element is sin. Sin marred, or defaced, the glory of God in his creation. Because of our first parents choice, sin has been mingled with righteousness in mankind. Man no longer reflects the glory of his Maker, not only in his physical form but more especially in his mind, so that the image and glory of God is now marred by sin and its reflection blurred.
In Genesis 1:16, God created two great lights, and the greater of the two lights was to rule the day, while the lesser of them was to rule the night. What is the difference between these two lights, and what makes the one greater and the other lesser? Answerthe greater light is the source of light, while the lesser light has no light of its own but simply reflects the light of the greater. Thus, in the simple words which tell us of the relationship between the sun and moon, is revealed the spiritual truth of the relationship of all Gods creation to its Maker: As the moon sheds its borrowed light upon this world darkened by sin and divides night from day (light from darkness), so also are we to reflect the light of truth in a world benighted by sin and by our lives set forth the distinction or separation of truth from error. The light which we are to reflect is that of the Sun of righteousness, for he was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9).
Now, the chief medium through which the light of Christ is reflected in mankind is the mind. The function and purpose of our minds are fitly represented in the purpose and function of the moon, for as the moon reflects the light which shines upon it, so also the human mind reflects in the life that which it beholds. And this leads us to our subject mattertrue repentance.
True RepentanceThe English word repentance comes to us from the Latin poena and signifies pain, i.e., when we have sinned and God brings the knowledge of our sin to mind, the result is a pang of sorrow that we feel and that is what is expressed by the word repentance. Pain or sorrow for sin, however, is only one aspect of true repentance. There is another side to genuine repentance which is expressed by the word metanoia (metavnoia) which the New Testament writers used for the concept of repentance. Metanoia is the noun form of the verb metanoeo and is translated repent. This word literally means to change the mind, to rethink, or to think again, and without this aspect there can be no such thing as true repentance. When the New Testament writers said repent, what they meant was change your mind, change how you think, change your perspective, and change your perception of things. This crucial work of repentance, thorough repentance, is required if we are to have the mind of Christ. We must truly repent.
The Powers of the MindThe mind of man possesses two powers and was created for the proper exercise of these two powers. They are the active and the passive powers. These powers are represented by two words in the New Testament, the active powers of the mind being expressed by the verb phroneo (fronevw) and the noun phren (frhvn) which denote the power of perspective, view point, or mindset; and the passive power of the mind being expressed by the verb noeo (noevw) and the noun nous (nou:V) which denote the power of perception, comprehension, or understanding. Our viewpoint, or perspective, (the active power of the mind) is shaped by the comprehension, or the perceptive powers, (the passive power of the mind). Thus, the power of perception, or comprehension, determines our perspective, or how we look at the world. To state it simply, what we allow into our mind (passive) is reflected in our view or perspective of reality (active); hence, the word repentance (metanoia) properly comprehends the complete change or renewing of the passive power of the mind, the noeo or understanding.
Therefore, when the apostle Paul exhorted us to let this mind (phroneo) be in us which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), it was with the understanding that before that mind, or mindset, (phronema) can be in us, we must first be transformed by the renewing of our minds (nous) (Romans 12:2). This truth is expressed in Pauls words in Titus 1:15: Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind (nous) and conscience is defiled. If the mind, or understanding, be pure, our perception becomes pure and we are pure; likewise, if we be defiled or unbelieving, it is because our mind, or understanding, was first defiled. Therefore, when Paul says we have all sinned [past tense], and come short [present tense] of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), he is telling us that the result of our having once committed sin (defiled our mind) is that we presently keep falling short of Gods glory. Why? He is telling us it is because our minds are defiled, or corrupted, with sin, so that we cannot reflect the divine glory.
The ImaginationThe mind, once corrupted, becomes incapable of viewing anything with a right, or righteous, mindset, or perspective. This truth is taught in the words of Genesis 6:5: And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The word translated imagination is the Hebrew word yetser which means formation, or shape, i.e., that which is formed in the mind (the active power of the mind). The imaginations of the antediluvians were defiled; hence, they viewed the world with defiled minds and thus made themselves reprobates. This same truth is expressed in the words of the prophet, Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed [Hebrew learned] to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23). Sin, once learned, sets in motion a course of life from which it is impossible for the unaided man to turn.
An AnalogyOne way to help us understand, in a limited way, how our mind works is to compare it to a pair of eyeglasses. For instance, eyeglasses allow us to perceive our surroundings by focusing the light (truth) into our eyes and, depending on the quality and/or prescription of the lenses, either correct or distort our vision. Even so the mind, like lenses, filters all that comes into it through its senses, and depending upon its health (i.e., its bend or bias), it will either correct or distort that which comes in. Because the mind is the medium of both perspective and perception, the vehicle of thought and all that can be known or believed, it is imperative that its lens be properly focused, or truth will be distorted and blurred to the minds eye.
The Two PerspectivesThere are two perspectives brought to view in the Bible: (1) the natural perspective and (2) the spiritual perspective. The natural perspective is governed by the natural, or carnal, mind, or spirit, of man, and the spiritual perspective is governed by the mind, or spirit, of God. The natural perspective sees only substance and form, i.e., its viewpoint is based upon the outward appearance of a thing. The spiritual perspective sees what the natural cannot, i.e., it sees the supernatural, the unseen, and the purpose, or function, of things. The natural man is incapable of knowing the things of God, as it is written, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). The natural mind is the result of our being conformed to this world; the spiritual mind is the result of true repentance, i.e., the renewing of the mind by the spirit of God, as the apostle to the Gentiles tells us, Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (nous) . . ., and the reason he gives for this renewal of the mind is that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). This principle was expressed to Samuel by the Lord when he said, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), and as Job expressed in his complaint to the Lord, Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? (Job 10:4). There is a way which seemeth right unto a man [the natural perspective], but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12). And this brings me to my next point.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:10–14)
Our Need for RepentanceIn the above parable Christ reveals that which separates the just, or justified, from the unjust, or unjustified, or sinner. The Pharisee acknowledged no need in himself of forgiveness, no need of purity of life, and no acknowledgment of wrong, or sin, passed his lips, only thankfulness to himself (for that was the one to whom he prayed) that he was not as other men. The publican, on the other hand, knew his true condition and his need of a Savior, and in agony of soul he besought God for mercy. In this parable is portrayed the two classes of men on this earth: they that feel no need and are satisfied with their own righteousness and they whose hearts are broken with a sense of their true condition and whose faith reaches out to God for mercy and forgiveness.
In Proverbs 18:2 we are told that a fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. As the Pharisee in the parable, the fool has no delight in understanding his true condition but in glorying in his own merit and in discovering or justifying his own perverse heart. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 26:12). Dear readers, we must repent and change our minds. Let us not be content until we have expunged every last vestige of this world from our minds, until all our imaginations have been cast down, and until every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and every thought is brought into captivity . . . to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:79).
What we learn (our education) is either a blessing or a curse. The question is asked, Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? (Jeremiah 13:23); the answer to which is no. We cannot change our skin, neither, saith the Lord, can we change our mind once evil is learned. Herein lies the true nature of mankinds illness: our minds have been irreparably corrupted by our past sins. There is no hope for us, save our recreation, or rebirth. This was the prayer of David. When the nature of his sin was brought to his attention, he cried out in anguish of soul, Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:2, 10). This, dear reader, is true repentance! Such a reformation or transformation is needed in all of us, where there is no attempt to hide, or conceal, sin, nor to lessen its sinfulness or justify our actions before men. All will be contrition of heart and a deep, sincere seeking for purity of heart and mind before God. Thus it shall be said of us, 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, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation 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).
Receiving the Spiritual MindSpiritual discernment, or the power to discern between day and night, light and darkness, truth and error, is the first step in true reformation and freedom from sin. However, this power is not given to all men; it is given only to a certain class of men. Said Christ, If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17). Here Christ sets forth the true channel through which spiritual discernment comes, i.e., obedience. If any man will do his will, if he will submit to the authority of God and do that which he hath spoken in his word, then, and only then, shall he know and discern the voice of God and know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself, for he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:46). Obedience to the Word of God is the only way of receiving the mind of Christ, for the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The word of God was made flesh, or reproduced in the flesh of Christ, by a life of obedience and submission to his Fathers will; hence, we are told, We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed [Greek: hold to], as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19). We must first take heed, or obey, the light of Gods sure word if we desire the light of truth to dawn upon our minds and the day star to arise in our hearts.
ConclusionWe have all sinned [past tense] and, as a result, come short [present tense] of the glory of God. It is in this condition that God accepts us, dirty, corrupt, and defiled as we are; yet, it is not his will that we remain so. He has exhorted us, saying, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you (Philippians 3:14, 15). God has promised to reveal to us whatsoever in our minds and lives misses the mark of the prize . . . in Christ Jesus. God is not to be blamed for the sin that has corrupted our minds, neither ought we to point the finger at our parents or curse the day of our birth. Rather, let us repent, truly repent, of the evil and sin in our minds and hearts, for it is we that have sinned and it is our sins that bring us short of the glory of God and that so dims the glorious reflection of Christ in our lives. O that God shall put in us the spirit of true repentance to change our minds. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). ?
(Brother Akens teaches at the Waldensian Center. This study was given at the 2012 West Virginia Camp Meeting.)
Attack on the Plan of Salvation
The biggest news this last 4th of July was not the Independence Day celebrations held throughout the United States for its 236th birthday. Rather, the big news was an announcement of something so deep that only an elite few could fully comprehend its meaning.
The head of the European Center for Nuclear Research says its teams have discovered a new particle that is consistent with the Higgs boson — a subatomic particle considered so significant to the understanding of the universe that it has been called the God particle.
“We have a discovery [that is] consistent with a Higgs boson,” Rolf Heuer, director of CERN, the European research center, said Wednesday.
Two independent teams at CERN, the physics lab in the Alps on the French-Swiss border, have now said that they have “observed” the new boson, or subatomic particle. The CERN teams did not outright say that they have discovered the Higgs boson itself, which has been the focus of a 40-plus year pursuit.
The Higgs boson, which was first proposed in the 1960s by the English physicist Peter Higgs, is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape. (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/god-particle-discovered-european-researchers-claim-discovery-higgs/story?id=16708940#.T_x1hnjbCfd)
This discovery of the God particle, if time were to continue, would be evaluated on the same level as Einsteins theory of relativity (E=MC2) or Max Planks quantum mechanics. Not much more than a century ago the atom was considered the fundamental particle, or the particle of which all things consisted. Scientist began to see that this could not account for all the observable science and realized there must be particles more fundamental.
In 1894 Joseph John Thomas hypothesized the existence of the electron. In 1917 Ernest Rutherford realized that hydrogen was the lightest element. It was theorized that hydrogen was the building block of all elements and that the hydrogen nucleus is present in all other nuclei as an elementary particle. Rutherford gave the hydrogen nucleus a unique name as a particle because he believed that hydrogen, the lightest element, contained only one of these particles. This new fundamental particle of the nucleus was called the proton (after the neuter singular of the Greek word for first, (prwton). In 1920 Rutherford hypothesized the existence of the neutron, and in 1932 James Chadwick proved its existence.
For a generation we believed that mankind now had the three fundamental particles, but in 1964 quarks were proposed to exist. Today it is acknowledged that quarks are the building blocks of both protons and neutrons. Quarks come in what are described as six flavors: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Protons haves two up and one down quark, and neutrons have two down and one up quark. (Another kind of known particle is the lepton which, interestingly, also comes in six flavors but not the same flavors as found in quarks.)
Hadrons (Greek: aJdrovs, hadrós, stout, thick) are composite particles made from quarks held together by the strong force (as atoms and molecules are held together by the electromagnetic force). Hadrons are grouped in two families. The first family is baryons. The members of this family are composed of three quarks, protons and neutrons, for example. The second group is called mesons and are made of one quark and one antiquark. The discovery of the Higgs boson (named after Peter Higgs, who first postulated its existence) came about due to study at the LHC, or the Large Hadron Collider, which is under the ground at the border of France and Switzerland.
How important is the Higgs boson? Theoretical physicist Garrett Lisi stated, The Higgs boson has been the holy grail of particle physicists for the past many decades.
Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist and co-inventor of string theory, has said:
We think that originally the universe was a gas of particles with no mass at all. Think of a crystal, beautiful crystal totally symmetrical but useless. It exploded and the shattering of this crystal gave us all the masses of the particles today: the electron, the proton, the neutron, the atom.
Realize that the higgs boson takes us to the instant of creation itself and we can run the video tape before the big bang. We can talk about the universe before the creation of the universe itself. . . .
Were going into areas that take us before the instant of Genesis chapter one, verse one. Were talking about going before the beginning itself. I tell you, this is deep, this is really deep!
It has philosophical and theological implications as we talk about a universe, a parallel universe, other universes out there, co-existing with ours. (CNN Interview: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/07/04/nr-intv-michio-kaku-higgs-boson.cnn?iref=allsearch)
What are these theological implications? Lawrence Krauss, author of A Universe from Nothing, has stated:
Our understanding of physical realityof everything and nothinghas changed forever. We dont yet know where we are heading, but nothing will ever be the same.
The Higgslike particle takes us a step closer to solving the mystery of the universe, which is inextricably connected to the mystery of our own origin. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/06/opinion/krauss-higgs-particle/index.html?hpt=hp_c2)
If we can truly look back before the time of the so-called big bang, then the scientists claim that they can see before creation and there cannot be a God of creation. Peter Adkins, professor at Cambridge University, said in a BBC interview, The Higgs boson is another nail in the coffin of religion.
Perhaps we are now seeing why this science lesson is important. As Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis, has noted, if people can understand the Genesis account to be true, then there is good reason to accept the gospels to be true. Satan knows this and has reversed the issue. Satan says that if Genesis is wrong, then the gospels and salvation must also be wrong!
Remember that Kaku said, Were going into areas that take us before the instant of Genesis chapter one, verse one. The thrust of Satans attack using science falsely so called (1 Timothy 6:20) is against the very foundation of the universe, the very being of God. Genesis 1:1 is perhaps the most profound statement in the Bible! It begins in the beginning God! God is first and above all else. His existence is declared in the first words of Holy Writ, but the verse continues to say in the beginning God created. Not only does God exist, but he creates! He is the God of creationprotons, quarks, dark matter, light matter, lightall of it!
The Bible gives the true account of creation. It tells us that all things that were made were made by the creative energy of the voice of God. 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 (Psalm 33:6, 9). This compares with the Genesis account, where the Bible tells us that each day God spoke and instantly there appeared that which he spoke. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). (See also Genesis 1:6, 9, 14, 20, 24.)
Beloved, a proper understanding of creation is so important that God gave mankind the Sabbath as a memorial of it.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8–11)
In Genesis 2:1–3 we read that the Creator rested. Since God created all things through Christ (Hebrews 1:2; John 1:1, 3), it was Christ that rested that first Sabbath with God, and this day is the special day that we worship God and Christ. Jesus says that he is “Lord . . . of the Sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8), and in Isaiah 58:13, God calls the Sabbath “my holy day.”
The Sabbath, being a sign of creation, helps man to remember that he is a creature and that he owes his existence to God. Keeping this fact in mind is a safeguard against many false theories. You see, there is a lot of difference between fact and theory. Sometimes we may have many facts but fail to understand the reality of the situation. For example, suppose men A and B are in a room, and A has a gun and shoots B with the gun he is holding in his gloved hand. He quickly drops the gun and leaves. You hear the shot and immediately proceed into the room by another door and see B on the floor, dead. You stoop down beside him in wonder and pick up the gun to examine it. Now also suppose that it was a well-known fact that you had been feuding with B and that several other people who heard the shot come into the room just after you arrived and picked up the gun. What do they now see and think? They see you standing over your known enemy, holding the murder weapon. Ballistics will link the deadly bullet to the gun. Your fingerprints are upon the gun. You did have a motive. You must have killed B! Those are all facts, but we have used facts to draw a seemingly plausible, but very wrong, conclusion! Concerning this principle, Ellen White has stated:
Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years.
Such a conclusion is wholly uncalled for. The Bible record is in harmony with itself and with the teaching of nature. Of the first day employed in the work of creation is given the record, The evening and the morning were the first day. Genesis 1:5. And the same in substance is said of each of the first six days of creation week. Each of these periods Inspiration declares to have been a day consisting of evening and morning, like every other day since that time. In regard to the work of creation itself the divine testimony is, He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33:9. With Him who could thus call into existence unnumbered worlds, how long a time would be required for the evolution of the earth from chaos? In order to account for His works, must we do violence to His word? (Education, pp. 128, 129)
The truth is that true science and the Scriptures will always agree. Our problem is that we do not have all the correct science, and because of wrong assumptions (and evolution is built upon many, many assumptions), we come to wrong conclusions.
The seriousness of how we should view evolution is seen in the company it keeps. Notice the companions of evolution which inspiration declares it keeps:
The warnings of the word of God regarding the perils surrounding the Christian church belong to us today. As in the days of the apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolution, spiritualism, theosophy, and pantheism, the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 474)
It is creation that distinguishes the true God from the false gods. Jeremiah noted:
But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. (Jeremiah 10:10–12)
It is Gods power to create that sets him apart from all others. (See also Jeremiah 14:22 and Revelation 16:610.) The Sabbath, being a memorial of his creation, is, therefore, the sign of Gods authority and creative ability. Today science claims to understand creation, but scientist are simply substituting a false god in the place of the true God.
We noted earlier that Satan wants to disrupt the Christians understanding of Genesis, for it will affect his confidence in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but there is another important point that Satan understands wellsalvation is inseparably linked to creation. Paul, writing to the Colossians, speaks of salvation through Christ, then seemingly stops, changes thought, and speaks about creation, only to then change back to discussing the plan of salvation.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 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. (Colossians 1:13–17)
Since salvation is tied to creation, Paul is actually not shifting gears but is continuing on the exact same theme, for salvation is a creation process. When David came to repentance, he said, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:20–24)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The only way to have a new creature is to have a new creation. Because God can create something from nothing, he is able to help the weary sinner who is lost and without strength. He says:
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26–31)
Since the Sabbath is the sign of creation, it is also the sign of redemption. In fact, God says, Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them” (Ezekiel 20:12). The Sabbath is not simply a sign of justification, but of sanctification, or total holiness.
Satan knows well the truth of creation and redemption, and he knows that if he can destroy our confidence in creation, he can rob us of our salvation, including our sanctification. One of the ways that Satan attacks creation is to attack the sign of creation, the Sabbath, but sanctification and holy living is God’s will for his children:
This is the will of God, even your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24)
Beloved, Gods biddings are his enablings. He declares he is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24). We need not fall into a black hole, a worm hole, or any hole, for God is able to keep us from falling into any sin or error, even if that error seems to be grounded and founded in solid science. Solid science, however, will always be in perfect harmony with the word of God.
Has science really found the God particle? Is the recent data really indicating that the Higgs boson exists and has been found? The scientists say there is only a 1 in 3.5 million chance that they are wrong. But even if they are correct in what they think they have found, we cannot expect them to interpret the data properly when they leave the Bible out of the equation, for the Bible, Gods word, is truth and the final arbitrator of all truth. You can trust the word of God. Over and over it has been shown to be true and faithful. Allen Stump
By Allen Stump
As our readers know, we have been encouraging believers who have not been on a plant-based, whole foods diet to adopt this healthy lifestyle. I am very happy to share my personal testimony about how it has helped my cardiac health. Though I had been a vegetarian for many years and a vegan for the last seven years, I further altered my diet in May 2011 to include more leafy green vegetables and to exclude any added oil to my diet, eating only the oil as it naturally exists in the foods.
I recently had a health screening and want to share with you some of the results. Since adopting this plant-based, whole foods approach, my blood lipids have fallen quite dramatically. My total cholesterol level has dropped over 50 points, to a current level of 100, and my triglycerides level is 62, about one third of the recommended minimum! When these numbers and other data, such as a father with a history of early heart disease, were taken into consideration, I am calculated to have less than a 3% chance of having heart disease within the next ten years! Had it not been for the family history being factored into the equation, my risk of heart disease would be even less, closer to the 1% mark!
I am happy to also report to you about my friend Richard. Richard installs TV and Internet satellite. When I met him, he mentioned his heart, at times, skipped beats. I was also concerned that Richards diet needed attention. I gave him a copy of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Esselstyn, and treated him to a heart-healthy meal, sharing sound diet advice with him. I had a chance to talk to Richard recently, and he told me that he was now eating collards and kale. In fact, he said he is eating three times the vegetables he ate before talking to me. Though he is still eating some venison, he has cut back on other meats. After having some blood work done very recently, he was happy to learn that his cholesterol level is now within an acceptable level and that his heart is no longer skipping beats! His doctor told him that whatever he was doing, to keep it up!
A heart-healthy diet should attempt to keep the number of fat calories consumed to 10–12% of the total calories. If you are eating a plant-based, whole foods diet, this is not difficult if you eat with moderation concentrated foods, such as nuts and seeds. Care must be taken when eating processed foods or using certain recipes. You need to realize that what the world considers healthy is not necessarily truly healthy, but rather, is, perhaps less damaging than common meals. A case in point:
When I had my health screening done, I was given a magazine produced by the corporation that did the health screening. Within this health magazine was a “Heart-Healthy Recipe,” but let us look at this recipe and see if it really is heart healthy. This meal, chicken breasts with mushroom cream sauce, was said to be easy to prepare. Without going through the list of ingredients and the preparation method, let us move straight to the “Nutrition Facts” as given in the recipe. As you can see from the reproduced chart, this “Heart-Healthy Meal” contained just 275 calories. That certainly will not make a person obese, but now notice that a serving has 15 grams of fat. It is not the total grams of fat but the percentage of fat by calories that is considered important to monitor. Remember that the level we are aiming for is 10–12%. On most foods the percentage of fat calories is listed, but not here. So how can we figure this number? Well, thankfully the mathematics is not too hard. Knowing the constant of nine calories per gram of fat, we can know that there is a total of 135 fat calories in this recipe per serving by simply multiplying 9 times 15. Next we simply divide this number (135) into the total number of calories, convert the decimal answer into percentage by moving the decimal point placement two places to the right, and add a percent symbol. The answer is an astonishing 49%! Almost one half of the calories in this “Heart-Healthy Meal” is fat!
Furthermore, the meal has too much protein (25 g) and far too little carbohydrate (5g) for the number of calories within the meal. Additionally, going by the basic rule of thumb that the number of milligrams of sodium per serving should not exceed calories per serving, this recipe has about 1/3 too much sodium, and it also has only 1 g of fiber. What is the moral of this story? Read your labels and recipes carefully, for not everything that claims to be healthy is healthy!?
Philadelphia—All About Jesus
This study is obviously about Jesus and his message to Philadelphia, but before we discuss this, let us think about the Laodiceans for a minute. Are they rich, and increased with goods? Do they have any needs? The Lord Jesus does not say that they are rich and increased with goods or that they are in need nothing. The Laodiceans are the ones who make this false profession. Of a truth, brothers and sisters, we will not, and cannot, bring glory to God when we are “wretched, miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). That can never be!
God has a different experience for those who flee Laodicea. Will some be overcomers in Laodicea? Jesus has promised that there will be overcomers, but carefully note that the messages to the seven churches are sent to the angels, or the leadership, of the churches. They will be damned if they “hold [back] the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). To the angel (the corporate leadership), Jesus said: “I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
It is remarkable that the Greek adjectives are in the masculine, agreeing with the angel, not feminine, agreeing with the Church. The Lord addresses the angel as the embodiment and representative of the Church. The chief minister is answerable for his flock if he has not faithfully warned the members of it. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Re 3:16). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
The message is first addressed to the leaders of the church, and the judgment of being spued out is given to the angel, but the final call goes to the individual. In Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: 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.” The call now is to “any man,” or person. Beloved, God has something special for those living in the last days, and it is something that will develop their characters and bring honor and glory to him (God). Let us now read the message to the church at Philadelphia:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:7–13)
City Background and History
Volcanoes and Earthquakes: Not much remains today of ancient Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. The city was situated near a group of active volcanoes, now extinct, and earthquakes occurred frequently in the area. In AD 17, an unusually severe earthquake destroyed much of Philadelphia (and Sardis also, twenty-eight miles away), and frequent aftershocks were experienced long afterwards, so much so that many inhabitants remained outside the city living in huts and booths over the vale and those who were foolhardy enough (as the sober-minded thought) to remain in the city, practiced various devices to support and strengthen the walls and houses against the recurring shocks (W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches, p. 291).
Strategic Placement: Ancient Philadelphia is sometimes called the Gateway to the East. It lay on a gentle hill at the upper end of a long valley which opens from the sea.
Archeological Finds: Not many sites of ancient Philadelphia have been excavated because the current city of Alasehir sits over the old city. An amphitheater with its underground passageways, however, has been unearthed, along with a smaller theater and a temple to Hercules.
Names of the City: A noteworthy feature of Philadelphia is the names the city has used over time. The original name of Philadelphia comes from Attalus Philadelphus, the founder of the city, and was chosen because of the brotherly love and loyalty he demonstrated. After the earthquake of AD 17, the city became a new city with a new name. It had to be rebuilt, and Rome helped to accomplish this by remitting for a few years the city of its required tribute. The people expressed their gratitude for this relief by taking the name Neocaesarea for its city:
It was probably in commemoration of the kindness shown by the emperor on this occasion that Philadelphia assumed the name Neocaesarea . . . The name Neocaesarea is known both from coins and epigraphy during the ensuing period. At first the old name was disused and the new name employed alone; then the old name recurred alongside of or alternately with the new, and finally about AD 42–50 the new name disappeared from use. Philadelphia was the only one of the seven cities that had voluntarily substituted a new name for its original name . . .
Subsequently, during the reign of Vespasian (AD 6979), Philadelphia assumed another imperial title and called itself Flavia, and the double name remained in use occasionally on coins throughout the second and third centuries. (Ibid., pp. 291, 291)
We see that Philadelphia has had three names—Philadelphia, Neocaesarea, and Flavia—and, interestingly, the message to the angel of the church at Philadelphia contains a reference to three names also—the name of the Father, the name of the city of the Father, and the new name of Jesus.
A Message about Jesus and His People
The message to the angel of the church of Philadelphia is especially pertinent to God’s people who face conflict over spiritual matters. Under inspiration, Ellen White tells us that for:
. . . those who in the midst of conflict [who] should maintain their faith in God, the prophet was given the words of commendation and promise: I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name. Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 588)
If you are facing conflict and seem to have only a little strength in the battle, be patient and maintain your faith in God. God will keep you through the conflict, for Jesus has told us, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Jesus says that his people are a little flock.
The message of Jesus to Philadelphia also contains a particularly beautiful description of himselfthe most comprehensive to be found in all the messages sent to the seven churches. Jesus states that he is holy and true, that he has the key of David, and that what he opens no man can shut and what he shuts no man can open. He also declares that he knows the hearts of those who claim to be Jews, that he knows the future (revealing that an hour of temptation is coming), that he is returning soon, and that the overcomers will be pillars in the temple of God, having the name of his God, the name of the city of his God, and his own new name written upon them. In addition, Jesus portrays himself as powerful by making the false-hearted Jews worship at the feet of the saints and by protecting his people during the overwhelming hour of temptation. This is the body of the message for Philadelphia, save for one important admonition given to the leaderto hold fast that which he had. Why? So that no man would take his crown!
One of Authority Speaks: The importance of the messages given to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 is seen in the following quotation, condensed from a letter written by Ellen White on September 22, 1903, to the teachers at Emmanuel Missionary College (known today as Andrews University), in response to the new book The Living Temple. Before reading from this testimony, we want to testify how blessed the Advent people are to have the Spirit of Prophecy. we have many theological books, both soft and hard copies, and a dozen commentaries. Some are helpful at times, and some, in many cases, are worse than useless. Some of these books know nothing of the theme of the great controversy or of the truth about God and his Son. However, when we read the Spirit of Prophecy, we find truth that will guide and direct God’s people in these last days, if they will simply use it!
To the Teachers in Emmanuel Missionary College:—
I have some things to say to our teachers in reference to the new book, The Living Temple. Be careful how you sustain the sentiments of this book regarding the personality of God. As the Lord represents matters to me, these sentiments do not bear the endorsement of God. They are a snare that the enemy has prepared for these last days. I thought that this would surely be discerned, and that it would not be necessary for me to say anything about it. But since the claim has been made that the teachings of this book can be sustained by statements from my writings, I am compelled to speak in denial of this claim. There may be in this book expressions and sentiments that are in harmony with my writings. And there may be in my writings many statements which when taken from their connection, and interpreted according to the mind of the writer of Living Temple would seem to be in harmony with the teachings of this book. This may give apparent support to the assertion that the sentiments in Living Temple are in harmony with my writings. But God forbid that this opinion should prevail. (The Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 320)
Ellen White said that she hoped that she would not need to speak out against The Living Temple. She thought that the error in it would certainly be discerned, but it was not! How sad that the brethren did not have the spiritual discernment needed at that time. Beloved, we are now living in an even more perilous time than the time of the writing of The Living Temple. If there was ever a time that having spiritual discernment was necessary, it is today, yet at times at the lack of discernment is amazing. I (PA) have heard preaching that, at minimum, bordered on heresy and afterward have heard those who listened to it praise the sermon for teaching such wonderfully spiritual things! I can only wonder at the lack of discernment, but why is this so? The only answer is that we have failed to be students of the word as it is our privilege to be.
To promote his claims, Kellogg appealed to certain sections within the Spirit of Prophecy to sustain his positions. For example, writing to W. W. Prescott in a letter of October 25, 1903, Kellogg quoted from The Desire of Ages, page 161, Testimonies for the Church, volume 1, page 205, Special Testimonies on Education, page 33, and Christian Temperance, pages 52, 161 to show that Ellen G. White was in agreement with his position. But Ellen White stated that though Kellogg quoted from her writings to sustain his position, she was not in agreement with him.
Today Adventists will quote from Ellen White to support positions, such as the keeping of feasts, the trinity, or that God does not destroy; however, all statements must be correctly understood in their context, and they may not teach what the person quoting them states. For example, a person may advocate Sunday sacredness and then quote from Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” The text is true, but it does not teach Sunday sacredness.
Ellen White continues writing to the teachers at the college:
We need not the mysticism that is in this book. Those who entertain these sophistries will soon find themselves in a position where the enemy can talk with them, and lead them away from God. It is represented to me that the writer of this book is on a false track. He has lost sight of the distinguishing truths for this time. He knows not whither his steps are tending. The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both minds may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error.
In regard to the faith to be cherished and preserved in these last day, very little light is given in “Living Temple,” and this light is so uncertain that it would not help God’s people at this stage of their work.
In the visions of the night this matter was clearly presented to me, before a large number. One of authority was speaking, and He said, “If the suppositions and statements found in this book were essential, if these statements were pure provender, thoroughly winnowed from the chaff, there would be some decided mention of them in the revelation given by Christ to John to give to the churches. To John the Lord Jesus opened the subjects that He saw would be needed by his people in the last days. The instruction that He gave is found in the book of Revelation. Those who would be co-workers with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will show a deep interest in the truths found in the book of Revelation. With pen and voice they will strive to make plain the wonderful things that Christ came from heaven to reveal.”
The first chapter of the book of Revelation was then read, with great solemnity.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to past; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John, who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep these things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.”
Our Instructor presented the solemn messages that have been given in their order in Revelation, and that are to occupy the first place in the minds of God’s people.
All through the book, “The Living Temple,” passages of scripture are used, but in many instances these passages are used in such a way that the right interpretation is not given them. The message for this time is not, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.” Whom does the Lord receive as vessels unto honor? Those who cooperate with Christ, those who believe the truth, who live the truth, who proclaim the truth in all its bearings.
There are those whose minds will be taken up with smooth words and fair speeches, put into language that they can not understand or interpret. Precious time is rapidly passing, and many will be robbed of the time that should be given to the proclamation of the messages that God has sent to a fallen world. Satan is pleased to see the diversion of minds that should be engaged in the study of the truths that have to do with eternal realities.
The testimony of Christ, a testimony of the most solemn character, is to be borne to the world. All through the book of Revelation there are the most precious, elevating promises, and there are also warnings of most fearfully solemn import. Will not those who profess to have a knowledge of the truth read the testimony given to John by Christ? Here is no guess-work, no scientific deception. Here are the truths that concern our present and future welfare. What is the chaff to the wheat?
Our Instructor passed on to the third chapter of Revelation, and read the following:—
“Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
These words were spoken with such strength and force that those present seemed to be afraid, and hid their faces in their hands, as if they were arraigned before the Judge of all the earth. Some seemed about to faint.
Then the subject changed. The Speaker read:—
“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed with 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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
“And unto the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth: I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word; and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
In these words there is no smooth saying.
The Speaker held up “Living Temple”, saying, “In this book there are statements that the writer himself does not comprehend. Many things are stated in a vague, undefined way. Statements are made in such a way that nothing is sure. And this is not the only production of the kind that will be urged upon the people. Fanciful views will be presented by many minds. What we need to know at this time is, “What is the truth that will enable us to win the salvation of our souls?”
The sophistries regarding God and nature that are flooding the world with skepticism, are the inspiration of the fallen foe, who is himself a Bible student, who knows the truth that it is essential for the people to receive, and whose study it is to divert minds from these great truths relating to the things that are soon coming upon the world. Let our teachers beware lest they echo the soothsaying of the enemy of God and man.
Pointing to some present, our Instructor said, “You are making a mistake. The word, the word revealed by God, this is to be the foundation of your faith. Study the commandments of God and the testimony that Jesus has borne to the truth. He is the faithful and true Witness.”
Then was repeated the message to the Laodicean church. The whole of the third chapter of Revelation, from first to last, was read.
“Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
The Lord is soon coming. The watchman on the walls of Zion are called upon to awake to their God-given responsibility. Many of them are in the stupor of insensibility. God calls for watchmen who in the power of the Spirit will give to the world a warning message; who will proclaim the time of night. He calls for watchmen who will arouse men and women from their lethargy, lest they sleep the sleep of death. (Ellen G. White, The Spalding and Magan Collection, pp. 320323; also published in The Review & Herald, October 22, 1903)
The letter closed with an appeal for the watchmen on the walls of Zion to awaken, but the words of the one of authority are revealing. He (not Ellen White) stated that if the statements in The Living Temple were essential, were pure provender, and were thoroughly winnowed from chaff, “there would be some decided mention of them in the revelation given by Christ to John to give to the churches.” It certainly behooves us to understand these messages. Not only did they come from our heavenly Father and Jesus, but in 1903 they were re-affirmed, in statement and quotation, by the one of authority who came to Ellen White in vision. In her vision the only messages the one of authority quotes are portions of the messages given to the seven churches. The messages in Revelation 14, for example, as important as they are, are not referred to. This should give us a greater appreciation for how essential, pure, and thoroughly winnowed they are to meet the great need of God’s people at the end of time. So, let us turn our attention to some of the important aspects of the message to the church in Philadelphia.
The Key of David: The word key is used only twice in the Old Testament (Judges 3:25 and Isaiah 22:22) and comes from the Hebrew word maphteach and means just what the English word connotesan instrument that locks or unlocks something. (The verb form of the word is used 135 times, though, meaning to open.) In the New Testament the word key is used only six times (four of which are found in the book of RevelationRevelation 1:18; 3:7; 9:1; 20:1), and each of the six times the Greek word kleis is used. Kleis simply means something that controls the opening or the closing, the binding or the loosening, of something else. It represents power. What, then, is the key of David?
The only biblical reference to the key of David, other than that found in Revelation 3:7, is found in Isaiah 22:22: And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. The latter part of Isaiah 22 is speaking about Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, but Isaiah is speaking symbolically of Christ in this passage, especially in verse 22, which is repeated by Jesus in Revelation 3:7: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. Other parts of Isaiah 22:2025 speak of the government being committed into his (Eliakims) hand, of him being a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah, and of him being a glorious throne to his father’s house. James White states that:
The term, key of David, in this text [Revelation 3:7], has direct reference to Christs reception of the throne of David, which is his rightful throne, the throne of the immortal kingdom. (The Second Coming of Christ, p. 79)
Names: Three names are mentioned in this promise to the Philadelphian church—the name of Jesus’ God, the name of the city of Jesus’ God, and the new name of Jesus himself. E. J. Waggoner explains the use of the word name in Revelation 3:12 in this way:
God puts his name upon his people, that all may know to whom they belong. Men put their names upon their places of business for a sign. Christ says, Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders. Wherever the men of the world come into contact with the people of God, they are to see the name of God, and recognize at a glance that God dwells within, and does business there. (General Conference Bulletin, April 9, 1901)
Is this talking about getting a placard, writing Jehovah upon it, and hanging it about our neck? No, of course not; it is speaking of God’s character.
Behold! An Open Door: Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it (Revelation 3:8). The use of the word behold means notice what comes next. Something important follows, and Jesus wants us to pay attention to it. The Greek word for have set is didomi and means to give. Jesus has given us an open door. (Didomi is also used in John 3:16.) Now, why would any man want to shut a door that Christ has opened for him, knowing that Christ only gives good gifts to his children? It does not make sense, and it probably made no sense to the little flock in 1844 either, but for us, living at a time when we can look back almost 168 years to 1844, we can see that what Jesus implied in his message has been, and continues to be, attempted. The ministration of Jesus in the most holy place has been diminished and well-nigh obliterated in the eyes of most people today, but Jesus cautions us to let no man take our crowns! Let us read Ellen White’s explanation of the open door:
The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment . . .
After the passing of the time of expectation, in 1844, Adventists still believed the Saviour’s coming to be very near; they held that they had reached an important crisis, and that the work of Christ as man’s intercessor before God, had ceased. . . .
But clearer light came with the investigation of the sanctuary question. Now was seen the application of those words of Christ in the Revelation, addressed to the church at this very time : “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth; I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” [Revelation 3:7, 8.] Here an open as well as a shut door is brought to view. At the termination of the 2300 prophetic days in 1844, Christ changed his ministration from the holy to the most holy place.
When, in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary, the high priest on the day of atonement entered the most holy place, the door of the holy place was closed, and the door of the most holy was opened. So, when Christ passed from the holy to the most holy of the heavenly sanctuary, the door, or ministration, of the former apartment was closed, and the door, or ministration, of the latter was opened. Christ had ended one part of his work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work; and he still presented his blood before the Father in behalf of sinners.
Behold, he declares, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. Those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of the atonement, receive the benefits of his mediation in their behalf; but those who reject the light that brings to view this work of ministration, are not benefited thereby. The Jews who rejected the light given at Christs first advent, and refused to believe in him as the Saviour of the world, could not receive pardon through him. When Jesus at his ascension entered by his own blood into the heavenly sanctuary to shed upon his disciples the blessings of his mediation, the Jews were left in total darkness, to continue their useless sacrifices and offerings. The ministration of types and shadows [feast days, for example] had ceased. That door by which men had formerly found access to God, was no longer open. The Jews had refused to seek him in the only way whereby he could then be found, through the ministration in the sanctuary in Heaven. Therefore they found no communion with God. To them the door was shut. They had no knowledge of Christ as the true sacrifice and the only mediator before God; hence they could not receive the benefits of his mediation. (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 268, 269)
In the last paragraph, Ellen White stated that those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of the atonement, receive the benefits of his mediation in their behalf. This is language similar to that of the book Questions on Doctrine (QOD), but this book wrongly teaches the following:
When, therefore, one hears an Adventist say, or reads in Adventist literatureeven in the writings of Ellen G. Whitethat Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross. (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 354, 355; emphasis in the original)
The apostate language of QOD is not to be considered what Ellen White wrote, regardless of the authors claim. The prophet is speaking of the benefits of his mediation which began in 1844. QOD is speaking of the benefits from the cross only. These are not the same! QOD was teaching a justification only theology, while the prophet was teaching the Bible truth of justification and sanctification.
Ellen White states that the Jews were left in total darkness because they did not accept Christ and follow him at his ascension into the heavenly sanctuary. The door was shut for them! “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), and if the Jews were shut out because they failed to follow Jesus, any people who have had light and fail to follow Jesus in that light will also be shut out, including Adventists who were given light on the most holy place ministry of Jesus, but who deny that truth today.
Furthermore, she says that the Jews had no knowledge of Christ as the true sacrifice and the only mediator before God. They rejected him as the Son of God who could die and be their mediator, and those who reject this truth also find the door of salvation shut.
Ellen White was shown that her husbands relation to the people of God was similar, in some respects, to that of Moses to Israel (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p.85), so his understanding of the open and shut doors is of value to us today.
“These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth.” That Christ is here described, no one will deny. He is the rightful heir to David’s throne, hence has the key of David, which may represent power.
The throne of David, or Christ, on which he is to reign, is in the capital of his kingdom, the New Jerusalem now above. The opening and shutting can refer only to the change of ministration from the Holy to the most Holy of the heavenly Sanctuary, at the end of the 2300 days, in 1844. It was then that the ministration in the Holy Place closed, and the ministration in the most Holy for the forgiveness of sins, and to cleanse the Sanctuary, was opened by him that hath the key of David. Behold, I set before thee an open door. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament. Rev.xi,19. We can apply texts of this class to no other events than Christs entering the most Holy, in 1844, and opening his ministration there, where the ark of ten commandments is, hence, since that time the Sabbath, with the whole law of God, has been present truth in a special sense. (James White, The Review & Herald, October 16, 1856)
As Seventh-day Adventists, we know that the Sabbath commandment has been shining more fully since 1844, but, we are sorry to say, Seventh-day Adventism today completely denies the cleansing ministry of Jesus in the most holy place. Fundamental Belief #24, Christs Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, only affirms a ministry of investigation and not one, also, of cleansing; and Fundamental Belief #9, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, only proclaims an atonement of forgiveness (justification) and not one of forgiveness and cleansing (sanctification). An investigative process is occurring in the most holy place, but a cleansing ministry is also occurring! Notice what Ellen White says in The Great Controversy:
Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator.[We cannot keep sinning till Jesus comes.] Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification [final atonement], of putting away of sin, among Gods people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14. (The Great Controversy, p. 425)
We introduced the term “final atonement” in the above statement. Some are not aware that Ellen White used this term. It is found at least ten times in her writings, and at least five of those occurrences are original statements. She continues:
When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. Song of Solomon 6:10. (Ibid.)
Let us hold fast to our knowledge of the open door set before us and to the complete ministry of Jesus in the most holy place, so that no doctrine of man will take our crowns! We are sanctified by the truth (John 17:17). Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 292). Do not ever forget this! The messages to the churches are life-changing messages that we either accept or reject, and then, in turn, we are either accepted or rejected!
The Hour of Temptation: Ellen White has noted:
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. In this scripture is brought to view the hour of temptation that is to try them that dwell upon the earth. We are now living in this trying hour. There is no escape for any from this conflict. If in your life there are defective traits of character that you are not striving to overcome, you may be assured that the enemy will endeavor to take advantage of them; for he is watching vigilantly, seeking to spoil the faith of every one. In order to gain the victory over every besetment of the enemy, we must lay hold on a power that is out of and beyond ourselves. We must maintain a constant, living connection with Christ, who has power to give victory to every soul that will maintain an attitude of faith and humility. If we are self-sufficient, and think that we may go on just as we please, and yet hope to come out on the right side finally, we shall find that we have made a terrible mistake. As those who hope to receive the overcomers reward, we must press forward in the Christian warfare, though at every advance we meet with opposition. (The Review & Herald, July 9, 1908)
What do we know about this hour of temptation? When Jesus spoke these words, they referred to a future event, but in 1908, when the above words were recorded, it had become a current event, so this hour of temptation cannot refer to the Christian struggle that all of God’s people have faced since the fall of Adam and Eve, and it cannot be a national Sunday law or imprisonment. It has to be something else. The context of the above quotation is the conflict we have with our defective traits of character—all God’s people have dealt with this issue—but there is more. It involves overcoming and “victory over every besetment of the enemy.” It is a work of purification, a work of perfection.
Don’t let anyone tell you that those who are translated will be sinning until Jesus comes. It just can’t be. We were sitting in the chapel at the seminary building at Andrews University a few years ago, and a well-known Adventist preacher stated that he was so glad that Jesus would be mediating for us until the second coming! Why would Jesus mediate for his people at that point? Because the popular theology says that the people will be sinning until Jesus comes.
False Christians: In the message to Philadelphia, Jesus warns about those who claim to be true Christians, but really are not:
A battle is continually going on between the forces for good and the forces for evil, between the angels of God and the fallen angels. We are beset before and behind, on the right hand and on the left. The conflict that we are passing through is the last we shall have in this world. We are now in the midst of it. Two parties are striving for the supremacy. In this conflict we cannot be neutral. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, July 9, 1908)
May we remind you of how God views the severity of the issue of being neutral? We have been told:
If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 280)
God declares neutrality to be a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against him. We must take a stand, beloved. We must be willing to take a decided stand for Jesus. There is no such thing as a closet Christian.
Continuing in the prior statement from the Review, we read:
We must stand either on one side or on the other. If we take our position on the side of Christ, if we acknowledge him before the world in word and work, we are bearing a living testimony as to whom we have chosen to serve and honor. In this important period of earths history [from 1908 onward], we cannot afford to leave any one in uncertainty as to whose side we are on. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, July 9, 1908)
Brothers and sisters, on whose side are you? Is your position clear?
There is no natural enmity between fallen men and fallen angels; both are partakers of the same spirit through indulgence in evil. It is according to the law of the synagogue of Satan that in the controversy of the evil against the good, fallen men and fallen angels shall unite in a desperate companionship. From the beginning Satan has worked continually to dethrone the Creator, and whatever may be the divisions among evil men and evil angels, there is no division in their opposition to God.
They are banded together as with iron cords to oppose the Creator and Redeemer of man. Satan is determined to utterly deprave human nature through making of none effect the commandments of God. He originates traditions, and through his maxims he succeeds in assimilating to his own nature the nature of those who do not yield allegiance to the law of God. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, June 11, 1894)
In the next issue of The Signs of the Times, we read:
The church of God, despised and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. They walk in narrow paths on earth; they are purified in the furnace of afflictions. For Jesus sake they endure opposition, hatred, calumny. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial, and experience bitter disappointments; but their painful experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christs sufferings, they are destined to be partakers of his glory. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, June 18, 1894)
We have discussed the synagogue of Satan in earlier studies, but one thing to note in this message is that the worship that occurs here has to be at the end of this earths time as we know it now. It will never happen before then. It cannot, for we have just read that evil men and evil angels are banded together as with iron cords to oppose the Creator and Redeemer of man, and we know this opposition will never end until Jesus comes and delivers his people.
Another important comment Jesus makes is that the synagogue of Satan will know that Jesus has loved the church of Philadelphia. Why would he say that? Because just before Jesus comes, his people will be appear destitute, ragged, and worn; threadbare, lean, and homeless, and the SS (synagogue of Satan) will hurl epithets and derogatory comments at them, such as You think you are Gods people; you think he loves you and that you are the apple of his eye?! Just look at yourselves!” In the wilderness Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt, and he will try the same with us, but we must “keep the word” of his patience and take heart. In so doing, we give glory to God. Behold! Jesus is coming soon!
We also must be prepared that some of our closest friends in the faith may eventually become part of the synagogue of Satan, for Ellen White tells us that this synagogue is composed of “professed Seventh-day Adventists.” Speaking to Eli Curtis, she stated:
You think, that those who worship before the saints feet, (Revelation 3:9), will at last be saved. Here I must differ with you; for God shew me that this class were professed Adventists, who had fallen away, and crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (A Word to the Little Flock, p. 12)
Perhaps you are thinking this is talking about the old first-day Adventists who did not accept the Sabbath when the Sabbath truth became known, but, may we ask, where are they today and how much influence, in any sphere, do they now have? No, this not a reference to first-day Adventists but, rather, to the professed Adventists who have given up the Sabbath for the convenient Sunday.
Let No Man Take Thy Crown: Jesus tells us, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” We are told to hold fast. To what shall we hold fast? Shall we hold fast to the truth about God and Christ or adopt the pagan/papal model of God called the trinity which almost all of apostate Protestantism and Catholicism accepts? Shall we hold fast to perfection and sanctification or adopt a justification-only model?
Here again we are admonished to faithfulness, in view of the conflict. We must not yield any point that we have already gained [such as the final atonement, Father and Son, full victory over sin]. From now on till Jesus comes, the battle will wax fiercer and still fiercer.
We shall have to meet and resist men who are regarded as very wise and learned, but who are not spiritually wise unto salvation. Our only hope of saving our own souls and of helping others to be saved, is to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are seeking for a crown, a crown of glory that fadeth not away. As overcomers we are to reign with Christ in the heavenly courts; and we are to overcome through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, July 9, 1908)
Some of the people we will encounter “are regarded as very wise and learned, but who are not spiritually wise unto salvation.” This helps to explain many things. Here we see the learned men of the church, men who think that they are spiritually rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing! Here we see the great theologians portrayed who think that they know much but are actually destitute of all needful things.
Conclusion: We have covered a few of the main points of the message to the leader of the church at Philadelphia—the key of David, the synagogue of Satan, the open and shut door, etc.—but if you just understand the concepts following the four beholds in this message—“the open door . . . the synagogue of Satan . . . I have loved thee . . . and I come quickly”—you will be blessed.
2012 WV Camp Meeting
“At least no one will ever be able to forget this camp meeting,” said one camper to me on Sabbath morning. On Friday evening a violent storm burst through the eastern part of the United States, leaving a trail of damage in its wake. Trees were blown over onto power and phone lines, and services for millions of people, including us at Smyrna, were disrupted, but the camp meeting continued, anyway.
Since God has blessed us with spring water, we were able to carry water for the needs of the campers. Chairs were taken outside for the Sabbath worship meeting, since the main meeting room had become too hot to meet inside in the 100 degree plus heat. A shady area near the Stump home provided shelter from the sun and its heat to the approximately one hundred believers who had gathered to seek God.
The theme of the camp meeting was “Created for His Glory.” Most of the messages in some way addressed this theme and were a great blessing to those who attended. The first activity of the camp meeting was a visit to the McDowell County Aging Program for a health demonstration by some of the sisters. This visit was very well received by the precious older folks who were at the program.
Pastor Paul Agyeman from Ghana, Africa, was to be our featured speaker, but he contacted us the day before camp meeting to let us know he was in New York and that his wife had experienced a sudden illness which required emergency surgery! She was in surgery as he was writing the email! Many prayers went up to our Father in behalf of Sister Margaret, and she recovered so rapidly that she and Paul were able to travel on Friday, so that they could be with us o Sabbath!
There were meetings throughout the day, with breaks in between for rest, food, reflection, and fellowship. Due to the lack of power, we were not able to broadcast or record all the meetings, but we were able to record most of the meetings, and we hope to have them posted soon and an available list of presentations printed in the next issue of Old Paths.
On Sabbath afternoon Brother Beachy conducted a baptism in the Guyandotte River for two young people with whom he he had been studying, who wanted to publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ.?
Behold, I have set before thee an open door . . .”
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan . . .”
Behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”
Behold, I come quickly. . .”
Yes, Jesus is coming quickly, and he is calling us to take our stand. “We cannot afford to leave any one in uncertainty as to whose side we are on.” When Elijah called for Israel to appear on Mt Carmel, he demanded of them: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). Elijah demanded an answer! The Hebrew literally says, “How long hop ye about on two boughs?”
This is a metaphor taken from birds hopping about from bough to bough, not knowing on which to settlebalanced between opposing claims, To halt is to stopto hesitate between opposite interests. (James Caughey, Revival Miscellanies, p. 138)
The people in the days of Elijah were balanced between the worship of the true God and the worship of idols. It is the same today, beloved.
How long are you hopping between two opinions? Give the Lord God and his Son your full allegiance today. Beloved, we need to enter into the work of Christ now—that “special work of purification [and] of putting away of sin”—and to “be found written in the book.” Then, on that glorious day, we shall be delivered (Daniel 12:1)!
All the prophets of Baal were personally slain by the hand of Elijah. We might think that he was harsh, or even cruel, to slay those prophets and priests of paganism, but before you judge this man too harshly, remember that he is in heaven today and remember that he represents those who will be translated. Elijah took his stand for the LORD and allowed himself to be counted. All those in Philadelphia will be among those who will have answered the call of God to stand and be counted. They will have loved and served Jesus, and he, in turn, will honor them that honor him! Editors
The Sabbath a Shield
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.(Psalm 91:4)
(Taken from Providences of the Great War by
W. A. Spicer, with slight editing)
During the war [WWI], and indeed for some time following it, there was much anti-foreign feeling in Egypt. In the later years Superintendent George Keough, working under our British Union Conference, was much of the time among the villages along the Nile toward upper Egypt, this side of ancient Thebes. Of experiences with the Bedouins, in which the Sabbath was evidently a shield and protection, he once told us (to quote from memory):
“In the closing days of the war, and following, the anti-foreign prejudice was very bitter. There were few Europeans in the region where I was working among Coptic believers. Most of the population was Moslem.
“I lived in the villages, eating, sleeping, and working in the village homes, teaching the gospel, and helping the sick in every way the missionary is called upon to do on the frontiers.
“When the political excitement was at its height, there was an uprising against Europeans in this region. Nine foreigners were killed, I believe, and others fled.
“All the time I kept at my work, going about the villages as usual. I was well aware at times of a strong anti-foreign hostility, but the only thing to do was to ignore it and trust God to protect me there, alone, amidst the people. When the villagers saw that I was unafraid and only wanted to go about my ministry, their hostility gave way to friendliness.
“So apparent was it that I was treated in an exceptional way, that intelligence officers suspected that my immunity from attack, when others were assaulted, was due to a political sympathy with the Moslems. My Irish name gave color to the suspicion that I might be a Sinn Feiner and that I was in Egypt to sow discontent against the government.
“My record was looked up in Cairo, and my home visited. Mrs. Keough assured the investigators that I was but a missionary preacher, a loyal subject of Britain, having nothing to do with politics.
“One day I was traveling, when down upon me swept an armed band of Bedouins, of the same class that had been killing Europeans. Their leader rode in upon me, looked closely in my face, and called out, ‘Oh, you are the Sabbath teacher,’ and away they all swept with salaams.
“Our keeping of the Sabbath, the day that Abraham and the patriarchs observed and the day commanded in ‘The Book as Moslems call the Holy Scriptures, seemed to impress the Moslem people. It was among the Copts, the descendants of the ancient Christian church of Egypt, that most of my work was done, however, while in every way seeking to witness to the Mohammedans as well.”
Again and again in our short story of mission work in Moslem lands, the Sabbath, the seal of the living God, has appeared as a shield and defense, even as suggested in the prophecy of Revelation 9:4, describing the rise of the Mohammedan power.
Once when Elder H. P. Holser was visiting Turkey, in the earlier days of our work, his party was rudely handled by the officials. Their Bibles and papers were confiscated. Then the higher officials learned that the missionaries were Sabbath keepers. Elder Holser wrote:
The officials in charge changed at once, and were as gracious as they were harsh before; all our books and papers were returned immediately. It was the Sabbath that saved us. This is the sign by which we are known. Thus the Sabbath is the same to us now in Turkey as it was to Sabbatarians under the fifth trumpet. Rev. 9:4.”
Years later still, in the uprisings and tumults that brought Turkish vengeance upon Armenian and other Christians in the times before the Great War, our church in Constantinople passed through the storm; and again they found the Sabbath a shield. The story, as our Armenian leader, the late Z. G. Bahanan, told it, was to this effect:
“There was a terrible time in Constantinople. The Turks and Kurds had risen against the Christians, particularly the Armenians. Moslem mobs were loose in the streets, looting Christian homes and slaying.
“Our congregation of Adventists was gathered that night in their meeting place, an upper room. We were Armenians and Greeks. Outside the cry of the mobs was heard, with the cries of those who were attacked.
“In the upper room our little company of believers were praying to God. Nearer and nearer came the mob, battering at doors and dragging out the people. The little Sabbath-keeping company prayed to God for deliverance.
The mob came to the houses on our square. They crowded about the entrance to our meeting place, and began to batter at the door. Then above the cry of the mob sounded out a shrill call: These people are Sabbatas [Sabbath keepers]; let them alone! They are all right!’ And the mob swept on and left the praying company unmolested.”
Many of these believers had suffered persecution for the Sabbath at the hands of friends and former church associates. Many had suffered scoffs and scorn for the truth. They had sacrificed position for the Lord’s Sabbath. But that night they were not ashamed of the truth of God. The Sabbath of Jehovah was their shield and protection in that night of trouble.
Before us is a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation. In that coming time of trouble, Gods Sabbath, his seal and the sign of his power, will be the shield and defense of the children of God.?
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.