Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 11: Families of Faith
"As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15).
"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Psalm 127:1).
Lot's separation from Abraham and Sarah is an early example of the decline in the multiple generation family unit. Abraham and Sarah were 75 and 65 years old (respectively), and barren when Lot chose to move away from the family into the nearby city of Sodom. Apparently heedless of the needs of his "elderly" aunt and uncle, Lot selfishly chose to live among evil rather than to remain with his righteous uncle in a family devoted to the worship of the one true God. The loss of his nephew to such an environment brought great heart distress to Abraham, but he did not try to prevent the move.
When Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were transported from Jerusalem to Babylon, they were already prepared for the trials they faced. The young men had been taught in their families and through the sanctuary service about God's covenant promise of the coming Messiah (made visual through the sanctuary service), had been raised in a knowledge of proper health practices, and were solidly grounded in the faith of their Saviour. If they had not been, then they would have fallen just as rapidly as the other young men who were deported at the same time.
Spiritual preparationbefore a crisis is essential.
In both of these situations, we can see a first generation faith. Abraham was the first generation called from Babylon (the city of Ur), and Daniel and his righteous companions were the first generation of the group that would later be brought forth from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem. Abraham's descendants, through Judah, remained steadfast to the faith (more or less; all twelve tribes fell into paganism and that's why they went into captivity).
The generation that followed Daniel were in serious need of spiritual reformation when they returned from Babylon. In captivity they had become complacent and far removed from their confidence in God's covenant. Their seventy years in Babylon had not brought them closer to their Lord. The returning exiles were unprepared for the challenges they would face when trying to rebuild their city, the temple, and their faith.
At the time the message of Christ and His righteousness was first presented in 1888, God's remnant family faced multiple theological crises through John Harvey Kellogg's pantheism, and the resultant "holy flesh" movement. Another serious challenge came through an upheaval concerning the sanctuary doctrine. It has been said that after 1905, Ellen White went into a "damage control" mode in her writings, trying to handle the deviant teachings confronting the denomination.
It has been almost seventy years since Elders Wieland and Short recovered the message of Christ and His righteousness that was lost through these challenges and plain neglect of the "most precious message" of A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, presented to the church in 1888. First generation enthusiasm for the recovery of the message was lost when these two men went to their graves.
In the original message given in 1888, the emphasis was on Christ, His faith, justification through His faith that has been given to every person on earth (Rom. 12:3), and other connected elements of the Gospel that are all related specifically to Christ and His righteousness (such as Christ's fallen human nature; Heb. 2:14-18). Man's "efforts" at sanctification were not forefront of the original message. It was all about Christ and His work for mankind.
As the years have passed and still Christ has not returned for His people, emphasis has changed from a "soon coming" idea to a "here for the long-run" plan. Emphasis has become evangelism of non-Adventists rather than preaching Christ and His righteousness to a church in need of repentance and reformation.
"Christ's death was for the sins of every human being everywhere. Many people simply do not know this great truth yet. To bring this news with an invitation to respond is the evangelism mission of Christians." Absolutely! So many people have never heard the "good news" of Christ and His righteousness, and are hungering and thirsting for this message. The best thing we can do is tell them!
However, the church "history sadly shows that compromise and accommodation to cultures has yielded a patchwork of pseudo-Christian beliefs posing as authentic Christianity."  The same can be said for the "1888 message"--many groups are claiming to preach this message, but through compromise with culture or to accommodate opposing theological views, the full message of A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner has never been fully presented under the second generation's work. Praying for the Latter Rain is not enough. We need a heart transformation before that blessing of heaven can be bestowed upon us.
The very high level of commitment and enthusiasm to the original message held by the first presenters has been lost in the "second generation." The "most precious message" as become a "tradition" with a "few peculiar aspects," which must be spoken of in a way so as not to give opportunity for Satan to exploit disruption caused by the presentation of those "peculiar" aspects.
"Jesus is trulythe message still needed by the world today." Yes, and He is waiting for a "generation" that will accept His message with a wholehearted enthusiasm, that will then go forth and "lighten the earth with His glory."
"Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. 'Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,' she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer. Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God's presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul." "When we submit ourselves to Christ ... we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness." 
Christ is waiting with longing desire to see this happen in His remnant family, so that He can proclaim to the world and watching universe: "Here are they that keep the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus!" (Rev. 14:12).
 Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Sunday's lesson, p. 89.
 Ellen G. White, "The Breastplate of Righteousness,"My Life Today, p. 311.
Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTMo8fmQVEo
"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888message.org/sst.htm