Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Revival & Reformation
Lesson 3: "The Word: The Foundation of Revival"
What is often overlooked by those who say they love the Bible, and maybe it's not their fault; is it possible it has been kept from them?
Both the Old and New Testaments teach an idea totally absent anywhere else: a love that has dimensions undreamed of by humanity--it's agape in the Greek New Testament. It's the story of the Son of God who descended from heaven to become a true human being, forever (yes, given to us forever!) taking upon Himself all the liabilities of fallen humanity yet living therein a sinless life of self-emptying love; self-emptying to the point of "the death of the cross" which entailed pouring out the last drop of His life (Phil. 2:5-8). For Him, the "death of the cross" meant enduring the Father's eternal wrath against sin, which meant the end of existence. He gave Himself to hell in His love for fallen humanity (cf. Acts , 27).
This very idea shocked those who heard the apostles proclaim it. The idea ofagape turned the world upside down (cf. Acts 17:6). It catalyzed humanity; no pagan religion had dreamed of it. It still catalyzes us today! Some question its reality: how could Christ have died our second death if He was resurrected? His being devoid of any self-centered hope whatever is a "big idea" too big to fathom. Laodicea seems unable to grasp it. Every lamb that was sacrificed at the Passover died forever; none was resurrected. Jesus gave Himself to become the Lamb of God; that too was goodbye forever so far as His commitment meant.
Such agape is the central and unique idea of the book we call the "Holy Bible," regardless of the diction its translators may use. Angels wonder at it; do we, as yet?
There is no question in the minds of Seventh-day Adventists that God's Word is the foundation for revival and reformation. Our memory verse says, "quicken [revive] me according to Thy Word" (Psalm 119:154), indicating that something must happen before we can ever fulfill the special task He has "commanded" us to do: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Hoy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19, 20).
But first, our own souls need to be revived ["won"] by the Good News. If the love of this truth is welcomed in our hearts, nothing can stop it from flowing "out" to others. Ponder this promise of Jesus in John : "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Ellen G. White has written, "Christ crucified--talk it, pray it, sing it, and it will break and win hearts. ... Souls are thirsting for the water of life. Do not allow them to go from you empty. Reveal the love of Christ to them. Lead them to Jesus, and He will give them the bread of life and the water of salvation" (Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892).
You can't win souls with bad tidings, only glad tidings. "Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul" (Steps to Christ, pp. 26, 27).
To awaken in our souls that hunger and thirst is the purpose of the 1888 message of Christ's righteousness. The gospel is the bread of life; and once you taste it, you will ever after want to "eat" of it. What joy! Always to be hungry and thirsty for more. The world's amusements all lose their appeal when you "taste" the gospel for what it is. Many are now testifying that that hunger has been aroused in their souls by hearing or reading the 1888 message truths.
Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," wrote: "That there is a power in the word of God, far above that of any other book, cannot be doubted. The Lord through the prophet Jeremiah rebukes the false prophets, who speak their own words instead of the words of God, and says: 'What is the chaff to the wheat? Is not My word like as a fire?' (Jer. , 29). The word of the Lord is the seed by which the sinner is born again. We learn that the word of God is the seed from which [we] are developed into new creatures in Christ. The word, then, has power to give life (see 1 Peter , 23).
"With the knowledge that the word of God is the seed by which men [and women] are begotten unto a new life, and that the hiding of the word in the heart keeps one from sin, we may easily understand 1 John 3:9: 'Whosoever is born of God doth not sin, because he is born of God.' How simple!
"Jesus, our great Example, gave us an illustration of this. When tempted on every point by the devil, His sole reply was, 'It is written,' followed by a text of Scripture that met the case exactly. The Christian who would stand fast must do the same thing. There is no other way.
"May the thought that God is in the word be a fresh incentive to all to gain time and strength for their work by taking from it more time to feed upon the source of divine strength" (excerpts from "The Indwelling Word," The Signs of the Times, July 14, 1890).
What is the true motivation that will lead us to follow the Lord all the way? "It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour's matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary's cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholder. They hear His voice, and they follow Him" (The Desire of Ages, p. 480).
This higher motivation becomes realized in the close of time than has prevailed in the church in past ages--a concern for Christ that He receive His reward and find His "rest" in the final eradication of sin. All egocentric motivation based merely on fear of hell or hope of reward is less effective. The higher motivation is symbolized in the climax of Scripture--the Bride of Christ making herself "ready."
A prayer the Father loves to hear and answer is the request that the Holy Spirit "make known" His words to you (Prov. ). Plead that He give you "a hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matt. 5:6)--that's the way of "happiness" (which is what it means to be "blessed"). And you'll be surprised how often the Lord will open doors for you to share treasures of truth you have discovered in your personal reading of the Bible.
--Compiled from the writings of Robert J. Wieland, et al.
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