Monday, August 26, 2013

"Reformation: The Outgrowth of Revival"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Revival & Reformation
Lesson 9: "Reformation: The Outgrowth of Revival"
After eight weeks of studying revival and reformation we might be left with the impression that we are the ones who must revive ourselves. [1] If we were just more consecrated, we would be reformed. If we will really get more serious and sustain our devotional time, then God can bless us. Most importantly, if we were more obedient to God's will, then we would experience the blessings of the Spirit. The subtitle of our lesson this week, "Reformation: The Outgrowth of Revival," tends to makes us think that our revival will produce the reformation of thought and life that is so desperately needed.
Rather than speculate on what we will do with the church, let us inquire what the Lord says He will do. He is the Head of the church. Not all the demons in hell can stop what He purposes to do: He will send revival and reformation. As surely as His character is love, He will visit His people: "The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). [2]
He will accomplish this objective through a special message. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14). [3] As surely as day follows night, such a message will come. Repentance for the 1888-era rejection of such a message will bring a whole-hearted acceptance of its renewal.
This message will be the outpouring of the latter rain. It will bring spiritual refreshment and prepare the church for the final issue of the mark of the beast: "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain faithfully, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain. ... And I will restore to you the years that the [swarming] locust hath eaten" (Joel 2:23-25). [4]
The latter rain will be a clearer revelation of the gospel of righteousness by faith than we have yet discerned. The meaning of the Hebrew phrase in Joel 2:23 is "a teacher of righteousness," linking the latter rain to the message of righteousness by faith. [5] Here is the key truth that is almost totally overlooked today--the initial showers of the latter rain were manifested in the "most precious message" of righteousness by faith which the Lord sent to this people in 1888. [6] Further showers of the latter rain must include a recovery of that message, because Heaven's intent can never be defeated.
Is God asking you to sign on to a contract that contains a series of promises that "I will study the Bible, pray daily, share with others, serve the Lord Jesus Christ and prepare for His soon coming"? All very good things to do! But could it be possible that God is asking you to believe His promises, His covenant, rather than you making promises to Him? According to the Bible, the new covenant has always been God's unilateral promise to His people (see Gen. 12:1-3); and the old covenant has been the people's promise to God to do everything right (see Ex. 19:4-8).
The question that is stirring thousands of minds is this: what is the correct, effective way to realize all those four good things (studying the Bible "each day," praying, sharing, serving the Lord faithfully)? Not just for a week or two while the emotional adrenalin is prompting us, but forever and ever? Even after we get back into the busyness of daily work? Will the old covenant effect a lasting "revival and reformation"?
History says, No. Jehoshaphat led out in wonderful revivals and reformations, but the people still did not wholeheartedly turn to the worship of God, and the Lord destroyed the ships that the king had built. His son Jehoram rebelled against the Lord. His son Ahaziah was also evil (see 2 Chronicles 20).
King Hezekiah next was a welcome relief from the almost endless litany of rebellion against the Lord, but at the end, he too was out of harmony with God's blessed will for him, and he left the most awful legacy on the nation--gave them his son Manasseh, the most wicked king Judah ever had (Jer. 15:4). King Josiah was Hezekiah's grandson, and he was a "perfect" king, did everything exactly right, followed the Spirit of Prophecy meticulously, but ended up rejecting the living demonstration of the Spirit of Prophecy because it came to him from an unlikely source--the mouth of the King of Egypt. He died in the battle that God expressly told him not to go into, and from then on it was downhill (see 2 Chronicles 34-35).
What went wrong? Why were all those revivals and reformations so short-lived? Why are ours today? The answer: they were all based on old covenant principles. Yes, the old covenant was good; but not good enough!
What's the difference between a revival and reformation in the church that is old covenant in nature and one that is new covenant? Should we not be able to tell the difference today? Suppose the world church today experiences a grand revival and reformation that is old covenant, would that hasten the coming of Jesus, or further delay Him?
An old covenant reformation is decidedly temporary. In the case of Josiah's, the moment he was dead, his sons began leading the people back to rebellion against the Lord and the people willingly, mindlessly followed like sheep going astray. They had learned no long-lasting gospel truth under King Josiah. He had simply inherited the old covenant yoke which the nation of Israel had fastened upon themselves at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:8; Heb. 9:1).
The apostle Paul was probably the first Israelite to discern clearly the significance of their old covenant history when he said, "The law was our schoolmaster [slave-driver?] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (as Abraham was, under the new covenant; see Gal. 3:16-25).
Numerous old covenant revivals and reformations have come and gone in the world church for the past 150 years. It is King Josiah all over again. They have often been inspired by and imported from the popular ecumenical movements.
An old covenant revival and reformation is motivated by a desire to receive God's blessings. A new covenant revival and reformation is motivated by heart-thankfulness and appreciation for God's blessings already realized and received.
An old covenant revival is therefore egocentric in nature; and whatever is egocentric in motivation has to be legalistic in its origin. In contrast, a new covenant revival and reformation is based on an experience of identity with Christ that transcends fear of being lost or hope of reward (1 John 4:16-18).
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Our Sabbath school lesson leads us to this conclusion. "Why are revival and reformation things of the heart more than anything else? Why must they start individually, with each of us making a conscious choice to renew our walk with the Lord, to draw closer to Him, and to seek more earnestly than ever to do His will?" ("Discussion Questions," Revival & Reformation, p. 78).
[2] "In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. ... A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. ... Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. ... The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence ... there seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844" (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 126).
[3] "Amid the confusing cries, 'Lo, here is Christ! Lo, there is Christ!' will be borne a special testimony, a special message of truth appropriate for this time, which message is to be received, believed, and acted upon" ("The Closing Work," Review and Herald, Oct. 13, 1904).
[4] "I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth with great power. ... All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. ... I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, 'It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel'" (Early Writings, p. 271).
[5] See KJV margin, "the former rain moderately" "a teacher of righteousness according to righteousness" (Joel 2:23).
[6] "Some felt annoyed at this outpouring, and their own natural dispositions were manifested. They said, 'This is only excitement; it is not the Holy Spirit, not showers of the latter rain from heaven.' There were hearts full of unbelief, who did not drink in of the Spirit, but who had bitterness in their souls.
"On many occasions the Holy Spirit did work; but those who resisted the Spirit of God at Minneapolis were waiting for a chance to travel over the same ground again, because their spirit was the same. Afterward, when they had evidence heaped upon evidence, some were convicted; but those who were not softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit's working, put their own interpretation upon every manifestation of the grace of God, and they have lost much. They declared in their heart and soul and words that this manifestation of the Holy Spirit was fanaticism and delusion. They stood like a rock; the waves of mercy were flowing upon and around them, but were beaten back by their hard and wicked hearts, which resisted the Holy Spirit's working" (Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 6, pp. 19, 20).

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Revival & Reformation
Lesson 8: "Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival"
One of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to converted people is discernment, which in simple language means the ability to recognize the truth in difficult situations. A detective can recognize an incriminating clue in a murder case. That's discernment, something most of us don't have.
The apostle John gives us a clue to recognize the difference between a false prophet and a true one, between a false christ and the true Christ: He says, "test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). In other words, don't let yourself get fooled! You don't want to end up taking the mark of the beast! John's clue? "Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist" (vs. 3).
Two Christs are clearly distinguished in Revelation 13:8--the power behind the Beast, and the Lamb. The latter is the term Inspiration uses to designate Christ as the Crucified One, "the Lamb slain." Thus the true Christ is the Christ of the cross; the christ of Babylon the one who spurned the cross. It follows that the true Christ is the One who will draw men if He is lifted up as the Crucified One (John 34, 33; Gal. 3:1). The false christ is the "radiant," winsome, lovable, kindly one who draws all men literally (except those written in the Lamb's Book of Life) when he is lifted up, but not signifying what death he should die. In other words, the power of this "christ" to appeal is in his winsome lovable ways to make people happy, relaxed, integrated, and to give them an "abundant life," apart from the appeal of the cross. The false christ will have absolutely everything the true Christ has, power to heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse lepers, set people free from anxieties, worries, etc., feed thousands, smile (constantly), a radiant personality, everything absolutely except the nail prints of the cross.
In a sermon regarding the 1888 General Conference Session, Ellen G. White said: "Let me tell you, brethren, if you have discernment you can understand where God is working. You do not need wonderful miracles to testify of this, because you see the miracles did not do any good to the Jews." [1]
The Lord wants His love (agape) to straighten out our thinking (if we will permit Him to do this for us). It is His Holy Spirit who does this, and He will always lead us to the Word, the Bible. Our Sabbath School lesson mentions Psalm 119, which contains an important "safeguard": "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (vs. 105).
Treasure that Book! If you humbly ask the Lord to make you become "a giant" in the Word, He will bless you and you will grow in knowledge you never dreamed could be yours. That "knowledge" is "the truth of the gospel " which "truth shall make you free" (Gal. 2:5; John 8:32). The truth is what happened at the cross. With no extremism the church will proclaim the "third angel's message in verity" as "not to know anything ... save Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (cf. 1 Cor. 2:2). Let the solemn truth stretch your mind and "enlarge [your] heart" as David prays (Psalm 119:32), so you can "comprehend" its vast dimensions, "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love (agape) of Christ" (Eph. 3:14-19).
Our lesson suggests that fanaticism "tends to be unbalanced, focusing on one aspect of faith to the neglect of all others." The question is later asked: "How could you help [your local church] find the right balance?" But what is faith? How does the Bible define it? It is not a synonym for works! The devil hates the idea of salvation by faith alone, by faith which works. If in any way he can inject into our thinking the idea that faith is itself works, then he has us deceived. John 3:16 has it: "God loved," "God gave," and we "believe" (the same in Greek as have faith). Faith is a human heart response to God's loving and giving.
Conservative Christians for hundreds of years have discussed (even argued) the relationship between faith and works. Their favorite word used to describe it is "balance." The popular idea is that one must hold faith and works in "balance." If you talk about faith for ten minutes then you must also talk about works for ten minutes. However, a check of the concordance reveals that nowhere in the Bible is the word "balance" used to describe this relationship. In inspired writings, there is practically nothing to suggest the use of that word as being appropriate. Scripture and inspired writings are clear "beyond question" that salvation is totally by grace through faith, and Paul even goes out of his way to add, "Not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9). The "balance" idea strongly suggests that salvation is by faith and by works, a 50/50 deal. Which if true, would certainly give the saved ones something to boast about: "yes, Jesus saved me, but look, I did my part too!"
Yes, the Bible is true; there is only one Savior, Jesus; none of us is a co-savior. It's not a 50/50 salvation trip; it's 100% salvation by Christ, received by faith. But the faith is not the "dead faith" that the apostle James decries (James 2:20). A "dead faith" can produce nothing except self-righteousness (which doesn't have a very nice fragrance!). A living faith works; it has to work; it will work; it always works. (The "works" is a verb and not a noun.) "In Christian work there is ample room for the activity of all the gifts God has given. All are to be united in carrying out God's requirements, revealing at every advance step that faith which works by love and purifies the soul." [2]
The good news is, God loves His church infinitely more than we can. He is ready to work for reformation as soon as He can find human agents prepared to cooperate intelligently and humbly with Him. He will do what this inspired quotation says: "The Lord will raise up men to bear the message of truth to the world and to His people. If those in responsible positions do not move forward in the opening providences of God, bearing an appropriate message for this time, the words of warning will be given to others who will be faithful to their trust. Even youthful Christians will be chosen to 'cry aloud and spare not.'" [3] In other words, the Lord is already at work; our task is to discern what He is doing and whom He is using. We dare not err in judgment!
--From the Writings of Robert J. Wieland
[1] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 2, "The Spirit of Discernment," p. 607 (recommended reading).
[2] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 114, 115; Manuscript 16, 1901 (emphasis supplied).
[3] Ellen G. White, Sabbath School Worker, April 1892; Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, p. 56.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Unity: The Bond of Revival"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Revival & Reformation
Lesson 7: "Unity: The Bond of Revival"

The 1844 movement was as near to being love-filled and unselfish as any group of people since the early church of the apostles, who gave their wealth in an outpouring of love (agape) to help people in need, inspired by the then-recent demonstration of God's love in Christ. These 1844 people, members of many different denominations, were the true "ecumenists" of all time. They seriously sought to fulfill Christ's prayer that His followers "all may be one" (John 17:21). It was Bible truth that brought these people of many different persuasions and cultures into that oneness. There was no fanaticism; just a sweet harmony in their common belief in the love of Christ.
How can millions of Christians around the world be unified? It's important, because Jesus said that the only way the world can be brought to believe in Him is when His followers "all may be one, ... that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (John 17:21). Something He calls "Thy truth" is the only thing that will unite them (John 17:17). Paul calls it "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5, 14). The success or failure of Christ's mission for the world therefore depends on that "truth" bringing His people who profess to "keep His commandments and the faith of Jesus" into one (Rev. 14:12).
Can anyone follow Christ truly and not be engaged in warfare? Jesus Himself is heavily engaged in a war known as "the great controversy between Christ and Satan." Why is there so much opposition when truth is proclaimed, even sometimes in the church?
For example, Bible teaching is clear as sunlight that the new covenant is the "better promises" of God, and the old covenant is the worthless promises of the people (Heb. 8:8-10): yet old covenant ideas keep cropping up, and there is tension and suspicion where there should be pleasant fellowship and harmony among the people of God.
He has told us not to be surprised by the painful opposition coming sometimes from God's true people in the last days. He says to us, "The disciple is not above his master, ... Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. ..." (Matt. 10:24, 34). As Jesus prayed "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke23:34), so He prays today.
And the prayer will be answered: God does forgive His people for opposing and rejecting the beginning of the latter rain and the loud cry; but He will also be very severe. He gives any generation only one chance to accept or reject "the beginning" of that rare and most precious gift of the latter rain.
Unity is essential. But unity cannot truly be achieved by a denial or suppression of truth. Jesus prayed for His disciples, "That they all may be one" (John 17:21). Just before, He said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). And He had given them the promise, "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). Ellen White writes: "We are to receive sanctification through obedience to the word and the Spirit of truth. We cannot surrender the truth in order to accomplish this union, for the very means by which it is to be gained is sanctification through the truth. Human wisdom would change all this, thinking this basis of union too narrow. Men would effect a union through conformity to popular opinions, through a compromise with the world. But truth is God's basis for the unity of His people." [1]
A temporary illusion of unity may follow in the wake of threats and fear; but only the Holy Spirit, who is "the Spirit of truth," can bring us all into the unity for which Christ prayed. Apparently, controversy or agitations is not always and necessarily an unmitigated evil." [2] The Holy Spirit guides us into unity through coming together in submission to the Word. Those who depart from the truth are responsible for any lack of unity which may result, and the only way to secure unity again is to renounce error and accept the truth.
One area of conflict that has raged in minds and hearts for hundreds of years is "justification by faith." The battle has been going on for most of the 2000 years since Christ. One entire book in the New Testament is devoted to the conflict--the Book of Galatians. There was no way one could be a Christian then and not take a side either for what Paul declared is "the truth of the gospel" or for the false teachers who came from "Jerusalem" to oppose him. And the battle has not subsided even today!
When Jesus the night before His death prayed His last prayer to His heavenly Father in John 17 in the presence of His few disciples, He clearly settled the issue of "justification by faith." [3] He distinguished between two classes of people: (1) The "all flesh" which are the same as the all people mentioned in verse 2. He says that the Father sent Him into the world so that He might "give to them everlasting life." "As thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." (2) The second group is the people whom the Father gave Him who are "out of the world" (vs. 6). "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word." To them He says He "has manifested Your name, and they have observed [or received]" the blessing which the Father has given to the world "in Christ."
The fact that many "in the world" don't want to receive the gift God has given them does not mean that the gift was not given to them. If a person refuses to believe in Christ, that does not mean that Christ did not die for him. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" long before you or I chose to believe or disbelieve! Our unbelief cannot annul the faith of God, says Paul in Romans 3:3. In the final judgment before the Great White Throne at the end of the biblical millennium (Rev. 20:11-15) the lost will realize that their life-long unbelief was a rejection of the "everlasting life" which the Father had given them "in Christ."
Jesus had a burden on His heart that last night: the disunity that has plagued His followers through the ages. Could it be that the root of that tragically persistent disunity is the unconscious refusal of "Christian" hearts to appreciate that the gift was given to the world? Could it be that in our "lukewarm" hearts we want to circumscribe or limit the love of Christ and reduce salvation to a mere offer? Do we want to glory in our own initiative to receive? When we enter the New Jerusalem do we want to say, "I'm here because I believed! I grabbed the offer! I took the initiative in my salvation!"
It seems very likely that those who enter will beat upon their breasts and say, "I'm unworthy! I'm here only because of the grace of God, not because of my taking the initiative to believe. To Him alone be all the glory!" Oh, may the realization of the gift given move our hearts out of our collective lukewarmness today!
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Gospel Workers, p. 391 (1892).
[2] "The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God's people, should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. There is reason to fear that they may not be clearly discriminating between truth and error. When no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves, to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition, and worship they know not what.
"I have been shown that many who profess to have a knowledge of present truth, know not what they believe. They do not understand the evidences of their faith. They have no just appreciation of the work for the present time. When the time of trial shall come, there are men now preaching to others, who will find, upon examining the positions they hold, that there are many things for which they can give no satisfactory reason. Until thus tested, they knew not their great ignorance" (Gospel Workers, p. 298; 1915).
[3] "Great truths that have lain unheeded and unseen since the day of Pentecost, are to shine from God's word in their native purity. To those who truly love God the Holy Spirit will reveal truths that have faded from the mind, and will also reveal truths that are entirely new" (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 473).

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Monday, August 5, 2013

SST #6 | "Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival" | Pastor...

“Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival”

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Revival & Reformation
Lesson 6: "Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival"
Can anyone tell how confession and repentance are God's part 100% without even 1% works from man? Confession and repentance are not exercises we perform from an egocentric motivation. In no way do they merit salvation. According to Ephesians 2:8, 9, none of us will ever say in eternity, "I am here partly because I confessed and repented!" There would be some of self in that.
Confession and repentance in reality are identical to what we read in Genesis 15:6 of Abram--"he believed in the Lord." Confession and repentance are an honest human heart response to what God has done 100% for our salvation. If you are drowning and a Life Guard saves you, you can't claim that you saved yourself even 1%. True, throughout eternity the saved will be thankful that they "confessed and repented," but they will praise God for His grace that alone (100%) enabled them to respond.
The Holy Spirit Gives RepentanceIf we do not resist the love of Christ revealed at His cross, we will be drawn to Him. The Holy Spirit will give us the precious gift of repentance, a true heart sorrow for sin itself. God has exalted Christ with "His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31).
It is only "the goodness of God [that] leads you to repentance" (Rom. 2:4). This is illustrated in a man who committed crime after crime in an effort to cover up his first mistake. Worst of all, he did nothing to prevent an innocent man from being sent to prison when he himself should have been the one jailed. As so often happens to a criminal, he lost his sense of fairness and kindness, and his wife and children left him. His home was ruined. Yet that hard-hearted man would not repent. He insisted: "I cannot, I will not, I dare not, I must not!"
Finally the innocent man who was wrongfully in prison did an unusual thing. He wrote the hard-hearted man a letter, forgiving him for all the wrong he had done to him. Can you imagine? That letter broke the heart of that evil man and brought him to repentance and confession of his crimes. He said, "All the troubles that came to me failed to bring me to repentance; but when I was forgiven, I repented." Fear can never drive you to be a better person, but realizing that you are forgiven--that does it.
The gospel idea is that you will find it impossible not to serve Lord enthusiastically if you comprehend and appreciate the significance of the cross of Christ--what it cost Him to save you. This idea of the constraint of God's agape permeates Paul's writings. Consider the following: "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4).
His idea is that God is not standing back, as many conceive of Him with His divine arms folded in disinterested unconcern while we wallow in our lost condition. He is not saying, "Well, I made the sacrifice two thousand years ago; I've done My part--it's up to you now. You must take the initiative. If you want to come, come; and if it seems hard to you, you just don't have what it takes to be a Christian. I have somebody else waiting to take your crown."
How many millions of people feel that way about God! And some shy and timid ones feel, "God does have plenty of people ready to take my crown--He doesn't need me, and I'm not really sure He wants me." In contrast, Ellet J. Waggoner emphasizes the seeking, persistent love of God toward "every man." It is He who takes the initiative, a radically different idea than our usual one:
"And we need not try to improve on the Scriptures, and say that the goodness of God tends to lead men to repentance. The Bible says that it does[emphasis supplied] lead them to repentance, and we may be sure that it is so. Every man is being led toward repentance as surely as God is good." [1]
How Close Jesus Came to UsJesus asked for baptism because He genuinely identified Himself with sinners. If Adam represents the entire human race, Jesus became the "last Adam," taking upon Himself the guilt of humanity's sin. Not that He sinned, but He felt how the guilty sinner feels. He put Himself fully in our place. He put His arms around us as He knelt down beside us on the banks of the Jordan, asking His Father to let Him be the Lamb of God. His submission to baptism indicates that "the Lord, laid on Him the iniquity of us all." His baptism therefore becomes an injection of healing repentance for sin into the body of humanity. Peter says that His identity with our sins was deep, not superficial, for "His own self bare our sins in His own body" (Isa. 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24). Christ bore the crushing weight of our guilt. So close did He come to us that He felt as if our sins were His own. His agony in Gethsemane and on Calvary was real.
The "How" of Jesus' Power to Reach HeartsWhen Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20), he meant that he identified himself with Christ. In the same way we identify ourselves with Christ's repentance in behalf of the human race; the path to corporate repentance is the footsteps of Christ. The true dimensions of our sin begin to become apparent in the light of Christ's cross. Note how an inspired comment clearly discloses our ultimate sin, for which we can "individually repent":
"In the day of final judgment, every lost soul will understand the nature of his own rejection of truth. The cross will be presented, and its real bearing will be seen. ... Before the vision of Calvary with its mysterious Victim, sinners will stand condemned. ... Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character." [2]
"We are still in a world where Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected and crucified. ... Unless we individually repent toward ... our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the world has rejected, we shall lie under the full condemnation that the action of choosing Barabbas instead of Christ merited. The whole world stands charged today with the deliberate rejection and murder of the Son of God. ... Jews and Gentiles, kings, governors, ministers, priests, and people--all classes and sects who reveal the same spirit of envy, hatred, prejudice, and unbelief, manifested by those who put to death the Son of God--would act the same part, were the opportunity granted, as did the Jews and people of the time of Christ. They would be partakers of the same spirit that demanded the death of the Son of God." [3]
These statements deserve a second look: (a) Even "ministers" and church members partake of this guilt of crucifying Christ. Apart from the grace of God manifested through personal repentance, every sinner shares it. (b) Without this grace, "every sinner" would repeat the sin of Christ's murderers if given enough time and opportunity. (c) The sin of Calvary is an outcropping of sinful alienation of which we are not aware, except by enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. At Calvary, every one's sin is fully unmasked. (d) In a real sense we were each one at Calvary, not through pre-existence or pre-incarnation, but through corporate identity "in Adam." If it is true that "upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God," Adam likewise partakes of that guilt equally with us today. His sin in Eden was to Calvary what the acorn is to the oak.
(e) The "righteous" in their own eyes, including "ministers" and "priests" of "all. ... sects," are potentially capable of revealing "the same spirit" as was manifested by those who actually crucified Christ. This must of course include our own denomination, except for the grace of repentance. The little acorn of our "carnal mind" needs only enough time and opportunity to grow into the full oak of the sin of Calvary. This is the lesson of all history.
--Paul E. Penno
Endnotes:[1] Signs of the Times, Nov. 21, 1895.
[2] The Desire of Ages, p. 58.
[3] Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 38.
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