Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Our Prophetic Message"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 11: "Our Prophetic Message"
Our prophetic message is the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12. As history's sun of 6000 years finally goes down, "the last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love." [1] At the sunset of earth's history the Lord Jesus sends a message of "the everlasting gospel" to the ends of the earth (vs. 6).

The gospel is the glad tidings of the work of Christ as the sacrifice for sinners and His atoning ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. In 1888 this message alerted Ellen White. Almost immediately she recognized in it "showers of the latter rain from heaven" and "the beginning" of the light of the fourth angel of Revelation 18. [2] At no time before 1888 had she recognized any such clear light. [3] The "everlasting gospel" is the clearest understanding of Christ's saving work in all history. Hence it is the 1888 message. Justification [forgiveness] by faith is "the third angel's message in verity." [4]
What is the meaning of the cross? What is the divine mandate of Seventh-day Adventists? Which gospel has the Head of the church authorized us to proclaim to the world? Does it differ from the Protestant churches? Or is it the same as what Martin Luther and the Reformers taught? In what way is the Lord's 1888 message of justification by faith (which "in His great mercy He sent" us) different from that of the Sunday-keeping churches? Herein lies the continental divide issue for Seventh-day Adventists for 125 years since 1888.
Although Martin Luther "clearly taught" "the great doctrine of justification by faith" [5] for his day, "yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world." [6] Ellen White said that Luther did not preach all of the gospel: "The message of salvation has been preached in all ages; but this message [the third angel's message which in essence is justification by faith] is a part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days, for only then would it be true that the hour of judgment had come." [7]
Why is this true? Because since 1844 we have been living in the cosmic Day of Atonement. The "new light" and "new truths" she speaks of must include a clearer understanding of justification by faith which is parallel to Christ's "new" work (since 1844) of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary. What wasn't true in Luther's day is true today--this is the heavenly Day of Atonement, and of judgment.
There is an understanding of the gospel of justification by faith that is "new light" for these last days, a message that must include "showers from heaven of the latter rain," and "the beginning" of the loud cry that must yet lighten the earth with glory. That is the 1888 message. How does it go beyond the Reformers?
Ask Mr. John Calvin, What did Christ accomplish on His cross? Answer, He saved those for whom He died, but the atonement is limited to God's preselected elect.
Ask Mr. James Arminius, for whom did Christ die? Answer, He died to make salvation available to everyone in the world. Only those whodo something by believing in Jesus are saved.
Ask the 1888 message, What did Christ accomplish on His cross? The answer, He "taste[d] death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). He paid "the wages of sin" which "is death"--the second death (Rom. 6:23).
Christ actually saved the world by His death on the cross. As Paul states it, "The judicial action, following upon the one offence [of Adam], issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issued in a [judicial] verdict of acquittal. ... The issue of one just act [the cross] is acquittal and life for all men" (Rom. 5:16, 18, NEB).
Writes E. J. Waggoner: "God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it and throw it away. The judgment will reveal the fact that full salvation was given to every man and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession." [8]
The 1888 message helps us to see in Scripture what is missed by Calvinism and Arminianism. What Christ accomplished on His cross is God's pardon given to everyone. Salvation is effective to those for whom Christ died (Calvinism), and Christ died for everyone (Arminianism) irrespective of whether they believe or not.
The prevailing view of Protestants and Evangelicals and Catholics is that death is the door to heaven. Thus the "gospel" of justification by faith as understood by them cannot see that Christ died the second death for everyone. Christ gives to every person the gift of forgiveness and eternal life because He took our penalty of death for sin and literally went to hell for each and every soul.
When an honest heart recognizes this ultimate truth of what happened on the cross, "the love [agape] of Christ constraineth" (compels) the soul to live "henceforth" only for the One who died our second death for us. The results, in God's plan, are phenomenal: All old covenant, egocentric motivation is transcended. The Sabbath truth, for example, comes into its own. In the final loud cry yet to come, for which the 1888 message was an advance billing, "the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. ... A large number take their stand upon the Lord's side." [9] That glorious climax to the gospel commission was what the Lord intended "us" to see in the 1888 era. But rejecting ("in a great degree") the beginning of the latter rain could lead to a spiritual abortion.
The old covenant motivation of fear will not figure in this closing work. "The grace of God that brings salvation ... teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." Why this ultimate power in soul-winning? The "grace" points to the cross: "Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, ... gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14, NIV).
According to Ellen White's divinely inspired prophecy in The Great Controversy, our denominational evangelism has yet to come fully into its own. "The everlasting gospel" has not as yet been proclaimed in all its clarity to Protestant and Catholic alike, much less the non-Christian world. When we are willing to embrace the full truth of biblical justification by faith we will have a message that will startle modern Evangelical churches. Then the thrilling prophecies of Revelation 18:1 and The Great Controversy will be unfolded.
--Paul E. Penno
Endnotes:[1] Christ's Object Lessons, p. 415.
[2] Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 6, p. 19; Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892. See her series of articles in Review and Herald from January 21 through April 8, 1890. She saw the message of Jones and Waggoner as a call to follow Christ by faith into the Most Holy Apartment. There is the heavenly center whence the experience of justification by faith is ministered to earth's last generation, resulting in a growth in grace that will prepare a people for the final crisis and translation.
[3] "It was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard" publicly presented (Ms. 5, 1889). The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 349.
[4] Ellen G. White, "Repentance the Gift of God," The Advent Review And Sabbath Herald, April 1, 1890, p. 193.
[5] The Great Controversy, p. 253.
[6] Ibid., pp. 148, 149.
[7] Ibid.p. 356.
[8] The Glad Tidings, p. 14 (Glad Tidings ed.).
[9] The Great Controversy, p. 612.
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