SST #13 | 'The Everlasting Gospel' | Paul Penno: http://youtu.be/YcFhcXF0WrQ
Friday, December 26, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of James
Lesson 10: "Weep and Howl!"
The Lord impressed James to write a scathing rebuke to "rich" people especially in "the last days" where in we live: "Come now, you rich weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! ... You have heaped up treasure in the last days" (James 5:1, 3). Writes Ellen White: "I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth." 
One who discerns at least something of the economic significance of the cross of Christ discerns a deeper recognition: we don't deserve any of what we have--not even our next breath. We are reminded of this by the 1888 message. Only the biblical teaching of the cosmic Day of Atonement in which we are now living just prior to the second coming of Christ can put our modern living in perspective, in relation to the cross of Christ.
Is God telling us and the world something? Yes! If you have $26 million to spend a year, to do what you like, and you live in a palace, and you ride in the safest car in the world, you are not secure. You have nothing that you can call your own; your next breath is only by the grace of God.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was the icon of the world, his name on everyone's tongue. God told him in Daniel 4:25, "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." Nebuchadnezzar, you are nothing.
This modern world with all its glamour, its pomp, its pleasure, is nothing. So, in mercy, Heaven is telling the world: remember, every moment, your accountability to Heaven and say Thank You, Lord, for this new day. Life in Christ is everything.
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!" James 5:1 refers to "Elijah the prophet" whom the Lord is sending with a message of healing and reconciliation for alienated hearts (Mal. 4:5, 6). We have seen in recent years the stock market crash, affecting the world economy. If we already see a spectacular case of judgment being executed on the "rich," can we expect the blessed salvation message from "Elijah" also to come soon? "Elijah the prophet" comes just before "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (the second coming of Christ, Mal. 4:5).
Ellen White applies the words of James 5 in particular to the Laodicean Church in the last days: "I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth. The Lord calls them to use their means to advance his cause. Opportunities are presented to them, but they shut their eyes to the wants of the cause, and cling fast to their earthly treasure. Their love of the world is greater than their love of the truth, the love of their fellow-men, or their love to God. He has called for their substance, but they selfishly, covetously retain what they have. They give a little now and then to ease their conscience, but have not overcome their love for this world." 
A missionary to Africa, Robert Wieland, had a personal visit once with the king of Uganda when it was still a British Protectorate. They met in the private home of one of the king's personal friends. He himself drove his Rolls-Royce to the appointment. During the visit he volunteered to express appreciation for the missionary's gospel-ministry for the Baganda, saying that "our problem is materialism." Later he had to flee the luxury of his palace for refuge in England. Yes, he would have been happier living in secure peace in a mud house with only a bicycle. He was a good man caught up in the "misery" of wealth and power, as the apostle says.
Elijah's main agenda is "turning" hearts in a grand, cosmic ministry of heart-reconciliation. The greatest "heart" that needs "turning": the heart of "the Lamb's wife"-to-be, His church (Rev. 19:7, 8).
The "Lamb" (which means the crucified Christ) loves her and wants to marry her, but she has delayed "the marriage of the Lamb" by remaining un-ready as a Bride, alienated in that deeper conjugal maturity. Egocentric, covetous concerns have been her primary motivation. That means that "she" is holding back from the total surrender of heart appropriate for any bride to give to her husband-to-be.
In other words, the "Lamb's" wooing has thus far been unsuccessful. The greatest "prophecy" of the end times declares that she (His church) will repent as a Bride, and give her heart to Him in a corporate, nuptial love. This surrender of heart worldwide will release the pent-up Hallelujah Choruses of all eternity when she "makes herself ready" for the "marriage" (Rev. 19:1-7).
This being un-ready has involved the Bride-to-be in shameful, painful rejection of the Bridegroom, which has naturally humiliated Him. She, not He, has created a cosmic lovers' split. Thanks to "Elijah's" ministry, a healing of her heart must and will come. It will be the "repentance of the ages."
Those who would be loyal to the Bridegroom-to-be will also in deep contrition remain in the loyal fellowship of the bride-to-be. They will fulfill James's appeal to "Come now" with her (5:1).
"Elijah" will "lift up" "Christ and Him crucified" for sinners, clearly and powerfully, beyond anything in all past history (John 12:32, 33; 1 Cor. 2:1-3).
--Paul E. Penno
 Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 245.
 Ibid., pp. 245, 246.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of James
Lesson 9: "One Lawgiver and Judge"
Dear Friends of "Sabbath School Today,"
It's not always possible to cover every topic in a week of Sabbath School lessons in a short essay, so we try to cover one or more of the "dynamics" of the 1888 message. This week, the question at the bottom of Monday's lesson (page 74 of the regular quarterly) begs discussing: "Either reward or punishment, we will face only one or the other. What's your only hope of reward?"
One of the primary gospel truths of the 1888 message is this: A 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." 
Technology in processing and storing data helps us understand that all the information about our lives is accurately recorded, including our thoughts and motives. God's law is the principle on which His universe is founded, which James calls "the law that gives freedom" (2:12, NIV). Any act or motive that conflicts with this law of unselfish love means that one's heart is at odds with God and with the universe. Thus selfishness becomes a part of our life record--the "books" by which John says we will be judged.
But the Good News is that the Judge is our Brother, the Son of man who took upon Himself "the likeness of sinful flesh" and who knows exactly how "in every way" we are tempted. "Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted" (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 4:15; 2:18). His present work is to prepare us to pass our final exam. So, the news of the judgment is infinitely better than you may have thought it to be. Its verdict in your case is in your hands.
Doubtless the Apostle John's desire was to present agape and the judgment in the clearest balance possible. He dared to voice an equation that no other apostle could rise to say: "God is agape." He labors to represent the judgment as consistent with that totally unique character. He represents the Father as condemning no man but as "commit[ing] all judgment unto the Son ... because He is the Son of man," humanity's Peer (John 5:22, 27).
And even though all judgment is "committed" to Christ, He Himself forswears the privilege of pronouncing it, saying that He will not "condemn" any nonbeliever "in the last day." "If any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge [condemn] him not: for I came not to judge [condemn] the world, but to save the world" (John 12:47).
"The remnant will know that the supreme matter before the universe is the trial of truth and righteousness--God's character. Their concern for a reward of sitting by the river of life or walking on the street of gold leading to a heavenly mansion will fade into the background. ...
"How long will God's people be obsessed with their selfish desire for their own salvation? He has made our security easy. He has compromised His standing before the universe to assure us of His commitment to truth and of our salvation from sin. The infinite heart of God is longing for some recognition from His children. Could they sense a little of sacrifice? Could they see what is pending? Could they understand that God also has feelings? How long will it take them to understand the magnitude of the plan of salvation?" 
Ellen G. White describes this in such a touching and heartfelt manner: "Love to God is the very foundation of religion. To engage in His service merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment would avail nothing. Open apostasy would not be more offensive to God than hypocrisy and mere formal worship" (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 523).
"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 beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him" (The Desire of Ages, p. 480).
A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, the two "messengers" God "sent" with the "beginning" of the Revelation 18 message, presented the fate of the lost with an emphasis on God's fairness, His love, and compassion. They were, above all, "evangelists," longing to bear a message of reconciliation. They wanted to avoid any semblance of "fire and brimstone" preaching, convinced that the true motivation for lasting conversion is an appreciation of God's love. They wanted to find a clearer grasp of what that love has meant for the world. This conviction enabled them to "glory in the cross" as the true heart of "the third angel's message in verity." They viewed all of our "doctrines" in that light, and they anticipated Ellen White's Desire of Ages statement years before it was published. This was their emphasis.
The issue is evangelism, not complex theology; what message can reconcile the alienated, world-loving, self-centered, "lukewarm" heart to God? Unless a clearer understanding of the gospel becomes involved, the result must inevitably be further lukewarmness of devotion perpetuated generation after generation for centuries more. The present-day truth pleads with the sinner "in Christ's stead." That is, as soul-winners we enable the sinner to identify with Him so fully that he experiences a first-hand encounter with Christ as vivid as did the Samaritan woman at her well or Nicodemus in his night interview. This is soul-winning and soul-holding evangelism.
The message of the three angels is that God will certainly have a people who bring glory to Him. Revelation's primary concern is the vindication of the Lamb who paid an infinite price to redeem us. But His vindication also involves our own, for we are one with Him. Those who stand faithfully "with Him" in this final struggle will not do so in order to gain a reward for themselves. Salvation is indeed a bargain, but getting a good bargain will not be the motive for anyone who truly follows Christ in these last days. The little flower girl at a wedding is ever so sweet and lovable, but all she really cares about is getting some of the cake and ice cream at the reception. The bride, on the other hand, doesn't care about the refreshments. Her interest is in the bridegroom, and in him alone.
Is it possible for us self-seeking humans, who all our lives have been immersed in pursuing trivial self-interest, to find a larger perspective--a genuine heart sympathy with the Lamb of God? Appreciation of Him for His own sake will transcend both our fear of being lost and a merely selfish hope of reward in heaven. This is the mature faith toward which God is calling us.
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland and Donald K. Short
 Robert J. Wieland, Ten Great Gospel Truths That Make the 1888 Message Unique, pp. 27-29.
 Donald K. Short, "Made Like ... His Brethren," p. 111.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of James
Lesson 8: "The Humility of Heavenly Wisdom"
There is some practical, day-to-day, instruction in James about how to overcome temptation. James has the Good News idea that Jesus taught about the Good Shepherd.
The 1888 message brings to our attention that the shepherd doesn't wait around at home for the lost sheep to find him. If he did, the lost would never find its way home. Rather, the Good Shepherd is not satisfied until he has searched high and low for the one lost sheep. In other words, God takes the initiative in finding you, poor sinner, and carries you all the way home on His shoulders, if you will let him. Thus it's easy to be saved and hard to be lost if you understand this wonderful reality about your Saviour.
James wrote, as a truth for all times, that "the friendship of the world is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). "Besides the devil and the world, each one has his own self, the worst enemy of all, to contend against."  "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7).
The pure gospel always upsets lukewarm church members. The usual understanding that has been drilled into our people, and especially our youth, is that it is very hard to be a good Christian, and very easy to be lost. Jesus says the opposite, as anyone can see who will consider His words of life (Matt. 11:28, 29).
What James has said is usually understood backwards too. "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" (James 4:5). The bad news idea almost always comes through as we look at this from an old covenant perspective.  Because of the universal conviction of how imperfect we all are, we convince ourselves we cannot hope to do the good things we know to be right.
Because of the 1888 message we may have confidence in what this verse is saying. The Revised English Bible brings out the good news more clearly, "The spirit that God planted in us is filled with envious longings" (James 4:5). God the Holy Spirit does not tolerate His people trying to be friends with the world. The context is that of decrying friendship with the world. God desires from His people an exclusive marriage, like that of a spouse, and if they seek to be friends of the world, they may be called "adulteresses."
The first part of James 4:5, "Or do you think the Scripture for no good reason says. ... ," presents the second part of the verse as support for the warning against spiritual adultery. God's jealousy for His bride is in view. God's Spirit yearns for our fidelity with jealousy.
Satan cannot force you to transgress; even if he tries to frighten you by stamping his foot, you don't need to put up with him, for James says that if you "resist the devil, he will flee from you" (James 4:7). You don't need to suffer either allurement or terror from Satan!
"He giveth more grace" (James 4:6) which does more than teach us negative victories; it teaches us how to live beautiful, noble, sin-free lives. You still have a sinful nature (Jesus took upon Himself our same sinful nature, yet He never sinned!); the closer you come to Christ it may be the more you feel the temptations of Satan, but the more decided are your victories over him.
Christ "was in all points tempted like as [you] are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15), and even though you are tempted you too may overcome "even as [He] also overcame" (Rev. 3:21). And that's today; you don't need to wait until your deathbed. Like Christ, you will learn instantaneously to tell the devil, "Get thee behind me!"
Yes, you do have something to do--"resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). But you say, "That's my problem--I don't have the strength to resist!" Then read the first part of the same verse: "Submit yourselves therefore to God." Come to the Saviour, singing:
"Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,"
and you will find that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). That is freedom. It's a miracle, but it's true. But please don't expect that you'll never be tempted again. It's your privilege always to exercise the power of choice. 
The Lord has taken the initiative in loving and seeking you! He is not trying to hide from you. Now, respond. The Holy Spirit yearns with jealousy for you. Now, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8).
Probably good sincere people have pounded into you a wrong idea of God (maybe even from the pulpit). God is not waiting for you to maintain a relationship with Him; He wants you to know He is maintaining a relationship with you. It all begins with His initiative, not yours. He wants you saved more than you want to be.
When Jesus came, He changed our ideas about His Father. The Good Shepherd is not waiting for His lost sheep to find Him; He is seeking the sheep (Luke 15:3-32). The text about "seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near" (Isa. 55:6) needs a clearer translation. The Hebrew verb there for "seek" is not the common one, looking for a lost object; it means "pay attention to Me because I am near! I'm not far away, ever!"
This idea of working hard to maintain our relationship with the Lord is a subtle Old Covenant idea that has crept in. When you begin to grasp His seeking love, His cross, you will "hunger and thirst" for His "truth of the gospel." It will expel your love for amusement; it will heal you of your Bible boredom. But we "walk softly": if you are in a spiritual coma, yes, force yourself to read your Bible and pray. But please ... believe the New Covenant.
--Paul E. Penno
 E. J. Waggoner, "Thoughts on the Third Psalm," The Signs of the Times, June 18, 1885, p. 375.
 Even the Lesson for Wednesday is confusing when it says: "James 4:5 is not easy to understand," "the most difficult verse in the New Testament," and refers to "the ambiguity of the Greek."
 "What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure" (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 47).
Monday, November 17, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
Sabbath School Today
>With the 1888 Message Dynamic
> The Book of James
> Lesson 7: "Taming the Tongue"
> "Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you." This little nursery rhyme is trying to convey the difference between physical and emotional injury. We may not have a choice when we are hurt physically, but we can choose whether words will hurt us emotionally. At least that's the sentiment, but in reality most of us don't have the emotional fortitude to never be affected by hurtful words.
> A child whose parent consistently tells him or her that they are stupid will begin to believe that's true. Children under a certain age rarely have the discernment to understand they can reject their parents' assessment of their mental acuity, since that comes with maturity if the child is willing to think independently about himself. If such maturity never develops, the child is doomed to carry the negative words, allowing their echoes to form their lifelong image of themselves. The failure of the parents to control their tongue becomes adopted by the child, and without reprogramming the child will repeat the parent's sin and make it his own sin.
> James tells us that "By his own wish He [God] made us His own sons through the Word of truth, that we might be, so to speak, the first specimens of His new creation. In view of what he has made us then, dear brothers, let every man be quick to listen but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper. For a man's temper is never the means of achieving God's true goodness. Have done, then, with impurity and every other evil which touches the lives of others, and humbly accept the message that God has sown in your hearts, and which can save your souls. ... The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God's law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness. If anyone appears to be 'religious' but cannot control his tongue, he deceives himself and we may be sure that his religion is useless" (James 1:18-26, The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips).
> It is not only individuals who can look in a mirror and forget what it shows them, but it is possible for a corporate body to make this mistake. The message given during the late 1800s to our Seventh-day Adventist Church was a very specialized mirror meant to correct an over-emphasis on law-keeping which grew out of an understandable passion to restore the importance of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. This fervor began as noble inspiration but soon disintegrated into preaching the law without love (agape) until we were as "dry as the hills of Gilboa."
> In giving the pure message of righteousness by faith to His messengers, A. T. Jones, E. J. Waggoner, and E. G. White, God was trying to get us to discern what we as a church had become. Instead of humbly accepting the rebuke the message could sow in our hearts we were slow to listen and quick to use our tongues to resist the precious light. Articles were written, sermons were preached, arguments were made, and messengers were attacked, all because people were talking instead of listening.
> The body of Christ is vertical as well as horizontal. It embraces all who have been its members in the past and all who will be in the future. Understanding the past is essential to understanding the present and preparing for the future. Those who do not know history are fated to repeat it. We cannot truly understand ourselves unless we understand our predecessors.
> Ellen White discerned the truth. The reason that the 1888 message was only the "beginning" of the Latter Rain and Loud Cry and not the completion, is that to a large degree the message was rejected by the leadership of the church. Sadly, those who so fervently believed in the doctrine of the second Advent actually delayed it for generations. They looked in the mirror but forgot what they saw. If we were to have another 1888 session where the Holy Spirit manifested Himself as the Latter Rain, would we again insult Him? Unless there is repentance for doing it the first time, the answer has to be yes.
> Since 1888, the denomination's corporate discussion of the message, if any, has focused on collateral issues: whether it was accepted, whose version is right, or that it's just Martin Luther's message, nothing new. Much of what the official church publications focus on is this or that writer's interpretation of the message. This is the wrong "mirror" to be looking into. The original writings of the three people God used are well-preserved and are more readily available now that mass media sources such as Amazon can get them. Yet, many are afraid to read them, preferring modern commentators' opinions. In some cases, these commentators completely omit the vital disctinctives such as the fact that Christ, coming in the likeness of sinful human flesh nevertheless accomplished a perfect character that can be ours by faith. Over the decades our dear church has insisted on preaching law-keeping as a requirement for salvation, the pendulum has swung across conservative and liberal lines and back again. We don't really understand where this pendulum should be, but someone is usually quick to criticize saying wherever the pendulum is now, it's wrong. Most give up and say it isn't possible, so it must not be necessary.
> Yet, the heavenly angel predicted in Daniel 8:14, "Unto two thousand three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The books of heaven cannot be cleansed of the record of sins until our hearts are cleansed, which brings the issue of righteousness by faith into clear focus. Justification by faith is more than a mere legal declaration; it makes the at-enmity soul to be at one with God. Submitting to the cleansing process in the time before Ancient Israel's Day of Atonement was required to accomplish unity of the body, even for just a day. The Cosmic Day of Atonement in which we have been living since 1844 will accomplish a unity that is sealed in each individual permanently.
> There is a difference between corporate guilt and condemnation. As part of the human race we share the corporate guilt of the murder of the Son of God, but we are not held accountable or condemned unless we refuse the gift of repentance (see John 3:16, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 38). As modern Seventh-day Adventists, we share the corporate guilt for our forebear's rejection of the beginning of the Latter Rain and Loud Cry, but we will not be condemned for that sin if we accept the gift of repentance. We accept that gift by accepting the actual message, studying it, and sharing it with those who are willing to listen.
> For a long time the Lord Jesus has been waiting for Laodicea to humble herself and accept the eyesalve embodied in the 1888 message. Only with that can we see ourselves in the mirror of God's eyes. Only then will we be quick to listen and slow to justify ourselves with our tongues.
> --Arlene Hill
> Note: "Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of James
Lesson 4: "Being and Doing"
James 1:22 tells us, "... be ye doers of the word" (King James Version). The New American Standard Bible renders it, "But prove yourselves doers of the word." Moffatt translates it, "Act on the word."
Become "doers of the Word" or "do the Word." What's the difference? It isn't complicated. It's as simple as the old and new covenants. When Israel first promised "All that the Lord has spoken we will do!" (Ex. 19:8, NASB). They had just arrived at Sinai but the Lord had not yet given them the Ten Commandments. They really had no idea what God was asking of them, but whatever it was they thought they would do it.
This seems pathetically naive considering how Israel's history demonstrates they failed miserably. Their promises were prompted by their slave mentality. A slave is expected to act on his master's orders regardless of his own will. The old saying "ours is not to reason why, but just to do or die" describes a slave. When humans think of God as their slave master, there is constant conflict between the will of God and the will of the human. When our first parents chose to do things their way in the Garden of Eden, that conflict was embedded in our genetic heritage. Adam and Eve had been at peace with God before their choice, but after, conflict was inevitable.
We misunderstand James when we think his epistle is a "how to" book of helpful hints to the happy Christian life. We interpret his sublime instruction to become "doers" of the Word as "do the word." We believe he is giving instructions on what to do, when he is really telling us what to be.
When the brethren met at the A.D. 51 Council in Jerusalem, it was James, the brother of Christ, who "chaired" the meeting (Acts15:13). He allowed everyone to finish speaking then did a summation and offered a solution. The issue was whether the new Gentile converts needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas withstood the promoters of this idea as bringing in a different gospel. The controversy was between the real gospel and a counterfeit. He recommended that circumcision not be required but that the new converts abstain from food offered to idols, from fornication, eating animals killed by strangulation, and eating blood. This seemed good to the brethren, but the issue didn't die. Throughout Paul's ministry, subversive Jews followed him, trying to give people a counterfeit gospel.
There are at least two major ways to counterfeit the pure gospel of freedom in Christ. One is to claim that freedom means no restrictions so the believer need not cooperate with the Lord in recreating our sinful hearts. We can go on sinning until Jesus comes and then, a magical change happens in the twinkling of an eye.
The other counterfeit is ordinary legalism cloaked in more Christian than Jewish terms. These legalistic Christians make the same mistake the Jews made by thinking that if we are outwardly correct God won't notice we haven't given Him our heart.
Taking an example from Paul's day, let's imagine someone brings food offered to idols to the potluck table at the agape feast. The head deacon knows where the food came from so he quietly removes it. The person who brought the food still doesn't understand the restriction, and even though the deacon's action prevented him from eating the forbidden food, he was doing the will of the deacon, not himself. The point is, God wants our actions or non-actions to flow from a recreated heart. He can't accept even correct actions that flow from an unrepentant mind trying to trick people and God into thinking the actions are genuine.
This makes most folks nervous. They say, "don't we have to do something while waiting for God to change our heart?" True, there is something, but it isn't trying harder to be good.
E. J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," expressed these concepts so clearly and simply in an 1890 article in The Signs of the Times:
"In the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of Colossians occurs this exhortation: 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.' This text, rightly understood, solves the problem of Christian living. ... That there is a power in the word of God, far above that of any other book, cannot be doubted. ... The word hidden in the heart protects against sin. ... The word of the Lord is the seed by which the sinner is born again. ... While those who are Christ's are born of the Spirit, the word of God is the seed from which they are developed into new creatures in Christ. The word, then, has power to give life. ... This is stated very plainly by Jesus Himself in John 6:63: 'It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' This shows that the power of the Spirit of God dwells in the word of God.
"With the knowledge that the word of God is the seed by which men 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 commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.' ... Of course the word can do this only for those who receive it in simple faith. But the word does not lose any of its power. If the soul thus born again retains that sacred, powerful word by which he was begotten, it will keep him still a new creature. It is as powerful to preserve as it is to create. ... The Spirit is given to bring truth to remembrance, in time of trial; but that which one has not learned he cannot remember. But if he has hidden the word in his heart, the Spirit will, in the hour of temptation, bring to his remembrance just that portion which will foil the tempter.
"Many people earnestly long for Christ to come and dwell in their hearts, and they imagine that the reason why He does not do so is because they are not good enough, and they vainly set about trying to get so good that He can condescend to come in. They forget that Christ comes into the heart, not because it is free from sin, but in order to free it from sin; and they possibly never realized that Christ is in the word, and he who will make it a constant companion, and will yield himself to its influence, will have Christ dwelling within. He who has hidden the word in his heart, who meditates in it day and night, and who believes it with the simple faith of childhood,--such a one has Christ dwelling in his heart by faith, and will experience His mighty, creative power." 
 Excerpted from Christ and His Righteousness, "The Holy Spirit Works Through the Word," pp. 152-157, Glad Tidings ed.; originally published as "The Indwelling Word," The Signs of the Times, July 14, 1890.
Note: "Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org
Tuesday, October 14, 2014