Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Discipling the Sick"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Lesson 5: "Discipling the Sick"

"Discipling the sick" is a wonderful lesson of humbleness in reaching out to those who are hurting and suffering. It is also a great "lesson on faith."
When we read God's Word and the Gospel, we see the miraculous healing touch of Jesus in the New Testament; and in the Old Testament there is the miraculous healing power through His instrument of servants who love His Word. It's amazing that people were healed by just the power of His Word.
I want to share with you my favorite story (or you can say, Mary's favorite gospel of faith), about His spoken Word alone in Matthew 8:5-13. We read about the centurion's faith as he approached Jesus about his dearest servant "lying paralyzed, in terrible agony!" The centurion poured out his faith saying, "I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the Word, and my servant will be healed."
Do you see this amazing testimony of the centurion? Not many would come up to Jesus and expect healing automatically with just His spoken Word. Oh, just be there with the centurion who gave his heart of faith to Him to have his servant healed. He was not able to bring the sick servant to the Lord, but was able to approach the Lord and present his case that he is an officer of the Roman army who commanded soldiers under him, and was willing to just listen to the Lord's command with His Word alone. Let's read verse 13 of Matthew 8: Then Jesus told the centurion, "Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that very moment.
This story illustrates one of the great truths of the 1888 message, righteousness by faith. On the first page of the Review of October 18, 1898, Ellen G. White wrote: "The knowledge of what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith, is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired."
A. T. Jones then wrote in the Review of November 29: "And for this cause we shall hereafter, in this place in each number of the Reviewgive a Scripture lesson on faith,--what it is, how it comes, how to exercise it,--that every reader of this paper may have this knowledge that 'is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired.'"
Jones, in this first "lesson on faith," wrote, "the definition will not be touched now, but, rather, there will be cited and studied an illustration of faith,--an instance which makes it stand out so plainly that all can see the very thing itself."
The "instance" was the story of the centurion. Jones continues: "One day a centurion came to Jesus, and said to him: 'Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, butspeak the word only, and my servant shall be healed ... When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel'" (Matt. 8:6-10).
"There is what Jesus pronounces faith. When we find what that is, we have found faith. To know what that is, is to know what faith is. There can be no sort of doubt about this; for Christ is 'the Author ... of faith,' and He says that that which the centurion manifested was 'faith'--yes, even 'great faith.'
"Where, then, in this is the faith? The centurion wanted a certain thing done. He wanted the Lord to do it. But when the Lord said, 'I will come' and do it, the centurion checked Him, saying, 'Speak the word only,' and it shall be done.
"Now, what did the centurion expect would do the work? 'The word ONLY.' Upon what did he depend for the healing of his servant?--Upon 'the word ONLY.'
"And the Lord Jesus says that that is faith" (Lessons on Faith, pp. 15, 16).
This Gentile military officer believed that Jesus could just say the word and his mortally sick servant would be healed. Jesus "marveled, ... and said ... I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Now what was that faith? The belief that Jesus had the power to heal by simply saying a word? If you say yes, then you get yourself into trouble for the devils also believe that Jesus can heal by just saying a word. Such confidence comes short of a true definition of faith, if the devils also have it! The Bible says that "the devils believe also, and tremble" (James 2:19).
But as we read the story in its context, we begin to see that the Roman soldier's faith was more than that. He had begun to understand his sinfulness in the light of Christ's righteousness, for he said two things--"I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof" and "neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee." Now, the devils have no such feelings of humility and grace! The centurion's faith was not a mere mental trust, but a heart-appreciation. The 1888 message helps us to see this. An unusual love had filled this Roman soldier's heart for he was concerned for his servant, and not for himself. The faith he had already had transformed him and delivered him from selfishness. And that is not the experience of the devils!
And so this story does help us understand the essential ingredient of all true miracle healing: faith is a heart-appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ. And as soon as I say that, I realize anew how weak and childish my little faith is, how much I need to grow. Do you realize it too?
Never in my nursing career have I heard our cardiologist say to his patient, "go and be heart attack free or chest pain free, and eat no more greasy fast foods." The patient, still enjoying his regular routines of life, would look at the doctor and say, "What, aren't you going to give me any medicine?"
My friends, we need the very Lord and Saviour as our centurion friend; even the faith of the mustard seed brings healing. Embrace yourself with His grace and mercy in surviving the world you live in. Sing the hymn, "Take The World, But Give Me Jesus," reflecting on the words:
"Take the world, but give me Jesus; all its joys are but a name, but His love abideth ever, through eternal years the same. Oh, the height and depth of mercy! Oh, the length and breadth of love! Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above."
May you be blessed with the treasures of healing through His matchless Word and the hidden treasures of the Gospel of life and hope, with His amazing love. Go and bring this healing joy to others.
--Mary Chun

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

SST #4 | "Discipling Children" | Pastor Paul Penno

Fwd: Fw: Sabbath School Today, Lesson 4, Quarter 1-14

                                       Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Lesson 4: "Discipling Children"
We read that "seventy percent of our young people do not understand the good news of the gospel." After decades of assumed success in preaching "righteousness by faith," the report indicates that our children are still legalism-oriented, for children say that "to be saved I have to live by God's rules."
A century ago a "messenger" who exercised the gift of prophecy indicated that "It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books, are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner. ..." [1]
The Review reports "that what is being taught by Adventists is being easily shredded by secular culture." "Worldly success and prosperity truly put our feet in slippery places. And many Adventist youth are in slippery places today." [2]
Are the devil's temptations too much for us? The final test of the mark of the beast looms inevitably before us. It will be the ultimate appeal of that same "worldly success" which already "easily shreds" Seventh-day Adventist values for our children.
We sincerely teach these "Adventist values" in Sabbath School and church and in the academy. And then we mourn because the "slippery" appeals of TV, wine, dancing, theaters, amusements, sports, and sensuality, overwhelm the children. Will the final test of the mark of the beast be easier to endure than these "cultural" pressures because persecution will then be included? We must find some means to help them resist and triumph over peer pressure.
What they need is the gospel. And Ellen White says honestly that "we" have withheld it from them. [3]
The time has come for serious repentance throughout the church from top to bottom on every level and in every department and institution. Fasting and prayer, honesty, and deep humbling of hearts before the Lord are the only appropriate response. What options are before us?
(1) We can revert to the "historic Adventism" that prevailed in past decades--high standards rigorously proclaimed with legalistic imperatives. But this has driven many out.
(2) We can turn to the Pentecostals and modern Evangelicals to learn their "gospel." Desperate to find some way to hold our children, many of our pastors have turned to the Pentecostal "Celebration" format.
(3) We can be apathetic and do nothing.
(4) We can turn humbly to the "most precious," much more abounding grace which permeates that pure "third angel's message in verity" that the Lord "in His great mercy sent" to us a century ago.
In truth, the basic essentials of that "most precious message" have not only been withheld from our children; they have been denied before them. We have repeatedly taught them that it is "hard" to follow Christ truly.
The "everlasting gospel" that the Lord "sent" to meet the temptations of these last days is the "third angel's message in verity." Its "beginning" came in 1888. What are its essential elements that children must understand?
The nearness of the Saviour. Children must know that Christ understands them because He took our (and their) fallen, sinful nature, yet did not sin. He is "nigh at hand," not "afar off," says Ellen White in enthusiastic endorsement of the 1888 message. Children need to know of a Saviour who was "tempted in all points like as [they] are, yet without sin," not tempted merely as was the sinless Adam.
Christ's yoke is easy, His burden light. Our children have been taught the opposite. They have no clear grasp of how grace "much more abounds" than the most alluring sin which to them "abounds."
Forgiveness of sin is the taking away of sin, not excusing it. Identifying with Christ on His cross creates a hatred of sin; identifying with him in His High Priestly work delivers from its power.
Genuine righteousness by faith is related to the cleansing of the sanctuary on this Day of Atonement. This truth grips the hearts of children and makes the gospel exciting and permanently life-challenging. Nevertheless, the concept has become almost totally unknown to most of them.
Christ has elected every human being to be saved. His sacrifice has already done something for every human being. Salvation is due to God's initiative; damnation is solely due to man's initiative. If we do not resist the goodness of the Lord, He will draw us all the way to repentance. This truth motivates children to self-sacrifice.
God's love is active, not passive. He has not left us to seek and find a Saviour; He is seeking His lost sheep. The former idea hardens youthful hearts; the latter melts them. Secularism, materialism, sensuality, cannot prevail against a comprehension of the length, breadth, depth, and height of God's love revealed at the cross.
Our salvation does not depend on our making or keeping our believing and appreciating His promises to us. The 1888 idea of the two covenants is in refreshing contrast to the view generally taught today. It motivates to the same kind of faith which activated Abraham's heart.
Since the cross of Christ, sin is condemned in the flesh, forever proven to be unnecessary. This has been ridiculed and denied repeatedly. But it is possible for believers in Christ to overcome even as He overcame--if we see Him as He is, undistorted by Babylon's confusion. Some among us deride this as "perfectionism," when in reality sinless living is the natural fruit of genuine faith in Christ, the reason for the third angel's message. Unpopular as the idea may be, Christ is the example for children.
The true motivation for overcoming is not our personal salvation (which does degenerate to perfectionism), but a heart-felt concern for the honor of Christ. A motivation beyond self-concern gives children a reason for living. Fear of surviving the judgment, and hope of personal reward in heaven, encourage apathy. And apathetic legalism has had its day.
Christ's call for denominational repentance, "be zealous therefore and repent," inspires in children a hope for the future of the church (Rev. 3:19). Without this reality, they view the spiritual inertia of the church as virtually hopeless, and certainly not worth sacrificing their ambitions, comfort, and worldly pleasures. To believe truly that the Seventh-day Adventist Church will become the victorious and repentant church will propel children to action.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Ellen G. White, General Conference Bulletin, Feb. 4, 1893; pp. 132, 133
[2] Advent Review 168, 1 (1991), p. 4.
[3] Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235.
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Raul Diaz

Monday, January 13, 2014

SST #3 | "Discipleship and Prayer" | Paul Penno

"Discipleship and Prayer"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Lesson 3: "Discipleship and Prayer"

The basic theme that permeates so much of what we hear in pulpits, and at camp meetings is that in order to be saved there are three things we must do: (1) read the Bible, (2) pray, and (3) witness. The theme is played almost endlessly. "Maintain your relationship with the Lord," which means get up in the morning, read something devotional, and pray. And the cure for spiritual maladies is "work for others." True, 100%. This can't be said too often. But a few weeks after camp meeting, we get busy again, and we're back in the same old problem of lukewarmness.
But is there some kind of prayer that we can be sure God will be delighted to answer? Jesus responded to that question in the story He told in Luke 11. It's a lesson about prayer, and it illustrates what Ellen G. White describes as "a divine science in prayer." "Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give." [1] Pray this kind of a prayer, Jesus says in effect, and Heaven will rush to your aid.
That parable in Luke 11 does not say that He will give you enough bread to stock your pantry for years to come, or enough to feed "five thousand" as Jesus fed them in His day; it says specifically, "He will rise and give [you] as many as [you] need" (vss. 5-8). He answers your prayer for understanding of Bible truth, but it will not make you suddenly omniscient, nor wise enough to hold thousands spellbound with your wisdom.
The underlying idea is that you are asking for "bread" for that hungry person that the Lord has brought you in touch with. Instead of praying that some pastor somewhere or some TV evangelist will "feed" this person (we spend an enormous amount of time praying that someone else will do what the Lord wants us to do!), pray that the Lord will give YOU some "bread" for that person, some thought that comes through your own personal heart that will "feed" his soul. It will be more effective than anything the TV evangelist can say. And a great blessing will rub off on you in the transmission process.
It's asking the Lord to give you some bread, not because you are hungry, but because you want to give it to some other person who is hungry. It's "asking to give." You are praying that you can be the transmission agent in communicating to others a blessing that comes from God. To change the metaphor, you are asking that you might become a pipe through which will flow the water of life to some thirsty soul. This is discipleship.
The Bible is full of prayer, and we can't begin to cover all in this short essay, but the prayers of Jesus should be our focus. There's a prayer that Jesus prayed that you and I can pray, and we'll be happier for praying it. It was just before He worked the greatest miracle of His ministry--when He raised the dead Lazarus to life again. He wanted to be sure that the Father would hear Him, for everything depended on this prayer being heard and answered. "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me" (John 11:41, 42). We can know this, too.
Whether Jesus in His human nature needed the personal encouragement that an answered prayer could bring Him we do not know; but you and I need the assurance that when we pray, the Father hears us. When He commanded the dead man to "come forth," He spoke as our Representative. "Most assuredly, I say to you whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. ... Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (16:23, 24). He is not making empty promises; obviously He intends that we know what He means when He says to "ask in My name." All egocentric motivation has become outgrown so that we are caught up in His motivation, not ours; we are "in Him." We have "overcome" our childish prayers for a crown and now are concerned that the Lamb receive His reward. We want "the Lamb's wife" to "make herself ready" so that "the marriage of the Lamb" may be no longer delayed century after century (cf. Rev. 19:7, 8). What we now live for is to have a tiny part in crowning Him "King of kings and Lord of lords." Thus our "joy" becomes "full." This embodies the new covenant truth, which was an essential element of the 1888 message, and lifts a load of doubt and despair from many heavy hearts.
Scholars agree that Psalm 22 is a transcript of the prayer that Jesus prayed on His cross, from the moment the darkness enveloped the land (and His soul!) to when He breathed His last. As we read the Psalm, we find that He was sorely tempted to think of Himself as less than human, "a worm" (vs. 6). But there in the middle of verse 21, the Holy Spirit reveals that a glorious change came: "Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the wild, treacherous African buffalo" (margin). In His last extremity, feeling tossed on those vicious horns, the darkness of His soul is lifted. "You have heard Me!" You have not forsaken Me! You have answered My cry! My faith has penetrated this impenetrable darkness of hell. I have triumphed! The great controversy with Satan is won! The Psalm closes with a glorious cry of eternal victory--one Hebrew word that proclaims, "It is finished." A light like the sun shines in His face. From His broken, crucified human larynx, like a trumpet comes His shout of victory that shakes heaven and earth. Then He bowed His head, and died. The Victor of eternity. If any "forsaken" sinner anywhere in the world reads this, let him/her take heart.
We cannot close without considering Daniel's prayer, which was mentioned in Sunday's lesson. Here the principle of corporate guilt and corporate repentance comes into sharp focus.
Our position before the Lord closely parallels that of Israel in the days of Daniel. He could have argued before the Lord, "Some of us and some of our fathers were true, Lord; look how faithful Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and I have been! We have practiced health reform, we have received all the light You gave us! Remember how some of our 'fathers' in Jerusalem, as Jeremiah for example, Baruch, and a few others, stood nobly for the truth in times of apostasy. We are not all guilty, Lord!" But what did Daniel pray? Notice his use of the corporate "we":
"O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off ... O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. ... Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him. ... For our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. ... I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel" (Dan. 9:7-20).
The result of this humble, honest recognition of corporate guilt is well-known. What will be the result of a similar recognition of our own measure of corporate guilt? How could it be anything other than the restoration of the "latter rain" and the "loud cry"?
The principle of individual and corporate guilt and repentance centers in the cross of Calvary. "The spirit of grace and of supplications" is poured on "the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem" when God's people "look upon [Him] whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10). The fact that we were not physically, personally present at Calvary is seen to make no difference.
The fact we were not personally present in 1888 likewise will be seen to make no difference. The sin of our "fathers" is "our" sin. Christ Himself, in His own flesh, has shown us the way to experience a repentance for sins of which we have not thought ourselves individually and personally responsible. If He, the sinless One, repented in behalf of the sins of the whole world, surely we can repent in behalf of the sins of our "fathers," whose denominational "children" we are today!
Christ's call to Laodicea to repent is the last in the Bible; it is the focal point of Revelation. All the victories that follow assume an overcoming, repentant, reconciled remnant church at one with Him in a heart and life commitment that is complete. It is a growing up into Christ that is symbolized by the Bride making herself "ready."
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland
[1] "Christ's lessons in regard to prayer should be carefully considered. There is a divine science in prayer, and His illustration brings to view principles that all need to understand. He shows what is the true spirit of prayer, He teaches the necessity of perseverance in presenting our requests to God, and assures us of His willingness to hear and answer prayer.
"Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give. The principle of Christ's life must be the principle of our lives. 'For their sakes,' He said, speaking of His disciples, 'I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified.' John 17:19. The same devotion, the same self-sacrifice, the same subjection to the claims of the word of God, that were manifest in Christ, must be seen in His servants. Our mission to the world is not to serve or please ourselves; we are to glorify God by co-operating with Him to save sinners. We are to ask blessings from God that we may communicate to others. The capacity for receiving is preserved only by imparting. We cannot continue to receive heavenly treasure without communicating to those around us" (Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 142, 143).
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Lesson 2: "Discipling Through Metaphor"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Lesson 2: "Discipling Through Metaphor"
Discipleship is growing up into Christ so that we may be fitted for companionship with Him both now and throughout eternity. How do the parables and word pictures of the Bible help us in understanding this union with Christ? How does the 1888 message help us to see these stories from a new perspective?
The only reason why the second coming has been delayed is because God's people are not ready to face His personal presence. Sin still in the heart would result in their destruction. The Lord loves them too much to subject them to such a test unless they are ready. Thus, as Peter says, Christ delays, "not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus Christ is a disappointed Bridegroom. Rightly understood, the entire Bible becomes a love story, with the climax near the end in Revelation 19. A wedding takes place because at last the bride "has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). Christ has long desired that day to come, because His love for His church is likened to that of a bridegroom for his bride (Eph. 5:22-32). He placed the Song of Solomon in the Bible for a purpose--to arouse our hearts to sense the full meaning of His love for His church. The second coming will be to take His bride to Himself.
The Father therefore has not predetermined the time for Christ's second coming. In His infinite foreknowledge He knows the time, but for Him to know is not the same as to predetermine. For example, He knows who will eventually be saved and who will be lost, but He does not predetermine salvation or damnation for anyone. And Jesus expressly says He Himself does not know the time of His coming (Mark 13:32).
The timing of the second coming is different than for the first. To confuse the two is to repeat the mistake of the ancient Jews who assumed that the prophecies of the two advents were the same. Daniel indeed foretold exactly when Christ should first appear as Messiah, and "like the stars in the vast circuit of their appointed path, God's purposes know no haste and no delay." [1] But the love of God requires that the timing for the second coming is different; it must be dependent on a people getting ready.
Jesus explained this in His parable of the farmer who plants seed. When the crop is ripe, "immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come" (Mark 4:29). An angel finally tells Christ when that time has come: "thrust in Thy sickle and reap, for the time has come for Thee to reap" Why? Because the timeclock of heaven has triggered its predetermined alarm peg? No, "for the harvest of the earth is ripe" (Rev. 14:14, 15).
God's people are not like ants on a log floating down the river, with no involvement in where they are going or when. They "sit with [Christ] on [His] throne," sharing with Him the administration of the climax of world history. He has left in their care the "ministry of reconciliation;" because in the time of the end they share His throne with Him (see Rev. 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19). They are intimately involved in His final work in the Most Holy Apartment.
More than this, "the ministry of reconciliation" assigned to them has a deep influence on world events. If they will faithfully proclaim the sealing message of Revelation 7:1-4, He promises to say "Hold!" to the "four angels ... holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow." It must follow that it was not necessary that world wars and global terrorism should wreak their havoc and agony. But our failure for many decades to proclaim the sealing message made it impossible for the "four angels" to "hold" the winds.
The second coming of Christ becomes a rescue mission. Led by the two-horned "beast" of Revelation 13, the people of the world will demonstrate a final rebellion against the Lamb by trying to rid the earth of His people (Rev. 13:11-17; 14:9, 10). This will be a planned re-crucifixion of Christ, this time in the person of His saints. "The wrath of the Lamb" is a natural outcome. What bridegroom in his right mind would stand idly by while thugs seek to kill his bride?
In fact, the second coming of Christ is as "soon" as we truly want it to be. That doesn't mean that a few individuals' selfish desire to "go home to glory" will bring it. The heavenly Bridegroom will marry no "child-bride:" She must grow up "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," into maturity (Eph. 4:13). This means a concern for Him that transcends our natural-born concern for our own personal security.
Such maturity is intelligently, empathetically, entering into, identifying with, Christ's yearnings, as a bride enters into her husband's. This is Bible "perfection." But we have a Bridegroom whose "disappointment .. [at the delay] is beyond description," [2] and a bride-to-be who so far seems content to remain a child at the wedding.
No individual or group of individuals can be the "bride" in this wedding. As the soon-to-be population of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, "the church is the bride" says Ellen White. [3] The church is a corporate body intricately fashioned cohesively of its many "members," as the cells and organs of one's body constitute a person. No one cell of the human body, or even organ or limb, matures on its own, apart from its corporate oneness with the body as a whole. "So also is Christ," says Paul, "for the body is not one member but many" (1 Cor. 12:12, 14).
An individual preparation for the second coming is proper; but there has to be also a corporate preparation, or each individual will have to go into the grave as have countless others throughout the ages. If a body is sick, the whole must be healed. God's people do not go to heaven individually at death, as other churches teach; they await a corporate resurrection, which in turn must await a corporate repentance on the part of the living saints.
The 1888 truth is forever linked with the "doctrine" of the second coming. It is impossible otherwise to understand the "delay." Said Ellen White almost a century ago: "The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with his glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people." [4] It was in the 1888 message that our Lord sent the "enlightenment," and appealed to His bride-to-be to "grow up." This message was divinely intended to assuage forever the pain of our Great Disappointment of 1844. The message was specifically sent of heaven to prepare a people for the second coming. 1844 was our Great Disappointment, but 1888 was His.
But there is good news. Christ's grand sacrifice on His cross and His high priestly ministry will not in the end prove fruitless, because "an enlightened people" will surely understand how and why they have delayed His return, and will respond to His appeal for repentance.
Is it not vanity to talk about the second coming and not give heed to the message that was intended to prepare us for it?
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Daniel 9:24-27; The Desire of Ages, p. 32.
[2] Ellen G. White, "A Call to Repentance," Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1904.
[3] SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 986.
[4] Ellen G. White, "Why the Lord Waits," Review and Herald, July 21, 1896.
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SST #2 | "Discipling Through Metaphor" | Paul Penno

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Disciples and Scripture"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Lesson 1: "Disciples and Scripture"

These new lessons on "Discipleship" are rich in Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy, worthy of prayer and study throughout this new quarter.
Make a choice at the beginning as you open the Lesson Book that you will respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit when He appeals to you to read the Word that is the heart of the lessons themselves.
The Bible is the Book that the Lord intends we shall not only read faithfully, but mark it in ways that the accompanying Holy Spirit may indicate to us, so that your Bible becomes a personal book to you, reminding you of precious moments you have enjoyed alone with Jesus.
Thus your personal Bible will be one like nobody else's--it will be a part of you. The Word will become "flesh" in you--a miracle related to what John 1:14 describes, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten [Son] of the Father)"!
Just to make payments on the house and the car and provide for the bills and vacations and recreation, all this keeps us working almost night and day. The children must have better opportunities than we had when we were kids; there just doesn't seem to be time to "search the scriptures daily" to see if anything is really true. We are just busy doing our duty!
We don't read that Jesus condemns busy people, but for sure, He feels for them, He is concerned, for they are in danger. As kindly as He can find words to express His concern He says: "Be careful not to let yourselves become occupied ... with the worries of this life, or that Day may suddenly catch you like a trap. ... Be on watch and pray always that you will have the strength to go safely through all those things ..." (Luke 21:34-36, Good News Bible).
Ellen G. White wrote some serious words: "True love for Jesus will lead to the most close and earnest inquiry as to what is truth. ... He who is too indolent to make anxious, prayerful search for truth, will be left to receive errors which shall prove the ruin of his soul." [1] There is no need to be caught in that "trap." Jesus was busier than you or I have ever been, but the Father woke Him up early each morning to study and to pray (Isa. 50:4, 5). The important difference between Him and us is that He did not "rebel." Remember, He takes the initiative in maintaining a "relationship" with you, as the Father did with Jesus. You too can respond to His initiative. Study and learn, "daily." Don't "rebel."
"New Light" or "Old Light"? Is the light of the Revelation 18 message "new light" or "old light"? In one sense it is indeed "old light" because Solomon says, "there is no new thing under the sun." Even Jesus did not teach "new light." But by any human standard of evaluation His message was "precious new light" for this dark world! "As something strange and new, [Christ's] words fall upon the ears of the wondering multitude." [2] Ellen White often says virtually the same regarding Jones' and Waggoner's message.
For nearly a long time there has been an obsession with the idea that the 1888 message was not "new light" but was merely a re-emphasis of what the Protestant churches taught in the 19th century. Yet Ellen White never identified it as a "re-emphasis," and such a position requires logically that the Protestant churches taught "the third angel's message in verity."
No generation of God's people have ever been translated without seeing death; never before has "the harvest of the earth" been "ripe" for the Saviour's sickle. It was the Lord's intention that the 1888 message prepare a people for translation and for the harvest. Would that not require that the message be more mature and developed than any previous generation had ever perceived?
The true question remains: will the light of the loud cry message contain truths not enunciated by Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, etc.--even by the Apostle Paul?
While Ellen White says that Luther taught justification by faith "clearly," she also states that he did not proclaim the full gospel as it must yet be proclaimed, for "this message is a part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days. ... The Reformers did not proclaim it." [3] If the Reformers did not proclaim that full gospel, did they have all the light?
It is proper therefore to recognize that the message that is to prepare the grain for harvest must include "a part of the gospel" which the Reformers did not proclaim. "The gospel" is righteousness by faith, and the "third angel's message in verity" is the same. The light which the Reformers did not see and proclaim would obviously be "new light" so far as the people of 1888 were concerned.
Ellen White adds the shocking statement, "Paul, as we have seen, did not preach it." [4] Preach what? "A part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days." That "part of the gospel" is not cold mathematical calculations of the 2300 days. The genius of the 1888 message was its relation of justification by faith to the unique judgment hour truth of the cleansing of the sanctuary. [5]
She says that Jones and Waggoner "discovered the precious ore in the rich veins of truth ... that have been hidden for ages." [6] No "precious ore" is ever "new," because it is always old ore that has been buried in the earth since creation. But by all the standards of human communication, something "discovered" that the world has never seen before is "new."
Ellen White was impressed with this reality concerning Paul. She says that "great truths that have lain unheeded and unseen since the day of Pentecost, are to shine" in the future. [7] Since when? Luther's day? Paul's day? No. "Since the day of Pentecost." Therefore it follows logically that there are some "great truths" "of the gospel" that Paul did not teach, because the day of Pentecost preceded Paul's ministry.
Is there a "great truth" that shone clearly on the Day of Pentecost that even the apostle Paul did not preach? Speaking to that great crowd of thousands of people from many nations and languages, Peter boldly declared that they had crucified the Son of God: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). A few days later he told them, "Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, ... and killed the Prince of life" (3:14, 15). Nothing in Paul's epistles is quite so strong, so directly confrontational!
What happened on the day of Pentecost? A repentance deeper than has ever been known. The murder of the Son of God is the greatest sin ever committed; repentance for that sin is the greatest a human heart can ever know. Do you think it might be possible that Peter's sermon applies to us today?
--Paul E. Penno

Endnotes (Ellen G. White):[1] Review and Herald, Feb. 8, 1881.
[2] Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 6 (italics supplied).
[3] The Great Controversy, p. 356.
[4] Ibid.
[5] cf. Early Writings, p. 254.
[6] Review and Herald, "The Darkness Comprehended It Not," June 3, 1890.
[7] Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 473.
Note: “Sabbath School Today” and Pastor Paul Penno’s video of this lesson are on the Internet at:
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