Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Christ and Religious Tradition

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Christ and His Law
Lesson 3: Christ and Religious Tradition
How is it possible that "we are all Arminian now"? Could it be that we want acceptance by the Evangelical community? Our "religious tradition" has now progressed to the point where it dictates how we read the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Our scholars now tell us that Ellen White taught Arminian theology.
If "we" had received the 1888 message, we would be able to discern the true from the counterfeit.
Is it possible to have a "saving relationship" with the false christ and fail to recognize the true Christ? The popular view of the incarnation is a christ who came in the flesh of Adam before the Fall. He could be tempted from without, but not from within. The popular christ came ever so near to us, but He never experienced temptation arising from within as we do.
However, we need a Saviour who is near to us and not afar off.
Is it possible to have a "saving relationship" with Jesus and lose our salvation when Christ says, "I never knew you"? The popular understanding of righteousness by faith is "believe, believe" for your own poor soul's salvation. Jesus paid it all at the cross. Justification is done and finished.
Is it possible to believe that Jesus is in the sanctuary? Is it possible to understand the 2300 day/year prophecy, and yet not know the deeper meaning of the atonement? The popular idea is that Christ atoned for sin when He died. (Is it really possible for Christ to be at-one-with sin?) Therefore, believe that your sins are forgiven and you will have the assurance of salvation.
Is it possible to believe the Ten Commandments are still binding upon the Christian, including the seventh-day Sabbath, and yet be a lawbreaker because of a faulty understanding of righteousness by faith? If the sinner was justified at the cross and the atonement is finished, then the Ten Commandments and the sanctuary truth have no meaning for the Christian life. The Sabbath is no longer the seal of God's love in the Christian's life.
If this is the case, then effectively we are no longer Seventh-day Adventists because our defective understanding of the gospel has no power to conquer sin in the life. Then we have no way for the "harvest" to mature in preparation for the second coming of Christ. We could postpone His coming indefinitely.
A sizable segment of the church and its ministry lean toward popular concepts that it is not possible to overcome sin per se. These ideas have been adapted to Adventism, following the Calvinist view that as long as one possesses a sinful nature, continued sinning is unavoidable and therefore excusable. (This of course logically denies the significance of the unique Adventist idea of the antitypical Day of Atonement.)
To lower God's expectation in order to vindicate an uncaring, lukewarm people would insult divine justice. It would mean establishing the Old Jerusalem in the new earth, continually backsliding, unrepentant and disobedient, in place of the spiritually triumphant and thoroughly repentant New Jerusalem. It would disappoint the hopes of Abraham who "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This "city" would be a finally victorious community of his spiritual descendants, not merely a few scattered, uncoordinated individuals (cf. Heb. 11:10). There must be a people who attain to that maturity of Christian experience and faith. This is the climax toward which history has been moving.
Is it possible to confuse the old and the new covenants and become hardened legalists? This explains the history of ancient Israel and their ultimate rejection of God's Messiah. Our confused understanding of the two covenants explains why we have resisted and ridiculed God's Teacher of Righteousness (the Holy Spirit), when He sent to us the beginning Latter Rain message in 1888.
God has too much self-respect to answer the prayers of the Jews to send the Messiah. He has already given them their Messiah. He will not resend their Deliverer to walk the earth. They must answer their own prayers by going back in history and claiming what God has already given to them.
We are "just like the Jews." We have been praying for 170+ years for the loud cry and latter rain of the Holy Spirit. God already gave us the beginning of the latter rain in our 1888 history. God has too much self-respect to give the Spirit again to a generation who refuse Him. It remains for a "generation" to experience the humiliation of the ages, and make a confession to God and the world, that we have kept this blessed gift from going out to the ends of the earth.
Is it possible to evangelize the world with the third angel's message, and teach individual repentance for sin, and yet human pride still be left intact? Is it possible to preach the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the second coming, the millennium, the investigative judgment, tithing, (the 29 fundamental beliefs) etc., and massive baptisms result? Then the evangelist can go on the convention circuit and talk about the latest methods to save souls increasing our statistics and church rolls; and yet, the motivation is to make ourselves look good. Is it possible to be no closer to the kingdom because of our self-centered motives?
All of this makes for good church politics. Self-promotion is smart policy in order to maneuver ourselves into positions of power and influence. It gets attention. We can rub shoulders with church movers and shakers. There are invitations to go on the speaking circuit. All of this political gamesmanship is strangely reminiscent of the church in Christ's day and the reason why His brand of religion was rejected by the powerbrokers.
Is it possible to preach Christ, grace, and yes, the cross, with all the prophecies and our historic beliefs, and still not uplift the Crucified One? Is it a matter of how many times we use the words? Is it a matter of balance? Should there be 50% law and 50% grace?
Jesus knew no lukewarm "balance" in His love which drove Him to His cross. He didn't take a survey in order to determine the "concensus" view of the public as to whether or not He should go to the cross.
Rather, He said: "My devotion to Your house, O God, burns in Me like a fire" (John 2:17, TEV). Our prayer is, "While time is running out, save us from patience which is akin to cowardice. Give us the courage to be either hot or cold, to stand for something, lest we fall for anything."
--Paul E. Penno
Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org
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