Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lesson 9: "Our Mission"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic 

The Teachings of Jesus

Lesson 9: "Our Mission"



Consider the theme of our lesson, "Our Mission." What is our mission as Seventh-day Adventists? Has Jesus given us a unique mission to the world? Or are we merely a "me-too" reflection of other churches' mission to the world? Is our mission the same as the Baptists or Nazarenes or some other Evangelical group? A cursory review of the lesson would leave us with that impression.

Is our mission to baptize the most folks possible? What good does it do if those folks are not prepared for the great test of the mark of the beast and in the end fail? What good does it do if the folks we baptize become just more Laodicean lukewarm members? What kind of discipleship is that?

We as a world church are in fact writing a "book" about "discipleship." The last chapter is about a "discipleship" so mature, so complete that it prepares the "disciples" around the world to be ready for the close of human probation, prepares them to stand during the pouring out of the seven last plagues, prepares them to face the final test of the close of probation. That will be ultimate "discipleship."

We are either hastening the finishing of the gospel commission, or we are continuing our history of 125 years in postponing the glorious "marriage of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7, 8). In 1888, 125 years ago, the Lord Jesus wanted to propose to the corporate "woman" whom He loves, "Let's get married!" All heaven had been waiting to rejoice because "the marriage of the Lamb is come, for His wife has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). But no, not yet.

Why do we need to go back in history to 1888 and devote time to what happened there? Is it not sufficient that we simply face the future?

Two complimentary dates in Adventist history demand special attention: 1844 and 1888. The first marks the prophetic beginning of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, the Day of Atonement, and the beginning of the sounding of the seventh angel's trumpet (Dan. 8:14; Rev. 11:15-19).

The ministry of the great High Priest in the first apartment (the first phase of His sanctuary atoning ministry pre-1844) prepares believers for death. And that is a marvelous work. The ministry in the second apartment (or phase) is specifically to prepare a corporate body of God's people for translation without seeing death.

The second date, 1888, marks the beginning of the long-awaited outpouring of the latter rain and the loud cry. If the special message which the three angels of Revelation 14 proclaim is "the everlasting gospel" in the setting of the Day of Atonement, then it is obvious that the gospel cannot be clearly understood except in the context of the cleansing of the sanctuary.

If His people will faithfully proclaim that sealing message, the Lord has promised that He will restrain the exploding evil in the world until giving the message is completed. But if the church does not faithfully proclaim the message that alone can prepare a people for the return of Christ, He cannot hold in check those near-exploding global forces of evil.

God has instructed "four angels" to "hold" the "four winds" of human passion "till we have sealed the servants of our God" (Rev. 7:1-4; Ellen G. White, Early Writings, pp. 36-38). The loosing of the "four winds" will be the complete breakdown of social order, decency, morality, fidelity, including economic and political security.

Merely to proclaim a message that prepares people for death is no longer good enough. The time must come when there is a message that prepares a people for His second coming. History and inspiration are clear that the latter rain and loud cry were "in a large measure resisted and rejected." [1]

The Lord has not delayed His return; we have delayed it. There is no problem facing the worldwide church as serious as our relationship to the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead. The Lord's inspired messenger said of the 1888 experience: "I know that at that time the Spirit of God was insulted." [2]

Again, "All the universe of heaven witnessed the disgraceful treatment of Jesus Christ, represented by the Holy Spirit. Had Christ been before them they would have treated him in a manner similar to that in which the Jews treated Christ." [3] But what difference does this make to us in 2014? Does this terrible sin of 1888 have any appreciable effect on us now?

Yes, this sin does have a serious effect on our relationship to the Holy Spirit today. It has delayed the preparation of God's people for the coming of the Lord for 125 years. By nature we are not better than they. By nature we are not better than our fathers who insulted the Holy Spirit and showed enmity against Christ through His delegated messengers.

Until full understanding and full repentance bring full healing and reconciliation, the spiritual alienation will continue. The hard hearts and mindset of our forefathers are passed on to us "through the influence of mind on mind." [4] The Bible declares that this was also the experience of the ancient Jews: "... ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51).

Practically without exception, Seventh-day Adventists recognize our need of the Holy Spirit. The latter rain prepares the grain for the harvest; large numerical increases to the church do not necessarily indicate the reception of the latter rain.

The Lord sent "the beginning" of the latter rain in a "most precious message" delivered at the General Conference Session in Minneapolis in 1888. The essence of this message was the call of Christ to the leadership of the Laodicean church to "repent." It was His plan that the General and local Conference leadership personnel not stand "aloof" or hostile to the message, but heartily receive it. Recognizing and joyfully accepting truth, the entire church leadership would have responded to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and our publishing houses and the Review and Herald would have joined unitedly and harmoniously in the glad work. The laity were ready and would have cooperated. Thus the gospel commission could have been completed in that generation. It wasn't.

What did not happen then must happen in the future. And the "scenario" will happen because the Lord Jesus has not died in vain. He will yet see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied (Isa. 53:11). He has many honest-hearted people in the Seventh-day Adventist Church who will be loyal to Him and to His truth, even unto death. Corporate and denominational repentance is the work embodied in the antitypical Day of Atonement. Satan is determined to oppose it unto the bitter end. Let us make sure that we do not stand on the enemy's side, either by active support or by default.

--Paul E. Penno

Endnotes:[1] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp, 234, 235.
[2] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1043.
[3] Ibid., p. 1478.
[4] Ellen G. White, Our High Calling, p. 109.

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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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"The Church"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic 

The Teachings of Jesus

Lesson 8: "The Church"



Our Sabbath school lesson writers are concerned that the unity of the church is being threatened. Thus this theme is emphasized. Indeed, there are many social issues in the church that divide activists in the church. But the biggest threat to unity is the combination of Arminian-Calvinist theology. God has revealed in our 1888 history an understanding of righteousness by faith, which is consistent with the cleansing of the sanctuary. Continued resistance creates a vacuum for the ideas of modern Protestantism to enter.

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. 10:34, 39). As Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), 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 can not surrender the truth in order to accomplish this union; for the very means by which it is 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" (Gal. 2:5, 14) 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] This is the dynamic of the 1888 message.

Jesus distinguished between two groups of people: The first group is the "all flesh" mentioned in John 17:2. 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." Jesus has saved the word before anyone in the world has asked Him to save them. So many refuse their salvation made effective by Christ. By persistent resistance to Christ they are lost.

The second group is the people whom the Father gave Him who are "out of the world" (17:6). "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 Rom. 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."

What makes the 1888 understanding of righteousness by faith consistent with the cleansing of the sanctuary truth (which our High Priest is revealing to us), is the fact that when Christ's gift is appreciated, it reconciles the heart to God. The at-one-ment with God is achieved, for divine agape motivates faith which works obedience to all the commandments of God. The good news is: Jesus saves us and we are yoked with Him for service in harmony with His law.

Jesus has 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



Endnotes:

[1] Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p. 391.

[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" (ibid., p. 298).

[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" (Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 473).
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Raul Diaz
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lesson 7: "Living Like Christ"


Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic 

The Teachings of Jesus

Lesson 7: "Living Like Christ"

  

"Love was the element in which Christ moved and walked and worked. ... We are to follow the example set by Christ, and make Him our pattern"(Ellen G. White, Our Father Cares, p. 27; quoted in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, p. 56).

Sounds simple, just follow Christ's loving example and you are living like Him. Most people focus on how a Christian should act. Like the jailer of Paul and Silas who asked them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30, NASB). People think they must look for things to do.

All pagan religions are based on the concept of humans performing some exceptional act so the imaginary god will notice them and grant their requests. There are also many religions that purport to understand the Christian gospel, but fail to recognize the subtle legalism that finds its way into their creeds and teachings. The message given to our church in 1888 is as simple as the response Paul and Silas gave to the jailor's question: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved." Then they spoke God's word with him (vss. 31, 32). We aren't told exactly what Paul and Silas told the jailer, but it must have been about Jesus and what He did for humanity. We know the jailer's conversion was genuine because he immediately demonstrated compassion. We are told that "he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized" (vs. 33). It's exactly what Christ would have done. The jailer's reaction flowed spontaneously from his knowledge and appreciation of the cross.

This simple story demonstrates how hearing of God's supreme act of love (agape, that selfless love of God) revealed at the cross melts hearts into acceptance and produces good deeds. It also produces a desire to publically declare death to self, symbolized by baptism.

"When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, like sweet fragrance it cannot be hidden. ... Love to Jesus will be manifested in a desire to work as He worked for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. ... No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart" [1]

So, it sounds more like our focus should be on putting on the mind of Christ in order to live like Him, rather than copying His actions. How does one put on the mind of another? Humanly speaking that is impossible. But Paul simply tells us "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5, NKJV). The word "mind" is rendered "attitude" in the New American Standard Bible. But the difficulty comes with our sinful nature. Even if we sincerely attempt to develop an attitude or mind like Christ our minds are "bent to self," and are nothing like Christ's.

Ellet J. Waggoner described the problem: "Instruments. We have in this chapter [Romans 6:12-23] two terms to describe people, namely, servants and instruments. It takes both to illustrate our relation to sin and righteousness. Sin and righteousness are rulers. We are but instruments in their hands. The kind of work a given instrument will do depends entirely upon the one who uses it.

"For instance, here is a good pen; what kind of work will it do? It will do good work if it is in the hands of a skillful penman, but in the hands of a bungler its work will be poor. ... But man is not a mere tool. No, not by any means. There is this difference between men and ordinary instruments: the latter have no choice as to who shall use them, while the former have full choice as to whom they will serve. They must yield themselves, not once only, but all the time. If they yield to sin, they will commit sin. If they yield to God, to be instruments in his hands, they can do nothing else but good so long as they are yielded to Him." [2]

A. T. Jones went a little deeper: "In His coming in the flesh--having been made in all things like unto us, and having been tempted in all points like as we are--He has identified Himself with every human soul just where that soul is. And from the place where every human soul is, He has consecrated for that soul a new and living way, through all the vicissitudes and experiences of a whole lifetime, and even through death and the tomb, into the holiest of all, ... at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens!" [3]

How is this accomplished? "That Christ the Son of God, as priest at the right hand of God upon His throne, is there a 'minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle' ... must be an eternal fixture in the faith of every Christian, in order for that faith to be true and full.

"And this true faith in Christ the Son of God as that true priest, in that true ministry, of that true sanctuary, ... that His priesthood and ministry finishes transgression, and makes an end of sins, and makes reconciliation for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness--this true faith will make every comer thereunto perfect (emphasis in original). ...

"In the confidence of this true faith, let every believer in Jesus take a long breath of restfulness forever, in thankfulness to God that this thing is accomplished: that transgression is finished in your life ..." [4]

Notice that the only thing we have to do is come to the true faith that Jesus already perfected in His flesh. Christianity is not a religion of deprivation, but of the exchange of our sinful character for His perfect character. The proud heart despises a life of service as beneath his dignity.

But, "... the effort to bless others will react in blessings upon ourselves. This was the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of redemption. He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those who thus become participants in labors of love are brought nearest to their Creator ...

"If you will go to work as Christ designs that His disciples shall, and win souls for Him, you will feel the need of a deeper experience and a greater knowledge in divine things, and will hunger and thirst after righteousness. You will plead with God, and your faith will be strengthened, and your soul will drink deeper drafts at the well of salvation." [5]

--Arlene Hill

Endnotes:[1] Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, pp. 77, 78.
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 6.114.
[3] A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, pp. 87, 88 (Glad Tidings ed.).
[4] Ibid., pp. 129-130.
[5] Steps to Christ, pp. 79-80.
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Fwd: Fw: Sabbath School Today, Lesson 6, Quarter 3-14

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic 

The Teachings of Jesus

Lesson 6: "Growing in Christ"

 

This Sabbath School Today is presented to round out and clarify what it is to grow in Christ, not necessarily to cover what the quarterly has already discussed. The 1888 "most precious message" emphasizes that we are to look only to Christ, and that it is by His word that Christ abides in the heart. In 1890, two years following the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis, this article by Ellet J. Waggoner was published in The Signs of the Times. The article has been condensed to fit our format.

__________________

In the book of Colossians occurs this exhortation: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16). This text, rightly understood, solves the problem of Christian growth and living. Let us, therefore, spend a few moments to see how much is involved in it.

There is a power in the word of God, far above that of any other book, which cannot be doubted. Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord rebukes the false prophets, who speak their own words instead of the words of God, and says: "What is the chaff to the wheat?" says the Lord. "Is not My word like a fire?" says the Lord, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:28, 29). And the same prophet thus relates his experience when he was reproached because of the word of the Lord: "Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not" (Jer. 20:9).

The word hidden in the heart protects against sin. "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11). And of the righteous we read that "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide" (Psalm 37:31). Jesus, also, in his memorable prayer for his disciples, said, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).

The word of the Lord is the seed by which the sinner is born again. We read of our heavenly Father, that "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). And the Apostle Peter says: "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in ... having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:22, 23). So we learn that, 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. "For the word of God is living and powerful" (Heb. 4:12), and the psalmist prays to be made alive according to the word, and then says: "Your word has given me life" (Psalm 119:25, 50).

This is stated very plainly by Jesus himself in John 6:63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you 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 born to a new life, and that the hiding of the word in the heart keeps one from sin, we may more easily understand 1 John 3:9: "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." How simple! There is in the word the divine energy, which can transform the mind, and make a new man: "put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24). Of course the word can do this only for those who receive it in simple faith. If the soul that is born again retains the sacred and powerful word, it will keep him a new creature. The word is as powerful to preserve, as it is to create.

Jesus gave us an illustration of this. When tempted on every point by the devil, His sole reply was, "It is written," followed by a text of Scripture that met the case exactly. The Christian who would stand fast must do the same thing. There is no other way. This is an illustration of David's words, "By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer" (Psalm 17:4).

It is this of which we read in Revelation 12:11, where, in speaking of the casting down of the "accuser of our brethren," the heavenly voice says: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." This does not mean, as some have carelessly assumed, the word of their testimony in meeting, but the word of the testimony in which the psalmist found so great delight. They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of God.

But this cannot be done except by those who have the word of God abiding in them. 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.

Every Christian can testify as to the power of the word at such times. When inclined to congratulate himself on some real or fancied superior attainment, what a powerful check are the words, "For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). Or when harsh and bitter thoughts are struggling within for control, the power to quell those turbulent emotions lies in the words, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil" (1 Cor. 13:4, 5). Or when provoked almost beyond endurance, how the gentle rebuke, "a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all" (2 Tim. 2:24), helps one to be calm. Add to this the many "exceeding great and precious promises" which bring victory to every soul that grasps them by faith. Thousands of aged Christians can testify to the miraculous power resting in a few simple words of the Scriptures.

Now where does this power come from? The answer is found in the words of Christ: "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). What spirit are they? The apostle Peter, speaking of the prophets, says that it was the Spirit of Christ that was in them. So, the power of the Spirit dwells in the word; yes, Christ Himself dwells in the word, for He is the Word.

Who can understand the mystery of inspiration? He who understands the mystery of the incarnation, for both are the same. "The Word became flesh." We cannot understand how Christ could be all the fullness of the Godhead, and at the same time be in the form of a servant, subject to all the infirmities of mortal flesh. Nor can we understand how fallible mortals could write the Bible, and yet it is the pure unadulterated word of God. But it is certainly true that the power that was in the Word that was made flesh is the power that is in the word that the apostles and prophets have written for us.

Now we can begin to appreciate more the power residing in the word. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6). Christ, by whom the worlds were made, upholds them "by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3). The power that resides in the words of revelation is the power that could speak the worlds into existence, and can keep them in their appointed places.

It is by so doing that we bring Christ Himself into our hearts. In the fifteenth chapter of John, the Lord exhorts us to: "Abide in Me, and I in you" and then a few verses later He says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you" (John 15:4, 7). It is by His word that Christ does abide in the heart; for Paul says that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph. 3:17); and "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

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, (for He is the Word), and that he who makes it a constant companion and yields 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.

Is there not something inspiring in this thought? When we come to God in secret prayer, and the Spirit brings to our remembrance some precious promise or needed reproof, is it not encouraging to know that as we accept them, Christ is coming into the heart with the same power that brought the worlds from nothing? Does it not clothe the word with new dignity? No wonder David ever sounded its praises. May the thought that God is in the word be a fresh incentive for us to gain time and strength to feed upon the source of divine strength--it is thus that we live and grow in Christ.

--Prepared by Daniel H. Peters

[From "The Indwelling Word," The Signs of the Times, July 14, 1890.]

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--
Raul Diaz
www.wolfsoath.com