Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fwd: Fw: Sabbath School Today, Lesson 12, Quarter 3-14

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic 

The Teachings of Jesus

Lesson 12: "Death and Resurrection"


A nagging sense of hunger disturbs many. "I wonder if the 1888 message is important enough to take my time?" It is. It's what the hungry Adventist heart is yearning for. The reason why hits you like a clap of thunder. That message, given over a century ago, was the "beginning" of a soul-winning explosion unprecedented since the early days of Christianity. It was the initial "showers of the latter rain from heaven," the Good News refreshment for which a drought-stricken world was famished.

It was to "lighten the earth with glory," a light that would penetrate to honest hearts in Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, paganism, yes, worldwide. A "voice from heaven" would speak to every human soul, "Come out of Babylon, My people!" fulfilling the long-awaited prophecy of Revelation 18. The message would have added a "mighty" fourth angel to our Church's former logo of the three angels.

Since the first-century apostles turned their "world upside down," no message has ever done a work like that, although the 1844 Midnight Cry came close. The Lord seriously wanted to prepare a people right then to meet the final issues of earth's history. The agenda was not "Get ready to die," but "Get ready for translation."

I bristle when I hear someone say (in all good intention), "Everybody has to die someday," when the Bible says precisely the opposite: "Listen, ... we shall not all die" (1 Cor. 15:51, Good News Bible, it's a good translation; our King James Version says, "We shall not all sleep").

The inspired apostle Paul wants to make doubly sure we don't misunderstand: "I do not want you to be ignorant ... concerning those who have fallen asleep." He goes on to explain that there will be a generation of people who "are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:13, 15, New King James Version).

The "showers of the latter rain" that began in 1888 were a special gift in the form of a message. It is to prepare God's people for meeting Jesus, and being changed at His coming without suffering death. It's "translation," which Enoch experienced (Heb. 11:5). The latter rain "ripens the grain for the harvest."

Sadly, our lesson seems to focus on our resurrection, assuming that we will all die. Also, there is no mention of Christ's second death, which is the overarching concept for the gospel truths of the 1888 message: Christ has already accomplished something for every human being. He died the second death for "every man," and thus elected "all men" to be saved. In that sense, it is true that "He saved the world." [1]

When Christ gave His blood for the sins of the world, He redeemed the lost human race. No one is exempt from intimate involvement, because "He by the grace of God [tasted] death for everyone" (Heb. 2:9). In other words, He died every person's second death, His final punishment for sin.

And He did all this before we had any chance to say yes or no. Jesus has involved Himself with every human soul at the deepest level of his being, that hidden source of his intimate personal fear of eternal death. Christ's sacrifice has already "delivered" him from that fear which has enslaved him through "all [his] lifetime." [2] (The sinner can resist and reject, and thus be lost; Christ will force no one to be saved.)

Christ's sacrifice has reversed for all men the "condemnation" which came upon us all "in Adam." He literally saved the world from the premature suicide that sin would have brought upon us. So every loaf of bread is stamped with His cross. "Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and blood of Christ." [3] When this grand 1888 truth comes into focus, we see it in the Bible: "The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. .. The bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:33, 51).

"God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. ... And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin; for the judicial action, following upon the one offence, issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issued in a verdict of acquittal. ... It follows, then, that as the issue of one misdeed [Adam's] was condemnation for all men, so the issue of one just act [Calvary] is acquittal and life for all men" (Rom. 5:15-18, NEB).

Here is power to motivate! But what is the practical result of believing this Good News? We were on the outs with God, at enmity with Him; now we see Him as a Friend. In other words, we have "received the atonement," which means we are reconciled to Him. (Rom. 6: 7-11). We experience justification by faith, which is a change of heart. We've been redeemed from eternal death! It's like someone on death row who gets a last-minute reprieve. So, says Paul, "present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead." The burden is lifted from the weary heart when such "peace with God" flows in. From now on, no sacrifice is too difficult to make for the One who has already saved you from hell. (Rom. 6:13; 5:1).

A. T. Jones sums it up well: "When Jesus Christ has set us all free from the sin and the death which came upon us from the first Adam, that freedom is for every man; and every man can have it for the choosing. The Lord will not compel any one to take it. ... No man will die the second death who has not chosen sin rather than righteousness, death rather than life." [4]

The great Protestant Reformation of justification by faith has prepared untold numbers of precious souls to die prepared to come up in the "first resurrection" (see Rev. 20:6).

The resurrection of the dead in Christ depends upon the second coming of Jesus. And the second coming is contingent upon a people who are prepared for translation. The 144,000 are the graduates of Christ's school, who have let Him do His perfect work of agape in their characters. We err if we think that it is "our" blessed hope. The Bride will think only of her Husband's "blessed hope."

Christ wants to return because He loves His people who have gone to their rest over the centuries, and He wants to be reunited with them. They can be happy in the kingdom of God forever. Now we've come to the time when the Holy Spirit will reveal a clearer understanding of truth that prepares people for translation at the second coming of Jesus (see 1 Thess. 4:16, 17).

"Let us thank the Lord that He is dealing with us still, to save us from our errors, to save us from our dangers, to keep us back from wrong courses, and to pour upon us the latter rain, that we may be translated. That is what the [1888] message means--translation--to you and me. Brethren, let us receive it with all the heart, and thank God for it." [5]

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] Please see Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; Hebrews 2:9.

[2] Heb. 2:14, 15; cf. E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, pp. 13, 104.
[3] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 660.
[4] A. T. Jones, General Conference Bulletin, 1895, p. 269.
[5] Jones, General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 185.

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Raul Diaz