Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lesson 9: "Words of Truth"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Proverbs: Words of the Wise
Lesson 9: "Words of Truth"
Where do we find our 1888 history in the Proverbs? "Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding" (Proverbs 23:23).
How does Laodicea "buy" the truth? The Saviour's voice earnestly and lovingly invites us: "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich" (Rev. 3:18).
The true story of 1888 is one of deep-hearted unbelief as serious as that of the Jews who rejected Christ long ago. [1] But there is good news in the story. "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29, NASB).
Even if His people are not faithful, He must remain faithful. He must await the coming of a generation who will humble their hearts and believe Him. Christ has not abandoned Laodicea; He is still standing outside the door, knocking. Although His presence is not inside, it is a vast encouragement that He still wants in!
The story is most clearly seen as unrequited love. The language in Revelation 3:20 is a direct quotation from the Septuagint Song of Solomon 5:2-6 where Christ ties in the experience of the remnant church with that "song" of the disappointed Lover. He knocks at the gate but is selfishly denied entry by the one who is the only true object of His love. "She" was foolish not to let Him in when He knocked over a century ago; but she is honest in heart, and she must and will come to her time of repentance.
Thank God that Satan's victory was not total! The finishing of the gospel commission has been long delayed, but confrontation with truth gives us a new opportunity for repentance. The full story may humble our pride, but it will strengthen our faith.
The honor and vindication of Christ require our repentance. The evidence indicates that the Lord gives each generation only one chance to accept the precious gift of the latter rain, as He gave the generation of Israelites coming out of Egypt only one chance (Kadesh-Barnea) to enter their Promised Land. In both instances, rebellious unbelief conclusively delayed the work of God.
The Lord's servant has questioned "whether genuine rebellion is ever curable." [2] History seems to say that repentance must be effected by a new generation, unless this one chooses to repent.
Before the new generation could enter Canaan under Joshua, they had to have their Book of Deuteronomy. They must thoroughly understand the preceding generation's rebellion and repent of it in a corporate sense. Only a repentant people could enter Canaan. It was not they who had rebelled at Kadesh-Barnea (they were too young); but they had to repent of their parents' rebellion, for Moses told them repeatedly that they were the ones who had rebelled. It doesn't make sense unless you see the corporate relationship.
Likewise, before modern Israel can again receive the outpouring of the latter rain and proclaim the loud cry message, they must thoroughly understand the truth of a previous generation's rejection of the same blessing they now seek--our new Deuteronomy experience. This is corporate and denominational repentance.
What is the secret of the 1888 opposition? The one who stands back in the shadows of the 1888 opposition is, of course, the great dragon of Revelation 12:17. This brings to view his last battle in the great controversy. His opposition from within centers on "the testimony of Jesus Christ," the Spirit of Prophecy (Rev. 3:17). From without, it's on the commandments of God.
Seventh-day Adventists have always recognized that "the spirit of prophecy" given to the apostolic church has been manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. The unreasonable, persistent opposition against her for all these years marks its source as from that "dragon." This reached a climax in our 1888 experience. The full reality of what she wrote must be appreciated: "Again and again did I bear my testimony to those assembled [at Minneapolis], but that testimony was not received." "[The Lord] has a blessing for us. He had it at Minneapolis, ... but there was no reception." [3]
The special message the Lord Jesus addresses to us (Rev. 3:14-21) indicates it is related to our history: "You say, I am rich and I have been enriched." These words pinpoint our claims in our denominational history. We have been enriched by an acceptance of the message that was to illuminate the earth with glory and prepare that generation for translation! Yet no one has been translated, and the loud cry has not yet lighted the earth. This means either one of two things: the message was not what Ellen White said it was, or our acceptance of it was not what we have supposed it was.
Only if we reject truth can good news become bad news. We can surrender all false ideas in exchange for truth like we exchange money for something we "buy." Maybe that's why the Lord says, "Buy of Me gold ... and white raiment."
If we will listen to Christ's voice and believe what He says, the long-awaited blessings of the latter rain and the loud cry can become reality in this generation. The power was inherent in the objective message itself, and thank God, we can recover it.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 64, 75-80.
[2] "I question whether genuine rebellion is ever curable. Study in Patriarchs and Prophets the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. This rebellion was extended, including more than two men. It was led by two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation, men of renown. Call rebellion by its right name and apostasy by its right name, and then consider that the experience of the ancient people of God with all its objectionable features was faithfully chronicled to pass into history. ... And if men and women who have the knowledge of the truth are so far separated from their great Leader that they will take the great leader of apostasy and name him Christ our Righteousness, it is because they have not sunk deep into the mines of the truth. They are not able to distinguish the precious ore from the base material" (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 2, p. 393).
[3] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 251, 640.