Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Coming of Jesus

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke

Lesson 1: The Coming of Jesus

Welcome to a series of thirteen studies in the Gospel of Luke from the dynamic perspective of the 1888 message. Have you ever wondered why Luke surpasses Matthew, Mark, and John in telling the most detailed stories of Jesus' birth? Those three were Jewish writers; Luke was a Gentile. He was writing for us, presenting Jesus in a light especially appealing to us "outsiders." He alone tells of the angel's message to the world, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10). Paul says for all the apostles, "We declare unto you glad tidings" (Acts 13:32), and the last message God will send to the world will be "the everlasting Good News" (Rev. 14:6-12).

Since sin came into the world, God has been in the business night and day, with never a holiday, of being a Saviour. That is His relationship to you, as of this moment, even though you may have sinned grievously. He always has a message of hope for you, as long as you have ears to hear it. He says; believe My love, appreciate My sacrifice for you, My gift of justification, receive My gift of forgiveness, My eternal life that I share with you. From where you stand at this moment, there is a path of hope, of good news, for you. Respond to that good news, believe it.

Luke alone tells of the lowliness of Jesus' birth in a cattle-shed--a priceless encouragement to all of us who live in humble places. [1] Luke alone tells of the Baby being wrapped in "swaddling clothes," probably the rags Mary was able to scrounge at the last moment. Luke alone tells us several times that Mary was a quiet, shy, maybe retiring sort of lady who was good at keeping still (Luke 2:19, 51).

Luke must have gone his Gentile way as a "reporter" from outside and interviewed Mary after Christ's resurrection. He tells us of her strange "humiliation" (Luke 1:48). He leaves us wondering what it was, why she felt drawn so closely to the broken-hearted Hannah of 1 Samuel 1. Mary's poem of praise and thanksgiving (after Gabriel's visit) is patterned after Hannah's praise poem (2:1-10). The two had something in common! Only Luke lets us see this priceless gem.

Luke's heart-burden is to reveal Jesus to us as One so close to us that no one else, not even family or spouse can be closer. Almost everything in this world will try to entice you away from Him.

The Old Testament had ended with a promise. We must read the great promise as it is word for word in Malachi 4:5-6:

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
And the heart of the children to their fathers, ..."

God honored the faith of the honest Jews of Christ's day and sent them "Elijah" in fulfillment of Malachi's promise because they sincerely expected that the coming of their Messiah would be "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Even the disciples wondered "who" and "where" their "Elijah" was. Jesus told them not to look in their future; he had already come in the person of John the Baptist: "'Verily I say to you, among them that were born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist. ... And if ye will receive it, this is Elias [Elijah], which was for to come'" (Matt. 11:11-14).

But John's day was not "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." That day is now. Therefore we may expect "Elijah" to come as a message in the same way that John's message was the fulfillment of Malachi's promise.

Just as the Jews in the days of John the Baptist were excited about the coming of their long-awaited Messiah, so we today are awaiting the coming of our long-awaited "Elijah" who will minister reconciliation of alienated hearts, and prepare people to meet Jesus when He returns.

John the Baptist's message fulfilled the prophecy for his day. In her day, Ellen White recognized that the 1888 message fulfilled it. She wrote: "Somebody is to come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and when he appears, men may say, 'You are too earnest, you do not interpret the Scriptures in the proper way. Let me tell you how to teach your message.'

"There are many who cannot distinguish between the work of God and that of man. I shall tell the truth as God gives it to me, and I say now, If you continue to find fault, to have a spirit of variance, you will never know the truth. ..." [2]

In our day, will "Elijah" be some charismatic superman or superwoman? The Lord "will raise up from among the common people men and women to do His work, ... an awakening that will surprise many. ... The heavenly messengers will work with those who are called the common people." [3] Single-handedly Elijah had effected a revival and reformation in Israel; and "the Lord God of Elijah" will still help His servants who work apparently single-handedly for revival and reformation today.

The angel said of John, "and many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:16-17). He will specialize in ministries of reconciliation.

This cannot be a fear work, even though the concluding clause says, "lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:6). It gives the superficial impression of the greatest fear-driven movement in history; but it cannot be because fear never works the kind of "reconciliation" that is the subject of the great Day of Atonement. It is "hearts" that are "turned," and only love can do that kind of "turning." And the only love that can work that stupendous miracle is the love of Christ.

Therefore the coming of "Elijah" means the ministry of the experience of self being "crucified with Christ," which in turn must mean the greatest uplifting of "Christ and Him crucified" that has ever been known on earth--and that of course will be the message of that fourth angel of Revelation 18:1-4. Then at last the "wise words for families" in the book of Proverbs will meet their ultimate in fruit-bearing.

Love, not fearful terror, will bring the "third angel's message" home to wounded hearts.

--Paul E. Penno


[1] "It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour's matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary's cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him" (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 480).

[2] Ellen G. White, "How to Meet a Controverted Point of Doctrine," The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, February 18, 1890. Quoted in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 534.

[3] Ellen G. White, Last Day Events, p. 204.

Raul Diaz

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lesson 13: "Women and Wine"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Proverbs: Words of the Wise

Lesson 13: "Women and Wine"

The final chapter in our quarter-long study of Proverbs is a tale of two women. Chapter 31 illustrates the "Law of Solomon." There are the loose "women" (Prov. 31:1-3) contrasted by the "virtuous woman" (vs. 10).

In prophecy a woman is a symbol of a church, a pure woman being a pure church and an evil woman an evil church, the "mother" pictured in Revelation 17:1 is a symbol of a church which has been untrue to Christ and has "daughters."

"Babylon is fallen ... because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Rev. 14:8). Now, the angel tells John, the "inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk" with that evil wine (Rev. 17:2). The preaching of the pure, true gospel of Jesus Christ gives wisdom, good judgment, and stability to the nations of the world. In the light of God's truth, they can make progress.

"Solomon's Law" is adopting the false doctrines taught by Babylon. Some of Babylon's ideas are that the dead can communicate with the living, that faith initiates God's forgiveness, the hope of reward and avoiding punishment motivates old covenant thinking. All this opens the door to the most confusing lies sent by Satan himself.

When the seven last plagues begin to fall, the Holy Spirit has been withdrawn from those who have so long resisted Him. They are left without their normal good sense, as a drunken man does not know what he is doing. As our lesson says, "The destructive effect of wine" "so easily distort[s] one's judgment." [1]

The story of King Solomon is one of the most fantastic in all sacred history. He starts out apparently perfect with that most rare gift of wisdom, gets everything added to it, collects yearly "666 talents of gold" until he has tons of it, enjoys peace with his prosperity, "and all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart" (1 Kings 10:21).

Solomon, you have it made! You have brought heaven on earth, better yet, you are fulfilling God's promise to Abraham that "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). And then, Solomon, you blew it; you turned right around and "went after Ashtoreh, the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites." You built temples to pagan gods and set them up in our holy city of Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:1-8)! Why, oh why, would you do this? What made you fall like this?

The longer Solomon played the fool when it came to women, the more the ideal woman haunted him. How rare she was, this model woman who haunted Solomon's dreams. "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies" (Prov. 31:10). "Virtuous" refers to purity and all the moral qualities.

Solomon had seen his ideal woman in the village. "She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple" (Prov. 31:22). Not even the pharaoh's daughter, his pampered and privileged queen who was raised in the lap of luxury, was better dressed than the virtuous woman. The queen might send to Egypt for her linens and to India for her silks. Her embroidered robes and imperial purple coats might come from the Phoenician emporium. But Solomon's wife--in all her glory--was not arrayed more royally than the virtuous woman who so captivated the king.

Her devoted husband liked her to dress well. She had earned the right to wear silk and purple. She was a queen in her own right. The ideal woman wore her fine clothes with an unconscious grace and a total lack of ostentatious pride.

This applies to Christ's last-day-Bride-church. There is a special gift of God's Spirit to prepare His people for translation at the coming of Jesus. It "ripens the grain for the harvest," that is, it woos His people away from their love of the world so they want the kingdom of God to come.

This means a shift in Christian experience from old covenant to new covenant thinking. It was the principal issue that impacted the 1888 message. It demonstrated that here is "light" in the gospel that is greater than that of the popular Sunday-keeping churches.

Justification by faith in the Day of Atonement is something beyond Luther's, Calvin's, or the Evangelicals' understanding.

We see this shift in Revelation 19: "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready" (vs. 7). The "woman" grows up. She becomes a Bride who understands and loves her Bridegroom. Concern for Him becomes greater than her former self-centered concern for her own salvation.

Ellen White has taught us to think of the latter rain as "a message of Christ's righteousness," a clearer grasp of practical godliness--all by faith. [2] The idea is in the next verse: "And to her [the bride] was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." [3]

At last the latter rain is welcomed, no longer resisted. Now it's received. God's people have taken the step that concludes the message from the true Witness--they have "overcome even as [He] overcame" (Rev. 3:21). Their faith has matured under the refreshing "showers of the latter rain" received.

This almost unbelievable history must have a lesson for us today--it's "Solomon's Law" which must be fulfilled all over again 3000 years later until the lesson is learned. Add to Solomon's impressive "holy" obedience of his early years, with God's undeniable blessings, the factor of old covenant thinking, and the recipe calls for national apostasy to develop. Solomon reverses 500 years of Israel's history, takes them back to the "Egyptian" darkness from which they had been delivered.

Now, in our modern Adventist history, if we add to all our "holy" obedience to the law, with God's undeniable blessings, the factor of old covenant theology, we also inevitably end up going to "Babylon" to learn methods of worship and patterns of thinking. We again reverse our own history. Those who have been sacredly commissioned to proclaim "Babylon the great is fallen" fulfill "Solomon's Law" by adopting Babylon's theology and worship. Solomon finally had the sense to repent. Lord, grant that same precious gift to us!

--Paul E. Penno


[1] Sunday's lesson.

[2] Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p. 19 (1900).

[3] See Joel 2:23, 24, margin, "teaching of righteousness." Here in Revelation 19 Christ uses a different noun, indicating that now the grand shift in Christian experience has taken place from the old to the new covenant. His word is dikaiomata, whereas the ordinary word for Christ's righteousness is dikaiosune. The latter is imputed to the believer in a legal sense; His dikaiomata is imparted in a practical sense, now an intrinsic part of character, still by faith alone, but real. Now at last an immense hurdle in the great controversy with Satan has been surmounted--by the faith of Jesus. His people have "condemned" sin in their fallen, sinful flesh.

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lesson 12: "The Humility of the Wise"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Proverbs: Words of the Wise

Lesson 12: "The Humility of the Wise"

King Solomon was the wisest, most knowledgeable man of his generation (maybe of all time). The Lord had richly endowed him with this wisdom that surpassed all of his day.

Yet underneath was a solid foundation of pure humility that made it possible for the Lord to bless him as He did. When the Lord offered him (as King David's descendant) anything he might ask for, he was wise to ask for the right things: "O Lord my God, Thou hast made [me] Thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. ... Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart ... that I may discern between good and bad" (1 Kings 3:7-9).

The Lord commended him because he had not asked for riches, or fame, or power: "And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing" (vs. 10).

In a humble frame of mind, Solomon wrote: "I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy" (Prov. 30:3). This is a confession that the wisdom Solomon possessed when he was in his prime was a direct gift from God and that all his insights came from that same divine source. His wisdom was not reasoned wisdom, but revealed wisdom.

Therefore the Lord gave him what he had asked for, but besides that, the Lord gave him wealth and power and fame beyond estimate: "I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor" (vss. 12, 13). But as Proverbs 18:12 tells us, "Before honor is humility."

One very important "dynamic" of the 1888 message is that Christ came all the way to where we are, taking upon Himself "the likeness of sinful flesh." Thus He is a Savior "nigh at hand, not afar off." He is the "Savior of all men," even "the chief of sinners."

Our lesson asks the question, "Who do you think you are?" Jesus had to wrestle with that same question all His life on earth as our Savior. The first inkling that He knew who He was came at the age of 12 when He asked Mary and Joseph in the Temple in Jerusalem, "[Did you not know] that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

But problems surface in the temptations in the wilderness after His baptism at the age of 30: "IF, IF, IF ... Thou be the Son of God ... !" (Matt. 4:6ff.). Matthew seems to be the one most aware of this problem that Jesus constantly wrestled with. Satan wouldn't let Jesus alone even as He hung on His cross in His last hours: "IF Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross"! (Matt. 27:40).

So, if the divine Son of God in our human flesh or nature had to wrestle with this problem in temptation, don't be dismayed if you find yourself wondering who you are! Do you have a right to hold your head high, or is Satan correct when he demeans you and seeks to destroy your self-respect?

Solomon wanted to know about the Redeemer who descended and then ascended into Heaven. "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? ... what is His name, and what is His Son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Prov. 30:4). Christ "descended" to the lowest point in the universe--the point of the second death of all the inhabitants of this planet (cf. Heb. 2:9), a willing surrender of Himself to die that death from which no resurrection could ever be hoped for.

But the Father did not leave His Son in the grave. Christ's ascension to heaven after His resurrection was a cosmic triumph. The "captivity" which He led "captive" was the host of saints resurrected with Him (cf. Matt. 27:52, 53).

The idea is that He climbed the heights of heaven and captured the enemy's booty, and handed it all out in "gifts" to us all. He took a little band of Galilean peasants and made them the down payment on a multitude of people who through the ages since have been the "gifted" leaders of His church. Having risen from the tomb, Christ has seized the universe and redistributed its wealth!

Jesus has special sympathy for people who have wasted their lives and whose hearts are filled with remorse. They are the special objects of His compassion. In fact, they are the ones He came to save. The poor publican who beat upon his breast and wouldn't even lift his eyes to heaven, who prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" he is the one who went home justified. Straightened out, put right with God.

Why does Jesus have such special sympathy for such people? There is only one possible answer: because He repented on their behalf; He took their nature; He was tempted like they are tempted; He is their High Priest (Heb. 2:14-18). And now He invites you to share His love and sympathy for all the sinners in the world, for all the prodigal sons feeding the pigs, for all the publicans who cry out for mercy. And when you begin to share His compassion, the joy of your own life has only begun.

Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," wrote: "[Christ's] humanity only veiled His Divine nature, by which He was inseparably connected with the invisible God, and which was more than able successfully to resist the weaknesses of the flesh. There was in His whole life a struggle. The flesh, moved upon by the enemy of all righteousness, would tend to sin, yet His Divine nature never for a moment harbored an evil desire, nor did His Divine power for a moment waver. Having suffered in the flesh all that men can possibly suffer, He returned to the throne of the Father as spotless as when He left the courts of glory" (Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 32, 33, Glad Tidings ed.).

The very last question in our lesson (Friday) asks: "How do we find balance in all that we do?"

In the beginning of this essay we quoted King Solomon: "Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart ... that I may discern between good and bad" (1 Kings 3:7-9). This may be understood as "balance," a popular word used in describing the relationships between different understandings of the gospel.

Conservative Christians for hundreds of years have discussed (even argued) the relationship between faith and works. Their favorite word used to describe it is "balance." The popular idea is that one must hold faith and works in "balance." If you talk about faith for ten minutes then you must also talk about works for ten minutes. However, a check of the concordance reveals that nowhere in the Bible is the word "balance" used to describe this relationship. In inspired writings, there is practically nothing to suggest the use of that word as being appropriate.

Scripture and inspired writings are clear "beyond question" that salvation is totally by grace through faith, and Paul even goes out of his way to add, "Not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9). The "balance" idea strongly suggests that salvation is by faith and by works, a 50/50 deal. Which if true, would certainly give the saved ones something to boast about: "yes, Jesus saved me, but look, I did my part too!"

A popular Ellen G. White book is entitled Faith and Works, the title having been added by editors long after the author's death. Yet inside the covers, she repeatedly speaks of the correct formula as being "faith which works."

Have you ever felt, as King Solomon did, like you don't know how to "go out or come in," as if you didn't know how to live this new day? Blessed are you, if you confess this reality before the Lord, and simply ask Him to direct your steps, to keep you from making any stupid mistake, to save you from yourself, and to enable you to live for the One who died for you. The Lord still hears such a prayer!

Now we can hold our head high, and at the same time cherish true humility of soul, realizing that our identity, our future, our prestige, all we are and will ever be, is by the grace of Christ.

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lesson 11: "Living by Faith"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Proverbs: Words of the Wise
Lesson 11: "Living by Faith"
Our lesson topic, "Living by Faith," is one of the "great gospel truths" of the 1888 message, therefore this week we would like to share with you an essay that focuses more on the topic from the Bible, Ellen G. White, and E. J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers."
The 1888 Message Dynamic Regarding Faith
When I first was introduced to the 1888 message I was confused about faith--"our faith," "the faith of Jesus," etc. The good news of the "most precious message" began to become clear as I came to understand the simplicity of God's salvation and what was actually given to us.
One of the first things I learned was about Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." I learned that the word "our" was not in the original and that it was added because the translators could not fathom Jesus Himself having faith. So the actual reading here is: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith." So Jesus is the originator and perfector of faith--therefore it is His faith that perfects us, if we do not resist its working.
One Faith: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:4-6). There is only one faith and that is the faith of Jesus. It is so important to take the scriptures as they read and to accept them for what they say.
The Measure of Faith: Next I learned that God had given a measure of faith to everyone: "For I say, ... to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). So is this where we get "our" faith? Yes, He gave everyone a measure of faith but He gave us much more in the process. E. J. Waggoner opened my mind to the real gift that came with faith: "In what measure has God given every man faith? This is really answered in the fact already learned, that the faith which He gives is the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is given in the gift of Jesus Himself, and Christ is given in His fullness to every man. ... Christ is not divided; therefore to every man is given all of Christ and all of his faith. There is but one measure." [1] (emphasis added).
The Faith of Jesus: In Revelation 14:12 we have the term "the faith of Jesus." This is the correct rendering of the original and should be used whenever one finds the term "faith in Jesus."
"We" know "that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Gal. 2:16). The prophet Habakkuk, under the Inspiration, wrote: "The just shall live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4). He understood that it was by God's own faith that we live.
The Works of Faith: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10).
"Faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6) says that it is faith that does the "work." God's salvation has nothing to do with legalism (man's efforts) except to save us from it!
It is the faith of Jesus that obeys the commandments of God--man cannot obey, that is why salvation is a gift. "If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man, and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason." [2]
Faith and Sin: "For whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). This shows that the Law of God is the righteousness within us as a result of Christ in us. It is His faith that perfectly obeys God's law and so whatever does not come from this faith is sin.
Crucified With Christ: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). "Only the cross has the power to save. ... It is only in death that we become joined to Him (Rom. 6:3). ...The cross makes a new creation." [3]
When we are crucified we no longer live. We are dead. The dead do not have sin, life, or faith. But our text says that there is life present, but it isn't ours, it is His! Christ lives in us and everything Christ has comes with Him. This is the "mystery" of God--Christ living in us.
"The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:26, 27). So how does this mystery of "Christ in you" relate to our topic of living by faith?
Jude writes: "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3, emphasis added). Is this "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" a different faith than the one we have been discussing? Ellen White says no: --
"A large number who claim to believe the present truth, know not what constitutes the faith that was once delivered to the saints--Christ in you the hope of glory. They think they are defending the old landmarks, but they are lukewarm and indifferent." [4]
So the faith once and for all delivered to the saints is "Christ in you, the hope of glory"--the full gospel. This is the faith of Jesus--and Jesus is the gospel.
"Abraham's faith in God, as one who could bring things into existence by His Word, was exercised with respect to His being able to create righteousness in a person destitute of it." [5]
"The Bible so clearly teaches that righteousness is by faith. Therefore the only element that God's people need in order to prepare for the second coming of Christ is genuine faith." [6] This genuine faith is the faith of Jesus.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. ... For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:16-17).
From Faith to Faith. "Note that "from faith to faith" is said to be parallel with "the just shall live by faith." ... just as we live naturally by breathing, so we are to live spiritually by faith, and our whole life is to be spiritual. Faith is the breath of life to the Christian. So just as we naturally live from breath to breath, we are to live spiritually from faith to faith. We can live but one breath at a time; so we cannot live spiritually except by present faith. If we live a life of conscious dependence upon God, His righteousness will be ours, for we shall breathe it in continually." [7]
"So believing in Christ, we are saved by the faith of Christ, since we have Him personally dwelling in us, exercising His own faith. All power in heaven and earth is in His hands. Recognizing this, we simply allow Him to exercise His own power in His own way." [8]
"If faith in Christ is good for anything, it is good for everything. And that is just what it is good for." [9] This is what it is to live by faith.
--Daniel Peters
[1] E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, Aug. 6, 1896.
[2] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 816.
[3] E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, Galatians Made Clear, p. 139.
[4] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 403 (emphasis added).
[5] E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, Oct. 13, 1890.
[6] Robert J. Wieland, Ten Great Gospel Truths, Gospel Truth #9.
[7] E. J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 26.
[8] The Glad Tidings, Galatians Made Clear, p. 42.
[9] E. J. Waggoner, The Present Truth, May 21, 1891.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lesson 10: "Behind the Mask"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Proverbs: Words of the Wise
Lesson 10: "Behind the Mask"
Ellen White wrote, "Those who will never admit that they are wrong, feel injured when reproved, and bring forth reasons as numerous as vain, to justify themselves." All the prayer in the world won't change them and they receive no reformation. "They do not see that they are defective, and are satisfied with their own erroneous way of doing, and think that every one else should be as satisfied with them as they are with themselves."
After citing Solomon's words, "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Prov. 26:12), Ellen White continues: "The great Teacher has his human agents, whom he terms under-shepherds; and to these, under his direction, he commits the work of setting things in order." [1]
Today church historians and leaders say that the message A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner brought to the church in 1888 was old light that was eventually accepted, albeit belatedly, by the majority of that era and continuing on to the present day. This raises the question, 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" (Eccl. 1:9). Even Jesus did not teach "new light." But oh, 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 said virtually the same regarding Jones' and Waggoner's message.
For years 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 (Rev. 14:15). 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 answer: the light of the loud cry message contains truths that were not enunciated by Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, etc.--not 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." Preach what? "A part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days." [4] 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. "Paul ... did not preach it." The cleansing of the sanctuary is surely "a part of the everlasting gospel."
She says that Jones and Waggoner "discovered the precious ore in the rich veins of truth ... that have been hidden for ages." [5] 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. [6] 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.
Then why did Ellen White say that the 1888 message was not "new light"? The answer is obviously in her context. She is defending the message against its critics who derided it as "novel" or false doctrine dreamed up by two young enthusiasts; and her appreciation of the message later grew until she could identify it as the message of Revelation 18:1. That larger appreciation must illuminate her earlier statements.
If we experience justification by faith, "we have peace with God ... because the love [agape] of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, ... we have now received the atonement [reconciliation with God!], ... as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:1, 5, 11, 21).
All these blessings are wrapped up in the experience of justification by faith. Which is why E. J. Waggoner, editor of The Signs of the Times, once said correctly that "there is but one thing in this world that a man needs, and that is justification" to be ready for the coming of Christ. [7] Why? It includes what is commonly thought to be sanctification! He had a correct idea of what faith is--a heart appreciation of agape, of what really happened at the cross of Christ. This is the sanctuary truth. A former alienated heart is now reconciled to God.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Ellen G. White, "Words to the Young," The Youth's Instructor, August 31, 1893.
[2] Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 6.
[3] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 356.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ellen G. White, "The Darkness Comprehended It Not," Review and Herald, June 3, 1890.
[6] Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 473, 1897.
[7] E. J. Waggoner, "How Righteousness Is Obtained," The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1891, p. 255.