Monday, August 31, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 9: Peter and the Gentiles
 Ellet J. Waggoner, "A Present Salvation," The Present Truth, May 18, 1893.
 Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 46 (Glad Tidings ed.).
 Ellen G. White, Letter 24, 1892, to Uriah Smith; "The Message of 1888: An Appeal for Unity; The Need for the Indwelling Christ," The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1043.
 A. T. Jones, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Aug. 16, 1898 (some emphasis added).
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 8: Jesus: Cross-Cultural Missions
"Faith is the expecting the word of God to do what it says,
and the depending upon that word to do what it says." --A. T. Jones 
Our lesson gives us several wonderful examples of "cross-cultural missions," and each example bears one of the most powerful concepts of the 1888 message--righteousness by faith. We could spend a little time on each example given in the lesson; however, the story of "The Roman Army Officer," or Centurion, will be our focus in this short essay.
In Luke 7:2-10 there is a delightful story of a Roman centurion who sent some Jewish elders on a mission to Jesus to request Him to come and heal his servant who was sick unto death. The elders displayed their arrogance, proudly recommending the Roman army officer because he loves the Jewish nation and has paid for a synagogue (church building) for them.
But their testimonials meant nothing to Jesus; here was a request for help, and His compassion responded. (Luke tells it because he loves to emphasize Jesus' love for Gentiles). Halfway there, Jesus is interrupted by the man's friends sent on another mission to tell Him, "Trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof," even though he probably had a sumptuous house if he could afford to pay for a new synagogue! Then he added, "But say in a word, and my servant shall be healed." He believed there is power in God's word! And Jesus marveled that a Gentile should have such "faith," that is, confidence that God is all-powerful.
But as we read the story in its context, we begin to see that the Roman soldier's faith was more than that. He had begun to understand his sinfulness in the light of Christ's righteousness, for he said two things. (1) "I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof," and (2) "neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee."
The centurion's faith was not a mere mental trust, but a heart-appreciation. An unusual love had filled this Roman solider's heart, for he was concerned for his servant, and not for himself. The faith he had already had transformed him and delivered him from selfishness. And so this story does help us understand the essential ingredient of true miracle healing: faith is a heart-appreciation of the sacrifice of Christ. 
A. T. Jones, one of the 1888 "messengers," wrote in the Review and Herald about the centurion's faith in the word of God:
"We have seen that the power abiding in the word of God is sufficient, only upon the speaking of that word, to create worlds. It is likewise sufficient, now that it is spoken to men, to create anew, in Christ Jesus, every one who receives it.
"Now what was it that the centurion expected would heal His servant? It was 'the word only,' which Jesus would speak. And after the word was spoken, what did the centurion depend upon--to what did he look for the healing power? It was 'the word only.' He did not look for the Lord to do it in some ways apart from the word. No. He heard the word, 'So be it done unto thee.' He accepted that word as it is in truth the word of God and expected it, depended upon it, to accomplish that which it said. And it was so. And that word is the word of God today as certainly as in the day that it was originally spoken. It has lost none of its power, for that word 'liveth and abideth forever.'" 
Ellen G. White also wrote about the Roman centurion, using the story as an example of his faith in contrast to that of the "brethren" she was addressing:
"Brethren, we want to come right up as a man and obtain a living experience here in this meeting. You want light enough that you can carry it with you into eternity. That is what you want. We have not half faith enough. We are only just beginning to learn as little children. The child first takes a step, and falls; and then takes another step, and finally learns how to walk. Now, we want to learn how to exercise faith.
"When the centurion came to Christ, just look at his faith. Why, he did not claim all the knowledge of the Jews; but here this centurion came, and he says, O Lord, You need not go away down there to heal my servant; You just say it and it will be done. What kind of power did he think was in Christ? Just what was invested in him. Now, said he, You may just say the word. I say to my servant, go, and he goeth, and I say to him, do this, and he doeth. Well now, all You have to say is to command, and it will be done.
"What was his insight? That there were angels all around Christ; the word of Christ would go right to that sick chamber and heal that soul. The Jews saw how Christ said to him, 'I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.' Now there are those outside of us that are standing in greater favor to God than we are; and why? Because they live up to every jot of light that they have. And we have light pouring in on us, and for months [since the 1888 General Conference Session] we have been pleading that the people would come up and accept the light; and they do not know whether to do it or not. They do not seem to see that they can come and drink, that they can open their hearts and let the Saviour in.
"My soul is agonized at times over these things. But I cannot do anything, I cannot speak to the heart; but God alone can speak to the heart. I entreat of you, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, to bruise Satan under your feet. I beseech of you to begin to labor for yourself, labor for souls that are in darkness and unbelief. I beseech of you to spend your efforts in order to bring them where they can come where the living waters flow--where the light of heaven may come upon them, that they can stand amid the people as a light, and not as a shadow of darkness." 
A. T. Jones also wrote: "Plainly, it must be to little purpose to urge upon a person the necessity of cultivating faith, while that person has no intelligent idea of what faith is. And it is sadly true that, though the Lord has made this perfectly plain in the Scriptures, there are many church-members who do not know what faith is. …
"Faith comes 'by the word of God.' To the Word, then, we must look for it. …
"'When Jesus heard [what the centurion said], he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.'
"There is what Jesus pronounces faith. When we find what that is, we have found faith. To know what that is, is to know what faith is. There can be no sort of doubt about this; for Christ is 'the Author ... of faith,' and he says that that which the centurion manifested was 'faith;' yes, even 'great faith.'
"Where, then, in this is the faith?--The centurion wanted a certain thing done. He wanted the Lord to do it. But when the Lord said, 'I will come' and do it, the centurion checked him, saying, 'Speak the word only,' and it shall be done.
"Now, what did the centurion expect would do the work? 'The word ONLY.' Upon what did he depend for the healing of his servant? Upon 'the word ONLY.'
"And the Lord Jesus says that that is faith." 
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland, A. T. Jones, and Ellen G. White
 A. T. Jones, Lessons on Faith, p. 16; Review and Herald, Dec. 27, 1898.
 From the writings of Robert J. Wieland.
 A. T. Jones, "The Power of the Word II," Review and Herald, Oct. 27, 1896.
 Ellen G. White, "Who Will Accept the Light from Heaven?," Remarks at Bible School, Feb. 6, 1890; The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, Ms. 10, 1890, pp. 555, 556.
 A. T. Jones, Lessons on Faith, pp. 15, 16; Review and Herald, Dec. 6, 1898.
Note: "Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: 1888mpm.org
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 7: Jesus: The Master of Missions
Ellen White's dream was that the 1888 message would be proclaimed in "every church," and then it would spill out to the world beyond, where millions would find precious truth in a teaching of the cross, which they had never seen before.
The fact is that multitudes of Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians, utterly sincere, have never understood the cross of Christ! The reason is that their commonly held belief in natural immortality had been a dense fog that hides the truth of what happened on the cross from their view. Seventh-day Adventists have taught the non-immortality of the soul for nearly two centuries, but their confusion over the two covenants has kept them, too, from seeing clearly what happened on the cross. So the proclamation of the cross of Christ became the essence of the 1888 Loud Cry message that "we" had looked forward to for decades, and yet we had never known what it would be.
Jesus proclaimed this same truth, which is the core mission and "evangelism" teaching in the 1888 message. It was at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem just before His crucifixion:
"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said [Song of Solomon 4:15], out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37, 38).
This is a profound statement of the method of evangelism and mission that Jesus loved. He is not putting pressure on us to do this or that; He is not making us feel guilty for not doing more "evangelism." He is guaranteeing that if we truly believe in Him, the purest evangelism will be flowing out of our hearts as from an overflowing fountain. Of course, no one can truly "believe" if he doesn't understand the message. Therefore the proclamation, the teaching, of the "most precious" truths is utterly essential.
This is the idea that Ellen White, A. T. Jones, and E. J. Waggoner saw in the 1888 message. The love for the message that is awakened by one's first discovering it, never dies. You long somehow to share it with every soul you meet. It's a replay of what motivated the early Christians, and youth catch the vision readily once they understand the message clearly.
All during the years Ellen White uttered her 300-plus endorsements of the 1888 message, her heart-burden was to give the message to the world. She was sorry that in the end of the era human opposition to the message resulted in its being "in a great degree kept away from the world" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 235). The message itself was built-in "evangelism." It couldn't be stopped once it started unless "the brethren" succeeded in paralyzing it.
At the end of the era, her principal expressed disappointment was not that more money had not come in for "public evangelism," but that our ministers and people had not grasped the message itself. What occupied her mind at that time of the Loud Cry was not so much what we call "public evangelism" where one or a few individuals proclaim the message and many come to listen (that came later), but a personal mission on the part of members of the church who came to understand the message. She saw a one-to-one method of proclaiming it as highly efficient to the point of success in finishing the world gospel commission in that one single generation. She saw that that was Heaven's intention for us.
But the power behind her vision needs to be understood: it was "the truth of the gospel" as contained in the actual 1888 message itself. It was not theological conundrums unraveled; it was not Conference-administered "efforts" held in tents or meeting halls; it was simple truth grasped by ordinary people which they had never seen so clearly before. It gripped their souls as Good News that met their heart needs. It included fresh views of:
The New Covenant. It never before had been so clearly proclaimed. It inspired people to share the ideas.
The justification that Christ accomplished by His sacrifice "for the sins of the whole world." Calvinist and Arminian views had functioned like spiritual cataracts that blinded people; they were now removed. The resultant clarity was a powerful motivation to share the message.
The understanding of what faith is. It came into focus as a heart appreciation for what it cost the Son of God to save the world. Let the heart be moved with "the truth of the gospel," let the Savior be uplifted on His cross and nothing can stop the one who believes from sharing!
Obedience to the law. In the wake of the proclamation of the 1888 message, obedience became a joy. "Thousands of dollars" in back tithe flowed into the church without pressure being applied simply because the message of "faith which works by love [agape]" gripped souls. Returning tithe to the Lord became a joy because now it was seen that Christ's "yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light." Love of money was eclipsed by love of the gospel.
The nearness-of–the-Savior truth. This brought Jesus so close that "we" saw Him as being real, "a Savior nigh at hand and not afar off." The confusion in "our" idea of Christ's personality was resolved. Biblical ideas replaced the dimness of Protestant fog inherited originally from Roman Catholicism. Ellen White said that young people were brought face to face with Christ as though they turned a corner and there He was.
At last the sanctuary doctrine came alive. "We" discovered a reason for living that constrained "us" with new zeal. We could cooperate with Christ in His closing work as High Priest. Each individual suddenly acquired a self-respecting importance, someone who could help hasten the return of Jesus because we could actually help Him in His final task.
And on and on, the 1888 truths caused many to exclaim, "I never saw the Bible so clearly before!" They just had to tell others! No one could hold believers back.
Ellen White told us that we" would be surprised by "the simple means" that God will employ in the final proclamation of the third angel's message: this message of 1888 was it. It took everybody by surprise in 1888, including Ellen White herself. When the message itself in its pure strength is undiluted with Babylon's concepts that compromise it, will it not be proclaimed as Heaven intended, to "every Seventh-day Adventist Church" and then to the world? The final blaze of gospel glory will illuminate the world, and for the first time since Pentecost mission and evangelism will at last come into its own.
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland
Note: "Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: 1888mpm.org
Wednesday, August 5, 2015