Friday, September 25, 2015

Sabbath School Lesson 13 | "Must the Whole World Hear" | Pastor Paul Penno

Lesson 13: Must the Whole World Hear?

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Biblical Missionaries
Lesson 13: Must the Whole World Hear?
Must the whole world hear what? This is not a facetious question. The answer goes to the heart of the 1888 message.
The lesson study doesn't identify what the world needs to hear. It deals with how much or how little one needs to hear and leaves one in a quandary. One could assume that whatever Christian missionaries are proclaiming is sufficient for the world to hear.
If people can be saved eternally in God's kingdom without ever hearing the name of Jesus, why do we send missionaries? Why not just let them live up to whatever light they have? Paul says, "What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. ... Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, ... show the work of the law written in their hearts" (Rom. 1:19; 2:14, 15).
If Christ is "the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world," what is the need of preaching the gospel? (John 1:9). The "Light" will of itself judge "every man." Let people be—with what light they have!
There is some refreshing news in Peter's sermon at Pentecost: "It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. ..." (Acts 2:17). Peter quoted Joel 2 at the time of the "early rain" outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But the "early rain" will be eclipsed by the "latter rain" outpouring of the Spirit "in the last days." That sounds like good news, but is it too good?
"The everlasting gospel" is the third angel's message as we like to call it (Rev. 14:6-12). But you say, Seventh-day Adventists have been proclaiming this message for 170 years. If this message is the "latter rain" outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then why hasn't it accomplished the finishing of God's work on the earth? The third angel's message is not the "latter rain."
The three angels of Revelation 14 cannot finish their primary task of the ripe harvest without the added help of "another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with His glory" (Rev. 18:1). "Glory" is the truth about God's character of agape—"the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). "The law and the gospel are one, both cemented in one. ..." [1] The 1888 message is an understanding of justification by faith which is parallel to and consistent with the cleansing of the sanctuary truth. The 1888 message is the truth of the gospel which is in harmony with the law of God.
Ellen White identified the beginning of the "latter rain" in our history. "An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren [E. J.] Waggoner and [A. T.] Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world." [2]
What is the result of the third angel's message when the "latter rain" sanctuary truth is received? Answer: "The harvest of the earth is ripe" (Rev. 14:15). Then the harvest is ready for "the Son of man" "on the cloud" to thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped" (Rev. 14:14, 17).
The words "all flesh" surely mean everybody in the world (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28). The everlasting gospel is for "them that dwell on the earth" (Rev. 14:6). "The earth was lightened with His glory" (Rev. 18:1). The "latter rain" sanctuary truth will result in "a loud voice" for "every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people" (Rev. 14:7, 6).
Peter does not say that everybody will receive the Holy Spirit's message. He only says that God will give the gift to everybody. Jesus can help us understand. He says that "when He [the Holy Spirit] is come, He will reprove [convict] the world of sin, ... because they believe not on Me" (John 16:7-9). The Father "so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Christ "was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9).
The ancient Jews wouldn't believe this, for they thought that only they are "lighted." But Gentiles are also included! The Holy Spirit sheds light on every human heart. That person may not receive the light, but in the last great judgment day, no one can accuse God of not letting some light shine upon his pathway, some evidence on which that soul could make a choice. In every human heart the Holy Spirit has brought a conviction of sin, a sense of right and wrong. And blessed are those who respond to that conviction the Holy Spirit gives.
But there's another statement in Peter's sermon that arrests our attention: "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21). Of course, that must mean, "in sincerity" (Eph. 6:24). God pays attention to "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Cor. 1:2). Here is His "much more abounding grace"; "the same Lord ... is rich unto all that call upon Him" (Rom. 10:12). David says, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34:6).
Do you feel sinful and unworthy? Call upon the Lord, and believe that in His mercy He will hear you. Yes, He will convict you of sin; but thank Him for that with all your heart.
If there should never be a personal, visible second coming of Jesus Christ, and every one must depend on a resurrection from the dead, there could be a bit of logic in the idea that we don't need to send missionaries to the ends of the earth. But there can be no resurrection for anyone without the personal appearance of Jesus! If He doesn't come, no one can realize eternal life. Only He is "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). And that means some people must be prepared to endure meeting the glorified Christ face to face while still alive, whom to see is death unless they have become "pure in heart," for only they can "see God" and live (Matt. 5:8).
That means to "overcome even as [Christ] overcame" (Rev. 3:21). And there the "everlasting gospel" of Revelation 14:6-15 comes into focus—yes, the final "light" which must "lighten the earth with glory" (Rev. 18:1-4). The ripe harvest is seen with the "Lamb on mount Zion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev. 14:1). We will need a much more clear understanding of the cross, the sacrifice of Christ.
—Paul E. Penno


[1] Letter Ellen G. White to Brethren in Fresno, June 13, 1889 (previously unpublished).

[2] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sabbath School Lesson 12 | "Paul: Mission and Message" | Pastor Paul Penno

Lesson 12: Paul: Mission and Message

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Biblical Missionaries

Lesson 12: Paul: Mission and Message


This Was Paul's Message!

The Book of Acts tells why the gospel was so successful at the time of the apostles. A consistent theme seems to emerge: they told the world that they had rejected and crucified the Son of God. This realization resulted in an enormous sense of guilt: what sin or crime could be worse than that?

For example, at Pentecost, Peter said: "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Immediately came the heart-broken cry, "What shall we do?" (vs. 37). Then when Peter and John healed the paralytic, Peter again said, "You denied the Holy One and the Just, ... and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead" (3:14, 15). You couldn't yawn and sit on the fence when you heard a charge like that!

A sudden glimpse of the significance of the cross converted Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:5, 6; 26:13-15), and empowered him to proclaim the truth more powerfully than any of the Eleven who had witnessed the actual event.

One exception to apostolic success is Paul's ministry in Athens as described in Acts 17. God's faithful servant suffered a humiliating rebuke in his evangelism crusade in the great city of Athens. He made the mistake of trying to match philosophy with philosophy, trying to meet the Athenian scholars on their own ground. There was no mention of the cross. The result: near failure in soul-winning, although a few did respond.

But from Athens Paul went to the immoral city of Corinth, where he "determined not to know anything among [them] except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). This was Paul's message! A lesson for us?

This Is the 1888 Message!

"During the fall of 1882, at the age of 27, E. J. Waggoner [one of the 1888 "messengers"] had an experience that he would later describe as the turning point of his life. Sitting under a camp meeting tent one dismal rainy afternoon in Healdsburg, California, listening to the gospel presented by Ellen G. White, he suddenly saw a light shining about him, and the tent illuminated as though the sun were shining. He had a distinct 'revelation of Christ Crucified' for him. He later wrote that it was revealed for the first time in his life that God loved him, and that Christ gave Himself for him personally--that it was all for him. The light that shone on him that day from the cross of Christ became the guide in all his Bible study. He resolved that the rest of his life would be devoted to discovering the message of God's love for individual sinners found in the pages of Scripture, and making that message plain to others (Waggoner to Ellen G. White, Oct. 22, 1900)." [1] This is the heart and soul of the 1888 message!

Waggoner and the Apostle Paul both saw that the revelation of love in the last days was "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." That was not extremism; it was only a "reasonable service" that they saw as appropriate to the extravagant love Christ had shown for them. It was agape, not ordinary human love.

Paul wasn't lukewarm!

The love (agape) of Christ compelled [constraineth, KJV] him. When he said "One died for all," he reasoned that it had to mean that "all died," so that "those who live" cannot in peace of conscience go on living "for themselves." They are constrained henceforth to "live for Him who for their sake died and was raised to life" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15, REB). Paul saw something that set him on fire for the Lord until that last hour in the Roman Mamertine prison when he laid his head on the block before the executioner, and died for the One who had died for him. "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross," he had said. No glorying in his own response, or his own faith, or his own obedience. That's why he wrote these words:

"The grace of God and the gift that came to [the] many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ [in the Greek the many means all people]. ... The judicial action, ... following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a verdict of acquittal. ... The result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (Rom. 5:15-18, REB).

The Word "Gospel"

The word "gospel" is a common one that covers all kinds of ideas. But what the apostles actually preached is the only valid, authentic idea. What they said must be read in their own context, fully, not partially read and distorted to a wrong definition of that word.

Paul said that a correct understanding of the word "gospel," if it is believed, "is the power of God to salvation" (Rom. 1:16). It converted very "difficult" people when Paul preached it (1 Cor. 6:9, 10).

What happened at Corinth under Paul's preaching will happen again on a worldwide scale in the proclamation of the Loud Cry of Revelation 18. So, let us discover what the "gospel" was that Paul preached there.

He tells us: "When I came to you, [it] was not with excellence of speech or of wisdom. ... I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Was that a fanatical "trip" he was on, preaching boring sermons? If so, why did the people crowd in to hear him, and then embrace his "gospel" with "power"? There's an answer: there is something in "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5, 14) of the cross that triumphs over all the imitation, false "gospels" Satan can invent.

"Christ crucified" meant infinitely more than anything the world's great thinkers could come up with: the apostles' idea was that He died the world's second death. That was an idea no one had ever thought of at that time; no one had imagined that there was a love anywhere in the universe so great as that.

Even today, among the vast concourse of professed Christians, there are precious few who conceive of such an idea. But it moved hearts and motivated people to take up their cross, and follow Him "wheresoever" He led.

It's a Winning Message!

In these last days when sin and selfishness are so rampant, the Lord Jesus will be honored by "144,000" (figurative or literal) who "follow the Lamb [the crucified, risen Christ] wherever He goes. ... They are without fault before the throne of God" (cf, Rev, 14:1-5). Whoever they are, there will be such a people who will glorify Christ! We might be surprised who will end up in that group; let's walk humbly before Him.

The message that must now go to all the world is that "Loud Cry" message of Revelation 18. It's not only a warning message; it's a winning message--it's of Christ and Him crucified.

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] Duffield, Ron, "History of E. J. Waggoner's The Everlasting Covenant.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lesson 11: Paul: Background and Call

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Biblical Missionaries
Lesson 11: Paul: Background and Call
Paul had been a fanatic! A steel armor encased his heart. He tasted the depths of a hellish hatred of the Messiah. Before his conversion, he had fully expended his energies in fighting against God. He actually hated Jesus Christ and His followers, "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, ... so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1, 2).
Combined with this persecuting zeal was a keen intellectual grasp of the theology of apostate Judaism. At this time he was a wild fanatic in the utmost limits of legalism. No one can be further from the Lord than a legalist fanatic who thinks he is holy and righteous because of his legalism. Paul is not just mouthing polite phrases of contrition when he says he is "chief" of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), "one born out of due time, ... the least of the apostles, ... because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15:8, 9). He tasted the depths of a hellish hatred of the Savior. Living before the time of the remnant church, no one has ever in anticipation known more intimately the "dragon's rage with the woman [and] ... the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).
In the heart of the unconverted Saul of Tarsus flared the fires of the great controversy of Satan against Christ; he was wholly devoted to Satan's side. If he had not been converted when he was, he would very likely have authored the most devilish books of anti-Christ teaching. What would have been the teachings of Saul of Tarsus worked out in the dogmas of the Great Apostasy of the Dark Ages which he described to the Thessalonians in his second letter (2:1-10)?
It was divinely appropriate that this intimate cohort of Satan should be converted on that road to Damascus when he "saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? ... I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting'" (Acts 26:13-15).
Just like Jesus confronting the apostate Jews in His Father's house (the Temple) a few weeks earlier, Paul's approach to them after his conversion is totally confrontational. In a flash, all the learning of his Jewish scholarly past came into focus: Jesus of Nazareth is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! That "light ... brighter than the sun" was a vision of the cross of Christ. Every brain cell was flooded with an intensity of brilliant light; decades of distorted, perverted twisting of biblical truth suddenly were clarified. A panorama flashed like a bright video before his soul's eyes--"Christ and Him crucified."
The breath was knocked out of him; he was paralyzed until the heavenly Voice said, "Rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you" (Acts 26:16).
That vision on the road to Damascus explains his life-long obsession with the preaching of the cross. The eleven apostles were of course henceforth richly blessed in ministry, but a new champion who had never seen Jesus as they had seen Him, but who probably perceived Him more clearly through that vision, was now to proclaim Him to the multitudes. And thank God, Christ is proclaimed to us.
The Lord Jesus sought the soul of Saul of Tarsus while he was "persecuting" Him; all the while the Lord made his way "hard" like kicking against goads (Acts 26:12-15). What glorious good news this is for every earth-bound soul. He is seeking for you like the Good Shepherd seeking His lost sheep to save you from ending your life and health too soon. We can see this Good Shepherd idea in Christ's call to Saul, much more clearly as a result of the 1888 message. [1]
The illustration fits, except that Jesus did not tell of a sheep like Saul, fighting the Shepherd when He came to rescue it. Hard to imagine! But that's what we have all done, time and again. That's what it means, to be a sinner--resisting the grace of God.
Saul of Tarsus learned, however, and he tells us, "I do not frustrate [KJV] the grace of God" (Gal. 2:21). He is, at last, "crucified with Christ" (vs. 20). The Good Shepherd seeking His lost sheep and all the prophets and apostles rebuking us for our sin, even giving their lives in being "crucified with Christ" in order to be faithful, are identical with the ministry of that much more abounding grace of God (cf. Rom. 5:20, 21).
The Lord says to us, we "do not know" what we are doing (Rev. 3:17). It's time to become conscious.
By His uplifted cross and on-going priestly ministry, Christ is drawing "all men" to Himself to repentance. His gracious love is so strong and persistent that the "sinner [must] resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus; a knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins, which have caused the sufferings of God's dear Son." [2]
Why is this true? Because He has given Himself for "every man," yes, He has given Himself to every man.
When He died on His cross, He did more than save good people. He died for "the ungodly." "When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). It may be hard to say it, but that includes the worst sinners on earth!
The idea that Christ is running a special "shop" of salvation, and He stays inside like a shopkeeper until the sinner takes the initiative to come seek Him out, is not what the Bible says! Because--
Christ is the Good Shepherd who does not wait for the lost sheep to try to find its way home again; He always goes in search of it: "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). The lost sheep may be lost out on the hills on a wild, stormy night; no matter. The Good Shepherd leaves His "ninety and nine" and at the risk of His own life goes out in the wildest storm imaginable through the mountains "until He finds it." He goes "after the one which is lost until He finds it" (Luke 15:4). "The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (19:10).
Don't imagine that you can save yourself, or that you have grown up on the right side so you are naturally almost saved on your own. If the Lord were to leave us to ourselves, we would be hopelessly lost.
When the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life on His cross, He did not die in vain. He truly saved the world. The despised Samaritans were right when they declared of Him that He is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). But how can that be when the great majority of humans on earth do not thus acknowledge Him?
Many do not know it because they have never been told, clearly; and many refuse to believe it when they are told. But that does not lessen the truth that by means of His sacrifice, Christ has bought them, thus guaranteeing their salvation if they do not resist and reject Him. The entire world belongs to Him by virtue of His sacrifice of His blood on His cross.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] E. J. Waggoner, "God arrested Saul in his mad career of persecution, because He had chosen him to be an apostle. So we see that the pricks against which Saul had been kicking were the strivings of the Spirit to turn him to the work to which he had been called" (Signs of the Times, Dec. 8, 1898, p. 771).
[2] Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 27.
Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at:


Sabbath School Lesson 11 | "Paul: Background and Call" | Pastor Paul Penno