Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lesson 13. The Character of Job

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 13. The Character of Job


There are many ways to misunderstand the story of Job. One of them is to think that God looked around for someone on earth with an almost perfect character (He told Satan "there is no one like him") so He could make Job an example in order to win a bet with the devil. God doesn't use people as pawns. The point of the book of Job is that because He promises to finish the work He starts in us, He allows things to happen to us to mature and strengthen our faith.

In the conversation with the "sons of God" (Job 1:6-9), God said some very nice things about Job's character: he's "blameless," "upright," "fear[s] God," and "turn[s] away from evil." Because of these character traits, it is easy to understand that Job was respected by those who knew him. He had a seat in the "open square." Most ancient towns were built around an open area so that the walls formed protection against enemies. This protected area also served as the commercial market place for the citizens of both the town and surrounding area. To have earned the right to a seat would be an indication that the townspeople respected Job and respected his opinions in important decisions affecting the citizens. We might equate it with being a member of the city council. He was wise, honest, and fair.

To see bad things happening to such a good person didn't make sense to Job's friends, so they argued that he must not be as good as he looked. In chapter 31 Job describes all the good things about him as proof that his friends are wrong. We are told in "all this" Job didn't sin, but it isn't sin to misunderstand. The refining process is to mature our character, and God allows it because He loves us. Whether we do good things or have good character traits does not make us exempt.

In the cosmic Day of Atonement cleansing concept that Seventh-day Adventists call the "Investigative Judgment," the process is for us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in showing us who we are, and the sins we may or may not know of so that we can let Him cleanse us and mature our faith. The 1888 message teaches that there will be a group of people at the very end of time who allow God to complete this process in their hearts and minds, but they will not be aware of it. Like Job, they won't be able to think of anything they still need to give to God.

On page 109, the "Quarterly" directs us to an Ellen G. White quotation from The Desire of Ages: "The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people" (p. 671). On the same page, she says that [the Holy Spirit] "first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth ... It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains his power over the mind."

Sin came into the world in a disguised, mysterious way. It became the carrier of death when Lucifer, a created being, surrendered to the love of self and unconsciously proposed to take the place of the Creator. Adam surrendered to this same love of self in the garden, and became burdened with a terrible sense of guilt.

The human race has been searching for the right things to do in order to become free from this guilt. It has become the driving force behind the idea of righteousness by works. This is where the gospel becomes the cure. Because the gospel is the power of God, it confronts our guilt, showing us that we are guilty of the ultimate sin of wanting to take the place of the Creator. When we understand we are helpless to free ourselves of this guilt, the gospel frees us to rest in God's ability and willingness to recreate us. This is the power of God, and the power of God forgives, cleanses, and sustains the human soul.

The experience of the 1844 believers ushered in the beginning of a new covenant appreciation of the end time judgment hour. The believers were to see and understand the rebellion of the human heart against God and truth. Their enmity had remained unconscious, awaiting revelation in the final atonement.

"From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. ... But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple." [1] Heaven is far more than just a material place--it constitutes an understanding, a living experience that begins here and now for God's people in this world.

The mystery of iniquity with its burden of guilt will be replaced with the mystery of godliness. Paul tells us that this mystery has been "kept secret for long ages past, but is now manifested and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading the obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:26, 26).

"What a magnificent conclusion!--It reaches from eternity to eternity. The gospel of God is the thing of the ages. ... Patriarchs, prophets and apostles have worked in unison in making it manifest; and 'in the ages to come' it will be both the science and the song of the redeemed 'of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,' who shall gather with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, and will say, 'Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." [2]

--Arlene Hill

[1] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 161.
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 214.

Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:



Friday, December 16, 2016

Lesson 12. Job's Redeemer

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 12. Job's Redeemer


What does Job know? By faith he knows three wonderful truths: he has a living Redeemer, this Redeemer will stand upon the earth, and Job will see Him with his eyes.

He says in effect, "I will not finally believe that the monster god is the God who made this world. I know that the God I have always feared and loved is related to me by covenant--I belong to Him and His family and His people--and in the end, even if it is after my death, I will see Him, and He will vindicate me so that it will be publicly seen that I have been a real believer with a clear conscience" (Job 19:25-27).

Job knows he has a living Redeemer. The "Redeemer" was someone tied to you by covenant, usually a relative, whose calling was to stand for you when you were wronged. One of the most beautiful illustrations of this principle is in the book of Ruth, where Boaz acts as Naomi and Ruth's kinsman-redeemer, caring for them in their widowhood and becoming for Ruth the husband she needs.

Job is confident he has a Redeemer who "lives." This Redeemer can be none other than God Himself, who stands as the Redeemer of His people.

Job knows by faith that this Redeemer will "at the last ... stand upon the earth," "upon the dust," referring to Job's grave. There will be an eternally living vindicator standing on my grave, attesting my genuineness and justification with God.

Job knows that in the end he will see this Redeemer-God with his own eyes. Job expects this to happen after his death--"after my skin has been thus destroyed" (Job 19:26). Job will be hidden in the grave and then summoned in the resurrection to meet his God. To stand before God has the meaning of justification with God, being vindicated. Job's faith makes this future reality so vivid that it is almost as if he is already experiencing this longed-for vision of God. Job is a prophet and the Spirit of Christ within him searches and inquires about what person and time is being indicated by these longings (1 Peter 1:10-12). The deepest longing of Job's heart is to stand vindicated before the God he loves and worships.

Unless the book of Job is nonsense, it clearly indicates that Job vindicated God. Those who say it is blasphemy or near-blasphemy to recognize that converted sinners can ever have even the slightest part in vindicating the Lord and helping to resolve the "great controversy between Christ and Satan" have ignored the obvious import of Job.

The Lord staked the honor of His throne on the outcome of Satan's temptations to Job. There are links that bind Job on his dung hill with Christ on His cross.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened had Job failed the test: Satan would have trumpeted all over the universe that God is defeated, that He is wrong, mistaken, and that His plan of salvation is a failure. The fact that Job did not fail ("My servant Job" [has] "spoken of Me the thing which is right", Job 42:8) obviously means that He honored God, defended His cause, silenced Satan, got God off the hook, in short--vindicated Him.

Some say, "Only Christ could do that!" But the fact is, Job did it too! The fact that Job vindicated God does not mean he did it on his own. It was by faith ("I know that my Redeemer liveth ..."). It was righteousness imparted by faith.

Christ on His cross, Job on his dung-hill, and the saints apparently forsaken of God during the Time of Trouble, all have something in common: a practical experience of atonement. By faith they span the awful gulf of God-forsakenness that all have felt. There is no sense in the heavenly universe watching the demonstration if it is meaningless!

Christ was not afflicted with boils or leprosy. He did not lose a family or hear a wife say, "Curse God and die." He suffered no sudden, forced deprivation of wealth. But He was tempted more than Job could possibly have been. As He hung upon His cross, it was not for Him to say, "I know that My Redeemer liveth!" Rather, it was His to bear the nakedness and of pure distilled despair. No conviction of righteousness triumphantly upheld Him as was Job's privilege.

Job was "made the righteousness of God" even in his darkest moments, and rejoiced in the conviction of innocence which was imputed to him from the Innocent One. But Christ was "made to be sin," and both in appearance and in actuality, was numbered with the transgressors (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 53:12). The bitter cup He drained was the second death, the pain and guilt of naked sin, which He was "made to be" on our account, and which was imputed to Him. Job drank no such cup, but rather was sustained by the fruits of Christ's atonement. "The light that lighteth every man" shone in his soul.

Christ vindicated God by enduring the darkness of the second death. Had He not endured that darkness, He would have been sustained by hope, and thus His sacrifice would not have been complete. It is only when this truth is comprehended that a complete atonement becomes possible to contemplate.

The 1888 message sees Christ's sacrifice on the cross as accomplishing infinitely more than "merely deferring" the original punishment for sin. "The punishment or wages of sin--eternal death" was neither "waived," "deferred," nor "delayed," but was inflicted totally on Christ. This is the only foundation on which grace can rest. Grace that does not rest on Christ's complete sacrifice must be "cheap grace." He actually and truly paid the debt of every man's sin, and therefore fully died the second death of "every man." Thus there is no reason for any human soul to die that second death except for his own personal unbelief, his refusal to appreciate what Christ has actually (not provisionally) accomplished for him on the cross (John 3:17-19). This view of the cross may take one's breath away, but we see it as stark Bible truth.

"Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3). This was the equivalent of the second death. He made the commitment of all He had, to give Himself to death and hell forever, withholding nothing. This is the measure of His agape.

Christ's atonement is infinitely more than we have been ready to understand. Every human being is involved: "Jesus, the world's Redeemer, stands between Satan and every soul. ... The sins of everyone who has lived upon the earth were laid upon Christ, testifying to the fact that no one need be a loser in the conflict with Satan." (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, May 23, 1899).

What good news! And how the world hungers to hear it!

--Paul E. Penno


Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson will be on the Internet soon. Please check his YouTube channel.

Raul Diaz

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lesson 11. Out of the Whirlwind

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 11. Out of the Whirlwind

In our essay this week we would like to focus on Thursday's lesson, "Repenting in Dust and Ashes." Our lesson author makes the statement that Job, after being "overwhelmed by what God had shown him," "saw himself for what he really was, ... abhorring himself and repenting in dust and ashes."

Wrote Ellen White, "'The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind' (Job 38:1), and revealed to His servant the might of His power. When Job caught a glimpse of his Creator, he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes. Then the Lord was able to bless him abundantly and to make his last years the best of his life." [1] This reminds us of a similar statement in reference to His people in modern times:

"Unless the church which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself. When she resists the evil and chooses the good, when she seeks God with all humility, and reaches her high calling in Christ, standing on the platform of eternal truth and by faith laying hold upon the attainments prepared for her, she will be healed. She will appear in her God-given simplicity and purity, separate from earthly entanglements, showing that the truth has made her free indeed. Then her members will indeed be the chosen of God, His representatives." [2]

Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," has written that "wherever in the Old Testament it speaks of any one being broken to pieces by the Lord, we find coupled with that repentance, submission, or bitterness of soul, dust and ashes. When they humbled themselves before the Lord, they put dust on their heads. What was signified in this? I am nothing but dust. In the fifty-first, the penitential Psalm, it says near the close: 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.' That word 'contrite' means rubbed together until it is dust. The Lord, then, does not despise dust; because he can do a great deal even with dust. A good workman does not despise his material. Dust is one of the things which the Lord takes to do everything. Out of dust he made all things to grow. Out of dust he made man to rule over the works of his hands, therefore the Lord does not despise dust." [3]

Could this Old Testament "story," and the writings of Ellen G. White and one of God's "messengers," be pertinent to us, who are living in the "last days"?

Very prominent in the 1888 message is the idea of ceasing to resist our Lord. Ellen White caught it. Not until after the 1888 Conference did she state it clearly: "The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus ... in repentance for his sins." [4] Therein is the essence of the cleansing of the sanctuary!

The 1888 idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary imparts a new motivation for following Christ. The truth of agape supplies the strength--"the agape of Christ constraineth us" (2 Cor. 5:14). Fear of the "investigative judgment" is "cast out." This is part of the cosmic Day of Atonement--a time for at-last-realized one-ness with Christ. That delivers from fear as much as He Himself was delivered from fear in His life on earth.

The Sanctuary truth leads directly to the Bride of Christ making herself ready. That "oneness" is further delineated in Scripture as a development that has never taken place in all past history: "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready." A special blessing is pronounced on those who are invited to "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:6-9). As individuals, all (including those of the last days) are "guests at the wedding." But as a corporate body, the church of the great Day of Atonement becomes the Bride of Christ.

In order for the dilatory Bride to "make herself ready" for the "marriage of the Lamb," she must welcome the disclosure of her true need. The Bride is a corporate body, therefore her repentance is a corporate repentance.

Such repentance is not only sorrow for sin and its results, but a genuine abhorrence of it. It produces an actual turning away from the sin. The law can never do this for anyone; the miracle is administered by grace. "The law worketh wrath," imparting only a terror of judgment, but grace works a repentance that makes "old things" pass away; "behold, all things are become new" (Rom. 4:15; 2 Cor. 5:17). Sin that was once loved is now hated, and righteousness that was once hated is now loved. "The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4).

Far from being a negative experience, such repentance is the foundation of all true joy. As every credit must have a corresponding debit to balance the books, so the smiles and happiness of life, in order to be meaningful, must be founded on the tears of Another upon whom was laid "the chastisement of our peace" and with whose "stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). Repentance is not our tears and sorrow balancing the books of life; it is our appreciation of what it cost Him to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows (vs. 4).

Ellen White says, "At every advance step in Christian experience our repentance will deepen. It is to those whom the Lord has forgiven, to those whom he acknowledges as His people, and He says, 'Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight'" (Ezek. 36:31). [5]

A repentance like this is beyond us to invent or to initiate. It must come as a gift from above. God has exalted Christ "to give repentance to Israel" (Acts 5:31). And to the Gentiles also He "granted repentance unto life" (11:18). Is He any less generous to us today? Such an experience seems almost wholly out of place in these last days. Can a sophisticated church ever receive it?

Laodicea's repentance will go down to the deepest roots of this natural "enmity against God." This deeper phase of repentance is repenting of sins that we may not have personally committed, but which we would have committed if we had the opportunity. [6] The root of all sin, its common denominator, is the crucifixion of Christ. A repentance for this sin is appropriate because the books of heaven already record this sin written against our names:

The Laodicean call to repentance is the essence of the message of Christ's righteousness. Whatever sins other people are guilty of, they obviously had the "opportunity" of committing them; somehow the temptations were overmastering to them. The deeper insight the Holy Spirit brings to us is that we are by nature no better than others. Christ's righteousness is 100 percent imputed to us; we don't have even 1 percent that is ours by nature. When Scripture says that "all have sinned," it means, as the New English Bible translates it, "all alike have sinned" (Rom. 3:23). Digging down to get the roots out--this is now "present truth."

There is no way that we can appreciate the heights of Christ's glorious righteousness until we are willing to recognize the depths of our own sinfulness. A confession of sin that only scratches the surface can produce only a surface or veneer forgiveness. And that, of course, produces spiritual lukewarmness.

Does the Seventh-day Adventist Church have something to repent of in "dust and ashes"? Yes, Ellen White writes, "Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God." [7]

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 164.
[2] Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 250, 251.
[3] Ellet J. Waggoner, "Studies in the Book of Hebrews, No. 5," Feb. 14, 1897.
[4] Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 27.
[5] Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 160, 161.
[6] Ellen G. White Comments in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1085 (Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901).
[7] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 745.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Friday, December 2, 2016

Lesson 10. The Wrath of Elihu

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of Job
Lesson 10. The Wrath of Elihu

Have you ever felt a "righteous indignation" about the 1888 message? Why doesn't the church recognize the latter rain message that ripens the harvest for Jesus to come? Have you ever been "angry" about that?
It's not fair is common and deeply felt. We are hard-wired with a sense of justice that ought to be done. We overturn governments because they are unjust or corrupt. We expose corruption and injustice in high places and expect it to be put right.
Job has made the accusation, "God is not fair!" He is not merely speaking of corruption in high places but of corruption in the Most High Place. If there is not justice in the universe, what hope is there for us? On a personal level, if I feel that God has not treated me right, in my health, my upbringing, my abilities, my relationships, my work, or in a failed relationship, a bereavement, a sickness, or a psychiatric disorder, then my faith will be harmed, my obedience will become reluctant, my hope will be destroyed, and my joy will be poisoned. The very first temptation in the garden in Eden was to believe that God is not fair. We are reminded as we meet Elihu that the justice or fairness of God lies at the heart of the book of Job.
When the three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes, then Elihu burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job's three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong (Job 32:1-5).
Elihu is angry first with Job "because he was righteous in his own eyes" (vs.1) and "because he justified himself rather than God" (vs. 2). He is angry that a mortal man should claim to be in the right in a way that suggested that God must be in the wrong for causing him to suffer.
Was Elihu's anger justified? Was it what we would call "righteous indignation"? Jesus displayed righteous indignation over the misrepresentation of His Father's house (see Luke 19:46). And here we have a rare example of seeing Jesus when He was "with anger." He heals somebody when He was angry! We would naturally think He would want to cool off before He heals someone; but no, His "anger" was justified, holy, and righteous.
We should think carefully before we display our anger. Time and place and choice of words are always things we need to think about when we speak critically. Should we express some "righteous indignation" over Laodicea's refusal to receive the latter rain of the 1888 message?
Could Jesus sometimes be angry when He is present by the Holy Spirit at our own worship services? If we preach, sing hymns or gospel songs, pray public prayers, while we have "hard hearts," we run the risk of angering Him. His patience is never said to be infinite, and we are getting down close to the end. If someone has wronged us in an unjust way, we have a right to some "righteous indignation," but never should we permit our hearts to become "hard." We can be "angry" with a soft heart that still loves our opponent!
Suppose the Holy Spirit has responded to the pastor's earnest prayer for His blessing in leading the worship service and bringing us a message from heaven, and we sit there nursing a hard heart and then go home utterly impervious to the ministry of the Holy Spirit—don't ever let more than one Sabbath pass like that. When Jesus gets angry (He still does!), He doesn't throw a temper tantrum and break dishes or scream at us. He simply walks away sad, and leaves us alone. When that happens to us, we are most miserable and we have lost the consciousness of our misery. It's hardly a step from hell.
These people Jesus was ministering to in Mark 2 and 3 thought they were the "true church" which kept the commandments of God. Their parallel with us was uncomfortably close. Times almost without number Ellen White compared the church to them. In respect of "1888" alone, she said many times that we acted "just like the Jews."
Dr. Arnold Wallenkampf, formerly of the Biblical Research Institute of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, frankly acknowledges that our forefathers' sin in the 1888 era was a repetition of that sin of the Jews:
"It staggers one's imagination that delegates to a Seventh-day Adventist General Conference session could treat the Holy Spirit shamefully, insult and injure Him, and even figuratively crucify Jesus in the Person of the Holy Spirit. ... It was but natural for the majority of the ministers to follow their revered leaders. ... Many of the delegates ... became accomplices in the sin of rejecting the message of righteousness by faith, through action according to the laws of group dynamics." [1]
The sin of blindly following leaders, of drifting with the tide, of being afraid to stand alone for truth, is what Wallenkampf means by his term "group-dynamics." It is simply a synonym for corporate guilt.
What poses a unique problem is Ellen White's statements that "we" repeated the sin of the Jews in rejecting Christ in the person of His "special messengers." They are long since dead. How do we go about making that right?
Can Jesus be satisfied with an apology voted by our official committees? Or can the Holy Spirit accept a mere invitation to overlook "our" "insult"?
God is too big to be satisfied with such a veneer confession. We can't drag Him down to our judicial judgment levels. He is not concerned about His personal feelings (although He certainly has them!). He wants no financial indemnity or public convention-apology. His anger is not selfish; it is white-hot righteous indignation because a world has been deprived of "a most precious messagethat He "commandedshould be proclaimed. And He still "so loves" that world for which He gave His only begotten Son! He forgets Himself in His concern that this message be proclaimed, that people dying for want of it may hear it.
In our 1888 era "we" as church leadership brought upon ourselves a solemn indictment in full sight of the watching universe. It is inevitable that the world also must know the truth:
"An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth [the moral law in Galatians], 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 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]
There is something we can do to make matters right with Heaven and with the world: Accept the message that we "in a great degree" rejected. That is still possible, but it involves humbling our souls. Give it to the church, clearly, powerfully, unequivocally. Allow the "Lord's delegated messengers," His "special messengers" in the 1888 era, to speak to the world church.
Let this "most precious message" vitalize our "29 doctrines," let it saturate our every radio and TV presentation, our public evangelistic campaigns, and all our magazines and publications. Proclaim it to the world without a trace of old covenant legalism mixed in. Only then could the Lord say of us what He said of Mary Magdalene's offering at Bethany: "She hath done what she could."
It will prepare God's people for translation. Don't kid yourself: Satan will oppose that message hell-bound. But "the grace of God" will be much more abounding. God's people will respond to their High Priest.
Paul E. Penno
[1] Arnold V. Wallenkampf, What Every Adventist Should Know About 1888, Review and Herald, 1988, pp. 43-45.
[2] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235.
Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:
"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lesson 9. Intimations of Hope

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 9. Intimations of Hope


Christians are hopeful warriors of God as we study more in the book of Job. Let us gather the results from our Strong's Concordance and computer search on the actual meaning of "Job" in Hebrew. The word origin is of uncertain deviation, but the definition is "patriarch." Job also bears the name in Hebrew, the "persecuted one," or from an Arabic word meaning the "repented one" who turns to God. It was noted in the Old Testament that Job, the patriarch, was remembered for his great patience, from which we often hear, "the patience of Job."

We see Job as the perfect example of facing hard times with great losses and turmoil. This is like seeing in our everyday life the battle between Christ and Satan. Battling woes and sufferings can be depressing to the medical world, and they prescribe antidotes of medications called pills to alleviate the pain, yet the problems come back, they don't go away.

We are human, with a sinful nature, battling every temptation seen on television and in the computer world. We are just like Job, confronted with other people's concepts of God that are distorted: "But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value. ... Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will" (Job 13:4, 13). This is indeed the lesson that Job learned, and it will be exactly what God's people will face at the end of time.

Job thought that the turmoil being poured out on him by Satan was from God. Job had some blind spots where it was hard for him to distinguish good from evil. Little does he know that behind the scenes, as disclosed in chapter 1, the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan was planned for him. Job has every right to voice his righteous indignation against God, with screaming and protest in God's ears. I'm glad God hears us loud and clear, better than with any hearing aid, and respects Job for speaking up from his heart.

Job himself reasoned out "the atonement," as noted in Job 13:15, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." We see the turning of hearts as a corporate body being at-one with God, in the light of Christ's sacrifice. And to be an instrument of God in our stronghold in Him, that light of faith that permeates through us is like an electric shock.

The key point of hope is expressed in the book of Job: Can a favored, righteous person hold on to their faith in God when things go wrong? In a conversation with Satan, God argues that such a person can indeed persevere, and points to his servant Job as an example. God then allows Satan to visit terrible trials upon Job to test him. We see the refining of faith of character. Satan afflicts Job with invaders, lightning claiming all his livestock, then a desert wind blows down his house, killing all of his sons and daughters, stripping him of all his possessions--he has nothing. Job still worships God, and does not give up his faith.

There were times when you saw Job constantly questioning God, asking: "Where are you, God?" Like a father to his child, God gets a chance to finally reply to Job at the end of the ordeal. God challenged Job on His greatness, asking him if he can count all the clouds in the sky, or know when the mountain goat gives birth. Job has been restored to wholeness, in family and possessions. The hope depicted in this lesson of faith is the message that has endured through the 1888 message.

"Through Job's ordeal, an interesting question was raised: Did Job endure what Christ endured? ... What saved Job from utterly disintegrating under the trial he endured was that fleeting glimpse of hope. Job was not the Saviour. In his most desperate hours, he could not suppress an inner conviction that somehow he was not alone. There was somewhere a "daysman," a vindicator, a witness in heaven, who would stand for him and make matters right. "I know that my redeemer [vindicator] liveth" (Job 19:25). Job had a conviction of righteousness that can be his only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the mediation of a Saviour. His patience depended ultimately on the patience of Another, and did not spring from his own inner innate virtue. However bitter the cup was that Job drank from, he did not drink it to its depths, nor was it as bitter as Christ tasted." [1]

Vindication is to show or to prove to be justified. It is amazing to know that Christ, in our flesh, slew the "enmity" caused by sin (Eph. 2:15), because His flesh was our flesh. We have victory through the blood of Christ, through our testimony in Him. Even more, He proved Satan's charges are false, and accomplished the vindication of God. We are called now to receive the atonement, "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

Christ suffers only once (Heb. 9:26). Mankind was reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Rom. 5:10). Ellen G. White has written that "Jesus paid an infinite price to redeem the world, and the race was given into His hands." [2] The resurrection of Christ became the demonstration of the sacrifice as a perfect atonement (Rom. 4:25).

"You should hold your peace from complaining, and take your burden to Jesus, and lay your whole soul open before Him. Do not carry it to a third person. Do not lay your burden upon humanity. Say, 'I will not gratify the enemy by murmuring. I will lay my care at the feet of Jesus. I will tell it to Him in faith.' If you do this, you will receive help from above; you will realize the fulfillment of the promise, 'He is on my right hand that I should not be moved.' 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' 'If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.'" [3]

There is also a beautiful gospel message written by one of the 1888 "messengers," E. J. Waggoner:

"Thank God for the blessed hope! The blessing has come upon all men. For 'as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life' (Rom. 5:18). God, who is no respecter of persons, 'has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places' (Eph. 1:3). The gift is ours to keep. If anyone has not this blessing, it is because he has not recognized the gift, or has deliberately thrown it away." [4]

May each day of struggles be a prayerful blessing of hope. Christ will wipe away every tear of sorrows that we encounter. Listen to the words to this old hymn written by Edward Mote, "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less." He was an apprentice in London to a cabinetmaker who took him to church to hear a gospel message. And from this, he became an active church member.

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the vale.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found!
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!"

We are flooded with rainbows of hope throughout His Word: "The rainbow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature" (Gen. 9:16).

Precious thoughts are expressed by Paul in Romans 5:3-4: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation" (New Living Translation).

--Mary Chun, RN Care Manager, VA Community Clinic, California

[1] Robert J. Wieland, "The Atonement in Its Wider Aspect as a Vindication Before the Universe of the Character of God," January 1965.
[2] Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 372.
[3] Ellen G. White, "A Lively Hope," Review and Herald, August 6, 1889.
[4] Ellet J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 66 (Glad Tidings ed.); also quoted in Ten Great Gospel Truths That Make the 1888 Message Unique, p.11.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 8. Innocent Blood


All of the arguments Job and his friends make to explain the misery Job is experiencing are based on a misunderstanding of the love of God. It is natural for us to project our own inclinations on to God. We think that when God pays attention to us, either negatively or positively, He is responding to something we have done or not done. It is a type of manipulation.

Essentially, Job's friends are reasoning that his troubles have been caused or allowed by God because of some sin Job either is cherishing or doesn't know about. Job argues that he knows of nothing and his actions and intentions have only been good. Both are wrong ways of thinking about God. The idea that God is justified in allowing innocents to suffer torture and death because all have sinned is a simplistic extension of the friends' argument that bad things happen to us because we are bad. To claim that God can torture or kill anyone He wants is to project sadistic and capricious intentions better suited to Satan.

God is love, agape. He loves His creation because that is who He is. His nature, not our actions, is why He loves us. The ultimate demonstration of the extent of His love was the cross where God, in Christ, reconciled His creation even while they were in rebellion against Him. This concept is fundamental to the 1888 message. The understanding that God loves us simply because we are His creation is the basis of the gospel.

In other words, because of the cross of Jesus the Father could "cause His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous [just] and the unrighteous [unjust]" (Matt 5:45). He was now free to treat "every man," believers and unbelievers alike as though they had never sinned.

Because He is love, God gave His rebellious creatures a way out of their woeful predicament in Eden. Unlike the heavenly "conference" with Job, Satan didn't even stay to hear God's plan to fix the mess he had led Adam and Eve into. We can look to the metaphor of the unwanted newborn baby girl in Ezekiel 16:6 to see what the evil one wanted to do with humans. "As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; ... No eye looked with pity on you ... Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born" (Ezek. 16:4-5). But God came by and cleaned and nurtured her so she could live.

This is not a picture of a God who needs to make us suffer to satisfy some perverse pleasure like a cat plays with a mouse. We can see the imagery of a tender Father who supports and disciplines His lost child. No doubt the discipline was not fun for her, but it was required to make her character complete and mature. God didn't allow Satan to make Job miserable just for His own fun. He knew the strength of Job's character, and He allowed the suffering to mature him, and demonstrate to the watching universe the fact that God could do that for a willing human being.

If the reader would indulge a personal story, I think this illustration helps. When my sister and I were young, our parents took us to Disneyland. We were so excited we had trouble falling asleep in the motel the night before. Our dad became so exasperated that he warned that the next one to talk would get a spanking. I whispered something to my sister, but he thought she was talking and she got the spanking I deserved. I am sorry to admit, I didn't speak up.

Is this the image we have of God? Do we think that He makes mistakes about who deserves punishment, and capriciously dishes out discipline to satisfy His wrath? How can we "count it all joy" to accept discipline from God when we think He is like this?

As an adult, I can understand my dad's actions. An 8-hour drive with a 5- and 7-year old was probably not pleasant. We all needed sleep. Our parents wanted us to enjoy the next day, and being tired and cranky would have prevented our fun. His motivation for setting boundaries was really love for his children. At 5 years old, I certainly was not sufficiently mature to understand that.

God is our perfect Father and loves us much more than our earthly fathers. He chastises us because He loves us. He doesn't make mistakes. If we insist on misunderstanding His motives, He can never move us in to mature faith.

What does mature faith look like? "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). Ellet J. Waggoner has written: "Most people have the idea that [peace] is a sort of ecstatic feeling. ... But peace with God means the same thing that it means with men: it means simply the absence of war. As sinners we are enemies of God. He is not our enemy, but we are His enemies. He is not fighting against us, but we are fighting against Him. How then may we have peace with Him? Simply by ceasing to fight, and laying down our arms. We may have peace whenever we are ready to stop fighting" (Waggoner on Romans, p. 5.93).

How did this happen with Job? Most of his defense was based on his integrity. In chapter 31 he lists his good intentions and his good deeds that supported them. By the end of the book, after God has spoken, Job has nothing to say. "Then Job answered the Lord and said, 'Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; even twice, and I will add no more" (Job 40:3-5).

He stopped fighting, willing to let God be his judge. His friends' opinions didn't matter because he was at peace with God. "Note that when we have peace with God we are not simply at peace with Him, but we have His peace. This peace has been left on the earth for men; for the Lord has said, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you' (John 14:27). He has given it to us. It is ours already. It has always been ours. The only trouble has been that we have not believed it. As soon as we believe the words of Christ, then we have in very deed the peace that He has given. And it is peace with God, because we find the peace in Christ, and Christ dwells in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18)" (Waggoner, ibid).

--Arlene Hill

Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sabbath School Lesson # 7 |"Retributive Punishment"

Lesson 7. Retributive Punishment

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job 

Lesson 7. Retributive Punishment


Many people have the idea that God is a vengeful Deity just waiting for a chance to strike them with His lightning bolts of retribution for their sins. And if God is indeed like this, a judgment with Him on the bench would certainly be a fearful prospect. The Bible, however, describes a God and a judgment that differs startling from this common misconception.

We also sometimes picture a loving Jesus who stands between us and a harsh Father. But according to the Bible, the Father loves us and is just as anxious for our eternal salvation as is the Son. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19).

This was one of the great Bible truths revealed in the 1888 message. E. J. Waggoner, one of the "messengers," put it this way:

"'By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, he has given himself to every man. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift. It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth. There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it. So many spurn the gift offered so freely." [1]


The book of Job, probably the oldest book in the world, describes an apparently terminal patient talking with his "friends" who are sure that the sufferer deserves his fate, a patient who protests that no one could sin enough to deserve this kind of punishment (certainly, not him).

As the discussion begins, Eliphaz warns the suffering Job that his agony is justly inflicted because he must be guilty of a terrible sin. Here are some transcripts:

"Think back now. Name a single case where a righteous man met with disaster. ... Evil does not grow in the soil, nor does trouble grow out of the ground. No! Man brings trouble on himself, as surely as sparks fly up from a fire. If I were you, I would turn to God. ... Job, we have learned this by long study. It is true, so now accept it" (Job 4:7; 5:6-8, 27, Good News Bible).

God is punishing Job, says Eliphaz, and Job can best serve his own self-interest by repenting. Isn't that good reasoning? It was the best that human minds could come up with in that day, and it is still the way many reason today. Suffering humanity must simply implore mercy from a heartless God who Himself does not suffer.

As the discussion continues, however, Job manages to penetrate to the inner fallacy of such a concept. Without our Bible to help him, he finally reasons his way out of the shadows. Behind human suffering stands a God who also suffers.

"Almighty God has shot me with arrows, and their poison spreads through my body. God has lined up his terrors against me. ... Why won't God give me what I ask? Why won't he answer my prayer? If only he would go ahead and kill me! If I knew he would, I would leap for joy, no matter how great my pain. ... What strength do I have to keep on living? Why go on living when I have no hope? ... I am angry and bitter. I have to speak. ... I give up, I am tired of living" (6:4, 8-11; 7:11, 16).

Then Bildad joins the discussion and presses the thorn of despair even deeper. Job must have sinned terribly, he argues:

"God never twists justice; he never fails to do what is right. Your children must have sinned against God, and so he punished them as they deserved. ... God will never abandon the faithful" (8:3, 4, 20).

"Yes," Job replies, "I've heard all that before. ... I no longer care. I am sick of living. Nothing matters; innocent or guilty, God will destroy us. ... God gave the world to the wicked. He made all the judges blind. And if God didn't do it, who did?" (9:1, 21-24).

Ah, Job! You are half right and half wrong. There is injustice—there you are right. But God didn't cause it; there you are wrong. There is an answer to the question that you don't know yet. We who can read the prologue to the book know what it is: God did not bring Job's suffering, Satan did. But Job can't yet break through his pain to realize this.

Zophar has been listening quietly, making up his mind what to say. When he joins the discussion, his comment is the most unkind thrust of all. He tells Job, "God is punishing you less than you deserve" (11:6).

Even without physical suffering, it is unbearable to feel totally condemned and forsaken by God. Job can't understand why God has turned so against him. He imagines himself as a helpless child, hiding in the basement until his father gets over his drunken rage and calls, "Job, my darling child, where are you? Come back."

"I wish you would hide me in the world of the dead; let me be hidden until your anger is over, and then set a time to remember me. If a man dies, can he come back to life? But I will wait for better times, wait till this time of trouble is ended. Then you will call, and I will answer, and you will be pleased with me, your creature" (14:13-15).

Meanwhile, Job's loathsome disease is so bad that even his family doesn't want to come near him. Worse yet, he feels that God has forsaken him too:

"My brothers forsake me; I am a stranger to those who knew me; my relatives and friends are gone. Those who were guests in my house have forgotten me; my servant girls treat me like a stranger and a foreigner. When I call a servant, he doesn't answer—even when I beg him to help me. My wife can't stand the smell of my breath, and my own brothers won't come near me. ... My closest friends look at me with disgust; those I loved most have turned against me. ... The hand of God has struck me down" (19:13-21).

Zophar responded: This is God's doing; your sins have caught up with you at last. Anyone as sick as you are is getting only what he deserves.

Job and his friends were both right, and they were both wrong. Disease and death do come as a result of sin. But it is not God who inflicts this torture on human beings.

There is a behind-the-scenes altercation going on between God and Satan over the issue of man's guilt or innocence. Job is a sinner—as all of us are. But he has a Redeemer who has taken his sin upon Himself. In Christ, Job is innocent; Christ's righteousness is his. No way does he deserve this suffering. It is Satan, the adversary, who inflicts it on him.

Thus Job's drama becomes the saga of humanity. Will he keep his faith in God despite his suffering? Will he honor his Lord? Yes, he did.

A divine link binds Job, suffering alone on his dung heap, with another Sufferer, dying alone on His cross. Do we dare see Him as He is—the Prince of sufferers who, although He "knew no sin" yet was made "to be sin for us ... that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"? (2 Cor. 5:21, KJV). He became one of us that He might "taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Not only the horror of death due to a terminal illness, but something far worse—the horror of what the Bible calls "the second death" (Rev. 2:1120:14).

What's the difference? Every suffering patient can die with hope illuminating his soul because Christ is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). The loving assurance of forgiveness can steal into the despairing soul, and in the darkness a light will begin to shine. Death will lose its terror. The Holy Spirit will whisper the assurance that "the Lord hath laid on Him [Christ] the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6), and the sufferer can go to sleep confident of the peace of heaven filling his soul, and that he will rise in the first resurrection of the saints.

But when the Son of God died, He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). This was not the cry of an actor who has memorized his lines to recite them on cue. Christ tasted the kind of anguish the unlighted lost will feel in their final hour following the second resurrection.

Every patient in the world needs to see that divine Substitute and know that Christ is not merely an indifferent Onlooker to his torment, One who does not Himself also suffer. Christ shares the pain. More than that, He suffers agony beyond our limit to endure. Sleep and death can release us, but Christ suffers on because He identifies with all human pain worldwide.

Christ's disciples once asked him if a man who was born blind had himself sinned, or had his parents sinned. His reply stunned them: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." Then He healed him and the man "came seeing" (John 9:1-7). Jesus did not mean that God had made the man to be blind on purpose; rather, God overruled the blindness that He might demonstrate His saving power. God's grace specializes in turning curses into blessings.

"With the sufferings of Christ, there is also joy and glory. We are graven on the palms of His hands (Isa. 49:16), but with the marks of the nails of His cross there are also beams of light. In all our tribulation we are comforted by the God of all comfort. 'For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ' (2 Cor. 1:5). In being partakers of Christ's sufferings we are identified as children of God. (Heb. 12:7, 8). 'If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you' (1 Peter 4:14). There is glory with His sufferings in us, and as our sufferings are His, so also His glory is ours; and when that glory shall be revealed, we shall also be glad "with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:13)." [2]

God does warn us that "sin pays its wage—death," and it only makes good sense to "flee from the wrath to come," the "wrath" that sin brings on ourselves (Rom. 6:23, GNB; Matt. 3:7, KJV). But until death "is swallowed up in victory," God must suffer with us when we suffer, because He can't stop loving us.

From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] E. J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 101, 1896.
[2] Waggoner, "The Sufferings of Christ," The Present Truth, June 6, 1895. You may read or download the entire article at:

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sabbath School Lesson # 6 |"The Curse Causeless?"

Lesson 6. The Curse Causeless?

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job 

Lesson 6. The Curse Causeless?


It is a powerful, persuasive and in some ways beautiful sermon, that Eliphaz preaches to Job. "My friend Job, I want to bring you all the resources of comfort and wisdom known to the world of the morally upright and religious. I want gently to encourage you to be consistent with your beliefs, to be realistic about our mortal condition, to be humble and not get ideas above yourself, and gladly to submit to the loving discipline of a good God."

Asks Eliphaz, "Is it possible for human beings to be in right relationship with God, to stand before God clean and pure in His presence?" (Job 4:17). The answer of human religion: There is no way that imperfect mortal human beings can stand clean and right in the presence of God.

We have our foundation from the dust (4:19). We may be crushed as easily as you squash a moth. We wake one morning full of hope and strength, but by evening we are dead, going back to the dust from which we came (4:20). "So be realistic, Job," says Eliphaz, "We are mortal, God is immortal, and never the twain shall meet" (4:21).

Eliphaz raises the question of whether there might be a supernatural, heavenly being who will mediate between unclean, dust-like mortals and the immortal God. He says this cannot be (5:1). Heaven is quite simply inaccessible to mortals. "So," says Eliphaz, "there is no point getting all hot and bothered about it all, and specifically about what has happened to you. That would be foolish, to be a hothead, impulsive" (5:2).

Eliphaz makes his appeal. "I have seen what happens when fools, people who get hot and bothered about injustice appear to be settled and secure." As a wise man, Eliphaz observed that the fool's home was cursed (5:3).

Eliphaz observes that bad things happen to people who get ideas above their station so far as God is concerned. "Be warned, Job, and don't be like that." Disaster comes to the fool. Troubles don't just appear from nowhere (the ground) but are the result of human sinfulness (5:6).

Eliphaz begins to give Job his clear advice. "If I were you," he says, "I would turn my face toward God and seek His face (5:8). I would trust in Him. And I would not try to be too clever."

He is the God who lifts up humble and lowly people (5:11). But He is also the God we cannot understand (5:9). He does many things, and we cannot search them out and understand them. So let's not try to be too clever and arrogantly think we can be wiser than God.

They think they can outthink God and be wiser than God. But God will always frustrate their schemes. "He catches the wise in their own craftiness" (5:13). This statement is true (1 Cor. 3:19). God does trip up men and women who try to be too clever for their own good.

Eliphaz thinks that Job is in danger of doing that, and so he warns him: "Don't do that, or the end for such people is that just when they think all is clear they find they cannot understand what is happening at all, and they are walking in darkness" (Job 5:14).

What's wrong with Eliphaz's counsel? What is wrong with exhorting Job to be consistent, realistic, humble, and submissive to God? What's wrong with exhorting Job to be consistent with your beliefs, to be realistic about our mortal condition, to be humble and not get ideas above yourself, and gladly to submit to the loving discipline of a good God?" The truth is nonbelievers and believers alike suffer.

The fact is all the sins of the world of lost sinners have been borne by the Savior. He has paid the penalty and has borne the wrath for every one of their sins, conscious and unconscious, past, present, and future. It follows that no suffering of believers and nonbelievers can possibly be a punishment for their sin. In the light of the cross, it is all undeserved. And yet the world suffers.

Christ did no sin; yet He suffered the vilest abuse and pain, even our "second death." He is called "the Prince of sufferers." But what He suffered is what we would have suffered, had He not suffered it in our stead:

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way: and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:4-6). This could well be translated into modem speech: "The Lord hath laid on Him the fate of us all."

God has not been reposing in sublime indifference, feeling nothing of our woe. The idea which declares that evil is unreal, that God cannot feel it, is contradicted in the Bible. God does feel evil. He is infinitely disturbed by it, precisely because He Himself is not evil. He is so much concerned about it that He plunged into the sea of human sin to take upon Himself its full penalty, and thus to cleanse the tide of humanity that will accept His salvation.

Then is there any meaning to the sufferings we still endure? Yes, much. The 1888 idea of receiving the atonement of Christ gives an answer to the meaning of our sufferings, which no human philosophy such as Eliphaz's can provide. Paul calls upon those who love truth to "rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake" (Col. 1:24).

E. J. Waggoner writes: "... The sufferings are Christ's, ... He feels them, and that being His, He is able in us to bear them, and we need not tremble for the result. To be saved we must be identified with Him, and to be identified with Him we must be partakers of His sufferings. This is how the martyrs have been able to endure with fortitude the terrible ordeals in which they have yielded up their lives. Their sufferings were the sufferings of Christ, a part of that which was 'left behind' after He rose from the dead, and He bore them in their bodies. 'Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.' The afflictions may be called ours, but it is He that bears them." [1]

When the eye of faith looks upon the sufferings of Christ, immediately we realize a kinship with Him; we become one with Him; we "know Him ... and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3:10). Our sufferings are in "fellowship" with His sufferings in that we share with Him the privilege of demonstrating the victory of faith over evil. None is in vain. The true disciple must share the life of his Master. Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).

Persecution and suffering is very difficult for us to bear if we think that it is God who inflicts them. But if we know that the agent is Satan, we can endure it joyfully because we realize a "fellowship" with Christ. It is no longer pointless, meaningless suffering. If we were transported to some place of reward (heaven) without our having experienced suffering in this life, we would feel miserably out of place in the presence of Jesus, who has had to endure so much persecution and suffering on our account. Humans who want to have fellowship with God on any level must also have fellowship with Him in suffering. Only then will they be able to appreciate His gift of salvation.

--Paul E. Penno

[1] E. J. Waggoner, "The Sufferings of Christ," The Present Truth, June 6, 1895; emphasis supplied.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz