Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lesson 8: Comrades in Arms

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Rebellion and Redemption

Lesson 8: Comrades in Arms

The most important principle of the 1888 message lies in taking the Scriptures just as they read. These precious verses in Luke comprehend our memory verse for this week, and so much more! "Then He said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they said to one another, 'Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?' And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (Luke 24:25, 27, 32, 45).
The character of God is the central issue in the great controversy and it is in the Word of God that we learn the truth of His character. The men that were called in this week's lesson forsook all and followed Him—based solely on His word.
Note: the term "comrades in arms" is not found in the Bible,—the Bible uses the term "brethren." Brethren are two or more individuals who are crucified with Christ, yoked with Christ, and live by His word alone as the only standard and authority in their life. Each has Christ in them, the hope of glory (Col. 1:26, 27).
When speaking to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke tells us that Jesus began at Moses. In the 1888 era, A. T. Jones used the same approach beginning with Moses and Eve in Eden to show just how important the word of God is. [1] "God has given His Word to man to be received through the Holy Spirit. This Word of God is but an extension of the thought of God, which is but the expression of God's mind. Thus man, receiving this Word, would be a constant partaker of the mind of God—fulfilling the Scripture to, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus'" (Phil. 2:5).
He goes on: "To man in the garden there came another word—opposite the word of God. This second word was the expression of a second thought, and this thought was the product of another mind. To receive this word would be to receive the thought expressed in the word; and to receive the thought was to be partaker of this second mind. This second word is always opposed to the Word of God."
"Now the serpent ... said to the woman" (Gen. 3:1-5). Here was the second word representing the second mind—here was this "theologian in a tree" explaining what God meant by what He said; interpreting God's word.
Deception lies in attempting to explain what God means by what He has said. God's Word means what It says, and He says what He means. As a teacher of the Word of God, use any amount of time needed to help people see what the Word of God says; but never even a moment trying to explain what it means.
The two ways were now before Eve; the two words, the two thoughts, and the two minds. She accepted the second word and the result was a reversal of her own nature. Satan and man now had the same mind.
If Eve had done the simple thing of staying with the first Word exactly as it was she could not have sinned. If she had said to Satan: "I don t know whether the Word that I have cited means what you suggest it means, and I don't care, but what I do know is what the Word says, and I shall take it for just what it says; and there I stand. I will not eat of the fruit of this tree because the Word says that I shall not."
In this simple thing lies the power of the divine word to keep the soul from sinning. To every person this simple thing is as true today, as it was and as it would have proved itself to be to Eve. The divine Word, simply held by Eve, would forever have kept her from sin. The Lord Jesus, in human flesh, was kept from sinning by simply holding to the divine Word. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11). Eve's sin was in not believing and holding to God's simple word. Her unbelief was made complete by her disobedience in eating from the tree.
Today our Laodicean paralysis stems from the same issue faced by Eve at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—will we hold firmly to the Word of our Creator and thus be kept from sinning, or will we fall for the explanations and interpretations of the theologians in the trees? The apostle Paul writes: "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).
Writing about the Bible and Interpretation, E. J. Waggoner pens: "To interpret means to explain what is unintelligible,—to put that which is vague and mysterious into plain language. But the Bible does not stand in need of this. It is simple and plain to those who are simple enough to believe just what it says, without trying to make it fit their ideas.
"David said, 'Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path' (Psalm 119:105). A light is for the purpose of making other things clear; but a light which could not be seen without the aid of another light, would not be much of a light.
"How is it, then, that people find such difficulty in understanding the Bible? It is because there is a settled conviction in the minds of most people that the Bible does not mean what it says. Accordingly people will go everywhere except to the Bible, to find out the meaning of the Bible. They get from some source or other an idea of what the Bible means, and then try to fit the language of the Bible to that idea. This makes necessary a 'system of interpretation'; and as different classes of people have different ideas, so there are different systems of interpretation, and all tend to obscure the light.
"Is there, then, no need of teachers? Indeed there is. The gift of teaching is third in order of the gifts of Christ, and is above the gift of working miracles (see 1 Cor. 12:28). ... Teaching the Bible properly does not consist in 'interpreting' it by human wisdom, but in 'comparing spiritual things with spiritual' (1 Cor. 2:12, 13), by the aid of the Spirit, whose office it is to guide into all truth (John 16:13).
"Jesus, the great Teacher, who was anointed with the Holy Spirit for the purpose of preaching the Gospel to the poor, occupied His time in directing the minds of the people to the Word. They could not understand it because they had glossed over it so much.
"When He walked with the two disciples to Emmaus, 'He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself' (Luke 24:27). ... He set the Scriptures so plainly before them that they could not help seeing them as they were, and, referring to the matter, they said, 'Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?' (v. 32).
"Let the Scriptures be opened. 'The opening of Thy words giveth light' (Psalm 119:130). For they themselves are light. 'It giveth understanding to the simple.' What is necessary is that we should consider what the Lord says, and He will give us 'understanding in all things' (2 Tim. 2:7).
"He directed their minds to the Word, and they saw what they could not see before ... . It is evident that 'their eyes were holden that they should not know Him' in order that their faith might rest on the Scriptures alone, and that having found Christ and His life in the Word their faith might stand when His visible presence was removed from them." [2]
E. J. Waggoner writes of his personal experience: "Christ is primarily the Word of God, the expression of God's thought; and the Scriptures are the Word of God simply because they reveal Christ. It was with this belief that I began my real study of the Bible thirty-four years ago (1882). At that time Christ was set forth before my eyes 'evidently crucified' before me. I was sitting a little apart from the body of the congregation in the large tent at camp meeting in Healdsburg, one gloomy Sabbath afternoon. I have no idea what was the subject of the discourse. Not a word nor a text have I ever known. All that has remained with me was what I saw. Suddenly a light shone round me, and the tent was, for me, far more brilliantly lighted than if the noon-day sun had been shinning, and I saw Christ hanging on the Cross, Crucified for me.
"In that moment I had my first positive knowledge, which came like an overwhelming flood, that God loved me, and that Christ died for me. God and I were the only beings I was conscious of in the universe. I knew then, by actual sight, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; I was the whole world with all its sin. I am sure that Paul's experience on the way to Damascus was no more real than mine. ... I resolved at once that I would study the Bible in the light of that revelation, in order that I might help others to see the same truth. I have always believed that every part of the Bible must set forth, with more or less vividness, that glorious revelation [of] Christ crucified."
Ellen White strongly endorses this 1888 principle regarding the Word of God: "We are to take the Word of God as it reads, the words of Christ as He has spoken them." [3] "Believe that Jesus means just what He says; take Him at his word, and hang your helpless soul upon Him." [4]
Dear brethren, we are the "foolish ones," and the "slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken." May Jesus open our understanding so that we may comprehend the Scripture and learn to appreciate its "most precious message."
Daniel Peters
[1] A. T. Jones, excerpts from three articles, The Medical Missionary, June 17, July 1, and July 9, 1908.
[2] Excerpt from: E. J. Waggoner, "Interpretation," The Present Truth, September 19, 1895.
[3] E. G. White, Lift Him Up, p. 265.
[4] E. G. White, Review and Herald, June 23, 1896