Friday, July 29, 2016

Sabbath School Today, Lesson 5, Quarter 3-16

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Role of the Church in the Community 
Lesson 5. Jesus on Community Outreach

"Community outreach" can bring many things to mind: feeding the poor, helping the sick and elderly, "doing" many things for those around us and for our communities. All good. But when "the Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones" in the 1888 era [1], its basic thrust was soul-winning in preparation for the second coming of Christ in that generation.
Specifically, as Ellen White said, it was "to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world." [2] It was what we speak of as the Loud Cry of the third angel's message. She recognized that the message of Jones and Waggoner was its "beginning." [3]
Her heart-burden was giving the message to the world. The message itself was built-in "evangelism." It couldn't be stopped once it started unless "the brethren" succeeded in paralyzing it. She was sorry that in the end of the era, human opposition to the message resulted in its being "in a great degree kept away from the world." [4]
Her main disappointment was not that more money had not come in for "public evangelism," but that our ministers and people had not grasped the message itself. What occupied her mind at that time of the Loud Cry was not so much what we call "public evangelism" where one or a few individuals proclaim the message and many come to listen to it (that came later), but personal evangelism on the part of members of the church who came to understand the message. She saw a one-to-one method of proclaiming it as highly efficient to the point of success in finishing the world gospel commission in that one single generation. She saw that that was Heaven's intention for us. This was the ultimate "community outreach."
Today, something is needed that will halt the process of moral and spiritual decay that is at work all over the world. The insidious advance of corruption and degradation tempt many to wonder why the Lord doesn't do something to intervene. If the moral fabric continues to rot much longer, one wonders whether the people of a future generation will be capable even of comprehending the gospel message enough to accept or reject it intelligently. What we are seeing is the frightening physical effects of alcohol, drug, and nicotine abuse, and the traumatic effects of terrorist attacks, divorce and immorality, spiritually and emotionally.
Jesus says, "Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13). In Bible times, methods we employ today for preserving food were unknown. Food spoiled quickly if not eaten. For the ancients, salt was a widely used preservative. Jesus' idea is that His church on earth is to be the element added to society that will hinder its processes of decay. His people are intended to have a profound and far-reaching influence for good on the nations in which they live.
Just to the extent that love of self remains active in our hearts is there impurity mixed in our "salt." Love of self can make the remnant church saltless, insipid, worthless as the world's preservative. We may continue to fill the world's storehouse, occupying part of the place assigned to the remnant church, and looking like the genuine "salt of the earth" while our witness is impaired or nullified, and our positive, direct influence on the world is largely canceled out.
The "salt" of the remnant church is the principle of the cross. Understood clearly, accepted sincerely, lived out thoroughly in self-sacrificing, Christian ministry, proclaimed positively and powerfully to our modern world by the remnant church, this truth of the cross will be the only preservative in a degenerating society.
Ellen White's dream was that the message should be proclaimed in "every church," and then it would spill out to the world beyond, where millions would find precious truth in the teaching of the cross which they had never seen before.
The cold fact is that multitudes of sincere Christians, have never understood the cross of Christ! The reason is that their commonly held belief in natural immortality had been a dense fog that hides the truth of what happened on the cross from their view. Seventh-day Adventists have taught the non-immortality of the soul for nearly two centuries, but their confusion over the two covenants has kept them, too, from seeing clearly what happened on the cross. So the proclamation of the cross of Christ became the essence of the 1888 Loud Cry message that "we" had looked forward to for decades, and yet we had never known what it would be.
Jesus proclaimed this same truth, which is "evangelism" in the 1888 message. It was at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem just before His crucifixion: "On the last and most important day of the festival Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice [was this a precursor of the "loud cry" we look forward to?], 'Whoever is thirsty should come to Me and drink. As the scripture says [Song of Solomon 4:15], 'Whoever believes in Me, streams of life-giving water will pour out from his heart'" (John 7:37, 38, Good News Bible).
This is a profound statement of the method of "outreach" that Jesus loved. He is not putting pressure on us to do this or that; He is not making us feel guilty for not doing more "evangelism." He is guaranteeing that if we truly believe in Him, the purest evangelism will be flowing out of our hearts as from an overflowing fountain. Of course, no one can truly "believe" if he doesn't understand the message. Therefore the proclamation and teaching of the "most precious" truths are utterly essential.
This is the idea that Ellen White and Jones and Waggoner saw in the 1888 message. The love for the message that is awakened by one's first discovering it, never dies. You long somehow to share it with every soul you meet. It's a replay of what motivated the early Christians. Youth catch the vision readily once they understand the message clearly.
Ellen White told us that we would be surprised by "the simple means" that God will use in the final proclamation of the third angel's message: this message of 1888 was it. It took everybody by surprise in 1888, including Ellen White herself. When the message itself in its pure strength is undiluted with Babylon's concepts that compromise it, will it not be proclaimed as Heaven intended, to "every Seventh-day Adventist Church" and then to the world? (It will, yet, in the providence of God!) The final blaze of gospel glory will illuminate the world, and for the first time since Pentecost the words "evangelism" and "outreach" will at last come into their own.
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1336, 1337; Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Review and Herald, "The Perils and Privileges of the Last Days," Nov. 22, 1892.
[4] Selected Messages, book 1, p. 235.
Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:
"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: