Friday, March 31, 2017

Lesson 1. The Person of Peter

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

"Feed My Sheep": First and Second Peter
Lesson 1. The Person of Peter


Although Peter did not write as much as the three greatest contributors to the New Testament--Paul, Luke, and John--he is nevertheless one of the most outstanding Bible characters. Aggressive, ambitious, self-assured, bold yet somewhat vacillating, Peter had yet an underlying loyalty and devotion. Jesus read these qualities when He first met Peter, and saw also his potential under the discipline of grace. [1]

Simon, surnamed Peter, was the son of Jonah, or John (Matt. 16:17), and came from the fishing community of Bethsaida (John 1:44), where he seems to have lived with his wife, his mother-in-law, and Andrew, his brother (Mark 1:29-31). The brothers were in partnership with James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:7-10).

The tremendous revival under John the Baptist began with the confession of sins, and ended with a declaration of the presence of the divine Son, in whom alone forgiveness and atonement could be found. Peter listened to him at Bethabara, and his soul was set aflame.

"The demand for confession of sin seemed new and startling." [2] The declaration "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) was both startling and reassuring. Yet John and Andrew and Simon were ready, "moved by an irresistible impulse," to accept the Messiah's presence. [3]

Peter demonstrated a faltering faith and striking confession (Matt. 14:22-33). "Bid me come unto thee on the water." Peter knew it was Jesus approaching. The fury of the storm had reduced the disciples to helplessness, "and they longed for the presence of their Master." When Peter stepped overboard he was not presumptuous, for he went at Christ's command. "Looking unto Jesus, Peter walks securely; but as in self-satisfaction he glances back toward his companions in the boat, his eyes are turned from the Saviour." A sea of troubles may assail us today, but we can be safe by keeping our eyes on Jesus. [4]

Peter was the first to find words to express the bold faith that had gripped their souls when Christ asked His disciples, saying, "'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?'" (Matt. 16:13). Not only was this Man a greater than all the prophets; not only was He the long-expected Messiah; "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Peter boldly confessed (Matt. 16:16). Jesus commended Peter's faith, but quickly cautioned him against the sin of supposing he deserved credit for it: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17).

Now that the disciples were thoroughly convinced of His divinity, Jesus was prepared to enlighten them about His death. He plainly, even bluntly, told them that He must be rejected and slain: "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples how He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:21).

Simon, who had been first to confess the Son of God, was first to deny His cross. "Then Peter took Him aside, and began to rebuke Him, saying, "'Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not happen unto Thee" (Matt. 16:22). Crosses are for felons, not for One who is the Son of God!

The idea of the cross was something so original, unworldly, that it could arise only in the mind of God. The cross is both the "wisdom" and the "power" of God (1 Cor. 1:18, 24). It is a divine strategy of spiritual warfare of sublime skill. But Peter's response to the Savior's stunning announcement was the same as that which people of every place and age would experience. He was expressing the thoughts of our own hearts, even today, in treating as repugnant foolishness the very idea of being crucified.

Jesus revealed this insight in His rebuke to Peter: "Thou art an offense to Me: for Thou [are not mindful] of the things that be of God, but those that be of man" (Matt. 16:23). Peter was simply a man, he was just being himself. He couldn't fathom "the things that be of God" enough to discern the meaning of the cross.

Jesus put His finger of recognition on the plague spot of mankind's opposition to the cross: "He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan! Thou art an offense unto Me" (Matt. 16:23).

He had unwittingly let himself be a tool in the hands of Satan by seeking to turn Jesus away from His sacrificial purpose. That temptation was real to Jesus! Peter's attitude toward the cross perfectly reflected the attitude of Satan himself.

The old covenant, as clearly brought to our attention by E. J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 messengers, is making promises to God. [5] At the last supper Peter promised his Lord, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I" (Mark 14:29). Verse 31 indicates continuous assertion--"the more vehemently." Vehemence has its place, but it is not always proof of enduring loyalty. Peter's tragic denial three times was equally vehement (Luke 22:54-61). Time often lends poignancy to our vehemence, as when poor "Peter remembered the word of the Lord, ... Before the cock crow, thou shall deny Me thrice." It was like a sword thrust into his heart, and "Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (vs. 62).

If you or I make promises to God, immediately it's old covenant. It's Peter promising that he will never deny Christ, and then doing it before the rooster crowed next morning. It's "all the people" promising at Mt. Sinai, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do!" (Ex. 19:8); and then bowing down to a golden calf in a few days. The problem is simple: we humans don't keep our promises; in fact, we can't, because we have no righteousness of our own. This is why so many New Year's resolutions go down the drain after only a few days.

Someone may say, "What's wrong with making good promises to God even if you do break them?" Several things: God Himself has never asked you to do so; and further, Paul says that making and breaking promises to God brings you into spiritual "bondage" (Gal. 4:24). "The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you. ..." [6]

It was the beginning of centuries of sad Israelite history that finally led them into the "bondage" of foreign captivity and then at the end, to crucify their Messiah. Those who think that the old and new covenants are the same thing are confusing liberty with slavery.

When God makes the promise, there you have the new covenant. And believing the promise is liberty, not slavery. He always keeps His promise. "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4). You may say, "That's such good news--I can hardly believe He will ever do that for me!" Peter couldn't believe it either, until he repented of his unbelief. You can repent, too. That's the good news!

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 139.
[2] Ibid., p. 133.
[3] Ibid., p. 138.
[4] Ibid., pp. 381, 382.
[5] For example, see Ellet J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 71 (CFI ed., 2016).
[6] Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 47.

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Holy Spirit and Spirituality
Lesson 12. The Work of the Holy Spirit

Implicit in the 1888 message is this: When we are first converted, we
confess all known sin to God, and in mercy He is faithful and just to
forgive us. But there still remain sins of ignorance; and unknown,
unconscious sins. In this time of the cleansing of the heavenly
sanctuary, the High Priest through the Holy Spirit brings these
unknown sins to our knowledge, and we become conscious of them.

If we are in heart-sympathy with Christ in his closing work of
atonement (that is what New Testament faith is), we shall welcome the
ever-deepening conviction of sin, and progressively confess and repent
of these sins. At length, after His people have cooperated with Him,
the work will become complete, and then the seal of God can be affixed
to the character in contradistinction to the mark of the beast, which
all who reject the seal of God, will accept.

However, there is a sense in which all true believers in Christ have
been "sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" since the world began
(Eph. 1:13); but this is not the same as that final sealing work of
Revelation 7:1-4. The final seal of God is contemporary with the final
mark of the beast, and the opposite of it.

Ellen White was overjoyed when she heard the message of justification
by faith from the lips of A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. To her this
clear teaching was consonant with the message of the three angels:
"The hour of His judgment is come" and our Priest is cleansing the
heavenly sanctuary. What connection was there between justification by
faith and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary by Jesus our High

The answer is that since 1844 Jesus has been performing the Day of
Atonement ministry--the final blotting out of sins. But before the
sanctuary could be cleansed in heaven the temple of His people on
earth must be cleansed. The source of sin pollution must be ended in
His people. The honor of God and the integrity of His covenant were at
stake. God has the solution to the problem of sin. The gospel of Jesus
Christ can forgive sins and His righteousness has the power by virtue
of the Holy Spirit to cleanse the soul temple. This God has promised
in His everlasting covenant (Jer. 31:33).

So when she heard this message she recognized in it the power and
force of the gospel which would prepare God's people to stand with a
pure character in the day of Christ's second coming. They would be a
living testimony for God through the crisis hour. They would be part
of the 144,000 who would be translated without seeing death at His
return. They would be a living testament to the power of God unto
salvation from sin. Living in sinful flesh, tempted, tried and
afflicted, the mystery of godliness would be revealed in them--"Christ
in you the hope of glory." Like a drumbeat over the course of several
weeks Ellen White wrote in the columns of the Review during 1890 of
her enthusiasm.

The Sunday-keeping churches had not followed Jesus by faith into His
most holy place work in 1844. Hence they were worshiping a god of
their own creation--Satan if you please. [1] To this day, for the most
part, they view the sanctuary message of Seventh-day Adventists as a
colossal error. It has been termed the greatest face-saving device to
explain away a mistaken interpretation of Scripture--Daniel 8:14.

But God's people have been given a unique understanding of
justification by faith in connection with the cleansing of the
sanctuary that is to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. This
is why the Lord gave it to His people to be proclaimed to the nominal
Christian churches of the world. They had initially rejected it in

Martin Luther didn't understand justification by faith in the light of
the sanctuary message. Protestants and evangelicals did not understand
it rightly. Of all people who should understand it, Seventh-day
Adventists should because they know about 1844 and the change of
Jesus' ministry from the holy place to the most holy place. They are
not to proclaim justification by faith by compromising with the other
churches and incorporating their message in order to be ecumenical in
spirit. This would be a rejection of Jesus leading His people into the
truth of His most holy place ministry. They would be following Satan
as did the nominal churches in 1844.

But in the historical context of 1890 Ellen White made an astounding
statement: "There has been a departure from God, and there has not as
yet been zealous work in repenting and coming back to the first love.
Infidelity has had a large place among us. It is the fashion to depart
from Christ, to forsake the Lord and accept skepticism. 'We will not
have this man to reign over us.' Luke 19:14. Baal will be the purpose,
the faith, the religion of a sorrowful number among us, because they
choose their own way instead of God's way. The true religion, the only
religion of the Bible--believing in the forgiveness of sins, the
righteousness of Christ, and the blood of the Lamb--has been not only
slighted and spoken against, ridiculed, and criticized, but suspicions
and jealousies have been created, leading into fanaticism and
atheism." [2]

When once the truth of justification by faith in connection with the
sanctuary is lost, Satan has won a great victory. He can lead his
followers into fanaticism and right out of the body of Christ into
atheism. Because self becomes one's idol--Baal worship--he follows his
own self-pleasing interpretations of Scripture and it results in
another god than the true God. Imperceptibly self becomes one's god.
The knowledge of the true God is rejected. Hence the result is

The conclusion of thirteen articles written by Ellen White in the
Review was entitled, "Repentance the Gift of God." She said: "Some of
our brethren have expressed fears that we shall dwell too much upon
the subject of justification by faith, but I hope and pray that none
will be needlessly alarmed; for there is no danger in presenting this
doctrine as it is set forth in the Scriptures. If there had not been a
remissness in the past to properly instruct the people of God, there
would not now be a necessity of calling especial attention to it. Some
of our brethren are not receiving the message of God upon this
subject. They appear to be anxious that none of our ministers shall
depart from their former manner of teaching the good old doctrines. We
inquire, Is it not time that fresh light should come to the people of
God, to awaken them to greater earnestness and zeal?" [3] She
portrayed the church as being in a lukewarm state. Jesus bid His
people repent--to buy of Him gold tried in the fire--faith and love;
to receive His white raiment which is the righteousness of Christ; and
the eye-salve of spiritual discernment, the baptism of the Holy

And then she made the defining statement: "Several have written to me,
inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third
angel's message, and I have answered, 'It is the third angel's message
in verity.'" [4]

Justification by faith in connection with the sanctuary cleansing is
the third angel's message in verity. This string of thirteen articles
clearly identifies what she meant by "in verity." It is the judgment
hour message, which prepares the way for the great and dreadful day of
the Lord. It prepares a people to stand in the hour of crisis and to
be translated without seeing death at the second coming of Jesus. It
was and still is the shaking message to the Laodicean church. It bears
with it all the prospect of the loud cry and latter rain of the Holy

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Ellen G. White, Early Writings (1882), p. 261.
[2] "To the General Conference" (1889) and "The Vision at Salamanca"
(Nov. 3, 1890), The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 444, 948.
[3] "Repentance the Gift of God," The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald
(April 1, 1890), p. 193.
[4] Ibid.

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:


Raul Diaz
[image: https://]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Lesson 11. Grieving and Resisting the Spirit

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Holy Spirit and Spirituality
Lesson 11. Grieving and Resisting the Spirit


The Oxford English Dictionary defines grief as a sense of being pressed heavily upon, as with a weight; to burden; or to vex through hostile action. To grieve someone is to offend them, cause mental pain or distress, to cause deep sorrow.

Can God experience these emotions?

Since the Fall in Eden, when humanity's mind became distorted through Satan's influence, we have been vexing God through our enmity and hostility. "For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God's law, for it is unable to do so" (Rom. 8:7, HCSB*).

Our God is a living Being who is love (1 John 4:8). As our Creator and Redeemer, the Godhead has poured out upon us a self-sacrificing love that lays itself bare, vulnerable, open to wounding. We grieve Him when we neglect Him, or show ingratitude and resist His plea to repent.

Throughout the Old Testament we read of God's grief caused by ancient Israel's resistance to His will. From the beginning of the their experience at Sinai God would say, "Forty years long was I grieved with this generation!" (Psalm 95:10). Paul tells us that God was grieved "because of their unbelief" (Heb. 3:10, 17–19).

Could it happen again? Can this terrible sin of rejecting God's call to righteousness be repeated?

In 1901, Ellen White said, "We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel." [1]

In the message to the Laodicean church, Christ reveals His misery. Heart-sick with love for His reluctant bride, He complains, You think you have everything, but without Me you have nothing! Your childish self-righteousness makes Me so sick I want to vomit! (Rev. 3:14–19).

At the Minneapolis General Conference in 1888, we behaved "just like the Jews" in rejecting the light and power the Holy Spirit desired to pour out upon us. "In Minneapolis God gave precious gems of truth to His people in new settings. This light from heaven by some was rejected with all the stubbornness the Jews manifested in rejecting Christ." [2] "I know that at that time the Spirit of God was insulted." [3] "I stated that the course that had been pursued at Minneapolis was cruelty to the Spirit of God." [4] "The Holy Spirit has been insulted, and light has been rejected. ... If men would only give up their spirit of resistance to the Holy Spirit." [5]

As a result of our resistance to yield up our preconceived opinions for the last 129 years, the "disappointment of Christ is beyond description ... Christ is humiliated in His people." [6] The humiliation continues because the plea of the True Witness for us to repent has not been heeded.

"If we place ourselves in a position that we will not recognize the light that God sends or His messages to us, then we are in danger of sinning against the Holy Ghost." [7]

By saying, "His messages to us" Ellen White was referring to "the most precious message" that "the Lord in His great mercy sent" through "Elders Waggoner and Jones." The message of Christ and His righteousness "is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." [8]

"Many say, 'If I had only lived in the days of Christ [or, 'if I had been at Minneapolis in 1888'], I would not have wrested His word, or falsely interpreted His instruction. I would not have rejected and crucified Him as did the Jews'; but that will be proved by the way in which you deal with His message and His messengers today." [9]

During that 1888 conference and since that time it has been individual persons who rejected the message, but "there is also a corporate dimension involved ... While everyone is responsible for his or her own decisions, we also have a corporate responsibility" (Quarterly, regular ed., p. 89). The Quarterly teaches us to "encourage one another" to follow truth, but the opposite can also happen. Through our continued unbelief, we encourage one another to continue to resist the work of the Holy Spirit, and thus we continue to delay the latter rain.

"The reason is that the sins of the fathers get ingrained into us, except for specific knowledge and repentance. Even though we were very few in number in 1888, the character of that unbelieving impertinence has been propagated throughout the worldwide body like a spreading virus. The disease must run its course until repentance can eradicate it. Until then, each new generation absorbs the same lukewarmness. ... Sin has been propagated ever since Eden 'through the medium of influence, taking advantage of the action of mind on mind, ... reaching from mind to mind' (Review and Herald, April 16, 1901)." [10]

"Pentecost has inspired God's people for nearly 2000 years. What made those grand results possible? The people believed the portrayal of their corporate guilt [see Acts 2:22, 23; 3:14, 15; 5:3010:3913:27–29, 45, 46] and frankly confessed their part in the greatest sin of all ages [see Acts 2:37, 41], which their leaders had refused to repent of [see Acts 7:54, 57, 58]. Pentecost was an example of laity rising above the spiritual standard of their leaders. The final outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain will be an extension of the Pentecost experience." [11]

We look forward to the second coming of Christ, proclaim its nearness to the world, but until God's people have received the seal of righteousness in our foreheads, He cannot finish His work of cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. "When Laodicea comes to understand her alienation, her subtle pride and unconscious sin, then she will 'know' her wretchedness, her enmity against her Saviour, and she will repent and be healed." [12]

--Ann Walper          

*HCSB: Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Endnotes [1–9 Ellen G. White]:
[1] Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 202.
[2] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 517-518.
[3] Ibid., pp. 1043-1044.
[4] Ibid. p. 360.
[5] Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers; p. 393.
[6] Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1904.
[7] 1888 Materials, p. 608.
[8] Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92.
[9] Review and Herald, April 11, 1893.
[10] Robert J. Wieland, Corporate Repentance, pp. 129, 130;
[11] Ibid. p. 96;
[12] Donald K. Short, Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed, p. 45;

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lesson 10. The Holy Spirit, the Word, and Prayer

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Holy Spirit and Spirituality
Lesson 10. The Holy Spirit, the Word, and Prayer


It is good to read the Bible, pray, and witness, but doing these things as works is not the way to retain salvation. If it is true that God takes the initiative in our salvation, it is equally true that He maintains that initiative.

Once you begin the Christian life, the Lord does not back off like a car salesman when you have bought your car, leaving you to struggle thereafter on your own. The Good Shepherd still takes the initiative in looking for His lost sheep. He still keeps knocking at the door of the heart. And "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). Never are we to think that our divine Friend becomes indifferent toward us.

How did Jesus in His humanity maintain his closeness to His Father? He was human; He had only 24 hours a day as we have; He was busy as we are, and He needed sleep as we do. He gives us a surprising insight into His devotional life: the Father maintained the initiative. Speaking of His prayer and Bible-study life, Jesus says in the prophecy:

The Lord God hath given me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him that is weary:
He wakeneth morning by morning,
He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
(Isaiah 50:4).

The Lord promises nourishing food to all who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matt. 5:6). You are never satisfied with what you learned yesterday, any more than you are satisfied with the food you ate yesterday.

We don't eat our daily food because the Bible tells us to, or even because Ellen White tells us to; we eat because we are hungry. A starving but hungry refugee in Syria is better off than a millionaire who is so sick that he has no appetite.

The Bible reveals a loving heavenly Father and Saviour and Holy Spirit eager to maintain connection with us. He continually invites us to come to "breakfast," but of course if we are not hungry, we won't go.

How can I get this hunger and thirst? This is what the Lord gives to those who hear and believe the good news. They want more, just as when you taste something delicious, you want more. They don't have to set their alarm clocks to wake up in time, or force themselves to read and pray as a "work."

We can make a devotional life into a works-program. Charles Wesley was right when he wrote his hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," even though the Church of England's theologians of the day were outraged at the idea, the Lord is the divine Lover of your soul; He is seeking you, actually wooing you.

Oh, how often we have been "rebellious," and turned away from His knocking at our door in the mornings! Sometimes it is because we have deprived ourselves of proper rest and made ourselves deaf to His appeals.

To awaken in our souls that hunger and thirst is the purpose of the 1888 message of Christ's righteousness. The gospel is the bread of life; and once you taste it, you will ever after want to "eat" without being forced to do so. What joy to always to be hungry and thirsty for more. The world's amusements, sports, vain pursuits, addictive shopping, all lose their appeal when you "taste" the gospel for what it is. Many are now testifying that that hunger has been aroused in their souls by hearing or reading the 1888 message truths.

If you get sick with the flu, don't you take a day off from school or work in order to stay in bed and recuperate? Why not take a day off for fasting and prayer? Not seeking the Lord as though He were trying to hide from you, but taking the time to listen to Him as He seeks you.

That's what Isaiah means when he says, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near" (Isa. 55:6). He is not hiding from you--He is "near."

It helps because it takes away your personal guilt, your fear, your own alienation and anger. It gives you "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1), not necessarily peace with your children (right now), but that first step is most important you have peace with God.

When you have that peace with God, a heavy weight is lifted from your heart. It is impossible for us as parents to be impatient with our children if our fear and guilt are gone. The message takes away that fear and guilt in a way that Adventists have not understood very well for several reasons: It presents God in a different light--He is not watching to find something wrong with you that could keep Him from answering your prayers; He is trying to find a way to answer them. "The goodness of God" is already leading us to repentance, including your children (Rom. 2:4).

Our job is to believe that His goodness is active and to get out of His way, so He can lead us (and our children) to repentance without our hindering Him. He is a Good Shepherd who has taken the initiative and still takes it, seeking His lost sheep. He is not waiting for us to find our way to Him. It's not our job to initiate a "relationship" with Him, for He has already initiated that relationship with us. Our job is to believe it. Then the weight of alienation on your heart is lifted!

Christ has already died your second death (Heb. 2:9), already borne the punishment for your rebellion and selfishness. Your sins have already been laid on Him (Isa. 53:6), He has already elected you to eternal life "in Christ." It's your guilt that weighs you down and forces you to be angry, impatient, negative. When your heart-burden is lifted, E. J. Waggoner says, "We often use the figure, 'as free as a bird,' and that exactly expresses the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free. Is it not a glorious thing? What a sense of freedom thrills the soul at the very thought of it!" [1]

The "condemnation in Adam" has already been lifted, for Christ has legally justified you by His sacrifice (Rom. 5:12-18). The result is that your joy is that of someone sentenced to death who has been acquitted, someone facing death who is raised to new life again--"alive from the dead" (Rom. 6:13). Your children will see and feel and touch for themselves this miracle of grace. Your hunger and thirst after righteousness are aroused and you find yourself in love with the Word of God, joyously obeying Him.

And it's not only what happened 2000 years ago--the Holy Spirit is your constant Companion, to "abide with you forever" (John 14:16). Better than a husband. You do not earn His presence by being good, for He is also a gift of grace. He speaks to you, but you may have been too deaf to hear Him, but He speaks "a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it'" (Isa. 30:21). Listen, and you can obey!

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Ellet J. Waggoner, "As Free as a Bird," The Present Truth, Jan. 10, 1894.

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lesson 9. The Holy Spirit and the Church

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Holy Spirit and Spirituality
Lesson 9. The Holy Spirit and the Church


Paul proclaimed Jesus with the blessing of the Holy Spirit. His plea for the church members in Corinth to "speak [teach] the same thing, [have] no divisions among you," and "be perfectly joined together in the same mind" (1 Cor. 1:10) is not idle talk. This is God's ideal for His church, and a little known prediction in an out-of-date book states categorically that such blessed heart- and mind-unity will be realized in the church before Jesus returns: "They will see eye to eye in all matters of religious belief. They will speak [teach] the same things; ... they will be one in Christ Jesus." [1]

How people in a church can truly believe the same thing (unity) is important, because Jesus said that the only way the world can be brought to believe in Him is when His followers "all may be one, ... that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (John 17:21). Something He calls "Thy truth" is the only thing that will unite them (vs. 17). Paul calls it "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5, 14). The success or failure of Christ's mission for the world therefore depends on that "truth" bringing His people who profess to "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" into one (Rev. 14:12).

If you are perplexed today as to what you can believe out of all the conflicting confusion, take heart. Jesus made another promise that is 100% true (sincere Jews were perplexed as to whether this upstart young Rabbi from Galilee was right, or whether the venerable elders from the headquarters offices were right): "If anyone will do His will [the Father's], he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be from God, or whether I speak of Myself" (John 7:17). If the common people would follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, saying a willing "amen" to each new ray of light flashed upon their pathway, their thinking would become clear. And there you have the Light flashing on your pathway today!

All the wonderful promises that Jesus made before His death must and will be fulfilled. But there is one great promise that has not yet been fulfilled, and many Christians think it never will be. They are wrong! He will not fail.

That great promise is in John 16:13: "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth." We usually think of the Holy Spirit as giving us happy feelings or of giving great power in witnessing and producing baptisms; we think that understanding "all truth" is of lesser importance. But over 200 times the Bible speaks of the importance of truth. In ordinary life, law courts, juries, judges, seek constantly to know the truth. Jesus says that it is so important that "the truth shall make you free" (8:32).

What can bring about a unity and clarity to understanding these important truths? Surely when that great fourth angel of Revelation 18:1-4 begins to "lighten the earth with glory," the message that calls every sincere person "out of Babylon" will be a message of pure, unadulterated truth. We pray daily for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. An excellent place to begin finding the answer to that prayer is in honest, sincere, and humble listening to the Bible to permit it to tell us what the truth is in all these controverted areas. Jesus did not promise, "The Holy Spirit will try to lead you into all truth," or "He wishes He could lead you into all truth." No, He said He will do so. The Holy Spirit right now "leading" us into the truth that will bind us together in loving harmony of belief. Let's listen to Him!

All the "concepts" of the 1888 message point to unity among God's people. Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," has written:

"The Bible is full of the idea of unity in the church of Christ, but we do not read so much about uniformity. This unity is to be the unity of life and growth, and not a mere outward connection. In Christ's prayer to the Father for His disciples, He said, 'And the glory that Thou gavest Me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one' (John 17:22, 23). Here we see that the glory of the Lord is to effect the union of believers, and the union is to be that of the Father and the Son.

"The union of the Father and the Son is union of spirit. We can not comprehend this union, but we may know that it is not a forced union, but that it results from their very nature. They have one life. Their thoughts and purposes are the same, not because they come together and compare notes and agree to be alike, but because one life is in them both. So the union of believers is to be a vital union, or it is not any union at all. It is not accomplished by strife and debate and decisions of majorities, but by yielding the mind to Christ and hearing His voice. They are to be united by the mind and Spirit of Christ. The life of the Father and the Son in each member of the church will produce the most perfect union in the whole body. ...

"'There is one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all'(Eph. 4:4-6). The apostle's exhortation is, 'that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10). But let it be borne in mind that this union is not artificial, but natural; not the human nature, however, but the divine nature.

"The unity of belief in the church is not forced by the church coming together and the majority defining the creed to be beloved. The church can not define doctrine, nor make laws for itself or anybody else. The church of Christ is made up of all who obey the Lord's commands not a body to issue commands. The Head directs, the body obeys. God speaks; each one must listen to His voice, for faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and no one can give faith to another. 'It is the gift of God.'" [2]

The Holy Spirit right now is "leading" us into the truth that will bind us together in loving harmony of belief. Come, today; and be a part of Christ's solution, not a part of His problem. Get in full unity with His truth, and you'll be one with Him.

--From the writings of E. G. White, E. J. Waggoner, and Robert J. Wieland

[1] Ellen G. White, Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p. 124.
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, "The Unity of the Church," The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Oct. 21, 1902; see also "Unity and Uniformity," The Present Truth, April 20, 1893.

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Raul Diaz