Friday, May 26, 2017

Lesson 9. Be Who You Are


Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

"Feed My Sheep": First and Second Peter
Lesson 9. Be Who You Are


"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7, New International Version, emphasis added).

Our memory verse this week can easily be misunderstood if we don't understand the special work of preparing a group of people who will stand through the end of time. People who are inclined to legalism see this text as instruction to try ever harder to do all the things in Peter's list "right," not realizing that it's impossible for sinful humans to do this. Those who realize that scoff at the impossibility and comfort themselves by thinking that a rational God would never expect perfection from sinful human beings.

A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, the 1888 "messengers," saw that genuine righteousness by faith since 1844 is a special experience ministered by Jesus, our High Priest, from the Most Holy Apartment. This special ministry is not concerned primarily with preparing people to die, but preparing a corporate body of God's people for translation at the coming of Christ.

The great controversy between Christ and Satan cannot be concluded until such a demonstration develops. Thus it is evident that the views of popular churches that do not follow Christ by faith in His Most Holy Apartment ministry cannot be "present truth" righteousness by faith.

The message given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1888 has a special, unique understanding of the everlasting gospel entrusted to us. The world must know about the cleansing of the sanctuary and how it relates to practical godliness. It's not our job to cleanse and make ourselves righteous in the Day of Atonement. It is the responsibility of our High Priest. We choose, believe, or "let" Him do it.

After discussing the impossibility of achieving character through the earthly sacrificial system or the law, A. T. Jones explains, "This again shows that though perfection was the aim in all the ministry that was performed under the law, yet perfection was not attained by any of those performances. ... Therefore, since the will of God is the sanctification and the perfection of the worshipers; since the will of God is that His worshipers shall be so cleansed that they shall have no more conscience of sin; and since the service and the offerings in that earthly sanctuary could not do this; He took it all away that He may establish the will of God. "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." [1]

Perfection is attained only through Christ. "In His coming in the flesh--having been made in all things like unto us, and having been tempted in all points like as we are--He has identified Himself with every human soul just where that soul is. ... He, as one of us, in our human nature, weak as we, laden with the sins of the world, in our sinful flesh, in this world, a whole lifetime, lived a life 'holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,' and 'was made' and ascended 'higher than the heavens.' ... Perfection, perfection of character, is the Christian goal--perfection attained in human flesh in this world. Christ attained it in human flesh in this world, and thus made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can attain it. He, having attained it, has become our great High Priest, by His priestly ministry in the true sanctuary to enable us to attain it. ... 'Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.' Psalm 77:13." [2] Ibid, p. 87-8

What does that mean? If the sanctuary holds the key to Christian perfection, then it is important to understand. When God opened the sea, making a way for a disorderly group of slaves to leave the wickedness of Egypt, their only requirement was to believe and act on that belief. Clearly, they had misgivings, doubts, and complaints, but they left their slave quarters and followed Moses. Other than that, they had done nothing to earn God's attention or favor. God had not yet given them His law, so other than participate in a Passover meal and walk away from Egypt, they had no idea what God expected of them.

When God gave them His law, they believed God was making a bargain with them. They were to keep His law, and in return He would be their God and protect them. They overlooked the fact that just before speaking the law to them He reminded them "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Ex. 20:2,New American Standard Bible). He was already their God. He had already worked miracles to rescue them out of their situation. He knew it was impossible for them to keep the law, but He used the law as a mirror to show how sinful they were. Since they could never keep the law in spirit and truth, He gave them the sanctuary service to show them His way of salvation.

In the sacrificial system of the sanctuary, the role of the sinner was to understand they had sinned. Because there is no remission for sin without shedding of blood, they were to bring a sacrifice to the tabernacle. There, they would confess their sins only to God, transferring them to the innocent victim. The sinner was required to take a knife and cut the throat of the animal. This violent act was to impress the sinner of God's abhorrence of sin, as well as to direct their minds to the ultimate Victim which was only typified by the animal sacrifices.

After the cut, the priest caught the blood in a bowl, and took it into the Holy Place and sprinkled it on the veil separating the two compartments, symbolically transferring the sin into the Most Holy Place. Note that the priest is the one who administers the blood. The sinner did not follow the priest into the tabernacle to see what the priest did with the blood. The sinner had to believe this process provided reconciling forgiveness so he was set right with God. It was by faith in the ancient tabernacle, just as it is entirely by faith now.

So is that it? Is that all there is to do, just believe? What about Peter telling us to "make every effort" to add good things to our character? Doesn't that mean our works count for something? The 11th chapter of Hebrews reminds us of people of faith, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and many others who began a long journey of choices and steps as God disciplined and refined them, settling them into their faith so they could not be moved. For most of them, a great deal of their journey was spent simply waiting, which is rarely easy. The problem happens when we resist God's voice, we give up faith because we don't understand why He is asking us to do this or that difficult thing, or why He waits.

Jesus told Nicodemus if He was "lifted up" He would draw all to Him. That includes us as we go through the discipline of trials that our heavenly Father brings to refine our characters. Just as the sinner who brought his lamb to the ancient tabernacle needed faith to believe the priest was carrying out his responsibilities, so we need to lift Jesus up in our lives when we go through trials. The timing of when Jesus is able to add the things in Peter's list to our characters is up to Him. Our job is not to resist.

--Arlene Hill

[1] A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way, pp. 84-86; Glad Tidings ed. (emphasis in original).
[2] Ibid, pp. 87-89.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lesson 8. Jesus in the Writings of Peter

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

"Feed My Sheep": First and Second Peter
Lesson 8. Jesus in the Writings of Peter


The letters of Peter express the gospel in rich and powerful ways. They draw interesting implications and challenges for everyday Christian living, including how God reaches out to the brokenness of this sin-sick world, the fallen humanity. God is seeking and constantly knocking in each and every heart, including the lost soul, to save "that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

Take a look at who Peter is: "an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Peter 1:1) These strangers could be believers in Christ. Of all the places that Paul traveled and preached to the churches in Asia Minor, the Roman provinces, and Turkey, it appears that Peter is speaking directly to these same Pauline churches.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, is also a reference to Simon Peter, the son of Jonah, and a leader of the first generation church. He is also known as a fisherman. Peter spent three years in the school of Jesus, and some of the lessons that Peter had to deal with were the great doctrines of election, foreknowledge, sanctification, obedience, the blood of Christ, the Trinity, the grace of God, salvation, revelation, glory, faith, and hope.

We see a changed life in Peter, being impetuous, but now patient. Here we learn that Peter's name means "rock." Our Lord told him in effect, "You are a pretty weak man now, but I am going to make you a Petros, a 'rock-man.' And you will build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ who is the Rock on which the church is built." He is emphasizing that all believers in Christ are small rocks also: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5). Actually, this means every believer is a Peter. Please note that Simon Peter never exalts himself in any position, other than referring himself as an apostle, chosen by the Lord to preach the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He did not feel that he was exalted above the others. Peter faces and suffers martyrdom through his experience in being a representative for Christ.

Peter explains Christ as our sacrifice through His death on the cross as the Redeemer and Savior for us in 1 Peter 1:18, 19: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

What amazing love poured out through God in sending His Son to reveal the plan of salvation. Peter addresses Jesus as the Messiah when reading Matthew 16:16: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (In Greek the word Christ is Christos, meaning "anointed, the "Messiah.")

Then we get to the divinity of Jesus in the relationship with God, as one. Let's take a look at some of the gospel writings by Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," and Ellen White:

"The new birth completely supersedes the old. 'If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new; and all things are of God' (2 Cor. 5:17, 18). He who takes God for the portion of his inheritance, has a power working in him for righteousness, as much stronger than the power of inherited tendencies to evil, as our heavenly Father is greater than our earthly parents" (Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant, p. 66; 1900 ed.).

"We need not try to improve on the Scriptures, and say that the goodness of God tends to lead men to repentance. The Bible says that it does lead them to repentance, and we may be sure that it is so. Every man is being led toward repentance as surely as God is good. But not all repent. Why? Because they despise the riches of the goodness and forbearance and long-suffering of God, and break away from the merciful leading of the Lord. But whoever does not resist the Lord, will surely be brought to repentance and salvation" (Waggoner on Romans, p. 42).

"Abiding in the Spirit, walking in the Sprit, the flesh with its lusts has no more power over us than if we were actually dead and in our graves. ...The flesh is still corruptible, still full of lusts, still ready to rebel against the Spirit; but as long as we yield our wills to God, the Spirit holds the flesh in check. ... This Spirit of life in Christ--the life of Christ--is given freely to all. 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely' (Rev. 22:17)." (Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 123; CFI ed., 2016).

"Thank God for the blessed hope! The blessing has come upon all men. For 'as by the offence 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" (ibid., p. 66).

"As Christ draws them to look upon His cross, to behold Him whom their sins have pierced, ... they begin to comprehend something of the righteousness of Christ. ... 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; a knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins, which have caused the sufferings of God's dear Son" (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 27).

There is an old hymn, "Wonderful Grace of Jesus," where the message of Scripture comes through clearly that no matter how great your guilt, God's forgiveness is greater. The words say it all.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

 Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
 Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All sufficient grace for even me!
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus,
Praise His name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God's dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven
For all eternity--
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.
[By Haldor Lillenas, 1885-1959; for the complete hymn see]

There was a very dear adopted Mother-like figure to me who has been a caring friend during my nursing career. Just several days before Mother's day, she passed away in her sleep. She was 99. She loved to pray for each encounter she came across. She reached me through a telephone ministry, and the relationship grew where I became part of her life and family.

That is how it is when you are in the Family of God. You are never alone in the walk in the newness of a converted life in Him. And just think, on the "graduation day" of leaving this world of strife, to have your diploma read, "Receive Eternal Life!" May the apostle Peter's experience speak to us out of his tremendous experience in bringing the gospel of hope and grace.

--Mary Chun

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

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lesson 7. Servant Leadership

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

"Feed My Sheep": First and Second Peter
Lesson 7. Servant Leadership


Jesus Christ is our premier example of what servant leadership in the church looks like. His self-denying love brought Him to this wicked world where He gave Himself unstintingly, holding back nothing, to the service of mankind. Jesus "humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8).

If we possess that same attitude of humility and submission to God, Christian leaders from our local churches and all the way up to the General Conference, will exhibit the crucial characteristics vitally needed to carry the three angels' messages forward to completion. No matter how extensive or advanced, knowledge without appropriate self-denial builds pride and does not advance the work of God.

The apostle Paul's history provides much insight for this week's lesson. Paul was a talented theologian with plenty of advanced knowledge and abundant zeal for what he believed was truth, but these could not progress the work of God as he exercised them prior to his conversion.

Paul accepted the prevailing opinion that Jesus was crucified as a common criminal and therefore, according to the views of the leaders of the Jews, could not be the promised Messiah. Christianity was looked upon as a pernicious superstition. That someone could rise from the grave was considered to be utter foolishness. Faith in the risen Christ was viewed as obstinacy and a religious perversity. These pestilential ideas were deemed worthy of repression and persecution because they overturned the "tradition of the elders" and threatened the established religious order of things.

By the time of Christ, the truth of the everlasting covenant given to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David had long been eclipsed by tradition and legalism that supplanted pure faith in God's power to deliver His people from sin. The Pharisees were preaching "the law until [they] were as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain" [1], while the Sadducees undermined God's word with their doubts concerning righteousness and life after death, leaving the laypeople famished for spiritual nourishment and hope of eternal life.

The leadership--priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees--of the Jewish church had become elevated to such an exalted position that they felt that no one could question their theological proclamations. Their word was law and ought to be obeyed simply because of the high position they held in the church and community. They remained unchallenged until Christ came to town.

Jesus was the premier example of a religious teacher and humble servant to those in need. For three and a half years, He met the Jewish theologians on their own ground, bringing glad tidings to those persons who were spiritually weary and heavily burdened by the many additions to God's Commandments that these "pious" church men had formulated and stipulated as being necessary for salvation.

These Jewish leaders hounded Jesus throughout Judea and in Jerusalem, continually challenging Him to debates in hopes of finding fault in His teachings that they might openly condemn Him before the people. As Jesus' earthly ministry was nearing its end, the high priest and Sanhedrin (comparable to a "general conference" of the Jewish faith) increased their plotting to kill Him. Jesus was a threat to their cherished doctrines and power over the people. Their political and religious positions, and reputations were in serious danger if the common people continued to follow this Man from Nazareth in ever increasing numbers.

Even after Christ was killed, the danger continued through the Spirit-led disciples who had been eyewitnesses to the power of Jesus' resurrection. An emissary of those legalistic theologians who were struggling to maintain their control of the people's thinking, was Saul [hereafter referred to as Paul]. By any standard, he was a terrorist who persecuted innocent Christians simply because they chose to believe a different message than the one taught in the Temple and synagogues by the Jewish leadership.

On his way to Damascus with orders from the high priest to arrest Christians living there, Paul was in reality headed for a divine appointment. It seemed impossible that someone like Paul--young, impetuous, and so full of theological fire and self-assurance--could be humbled in the dust and turned into a servant of the One he hated. But the Lord intended to turn Paul's theological knowledge and spiritual talents for good instead of evil.

Approaching the city, "suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven" and Paul had his pride adjusted when he was knocked from his horse to the ground (Acts 9:3, 4). Before and during that journey Paul was absolutely convinced of the correctness of his theological position. However, that confrontation with Jesus shook Paul to the foundation of his beliefs. He was confronted by his sin, and his need of Jesus as his Saviour was made clear to him. Paul had been "kicking against the pricks"--resisting the work of the Holy Spirit who was trying to convert Saul the fire-breathing legalist, into Paul the New Testament's humble servant leader, and foremost preacher of righteousness by faith in Christ.

Eighteen hundred and fifty years later, on a dismal rainy afternoon in 1882, young Ellet J. Waggoner sat in a gospel tent in Healdsburg, California, listening to a boring sermon. Suddenly he felt that a light illuminated the area around him, and he caught a vision of the reality of the cross of Christ, not as a dry historical event of eighteen hundred years before, but as present truth. Waggoner suddenly realized that Christ loved him and died for him personally. That singular event stirred Waggoner's heart and mind, sending him on a lifelong study of the Bible's foundational principle of the everlasting covenant.

Four years later, Waggoner began to publish his views on the two covenants in the Signs of the Times magazine. In these articles, he introduced ideas that were contrary to the established opinions of a large portion of the church leaders. At the 1886 General Conference session, Waggoner presented his view that the law in Galatians was the moral law. G. I. Butler and Uriah Smith (then General Conference president, and Review and Herald editor, respectively) took umbrage to Waggoner's position. It directly challenged their cherished view that the law in Galatians was the ceremonial law. They felt that Waggoner's view threatened the foundational teachings of the church and would seriously hinder evangelism work on the Sabbath truth.

The resulting conflict has not been much different than what occurred at the time Christ was crucified. Under the power of the early rain Peter, God's humbled servant leader, stood up and preached the risen Saviour to a doubting crowd, declaring Him to be the only means of salvation from sin. The established, prideful theologians in A.D. 34 and in 1888 attempted to stonewall the work God was completing in His remnant people. The early rain proceeded under the work of the faithful apostles, but in 1888 the beginning of the latter rain was stymied by persistent unbelief.

In 1888 two young men preached more fully the meaning of Christ's sacrifice and work of redemption. "Great truths that had lain unheeded and unseen since the day of Pentecost" were presented "in their native purity." [2] Had the church leadership in 1888 humbly and prayerfully listened to the Holy Spirit's message sent to them through A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner (and endorsed by Ellen White), then as God's servant leaders, they would have been prepared to proclaim the three angels' messages to the world under the power of the latter rain. But "an unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions," and "because of insubordination" we have had to remain in this dark world "many more years" than God intended. [3]

It remains for us to receive this latter rain power and finish the work entrusted to us as God's remnant people. We have been cautioned to "be careful, every one of you, what position you take, whether you enshroud yourselves in the clouds of unbelief because you see imperfections [in Waggoner and Jones's characters]; you see a word or a little item, perhaps, that may take place, and judge them from that. You are to see what God is doing with them, ... and then you are to acknowledge the Spirit of God that is revealed in them. And if you choose to resist it you will be acting just as the Jews acted." [4]

--Ann Walper

[1] Ellen G. White, "Christ Prayed for Unity Among His Disciples," Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.
[2] Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 473.
[3] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235; Evangelism, pp. 695, 696.
[4] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 2, pp. 608, 609.

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

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lesson 6. Suffering for Christ

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

"Feed My Sheep": First and Second Peter
Lesson 6. Suffering for Christ


Have you ever been persecuted for Christ? If honesty forces you to say No, then you have never been fully "blessed." You are deprived! The word "persecution" has come to mean primarily suffering unjust opposition or affliction from religious authorities. When people who are openly godless attack you, it is easier to bear than when those who profess to be servants of God do it. Jesus says, "Blessed are ye, when [people] shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad ... for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matt. 5:11, 12).

Why is such persecution so painful for sincere people to endure? Church fellowship is like family fellowship, often more intimately so. It's like yanking a plant out of the ground by its roots; it soon withers. Where is Jesus when that happens to you? We can find the answer in John 9: Jesus had healed the man born blind; the Jewish clergy harassed him, persecuted him, finally "cast him out" of his "church fellowship," the synagogue. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and ... He ... found him" (vs. 35). For Jesus to find him and be with him was part of the "blessing" that He promised to those who are persecuted for His sake.

Often in sacred history, God's faithful servants have labored unselfishly and yet have either been rejected outright or have suffered at the hands of God's true people being unappreciated. An example is the story of the message brought by two young men (A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner) at a great General Conference Session in 1888 when Ellen White was almost the only person present who expressed appreciation for their work and their message. Solomon said, "The poor man's wisdom is despised" (Eccl. 9:16), the very word Ellen White used repeatedly to describe the reception this heaven-sent message received among "us" well over a century ago.

But there's another way to look at "suffering for Christ." There's a reverse to this "coin"--instead of our downtrodden suffering it can be a cause for rejoicing.

When Jesus said that those who mourn are happy people (Matt. 5:4), He shocked everybody. As Luke reports the statement, he has Jesus saying, "Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh" (Luke 6:21).

It may not appear on the surface to be true, but like many things that Jesus says, there is a profound reality involved. When you shed tears in morning, if you believe the gospel, you are in fact realizing a point of intimate contact with Christ, the Son of God. The secret is revealed in 1 Peter 4:13 which says, "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

Have you ever felt that your life has been a failure? Some who have lost a love or suffered divorce feel pained to their roots; some have suffered the loss of good health and pray and nothing happens. In sober moments they think of the final Judgment and wonder how they will fare. Burdens can be heavy. And it's not just those far along in life who wrestle thus; teenagers can know what depression is. You are overwhelmed that there is nobody anywhere who really understands you. You are alone.

And then the Holy Spirit reminds you of Jesus. Did He sail through life laughing, always on top? Did He ever wake up at night unable to sleep, feeling a failure? Yes! There is a passage in Isaiah that can be authored by no one else than Jesus: "Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent My strength for nought, and in vain" (49:4). Isaiah actually wrote the words but he did so as a prophecy of Jesus (see verses 1-3). You'd think such a person would never be tempted to feel His life is a failure! But He was "in all points tempted like as we are" (Heb. 4:15).

He took all that is ours upon Himself, carrying the burden of feeling a failure further than we could: He felt that even His Father had "forsaken" Him in the darkest moment any human has ever known. The very thing your whole soul longs for--to live for a purpose--requires that you get acquainted with Jesus, to "taste" His experience, to know at least a little something of what it means to be "despised and rejected of men" (53:3). True, you'll be different forever after. You can't join in the laughter of the social scene; you'll feel driven to "pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:6).

It will be a rich experience. You'll find you can't live without praying to Him "in secret." You'll forget about setting your alarm clock to wake up and "have your devotions"; the Father will wake you up because He is hungry for fellowship with you! You'll know the Savior as Someone you never dreamed of--who loves you differently than how you pity your dog: He actually honors you as one of the princes or princesses in His realm, He even invites you to "sit down with [Him] in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). Don't despise being "a partaker of Christ's sufferings" (1 Peter 4:12, 13). Life is not ending; it's just begun.

What does it mean to be "a partaker of Christ's sufferings," and how is it cause for rejoicing?

Paul's (and Christ's) oft-repeated theme is "identity." As the "second" or "last Adam" Christ entered the stream of our fallen humanity, became one with us so truly that as we are all "in Adam" by birth, so we "all" are "in Christ" by virtue of His redemption of the entire human race (1 Cor. 15:22). So truly does He identify with us that Isaiah says, "In all their affliction He was afflicted" (Isa. 63:9). This is why He tells everybody at last, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren [good or ill], ye have done it unto Me" (Matt. 25:40). He truly feels the woe of the world!

This identity is reciprocated when we appreciate how He has identified with us--we believe, "abide, remain in Him." Our appreciation of His suffering now ennobles and sanctifies our suffering so that, as Peter says, we become "partakers of His sufferings." The principle is all-inclusive: "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2:11, 12).

The resulting comfort is enormous. The believer sees how important he or she is in the infrastructure of God's universe: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ [we do something for Him!], not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil. 1:29), and (amazing thought!) we make a contribution to the great controversy between Christ and Satan in that we "fill up that which is behind [something is lacking which must be supplied!] of the afflictions of Christ in [our] flesh for His body's sake, which is the church" (Col. 1:24).

This "partaking" in no way contributes to our salvation, but it enables us to be happy when we meet Him at last, knowing that we have something intimate in common with Him! He actually invites those who suffer in these last days to "sup with Him," inasmuch as they have "overcome even as [He] overcame."

Therefore don't be surprised if He permits a little suffering to come your way! These thoughts only scratch the surface of glorious Good News.

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

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

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