Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lesson 13: "I Make All Things New

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Revelation
Lesson 13: "I Make All Things New"


What is the mind of Christ today toward the organized denomination known as Seventh-day Adventists?

The last book of the Bible is the "revelation of Jesus Christ." There we can trace His "mind" toward His church and its destiny from the time of the apostles down to the end of the world. In chapter 12 He pictures the church as "a woman" opposed by Satan through all the ages of the Christian era. Finally she emerges in the last act of the drama as "the remnant of her seed" (King James Version) which "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17). She is to become the bride of Christ because the time must come when "the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7).

The outstanding demonstration of two thousand years of history is the public display of a church that is as completely loyal to Christ as a faithful bride is loyal to her husband. Seventh-day Adventists have always seen their destiny pictured in these end-time symbols.

Since the true Head of this church is Christ Himself, His honor and vindication are involved in the victory of this "woman" over her archenemy. He knows a way to bring healing and unity to His "body."

Ellen White identifies the organized Seventh-day Adventist Church as this "remnant": "In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. ... the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels' messages. ... The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world." [1]

"Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship which bears the people of God safely into port." [2]

"The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out--the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place." [3]

"I am instructed to say to Seventh-day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time." [4]

Some of these and other similar statements were made decades after the 1888 experience, indicating that Ellen White still regarded the organized church as the body of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it was. But it must experience repentance and spiritual reformation. As Christ called Abraham's family to witness to His truth in a world of paganism, so He has called Seventh-day Adventists to call the apostate Christian churches and the entire world, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and paganism, to repentance.

The fundamental issue to be settled is its true identity: if it is a fallible hierarchy of men and women, there is no hope for its future, and there is likewise no hope for any offshoot from it to succeed any better; but if we have a firm faith that the Lord Jesus is the true Leader of this church, then we can have confidence that He will cleanse and purify it as He has promised to do. If it was the Lord Jesus who initiated this church's calling, we can be sure that He knows how to finalize it.

There are several grand truths about Christ's second coming that we need to consider: His character has not changed from what it was 2000 years ago. "This same Jesus ... will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). But Paul says that "in flaming fire" He will "take vengeance" on His enemies (2 Thess. 1:8). Will He be a bloodthirsty tyrant with a laser gun to mow down His enemies in hateful revenge? If "God is love" (1 John 4:8), Christ must still be love when He returns. James and John wanted to call down that same "fire ... from heaven" to wipe out the unbelieving Samaritans, but Jesus said, No, "the Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them" (Luke 9:54, 56). Why the apparent change at the second coming?

The reason is that God's personal presence is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). Have you ever put a dish with a plastic spoon in the microwave? No problem. But if you leave in a metal spoon, the microwaves attack it. The personal presence of God is not destruction to His people who have overcome sin, for He loves them; but it has to be destruction to sin itself. Those who have made a final choice to cling to it are like the spoon in the microwave--the personal presence of agapehas to destroy them because they have clung to sin like a vine to a tree until both are one. They simply cannot endure to look into the face of Christ. The point is doesn't it make sense to get rid of the sin now?

But someone may say, "Yes, I'd like to, but it is too deep within me. I don't see how I can ever overcome it." That problem is the reason why Jesus Christ is now serving as great High Priest in His final work in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:14-16; 7:25; Titus 2:11). Heaven's total resources are ours for overcoming sin in this Day of Atonement. Sin can be removed from the heart, from the character, no matter how deeply we have sinned against the Lord. A mere forgiveness that excuses or pardons it but leaves it intact is not good enough. When the Lord truly forgives a sin, He takes it away. Clearly this is an 1888 idea. Writes E. J. Waggoner, "The cleansing of the sanctuary is the blotting out of the sins of God's people." [5] The essence of Adventism insists that there is a difference between the forgiveness of sin and the blotting out of sin, and the good news is that He will blot it out if we let Him do so.

Therefore the only reason why the second coming has been delayed is because God's people are not ready to face His personal presence. Sin in the heart would result in their destruction. The Lord loves them too much to subject them to such a test unless they are ready. Thus Peter says that Christ delays, "not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9).

Jesus Christ is a disappointed Bridegroom. Rightly understood, the entire Bible becomes a love story, with the climax near the end in Revelation 19. A wedding takes place because at last the bride "has made herself ready" (vs. 7). Christ has long desired that day to come, because His love for His church is likened to that of a bridegroom for his bride (Eph. 5:22-32). He placed the Song of Solomon in the Bible for a purpose--to arouse our hearts to sense the full meaning of His love for His church. The second coming will be to take His bride to Himself.

The Father therefore has not predetermined the time for Christ's second coming. In His infinite foreknowledge He knows the time, but for Him to know is not the same as to predetermine. For example, He knows who will eventually be saved and who will be lost, but He does not predetermine salvation or damnation for anyone. And Jesus expressly says He does not know the time of His coming (Mark 13:32).

The timing of the second coming is a different matter than for the first. To confuse the two is to repeat the mistake of the ancient Jews who assumed that the prophecies of the two advents were the same. Daniel indeed foretold exactly when Christ should appear as Messiah, and "like the stars in the vast circuit of their appointed path, God's purposes know no haste and no delay." [6] But the love of God requires that the timing for the second coming must be dependent on a people getting ready.

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 19.
[2] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book two, p. 390.
[3] Ibid., p. 380.
[4] Ibid., p. 397.
[5] E. J. Waggoner, "Cleansing of the Sanctuary," Signs of the Times, May 13, 1886, p. 279.10.
[6] See Daniel 9:24-27; Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 32.

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:


Friday, March 15, 2019

Lesson 11: The Seven Last Plagues

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Revelation
Lesson 11: The Seven Last Plagues


Revelation 16:1, 2: Then I heard a voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth." So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

Never has the Lord been forced to give a command that He dislikes so much to give as this one! He "is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). He said long ago, "I have no pleasure in the death of the one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live" (Ezek. 18:32).

If He could have His way He would save everybody: "God our Savior ... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:3, 4). "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:2). The only reason anyone will ever suffer the seven last plagues is that he has resisted and rejected the salvation that the Lord has already given him, because "God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3).

But painful as this work is to God, He has no choice but to let it come. "The winepress is full, the vats overflow--for their wickedness is great" (Joel 3:13).

It will not be "the blood of the grape" that flows from this great winepress, but the blood of wickedness. Such a terrible sight has not yet been seen on this earth. These literal plagues have not yet fallen, because they are declared to be the "last plagues." They cannot fall until the world has been warned, and the work of salvation has closed. And that work cannot close so long as there is one human soul somewhere who will yet respond to the Good News of the grace of Christ.

So long as the Holy Spirit has been working in the earth, judgments and disasters have brought many people to think and to repent. It has been true up until this time, as Isaiah says, that "when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). But before the last plagues can be poured out, the Holy Spirit will have been driven finally from the earth by the rejection of the wicked. It will then be demonstrated that troubles will not bring to repentance those who have rejected God's goodness, for only "the goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Rom. 2:4). Revelation says that Satan will then have full control over the inhabitants of the earth. "They did not repent" (Rev. 16:9).

It is during the pouring outof these plagues that the warnings against worshiping the beast and his image and receiving his mark will be fulfilled, and the rejectors of God's grace will "have no rest day or night" (Rev.14:10, 11). These plagues will bring the downfall of Babylon in "one day," which in harmony with the year-day principle of interpreting Bible prophecy, could mean one year of literal time.

What would this world be like if it were not for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit? Multitudes do not realize that they owe all their security and happiness under what measure of law and order prevails, to the blessed ministry of God's Spirit in the earth. During the time of the plagues, all will see clearly that when men give themselves up to the control of Satan, they will themselves produce a hell here on earth.

The plague of grievous sores falls on those who have yielded to pressure to receive the "mark of the beast," either sincerely by having the mark in their foreheads, or insincerely by having it in their hands. But to His loyal people, the Lord gives this assurance: "You shall not be afraid of the ... pestilence that walks in darkness. ... A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you ... neither shall any plague come near your dwelling" (Psalm 91:5-10).

How does the 1888 message fit into the meaning of the seven last plagues? The first three sentences that Ellet J. Waggoner published in book form soon after the 1888 Conference summarizes in miniature the "most precious message." As the oak is in the acorn, the essential elements of the view of Waggoner and A. T. Jones on the nature of Christ, sinless living, and the cleansing of the sanctuary are here in a nutshell:

"In the first verse of the third chapter of Hebrews we have an exhortation which comprehends all the injunctions given to the Christian. It is this: 'Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.' To do this as the Bible enjoins, to consider Christ continually and intelligently, just as He is, will transform one into a perfect Christian, for 'by beholding we become changed.'"[1]

We are either hastening the finishing of the gospel commission, or we are continuing our history of over 130 years in postponing the glorious "marriage of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7, 8). It was 130 years ago that the Lord Jesus wanted to propose to the corporate "woman" whom He loves, "Let's get married!" All heaven had been waiting to rejoice because "the marriage of the Lamb is come, for His wife has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). But no, not yet.

And today's question is: "What good does it do if the folks we baptize become just more Laodicean lukewarm adherents? What progress have we made?"

We as a world church are in fact writing a "book" about "discipleship." The last chapter is about a "discipleship" so mature, so complete that it prepares the "disciples" around the world to be ready for the close of human probation, prepares them to stand during the pouring out of the seven last plagues, prepares them to face the final test of the close of probation. That will be ultimate "discipleship."

And here we come face to face with the reality of our church story. The "let your light shine" idea was "present truth" 130 years ago when the Lord was ready to shine "our" light upon a dark world, lighting the earth with the glory of that fourth angel of Revelation 18:1-4. (Remember, when Revelation speaks of angels with a message, it's the people of God who actually give the message.)

The idea is clear as sunlight: (1) See Jesus as He truly is; (2) consider His work as High Priest; and (3) faith in Him will transform the believer into "a perfect Christian." Here was the "beginning" fulfillment of the promise of Early Writings of a "refreshing" which will "give power ... and prepare the saints to stand ... when the seven last plagues shall be poured out." [2]

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] Ellet J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 7, Glad Tidings ed. (1999).
[2] Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 86.

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Friday, March 8, 2019

Lesson 10: God's Everlasting Gospel

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Revelation
Lesson 10: God's Everlasting Gospel


Three things make the Seventh-day Adventist Church the most unique denomination on planet earth. Two of three things are the cleansing of the sanctuary truth and the three angels' messages. The combination of these two is summarized as Christ and His righteousness, found in the 1888message. No other church in the world is teaching these messages. If we lose sight of them, then we lose our God-given purpose for existence. In 1844 God called out a remnant from the Protestant churches that were on their march back to Rome--yes, even in the early 1800s this was taking place--and He filled that remnant with a zeal for Bible study and sharing the messages of the three angels.

William Miller's movement was not the only group in the world that was agitating for a deeper Bible study. Satan had his counterfeits, too. Prophecy Bible study groups in England and Scotland were developing their own views on the fulfillment of prophecy and end-time events. Notably, through the preaching of John Nelson Darby, who came to America in 1859, the second coming of Christ was also anticipated among some evangelical and Pentecostal churches. This was just 4 years before the Adventist Church was formally organized. 
However, Darby's ideas were not according to the Bible, but originated in the mind of a Catholic priest during the Council of Trent (1545-1563), as a means of deflecting the Protestant claim that the papacy was the beast of Revelation 13. Darby's dispensational premillennialism teachings were originally accepted by C. I. Scofield, and in some form, is now the prophetic view of most modern fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches.

It makes a great deal of difference how we interpret the prophecies of Daniel chapters 7 through 9, and the entire Book of Revelation. The end result of this difference is eternal life or destruction in the lake of fire. Correctly interpreting the prophecies, especially of the three angels' messages, will shield the believer from Satan's final deception called the mark of the beast, when "all the world will wonder after the beast" completely deluded by the sophistries of spiritualism combined with a misinterpretation of end-time events (sadly, this will include some persons in the Seventh-day Adventist church, too; Rev. 13:14; 16:13, 14). "All" will follow the beast power, except that remnant who will be proclaiming the message of repentance and the faith of Jesus known as "the everlasting Gospel."

Those messages are: (1) A call to repentance and reverent, committed worship of the Creator God who is judging the world in righteousness, by the Standard of righteousness, Jesus Christ. The first angel's message calls for a deep loyalty that includes keeping the seventh-day Sabbath given by God at creation as the sign and seal of the faith that finds complete rest in His power to save from sin. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28), which is in direct contrast to those who accept the beast's claims. Those find "no rest, day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name" (Rev. 14:11).

(2) "Babylon" as the word-symbol of all apostate religions that preach a false "gospel" about God, His character, and His method of salvation. Apostate religions all claim that works are necessary to appease an angry God (paganism) or earn merit in payment for our transgressions (papalism). Papalism is paganism exalted, as Daniel saw in his vision (Daniel 8:12, "the daily" is continual transgression exalted as the "gospel" of Jesus Christ).

(3) The third angel's message warns the world against willingly or unwittingly accepting the lies of the apostate religious system that has united church and state while counterfeiting the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. The true Gospel, when believed with all the heart, will transform the unbeliever into a loyal servant of God (see Rom. 6:17, 18). It will produce such deep fidelity and allegiance to God that the believer, through the power of the faith of Jesus working in their lives, will remain steadfast even as the world falls rapidly to total destruction and all seems hopeless just prior to the second coming.

The time is fast approaching when "by the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation [every nation, but principally America] will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism [Rev. 13:12-15], when, under the influence of this threefold union [Rev. 16:13, 14], our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions [Sunday-keeping and the "natural" immortality of the "soul"], then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near." [1]

The first angel calls all persons in the world to honor the God who created all things. To honor God means that, through the faith of Jesus working in our hearts, we keep His Commandments. Keeping God's Commandments is not "perfectionism" as many are complaining today. There will bea remnant of people at the end of time who fully surrender their will though faith in God's power to prevent them from falling under the bewitching lies of Satan (Rev. 14:12). This remnant will be "presented faultless before the throne of God" (Jude 24). It is this "perfect" remnant that will be sealed with "the Father's name written in their foreheads," who have "gotten the victory over the beast and his image and over his mark," and who stand on the "sea of glass mingled with fire," singing a "new song" of victory over sin, called "the Song of Moses and the Lamb" (Rev. 7:3; 14:1; 15:2, 3).

To have this experience, God's people must be prepared through the faith of Jesus that produced righteousness in Him. The very faith that accomplished overcoming in Jesus has been given to "every man" (Rom. 12:1-3). This faith works in us to transform our characters, fitting us for heaven. It is "the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). It is the finishing of "the mystery of God" in the characters of His people (Rev. 10:7).

"And the finishing of this mystery is the perfecting of the believers, even unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. The mystery of godliness is 'God ... manifest in the flesh' (1 Tim. 3:16). And the finishing of this mystery signifies not only the finishing of the work of God in the believer, so that the believer reflects only Christ,--all of God and none of self,--but it signifies also that this manifestation of God in the flesh will be finished, and that He will be manifest only in the spirit: and this signifies the changing of the believers from flesh to spirit; and this signifies translation. Thank the Lord! And now is the time." [2]

"Of all the denominations and religions on earth, God acknowledges as His 'saints' only those people who keep His commandments through the genuine faith of Jesus. But they are not seeking to keep the commandments in their own strength, neither are they trusting in their obedience to gain for them a place in the kingdom of God. The faith of Jesus is their sole motivation. He is their pattern and example. They are a Christ-centered people. They rejoice in salvation by His grace. They know that 'love is the fulfillment of the law' (Rom. 13:10). Christ is both their Substitute and Example." [3]

"The proud heart strives to earn salvation [i.e., "perfectionism"]; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ [the fullness of the "1888 message"]. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld." [4]"I saw that the third angel is leading out a people and fitting them for translation. They are to be purified through obeying the truth. ... The truth is to elevate, to cleanse, to purify, to sanctify, to fit us for translation, prepare us for the company of holy angels, sinless beings in the kingdom of God." [5]

"We are to walk by faith, not by sight. Through faith and obedience we obtain every advantage. Through faith 'we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' I can testify that the righteousness of Christ entitles us to the blessings of the covenant of grace." [6]

--Ann Walper

[1] Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 451.
[2] A. T. Jones, Review and Herald, Dec. 13, 1898.
[3] Robert J. Wieland, The Gospel in Revelation, p. 114.
[4] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 300.
[5] Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 291.
[6] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1793.

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

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: