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The Great Controversy An Information War

The contenders

Most people are aware that there is a controversy between good and evil in the world. But who are the contending parties? What are the issues? And how will it end?

It is generally accepted that God is good and that the enemy who is behind evil is Satan. The Bible describes a part of the conflict in the following words:

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)

At the outset, it must be established that there is no issue of Satan matching power with God. God is the Creator. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Ps. 33:6).  He who created the angels and brought the heavens and the earth into existence can just as easily remove them and take them out of existence. Devils tremble at the very thought of God because they are aware of His awesome power –“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19).

So, there is no contest between God and Satan on terms having to do with the exercise of power. People speak broadly about a conflict between good and evil. But what is good and what is evil? How are these defined? To those, like Satan, who feel that they have a cause to pursue, they may well think that it is their side that is good and the other side evil. In fact, the serpent’s accusation against God, to Adam and Eve, would represent God as being the evil one and he, Satan (the serpent), as being the one that is good and sought good for Adam and Eve.

The issues of the conflict

The real issue of the controversy is about the character of God. And the controversy is not between God and Satan per se; it is between Christ and Satan over the character of God. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). Further, the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons. As we are told:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-6). The knowledge of the truth about God will lead us to love Him and submit to Him. Lucifer, who was an exalted angel in heaven, by taking his eyes off God and focussing on himself, developed an overblown concept of himself and a diminished or warped perception of God. The result was that he rebelled against God and became Satan and was cast out of heaven. The prophet Isaiah described the fall of Lucifer as follows: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isa. 14:12-15). His wisdom was corrupted because of his focus on and concept of himself.

“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28).

If we have a wrong concept of God and end up, like Lucifer, rebelling against God, it is us who are the losers, not God. Through Christ, God seeks to save us by extending His grace to us in the form of a revelation of Himself to us, through Christ, who looks like Him and behaves like Him. It is an information war. It is all about what we choose to believe about God. The conflict between Christ and Satan is a battle for the hearts and minds of intelligent beings. Those who believe Christ, believe the truth and will be saved, while those who believe otherwise, as promulgated by Satan, believe a lie and will end up as losers. Satan cannot give life. So there is no future in buying into his deceptions and false representations of God.

Satan is described as the “god of this world” and his purpose to deceive is described as follows: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Sifting truth from error

Establishing the truth is like fitting up a jig-saw puzzle where many extraneous pieces are mixed up on the table with the genuine pieces. These pieces that do not belong, are deliberately placed there to throw us off so as to prevent us from being able to fit the puzzle together. Such is the nature of the many erroneous ideas that Satan places before us. We have to sift out the truth from the error, diligently. That is what will determine the outcome for us – whether belief in the truth that aligns us with God so that we can receive eternal life from Him or belief in a lie that places us with Satan, with the result that we will die like him and with him. The choice is ours. The appeal is to choose life by seeking and believing the truth and joining the fight as an ambassador for the truth, preaching the gospel of truth whereby souls can be saved.

How do we sift out the puzzle pieces that do not belong to the picture and retain those pieces that belong? By having an idea of what the overall picture looks like. If, for example, you are fitting up a puzzle that forms a picture of green trees and the blue sky in the background, then you can remove from the table the red and purple pieces that clearly do not belong. Of course, the closer the erroneous pieces look like the correct pieces, the more effort and diligence has to be applied to differentiate. Jesus said that deception will be so strong in the last days that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).

The overall picture

The overall picture is provided by information about the fall of Lucifer from heaven; his enticing Adam and Eve to sin against God; God’s Son coming to earth to win back the hearts and minds of human beings by revealing the truth about God to us; Satan being exposed by his stirring up the multitude to kill the innocent Son of God; Christ being raised from the dead and representing before God and the angels, by virtue of our repentance, the fact that some of us were only deceived and not genuinely rebellious; and Christ returning to earth to reclaim this territory from Satan and resurrecting those who died in a state of acceptance of the truth, while translating those who are alive and faithful. This is the framework that allows us to sift out the erroneous ideas that Satan throws in our way to deceive us.

As with Adam and Eve who got one simple instruction from God that, if followed, would have protected them from Satan, we today have one simple instruction: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8). This is God’s sign that, if we embrace it, will signal to the universe that we have aligned ourselves on God’s side- “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20). Further, the Sabbath provides us with special time with God that He uses to sanctify us and make us holy –“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Eze. 20:12).

The final conflict is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. The commandments of men represent Satan’s formula for governing people’s behaviour. The commandments of men are an imitation of the commandments of God, except in two points. Whereas the commandments of God forbid making images to represent God and commands that we rest from our labours on the seventh day Sabbath as a sign that we believe in and give allegiance to the Creator, the commandments, as represented by men, does not forbid the making of images and they regard Sunday in place of the seventh day Sabbath.

These two points of difference will identify those who Christ will claim as His, as opposed to those who Satan will claim as his. Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Further, He says: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9). And again: “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (Matt. 14:15).

Today, many professed Christians are saying that all we need to do is just accept Jesus. You don’t have to consider anything else. To them, keeping the commandments of God is legalism. But that is contrary to what Jesus said. Its all a part of Satan’s efforts to create confusion. Remember, its an information war. May the Lord help us to align ourselves under His banner so that when Christ returns, we will be among those who would have accepted Christ and His revelation of the truth about God, and be faithfully keeping His commandments.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

The real Jesus and how He conquered

To ask the question, “Who is Jesus and what has He done?” might evoke an answer such as, “Jesus is Lord and He saved us from our sins”.  But what do these things really mean?  When asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).  To this response, Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.(Matt. 16:17).  Jesus spoke of the great achievement that He would make, and indicated how his Father would respond, in the following words: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17)It is not that the Father did not love His Son before His Son laid down His life, but the Father loves Him even more, on account of this great achievement.  The result was that the Father not only “raised Him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1) but has “highly exalted Him” (Phil. 2:9) – so, Jesus is indeed Lord.  We will elaborate a little more on the great achievement of Christ and His present position.

Everyone likes to identify with winners.  So, it is easy to identify with Christ when we are told that Jesus is Lord.  But have we stopped and thought of the real conquering achievement of Christ?  Apart from the fact that He is the Son of God and before He came to earth He had, “by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”, the angels, (Heb. 1:4), have we thought of the main reason why He is now exalted in heaven? Let us hear the inhabitants of heaven speak.

How Jesus conquered

John was weeping when he saw that no man “in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth” was worthy to take a book from the hand of “him that sat on the throne(Rev. 5:1-4) and open it. But then, John was told: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book” (Rev. 5:5).  When John looked, this conquering “Lion” was really “a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).  The Lamb came to “him that sat on the throne” and took the book. Immediately, the inhabitants of heaven burst out in rejoicing, saying:

Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:9-13).

The conquering Lion had prevailed and was therefore, worthy.  But what was the great achievement that qualified Him?  The answer was that He died – He yielded His life to the powers of earth and the powers of darkness, allowing himself to be killed, when He could have delivered himself (Matt. 26:53).  By doing so, Jesus provided the one irrefutable argument that discredits Satan’s rule on this earth, since there was absolutely no justifiable reason for the Son of God to have been killed.  It all happened under Satan’s watch, as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Satan must answer to God the Father, who “sits on the throne” as the Creator and King of the universe.

Role in creation

It should be noted that “one sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:2) who is the Creator – in reality, and not by mere designation or as an assumed role.  This is evident as the angels in heaven worshiped Him saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11).  The Creator is described as the One “who liveth for ever and ever” (Rev. 4:9), distinct from Christ, the Lamb, who came and took the book out of His hand, and is described, in another context, as the one who was dead, and is alive” (Rev. 2:8). 

It is important to know who the Creator is, as the final message to the world includes a call to Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.(Rev. 14:7)This is a reference to God the Father, the “Ancient of Days”, who presides over the Judgement (Dan. 7:9, 10).  When God spoke to Job, God demanded of him, Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding…..When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7) From this, it is evident that the sons of God and the morning stars were present at the creation.

Christ was also present but unlike the other beings who were present, Christ was actively involved in carrying out His Father’s will in the work of creation – God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1, 2); “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:2, 3)Christ was therefore the agent by whom the Creator carried out His work of creation.

Many persons have cited the Hebrew word “Elohim”, translated “God”, in the Genesis creation account to suggest that God is not one person, but more than one person.  In support of that view, reference is further made to God’s statement, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness(Gen. 1:26). But the Bible clearly states that God, who “made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2), did so by His Son who is “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3).  Therefore, God – the One who has a Son in His “express image”, said to His Son, “Let us make man in our image”.  How does the idea that God is not an individual Being enter the picture?  It is clearly one person speaking to another person – God speaking to His Son.

Thus, it should be clear that when the Bible says that there is one God (Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord – Deut. 6:4), it is a statement indicating that there is one Supreme Being – one individual being – not a number of beings in unison that make up God.  The Jews who coined the word “Elohim” and used it to refer to God, did not hold a concept of God as more than one person or as a composite of several persons.  So, how do those who have embraced the word come to interpret it to mean more than one person? Is ancient idolatry and polytheism alive and well in Christianity, under different branding? Care should be taken to avoid changing the meaning of words and using them to distort the intended meaning.

Behind the scenes

Remember, when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6, 7).  Satan presented himself before the Lord as the one who represented this territory called earth, when the sons of God presented themselves before God, as though he (Satan) was in charge on earth, of course, subject to God’s authority.  In the wilderness of temptation also, Satan took Jesus up into an exceeding high mountain and “sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – (Matt. 4:8, 9)Satan had usurped the dominion that God had originally given to Adam and was exercising that dominion contrary to God’s will.

By Jesus allowing himself to be killed by Satan and his evil host, Satan has been discredited.  Hence, in the judgement, the dominion over this earth will be taken away from Satan (Dan. 7:26).  Christ appears before the Father – the “Ancient of Days” – and, as the Son of Man, Christ receives the kingdom or entitlement to rule on this earth (Dan. 7:13, 14).  Although Satan had usurped the authority that God originally gave to Adam, Christ came as the second Adam, the new head of the human race, to claim back the dominion and be our King (Heb. 2:6-9).  So, we will be kings and priests, and Jesus will be our King – King of kings and Lord of lords – subject to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

Conclusion

In conclusion, let us know the real Jesus and how He conquered.  He came from heaven where He was the Son of the Sovereign God who is King of the universe.  He came to earth as a human being, where He conquered through a life of humility and ultimate death as a Lamb to the slaughter.  He was raised from the dead by His Father (Gal. 1:1) and has now been “highly exalted” at the right hand of His Father where He intercedes for us.  He will soon be given the kingdoms of this world and He will return to claim it.

At the second coming of Christ, the dead in Christ will be raised and with the living saints, who will be changed from mortal to immortality, be taken to heaven to spend a thousand years.  After the thousand years, we will come back to earth with Him.  Satan and all evil will then be destroyed, and the earth will be restored to perfection (1 Cor. 15:22, 23; Rev. 20:1-21:5; Rev. 15:2, 3; Rev. 4:2-6).  We will live with God and Christ forever, in the newly restored earth – “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22).

Christ himself will also be subject to His Father – “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

May the Lord help us to know the real Jesus and how He has conquered; and further, grant that we might overcome with Him and share in the glories of the earth made new – “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Love of religious establishment above truth

One of the saddest and most awful occurrences in human history occurred nearly two thousand years ago when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was brutally and mercilessly killed by those who professed to be the chosen people of God. Every well-thinking person would do well to seek an explanation for such an awful paradox, lest ignorance and lack of understanding should break down possible safeguards against the repetition of similar anomalies in their own experience.

An explanation of such an awful paradox can be found in the phenomenon of misplaced affection; and specifically, love of religious establishment above love of truth. On the one hand was Jesus Christ who was the embodiment of truth, righteousness, justice, love and mercy. On the other hand, was Caiaphas, the designated spiritual leader of God’s professed people – the chief representative of the religious establishment. In between were the people, many of whom had seen the righteousness, innocence and blameless life of Christ but were also fully persuaded of the legitimacy of the religious institution to which they were committed.

Sometimes we must choose

What an awful choice for one to be called upon to make. Indeed, it would have been preferable if both were on the same side. But unfortunately, as it was then, so it has been on so many other occasions, not excluding the present, that institutionalized religion is not always aligned with truth. Thus, individuals, at times, are faced with a choice. The decision which prevailed on that fateful day, which culminated in the ignominious death of Christ on Calvary’s cross reveals the little appreciated truth that the majority is not always right.

Some persons, to avoid the unpleasant task of making such choices, make an unspoken rule for themselves that the church is always right. Unfortunately for them, their silence or indifference does constitute a choice which, though proven to be right in some instances, is also proven to be wrong in others. In which case, the individual stands either vindicated or condemned before God.

 The lessons

The lessons of Calvary are many. Calvary should impel religious leaders to be humble, recognizing that truth is not always the preserve of the religious elite. Jesus Christ was rejected largely because of his humble earthly beginnings and continuance. He was not educated in the schools of the rabbis. He did not court the favour of the religious establishment or patronize its leaders. The religious leaders felt that their authority was being bypassed and therefore, sought and succeeded, to some measure, in ridding the world of Him whom they considered to be a threat.

The lesson for the people at large who profess a religious faith is that a religious order, culture or establishment stands justified only when it is aligned with truth. Truth stands pre-eminent and is not always enunciated or embraced within the religious establishment to which one is committed. The choice with which one is faced is sometimes unpleasant, but nevertheless, weighted with eternal consequences.

When religious organizations that represent God find themselves embracing error, they should make the necessary adjustments so that they can stand with greater credibility in advancing their mission and avoid leading their members down the slippery slope of rejection of truth, because no one knows how far it will take them or where it will end.

Popular error

One very popular error that is based on assumptions, rather than on any clear biblical foundation is the idea that the “one God” of the Bible is a unity of three persons rather than one Person who is supreme. This concept, called the Trinity is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity.

Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the “one God” of the Bible is not a Person but a unity of three.  According to that view, when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Is this biblical?  And is it important?  Most churches think it is important and hold it as a required belief.  Those who do not hold to that view also consider the matter important because, in their view, the Bible says otherwise.

The Bible says: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). And Jesus said the same, in His prayer to the Father: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)God the Father commanded all to worship Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, in the same way that we worship Him, the Father, but He never told anyone to worship the Holy Spirit.  And worshipping the Holy Spirit is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Are persons, by worshipping and praying to the Holy Spirit, unwittingly breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)?

As we reflect on Calvary and on the fact that the chosen people of God were so misled as to crucify the Son of God, preferring rather that the criminal Barabbas be released instead, we should ask ourselves, do we love truth more than we love our religious traditions and establishments?  Most importantly, we should not be dismissive of questions that are raised regarding the legitimacy of any position that we have taken.  The questions that are raised might just be a wake-up call from God for us to get in line with truth.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

If you want the Holy Spirit….

Jesus tells us what to do if we want the Holy Spirit – ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

When Jesus wanted His disciples to have the Holy Spirit, He told them that He would ask the Father on their behalf – “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (John 14:16, 17).

The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father – “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit goes where He is sent and speaks only what He hears – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).

In keeping with Jesus’s instruction and with His own example, if we want the Holy Spirit, we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit.  Further, we should ask in Jesus’s name, since no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).

Many people want the Holy Spirit but seem unable or unwilling to follow Jesus’s simple instruction.  They pray to the Holy Spirit or express their request to the Holy Spirit in song.  They ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill them or fill the room where they are rather than ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit and who’s will the Holy Spirit carries out.  We should not run the risk of God ignoring us or risk other spirits coming in with counterfeit manifestations to deceive people and confirm them in their misplaced adoration.  God bears with us in our ignorance, but commands us to repent.  He will not bear with us forever, if we know better and continue in error.

We should not be like Cain who tried to replace God’s explicit instructions with his own reasoning and expect that God should simply accept any and everything that we choose to offer to God.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

What is so Important About a Day?

It is sometimes queried of Sabbath-keepers: “Is the day you worship so important? Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters? Don’t you believe that it is those who have clean hands and a pure heart who will see God, whether they worship on Sunday or Saturday?” These are questions which many people ask, and which deserve answers. Accordingly, this presentation seeks to address these questions. It is hoped that sincere persons will look carefully into the answers that are now given and will find them beneficial in their quest for truth.

Keeping A Day Holy

The first thing, it is not an issue of the day you worship. Christians ought to worship God every day, whether by themselves or in company. It is a question of which day you keep holy. Man cannot make a day holy, only God can make a day holy; and a day cannot be kept holy if that day is not already made holy by God. God commands us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…. the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, God tells us to keep one day holy and tells us which day He wants us to keep holy.

Keeping the day holy involves not only worshipping God but abstaining from doing our own work (Exodus 20:8-11) and finding our own pleasure (Isa. 58:13) on that day. It involves devoting the day to communing with God. It does not mean that the Sabbath is a day of fasting or that one should not respond to emergencies, especially where life is threatened, on that day.  Jesus kept the Sabbath and yet He asked the Pharisees, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5).  But one should neither plan nor carry out normal business on the Sabbath that could be arranged for another day.

In order to minimize distractions which might interrupt our communion with God during this special time that God has set apart for this purpose, God has designated the sixth day (the day before the Sabbath) as the preparation day (Ex. 16:22-30; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42).  The Sabbath is observed from sunset on the sixth day to sunset on the seventh day“from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Lev. 23:32).

For All time

Spending this special time with God was not just an Old Testament thing or a Jewish thing, it was intended for all time. This is clearly indicated by the command that Jesus gave to His followers concerning the destruction of Jerusalem that He was prophesying would take place. He told them that when they saw a certain sign, they were to flee into the mountains in order to escape the destruction (Matt. 24:15-18). However, he went on to say: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). The destruction took place in AD 70, almost 40 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and yet the followers of Christ were to pray that they would not need to flee on the Sabbath.

Clearly, Jesus could not have given such instructions if the Sabbath was not supposed to be still important at that time.

It is evident also, that Jesus’s warning was intended for all His followers and not only for the Jews, as there were Christians in Jerusalem and not only Jews.

While the LORD expects us to worship Him every day, He does not expect us to keep every day holy. He has given us six days for legitimate toil and labour and has requested one day only to be set apart for holy use (Ex. 20:9,10). It is not any day that we choose that God will accept. This is clearly seen in the experience of the children of Israel when God fed them with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-30).

God provided manna from heaven for them six days every week for forty years. On the sixth day a double portion was provided, some of which was to be kept over until the following day which was the Sabbath, since none was provided on the seventh day Sabbath. Hence, on the seventh day Sabbath, a specific day every week, a day that God Himself had determined independent of their thoughts or wishes, no manna fell from heaven. Some persons decided to do their own thing, ignoring the specific day that God had chosen and went out looking for manna on that day. God was very displeased with them and asked, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” (Ex. 16:27, 28).

A Clean and Holy Life

The question is asked; “Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters?” The answer is yes. But what is a clean and holy life? Is refusing to keep God’s commandments and His laws a manifestation of a holy life? The Word of God says no. Jesus tells us what righteousness is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang (hinge) all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40). Also, Jesus tells us how we may know whether we truly love God: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).

Let us not, like some of the children of Israel in the wilderness, seek to do our own thing. If we set aside the specific day that God has set apart to be kept holy and, in its place, set up our own, God will be just as displeased with us as He was with them. We can be sure which day God has set apart to be kept holy because God has preserved the Jewish people with the tradition of Sabbath-keeping from the days in the wilderness, when God Himself showed them which day was the Sabbath, until the present day, so that nobody should be in doubt as to the matter of which day.

Reason for the Sabbath

Perhaps we might have a better appreciation for the Sabbath if we understand the reason for it and how it came about. Exodus 31:17 gives us an idea. It says: “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” You may ask, how can God rest and be refreshed when He neither slumbers nor sleeps? To understand this, one has to go back in thought to the creation week. Man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day was the very first day after man was brought into existence and Jesus tells us that “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). On this very first day of man’s life God ended His work and spent the day in fellowship with Adam and Eve, this lovely pair, just created, beautiful and pleasant to interact with. This was the refreshing experience that God had on that very first Sabbath.

God had a wonderful experience and He blessed the day and sanctified it (Gen. 2:3). To sanctify means to set apart and make holy. This shows that God wants to repeat this experience with His children every week. Notice that this day is special because of the special experience that God had on that first Sabbath day, on account of which He highly esteems that day. But the setting apart of the day becomes meaningful for us, only if we make ourselves available for that special interaction with God. It is a great disappointment to God and a great loss to ourselves when God makes Himself available for special interaction with us and we are too busy tending to all manner of other interests at that particular time.

It is perhaps similar to a case where a man (God) is greatly in love with a woman (us) and makes a special date with her to spend pleasant and quality time with her only to find, when he arrives, that she did not consider it important, did not get herself ready but instead made herself busy with other things and just tells him that she has no time for him now. Perhaps he would not be wrong to conclude that she doesn’t really love him. One might say that God is not like that, He is available all the time. Yes, He is available all the time, but He makes Himself available in a special way on the Sabbath, which is not the case on other days. An example of God turning his attention to His children in a special way at a particular time is seen in the experience of Adam and Eve.

Special Interaction

After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the biblical account says: “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8,9). From this it is seen that although God is every-where in Spirit and knows everything without having to ask, yet He came in a special way to meet with Adam and Eve. Why should we think that God does not come to meet with us in a special way also, even although He tells us to use the sixth day specifically for the purpose of preparation?

One might ask whether it is not clean hands and a pure heart that is required of us rather than giving attention to a special day. The real question is this: How are we going to develop clean hands and a pure heart without close fellowship and communion with God? And how do we expect to have close fellowship and communion with God if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity at the particular time that God sets apart for special fellowship and communion with Him? This is not to say that we cannot interact with God at other times, but He has sanctified the Sabbath, which means that this time is set apart for special interaction with Him, just like He had it with our first parents on that first Sabbath day.

This is the reason the Bible says: “Hallow (reverence; keep holy) my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). It says as well, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” (Ezekiel 20:12). To sanctify means to make holy. Hence, keeping the Sabbath holy has an integral function in the process by which holiness is accomplished in one’s life.

Dear reader, I hope you will consider prayerfully all that has been said here and will be drawn into a meaningful fellowship with God in spirit and in truth. As with your tithe, in which you give a tenth of your increase, to signal that you have acknowledged God as having first call on your material resources, so with the Sabbath, you signal that God has first call on your time.  May God richly bless you to this end.

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Creeds and Rituals – Does Truth Matter?

An experience recently has led me to ask, “Does truth matter?”. The question seems almost redundant since there is hardly anyone who would deny that truth matters; but claiming to believe something and believing it are two different things.  One of the greatest evidences that truth matters to someone is that person’s willingness to act on it.  My recent experience has led me to think that one of the reasons people do not seem to act on truth is that it is easier to simply follow creeds and rituals, norms and customs.  It is not so much that they do not care about truth or that they are unable to discern between truth and error.  They just don’t think about it.  It is easier to just drift along with the tide.  In church settings, creeds and rituals help to foster that attitude of just going along without giving serious thought, because after all, those matters have been thought out by others already. Right?  Is that a good enough basis to just go along?  Let’s see.

Here is my experience: I was at an Anglican church at an anniversary church service to commemorate the founding of an institution.  The service included a communion ritual. The Leader read certain words and the Congregants were expected to respond by reading the words projected on a screen.  To my surprise, the Congregants read without hesitation words indicating that the bread and wine were transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ.  It seemed like a Roman Catholic Mass rather than a Protestant Communion.

Transubstantiation and Mysticism

The shock came from my recollection that one of the main issues that ignited John Wycliffe, who is considered the Morning Star of the Reformation, in his opposition to the Church of Rome, was the issue of transubstantiation.  One of the significant differences between the Roman Catholic Mass and the Protestant Communion was that the Catholics believed in transubstantiation, whereas the Protestants didn’t.  Transubstantiation is the belief that the priests can convert the bread and wine to the literal body and blood of Christ by the pronouncements that they make over those substances.  The Protestant belief, originally embraced by Anglicans, was that the bread and wine are only symbols of the body and blood of Christ; they do not become the literal body and blood of Christ.  But here, in a supposedly Protestant church, the Roman Catholic belief was being recited effortlessly.  What was the reason?  The Roman Catholic belief had been incorporated into a Creed and a Ritual.

The case of the bread and wine being transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ illustrates the nature of mysticism.  Mysticism takes us away from the realm of reality because it is incompatible with the literal reality that we know.  To our real senses, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine.  No chemical test will show any difference before and after the priest makes pronouncements over them.  Yet mysticism says a literal transformation would have taken place.  It defies logic and common sense.  But persons are told, never mind, it’s a mystery.  You’ll never be able to understand it from a literal point of view.   Creeds and rituals pave the way for mysticism; and mysticism destroys faith that is based on reality.

Mystical Beliefs Rejected

Today, the lure of mysticism has led many to lose faith in the reality of many aspects of Christian faith.  The prophet to the remnant church wrote in 1904 that for 50 years every effort was being made to overthrow the faith that was delivered to the movement that God raised up in 1844 – “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59).  Among the mystical beliefs that were rejected by the early pioneers of the remnant church was transubstantiation; and thankfully, the Movement still rejects it as unscriptural.  But there are other mystical beliefs that are constantly being urged upon the faithful from Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism.  Among them are the following:

  1. The Trinity, which makes God’s love in giving His only begotten Son senseless.  If God is three in one – a unity of three coequals in age and power, then one could never be the son of any of the others, except in a sense of role-play or make-believe.  The extent of God’s love is manifested in the fact that He gave His only begotten Son – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32); “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9).
  2. The death of Christ as an atonement, which makes Christ’s intercession senseless.  It is Christ, in His capacity as our High Priest, who intercedes or makes atonement based on the merits or arguments that the sacrifice provides.  The sacrifice itself is not the atonement – “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering…And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering…and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:27-31).  But if the sacrifice itself is the atonement, then there is no need for a priest.  It was part of the doing of the Little Horn power to remove Christ’s mediation in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf from the minds of people and cast it to the ground – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [sacrifice] was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11). [Note: the word “sacrifice” was supplied by the translators – “ministration” is more appropriate, since Christ was offered only once (Heb. 9:28) – there is no “daily sacrifice” of Christ except in the Roman Catholic mass, which is counterfeit.]
  3. The righteousness of Christ as a gift that someone simply receives, which makes repentance senseless.  Righteousness is a state of character that is formed based on what one believes.  One can be declared righteous based on what one believes, since one’s belief is an indication of the state of one’s heart and mind, which determines one’s actions and motives.  If you have the righteousness of Christ, it means you are righteous as Christ is, and no action of yours can be regarded as sinful unless Christ is sinful; so, the need to repent does not arise, since Christ is sinless.  But the truth is that righteousness is based on believing Christ, which leads us to repent of our sins and practice righteousness.  It is not something that someone can just give to you and you have it – “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7); “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:10); “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12); “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:22); “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
  4. Someone living inside of you, which makes the idea of personal accountability senseless.  Christ dwelling in you, as opposed to sin dwelling in you, is easily understood as a reference to the mind and character that you have, whether it is Christlike or sinful.  But to treat Christ as being inside of us personally makes Him the driver who is responsible for what we do, sin and all.  Christ does not take charge of people’s lives and then hold them accountable for what is done in their lives.  Everyone must give account of himself before God for all actions that are done in his body as those actions are his, and not someone else’s acting through him – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36); “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12); “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6); “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matt. 16:27); “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

Bible Foundation of Faith

We are reminded that the faith of the pioneers was firmly laid – “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Vol. 1, p. 206.)

So, does truth matter? Do we simply go to church and repeat creeds and rituals without thinking about the sense of what we are saying or doing?  In order to maintain a form of faith, many find it easier to do that.  Otherwise, they will give up faith that seems to make no sense.  Can one keep faith and still make sense?  If it is a faith that is based on mysticism, the answer is no.  But a faith that is based on reality will make sense.  Biblical faith is based on reality and does make sense.  If our faith is going to be strong enough to stand in the last days, we must give up mysticism and be real.

For the early pioneers, the Bible was their only creed.  They recognized the need to study the scriptures for themselves and seek to understand.  The disappointment of 1844 was still fresh in their minds and so they were mindful of their fallibility.  The disappointment might have been a blessing, because they recognized that popular opinion was not always right – it had led to their disappointment, thinking, like others that the earth was the sanctuary; only to realize after the disappointment that the Bible taught no such thing.  They recognized that the moment they set up a creed, there would be a tendency for blind submission without intelligent thought and understanding.  So, they avoided it.

Once creeds and rituals are established, they tend to perpetuate themselves.  Institutions that operate based on creeds and rituals are often impervious to change.  One may well ask, what if the Church of Rome had taken stock of itself, when John Wycliffe challenged the doctrine of transubstantiation or Martin Luther questioned the sale of Indulgences, and had simply discontinued those beliefs and practices?  Would there have been a need for open protest?  Perhaps not.  Instead, they condemned the messengers.  The result was that Wycliffe, Luther and others were forced to break away.  Quite differently, when Rachel Oakes Preston challenged the Adventists about their keeping Sunday rather than the Seventh day Sabbath, Frederick Wheeler, then William Farnsworth and others such as Joseph Bates accepted the Sabbath truth and the Adventists became sabbath-keepers.  What was different?  One body had relied on creeds and tradition while the other, fresh from a major disappointment, knew that their only safeguard was in studying the scriptures.   May the commitment and the example of the pioneers in maintaining the scriptures as their creed still inspire the modern movement.

Today, we have statements of belief.  We do not call them creeds; but do we just drift along with them with the view that they have all been worked out already?  And are we mindful when subtle changes are made to them?  One remembers when the introit for worship was followed by the song “Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name” until someone came and said, let’s use instead, the invocation, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost”, then gradually it shifted to an invocation to the Holy Spirit.  Has anyone asked whether those invocations are scriptural? Or do people just drift along?

We have been admonished that we should be able to give a reason at all times to anyone who asks about the faith we hold – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).  In order to stand in the last days we must be sealed – “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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The Law of God and the Law of Moses

There has been much confusion regarding references to the law in the Bible, especially in Paul’s writings.  One of the reasons for the confusion is that, oftentimes, no distinction is recognized between references to the Law of God and the Law of Moses.

In seeking to better understand especially Paul’s writings, the following points should be noted:

The Law of God

Firstly, the Law of God is specifically the Ten Commandments.  These are sometimes referred to, simply, as the law or as the commandments, and embody moral principles –

“he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 13:8, 9); “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Luke 18:20); “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:10-12).

The Law of Moses

Secondly, the Law of Moses is specifically the traditions of the Jews.  These included penalties for breaking the Law of God, rules regarding ceremonies and observances, health laws and civil laws –

“But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:6); “And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age: And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you. . . Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 23:1-6).

Issue in the early church

Thirdly, there was an issue in the early church as to whether or not Christians should be required to observe the Law of Moses –

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5); “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts 15:1, 2).

Paul’s teaching

Fourthly, Paul’s teaching was that the Law of Moses was not required for Christian believers but adherence to the Law of God is required –

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19); “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:” (Rom. 7:22); “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God” (Rom. 7:25); “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:27); “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” (Rom. 2:21-25).

Relating to Paul’s writings

How then should we relate to Paul’s writings regarding the law?  Some people think that Paul’s writings are confusing because in some instances, it appears that he supports keeping the law, for example, he said: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31); but in another instance he seems to be saying that the law is done away, for example, he said: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal.3:24, 25).  But Paul was not confused.  The key to understanding his writings regarding the law, is to appreciate the issue that had arisen in the church that he sought to address and then establish whether he was referring to the Law of God or the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses was for the Jews, but the Law of God is for all humanity and stands forever.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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Keeping Your Straying Spouse at Home

Many of the ills of society are linked to a breakdown in the family structure.  Crime, social maladjustment, lack of self-confidence, giving in to peer pressure and children emulating the wrong icons are some of the results.  Single parents who struggle against the odds and raise children who become good and successful citizens are to be commended.  But having the help and support of a loving spouse is the ideal.

One of the reasons for the breakdown in the family is infidelity or lack of faithfulness on the part of spouses.  The Bible warns us to avoid fornication and commands us to not commit adultery.  This area of lack of faithfulness is well known and is popularly condemned by church and secular society alike.

The ills that can potentially result from fornication and adultery are well known.  Among these are: children being disowned or not being supported by fathers who are not married to the children’s mother; jealous rages and conflicts among parties in love triangles; among others, each with their attendant negative consequences.

Another area of unfaithfulness, however, that is almost invariably overlooked is that spoken of by the apostle Paul – that of defrauding one’s spouse or withholding from them their just due: “Defraud ye not one another” (1 Cor. 7:5).  Read the entire chapter, 1 Cor. 7:1-40.  There are two sides to the matter of fornication.  The Bible speaks of both.  Popular practice, both in the church and in the world belabours one and ignores the other.

Fornication should be avoided, and faithfulness should be maintained – faithfulness in rendering to your spouse their just due, whether financial and material support or emotional and physical support of intimacy.  By giving your spouse physical support of intimacy, you help to protect them from fornication and the Devil’s power of temptation (1 Cor. 7:5). Herein lies an area for repentance and reformation, which, if heeded, can make a major difference for good to the church and the world.

The story of Ruth and Boaz is very instructive (Ruth 3).  Ruth needed rest.  It is not explicitly stated what Ruth did to Boaz that night when she laid down at the spot where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet and asked him to spread his skirt over her, but he was so drawn to her that he acknowledged her kindness and determined to do for her all that she would require (Ruth 3:9-11).  When Ruth told Naomi, her mother-in-law, Naomi told her that the man would not rest until he made the necessary arrangements to finish the matter that very day (Ruth 3:18).

As we lament the unfortunate state of affairs in which many persons are lured away from their homes or seek rest elsewhere, the solution might be closer to us than we might imagine.  It might verily lie in addressing the matter of faithfulness or lack thereof in rendering to our spouse due benevolence or kindness.  Boaz was impressed with Ruth’s kindness to such an extent that he would give her all that she required.  Are we kind to our spouses?  Or do we leave a void with an open invitation for someone else to fill?  It is well-known that nature abhors a vacuum.  We can make a difference and help to keep our straying spouse at home.

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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When God withholds forgiveness

One of the most foundational bases for Christian faith is the fact that God forgives.  If there was no forgiveness, all hope would be lost because we are all sinners – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

We have been given the assurance that God will forgive the vilest sinner and will cast his sins to the bottom of the sea and will remember them no more – “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19).  The parable of the prodigal son aptly illustrates God’s eagerness to forgive us even after we have messed up – “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20).  Jesus’s treatment of the woman caught in adultery challenged the accusers.  He told them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), while He tells the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

Turned away

But strangely enough, the Bible also speaks of instances where persons will be turned away by God.  An examination of a few such cases should help us to determine what might be the reasons and help to put us in a better position to avoid being turned away.

1. Jesus speaks of some who would have ardently professed to be His followers who will be turned away at the last day.  Why?  Because, they failed to do His Father’s will – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21-23).  So, if we want to be accepted by Christ, we can’t be doing our own thing.  We must seek to do the will of God.

2. There are others who seek forgiveness from God, but they do not forgive their fellowmen.  They too will not be forgiven – For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14, 15).  This is further illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant who refused to forgive his fellow servant after his master had forgiven him.  His master withdrew his forgiveness and demanded that he pay all his debts.  Jesus said that this is how it will be for those who refuse to forgive others – “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:35).  So, if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

3. Then there are the selfish ones who live only for themselves and fail to help others in distress.  They will be numbered among the goats who will be told to depart from Christ when He separates the sheep from the goats – “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt. 25:41-45). So, if we want to remain in favour with God, we must be kind to others.

Presumptuous sin

4. Those who sin presumptuously will not be forgiven either – “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” (Num. 15:30, 31).  But wait a minute.  Isn’t that only an Old Testament concept?  Not quite.  It is a New Testament concept too – “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)

What is the sin unto death that you should not pray for?  Notice, first, that it is not the sinner who is praying here.  This is speaking about praying on behalf of someone else.  Let us be clear, God always hears and answers the prayer of the repentant sinner.  But the presumptuous person does not even see the need to repent.  No amount of prayer on his behalf can save him if he does not repent “because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment”.  At the root of presumptuous sin is despising the word of the Lord.  So, if we want to be forgiven, we must repent and not despise the word of the Lord.

God’s word and rebellion

Presumption comes in various forms.  Like Cain, one may decide that, although God asks for a lamb, fruits should be just as good, and may decide to offer fruits instead of a lamb; the result being that we are rejected, as was Cain – “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Gen. 4:4, 5).  God may ask for the seventh and one decides that the first is just as good or even better.  God may say two and we decide that it should be three.  Let us beware, lest we find ourselves in rebellion against God!

Christ will be our advocate if we are willing to accept God’s word and keep His commandments – “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:1-3); Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).

Sin is ultimately a condition of the heart – rebellion against God.  That is how it started in heaven with Lucifer who became Satan (Isa. 14:12-15).  There is no cure for genuine rebellion.  That is Satan’s condition.  We might be deceived or, like Jesus’s disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41).  If that is the case for us, there is a remedy.  When we are made aware of our mistakes, if we are sorry, we have a mediator who will present our case and God will forgive us, because we are not genuinely seeking to rebel against Him or seeking to do our own thing.  Our repentance and willingness to obey Him serve as proof that we are not with Satan.

Salvation and the Son of God

The plan of salvation was made in the heavenly council between God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God; – “the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:13).  God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).  He is our mediator and the only one through whom we have access to God – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).  The Son of God came to earth to reveal to us how much God loves us and to represent us before God.  He receives from God, His Father, and gives to us.  He told us to ask the Father for whatever help we need.  We should ask in His name, and the Father will give it to us – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23).  The Father will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask Him – not that we should ask the Holy Spirit to come to us or fill us, but rather that we ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). We should not run the risk of despising the word of God by deciding that our requests should be directed to the Holy Spirit rather than to God himself through Jesus Christ.

Let us, by God’s grace, accept God’s word and not add to it nor subtract from it, lest we are found to be liars – “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6).  Being found a liar, we run the risk of hearing from His lips, the fateful words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23).  If we seek peace and forgiveness, we should cooperate with Him and avoid following human devising.

Forgiveness

So, we have seen that God forgives.  But God’s forgiveness is not given without consideration of our attitude and behaviour.  Certain attitudes and behaviours on our part can result in us not being forgiven and ultimately result in us being turned away by God.  But hold a moment.  Is it not the case that the death of Christ has provided unconditional forgiveness for all humanity and all we need to do is simply accept that we are already forgiven?  Not quite.  Christ came in place of Adam and bore the penalty for the sin of Adam; whose sin had condemned all humanity – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22).  Having borne the penalty for Adam’s sin, forgiveness has been unconditionally provided for all humanity for that sin – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:8-10).

We are “now justified” by the blood of Christ that has been shed for us, even “while we were yet sinners”.  When “we were enemies, we were reconciled to God” from the condemnation caused by Adam’s sin. But we are not yet saved because, apart from Adam’s sin, we have sins of our own. Even though we are not condemned for Adam’s sin, we could not be saved if we choose to remain enemies, committing sins of our own. We “shall be saved from wrath through him”.  How? By repenting of our own sins and accepting God’s power to stop committing them – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

No one will ever be called upon to bear any penalty for Adam’s sin; we only suffer consequences of the degradation around us and in us caused by it.  But in order to be forgiven for our own sins, we must repent of them.  Nobody can do that for us. And we cannot get forgiveness in advance, before committing a sin. If we sin and are sorry, we repent, and we are granted forgiveness.  Let us, by God’s grace, repent of our sins and ask God, through His Son Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit, so that we may both will and do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Who killed Jesus Christ and what does it mean to be saved by His blood?

Someone gave an experience that went like this: “I have a friend who is a dedicated, principled Christian. The person is generally thorough and logical. I asked the individual the question: “When Christians and the Bible say that Jesus Christ died for us to save us from sin, explain exactly how that works?” The individual humbly confessed that she did not know but asked me for my explanation. She was actually asking me to explain a scripture text because she was to do a presentation at her group worship that night.” This is not a unique situation and it illustrates the fact that even though people are saying certain things, many of the issues involved are not really understood.

It is well established among Christians that Jesus Christ died to save us and that it is by the grace of God we are saved. But what do these things mean? How does His death serve to save us? And is anything required of us?  To answer these questions, I’ll make the following points:

The truth

  1. To be saved, the primary requirement is that we believe the truth about God.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16).

“Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12).

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3).

  1. The basis for us obtaining salvation has been provided to all humanity.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12).

  1. People are lost because they fail to believe the truth. Why do people not believe the truth? Because they take pleasure in unrighteousness.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).

“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:12-14).

 

 The sin problem

  1. The sin problem is an attitude of rebellion against God, started by a bright angel whose wisdom got corrupted from admiring himself rather than God, and his rebellion is transmitted to others by his deceiving them concerning God.

Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (Eze. 28:12-17).

  1. Jesus is the best revelation of God that has ever been given to humanity.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:1-3).

No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18).

  1. Salvation, which is to be saved from the deceptions concerning God, and hence from the destruction that will come upon those who remain in rebellion against God, is based on the knowledge of the truth concerning God.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17).

 

The death of Christ

  1. The death of Christ was brought about by the fallen angel, Lucifer, now called Satan, stirring up of a multitude against Christ, the only begotten Son of God; an event that provides the ultimate evidence of the truth that God is love, whereas, Satan is a liar and a murderer. This understanding should lead us to love God and forsake all forms of rebellion against God.

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14, 15)

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Col. 1:20).

“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15).

“Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His type of government was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted.”The Desire of Ages, p. 761 by Ellen G. White.

  1. The death of Christ provides the basis whereby our minds might be purged (cleansed) of all rebellion (sin) against God, which was planted in our minds through Satan’s deception.

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” (John 12:31-33).

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2).

“But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan. Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God’s glory. To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God’s love. Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. The choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him. But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love. By beholding His character, he might be drawn back to God.”The Desire of Ages p. 761, 762 by Ellen G. White.

“Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.”Education p. 263 by Ellen G. White.

 

The blood of Jesus

Many people speak about the “blood of Jesus” without understanding that it is a reference to the fact that Christ died, the fact of who killed Him and what it therefore says about the issues concerning God and Satan. It is these beliefs that determine whether we will be aligned with God or Satan; that is, whether we will still have sin (rebellion against God) in our hearts or not. The cleansing from sin is a purging of our thoughts. Of course, there is an aspect of it that is beyond us, namely, forgiveness for past transgressions and empowerment to act in accordance with the truth that we would now believe. If we believe the truth concerning God, as revealed in Jesus, which is what accepting Jesus Christ means, and we are sorry for our past misdeeds and wrong attitudes, God’s promise is that He will forgive us and give us the power to live righteously.

God did not require the death of His Son as a precondition to His forgiving us, as in pagan religions, where the god would not forgive except a sacrifice is offered.  He forgives freely without holding a grudge or demanding payment, as He asked us to do.  By allowing His Son to be placed in a vulnerable human form, He provided an opportunity for Satan to show his true colours before the entire universe, while showing the extent of His love for us, so that our minds might be aligned with the truth.  This is God’s cure for rebellion (sin).  For those who still harbour rebellion in their hearts, there is nothing else that would change them, and they will perish with their sin, as will Satan.

Some people will outrightly reject the truth, while others will choose not to avail themselves of it. Jesus warned us to take heed that no man deceives us. To be deceived especially in the last days is to forfeit salvation. If we believe that Christ must work a special miracle in order to save us, beyond what is already done for all humanity in making the truth available to us, and that we have no part to play in our own salvation, we deceive ourselves and open ourselves for other deceptions of the evil one. We are admonished to search for the truth as for hidden treasures, because it is by belief in the truth that our minds are transformed and our mistrust for God and our lack of submission to His will (our sinfulness) is eradicated.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12).

“The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.” The Desire of Ages p. 456-466 by Ellen G. White.

 

Our part

It is what we need to do that we need to focus on.  Many people go to lengths to emphasize that salvation is a gift from God to the exclusion of our part in it, as though its all up to Jesus to do everything. So, if it is not done for us, what then? Is it that Jesus did not do His part? They will say, oh, you need to accept that he has already done it for you. And what does that mean, when everybody claims to accept the gift? Will they all be saved, then? Is it that deception is of no consequence, even though we have been warned?

We need to understand and help others to understand that we have a part to play in our own salvation. Nobody can know the truth for us. We must know it for ourselves. So, let’s stop focusing on that which is outside of our control, which is already taken care of, and do what we need to do, or we’ll be sorely disappointed.

People must understand that the controversy is an information war. It started with a corrupting of knowledge (the truth); that is, it started with deception, and it can be resolved only by a reversal of that process. Even Satan himself, iniquity was found in him because his wisdom was corrupted by reason of his brightness – looking at himself and then developing a warped view of God (Ezekiel 28:22-27).

We have a task on our hands. Christianity has embraced a view of salvation that leads people to focus on things that Christ supposedly does, which are out of our hands, while neglecting the one thing that is required of us, which is to know the truth and believe it, so that our minds might be brought back in harmony with God. People seem to think that it is Christ’s job to work a miracle.  They wait and think that they will be saved in ignorance. Many will be sadly disappointed when they hear, “Depart from me” and find out that they were really serving the Devil in willing ignorance.

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 27:21-24).

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

 

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts

In the Bible, the term Holy Spirit may refer to the gifts of the Spirit or it may refer to the representative of Christ who dispenses the spiritual gifts.  Christ said that He was going away, and He would send the Comforter, who He calls the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit).

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7).

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).

Quite separate from the representative that Jesus would send in His place, the term Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) is also used to refer to something that Jesus is said to have inside of Him and that He can give us so that we can have it in us in measure.

“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34).

“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).

Holy Spirit Poured Out

As gifts, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers at Pentecost, in fulfilment of a promise that God made through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28, 29). Peter referred to this promise and its fulfilment in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost:

 

“But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17, 18);

 

Jesus says that we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit:

 

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

 

Early Rain and Latter Rain

 

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was like the early rain that gave a kick start to the newly germinated seeds. When the plants are mature, latter rain showers are needed to ripen the crop and prepare them for the harvest.  Based on Joel’s prophecy there would be an Early Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit and in the last days, a Latter Rain outpouring.

 

“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” (Joel 2:23).

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:28-31).

The Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is described as the work of a Mighty Angel who descends from heaven and causes the earth to be lightened with his glory.

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:1, 2).

The Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is given in the last days at a time when Babylon is taken over by demons and evil spirits.  This final outpouring of the Holy Spirit will empower God’s true and faithful believers to overcome the Devil as Moses was able to overcome the magicians of Egypt.

 

Representative of Christ Dispenses Gifts

 

It is important that we do not confuse the spiritual gifts that we receive in us with the representative of Christ who dispenses the gifts.  Whereas the Comforter dispensed the gifts at Pentecost as the Early Rain, the Mighty Angel of Revelation 18 will dispense the gifts in even greater measure as the Latter Rain.

 

The Comforter is not a third God-being like the Father and the Son.  Like the Mighty Angel of Revelation 18, the Comforter was sent on a mission to dispense spiritual gifts and to comfort the disciples.  He would not speak of himself but would speak only what he hears.

 

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).

 

If the Comforter who brought the Early Rain was a third God-being, then we have a situation where the Mighty Angel would be dispensing spiritual gifts more extensively in the Latter Rain than the third God-being was allowed to do in the Early Rain.  Would that be signalling that the Mighty Angel is more powerful than this third member of the Godhead, or that he is a fourth member? Or rather, is it suggesting that the Comforter, like the Mighty Angel, is not a Divine Being to be worshipped, but rather, a messenger (angel) carrying out a similar mission?  The latter suggestion is more consistent with scripture.

 

The Adventist Pioneers in their Statement of Fundamental Principles published in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889 and onward until about 1930 described the Holy Spirit as Christ’s Representative.  This is consistent with scripture.

Conclusion

 

The Holy Spirit is not a third God-being to be worshipped; neither is the Holy Spirit a being that takes up residence inside of us.  The Spirit of Christ that dwells in us in measure are the spiritual gifts of Divine light, love and power, by which we reflect the character of Christ and are empowered to be His witnesses.

 

In conclusion, the term Holy Spirit may refer to the spiritual gifts that we receive and that remain in us or it may refer to Christ’s representative (or messenger – angel) who dispenses the gifts to us.

 

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

 

For further information, please visit http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

 

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Preparing for the final crisis

The Bible speaks of a time of trouble before us that is worse than anything that has ever been seen in the history of the world.  This will be the final crisis that God’s people will face just before deliverance at the second coming of Christ.  We are told:

“and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Dan. 12:1).

 For many people, life is fairly normal but it will not necessarily remain that way for very long.  Trouble is brewing in the world and it is all pointing in the direction that has been prophesied.  We do not know when the crisis will break, but the systems are slowly but surely being put in place.  The final crisis is described as one in which no one will be able to buy or sell unless they have the Mark of the Beast.  Eventually, those who do not conform to that system will be put to death.  The Bible speaks of a super power in the world that will enforce the system of the Mark of the Beast as follows:

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:15-17).

 Now more than ever

There was never a time in the history of the world when the available technology made it as possible for persons to be tracked and for people’s ability to buy and sell to be controlled.  There has never been as much worldwide fear of terrorism and a willingness of persons to fall in line with the systems of this world in order to secure their own safety.  The Mark of the Beast involves a system of conformity worldwide in breach of at least one of God’s Commandments.  The main characteristics of those who will overcome the Mark of the Beast are that they “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).

There is only one commandment that is universally breached in a manner that fits the description.  It is the fourth of the Ten Commandments that involves keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.  We are told:

“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted.  When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not.  While the observance of the false Sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator.  While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.” (Ellen G. White, Great Controversy pg. 605)

It has been customary among Sabbath-keepers to identify the Mark of the Beast by a two-step process.  First, they would use the characteristics given in Revelation 13 to identify the Beast and then they would look among the distinguishing features of that system to see what its mark is.  This approach may become less and less palatable as time goes by as the world is moving in a direction that frowns upon anything that appears to speak against other religions.  They see it as intolerance and hate speech.  But the message must be presented.  We must find creative ways of presenting the same message.  Another approach has been used in a small 20-page booklet by Colin A. Gyles entitled “The Love Which Overcomes the Mark of the Beast”. It identifies the Mark of the Beast based on the commandment involved, without getting into the matter of who the Beast is.  This approach may become more and more useful as time progresses.

God’s people in the last days

God’s people in the last days were given the name Seventh-day Adventists because it identifies the two distinctive features of faith in the last days –

 “We are Seventh-day Adventists.  This is a fitting name, for we keep the Seventh-day Sabbath, and look for the second advent of our Lord in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.  Even with respect to the name indicating some of the peculiar points of faith distinguishing us from other Christians, we are denominational.  In keeping the Sabbath that God declares should be kept holy as a sign between Himself and His people, we show to the world that we are His peculiar people, chosen people – a people whom He has denominated.” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 19 pg 40)

 “Do not these words point us out as God’s denominated people?  And do they not declare to us that so long as time shall last, we are to cherish the sacred, denominational distinction placed on us?  The children of Israel were to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations ‘for a perpetual covenant.’  The Sabbath has lost none of its meaning.  It is still the sign between God and His people, and it will be so forever.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 8/4/1904)

  Quite distinct from God’s denominated people, the wine of Babylon, which identifies the other side of the controversy, is specifically the doctrines of Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul.  We are told:

 “The wine of Babylon is the exalting of the false and spurious sabbath above the Sabbath which the Lord Jehovah hath blessed and sanctified for the use of man, also [it is] the immortality of the soul.  These kindred heresies, and the rejection of the truth, convert the church into Babylon.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Vol. 2 pg. 68).

Press together and respect religious liberty

Based on these clear distinctions, the Seventh-day Adventist Movement is clearly not Babylon.  We must recognise this and unite around the things that are important in these last days.  The Bible says that “there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” – 1 Cor. 12:15.  There are those who would insist that all evangelistic work must be done under one administrative structure but this posture is not supported in Scripture.  In fact, Jesus, in responding to a situation that was brought to His attention clearly says otherwise – “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9:49, 50).

As believers in the Third Angel’s Message, we need to recognize that when the crisis breaks, which we are told by the prophet Ellen G. White will come as “an overwhelming surprise”, it will be against all Sabbath-keeping Adventists.  No distinction will be made.  Efforts at quenching the zeal of those who would advance the message are contrary to the principles of religious liberty and can only divide us and make us more vulnerable to be overcome by the powers of the world.  We are admonished:

“The great work from which the mind should not be diverted, is the consideration of our safety in the sight of God. The storm is coming, relentless in its fury.  Are we prepared to meet it?  Are our feet on the Rock of Ages? Are we one with Christ, as he is one with the Father?” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Dec. 27, 1898; Mar. 108)

 The watchmen must sound the alarm. If men are at ease in Zion somebody must be awake to give the trumpet a certain sound. Let the blaze of the beacon light be seen everywhere. Let the ease-loving awake, the tranquil be disturbed, and let them labor for religious liberty. And after we have done all we can, then leave our Lord to do His work. (Ellen G. White, Manuscript releases Vol. 16 pg. 239.)

 May the Lord help us to play our part in advancing His cause.

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

  • Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)

Previous presentations can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Adventist Pioneers’ 28 Beliefs in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889

Adventist Pioneers’ 28 Beliefs in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889

 “The Fundamental Principles of Seventh Day Adventists”, as upheld by the SDA Pioneers, was presented in the 1889 Year Book (http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1889.pdf) and is reproduced here.  This reflects the defining Statement of Beliefs of the Seventh Day Adventist Church from 1888 to 1930.  These beliefs reflect what Ellen White, James White and the Seventh Day Adventist Church as an organization advocated and believed up until 1930, 15 years after the death of Ellen White.  The “Fundamental Principles” were first published by James White in the Signs of the Times in 1874, originally as 25 Principles, but three additions (listed below as Principles 14, 15 and 16) were included in the 1889 Yearbook and thereafter, until a new version was published in 1931. 

In the 1889 Yearbook, Mrs. E. G. White is even listed as one of the Ministers along with a number of other notable pioneers.  Some of them, such as James White, Joseph Bates and J. N. Andrews had already passed off the scene.

There have since been SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES to the “Beliefs” of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  What the SDA Church advocates today IS NOT ENTIRELY what Ellen White and James White and their contemporaries believed.

You are invited to CRITICALLY EXAMINE what the beliefs of the SDA Church were up until 1930 and compare them to the beliefs of today advocated in 28 Fundamental Beliefs (2015) (included below for ease of reference).  Of particular note, for comparison, are 1889 Fundamental Principles 1, 2 and 19 to be compared with Fundamental Beliefs (2015) 2, 3, 4 and 5.  The view of God has changed.  Another matter for comparison is the view of the atonement.  Compare 1889 Fundamental Principles 2 (along with the note in the original, included here), 10 and 21 to be compared with Fundamental Beliefs (2015) 9, 10, 11 and 24.

What follows, are direct extracts from the Seventh Day Adventist Year Book, 1889.  The link to the original document from the official Seventh-day Adventist Archives is given above for reference and possible cross-checking.  The original document has 208 pages. The [28] FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS [1889], as they were then held, is given below, followed by an extract showing a list of some of the leading ministers (including Mrs. E. G. White).  After that, you will find the current [28] FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS [2015].

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to speak on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


S e v e n t h -D a y  A d v e n t i s t

YEAR B00K

O F

STATISTICS FOR 1889,

REVIEW & HERALD PUBLISHING CO., Battle Creek Mich., 1889

 

 

[28] FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS [1889].

“As elsewhere stated, Seventh-day Adventists have no creed but the Bible; but they hold to certain well-defined points of faith, for which they feel prepared to give a reason “to every man that asketh” them.  The following propositions may be taken as a summary of the principal features of their religious faith, upon which there is, so far as we know, entire unanimity throughout the body.  They believe, –

  1. That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit.  Ps. 139:7
  2. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom He created all things, and by whom they do consist; that He took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; that He dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where through the merits of His shed blood, He secures the pardon and forgiveness of the sins of all those who penitently come to Him; and as the closing portion of His work as priest, before He takes His throne as king, He will make the great atonement for the sins of all such, and their sins will then be blotted out (Acts 3:19) and borne away from the sanctuary, as shown in the service of the Levitical priesthood, which foreshadowed and  prefigured the ministry of our Lord in heaven.  See Lev 16; Heb. 8:4, 5; 9:6, 7; etc.*(see note in original).

 

*Note.— Some thoughtless persons accuse us of rejecting the atonement of Christ entirely, because we dissent from the view that the atonement was made upon the cross, as is generally held. But we do nothing of the kind; we only take issue as to the time when the atonement is to be made. We object to the view that the atonement was made upon the cross, because it is utterly contrary to the type, which placed the atonement at the end of the yearly sanctuary service, not at the beginning (see scriptures last referred to), and because it inevitably leads to one of two great errors. Thus, Christ on the cross bore the sins of all the world. John said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away [margin, beareth] the sin of the world 1” John 1:29. Peter tells us when he thus bore the sins of the world: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” 1 Peter 2:24. Paul says that “he died for all” 2 Cor. 5:14, 15. That which Christ did upon the cross, therefore, was done indiscriminately and unconditionally for all the world; and if this was the atonement, then the sins of all the world have been atoned for, and all will be saved. This is Universalism in full blossom. But all men will not be saved; hence the sins of all were not atoned for upon the cross; and if Christ’s work there was the atonement, then His work was partial, not universal, as the scriptures above quoted assert, and he atoned for only a favored few who were elected to be saved, and passed by all others who were predestined to damnation. This would establish the doctrine of election and predestination in its most ultra form, — an error equally unscriptural and objectionable with the former. We avoid both these errors, and find ourselves in harmony with the Mosaic type, and with all the declarations of the Scriptures, when we take the position that what Christ did upon the cross was to provide a divine sacrifice for the world, sufficient to save all, and offered it to everyone who will accept of it; that he then, through the merits of his offering, acts as mediator with the Father till time shall end, securing the forgiveness of sins for all who seek him for it; and that, as the last service of his priesthood, he will blot out the sins of all who have repented and been converted (Acts 3:19), the atonement not being completed till this work of blotting out sin is done. Thus Christ atones, not for the sins of the whole world, to save all, not for a favored few only, elected from all eternity to be saved, but for those who, as free moral agents, have voluntarily sought from him the forgiveness of sin, and everlasting life. And all for whom the atonement is made, will be forever saved in his kingdom. This view in no way detracts from the merit of Christ’s offering, nor from the value and glory of his atoning work for men. While on this line, we are not driven into Universalism on the one hand, nor into election and reprobation on the other.

  1. That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, contain a full revelation of His will to man, and are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
  2. That baptism is an ordinance of the Christian church, to follow faith and repentance, – an ordinance by which we commemorate the resurrection of Christ, as by this act we show our faith in his burial and resurrection, and through that, in the resurrection of all the saints at the last day; and that no other mode more fitly represents these facts than that which the Scriptures prescribe, namely, immersion.  Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12.
  3. That the new birth comprises the entire change necessary to fit us for the kingdom of God, and consists of two parts; first, a moral change wrought by conversion and a Christian life (John 3:3, 5); second, a physical change at the second coming of Christ, whereby if dead, we are raised incorruptible, and if living, are changed to immortality in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.  Luke 20:36; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52.
  4. That prophecy is a part of God’s revelation to man; that it is included in that Scripture which is profitable for instruction (2 Tim. 3:16); that it is designed for us and our children (Deut. 29:29); that so far from being enshrouded in impenetrable mystery, it is that which especially constitutes the word of God a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19); that a blessing is pronounced upon those who study it (Rev. 1:1-3); and that, consequently, it is to be understood by the people of God sufficiently to show them their position in the world’s history and the special duties required at their hands.
  5. That the world’s history from specified dates in the past, the rise and fall of empires, and the chronological succession of events down to the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom, are outlined in numerous great chains of prophecy; and that these prophecies are now all fulfilled except the closing scenes.
  6. That the doctrine of the world’s conversion and a temporal millennium is a fable of these last days, calculated to lull men into a state of carnal security, and cause them to be overtaken by the great day of the Lord as by a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:3); that the second coming of Christ is to precede, not follow, the millennium; for until the Lord appears, the papal power, with all its abominations is to continue (2 Thess. 2:8), the wheat and tares grow together (Matt. 13:29, 30, 39), and evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, as the word of God declares.  2 Tim. 3:1, 13.
  7. That the mistake of Adventists in 1844 pertained to the nature of the event then to transpire, not to the time; that no prophetic period is given to reach to the second advent, but that the longest one, the two thousand and three hundred days of Dan. 8:14. Terminated in 1844, and brought us to an event called the cleansing of the sanctuary.*(See note in original).

 

*The Adventists of 1844 expected that the end of the world would come in that year, because they held that certain prophecies would then transpire, which they believed reached to the coming of the Lord. Chief among these was the prophecy of Dan. 8, 13, 14, which says that at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days (years) the sanctuary should be cleansed. They believed that the earth was the sanctuary then to be cleansed, and that its cleansing was to be accomplished with fire, which would accompany the manifestation of the Lord from heaven. From these premises, the conclusion seemed inevitable that when the 2300 years ended, in 1844, the Lord would come. But the day passed by, and no Saviour appeared. Suspended between hope and fear, and waiting until every plausible allowance for possible inaccuracies of reckoning and variations of time, was exhausted, it became at length apparent that a great mistake had been made, and that the mistake must be on one or both of the following points: either, first, the period of the 2300 days did not end at that time, and they had made a mistake in supposing that they would terminate in that year; or, secondly, the cleansing of the sanctuary was not to be the burning of the earth at the second coming of Christ, and hence they had made a mistake in expecting such an event at that time. While there was a possibility that they had made a mistake on both these points, it was certain that they had made a mistake on one of them; and either one would be sufficient to account for the fact that the Lord did not then appear.

  1. That the sanctuary of the new covenant is the tabernacle of God in heaven, of which Paul speaks in Hebrews 8 and onward, and of which our Lord, as great high priest, is minister; that this sanctuary is the antitype of the Mosaic tabernacle, and that the priestly work of our Lord, connected therewith, is the antitype of the work of the Jewish priests of the former dispensation (Heb. 8:1-5, etc.); that this and not the earth, is the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the two thousand three hundred days, what is termed its cleansing being in this case, as in the type, simply the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place, to finish the round of service connected therewith, by making the atonement and removing from the sanctuary the sins which had been transferred to it by means of the ministration in the first apartment (Lev. 16; Heb. 9:22,23); and that this work in the antitype, beginning in 1844, consists in actually blotting out the sins of believers (Acts 3:19), and occupies a brief but indefinite space of time, at the conclusion of which the work of mercy for the world will be finished, and the second advent of Christ will take place.
  2. That God’s moral requirements are the same upon all men in all dispensations; that these are summarily contained in the commandments spoken by Jehovah from Sinai, engraven on the tables of stone, and deposited in the ark, which was in consequence called the “ark of the covenant,” or testament (Num. 10:33; Heb. 9:4, etc.); that this law is immutable and perpetual, being a transcript of the tables deposited in the ark of God’s testament; for under the sounding of the seventh trumpet we are told that “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.”  (Rev. 11:19).
  3. That the fourth commandment of this law requires that we devote the seventh day of each week, commonly called Saturday, to abstinence from our own labor, and to the performance of sacred and religious duties; that this is the only weekly Sabbath known to the Bible, being the day that was set apart before Paradise was lost (Gen 2:2,3) and which will be observed in Paradise restored (Isa. 66:22,23); that the facts upon which the Sabbath institution is based confine it to the seventh day, as they are not true of any other day; and that the terms Jewish Sabbath, as applied to the seventh day, and Christian Sabbath, as applied to the first day of the week, are names of human invention, unscriptural in fact, and false in meaning. 
  4. That as the man of sin, the papacy has thought to change times and laws (the law of God, Dan. 7:25), and has misled almost all Christendom in regard to the fourth commandment, we find a prophecy of a reform in this respect to be wrought among believers just before the coming of Christ.  Isa. 56:1, 2; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 14:12, etc.
  5. That the followers of Christ should be a peculiar people, not following the maxims, nor conforming to the ways, of the world; not loving its pleasures nor countenancing its follies; inasmuch as the apostle says that “whosoever therefore will be” in this sense, “a friend of the world, is the enemy of God” (James 4:4); and Christ says that we cannot have two masters, or, at the same time, serve God and mammon.  Matt. 6:24.
  6. That the Scriptures insist upon plainness and modesty of attire as a prominent mark of discipleship in those who profess to be followers of him who was “meek and lowly in heart,” that the wearing of gold, pearls, and costly array, or anything designed merely to adorn the person and foster the pride of the natural heart, is to be discarded, according to such scriptures as 1 Tim. 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
  7. That means for the support of evangelical work among men should be contributed from love to God and love of souls, not raised by church lotteries, or occasions designed to contribute to the fun-loving, appetite-indulging propensities of the sinner, such as fairs, festivals, oyster suppers, tea,, broom, donkey, and crazy socials, etc., which are a disgrace to the professed church of Christ; that the proportion of one’s income required in former dispensations can be no less under the gospel; that it is the same as Abraham (whose children we are, if we are Christ’s, Gal. 3:29) paid to Melchisedec (type of Christ) when he gave him a tenth of all (Heb. 7:1-4); the tithe is the Lord’s (Lev. 27:30); and this tenth of one’s income is also to be supplemented by offerings from those who are able, for the support of the gospel.  2 Cor 9:6; Mal. 3:8, 10.
  8. That as the natural or carnal heart is at enmity with God and his law, this enmity can be subdued only by a radical transformation of the affections, the exchange of unholy for holy principles; that this transformation follows repentance and faith, is the special work of the Holy Spirit, and constitutes regeneration, or conversion.
  9. That as all have violated the law of God, and cannot of themselves render obedience to his just requirements, we are dependent on Christ, first, for justification from our past offenses, and secondly, for grace whereby to render acceptable obedience to his holy law in time to come.
  10. That the Spirit of God was promised to manifest itself in the church through certain gifts, enumerated especially in 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4; that these gifts are not designed to supersede, or take the place of, the Bible, which is sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, any more than the Bible can take the place of the Holy Spirit; that, in specifying the various channels of its operation, that Spirit has simply made provision for its own existence and presence with the people of God to the end of time, to lead to an understanding of that word which it had inspired, to convince of sin, and to work a transformation in the heart and life; and that those who deny to the Spirit its place and operation, do plainly deny that part of the Bible which assigns to it this work and position.
  11. That God, in accordance with his uniform dealings with the race, sends forth a proclamation of the approach of the second advent of Christ; and that this work is symbolized by the three messages of Revelation 14, the last one bringing to view the work of reform on the law of God, that his people may acquire a complete readiness for that event.
  12. That the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary (see proposition 10.), synchronizing with the  time of the proclamation of the third message (Rev. 14:9,10), is a time of investigative judgment, first with reference to the dead, and secondly, at the close of probation, with reference to the living, to determine who of the myriads now sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of translation, – points which must be determined before the Lord appears. 
  13. That the grave, whither we all tend, expressed by the Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word hades, is a place, or condition, in which there is no work, device, wisdom, nor knowledge.  Eccl 9:10.
  14. That the state to which we are reduced by death is one of silence, inactivity, and entire unconsciousness.  Ps. 146:4; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Dan. 12:2.
  15. That out of this prison-house of the grave, mankind are to be brought by a bodily resurrection; the righteous having part in the first resurrection, which takes place at the second coming of Christ; the wicked, in the second resurrection, which takes place a thousand years thereafter.  Rev. 20:4-6.
  16. That at the last trump, the living righteous are to be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and with the risen righteous are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, so forever to be with the Lord.  1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52.
  17. That these immortalized ones are then taken to heaven, to the New Jerusalem, the Father’s house, in which there are many mansions (John 14:1-3), where they reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4; 1 Cor. 6:2,3); that during this time the earth lies in a desolate and chaotic condition (Jer. 4:23-27), described, as in the beginning by the Greek term abussos (αβυσσυς) “bottomless pit” (Septuagint of Gen. 1:2); and that here Satan is confined during the thousand years (Rev. 20:1,2), and here finally destroyed (Rev. 20:10; Mal. 4:1); the theatre of the ruin he has wrought in the universe being appropriately made, for a time, his gloomy prison-house, and then the place of his final execution.
  18. That at the end of the thousand years the Lord descends with his people and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2), the wicked dead are raised, and come up on the surface of the yet unrenewed earth, and gather about the city, the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:9), and fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them.  They are then consumed, root and branch (Mal. 4:1), becoming as though they had not been.  Obad. 15, 16.  In this everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:9), the wicked meet the “everlasting punishment” threatened against them (Matt 25:46), which is everlasting death.  Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14, 15.  This is the perdition for ungodly men, the fire which consumes them being the fire for which “the heavens and the earth, which are now,… are kept in store,” which shall melt even the elements with its intensity, and purge the earth from the deepest stains of the curse of sin.  2 Peter 3:7-12.
  19. That new heavens and a new earth shall spring by the power of God from the ashes of the old, and this renewed earth, with the New Jerusalem for its metropolis and capital, shall be the eternal inheritance of the saints, the place where the righteous shall evermore dwell.  2 Peter 3:13; Ps. 37:11, 29; Matt. 5:5.”  Seventh Day Adventist Year Book, 1889 pp143-147.

 

 

“GENERAL CONFERENCE.

[.See pages 45, 132.]

E x e c u t i v e Committee — O. A. Olsen, S. N. Haskell, W. C. White, R. A. Underwood, R. M. Kilgore, E. W. Farnsworth, Dan. T. Jones.

O f f i c e r s  — Pres., 0. A. Olsen; Rec. Sec., Dan. T. Jones; Cor. Sec., W. H. Edwards; Home Mission Sec., Geo. B. Starr; Foreign Mission Sec., W. C. White; Educational Sec., W. W. Prescott; Treas., Hannon Lindsay.

B o o k Committee. — Pres., W. C. White; Sec., F. E. Belden; U. Smith; R. M. Kilgore; W. W. Prescott; A. T. Jones; E. J. Waggoner; C. Eldridge; J. H. Kellogg; E. W. Farnsworth; J. G. Matteson; A. T. Robinson; C. H. Jones.

L a b o r Bureau — A. R. Henry, C. Eldridge, H. W. Kellogg.

S p e c i a l  C o u n s e lo r s — Southern Field, R. M. Kilgore; Eastern Field, R. A. Underwood; Western and Northwestern Field, E. W. Farnsworth; Pacific Coast, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, W. C. White.

M i n i s t e r s. —• America, Geo. I. Butler, S. N. Haskell, U. Smith, 0. A. Olsen, W. C. White, R. M. Kilgore, R. A. Underwood, E. W. Farnsworth, Dan. T. Jones, Mrs. E. G. White, A. T. Jones, Geo. B. Starr, J. G. Matteson, H. Shultz, D. T. Bourdeau, W. H. Saxby, J. E. Robinson, D. E. Lindsey, N. Orcutt, J. W. Bagby, M. G. Huffman, I. E. Kimball, L. II. Crislcr, Oscar Hill, B. F. Purdham, S. H. Kime; Great Britain, D. A. Robinson, A. A. John, E. W. Whitney; Scandinavia, Lewis Johnson, J. F. Hansen, E. G. Olsen, J. M. Erickson; Central Europe, L. R. Conradi, H. P. Holser, J. S. Shroek, J. C. Laubhan; South Africa, C. L. Boyd. Ira J. Hankins; Australia, Geo. C. Tenney, M. C. Israel, Will D. Curtis; New Zealand, A. G. Daniells, Robert Hare; Pacific Islands, A. J. Cudney.

L i c e n t i a t e s — America, W. W. Prescott, C. Eldridge, Wm. M. Baird, N. B. England, Mrs. Ruie Hill, Arthur Hunt, D. C. Babcock; Great Britain, Geo. R. Drew, A. Smith; China and Japan, A. La Rue; Pacific Islands, J. I. Tay.” Seventh Day Adventist Year Book, 1889, p 25.

[28] FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS [2015]*

The Holy Scriptures 1

The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration. The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to humanity the knowledge nec­essary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the supreme, authoritative, and the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the definitive revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history. (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.)

The Trinity 2

There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-know­ing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4‑6; 1 Peter 1:2.)

The Father 3

God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also those of the Father. (Gen. 1:1; Deut. 4:35; Ps. 110:1, 4; John 3:16; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:28; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:8; Rev. 4:11.)

The Son 4

God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly hu­man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced tempta­tion as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (Isa. 53:4-6; Dan. 9:25-27; Luke 1:35; John 1:1‑3, 14; 5:22; 10:30; 14:1‑3, 9, 13; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17-19; Phil. 2:5‑11; Col. 1:15-19; Heb. 2:9- 18; 8:1, 2.)

The Holy Spirit 5

God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He is as much a person as are the Father and the Son. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth. (Gen. 1:1, 2; 2 Sam. 23:2; Ps. 51:11; Isa. 61:1; Luke 1:35; 4:18; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26; 16:7-13; Acts 1:8; 5:3; 10:38; Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Peter 1:21.)

Creation 6

God has revealed in Scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. He created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of the work He performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today. The first man and wom­an were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1-2; 5; 11; Exod. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1‑6; 33:6, 9; 104; Isa. 45:12, 18; Acts 17:24; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Rev. 10:6; 14:7.)

The Nature of Humanity 7

Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its con­sequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7, 15; 3; Ps. 8:4-8; 51:5, 10; 58:3; Jer. 17:9; Acts 17:24-28; Rom. 5:12-17; 2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 John 3:4; 4:7, 8, 11, 20.)5

The Great Controversy 8

All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God’s adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the global flood, as pre­sented in the historical account of Genesis 1-11. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the univer­sal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation. (Gen. 3; 6-8; Job 1:6-12; Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:12‑18; Rom. 1:19-32; 3:4; 5:12-21; 8:19-22; 1 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 1:14; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 3:6; Rev. 12:4‑9.)

The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ 9

In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The bodily resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22:1; Isa. 53; John 3:16; 14:30; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.)

The Experience of Salvation 10

In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righ­teousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Substitute and Example. This saving faith comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment. (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 45:22; 53; Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 33:11; 36:25-27; Hab. 2:4; Mark 9:23, 24; John 3:3-8, 16; 16:8; Rom. 3:21-26; 8:1-4, 14-17; 5:6-10; 10:17; 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Gal. 1:4; 3:13, 14, 26; 4:4-7; Eph. 2:4-10; Col. 1:13, 14; Titus 3:3-7; Heb. 8:7‑12; 1 Peter 1:23; 2:21, 22; 2 Peter 1:3, 4; Rev. 13:8.)6

Growing in Christ 11

By His death on the cross Jesus triumphed over the forces of evil. He who subjugated the demonic spirits during His earthly ministry has broken their power and made certain their ultimate doom. Jesus’ victory gives us victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him in peace, joy, and assurance of His love. Now the Holy Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds. No longer do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance, and meaninglessness of our former way of life. In this new freedom in Jesus, we are called to grow into the likeness of His character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on His Word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering together for worship, and participating in the mission of the Church. We are also called to follow Christ’s example by compassionately ministering to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of humanity. As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the Spirit transforms every moment and every task into a spiritual experience. (1 Chron. 29:11; Ps. 1:1, 2; 23:4; 77:11, 12; Matt. 20:25‑28; 25:31-46; Luke 10:17-20; John 20:21; Rom. 8:38, 39; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18; Gal. 5:22‑25; Eph. 5:19, 20; 6:12-18; Phil. 3:7-14; Col. 1:13, 14; 2:6, 14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:16‑18, 23; Heb. 10:25; James 1:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:18; 1 John 4:4.)

The Church 12

The church is the community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. In continuity with the people of God in Old Testament times, we are called out from the world; and we join together for worship, for fellowship, for instruction in the Word, for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, for service to humanity, and for the worldwide procla­mation of the gospel. The church derives its authority from Christ, who is the incarnate Word revealed in the Scriptures. The church is God’s family; adopted by Him as children, its members live on the basis of the new covenant. The church is the body of Christ, a community of faith of which Christ Himself is the Head. The church is the bride for whom Christ died that He might sanctify and cleanse her. At His return in triumph, He will present her to Himself a glorious church, the faithful of all the ages, the purchase of His blood, not having spot or wrinkle, but holy and without blemish. (Gen. 12:1-3; Exod. 19:3-7; Matt. 16:13-20; 18:18; 28:19, 20; Acts 2:38-42; 7:38; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11; 5:23-27; Col. 1:17, 18; 1 Peter 2:9.)

The Remnant and Its Mission 13

The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness. (Dan. 7:9-14; Isa. 1:9; 11:11; Jer. 23:3; Mic. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Peter 1:16-19; 4:17; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Jude 3, 14; Rev. 12:17; 14:6-12; 18:1-4.)7

Unity in the Body of Christ 14

The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children. (Ps. 133:1; Matt. 28:19, 20; John 17:20-23; Acts 17:26, 27; Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17; Gal. 3:27‑29; Eph. 2:13-16; 4:3‑6, 11-16; Col. 3:10-15.)

Baptism 15

By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our pur­pose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 2:38; 16:30-33; 22:16; Rom. 6:1-6; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12, 13.)

The Lord’s Supper 16

The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot-washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians. (Matt. 26:17-30; John 6:48-63; 13:1‑17; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:23-30; Rev. 3:20.)8

Spiritual Gifts and Ministries 17

God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving minis­try for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained func­tions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, ad­ministration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelis­tic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual matu­rity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love. (Acts 6:1-7; Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 27, 28; Eph. 4:8, 11‑16; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Peter 4:10, 11.)

The Gift of Prophecy 18

The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Num. 12:6; 2 Chron. 20:20; Amos 3:7; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 22:8, 9.)

The Law of God 19

The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, and its fruit is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well‑being. It is evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow human beings. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Exod. 20:1-17; Deut. 28:1- 14; Ps. 19:7-14; 40:7, 8; Matt. 5:17-20; 22:36-40; John 14:15; 15:7-10; Rom. 8:3, 4; Eph. 2:8-10; Heb. 8:8-10; 1 John 2:3; 5:3; Rev. 12:17; 14:12.)9

The Sabbath 20

The gracious Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sab­bath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God’s kingdom. The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God’s creative and redemptive acts. (Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Lev. 23:32; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 56:5, 6; 58:13, 14; Ezek. 20:12, 20; Matt. 12:1-12; Mark 1:32; Luke 4:16; Heb. 4:1-11.)

Stewardship 21

We are God’s stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use. We acknowledge God’s ownership by faithful ser­vice to Him and our fellow human beings, and by returning tithe and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His church. Stewardship is a privilege given to us by God for nurture in love and the victo­ry over selfishness and covetousness. Stewards rejoice in the blessings that come to others as a result of their faithfulness. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15; 1 Chron. 29:14; Haggai 1:3‑11; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 23:23; Rom. 15:26, 27; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; 9:7.)

Christian Behavior 22

We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects of personal and social life. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things that will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligent­ly. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness. (Gen. 7:2; Exod. 20:15; Lev. 11:1-47; Ps. 106:3; Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 10:31; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 10:5; Eph. 5:1-21; Phil. 2:4; 4:8; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10; Titus 2:11, 12; 1 Peter 3:1‑4; 1 John 2:6; 3 John 2.)10

Marriage and the Family 23

Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between a man and a woman who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, a man and a woman who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ through marriage may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church. God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message. Parents are to bring up their chil­dren to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words they are to teach them that Christ is a loving, tender, and caring guide who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God which embraces both single and married persons. (Gen. 2:18-25; Exod. 20:12; Deut. 6:5-9; Prov. 22:6; Mal. 4:5, 6; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:3-9, 12; Mark 10:11, 12; John 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 7:7, 10, 11; 2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4.)

Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary 24

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and, began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judg­ment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the com­mandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Lev. 16; Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Heb. 1:3; 2:16, 17; 4:14-16; 8:1‑5; 9:11-28; 10:19- 22; Rev. 8:3-5; 11:19; 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:11, 12.)11

The Second Coming of Christ 25

The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is near. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-20; 19:11-21.)

Death and Resurrection 26

The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later. ( Job 19:25-27; Ps. 146:3, 4; Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10; Dan. 12:2, 13; Isa. 25:8; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-14; Rom. 6:23; 16; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 20:1-10.)

The Millennium and the End of Sin 27

The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. ( Jer. 4:23‑26; Ezek. 28:18, 19; Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Rev. 20; 21:1-5.)

The New Earth 28

On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect envi­ronment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen. (Isa. 35; 65:17‑25; Matt. 5:5; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 11:15; 21:1‑7; 22:1-5.)

*Copyright © 2015, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

www.adventist.org

The Loud Cry, Outpouring of the Spirit

The Loud Cry – Outpouring of the Spirit

A mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God is prophesied (Revelation 18:1 and Joel 2:23, 28-32) to take place in the last days to accompany the final warning to the world.  This outpouring is not intended to minimize the message of the Third Angel’s Movement.

Rather, it is intended to support and enhance the Third Angel’s Message and give focus to the mission of God’s remnant people in the last days.  It is the Third Angel’s Message that swells to a loud cry when the Angel of Revelation 18 lightens the earth with his glory.  We are told:

The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angels message as it swells to a loud cry. (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, p. 399).

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12.

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Photo by Wootang01

Understanding the Gospel

What exactly is the Gospel?  The word ‘gospel’ means good news.  The Gospel is the good news about salvation, and salvation comes to us through Jesus Christ.

But what is salvation?  In a general sense, salvation is deliverance from danger or difficulty.  It comes from the word ‘save’.  It may also be seen as preservation from destruction or failure (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

So, then, what are we being saved from?  If, for example, someone is caught in a fire and that person is to be rescued from the fire, there is a certain urgency that is associated with the act or process of saving the person.  In the case of the good news of salvation, what are we being saved from?  If we don’t understand what we are being saved from, we won’t be able to appreciate the good news that is in it, neither will we share it with any conviction.

In order to understand what we are talking about here, without the obfuscation that is often associated with some of the popular terms that people use, that lend themselves to multiple interpretations, we’ll simply ask some questions and see what the simple answers are from the Bible, giving the appropriate references.

Consider John the Baptist, Christ and the Apostles:

1. Who was John the Baptist? John the Baptist was the greatest prophet (Luke 7:28).

2. What did he do? He preached repentance and pointed to Jesus as the saviour (Luke 3:3,4; John 1:29-34).

3. Did John do miracles? No (John 10:41).  Did he speak truth about Jesus? Yes (John 10:41).

4. Did John have the Holy Spirit? Yes (Luke 1:15).

5. What are we being saved from? Sin (Matt. 1:21).

6. What is sin? Sin is disobedience to God (1 John 3:4).

7. How many types of sin exist? There are two types of sin: rebellious (presumptuous) and naive (ignorant)1 John 5:16; Num. 15:24-31; Heb. 10:26; 1 John 2:1).
8. What type of sin was Satan’s? Satan’s sin was rebellious (Rev. 12:7-9).

9. What type of sin was Eve’s? Eve’s sin was naive – she was deceived (1 Tim. 2:14).

10. Concerning whom was the promise of redemption when it was first given? Eve and her offspring (Gen. 3:15).

11. What is required of us and why? Believe the testimony of Jesus and repent (Acts 16:31; 2:38, 39; Rom. 4:3). 

12. What was Jesus’s testimony about? The testimony of Jesus was about God, His Father (John 1:18; 17:3-8; 18:37).

13. Did Jesus reveal anything else? Yes, the truth about principalities and powers – Satan and his host (Col. 2:15).

14. What did Christ reveal about Satan and His host? That they are liars and murderers (John 8:44; Acts 2:23).

15. What does that revelation result in? Christ triumphing over Satan and his host by exposing them (Col. 2:15).

16. Through what does Christ destroy the Devil? Through His death (Heb. 2:14).

17. What else does Christ’s death accomplish? Our release from bondage and our redemption (Heb. 2:15; Rev. 5:9).

18. What kept us in bondage? Fear of death (Heb. 2:15).

19. Who had the power of death? Satan (Heb. 2:14).

20. What casts out fear? Love (1 John 4:18).

21. Who is love? God (1 John 4:8).

22. Why do we love God? Because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

23. How do we know that God loves us? Because He sent His only begotten Son into the world (1 John 4:9; Rom. 8:32).

24. So how are we saved? By knowing God and believing the truth about Him as Jesus manifested (John 17:3-8).

25. How are we going to know the truth about God and Christ? Someone has to tell us (Rom. 10:13, 14).

25. Were there eyewitnesses who gave firsthand testimony about Christ? Yes, His disciples and the prophets (2 Pet. 1:16-21).

27. So what did Christ call upon His disciples to do? Go and teach all nations to observe whatsoever He has commanded and to be witnesses concerning Him (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:18).

28. What will we do if we love Him? Keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 John 5:2, 3; 2 John 1:6).

29. How are we changed? By beholding Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

30. How did sin start on earth? Eve was deceived and got her husband, Adam, to join her in disobedience to God (1 Tim. 2:14).

31. What was the first step? She took her focus away from God – going to where the serpent was and talking to the serpent (Gen. 3:1-5).

32. What was the second step? She believed the serpent’s lie – about God (Gen. 3:6).

33. What was the third step? Disobedience to God – which is sin (Gen. 3:6; 2:16, 17).

34. What is the reverse that is involved in the redemption process?  Transformation by renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2).

35. How are we drawn back to God? By beholding Christ and believing in Him (2. Cor. 3:18; John 3:14, 15; 12:32).

36. What about Him do we need to believe?  That He is the Son of God, that God sent Him, that He is manifesting the Father’s character and that His testimony or witness is true – about God (John 11:42; 12:44-50; 16:27; 17:8; 18:37).

37. To what end does Christ seek to have us believe on Him?  That we might be reconciled to God in our hearts and will obey God – keep His commandments (John 1:12; 12:50; Matt. 19:17; Matt. 5:19; Matt. 15:3, 6-9; Rev. 22:14).

38. How are we able to keep God’s commandments? He gives us the power to keep them (Phil. 2:13; Titus 2:11, 12; John 1:12) – it is He that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

39. What does God have in store for those who obey Him? Everlasting life and paradise restored (Rom. 6:22; Rev. 22:14).

40. And what else is in store, most critically? A restored relationship and fellowship with God and Christ, the heavenly beings and the host of the redeemed (Rev. 21:22-27).

Look away from self and look to God through Christ – the mediator.  You will be drawn to love God and others; by repentance you demonstrate that you are not rebellious but only previously duped by Satan; Christ will advocate for you and give you what you need.

Christ came to reveal the Father and expose the Devil in order to win us back to the Father and break the Devil’s hold over us that has existed because of our belief in the Devil’s lies about God.

The truth to believe is that God is good, means us well, knows what is good for us and we should believe, accept and follow everything He says.  The Devil is a liar and a murderer and should be rejected.

Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who is exactly like God, His Father, in character, is the perfect manifestation and proof, in His life on earth, of God’s character.

By yielding himself to be killed by wicked hands, Christ has exposed Satan and his followers as liars and murderers whose words should be completely rejected and whose company should be shunned, thereby releasing us from Satan’s captivity in which we were held through our belief in Satan’s lies about God.

Even now Satan still holds many people captive under his deception by causing them to believe a distorted version of the gospel that still maligns God.  They believe that Christ died in order to pay a price that God demanded before He would forgive us.

The truth is that the death of His Son was the price that God had to pay in order to save us.  That is what it costed God to provide the basis whereby Satan’s hold on us might be broken.

Having revealed the true character of God, His Father, through the life that He lived on earth, and having discredited Satan by exposing him as a liar and a murderer, Christ now invites us to believe the truth and be saved (Acts 16:31; Rom 4:3; John 17:3).  Otherwise, we’ll believe the Devil’s lies and be damned (2 Thess. 2:10-12).

It is all about relationship.  That is why the Bible likens the relationship between husband and wife to that between Christ and His church.  It is all about love.  Righteousness is love to God first and foremost, which also leads us to love others as we love ourselves.

Sin is love of self first, which leads to lack of appreciation of others and ultimately to enmity against God and to the practice of every form of wickedness.

Nobody can love for us.  We must love for ourselves.  People talk about receiving the righteousness of Christ as though a righteous life is something that Christ does for us and simply gives us.  Christ’s love cannot stand in place of the love that we ourselves must have and exercise.

What Christ does for us is to accept us and extend His love to us.  It is entirely up to us to respond to His love by loving Him in return.

The capacity to love is something that God made all of His creatures with.  It is only a question of who or what we choose to love supremely – whether God or self.

This is determined by whether we look at God as manifested in Christ, so that, in beholding we become changed or we look constantly at self so that everything for us revolves around self.

The root of the matter is all about relationship – love to God supremely and love for others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).  This is what righteousness is.

If we believe the Devil’s lies about God we cannot love Him.

Even with the clearest evidences of God’s love for us and God’s true character, Satan still tries to distort the truth about God.  Some of the distortions are:
(i) The idea of an eternally burning hell
(ii) the idea that God required a blood sacrifice, the death of His Son, before He would forgive (that’s not what the death of Christ was all about – it was the sacrifice that God made, not what He required).

In the final analysis: believe the truth and be saved or believe a lie and be damned (2 Thess. 2:10-12; Luke 8:11, 12).

What then must be our mission? Accept and preach the gospel as John the Baptist did, as Christ did, as the apostles did and as Jesus has commanded us.  The gospel is a message to repent and believe God (Mark 1:2-4, 14, 15; Acts 2:38; Matt. 28:19, 20; Rom. 4:3).

What will happen when our mission is fulfilled? The end will come (Matt. 24:14).

May the Lord help us.

“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4:4-6)

“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information:

E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com