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Thursday; The Everlasting Gospel — 9 Comments

  1. When we discussed the judgement during our study of Revelation earlier this year, I noted that C S Lewis, in his book "Reflections on the Psalms" made the point that the Jewish view of judgement was more like a civil court, putting a wrong right, rather than a criminal court, punishing the wicked. When you read the Three Angels' Messages with that in mind you can see clearly that the judgement is a time of rejoicing for all those who have been denied the freedom of choice by oppressive political/religious powers.

    The really big issue with sin is that it has tilted the playing field and has not played fair with creation, and the restoration is in simple terms levelling the field again.

    It is worth connecting the words of Isaiah 61:1-3 to Rev 14:6-12:

    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

    Our part in all this is not just to tell the story but to do our part in "setting captives free" now. That is living the gospel.

    Amen!(28)
  2. Moses gave up his earthly throne to be identified with the suffering of the people of God because he understood the everlasting gospel in relation to his earthly possessions.

    The disciples were divided always looking for supremacy.
    When they experienced the gospel of Christ, they could write
    34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

    Before conversion Paul thought he was the most educated man in religion.
    Paul - 3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but raised inthis city. I was educated at the feet of Gamaliel in strict conformity to the Law of our fathers. I am just as zealous for God as any of you here today.
    When he experienced the cross of Christ, I cast all my educations aside for the glory of God.

    Paul executed Christians everywhere writes, 28There isneither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male norfemale, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    From Genesis to Revelation we are all of one blood, one family, there is no division in Christ Jesus.
    Let not the glory rest in our denomination, religious traditions and man made divisions. They all lead us to inequality and oppression

    We are all one In Christ Jesus.
    May the experience of the everlasting gospel liberate us from the slavery that binds us.

    Amen!(15)
  3. "The appeal for judgment—for justice to be done—has been a repeated call of those who have been oppressed throughout history."

    In further support of the very important point that Maurice has re-outlined again today, there is a world of difference between justice as "putting a wrong right" and justice as "punishing the wicked". Which type of justice do we see today's lesson referring to by use of the term "justice to be done"?

    When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, the Jewish rulers and the majority of the Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would 'do justice' to the Romans. And what do we observe? Did Jesus provide the kind of justice they were looking for - or was He despised because He did not and would not provide that kind of justice? So, what kind of justice did Jesus teach and practice instead?

    Are we making the same mistake 2000 years later in believing and promoting that God exercises punitive (punishment-based) justice?

    Make no mistake - there will be serious consequences for those who do evil. But those consequences flow directly from the nature and character of sin itself, they are not imposed by God (see Gal 6:8, Jas 1:14-15, Rom 6:23). Sin, by nature and character is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4) which causes breakdown of order resulting in chaos - and chaos in turn fosters death rather than life.

    Consistent with Isa 61:1-3 that Maurice also quoted above, I would propose that a biblically-based view of justice is the restoring of that which is wrong back to that which is right (ie that which is in accord with abundant life of Jn 10:10). Punishment cannot achieve this.

    Amen!(12)
    • Hello Phil,

      Would you please explain your understanding of Deuteronomy 32:39-43 in the context of the third angel's message of Revelation 14:9-12? It seems that God's wrath may countenance more than natural justice.

      Richard

      Amen!(2)
      • Thanks for asking the question Richard.

        The issue you have raised is a HUGE one and there is no way I can do it justice within the space available here. So, with the risk of misunderstanding, I will share what I can as briefly as possible to give some idea of what I have come to see over the past decade in my Bible study (which involved experiencing considerable cognitive dissonance along the way).

        If I take scripture on 'face-value', then it certainly appears that there are many places where it says that God is the agent of destruction. It is only when I go deeper than a superficial surface reading that a different picture emerges.

        One key aspect is that there is a developmental progression across scripture with regard to human's perception and understanding of God. Adam and Eve had direct communion with God initially, but after Genesis 3 the knowledge of God went south very rapidly and 'paganism' dominated. As a consequence of this, the 'perceptual filters' of people in the Old Testament was heavily coloured by a pagan religious view of how the world and beyond operated. Basic principle of pagan religions was keep the gods happy and they will bless you, make the gods angry and they will curse, punish, or destroy you. It can come as a shock to realise that OT patriarchs like Moses and Abraham and so on grew up within such environments - as did the children of Israel. God had to try to educate them as to how he operated differently than the gods they were used to - but He could only do this slowly otherwise there would be a risk that the progression was too fast for people and they would turn to some other god that was easier to follow (eg the golden calf experience). Alden Thompson in his book Who's afraid of the Old Testament God responsibly unpacks this concept in significant detail.

        So, Deut 32:39-43, being contained with the Song of Moses, is Moses view of God - it is not God's dictation of Himself. Moses was a great man who had face-to-face encounters with God. And yet even Moses had some misperceptions of the details of how God and reality operates.

        Fast forward to the New Testament where Jesus came to give a more direct unveiling of the true nature and character of God - and of Satan (something that is largely absent in the Old Testament and especially in the original, pre-translation versions of the Old Testament). And we find Jesus statement in Jn 10:10 that exclusively ascribes killing and destruction to Satan (aka the thief) and equally exclusively ascribes abundant life to the Kingdom of God. If God in fact initiates destruction, then Jesus statement in Jn 10:10 is at best misleading. Then too we have Jesus portrayal of the totality of God's nature and character while He was on earth - with no display of destruction whatsoever (Jn 17:4,6; Jn 14:7).

        Then we have Paul in Romans 1:18,24,26,28 outlining how the wrath of God is revealed - by letting people go to the natural consequences of their choices.

        Then we have an understanding of how reality operates. Laws (ie laws of nature) foster order which enables life. It is the laws of nature that stop things flying apart - that is, self-destructing. Sin on the other hand, is defined as lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4) - the absence of order which therefore results in chaos which is incapable of supporting life which therefore fosters non-life via self-destruction. Keeping this in mind, now have a look at Gal 6:8 and Jas 1:14-15.

        So, what we have are two 'realities' - which Paul refers to in Rom 8:2. Reality one is the law of the Spirit of Life which is the reality of the Kingdom of God. Live in union with the Holy Spirit and in harmony with the (natural) laws that underpin and support life, and you will live as a natural outcome. This is how life operated for Adam and Eve prior to Genesis 3 - and it is what we are being restored to via the restoration process that is salvation .

        Reality number two is the law (principle) of sin and death. Defy or be out of harmony with the Holy Spirit and the (natural) laws that underpin and support life and you will perish.

        The Greek word for perish (used for example in Jn 3:16 and 2 Pet 3:9) can mean to be destroyed by an external entity but it can also mean to come to ruin from forces arising from within. Which meaning matches reality?

        Satan would have us view God as the source of destruction as that well suits Satan's purpose to misrepresent the nature and character of God. But from Genesis 3 it has been sin (lawlessness) that has been the source of destruction all along. Sin would have destroyed Adam and Eve that very day if God had not intervened to interrupt this natural outcome in order to give time for a second chance - salvation. Note how the winds of strife are being held back by angels under God's direction in Rev 7:1. That is what God has been doing all along - holding back the full self-destructive power of sin that would otherwise have annihilated the world long ago. All God has to do is stop restraining this inherent self-destruction (see 2 Thess 2 re The Restrainer) and the self-destruction will run its natural course. This is how I believe the events of Revelation will play out.

        Some would say that even if God only releases his restraint, then He is still the source of the destruction. However, I believe this view is mistaken on the grounds that abundant life is not an unconditional right nor reality. The evidence points to that abundant life only exists within the reality that comprises the Kingdom of God.

        So, I cannot interpret Deut 32:39-43 in light of Revelation 14:9-12 because Revelation 14:9-12 is a more 'developmentally advanced' revelation than the Deuteronomy passage. However, I interpret the 'wrath of God' in view of what I mentioned above regarding Rom 1:18,24,26,28 and how reality operates: that God finally ceases restraining the natural consequences of lawlessness and therefore 'releases' those who have chosen the option of lawlessness to the cascade of consequences that are inherent to lawlessness. Other aspects of the Rev 14 passage are metaphor (eg tormented with fire and brimstone) which need to be responsibly unpacked - a topic for another time.

        Now I am aware that there is much 'reinterpretation' of the Bible going on at present and that much of it is aimed at discrediting the Bible. This is not where I am coming from.
        I am trying to return to what I believe was known in the first century but was subsequent distorted across the centuries. It also appears to have been rediscovered by some within earlier Adventism - and some within recent Adventism (eg Alden Thompson, Sigve Tonstad and others).

        I will leave you with a couple of interesting statements from Ellen White that are of direct relevance to what I have outlined and to the topic of Bible interpretation:

        "We are not to regard God as waiting to punish the sinner for his sin. The sinner brings the punishment upon himself. His own actions start a train of circumstances that bring the sure result. Every act of transgression reacts upon the sinner, works in him a change of character, and makes it more easy for him to transgress again. By choosing to sin, men separate themselves from God, cut themselves off from the channel of blessing, and the sure result is ruin and death. {1SM 235.2}"

        "Sharp, clear perceptions of truth will never be the reward of indolence. Investigation of every point that has been received as truth will richly repay the searcher; he will find precious gems. And in closely investigating every jot and tittle which we think is established truth, in comparing scripture with scripture, we may discover errors in our interpretation of Scripture. Christ would have the searcher of his word sink the shaft deeper into the mines of truth. If the search is properly conducted, jewels of inestimable value will be found. The word of God is the mine of the unsearchable riches of Christ. {RH July 12, 1898, par. 15}"

        At the end of the day, I have found that a portrayal of God as being exclusively about promoting and sustaining abundant life and doing all He can to try to help us avoid the inherent perishing that the events of Gen 3 have unleashed on this planet (in contrast with sin as the exclusive cause of death and destruction - via self-destruction) to be the most coherent and cohesive view portrayed by scripture - provided I study deeper than a mere surface reading.

        Amen!(1)
  4. HELPING THE WRONG PEOPLE

    One day we had a gospel campaign and at the end of it we brought some clothes to help the poor. We didn't survey the area to identity the needy first and so the whole community came,rich and poor and we couldn't control them. They overwhelmed us and scrambled for the clothes. We ended up helping the wrong people.

    Most donations to the poor countries end up with the wrong people. A church in Europe sent some clothes for the poor in Africa when the containers arrived the church elders,pastors and leaders selected the best suits for themselves and their families. Then they started complaining that they didn't have money for transport. At the end of the day the donation went to the wrong people.

    Most non-governmental organizations send fake reports and pictures and videos to donors. The donors being in developed countries where the poor are taken care of by the government, are moved by the fake news and send huge amount of money to these corrupt organizations. The donations end up in rich people's pockets.

    Sometimes church members are asked to donate food for the hungry but this food is never taken to the intended people. In fact the leadership delay to transport it untill it expires. Do a research and you'll find donated stuff lying in church offices.

    Instead of each church looking for it's donors, I think the SDA church should come up with a strategy like the one for the 13th Sabbath but this time targeting the least of these in a certain country. We should survey the country to identify the needy then the whole world should send their donations to that country. To make it more interesting we should have gospel campaigns targeting the whole country. Choirs, children ministry, women ministry and Adventist men, infact all roads should lead to that country.

    .....it is possible. Our Muslim brothers do it when they go to macca.

    Amen!(12)
    • Thanks for an enlightening (sad, but not surprising) recount of what is really going on Cyrus.

      Do you have any thoughts/suggestions of how to do what you have mentioned in the last paragraph (re the whole world church sending donations to one country) without those donations also going astray?

      Amen!(2)
      • Praise the lord phil.

        The only way is for the donors to take their donations direct to the needy just like Paul did all the way to Jerusalem.

        SDAs are experts in doing this kind of work. We did it recently during the TMI campaigns.

        Just imagine if every SDA member in the world should donate just one dollar, how much would that be? Plus material things which people normally give more than money.

        If all this is taken to one country, I think the country will say" it's enough don't give more!"

        ...but Satan knows this and his strategy is simple " just donate as much as you can but it will never reach the intended people.

        Amen!(5)
  5. “ God has jewels in all the churches, and it is not for us to make the sweeping denunciation(formal accusation) of the professed religious world, but in humility and love, present to all the truth as it is in Jesus. Let men see piety and devotion, let them behold Christlikeness of character, and they will be drawn to the truth. He who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself, will be a light in the world. Those who have a knowledge of the truth are to communicate the same. They are to lift up Jesus, the world’s redeemer; they are to hold forth the Word of life.” (The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p.1184.) I think that says it all.

    Amen!(3)

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