March 20 - 26
The Adventist Church and Revelation
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Rev. 10; 12:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:2-4; Acts 20:27, 28; Jer. 31:10; Mark 16:15.
MEMORY TEXT: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).
KEY THOUGHT: Although none of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church held advanced theological degrees, they were keen students of the Bible. The doctrines formulated by the time the church was organized in 1860 still are the basic fundamental doctrines of the church. They have stood the test of time and the ever-advancing understanding of how to interpret the Bible.
LAYING UP FOR THE TIME OF TROUBLE. Seventh-day Adventists have been told: "The Lord has shown me in vision, repeatedly, that it is contrary to the Bible to make any provision for our temporal wants in the time of trouble."Maranatha, p.181. However, there are some things of eternal value and consequence that must be laid up for the time of trouble: "Now is the time to lay up treasure in heaven, and to set our hearts in order, ready for the time of trouble.... I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished, and that time can last but a very little longer; and . . . time . . . should be spent in searching the Bible."A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p.46.
The impetus for the formation of what was to become the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a keen interest in Bible prophecies concerning the second advent of Christ. William Miller followed the traditional historicist school of prophetic interpretation. His studies led him to conclude that Christ would come when the heavenly sanctuary was to be "cleansed" in about 1843 (later revised to 1844). Although his understanding of the time was correct, he misinterpreted what was to happen in 1844. This error led to the bitter disappointment predicted in Revelation 10.
What was the little group that had been disappointed in 1844 to do in furthering prophetic interpretation and the teaching of the Second Coming? Rev. 10:11.
Just a little over the period of the following ten years (1844 to about 1855), the founders of what was to become the Seventh-day Adventist Church conducted Bible-study groups and Bible conferences that led them to a uniformity of belief based on the primacy of the Bible. Writing in The Signs of the Times (Jan.13, 1887), E. J. Waggoner outlined the principles of interpretation followed by Adventists: "We noted first, that the Bible is absolute truth and that anything that disagrees with it in the slightest particular must be false. Second, that the Bible, though composed of many books, is one Book with one Author; that there is perfect harmony in all its parts. Third, that the Bible contains all truth, because that by it a man may be 'thoroughly furnished unto all good works;' and that therefore it must be its own interpreter. Fourth, that one part of the Bible cannot be fully understood if taken out of its connection, or without reference to the Bible as a whole."
"The great motive powers of the soul are faith, hope, and love; and it is to these that Bible study, rightly pursued, appeals. The outward beauty of imagery and expression, is but the setting, as it were, for its real treasurethe beauty of holiness."Education, p.192.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church still upholds the position that the Bible is the authoritative revelation of God's will, the true revealer of doctrines, the trustworthy record of God's acts in history, and the foreteller of last-day events centering in Christ's triumph soon to come.
|On what basis will those who reject the clear revelations of God through His Word be judged? What reason does Jesus give as to why this will be so? John 12:44-50.|
Seventh-day Adventists need to study more carefully the Inspired Word in order to be able to distinguish between the false and the true during this time when Satan surrounds us with insidious and deceptive teachings. For decades the world has been wrapped in materialism that seeks to exclude religion from everyday life. Tremendous scientific advances have caused a large number of people to think that they do not need God or heaven. Then technology seems to have turned on us. Such things as nuclear weapons, environmental pollution, and numerous cancer-producing agents have left us with uncertainty and fear. Because the old values largely have been thrown away, people are left with no place to turn, and evil influences have filled the vacuum. This is evident in the current popularity of the occult, the New Age movement, astrology, and the rise of cults. We now are surrounded by a growing bombardment of daily satanic lies.
It is truer than it ever has been that we need to search the Scriptures daily that we may know the way of the Lord, and "that we be not deceived by religious fallacies. The world is full of false theories and seductive spiritualistic ideas, which tend to destroy clear spiritual perception, and to lead away from truth and holiness. Especially at this time we need to heed the warning, 'Let no man deceive you with vain words' (Eph. 5:6).
"We must be careful lest we misinterpret the Scriptures. The plain teachings of the Word of God are not to be so spiritualized that the reality is lost sight of.... Take the Scriptures as they read. Avoid idle speculation... "Selected Messages, book 1, p. 170.
What does 1 Thessalonians 2:13 indicate about the value of receiving the Word of God?
Many neglect to follow the example of the Thessalonians and to let the Word of God work "effectually" in them.
List the precious promises given in the Scriptures to those who take advantage of becoming better acquainted with God through Bible study. 2 Pet. 1:24.
|For reflection: If we apply ourselves to careful study, we can expect the fulfillment of the promise that "He who opens the Scriptures, and feeds upon the heavenly manna, becomes a partaker of the divine nature."Ellen White, Review and Herald, June 28, 1892.|
Second Timothy 3:16, 17 tells us why God's Word is essential to individual members. Scripture is given for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction, and (4) instruction in righteousness. The ultimate objective is "that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (RSV). When we realize that God's will, as expressed in His laws, is designed to enable us to get the most out of life, our attitude toward the Bible should change drasticallywe'll long to search out His will and delight in it.
What parting counsel did Paul share with the elders from Ephesus that applies to the needs of the Church today? Acts 20:27, 28.
In addition to its role in enabling us to distinguish between truth and error, the Bible must be the source of our faith and practice. It must provide our ethical and moral values, as well as our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. It also must serve as the determinant of the mission and goal of the Church and its institutions. It is the Bible and the Bible alone that justifies our existence as the remnant church and teaches us how to live as sons and daughters of God in the midst of a fallen and corrupt world.
Use of the Bible by church leaders. Seventh-day Adventist leaders have been known as students of the Word. This was true of the pioneers and still characterizes many leaders today who take time in the midst of their heavy schedules to steep themselves in understanding Bible principles. Adventist church leaders have a tremendous responsibility not only to be deep students of the Word but to foster a "back to the Bible" movement that will help prepare members for the great tests ahead. Addressing church leaders, Ellen White says: "Those who are ready to do service are those who feed most on Christ. Read and study His word, drink in the inspiration of His Spirit, and receive of His grace, not to hoard, but to give to others. In order to instruct others, the teachers must first be learners of Christ. There are Marthas in every church. They are intensely busy in religious activities, and they do much good; but we need also Mary's side of character. The most zealous workers need to learn at the feet of Jesus."Testimonies to Ministers, p.346.
|Do you find yourself to be a more diligent student of the Bible now than last year? In what ways can your daily life become more ordered around Bible principles?|
Analyze what Deuteronomy 6:7, Isaiah 54:13, and Ephesians 6:4 teach us about Adventist educational goals.
Seventh-day Adventist education is not perfect, but it does contribute significantly to students' developing a meaningful religious experience. However, we need to keep in mind that Christian education in the home and in the church plays an important role in complementing our schools. An encouraging study in one union conference in the early 1980s found that among Seventh-day Adventist families, students who attended Seventh-day Adventist schools had a greater probability of being baptized and a greater retention rate in remaining Seventh-day Adventists. (See Parentline, Publication for Parents by Southern College of Seventh-day Adventists, vol.1, Nov. 1986, pp.1, 2.)
The Seventh-day Adventist philosophy of education is based on such revelations by Ellen White as: "The students in our schools are to regard the knowledge of God as above everything else."Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p.447. What is the source of such knowledge? "The Bible is the great educator; for it is not possible prayerfully to study its sacred pages without having the intellect disciplined, ennobled, purified, and refined."Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 171.
Many encouraging things are happening in Seventh-day Adventist schools around the world. On more than one Seventh-day Adventist college campus there has been a spontaneous development of small Bible-study groups and evangelistic outreach. In one place, college students launched home visitation, contacting 4,000 homes in a nearby nonentered community with a health-and-Bible-interest survey. They received more than 700 responses. A church was started in that community and continues to grow. They also began a student-led church service that soon overflowed the capacity of the chapel in which they were meeting, necessitating the use of a larger facility.
Literature work. One major challenge facing Adventists in these last days is to make it possible for people everywhere to possess the Bible and the literature containing God's message for today in their own language (see Jer. 31:10; Mark 16:15). "In a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power and who lightens the earth with his glory."Testimonies for the Church, vol.7, p.140.
|Outline a plan of how you can help to scatter literature containing God's message for today.|
What are the seven facets of Christ's ministry as recorded in Luke 19?
Use of the Bible in medical institutions and offices. "If we are to go to the expense of building sanitariums in order that we may work for the salvation of the sick and afflicted... [then] we are to do all in our power for the healing of the body; but we are to make the healing of the soul of far greater importance."Testimonies for the Church, vol.7, p.96. "Every medical practitioner, whether he acknowledges it or not, is responsible for the souls as well as the bodies of his patients. . . . Every physician should be a devoted, intelligent gospel medical missionary, familiar with Heaven's remedy for the sin-sick soul as well as with the science of healing bodily disease."Medical Ministry, p.31.
The operation of medical work today is far more complex and involves many more problems in relating to government and community agencies than when this counsel was given. But Adventists need to take seriously the principles of medical work outlined in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
Use of the Bible in pastoral work and preaching. When pastors are strongly convinced regarding the authority and inspiration of the Bible, then they can preach it with conviction and enthusiastically lead their congregations to an understanding and acceptance of biblical authority.
What is the pastor's commission? 2 Tim. 4:2.
"Pastors are neededfaithful shepherdswho will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life-men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and who cherish a strong, unselfish love for those for whom they labor." "The minister who makes the word of God his constant companion will continually bring forth truth of new beauty.... The Holy Spirit will fill his mind and heart with hope and courage and Bible imagery, and all this will be communicated to those under his instruction."Gospel Workers, pp.185, 253.
FURTHER STUDY: Continuing priority must be given to revival and a return to true godliness in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This is the "greatest and most urgent of all our needs."Selected Messages, book 1, p.121. Another major need is the development of a strong appetite for Bible study: "If the people of God would appreciate His word, we should have a heaven in the church here below. Christians would be eager, hungry, to search the word. They would be anxious for time to compare scripture with scripture and to meditate upon the word.... Their greatest desire would be to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. And, as a result, their lives would be conformed to the principles and promises of the word. Its instruction would be to them as the leaves of the tree of life."Testimonies for the Church, vol.8, p.193.
God's heart broken by our neglect. When poet Elizabeth Barrett married poet Robert Browning, her parents disowned her. When the newly married couple settled far away in Florence, Italy, she loved her parents so much that she wrote to them several times a month. Ten years after she began that practice, Elizabeth finally received a package from home. Her joy turned to disappointment when she found the package contained her letters returned unopened. They have been called some of the most beautiful and expressive in all English literature. Her parents never read them. Actually, the most beautiful letters of reconciliation ever written are the epistles of love that make up the Bible. How disappointed God must be when His earthly children neglect to read them.
Review and application: Review the Key Thoughts and Summaries for this quarter's guide. As you review each lesson, ask yourself, Have I experienced the transforming power of the Word of God in my life? Have I done something to put what I learned in this lesson to work in my life and to share it with others? Develop a personal plan for doing something about areas that need improvements.
Andrejs Arinsh and Baldis Zilgalvis
When Sofia joined the Adventist Church in Riga, Latvia, her husband was angry that she no longer went to the theater with him but spent her time studying the Bible. When the pastor invited the man to join the Bible-study group, he answered, "My hands are my gods. They provide everything I need!"
The angry husband had slashed the pastor's tires and put raw eggs into his coat pocket, but the pastor and other believers treated him with kindness and invited him to their gatherings.
Then suddenly his hands became paralyzed; any attempt to move his fingers caused him great pain. He endured two months of treatments, but nothing seemed to help. Finally the doctor told him he would need surgery to cure the paralysis.
When the man asked the pastor to visit him, the pastor hurried to his hospital room. There he found the once-angry husband now humble. He listened as the man described his pain and paralysis.
Was the man asking for help from God? The pastor decided to test him. "We will pray for you," he said, watching the man's face for his reaction.
"I am ready for anything-anything," the man said in a subdued tone.
The pastor organized prayer groups to meet every night and pray for Sofia's husband. In his hospital room the man sat quietly listening as the same group of believers whom he had tried to kick out of his home prayed for him.
A week later the man told the pastor, "My hands are 30 percent better already!" When he was released from the hospital, the pastor invited him to a prayer meeting at church. He came. Then the pastor invited him to pray aloud. He stumbled through his first public prayer. He continued attending prayer meetings and began attending church as well. As the believers continued to pray, the man's hands continued to heal. His heart also showed signs of God's healing touch. Soon he took his stand for Christ and prepared for baptism. By the time he was baptized, his hands were completely healed.
Among the people who had been in this man's house the day he angrily announced that "My hands are my gods" were seven visitors who had not yet made a commitment to Christ. In part because of this man's experience, all seven also have joined the church.
Andrejs Arinsh is director of Global Mission in the Baltic Union, and Baldis Zilgalvis is president of the Baltic Union.
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