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Friday: Further Thought – Motivated by Hope — 14 Comments

  1. The history of the Millerite movement makes hard reading, and provides some useful lessons for those of us who claim that this event is still in our spiritual DNA. One of the big lessons is that event-driven spirituality seldom lasts beyond the event. I have seen several revivals within the Seventh-day Adventist church based on world events and their anticipated effect on the closing of history. The death of every pope from Pope Pius 12 (The first one to die in my lifetime) to the present day has been accompanied by warnings that the next pope would usher in the final events. The invasion of Hungary by Russia (also in my childhood), the Bay of Pigs, Britain joining the EEC, Britain leaving the EEC, Man landing on the moon, that list goes on. All have been used in sermons and on audio tapes (remember those) and currently on Web sites to put the frighteners on people that the world is ending and we had better get ready to meet God.

    And perhaps the fact that I am an old man now and lived through all of this has made me cynical of spirituality based on prophetic fulfilment and current events. I lived though a great revival among young people in the Adventist church in one of the large cities in Australia. It took place over 50 years ago. Young people were meeting for prayer meetings twice a week and preaching on street corners to make the public aware that Jesus was coming soon. I see a few of those young people now, white-haired and wrinkled, but still keeping their battered faith together. Their faith has survived but many have not.

    In the aftermath of the Millerite disappointment of 1844 very few maintained their faith. Most followers had an event-based faith that did not survive when the event did not turn out as expected.

    It is too easy to build an illusion of faith based on current events or expected future events but a surviving experiential faith is built on a relationship.

    Illustration: When we get married, the big event is the wedding. We get dressed up and the couple are the focus of attention, flowers decorate the church, music is played and we get teary-eyed as the couple say their vows to one another. The next day the flowers are thrown out in the garbage, the music has stopped and all the friends and relatives have departed. If the wedding was more important than the relationship, the special event is just a fading memory and it is often not long that the marriage follows the same path.

    In our spiritual lives do we look beyond the prophecy of events to the relationship that lasts?

    All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever. Someday prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge—these gifts will disappear. Now we know so little, even with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor. But when we have been made perfect and complete, then the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end, and they will disappear. 1 Cor 13:8-10 TLB

    (56)
    • What you say Maurice reminds me of this statement by sister White that I saw not too long ago:
      “The shortness of time is frequently urged as an incentive for seeking righteousness and making Christ our friend. This should not be the great motive with us; for it savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God should be held before us, that we may be compelled to right action through fear? It ought not to be so. Jesus is attractive. He is full of love, mercy, and compassion. He proposes to be our friend, to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life.”
      Sign of the Times,
      March 17, 1887. Ellen G. White

      (16)
        • From that statement by sister White and what people are saying here, I sometimes wonder about the prophetic emphasis our church uses in evangelism. I know The Lord uses fulfilled prophecy as evidence for our faith, but as a professing Seventh Day Adventist of 50 years, prophecy seminars seem to be the only type of public evangelism I have seen. I wonder sometimes if we have gotten the cart before the horse. By this I mean, should not the love of God through Jesus, our need of Him, and the hope of salvation be at the front of our evangelism, with prophecy backing it up, instead of the other way around? I just get the impression that our evangelism should be less prophecy centered and more Jesus centered.

          (3)
  2. To me, the phrase of today's Lesson is "It was sent in mercy to arouse them to seek the Lord with repentance and humiliation." (GC, p.353) How often do I get frustrated because things contradict what I expected? Being a Christian means things will go wrong. There are failures, regrets, abandonment, pain, and all possible negative human feelings. But one of the options for the believer while facing bad things can be to "seek the lord with repentance and humiliation," and He is sure to be found!

    (21)
  3. Jesus said; The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and it is. We rightly preach that we are in the End Times, but there have been so many "this is the end..." predictions, that we appear so busy scaring people, that we forget Jesus command that This Gospel of the Kingdom is to be preached to all, and then the end will come.

    Maurice recalls the same scarily portrayed portents of doom that I was assured were the end of the world. Every pope was the last. Kennedy would instigate Sunday laws! Every significant world event involving USA was proof the end was upon us. Don't marry, don't have children. Don't buy a house, don't plan for retirement. Give all your money to whatever offshoot group, brother, no-one else has the truth.

    In 1980, my first credit card was the mark of the beast. As a Sabbath keeper "they" would know, but those using cash would head safely to the hills. A wise pastors wife said we would look silly fleeing to the mountains with our colour TVs strapped to our Morris Minors.

    It is great to see people embracing the fact that we each only have limited time, realising that at the end of our time, the next waking moment will be Jesus Second Coming. The end of time for everyone who has gone before is not dependent on a world event, a pope, a president, or even secret arrangement of numbers and dates. Each one is saved as an individual, on acceptance of the merits of Jesus, independent of any world event.

    We must preach the Time of the End as part of our story, but it must never overwhelm the Gospel of Jesus on our lips and in our lives. His humanity, His compassion, His radical life of inclusiveness and love for every sinner, must be reflected brightly. No matter how short the time, corporately preaching the End will not save anyone. Only an individual personal connection to Jesus and reliance on his mercy will bring people to salvation.

    (39)
  4. I can't help but to chime in on the setting of dates by us as Christians. Sure, the Lord will soon return but it may not be in our or out children's or even our children's children lifetime.

    What does that mean for us? Well it means we are to occupy until He comes, it means we are to continue to working in the vineyard under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it means that we should allow people to know that we are Christians by our love and not necessarily our preaching.

    "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry."

    (9)
  5. Could it be that understanding Bible prophecy is part of the growth experience in building our faith and our relationship with Jesus Christ?

    (6)
  6. I think this week we have a good lesson with a good title. "Motivated by hope" not "motivated by fear". You know the second coming of Christ brings all these two:fear to some and hope to some.
    As Maurice has nicely put it on above comment, we have first(muchly) to consider our relationship with God. What we all want is salvation. "...Christ in you the hope of glory"(Colosians 1:27), "Salvation is this;to know the only true God and Him whom He sent" John 17:3

    (2)
  7. After reading carefully Daniel 9:24-27, I noticed that the seventy weeks were determined/designated to bring about specific events for the Jewish people and for their holy city:
    - To finish the transgression –
    - To make an end of sins –
    - To make reconciliation for iniquity –
    - To bring in everlasting righteousness –
    - To seal up vision and prophecy –
    - And to anoint the Most Holy.

    All these prophecies have come true. I asked myself: 'Is it more important to know the time of the end, or is it at least as important to know what was accomplished in these 70 weeks'? It is not given to us to know the day or time of the end of the world as we know it and I am fine with this - Matt.24:36.

    My focus is on living as if our Savior comes today - engaging in that type of living which our born-again, new nature expresses when living in Christ Jesus - Col.3:10-20; Eph.2:10. It is more important to me to know how to live righteously than when I might die.

    (5)
  8. I suppose I have to quibble with two of the questions in today's lesson. I don't feel Daniel 9 establishes the divinity of Christ. It definitely supports it and it is good to know, but many people have believed in Jesus without being aware of this prophecy and that is true even today. There are many evidences that Jesus is God.

    The third question about prophecy and the plan of salvation also makes me uncomfortable. Many, many people will be saved who know next to nothing about prophecy. So it can't be a crucial part of the plan of salvation. To me, prophecy uplifts and strengthens us once we are saved. Now perhaps the question is referring to a more broad view of the plan of salvation, but I think this is something to consider. I Corinthians 13 tells us prophecies will fade away, but love endures. It is most important.

    (3)
  9. Let us not forget the second coming of Christ is a faith builder, with out it life is hopeless, as William Miller was before he started studying the Bible for himself. He started with Genesis reading line for line, rather than a little here and little there. He brought in text from not only above and below the text but also other areas of the Bible to give him a better understanding of what he was reading. Through his genuine study of Daniel and Revelation he developed an urgency share his faith in Christ and Christ promise of his return found in the familiar texts of John 14:1-3. Our study this quarter and especially this week is important to build our faith. With a strong faith we can better live out Christ life within us, be prepared for His return, a part of being ready. Matthew 24:44.

    (2)

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