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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Everlasting Gospel — 14 Comments

  1. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth — to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6, NKJV).

    I guess that most of us can give some sort of definition of what we think the "Everlasting Gospel" is. We have listened to enough sermons, read and studied enough Sabbath School lessons, and even read "Desire of Ages" and/or "Steps to Christ". But unless we have taken what we have read out into the real world, the "Everlasting Gospel" is going to die with us.

    Water that stays in one place for too long becomes stagnant or salty and the life within it dies. Nearly every day I walk past an old sewerage pond. When it was active and water was flowing through, it supported an amazing array of birdlife. I could count about 7 species of ducks, two kinds of grebe, egrets and herons, swamphens and coots, just to name a few. It was a thriving ecosystem because water was flowing through it. Then they decided to connect up to the city sewerage system and they switched the supply of water off. The pond struggled on for a while. Then, we had a drought and it dried out. Then we had a flood and filled again and then is became infested with Water Hyacinth and Kikuyu Grass so that the birds are no longer interested in it.

    Individually, and collectively as a church, we can become stagnant like the pond, if we switch off the power source of the Gospel. Like the water in the pond, the Gospel must come from somewhere and go somewhere in order to keep us alive. In essence, we are the connection between God the source, and others the destination.

    There is no status quo with the Gospel. And if we think that it is just good definitions and even a string of Bible texts or Spirit of Prophecy quotes, then we can easily become a stagnant spiritual pond. The Gospel has to be lived in order to be an "Angel Message". That takes guts!

    PS And with that comment, I am taking a week off from commenting on Sabbath School Net so that I can go bird hunting. Enjoy your study. If you click on my name above in the header you will be taken to some of my Youtube slideshows of the birds I have photographed.

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    • So, Maurice Ashton, Did you know that the Apostle John saw 11 angels that he said he "Saw another angel," in the book of Revelation that he was given to write and record its content about? Then, he also was shown 12 of these "angels" that he said about them as being, "The Angel," Mine Angel," An Angel," Mighty Angel," ? And John also saw seven "Angles," which had messages for "Seven Churches," and 7 that had "Seven Trumpets," and 7 that had "Seven Vials?" And did you know that under the "Seventh Trumpet," there are also "Four Angles," that have power over the River Euphrates? And John also sees Four Angels that have power to "Hurt the earth and the sea?" So then what is it about this quarter that the author of these lessons feels that he or she needs to make such a "Cosmic Deal," about the 27th, 28th, and 29th angels as being so special and also "Cosmic," to us as Seventh Day Adventists? as if the other 25 plus or minus angels John sees in his entire "Cosmic Vision," have no other importance at all to us?

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  2. The world has become a polarized barrel! And it has been tough to be out of a side, either right or left, against or in favor, black or white, etc. This reminds me that in the end, we will all have to make a pick and be on the side of the truth or error. I used to think I could make my own choices and that my way would be the way to go, but that led me to failure! And it struck me to learn that 99.9% Christian means 100% counterfeit.

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  3. What relationship does justification by faith have to the three angels’ messages?

    Good question. 1st that comes to mind is: The just shall live by faith alone. 2nd By the grace of God when we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord we are immediately justified freely by faith in His saving power.
    Wonderful, yes, our Lord is wonderful.

    Now the relationship of the 3 angels' message. Justification by faith is the everlasting gospel.

    I agree, let's live it.

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    • Great thoughts, John! I'm sure you will agree that Ellen White's intent, in making that statement, goes much deeper than just the fact that the first angel brings the "everlasting good news" along with his specific message.

      The Sabbath issue pervades the messages of the first and third angels, while the second addresses the false doctrine of the "fallen" churches. I'm afraid that we, as a people, in the past, have been all too inclined to view these matters as primarily an issue regarding the law of God, rather than the gospel. I believe that Sister White wanted to prompt us to take a deeper look, especially in regard to the question of what constitutes saving faith.

      Among other possible insights, I might point out that saving faith in Jesus brings us into a close, intimate relationship with Him, so that what matters to Him matters even more (if possible) to us. If our observance of the 7th day of the week, for example, is in His estimation a sign of our loyalty to Him -- as I believe the Bible clearly indicates -- then we are going to be utterly unwilling to compromise that. (Love is the most powerful motivator on earth.)

      Also, when we see the "only believe" kind of "faith" (that eschews obedience to God's law), being promoted by popular Christianity, we're not going to want any part of that! God's law is all about what Jesus is like, and what He stands for. It's all about love, as He defines it.

      Once we've given ourselves to Christ unreservedly (i.e. come to faith), our sins are forgiven and we become the most grateful followers of our best and dearest Friend. To me, that's how the three angels' messages have everything to do with justification by faith, once we understand their true import.

      I hope this helps.

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      • R.G. – your reply to John’s question “What relationship does justification by faith have to the three angels’ messages” includes the comment that “saving faith in Jesus brings us into a close, intimate relationship with Him, …”. I ask - how intimate, what does this look like?

        May I suggest that the believer’s new nature in its entirety is found in Jesus Christ; he/she does not look from the outside in - Christ and the believer are one. The new life is not contained in the aspect of ‘obedience’ by an ‘outsider’, it is experienced by the desire/willingness when being in Him to deny self and to live according as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s life-sustaining Will to us.

        This is in response to first being awakened by His Love through the Holy Spirit; there is no other way to be in an ‘intimate’ relationship with Jesus Christ. All of the new life is lived expressing “all the good and perfect ‘gifts’ having come from above” - James 1:17. They now represent our new life; there is nothing good in man which is not given to him from God.

        Being in a close relationship with Jesus therefore means to be immersed/sanctified/live according to all good things “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” – Eph. 2:8-10.

        The "Three Angels' Message" is the announcement that God will save us through Faith in His Word and not by our own efforts. Both the Law and the Gospel stand for something very precious - to let mankind know that we need our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in order to live.

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        • Thank you, Brigitte, for your thoughts. And a hearty "amen" to their main thrust.

          You ask: "How intimate? What does this look like?"

          From what I understand, this is a closer relationship with Jesus than is available even to the angels, because they have never fallen into sin, and therefore do not need a Saviour. So, having Jesus as our Saviour from sin means a lot, probably more than either you or I comprehend.

          That said, I see no need to try to make up for my lack of comprehension by overstating the case. While the plan of salvation comprehends our being one with the Father and the Son, in a very real sense, to my mind the whole salvation thing would be meaningless if we did not retain our individuality. Jesus came to save us, not a "clone" of Himself in the shell that is left of us when He gets done. We become like Jesus. We become identified with Jesus. But we do not become Jesus!

          Even Jesus, who had been one with the Father from eternity, when He had taken on human nature, gave us the example of obedience to the Father's will. Was it in His very nature to do right, and to exercise self-sacrificing love? Yes, He was sinless through and through. He remained the divine Son of God throughout His earthly journey, and yet His humanity ("the form of a servant" Philippians 2:7) called for obedience. For us who need a supernatural regeneration every day, every hour, and from moment to moment, how much more necessary is it to be intentional about obeying our heavenly Father! There is a reason why the first angel (and the whole rest of the Bible) calls upon us to "fear God."

          As I understand it, the whole purported basis for Lucifer's rebellion was his contention that holy angels, wholly good in their essential nature, had no need to be subject to law (i.e. had no need to obey). Clearly, he was wrong, and we are all seeing the results. There's no way I am going to entertain a similar concept for the born-again Christian who is, after all, still a sinner by nature.

          Yes, we do need Jesus in order to live forever, and in order to really live now. That said, there are plenty of people living about us right now, who don't even know Him. What makes our life in Christ eternally sustainable is its righteousness, its being blameless and harmless. If the grace of God has so totally transformed our character that we need never again mar the happiness of the universe, then our destruction will not be necessary, notwithstanding our history of sin. Jesus paid it all!

          How awesome is it that Jesus was determined to make this available to us at any cost to Himself? Can we benefit from His sacrifice effortlessly? Of course not. The point, as I see it, is that our own efforts alone will never suffice, and our own efforts, even combined with the power of God, will never earn us any merit.

          I hope this clarifies things a bit.

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        • I wholly agree with you. It's not enough to know Jesus by reading about Him, hearing His commandments to know how to behave in a way that is pleasing to Him, and using this to attempt to follow Him. Our human nature will always be prone to self-satisfaction. And our attempt to obey His commandments will be difficult, if not impossible.

          God's grace can forgive us for the sinful ways our fallen natures lead us in; however, His salvation is far greater than forgiveness. We are not just saved from the just punishment we deserve.

          I've known salvation as much more than that. True repentance brings us to the point where we choose Jesus' way over our own way. It is through our faith in God to release us from our sinful nature, and put in us a new nature that is void of sin. This is where the born-again experience comes in. If we believe this, Christ will send His Holy Spirit to live in us, and be the place where our natures can walk sinlessly. Those who walk in this wonderful Spirit find themselves walking in the righteousness contained in Him. I see this as the three angels' message.

          I am nothing without experiencing this new nature that can only be found in Jesus. I enjoy spending time with Him every morning, and basking in His love and the riches of His glory. I don't want to start my day without visiting with my Savior!

          Here is where He communicates to me. I visit Him through the Scriptures mentioned in this study, as the Scriptures come alive and He directs me in the hearing of them. When trials come, He often brings to my mind Scriptures I've known, to guide me through them. As I abide with Him in His Spirit, His work in me relieves me from many of the stresses of life on earth. I find myself being content in whatever situation I am in. If I should suffer any stress, all I need to do is to go back to Him. He never fails to help me when I turn to Him.

          What a wonderful Savior!!!

          Do I suffer stresses? Of course I do. Sometimes I don't remember to go to Jesus for relief right away. When this happens, He interrupts my suffering and reminds me that I need Him. Then I fall into His arms, and peace returns.

          What a wonderful God!!!

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          • Celeste - I can sense and am touched by the love you experience for our Lord and Savior, when reading your testimony describing your relationship in Him. It is truly a mystery how, when loving Him, the Love of God reaches out to us to form in us the capacity to manifest through us the new relationship with man and Him.

            I pray that all of us will be strengthened by your testimony - the evidence of the miraculous, marvelous regeneration of the image of Christ in us - due to the Father's love indwelling His children who love Him.

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            • Thank you, Brigitte. I'm always encouraged by your comments. May God bless you and keep you in Christ, Jesus.

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      • R.G. - Thank you for the follow-up comment. I agree: 'Having Jesus as our Savior from sin means a lot; probably more than we can presently comprehend.' It is a mystery that when we agree to die we agree to live.

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  4. This post doubles as my prayer this morning. It's about spreading the gospel, spreading the news of our Father's Love. And what needs to happen in my/our hearts.

    The brothers of Joseph underwent a tremendous transformation between the time when they angrily sold him to be a slave and the time when they stood before him asking for help. When the cup was found in Benjamin's sack - when they were falsely accused, when their own comfort was on the line - would they grieve the Father's heart again? Would they hate the dearly loved son again and leave him to die in Egypt? We read that they tore their clothes in grief (Gen. 44:13). Judah steps forward and tells the gospel story. He tells us that it breaks his father's heart for his son to leave him. Judah refers to his father 15 times as he pleads with Joseph. Judah truly loves his father now. It is worth his own life to not break his father's heart (Gen. 44:30-34). Judah truly loves the favored son now too. He is ready to become a slave so that his brother may go free.

    Judah represents the Father's love for us in giving us His Son so that we may escape famine/death and live. And Judah here represents our own love for the Father and His Son. Our born again hearts will truly ache and long, with the Father, for the human family to be whole again.

    Eph. 3:14-19 tells us that once we bow our knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He reveals Himself to us (just like Joseph wept and hugged his brothers and revealed himself to them once they proved their hearts changed - Gen. 45:4). God gifts us to be strengthened in our deepest places, to be rooted and grounded in His love and "unselfed", through faith. As this passage goes on to say, we need to comprehend the depth of God's love in order to share it. It is then that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

    In Matt. 17:14-21, we see Jesus' disciples left at the bottom of the Mount of Transfiguration. While Jesus, along with Peter, James, and John, were on top of the mountain, the remaining disciples were trying to heal a boy at the bottom of the mountain. They wanted to help. Their goal was pure. But, they were wrestling with the world's demons unsuccessfully. They asked Jesus why they couldn't cure him. Jesus gently told them that it was their unbelief. They were still working in their own power. He told them that they could have so much of God's power to heal and transform lives, but they needed more faith in Him. Jesus told them the way to have that faith is through prayer and leaving off anything that fills up the space that He needs to occupy within (fasting).

    My prayer is to experience more of the love of Christ towards me so that I may share it. To leave off all that keeps me from fully embracing Him, even holding onto guilt and shame of failures when He has already forgiven me. To be humbled of self so that I may be empowered with Jesus. A miracle. To witness how it grieves the Father to not have the hearts of all of His children with Him, and to be softened - as Judah was - so that through me, He can bring more home.

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  5. ‘The everlasting Gospel’ – God's lifeline for man! The lesson writer refers to mankind as “small, self-contained packets of meat”, but without the body and all its capacities, the Holy Spirit would not be able to reach us or indwell us. We need all of our body to be the effective tool, the vessel into which God can pour His Holy Spirit to work on His behalf to reach mankind.

    Though God can speak through anything He deems useful, He chose man to speak to man; that is why He sent His Son to become a human being like us. God, through His Holy Spirit revealing the ‘Everlasting Gospel’ to us, reaches man's heart and mind and transforms it into ‘Christ’s likeness’. 2 Cor.3:18; Rom.8:29.

    This is what I see the ‘Everlasting Gospel’s ultimate purpose and manifestation to be – bringing into our life the love God has for His children through His unmitigated effort that not one of them should be lost – Deut.32:39; John 6:37-40.

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