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Friday: Further Thought – Turning Hearts in the End Time — 10 Comments

  1. We as a church have always claimed that we have a special message for the "End Time". The lesson study for the past 13 weeks has given us pause to think, not so much about the verbal expression of that message, but about the effect that message should have on our lives. The relationships that we have with one another, express the real meaning of our message.

    Ellen White says:

    “You will meet with those who will say, ‘You are too much excited over the matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.’ As a people we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa, that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth.”-The Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.

    Now, 130 years later, do our family members know that we have embraced Christ's righteousness? Or is our spiritual experience as barren as the hills of Gilboa?

    One last time:

    By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

  2. We often hear in our churches that we should not put so much emphasis on the Law but preach the grace of God through acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ as our only hope of salvation.
    It seems that the quote from the Spirit of Prophecy indicates that both extremes, (if one can call them that) are not the best way of presenting truth.
    "We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God."-The Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.
    In other words, "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."
    Jesus identified Himself as THE TRUTH, so I believe we are missing the ideal message if He is not central in all our presentations, whatever the topic.

  3. Something puzzles me.
    A while ago I picked up a college year book from our Canadian college featuring the graduates from 1960 and was amazed at how many of those graduates I recognized as having been leaders at various levels in the church. Then, looking through a year book from 1970, -- yes, there were some that stayed, but so many that did not. It seems the ratio has been going down lower and lower over the years with ever less Adventist youth staying in the church.
    It puzzles me as it seems the more we talk about not focusing so much on the Adventist unique doctrines and standards and instead preaching "love" the more people leave? Then I remember the 1960's were years when rebellion against established restraints was the "in thing", and it seems to have marked the beginning of the downward spiral. Too often now we bring in worldly things and allow worldly things in an effort to "keep" our young (and other ages) people in the church.
    So yes, it brings conflict into the church, those who want to throw off the restraints, and those who see this as dangerous spiritually.
    But even young people will say -- if we want the worldly things, we don't come to church to get a watered down version of the worldly things, the world offers a much more glittering menu on those things. We come to church for spiritual reasons and for help in leaving the worldly addictions and finding the higher ground in Christ.
    So yes, "We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God."-The Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.
    It combines love for people and looking to Christ to ever lift us higher, yet we must be careful not to feed rebellion.
    We also need to recognize that some cover their rebellion with their own Christless works, we all need to be established in Christ and seek His righteousness.

    Christ's love for us is very great, He forgives, and accepts us as we are when we come to Him, but He doesn't leave us there, He is eager to fill us with His righteousness and set our feet on the paths of righteousness, preparing our hearts and minds for the eternal kingdom of righteousness.

    See Isaiah 1:16-20

    • The loss of folk from our church is a bit more complicated than a change in the subject of preaching and has more to do with the western world's loss of faith in religion than anything else. That trend is reflected in most Christian churches today and is not specifically an Adventist issue.

      Reflecting on my own faith journey, both as a believer and a teacher, I look back in some shame at the way I interacted with students in the 1970s and realized with the clarity of hindsight how legalistic my interaction was. As a teacher, I interacted with students 5 days a week (7 days a week in a boarding academy) and it wasn't my preaching, but my every day living and interacting that was the significant role I had to play. One thing changed over that period of time. The number of non-Adventists in the school increased considerably and I could not assume that a student who I was interacting with was a Seventh-day Adventist or even a church-goer. I had to treat them all the same and could not use "Adventist leverage" in dealing with them. Significantly, the emphasis changed from "keeping them in the church", to encouraging them to see how good God is.

      If I can illustrate with my farming experience. I grew up on a dairy farm where the cows were kept inside fenced paddocks (fields for the rest of you). The fences were important and defined where the cows could graze. More importantly, however, it was necessary to ensure that the grass inside the paddock was nutritious and tasty. As farmers, we ensured that the paddock was fertilized and filled with ryegrass and clover. We removed thistles and ragwort so that the eating experience was enjoyable. We knew that if the paddock was bare or filled with thistles, no fence was going to be strong enough to keep the cows in the paddock. Was the fence important? Yes, but ensuring the paddock was a place to be fed was even more important.

      And I think that sums it up spiritually. If our church life is a place where people are fed and loved, then the rules make sense. If we are not living Christ-filled lives, sharing and giving love, then the rules will seem senseless and our "cows" will jump over the fence and out of the paddock.

  4. Friend Newbegin--Christ answered IMO your question in Matthew 22:37-40.

    Wonderful this series of lessons followed our study of Revelation! Didn't think I needed this study, but quickly learned otherwise; been so blessed by all comments.

  5. I must have missed the purpose of the story about dairy cows. Sorry. I assume somewhere is message about spreading the gospel.

    • I am sorry Paul that my illustration was too obtuse for you. All I was trying to say that if our spiritual lives are properly fed in the church, then the rules (fences) are not oppressive. I have been in churches where the rules have taken center stage to the extent that providing for the spiritual needs of the congregation have taken second place. This is particularly true when dealing with young people. Six years of teaching in a boarding academy was a tough learning experience for me, learning to differentiate between rule enforcement (focusing on fences) and encouraging spiritual growth (making sure the paddock is nutritious).

      Hope that helps.

  6. This lesson has opened my understanding to the “Elisha message.” When I would hear people in the church speak of the “message”, it was always equated with the 28 fundamental beliefs (or 27 or 26, etc, as the Adventist creed has been developing) as presented in evangelistic crusades.

    This does not appear to be the message of Elijah. Instead, the “message” is God’s work of turning the hearts of each new generation to the previous one and vice versa, and it is a turning that involves humility and repentance. (Malachi 4:5-6 & Matthew 11:28-30.)

    What struck me in particular about Elijah’s conflict with the Baal and Asherah prophets was his invitation to the children of Israel: “Come closer to me.” (1 Kings 18:30.) In past, when I read the story, I assumed that the invitation was so that the people would be sure that Elijah was not trying to dupe them.

    However, in the context of subsequent events in the story (the repair of the altar, the sacrifice, the consuming fire and the confession of the children of Israel), it is an allusion to the cross of Christ, God’s propitiation for our sins. As Christ said, “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself” and “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (John 12:32 & Matthew 11:28.)

    From this. it is clear that the “message” is relational (being one with God and his Christ), not propositional (i.e., 28 propositions for church membership). The “message” is all about Jesus and God's work of remaking of man in his image.

  7. I thank everyone who commented I significantly learnt a lot. This is a learning experience for me and I'm happy I was curious enough to read. I was blessed.keep up the great work everyone in the strength of JESUS Christ.


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