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Tuesday: A Story of Grace — 11 Comments

  1. There are two things we need to understand about the Gospel. Its strength and its grace. We can muddy the water with our wordy descriptions of the theology but we need to transmit these ideas through our actions.

    My father was a builder and he built strong, well-planned buildings that were meant to last. One of the houses he had built had to be knocked down to make way for modern development and the contractor complained that Stan Ashton had made the job hard for them. "Where an ordinary builder would use a couple of 4-inch nails to hold a couple of pieces of wood together, Stan had used a @#$& great bolt!" Actually, the language was a bit more colourful than that, but they left us with no doubt that the building was built strong and was meant to last.

    The plan of salvation was built to last. It was not a "jerry-built" attachment, hastily hatched up when sin came along. There are no surprises for God. The word we use to describe the plan is "everlasting". But, because I have this physics thing in my past history, I like to describe the Gospel as "timeless."

    An important corollary to the timelessness of the plan of salvation is that it is something that is meaningful in the present. It is not just about crossing the line into eternity. What does it mean to be saved by grace now? If we know how to answer that question we can better understand what salvation really means.

    (66)
  2. We know that the gospel is an everlasting message. It will never get old.

    My question is about the timing of the 3 angels' messages? Are they necessarily sequential? It would seem so, as we are told one angel "followed" another. Next question is, "Has the first angel messenger already come and gone?"

    Here's my understanding of SDA history. I've heard that the preachers of the first angel's message were the Millerites of the early 1800s. Their message about Jesus' soon return, and the response, became stronger and stronger. More than 50,000 people left their church denominations (and many also left their possessions, businesses, friends and family) and joined the "Advent Movement". But then, after Jesus did not return in 1844, on the day known as "the great disappointment", less than a dozen believers remained. This small group of Bible readers started studying the sanctuary message, which led to an urgency to leave all union with the world, especially the papacy (2nd angel's message - so that angel has also already come and gone) and to better keep all 10 commandments - including the Sabbath - and follow the "spirit of prophecy" (3rd angel's message - going out now). Is this correct?

    And now back to my primary question, "Is the first angel's message still relevant?" It seems to me that it is. Doesn't the gospel still need to reach places on this earth? The Greek word for "midair" of Rev. 14:6 is "zenith". We know that the "zenith" is the height of something. So I'm picturing the symbolism of the message directly overhead, in the highest possible place, with the loudest possible voice to reach the maximum number of people with the Good News of God's mercy and salvation. Now with all of our radio and TV channels proclaiming the gospel ... and with transportation and communication technologies far increased from the 1800s..... isn't the gospel being shared more than ever? Isn't God's final appeal to mankind that is broadcast in the first message - to reject Satan's lies and receive God's eternal truth and be ready for His return - still going out?

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    • Hi, Esther. Yes, I believe that you are correct about the history of when the messages of the various "angels" began to sound. I also agree that the first angel's message is still relevant. So would be the message of the second angel, especially considering that Revelation 18 indicates that it is to be repeated with even greater emphasis.

      These are a couple of perhaps minor points, but they matter to me:

      1) Those were the "Adventists" of the early 1800s. Here is a reference to where Ellen White, who was one of them, called them by that name. I don't believe they considered themselves to be followers of any man but Jesus, so it seems unlikely that they would have called themselves "Millerites," although others likely called them by that name. The fact that many present-day Seventh-day Adventists appear to prefer the term "Millerites" over "Adventists," when referring to the pre-disappointment adherents to the Advent Movement, gives me the feeling that we might be ashamed of them. I'd like to hope not!

      2) You mentioned "less than a dozen" of those early Adventists who advanced with the light, and essentially became the first Seventh-day Adventists. Unless I am mistaken, there may have been as many as fifty, scattered over a wide geographical area.

      3) As I understand, it wasn't just the papal church that was so evidently "fallen," in the summer of 1844. It was especially the Protestant churches of the USA, including the Methodists who expelled the Harmon family from their fellowship. The call out of "Babylon" is also a call out of those churches that continue to teach so many potentially fatal papal errors.

      Have a blessed day!

      (23)
    • Yes, the three angels' messages began to sound in sequential order back in the 1840s, but they all continue to sound and strengthen as we near the end of time.

      The first angel gives the message, the gospel, and the call to worship and serve God the Creator, for the hour of His judgment is come, the second and third messages deal more with the rejection (and acceptance) of the message.

      When the second message began, "Babylon is fallen," in the 1840s, Babylon wasn't completely fallen yet, though on the slippery slope down. But there is another angel that comes in Revelation 18:2-5, repeating the second angel's message with much greater urgency, when Babylon is now completely fallen and ripe for destruction.

      Yes, Babylon isn't just the Papal church, though the papacy itself lays claim to the title "mother of all churches" - “Sancta Mater Ecclesia.” (Rev.17:5) In the 1840s, it was applied to the Protestant churches (symbolic daughters of the mother) who rejected and "disfellowshipped" those who preached the message that the "hour of His judgement is come," the Sabbath truth and the Sanctuary message, etc. This rejection kind of paved the way for them to return to the "mother church" in ecumenical unity.

      To come "out of Babylon" is not just about membership in churches that reject and substitute God's commandments, and enforce their views through the state laws, (though we should not be members in those institutions that do this) but people can also be part of spiritual Babylon anywhere.

      To be part of Babylon is a spiritual condition.

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      • Thank you, Sis Ulrike. That’s so true about spiritual Babylon. I’m in a study group for the book of John right now. Today it struck me that Jesus’ disciples went into town to buy food, but it wasn’t the twelve that brought the town back to meet Jesus, it was the Samaritan woman whose new faith was all-important to her!

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  3. The subject about being chosen reminds me about the process of sending applications for a job and, amongst let’s say 50 applicants, you are the chosen one. Naturally, it gives a sense of purpose and a new perspective, plus it‘s a life changing experience.

    God does not choose us for His kingdom because we qualify to be His children. He does not „hire and fire“, but He‘s selective, and it‘s a matter of grace anyway.

    „I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.„ John 13:18

    When Paul and Barnabas told the Gentiles that they had been also chosen for salvation, they were exceedingly joyous and praised God. „ …and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.“ Acts 13:48

    I contemplate, very often, how privileged I am that God chose me amongst 4 siblings to receive His truth. There was nothing in me that justifies God‘s choosing me, except His love -- no boasting, but being humble and letting God work on me to bring me home.

    Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
    I have already come,
    ’Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.

    (8)
    • There are three steps:
      See Revelation 17:14

      Those who are with Him are the called, chosen and faithful

      The Lamb, Lord of lords and King of kings, will overcome them (the beast, horns, etc) and those that are with Him are the
      1) called (as in whosesoever will may come)
      2) chosen (as in all who respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit to come, are written in the book of life)
      3) faithful (fully committed to Christ in obedience and allegiance)

      Rev. 3:5 shows there is a vital step after being chosen.
      It is the ones who overcome with Christ who will not be blotted out of the book of life.

      There is an investigative judgment. There are many who have a name that they are alive in Christ, but they are spiritually dead. (Rev.3:1) While works without faith are dead (Heb.9:14), so is faith without works dead. (James 2:17,20)

      We need to watch and remember what we received and heard, (yes, constantly remember the gospel of Christ which pardons, cleanses and transforms, and chooses us for salvation) because it is easy to resist the still small voice and drift away, and we need to repent and not defile ourselves with sin. (Rev. 3:2-4)

      For again: It is the ones who overcome with Christ who receive the white robes and will not be blotted out of the book of life. (Rev. 3:5)

      (6)
  4. The ‘story of grace’ is the story of life and death; it is a somber story. All consider the matter of ‘life’, though only the Christian has been given an answer to the matter of ‘death’.

    Can we really wrap our mind around what grace is and does?; it will also need to include the heart's emotions. God’s grace reaches out to prepare us in this life, in order to bring us into the new life; a life totally different from this earthly life we live right now. God's love, mercy and grace, shared with man, became manifest in the life and resurrection of His Son.

    The lesson writer relates that “God created humanity with the capacity to make moral choices"; this is where I see the story of life and death unfold – in the pattern/examples of our moral choices. Grace changed how we understand the life we live, motivating/inspiring us to make the right choices, and so changing the purpose of our life to reflect God's glory instead of our own.

    I appreciate Ellen White's depiction of salvation as an “unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne.” Man, a created being, is privileged, through the grace of His Creator, to receive the Holy Spirit's powerful directives that are able to impact his life's direction – giving him the choice to live or to die; grace is giving mankind a choice! Deut. 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15.

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  5. God is love. God is love. God is love. Why would I doubt Him? And because He is love, He is perfect. Being perfect, He will never contradict Himself. "A kingdom cannot fight against itself." God's love will endure forever!

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