Insights #08, August 20, 2011
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Insights #08, August 20, 2011
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Third Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Lesson 8: “Conformity, Compromise, and Crisis in Worship”
For the week of  August 14 - 20, 2011
(PDF Link)
 
 “Conformity” and “compromise” describe both ancient Israel, and our own beloved church today.  Jesus described our day by saying, “[Thou] knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).  This problem has plagued God's chosen people throughout history.  The root problem of forgetfulness leads to unbelief and a disregard for the counsel of God.  “They soon forgat His works; they waited not for His counsel” (Psalm 106:13).  Solomon, Jeroboam, and Israel under King Ahab bear witness to the woeful results of forgetfulness.
 
God's people tend to forget the work of God, then reject the message of Christ's righteousness, then slide down the slippery slope of conformity and compromise.  This process is described in almost prophetic detail by A.T. Jones: 
                       
“Here was a Message [first angel's message] from God that opened up to the Church the length and breadth and depth and height of the glory of the everlasting gospel as it had never been seen since the days when the apostles preached it in the fullness of its living power.  In this Message was 'the mystery of God' revealed in all its fullness, – God manifest in the flesh, – Christ in men 'the hope of glory.'  And all this blessing and glory was to be proclaimed to all the world in view of the fact that 'the hour of His judgment is come;' and in order that men might be fitted to stand holy and without blame before God, ready in all respects to be translated without seeing death, at the coming of the glorious Lord. But lo! instead of receiving this wonderful blessing; instead of rejoicing and being glad that God had sent to her a message that would clothe her with such power as would make her the instrument of God's greatest work for the salvation of the nations; she refused the blessing, rejected the message of God, and would not walk in the light that had come to her and to the world...
                       
“Since, then, faith comes by hearing the word of God, whenever any word of God, any message of the word of God, is rejected, faith itself is rejected; because it is impossible to retain faith while rejecting that by which alone faith comes.  Further: when any advance light or additional truth is rejected, ...there is also the rejection of whatever light and truth was formerly possessed.  A person refusing to breathe, rejects not only renewed life, but loses the life that he already has... Therefore whenever advance light or additional truth is rejected, the power and presence of God are lost; and, in this, the true source of legitimate power and influence with men is lost.  And whenever this is so, whether in the case of an individual or of a church…resort is invariably had to inventions of their own, to external and worldly means, to secure power and influence...
                       
“Since 1840-44 it has been so with this collective Church of Protestantism in the United States.  She rejected the message of God; and so separated herself from the presence and power of God, and thus lost power and influence with men...But it is only the power of God that can keep her alive. By any other power, however great it may be, she will surely perish. The power of God, as manifested in the true gospel of Christ, draws men; for it is written: 'I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.'  And, in the nature of things, when the Church has rejected the drawing power of the everlasting gospel of the crucified Christ, she is compelled to resort to other means of drawing men.  And when she resorts to other means to draw men, again, in the nature of things, she draws them not unto Christ, but unto herself: there is a 'falling away;' she exalts herself, in the place of God, and draws disciples to herself…the milder forms of entertainment soon grew stale.  And these having lost their drawing power, other and more novel devices had to be invented.  As these, in turn, grew stale and lost their power to draw, still others had to be invented.  And at last they were brought to their wits' end for any such sources” (A.T. Jones, The Great Nations of Today, pg. 152-157).
 
The rejection of the third angel's message of Jesus Christ and His righteousness led to the rejection of key doctrines in the 1950s.  This in turn leads to the rejection of the truths of the first and second angels which we once cherished.  This truly is a “crisis” in worship.  What must we do now?  Jesus sends this testimony:  “What astonishing deception and fearful blindness had, like a dark cloud, covered Israel!  This blindness and apostasy had not closed about them suddenly; it had come upon them gradually as they had not heeded the word of reproof and warning which the Lord had sent to them because of their pride and their sins.  And now, in this fearful crisis, in the presence of the idolatrous priests and the apostate king, they remained neutral.  If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency.  Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pg. 280).
                       
In Numbers 25 we have prophetic insight into our time.  At the borders of Canaan Israel experienced a crisis in worship.  Rejecting God's messages of truth, they committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab.  “Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.  And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore” (Psalm 106:30, 31).  By faith Phinehas destroyed the works of the devil and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
                       
In our conformity to and compromise with those churches who have rejected the first angel's message, we have disregarded the warning of God (see Deuteronomy 12:30) and have committed whoredom.  Says the prophet: “Thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.  Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain...” (Jeremiah 3:2, 3)  “At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land.  But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world...The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God” (E. G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pg. 209-211; Ezekiel 9:4 and Joel 2:17).
                       
Today, when all seems wrong, God's watchmen must act faithfully.  We must wield the word of God in the message of Christ and His righteousness that this plague might be stopped.  It will be counted unto us for righteousness for evermore.  It is urgent that we now take heed to the counsel of the true and faithful Witness.  Buy His tried gold, His white raiment, and His eyesalve; repent; open the door that He might come in.  In so doing, we shall pour forth His straight testimony.  Faithful, indeed, are the wounds of a Friend (Proverbs 27:6).
--Lee Folkman