Insights #03, October 15, 2011
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Insights #03, October 15, 2011
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Fourth Quarter 2011
Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“The Unity of the Gospel”
For the week of October 9 - 15, 2011
 
As our memory text reveals, true joy is complete as we corporately grasp the same love revealed  in the gospel - as we not only see things similarly, but as our spirit and mind resonate with the one great thought, the great selfless love revealed in the mind of Christ. This is is only source of true unity.
 
Paul grasped something of the dimensions of this love “because of revelation” and years of study in Arabia, which is why he was compelled to share what he had learned with “those who were of reputation,” and who “perceived the grace” that had been given to him in his call to reach the Gentile world for Christ. Paul was recognized as God’s special messenger of the gospel in his day, one who had authority to oppose and rebuke church leadership who were straying from the purity of the gospel, as well as those “historic Jews” who were convinced that he was destroying what they thought were landmark doctrines.
 
What about the Adventist church raised up for the final proclamation of the goodness of God under the power of the Latter Rain?
 
The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders [E.J.] Waggoner and [A. T.] Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.
                     
Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.--TM 91, 92 (1895)
                 
Although the early church leadership apparently accepted the message of Paul, their later behavior betrayed their true attitude:
 
The real position of James at this time, and indeed to a much later time, is shown in the record of Paul's Iast visit to Jerusalem—his last visit just because of this attitude of James; even long after the letter to the Galatians was written. The account is in Acts 21:18-26. This visit was made especially to win the brethren in Jerusalem. Paul and his company arrived at Jerusalem, and the brethren received them gladly. "And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. This shows that James was the chief one who was the object of the visit, though all the elders were present, yet Paul and his companions "went in. . . unto James."
               
And what did they meet there?—When Paul "had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him"—what, think ye?—They begin at once to try to drag even him away from the truth of the gospel to a compromise on traditionalism and ceremonialism.
               
"Instead of doing justice to the one whom they had injured, they still appeared to hold him responsible for the existing prejudice, as if he had given them cause for such feelings. They did not nobly stand in his defense, and endeavor to show the disaffected party their error: but they threw the burden wholly upon Paul, counseling him to pursue a course for the removal of all misapprehension."—"Sketches from the Life of Paul," pp 211, 212. And this even from James, who had stood so straight and true in the council, and who, after hearing from Paul a full statement of the gospel that he preached, could add nothing to it, and therefore had given him his right hand in fellowship! (Sept. 19, 1899 ATJ, ARSH 605.6-8)
                                 
It is because we have done the same thing to Jones and Waggoner, and not individually and corporately believed and experienced the results of this message, the “1888 message,” that we are still here. The temptation has become to attempt unity by compromise without the only message that can bring unity. This will bring unity in eager, selfless service as we “remember the poor” (Gal 2:10), but not abuse of the liberty of the gospel as an “opportunity for the flesh.” (Gal 5:13) After all, the whole world is “united” in opposition to God.
 
We are living in the time of the end. Thrones and churches have united to oppose God's purposes. The association of man with man, which God designed should be a means of strengthening goodness and happiness, is used as a means of strengthening evil and of developing tendencies to rebellion. Men have assumed despotic power, and human laws have been put in the place of the law of God.  (RH, December 15, 1904 par. 1)
                 
So we might consider carefully questions like those raised in Tuesday’s lesson:
 
How open should we be to methods of evangelism and witnessing that take us out of our “comfort zone”? Are there some forms of evangelism that bother you?...might you need to be more open-minded about these things?
 
Well, if the methods are pandering to the flesh in any fashion, they are rebellion, and should bother us:
 
Satan is seeking with all his subtlety to corrupt mind and heart. And O how successful he is in leading men and women to depart from the simplicity of the gospel of Christ! Under his influence hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are roused into activity. Ministers and church-members are in danger of allowing self to take the throne.  (RH, December 15, 1904 par. 10)
 
And if they are uplifting the law while denying Christ in the law, we should be equally bothered:
                 
Therefore, whoever induces people to trust in the law for righteousness, without Christ, simply puts a yoke upon them, and fastens them in bondage. When a man has been convicted by the law as a transgressor, and cast into prison, he can not be delivered from his chains by the law which holds him there. But that is no fault of the law: just because it is a good law, it can not say that a guilty man is innocent. So these Galatian brethren were brought into bondage by men who were foolishly and vainly seeking to exalt the law of God by denying Him who gave it, and in whom alone its righteousness is found. (1900 EJW, GTI 64.1)
                 
The 1888 message was given for the purpose of gaining a personal experience in the righteousness of God, and not relying on the pundits of the right or the left:
 
Whoever gets the truth, must get it from God, and not from any man, just as Paul received the Gospel. God may and does use men as instruments, or channels, but He alone is the Giver. Neither names nor numbers have anything to do with determining what is truth. The truth is no more mighty, nor to be accepted more readily, when it is presented by ten thousand princes than when maintained by a single humble, laboring man. And there is no more presumptive evidence that ten thousand men have the truth than that one has it. Every man on earth may be the possessor of just as much of the truth as he is willing to use, and no more. See John 7:17; 12:35,36. He who would act the pope, thinking to hold a monopoly of the truth, and compel people to come to him for it, dealing it out here, and withholding it there, loses all the truth that he ever had, if he ever really had any. Truth and popery can not exist together; no pope, or man with a popish disposition, has the truth. As soon as a man receives the truth, he ceases to be a pope. If the pope of Rome should get converted, and become a disciple of Christ, that very hour he would vacate the papal seat. (1900 EJW, GTI 68.1)
                 
May the Lord increase our unity in this experience!
 
--Todd Guthrie