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Insight #3 April 15, 2017
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Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson

"A Royal Priesthood"

April 15, 2017

            It’s amazing to me how often I’m tempted to feel or believe that the “truth” we now have has advanced us beyond the “truth” we had nearly 130 years ago in the 1888 message.  We continue to study and learn day by day, and the temptation comes to feel or believe that we’ve “moved beyond” the 1888 message as given by ATJones and EJWaggoner – and perhaps the day will come when there will be a sense in which that might be true.  But each time I study and look at their material again, I can say with Ellen White that they did in fact “give the trumpet a certain sound”, that they are indeed the Lord’s “appointed messengers”, that the message the Lord gave through them is indeed “most precious”, and every fiber of my heart does say AMEN!

            As I was preparing for this Sabbath School Insights, I was reading some of Jones and Waggoner’s messages and came across this “Reading for Sabbath”, that ATJones wrote in 1902.  It is specifically on the verses and ideas that we are studying this week in our Sabbath school lesson.  I believe and pray that it will bless you as it did me.  Maranatha!
 
"YE shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God." Isa. 61:6.

Every Christian is called to be a priest of the Lord, a minister of our God. The life of every true Christian is a life of ministry; ministering to mankind that which he has received of God.

"As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10. The gift of the grace of God, with every particular gift of that grace, is given only to be passed on, to be administered by the one who has received it. Thus, each one who receives the gift is but a steward, never a proprietor: he is to dispense to others, never to store for himself. And the virtue and value of our stewardship is demonstrated only by our diligence in ministering that which we have received.

God is the only proprietor; for "all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Cor. 5:18. Whosoever receives the reconciliation which, for all, God has accomplished in Jesus Christ, also in that and at the same time receives the ministry of that same reconciliation: "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."

Accordingly, it is everlastingly true that every one who has received God's reconciliation is thereby made a minister of God, and we are so to exercise that ministry that men themselves shall call us the ministers of our God. And this ministry is to be so personal and direct that it shall seem as though God Himself is present and is making Himself known. For is it not written, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ (personal representatives of the Master), as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God?"

In Christ's bodily absence from the world, we are in Christ's stead, we are in His place, in the world, between God and men; so that by us God shall reach men, as, when Jesus was bodily present, by Him He reached men. So that literally we are to minister God to men, as did Jesus; in us God is to meet and to save men, as He did in Jesus in our flesh. In us God is to dwell, to walk, to work, to speak, as He did in Jesus in our flesh. This is the very certainty of Christian truth; as it is written: "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." "And we have seen, and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." "As He is so are we in this world." Such is the only basis of our ministry; such things is our ministry; and such only is our ministry in the world: if our ministry is not that, it is nothing; and if our ministry is nothing, then our Christianity is nothing.

And so, again, it is written: "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." As certainly therefore as we are here "in Christ's stead," so certainly we are here "not to be ministered unto but to minister." As certainly as it is true that "as He is, so are we in this world," so certainly we are here "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." And so certainly therefore we are here only to minister: ministry is our only work, our only service, our only calling in the world.

Yet this is only to say that to be true Christians is our only work, our only service, our only calling in this world. For it is written: "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." That is to say, Christian liberty is Christian service: Christian liberty is the liberty to serve one another. Not so with the world: there the ambition is to rule, to domineer, to boss, to cause others to serve. "The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many."

Thus Christianity is ministry; and there is no other. Christian liberty is the liberty to serve; and there is no other true liberty. There is no other, for this itself is a fulfilling of the law: as it is written, "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law [of love] is fulfilled in this one word, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." That is to say, Christianity is ministry; Christian liberty is service; it is the liberty by love to serve one another. And the exercise of that liberty is the fulfillment of that royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And that is a fulfilling of all the law of God, "in one word." And thus, in this blessed Christian liberty of ministry and service, there is attained the purpose and the pinnacle of the Third Angel's Message,—"Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."

That is our calling.

And now to fulfill that calling, to make our calling effective, we must have the elements of that Christian ministry, of that liberty of service. We are to minister something to persons. We are to put into their lives something that was not there before. We cannot minister what we do not have. Therefore, it is first of all essential that we have the elements of this ministry.

What then are the elements of our ministry?—God and Christ. For we are "ministers of God," and are "ministers of Christ." And this is not merely ministers sent by God, to minister this, that, or the other thing, as we might choose. No; it is that we are ministers of God and of Christ, in truth. It means that we are to minister God Himself to man. We are so to make God manifest to men that they shall see Him as the loving, pitying Father, merciful, gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, that they shall believe on Him and receive Him; that we shall make them acquainted with Him, and join them to Him in that blessed "perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten." It is that we shall minister Christ Himself to men: we are so to make Christ manifest to men that they shall recognise Him as the tender, sympathising Saviour, who "hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," who has taken all our sins and given us all His righteousness; that they shall believe on Him, and receive Him: that we shall make them acquainted with Him, and join them to Him as that blessed Friend who sticketh closer than a brother, and who will never leave them nor forsake them.

These are the elements of our ministry; for we are to minister the gospel, and the gospel is "Christ in you the hope of glory:" it is "God with us," "God manifest in the flesh."

And in being thus ministers of God and of Christ, we are, in the nature of things, ministers of all that is in them,—the grace, the power, peace, the joy, the righteousness, the glory, oh, even "all the fullness," of God; all of which is summed up in the one word Life,—eternal life, the life of God. We are to be so connected with the Fountain of Life, the life of God, that we shall stand between the living God and dead men to minister to men the life of God, eternal life: holding forth the word of life: being ourselves means of connecting dead men with the life of God.

These are the elements of our ministry, and it being all-essential that these elements shall be in our own individual lives, there must of necessity be an efficient means of this ministry. Ah! this also is fully supplied: "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost." "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." And "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance"—Oh, it is all the fullness of God, for the divinely recorded prayer is that ye be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

And so, "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises [virtues, margin] of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Iight."
Ye are a chosen generation, chosen to show forth the virtues, the character, the attributes, and thus the praises, of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Ye are a royal, a kingly, priesthood, anointed to minister, the virtues, the character, the attributes, and thus the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.
Ye are a holy nation: a nation in whom God dwells, a nation who are partakers of the divine nature,—partakers of the divine virtues, the divine character, the divine attributes,—ye are thus made a holy nation, expressly to show forth, to minister, the holy virtues, the holy character, the divine nature of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Ye are a peculiar people: a peculiar, a separated people, because of the abiding presence of Him whose presence makes holy, and so separates from all the other people that are upon the face of the earth. As it is written: "Wherein shall it be known here, that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not that Thou goest with us? So [in this way] shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." It is God with us, God going with us, God abiding with us, God manifest in our flesh—it is only thus that we can be a peculiar, a separated people. And ye are a peculiar, a separated people: so separated, so made peculiar, expressly that ye should show forth, that ye should minister, the virtues, the character, the attributes, and thus the praises of Him who has separated you by calling you out of darkness into His marvellous light; there to dwell, as He is in the light, in divine fellowship one with another, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleansing us from all sin.

This is our priesthood, our ministry.

In old time, when men were inducted into the priesthood, there were three steps in the process, each in its order, each essential to the next, and all essential to the ministry: without any one of these no man could exercise the office and ministry of the priesthood.

First, there must be a change of raiment: the common garments of daily life must all be laid aside, and "holy garments"—garments made at the express direction of the Lord, and under the guidance of the Spirit of Wisdom—"for glory and for beauty" must be put upon each one who was to be a priest.

Secondly, they must be anointed with oil; the holy anointing oil was put upon them,—"the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of His garments."

Thirdly, they must be consecrated: that is, their hands must be filled with the elements of their priesthood and ministry; for to consecrate is to fill the hand. We are now in the time when God is making His people a royal priesthood, indeed, when He is actually inducting us into that divine priesthood and its ministry.

He first sent to all His people in all the world the blessed message of the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ—the changing of raiment, from the filthy rags of our own works, our iniquity, our own righteousness, to the beautiful garments of the royal priesthood, the garments of salvation, the white robes of His own pure and perfect righteousness: teaching every one to say with glad, free heart, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself as a priest with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

He next sent to all His people in all the world the twice blessed message, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" receive the holy anointing unto the royal priesthood, the holy anointing poured abundantly, even without, upon every one who is clothed with the holy garments of the salvation and righteousness of God, poured upon the head and going down to the very border of the holy garments.

And now, to-day, while it is called to-day, He sends to all His people in all the world the thrice blessed message, "Fill the hand;" fill the hands full and quickly with the elements of the ministry of God in your royal priesthood. Consecrate your service this day unto the Lord. Fill the hand, even with "all the fullness of God," and, as priests of the Lord and ministers of God, go out quickly and everywhere in all the world, showing forth, ministering the virtues, the character, the attributes of God; ministering the grace of God, the power of God, the peace of God, the joy of the Lord, the righteousness, the glory of God—oh, ministering all the fullness of God to every creature going about doing good, as did He who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and who, sending us as the Father sent Him, says to every one, "Change your garments"—receive the righteousness of God; receive the holy anointing, "receive ye the Holy Ghost: fill the hand," consecrate your service this day, in the ministry of God in your royal priesthood.

The message of God to-day, "Fill the hand," "consecrate your service" to this divine ministry to men, is  as certainly and as distinctly the message of God, as was, each in its place, the message of the righteousness of God, and the message, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Those two messages were preliminary and preparatory to this: they were the first two steps of induction into the royal priesthood, of which this third is the last, the culminating step. And as this is the culmination of the induction into the ministry of our royal priesthood, there will be no other message to follow. This is the last: the three now go on together in the mighty power of God to lighten the earth with the glory of the Lord and bring the end and the glorious appearing of our glorious Lord unto which we have toiled, for which we have watched and waited, which has been delayed; but of which now God declares, "There shall be delay no longer." Bless the Lord!

And now, here is our divine commission and the divine means unto our divine priesthood, to-day and henceforth:—
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;
Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted;
To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning; and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."

And in this blessed course, "ye shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God;" and "for your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land shall they possess the double: everlasting joy shall be upon them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed."

Thus in all the world shall be the glad word, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself as a priest, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

And therefore, "As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."
And let all the people say, Amen. ALONZO T. JONES. {June 1, 1902 ATJ, UCR pp.18-20}

~ Bob Hunsaker