Friday, June 22, 2018

The Elijah Solution

The Elijah Solution

 

In the days of Elijah, the people of Israel had turned their hearts from God. They were worshiping another god, instead of Jehovah. Evil reigned in Israel and broke Elijah's heart. Determined to stop the national evil of idol worship, the Lord weighted Elijah's heart with a message of repentance designed to turn the hearts of the people back to God. In allowing these wicked traits of character to go unchecked, King Ahab was directly responsible, for he set the example for which his people were following. Thus, the people had turned their hearts and minds away from God while assuming that they were still following Him. You see, Baal worship was similar to the worship of the true God, Jehovah. After all, Baal only meant 'lord,' or 'husband.' So, the people thought they were calling on God the way they had always done. In reality, they had switched allegiances unaware. They could have known but by choice they did not. In the days of John the Baptist, evil also reigned in Judah in the form of greed, selfishness, sensual pleasures, and nationalistic pride. 

 

At present -- the last days to be exact -- the Lord has said that people would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power." We were further admonished to 'have nothing to do with them' (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV). Isn't this precisely the case both with professed Christians in various churches, as well as with the unbelievers and the unchurched? Sadly, God's evaluation of the condition of the last church as stated in Revelation 3:15 -17 (NIV) is accurate --

 

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of My mouth.

Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 

 

Professed Christians think themselves 'good,' because they do not behave in the wicked ways that 'bad' people do. Our problems, however, are deeper and greater than our behavior indicates. At issue is our human nature which, naturally bent towards evil, is manifested in evil imagination, attitudes, and thoughts, continually. Human nature is filled with iniquity which naturally pulls us as a riptide pulls its victim downward and outward to the sea. As this is true of all human beings, the only possible difference between the 'good' and 'bad' people is the supernatural power which controls them. Not one of us in and of himself or herself is righteous, for as the Lord stated through Apostle Paul, good people are as bent toward evil as bad people are. "Good" people have learned to hide their evil ways. Living in denial the people are deceived as to their actual condition. Furthermore, they disbelieve any evaluation that is contrary to their opinion of themselves. 

 

In the days of the prophet Elijah, God sent him to spare the people from suffering a three-year drought. God's solution was Elijah's message, and that is what Elijah preached. "Repent for judgment is near," was his constant cry; yet it was to turn the hearts and minds of the people back to the true worship of God. In the days of Jesus, God sent John the Baptist to "prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him" (Luke 3:4 NIV). John the Baptist was given the privilege of preaching the message of repentance ("Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near," Matthew 3:2 NIV) just as Elijah was sanctioned to preach to his generation. Both messages were not only proclaimed with authority, but the power to transform - human hearts and minds - was inherent within the Word itself. So potent was this message that hard hearts melted, while lukewarm ones were heated up to white hot. Folks, the hearts and minds of those who genuinely accepted the message "were turned" to one another, "the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts and minds of the children to their parents." Thus, the people were prepared to receive Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. Those who rejected the message rejected not only Jesus as Messiah but His Father whom they professed to serve. As the scripture says, to be without Jesus is to be without the light and life. Thus, the majority of Jews, indeed the Jewish nation itself, sealed their personal and national eternal condemnation. 

 

In our day, the last great message to go out into the world is the message of the righteous character of God's agape - love. Bound up in the good news of the righteousness of Christ is the three angels' message of Revelation 14: 6-12 in verity (EGW). The Lord gave this message to the Elijah's of this time. And as in the days of old, inherent in the message is the power to change the hearts and minds of the people to Christ, to one another, from children to parents and vice versa. This is the power that is lacking in our Laodicean churches. The solution is therefore not more and better programming; it is not more dollars thrown at the various outreach ministries, nor is it greater local, national or global recognition. The solution is in the message. The Agape – love of Christ transforms hearts and minds who willingly, eagerly and attentively listen. False worship is put aside, and the genuine article of faith comes to reside in the souls of the people, causing them to light up the globe with the splendor of Christ's character (His glory) as they go from place to place sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 

My friends, the Elijah solution has been given to all. Just how many years do we have to go on in barrenness, weary and wilting? If we are willing to receive the message as God desires us to, it will do the work He has designated, for He has said, "So shall My Word be that goeth forth of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). 


Friday, June 15, 2018

Just Rest

Just Rest (Originally Published on 10/19/2006)

 

Whose Seventh Day was it: God's or Adam's?  Adam was created on the sixth day.  Some believe he was created in the afternoon, and that Eve was created maybe a little after that.   So they spent Sabbath together.  Sabbath was their first day.  Sabbath was God's seventh day.   God was around for the whole week – all seven days.  Adam and Eve appeared in the scene just before the sunset on the sixth day.  So, again, Sabbath was Adam and Eve's 1st day.

 

What are the implications of this?  For starters, time should always be measured from God's perspective, not ours.   This is true for all reality.  We are at best subjective creatures.  We always see things from where we stand and filter all that we perceive through our own experience and autobiography.   One event always has different accounts and explanations as to what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.  But, God being the all-knowing, all-powerful, and Supreme Being that He is, can see things as they truly are. 

 

Another implication is the relationship between work and rest.  By this I mean when should we rest, before or after we work?   Many will say that it should be after we work because it is when we would be tired.  What could have Adam and Eve been resting from on the Seventh day?   They had existed only a few hours.  God wanted them to share His rest with them, even if they had not done anything to finish or desist from exertion.   So, God works first then He rests.  And, man rests first than he works.  Spiritually this is true for all men.   When we come to Christ we find rest in Him; then as we rest in Him, the works of love - agape - flow out of us.  During the creation week, God's work of agape came first then He rested.   So, God rests because He's done.  We rest because we start in Him.

 

When God finished His work there was nothing else to add. Genesis 1: 31 says, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day."  So God celebrated by resting the Seventh Day.   Adam and Eve celebrated with God.  So, the Sabbath was a reward for God, but a gift to Adam and Eve.  All that God gives to us is a gift - the Sabbath included.  Salvation is by grace - an unmerited favor, or an undeserved gift.  Responding with gratitude for all things God gives us, including the Sabbath, is Faith.   Without Faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

 

If it is God's seventh day, then keep it as He wants it kept.  After all, we cannot enter the Sabbath rest until we enter the rest in Christ.   We read about this in Hebrews 4: 1-10:

 

Hebrews 4: 1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

 Hebrews 4: 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

 Hebrews 4: 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' " 

 

(And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.)

 

Hebrews 4: 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."

 Hebrews 4: 5And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."

 Hebrews 4: 6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

 Hebrews 4: 7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

 Hebrews 4: 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

 Hebrews 4: 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;

 Hebrews 4: 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

 

Resting on the Sabbath, without entering first Christ's rest is not only worthless, it is impossible.   However, we have then no excuse to not enter Christ's rest before we attempt to enter the Sabbath rest.   Christ gives us His invitation in Matthew 11:28,"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."   Has God not finish His work of legal, corporate and objective redemption already.  Revelation 13: 8 says that the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  Hebrews 4:3 confirms it, "his work has been finished since the creation of the world."   Did Jesus not say the Words just before he died on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30)?  What else can we add?   For if His creation was "very good", then so should have been His redemption work.  For it was done through the same love and power.   There is nothing for us to add.  Give to Jesus your fears and burdens, then take His rest with you.  Only then will you be able to rest on His Seventh Day.    

Friday, June 01, 2018

Creation versus Evolution

Creation versus Evolution

 Recently I was listening to a prominent Adventist Speaker talk about the importance of knowing the History of Christianity.  He said that we also need to know Christian History in the light of the fulfillment of prophecy.  He went to Revelation 11, and identified the beast that comes out of the pit, as France during the French revolution.  What was happening then?  The French rejected anything that had to do with God in reaction to thousands of years of Catholic oppression.  The concept of God that the Roman Catholic had presented through all those years was untenable to the French intellectual elite.  How can God be a God of love, justice, and peace, and stand by observing all the suffering, injustice, and violence in the world?  Furthermore, how can God be a God of grace and forgiveness and yet be so cruel to punish sinners for eternity?  How can God say He is the God of the poor, while the wealthy nobility claimed to be favored by Him even when they were abusive and despotic toward their fellow men?  The despotic punitive picture of God did not make sense to the French, so they rejected God altogether.  As we can see modern atheism is not born about of scientific research and advancements, but out of theological concerns. 

 This rejection of God and the Bible then posed a challenge to explain the origins of our planet and humanity.  However, the most popular theory did not emerge out of a concern to give a scientific alternative to the question of origins, but as a necessity to understand creation from the point of view of a picture of God that was untenable to Charles Darwin.

 Contrary to popular conceptions, Charles Darwin worked on his theory of evolution from a theological premise. He expressed it like this: "There seems to me," wrote Darwin, "too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the [parasitic wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of cater­pillars, or that the cat should play with mice."

 Of course, a "benefi­cent and omnipotent God" did no such thing.   But, Darwin did not conceive that maybe there was a beneficent and omnipotent God that would allow Sin to run its course to run for His purposes.  Darwin – and the French before him – had no clue about the Great Controversy. 

 Darwin reasoned just as the French some half a century before him:  God cannot exist. Therefore, thought Darwin, without a God that speaks things into existence, things must have evolved.   And the way they must have evolved is by natural selection and survival of the fittest (mostly adaptability, not necessarily strength). 

 This posed a challenge for many Christian thinkers who thought that what Ellen White calls science so-called, had valid points in Evolution, so they merged both methods into Theistic Evolution.  This theory says that God used evolution to create the world.  Meaning, the 7-day creation story is nothing but a metaphor to describe what God did for millions of years.  In essence, they propose that God created the world or the universe, left it on its own to develop for a given period of time, and reappeared to bestow a "soul" on the humans who had evolved while He was away.

 This view poses other problems.  Among other things, it negates the origin of Sin and the need for redemption.  It also converts the gospels into fairy tales.  If God did not speak and it was done (Psalm 33: 9), then Christ could not have done it either. If there were no miracles, then there is no resurrection, and therefore any hope; for as Paul says, without resurrection we work in vain (1 Corinthians 15: 14). 

 The Bible is clear about the literality and legitimacy of the Creation story.  Take for example Hebrews 11: 3, 

 Hebrews 11:3  Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

 Paul here is clear that things did not evolve; they did not appear out of things that existed before.  God's Word made them appear.  God spoke, and it was done (Psalm 33: 9).  The following verses insist that the Genesis narrative was real,

 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 
Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him, all things consist. 
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
John 1:2 The same was at the beginning with God. 
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 
Romans 1:20   For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 

 The following quotes show that throughout all her ministry, Ellen G. White was uncompromising in her rejection of the theory of evolution. She wrote,

 "It is the worst kind of infidelity; for with many who profess to believe the record of creation, it is infidelity in disguise."—The Signs of the Times, March 20, 1879.
"[S]hall we, for the privilege of tracing our descent from germs and mollusks and apes, consent to cast away that statement of Holy Writ, so grand in its simplicity, 'God created man in His image, in the image of God created He him'? Genesis 1:27."—Education, p. 130.
"When the Lord declares that He made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, He means the day of twenty-four hours, which He has marked off by the rising and setting of the sun."— (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 136).

 You can see that to a believer Creation should not be a theory, but a fact.  And, just as Creation is a fact, so is the Cross, since they are intimately related.  God's love is displayed on both events.  You cannot believe in one and reject the other.  That would be stupidity.