Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Those Who Hear Are Friends of God

In order to teach how gossip works, one teacher gathered his students in a circle. He gave the first student a piece of paper with a phrase written on it. The student was to read it softly to the next student. This process was repeated student by student, until the paper reached the last student, whom then would read the phrase out loud. The students all said, but of course, all we did was read it from the paper. “The Teacher then said, “Well let’s do it without the written paper.” The Teacher spoke a phrase to the first student, who proceeded to repeat it to the next student, until it reached the last student whom would say out loud what he heard. All the students laughed out loud. They all said “It is not even close to what I heard.” Why the difference in outcome between the two exercises? The answer is that one was written and the other was not. Oral transmission of information is bound to be transformed as people do not hear well and/or reinterpret what is said.

Abraham lived long before the Bible was written. In fact the first writer in the Bible descended from Him. Moses was a Levite from the Tribe of Levi, one of Jacob’s sons. Jacob was Abraham’s grandchild. Abraham learned all things pertaining to salvation, from God’s mouth. God spoke to Abraham face to face. Abraham spoke directly to God. Abraham heard God’s audible voice, and kept it in his heart, as a treasure. The Bible says that “… Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

So, Abraham becomes the Father of the Faithful more than 400 years before there is a written record of the Word of God. If God and His salvation is the same today as yesterday, then, Abraham was saved without the Bible. So we must ask ourselves, why do we need the Bible? One thing to consider is that although Abraham did not have the Bible, he did have the Word of God. Now, if we disagree so much with something in writing, imagine then, how would it be with out any written record? The written word is something that we can refer back to, and confirm that what we thought it said was what was indeed said.

However, the Bible is more than just a confirmation tool. The Bible is the inspired - “Breathed” - Word of God. It is as if it came from His mouth. And, Jesus said, that we are ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4.). God exhales His word, we in turn inhale. The Bible is an extension of God’s mouth, an interface. The Bible does not replace God. On the contrary it brings God closer to us.

Sister White addresses this issue, let us read

The Scriptures are to be received as God's word to us, not written merely, but spoken. … In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice … Received, assimilated, they are to be the strength of the character, the inspiration and sustenance of the life. {Ministry of Healing 122 - 3}

It is no wonder that Paul says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). As we read the Word, it is as if we are Abraham, and what we read are the Words of God spoken to us. If as Abraham we believed the Words and treasure them in our hearts, our “belief” – just as Abraham’s - would be accounted for Righteousness. Also, we would be one of Abraham’s children of faith and one of God’s friends. There is no greater honor than that.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


The lesson quotes Sister White on the topic of growth.

“The work of educating the mind and manners may be carried forward to perfection."—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 358, 359.

Notice her reference to manners in this sentence. This is something that has been lost in the last few years. Many have lowered their standards. It is not unusual to hear slang in the church aisles and platforms. Brethren are rude to one another in the name of truth and frankness. Many do it in the hopes of being relevant, but it always backfires. The importance of proper attire has also been relaxed. Why? Is it because people are more evil now than before or more liberal? Not really. Is it because there is no sense of decorum or respect anymore? Not really. These are just signs of a deeper issue.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3: 3 that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus asked how this can happen and Christ replied,

John 3: 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3: 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3: 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

To be born again requires two things, dying to the old ways (repentance), and resuscitating to the newness of Christ. Something only God can do. Amen! Babies are born then they must grow. If God does the birthing, then it would make sense that God also does the growing. A continued yielding to, trusting in and depending on the Holy Spirit is needed to grow into the likeness of Christ. What will this look like? In the following article by Sister White you may find the answer. Let us read,

October 13, 1890 Result of Genuine Conversion.
By Mrs. E. G. White.

Genuine conversion brings the soul into living connection with Christ, and makes the person who has this experience a channel of light to the world. We have all had objectionable traits of character transmitted to us, and many have cultivated these until wrong habits of thought and action have taken deep hold on the nature; but when the truth of heavenly origin finds a place in the heart, a new, divine power begins to fashion the character after the divine Pattern. In the soul consecrated to the service of Christ will be a growing distaste for coarse thought, rough manners, and unseemly language, for it is all in opposition to the chaste, pure Spirit of Christ, which dwells within. How necessary that everyone who professes to be a follower of Christ should be so indeed, and practice the truth he professes!
Among the youth there are many whose names are on the church record, but who fail to bring themselves under discipline that they may improve in thought, speech, and manners. They persist in carrying with them their objectionable traits of character. They have vulgar sentiments, coarse manners, low habits. They carry these to others through their school association, and through life they sow tares instead of precious wheat. If low, common ways are indulged in childhood and youth, in the forming period of life, the future will be marred by blemishes; and even in manhood, many will fail to see the necessity of overcoming these defects, and of rectifying their hateful malformations of character. Temptation will overcome them, because they are weak in moral power.
Those who have divine enlightenment will see the necessity of overcoming, for they will realize something of the purpose of Heaven in regard to the influence they are to exert upon others for their salvation. If those who have serious faults to overcome, would rely on God with earnest faith, he would work for them; and the more diligently they devoted themselves to the cultivation of virtue and the discharge of duty, the more grace would they receive to become like the Pattern. With the experience of conversion to Christ, a new life begins. The apostle says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Whoever accepts Jesus will make determined efforts to overcome through the strength imparted to him from Heaven; his whole character must and will be transformed. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, he will go on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, and power will be given him to uproot every evil. He will turn from the service of Satan to the service of God. Faith, living, active faith, works by love and purifies the soul; it becomes an abiding principle in the life. Everyone who has accepted the righteousness of Christ is placed on high vantage-ground. His conversation, his habits, will be of a high, refined character, after the example of his Lord, and then he will not lie against the truth. He will rise above all baser things into the pure atmosphere of heaven.
Every soul who is drawn to Christ is to be a co-laborer with him. The apostle writes, "Ye are laborers together with God." But to be laborers together with God necessitates some high qualifications. The Lord requires those who would labor with him to be refined in language, to be polished in manner, and he is ready to bestow the grace of Christ on every earnest seeker. Through the help that Christ can give, the laborer with God may cultivate habits of neatness, of thoroughness, and present to the world an example which will in all things be worthy of imitation; for he may grow up unto the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus.
Those who have a careless, clownish manner, either in the family or in society, dishonor their divine Lord. Even ministers have thus misrepresented Christ, when in the pulpit they have made a display of theatrical actions and eccentric manners. This is not of God. Eccentricities are sometimes looked upon as virtues by men, but they do not aid in representing Christ. Careless attitudes and irreverent expressions may serve to please men of unrefined tastes, anecdotes may amuse, but the minister who seeks to cater to such tastes has a meager appreciation of the dignity, simplicity, goodness, and loveliness of the character of the divine Lord.

These individuals need our prayers and loving correction, not our criticism. Part of good manners is not criticizing and gossiping. Pray, and ask other to pray, that the Holy Spirit may take away your bad manners and give you good ones. Sometimes asking the Holy Spirit to remind you to stop before or during your involvement is very effective. He will remind you. You just respond by yielding.

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