Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thoughts from the Pew

by Kristin McGuire

Someone once said, “Faith is the expecting the word of God to do what it says, and then depending upon that word to do what it says.”[1]

When I was a baby Christian, attending a secular university, I was always under the pressure of academic and athletic competition, which conflicted with my values. One day, as I was bungling along to tennis practice with just such thoughts on my mind, I plunked down in the middle of a field just before getting to the courts. My heart cried out to God because I could not put my grief into words. I will never forget how He answered—at that very moment a Christian friend was walking in my direction. After I struggled to express my feelings when she asked what was wrong, she simply replied, “Kris, ‘we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us’ ” (2 Corinthians 4:7).[2] Well, “the word . . . (was) quick and powerful . . . piercing (my) . . . soul” (Hebrews 4:12), and I can honestly say that I am a different person today because I received that word into my soul over 20 years ago. Ellen White also said it well: “Your hope is not in yourself, it is in Christ . . . You are not to look to yourself, not to let your mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ.”[3]

The reason there are so many bungling Christians in the world is because we try to walk with God without the motivation of the cross. We need to hear more sermons on the “matchless love”[4] of Christ; otherwise, we will grow weary of all the advice. (The Gospel is Good News—not good advice!) “As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His Spirit.”[5]

This is the motivation we need in order to live for God. As I picture Jesus standing before the Sanhedrin, unrelenting in His decision to save my soul at any cost to Himself, my heart is humbled that He would do so, even while I was misrepresenting Him by not caring for anyone but myself. The song of my heart becomes, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.”[6] He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

At the same time that beholding the matchless love of Christ is important, we also need to understand current events in their prophetic context. Not only is it a must for reaching a good portion of the world's population, which is about 22% Muslim,[7] but also to strengthen our own faith as Seventh-day Adventists.[8] It is these distinct beliefs that have brought us to where we are now in earth's history as the “remnant” church of Bible prophecy, Spiritual “Israel.”[9]

The issue of praying for the Holy Spirit is also important. In a church we were attending a few years ago, several members were praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Simultaneous to our seasons of prayer, some discussions of the cleansing of the “heavenly sanctuary,”[10] came about. This was consistent with what we were asking because the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is truth, and the Holy Spirit is given to “guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13). Evidently, there were some in our group who did not understand what it meant to us for Jesus to have begun His High Priestly Ministry in 1844. Sadly, these rose up against the Sanctuary Truth and left the church! The lesson was, that in praying for the Holy Spirit, we need to be prepared ahead of time for testing truths to arise.
We all need our walls of Jericho to fall before we get to Canaan. The power that attends the “preaching of the cross” will topple even the most formidable of walls.[11] As we, expecting the word of God to do what it says, depend on it to do so, the “ointment” of the Holy Spirit will be given to us. If we do not resist, we will be empowered to reflect the character of Christ perfectly,[12] so that the ointment will descend as the “dew of Hermon”[13] upon all with whom we connect. Then the harvest will be ready for reaping, and Jesus will come![14]

[1] A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, Lessons on Faith (Brushton, New York: TEACH Services, Inc., 1995), 8.

[2] All scriptures, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.

[3] Ellen White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1956), 70.

[4] Ellen White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1940), 480.

[5] Ibid., 83.

[6] Elvina M. Hall, “Jesus Paid It All” (1865).

[7] Stephen Dickie, Islam: God's Forgotten Blessing (Kasson, Minn.: Strawberry Meadow Association, 2006), 88.

[8] See 2 Peter 1:19.

[9] See Revelation 12:17; Galatians 3:29.

[10] Ellen White, Evangelism (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970), 223.

[11] See 1 Corinthians 1:18.

[12] Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1941), 69.

[13] See Psalm 133.

[14] See Mark 4:29.

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