Often we look at the Ten Commandments as if they were given in a vacuum. As if God just presented a sterile document, almost a contract if you will, and all God's people have to do is sign on the proverbial dotted line. But that is not how the story went. It is a story of epic drama, and it has immense implications for our lives today. And when we look into this story, not only do we get a vastly different picture than usually pops into our head when we think of the Ten Commandments, but the Law itself comes alive and we see it in a new light.
The Bible isn’t just a revelation of His will, rather, it is a revelation of God Himself! The way God reveals His will is through a revelation of His character. How does God reveal His character? The answer is not just intellectually but experientially. We understand God by experiencing Him in our lives, better still, by having the indwelling life of Christ displace our own. We learn about God as He abides with us in the person of the Holy Spirit.
This article focuses on the second of those qualities: Jesus' imminency--the "coming-soon" aspect of His story and character--and seeks to address the question: How soon is soon, when it comes to Jesus and our eternal salvation?
The Second Advent has been on our minds since the beginning of our movement. So much so, that we put it in the name of our movement: Seventh-day Adventist. "Seventh-day" refers to our commitment to keeping all of the commandments, including the fourth commandment of Sabbath, and "Adventist" refers to our faith in Christ’s imminent soon return.
H.M.S. Richards, a man who loved God and inspired many people with his spiritual writings, shared the following short story to remind us of God’s care and devotion to each of us.
During a fatal illness a hopeless unbeliever in his despairing bitterness commanded his little girl to print a placard with the words “God is no where,” and to hang it on the wall at the foot of his bed, where he could see it constantly. She obeyed, but in her excitement she disarranged the letters so that the motto read, “God is now here.” With the father’s surprise at these unexpected words the Holy Spirit brought faith to his heart.
If you go to www.egwwritings.org and you look for the book entitled The Great Controversy, you'll notice that two versions come up: The "regular" version and the 1911 version. The fact that there are two versions may cause questions:
- Wasn’t it an inspired work? How does inspirition work?
- Which one is the “correct” one? What was changed?
- Did the GC meddle with her writings? Do they pull the doctrinal puppet strings?
- Does she have the authority to make changes? What about the Spirit?
- How were her books written?
In our series on the Great Controversy, we’re going to be asking some of the tough questions when it comes to Ellen White, her inspiration, and her relationship to the Bible and to history.
I want to say up front that I do appreciate the prophetic ministry of Ellen White and that I believe in the gift that the Holy Spirit gave her. However, I want to consider some of the following quotes:
As a pastor, I make my fair share of hospital visits, and while these can be hard visits at times, these are often a special time for me to get in some one-on-one talking and praying with my church members. Since being here in the Racine-Kenosha area, I've gotten to know many of my members a little better in a hospital room. One of the most fascinating things I've come across during these visits, however, is that many times I am not the primary missionary in the story--visiting and encouraging the saints as they are hospitalized. Neither are the medical staff, despite all their hard work to comfort my members and make them well again. It is, at times, the church members themselves who take up the role of missionary themselves--broken as they may be at the time--in order to reach the nurses, doctors, and various members of the local medical team, for Jesus.
One of the common themes that we circled around last month in our vespers talks and sermons on the Trinity is that there is no "greatest" in the Godhead. The idea of a Trinitarian hierarchy is an oxymoron. Jesus promoted servant leadership, and rejected ideas about "who will be the greatest in the kingdom" (Matthew 18:1-5). And when we see Him teaching servant leadership to His disciples--and saying things like "the last will be first and the first will be last" (Matthew 20:16)--this was simply an overflow of the servant leadership within the Trinity as each member of the Triune God takes turns in leadership, support, and submission when it comes to the plan of salvation, and all is done in love.
Think about it: When we see a white robe, we think purity, salvation, and heaven. When we see a cross, we think of Christ’s sacrifice, his life, and what it means to follow him. God stamps his name upon the heads of the 144,000 in the book of Revelation, to show others that they are of his brand. Branding is all over in the Bible, from God giving Cain a mark that let others know to back off, to Jesus comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed. Even titles like “Christian” and “Adventist” carry specific brand imagery to onlookers.
In 2011, I worked as a counselor at Camp Wakonda in Wisconsin for the first time. All week long, I watched as a group of girls laughed, learned and grew spiritually. Halfway through the week, I learned that Vanessa [actual name withheld], one of the young ladies in my cabin, had a rocky relationship with her father, and I was asked to give her words of encouragement.