Wednesday, May 22, 2013

To Read or Not to Read

Yesterday I was asked about what books or authors are appropriate for Seventh-day Adventists. My response to this question is posted below:

There are two principles we can apply when deciding which books or authors are appropriate. First and foremost the authors need to have a high view of scripture. In establishing what is considered a high view of scripture there also a few things to consider: the nature of inspiration, and methods of interpretation. Seventh-day Adventists reject higher critical forms of interpretation and do not believe that we should utilize methods that impose the same critiques applied to other books besides the bible. When it comes to the nature of inspiration there are generally three schools of thought: verbal, plenary or thought, and moral inspiration. We believe in plenary or thought inspiration and therefore we could not reduce the bible to simply a collection of moral literature. While we do do not believe that the bible is literally the words of God I believe that we would have more in common with those that believe in verbal inspiration. Evangelicals generally believe in verbal inspiration and as a group I believe would come closest to agreeing with us in interpretation and theology.

The second criterion for establishing whether an author should be read concerns not just the method of interpretation or  the understanding of biblical inspiration but in the content. I believe that in order for Seventh-day Adventists to find something valuable in other Christian authors those authors need to be adding to our understanding of the bible. Because Adventists have a very developed understanding of the Great Controversy not all evangelical writers will meet the standard of adding something to our knowledge. However I do think that Christian authors can add in our understanding of the history, events and culture of the biblical world and from time to time they can help us in spiritual application. But I would think that the primary way that Christian authors could add to our understanding would be in developing our understanding of the biblical world.

In conclusion I believe that authors that  have a high view of scripture, including verbal and thought inspiration, and that can add to our understanding of the bible are a compliment to our study and Christian development. I have generally seen that this is limited to evangelical authors with the occasional exception. But as time goes on I think that there will really only be two sides: Babylon and the Remnant. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are You Thirsty?

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman:

But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

Why could Jesus be sure that after drinking the water that He gives a person would never thirst? Jesus could be sure is because He is the fountain of living waters. The bible says:
 O LORD, the hope of Israel,
 All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
 “Those who depart from Me
 Shall be written in the earth,
 Because they have forsaken the LORD,
 The fountain of living waters.”  Jeremiah 17:13

So if Jesus is the fountain of living waters and Jesus does this mean that you and I only need to drink once or better yet does this mean that we will only want to drink once?

The answer is no. The bible says:

 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
  For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

And...

He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. Revelation 21:6

What Jesus is trying to say is that if you know Him you will never be at a point where you are thirsty and have nothing to drink. In fact because Jesus is the fountain of living waters there will always be something to drink. That's a good thing because Christ's followers love to drink from the Fountain of waters.

Are you thirsty? I know I am.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Exchanging Obedience for the Spirit

Jesus said in Luke 11:13:

If you then, being evil,  know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! Luke 11:13

It is clear then that we need to ask God to receive the Holy Spirit. But is it enough to simply ask? Are there any other conditions that need to be met in order to receive the Spirit of God.

In the book of Acts the apostle Peter said to the Pharisees:

And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him. Acts 5:32

Peter makes it clear that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that obey Him. But what are we supposed to  obey?

In Acts 10 Peter was called by God to go and share the truth about Jesus with a Roman centurion, Cornelius, and his men. So Peter went, told them about Jesus and said:

43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” 

44   While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.  45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. Acts 10:43-45

Remember it was Peter that told the Pharisees that God gives the Spirit to those that obey him. Because God gave the Spirit to the Cornelius and the gentiles we can only conclude that they were obeying God. But how were they obeying God. From the context it is clear that when they were told that they needed to believe in Jesus they obeyed.

We can draw a conclusion from their experience. The gentiles chose to be obedient to the word of God as it was given to them through the apostle Peter. As a result of their response of obedience to the word of God they received the Spirit. This means that when you and I are obedient to the word of God, whether we hear it or read it we will receive the Holy Spirit.

Do you want to receive the Holy Spirit? If so then God is challenging you to be obedient to His word. It isn't always easy to be obedient, but God promises the tremendous blessing of His Spirit if we choose to submit to His word.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cry Aloud?

In Leviticus 23 God told the ancient Israelites to afflict their souls on the Day of Atonement, which occurred on the tenth day of the seventh month. God says:

Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. Leviticus 23:26

The word in Leviticus 23:26 translated as "afflict" is translated as "humbled" in Psalm 35:13 when David wrote:

I humbled myself with fasting.

Thus the ancient Israelites understood the term "afflict your souls" to mean humble your soul and one of the ways that they did this was to fast as evidenced by David's fast. When we fast we deny ourselves something. Generally a fast refers to denying ourselves food for a certain period of time, but fasting can be applied to refraining from certain activities as well.

As the ancient Israelites observed the Day of Atonement they would fast from food to afflict their souls. But by Isaiah's day God did not seemed to be to pleased with their fasting. He said:

5      Is it a fast that I have chosen,

A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD? Isaiah 58:5

The ancient Israelites must have noticed God's displeasure in their fasting because they said to God:

     "Why have we fasted,’ they say, “and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
‘In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers. Isaiah 58:3

Apparently the ancient Israelites were not truly humbling themselves while they fasted. They were still seeking pleasure for themselves and taking advantage of people that worked for them. When God asked them to afflict their souls He wanted them to learn as they humbled themselves to think less about their own desires and more about the needs of others. God says:

6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke? 
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:6,7

By asking the ancient Israelites to deny themselves on the Day of Atonement He had intended for them to be more considerate of others. But even though the ancient Israelites denied themselves by fasting they did not become more concerned about others. This angered God. Their self-interest during the Day of Atonement was especially wrong because it was during this time that they were supposed to set aside their own desires and think about others just as Jesus did during His life and ministry.

As a a result of the misuse of the Day of Atonement God said through the prophet Isaiah:

1    “Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins." Isaiah 58:1

According to Daniel 8:14, 9:25 and the application of prophetic year-day principle found in Ezekiel 4:6 we have been living in the anti-typical Day of Atonement since October 22, 1844. If the ancient Israelites were guilty of misusing the Day of Atonement and not honoring God are we as modern Israelites guilty? If Isaiah was told to cry aloud to the ancient Israelites and tell them their sins should we as God's spokesmen and women do the same?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Teachable

According to Wikipedia there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations. That's a lot of denominations. Presumably there are 41,000 different denominations because each of these denominations believe that they have the truth about what God wants for our lives.

The question then becomes for the individual: "How do I find the truth?" Well, the bible answers that question in Isaiah 28:9. The verse says:

 Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?

In this text God tells us that He will teach those that are weaned from milk and drawn from the breast. This means that God can only teach people that are not dependent upon others for their spiritual nourishment. Jeremiah 29:13 says:

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

When we compare these two texts we realize that the emphasis in Jeremiah 29:13 is on taking the initiative to discover the truth ourselves. We cannot make our understanding of God and His will dependent upon the ability of others to share with us the truth or even to live in such a way that we can see the truth in their lives.

If you want to know the truth then you have to be willing to discover it yourself.