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Can Ellen White accurately predict the future? Do we have a prophet among us, as Rev. 12:17 and 19:10 seem to indicate? Again, we take up our study of this SOP statement:

 “A new light is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed” (Ms. 32, 1896).

With these few words, Ellen opened up a picture of what is happening in the church before our very eyes. Last week and again this week we attempted and continue to show the enormous upheaval this order of things has brought to the church.

Speaking in general terms, Adventists have historically honored and respected law. They have emphasized obedience, while Jesus was (let’s admit it) a mere appendage of their experience. While this class continues to be present in the church, many of these Adventists became dissatisfied. They saw that God requires full obedience, as Adam rendered before the fall, and they knew that this they do not have to give. Their many attempts at this level of law keeping told them that it was impossible. They couldn’t do it.

At this point the path before them split and went in opposite directions:

Path 1. It was in the 60s that the message of righteousness by faith returned to the Seventh-day Adventist church, after having been rejected in the late 19th century. Many saw this as the answer to their dilemma. They studied it thoroughly and ordered their lives by it. But to many it became merely a subject of debate, and they derived no benefit from it. But those who studied the actual message itself discovered in it the ‘science of salvation’ and found by this pathway the secret to real obedience. Jesus lived out obedience in them, and thus they could, in honoring and praising Him day by day, live above sin. They found that, paradoxically, this required great humility and “eyes on Jesus” on their part.

Path 2.  The other group took a different direction. From the 60s to about the 80s and ongoing, with the influence of Des Ford, Walter Rey, and an assortment of others, our church virtually gutted Adventism’s raison d’etre. Recognizing that we could not keep the law to perfection, we jettisoned obedience, Ellen White, and an assortment of other doctrines and beliefs that had made us peculiarly stand for God in this world. We preached a more do-able gospel. Christ lived a perfect life and died for our sins in order that we didn’t have to. It was all done for us on the cross. Hallalujah! As long as we went to church, paid our tithe, worked in a church office we were okay. We had the assurance of salvation. We could no longer be of benefit to our protestant brothers and sisters, because our gospel began to look very much like theirs. The distance diminished between SDAs and protestants, leading Ellen to observe:

“The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt, and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us” (5T 217).

Today, instead of giving the trumpet a certain sound—teaching a unified message, telling how God saves humans—we “evangelize” folk into the church and once inside the doors of the church it’s “every man for himself.”

On a subject that is so misunderstood, we apply virtually no teaching on the topic of true righteousness by faith to assist our people in coming into union with Christ. Robert Wieland, Frank Phillips, and others are certainly making an effort to bring the message back to Adventism, but to paraphrase Ellen, There is one where there should be one hundred.

But I believe I have made my point. There are basically two gospels being taught among us, and Ellen White called it accurately: “Two parties will be developed.” How accurate the message coming from her pen. How truly is the Laodicean message needed today.  We need the white raiment—the robe of the real Jesus covering us. We need the gold tried in the fire of faith and love. We need to have our eyes anointed with heavenly eyesalve so that we can see. We need to be slow to speak, allowing that brief moment to check our words with Jesus before they go out to bless (or not) the world.

Our obvious problem is, He is standing at our heart’s door; He is not inside. And to those who refuse His every attempt to enter, He will eventually have no choice but to “spue” them “out of His mouth.”

 

Can Ellen White predict the future? There are many today, both in and out of the church, who say she cannot. Many of those inside the SDA church say she is inspiring but not inspired. We cannot depend upon her prophetic statements. Do we have the Spirit of Prophecy among us, as Rev. 12:17 and 19:10 seem to indicate, or do we not? Today I thought we could begin a series in which we ask, Is Ellen White inspired enough that her prophetic statements are reliable for us today? One of the statements she made is as follows:

A new light is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed (Ms. 32, 1896).

Note the date of this statement—1896. We live more than a hundred years beyond this date—enough time to assess the statement’s reliability. Within contemporary Adventism we find two parties forming out of four, as follows:

True Legalism. These members trust their church membership to save them. They think their obedience is good enough. Emphatic in right doing and busy with church activities, they seldom think about how they are doing in the obedience department.  Historic Adventists frequently fall within this category. They are the “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” and they don’t know it.

Legalist. These individuals try to obey, render a surface obedience, but are often troubled in their efforts. They know that God requires perfect obedience of them, and they know they haven’t it to give. They are powerless to know what to do about it, and are often vulnerable to counterfeit righteousness.

Counterfeit Righteousness by Faith: These people have given up. They have developed a theory that since perfect righteousness is required and they know they haven’t it to give, they assume that means Christ’s righteousness is lived out on their behalf. They don’t worry or even think about it any more. They purport to have the “assurance of salvation” but, unbeknownst to them, it is a sliding slippery slope.

True Righteousness by Faith: Among the doctrines of the church, righteousness by faith may be the most important. Righteousness is a person—the Lord Jesus Christ. We get his righteousness by getting Him to walk with us through our days. The folk who have found true righteousness by faith have discovered how to abide in Him. They have fellowship with Him through praise and thanksgiving. He has become to them, not a theory, but a living, daily reality.

Oftentimes we hear statements coming from leaders in the church, and we say w-h-a-t? Then maybe we go along with them because we are so confused. If only we had a number affixed over our  head or embroidered on a vest in order that people always know what category we are in. If we are obliged to be in a church with such an array of beliefs, perhaps it is the only way we can avoid soul-destroying confusion. But God requires that we give the trumpet a certain sound.

Remember, in the final analysis, there are only two categories when the end comes. Divisions will come, then two parties will be developed. The unique thing about Ellen’s pronouncement is that both parties are in the church. In the weeks ahead I will discuss each category more fully and perhaps suggest some helpful insights for each. And we will continue to probe the question: Is Ellen White inspired enough that her prophetic statements are reliable for us today?
The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.com

Obedience

Last week I spoke of my conversion—for a purpose. I wanted to establish the vital necessity of really knowing God, the outgrowth of which is obedience. Satan has engineered an attitude where any time we speak of obedience, confusion breaks out, and someone is sure to raise the specter of legalism. I wanted to fully establish that, when I speak of obedience I am not speaking of legalism. I do know the difference and practice righteousness by faith. We’ll talk more about that in another blog.

However, whether we practice rxf or legalism there is still something about obeying God that needs to be emphasized, and we so seldom hear about it any more. But it is of vital importance to our life today.

If we, knowing truth from error, do not obey God, the time will come when He will have to let us go. If the character of God message teaches anything, it teaches this. Brothers and sisters, we must put our sins away. We know what they are. The sin of having anything in our life ahead of God. The sin of ignoring our neighbor’s best interest. If we wish to break these commandments down further, the first four commandments support the first item, and the second six support the second. In all the Bible has He made anything more clear? Yet who speaks about it today? Is it not the most loving thing we can do to warn the world of the catastrophe that awaits somewhere down the line, if we continue with our indifferent attitude toward sin? How often did Jesus say, “Go and sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon you”?

No message has ever been given that spells out the future in such alarming terms as this message. Yes, it is a wonderful, heartwarming message. God doesn’t “steal, kill . . . [or] destroy.” He will never, never, never, never hurt us.

But there is a great controversy going on. God has committed Himself to the terms of the conflict. If man’s behavior aligns him on the side of Satan, the time will come when God will have to back off and let him go. This brings unbearable sorrow to the heart of God. We cannot measure nor plumb the depths of this sorrow. It is a sorrow we can but faintly understand. But God will be true to His word. He will honor our free will. He will release us into the hand of our chosen master. Humans get the master they choose to obey.

For this reason I believe Satan has intimidated us about speaking of the need for obedience. He likes–looks forward to—the release.

Oh, I know the difference, so don’t email me about it. I know that when Jesus comes into our heart, the heart changes. Suddenly, what use to attract us attracts us no more. Jesus lives out His righteous ways in us.

But there is a progression in our Christian walk. God reads the heart. He knows if we have committed to obedience or not. Whether our growth toward God is through legalism or true rxf, the character of God message tells us that we need to devote some thought and energy to this question: Have I put my sins away?

 Anything else going on in the church today must take a sobering second place to this question.

The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.org

Just Musing

In reading in the book of Romans this morning, I began to feel that Paul was having a hard time getting his point across in that book.

He had the difficult task of teaching the gospel to unconverted people.

When he says, We are saved in Christ, some, who have no idea what that means, assume it must be true in their case; they must be saved, for they attend church regularly. But many who are in church have never found their way into Christ, and the worse thing is, they don’t know it.

Compounding the problem, anyone who points this out to them is in the unenviable position of seeming to say—I’m Okay, But You’re Not Okay (an unhealthy attitude indeed), when in reality the truly converted person never loses sight of the fact that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. So we journey onward, teaching the gospel—while those who listen often haven’t the foggiest idea what we’re talking about. And we are blissfully unaware that they don’t.

But the True Witness says to Laodicea, “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). What the True Witness says is, well . . . , true. He told the story of two groups, waiting for the Bridegroom. One group was wise–they “got it,” and one was foolish.

On another occasion, Jesus told a story about the end of time, and a group who found the door closed in their faces. “Didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” they ask. He replies, I never knew you. Depart from me” (Matthew 7:22).

We, as a people, as a denomination, as a church, need Christ living in us. That is our greatest need. But, sadly, every week there are “Christians” going through the motions who do not realize that they are far from Christ.

I found my way into Christ by a fluke. The universe tilted and there stood my friend, Jesus, in all His glory, beckoning me to come to Him. He would help me and be my solace all the day. He would guide me, teach me, pick me up when I fell down. He would be my comfort and my joy. He would be my righteousness. And best of all, He would love me unconditionally.

Despite anything the world may tell you to the contrary, living in Christ, “conversion,” is our natural state. We just do right (Jesus shows us how), and let God deal with what’s left. It’s backwards from our usual way of thinking. It takes the special insight of the Spirit to see it. We were meant to abide in Him.

That is a world away from the mind set that we must do some great thing because we are such spectacular Christians. I still remember the day I let that go and said to God, “Please forgive me. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I just want to get to know you better.” And Jesus came into my heart and taught me about Himself.

The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.com

(This is the the second and ending segment of this 1963 article by guest blogger, the late Arthur  L. Beitz.)

Was it any wonder that these two had to meet when Christ had said all of their religious organization, all of their twenty thousand priests ministering in the temple, all of their financial structure and their spiritual leadership were absolutely blind; and their organization—house—and institution had become desolate, for God was not in it? How brave of him, and what a terrible indictment!

For the Jews, the temple symbolized their entire religious heritage. It was very dear to the people, yet Jesus said it was forsaken of God. The temple house is needed, but there needs to be a loving family within it. The institution, the organization, is necessary but only as a means in helping to shepherd the people. If you have lost contact with the needs of the hearts of the people, your house is desolate.

This, also, is a terrible indictment. Finally, the high priest speaks to those who have gathered to make a decision about this man who claims to be the Son of God. He says, “You know nothing whatsoever. You do not use your judgment. The trouble with you is that you do not have good judgment. It is more to your interest that one man should die for the people than that the whole nation should be destroyed.” And thus the decision is made. But where would you have stood? The decision has to be made. It was religious institutionalism versus a personal human being, Christ our Saviour. It was an organizational religionism versus the gospel. It was organization versus a person. It was vested interest against Christ, for the earthen vessel had become more the object of devotion that the treasure within the vessel, and herein lies the universal tendency of human beings toward idolatry.

Man wishes to make himself secure within religious institutions, and, therefore, he hides himself from the presence of God. Laodicea thinks that she has everything, but Jesus Christ stands outside the door and knocks and knocks. The question is as alive today for you and for me as it was two thousand years ago because Caiaphas is very much alive in every one of us.

The issue is before us today, and you will have to make your own decision, if you have not already made it. Anti-organizationalism is of the rudest of follies because we need order and organization, but when the organization becomes the means as well as the end of our devotion, then we have crucified once again our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It can happen today, just as verily as it happened then.

What could have happened if Caiaphas, the high priest, had said: “Look, we are confronted with the Son of God. Let us accept Him.” What a help and inspiration for the repenting souls that would have been. If he could have only said, “Let us use this institution, this money, everything, in order to glorify God, and let it be God who is the center.” All institutionalism becomes corrupt with itself. It begins to build and build until we have forgotten the purpose of its building, and we seek security in everything except God himself.

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, let us remember that there will be a unity of our hearts, the binding of mind to mind, of heart to heart, and of spirit to spirit. Institutionalism can provide us with an outward uniformity, but only the baptism of the Holy Spirit can give us an interior union of our spirits.

Oh, that God would help us to understand that religious institutionalism can become the greatest tool of the devil. Dr. Henry P. VanDolson, who wrote in The United Church Herald, states: “The Holy Spirit has always been troublesome to officialdom and to institutionalism because He is unruly, unpredictable and radical. The call to the ministry is to be alert, to discover every moment of the living, confounding, uncontrollable Spirit of God in what someone has called His Sovereign Unpredictability. We want security but we do not want to be shaken out of our false securities. When our false securities are shattered and we stand helpless before a superior person who vitalizes our lives, suddenly we recognize ourselves to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. When you are under the guidance of the Spirit, you cannot control it. And, of course, institutionalism is built on control. So there is an everlasting problem here.

Dr. John A. MacKay, formerly president of both Princeton Theological Seminary and the World Presbyterian Alliance, once told a Presbyterian convention:

“A crudely emotional approach to religion is preferable to religious formalism and institutionalism which is purely esthetic and orderly and lacking in dynamic power. One of our serious troubles in the church today is that it has become legitimate to be institutional, but deep feelings and enthusiasm no longer exist. The moment the church becomes completely programmed and depersonalized, it becomes a monument to God’s memory and not an instrument of divine power.”

You see, when men build institutions they become their ultimate end instead of just the means to an end. That is idolatry. Men build and build, and they forget the purpose of the building. Institutions become more important than people.

There are no shepherds in the institution any longer—only people trying to prevent the ship from rocking. Then it is that truth suffers and good men are crucified. Then it is that the Spirit departs. The glory of God has departed.

Dr. Ernest Wright, of Harvard, writes:

“God, through the work of the Spirit, has always been at war with human institutionalism because the institution becomes idolatrous, self-perpetuating, and self-worshipping because church membership becomes synonymous with the new birth.”

Caiaphas thought he must save the church; therefore, Christ must die. But Christ had come to save the church. Where would we have stood had we been there that day? The issue before Caiaphas is everlastingly present. We have to choose continually between tradition and scripture, between the institution and the individual, between what is popular and accepted and what is true.

There is no need to crucify Christ that the institution may be saved. Unless Christ lives, the institution is already dead!

This is what Caiaphas had to face. How can you attack an institution and still retain it? How can you shatter that which you love? I happen to be one who has been reared in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and all my tenderest emotions and feelings are tied into Adventism. This can also become my greatest curse and damnation because I begin to trust in it instead of the living God. If I begin to think that the structure is what makes me a Christian instead of a personal friendship with my God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, my faith is resting on an institution instead of on the Lord.

I think I can say concerning institutions that I love none better than Adventism. I was nurtured in it. I was cradled in it. I loved it. But this can also be my damnation unless I know that all of this is but for one purpose  and that is to bow my head and my mind before the living Jesus and say that unless Christ lives within the institution it has beome only desolation and hostility, noting but an empty institution.

The issue that faced Caiaphas is everlastingly alive in your heart and mine. What could happen if our hearts were blended together under Jesus Christ!

Oh, that God would help us today to once again understand the issues clearly and to make right choices. The people two thousand years ago had to make a tremendous choice, and their choice was a devastating decision, affecting their eternal destiny. If you have never gone through such an experience, you do not know what I am talking about, but those of you who know what I am speaking about realize the gravity of such a situation. It has shaken you completely until you have experienced a kind of death. The very thing in which you have trusted has never been shattered before you, and you will never be the same again because the basis of your life now is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. (E

Was it any wonder that these two had to meet when Christ had said all of their religious organization, all of their twenty thousand priests ministering in the temple, all of their financial structure and their spiritual leadership were absolutely blind; and their organization—house—and institution had become desolate, for God was not in it? How brave of him, and what a terrible indictment!

For the Jews, the temple symbolized their entire religious heritage. It was very clear to the people, yet Jesus said it was forsaken of God. The temple house is needed, but there needs to be a loving family within it. The institution, the organization, is necessary but only as a means in helping to shepherd the people. If you have lost contact with the needs of the hearts of the people, your house is desolate.

This, also, is a terrible indictment. Finally, the high priest speaks to those who have gathered to make a decision about this man who claims to be the Son of God. He says, “You know nothing whatsoever. You do not use your judgment. The trouble with you is that you do not have good judgment. It is more tot your interest that one man should die for the people than that the whole nation should be destroyed.” And thus the decision is made. But where would you have stood? The decision has to be made. It was religious institutionalism versus a personal human being, Christ our Saviour. It was an organizational religionism versus the gospel. It was organization versus a person. It was vested interest against Christ, for the earthen vessel had become more the object of devotion that the treasure within the vessel, and herein lies the universal tendency of human beings toward idolatry.

Man wishes to make himself secure within religious institutions, and, therefore, he hines himself from the presence of God. Laodicea thinks that she has everything, but Jesus Christ stands outside the door and knocks and knocks. The question is as alive today for you and for me as it was two thousand years ago because Caiaphas is very much alive in every one of us.

The issue is before us today, and you will have to make your own decision, if you have not already made it. Anti-organizationalism is of the rudest of follies because we need order and organization, but when the organization becomes the means as well as the end of our devotion, then we have crucified once again our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It can happen today, just as verily as it happened then.

What could have happened if Caiaphas, the high priest, had said: “Look, we are confronted with the Son of God. Let us accept Him.” What a help and inspiration for the repenting souls that would have been. If he could have only said, “Let us use this institution, this money, everything, in order to glorify God, and let it be God who is the center.” All institutionalism becomes corrupt with itself. It begins to build and build until we have forgotten the purpose of its building, and we seek security in everything except God himself.

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, let us remember that there will be a unity of our hearts, the binding of mind to mind, of heart to heart, and of spirit to spirit. Institutionalism can provide us with an outward uniformity, but only the baptism of the Holy Spirit can give us an interior union of our spirits.

Oh, that God would help us to understand that religious institutionalism can become the greatest tool of the devil. Dr. Henry P. VanDolson, who wrote in The United Church Herald, states: “The Holy Spirit has always been troublesome to officialdom and to institutionalism because He is unruly, unpredictable and radical. The call to the ministry is to be alert, to discover every moment of the living, confounding, uncontrollable Spirit of God in what someone has called His Sovereign Unpredictability. We want security but we do not want to be shaken out of our false securities. When our false securities are shattered and we stand helpless before a superior person who vitalizes our lives, suddenly e recognize ourselves to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. When you are under the guidance of the Spirit, you cannot control it. And, of course, institutionalism is built on control. So there is an everlasting problem here.

Dr. John A. MacKay, formerly president of both Princeton Theological Seminary and the World Presbyterian Alliance, once told a Presbyterian convention:

“A crudely emotional approach to religion is preferable to religious formalism and institutionalism which is purely esthetic and orderly and lacking in dynamic power. One of our serious troubles in the church today is that it has become legitimate to be institutional, but deep feelings and enthusiasm no longer exist. The moment the church becomes completely programmed and depersonalized, it becomes a monument to God’s memory and not an instrument of divine power.”

You see, when men build institutions they become their ultimate end instead of just the means to an end. That is idolatry. Men build and build, and they forget the purpose of the building. Institutions become more important than people.

There are no shepherds in the institution any longer—only people trying to prevent the ship from rocking. Then it is that truth suffers and good men are crucified. Then it is that the Spirit departs. The glory of God has departed.

Dr. Ernest Wright, of Harvard, writes:

“God, through the work of the Spirit, has always been at war with human institutionalism because the institution becomes idolatrous, self-perpetuating, and self-worshipping because church membership becomes synonymous with the new birth.”

Caiaphas thought he must save the church; therefore, Christ must die. But Christ had come to save the church. Where would we have stood had we been there that day? The issue before Caiaphas is everlastingly present. We have to choose continually between tradition and scripture, between the institution and the individual, between what is popular and accepted and what is true.

There is no need to crucify Christ that the institution may be saved. Unless Christ lives, the institution is already dead!

This is what Caiaphas had to face. How can you attack an institution and still retain it? How can you shatter that which you love? I happen to be one who has been reared in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and all my tenderest emotions and feelings are tied into Adventism. This can also become my greatest curse and damnation because I begin to trust in it instead of the living God. If I begin to think that the structure is what makes me a Christian instead of a personal friendship with my God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, my faith is resting on an institution instead of on the Lord.

I think I can say concerning institutions that I love none better than Adventism. I was nurtured in it. I was cradled in it. I loved it. But this can also be my damnation unless I know that all of this is but for one purpose  and that is to bow my head and my mind before the living Jesus and say that unless Christ lives within the institution it has beome only desolation and hostility, noting but an empty institution.

The issue that faced Caiaphas is everlastingly alive in your heart and mine. What could happen if our hearts were blended together under Jesus Christ!

Oh, that God would help us today to once again understand the issues clearly and to make right choices. The people two thousand years ago had to make a tremendous choice, and their choice was a devastating decision, affecting their eternal destiny. If you have never gone through such an experience, you do not know what I am talking about, but those of you who know what I am speaking about realize the gravity of such a situation. It has shaken you completely until you have experienced a kind of death. The very thing in which you have trusted has never been shattered before you, and you will never be the same again because the basis of your life now is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. (Emphasis Supplied)

The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.com

Christ or Caiaphas

(Following is an edited sermon by today’s guest blogger, the late Arthur L. Bietz, in 1963. Where would you have stood?)

 I want you to be able to use your imagination to catch the meaning, the drama, the heart throb, the intensity of this situation; for these are days of crisis, days of tremendous meaning.

In some ways, Caiaphas is one of the most tragic figures of the New Testament, yet in another way he is a man of tremendous splendor, a man who was loved and probably, in some respects, greatly adored. The historical facts are that the people stood in awe before him, for he was indeed the symbol. . .  of the great heritage of Israel. He embodied everything that Israel had fought for, all that Israel had prayed for, and theirs was, indeed, a glorious heritage.

Caiaphas had been chosen by the children of Israel as a “custodian” of the great religious institution, but now something had happened.

Suddenly, the world that then was found itself polarized in two centers: On the one side stood Caiaphas, the high priest; on the other side stood Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The loyalties had congealed, and the crisis was on.

This was a tragedy with a degree of splendor in it, for Caiaphas was a very notable person with an impressive personality. Indeed, he was the most powerful man in Judaism at the time of Christ. He had not only ecclesiastical power, but he also held civil authority. . . .

Caiaphas . . .  leads a great religious institution with a marvelous religious heritage, while opposing him stands Jesus Christ. A schism threatens to split the church. One or the other must go. Who shall be crucified? Can you feel the drama in your own life and heart? Where would you have stood before these two opposing powers? Would you have cast your vote with the recognized religious institutional authority? Or would you have accepted Jesus Christ?

Caiaphas, . . . headed the religious parades in all the Jewish festivals and on the annual Day of Atonement, caused all Israel to tremble before his presence. This was the high priest, their representative before God. It was to him that God would speak and bring his message of forgiveness to the people. He stood as their representative between God and the people.

When Jesus spoke to Caiaphas, he did not speak with the respect or with the esteem that the people thought he should give a religious leader. This is why one of the very devout Jews struck the Lord in the face. That was a tense moment. This was a day of choice, a day of salvation. It was a day when human hearts and minds were hanging in eternal destiny. Where would you have cast your vote?

“And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?” John 18:22. Our Lord, the one whom we worship, is struck with a forceful blow. I can see our Lord weaving as the blow struck him. Then came the words, “You do not speak to our religious leader like that.” A tense moment, indeed.

Caiaphas had only one purpose and that was to save the religious institution that he represented. He said, “We must save the church.” Yet, on the other hand, stood the Son of God, who also came to save the church. Two forces are represented; both want to help save the church.

But Jesus had often spoken concerning the heartlessness of the religious leaders of his time. He did not mince words. Jesus had said, “They make up heavy yokes and packs and pile them on men’s shoulders.” In contrast to this indictment, Jesus had said, concerning himself: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Would you have liked it if someone had stigmatized your religious leader as heartless?

On the same occasion, Jesus said of Caiaphas’ institutional leadership: “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.” Can’t you just see the high priest stand up in disbelief and shout, “This is blasphemy! I am the high priest and I am the head of the religious organization that opens the kingdom of God to mankind, but this man, Jesus, comes and says that we shut the door in the face of the people!”

Christ had also said that Caiaphas and the religious leaders were more interested in power and prestige and status than in shepherding the flock. Although there were twenty thousand religious priests paid out of the temple taxes, Jesus said: “Look at the people. There is nobody interested in the people. All are serving the religious institution, but they have no shepherds. The temple servants are parasites, living off the institution.” That really stepped on some toes. Preachers do not like to hear that they are not doing their job correctly.

The people did not like it either. Even the mother of Jesus did not like it, for she told the brothers of Jesus to tell him not to speak thus against the religious authorities.

There is an old Negro spiritual that goes something like this: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Were you? Are you there today contemplating that great sacrifice and following in the steps of Christ? We have before us the destiny of our souls.

Jesus revealed the motives  of the Jewish leaders when he said, “Everything they do is done for show. Places of honor at the feasts and the chief seats at the synagogue are taken by your leaders, and they do it for show.” This was a fearful thing for him to say.

Jesus even dared to expose the corruption in the financial structure of their organization. He said, “You eat up the properties of the widows while you say long prayers for appearance’s sake, but you are going to receive a severe sentence.”

Jesus also had something to say about their mission program, and you do not speak against the mission program of the church. He said, “You travel over sea and land to win one convert and when you have won him, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are yourselves.” Is it any wonder that these two had to meet—Jesus and Caiaphas?

Such a situation could not go on any longer. This had to come to a showdown, and everyone knew it. All the people in Jerusalem and the surrounding territories recognized the moment of destiny had come. And so we will have to stand before the Almighty God and before religious institutions and give an answer.

Christ said, “You are not all ministers of spiritual insight or spiritual values. You are blind. You are blind guides of the blind. You are falling into the ditch, and the people are falling into the ditch with you. You swear by the sanctuary. You swear by the gold. You swear by the altar. You strain at a gnat, yet you gulp down a camel. The organization of the temple is more important to you than God. You are tombs covered with whitewash, full of dead men’s bones.”

(Continued Next Week)


The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.com

My second appearance on Conversations Live with Cyrus Webb took place at 6:30 pm on April 12. It was less eventful than the first appearance, in which my phone decided to act up shortly after we had begun our Conversation. This time, new phone in hand, we quickly began our discussion of my books.

Cyrus seemed to want to talk about the fact that I am a woman of faith and what my faith has meant to me in writing and promoting my books. I got in a few points from time to time; for example, when I mentioned that God doesn’t destroy. Never has, never will. But sinners will perish—the last, to protect against being accused of teaching universalism. He talked too about my stroke. How has my faith enabled me to continue my work in spite of having a stroke?

Humm? What? I could only respond something like, Do cows eat grass? Do dogs bark? I am promoting the most beautiful message ever to come to planet earth. I suppose I’ll be promoting it with my dying breath, much less a disabling stroke. (Actually, I’m not so disabled; I just have a little trouble talking.)

And I suppose it’s newsworthy that we didn’t talk about Rob Bell and his book, Love Wins. A comparison might be that both our books ask similar questions. But my answers are definite. Bell asks the same questions, but has very few answers. According to the reviews I have read, he seems to lean in the direction of universalism, which he denies. But Cyrus didn’t ask any questions about that, so obviously I couldn’t answer them.

In summary, it was a “fair to middlin” interview; it got the name of the books out and where to get them, but the point that really stands out about the whole thing is that Cyrus Webb is the kindest, most considerate man interviewing on the radio today. And, yes, you may quote me.