To be prepared for the time into which we are entering, every treasured moment that we can spend with our Lord, we need to spend in drinking in the wonders of His love, His peace, His grace, and His goodness. Whatever may be the circumstances of the Christian, however dark and mysterious may be the ways of providence, however great the deprivation and suffering, he may look away from them all to the unseen and the eternal. The things of the present time are not considered worth mentioning when compared with the eternal weight of glory that awaits him when the warfare will be over. These very afflictions are God’s workmen ordained for the perfection of Christian character.
Paul says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18
We have been blessed in America with the most amazing political experiment in the history of mankind, outside of the theocracy of Israel when it was obedient to God. Our constitution was established for a free people who believed in the Creator and who believed that men had certain inalienable rights granted them by the Creator, rights that no government can interfere with. What an outgrowth of the principles of the gospel! We have been so blessed by God.
When, however, an apostate Protestantism loses its understanding of the gospel and unites with the papacy, there will be a persecution like no other time in the history of humanity. Just as Jesus sought to prepare His disciples for His crucifixion, I believe that we need to face the reality of what lies ahead for us. When we realize the gravity of the hour in which we are living, it will make us sensitive to the urgency of treasuring up in our soul every ray of light and every experience of love and joy with our Saviour and our Redeemer. If, in viewing it, we keep it in perspective with the superior reality of the eternal weight of glory, we may know that whatever happens to us in this world, if we are faithful, the day will come when we will walk through those pearly gates and will cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet. We will walk by the river of life and see that crystal stream that flows out from the throne of God. We will see the trunk of the tree of life on either side of the river with its branches arching over the river of the water of life. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
What will it be like to experience the reality of worshiping in the actual presence of God and to live in a world of fadeless day, where there is no night? The light of the moon is as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun is seven times brighter than it is at noon time now. It is a world of incredible light. And, despite the fact that we have no merit coming to ourselves and that all of the works we have done have been done through His name, Jesus will honor us for them.
When a storm hits in the physical world, if you have not made preparation before hand, you are in trouble. We live in an area of the mountains where there are flash floods. One year while there was still snow on the ground, several inches of rain fell in a half-hour period of time up in the Black Hills. In some of the canyons, a torrent of water thirty feet high came rushing down. The dam broke and a flood of water, in which 272 people lost their lives, came down Rapid Creek. You have to be prepared for the storm when it hits. That is why we, as a people, must be treasuring this experience of the eternal weight of glory. If we will bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, the Holy Spirit will be given to us without measure.
There are many, many people who are going to lose their salvation because they have not learned to think correctly. There are some fundamental principles that we need to understand at this time in which we live. At the very origin of our thinking process, there must be the Word of God. The human heart must be fully in harmony with Christ and His gospel in order to understand some other very important things. If the character of Christ is not understood because our thoughts have not been brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, there are going to be a lot of misconceptions about other dimensions of human life.
One of those dimensions is the area of the nature of the church. Have you noticed that there are differing views and understandings about the church? I have a very interesting book by Reinhold Seeberg, a Lutheran scholar, who discusses Luther’s understanding of the church. It had come to the point in Luther’s day where the papacy was so controlling the minds of the people that they were like the Jews in Jesus’ day. They were afraid to even discuss certain things. You did not dare lift your head and acknowledge that you believed in the teachings of John Huss, who was burned at the stake. It was only after Luther had spent some time studying the Word of God that he finally said, “We have all been Hussites and we never even knew it.”
That Word led Luther to reexamine the whole idea of the nature of the church; and do you know what he found? He discovered the same truth that John Grosboll has been preaching for some time. He found that the foundational, non-negotiable element of the church is that inner union of a heart that believes in faith in Jesus Christ. IT is those who have this experience of salvation who make up the body of Christ. As Luther searched, he realized that, yes, there is a visible dimension to this church, but any legitimate, visible demonstration or exhibition of the church rests upon that non-negotiable foundation of the invisible union of the heart with Christ. It was the understanding that the church is made up of those who are united with Him, who are one with Him, that enabled him to break with Rome. It was because of this clear understanding that the Protestant Reformation was born.
Luther understood that a visible entity, calling itself the church but which was not grounded in this heart union with Christ, was a fraud. He went on to say that the thing which marks the true visible church is the preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel. If false doctrine is preached, that is not the true church. This is a wonderful concept and one that we need to be anchored in.
Today we find that people are in a state of flux. The shaking is going on and it is shaking the entire movement. Those who have broken free from the human bonds in the glorious liberty of the sons of God have been advancing steadily, but they must understand that they must be solidly grounded in the Word of God so that the thought processes are correct. This has led to a division and separation from those who were content with Laodicea, satisfied with the structure.
Incidentally, I began doing a little research. Though I have not investigated this thing in depth, I found that the Roman Catholic Church talks about both a visible and an invisible church. I have a whole section on my shelves of the papal encyclicals for the last several hundred years, and I pulled down the encyclicals written by Pope Pius XII, who was the pope who signed the concordat with Hitler’s Germany. Pope Pius XII used the term “invisible” church. I found that the concept of the papacy is this: The visible head of the church on earth, which is the pope, controls the mystical body of Christ, which is the invisible dimension of the church. Whereas the Reformers said, No, Christ is the head of the church. It is the invisible union with Him that determines whether or not a person is a believer and a church member. Out of that group of believers, out of that body arises the visible church where the pure preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel takes place and the correct administration of the sacraments.
People are confused today. What do you do with a structure that is not preaching the pure principles of the gospel, that is no longer preaching victory over sin? What do you do with a structure that teaches that one goes on in sin right up to the second coming of Christ, that it is impossible to obey? What do you do with the structure?
If you had been living in the time of Jesus, what would have been your reaction? You have listened to the leaders say, “This Man is a deceiver. He is motivated by Beelzebub. Pay no attention to Him. If you listen to Him and go along with Him, you will be thrown out of the synagogue.” Would you have had that vision of the eternal weight of glory and seen in Christ the character of the Messiah as described in the Old Testament and longed to possess it?
Before there can be an understanding of the nature of the church, there must be a deep personal experience of submission to the Word of God. Once we are thinking correctly, with our thinking founded on the Word of God, allowing nothing to divert us from submission to that Word, we are prepared to be stable and reliable in our commitment.
Do you want to be a theologian? Martin Luther said that there are three things that make a theologian. First you must have oratio. This refers to reading the Word aloud, as this makes a deeper impression upon the mind. Then you must have meditatio. You must meditate on the Word; that is when you digest the food of the Word. As Ellen White said, it is not enough to just read the letter of the Word, but the Word must be applied by the Holy Spirit. Then there must be anfechtung, a German word which refers to the application of the Word to the heart and all of the inner turmoil and struggle that take place when it runs into conflict with all of the natural tendencies as it is applied to the life. Luther said that the heart smarts under the application of the Word, but it is when the word of God is actually applied to the human heart that we really begin to have a correct theology.
When we have this experience of practical godliness, we are then prepared to understand the nature of the church. Only then are we prepared to do evangelism, to bring people to a knowledge of truth. If your theology is not right, if your experience is not right, how can you be an evangelist? You may launch out on an evangelistic project, but if there is not the inner correct thinking and understanding of bringing every thought into obedience to Christ, it may all collapse around you in ruins. The Jews crucified Christ because they had not learned to think in submission to the Word of God. They expected a different kind of Messiah, and they rejected Him because He did not meet their presuppositions, their preconditions as to what they believed the Messiah should be. In nailing Him to the cross of Calvary, the Jewish nation broke the bond of the theocracy with God.
What an awesome lesson about not digging deep enough. They did not dig deep enough in the Old Testament. They did not have the depth to understand what He was doing on the Sabbath day; therefore, they considered that He was a Sabbathbreaker. The whole book of Hebrews was written by Paul because of the misconception of the Hebrew people regarding the sanctuary and their failure, therefore, to realize that the sanctuary services on this earth were terminated and they had begun in heaven. Incidentally, because of incorrect thinking, virtually the whole Christian world have failed to correctly understand the book of Hebrews.
The Jews failed in not going deep enough to understand the kingdom, and John had to bring them a knowledge of the kingdom.
Jeremiah was sent by God to go to the very steps of the temple and tell the people that unless they started obeying God, they were going to go into captivity. (See Jeremiah 7.) He told them that to say that they had the structure as their security was a lying word.
The heathen had a perversion of the truth; but those who did inquire into the Hebrew economy, who wanted to know truth at all cost and were willing to dig deeply, came to an understanding of the knowledge of the truth, like the Magi who came to worship Jesus. At the end of time, the whole world will be shaken by the Sabbath/Sunday issue. The Sabbath will reveal those who have made their supreme allegiance to God, to his truth, to His kingdom, to all that is encompassed in the Word of God. And those who are prepared to go with man, to go with the flow of humanity in a direction that is alien to the Word of God, will accept the mark of the beast, the sign of submission to human authority over and against the authority of God.
So the whole world is going to be tested on whether or not it has gone deep enough in its experience with God. Our movement today of historic Adventism is being tested. Every individual is being tested. Ultimately, every individual in this world will be tested. Have they gone down deep and fastened themselves, riveted themselves to the Eternal Rock. Ellen White said that, “when the love of Jesus is abiding in the soul, many who are now but withered branches will become as the cedars of Lebanon ‘whose root is by the great water.’ The cedar is noted for the firmness of its roots. Not content to cling to the earth with a few weak fibers, it thrusts its rootlets, like a sturdy wedge, into the cloven rock, and reaches down deeper and deeper for strongholds to grasp.” Review and Herald, June 20, 1882
How is it with your life? Are the tendrils of the roots of your life going down into Christ? Down into the crevices of the Rock Christ Jesus, anchoring themselves? You know, rock climbers have to find ways of wedging their fingers and toes into the rock. They wedge pitons into the rock, and their life is suspended by such things. How is it with you and the Rock of Ages? Are you content with “a few weak fibers” like the palm trees that go over when the hurricanes come through; or are you like a cedar of Lebanon that has its rootlets going down like a sturdy wedge into the cloven rock, reaching down deeper and deeper for strongholds to grasp? How deep are you?
What a goodly cedar might not every follower of Christ become if he were but rooted and grounded in the truth, firmly united to the Eternal Rock. Yes, humanity is having to come to grips with how it is thinking. How deeply are you being anchored?