Current Events – Body Arts, Beauty or Mutilation?

Modification of the body, whether permanent or semi-permanent, has been happening for many generations and is done for various reasons, such as ritual, supposed beautification or aesthetics, rites of passage, religious beliefs or to display group membership or affiliation. It is even done to create shock value or simply as self-expression. In general, voluntary changes are modifications, while involuntary changes are considered mutilations.

Young men and women in many African communities have their bodies modified to fulfill custom. Such rites have often required some form of change to the head, limbs or torso. These rites involve practices that range from a mere head and eyebrow shaving to cutting patterns on the face or body using a razor blade, and the chipping, or filing, or removal of incisor teeth. Other forms of modification have included the wearing of wooden plugs designed to stretch the earlobes. This has been a common practice among the Maasai and Turkana people of Kenya, who begin to wear wooden earplugs at 10 years of age, a practice that is considered by many to be a form of child abuse.

Mutilation Used as Punishment

In the early days of America, horse thieves were secured in stocks while they were whipped and their cheeks branded with H T to identify their crime. Slaves, considered property by their masters, were branded for identification from ancient times. Today, in some countries, amputation of the right hand is the punishment for those convicted of theft.

For centuries, the Chinese thought it attractive to bind the feet of the little girls so their feet would not grow bigger than around five inches. This inhumane practice, which has been outlawed since the early 1900s, crippled the women for life.

For many, the skin is a canvas in need of decoration. Some display marks for all to see while some are hidden and only known to the wearer. Modifications such as body piercing and tattooing have become very popular in recent times from simple markings to altering bone structure. Devotees of extreme body modification say that tattoos, piercings, and skin implants are beautiful and that the sometimes-painful procedures used to create them can be emotionally and even spiritually uplifting.

Looking over His creation, God saw that “indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Through Moses He gave explicit instructions to the Israelites that they were not to make any cuttings in their flesh for the dead or place any tattoo marks on themselves (Leviticus 19:28).

Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). And again, “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1, 2).

The only cutting to be done is the circumcision of the heart, the cutting away of sin from the life. It is a deception of the devil to believe that we can improve on what God has created by painting and mutilating our bodies which we have on loan in this life.

“It is right to love beauty and to desire it; but God desires us to love and to seek first the highest beauty—that which is imperishable. The choicest productions of human skill possess no beauty that can bear comparison with the that beauty of character which in His sight is of “great price.” Education, 249.

Children’s Story – Saved from a Panther

Did you know that some wild beasts will not attack a person who is singing? That is really a fact, as you will find by reading this true story. The story tells how God heard the prayer of two little girls, and protected them from a panther when they were walking home through the woods one evening in Pennsylvania.

Near the summit of a mountain in Pennsylvania was a small place called Honeyville. It consisted of two log houses, two shanties, a rickety old barn, and a small shed, surrounded by a few acres of cleared land. In one of these houses lived a family of seven—father, mother, three boys, and two girls. The mother and her two little girls, Nina and Dot, were Christians, and their voices were often lifted in praise to God as they sang from an old hymn book which they dearly loved.

One morning in the late autumn, the mother sent Nina and Dot on an errand to their sister’s home three and one-half miles away. The first two miles took them through dense woods, while the rest of the way led past houses and through small clearings. She told them to start on their return home in time to arrive before dark, as many wild beasts—bears, catamounts [mountain lions/cougars], and sometimes even panthers—were prowling around. These animals were hungry at this time of the year, for they were getting ready to “hole up,” or lie down in some cozy cave or hole for their long winter’s nap.

The girls started off, merrily chasing each other along the way. They arrived at their sister’s in good time, and had a jolly romp with the baby. After dinner, the sister was so busy and the children were so happy in their play that the time passed unheeded until the clock struck four. Then the girls hurriedly started for home, in the hope that they might arrive there before it became very dark. The older sister watched until they disappeared up the road, anxiously wishing someone were there to go with them.

The girls made good time until they entered the long stretch of woods.

“Oh, I know where there is such a large patch of wintergreen berries, right by the road!” said Nina. “Let’s pick some for mamma.” So they climbed over a few stones and logs, and, sure enough, the berries were plentiful. They picked and talked, sometimes playing hide and seek among the bushes.

When they started on again, the sun was sinking low in the west, and the trees were casting long, heavy shadows over the road. When about half the distance was covered, Dot began to feel tired and afraid. Nina tried to cheer her.

“Over one more long hill, and we shall be home,” she said.

But now they could see the sun shining only on the tops of the trees on the hill, and in the woods it was already twilight. …

Suddenly a large panther stepped out of the bushes. He turned his head first one way and then another. Then, as if seeing the girls for the first time, he crouched down, and, crawling, sneaking along, like a cat after a bird, he moved toward them. The girls stopped and looked at each other. Then Dot began to cry.

“O Nina! Let’s run!” she said, in a half-smothered whisper.

But Nina thought of the long, dark, lonely road behind, and knew that running was useless. Then she thought of what she had heard her father say about showing fear.

“No, let’s pass it,” she said as she seized her little sister’s hand, “God will help us.” And she started up the road toward the panther.

When the children moved, the panther stopped, straightened himself up, then crouching again, he moved slowly, uneasily, toward them. When they had nearly reached him, and Nina, who was nearer, saw his body almost rising for the spring, there flashed through her mind the memory of hearing it said that a wild beast would not attack anyone who was singing. What should she sing? In vain she tried to recall some song. Her mind seemed a blank. In despair, she looked up and breathed a little prayer for help. Then she caught a glimpse of the last rays of the setting sun touching the tops of the trees on the hill, and she began to sing:

“There is sunlight on the hilltop,
There is sunlight on the sea.”

Her sister joined in. At last their voices were faint and trembling, but by the time the children were opposite the panther, the words of the song rang out sweet and clear on the evening air.

The panther stopped, and straightened himself to his full height. His tail, which had been lashing and switching, became quiet, as he seemed to listen. The girls passed on, hand in hand, never looking behind them.

“Oh, the sunlight! beautiful sunlight!
Oh, the sunlight in the heart!”

How sweet the words sounded as they echoed and reechoed through the woods. As the children neared the top of the hill, the rumbling of a wagon fell upon their ears, so they knew that help was near. But still they sang. When they had reached the top, there was the wagon. Then for the first time they turned and looked back just in time to catch a last glimpse of the panther as he disappeared into the woods.

The mother had looked often and anxiously down the road, and each time was disappointed in not seeing the children coming. Finally she could wait no longer, and started to meet them. When about halfway there, she heard the music:

“Oh, the sunlight! beautiful sunlight!
Oh, the sunlight in the heart!
Jesus’ smile can banish sadness;
It is sunlight in the heart.”

At first, a happy smile of relief passed over her face; but it faded as she listened. There was such an unearthly sweetness in the song, so strong and clear, that it seemed like the music of angels instead of her own little girls. The song stopped, and the children appeared over the hill. She saw their white faces, and hurried toward them. When they saw her, how their little feet flew! But it was some time before they could tell her what had happened.

What a joyful season of worship they had that night! and what a meaning that dear old hymn has had to them ever since!

The memory of that thrilling experience will never fade from the memory of the writer, who was one of the children.

True Education Reader, Fourth Grade, Nina Case Baierle (adapted), 281–286.

Unity Through Faith in Christ

On the night of His betrayal, Christ made a very interesting statement, recorded in Luke 22:37: “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” [Emphasis supplied.]

Christ was quoting from Isaiah 53, a chapter that so faithfully and clearly describes Himself as the Messiah that Jewish parents refuse to discuss the chapter with their children. Thankfully, we are not so blind to the mercies of God that we refuse to recognize His prophetic voice speaking in the message He gave Isaiah centuries ago.

What are the things concerning Christ that “have an end” that He was referring to in Luke 22:37? A careful reading of Isaiah 53 will answer that question. Much of what Isaiah described about Christ ended at the cross—being “numbered with the transgressors”—but the entirety of the assertion He made in Luke has yet to come fully to pass. Christ continues to experience the sinfulness of sin as He pleads His blood before the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary. And that ordeal will not end until the sanctuary is cleansed and He returns to this earth with the host of heaven to gather His saints.

Thus, we ponder if Christ’s statement that “the things concerning Me have an end” has a broader application. Indeed, many things concerning Him did have an end when He was crucified. But there is, in my opinion, another end yet to come, and that will occur when Christ returns to gather His saints and ends the misery that sin has brought upon this earth.

What must we do to cope with the trials of life until that glorious event occurs? Remember that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

Our hope lies not in this life, but in the life to come. Christ referred to that eternal life time and time again when He was on earth, though at the time few comprehended what He meant. The most famous reference, perhaps, is in John 3:16, a text that most professors of Christ learned at their parent’s knee.

The promise of eternal life, though, occurs over and over again in the record of Christ’s life as recorded in the gospels, and that promise is always based on the same condition—obedience—sometimes clearly stated and sometimes implied by the context of the statement.

In Matthew 19, we have this record: “Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments’ ” (Matthew 19:16, 17).

This is a rather amazing statement for a reason that might be easily overlooked. Clearly Christ is mindful here of His human nature and recognizes the inherent capacity for sin in the natural heart, which He assumed when He came to this earth to rescue man from the wages of sin. Mindful of this, of the potential sinfulness of humanity, He refused to accept the accolade offered by this rich young ruler: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” After that assertion, Christ clearly states the one and only condition for eternal life: “keep the commandments.”

The gospel writer who wrote most frequently of the reward of eternal life was the apostle John, usually in his record of Christ’s interactions with non-believers or in response to questions from His erstwhile followers.

John records an interesting exchange in the sixth chapter of his gospel narrative, where there is a comprehensive record of the feeding of the five thousand and the events that followed.

Perceiving the intent of the masses to “take Him by force to make Him king” (John 6:15), Jesus absented Himself from the scene and sought solitude. After reuniting with His disciples in a rather startling manner (verses 19, 20), He engaged in an extended conversation with the people about Himself as the bread of life.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’ ” (verse 35). A bit later, Christ made a less symbolic, more direct statement regarding eternal realities: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (verse 47). Unfortunately, there were not many who were willing to carry their belief in Him to complete fulfillment, as we see as this crisis in Galilee was building.

Christ’s statements that followed were unacceptable to the masses, for they failed to understand the symbolism in his assertion that “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (verse 53).

Christ clearly stated in no vague language, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (verse 63), “many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (verse 66).

In the following chapter, John records a conversation that again was so full of symbolism that few truly understood His meaning.

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37, 38).

The meaning of this statement that so puzzled His hearers is made clear in the Spirit of Prophecy:

“The flowing of the water from the rock in the desert was celebrated by the Israelites, after their establishment in Canaan, with demonstrations of great rejoicing. In the time of Christ this celebration had become a most impressive ceremony. It took place on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the people from all the land were assembled at Jerusalem. On each of the seven days of the feast the priests went out with music and the choir of Levites to draw water in a golden vessel from the spring of Siloam. They were followed by multitudes of the worshipers, as many as could get near the stream drinking of it, while the jubilant strains arose, ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). Then the water drawn by the priests was borne to the temple amid the sounding of trumpets and the solemn chant, ‘Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122:2). The water was poured out upon the altar of burnt offering, while songs of praise rang out, the multitudes joining in triumphant chorus with musical instruments and deep-toned trumpets.

“The Saviour made use of this symbolic service to direct the minds of the people to the blessings that He had come to bring them. ‘In the last day, that great day of the feast,’ His voice was heard in tones that rang through the temple courts, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ ‘This,’ said John, ‘spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive’ (John 7:37–39). The refreshing water, welling up in a parched and barren land, causing the desert place to blossom, and flowing out to give life to the perishing, is an emblem of the divine grace which Christ alone can bestow, and which is as the living water, purifying, refreshing, and invigorating the soul. He in whom Christ is abiding has within him a never-failing fountain of grace and strength. Jesus cheers the life and brightens the path of all who truly seek Him. His love, received into the heart, will spring up in good works unto eternal life. And not only does it bless the soul in which it springs, but the living stream will flow out in words and deeds of righteousness, to refresh the thirsting around him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 412.

In the eleventh chapter of John we have the record of the death and resurrection of Lazarus. After Christ and His disciples come to Bethany on the fourth day following Lazarus’ death, there is an interesting exchange between Martha and Jesus in which Martha’s understanding of the state of the dead is clearly revealed. “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day’ ” (John 11:23, 24).

In response, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? ’ ” (verses 25, 26).

Though Martha responded positively, her response indicated that she failed to fully comprehend what belief in Christ fully means.

“To the Saviour’s words, ‘Believest thou?’ Martha responded, ‘Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.’ She did not comprehend in all their significance the words spoken by Christ, but she confessed her faith in His divinity, and her confidence that He was able to perform whatever it pleased Him to do.” The Desire of Ages, 530.

There are two other passages in John’s gospel that should bring great joy to the believer. In John 16:33, Christ provides a reason for the continuing hope that His followers should have: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

There is no greater peace, in the fullest meaning of the word, that one can have than is obtained in recognizing that Christ’s victory over the enemy of souls is our victory as well. Truly, “in the world” we “will have tribulation.” We have an enemy who is determined to drag humanity down into the same miserable pit of sin and degradation that he currently occupies. Nevertheless, by fully believing in Christ, by nurturing that measure of faith that each of us has been given, we can “be of good cheer” and “overcome the world.”

The final passage in the gospel of John that expresses the eternal life available to all who have faith in Christ is given in Christ’s prayer in John 17.

John 17:20–23: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

All who understand fully what “belief” in Christ entails will indeed be unified in the bonds of Christian brotherhood that John summarized succinctly but powerfully in his first missive: “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

We cannot “walk in the light” unless we have complete faith in Christ as the Redeemer of mankind and fully believe that His blood cleanses us from all sin. Then that unity that Christ prayed so fervently for in John 17 will be a reality and we will indeed have true Christian fellowship with one another.

The gospel writers were not alone in their affirmation that obedience through faith in Christ imparts righteousness to the believer—that righteousness by faith that alone provides the spotless wedding garment to the saved. Paul alluded time and time again to the inseparable union of faith, righteousness, and eternal life.

One of his strongest statements occurs in Philippians 3:8, 9: “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

As Paul’s long, final imprisonment began and his itinerate ministry was drawing to a close, he continued to bear faithfully the message that God had laid upon his heart. When arraigned before Felix, he took the opportunity to preach one of his most meaningful and memorable sermons.

For two years, “a ray of light from heaven had been permitted to shine upon Felix, when Paul reasoned with him concerning righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. That was his heaven-sent opportunity to see and to forsake his sins. But he said to the messenger of God, ‘Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.’ He had slighted his last offer of mercy. Never was he to receive another call from God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 427.

Let us not be like Felix, who had at his disposal for two years one of the greatest expositors of the gospel, who apparently conversed with him at will, but who rejected this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to know more fully the way of salvation.

“And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ” (Acts 24:24).

“The faith in Christ” … Felix rejected his opportunity to understand what that meant. Thankfully, by the grace and love of god, we have on record Paul’s explanation of what it means to be in Christ and to have faith in Christ, so that we are “without excuse” if we fail to grasp the full import of what that means.

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21–26).

“… through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe …”

Unity through faith in Christ!

John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, Arizona, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to join the Steps team. 

Sealed By Grace Through Faith

Before Jesus can come the second time He must have a people on whose foreheads He can place the seal of the living God. What is this seal and how do we receive it? The scriptures teach us that God wants to write His law on our hearts. “I will put My law into their minds and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people” (Hebrews 8:10).

The prophet Isaiah tells us, “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples” (Isaiah 8:16). The law Isaiah is referring to is God’s ten commandments, the keeping of which Solomon taught was the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13). What we see in Christianity today is a power that changed God’s moral law that was written by the finger of God on tables of stone. This anti-Christ power has boasted for hundreds of years that it had the authority and power to change this moral law. If you compare the teachings of the Catholic catechism with the ten commandments of the Bible you will find a world of difference. The order as well as the wording has been changed. The second commandment dealing with idolatry is conveniently missing and the fourth commandment became the third. To make up the ten laws, the tenth commandment has been divided into two.

Daniel prophesied that a power would arise after the apostolic church leaders died that would think to change times and laws (Daniel 7:25). The Protestant world has fallen into this delusion of Sunday worship that the Papal church has boastingly taught for centuries.

Uriah Smith wrote these words about the importance of the Sabbath commandment: “The author of this Sabbath law has declared who He is, the extent of His dominion, and His right to rule; for every created intelligent being must at once assent that He is the creator of all and has a right to demand obedience from all His creatures. Thus, with the fourth commandment in its place, this wonderful document among men that God only wrote with His own finger, has a signature, it has that which renders it intelligible and authentic, and it has a seal. But without the fourth commandment, the law is incomplete and unauthoritative.” Daniel and Revelation, 457.

This law of man’s devising in the Catholic catechism is not the law that God will write upon the hearts of His obedient children. His commandment-keeping people will offer the prayer of David: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

The agency that writes the seal of God upon the heart is the Holy Spirit. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Ellen White calls it “the pure mark of truth.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 267.

On another occasion, she wrote these solemn words: “Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot of stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of all defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” Ibid., vol. 5, 214. We are warned that “not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed.” Ibid., 213. Our profession will be tested in the future if we do not have sufficient oil in our lamps (Matthew 25). The following statement gives one of the clearest definitions of the seal of God: “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so that they cannot be moved—just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” “Ellen G. White comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1161.

It appears from this statement that the shaking and the sealing are events that happen together. The fiery trial of our faith will only purify our characters. The straight testimony must be given in the spirit and power of the Holy Spirit to reveal who is really on the Lord’s side (see Early Writings, 270). This will be a terrible ordeal for the church to face, but the Lord will see us through it all (Isaiah 40; Zachariah 10:1). There is only one way of salvation found in Scripture, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Likewise, we are sealed by faith in the great and precious promise of God’s word (2 Peter 1:4). His word to us today is: “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds (thunder clouds), and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field” (Zechariah 10:1). We will have to enter into this experience of receiving the latter rain alone.

Compare Isaiah 40:8, 1 Peter 1:23–25. The prophet Zechariah also describes how this will be accomplished. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem … . And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; … In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land … and the unclean spirit out of the land” (Zechariah 12:10–14, 13:1, 2).

The greatest victories for the church and for the individual Christian are not those victories gained by talent, education, wealth or the favor of man but those victories that are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power (see Patriarchs and Prophets, 203).

The destiny of the church is dependent upon heeding the counsel of the True Witness. Those within our church who are not willing to heed the counsel will rise up against it and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people (see Early Writings, 270).

What I understand from these statements as to the cause of the shaking is that the very positive message, calling for a revival, will cause a negative response by those who do not recognize their need of the Holy Spirit.

Ellen White describes the results of the shaking: “I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping and praying in agony of spirit. The company of guardian angels around them had been doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, now shone with the light and glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude and holy, sacred joy.” Early Writings, 271.

She concludes this page with these words: “I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, ‘It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel.’ ” Ibid.

It is the power of the Holy Spirit that seals and prepares us for translation as we cooperate by putting away our besetting sins of pride, selfishness, love of the world and every wrong word and action. We are sealing our destiny for translation. All glory belongs to the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, lived in such communion with God that God took him to Himself, denying Satan’s power over the human family that had been created in God’s image.

The apostle Paul commenting on the heroes of faith in the Old Testament briefly describes how Enoch was prepared for heaven in these words: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). How he pleased God we are told in the next verse. He pleased God because he exercised faith in the great and precious promises in God’s word (2 Peter 1:4). He also believed that “God was a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6) by prayer and Bible study.

Another powerful type of the last generation who will be sealed is demonstrated by Jacob’s experience in wrestling with the angel at the brook Jabbok. Separated and alone at the brook, he saw this person approach him and thinking he was the enemy caused him to wrestle all night for victory.

When the Angel of the Lord touched Jacob’s thigh and crippled him he recognized his assailant was Christ. Then Jacob would not release his hold on his Savior until he received the blessing of the forgiveness of sin, especially his sin against his brother Esau.

Commenting on this experience of Jacob, Ellen White writes: “Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His experience testifies to the power of importunate prayer. It is now that we are to learn this lesson of prevailing prayer, of unyielding faith. The greatest victories to the church of Christ or to the individual Christian are not those that are gained by talent or education, by wealth or the favor of men. They are those victories that are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 203.

We, like Jacob, must wrestle alone with God until we receive the power of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. As Jacob received a name change because of his persistent faith so also the faith of the 144,000 will be rewarded as the Israel of God, the saints of the Most High God. They have followed the Lamb of God on earth and will have special privileges in the kingdom of God in heaven (see Early Writings, 19).

Isaiah’s prophecy will then be fulfilled by the 144,000. “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).

We must plead and agonize for His wonderful blessing in proportion to the value of this wonderful gift that God has promised His church (see The Desire of Ages, 668). Also, we must learn to walk and wrestle with God today as did Enoch and Jacob and cling to our Saviour and never let go until the morning breaks into eternal day.

We serve a God who loves us individually (John 3:16). May we each individually receive a goodly seal on this anti-typical day of atonement is my prayer for all Israel.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me ever to adore Thee,
May I still Thy goodness prove,
While the hope of endless glory
Fills my heart with joy and love.

O, to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter,
Bind me closer still to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart – O, take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Robert Robinson, 1758 (1725–1790)

Government in the Church

Among God’s people in the Christian church there must not only be love, but also order. Peter instructed the elders of the early church telling them: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2, 3).

The apostolic church over a relatively short period became highly organized. This was not possible without the blessing of the Holy Spirit which works through organized means. Within 25 or 30 years after the crucifixion of Christ, the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossae that the gospel had gone to every creature under heaven.

When God raised up the second advent movement, He taught them that His work today was also to be organized.

In the book, Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 106, she wrote, “In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”

Many historic Seventh-day Adventists today seem to have forgotten what God has taught us in the past.

We are told: “Never since the creation of the world were such important interests at stake as now depend upon the action of men who believe and are giving the last message of warning to the world.” Ibid., 246. God does not change. His ways and principles do not change.

The apostle Paul told Timothy to train faithful men who can teach others. Years after Ellen White’s son William was born, she was shown in vision that God had raised up her son, on whom He would put the spirit of wisdom, to help her in her work when her husband could no longer help. William White lived until 1937. During the 1930s, he wrote articles that appeared in The Review and Herald, the official organ of the Seventh-day Adventist church, describing how the Adventist church had become organized as it is today.

If we forget how the Lord led us in the past, we will make the same mistakes that they made almost 150 years ago. In this article, we will review the principal points that William White enumerated as happening during the second advent movement.

After the great disappointment in 1844 when Jesus did not return, the great mass of the people (between 50 to 100 thousand in the United States alone), fell away. During Jesus’ ministry on earth He cleansed the temple twice, once at the beginning of His ministry and again at the end.

Ellen White is very clear that just as Jesus purified the temple twice, in the closing work, He will purify His people twice. At the beginning, when He purified the advent movement, the great mass of believers fell away. There was only a handful of people left that held on to their faith, and to them was revealed the Sabbath truth. The two great doctrines that were then preached were the Sabbath and the second coming of Christ.

However, there was no organized way to proclaim these things to the world, and there were very few Sabbath-keepers. If a person was convicted that he should preach, he would just go out at his own expenses and start preaching. Maybe somebody would give him some money to help him with his expenses as he went from place to place to proclaim the fact that Jesus was coming soon, and to be ready for His coming, and that we needed to keep His commandments.

There was no conception of a world-wide, organized effort. However, within a few years, people from different parts of the country were expressing an interest to learn about the Advent truth. There was a lack of preachers or ministers that could be sent to them, for most who preached present truth had to have a part-time job of some kind to support themselves while they were preaching. Hence there was a dearth of laborers.

In 1858 James White described it this way: “Repeated disappointments are saddening and discouraging our preachers. They have generally moved out expecting to be sustained by their brethren in their arduous work, but their brethren often failed to do their duty. They have looked on apparently unmoved and they have seen one after another of our preachers break down in health through over labor and deprivation for want of means while they have continued to hug their earthly treasures to their hearts. Disappointment has been the sad lot of our preachers and now several of them are sunken down under poverty, broken-down in health and discouragement.” The Review and Herald, April 8, 1858.

In January 1859, a church-meeting was held in Battle Creek. Those present were much burdened because of the lack of preachers. Among those present were J. N. Andrews from Iowa, James White, and J. B. Frisby. The three of them were asked at this meeting to prepare an address for the Adventist people about systematic benevolence, which they did.

In the paper that was subsequently published, they discussed the Scriptural basis of giving for the cause of the gospel and showed that such gifts should be bestowed willingly, equitably, liberally, regularly, and systematically. They wrote that God wants us to give as He has prospered us. The following proposals were published in The Review and Herald, February 3, 1859.

  1. “Let each brother from 18 to 60 years of age lay by him in store on the first day of the week from 5 to 25 cents.” (See 1 Corinthians 16:2.)
  2. “Each sister from 18 to 60 years of age, lay by her in store the first day of the week 2 to 10 cents.” On the average, a woman, even today, with the identical, same education as a man will make approximately 70 to 75% of what a man will make.
  3. “Let each brother and sister lay by him or her in store on the first day of each week, from 1 to 5 cents on each and every one hundred dollars of property that they possess.”

It is estimated at that time that the total property owned by the Seventh-day Adventists was between nine and ten thousand dollars. This was mostly in small houses and lots and with this small systematic giving the funds began to come in and ministers could be hired to preach.

Elder Loughborough reported: “It seems to me as far as means are concerned, this plan has been the salvation of the cause of present truth from bankruptcy. In places where before the adoption of this plan the brethren thought they could scarcely take care of themselves, and do comparatively nothing for the support of the cause, we see them now stating that their systematic benevolence amounts to over $100 a year.” The Review and Herald on June 18, 1861.

During this same time, James White began to propose to the brethren assembling in different areas that in each state where there are sufficient Seventh-day Adventists it would be a good thing to hold an annual meeting to come together to study and to pray for God’s work; where they might be more united in their work for the Lord. This proposal was accepted and yearly camp meetings began.

James White wrote, “We lack system. Many of our brethren are in a scattered state. They observe the Sabbath, read with some interest The Review, but obviously, they are doing little or nothing for want of some method of united action among them.” Ibid., July 21, 1859.

A push for local church organization began. Many problems needed to be solved because of the different local churches with no unified policy and no unified system of beliefs. W. C. White reported that conduct that might be permitted in some churches, would, in other places, furnish occasion for disfellowship.

He further reported, “We are aware that these suggestions will not meet the minds of all. Brother Overcautious will be frightened and will be ready to warn his brethren to be careful and not venture out too far; while Brother Confusion will cry out, ‘O, this looks just like Babylon, following the fallen church.’ Brother Dolittle will say, ‘the cause is the Lord’s, and we had better leave it in His hands. He will take care of it.’ ‘Amen,’ say Love of this World, Slothful, and Stingy, ‘If God calls men to preach, let them go out and preach. He will take care of them. And those who believe their message, while Korah, Dathan, and Abiram are ready to rebel against those who feel the weight of the cause, and who watch for souls as those that must give an account, and they raise the cry, You take too much upon you.’ ” Ibid.

This discussion on becoming organized was approaching a debate. Some Adventists believed that if you become organized you will become just like Babylon. We still have that same problem today.

James White later wrote, “It was too late to be afraid of gospel order merely because others have gone into the creed business, too late to run off the bridge on one side simply because the water roars on the other. There are two extremes to be shunned. One is for human wisdom alone to combine its feeble strength to carry on the work of God. The other is to leave with God what He has left for us, and sit down and wait for special providences before moving. If such move at all, it is independent of the views and feelings of others, each individual constituting an independent church.” Ibid.

James White was editor of The Review and Herald, which was located at Battle Creek, and they needed money. Sometimes they borrowed to carry on their work. One lady offered to loan $100 which would be like $5,000 today. Because it was a loan she wanted James White to personally sign a promissory note that they would pay it back. Being unable to be responsible for the debts that would be incurred by The Review and Herald office he refused and the loan was not accepted. The Review office buildings were not insured and if they burned down with fire they would be lost.

He wrote, “We hope, however, that the time is not far distant when this people will be in that position necessary to be able to get church property insured. I think it’s soon that we are going to be able to get our church property insured. … hold the meeting houses in a proper manner, that those persons making their wills and wishing to do so, can appropriate a portion to the publishing department. Till this can be brought around, we must do the best we can, but we wish it distinctly understood that we bear no individual responsibility in the matter.” Ibid., February 23, 1860.

James White proposed that the church come to a place where it could do certain things that they were not able to do then. He said that they needed to be in a position to get church property insured and that they needed to hold the meeting houses in proper manner. If a church building is owned by an individual and that individual becomes fanatical, he or she could control anything that happens in that building because that building is privately owned.

Some of the leading brethren were not prepared to accept such radical change of policy that would be involved in organizing according to the law as James White had promoted. He believed that matters must be arranged that the responsibility of debt not rest upon one individual. There was a lot of opposition.

James White believed that if it is acceptable for an individual to hold their own home property or other real estate legally, it is also acceptable for a church to legally hold property. Year after year he pressed the issue of the need to be a legal entity, able to hold property and insure its buildings. Then a person who wants to can leave a bequest to a church that is a legal entity.

In another letter, James White wrote to those who were opposed to becoming incorporated, saying, “There is danger of being so overzealous to keep out of Babylon, that we shall commit her most noted blunder, that of sticking a stake and refusing to pull it up and advance. When we cease to unlearn errors, we shall fall like those who have gone before us. We have learned much and no doubt there is much more for us to learn. It is the follow-on and the go-through that will finally land the remnant without fault on the heavenly Mount Zion. My conclusion is that we should give up no Scripture truth, but that our false applications and interpretations of Scripture and consequent false ideas of order and propriety should be given up as fast as possible.” Ibid., May 29, 1860.

As these ideas began to be promoted and affect the minds of the people, a church in Parkville, Michigan, apparently the first Seventh-day Adventist church, was finally legally organized. In a meeting in May 1860, J. N. Loughborough was present when they took legal steps toward organizing as a religious society, that they might hold property in a lawful manner. Trustees were elected and a certificate was made out and filed preparatory to recording in the county clerk’s office. No name had yet been decided for the Adventists and they had to choose a name for their church to legally own property. Tentatively, they called themselves, Parkville Church of Christ’s Second Advent.

The leaders then decided to group the churches together and organize. Eventually, the name Seventh-day Adventist was chosen. By May 3, 1861, the Review and Herald Association was incorporated by law.

Three months later after the church had become legally organized, Ellen White said, “I saw that the enemy would come in every way possible to dishearten the people of God and perplex and trouble them, and that they should move understandingly, and prepare themselves for the attacks of Satan. Matters pertaining to the church should not be left in an unsettled condition. Steps should be taken to secure church property for the cause of God, that the work may not be retarded in its progress, and that the means which persons wish to dedicate to God’s cause may not slip into the enemy’s ranks. I saw that God’s people should act wisely, and leave nothing undone on their part to place the business of the church in a secure state.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 210, 211.

Around that time in a vision, Ellen White was shown an advance move that many of the Adventists had not yet understood. God already had a plan in place thousands of years ago to solve the problem they were working on to have finances for their ministers – God’s people should follow the tithing and offering system. Ministers began to talk, not just about systematic benevolence, but about the Bible principle of supporting God’s cause with the tithes and offerings of believers.

James White was concerned that there was not a proper distribution of ministers, and wrote, “In our unorganized condition our preachers have not been properly distributed. Vermont and Michigan have more than their proportion, and five still have their headquarters at Battle Creek, while Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, the Canadas, and the Western Territories are almost destitute. All reflecting persons can conclude that there is a wrong in this somewhere.” The Review and Herald, April 28, 1863.

“Shall the General Conference correct the wrong by making a judicious distribution of preachers? We plead for system, and while ministers call for systematic benevolence, the people loudly call for systematic labor.” Ibid.

The need to look at the whole world field and help achieve a proper distribution of workers in different places was one of the main reasons a general conference was formed.

On April 7, 1863, The Review and Herald announced that there would be a general conference of the Seventh-day Adventists at Battle Creek, Michigan, to commence Wednesday, May 20, at 6 o’clock p.m. All delegates and letters must be sanctioned by some state conference or conference committee, or where there are no state conferences, some church or meeting of scattered brethren.

Twenty-one delegates from all the different state conferences assembled in Battle Creek. J. M. Aldrich was chosen chairman. Uriah Smith was chosen as secretary, and the first evening they had presentation of credentials and reports from delegates. The next morning, May 21, they adopted a constitution having nine articles, which established and defined the authority of Seventh-day Adventists. They also proposed general conference meetings once a year with the various state conferences being represented by delegates.

Officers were selected, a president, a secretary, a treasurer, and an executive committee of three. For several reasons, James White refused the offer to be the president. He had been one who had been most vocal in encouraging and promoting church organization and he did not want it to be thought that he was trying to get a position for himself. However, in addition to that, he was working as the editor of The Review and Herald as well as doing a lot of preaching at camp meetings and revival meetings. Though he was pressed, he still refused and John Byington was elected to be the first General Conference president.

Ellen White reflected upon what had happened, approximately 40 years later. Looking back at the events from 1858 to 1863, she said, “I was one of the number who had an experience in establishing it from the first … . As our members increased, it was evident that without some form of organization, there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable.

“Yet, there was strong feeling against it among our people. The First-day Adventists were opposed to organization and most of the Seventh-day Adventists entertained the same ideas. We sought the Lord with earnest prayer that we might understand His will, and light was given by His Spirit, that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church, that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God’s people on earth.

“We had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again. But we knew that the Lord God of Israel was leading us, and guiding by His providence. We engaged in the work of organization, and marked prosperity attending this advance movement.” General Conference Daily Bulletin, January 29, 1893.

Today, some may say that we had to have it then, but now that we are more organized and have become world-wide, it is not as necessary. However, she said, “Let none entertain the thought, however, that we can dispense with organization. It has cost us much study, and many prayers for wisdom that we know God has answered, to erect this structure. It has been built up by His direction, through much sacrifice and conflict. Let none of our brethren be so deceived as to attempt to tear it down, for you will thus bring in a condition of things that you do not dream of.” Ibid.

“… let every one be exceedingly careful not to unsettle minds in regard to those things that God has ordained for our prosperity and success in advancing his cause.” Ibid.

A few years after that, she wrote again how the devil was going to try to deceive our people on this subject. In 1907, she said, “O how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God. We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time.

“Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religions organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man’s being independent. The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And, in order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together.” Gospel Workers, 487.

Here we see that as we approach the end of time, proper church organization is more important. And yet, as we near the close of time, the devil has fought more fiercely and bitterly than ever before, so that God’s people will not understand the importance of being organized. Many people are operating under their own impulses and their own feelings.

Ellen White wrote in a letter in 1892, “As we near the final crisis, instead of feeling there is less need of order and harmony of action, we should be more systematic than heretofore. All our work should be conducted according to well defined plans.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 107. That council was given by the Holy Spirit to the people in God’s remnant church.

In light of this history there are several questions that can be answered. For example, Should self-supporting work also be organized? Can God’s people become ready for the second coming of Christ without being organized?

Opposition to organization among the historic Adventists is as strong or stronger today than it was in the 1850s.

1 Peter 5 says that the church in the days of the apostles became highly organized. And it was through the blessing of the Holy Spirit and through church organization that they were able to take the gospel to the whole world in 25 to 30 years. There were no airplanes, trains, cars, radios, telephones, or televisions. Without the media available today, they were able to accomplish their task of evangelism to the then known world in a short time.

If God’s people, in any part of the world, could become properly organized in New Testament order and come into the spiritual condition necessary to receive the Holy Spirit, it would not take many years to finish God’s work in the world. We must be in a spiritual condition so that we can receive the Holy Spirit. Unless we are organized, the angels of heaven cannot work for us so that the gospel can be taken to all the world. Remember, order is the law of heaven, and we must be in harmony with the law of heaven for God’s work to be finished in this world.

God has led us in the past. We are to be organized in our families, in our local churches, and we are to be organized all over the world, wherever we work. We are to be working in an organized way so that God can continue to lead us.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. 

 

Editorial – The Supreme Object of Life

In Proverbs 11:4, the wise man wrote that righteousness delivers from death. In Proverbs 12:28, he wrote that the way of righteousness is life and in its pathway there is no death. In Proverbs 21:21, he wrote that he who follows righteousness and mercy finds life. Isaiah wrote that the work of righteousness will be peace and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever (Isaiah 32:17).

But righteousness is something that we cannot generate. Righteousness is something that He [the Lord] gives to us. “My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10 NKJV).

There is no human being of the descendants of Adam and Eve who is righteous (Romans 3:10). If we become righteous, we must receive it from somebody else and that somebody else must not only be a righteous person but he must be able to do two things: He must first of all be able to take away our unrighteousness through forgiveness of confessed sin and then, having done that, He must be able to give righteousness to that forgiven person.

The bondage of sin involves being compelled to sin, even against a person’s will, because of three things: 1) the power of inherited and acquired evil propensities and habits (called the flesh in Scripture); 2) because of the compelling power and influence of the world around us; and 3) because of the direct influence and power of evil spirits on the human mind.

Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound (Isaiah 61:1). In Jesus you can find relief from your restlessness. He is the strong tower into whom you can run and be safe (Psalm 18:10). He is that true city of refuge into which a sinner can run and find relief and healing.

In 1888 E. J. Waggoner summarized this righteousness which every person must have who is saved, teaching that only a transcendent Christ who is completely and intrinsically One of the constituent Persons of the eternal Godhead in the highest and fullest sense could be our all-sufficient Creator, Lawgiver, Atoning Sacrifice, Redeemer, Judge, Advocate, Justifier, Sanctifier, Glorifier, and Coming King. He believed that only such a One could constitute the sole and completely adequate Source of the Righteousness imperative for sinful man to stand fully transformed and panoplied in the presence of God’s immaculate holiness. This is all because it is Christ’s own Divine Righteousness—the Righteousness He wrought out while in the flesh on earth—the Righteousness of God Himself and that He provides for us. It is found and received only in Him. And it becomes ours by faith.

Bible Study Guides – The Authority of the Son

June 18, 2017 – June 24, 2017

Key Text

“For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5:26, 27).

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 206–213.

Introduction

“My authority, He said, for doing the work of which you accuse Me, is that I am the Son of God, one with Him in nature, in will, and in purpose. In all His works of creation and providence, I cooperate with God.” The Desire of Ages, 208.

Sunday

1          EQUAL WITH GOD

  •         Besides the healing of the paralytic on the Sabbath, for what other reason did the Jews hate Jesus? John 5:17, 18.

Note: “Jesus claimed equal rights with God. …

“The whole nation of the Jews called God their Father, therefore they would not have been so enraged if Christ had represented Himself as standing in the same relation to God. But they accused Him of blasphemy, showing that they understood Him as making this claim in the highest sense.” The Desire of Ages, 207, 208.

  •         How did Christ vindicate the authority of God’s commandments above human traditions? Matthew 15:1–9, 13.

Note: “These adversaries of Christ had no arguments with which to meet the truths He brought home to their consciences. They could only cite their customs and traditions, and these seemed weak and vapid when compared with the arguments Jesus had drawn from the word of God and the unceasing round of nature.” The Desire of Ages, 208.

Monday

2          UNITY WITH THE FATHER

  •         How did Jesus explain His relationship with the Father? John 5:19, 20.
  •         What authority and power pertaining to the Father did Christ declare He also possessed? John 5:21–23.

 Note: “The humble Nazarene asserts His real nobility. He rises above humanity, throws off the guise of sin and shame, and stands revealed, the Honored of the angels, the Son of God, One with the Creator of the universe. His hearers are spellbound. No man has ever spoken words like His, or borne himself with such a kingly majesty. His utterances are clear and plain, fully declaring His mission, and the duty of the world. ‘For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him. … For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man’ (John 5:22, 23, 26, 27).

“The priests and rulers had set themselves up as judges to condemn Christ’s work, but He declared Himself their judge, and the judge of all the earth. The world has been committed to Christ, and through Him has come every blessing from God to the fallen race. He was the Redeemer before as after His incarnation. As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. He has given light and life to all, and according to the measure of light given, each is to be judged. And He who has given the light, He who has followed the soul with tenderest entreaty, seeking to win it from sin to holiness, is in one its advocate and judge. From the opening of the great controversy in heaven, Satan has maintained his cause through deception; and Christ has been working to unveil his schemes and to break his power. It is He who has encountered the deceiver, and who through all the ages has been seeking to wrest the captives from his grasp, who will pass judgment upon every soul.” The Desire of Ages, 210.

“Christ is the only true standard of character, and he who sets himself up as a standard for others is putting himself in the place of Christ. And since the Father ‘hath committed all judgment unto the Son’ (John 5:22), whoever presumes to judge the motives of others is again usurping the prerogative of the Son of God. These would-be judges and critics are placing themselves on the side of antichrist.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 125, 126.

Tuesday

3          ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE

  •         What assurance is given to every true believer? John 5:24.
  •         What other divine prerogative did Christ assert He possessed? John 5:25–29.

Note: “And God ‘hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man’ (John 5:27). Because He has tasted the very dregs of human affliction and temptation, and understands the frailties and sins of men; because in our behalf He has victoriously withstood the temptations of Satan, and will deal justly and tenderly with the souls that His own blood has been poured out to save—because of this, the Son of man is appointed to execute the judgment.

“But Christ’s mission was not for judgment, but for salvation. ‘God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved’ (John 3:17). And before the Sanhedrin Jesus declared, ‘He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life’ (John 5:24, R.V.).

“Bidding His hearers marvel not, Christ opened before them, in still wider view, the mystery of the future. [John 5:28, 29, R.V. quoted.]

“This assurance of the future life was that for which Israel had so long waited, and which they had hoped to receive at the Messiah’s advent. The only light that can lighten the gloom of the grave was shining upon them. But self-will is blind. Jesus had violated the traditions of the rabbis, and disregarded their authority, and they would not believe.

“The time, the place, the occasion, the intensity of feeling that pervaded the assembly, all combined to make the words of Jesus before the Sanhedrin the more impressive. The highest religious authorities of the nation were seeking the life of Him who declared Himself the restorer of Israel. The Lord of the Sabbath was arraigned before an earthly tribunal to answer the charge of breaking the Sabbath law. When He so fearlessly declared His mission, His judges looked upon Him with astonishment and rage; but His words were unanswerable. They could not condemn Him. He denied the right of the priests and rabbis to question Him, or to interfere with His work. They were invested with no such authority. Their claims were based upon their own pride and arrogance. He refused to plead guilty of their charges, or to be catechized by them.” The Desire of Ages, 210, 211.

Wednesday

4          JESUS, THE CENTRAL THEME OF THE SCRIPTURES

  •         How did Jesus explain the cause of the Jews’ unbelief? John 5:37, 38.

Note: “Instead of apologizing for the act of which they complained, or explaining His purpose in doing it, Jesus turned upon the rulers, and the accused became the accuser. He rebuked them for the hardness of their hearts, and their ignorance of the Scriptures. He declared that they had rejected the word of God, inasmuch as they had rejected Him whom God had sent. ‘Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me’ (John 5:39, R.V.).” The Desire of Ages, 211.

  •         Why did the Jews fail to understand the Scriptures? John 5:39, 40.

Note: “In every page, whether history, or precept, or prophecy, the Old Testament Scriptures are irradiated with the glory of the Son of God. So far as it was of divine institution, the entire system of Judaism was a compacted prophecy of the gospel. To Christ ‘give all the prophets witness’ (Acts 10:43). From the promise given to Adam, down through the patriarchal line and the legal economy, heaven’s glorious light made plain the footsteps of the Redeemer. Seers beheld the Star of Bethlehem, the Shiloh to come, as future things swept before them in mysterious procession. In every sacrifice Christ’s death was shown. In every cloud of incense His righteousness ascended. By every jubilee trumpet His name was sounded. In the awful mystery of the holy of holies His glory dwelt.

“The Jews had the Scriptures in their possession, and supposed that in their mere outward knowledge of the word they had eternal life. But Jesus said, ‘Ye have not His word abiding in you.’ Having rejected Christ in His word, they rejected Him in person. ‘Ye will not come to Me,’ He said, ‘that ye might have life’ (John 5:38, 40).” The Desire of Ages, 211, 212.

“The word of God, spoken to the heart, has an animating power, and those who will frame any excuse for neglecting to become acquainted with it will neglect the claims of God in many respects. The character will be deformed, the words and acts a reproach to the truth. … As the mind dwells upon the virtue and piety of holy men of old, the spirit which inspired them will kindle a flame of love and holy fervor in the hearts of those who would be like them in character.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 17, 18.

Thursday

5          THE GLORY OF GOD

  •         What other cause of unbelief among the Jews was pointed out by Jesus? John 5:41, 42.

Note: “The Jewish leaders had studied the teachings of the prophets concerning the kingdom of the Messiah; but they had done this, not with a sincere desire to know the truth, but with the purpose of finding evidence to sustain their ambitious hopes. When Christ came in a manner contrary to their expectations, they would not receive Him; and in order to justify themselves, they tried to prove Him a deceiver. When once they had set their feet in this path, it was easy for Satan to strengthen their opposition to Christ. The very words that should have been received as evidence of His divinity were interpreted against Him. Thus they turned the truth of God into a lie, and the more directly the Saviour spoke to them in His works of mercy, the more determined they were in resisting the light.” The Desire of Ages, 212.

  •         What led the Jews to reject Jesus and welcome false teachers? John 5:43, 44.

Note: “ ‘I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive’ (John 5:43). Jesus came by the authority of God, bearing His image, fulfilling His word, and seeking His glory; yet He was not accepted by the leaders in Israel; but when others should come, assuming the character of Christ, but actuated by their own will and seeking their own glory, they would be received. And why? Because he who is seeking his own glory appeals to the desire for self-exaltation in others. To such appeals the Jews could respond. They would receive the false teacher because he flattered their pride by sanctioning their cherished opinions and traditions.” The Desire of Ages, 212, 213.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1          What authority and rights did Christ claim?

2          What relationship has always existed between Jesus and the Father?

3          What power does Christ possess?

4          Explain John 5:39, 40.

5          What was the result of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as the Messiah?

Copyright © 2004 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The Paralytic of Bethesda

June 11, 2017 – June 17, 2017

Key Text

“Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 201–206.

Introduction

“The work of Christ in healing the sick was in perfect accord with the law. It honored the Sabbath.” The Desire of Ages, 207.

Sunday

1          THE HEALING WATERS

  •         For what purpose did many disabled people go to Jerusalem? John 5:2, 3.
  •         What belief did the people have about the pool of Bethesda? John 5:4.

Note: “ ‘Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water’ (John 5:2, 3).

“At certain seasons the waters of this pool were agitated, and it was commonly believed that this was the result of supernatural power, and that whoever first after the troubling of the pool stepped into the waters, would be healed of whatever disease he had. Hundreds of sufferers visited the place; but so great was the crowd when the water was troubled that they rushed forward, trampling underfoot men, women, and children, weaker than themselves. Many could not get near the pool. Many who had succeeded in reaching it died upon its brink. Shelters had been erected about the place, that the sick might be protected from the heat by day and the chilliness of the night. There were some who spent the night in these porches, creeping to the edge of the pool day after day, in the vain hope of relief.” The Desire of Ages, 201.

Monday

2          THE PARALYTIC

  •         Whom did Jesus see beside the pool? John 5:5.

Note: “Jesus was again at Jerusalem. Walking alone, in apparent meditation and prayer, He came to the pool. He saw the wretched sufferers watching for that which they supposed to be their only chance of cure. He longed to exercise His healing power, and make every sufferer whole. But it was the Sabbath day. Multitudes were going to the temple for worship, and He knew that such an act of healing would so excite the prejudice of the Jews as to cut short His work.

“But the Saviour saw one case of supreme wretchedness. It was that of a man who had been a helpless cripple for thirty-eight years. His disease was in a great degree the result of his own sin, and was looked upon as a judgment from God. Alone and friendless, feeling that he was shut out from God’s mercy, the sufferer had passed long years of misery. At the time when it was expected that the waters would be troubled, those who pitied his helplessness would bear him to the porches. But at the favored moment he had no one to help him in. He had seen the rippling of the water, but had never been able to get farther than the edge of the pool. Others stronger than he would plunge in before him. He could not contend successfully with the selfish, scrambling crowd. His persistent efforts toward the one object, and his anxiety and continual disappointment, were fast wearing away the remnant of his strength.” The Desire of Ages, 201, 202.

  •         What did Jesus ask him and what was his answer? John 5:6, 7.
  •         What did Jesus tell the paralytic to do? John 5:8.

Note: “Jesus does not ask this sufferer to exercise faith in Him. He simply says, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk’ (John 5:8). But the man’s faith takes hold upon that word. Every nerve and muscle thrills with new life, and healthful action comes to his crippled limbs. Without question he sets his will to obey the command of Christ, and all his muscles respond to his will. Springing to his feet, he finds himself an active man.

“Jesus had given him no assurance of divine help. The man might have stopped to doubt, and lost his one chance of healing. But he believed Christ’s word, and in acting upon it he received strength.” The Desire of Ages, 202, 203.

Tuesday

3          SPIRITUAL PARALYSIS

  •         In what condition do people who are separated from Christ find themselves? Isaiah 1:5, 6; Ephesians 2:1–3.

Note: “Through the same faith we may receive spiritual healing. By sin we have been severed from the life of God. Our souls are palsied. Of ourselves we are no more capable of living a holy life than was the impotent man capable of walking.” The Desire of Ages, 203.

“The branch which does not derive its nourishment from the vine, is unable to bear fruit. Having no real, vital connection with the vine, not receiving the sap which flows through the parent stock, it is fruitless. So it is with those who are not truly united to Christ. They may claim to know Him, their names may be on the church roll, but unless they are living branches of the True Vine, this is of no value. There is a union with the church that avails nothing with God. Their profession will not save them, for their want of faith, their lack of fruit, proves that they are false branches. They are hearers, and not doers, of the word of God, and their future is shown in this parable [of the vine and the branches]. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as that represented by the dead branch. ‘If a man abide not in me,’ said Christ, ‘he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned’ (John 15:6).” The Signs of the Times, December 10, 1896.

  •         What is the only remedy for such a condition? Acts 9:34.

Note: “There are many who realize their helplessness, and who long for that spiritual life which will bring them into harmony with God; they are vainly striving to obtain it. In despair they cry, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ (Romans 7:24, margin). Let these desponding, struggling ones look up. The Saviour is bending over the purchase of His blood, saying with inexpressible tenderness and pity, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ (John 5:6). He bids you arise in health and peace. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole. Believe His word, and it will be fulfilled. Put your will on the side of Christ. Will to serve Him, and in acting upon His word you will receive strength. Whatever may be the evil practice, the master passion which through long indulgence binds both soul and body, Christ is able and longs to deliver. He will impart life to the soul that is ‘dead in trespasses’ (Ephesians 2:1). He will set free the captive that is held by weakness and misfortune and the chains of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 203.

Wednesday

4          THE WRATH OF THE PHARISEES

  •         Ignoring the blessing bestowed upon the paralytic, why did the Pharisees become irritated? John 5:9, last part, 10.

Note: “The restored paralytic stooped to take up his bed, which was only a rug and a blanket, and as he straightened himself again with a sense of delight, he looked around for his Deliverer; but Jesus was lost in the crowd. The man feared that he would not know Him if he should see Him again. As he hurried on his way with firm, free step, praising God and rejoicing in his new-found strength, he met several of the Pharisees, and immediately told them of his cure. He was surprised at the coldness with which they listened to his story.

“With lowering brows they interrupted him, asking why he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath day. They sternly reminded him that it was not lawful to bear burdens on the Lord’s day. In his joy the man had forgotten that it was the Sabbath; yet he felt no condemnation for obeying the command of One who had such power from God. He answered boldly, ‘He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk’ (John 5:11). They asked who it was that had done this, but he could not tell. These rulers knew well that only One had shown Himself able to perform this miracle; but they wished for direct proof that it was Jesus, that they might condemn Him as a Sabbath-breaker. In their judgment He had not only broken the law in healing the sick man on the Sabbath, but had committed sacrilege in bidding him bear away his bed.” The Desire of Ages, 203, 204.

  •         What had the Jews made of the Sabbath? Matthew 23:4.

Note: “The Jews had so perverted the law that they made it a yoke of bondage. Their meaningless requirements had become a byword among other nations. Especially was the Sabbath hedged in by all manner of senseless restrictions. It was not to them a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honorable. The scribes and Pharisees had made its observance an intolerable burden. A Jew was not allowed to kindle a fire nor even to light a candle on the Sabbath. As a consequence the people were dependent upon the Gentiles for many services which their rules forbade them to do for themselves.” The Desire of Ages, 204.

Thursday

5          THE SABBATH AND ITS OBJECTIVE

  •         How did Jesus relate to the law of God and to the Sabbath? Isaiah 42:21.

Note: “Jesus had come to ‘magnify the law, and make it honorable.’ He was not to lessen its dignity, but to exalt it. The scripture says, ‘He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth’ (Isaiah 42:21, 4). He had come to free the Sabbath from those burdensome requirements that had made it a curse instead of a blessing.” The Desire of Ages, 206.

  •         What should and should not be done on the Sabbath? Exodus 20:8–11.

Note: “A wise purpose underlay every act of Christ’s life on earth. Everything He did was important in itself and in its teaching. Among the afflicted ones at the pool He selected the worst case upon whom to exercise His healing power, and bade the man carry his bed through the city in order to publish the great work that had been wrought upon him. This would raise the question of what it was lawful to do on the Sabbath, and would open the way for Him to denounce the restrictions of the Jews in regard to the Lord’s day, and to declare their traditions void. …

“And man also has a work to perform on this day. The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be supplied. He will not be held guiltless who neglects to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. God’s holy rest day was made for man, and acts of mercy are in perfect harmony with its intent. God does not desire His creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day.” The Desire of Ages, 206, 207.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1          What belief was prevalent among the Jews concerning the pool of Bethesda?

2          What special case attracted Christ’s attention?

3          Who is the only Physician that can cure our spiritual paralysis?

4          What action of Jesus greatly irritated the Jews?

5          What works are in harmony with the Sabbath commandment?

Copyright © 2004 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The Nobleman’s Son

June 4, 2017 – June 10, 2017

Key Text

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21).

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 196–200.

Introduction

“When we come to Him in faith, every petition enters the heart of God. When we have asked for His blessing, we should believe that we receive it, and thank Him that we have received it.” The Desire of Ages, 200. [Emphasis author’s.]

Sunday

1          JESUS IN GALILEE

  •         After spending two days with the Samaritans, to what city of Galilee did Jesus journey? John 4:43–46, first part.

Note: “The news of Christ’s return to Cana soon spread throughout Galilee, bringing hope to the suffering and distressed.” The Desire of Ages, 196.

  •         Who came to meet Jesus in Galilee? John 4:46, last part, 47, first part.

Note: “In Capernaum the tidings attracted the attention of a Jewish nobleman who was an officer in the king’s service. A son of the officer was suffering from what seemed to be an incurable disease. Physicians had given him up to die; but when the father heard of Jesus, he determined to seek help from Him. The child was very low, and, it was feared, might not live till his return; yet the nobleman felt that he must present the case in person. He hoped that a father’s prayers might awaken the sympathy of the Great Physician.” The Desire of Ages, 196, 197.

Monday

2          THE NOBLEMAN’S UNBELIEF

  •         What was the nobleman’s request? John 4:47, last part.

Note: “On reaching Cana he found a throng surrounding Jesus. With an anxious heart he pressed through to the Saviour’s presence. His faith faltered when he saw only a plainly dressed man, dusty and worn with travel. He doubted that this Person could do what he had come to ask of Him; yet he secured an interview with Jesus, told his errand, and besought the Saviour to accompany him to his home. But already his sorrow was known to Jesus. Before the officer had left his home, the Saviour had beheld his affliction.” The Desire of Ages, 197, 198.

  •         In what words did Jesus reveal His knowledge of the nobleman’s unbelief? John 4:48.

Note: “But He knew also that the father had, in his own mind, made conditions concerning his belief in Jesus. Unless his petition should be granted, he would not receive Him as the Messiah. While the officer waited in an agony of suspense, Jesus said, ‘Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe’ (John 4:48).

“Notwithstanding all the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the petitioner had determined to make his belief in Him conditional on the granting of his own request.” The Desire of Ages, 198.

“Christ had said to the nobleman whose son He healed, ‘Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe’ (John 4:48). He was grieved that His own nation should require these outward signs of His Messiahship. Again and again He had marveled at their unbelief.” Ibid., 315.

“Many who refuse the message which the Lord sends them are seeking to find pegs on which to hang doubts, to find some excuse for rejecting the light of heaven. In the face of clear evidence they say, as did the Jews, ‘Show us a miracle, and we will believe. If these messengers have the truth, why do they not heal the sick?’ …

“Could their eyes be opened, they would see evil angels exulting around them and triumphing in their power to deceive them. The day is just before us when Satan will answer the demand of these doubters and present numerous miracles to confirm the faith of all those who are seeking this kind of evidence. How terrible will be the situation of those who close their eyes to the light of truth and ask for miracles to establish them in deception!” Evangelism, 594.

Tuesday

3          SEEING AND BELIEVING

  •         How did Christ reveal sadness at the unbelief of His own people? Matthew 12:38, 39.

Note: “Christ was pained that His own people, to whom the Sacred Oracles had been committed, should fail to hear the voice of God speaking to them in His Son.” The Desire of Ages, 198.

  •         What difference existed between Jews and Samaritans in regard to their belief in Jesus? Mark 6:2–6; John 4:40–42.

Note: “The Saviour contrasted this questioning unbelief with the simple faith of the Samaritans, who asked for no miracle or sign. His word, the ever-present evidence of His divinity, had a convincing power that reached their hearts.” The Desire of Ages, 198.

  •         To whom should our own faith be revealed today? Romans 16:26.

Note: “However short our service or humble our work, if in simple faith we follow Christ, we shall not be disappointed of the reward. That which even the greatest and wisest cannot earn, the weakest and most humble may receive. Heaven’s golden gate opens not to the selfexalted. It is not lifted up to the proud in spirit. But the everlasting portals will open wide to the trembling touch of a little child. Blessed will be the recompense of grace to those who have wrought for God in the simplicity of faith and love.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 404.

“Of all professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. The proclamation of the third angel’s message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath truth. This truth, with others included in the message, is to be proclaimed; but the great center of attraction, Christ Jesus, must not be left out. It is at the cross of Christ that mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other. The sinner must be led to look to Calvary; with the simple faith of a little child he must trust in the merits of the Saviour, accepting His righteousness, believing in His mercy.” Gospel Workers, 156, 157.

Wednesday

4          FAITH REWARDED

  •         When the nobleman’s faith took hold of Christ, how did he reiterate his plea? John 4:49.

Note: “Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. …

“Like a flash of light, the Saviour’s words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. His vacillating faith appeared to him in its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, ‘Sir, come down ere my child die’ (John 4:49). His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the Angel, he cried, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me’ (Genesis 32:26).” The Desire of Ages, 198.

  •         What did Jesus do instead of going to the nobleman’s home? John 4:50.

Note: “Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace. …

“Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. ‘Go thy way,’ He said; ‘thy son liveth’ (John 4:50). The nobleman left the Saviour’s presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer.” The Desire of Ages, 198, 199.

“If we make an entire surrender to Him, leave our life of sin and passion and pride, and cling to Christ and His merits, He will fulfill to us that He has promised. He says that He will give liberally to all who ask Him. Cannot we believe it? I have tested Him on this point, and know that He is faithful to fulfill all His promises.” The Signs of the Times, September 29, 1887.

Thursday

5          CURE AND SALVATION

  •         In what manner did Jesus heal the nobleman’s son? John 4:51–53.

Note: “At the same hour the watchers beside the dying child in the home at Capernaum beheld a sudden and mysterious change. The shadow of death was lifted from the sufferer’s face. The flush of fever gave place to the soft glow of returning health. The dim eyes brightened with intelligence, and strength returned to the feeble, emaciated frame. No signs of his malady lingered about the child. His burning flesh had become soft and moist, and he sank into a quiet sleep. The fever had left him in the very heat of the day. The family were amazed, and great was the rejoicing.

“Cana was not so far from Capernaum but that the officer might have reached his home on the evening after his interview with Jesus; but he did not hasten on the homeward journey. It was not until the next morning that he reached Capernaum. What a homecoming was that! When he went to find Jesus, his heart was heavy with sorrow. The sunshine seemed cruel to him, the songs of the birds a mockery. How different his feelings now! All nature wears a new aspect. He sees with new eyes. As he journeys in the quiet of the early morning, all nature seems to be praising God with him. While he is still some distance from his own dwelling, servants come out to meet him, anxious to relieve the suspense they are sure he must feel. He shows no surprise at the news they bring, but with a depth of interest they cannot know he asks at what hour the child began to mend. They answer, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him’ (John 4:52). At the very moment when the father’s faith grasped the assurance, ‘Thy son liveth’ (verse 51), divine love touched the dying child.” The Desire of Ages, 199.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1          Why are prophets generally not well received in their own lands?

2          What words of the nobleman revealed his unbelief?

3          How did Christ react to the unbelief of His people?

4          What does Jesus promise to all who accept His invitation?

5          How does Jesus act towards any person who pleads for help?

Copyright © 2004 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Food – Sesame Butter and Sesame Tahini

There is a difference between sesame butter and tahini. Here we give some insights into sesame seeds that you may never have known before. Enjoy!

“In popular health food books, and on countless Internet sites, there is much confusion over the names of the healthful phenolic compounds found in sesame seeds and their oil. … The actual seeds contain about 50-60 percent of a fatty oil that is characterized by two members of the lignin family: sesamin and sesamolin. When the seeds are refined (as in the making of sesame oil), two other phenolic antioxidants—sesamol ane sesaminol—are formed. …

“It’s hardly surprising that sesame seeds help reduce cholesterol, since they are so rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. … A team of researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University tested twenty-seven different nut and seed products. If sesame seeds had a public relations agent, the results of the study would have made her very happy indeed. Sesame seeds (and wheat germ) had the highest phytosterol content of all the products tested: 400 mg per 100 g. The main phytosterol identified in all the nut and seed samples was beta-sitosterol, which is known not only for lowering cholesterol but also for supporting prostate health.

“Sesame seeds are very high in calcium, but there is some controversy over how useful that calcium is to the body since much of it is bound to oxalic acid, making it less bio-available. According to natural-foods expert Rebecca Wood, hulling (the process of removing the outer skin) removes the oxalic acid, but it also removes most of the calcium, plus the fiber and a lot of the potassium and iron. In certain parts of Japan, whole sesame seeds are an essential part of the diet and are prepared as a condiment known as gomasio, made by toasting whole sesame seeds with unrefined sea salt at high temperatures. Toasting the whole sesame seeds at these high temperatures may improve the assimilation of calcium by getting rid of the oxalates.

“Calcium aside, sesame seeds are also a rich source of minerals, fiber, and protein. Two tablespoons of seeds contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese, 35 percent of the Daily Value of copper, 2g of fiber and 3g of protein—more protein than any other nut or seed.

“You can really enhance their nutty flavor by toasting them in a dry skillet over medium heat until they’re golden brown. They come in shades of black, brown, and yellow as well as the more common beige variety. The black seeds have a stronger flavor. Sesame butter is a great alternative to peanut butter and is usually made of whole roasted sesame seeds. Tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds and is therefore a more refined product, though still delicious. …” The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., pages 159, 160.

Recipe
Sesame Butter
1 cup toasted sesame seeds ⅛ tsp. salt (optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil  
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until desired consistency. Keep tahini in the fridge in a glass container.

 

Recipe
Sesame Seed Hummus
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzos) 3 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
½ cup sesame seeds 1 tsp. olive oil, optional
2 cloves garlic, peeled & cut in half 1 tsp. salt
Drain chickpea liquid directly into a blender or food processor. Set chickpeas aside. Add the sesame seeds and garlic to the blender, cover, and puree until smooth (3–4 min.). Add chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, and oil (if using) to blender. Cover and mix until well blended, stopping and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Pour into a serving dish.