TruthInvestigate

“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

That Great Cloud of Witnesses

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Heb. 12:1.

The history of the Waldensian Christian is a powerful testimony of what every human heart will do when it responds to God’s word. They had the scriptures in their own dialect from the beginning of the Christian era, and that word implanted in their heart a principle that no amount of persecution could remove. During the persecutions of the Roman Emperors, the early Christians, not yet named, “The Valdois,” or mountain valley dwellers, fled from the lowlands to the Alps.

There was thus a nucleus of Sabbath-keeping tradition in Europe between Milan and Lyons, which became the centre of The Poor Men of Lyons, a branch of the Sabbatati or Insabatati, later termed Waldensians. The Milan-Lyon nexus was facilitated by Pothinus and Irenæus (c. 125-203). Both were disciples of Polycarp, disciple of John and both were Sabbath-keepers. Irenæus became bishop of Lyons after the martyrdom of Pothinus in 177 under the persecution of Marcus Aurelius. The Church at Lyons and Vienne, reporting on their persecution in 177 and probably as a result of that persecution, argued for clemency. (The Catholic Encyclopedia (C.E.), art. Montanists, vol. X. pp. 522-523)).

From the days of Polycarp, the disciple John who was the closest disciple of Christ, a group holding the original light of the gospel, continued to thrive at Lyons, France and Milan, Italy. From those centers, generation to generation handed down the traditions of Christ and Paul, from family to family. For 1600 years those brave men and women penetrated the wicked darkness of paganized Christendom as missionaries in an enemy country. Ever the victim of bitter hatred by Rome, they suffered brutality as continued attempts were made to eradicate them from the Earth. “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the Man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” Rev. 12:13,14. If you want to read more on this fascinating tribe of faithful commandment keepers, go to http://www.ccg.org/english/s/p122.html.

When we look up into the night sky we see millions of stars scattered across the expanse. There is not a place where they are not located. Some form loose groups we call Constellations, many are spread helter-skelter. But then there is that bright band spanning one horizon to the other. The Bible doesn’t call it, the Milky Way; it calls it, the Great Cloud of Witnesses. Nothing better represents the dense race of faithful ones, who were humbled by life, converted in heart, and who surrendered to their Creator and Redeemer. The relief which submission to God’s care occasioned in their souls, led them to bear up under the most difficult trials and persecutions. With the death threat always on their head, they faced their persecutors with only love in their heart for a church that didn’t love them, and with the Spirit’s message of mercy on their lips, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” “Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” Jer. 31:3;Is. 43:4.

If our light has gone dim, let’s allow the difficulties and corrections of life to do their perfect work. Let’s keep coming to Jesus and laying on Him our sins and mistakes. Let the dam burst, and allow all the pent up bitterness fall on Christ. He can even take our fiercest anger toward Him. He’s big and strong enough to take it all. And He has invited us to do so. “Whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken.” Matt. 21:44.

Once we have unburdened our heart, and are humbled and at rest, then He can tend to our lamp and get it burning brightly again. Not all the stars shine constant; many twinkle. Our Christian life may not be perfectly consistent, but that doesn’t remove us from Jesus’ care or His book of life. If we are in His hands, being trimmed and worked on, then He counts us in. That’s good news.

When the darkness is the deepest is when the stars shine the brightest. In the coming storm, “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth,” (Rev. 3:10) we will find that only if we have treasured up heavenly riches will we find a reserve that drives us to gather warmth from the coldness of others and courage in the face of danger.

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Is. 60:2. Even now we are entering into the dusky shadows of this old world’s night. Awake, sentinels! “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Rev. 3:11.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An email for a beloved brother

Halleluiah to God, dear brother,

I didn’t know what was taking place there when I sent the first email. I sent it to the whole group on Ps. H___’s address list and you and J____ replied. If I’ve been of help, it was God’s providential working. I’m thrilled to be part of His work.

We need to be careful about debates. We do it in all honesty and innocence, but we need to remember that real learning comes from the “doing” phase of investigation. Even Sabbath School can be a trap if we don’t put our study into practice. We can hammer out what we see in the scriptures, but then we must, I repeat, must, put it into the life. If it fits, then we can carry on carefully and meekly. Continuously examining ourselves whether we be in the faith. If our understanding of doctrine doesn’t work in the life and bring us victory and the blessing of God, then we need to go back to the drawing board. It’s like the math problems we did in school. You take the answer and plug it back into the equation. If 5=5 or 0=0 then the answer was right. But you have to plug your answer back into the equation to know that it was the truth. Truth in spiritual lines is no different, even more so are the consequences tragic if we don’t do this, eternally tragic to us and to God. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

Jesus was so far in advance of the religious leaders in knowing the scriptures, even at the age of 12, because He was made under the Law and obeyed it. We will have only a shallow, surface understanding of God’s will as expressed in the Bible if we only keep it at an intellectual level. That is why the common people go into the kingdom before the leaders. They “ignorantly” do what the scriptures say because God said it, while the theologians spend their time straining at gnats. It’s like a pastor I knew, once said to our lazy, lukewarm church, “Go out and work for the Lord. Even if you do it wrong, do something!” We can take what God says and go do it, knowing if we misunderstand and do it wrong, that in His grace, He will overlook our mistakes and He will correct us. Do we really trust His grace? Then we will go out and obey what He says, trusting in His love for us.

And if we’ve truly come to love Him, as all of Christendom professes, we will trust Him in His corrections. His love has humbled us and we don’t mind being corrected. Here is another insight into the character of the Old Testament and to our Testimonies for the Church. Much of it was hard-hitting correction. But that correction was a test to let us know if we were really in love with Jesus, and to see who was really disciples. That is the work that EGW faithfully did with the Testimonies, and also the prophets of the OT. This is particularly important today, in the time of the anti-typical Day of Atonement, our final probation period. The Testimonies certainly revealed who was who, and more importantly to us today, they are revealing who is who. The Law and the Testimony reveal who are true children of God and disciples, humbled by the grace of God, but it also separates those who say, “We will not have this Man rule over us.”

While all heaven is looking on during this final Investigative judgment, people are qualifying or disqualifying themselves for eternal life by their attitude toward the Law and the Testimony. Look around, Daniel, and you can see who humbly loves the truth by accepting correction, and who is not humble. Accepting correction reveals true humility, it unarguably shows that pride has been laid in the dust.

Thus, according to Jesus, we receive His approbation at the end, or He commands, “Bring all those My enemies who wouldn’t let Me rule over them, and slay them before Me,” “Let not one of them escape.” Lk. 19:27;1Ki. 18:40. That’s New Testament teaching and it’s also the Law. Nothing has ever changed about the way God views the sin problem and deals with it. But when Christ came and gave the clearest revelation of His Father’s grace, then He also uplifted the requirements. He didn’t come to make us more irresponsible or to let worship of God decline into a carnival as we’ve seen in some churches, but for true holiness, to make us more obedient, to teach us to afflict our souls and be more sanctified, more holy in preparation for the conclusion of the controversy of the ages. Only the perfect blend of grace and Law, mercy and justice, can accomplish that, especially when they are both magnified and exalted.

I am thankful that Jesus made Himself into the form of a servant, and under the Law, so that we could see how to be servants and to relate to the Law. He does make us free indeed, He does adopt us, but only after we truly come to Him in our distress over our sinfulness, and beg to be made one of His hired servants. Then and only then can we wear the robe of royalty, and maintain the fear of God, obedient to all His commandments.

Daniel, if you will be honest, you will come out of this experience a very wise man.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
if with His love He befriend thee.

Love,
Your brother David

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Modernist/Post-Modernist Debate

A parallel, a Biblical precedent, a powerful metanarrative bounded by 1st century Israel and 21st century SDAs, can be seen in the modern/post-modern scenario, which I strongly believe needs to be considered. Adventism today is repeating the same mistake of Judaism prior to Christ’s first coming: the modernist Jews in Jerusalem versus the post-modernist Jews in Alexandria, Egypt.

Both Hasidic and Hellenized factions believed they held on to truth, the living oracles of God. Suddenly, out of nowhere, up stands John the Baptist, preaching the real truth, the message from God, the true absolute truth. John must have appeared like a throwback to caveman antediluvian days and his message of reformation must have seemed a bit old-fashioned to the Alexandrians. He must have sounded kind of close to the Hasidic Sanhedrin, however a power attended him that they didn’t have, and which made them nervous. John claimed no connection with either group and worked separately from either group’s agendas.

Neither modernist/post-modernist group was correct, according to John; both had fallen far away from the Law of God, and John had been raised up to cleanse and prepare Israel for the coming Prince of heaven. John’s message, inspired by heaven, was heavy on the Law and lacking on grace, but it was the wisdom of God and authorized by the Holy Spirit, and only those who responded to his message of obedience to God eventually accepted Christ’s ministry of justice and grace combined, when He came. Those who rejected John, later rejected Jesus.

“He was to go forth as Jehovah’s messenger, to bring to men the light of God. He must give a new direction to their thoughts. He must impress them with the holiness of God’s requirements, and their need of His perfect righteousness. Such a messenger must be holy….

“In the time of John the Baptist, greed for riches, and the love of luxury and display had become widespread. Sensuous pleasures, feasting and drinking, were causing physical disease and degeneracy, benumbing the spiritual perceptions, and lessening the sensibility to sin. John was to stand as a reformer. By his abstemious life and plain dress he was to rebuke the excesses of his time. Hence the directions given to the parents of John,—a lesson of temperance by an angel from the throne of heaven….

“But the life of John was not spent in idleness, in ascetic gloom, or in selfish isolation. From time to time he went forth to mingle with men; and he was ever an interested observer of what was passing in the world. From his quiet retreat he watched the unfolding of events. With vision illuminated by the divine spirit he studied the characters of men, that he might understand how to reach their hearts with the message of heaven. The burden of his mission was upon him. In solitude, by meditation and prayer, he sought to gird up his soul for the lifework before him….

“John found in the wilderness his school and his sanctuary. Like Moses amid the mountains of Midian, he was shut in by God’s presence, and surrounded by the evidences of His power….

“He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was forgotten. He beheld the majesty of holiness, and felt himself to be inefficient and unworthy. He was ready to go forth as Heaven’s messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He would stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings.” Desire of Ages, pp. 100-103.

Through repentance the people received a paradigm shift that was literally out of this world. Seeing a love never before witnessed, a strong, tender father’s love, in John, later magnified in Jesus and pervaded by Paul, a new faculty was awakened and brought to life. This new heart, this new mind, provided a new way of relating to life and reality. All the vain philosophies of men—liberal/conservative stereotyping, modernism/post-modernism categorizing—were counted as loss and despised as dung, that they might have more of the power of Christ.

Let us go with John and Christ and Paul into the desert, even if it’s a wilderness of life experience and trial; let us also bow low before the Almighty, so that we might be able to stand erect and fearless before the world to give the absolute truth, the everlasting gospel, to this generation, for this time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ode to Senior Chief Lizotte and to King Nebuchadnezzar

I was coming up on the end of shore duty and needed to choose my final tour in the Navy. I had to go back to sea, and amazingly a Trident submarine became available, a great thing compared to a Fast Attack submarine. You see, Tridents have a regular schedule for underway periods so that a person can schedule life outside the Navy. Fast attack subs have no set schedule and a hot-running sub can be called to leave in just a few hours. The family life on fast attacks can be very dismal and challenging; families are often ruined, but always affected in some way.

One day during my last months of shore duty I went down on a submarine to do my work on their electronic equipment. There, I met a sailor who knew the Senior Chief of my division on my soon-to-be submarine. This sailor, knowing my mild personality, advised me to think twice about going to my prospective future command. He told me about Senior Chief Lizotte, a tough man with a tendency for politics. If he liked you, because you played on his softball team, for example, you could do no wrong. If you ever got on his bad side, you were doomed for the rest of the time at that command. You couldn’t outlive the smear campaign he would wage.

But the Lord gave me calmness about my future. The Holy Spirit implanted the idea that this man must be a very honest man. He “called them as he saw them,” a very decisive man. But deep inside a thick, tough exterior was a heart of gold. Now I was excited to meet this man, who was made to look bigger than life. I am not aggressive; he would be very aggressive. I am not so quick-witted; he, a road runner, a Tasmanian Devil. I waffle badly; he would size up any situation with his vast library of experience and make an immediate decision with amazing judgment.

I knew I couldn’t measure up to him, except in one way. The Lord had previously given me a new heart, an eagerness to learn, and an earnest desire to please my supervisors and military commands by good performance. Senior Chief Lizotte would be able to teach me a lot, and he would also recognize the honesty in me.

From the first day onboard, I saw in my Senior Chief what others didn’t see. Yes, he was very demanding; yes, he ran his division with an iron fist. But how refreshing to see his love for his guys, and his fairness to all. No one was so much a favorite to him that he wouldn’t step on their toes when they messed up. He stepped on my toes often, but I deserved it, and felt very comfortable and content knowing I wasn’t singled out. The description of that sailor who warned me at my previous command was only partially true and colored by a misjudgment of my new Senior Chief’s character.

He often had a scowl, and barked his orders. But he also as often had a smile and a grin and was saying something funny (or that he thought was funny.) He didn’t hide anything of what he felt. I deeply respected this man, and came to love him as a great friend, though ever keeping it a working relationship.

He loved to joust, verbally. The one-upmanship, the constant challenging of each other is a military tradition he loved, and he knew how to play that game well. One of his Senior Chief friends was a religious man who had tried to share what he knew of God. When Senior Chief Lizotte figured out I was a Christian, he began plying me with questions about the Bible. Although not a church-goer, he knew some theological ideas, and he began to pit me against his Senior Chief buddy. Of course, his friend, as an evangelical Christian, understood the Bible very differently from me an SDA Christian. So this provided my Senior Chief with a new way to pass the boring hours underway! He would take my answer to a Bible question to his friend, who was not in my chain of command, but was my senior by rank. Senior Chief Lizotte would get a totally different answer from his friend, which he would bring back to me for a rebuttal. This went back and forth for a while, Senior Chief gaining increasing enjoyment out of it because it was a competition to him! I think he saw it as fencing—“Touché! Take this, and take that! Aha! I win, you lose!”

At first I thought Senior Chief Lizotte really wanted to know what the Bible says to us. But then he began countering what I said based on what the other Senior Chief had to say about it. Then I began to see the relish for competition on my Senior’s face, and I realized it was all just a game to him. After some more proxy debating with the other Senior Chief, via our little messenger, Senior Chief Lizotte, I ended it. The last thing I wanted was for the command to view me, a newcomer with no track record, as a religious extremist troublemaker, someone who didn’t take his military duty seriously and was onboard just to have fun, and thus bring dishonor upon God. But I also knew that, beside the game Senior was playing, my honesty and serious sincerity might be seen and remembered for some future purpose God had for him. He was learning truth compared to fable, and the seeds were being planted, even if he didn’t know it. God doesn’t just let misguided honest souls slip by unhelped. It’s His business to save us all.

Finally Senior Chief Lizotte left us and was transferred from our ship to his last shore duty before retiring. I never saw the least change in a desire for spiritual things, but I have faith that world-shattering events are shaping up just over the horizon, and he will be better prepared to make the soon-coming gigantic choice for heaven or for this world. I know the Lord will make the most of my witness to him.

I know why I was sent to that submarine, a highly sought after and difficult submarine class to get orders to. I was greatly surprised and happy when my Command Career Counselor told me a billet to a Trident was open because those billets are rare, since much politicking and behind the scenes work happens within the Trident community of sailors. An outsider, as I was, rarely finds a way into the Trident community. But I wasn’t given that submarine so I could have an easy life there. I was sent there for Senior Chief Lizotte, to learn from him and for him to learn from me. I came away from that ship with a new view on life, and a deeper trust in God and His ability to work for us.

Senior Chief Lizotte reminds me of King Nebuchadnezzar. Demanding, hard-fisted, brutal, fiery-tempered, the ultimate autocrat-dictator, they both were. Yet God called Nebuchadnezzar a head of gold, because “God, who quickeneth the dead, …calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Rom. 4:17. God called him a head of gold, because he had a heart of gold. Nebuchadnezzar was the reason Daniel walked 1500 miles with the rest of enslaved Israel. Nebuchadnezzar was why teenage Daniel witnessed the besiegement of Jerusalem—people limping around looking like string-beans, parents eating their children, and Babylonian soldiers storming the city and slaughtering thousands.

It was to reach Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel was constantly tested and finally approved of by the searching eye of the powerful king. It was for his majesty to learn a better way of life than paganism could ever provide. It was many hard lessons, but Nebuchadnezzar finally learned that we are just creatures, not our own Creator. We may be able to scare men, but our power is looked upon as nothing by God. All the fiery obstreperousness we can muster is nothing compared to His fury. Our little breath of wind, however angry and loud to us, is no match to God’s hurricane-force voice. Nebuchadnezzar learned that his Maker is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

And that was his final testimony. “At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me: and my counsellers and my lords sought unto me: and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.”