A Call to Repentance and Turning toward God continued…

A Call to Repentance and Turning toward God continued…

By Scott Hoefker

Last Friday evening in my weekly Sabbath note, we concluded with the words that God had given to Jeremiah, (written down by Baruch and were being read by a man named Jehudi to King Jehoiakim).  “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

At this time of year, there is flurry of activity as our nation scurries around buying gifts and laying the ground work for a holiday that will be upon us in less than a month. These recorded words in God’s Word shed some important light for all to consider.

Let’s continue with the story, “Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.” (Jeremiah 36:22-23)

This was an outright disrespectful, careless, and rebellious action! Instead of fearing the Lord and humbling himself, he and his closest servants disregarded the warning contained in the words of the scroll. “Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words.” (v.24) Interesting that three men implored the king to not burn the scroll (v.25). They are to be commended for their courage.

To add injury to insult (if we may reverse the often quoted saying) the king ordered some of his men “to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them.” (v.26)

There is very big lesson here. Men cannot destroy what God intends to preserve.

He told Jeremiah to write down on another scroll the words that were written on the scroll the king had burned (v.27-28) and He even added to them (v.32). God gave the inspiration to Jeremiah to remember those words.

Then the Lord told Jeremiah to bring the message to King Jehoiakim, that the king of Babylon would come and destroy the land and remove the people. The calamity described in detail in that scroll would come upon them. Jehoiakim would be singled out for an ignominious death and his family and servants would be punished severely for their failure to heed the words.

I have to wonder if we as a nation realize that thumbing our noses at God and not heeding His warning will bring similar consequences.

We then read in 2 Chronicles 36:6, “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him in chains to carry him to Babylon.” “And the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.” (2 Chronicles 36:8)

Jeremiah had earlier recorded God’s judgment concerning Jehoiakim. “He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 22:19) It appears that the account in Jeremiah 36 shows God offering Jehoiakim one more chance to repent and turn the nation around.

What’s encouraging is that our great God is a merciful and compassionate, willing to change His mind about punishments and calamities He has pronounced if those to be affected will humble themselves, hear, fear, and then turn from their iniquity and make the changes God has shown.

This is the message in the famous “Watchman Chapter.” “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11)

The Lord goes on to speak through Ezekiel, “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right . . . he shall surely live; he shall not die.” (Ezekiel 33:14-15)

God is giving that same message today to the leaders and people of modern day Israel? Will they heed?

John also in his gospel records some events that took place during the ninth month at the time of “the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.” (John 10:22) We’ll look at those more closely next Friday evening…and as I close this letter, as I do every Friday, as we enter His Sabbath…reflect on this evening’s letter with me, will you?

May God continue to richly bless you. Our prayers and thoughts are with you daily. Please do pray for us as well.

-Scott Hoefker (Pastor and wife (Gayle) The Living God Ministries Gulf Coast)

This post was originally published on Nov. 22, 2019 on their website.

We encourage you to follow this ministry at https://tlgministriesgc.org/

A Different Path to Healing

A Different Path to Healing

by Pauline E. Lewinson

“For more than twenty years I suffered from severe pain. For several months, I couldn’t stand long enough to prepare a meal, do laundry, bathe and dress my baby, or even comb my hair. I barely managed to crawl out of bed each morning, and I struggled through my work each day.

The doctors’ orders were always the same: more medication, which always caused adverse reactions. Finally, my family physician referred me to a rheumatologist, who informed me that I had a condition that caused sleep deprivation, chronic headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, tingling and numbing sensations, chronic muscular skeletal pain, and chronic fatigue: fibromyalgia!

My heart felt as though it were in my throat. With all the symptoms, I knew I fit the criteria of fibromyalgia. In response to my questions, the doctor said, “The cause is unknown. There is no cure, and it is degenerative.” Tears ran down my face. I wanted to scream, Why me Lord? I had no idea what to think or where to look for answers.

Driving home, all I could think about was my family and how I would tell my husband and children. How would I ever take care of my three-year-old son? I didn’t want him to grow up without his mother, as I had…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Jan-Feb 2013 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 11, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/TSS_2013_Jan-Feb_LowResProof2.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #25 – Allow God’s Spirit to Guide You

Sabbath Meditation #25 – Allow God’s Spirit to Guide You

By Kelly McDonald, Jr. 

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13).

Christians commonly interpret this verse as a reference to the Spirit of God leading us towards truth and into its initial acceptance/understanding. This is absolutely true. However, there is an additional interpretation of this verse that is often overlooked.

Some translations render the end of John 16:13 as “He will guide you in (or within) all truth…” God’s Spirit leads us in obedience to the truth. In other words, God’s Spirit will assist us in learning how to obey the commandments of God.

Too often, we try to do things by human effort instead of by the Spirit’s leading and power. We try to figure it all out on our own. Our minds are renewed or renovated in Christ (Romans 12:1-2), but this happens by the Spirit of God (Titus 3:5).

One major feature of being a Christian is that God’s Spirit guides us. We are not left to our own human, carnal devices. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Consider the following verses:

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, ‘Go near, and join thyself to this chariot…’” (Acts 8:29).

The Greek word translated as “led” can also mean “to be accompanied by.” The Lord leads or accompanies us into all truth by the Spirit; we are not alone. He is with us. “I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. God’s Spirit spoke to Philip to go near the chariot of the Ethiopian Eunuch.

If this is the case with Jesus and Philip, then what about the Sabbath? Christ is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). How much more will the Spirit of Jesus Christ lead us into the detailed obedience of His Sabbath day?

The written Word of God exists as the recorded witness of God’s will for our Sabbath observance. In it, we learn absolute truths for the Sabbath – such as that we do not work on the day and we should keep it holy. The Spirit will reveal to you ways to apply God’s truth in your personal life. The Spirit of God will never contradict the written Word of God.

Spend time praying this Sabbath and ask God to teach you by His Spirit about Sabbath observance. There may be things that you need to adjust or keep the same. Ask God to give you the strength to follow through with the revelation of proper Sabbath observance.

We could try to figure it out on our own with human wisdom, but we might be tempted to justify behavior that is obviously contrary to the truth of Sabbath observance. When we walk by the Spirit, we will stay in God’s will.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

What the Sabbath Means to Me

What the Sabbath means to me
Mary Dell Wallace

A little family history My Father, Earl Boyd, grew up on a farm in South Dakota, the descendant of Presbyterian ministers. The stories Dad told made Sunday sound almost
like the way we later kept the Sabbath.

Dad studied the Bible on his own and with others. About the time I was seven years old, Dad decided we should be keeping the Sabbath on Saturday. He was also convinced that there should be a church called the Church of God that kept the Sabbath day on Saturday. In the library in Bend, OR, he found a book listing churches. In that he found the Church of God (7th Day) with an address in Salem, WV.

Dad usually kept us kids pretty busy with chores around the place. But when we started keeping the Sabbath, things became much easier for us one day a week. Of course, the animals still had to be fed and taken care of, but there were no extra chores.

Over time we moved to be close to churches. We attended camp-meetings and became more acquainted with Sabbath keepers. We even lived in the area around Salem, WV, for about three years.

The Sabbath became a part of our lives. I went back to Salem for my sophomore year of college at the then Seventh Day Baptist college there.

Once I visited a family who had been our neighbors back when our family had lived there. Something was said about the Sabbath. One of these neighbors said, “You don’t have to keep that old Sabbath. Your parents aren’t around to see what you are doing.” I responded with, “I do not keep the Sabbath for my parents. I keep it because that is the  way I believe.”

I now live in a retirement community where I eat my meals in the dining room. I have had to make adjustments here. There was one Seventh Day Adventist lady living here when I moved in. So the people here were not completely unaware.

Because I don’t want to have the staff here serving me on the Sabbath, I eat my Sabbath meals in my apartment. I do have a kitchen and keep food in it. If there is to be a potluck on Sabbath, I prepare food in my little kitchen on Friday. I basically have the Sabbath as an oasis. I rarely interact with the other people living here on that day. I go to Church,  enjoy the potluck there, if there is one, and spend the day much as I would if I were still living in my house. I sometimes visit someone in the hospital or nursing home on my way home from Church.

The Sabbath is a day to spend time with my Creator and fellowship with those of like faith. I am very thankful for it.

The Bread of Life

The Bread of Life

By Jacqueline Jordan

“It was near Passover time in Israel – the Days of Unleavened Bread. Jesus had just performed a miracle, feeding thousands of people with no more than the contents of a family picnic basket. The people he fed recognized Jesus as “the Prophet who is to come into the world.” This was the Prophet about whom Moses had instructed them in Deuteronomy 18:15 and they were ready to take Jesus by force to make Him their king.

Feeding the multitude is the only miracle of Jesus’ ministry to be recorded in all four gospels. The three synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – describe the event, but only John’s gospel goes on to recount what happened afterwards.

To escape their intention to make Him king, Jesus went up by Himself to the mountain from which they had just descended. When Jesus did not appear by late evening, his disciples went on without Him, by boat, over the sea toward Capernaum. Jesus caught up with his disciples later – by walking on water to their boat.

The next day, men who had been present at the miracle of loaves and fishes arrived in Capernaum by boat, seeking Jesus. They questioned Him about when and how He had arrived. But instead of answering their questions, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”…”

(this article is an excerpt from the July-August 2016 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 8, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/July-August_2016.pdf

Martin Luther and the Sabbath

Martin Luther and the Sabbath

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

As we come upon the day commonly called “Reformation Day”, we are reminded to consider the life of Martin Luther. He defied abuses within the largest religious institution in Europe and won; he risked his life to do so. Many people are not aware that Martin Luther was also confronted with the issue of the Sabbath. In fact, at the same time Luther’s reformation movement began there was also a movement to return to the seventh-day Sabbath.

In 1483, Martin Luther was born into a poor family of peasants. His father entered him into formal learning at a young age. He eventually went to school for law, obtaining a bachelor and master’s degree. Not long after this, he decided to become a monk in the Roman Catholic Church.

Upon his entrance into the Erfurt convent, he began to study rigorously. The great question to which he devoted these early years was how he could save his own soul. He fasted, whipped himself, and subjected himself to other forms of penance. In Roman Catholic theology, penance is part of receiving God’s forgiveness and coming back into His grace. In Luther’s eyes, God was a judge who watched every moment and waited to strike you down for the slightest transgression. This was his idea of God’s relationship with man.

In the early Christianity, certain sins were publicly confessed and the remorse of the confessor was accepted as genuine repentance (see I Cor. 5:1-5, 11-13, 2 Cor. 2:1-8; 2 Thess. 3:14-15, Titus 3:9-11). Later, private confession was adopted in the Roman Church. The believer confessed in private to a clergy member, who would then pronounce penance for the believer. In Catholic theology, penance involves performance of certain actions for the person to be able to receive God’s grace. The penance might last a short time or even several years and involve fasting, whipping, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or other actions. Perhaps as early as the sixth century, the Roman Church allowed a person to pay so much money as an offering to commute a penance. These were later named indulgences and by the 1500s they were very common.

After some years of study, the idea of indulgences outraged Luther. He nailed the 95 Thesis to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenburg on October 31st 1517 (some sources say Nov. 1). Community letters and other important announcements were routinely nailed to this door, so this behavior was not out of the ordinary. WHAT Luther nailed to that door was out of the ordinary!

In the 95 Thesis, he stated that there was no need for indulgences and that forgiveness comes from God alone. This bold pronunciation had a chain reaction. The sale of indulgences decreased; there was also a corresponding decrease of revenue for the Roman Church. This catapulted Luther’s beliefs to the forefront of German politics, a nation ripe for religious change. The nation was truly divided over the issue. Some of the princes of Germany were very loyal to the papacy, whereas others were weary of Rome and desired change.

In the midst of this attempt to reform the Roman Church, Luther was confronted regarding the Sabbath question. Luther had a close friend named Andreas Karlstadt; they disagreed with each other in two key areas. Karlstadt believed Luther should accept 1) condemning of idols and images as the second commandment decrees and 2) the Sabbath. We have two quotes from him below:

“God laid out before us all commandments and prohibitions to make us aware of our inner image and likeness, and to understand how God created us in his image to become as God is, i.e., holy, tranquil, good, just, wise, strong, truthful, kind, merciful, etc. All commandments of God demand of us to be godlike; in fact, they have been given us so that we might be conformed to God” (Karlstadt, Regarding The Sabbath and other Statutory Holy Days, Section 2).

“If servants have worked for six days, they are to have the seventh day off God says without distinction, ‘Remember to celebrate the seventh day.’ He does not say that we must keep Sunday or Saturday as the seventh day. It is no secret that human beings instituted Sunday. As for Saturday, the matter is still being debated” (ibid, Section 10).

In the first statement, Karlstadt discussed the commandments of God and their importance in conforming us in God’s image. In the second statement, he wrote about the importance of keeping the Sabbath, though he is undecided about the specific day. Karlstadt admitted that human beings instituted Sunday – not God. He was unsure about Saturday being the Sabbath, but he did believe the fourth commandment needed further study in the reformation.

Luther’s response to Karlstadt was less than favorable!

1525 – Martin Luther

“Thus it is not true that there is no ceremonial or judicial law in the Ten Commandments. Such laws are in the decalogue, depend on it, and belong there. And to indicate this God himself has expressly introduced two ceremonial laws, namely, concerning images and the sabbath….Yes, if Karlstadt were to write more about the sabbath, even Sunday would have to give way, and the sabbath, that is, Saturday, would be celebrated. He would truly make us Jews in all things, so that we also would have to be circumcised, etc.” (Luther, Against the Heavenly Prophets).

“Therefore also, whoever destroys images, or observes the sabbath (that is, whoever teaches that it must be kept), he also must let himself be circumcised and keep the whole Mosaic law” (ibid).

“It is not necessary to observe the sabbath or Sunday because of Moses’ commandment. Nature also shows and teaches that one must now and then rest a day, so that man and beast may be refreshed. This natural reason Moses also recognized in his sabbath law, for he places the sabbath under man, as also Christ does (Matt, 12 [:lff.] and Mark 3 [:]). For where it is kept for the sake of rest alone, it is clear that he who does not need rest may break the sabbath and rest on some other day, as nature allows. The sabbath is also to be kept for the purpose of preaching and hearing the Word of God” (ibid).

Luther considered the prohibition of images/idols and the Sabbath to be part of the ceremonial law, but considered the rest of the Ten Commandments to be God’s Law and morally binding. His statements are not always consistent and at times are confusing. Some of his statements clearly mocked Karlstadt’s point of view that the Sabbath still retained some importance. For some reason Luther attributed the Sabbath to Moses. This is not Scriptural as the Sabbath is never called the Sabbath of Moses or Jews. The seventh day is called the Sabbath of the Lord our God (Ex 20:8-11).

Luther’s rejection of Catholic dogma led to several public debates between the two sides. Often, the doctors of the Roman Catholic Church took advantage of Luther’s inconsistencies. One of the doctors who opposed Luther was named Johann Eck. Many people have heard of Luther’s 95 Thesis against the Roman Church, but very few know about the 404 Thesis that the Catholic Church sent to Luther. Johann Eck compiled the theses to point out errors with Luther’s theology from the Roman perspective. He wrote the following:

“There are some who think that the Sabbath ought still to be observed, since we have Scripture for this, and not for the Lord’s Day” (section 179. 404 Thesis of Johann Eck).

“Therefore it thus is clear that the Church is older than Scripture, and Scripture would not be authentic without the Church’s authority. . . . Scripture teaches: ‘Remember to hallow the Sabbath day; six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath day of the Lord your God.’ etc. Yet the Church has changed the Sabbath into Sunday on its own authority, on which you have no Scripture” (Eck, p 12).

One of Luther’s main theological precepts was sola scriptura, meaning Scripture alone. However, sola scriptura was inconsistently applied when it came to the Sabbath. While his opponents took advantage of this, they also acknowledged that Sunday observance was an invention of human authority.

1532-1538

Between 1532 and 1538, Martin Luther began teaching against a group of Christians that arose from relative obscurity in the 1520s. These Sabbatarians were very prominent in Bohemia and Moravia. In this time, the Roman Church made lists of groups considered heretical. The group ‘Sabbatarians’ are found in these lists and were usually enumerated just after Lutherans and Calvinists (Hasel, pp 101-106).

In 1532 and 1535, Luther denounced the Sabbatarian groups. In his lectures on Genesis he stated: “In our time there arose in Moravia a foolish kind of people, the Sabbatarians, who maintain that the Sabbath must be observed after the fashion of the Jews. Perhaps they will insist on circumcision too, for a like reason” (Luther’s Works, vol. 47, p 60).

In 1538, Luther dedicated an entire letter to denigrating them called “Against the Sabbatarians: Letter to a Good Friend.” It was a letter written to Count Graf Wolfgang Schlick zu Falkenau, who wrote about the Sabbath keeping tendencies in the region. I will summarize it below.

Most of the work is directed against Jewish people; he denigrates them. He claimed that their exile from Jerusalem and the troubles they faced since 70 AD came because of their sins (ibid, pp 67, 98). Due to this, he continued, they live under God’s wrath and that their punishment would last an indefinite time (ibid, pp 72, 75). He stated that they were punished worse than any heathen people (ibid, p 67). He concluded the letter by saying that they are forsaken by God and even compares them to the devil (ibid, pp 96-97).

He finally transitions in the letter to make the distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of God, with the Law of God being the Ten Commandments (ibid, p 88). While he accepted that the first commandment applied to both Christians and Jewish people, he viewed the Sabbath differently (ibid, p 92). The Sabbath, which he called the third commandment, is “a commandment that applies to the whole world; but the form in which Moses frames it and adapts it to his people was imposed only on Jews…” (ibid, p 91).

He then allegorized the meaning of this commandment by saying “For the true meaning of the third commandment is that we on that day should teach and hear the word of God, thereby sanctifying both the day and ourselves…Wherever God’s word is preached it follows naturally that one must necessarily celebrate at the same hour or time and be quiet…But the sanctifying—that is, the teaching and preaching of God’s word, which is the true, genuine, and sole meaning of this commandment – has been from the beginning and pertains to all the world forever. Therefore the seventh day does not concern us Gentiles, nor did it concern the Jews beyond the advent of the Messiah, although by the very nature of things one must, as already said, rest, celebrate and keep the Sabbath on whatever day or at whatever hour God’s word is preached…” (ibid, pp 92-93).

On his interpretation of Isaiah 66:23, which is a future promise of Sabbath keeping, he said “For the sanctifying of the word of God will enjoy full scope daily and abundantly, and every day will be a Sabbath” (ibid, p 93). He said the Jews “shamefully distort and pervert the prophets.” Again, the anti-Jewish sentiment is obvious. He also went on to explain how parts of the fourth, ninth, and tenth commandments no longer apply (ibid, pp 94-95).

As stated earlier, Luther had a confusing and contradicting view of the Sabbath and the Ten Commandments. He allegorized the Sabbath as either being a time whenever the Word of God was preached/taught or eventually being every day. This is similar to early allegorical teachers from the late second and early third century (such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, which we have reviewed in previous articles – CLICK HERE to read about them).

Towards the end of his life, Luther’s disdain for the Jewish people increased. In 1543, he released his highly anti-Semitic work “On the Jews and their Lies.” In it, he condemned the Jewish people to damnation. He considered whether or not their synagogues should be burned down; he proposed that they be ignored and banished from the land altogether. The rhetoric contained in this document is quite sickening.

His hatred for Jewish people led him to also hate the Sabbath. Following the same line of reasoning from anti-Semitic teachers in the second century, Luther resorted to labeling the Sabbath as ‘Jewish’ and allegorized it away.

Despite Luther’s rejection of the Sabbath, the Sabbatarian Anabaptists still had a strong presence. Other German leaders at this same time in history, such as Desiderius Erasmus, also commented on Sabbath keepers in Germany (CLICK HERE to read his comments). Oswald Glait and Andreas Fischer were two contemporary leaders that spread the knowledge of the Sabbath. Using a consistent application of sola scriptura to the Ten Commandments, they convinced many Lutherans in Moravia to honor the Seventh Day Sabbath. At this time, the Sabbath keeping movement was vigorous and was prevalent enough to garner the attention of political and religious leaders.

Let us remember that two reformations happened simultaneously in the 1500s. One preached obedience to all Ten Commandments; the other did not.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Works Cited

Eck, Johann. Enchiridion, ed. & trans. F. L. Battles (Pittsburgh, 1976), p. 12.

Eck, Johann. 404 Thesis. Taken from the book of Concord. Accessed online: http://bookofconcord.org/eck404-theses.php

Hasel, Gerhard F. “Sabbatarian Anabaptists of the Sixteenth Century: Part 1.” Andrews University Seminary Studies (AUSS) 5.2 (1967): 101-106.

Karlstadt, Adreas. Regarding The Sabbath and other Statutory Holy Days, Sections 2, 10.

Luther, Martin. A Letter To A Good Friend: Against the Sabbtarians. Luther’s Works, Volume 47, The Christian in Society IV, Franklin Sherman, ed. And Helmut T. Lehmann, gen ed. Fortress Press: PA, 1971. pp 60-95.

Luther, Martin. Against the Heavenly Prophets.

The Sabbath #24 – A Memorial to Creation

The Sabbath #24 – A Memorial to Creation

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:2-3).

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

When it comes to the Sabbath, we often discuss the need to abstain from work, rest, spend time with family, and gather with other believers. And we should continue to do these things.

What is often neglected in this conversation is that the Sabbath is a memorial to creation and the creator.

In Exodus 20:8-11, when God reminded the children of Israel about the Sabbath, He pointed back to Creation.

As discussed in Sabbath Meditation #22, humans have filled their lives with inventions in which we take delight. When the Sabbath was first given, humanity only had the delight of God’s creation. In fact, Eden means delight. The Seventh Day serves as an eternal memorial to that “very good” work of HIS.

Reminders of Him surrounded Adam and Eve. They still surround us.

I encourage you to incorporate an appreciation for God’s creation into your Sabbath observance. Look beyond the man-made world to those things which God made of His own sovereignty.

“For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands” (Psalm 92:4).

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).

Often the man-made world covers up or distracts us from the God-made world. But remember that even most things in the man-made world were made from those things which God originally created.

Selah.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Is Every Day Alike?

Is Every Day Alike?

By H.M.S. Richards

“Today some people consider every day alike. But there is clear and plain Scriptural evidence that Christ recognizes one specific day as especially belonging to God.

For instance, we read in Revelation 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.”

This shows that the apostle John considered one day in a special sense to be the Lord’s day. It was different from other days. It was “the Lord’s day” when this heavenly vision came to him. Now what day is called the Lord’s day? If you have your Bible open, turn to Mark 2:28: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”

So it is clear that the Lord does have a day and that this day is called the Sabbath or rest day. But what day is the Sabbath? We find our answer in Genesis 2:1-3. When the heavens and the earth were finished, and on the seventh day God ended His work, He rested on the seventh day and blessed it and sanctified it. This is the story of the making of the Sabbath…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Dec 1971 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 3, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/tss_180Dec1971.pdf

What is Real Worship?

What is Real Worship?

by Esther Winchell 

In the life of a Christian, worship is a necessary discipline in developing a relationship with our Maker and Savior.

HOW DID I LEARN ABOUT REAL WORSHIP?

There were times before taking classes through Artios Christian College (formerly, LifeSpring School of Ministry) when I believed that worship was only what happened at church with the song service and corporate prayers. Boy, was I wrong! In addition to those thoughts, worship songs were slow and praise songs were upbeat because that was what I was taught. Wrong again!

When I first began my studies, I could sense that I needed to make changes in my thought processes.
Worship is a way of life because it is how I interact with the Lord. -Esther Winchell

Worship doesn’t just happen once a week at a church service, but every day of my life!

WE NEED REAL WORSHIP!

We all were created to worship God. It is our expression to the Almighty that comes from a true spirit-filled heart.  Our heart will feel empty unless it is filled with deep praise, and praise is essential in the life of a believer. We need real worship!

In the words of the songwriter, Matt Redman:

When the music fades and all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart

DON’T JUST GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS.

In true worship, we need to do more than just open our mouths and sing along with the congregation. Our minds and hearts must be set on the Lord, and our entire being must be engaged in humble submission to our Maker.  We are amid exaltation to the King. Be true to the words that you are praising Him with and don’t just go through the motions.

Is there that one song that touches your heart to the point of bringing tears to your eyes because the lyrics are ones that touch the innermost part of your soul and heart? It is not just singing along, but an actual message that could tell God how you are feeling because of who He is and what He has done in your life. That is real worship!

We can read in John 4:23 about what we are to be or become, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (NIV)

OUR PRAYER LIFE IS ALSO ESSENTIAL.

I believe we all need growth in this area, and it is best learned in our time with the Lord. Our prayer life is also essential because talking and revealing our hearts is the first step. After all, He already knows you, so why not tell Him so?  If you’re not a singer, turn your iPod on and meditate on the praise song that will come up. Really let it sink in and worship the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. There are times I get so lost in my worship at home that tears come to my eyes.

When I began my studies, I also did not have a great prayer life, but Artios showed me how to make time and make it one of my disciplines. There were so many opportunities that I had let slip through my hand when I could and should have been praying instead.

WORSHIP INCLUDES PRAYER, AND PRAYER INCLUDES WORSHIP.

Worship includes prayer, and prayer includes worship. When you begin to incorporate them both into your life, you will see a relationship developing that will cause an intimate and personal bond that only you and the Father will have.

Through the Worship Arts and Prayer classes, Artios recommends some books that you will keep at your desk or bedside. They include so many examples and reasons that help you get further into developing these disciplines. You won’t regret it! Through these studies, you will see what you can enhance, refresh, or even begin in your Christian walk.

And, don’t forget, “long to bring something that is of worth to bless the Lord.”

This article was first published by the Bible Advocate on 3/18/2020. We encourage you to follow the publication of the Church of God Seventh Day at https://baonline.org/

Historical Background to I John 4:1-3

Historical Background to I John 4:1-3

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (I John 4:1-3).

Recently I wrote an article about I Timothy 4:1-5. In these verses, Paul warned Timothy about heretical teachings (Click here to read the article). Gnosticism was one of the belief systems that promoted these teachings. We discussed it at length in a series on the Rise of Heresy in second century Christianity (to start with Part 1, click here).

Gnosticism was a belief system which blended Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Some of their common beliefs are as follows: matter is evil and spiritual things are good; an inferior god made the material world and a superior god made the spiritual realm; spirit and matter are opposed; and a strong emphasis on the gaining of knowledge as essential to the salvation of one’s immortal soul. They viewed this knowledge as the key to escape the material world and become one with the supreme spiritual creator.

Because these heretics viewed the material world as evil, they denied that the perfect Christ could have ever been born as a human. In their view – how could a being so perfect dwell in a material body? They denied the bodily birth, bodily ministry, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ. They claimed that an apparition or the mere appearance of the perfect Christ appeared on earth.

As a direct consequence, they viewed marriage and procreation as evil because they create more material beings. They tended to view Christ as a spiritual being only who came to earth to free men from the God who made the material world.

In I John 4:1-3, the Apostle mentions that the people who taught such a thing were coming and were already in the world. Irenaeus lived in the mid to late second century. He lived in the time prophesied by John (‘were coming’), but reflected on the first of these anti-Christ teachers. Apparently, Simon of Samaria was considered among the first of these anti-Christ teachers.

“Declaring at the same time the doctrine of Simon Magus of Samaria, their progenitor, and of all those who succeeded him. I mentioned, too, the multitude of those Gnostics who are sprung from him, and noticed the points of difference between them, their several doctrines, and the order of their succession, while I set forth all those heresies which have been originated by them. I showed, moreover, that all these heretics, taking their rise from Simon, have introduced impious and irreligious doctrines into this life...” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, bk 2, preface)

In Acts 8:9-26, Simon tried to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Apostle Peter. Peter sternly rebuked him and told him to repent. According to Irenaeus, Simon started his own following and became the fore runner of false teachers that promoted Gnosticism as a form of Christianity. This explains John’s statement that some anti-Christs were already in the world.

Some scholars believe John referred to a man named Cerinthus, who was a contemporary to him. He had the strange idea that Jesus was a separate person from Christ. Jesus was the fleshly son of Joseph and Mary while Christ was the spiritual being from the previously unknown Father. Irenaeus says this of his teachings:

“He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being…” (idem, 1.26.1).

One story from ancient history is that John once fled a building simply because Cerinthus entered it. “There are also those who heard from him [Polycarp] that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, ‘Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within’” (ibid, 3.3.4).

The heretical idea that Jesus Christ did not actually come in the flesh existed during John’s day. Below we have quotes from various authors about other heretics who taught that Christ did not come in the flesh. They are among the ones John said would come after his time.

“But one Saturnilus, who flourished about the same period with Basilides, but spent his time in Antioch…And the Saviour he supposed to be unbegotten and incorporeal, and devoid of figure. [he] however, (maintained that Jesus) was manifested as a man in appearance only. And he affirms that marriage and procreation are from Satan…” (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 7.16).

“3. Basilides again, that he may appear to have discovered something more sublime and plausible, gives an immense development to his doctrines….But the father without birth and without name, perceiving that they would be destroyed, sent his own first-begotten Nous (he it is who is called Christ) to bestow deliverance on those who believe in him, from the power of those who made the world. He appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles. Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead ; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them… so that it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world… 5. Salvation belongs to the soul alone, for the body is by nature subject to corruption” (Irenaes, Adv. Her., 1.24.3-5; emphasis mine throughout).

“102. If birth is something evil, let the blasphemers say that the Lord who shared in birth was born in evil, and that the virgin gave birth to him in evil. Woe to these wicked fellows! They blaspheme against the will of God and the mystery of creation in speaking evil of birth. This is the ground upon which Docetism is held by Cassian and by Marcion also, and on which even Valentine indeed teaches that Christ’s body was “psychic”… (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 3.102).

These false teachers had tremendous influence and tried to change Judeo-Christianity as it was originally taught by the first Apostles. This was part of satan’s attempt to stain the pure faith delivered to the saints. As reviewed in previous articles, God reserved a remnant, such as Polycarp to combat these heretics (CLICK HERE to read the article about Polycarp).

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President www.biblesabbath.org