#12 Implications and Ramifications
"The end is near. We have not a moment to lose. Light is to shine forth from God's people in clear, distinct rays, bringing Jesus before the churches and before the world. God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered and replaced in the framework of truth; and wherever the laborers go they will triumph. As Christ's ambassadors, they are to search the Scriptures to seek for the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of error, and every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up all others, Christ our Righteousness. This is life eternal, "That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord" (The Paulson Collection of E. G. White Letters; p. 342, par. 2).
It is my hope that you will finish this last study yourself - that you will go out and buy yourself a notebook or a journal and that you will add addendum after addendum to this study. It is impossible for me to realize or cover all of the implications of the truths about the Godhead, the plan of redemption, and the Holy Spirit in this entire study (much less in this final section). I will list some of the most important implications of this study, as I see them, but I encourage you to add your own to those covered here. For you preachers and teachers out there, there is an inexhaustible mine of information you can bring forth from all of this to the people of your flock! God says: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). This vital knowledge must be brought to them. This study will only "open the door" - it will be up to you to walk through it and discover all that is on the other side! With that said, here are the most pressing implications of all of this as I see it.
"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Mat. 12:31-32).
If you were the Devil and your goal was to entice me into "sin," which sin would you be most interested in getting me to commit - one that can be forgiven or one that can't be forgiven? Wouldn't you focus most of your efforts, and try the hardest, to get me to commit the sin that God will not forgive? Of course you would, and so would the Devil. Satan has ever sought to get us to commit the Sin against the Holy Spirit and he would like to keep us from understanding what that sin is so that we will be more likely to commit it. So exactly what is the sin against the Holy Spirit?
The specific sin against the Holy Spirit, according to Jesus, is that of "Blasphemy." What is blasphemy? The Bible gives us only two definitions of blasphemy: (1) You commit blasphemy when you speak against God, either in an irreverent way or in a way that denies the truth about God (speaking a lie about God). For example: anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ, is committing blasphemy -- "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist the one who denies the Father and the Son." (1 Jn. 2:22). (2) You commit blasphemy when you claim to be God - or if you claim that something is God when it is not. This is what got Jesus into so much trouble with the Jews - not that Jesus committed blasphemy, but that they thought He did: "The Jews answered Him, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'" (Jn. 10:33).
Seventh-day Adventists have long taught that we commit blasphemy (the sin against the Holy Spirit) when we refuse to be led of God - when we refuse to the promptings of the Holy Spirit -- effectively placing ourselves above God (making ourselves God) - and this is an absolutely correct description of "blasphemy against the Spirit." However, we seem to be blind to the fact that there is another way that we can commit blasphemy against the Spirit, which involves our denying the truth about the Spirit (and therefore about God). "The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence" (MS # 30, 1890 [SDA BC vol. 5; p. 1093]). The Devil has been very successful in getting us to commit this blasphemy against the Spirit, and we shall see why this cunning deception is so fatal in a moment.
Perhaps you, like myself, have been frustrated because you never knew how you were to relate to the Holy Spirit. I knew that I needed Him, but I never really knew who He was. I knew that all the evidence indicates that the Holy Spirit is God, but since the Bible never tells us to pray to Him, or to worship Him, or includes Him in the councils of God or the Throne of God, I never really understood how I was to relate to Him. The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy both make it abundantly clear that we are to worship the Father and the Son. Jesus Himself said: "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Jn. 17:3). 1 John 2:22 (quoted earlier) says that one is the antichrist "who denies the Father and the Son." We find the Holy Spirit nowhere mentioned in this regard. We only find the Holy Spirit described as the active agent of our acceptance and worship of God. Yet the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as a person, and an extremely important person at that. We know that we need the Holy Spirit in order to overcome sin and to be fitted for heaven. We are told that we must have the "Early" and the "Later Rain" contained in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we have never really understood what we were actually praying for! Instead, we have blundered along in a state of confusion regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit, His purpose and how we are to relate to Him -- and this confusion has suited the Devil just fine. In fact, he has seized upon this confusion and ambiguity regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit and has used this to get us to unknowingly commit the sin (blasphemy) against the Holy Spirit.
The Devil really doesn't care how he gets us to turn away from God and from His Truth, so long as he can get us to do it. He knows that Christians are not going to overtly worship him (Satan), so he has invented all kinds of counterfeits - other things - to take the place of Christ. He knows that if he can convince us to look to someone other than Christ for our hope and our salvation, that he has got us in his pocket and has secured our fate. This is what he has done in propagating the orthodox teachings of the Trinity doctrine. Through the doctrine of the Trinity, Satan has introduced someone other than Christ into the plan of salvation of mankind. He has done this very cleverly and almost imperceptibly - keeping his deception very close to the truth so as not to have it discovered or readily discerned. Here is how he has done this.
He would have us believe that the Holy Spirit is, and has always been the third member of the Godhead. He would have us accept the Holy Spirit as someone other than Christ. He knows that if he can keep us believing that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ that, in effect, he is successful in getting us to deny Christ, and to deny the most important part of His sacrifice for us. He knows that if he can keep us believing that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ, that he can prevent the outpouring of Christ's Holy Spirit and thus delay (or prevent) his doom. It is really a very masterful deception! Through our belief in the traditional Trinity doctrine he actually has gotten us to believe that we are rendering faithful service and obedience to God when, in fact, we are doing the very opposite - we are going after "other Gods." He has gotten us to worship a lie. Satan knows that we must worship God "in Truth" (Jn. 4:23,24) and he is exalting in the fact that he has gotten us to pray both to and for a figment of our imaginations (that which is not Truth). He has gotten us to create another God in the person of the Holy Spirit when, in reality, the Holy Spirit is not another but is Christ Jesus. It is my firm belief that Jesus is speaking to us today, and is saying: "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you" (Prov. 1:23. See also: Joel 2:28,29; Isa. 44:1-6; Acts 2:17-21).
Consider how far our belief in the Trinity doctrine has taken us:George Knight, a professor and prominent SDA theologian makes this startling confession in Ministry Magazine, October 1993 - "Most of the founders of Seventh-Day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination's fundamental beliefs. More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief number 2 which deals with the doctrine of the Trinity." [Emphasis mine].
William Johnson, Editor of the Adventist Review, wrote in the January 6, 1994 issue that - "Adventist beliefs have changed over the years. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ. Many of the pioneers, including James White, J.N. Andrews, Uriah Smith and J.H. Waggoner, held to an Arian or semi-Arian view. That is, that the Son at some point in time, before the creation of our world, was generated by the Father. The Trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our fundamental beliefs, was not generally held by early Adventists. Even today, a few do not subscribe to it." [used by permission - Emphasis mine].
The pioneers of Adventism believed that Jesus was "brought-forth" from the Father - and while their understanding of this may have been imperfect [they did generally believe that Christ was "Begotten" or "Generated into existence" at some point in eternity past - a belief that I do not espouse and that is incorrect in terms of His original existence as God - but not incorrect when speaking of the "Brought-Forth" Christ as understood in this study and book. I believe that while they may not have correctly understood the intricacies of Christ's having been "Brought-Forth", that they were none the less correctin their opposition to the "Trinity Doctrine" and…] God never directed Ellen White to rebuke them for believing that Christ was actually "Brought-Forth" from the Father. In fact, Jesus Himself stressed that this belief (that He was "Brought-Forth") is important and necessary, and pronounced the blessing of the Father's love upon those who believe this truth: "In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father" (Jn. 16:26,27). "I proceeded forth and have come from God" (Jn. 8:42). Our pioneers may not have understood the full implications of this belief but they were on the right track and God never rebuked them for it. How would you like to be a pastor in one of our churches today and be forced to deny baptism and membership to people like James White, J.N. Andrews, Uriah Smith, J.H. Waggoner and others because they did not believe in the orthodox Trinitarian understanding of God? Sound preposterous? It happens.
There are basically three reasons, as I see it, that inhibit our ability to secure the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in full measure. They are:
Any one-or any combination of these-inhibits God's ability to give us the Holy Spirit and has prevented us from receiving Christ's Holy Spirit in the power and the fullness of the Latter Rain.
When our attitudes and beliefs towards God are out of kilter, we severely limit God's ability to communicate effectively with us. God will not force our wills. He will not compel us to understand or believe Him. We must choose to do this. When our approach and attitude toward God is in error, or when we are not living up to the light we already have, He cannot give us additional light, understanding or power. It is our attitude toward God that determines how much of His grace He is able to impart to us. We must come to the point where we are humble, teachable and desiring of the things He wishes to impart to us (even if it means giving up some cherished belief). "When God's people are at ease, and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favour them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward, to receive the increased and ever increasing light that is shining for them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light" (5T: pp. 708, 709). God will have a people who seek a right relationship with Him and will allow Him to impart knowledge and power to us - but we must accept the light that He gives us in order for this to happen!
Greater light concerning the sacrifice of Christ will be revealed and understood by God's people before the end comes. The truth about the Holy Spirit is an essential component of the sacrifice of Christ and the plan of redemption - and it will be understood as such. But it will only be revealed and realized by those who desire more light and more truth from God - By those who are aware of their utter depravity and helplessness, and who feel their enormous need for the righteousness of Christ -- By those who are willing to be led, and molded, and transformed by the truth as it is in Jesus - cost be what it may.
Seventh-day Adventists have been given the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the last warning message to be given to the world (the three angel's messages). This message not only includes the message that "the hour of His judgment has come" and a warning about accepting the "mark of the Beast" (Rev. 14:7-9), it includes a warning against accepting the "wine" (doctrines) of Babylon. These doctrines, according to the Bible, are those of "confusion" and are the teaching of men. Through our acceptance of the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, handed down to us by the Catholic Church, we have inadvertently accepted the wine of Babylon and it has had a tremendously negative effect on our ability to accurately proclaim the real message contained in the three angel's messages. Here is why.
"The theme of greatest importance is the third angel's message, embracing the messages of the first and second" (Evangelism, p. 196, Letter 97, 1902). This means that the "third angel's message" includes the messages of the first and second angels and that they all contain a "theme of greatest importance" with regards to the "Everlasting Gospel" (Rev. 14:6). What is this "theme" of great importance? What is the real message of the third angel? "Justification by faith [Righteousness by faith, or the message of "Christ our Righteousness"]…is the third angel's message in verity" (RH: April 1, 1890; par. 8). "The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth" (RH: November 22, 1892; par. 7). "The message of Christ's righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel" (6T, p. 19).
"Christ our Righteousness" is the last glorious message that is to be proclaimed to our dying planet. Sounds simple enough doesn't it? We certainly teach this don't we? Haven't we stressed the importance of being "born again," of having "Christ formed within" - of being "in Christ" and of having "Christ in us"? We have, but here is the catch: "How" is this accomplished? We have been teaching that this is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit (and this is correct), BUT we teach that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ. So, in effect, what we are teaching (through the orthodox view of the Trinity) is that the "Spirit" that is responsible for enabling us to partake of Christ's divine nature and is to reproduce Christ's character in us - effectively allowing Christ to "abide in us" and making His sacrifice effectual --is someone other than Christ Himself! Does that make any sense to you at all? The fact is that this teaching directly contradicts the plain teaching of the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy: for "there is salvation in no one else… there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
"All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of HIS SPIRIT in large measure" (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 92). Are we really so naive as to believe that God will bless our refusal to accept the truth that the Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of Christ" ? Can we really expect Christ to honor us with the outpouring of His Spirit while we are clinging to, and defending, a doctrine that denies this and has come to us straight out of the confusion of Babylon as one of the "doctrines of men" (Mat. 15:9; Mk. 7:8; Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:22; Tit. 1:4)? This is the most serious of questions - especially at this moment in history.
There is a growing desire and movement within our church right now for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is a good thing. But we must ask ourselves why we desire the "outpouring". Could we be coveting the glory and power of God as the disciples once did - seeking position, authority and personal honor? Could we be coveting a "feeling" and an experience that will prove that we are accepted and blessed of God? Such motives completely unfit us for the honor of the calling in Christ Jesus and leave us completely vulnerable to the deceptions of the Devil. Our desire for the outpouring of the Spirit must be coupled with a desire to understand the truth about the Holy Spirit and all that it entails. Paul said that when we pray, especially in regards to the Holy Spirit and its manifestation in our lives, that we should pray with our "minds" and with our "understanding" also (See 1 Cor. 14:15) - not as one blindly asking for what we know not. As long as we remain in confusion about the Holy Spirit, we can be sure that the Devil will be glad to step in with a counterfeit outpouring of the Spirit (his own spirit!) and will deceive many.
In fact, we are told that this is going to be the case at the end of time. You can read about it in the book "Early Writings" in the chapter entitled "End of the 2300 Days" pages 54-56. Here you will find a description of two very different groups of people. One group has understood clearly that Jesus work was not completed at the cross - that He still had the work of Sanctifying a people for Himself and that He had an investigative judgment to perform. These people understand clearly the work that Christ has been doing (and how He has been doing it) and have followed His movements through the Heavenly Sanctuary. These people understand that Christ is not only our substitute and Savior, they will also understand that He is much more than that-they will understand Him to be their Creator and "Father" (both by His initial act of creation and by His "re-creation" through the new birth experience). With this understanding: "Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest and pray, 'My Father, give us Thy Spirit.' Then Jesus would breath on them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace" (EW p. 55).
The second group of people did not understand Christ's work of sanctification and judgment. They have not followed Him through His work in the Heavenly Sanctuary and, while desiring the "Holy Spirit," are completely unprepared to receive it. Because they do not understand Christ's work, they are deceived into worshiping Satan and receiving his counterfeit. Here is how Ellen describes this group of obviously sincere, yet deceived people: "I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, 'Father, give us Thy Spirit.' Satan would then breath upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan's object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God's children" (Ibid. p. 56).
Truth matters! Coveting the things of God is a good thing if it is done with understanding-if it is done with the Spirit of Wisdom and Truth! Satan has always wanted to be the third member of the Godhead and he is accomplishing this in the minds and experience of many people. Following the great awakening of 1844 (the end of the 2300 days), there was a revival that took place in many denominations. Those who did not understand and/or accept Christ's sacrifice and work for us began to be deceived by a host of manifestations of the devil's spirit. During this time there was the mysterious "knocking" involving the Fox sisters, the "quaking" of the Quakers, the manifestation of the false gift of tongues, and many, many false doctrines introduced by a variety of New lines of thought and New Denominations. All of these things happened just following the true spiritual enlightenment of Christ's work in 1844. Isn't it extremely likely that even greater false manifestations will take place at the very close of Christ's work when His Spirit is about to be poured out in full measure in fulfillment of His promise found in Joel 2:28? What "Spirit" we will partake of will be decided in great measure by what we understand and accept the Holy Spirit to be! Will we understand and accept it to be Christ's Spirit, or will we fall prey to the devil's counterfeit?
Christ denied Himself in ways we have only begun to acknowledge and comprehend (much less appreciate). Christ always sought to give glory to His Father, we must have the same motive - to give glory to Christ. Christ sacrificed Himself in order to save us. Christ laid aside the power of His own divine nature (Spirit) in order that we may overcome as He overcame and be granted eternal life in Him. We are called to deny ourselves, and work as He did, for the good and salvation of others. Christ has not left us alone to accomplish this. He has given us His Holy Spirit, and through this gift He has promised to impart His own divine nature to us that we may be transformed into His image and do the works of God. What a puny sacrifice we are called to make - to give up our sin, our selfish desires, to love our fellow man, to be co-workers with Christ! What a puny sacrifice is ours, when compared to that of Christ's! It takes my breath away! How must we respond to the privilege that is ours through Christ's sacrifice?
God will have a people who will honor His Son. He will have a people who understand and appreciate the eternal sacrifice that has been made in order to redeem them -- a sacrifice that has come at an "infinite cost to the Father and the Son" (RH: March 10, 1891; par. 2) and "at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God" (ST: January 6, 1887; par. 3). God will have a people who will not deny Christ or His Spirit, and who will accept the provision that has been made in order the we may become partakers of His divine nature. That "provision" is the Holy Spirit of Christ. "Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world" (5T p. 731, par. 1), and He has given us "His own Sprit, the life of His own Life" (DA p. 827, par. 3) in order that we may actually do this. But He can never give us His Spirit until we acknowledge it as such, and until we ask Him for it. Too many of us are praying for something for which we have no knowledge. The time has come for God's Remnant people to reclaim this important truth -- to place it firmly into its proper place - giving Christ the honor, glory and respect He deserves by acknowledging and accepting the wonderful sacrifice of His Spirit on our behalf. When we do this, we enable God to accomplish His work in us. God will have a people who not only "know the Truth" but who will be empowered and set free by it.
It is extremely interesting to me to notice what was going on in the church when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happened the first time, and when it very nearly happened again in 1888. When the early church gathered in the upper room, their focus was totally on Christ and what He had done - they recognized much more fully the sacrifice that Christ had made - they now knew who He was and what He had actually done - and they earnestly repented and asked Christ to fill them with His grace and power. It was then that the Holy Spirit was poured out in special measure. In 1888, our church's focus began to center on Christ and Christ alone - people were repenting of their sins and were seeking for Christ to fill them with His righteousness - asking for His power to overcome sin and form a righteous character within them. The Holy Spirit began to be poured out once again, but then halted as we lost our focus and became embroiled in a host of other issues. It is my sincere belief that the "power" that is missing as we have attempted to recreate and proclaim the 1888 message, is the truth about Christ's Holy Spirit. Christ cannot impart His righteousness to us until we understand that He is the one doing it!
Until we regain our focus on Christ and His righteousness - until we understand the sacrifice of Christ in giving His Spirit to us that we may become partakers of His divine nature, imparting His life and His righteousness to us - we will never experience the Latter Rain which is to be poured out in full measure. Christ literally became one with us, in order that we may literally become one with Him. When we finally accept this truth, we will be enabled to become "partakers" of His divine nature and become the Sons and Daughters of God as no other beings in history have had the privilege.
Then, the same words that were spoken by the Father to Christ, will be spoken of us also: "YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU." And again, "I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME" (Heb. 1:5). To which of the Angels has God granted the privilege of partaking in the sufferings of Christ? To which of the Angels has He granted the privilege of being called "Son"? To which of the Angels has He promised to reign in His kingdom? Upon which of the Angels has He promised to "pour out" His Spirit? Behold what manner of Love the Father has given unto us - that we may actually partake of Christ's divine nature and be called the "Sons and Daughters of God"!
"Man's salvation depends upon his receiving Christ by faith. Those who will not receive Him lose eternal life because they refused to avail themselves of the only means provided by the Father and the Son for the salvation of the perishing world" (MS #142 [SDA BC vol. 7; p. 931]). The "only means" that the Father and the Son have provided-is the Spirit of Christ. By Christ, through Christ, Christ in us - the hope of glory! This is to be the theme song of the remnant people of God. "One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,-- Christ our righteousness" (RH December 23, 1890; par. 19).
"Jesus is waiting to breath upon all His disciples, and give them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from Himself to His people…Their will must be submitted to His will, they must act with His Spirit that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them. Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving His Holy Spirit He is giving to them the glory which the Father hath given Him" (Letter 11b, 1892 [MR vol. 4, p.334]).
It is time for the people of God to wake up! The fullness of the incarnation of Christ is not yet complete. He has yet to reproduce Himself in His people - He has yet to incarnate His Spirit into you and I and us into Himself. Will we let Him do this? "May the Lord help us to die to self and be born again, that Christ may live in us, a living, active principle, a power that will keep us holy…God knows what you can be. He knows what divine grace can do for you if you will be partakers of the divine nature" (9T p. 187, par. 4 & p. 188, par. 2).
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