Adventism and Narcissism

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A while back I wrote an article called Bible Cures for NarcissismThis morning a friend on Facebook was sharing the signs of narcissism, which I was already familiar with. However, as our Sabbath school lesson today is on the three angels message, something occurred to me just now.

One of the signs of being narcissistic is the need to feel special and superior. We feel as Adventists we have a special message and we do. But if we are not careful could that lead to narcissism? Do we think our beliefs put us in a “special” category of believers?  I heard an Adventist pastor years ago lamenting to his congregation that he was pretty much the last pastor preaching the three angels message and Bible truth. His church was scared to lose him and he had them convinced he was the last true preacher, and whoever came in after him would be a heretic! In talking to members of his congregation they felt very special to have him as their pastor, and felt superior to other Adventist congregations who were not privy to this special pastor. Were such attitudes leading to the gospel or to narcissism?

Its been a while, but I remember a few families in a church I was familiar with who formed their own study group. They were studying the Adventist message more deeply than those in the church, or so they thought. They started referring to themselves as the “remnant of the remnant.” They started isolating themselves, as they felt pretty special. Were they really becoming better Christians or just better narcissists?

Marco Torres wrote an excellent article on conspiracy theories. He writes, “Conspiracy theories have a way of making us feel like we are more spiritual than others because of the information we have.” I think he nailed it! I have talked to so many in the church who feel superior and more spiritual because they are “in the know.” I have met people who feel like they have a special understanding of our beliefs which puts them in a special class. When others don’t understand them that just makes them all the more special. Are such feelings the fruit of the gospel or narcissism?

Jesus is the Gospel. He is the opposite of narcissism. Instead of putting Himself in a special class He joined all of humanity. While James and John wanted to be in a special class in His kingdom (remnant of the remnant?) Jesus said He was the servant of all! In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus mentions a Levi, who was a special class of Jews, (remnant of the remnant?). He mentioned a priest who was “in the know” and probably had special information. Jesus did not identify the gospel with the priest or Levi. He chose a Samaritan to represent the Gospel. A Samaritan who had no concept of caste or special creed. A Samaritan who saw everyone as his neighbor and equal.

Let’s remember the three angels message is for every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Its not for a select privileged group. Its for everyone! Its easy to fall for Satan’s counterfeit “spirituality” which leads to feelings of being special and superior, and to narcissism. John the beloved fell for it when he asked to have a special place in the kingdom. There is a cure for narcissism and it is the gospel! John fell in love with Jesus and later wrote,

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us. 1 John 1:3

While John once felt he needed to be in a special class, once he fell more deeply in love with Jesus and the gospel he no longer felt the need to be “special” or “exclusive.” He saw all humanity as his neighbor and equal, and invited everyone into the same fellowship he had with Jesus. Narcissism sets us apart. The Gospel sends us into the world!

Are Adventists Still Preaching the Three Angels Message?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

After Evangelist Steve Wohlberg held some meetings at our church, we had several baptisms. One of those was “Wayne.” Wayne and I started hanging out as he loved to talk to me about prophecy. More specifically he liked talking about the mark of the beast. Okay, all he wanted to talk about was the mark of the beast. Even more specifically he just wanted to talk about how it would be distributed. Would it be a computer chip? An ID card? Would it be injected like a vaccine? These questions went on for weeks as we hung out at our favorite hang-outs.

It finally started sinking in that Wayne was not really interested in Jesus. He was interested in conspiracy theories. Finally one day, while Wayne was rehashing his usual questions again about exactly how the mark would be administered, I stopped him, and asked, “Wayne suppose you knew exactly how the mark would be administered. How would that knowledge make you more like Jesus?” Wayne looked at me like I had four heads and four wings! While we preach Jesus every Sabbath at our church, Wayne soon left in search of conspiracy theories that were not being preached at our church.

Sometimes people get so wrapped up in prophecy they forget it’s all about Jesus! To them, Daniel and Revelation is nothing more than a science fiction novel. So when they hear Jesus preached instead of conspiracy theories, they think that preaching Jesus instead of conspiracy theories is part of the conspiracy! They forget that the mark of the beast has a counterpart which is the seal of God. The seal of God is the character of God. We learn about the character of God and the seal of God by studying the life of Jesus.

Some complain the church preaches too much about day-to-day living instead of the Three Angels’ message and prophecy. But it is the day-to-day living that reflects the character of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit that seals Christ’s people to Him. The Sabbath is only the outward sign of the inward faithfulness.

I have been in homes where there was domestic abuse, but everyone in the home was satisfied that they were good Christians because they all knew the Taco Bell logo was satanic, and a sign that the Illuminati were taking over the world and bringing in Sunday laws. I have talked to men who were addicted to pornography but were sure they had the seal of God because they no longer ate cheese. These folk need to be instructed on day-to-day practical Christian living first, before they start getting all wrapped up in prophecy and last day events.

 

When people ask why we are no longer preaching the Three Angels’ message, I am baffled because we are preaching the Three Angels message of Revelation 14:6-12. I just preached it as a guest speaker last Sabbath. The first angel has the everlasting gospel. According to 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 the gospel is the cross. So whenever we preach the cross, we preach the message of the first angel. The second angel tells us Babylon is falling. The king of Babylon thought he had earned his dominion while Daniel 4:32 tells us it was given to him. Babylon represents trusting ourselves and our own system of worship to save us, instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus who will save us. So when we preach salvation by grace instead of works we are preaching the message of the second angel. The third angel warns us against trusting in our own works to save us, and gives us the Sabbath as a sign that we rest our faith in Jesus and not in man or the works of man. Ellen White says this about the third angel,

Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, “It is the third angel’s message in verity.” –Ellen White, Review and Herald, 1890.

So when we preach justification by faith we are preaching the message of the third angel.

So when I hear Adventists say we are not preaching the third angel’s message, I wonder what exactly are they expecting. Fire and brimstone? Turn or burn? Keep the Sabbath or you go to hell? If so, they won’t find that in the Three Angels’ message. Yes the third angel mentions fire and brimstone, but only for those who rejected the cross. They show they have rejected the cross when they trust in their own works to save them instead of resting on the Sabbath, as a sign that God’s grace will sustain them, and not the mark of the beast. They end up drinking the cup that Jesus drank for them in Gethsemane. By rejecting the Sabbath rest and God’s grace they choose to drink that cup themselves. It is their own choice!

As Seventh-day Adventists, let us proclaim the everlasting gospel of the three angels. Let’s let the world know about God’s amazing grace that turns abusive homes into heaven on earth. Let’s let everyone know there is a love that not only conquers your desire for cheese but also takes away your desire for porn. The three angels message will change our day to day lives and fit us for His soon coming.

You may study this week’s Sabbath school lesson here.

Truth Versus Theories, Fables and Conspiracies

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“…the truth will set you free.” –Jesus Christ, John 8:32

Last week a high school friend of mine, attending a Christian non-denominational school, gave a speech on her belief of the Bible teaching of the state of the dead. She texted me for verses and ideas and used my lessons on Death in Light of the Cross. Instead of endorsing her stand, or refuting it, her teacher simply responded, “I guess we will never really know.” Seriously? For the sake of being diplomatic to other beliefs and to be politically correct, you make God look like He is not smart enough to provide us with a Bible that can be properly understood?

A while back I was watching a family sitcom, where the youth pastor came for dinner, because the family had some theological questions. The youth pastor on the show ends up explaining that the Bible can be interpreted a lot of different ways. While I know this was just an actor and not a real youth pastor, I know too that it is a popular belief. However I do not believe that is true.

We try to be diplomatic and peace keeping by saying there are many different denominations, because the Bible can be understood many different ways. While this may be partially true, we must open our eyes and realize the reason why there are so many different denominations and even religions is not because the Bible is confusing. It isn’t’. The problem is not that the Bible is hard to understand. The problem is that people lie! I hate to call people liars but I would rather call someone a liar instead of making my God out to be too stupid to provide a book that can be properly understood. Revelation 21:8 says all liars will be thrown in the lake of fire. No one will go to hell because they are confused. Those who are lost are lost because they lived on lies.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe God has His people in all different churches and denominations. There are godly people from all walks of faith who will be in heaven. My point is simply that instead of being so diplomatic and politically correct that we start accepting every wind of doctrine, we need to stand up and face the fact that someone is out-right lying!

When we don’t want to face the facts we try to confuse ourselves. The confusion does not come from the Bible. The confusion comes from mixing our own opinions and emotions with Bible truth. For example, people are quite certain that Good Friday was on the 6th day of the week Friday. They are quite sure Jesus rose on the first day of the week Sunday. Yet when you mention the Seventh-day Sabbath right smack dab in the middle, they suddenly become “confused” claiming there is no way to know for sure which day is the 7th.

What baffles me is how people will come up with lies in search of the truth! This is how conspiracy theories abound. Now no doubt there are conspiracies, but some conspiracy theorists like to turn everything into a conspiracy.

Some conspiracy theorists like to accept the darkest explanations. For example, after Kennedy’s death, Johnson wanted to be sworn in as president before leaving Dallas. As soon as the swearing in took place he told reporters to share the pictures with the world as soon as possible. Conspiracy theorists say Johnson had a big ego and wanted the whole world to know he was in charge. How about looking at it another way? Johnson wanted the whole world to know that the United States Government had a leader and was not vulnerable to attack? Now you can’t prove either theory. But you can follow Bible principle and try to see the best in people instead of the worst. We destroy a lot of reputations and relationships by looking for the worst possible motives and scenarios.

Conspiracy theorists also rest their cases on the most ambiguous facts. By proving that two people knew each other, they have a hypothesis that they both were involved in a conspiracy, just because they knew each other. Guilt by association they say. This again is a dishonest way to ruin people’s reputations and relationships. So even the truth that some conspiracy theorists have, does not have much weight, and lead to assumptions that may or may not be true.

And when holes get shot in their theories they turn to facts that simply are not true. Oswald was a poor marksman is one accusation. No way could he have made those shots. Fact is Oswald was a great marksman well above average. Some say Oswald could not have made it to the 2nd floor from the 6th floor in time to be caught by the police in the time frame in which he was. Re-enactments have proved that he could. Still, 50 years later, people cling to their fables and call our leaders liars, thinking the worst of everyone in leadership from Lyndon Johnson to Gerald Ford and George Bush.

It simply is not healthy to be thinking of all the bad motives people could have had, especially when all you have are theories. Nothing good comes from looking for the worst possible motives in people.

Fact is, if we belong to God we don’t have to worry about conspiracies. Joseph was a victim of a conspiracy. His brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt and then covered it up by dipping his coat in blood and telling his father he had been eaten by some wild beast. There you have it! A true conspiracy and cover up! No harm done though. While the conspiracy was designed to destroy Joseph, it actually got Joseph to exactly where he wanted to be! Later when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers after becoming the ruler of Egypt, he shrugs it all off and tells them there are no grudges, everything worked out fine. Joseph did not need to see the worst in his brothers. He did not need to expose their evil motives and egos. Instead he proved them to be good decent men in the end. By the way, for those who think the Kennedy assassination was an inside job, Joseph’s attack really was an inside job-done by his own brothers! Still, God used it to get Joseph where he needed to be.

So when it comes to Bible truth or conspiracy theories let’s not confuse the plain facts with our own feelings and emotions. Let’s not look for the worst in others. And last but not least, let’s not worry about lies, conspiracies and hidden agendas when we know that our God is greater than any lie, conspiracy or hidden agenda, and He will take care of us just as well as He took care of Joseph.

So, a high school Bible teacher says we will never know the truth about death, even with all of the Bible evidence right in front of him. Conspiracy theorists say we will never know the truth about the Kennedy assassination while they dream up all kinds of hypothetical scenarios based on their own imaginations, emotions and opinions instead of hard facts. The truth is there. The question is will you accept the truth even though it doesn’t fit with your theories?

John 7; It’s a Conspiracy!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 7:19 Did not Moses give you the law, and [yet] none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 

 7:20       The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 

Either the group talking to Jesus here, were ignorant of the conspiracy to kill Him or they were two-faced. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5 that we are not to be paranoid about conspiracies, but to cast all of our care upon Jesus. At the same time, Peter acknowledges that the devil is out to get us.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

 5:8         Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 

 5:9         Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 

In John 7 the multitude had mixed opinions about Jesus. However His conduct is what validated His words and works.

While people are telling Jesus that He is crazy for thinking someone wants to kill Him, the Pharisees send out a group of conspirators to get Him.

7:45        Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 

 7:46       The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. 

The officers who were sent to take Jesus reported that never man spake like this man. But the reason of this was that never man lived like this man; for if he had not so lived, he could not so have spoken. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, full of love and sympathy, beneficence and truth. There is eloquence beyond that of words, in the quiet, consistent life of a pure, true Christian. We shall have temptations as long as we are in this world, but instead of injuring us, they will only turn to our advantage, if resisted. The bounds are placed where Satan cannot pass. He may prepare the furnace, but instead of working injury, it will only consume the dross, and bring forth the gold of the character, purer than before the trial.  {Gospel Workers 1892 P, 244}

No reason to be paranoid about Satan’s conspiracies. Just keep living for Jesus!