Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Can People Who Don’t Belong to My Church Denomination Be Wise Too?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it. Proverbs 8:33 NLT

Is there a chance God tried to share His wisdom with us, be we rejected it because we didn’t like the Vessels He used?

Sure Isaiah 8:20 tells us if they speak not according to the law there is no light in them, but we need to be careful we don’t misunderstand and go overboard here. Isaiah was speaking specifically about spiritualism, and was making the point that when people contradict the Scripture there is no light in their contradiction.

Whatever men may speak that is not in harmony with that Word has “no light” in it. -Nichol, Francis D.: The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978; 2002, S. 144

So Isaiah was not telling us that if someone was not a Jew that there was nothing that could be learned from them. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was born, gentile kings came looking for Him while the “church leaders” were ignorant of His advent. Here is what Ellen White, co-founder of the Adventist Church had to say.

These learned teachers would not stoop to be instructed by those whom they termed heathen. It could not be, they said, that God had passed them by, to communicate with ignorant shepherds or uncircumcised Gentiles. They determined to show their contempt for the reports that were exciting King Herod and all Jerusalem. They would not even go to Bethlehem to see whether these things were so. And they led the people to regard the interest in Jesus as a fanatical excitement. Here began the rejection of Christ by the priests and rabbis. From this point their pride and stubbornness grew into a settled hatred of the Saviour. While God was opening the door to the Gentiles, the Jewish leaders were closing the door to themselves. –Desire of Ages, Pages 62-63

Have we tuned out a message from God because we were prejudiced against the person God used, and felt our theology was superior to theirs?

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT

In united States elections you can vote for different individuals on the ballot for each office, or you can just just check one box and vote straight Republican or straight Democrat. If you vote straight for one party you don’t have to do any research on the candidates. Do we do this in the church? Instead of searching the Bible for ourselves do we just subscribe to whatever church we belong to, or our local pastor? Instead of searching the Bible to see if what was said is true, do we just go by who said it? If my church said it then it must be right, and if another church said it, then it must be wrong? If we are we are making the same mistake the church leaders made in Christ’s day! The Jews were God’s chosen people, but the gentiles had a few things to teach them as well about Jesus. The Bereans did not accept or reject what Paul taught based on what they thought about him, but based on whether or not he agreed with Scripture.

I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. My church has a message about sanctification not found in many other churches. However, one day I went to a Methodist church to hear a friend of mine sing in her choir. After the choir sang, a black woman stood up to preach. She spoke on Ephesians, and how the first half of Ephesians is about justification and us in Christ. The second half of Ephesians, she explained is about sanctification and Christ in us. She went on to preach the most powerful sermon I have ever heard on sanctification. I have “borrowed” her sermon numerous times, and received comments about what a wonderful “Adventist” sermon it was. The people did not know, I got this wonderful “Adventist” sermon from a black Methodist woman! (I add the exclamation mark, not because it surprised me that God used a black Methodist woman, but it will surprise some who are prejudiced by either three adjectives.)

I sat there in that Methodist church Sunday, feasting on every word she spoke, not concerning myself with whether or not she was black or white, male or female, Adventist or Methodist, but like the Bearans I just checked if what she was saying was Biblical- and it was!

Only listening to certain people with “approved labels” is not wise. It is prejudiced. Wisdom is listening to what is being said instead of who is saying it.

Study the Sabbath School lesson guide on the book of Proverbs here.

The Vision of Hope for Laodicea

I am writing today from beautiful South Florida. Here is a picture I took years ago of the sunrise at Daytona Beach.

I am writing today from beautiful South Florida. Here is a picture I took years ago of the sunrise at Daytona Beach.

In the late fall of 2006 I bought a brand new car. A few days later, or nights actually, I lay in my bed wide awake. I glanced at the clock as it read 4 AM. Then the idea hit me. If I jump in my brand-new car right now, I can travel across Florida to the east coast in time to watch the sun rise. I had seen several sunsets on the west coast where I live, so wouldn’t it be novel to say I have seen the sun rise on one coast and then watch it set on the other?

Ah the joys of bachelor life! Moments later I was in my car headed down I-4 towards Daytona Beach. For my devotional and prayer time I popped a CD of the book of Revelation in my brand new car’s CD player. It was 2006 and finally I had a car that played CDs. So there I was in the middle of Florida in the middle of the night,  listening to the letters to the seven churches. Finally John got to the letter to Laodicea. Jesus had nothing good at all to say about this last day church. He started out with compliments to all the other churches, and then would gradually work around to a few things they could work on. However when He got to the last day church there were no compliments to be handed out. Jesus quickly got to the crux of His message when He said,

“And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17 NLT

Not exactly a “way to go!” good ole boy pat on the back. Maybe Jesus was not passing out any compliments to this church because it had already become delusional by complimenting itself over nothing?

I remember playing on a soccer team in an intramural league at Southern Adventist University. I loved soccer and this was the first time I got to play in an organized league. For years I had watched professionals put the ball in the back of the net and then heard the crowd go wild with excitement. My dream was to do the same. In my first game, we were down 5-0 and finally that moment came. I put the ball in the back of the net, and I was ready to celebrate! My celebration quickly ended when the team captain reminded me that we were still down 4 goals and I needed to get my head back in the game and stop celebrating!

Could Jesus’ message be just that? Could He be telling us, it’s not time celebrate just yet? We still have more victories to gain, and we need to keep our head in the game? (I understand this is real life and not a game at all!)

Just because we may consider ourselves the remnant church, it in no way means we have arrived or are perfect in any way. Remnant simply means “like the original.” The original church was never perfect. As Seventh-day Adventists we pride ourselves that we are the remnant church coming out of the dark ages of the Roman church. Wait a minute! While the Romans crucified Jesus, they only did it at the insistence and demands of God’s commandment-keeping people! Just because they were God’s people and had the truth did not mean they were perfect or had arrived, and much less should be patting each other on the back like good ole boys!

But I digress. So there I was gliding down the highway in my brand new car listening to Jesus telling His church how wretched they were, when suddenly He surprised me! In Revelation 3:21 NLT just after telling the church how wretched it was, He said,

Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.”

There in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere I began to grasp what was going on. Jesus was not kicking this self-righteous wretched group of people to the curb! He totally intends for this self-righteous, miserable, poor blind and spiritually naked people to be victorious just as He was victorious over sin! Jesus is not giving up! There is hope! More than giving us hope, while Jesus is telling us our current condition He is also telling us what He intends for the end result to be. Victory! And not just any victory but the same victory He experienced.

As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world. His experience is to be ours.  –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 363 (Emphasis mine.)

While Jesus asked every church to overcome and be victorious, He asks the last day church, the one experiencing the cleansing of the sanctuary and investigative judgment, to do something He asked of no other church, to be victorious just as He was victorious. Jesus knew the church could never accomplish this in its legalistic state, so He tells the church:

I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. Revelation 3:19 NLT

Why is Jesus telling us to buy white garments when salvation is free? Jesus must be talking about the bartering system. If we trade in our filthy self-righteous robes and delusional pride, He will give us in return His white garments. If we stop trying to win over sin in our own power and for our own pride and glory, He will let us overcome in His own power and for His own glory!

There in the car I realized that the same Jesus who told us how miserable we are is also telling us what we can become and will become according to His plan.

I have been studying with a large family here in Florida for several years. When we first began studying together, the youngest was about six, and she had a children’s picture Bible, as she could not read yet. When we would look up verses, of course, all she had was pictures, but we would help her find the right picture and humor her by telling her that was the correct “verse.” Well that was several years ago, and I had pretty much forgotten about those days. That is until a few weeks ago, while we were studying, she volunteered to read a verse, which was nothing new to her now, but as she was reading a particular passage as fluently as anyone, she seemed to bring alive the rich poetic beauty  of the classical King James Version. As she finished reading, my mind flashed back for a moment to the days when she brought her picture Bible to the studies because she could not read. Those days are long gone! So far gone I had almost completely forgotten about them.

Whatever your condition is now it does not always have to be that way. Just as Jesus changed my young friend’s reading experience, Jesus is ready to change your spiritual experience and give you the same victorious experience He has!

There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.  –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 64.  

Luke 7; A Sinful Woman Represents The Remnant Church

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 7:36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. 

 7:37       And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 

 7:38       And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment. 

This woman represents the church of Laodicia after it repents. She is the same woman who they wanted to stone for adultery in John 8. Jesus saved her life, but she still realized that the law said that one who commits adultery should be stoned. This woman realized that Jesus was going to die her death. In true repentance for what her sinned has caused the Son of God she comes to anoint him in pouring out the alabaster box of ointment, she is pouring out all she had and is for Jesus, because on the cross, Jesus was going to be pouring all of himself out for her. She has headed the call to be zealous and to repent. Sure she has many sins, but she has turned from them all because she does not want to hurt the God who loves her anymore. In Genesis we read the story of the sons of Israel who represented the remnant church of their time. They had sold  their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Long story short, he becomes ruler in Egypt when his brothers come looking for food. Joseph tests them to see if they are really repentant by attempting to detain the youngest, Benjiman in prison. Reuben, one of the older brothers, tells Joseph not let Benjiman free and he will go to prison instead. He said that their father had already lost one son, and that ifBenjiman does not return, then their father will go to the grave in sorrow. Reuben has shown his repentance, in saying, we have broken our father’s heart before and we are not going to break it again. This is what true repentance is, and this woman’s heart has been broken open because she has broken the heart of God.  

 7:39       Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 

This Pharisee, names Simon, represents Laodicia before it repents. Notice his arrogance in expecting God to see that the woman is a sinner, but does not expect God to also notice, he too is a sinner, a big sinner!

 7:40       And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 

 7:41       There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 

 7:42       And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 

 7:43       Simon answered and said, I suppose that [he], to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 

I wonder if Simon really got it? Did he see himself as the one who owed only the fifty? If so then he was still in a Laodicia state of mind. Fact is, according to the Desire of Ages, he was the reason this woman had become a prostitute! He is the one who owed five hundred and Mary only owed fifty! Simon is showing how rich he thinks he is in spiritual things, not knowing he is poor, miserable, blind and naked! His sin and hypocrisy lies naked and open before God and man, because he has not repented and asked God to cover his nakedness. He does not realize his true spiritual state, just like unrepentant Laodicia.

 7:44       And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped [them] with the hairs of her head. 

 7:45       Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 

 7:46       My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 

 7:47       Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little. 

Jesus does not call her a tramp, whore or slut. He calls her a woman, a sign of great respect in the Orient. This is the same way he addressed His mother. He points out to Simon that she has great appreciation for her Savior while Simon is showing no appreciation at all. He does not see himself as a sinner therefore he has no need to appreciate a Savior. Laodicia must realize its true condition before it can repent. Yet it will repent! Joseph’s brothers repented and this woman repented, and Laodicia repents too, because there is no 8th church in Revelation. Laodica will repent once it realizes it’s true condition and need of a Savior. It will trade its self-righteousness for Jesus’ real righteousness.

This woman also represents all those who will repent and be saved. This ointment and perfume was powerful stuff! The aroma was made to last for days, as they did not take regular baths in those days. The fact that the whole box was poured out on Jesus tells me it was very potent and lasted for many days. Just a week later Jesus is on the cross. Most everyone is taunting Him and making fun of him. He is tempted to believe that His sacrifice will be futile. However, when he pushes his feet against the cruel spikes, and lifts up his body to gasp for air, he breathed in the aroma from the perfume that was poured out on him just a few days before, and is thus reminded that His sacrifice will not be futile. This woman represents a repentant church that appreciates its Savior!

 7:48       And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 

 7:49       And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 

 7:50       And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. 

Her faith was her appreciation and thankfulness for His great sacrifice. Faith takes place not just in the mind but in the heart. Many will miss heaven by about 18 inches, the distance between the brain and the heart. Laodicia may “know it all” but not appreciate it all. Heaven will be filled with people with muddled minds and theology, but none with bitter hearts. It is not enough for the mind to know that Jesus died. The heart must say “Thank you!” A self righteous Laodician heart will never say “thank you” to Jesus. I pray that Jesus breaks my heart the way this woman’s heart was broken so I can appreciate the great love and sacrifice of Jesus!