FRIDAY MORNING MANNA

Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 22

Rejoice: the Spiritual Apostolic Succession Remains Unbroken!

    Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3: 1, K.J.V.

From the most comprehensive and inclusive sense possible, based on the preponderance of both Scripture and history evidence, this is how and who “the church that appears to fall but will not.” Why? It’s Cornerstone and Foundation has been from birth, none other than Jesus Christ, the Creator-incarnate, the Master Apostle and High Priest of its faith. His chosen follower-disciples-apostles through centuries of gross moral and doctrinal darkness, superstition, and bitter persecution, have steadily and progressively built this church-temple, empowered by the Holy Spirit and ministered to and defended from all that Satan’s “gates of hell” have schemed and attacked it by.

According to prophetic chronology no longer subject to prophetic time since 1844, but few yet the most mind-boggling prophecies ever remain to be fulfilled—in quick succession once the flash point or “red line” specified in Revelation 13 and 17 is crossed. It can’t be long from now—certainly not centuries more,—there finally emerges on the grand stage of fallen planet earth, witnessed to by all of heaven and the unfallen worlds–the church triumphant with the truth triumphant and Christ triumphant after all is said and done for the redemption of the fallen race and the restoration of God the Father’s glory-character and His law of love – right here on the battle-field of the universe where the great controversy between Christ and Satan raged for six thousand years, and Christ eternally prevails! Then, wait—infinitely more follows by way of eternal rewards as Paul summarizes: “But it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man, what God has prepared from them that love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9.

Truth exposes the fallacy of error—the eternal, uncompromising, “no alternative” principle those embroiled in the nation’s current political and legal maelstrom, seem to have forgotten.

    “In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the [converted] soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need we cry out for a power out of above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.

     “The Pharisees had declared themselves the children of Abraham. Jesus told them that this claim could be established only by doing the works of Abraham. The children of Abraham would live, as he did, a life of obedience to God. They would not try to kill One who was speaking the truth that was given to Him from God. In plotting against Christ, the rabbis were not doing the works of Abraham. A mere lineal descent from Abraham was of no valueWithout a spiritual connection with him, which would be manifested in possessing the same spirit, and doing the same works, they were not his children.

       “This principle bears with equal weight upon a question that has long agitated the Christian world,—the question of apostolic succession. Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles’ spirit, the belief and teaching of the truth they taught, this is the true evidence of apostolic succession. This is what constitutes men the successors of the first teachers of the gospel. . . . The fact that Jesus spoke the truth, and that with certainty, was why He was not received by the Jewish leaders. It was truth that offended these self-righteous men.  The truth exposed the fallacy of error; it condemned their teaching and practice, and it was unwelcome. They would rather close their eyes to the truth than humble themselves to confess that they had been in error. They did not love the truth. They did not desire it, even though it was truth.” – E. G. White, Desire of Ages, pp. 466, 467.

From Acts of the Apostles by E. G. White, “The Church Triumphant, ch. LVIII, pp. 593–:

    “More than eighteen [nineteen by now] centuries have passed since the apostles rested from their labors; but the history of their toils and sacrifices for Christ’s sake is still among the most precious treasures of the church.  This history, written under the direction of the Holy Spirit [not the so-called “church Fathers”], was recorded in order that by it the followers of Christ in every age might be impelled by greater zeal and earnestness in the cause of the Savior. The commission that Christ gave to His disciples they fulfilled. As these messengers of the cross went forth to proclaim the gospel, there was such a revelation of the glory of God as had never before been witnessed by mortal men. By the co-operation of the divine Spirit [after the Pentecostal outpouring of the former rain], the apostles did a work that shook the world. To every nation was the gospel carried in a single generation.

     “Glorious were the results that attended the ministry of the chosen apostles of Christ. At the beginning of their ministry some of them were unlearned men, but their consecration to the cause of their Master was unreserved, and under His instruction they gained a preparation for the great work committed to them. Grace and truth reigned in their hearts, inspiring their motives and controlling their actions. Their lives were hid with Christ in God, and self was lost sight of, submerged in the depths of infinite love.  . . .

     “Their understanding of truth and their power to withstand opposition were proportionate to their conformity to God’s will. Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God, was the theme of every discourse. His name—the only name given under heaven whereby men can be saved —was by them exalted . . . .

    “Not in their own power did the apostles accomplish their mission, but in the power of the living God. Their work was not easy. The opening labors of the Christian church were attended by hardship and bitter grief. In their work the disciples constantly encountered privation, calumny, and persecution [See 2 Cor. 4: 7-8]; but they counted not their lives dear unto themselves, and rejoiced that they were called to suffer for Christ. Irresolution, indecision, weakness of purpose, found no place in their efforts. They were willing to spend and be spent. .

    “Upon the foundation that Christ Himself had laid, the apostles built the church of God. In the Scriptures the figure of the erection of a temple is frequently used to illustrate the building of the church. Zechariah refers to Christ as the Branch that should build the temple of God, as did Isaiah. [Zech 6: 12, 15; Isa. 60: 10]. Writing of the building of this temple, Peter says [1 Pet.2: 4, 5 quoted]. In the quarry of the Jewish and the Gentile world the apostles labored, bring out stones [as it were] to lay upon the foundation. Paul said [Eph. 2: 19-22 quoted]. And to the Corinthians he wrote [1 Cor. 3: 1013 quoted].

     “The apostles built upon a sure foundation, even the Rock of Ages. To this foundation they brought the stones that they quarried from the world. . . .Their work was made exceedingly difficult by opposition of the enemies of Christ. They had to contend against the bigotry, prejudice, and hatred of those who were building upon a false foundation. . . . Kings and governors, priests and rulers sought to destroy the temple of God. But in the face of imprisonment, torture, and death, faithful men carried the work forward; and the structure grew, beautiful and symmetrical.At times the workmen were almost blinded by the mists of superstition that settled around them. At times they were almost overpowered by the violence of their opponents. But with unfaltering faith and unfailing courage they pressed on with the work. [Once more, “the church appears to fall but does not.”]

     “One after another the foremost of the builders fell by the hand of the enemy. Stephen was stoned [by the Jewish Sanhedrin]; James was slain by the sword; Paul was beheaded [by Nero]; Peter was crucified [upside down by his request]; John was exiled [by Domitian rot away in Patmos, in vain]. Yet the church grew. New workers took the place of those who fell, and stone after stone was added to the building. Thus slowly ascended the temple of the church of God.”- pp. 506-7.

      “Centuries of fierce persecution [first by the Jews, followed by the Roman emperors, then the Church of Rome, and, in the days ahead, by the beast and beats and his image, Rev. 13.] followed the establishment of the Christian church; but there were never wanting men who counted the work of building God’s temple dearer than life itself. Of such it is written:  [Heb. 11: 36-38 quoted].”

     “The enemies of righteousness left nothing undone in his effort to stop the work committed to the Lord’s builders. But God ‘left not Himself without witness.’ Acts 14: 17.  [The true spiritual apostolic succession]. Workers were raised up who ably defended the faith once delivered to the saints. [Jude 3]. History bears record to the fortitude and heroism of these men. Like the apostlesmany of them fell at their post, but the building of temple went steadily forward. The workmen were slain, but the work advance. The Waldenses, John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, Martin Luther and Zwingle, Cranmer, Latimer, and Knox, the Hugeuenots, John and Charles Wesley, and a host of others brought to the foundation [Christ] material that will endure throughout eternity. And later years, those who have so nobly endeavored to promote the circulation of God’s word, and those who by their service in heathen lands have prepared the way for the proclamation of the last great message [the comprehensive three angels messages of Revelation 14 with Christ as its Center],—-these have helped rear the structure.

     “Through the ages that have passed since the days of the apostles, the building of God’s temple [the true church of the ages] has never ceased. We may look back through the centuries, and see the living stones of which it composed gleaming like jets of light in the darkness of error and superstition. Throughout eternity these precious jewels will shine with increasing luster, testifying to the power of the truth of God. The flashing light of these polished stones reveals the strong contrast between light and darkness, between the gold of truth and the dross of error.

 The Structure is Not Yet Complete.  “Paul and the other apostles {Peter included], and all the righteous who have lived since then, have acted their part in building of the temple. But the structure is not yet complete. We who are living in this age have a work to do, a part to act. We are to bring to the foundation material that will stand the test of fire,—-[spiritual] gold, silver, and precious stones, ‘polished after the similitude of a palace’ [Ps. 144: 12]. To those who thus build for God, Paul speaks words of encouragement and warning: ‘If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.’1 Cor. 3: 14, 14. The Christian who faithfully presents the word of life, leading men and women into the way of holiness and peace, is bringing to the foundation material that wil endure, and in the kingdom of God he will be honored as a wise builder.” – Ibid, pp. 593-599.

(To be continued next week, God willing)