FRIDAY MORNING MANNA  
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 23

The Acts of Apostleship Continues Until the Work is Done

    Ye are are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men; forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. 2 Corinthians  3: 2, 3, K.J.V.

Great Controversy by Ellen G. White, (1911 ed.), pp.  54-56:

     “In the sixth century the papacy became firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy [the great apostasy of the church in the union of church and state]. The dragon [pagan Rome] had given to the beast ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority.’ Rev. 13: 2.  And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation Dan. 7: 25; Rev. 13: 5-7. CHRISTIANS were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s axe.

Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus to His disciples:  ‘Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.’ Luke 21: 16, 17.  Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battle-field. For hundreds of yearsthe church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: ‘The woman [Biblical symbol of the church] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.’ [prophetic day for a year= 1260 years].’ Rev. 13: 6.”

      “The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened.Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator, and that none could approach God except through him; and further, that he stood in the place of God to them, and was therefore implicitly to be obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. . . .

     “Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not left without witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstition would wholly prevail, and true religion would be banished from the earth. [“The church appears to fall”]. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion were multiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions.

Have we considered Christ as the Apostle and High Priest of our faith? Heb. 3: 1. Has it increased our individual bond with Him, His finished mission when on earth and His closing work at His ascension in progress and soon to close in the most holy in the heavenly sanctuary? Or has it faded into another “whatever,” upstaged by the steadily intensifying frenetic, multi-faceted distractions threatening to overwhelm our senses, bypassing the God-installed filters located in, not on the forehead?

        Has its vital significance to our individual salvation become vague or obscured since we first believed by the onslaught of its counterfeits, and, more alarmingly, by failure to continue diligently studying His Word and praying for the infilling and enlightening of the Holy Spirit?  Has that knowledge sharpened our the yet-invisible-yet-soon-to-come-visible Christ—mercifully still interceding as our High Priest, Mediator, Advocate, and righteous Judge? Why does Paul present the Apostleship of Jesus before His High Priestly role/title in this context? Read the rest of the chapter and the next for a fuller appreciation Christ’s title as Apostle.

Paul’s Strongest Proof of Apostleship.  In Acts of the Apostles, pp. 337-8, E.G. White wrote:

      “Paul regarded the Corinthian brethren as his testimonial. ‘Ye are our epistles,’ he said, ‘written in our hearts, known and read of all men: forasmuch as ye manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart.’ The conversion of sinners and their sanctification through the truth [John 17: 17] is the strongest proof a minister can have that God has called him to the ministry. The evidence of his apostleship is written upon the hearts of those converted, and is witnessed to by their renewed lives. Christ is formed within, the hop of glory.{Col. 1: 26, 27].  A minister is greatly strengthened by these seals of his ministry.   Today the ministers of Christ should have the same witness as that which the Corinthian church bore to Paul’s labors. But though in this age there are many preachers, there is a great scarcity of able, holy ministers, —men filled with the love that dwelt in the heart of Christ. Pride, self-confidence, love of the world, fault-finding, bitterness, envy, are the fruit borne by many who profess the religion of Christ. Their lives, in sharp contrast to the life of the Savior, often bear sad testimony to the character of the ministerial labor under which they were converted.”

Nicodemus, True Disciple–In-the- Making, Even Among Government Officials Today.  Consider Nicodemus’ one-soul audience, evening conference with Christ in mount Olivet. See John 3: 1-21; Desire of Ages, “Nicodemus,” chap. VII, pp. 167-177.

      “In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation and His mission to the world. In none of His subsequent discourses did He explain so fully, step by stepthe work necessary to be done in the hearts of all who would inherit the kingdom of heaven [see Sermon on the Mount]. At the very beginning of His ministry He opened the truth to a member of the Sanhedrinto the mind that was most receptive, and to an appointed teacher of the people. But the leaders of Israel [the Jewish nation at Christ’s time] did not welcome the light. Nicodemus hid the truth in his heart, and for three years there was little apparent truth.

      “But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man [not “the man of sin”!] be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.’ The light from that secret interview illumined the cross upon Calvary, and Nicodemus saw in Jesus the world’s Redeemer. [Have we? Do we better understand the “work of redemption?”]

      “After the Lord’s ascension, when the disciples were scattered by persecution [by the Jews], Nicodemus came boldly to the front. He employed his wealth in sustaining the infant church that the Jews had expected to be blotted out at the death of Christ.  In the time of peril he who had been so cautious and questioning was firm as a rock, encouraging the faith of the disciples, and furnishing means to carry forward the work of the gospel. He was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. He became poor in his world’s goods; yet he faltered not in the faith which had its beginning in the night conference with Jesus.

      “Nicodemus related to John the story of that interview, and by his pen it was recorded for the instruction of millions. The truths there taught are as important today as they were on that solemn night in the shadowy mountain, when the Jewish ruler came to learn the way of life from the lowly Teacher of Galilee.”

      “It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life [in the genuine born-again experience such as Nicodemus experienced] realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through eternal ages.”  Ibid, p. 173.

If, in verity, we have become “partakers of the heavenly calling,” have we also, as Paul urges the “holy brethren,” made corresponding effort to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our faith? Consider here, is the Greek katanoeo, “to observe fully; behold, discover, perceive.” Apostle is from apostolos, “a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ with miraculous powers:–messenger,he that is sent.”  What have we—during these closing hours of probation, while Christ is still mediating as our merciful High Priest in the most holy most of the heavenly sanctuary—fully observed, beheld, discovered, and perceived of Him –“the Messenger of the covenant,” “the Teacher sent from God”? 

The Seven Stars of Revelation and the Everlasting Gospel

The world struts out its stars, superstars and megastars,—all mortals. God in Christ also has His own, also presently yet-mortal stars, who, by the incontrovertible testimony of their work and lives, have been reflecting the light of His character-glory, relaying the torch of truth of the gospel from generation to generation, illuminating the dark, rugged, and treacherous path—the antitypical Wilderness—leading to the heavenly promised land for all the pilgrims of the earth. As “the light of the world and the salt of the earth,” though few compared to the teeming multitudes of the earth, preserved and kept the flame of truth burning, as taught by the seven golden candlesticks in the holy place of the sanctuary.  These “stars” of the typical seven churches of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, also enshrined with unnamed others in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11, are the uninterrupted continuation of the calling, work, unfolding truth, and divine authority bestowed by Christ upon the Twelve when He first breathed upon them His Spirit, and later the seventy. Without fanfare, He quietly ordained and commissioned them to “go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Fifty days after His resurrection, Christ’s most precious gift of the promised Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, descended “with the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven,” appearing as “cloven tongues of fire,” baptizing the spiritually-prepared 120 disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem. Sheathed with unwonted power, and speaking in all major languages (tongues) they went forth as witnesses for Christ “both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8.

Signs of the Times: Emily Yofe wrote in the Politico, Dec. 10, 2017: “Why the #Me Too Moment Should Be Ready For a Backlash.” “But with the daily toppling of powerful men who have committed sexual violations in Hollywood, the media, Congress and more, these changes have become seismic.”

(To be continued next week, by God’s grace)