FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
May 30, 2014
Are We Preparing for the Latter Rain?– Part XXXII
A Temperate People (continued)
Apostle Paul wrote: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now theydo it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27, N.K.J.V.
Some think temperance has only to do with (a) temperament and temper, as in temper tantrums, etc., or to (b) the Temperance Movements advocating abstinence from alcohol that began in the 1830’s known as the Prohibition Era in the U.S. (See Prohibition Timeline at About.com American History). “The first national Prohibition amendment was proposed by Henry W. Blair of New Hampshire as early as 1876 . . .
He introduced such a bill nine times between 1876 and 1895. (see American Prohibition Yearbook, Alonzo Wilson, Google search). It was this same Republican senator who introduced in the Fifth Congress, May 21, 1888, what has been commonly known as the “Blair Sunday-Rest bill,” which was read twice, and referred to the Committee on Education and Labor. Blair was both author of the bill and chairman of the committee . . Blair came again to the country as the Sunday law champion, the advocate of measures advocated by the American Sabbath Union and the Sabbath department of the Women’s Temperance Union .” (See documents.adventistararchives.org/Tracts/SL/SL 18891215-24.pdf).
In 1889, Alonzo Trevor Jones (author of 4 large volumes dealing with the subject of Bible Prophecy (The Two Republics, 1892; and the Great Empires of Prophecy, 1898; Ecclesiastical Empire, 1901; The Empires of the Bible, 1897) spoke before the U.S. Congressional subcommittee; the topic of discussion was the “Breckenridge Bill,” which proposed the compulsion of Sunday observance in the Washington, D.C. environs. Jones’s testimony helped defeat this bill, and Jones became well known for his abilities in defense of and knowledge regarding freedom of religion. Though separated from fellowship, A.T. Jones remained loyal to the doctrines of the SDA Church until his death in 1923. (See Alonzo Trevor Jones from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
The former, temper control is but part of a much broader application of what Biblical temperance comprehends. The latter, Sunday observance as the “Christian Sabbath,” of the Lord’s Day,” will be reactivated in the days ahead and by then, becomes the final test of mankind, prophesied in Revelation 13. All who accept Christ, the self-denying, self-sacrificing Savior, become sons and daughters of God (John 1: 10-12), members of His royal family. Then it is that:
“The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self control. We should copy the example of Jesus, for when ‘He was reviled, He reviled not again, but ‘committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.’[1 Pet. 2: 23]. Our Redeemer met insult and mockery with uncomplaining silence. All the cruel taunts of the murderous throng who exalted in His humiliation and trial in the judgment hall could not bring Him one look or word of resentment orimpatience. He was the Majesty of heaven, and in His pure breast there dwelt no room for the spirit of retaliation, but only for pity and love. . .
O that we might control our words and actions! . . . .What harm is wrought in the family circle [and in the churches] by the utterance of impatient words, for the impatient utterance of one leads another to retort in the same spirit and manner. Then come words of retaliation, words of self-justification, and it is by such words that a heavy, galling yoke is manufactured for your neck, for all these bitter words will come back in a baleful harvest to your soul. . . . How much better to have the oil of grace in the heart, to be able to pass by all provocation, and bear all things with Christlike meekness and forbearance.”- Ellen. G. White, That I May Know Him Devotional, p. 139.
Following our Savior’s teachings and life example, Paul and all the apostles taught doctrines quite opposite the confusing, self-contradicting doctrines widely-held in Christendom that lead men to become presumptuously intemperate, such as:
(1) “All will eventually be saved,” as Universalism teaches. This doctrine manifests itself in many other forms. If one believes so, the following Scriptures do not mean anything to them: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 6: 19, 20, See also 1Cor. 3: 16, 17. “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you, I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19: 28.
(2) That the fleshless and bloodless “soul” or “spirit,” also called “ghost,” instantly leaves the body at death to decompose on earth and navigates itself, or escorted by an angel, flies past the stars, planets, and galaxies and finally is welcomed to Paradise by its alleged gate-keeper, Peter. Such a doctrine leaves us no recourse but to conclude that this heaven is populated by disembodied spirits and ghosts.
With no physical bodies and organs, thus physically unable to feel, how do they enjoy heaven? How does this explain why more and more “ghosts” or “spirits” of people who died in the various forms of intemperance, are supposed to be already be in heaven, or, already writhing in indescribable pain in Dante’s eternally burning “hell,” which, they say, is at the core of the earth, are still on of earth, spooking even their own relatives? Are heaven, earth, and hell so close in proximity to each other that “souls” or “spirits” simply zip back forth from one place to the other for whatever reason?
Where are their permanent residences in the “after life”? Such beliefs by its very nature, encourages Hedonism—the belief that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good of life here on earth. The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary online says that the synonyms of Hedonism are: carnality, debauchery, sensualism, sybaritism, voluptuousness. Its antonyms are: abstinence, asceticism, sobriety, temperance.
And then there is that puzzling doctrine of “purgatory” where apparently half-saved, half-lost souls or spirits are “being purified by fire” and awaiting for a release order to continue their interrupted ascent to heaven. It isn’t free. The dead person….or the living soul’s survivors on earth have to pay for masses said for them on earth, finally releasing them. No one knows when this takes place since no certification is issued with an estimated time of arrival at the pearly gates.
(3) Salvation is earned by one’s own good works instead of totally depending by living faith on the merits of Christ’s sinless life, all-atoning death, resurrection from the dead, and His priestly intercession in the heavenly sanctuary, which ministry climaxes in the great scenes of the judgment—eliciting our humble, grateful response of obedience to His moral and physical laws, given that we might enjoy life even more abundantly! The doctrine of salvation by works on man-made laws and traditions, exemplified in the doctrines of the Pharisees justifies intemperance because it can be “offset” by one’s own good works, or self-atonement. Thus, who needs Christ? or the Bible?
(4) That justification, (pardon, forgiveness) or absolution from sins may be purchased with money as taught in the doctrine of Indulgences. Martin Luther exposed this error in his 95 theses which he nailed on the door of the Church of Wittenberg , October 1517, starting the Protestant Reformation, which is practically nonexistent today. If one can pay or merely pray that one will be saved or healed or forgiven of their sins, then why even try to overcome sinful propensities and health-destroying lifestyles “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony”? (Rev. 12: 11). Live as you please!
In all these, God’s marvelous grace, dispensed by Christ through the Holy Spirit, which we sinners absolutely do not deserve yet desperately need in order to overcome our carnal, fleshly desires, “turns God’s grace into lasciviousness [“licentiousness,” N.K.J.V] and deny [reject] the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 4.
Like ancient Israel, many are murmurers, whining complainers, in fact, blaming God for all the diseases, pain, suffering, and death instead of closely examining ourselves whether we are causing our own sufferings for failure to fulfill the terms of the covenant relationship we entered into with Him, i.e., if we truly did. In presumptuous ignorance and deliberate negligence of His ways and laws, instead of “peace and goodwill on earth towards men,” mankind is indulging the “works of the flesh” and harvesting its natural and logical consequences. Whatsoever we sow, we shall reap. Galatians 5: 19-21; 6: 7, 8. Many have yet to learn how to thoroughly trace from cause to effect.
In our yet mortal nature and corruptible flesh, the only prize worth competing for with all our fallible strength, is the imperishable crown of eternal life—immortality—which God alone has. Rom. 2: 7; 1Tim. 6:16. It is yielding to divine grace that enables us to do the impossible, as co-workers with God. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was the very first lie preached by Satan to Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. “Thou shalt not surely die,” he said. (Gen. 3: 4). And how strange indeed is mankind’s continued infatuation with this first lie for six thousand years!
In order to obtain this ultimate prize, which every one may win, unlike that of the Olympics, the apostle emphasizes that we are to be temperate in all things, true temperance meaning, “dispensing entirely with everything hurtful, and using judiciously that which is healthful.” Since self is our greatest enemy, this is one of the most challenging requirements of the plan of redemption on our part—the disciplining of our body and bringing it into subjection to the higher powers of reason, conscience, and intelligence—the mind! (Topic of Temperance concluded next week)