FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Is our religion the religion of man? or of Christ and the Bible?
“God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent; hath He said, and shall not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall He not make it good?” Numbers 23: 19.
To anyone first reading this column and wonders who and what are paramount and supreme in all its articles and reports, look no further. First, it is God the Father in Christ Jesus as revealed in the wonders of creation but especially in the Bible through enlightenment of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of the searcher, and, the plan of redemption of the gospel. So before we return to the topic of the series, consider the following from the inspired pen of Ellen G. White, based on the Bible which more than adequately articulates the foregoing:
“Jesus pointed His hearers to the Ruler of the universe, under the new name, ‘Our Father.’ He would have them [and us] understand how tenderly the heart of God yearned over them. He teaches that God cares for every lost soul that: ‘Like as father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remebereth that we are dust [not spirit!]” Ps. 103: 13, 14. Such a conception of God was never given to the world [then, and now in even more deceptive forms] by any religion but that of the Bible. Heathenism teaches men to look upon the Supreme Being as an object of fear rather than love,—a malign deity to be appeased by sacrifices, rather than a Father pouring upon His children the gift of His love. Even the people of Israel [then and now] had become so blinded to the precious teaching of the prophets concerning God, that this revelation [through Christ, “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person,” Heb. 1: 1: 3], of His paternal love was as an original subject, a new gift to the world!
“The Jews held that God loved those who served Him,—according to their view, those who fulfilled the requirement of the rabbis,—and all the rest of the world lay under His frown and curse. Not so, said Jesus; the whole world, the evil and the good, lies in the sunshine of His love.”—Mount of Blessing, pp. 113, 114. “God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 57, 58.
“For all the gods of the people are idols; but the Lord made the heavens.” 1 Chronicles16: 26.
“The sun rising in the heavens is a representative of Him who is life and light of all that He has made [not Lucifer or Satan, or Baal, etc!] All the brightness and beauty that adorn the earth and light up the heavens, speak of God . . . All things tell of His tender, fatherly care, and His desire to make His children happy. The mighty power that works through all nature and sustains all things is not, as some men of science represent, merely an all-pervading principle, an actuating energy. God is a Spirit; yet He is a personal Being; for He has revealed Himself.”
“The Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting King: . . . The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” Jeremiah 10: 11.
“God’s handiwork in nature is not God Himself in nature. The things of nature are and expression of God’s character and power; but we are not to regard nature as God. The artistic-skill of human beings produces very beautiful workmanship, things that delight the eye, and these things reveal to us something of the thought of the designer; but the things made is not the maker. It is not the work, but the workman, that is counted worthy of honor. So while nature is an expression of God’s thought, it is not nature, but God of nature that is to be exalted. . . . . All things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice, and were created for His own purpose.”- MH pp. 412-415.
The Whole Bible is a Manifestation of Christ
“The same power that Christ exercised when He walked visibly among men is in His Word. It was by His Word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by His Word He stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and people bore witness that His Word was with power. He spoke the Word of God, as He had spoken to all the prophets and the teachers of the Old Testament. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. The Scriptures are to be received as God’s Word to us, not written merely, but spoken. When the afflicted ones came to Christ, He beheld not only those who asked for help, but all throughout the ages should come to Him in like need and with like faith. When He said to the paralytic, ‘Son be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee,’ when He said to the woman of Capernaum, ‘Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith had made thee whole; go in peace’ [Matt. 9: 2; Luke 8: 48], He spoke to other afflicted, sin-burdened ones who should ask His help.
“So with all the promises of God’s Word. In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice. It is in these promises that Christ communicates to us His grace and power. They are leaves from that tree which is ‘for the healing of the nations.’ Received, assimilated, they are to be the strength of the character, the inspiration and sustenance of the life. Nothing else can have such healing power. Nothing besides can impart the courage and faith, which gives vital energy to the whole being.”- Ministry of Healing, p. 122.
“The Lord has often made manifest in His providence that nothing less than revealed truth, the Word of God, can reclaim man from sin or keep him from transgression. That Word which reveals the guilt of sin, has power upon the human heart to make man right and keep him so. The Lord has said that His Word is to be studied and obeyed; it is to be brought into the practical life; that Word is an inflexible as the character of God,—the same yesterday, today and forever [Heb. 13:8].”- Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 80, 81.
“But however much one may advance in spiritual life, he will never come to a point where he will not need diligently search the Scriptures; for therein are found the evidences of our faith. All points of doctrine, even though they have been accepted as truth, should be brought ‘to the law and the testimony;’ if they cannot stand this test, ‘there is no light in them.’ [Isa. 8: 20].
“But the great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work for these last days, should receive close examination. The scenes connected with the sanctuary above should make such an impression upon the minds and hearts of all that they may be able to impress others.All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on the sanctuary above . . . . By study, contemplation, and prayer, God’s people will be elevated above common, earthly thoughts and feelings, and will be brought into harmony with Christ and His great work of cleansing the sanctuary above from the sins of the people [Dan. 8: 14].” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 575.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us; God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4: 16
“Christ came to reveal God to the world as a God of love, full of mercy, tenderness, and compassion. The thick darkness with which Satan had endeavored to enshroud the throne of Deity was swept away by the world’s Redeemer, and the Father was again manifest to men as the light of life. When Philip came to Jesus with the request, ‘Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,’ the Savior answered him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?’ [John 14: 8, 9]. Christ declares Himself to be sent into the world [John 17: 8] as a representative of the Father. In His nobility of character, in His goodness and tender pity, in His love, He stands before us as the embodiment of the divine perfection, the image of the invisibleGod.
“Says the apostle [Paul], ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself’ [2 Cor. 5: 19]. Only as we contemplate the great plan of redemption [revealed step-by-step in the sanctuary doctrine] can we have any just appreciation of the character of God. The work of creation was a manifestation of His love; but the gift of God to save the guilty and ruined race, alone reveals the infinite depths of divine tenderness and compassion.” – Testimonies Vol. 5, pp 738-740.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a new heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36: 26.
“The truths of God’s Word are not mere sentiments, but the utterances of the Most High. He who makes these truths a part of his life becomes in every sense a new creature. He is not given new mental powers, but the darkness through ignorance and sin have clouded the understanding, is removed.
“The words ‘A new heart also will I give you,’ mean, A new mind will I give you. The change of heart is always attended by a clear conception of Christian duty, an understanding of truth. The clearness of our view of truth will be proportionate to our understanding of the Word of God. He who gives the Scripture close, prayerful attention will gain clear comprehension and sound judgment, as if in turning to God he had reached a higher plane of intelligence. If the mind is set to the task of studying the Bible, the understanding will strengthen and the reasoning faculties will improve. Under the study of the Scriptures the minds expands and becomes more evenly balanced than if occupied in obtaining information from books that have no connection with the Bible.”- Counsels to Teachers, p. 452.
“When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God.”– Desire of Ages, pp. 172-3.
“To the heart that has become purified, all is changed. Transformation of character is the testimony to the world of an indwelling Christ. The Spirit of God produces a new life in the soul, bringing the thoughts and desires into obedience to the will of Christ; and the inward man is renewed in the image of God [2 Cor. 4: 16]. Weak and erring men and women show to the world that the redeeming power of grace can cause the faulty character to develop into symmetry and abundant fruitfulness.
“The heart that receives the Word of God is not as a pool that evaporates, not like a broken cistern that loses its treasure. It is like the mountain stream, fed by unfailing springs, whose cool, sparkling waters leap from rock to rock, refreshing the weary, the thirsty, the heavy-laden. It is like a river constantly flowing, and as it advances, becoming deeper and wider, until its life-giving waters are spread over all the earth. The stream that goes singing on its way, leaves behind its gift of verdure and fruitfulness . . . When the earth lies bare and brown under the summer’s scorching heat, a line of verdure marks the river’s course.
“So it is with the true child of God. The religion of Christ reveals itself as vitalizing, pervading principle, a living, working, spiritual energy.When the heart is opened to the heavenly influence of truth and love, these principles will flow forth again like streams in the desert, causing fruitfulness to appear where now are barrenness and dearth.” – Patriarchs & Prophets, pp. 233, 234.
(To be continued next week)