Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Lesson

Christ and the Law in the Sermon on the Mount

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Nature Testifies of God

Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity

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Christ says, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and of death."     Revelation 1:18.

Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven.

Justification by Faith

Vatican Official Exhorts the Sunday

Sunday should be a day for worship, rest and time with family and friends, said Monsignor Miquel Delgado Galindo, under secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

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Signs of the Times

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Jesus said "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars....For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."

 

 

Christian History

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In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy, manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all preceding ages. That which has been, will be. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle. If possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

A Faithful Record

Nature God's Second Book

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Nature is an open book which reveals God. All who are attracted to nature may behold in it the God that created them.

Book of Nature

 

World Church Drops "The Record Keeper"

 

Seventh-day Adventist world church leadership today announced their decision to suspend the release of the 11-episode series called “The Record Keeper,” but agreed to explore the possibility of supporting similar creative outreach projects.

The decision came after carefully reviewing the Web series, which dramatizes the epic struggle between good and evil. Seventh-day Adventist church leaders from different parts of the world and the world headquarters evaluated the series, participated in the discussions and the decision-making process.

“Seventh-day Adventist world church leadership is committed to using and developing creative methods of outreach that are faithful to Scripture and Seventh-day Adventist ideals to reach segments of the population that will never be impacted by traditional evangelism,” said world church president, Ted N. C. Wilson.

“The Record Keeper” follows the story of Cadan and Larus, two angels who struggle to maintain their friendship after universal civil war breaks out. Meanwhile, another angel, Raina, pursues a record of events while trying to make sense of the chaos.

Seventh-day Adventist Church theology sees the controversy between good and evil as central to understanding the turmoil witnessed throughout history and evident in the world today.

The church’s Biblical Research Institute provided a biblical analysis of some of the problematic and theologically inaccurate matters raised in the Web series. In addition, church leaders were looking for a much stronger portrayal of the love of God, the creation of a perfect world, the Plan of Salvation and the final renewal of heaven and earth as recorded in the Bible.  

While Bible studies were to be prepared to accompany the series and encourage further study, according to the Biblical Research Institute, the content of “The Record Keeper” would have put the church in the difficult position of endorsing the misrepresentation of biblical truth while at the same time offering studies that conflicted with the dramatic presentations. This would invite misunderstandings and cause confusion.

Church leaders at the world headquarters expressed their continued desire to produce creative material that would be in harmony with Scripture and capture the attention of people seeking divine truth.

 

 

Open letter to Angel Rodriguez

Executive Overview

This letter is a friendly look at key areas of agreement between the two views on ordination and the ways your presentation and 76-page paper make some startling and significant contributions to the ordination dialogue.

Points of Agreement and Contributions Made

Agreement 1: We agree this is not about personalities or character, this is about the validity and strength of biblical arguments.

Agreement 2: We agree that the method of biblical interpretation used by the groups is a problem.

Key Contribution 1: Your paper makes it clear that the pro-woman’s ordination position has a new and different method of biblical interpretation.

Contribution 2: Your paper highlights a common error used in biblical interpretation by mistaking God’s silence for God’s approval.

Contribution 3: Your paper gives a specious definition of balance which would actually make your own paper unbalanced.

Key contribution 4: Your paper illustrates why inspired sources must never be
altered.

Agreement 3: We agree that context is crucial.

Contribution 5: By taking inspired quotes out of context, your paper effectively highlights how context alters meaning.

Agreement 4: Our purpose for Bible study makes a difference.

Contribution 6: Your summary of the first section on hermeneutics virtually nullifies the remainder of your paper, since it suggests you are not taking the pro-biblical qualification arguments seriously, dismissing them as mere attempts to prove a point instead of efforts to keep our church from drifting from long-established Bible truth.

The letter concludes with a brief summary of my concerns.


Dear Angel,

I was blessed by the time I spent with you at the recent TOSC, when we sat together for breakfast. I enjoyed hearing your conversion story, and seeing your commitment to the Sabbath. It was instructive to learn how you and your wife worked through a difference in understanding of proper Sabbath observance without it dividing your home. I recognized we share a common desire to understand and follow truth, wherever it may lead.

I listened closely to your presentation and appreciated the spirit of your introductory remarks in your 76-page paper, “Evaluation of the Arguments Used by Those Who Oppose the Ordination of Women to the Ministry.” Though I cannot fully agree with all your conclusions, I heartily agree with your opening emphasis that we are dealing only with arguments, not personalities. We are friends, fellow believers, one in the blood of Jesus. It is in this spirit that I make the following remarks. Where possible it is my attempt to build on those areas where we can agree.

In an introduction it is important to know what the preferred name is so that we can refer to each other with respect. In my letter I will refer to those who stand with the early church and promote the biblical qualifications for overseers as the “pro-biblical qualifications” group. I will refer to friends such as yourself who promote women’s ordination as the “pro-women’s ordination” group.

The method of Bible interpretation is at “the heart of our discussion”

I am in complete agreement with your insight that the method we use to interpret the Bible “is at the heart of our discussion” (p. 2). The Bible is our source of unity and nothing but the Bible can unite God’s people. When “God is leading a people . . . they will not be at variance, one believing one thing, and another having faith and views entirely opposite” (EW 68).

The point you make is an important one. There is only one Leader; we need to get His orders straight. We don’t give the orders, we follow His orders(1). His orders are given in the Bible. How effective can an army be that argues over the orders from its general? By our disagreement we are actually declaring to the world that our General can’t write clear orders. Is He being untruthful when He says His orders are plain and perfectly understandable for those willing to follow them (John 7:17; Dan 12:10)? Would Christ give orders that divide and weaken His own army? Did Christ mean for His orders to be a source of conflict? Or did He give them to unite us in a common mission? Something is seriously wrong when the Bible is dividing friends instead of uniting them.

How can two groups, both professing to take the Bible as their standard rule of faith and practice, come to diametrically opposite views on such a basic issue as the biblical qualifications for ordination? We agree that these groups must be interpreting the Bible differently. The method of Bible interpretation is indeed “at the heart” of the problem. This should lead each group into a time of self-examination to see what cherished sin is blocking us from properly understanding God’s word. Rightly understood, the Bible does not teach contradictory doctrines. While it is possible that the method of Bible interpretation used by both groups is flawed, it is not possible for both of them to be right(2).

New and Different Method of Bible Interpretation

The early church had no division over their interpretation of the Bible regarding church leadership. They were “in one accord” when Matthias was selected for a leadership position. The pioneers had no division over their biblical interpretation regarding ordination(3). Since those holding the pro-biblical qualifications view use the same method of Bible study and interpretation as the pioneers(4), those holding the pro-women’s ordination view must employ a new and different method of biblical interpretation. Your paper makes an important contribution by highlighting the fact that there is a difference between the method of Bible interpretation used by those who agree with the Bible’s emphasis that all should be engaged in ministry (the pioneers’ pro-biblical qualifications view), and the new and different method of Bible interpretation developed by those whose actions imply the very thing their words deny, that unordained ministry is somehow inferior and women must be ordained to truly engage in ministry (remarkably, the pro-women’s ordination view with this evident class distinction is sometimes called egalitarian!).

It is only right that the “new” and different method of Bible interpretation which is advocated in your paper be given close scrutiny and thorough investigation. This places a heavy burden of proof on my pro-women’s ordination friends who are promoting their “new” and different method for Bible interpretation that actually casts aside “the established faith of the body” and threatens the church with schism(5). “Light and darkness cannot harmonize. Between truth and error there is an irrepressible conflict. To uphold and defend the one is to attack and overthrow the other” (GC 126). Isn’t it prudent to say, “Proceed with caution” when a view is advanced that is occasionally portrayed by some supporters as more correct than the ordination practices of Christ, Paul, and our pioneers?

A Common Error in Bible Interpretation

It is a common error to mistake God’s silence as indicating His affirmation. “These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you” (Psalm 50:21). Certainly Jesus’ silence during His mock trial did not indicate His approval (Mark 14:60; 15:6), rather it was the greatest rebuke He could give (DA 729). To avoid this mistake in Bible interpretation, we have been instructed “to demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’” (GC 595), so it is not reassuring to have the NAD TOSC report begin its recommendations with “The Bible does not directly address the ordination of women”(6). This is employing a method of biblical interpretation that Jesus did not use. He said, “It is written”(7) never “It is not written.” He asked, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26, ESV) not “What is not written in the law? What can you read into it?”(8).

You have stated, “There is not a divine command in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or in the writings of Ellen White against ordaining women to the gospel ministry. Neither is there an explicit command not (sic) to ordain them” (p. 75). But this, like the confession of Achan, is simply acknowledging that which cannot be denied. And it is the same line of reasoning used by my Sunday keeping friends: There is no command in the Bible “Keep Sunday holy!” or “Do not keep Sunday holy!” However, the gospel commission does not direct us to go into all the world and teach whatever is not forbidden. It tells us to go into all the world and teach what has been commanded (Matthew 28:20). Since women’s ordination is not commanded, it forms no part of the message we are to carry to the world and thus has no business being taught in seminaries and colleges that train Adventist pastors. Neither does it have any place in our publications.

It may be said, “Women’s ordination is like arguments over the 144,000, the ten horns, or the daily and is not an important point.” But if it doesn’t matter, why spend 76 pages advocating it? If it does matter, why didn’t God command it?

Examining Claims

During your years at BRI, how many times did you have to deal with groups claiming to have “new” light? And how many times have you seen them quote Ellen White regarding the importance of not rejecting advancing light? Unfortunately, under scrutiny nearly all so-called “new” light is found to be old error repackaged. There is a reason the wise man advised, “Do not associate with those who are given to change” (Proverbs 24:21, NASB).

Both the Old and New Testament warn of departures from the faith (Deuteronomy 32:15; Acts 20:29-30; 1 Timothy 4:1)(9). Members of God’s remnant church are not immune from such danger (Hebrew 3:12). The method of interpreting the Bible used by the early church and the pioneers brought church unity(10). From its early history, the Adventist Church was unified on the subject of ordination until relatively recent times(11). Undoubtedly you have seen the problem when “a man takes his views of Bible truth without regard to the opinion of his brethren, and justifies his course, alleging that he has a right to his own peculiar views, and then presses them upon others” (CET 201). This causes schism. I have no doubt that you have had to deal with such problems many times; this is one of the great reasons the BRI exists. Since we neither want to reject light nor accept error(12), we investigate claims of “new” truth. In this investigation we use the tool of a common method to interpret the Bible.

Are we departing from the uniting method of biblical interpretation of the early church and our pioneers? This can only delight our enemies who can then say, “The Adventists are divided and thus cannot be Christ’s disciples, since the truth unites” (John 17:21;13:35).

How plain truths of the Bible are obscured

God has given us a striking warning that “the truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and darkness by learned men” (GC 598). Furthermore, we are to avoid allowing the “seeming difficulty” contained in some Bible passage to confuse “the minds of others in reference to points that are clear and easy to be understood” (5T 705).

Balance

We agree that inspired sources should always be used in a balanced way (p. 8). However, your defining lack of balance as “tend[ing] to quote what supports their [the pro-biblical qualifications’] argument” (p. 8) is specious. “Tending to quote what contradicted and undermined one’s own argument” would be foolishness, not balance. Those who humbly accept the Bible implicitly and seek to follow it, form their views from their study of the inspired writings. Their views constantly expand as they continue their study and see truths they have missed in their prior study. They study deeply and carefully, comparing Scripture with Scripture until they know “what saith the Lord.” In their presentations they present those passages that most clearly and forcibly convey the sense of what they have learned from the entire body of inspired writings. This is not lack of balance; this is the only way to have balance and use inspired sources lawfully, and “we know the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:8).

Angel, undoubtedly you were not aware of it, but in your presentation and paper you selected a recently and significantly altered quotation of Ellen White from Christ Triumphant(13) in place of using Ellen White’s actual wording found in the unpublished manuscript (p. 66, also see your summary statement p. 75)(14).

For convenience I am including the quotes side by side. I have retained the italicizations you added. I have placed the altered portions in underlined-bold.

As Recently Altered by the White Estate What Ellen White Actually Wrote
Those placed in positions of responsibility should be men and women who fear God, who realize that they are humans only, not God. They should be people who will rule under God and for Him. Will they give expression to the will of God for His people? Do they allow selfishness to tarnish word and action? Do they, after obtaining the confidence of the people as leaders of wisdom who fear God and keep His commandments, belittle the exalted position that the people of God should occupy in these days of peril? Will they through self-confidence become false guideposts, pointing the way to friendship with the world instead of the way to heaven? (Your Footnote is “Manuscript 163, 1902= CTr 146.”) Those placed in positions of responsibility should be men who fear God, who realize that they are men only, not God. They should be men who rule under God and for Him. Will they give expression to the will of God for His people? Do they allow selfishness to tarnish word and action? Do they, after obtaining the confidence of the people as men of wisdom, who fear God and keep His commandments, belittle the exalted position that the people of God should occupy in these days of peril? Will they through self-confidence become false guide-posts, pointing the way to friendship with the world instead of the way to heaven? (Unpublished Ms 163, 1902),

After condemning the tendency “to quote what supports their argument,” it is particularly ironic that you utilized this inaccurate quotation. Would you have used the unaltered quotation for your argument? I don’t think so. Does the original Manuscript 163, 1902 really equal Christ Triumphant? No. This altered document is a very serious misrepresentation of Ellen White’s words. Though these additions were made with the best of intentions and approved by the trustees of the White Estate, they appear to violate a prohibition of God, “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6). Your paper has done the world church a service by exposing the danger when such changes are made. Hopefully, the practice will be stopped and the alterations in these otherwise fine books be removed.

Sources for our method of biblical interpretation

Your assertion that a concern about the importance and source of one’s method of biblical interpretation is somehow a diatribe (p. 8) is itself a diatribe. “You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” (Romans 2:21 ESV). This ad hominem attack could raise questions about the genuineness of the paper’s introductory graciousness.

Context

You have made an astute observation by zeroing in on the fact that the major difference between the method both groups use in Bible interpretation is in “the proper use of the context” (pp. 4, 9). Your point needs emphasis because taking passages out of context is the foundation for false doctrine and is how false doctrines and unbiblical practices enter the church. “In order to sustain erroneous doctrines or unchristian practices, some will seize upon passages of Scripture separated from the context” (GC 521). Illustrating how this can be done Ellen White wrote: “A few words of Scripture are separated from the context . . . and used in proof of doctrines that have no foundation in the word of God” (GC 539, emphasis added)(15).

Perhaps an example of this would help: “There is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28) are “a few words of Scripture” which can be “separated from the context” “and used in proof of Bible” support for ordaining women as overseers or even gay marriage, but would be “doctrines that have no foundation in the Word of God”(16).

Your paper provides many examples of quotations lifted out of their context. For example, immediately after seriously misquoting an unpublished Ellen White manuscript (p. 66), you quote a Spirit of Prophecy excerpt without providing the context: “When women are wanted with well-balanced minds, with not a cheap style of education, but with an education fitting them for any position of trust, they are not easily found” (p. 67). Let’s look at the context of this quotation and examine how Ellen White uses the term “any position of trust.” The title of the Review (17) article is “Proper Education of the Young.” The first paragraph of the article gives us the context, “Ministerial labor cannot and should not be intrusted to boys, neither should the work of giving Bible readings be intrusted to inexperienced girls, because they offer their services, and are willing to take responsible positions, but who are wanting in religious experience, without a thorough education and training” (RH 6/21/1887). Elsewhere Ellen White explains what she means by the expression, “any position of trust.” “Faithful, earnest, and frequent prayer should be offered that these children may be fitted for any position of trust to which God shall call them” (ST 6/9/1881)(18).

Context, as used by the Spirit of Prophecy and those holding the pro-biblical qualifications view, means the context given in the inspired writings themselves. It is from the riches of the Bible itself that all understanding of the Bible must be drawn. When studying a verse or passage of Scripture we begin by looking at the immediate context to make certain our interpretation is consistent with the surrounding verses. It continues as we examine the passage more deeply, comparing Scripture with Scripture, making certain the interpretation is in harmony with every other biblical passage on this topic that we can locate (GC 320).

Our great need is to know the Bible(19). “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). Jesus is our example. “The Scriptures of the Old Testament were His constant study, and the words, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ were ever upon His lips” (DA 84). Even as a young person he was urged to accept false doctrines commonly accepted by the Jews, and taught by the Jewish scholars, but “He asked for their authority in Holy Writ. He would hear every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; but He could not obey the inventions of men. Jesus seemed to know the Scriptures from beginning to end, and He presented them in their true import”
(DA 85).

Obedience, the key to properly understanding the Bible

“Disobedience has closed the door to a vast amount of knowledge that might have been gained from the Scriptures. Understanding means obedience. . . . They can be understood only by those who are humbly seeking for a knowledge of the truth that they may obey it” (COL 112). Jesus understood whom to ordain because He was obedient. The early church understood whom to ordain because they were obedient. Paul understood the qualification for selecting overseers because he was obedient. As we obey, we too can understand (John 7:17).

Purpose, an important part of understanding the Bible

Your summary of the section on the methods of biblical interpretation (p. 9) implies an important point—biblical interpretation always involves our purpose in Bible study as part of the method. In most of my college science and math classes, the textbook would provide an answer key that would give the correct answer to be reached, though not the process to reach the answer. The process was more important than the answer. When I was stumped, I would look up the answer in the answer key, then work backward trying to discover how to arrive at the answer and thus solve the problem. This was the purpose of Bible study used by both Jewish rabbis and medieval papists(20). The rabbis “knew” their answer was right; the papists “knew” the pope was right; since they were confident of the answer, their method of Bible interpretation was to reason back until they could “prove” their position from the Bible, rejecting every contradictory view in the process. By contrast the consistent Adventist purpose of Bible study is to humbly go to the Bible to learn what you should believe, not go to the Bible to confirm what you already believe(21).

Your summary of this section, however, virtually nullifies your entire paper by dealing with what it should not—motives, and omitting what it should have at its core—methods. Your section summary moves the focus from the argument to the character of those making the argument, the very thing you condemn both in the introduction of the paper and in the immediately preceding paragraph(22). Speaking of those who are pro-biblical qualifications advocates, the paper asserts the main problem with their method of Bible interpretation “is to a large extent their desire to prove their point and to undermine the arguments of those who support the ordination of women to the ministry.”

First, this is pure speculation since only God can read the mind and know the desires of the heart (1 Kings 8:39). With the warning that “earnest zeal” and “intense desire to have others see and understand the truth” will be misinterpreted (5T 520), how can you be sure your surmising is not a misinterpretation of just such earnest zeal? “In commenting upon the . . . motives of another, who can be certain of speaking the exact truth?” (MB 68).

Second, this is forbidden speculation (Matthew 7:1) and those who make these speculative judgments are revealing their own motives (Romans 2:1).

Third, I believe it is a false statement. I know several of the authors of pro-biblical qualifications papers you reference and have observed them modify a viewpoint when shown clear statements from the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy.

Fourth, your summary statement ignores the fact that the pro-biblical qualifications’ historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation is a continuation of the pioneers’ method of biblical interpretation. James White, editor of The Review, very early wrote an editorial(23) and later published articles written by Elder Joseph B. Frisbee covering the biblical qualifications for ordination(24). Other pioneers, such as Roswell F. Cottrell, who served on The Review editorial committee, seconded these arguments(25). “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and the arguments used by the pioneers are similar to arguments your paper dismisses. We should be cautious in statements that would also impugn the motives of these pioneers, who being dead, yet speak.

Finally, your summary virtually nullifies the remainder of the paper, since you fail to take the pro-biblical qualification arguments seriously, dismissing them as mere attempts to prove a point instead of efforts to keep our church from drifting from long-established Bible truth.

Summary

Angel, I welcome your response to the observations of this letter. If I have misunderstood your thinking or misstated your position, I would be happy to be corrected. I have been hesitant to send this letter. You are a respected Adventist theologian. God has used your ministry as a great blessing to the church. On numerous occasions God has enabled you to provide wise Biblical counsel that has made a major difference in critical situations. Please consider these comments, not as an attack, but as an appeal. Truth is not advanced if we take inspired writings out of context, use ad hominem thrusts, or judge the motives of our friends. Truth requires no new method of biblical interpretation. The Adventist church long ago rejected as invalid the very “contextualized” approach the pro-women’s ordination advocates must use and which the NAD report actually now acknowledges. This approach allows the power of man to change God’s word instead of allowing the power of God’s word to change the man.

The Bible compares our actions (including writing and speaking) to the preparation of food. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).

It is my prayer that we will both receive the blessing promised to those who prepare food in due season by accurately presenting present truth as it is in Jesus.

Sincerely,

Phil Mills, MD


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Phil Mills, MD operates a busy dermatology practice in Blue Ridge, GA. He has a passion for medical evangelism and is active in health promotion in his local community and church. Some years ago he became interested in studying the topic of women’s ordination during a stint on the church nominating committee when his mother-in-law declined his request to serve as an elder. He is a member of the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee. He joined the committee with a determination to have an open mind to truth wherever it might lead.

NOTES

  1. “The study of the Scriptures will be considered a part of his religion; for by this he learns his orders. In the light of the Scriptures he regards himself as God’s servant, employed to do His will. Sometimes he finds those orders different to that which he would choose were the decision left to him; but he does not find fault with his work because of this. And as he seeks to carry out the will of the Master, angels of God are with him, to be his defense against the wiles of Satan” (ST 2/24/1909).
  2. “The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body. There have ever been individuals of independent minds who have claimed that they were right, that God had especially taught, impressed, and led them. Each has a theory of his own, views peculiar to himself, and each claims that his views are in accordance with the word of God. Each one has a different theory and faith, yet each claims special light from God. These draw away from the body, and each one is a separate church of himself. All these cannot be right, yet they all claim to be led of the Lord. The word of Inspiration is not Yea and Nay, but Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus” (3T 428).
  3. “The majority of the Sabbatarian adventists (sic) seem to have settled fairly quickly on what ordination signified; and their views remained remarkably consistent, from the embryonic days of the 1850s until denominational organization became well established,” David Trim, “Ordination in Seventh–Day Adventist History,” p. 9, TOSC, January, 2013.
  4. The Historical-grammatical method.
  5. “All should be careful about presenting new views of Scripture before they have given these points thorough study, and are fully prepared to sustain them from the Bible. Introduce nothing that will cause dissension, without clear evidence that in it God is giving a special message for this time” (GW92 126).
  6. NAD TOSC Report Summary, Recommendation 1.
  7. Some years ago I found the term “it is written” or its equivalent 72 times in a phrase search in the gospels.
  8. It is instructive to observe how Ellen White used the silence of the Scriptures to draw positive conclusions. For example, she says, “I cannot find an instance in the life of Christ where He devoted time to play and amusement” (CT309) and uses this to show that we should not be promoting this.
  9. “The Jews perished as a nation because they were drawn from the truth of the Bible by their rulers, priests, and elders” (GW92 128).
  10. “We must study to find out the best way in which to take up the review of our experiences from the beginning of our work, when we separated from the churches, and went forward step by step in the light that God gave us. We then took the position that the Bible, and the Bible only, was to be our guide; and we are never to depart from this position. We were given wonderful manifestations of the power of God. Miracles were wrought. Again and again, when we were brought into strait places, the power of God was displayed in our behalf” (CW 145).
  11. “The history of ordination in general is largely a history of our early years and of how we established and agreed [on] our understanding of ordination; whereas the history of the place of women’s ordination in Adventism is largely the history of ordination since 1968,” David Trim, “Ordination in Seventh–Day Adventist History,” p. 1, TOSC, January, 2013.
  12. “While warning men to beware of accepting anything unless it is truth, we should also warn them not to imperil their souls by rejecting messages of light, but to press out of the darkness by earnest study of the word of God” (GW92 129).
  13. A general acknowledgment of this is made in the Preface of this book as well as To Be Like Jesus and From the Heart, the three most recent devotionals produced by the White Estate.
  14. This is an unpublished manuscript and not on the CD-ROM. The portion included in Christ Triumphant, is the only version found in the CD-ROM and, unfortunately, it is in the altered form.
  15. Emphasis supplied.
  16. “All should become familiar with God’s Word; because Satan perverts and misquotes Scripture, and men follow his example by presenting part of God’s Word to those whom they wish to lead in false paths, withholding the part that would spoil their plans. All have the privilege of becoming acquainted with a plain “Thus saith the Lord’” (ST 4/4/1900).
  17. Officially The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.
  18. Emphasis supplied.
  19. “Our salvation depends on a knowledge of the truth contained in the Scriptures” (COL 111).
  20. “We are not to think, as did the Jews, that our own ideas and opinions are infallible; nor with the papists, that certain individuals are the sole guardians of truth and knowledge, that men … must accept the explanations given by the Fathers of the church” (GW92 125).
  21. “We should not study the Bible for the purpose of sustaining our preconceived opinions, but with the single object of learning what God has said” (GW92 125). “You must lay your preconceived opinions, your hereditary and cultivated ideas, at the door of investigation. If you search the Scriptures to vindicate your own opinions, you will never reach the truth. Search in order to learn what the Lord says. If conviction comes as you search, if you see that your cherished opinions are not in harmony with the truth, do not misinterpret the truth in order to suit your own belief, but accept the light given” (COL 112). “You will never reach the truth if you study the Scriptures to vindicate your own ideas. Leave these at the door, and with a contrite heart go in to hear what the Lord has to say to you. As the humble seeker for truth sits at Christ’s feet, and learns of Him, the word gives him understanding…. Do not read the word in the light of former opinions…. Do not try to make the word fit these opinions. Make your opinions fit the word. Do not allow what you have believed or practiced in the past to control your understanding. Open the eyes of your mind to behold wondrous things out of the law. Find out what is written, and then plant your feet on the eternal Rock” (MYP 260). There are many more such statements, but this is a representative sample.
  22. “It leads away from a discussion of the arguments themselves into an evaluation of the character and intentions of those involved in the discussion” (pp. 8, 9).
  23. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 20, 1853.
  24. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 26, 1854, January 9, 1855, June 19. 1856.
  25. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 2 and 9, 1856.

Church Leaders Urge Prayer in Ukraine

 

Joint statement from Russian, Ukrainian Adventist leaders urges peacekeeping, prayer

Crimean Tatars hold a banner that reads, “No War” during a pro-Ukraine rally in Simferopol, Crimea [photo: Darko Vojinovic/copyright Associated Press]

Dispute over Crimea heightens tension in Eastern Europe

A statement released by top Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders in Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries invites church members and “all people of good will” to participate in the “ministry of reconciliation” as political turmoil in Ukraine deepens.

Pro-Russian separatists in Crimea voted last week to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, just days after thousands of Russian troops began patrolling the disputed Black Sea peninsula. A region-wide referendum for secession is set for March 16. A majority of Crimea’s 2.3 million people identify as ethnic Russians.

Unrest in the region began in November when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed away from a planned trade deal with the European Union in favor of a loan from Russia. The decision spurred months of street protests in Kiev and violent clashes between demonstrators and police. Ukraine’s democratically elected parliament ousted Yanukovych last month. 

In February, Viktor Alekseenko, president of the Adventist Church in Ukraine, asked Adventists to pray for their country and avoid provoking hostility—on the streets and on social media, where he urged church members not to leave inflammatory comments.

Alekseenko is among church leaders to sign this latest statement, calling on Adventists and community members to help “restore human dignity, equality and unity through the grace of God.”

Excerpts from the statement:  

We call on all members of the Seventh-day Church to refrain from participating in political statements and actions that could escalate tensions. We invite all people of good will to join us in peacekeeping, incessant prayer for peaceful resolution of all conflicts, as well as to create an atmosphere of fraternity and cooperation, contributing to the understanding of different cultures and ideological systems to build good relations between people of all races, nationalities, religions and political beliefs. 

This is the official position of the church. Any other statement you may encounter outside the official church media should be seen as the views of private individuals.

The statement was signed by leadership from the Adventist Church’s Euro-Asia Division, Belarus Union of Churches, Caucasus Union Mission, East Russian Union Mission, Far Eastern Union of Churches, Moldova Union of Churches, Southern Union Mission, Trans-Caucasus Union Mission, Ukrainian Union Conference and the West Russian Union Conference.

Meanwhile, the Adventist Church’s official television network in Ukraine is broadcasting a live daily prayer marathon. “God Save Ukraine” airs on Hope Channel Ukraine during prime time and highlights stories from across the country that demonstrate unity and forgiveness.

Hope Channel Ukraine is the only Christian television network in the country directly responding to the political crisis, Adventist media officials said.

A Servant of Servants

What if your job title was changed to ‘servant?’

What if your job title was changed to ‘servant?’

This was my servant pilot.

Complainers can take a cue from this airline pilot

 

Two years ago I was at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, waiting for my plane home to Baltimore, Maryland, when an announcer came over the public address system informing us the airport had experienced a power outage.

It was humid and 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The sun hit the window behind me as if it had nowhere else to shine.

The jetway that should have led us from the departure gate to the plane was not working. The ground personnel told us the airport was using mobile staircases to help passengers board planes. But the airport didn’t have enough staircases for every plane so we had to wait our turn.

I was sitting between two ladies who complained about the weather, how that in that airport things always went wrong, and anything else they could think of. The ground personnel couldn’t give us a specific time of departure, which gave my seatmates another reason to complain.

Nearly three hours after the initial power outage announcement, ground personnel told us we could board.

So we exited the gate area by walking down a stairway and headed toward the mobile staircase that would lead us up into the plane.

As I walked toward the plane, I noticed a man walking up and down the stairs. I wondered what was wrong with him. We all wanted to go home and he was just delaying our departure. I walked up the stairs and noticed the sweat on the man’s face and shirt. It seemed like every step he took added a wrinkle to his forehead.

The man was carrying passengers’ luggage. Then I noticed who he was – our pilot.

 

This pilot went above and beyond just flying planes. He made passengers more comfortable at the cost of his own comfort. I didn’t hear anyone complain because they didn’t have to carry their own luggage. Nobody asked him to help, and I’m sure he didn’t get paid more for doing it.

Days later I reflected: What would happen if instead of us having the title of captain, co-pilot, editor, administrative assistant, director or president…we had the title of “servant.” Would we behave the same way?

The kingdom of God calls us to be servants, not masters. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be great must serve others. Whoever wants to be first must be last.”

I hope every person we talk to will perceive our desire to serve him or her, and I pray that when God says to us, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” that each of us will say, “Here I am Lord, send me.”

—Laura Samano is the assistant editor for Guide magazine.

 

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church Facing Great Division Over Ordination of Women Pastors

 

More than 40 hours of presentations, discussions, worship, and question-and-answer sessions ended quietly Sabbath evening, January 25, as members of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) embraced each other at the end of a sometimes-contentious five-day gathering.

The first four days of meetings featured highly contrasting views of key Bible passages by church scholars, as well as sharp exchanges between questioners and presenters about appropriate methods of Biblical interpretation. TOSC leaders several times cautioned members to be respectful of those they disagreed with, and to trust the spiritual commitments of all.

Each of the church’s 13 world divisions also reported the study findings and recommendations of its own Biblical Research Committee (BRC) on the question of ordaining female pastors. While five division BRCs reported support for women’s ordination, most of the others reported disapproval. Almost all division reports clearly stated their willingness to accept the decision that will ultimately be made by the worldwide church.

Weekend TOSC events included an inspirational music program provided by the Baltimore First Seventh-day Adventist Church; a Friday night devotional message by TOSC chair Artur Stele, a General Conference vice-president and director of the church’s Biblical Research Institute; and a stirring Sabbath morning sermon by Mark Finley, assistant to the General Conference president and editor-at-large for Adventist Review.

“Once they prayed, studied the Word, sought God’s guidance, discussed the issue and then decided, the New Testament church accepted God’s will and moved on with the mission,” declared Finley during the Sabbath morning worship hour. “They trusted the decision they collectively made and covenanted together to passionately pursue the mission. Each individual believer submitted their personal views to the decision made under God’s guidance.”

Throughout his 45-minute message, Finley urged TOSC members to yield personal opinions to the Spirit-led consensus of the wider church as it moves forward in deciding matters of ordination.

“When there is an erosion of trust, conflict festers,” he noted. “When there is an unwillingness to submit personal judgment to the prayed-through, thoughtful representative decisions of the corporate body, dissension and division flourish.”

Finley’s sermon was widely regarded as a key point in the weekend by many TOSC members. Several expressed appreciation for his call to regain focus on mission after a decision on the ordination matter is reached, probably at the July 2015 General Conference session of the world Adventist Church in San Antonio, Texas.

“After three meetings [January 2013, July 2013, and January 2014], I’ve seen progress in the way people on different sides have come to appreciate the arguments presented by those on the other sides,” said Darius Jankiewicz, chair of the Theology department at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. “By the end of last week, I could see the consensus building that there’s room for differences on this issue in the church. We need to continue this process as TOSC members, and I hope our findings will result in the unity of the church. The consensus could help us realize that the unity of the church doesn’t require uniformity on this issue.”

One of the most popular features of the TOSC process was the small group discussion in which committee members participated for nearly 20 percent of their total time together. Members of the 12-person groups were randomly selected, but individuals of differing viewpoints were in every conversation, and studied Bible passages together. Key Bible texts examined by the discussion groups included the Creation account of Genesis 1-3; counsels given by the Apostle Paul to the first-century Christian Church (1 Tim 2:12-14, I Cor 11, and Gal 3:28); and the prophet Joel’s prediction—repeated by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost—that in the last days, “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28).

The last hour of Saturday’s schedule was devoted to testimonies from members about their TOSC experience, and a call for “bridge-building” from TOSC vice-chair Geoffrey Mbwana, also a General Conference vice-president.

“We have built the pillars of truth in our respective positions,” Mbwana noted as the sun was setting over the snowy Maryland landscape. “Now is the time to lay the platform of the bridge on which we can move forward together.”

TOSC leaders expect the next gathering of the 103-member committee in early June to frame recommendations for the October meeting of the church’s Executive Committee. That group sets the agenda for the worldwide 2015 quinquennial session of the denomination in San Antonio.

Most TOSC members believe that the ordination of women will be a major item on the agenda in San Antonio, where approximately 2000 delegates from more than 200 nations will assemble for a 10-day business session of the movement.

 

Division Reports on Women's Ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church

 

The Adventist world church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee is meeting this week through Saturday in the U.S. state of Maryland. All of the denomination’s 13 world divisions have reported their position to the committee as it relates to the theology of ordination and implications if women were to be ordained. Each of the divisions made their recommendation through their own Biblical Research Committee, each of whom were established especially for the five-year examination process. ANN next week will have a full story about this week’s meeting, which is the third study session. Until then, here is how each of the divisions have reported. Each position below is presented from their own report and is offered in thorough and concise form:

    East-Central African Division: “After thorough examination of Scripture, the Writings of Ellen White, and the scholarly papers that are for the ordination of women and those that are against, there is still not light as to whether [women] may be ordained as pastors.…The Committee is almost convinced that there are two possibilities: A. Both sides of the debate on women ordination do not really understand the New Testament passages which read like women ordination should not be considered; B. The whole church has not given much though as to what women may do uniquely and be affirmed for to advance the redemptive ministry and mission of God. So, before there is complete clarity about the authentic Scriptural intent about the issue, [our Biblical Research Committee] says ‘not yet’ to the ordination of women.… Our Committee is convinced that the church needs to continue to ‘seek understanding’ so that the delegates to GC in [San Antonio] in 2015 may produce good results by voting intelligently.”

    Euro-Asia Division: “Taking into account the cultural context in which the church is to fulfill its service in Euro-Asia Division, and keeping in mind the church’s missiological interests, the [division] Executive Committee discourages the practice of the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry.”

    Inter-European Division: “Since ordination does not contradict the teachings of the Bible and might foster the mission of the church, we think that there is room for the church to ordain women for pastoral ministry.…Whatever decision is considered, a basic unity of the worldwide church in faith and practice should be preserved."

    Inter-American Division: “There is no explicit mandate in the Bible for the ordination of women to church leadership, yet there is no command against the same….The Inter-American Division is willing to accept the ecclesiastical decision taken by the SDA Church in plenary session.”

    North American Division: “In harmony with our biblical study, we recommend that ordination to gospel ministry, as an affirmation of the call of God, be conferred by the church on men and women….The committee humbly recommends that the North American Division support the authorization of each division to consider, through prayer and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, its most appropriate approach to the ordination of women to gospel ministry.”

    Northern Asia-Pacific Division: “We propose that at the General Conference Session in 2015 a recommendation be brought that globally the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry be approved. We further recommend that the implementation of ordination of women will be determined by each division taking into consideration its impact on mission and unity within its territories.”

    South American Division: “[W]omen should not be ordained to the pastoral ministry….“The church should further investigate the possibility of the ordination of men and women to ministries other than the pastoral ministry.”

    South Pacific Division: “The Biblical Research Committee of the South Pacific Division does not see any scriptural principle which would be an impediment to women being ordained….The calling of the Holy Spirit needs to be recognized for both men and women. There is a sense of injustice that needs to be addressed….The mission of the church is a primary determinant of praxis, both in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and in its climax as the Holy Spirit is poured out on both men and women during the latter rain.”

    Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division: “The Old Testament and New Testament demonstrate that no women were ordained….Since there is no biblical support for the ordination of woman pastors, then the ordination of women elders should also not be considered. That implies that as from the action date, women shall no longer serve as elders.”

    Southern Asia Division: “We recognize that there is no direct teaching in the Scriptures or the Spirit of Prophecy that either prescribes or prohibits the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry. …In the absence of direct teaching in inspired writings we accept the authority of the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to take a decision. … We have no objection if the world church takes a decision to allow certain areas of the world to ordain women to pastoral ministry.”

    Southern Asia-Pacific Division: “[We] appeal to our sister divisions to patiently follow the process outlined in Acts 15 and to wait for what ‘the church & the Spirit says’ during the July 2015 GC Session."

    Trans-European Division: “We propose that a recommendation be brought to the General Conference Session in 2015, that it approves a revised policy in which unions, whose constituency meetings in session have voted approval and whose division committee has voted approval, be allowed to maintain an inclusive pastoral ministry which removes all gender distinctions within the work of the church in that union territory."

    West-Central Africa Division: “The West-Central Africa Division by consensus does not recommend the ordination of women into ordained pastoral ministry. However, if at the General Conference Session the world church votes in favor of women’s ordination, [the division] will not threaten the unity of the church despite its disagreement to such a decision. Instead, we will consider women’s ordination as a matter of conscience, and will continue to study and pray for light on the subject brighter than there is now.”

    ANN has previously reported on several of the divisions’ recommendations. Our goal is to provide appropriate transparency throughout this five-year process.

 

Southern Lockdown After Threat

 

Police hold suspect after U.S. Adventist campus was on lockdown

 [photo: Suzanne Ocsai]

A Seventh-day Adventist university campus in the U.S. state of Tennessee was put on lockdown for more than two hours today after campus safety officials received a “perceived threat” against the university, a university spokesperson said.

The lockdown at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale began at 12:10 p.m. and ended at 2:21 p.m. when campus officials announced that Collegedale Police had a person of interest in custody, said Lucas Patterson, a spokesman for the university.

Patterson said a former Southern student was on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College earlier in the day making complaints against Southern. “It was a localized perceived threat against our campus,” Patterson said. Officials from Chattanooga State contacted Campus Safety officials at Southern to warn them of the threat, he said.

Patterson said Collegedale police detained a person of interest at a local YMCA. He was taken into custody, Patterson said, but he has not been arrested. Patterson said the man in question had not attended Southern for several years.

A spokesperson for the Collegedale Police did not immediately return requests for comment.

Students and staff were advised to lock their doors and stay away from windows, Patterson said. The nearby Adventist elementary school, middle school and high school were included in the lockdown, as well as the nearby Adventist Book Center. No one was injured in the incident, Patterson said.

“We handle threats very seriously, that’s why we err on the side of caution to protect people,” Patterson said. “Sure it was inconvenient, but inconvenience is a small price to pay for protection.”

The university will hold an assembly in the university church this evening at 6 p.m. to address the incident and answer questions from students and staff. “Through social media we saw some rumors that ended up not being true,” Patterson said. During the lockdown, Collegedale Police had responded to reports of gunshots on Southern's campus, a university statement said. Police found no evidence of this, the statement said.

Patterson said counseling is always available on campus, and school administrators have asked counselors to “clear their plate” to prioritize students wishing to receiving counseling over today’s incident.

Southern’s enrollment is approximately 3,300 students—more than 2,500 of whom live on or around campus. The school has been in operation since 1892, when it was known as Graysville Academy.

 

SDA Killed in Central African Republic

 

Several Adventists killed during political unrest in Central African Republic

Emeryc Patrick Dalikouba  [photo courtesy CAUM]

 

A Seventh-day Adventist was killed by gunfire in Central African Republic last month, the latest of several Adventist victims of sectarian violence in the nation.

Emeryc Patrick Dalikouba, 21, the son of an Adventist pastor, was gunned down on December 21 outside his father’s home.

Jean Jacques Gueret, president of the Adventist Church in the country, said Dalikouba was “a young, vibrant man engaged in the movement of Adventist Youth.”

Gueret said three other Adventist young adults were killed last April.

Adventists have not participated in the civil unrest between Christian and Muslim groups, Gueret said.

Violence began in the former French colony last March after a mostly Muslim rebel coalition installed their leader, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s ruler. The move prompted attacks by Christian militia. More than 1,000 people have died just in the past six weeks, The New York Times reported.

Since then, Djotodia stepped down earlier this month, and a transitional parliament on Monday elected the capital city of Bangui’s mayor Catherine Samba-Panza as interim president, the nation’s first female head of state.

More than 886,000 people have been displaced by the violence and some 86,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries, The Wall Street Journal reported. The United Nations has designated Central African Republic as one of the top three current humanitarian emergencies, which also include Syria and the Philippines.

“We are praying for the newly elected leadership of this country,” said Gueret, the Adventist Church president in the nation. “We are all wanting the violence to stop.”

There are 10,600 Adventist Church members in the nation of approximately 4.6 million.

Food For Life

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.       2 Corinthians 3:18

Tell of His Grace

Testimonies of the power of grace to change lives......

 

I was born into a non Adventist home, well that is an understatement really. My father was and still is a heavily practicing Satanist and as such, myself being a female, made me a target for ridicule and I was most certainly placed way below my brothers in the family......Tamara's Testimony

Country Living

Mar10 Demo Image Too late to move?

Moving to the country is becoming very hard in some locations. Selling a home and financing a new one is difficult. Some government agencies want to move everyone into the cities. God's people need to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of those who are opposed to the truth. Pray that God will open a way.

Religious Liberty

European Sunday Law?

The world will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God." But what has been the course of God's servants in ages past? When the disciples preached Christ and Him crucified, after His resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Today, our liberty is being threatened.

European Sunday Law

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