Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sabbath School Today, Lesson 8, Quarter 3-15

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Biblical Missionaries

Lesson 8: Jesus: Cross-Cultural Missions


"Faith is the expecting the word of God to do what it says,
and the depending upon that word to do what it says."
--A. T. Jones [1]


Our lesson gives us several wonderful examples of "cross-cultural missions," and each example bears one of the most powerful concepts of the 1888 message--righteousness by faith. We could spend a little time on each example given in the lesson; however, the story of "The Roman Army Officer," or Centurion, will be our focus in this short essay.

In Luke 7:2-10 there is a delightful story of a Roman centurion who sent some Jewish elders on a mission to Jesus to request Him to come and heal his servant who was sick unto death. The elders displayed their arrogance, proudly recommending the Roman army officer because he loves the Jewish nation and has paid for a synagogue (church building) for them.

But their testimonials meant nothing to Jesus; here was a request for help, and His compassion responded. (Luke tells it because he loves to emphasize Jesus' love for Gentiles). Halfway there, Jesus is interrupted by the man's friends sent on another mission to tell Him, "Trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof," even though he probably had a sumptuous house if he could afford to pay for a new synagogue! Then he added, "But say in a word, and my servant shall be healed." He believed there is power in God's word! And Jesus marveled that a Gentile should have such "faith," that is, confidence that God is all-powerful.

But as we read the story in its context, we begin to see that the Roman soldier's faith was more than that. He had begun to understand his sinfulness in the light of Christ's righteousness, for he said two things. (1) "I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof," and (2) "neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee."

The centurion's faith was not a mere mental trust, but a heart-appreciation. An unusual love had filled this Roman solider's heart, for he was concerned for his servant, and not for himself. The faith he had already had transformed him and delivered him from selfishness. And so this story does help us understand the essential ingredient of true miracle healing: faith is a heart-appreciation of the sacrifice of Christ. [2]

A. T. Jones, one of the 1888 "messengers," wrote in the Review and Herald about the centurion's faith in the word of God:

"We have seen that the power abiding in the word of God is sufficient, only upon the speaking of that word, to create worlds. It is likewise sufficient, now that it is spoken to men, to create anew, in Christ Jesus, every one who receives it.

"Now what was it that the centurion expected would heal His servant? It was 'the word only,' which Jesus would speak. And after the word was spoken, what did the centurion depend upon--to what did he look for the healing power? It was 'the word only.' He did not look for the Lord to do it in some ways apart from the word. No. He heard the word, 'So be it done unto thee.' He accepted that word as it is in truth the word of God and expected it, depended upon it, to accomplish that which it said. And it was so. And that word is the word of God today as certainly as in the day that it was originally spoken. It has lost none of its power, for that word 'liveth and abideth forever.'" [3]

Ellen G. White also wrote about the Roman centurion, using the story as an example of his faith in contrast to that of the "brethren" she was addressing:

"Brethren, we want to come right up as a man and obtain a living experience here in this meeting. You want light enough that you can carry it with you into eternity. That is what you want. We have not half faith enough. We are only just beginning to learn as little children. The child first takes a step, and falls; and then takes another step, and finally learns how to walk. Now, we want to learn how to exercise faith.

"When the centurion came to Christ, just look at his faith. Why, he did not claim all the knowledge of the Jews; but here this centurion came, and he says, O Lord, You need not go away down there to heal my servant; You just say it and it will be done. What kind of power did he think was in Christ? Just what was invested in him. Now, said he, You may just say the word. I say to my servant, go, and he goeth, and I say to him, do this, and he doeth. Well now, all You have to say is to command, and it will be done.

"What was his insight? That there were angels all around Christ; the word of Christ would go right to that sick chamber and heal that soul. The Jews saw how Christ said to him, 'I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.' Now there are those outside of us that are standing in greater favor to God than we are; and why? Because they live up to every jot of light that they have. And we have light pouring in on us, and for months [since the 1888 General Conference Session] we have been pleading that the people would come up and accept the light; and they do not know whether to do it or not. They do not seem to see that they can come and drink, that they can open their hearts and let the Saviour in.

"My soul is agonized at times over these things. But I cannot do anything, I cannot speak to the heart; but God alone can speak to the heart. I entreat of you, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, to bruise Satan under your feet. I beseech of you to begin to labor for yourself, labor for souls that are in darkness and unbelief. I beseech of you to spend your efforts in order to bring them where they can come where the living waters flow--where the light of heaven may come upon them, that they can stand amid the people as a light, and not as a shadow of darkness." [4]

A. T. Jones also wrote: "Plainly, it must be to little purpose to urge upon a person the necessity of cultivating faith, while that person has no intelligent idea of what faith is. And it is sadly true that, though the Lord has made this perfectly plain in the Scriptures, there are many church-members who do not know what faith is. …

"Faith comes 'by the word of God.' To the Word, then, we must look for it. …

"'When Jesus heard [what the centurion said], he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.'

"There is what Jesus pronounces faith. When we find what that is, we have found faith. To know what that is, is to know what faith is. There can be no sort of doubt about this; for Christ is 'the Author ... of faith,' and he says that that which the centurion manifested was 'faith;' yes, even 'great faith.'

"Where, then, in this is the faith?--The centurion wanted a certain thing done. He wanted the Lord to do it. But when the Lord said, 'I will come' and do it, the centurion checked him, saying, 'Speak the word only,' and it shall be done.

"Now, what did the centurion expect would do the work? 'The word ONLY.' Upon what did he depend for the healing of his servant? Upon 'the word ONLY.'

"And the Lord Jesus says that that is faith." [5]

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland, A. T. Jones, and Ellen G. White

[1] A. T. Jones, Lessons on Faith, p. 16; Review and Herald, Dec. 27, 1898.
[2] From the writings of Robert J. Wieland.
[3] A. T. Jones, "The Power of the Word II," Review and Herald, Oct. 27, 1896.
[4] Ellen G. White, "Who Will Accept the Light from Heaven?," Remarks at Bible School, Feb. 6, 1890; The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, Ms. 10, 1890, pp. 555, 556.
[5] A. T. Jones, Lessons on Faith, pp. 15, 16; Review and Herald, Dec. 6, 1898.

Note: "Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: 1888mpm.org