Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

 Exploring Matthew - Let's Try That Again 

I have a friend who sometimes tells me my way of explaining things sounds too churchy. I appreciate that because I know people who have never been to church may not be able to understand. She didn't say that yesterday but soon after sending out my blog, I realized I knew what I was saying but I didn't really say it. Today we're going to try again.

Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.  Matthew 3:5-‬6 NASB1995‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

These people were church people, religious people, the people with all the answers. Why would the people with all the answers need to go out to the desert to listen to a guy dressed in camel skins? Clearly, for all their answers they had questions. There was an emptiness inside them that their knowledge and religion couldn't fill.

Seventh-day Adventists were born out of a knowledge movement. We understand things and know things that many Christians don't. I even know some Adventists who believe and teach that we are modern Israel. They don't realize the full implications of that claim... Israel back then was full of knowledge but empty. Israel back then failed to recognize and then killed their own Messiah. 

Why? Because for all that they knew, they didn't know God. 

John was calling for a restart. He was calling for Israel to die to, and wash away all they thought they knew, and come up out of the water seeking after Jesus instead of seeking after religion, tradition, and their own version of the Story.

Let me be as clear and frank as I dare. The focus of my church has been and remains on acquiring knowledge. Overtly or unconsciously, we believe we are saved by what we know. It's possible to be a fantastic Seventh-day Adventist and not know Jesus at all. It's possible to sit through a month of nightly preaching and come away filled with things you never knew or heard before and not know Jesus any better. 

One of our preachers was once told by visitors to his meetings that they came to his meetings to learn about prophecy, but they went to their own church to learn about Jesus... 

How dire is it? Some of the Adventist preachers today that have the largest and most loyal followings rarely talk about Jesus. They talk about prophecy. They talk about the pope, they talk about secret organizations, they talk about politics, etc... but for all their talk I ask myself, "where is Jesus?" Where is the One who died for us all? Where is the One who ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners while the church criticized Him. Where is the One who taught us to build bridges instead of walls? Where is the One to whom all prophecy properly understood points?

I fear many of my people are looking for a great event instead of longing for the One who longs for them. That's why I said eternal living starts now. We don't have to wait until He returns to walk and talk with Him. We don't have to wait for some future events. He is with us now. He has been with us all along. We don't have to be full of knowledge but carrying around an empty heart. 

If what you believe doesn't supply you daily with love, joy, and peace, you are needing to go see John at the Jordan. What does that mean? It means your focus has been in the wrong place. Your hope has been in what you know or who you are or what church you belong to. Confess it. Die to it. Wash it all away. Find your hope in the Person of Jesus. Read the Bible to discover Him. Align your life with His. Ask for a heart like His. Start a new life that will never leave you empty again.

 Exploring Matthew - Repentance = Turning Around?

...and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.  Matthew 3:6 NASB1995

The east side of the Jordan was the wilderness from which their ancestors escaped. They didn't live there anymore. They were in the Promised Land but clearly something was wrong, or the people wouldn’t have come out into the desert to listen to a man wearing camel skins. 

Remember the rich young ruler who came running to find Jesus? He claimed he was a faithful law keeper, and all was well; but if that was true, why did he come running to Jesus in the first place?

Today we are going to talk about the church I belong to, but the principles apply broadly even if you aren't a Seventh-day Adventist. In the early to mid 1800's, there was a revival that swept across the Christian churches in the United States and really across the world. The revival reached a fever pitch when a Baptist named William Miller believed Jesus was coming soon based on prophecies he was studying in Daniel. People from many, if not all the various Christian denominations heard and believed the message. What we don't realize now is that at that point in Christendom the truth that Jesus would literally return was virtually lost/forgotten.

Born out of that revival was the Seventh-day Adventist church. From a Christianity that had been languishing in the wilderness came a movement that believed the Promised Land was just ahead. The movement exploded from its humble beginnings in New England. Believers were baptized. They "crossed over the Jordan" as it were. But did anything change, really?

When the ancient Israelites crossed the literal Jordan one giant problem remained. They left the wilderness and Egypt physically, but Egypt remained within them. They were the disease they were trying to escape. Life in the promised land wasn't different or better because they weren't different or better. They passed through the water but there was no death, no cleansing, and no new life.

Could it be that Seventh-day Adventists have been waiting well over 150 years now for an external solution to an internal problem?

"Repent," cried John. "Turn from your sins!"

It's pointless to change locations or get baptized if we are unwilling to admit and confess where the real problem is. If the rich young ruler had accepted the invitation to turn from his own attempts at being "good enough" and stayed with Jesus, things would have been so different.

Baptism holds no power. Jesus is the heart changer. He may call you to be baptized but it can't end there. We need to die, to be washed, and to begin a whole new life where He becomes our promised land. Eternal living starts now. 🙂