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Preparing the Church for the Last Hour Mission - Part 1

C. Raymond Holmes

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C. Raymond Holmes

Pastor, missionary, retired seminary professor, and author

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Conference

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  • June 17, 2019
    10:45 AM
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Heavenly Father we're so thankful to be here at Camp meeting and we're here to receive a spiritual blessing and we pray that your Holy Spirit will be present not only in this room but throughout this campus that you live anoint each preacher each speaker each presenter we ask for a special blessing on the young people and elder bachelors meetings with the with the young people Lord bless this conference the mother conference of the 7th Day Adventist Church worldwide keep that faithful Lord a light shining in the darkness and bless our time together in Jesus' name amen Well I have a lot to say and I don't talk fast. Like some of these modern is do I talk so fast you know you can't process what they're saying but I'm going to have to talk a little faster this week because I've little concern that I'm not going to be able to share of you think that I have with you if I don't speed up a little bit. So you can open your Bibles the 1st John and I'm going to start by telling a story and you can find a story in my book the road I travel and they have some in the a.b.c. but when I was a young minister just out of seminary in my I was a loser and I time and I was in my 1st. Lose her own parish. And believe it or not I was asked to make a presentation at what was called in those days a bible camp they don't call them Bible camp setting more but that's what we called them and after my presentation it was in the evening and it was getting dark. And everybody left the little chapel that we were in. And one lady lingered behind and they locked the door so we had to sit on the steps with one lightbulb above our heads. And she said I have something I need to talk with you about and she said. I don't know if my sins are forgiven on the word she didn't have the assurance other sins were forgiven and being a young pastor I don't know what to say right away Sol I did something I had never done before I I shot a prayer up to heaven and I asked God help me. To help this lady and I The words came to my mind open 1st John to the 1st chapter. That's what I that's what I told her how to Bible with her and I said read read burst 9 and she read it out loud if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and I asked her Have you confessed. She said yes many many many times and I said are you forgiven she said I don't know so I said Read it again and she kind of looked at me and I said please read it again she read it aloud again and I said Have you confessed and she said I just told you many times and I said are you forgiven. I'm not sure and I said Read it again. And she said You gotta be kidding I said No read it again and so she read it aloud again and I said have you come fast as I said are you forgiven and she paused. And after a little while she said I guess I am. And I said How do you know that you're forgiven and she says because it says so right here. Now and you know you don't learn how to be a pastor in the seminary and I know I'm a former seminary professor and I'm saying that you get ideas you've got philosophy you get theory about it but you become a pastor by pastoring. It's like teaching a puppy of a swim you just throw it in the water how many of you ever had a puppy did you notice and if you if you take the puppy in your hand and its members never been near water but you hold it over water and what does it do right like that so you just drop it in the water and it's winds Well that's what I learned on that day I was learning to become a pastor and nobody taught me how to do that in the seminary. You gotta get out and do it and you learn by experience ever since then 1st John has been a favorite of mine anyway were it not for the warnings found in the Word of God and the New Testament and would be hard to believe that some of the churches does arose out of the Reformation. Are today uncertain divided disputing to the point of preaching and teaching a confused misleading and even deceptive message what Paul calls a different gospel. Paul says and collations 16 I am astonished he said. That you are so quickly deserving Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel not that there is another one but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ the Biblical Gospel proclaims that the basic human problem is sin for which the solution was Calvary it calls for the death of the old man and the old woman signified in baptism. By immersion and walking in newness of life and powered by the Holy Spirit to be obedient which we cannot do by nature which is why we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit and this different gospel being proclaimed today says that sin in human beings is not the problem instead sin is found in social 0 pression in unjustice social institutions for which the solution is not a loving God accepts everybody unconditionally because of their created goodness inclusive social justice is the essence of this different gospel sounds good but is it the truth of this different contemporary gospel teaches 1st of all that the Holy Spirit is doing new things today. Even though such new things contradict the biblical witness number 2 it teaches that the power of sin is not present in human life. But in social institutions an injustice number 3 it teaches the Gospel and the law of God are opposed to each other and therefore number 4 the Gospel abolish is the law and number 5 it teaches that baptism does not signify dying and rising with Christ to a new life but is a kind of a rite of confirmation or initiation that guarantees acceptance by God and Number 6 It teaches that Jesus is not the only way to find acceptance by God and this is in contrast to his own in Jesus' own words in John 14 or 6 the Gospel when he says I and the way I handle the truth and I am the life no one comes to the Father except through Me In other words it teaches that the cross was not necessary in this different gospel and so what is being identified as simply a difference of interpretation as healthy theological pluralism which by the way is speaking of euphemistically as and large in the tent. That is in reality part of the life and death struggle that is called the great controversy and the seriousness of the situation becomes apparent when it is seen against a background of the major contemporary challenges to Biblical Christianity which the church was created by God to preach and to teach and to defend. Now here's a cultural challenge that a postmodern secular humanism which denies absolute truth it's almost unbelievable at a time when the Christian witness to the Biblical Gospel is so desperately needed that so much of Protestantism is abandoning So law stripped Torah or the the word alone and consequently there scuttling the Reformation hollowing gets more attention on October 31 done the Reformation does unbelievable except for the New Testament warning 1st John Chapter 2 verse 18 children it is the last hour and as you have heard that and to Christ is coming so now many anti-christs have come John does not identify the specific people to whom his letter is addressed but he calls. His little children in chapter 2 verse 11828 chapter 3 verse 2 verse 10 or say 18 a chapter 4 verse 4 he says little children but he does identify the historical context as that of the last hour and the return of Jesus. In chapter 2 verse 28 Therefore it has great relevance for us in this little letter whole just as those who lived at the time was written live at a time of political social moral and religious turmoil and confusion. And for those who breed a sigh of relief. That the 20th century of warfare was finally over I'd 1st World War 2nd World War Korean War the Naam war at cetera et cetera my century poor people who believe the sigh of relief that that century was gone and over and look forward to the new day promised by the 21st century those kind of hopes have been dashed to bits by the 1st 90 years John reminds us that it's as true today as it was back then that many and to Christ have come now and to Christ as a compound word. For interim n t which means against or instead of and crystals. The name of Christ and by the way that's a word and to Christ which is used only by John in this letter and in 2nd John were 7 and you can't find it anywhere else in the New Testament and against anti Christ against opposing Christ is more in keeping with the characteristics of this spiritual force that John talks about in this letter and the Apostle Paul talks about the same spiritual power that opposes Christ and 2nd Thessalonians dept or 2 he calls it the mystery of lawlessness and the lawless one who is coming is called by the activity of Satan with all power and signs and wonders and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to allow the. The truth and so be saved now in John's day that opposition was manifest politically in the persecuting power of the Roman Empire. And religiously It was manifest 1st of all in the denial of the Incarnation and holding the Jesus only appeared to have a human body and that idea was called also a tism the Bible says God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and then secondly it was manifest in the idea that Jesus was only the natural born son of Joseph of Mary and that Christ entered the body of Jesus at his baptism. And the parts of before the crucifixion and that idea was called Serenity and ism and I had a professor in the Lutheran 7 area who was teaching. That Jesus was not the Christ until his baptism that's when the Christ entered the body of Jesus and I sat there dumbfounded the Bible says John one verse one in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God He who is it referring to Jesus was in the beginning with God Now how could how could John have such for knowledge and anticipation of events how could he have such discernment It's like he somehow knew what the needs of God's people and his church would be 2100 years later and by the way. I one tell you that I believe based on my study and my experience since I became an advocate I believe that God raised up a 7th Day Adventist movement in the middle of the 19th century because with his for knowledge he knew what was coming and he needed a people who would say true to the word when the need arose. And it's also to become aware that when this little letter was it is laid down like a grid over the beginning of the 21st century that it fits those needs so remarkably well and later when he wrote the revelation with that symbolic language depicting the church in great distress and assuring it of final victory and Jesus he referred 4 times to being in the spirit 114-217-3211 extension 0 I got the wrong word numbers there I think any way you read the read to the letter you'll you'll discover he says that 4 times that he was in the spirit during which he heard and saw things that nobody else could hear or see and shoot me at that's a reference of the Book of Revelation so I was right. And he when he reported the he said in Revelation 12 bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus who as ascended High Priest ministers to on our behalf on our behalf in the holy places by the way and I'm not going to talk about this but it it was remarkable to me as I studied and made my transition into this church. That Jesus is not only preparing us for a place he's preparing that place for us why does have a need to be prepared what's what what is what is the problem and that's exactly why Jesus as high priest as when the after you send it into Heaven became the hyper our High Priest What's he doing what has he been doing in heaven as our High Priest he has been cleansing the sanctuary of what the record of our sin Jesus does it all in a moment he died for our sins forgives our sins gives us a victory over sense he's cleansing the heavenly record so there's nothing to stand against us anymore anyway and in 1st John John establishes the basis of his authority and his message on that which he heard and saw as one of the Apostles that followed Jesus while the Lord was still on the earth in other words he had a personal day to day relationship with Jesus he heard it and he saw it he says with all or his own eyes 1st John 1123 and touched with our hands concerning the Word of Life the life was made manifest and we have seen it he saying I have seen it and testify to it that which we have seen and heard we proclaim I proclaim he saying to you now with those words John leaves us in no doubt as to the authenticity of his personal experience with Jesus. He actually saw and heard and touched the word. Jesus in other words he knows what he's talking about and we need to know what we're talking about and just before his ascension Jesus said to the disciples and John was there and he heard it he said and this is in Acts one verse 8 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses. So when the Holy Spirit came it was in fulfillment of the Lord's promise which John also records in his Gospel chapter 15 beginning with Verse 26 he says when the helper comes the Spirit whom I will send to you from the Father the Spirit of Truth hope proceeds from the father he will bear witness about me and you also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning John was there in the yard reason say that now don't you think it made an impression on his stinking his understanding of his own personal mission. And why would it have made that kind of an impression on John because the whole matter of being Christ's witness of testifying about him as modeled after Christ's own testimony and then responding to questions posed by the Pharisees nikka Demas Jesus said and John records it and Chapter 3 of his gospel or so leaven Jesus said we speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen. And it was John who reported that incident and those words of Jesus now quoting scripture is fine but it has to be done by people who have an authentic experience with Christ. Why do I say that because otherwise it's not credible the witness is not credible it's incredible instead and John underscores this in the last chapter. Of this letter person John 5 courses 10 and 11 when he says whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony and himself and this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his son now it's hard to dispute and argue with personal testimony if we're honest authentic persons we cannot deny what the Lord has done for us down in the sun and what he has made us to be why not John couldn't have said it any better he said 1st John 13 so that you too may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ and the person who has the kind of personal fellowship with Jesus that John describes will do everything possible to share that fellowship with other people why. Because of the fellowship of God's faithful people the church the Greek word for churches ect Lacie all which means the called out ones. Is a divinely a stably means. Of bringing together the father son with those who do not yet know the Father and the son. Now listen to this. From Ellen was from testimonies to ministers and gospel workers page 49 and 50 by the way you know what I discovered in the spirit of prophecy I discovered the same kind of Hyatt as them and some people think that's a bad word. That was a part of my wife's and my spiritual heritage in the Finnish Lutheran. In Finland tradition you know there was a good tradition and bad tradition and that was good and it really helped me become an Adventist because I found it right there in front of my face in the spirit of prophecy but anyway listen she says although there are evils existing in the church and will be in till the end of the world the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin the church and feeble and defective needing to be reproved warned and counseled is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard God has a church on earth she says who are lifting up the downtrodden law and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The church is the depository of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory now it's bad enough when individual believers commit spiritual adultery. But it's far more serious when a church charged by God. With upholding his truth his will and His righteousness supports and approves such spiritual adultery maybe John Roll perhaps the most familiar words in the whole Bible John $316.00 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that who whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. But in this letter his focus is not on the world that lies in the power of the evil one as he says. But on his focuses on God's people on the church that's where guns focus is. And why is that so because it is that church. Which must understand and fulfill the mission. That is required by the last hour and it is that church that has to be prepared to meet those demands the demands of the last dollar. No You know they shorten this time we we don't have an hour. Sort of an hour and 15 minutes so. I'm trying to talk fast although I hate to Anyway we need to remember that he is writing specifically to the church just living and fulfilling its mission and its ministry in the last hour now that's where we are we're in the last hour and we need to remember that he is writing specifically to the church that's living in that hour and notice that it's the last hour not the last year or the last month or the last week or the last day of the last hour any kind of close isn't that. John has been identified by many Bible students as the apostle of love would you agree on the basis of John 316 and other passages in his writings as well as on the fact that John's favorite reference to himself is as the disciple whom Jesus loved John 1323 he repeats that in the Gospel 4 times he refers to himself as the disciples of Jesus loved now wasn't egotistical on his part to refer to himself in that way Jesus loved all of his disciples didn't it love the whole world even those who don't love him but Biblical evidence reveals that John had surrendered most completely to the influence of Jesus and because of the depth of that surrender. His character reflected Christ more than the others for example compare him with the rash impulse of Peter John was the most receptive the most teachable of all of them now how important is that it can certainly be said that the grace of Jesus transformed him so that he devoted the rest of his life in His service it was John to whom Jesus speaking from the cross and trust of the care of his mother Mary and he did that I think because he probably knew the John was going to live the longest of all of the Apostles. Early disciple John was the 1st disciple to arrive at the Tomb of Jesus he was the 1st to understand the mighty significance of the Lord's Resurrection and it was John and he reminds us in is gospel in chapter 13 who reclined quote at table close to Jesus right next to him at the Last Supper in other words Oh because of that closeness at one point in the conversation he leaned back against Jesus and other words he he hurt he saw and he touched the Lord as he says and 1st on 11 now Jesus does not reveal John for inappropriate behavior he did Jesus did not draw away from him when he leaned against him Jesus didn't push John away but rather Jesus accepted his closeness and his innocent touch for what it was. It was the genuine and pure affection of a man or his lord No wonder John referred to himself as the disciple home Jesus loved he wasn't being egotistical and by the time he wrote this letter he was an old man who had seen it all the last survivor of the 12 who had lived through some pretty tough years in the life of the early church through a lot of religious opposition and Roman persecution and he seems to be acutely aware that such times would come again for God's people in other words full circle in the life of his church and in Revelation he calls those times the great tribulation Chapter 7 verse 14 now it's no wonder that Jesus chose John to receive and pass on his message in the book a Revelation Revelation one verse one he Jesus made it the things that must soon to take place known by sending his angel to his servant John who bore witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus even till all that he saw that he saw in vision also now obviously John loved the ones to whom he wrote this little letter called him my little children and his love and concern for the Church of the last hour is vividly apparent all the way through this little epistle he writes to infer to affirm and encourage so that our joy may be complete chapter one verse 4 so that you may not sin. Chapter 2 verse one because your sins are forgiven chapter 2 verse 12 because you know him who is from the beginning chapter 2 verse 13 because you have overcome the evil one chapter 2 verse 13 because you know the father chapter 2 verse 13 because you are strong Chapter 2 verse 40. And he writes to warn them about those who are trying to deceive you Chapter 2 verse 26 And lastly he writes to assure and give confidence in the future no matter what may be. May be what the future may hold he says in Chapter 5 or 30 and I write these things to you will believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life and solve this this grandfatherly man takes his little children by the hand as it were on a journey a preparation for the mission required by the demands of the last hour and that's why this little letter is so relevant for the 7th Day Adventist Church right now in my opinion so by faith Let's join hands with John and with each other and see where the journey takes us and why should we do that because just at the time he wrote the church of today is threatened by forces that would destroy it at the very time it's clear and courageous witness is most needed in the world that God so loved. The Church of the last hour is facing popular philosophies that threaten its very life and it's witness and that's why we need to be clear very clear about the biblical message and we have to be certain about our mission what is submission of this church why did God raise it up now I've mentioned earlier and I'm going to repeat it we we need to observe before we go any further that this apostle of love doesn't begin this letter by talking about love he mentions it briefly 4 times in chapter 2 but not until until Chapter 3 Does he talk about love more fully Instead the apostle of love begins by talking about walking in darkness walking in the light about sin a ball not practicing the truth about deceiving ourselves about confessing sins about being cleansed of on right just nice and even about making God into a liar now read open your Bibles and let's read Chapter one The 1st 5 of verses of verse 5 through 10. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth but if we walk in the light as he is in the light by the way when you read the word if in the scriptures it usually introduces a contrast or a condition excuse. Condition. If we walk in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus a Son cleanses us from all sin if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His word is not in us this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light now how do we hear those 1st 5 verses in the context of the last hour and in relationship to fulfilling the mission that is required by the demands of the last hour. The 1st thing that he makes clear is that the message he is communicating did not originate with himself or with any other human being it was given by the father and by the son and that message and none other. Is what John heard and what he passes on. God is light and in Him There is no darkness of all light illuminates light shows us the way it exposes stings for what they are it reveals falshood darkness on the other hand obscures and hides the truth and spiritually speaking people prefer darkness to light. Jesus said John 319 and this is the judgment the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light on why because their deeds were evil. For every one that does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light why not lest his deeds be well and I think everybody knows the truth of that and what is the mission demand for the Church of the last hour it is not to walk in spiritual darkness. It is instead to practice the truth practice the truth that God has revealed in His Word to claim fellowship with Jesus while walking in darkness is to deliberately mislead and deceived it is hypocrisy pretending to be something that one has not not just giving lip service to the truth but to live it put it into everyday practice no matter what the personal consequences and why is that so important because such faithful living strengthens the church John says in Chapter one Verse 7 if we walk in the light in the midst of this world's spiritual darkness as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another another words we're on the same page or not disputing or not tearing things apart understanding the nature of the church as one body and the mission required by the demands of the last hour can we truly be in fellowship with one another if we're not on the same page when it comes to bolts of message and the mission if the members of the body can't be trusted and depended upon by each other. We're serious trouble Jesus said You are the light of the world he said to His disciples and John Heard Him Let your light shine before others why Soldat they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven and though there's a big difference between good works on the works of the flesh we're not we're supposed to do good works inspired and motivated and in power by the Holy Spirit and these kind of works are going to only if they are of the light and not of the darkness Jesus subtotal strives unfairnesses I am the light of the world over follows me will not walk and darkness and that is to say spiritual theological philosophical ecclesiastical cultural moral darkness. But will have the light of life. To do what and when they collide and direct this media was brought to you by audio proofs a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio version or if you would like to listen to more sermon please visit w w w dot audio Verse dot org.

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