Greetings MOL Family!
Welcome back to our study! In our opening text, the apostle Paul has explained to us exactly who is behind all of the winds that we have been studying:
The First Question Asked
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. – Ephesians 2:2
This is an interesting name for the devil: “the prince of the power of the air.” Now, it’s true that God is over all. It’s true that God is on the throne, and He’s the Ruler of this universe. But it’s also true what the Bible says, that satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and he’s doing a lot of things with winds.
You remember in Great Controversy, in that chapter on “The Impending Conflict,” satan is pictured as at work in fierce tornados and hurricanes and storms of various kinds. Well, this is true in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical world. These winds that are blowing, from which you and I are to be protected, by hiding in Jesus, these winds have satan as their originator. Isn’t he back of the tornado of lawlessness? Isn’t he back of the hurricane of persecution? Isn’t he responsible for the icy winds of formalism, and the burning winds of fanaticism? Oh, yes, friends. And he is responsible for these winds of heresy that we studied last week.
Now today, I want us to study about the dust storm. Have you been in a dust storm before? Well, there’s one thing about a dust storm – it certainly reduces visibility, doesn’t it? Now, we were studying about the pestilence-laden wind of heresy, winds that bring in death-dealing germs. A dust storm doesn’t necessarily carry any germs, although I’m tempted to think that sometimes germs hop a ride on a dust particle, but dust can be very hard, not only on the vision, but on the respiratory passages. More than one person has gotten sick and died as the result of being in a dust storm.
In the Bible lands, dust storms sometimes came, particularly from the southeast. God told the children of Israel, as He warned them through Moses, that if they would not listen to what He said, He would make the rain of their land powder and dust. Doubtless, the people in the days of Elijah saw a great deal of this as there was no rain or dew for three and a half years.
Now the dust storm that I wish to study with you in the spiritual realm, in this time when every wind is blowing, is the dust storm of doubt. Doubt clouds the vision and spoils our perception of truth. Doubt is one of satan’s favorite methods of insinuating himself into the minds and thinking of men.
The favorite punctuation mark of doubt is a question mark. Turn to Genesis, the 3rd chapter, and we will find the first question that was ever asked in the history of the world, as far as the Bible record is concerned. And it’s interesting who asked it. Genesis, the 3rd chapter:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? – Genesis 3:1
Now, had God said this, friends? I want you to look at this verse in Genesis 3:1 and consider: is there anything about it that’s wrong? What was wrong with what the serpent said? Well, satan lied down in the 4th verse, but he didn’t lie in the 1st verse. When we come down to the 4th verse, we see the pestilence-laden winds of heresy, but in the 1st verse, all that’s blowing is a dust storm. That’s all. The devil didn’t say anything that wasn’t so. He simply raised a question: “Is it really true? Do you really think that?”
When the woman responded, is it clear that she knew and understood what God had said? Yes. She gave the answer, didn’t she? Why, she said:
…We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it… – Genesis 3:2-3
Why did satan introduce himself in this way? Because, my friends, this is the way he had found so successful in Heaven, before he came to this world. His merchandise was the merchandise of doubt. In his first work with the angels there in Heaven, he did not come out and attack the divine government. He simply raised questions and insinuated doubts. That’s all. And as the result of these questions and doubts and insinuations, the angels themselves began to talk among themselves, and to raise more questions, and to discuss, and agitate.
Well, that’s helpful, isn’t it? Not always, is it? Not when the merchandise is the merchandise of doubt. But do you know there are multitudes of people today that have already been so affected with these dust storms of the devil that they think that if you can get enough discussion, you will arrive at truth. If you can get enough agitation, that you will finally get a consensus which is supposed to mean something authoritative.
Now, we noted in our study that when the enemy, 4,000 years later, came to Jesus, Christ met him with what weapon? “It is written.” And He didn’t argue with the devil at all. He simply quoted the Word of God.
You will remember, in Matthew 4, that he approached Jesus with the same method that he had found successful with the angels in Heaven, and that he found successful with Eve. He began by a question, an insinuation, a doubt. What were the first words? “If…”
…If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. – Matthew 4:3
But involved in that “if” was a what? A question, a doubt. Do you see? But Jesus did not accept that at all. He didn’t acknowledge that there was any doubt. Was there any doubt? Not one bit. Was He the Son of God? Indeed. Did He have to prove it to the devil? Not at all.
…If thou be the Son of God… – Ibid
Ah, my friends, doubt, I repeat, fills the air with dust so that human beings cannot see. Jesus refused to enter into any of those scientific discussions of “if.” He simply quoted the Word of God. And as was asked before, can we do better than that? Not a bit.
The Deceptions of satan
Now, there are many areas that satan works on and in, in this matter of doubt. For ages he has suggested doubts regarding the Bible. He has had various ways of doing this. He’s had infidels like Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll and others attack the Bible and raise questions about this and that and the other. Then in our educational institutions, the great colleges and universities of the world, teachers and textbooks introduce doubts. They raise questions. They insinuate things that cause the students, in many cases, to lose their faith in this blessed Word.
But do you know, my friends, it’s possible even in the study of the Bible to have doubts? satan is perfectly willing to come into our studies – our parlors, our living rooms, our classrooms – as we study the Bible, and blow his dust winds that confuse faith and distort the vision.
Back in the 1880s in Battle Creek, Michigan, which was then the headquarters of our work, one of our leading men wrote some articles in “The Review and Herald” on the subject of inspiration: the inspiration of the Bible. And this leading man, in his articles, suggested that there were degrees of inspiration. And he gave examples of what he meant. Certain books of the Bible he placed on a higher level than others. Now, mind you, they were all inspired, but some had a higher degree of inspiration than others.
The prophet of God wrote a very interesting statement that, to my mind, disposed of it all in one paragraph. You’ll find it in Book 1, Selected Messages, and page 23:
I was shown that the Lord did not inspire the articles on inspiration published in the Review…When men venture to criticize the Word of God, they venture on sacred, holy ground, and had better fear and tremble and hide their wisdom as foolishness. God sets no man to pronounce judgment on His Word, selecting some things as inspired and discrediting others as uninspired. The testimonies have been treated in the same way, but God is not in this. – Selected Messages, Book 1, pg. 23
The expression that was used in the Review articles by this brother was “differences in degrees of inspiration.” But the Lord didn’t inspire those articles, even though they were published in our church paper. Now, I’m sure the man meant all right, and I trust that he received the testimony and profited by it.
We need an inspired voice that speaks from Heaven with authority – the Testimony of Jesus. I thank God for the privilege of being connected with a church that has had divine leadership through its history. Oh, it means so much to us!
But now, you notice that the messenger to the remnant says that just as men on that occasion treated the Bible, so some of them had treated the Testimonies. In fact, during that same decade, in the early part of it, there was a real crisis that came to Battle Creek over this question. The first hundred pages of Volume 5 deal with it.
To one leading brother there was sent from Sister White, who was in California at the time, a testimony to be read to the church. For some time, he refused to read it to the church. You can read about it there in Volume 5. He took the position that some things that Sister White wrote were inspired but others weren’t. (And this one, since it condemned him, was not inspired, you see.)
Now notice, he did not attack the prophet of God as being a false prophet. He did not come out and refuse to accept the doctrine of spiritual gifts. All the way through, he said he believed in the doctrine of spiritual gifts. And he believed that there were things that God had shown Sister White in vision that were inspired, but there were some things that were simply her opinion.
These were some of the dust clouds which settled upon Battle Creek in 1881 and 1882. Read those first hundred pages and see the crisis that developed. As the result, friends, our college had to be closed for an entire year – no school at all. A great crisis arose. And the basis of it was these doubts, these doubts, these doubts.
satan has the ability to raise questions and put doubts in our minds concerning either the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. There’s a particular kind of doubt that we want to notice here in Volume 3, page 259:
Some have sanctimonious and apparently conscientious and very pious doubts, which they cautiously drop, but which have tenfold more power to strengthen those who are wrong, and to lessen our influence and weaken the confidence of God’s people in our work, than if they came out more frankly. These poor souls, I saw, were deceived by Satan. – Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3, pg. 259
Yes, friends, pious, sanctimonious doubts do more work for the enemy than the opposition of a Tom Paine or a Bob Ingersoll. Oh, if there is anything that the Remnant church should pray to be saved from, it is these doubts concerning the inspiration of this movement! We read in Selected Messages, Book 1, and page 48:
The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God…Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony. – Selected Messages, Book 1, pg. 48
Do you believe the Bible? Do you, really? Do you accept anything and everything the Word of God says? Do you believe the Testimonies? Are you clear? Oh, friends, it’s a wonderful thing to be settled and sure.
Are You Confirmed?
Turn over to 1 Corinthians, the 1st chapter, and I want you to see how important this is. Wrapped up in this matter is the assurance of being ready for the coming of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1, beginning with verse 4:
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-7
Now, notice: As we wait for the coming of Jesus, we will come behind in no gift if the testimony of Christ is what? ‘Confirmed’ in us. What is the testimony of Jesus? The Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10). And if this gift is ‘confirmed’ in us, then we will come behind in no gift. And the 8th verse says we’ll be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be, don’t you?
Oh, I need the certainty and the assurance that being established in this matter of the gift of prophecy in this movement brings. It’s a wonderful thing, friends, to know that you’re in the right movement, the right church. It’s a wonderful thing! And this isn’t a matter of boasting. It’s just a matter of having the testimony of Christ ‘confirmed’ in us.
…Are you confirmed?
Until next week – Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.