The True Spirit of Religion
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isa 58:12
· Tell story of GYC 08 outreach experience
While in ministry here on earth, the Saviour set before us a pattern of ministry that is guaranteed to bring success. This method is simple, and yet far-reaching in its advancements and accomplishments. Isaiah chapter 58 describes a work to be carried forward during this time period in earth's history. The world and the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in need of the tender Spirit of Jesus and the restorative blessings sure to follow. Commenting on Isaiah 58 Ellen White says; "The whole chapter is applicable to those who are living in this period of the earth's history. Consider this chapter attentively; for it will be fulfilled." MS 36, 1897
The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah gives us the true example of the ministry of Christ to restore the body and soul of all mankind. "The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah contains present truth for the people of God. Here we see how medical missionary work and the gospel ministry are to be bound together as the message is given to the world." Ev. 516
The question that should stands prominent within God's church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is,
· "Why do we not see a change in our home life and the world if we truly hold such momentous truths relative to the salvation of the world and our final days here on planet earth."
· "Why are we, as a people, still branded as legalist, cultic, and extremist, despite the many organizational plans and auxiliaries within the S.D.A church design to wins souls to Jesus and the truth?"
"I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel's message, all who turn their feet away from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah." 6T. 265
I believe the reason is we are not demonstrating Christ’s character and life. God has a plan of total restoration! Total restoration for the family! Total restoration for our church! Total restoration for the mind, the body, and the soul of every living creature in His creation. Isaiah 58 is generally commented on by many within Adventism, but have we studied the whole chapter. Let us here briefly examine the chapter.
(a.) Cry Aloud (with the troat)
(b.) Spare not
(c.) Lift us thy voice as a trumpet
In Isa. 57:15–21 Isaiah presents Heaven’s message of reconciliation and peace. In Isa. 58 he gives instruction as to what repentance involves, and what is essential before the promised blessings may be realized. A call to repentance cannot be effective unless it sets forth clearly what men must do about sin in their lives (see Eze. 13:10–16). A call to reformation is a call to decisive action. Compare the message of Joel 2:12, 13.
(a.) shew my people their transgression,
(b.) and the house of Jacob their sins.
"shew my people" (blind leaders)
Leaders who fail to draw a clear line between right and wrong, that the people may understand the principles involved, are “blind leaders of the blind” (Matt. 15:14; Luke 6:39; see on Matt. 23:16).
Jesus refers, of course, to spiritual blindness (see on John 9:39–41). The Jews prided themselves that they were guides to the blind Gentiles (Rom. 2:19); in fact, they went to great lengths to win proselytes (Matt. 23:15). But for a blind man to assume the role of leading others who are blind is the height of folly. Jesus proceeds immediately to illustrate what He means by spiritual blindness (16–24). This section of Jesus’ indictment of the Jewish leaders is longer than any of the others recorded in ch. 23. He would therefore seem to be placing emphasis on this aspect of their hypocrisy. The only remedy for spiritual blindness is spiritual “eyesalve” (Rev. 3:18), but this they refused to purchase from the only Merchant who offered it for sale. Herein lies a sober warning for the church today.
A Sad Reality
|Isaiah 58:2-5 gives us a sad reality of the condition of God's people. It is of no wonder that a message of alarm should come to Israel. Israel's problems are as follows:|
(a.) Self vindication
(b.) Self glorification
(c.) Self preservation
(d.) No love & benevolence
(e.) No meekness & mercy
The parallels between ancient Israel and the Seventh-day Adventist people of today are striking. Speaking of ancient Israel, Ellen White writes,
"The house of Jacob, at the time this warning was given to Isaiah, appeared to be a very zealous people, seeking God daily, and delighting to know His ways; but in reality they were filled with presumptuous self-confidence. They were not walking in the truth. Goodness, mercy, and love were not practiced. While presenting an appearance of sorrow for their sins, they were cherishing pride and avarice. At the very time when they were showing such outward humiliation, they would exact hard labor from those under them or in their employ. They placed a high estimate on all the good that they had done, but a very low estimate on the services of others. They despised and oppressed the poor. And their fasting only gave them a higher opinion of their own goodness . . .There are sins of this same character among us today, and they bring the rebuke of God upon His church." 4BC 1149
Sabbath Keeper Described
The attributes of ancient Israel describe Sabbath keepers today, the whole chapter is a delineation of our condition, yet how often do we use the last verses of this chapter to address others not of our faith.
"The reason why God's people are not more spiritually minded and have not more faith, I have been shown, is because they are narrowed up with selfishness. The prophet is addressing Sabbathkeepers, not sinners, not unbelievers, but those who make great pretensions to godliness. It is not the abundance of your meetings that God accepts. It is not the numerous prayers, but the right doing, doing the right thing and at the right time. It is to be less self-caring and more benevolent." 2T 35
A Loving Prescription
Benevolence was the life of Jesus when He dwelt among men. Benevolence must enter into our experience as a church, before healing, restoration, and revival comes to God's Church. God's loving prescription to handle our sinful neglect, our dead formalism and selfishness, our lethargic carnal security throughout the length and breath of His remnant Church is found in the Isaiah 58:6, 7. I believe this is the basis of revival and reformation.
1. To lose the bands of wickedness
2. To undo the heavy burdens
3. To let the oppressed go free
4. That ye break every yoke
5. To deal thy bread to the hungry
6. That thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house
7. To cover the naked
8. That thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.
The remedy for the people of God is found in Isaiah 58.
The true fast is no mere formal service. The Scripture describes the fast that God has chosen, (see Isa. 58:6, 10). Here is set forth the very spirit and character of Christ's work. His whole life was a sacrifice for the up lifting and saving of the world. Whether fasting in the wilderness of temptation or eating with the publicans at Matthew's feast, He was giving His life for the redemption of the lost. After giving His disciples an example of true benevolence, such as what we have described thus far, Jesus said;
". . . Go, and do thou likewise." Luke 10:37
To the Seventh-day Adventist Church today we find the same commission.
"The very life of the church depends upon her faithfulness in fulfilling the Lord's commission. To neglect this work is surely to invite spiritual feebleness and decay. Where there is no active labor for others, love wanes, and faith grows dim." DA 825
When we understand the dual phase of Christ's ministry (teaching and healing), we can better understand the spirit of Isaiah 58 and the work enjoined upon each member in the church. Christ-like work for the body and Christ-like work for the soul is true benevolence.
|It is of divine origin.|
|It is calculated to uplift and restore fallen sinful man.|
|It's commission is one on one evangelism.|
|It encompasses complete restructure and complete restoration.|
|It is conclusive in every aspect to meet the ills of mankind in every emergency. God's method of restoration for the church members is to minister in word and deed to one another and to the surrounding communities.|
|It is basic to all evangelistic endeavors and universal in it's influence to appeal to all mankind.|
"God desires His people to bind medical missionary work up with the work of the third angel's message. This is the work that will restore the moral image of God in man. . . ." MM 160
The Sure Result
|Isaiah 58:8 Thine health shall spring forth speedily|
|Isaiah 58:9 Thou shalt call and the Lord will answer|
|Isaiah 58:11 The Lord shall guide thee continually|
"Do medical missionary work. Thus you will gain access to the hearts of the people. The way will be prepared for more decided proclamation of the truth. You will find that relieving their physical suffering gives an opportunity to minister to their spiritual needs. . . ."
"The union of Christlike work for the body and Christlike work for the soul is the true interpretation of the gospel." Ev 514 (1902)
"The whole of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is to be regarded as a message for this time, to be given over and over again." WM 29
"Many are in obscurity. They have lost their bearings. They know not what course to pursue. Let the perplexed ones search out others who are in perplexity and speak to them words of hope and encouragement. When they begin to do this work, the light of heaven will reveal to them the path that they should follow. By their words of consolation to the afflicted they themselves will be consoled. By helping others, they themselves will be helped out of their difficulties. Joy takes the place of sadness and gloom. The heart, filled with the Spirit of God, glows with warmth toward every fellow being. Every such a one is no longer in darkness; for his "darkness" is "as the noon day." 2MCP 431
Each One Reach One
Once the church accepts this calling upon her and attains to that exalted position in Christ, the light of heaven will break forward in health, peace, happiness, and influence.
"All who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to God's service will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. (Isaiah 58:8-11 quoted)" 6T 306
|Isa. 58:9 "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall be thy rereward.|
|Isa. 58:10 ". . .then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day."|
Thus far we have laid the foundation of what it takes to become true, heaven-ordained benevolent Christians. Now we are ready for the proclamation of the first and second angels message. (Rev. 14:6, 7)
"And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Isa. 58:11
Repairer of the Breach
"And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorers of paths to dwell in." Isa. 58:12
The Sabbath Lesson
True Sabbath keeping goes hand in hand with Christ method of labor. Jesus revealed himself to the world as a "repairer of the breach". The spirit of Isaiah 58 is the spirit of true Sabbath keeping.
|turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure|
|call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable;|
|shall honour him, not doing thine own ways|
|nor finding thine own pleasure,|
|nor speaking thine own words|
By following these practical steps, we are sure of having a true Sabbath day's blessing. The Bible tells us that we must follow Jesus' example and teaching and healing. When Jesus was in the temple on the Sabbath, as was His custom, "and stood up for to read", He gave us heaven's design for ministry as individuals, as a family unit, as a church. (See Luke 4:18)
How do the people of God, today, measure up to this divine pattern. What is the true condition of God's people in light of this prophecy. Are we restorers of the paths to dwell in? True Sabbath keeping is built upon the principle of service. Service to God first, and service to man second.
"Upon those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord is laid the responsibility of doing a work of mercy and benevolence. Medical missionary work is to be bound up with the message, and sealed with the seal of God." Evangelism p. 517