This week’s lesson concentrates on Paul’s authority and the Gospel, and Sunday’s section speaks particularly on the issue of the nature of inspiration. I’ve adapted part of a lecture on this topic I gave for a class on Ellen White a few years ago; although the examples are from her life the principles remain the same for anyone inspired by God.
There are two different thoughts about the nature of inspiration:
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17
My daughter, Brittany’s, wedding in June of 2010 was an incredible experience. As most women have done, Brittany had been making plans and thinking of this day for a good part of her life. Through the years she envisioned her dress, the ceremony, the food at the reception and – most of all – the man who would be standing at her side on that special day.
The lessons of this Sabbath School Quarterly have revolved around the theme of worship. Like almost all religious and theological issues, it is not without controversy. Among Adventists, disputes have to do with the manner of worship-with the kind of music and appropriate instruments, with the liturgical forms, with the extension of the sermons, with the joy and celebration that, according to some should be in cults and, according to others, would transform the act of worship to an act of amusement or entertainment,and so on.
If we want to learn about worship from Israel’s experience in Exile and Restoration, tidy one-to-one parallels between their day and ours are in short supply, especially if we want slippery-slope compromises leading to Laodicean lukewarmness. What we do find are multiple examples of spectacular collapses mixed with God’s daring efforts to adapt to the needs of his fallen people. What happened during Exile and Restoration is a kind of capstone to both processes. But first a quick survey of the history that points the way.
On February 2, 2006, at the National Prayer breakfast in Washington DC, some 3000 people packed a hotel ballroom. President George W. Bush, King Abdullah of Jordan, a host of ambassadors and senators, other foreign dignitaries and many nationally known church leaders were all in attendance. But the main speaker was not one of the famous church leaders or statesmen as is usually the custom at these kinds of gatherings. Instead, it was a famous entertainer, the Irish singer whose Christian faith is well known around the globe. Bono, of the band U2, spoke eloquently of justice.
Most every group of whatever kind has worshipped and is worshipping “God” in some fashion. Speaking to the Israelites, after describing the kind of worship that the nations of Palestine were known for, Moses admonishes the “chosen people”: “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way!”
I am sure that God feels the same way today! No need to catalogue all the various forms of worship services, just in the United States. Or perhaps even compare the various forms of worship in Adventist churches every Sabbath, as some say!
When I was growing up there was never any doubt in my mind that the only mood appropriate for worship was happy. As the Creator, God was the natural object of our worship. As the created, it was natural to feel that a happy joyful spirit was the only way to approach God. Anything less would dishonor him.
Attending church on Sabbath reinforced the connection between acts of worship and a happy mood. Church services brought people together in shared beliefs and happy fellowship away from the world. Mission stories always concluded with happy endings.