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Reviewing the Review: Disappointment edition

September 24, 2009 – Vol. 186, No. 27
The words of Jan Paulsen and Ellen G. White are worth the subscription price. The rest of the issue is a disappointment. It turns out that Paulsen’s disclaimer, “The readings for this week are not doctrinal expositions,” is an important one. But first, Jan and Ellen.
“We have the privilege of being involved with our Lord in a mission of hope. This mission is not the result of human creativity but the work of God, who out of love Himself embarked on a mission of hope and salvation for the fallen human race. Love is the fuel of mission. Any other motivation for mission diminishes the value of the mission itself and impoverishes our spiritual lives.
“The readings for this week are not doctrinal expositions; they are sermons that seek to describe our mission, strengthen our faith, and motivate us to be part of that mission. Once again, pray for the world church as it fulfills the mission of hope entrusted to it by our glorified Lord.”
“The mission of the Son consisted in giving His life for others, hence His mission was not to deliver a message that was unrelated to Him. He was in His own person the message God sent to us: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us (1 John 4:10). . .He was sent by the Father ‘into the world that we might live through him”’ (1 John 4:9). He proclaimed salvation by giving it out of His own life. His mission and His person were inseparable. In that self-sacrificial act, He revealed the loving character of the Father.”
“The rainbow above the throne, the bow of promise, testifies to the whole world that God will never forget His people in their struggle. Let Jesus be our theme. Let us with pen and voice present, not only the commandments of God, but the faith of Jesus. This will promote real heart piety as nothing else can.
While we present the fact that men are subjects of a divine moral government, their reason teaches them that this is truth, that they owe allegiance to Jehovah. This life is our time of probation. We are placed under the discipline and government of God, to form characters and acquire habits for the higher life.”
KARL HAFFNER’S SUNDAY THROUGH SATURDAY SERMONS are based on the following Morris L. Venden quote. “Our only unique contribution to the religious world has been the three angels’ messages and the connection they made for us with the sanctuary and judgment teaching.”
These sermons are a tortured exegesis of The Third Angel’s Message that includes Daniel and Revelation, the 2300 days, false doctrine, investigative judgment, mark of the beast, end of the world, and punishment of the wicked. Haffner talks a great deal about “mission” and “hope”, but no matter how his message it’s packaged, it’s the stuff of childhood nightmares, adolescent dissolution, and adult disinterest.
In THE URGENCY OF THE MISSION OF HOPE, Haffner showcases this quote from 2 Peter 2:4-9 “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men . . . if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.”
In MISSION OF HOPE AS WORSHIP, he maligns his fellow believers.
“Far too often, people confuse worship with self-gratifying entertainment. Thus, they will say things like “I’m going to worship at First Church today because they have a funny preacher from out of town. Next week I’ll worship at Main Street Fellowship because they have a hot worship band.” The result? We’re raising a generation of junkies that scurry to the most electric worship one week and then to the most titillating preacher the next week, never anchoring to any local church. They whine about how the worship service fails to meet their needs—as if the church exists to cater to the entertainment whims and emotional cravings of selfish consumers.”
He goes on to describe authentic “worship” as a kind of ecstatic “happening”. “Worship means surrendering every compulsion to God’s control and fully submitting ourselves to Him. The result of worship, then, is always a life of radical obedience. When we truly worship God, everything we do becomes an offering of surrender and praise.”
In TRUE WORSHIP vs. FALSE WORSHIP, Haffner uses The Third Angel’s message to describe what happens to you if you “fail to live in an intimate dependence upon God alone. “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
In ACCEPTING THE MISSION OF HOPE, Haffner states that the message of salvation by faith “is important because the eternal destinies of all human beings hinge on this central issue brought to bear by the third angel—the issue of worship. . .In God’s kingdom, salvation comes freely to all who accept what Jesus did on the cross. In the counterfeit kingdom of the evil one, salvation must be earned by works. ‘But beware,’ says the angel, for ‘there is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast.’”
In MISSION OF HOPE AS REVELATION OF GOD’S CHARACTER, the reader is admonished not to “skim over the line about punishment coming to those who ‘do not know God.’ At the end of time, the difference between life and death, heaven and hell, is our relationship with Jesus. The key question at the time of accounting will be this: Do you know God? If the answer is yes, then on the day of judgment you will find mercy.”
MISSION POSSIBLE: THE CHILDREN’S READINGS FOR THE WEEK are written for third graders, but the Applications and Discussion topics require fifth grade sensibilities. The Activities suggested are generally boring but unobjectionable. However, the Memory Gem for Thursday, “Loyal to the End” brought back memories of the nightmares that haunted me after memorizing “gems” like this one as a boy:
“Be faithful, even if it means you must die. Then I will give you a crown. The crown is life itself” (Rev. 2:10).

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