Gospel Adventist Ministries

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." ~ 1 Cor 2:2

Author: Gospel Adventist Ministries (Page 1 of 4)

Jesus Christ: Lord & Savior



A gentlemen in Sabbath School keeps asking a question: “If salvation is by faith alone then what do we say to a thief who says they accept salvation but want to continue stealing?”

The underlying motive of the question is to make us doubt that salvation is by grace through faith alone. However, the answer is not that difficult to explain.

A person who loves God and has placed their life in His hands must know that when they accept Jesus as Savior they must also accept His Lordship over their life. This means that it is the desire of their heart to obey what Christ commands. Christians struggle with sin, give in to bad habits, fall into temptation, and most are blind and stubborn when it comes to cherished sins. However, we must accept that Jesus is Lord and make it our desire to serve Him with our hearts, minds, and soul. When we accept Jesus as savior we must also acknowledge Him as Lord.

This in no way conflicts with the gospel of Grace through faith in Jesus because our salvation is never dependent on what we do for God. It is genuine faith that requires we love and trust God with our entire life and are willing to do as He commands. If a thief claims that Jesus is savior but is unwilling to accept Him as Lord then I question the sincerity of his or her faith.

At the same time, we are all guilty of sin in our lives, and we never actually measure up to our own standards, not to mention the divine standard of sinlessness. We can be tempted to judge the person who has obvious sins as we try to hide our own secret passions of the soul. Only Jesus can motivate us to mature as Christians and give us the power to overcome temptation.

The more we focus on Jesus and the love that He revealed when He shed His blood on the cross, the more our hearts will be receptive to giving up bad habits. We must recognize that sanctification is a growing process that takes an entire lifetime and our salvation is never dependent on how well we perform in the Christian life. But the point of this message is that our hearts will be willing to accept Jesus as Lord only as we accept Him as our savior.

Stephen Beagles (2021)
Founder and Director of Gospel Adventist Ministries

On Ellen White: The Gospel Adventist Position

When dealing with the writings of Ellen White it is wise to give her the benefit of the doubt unless there is clear biblical evidence to suggest otherwise. Calling her a plagiarist, a hypocrite, or con-artist is an ad hominem attack on her character that says little about the truth of what she wrote.

By taking a snippet of writing from here and there without full context and balancing statements it is easy to misunderstand what she wrote over the span of 80 years. She never claimed to be a prophetess nor did she ever claim to be infallible.

There were times when she spoke her own opinions, but her overall message was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Her writing was edited over a period of time as her views changed, but the main ideas–the soon return of Christ, the Sabbath, the State of the Dead, the Heavenly Sanctuary, the Health Message, and the insights into the great controversy have withstood the biblical test of accuracy and the historical test of time.

Was Ellen White perfect? No, and we should not expect her to be without fault. Was she the infallible interpreter of scripture? No, and not one of us is able to claim that status. Did she live up to her own standards 100 percent of the time? No, but she admitted her faults and kept trying to improve on her lifestyle.

Instead of attacking the character of Ellen White, it is enough to argue that what she said was biblical or not. If it is not biblical then it is safe to disregard, but be careful not to throw her entire ministry out of the window over a few minor details. Her overall message was one of God’s love for man by sending Jesus to die for our sins.

Don’t throw the Baby out with the Bathwater.

Stephen Beagles (2021)

The Good News of the Pre-Advent Judgment

The important thing to remember about judgment is that Christians already have the final verdict. We are “Not Condemned” while the wicked are condemned already because of their rejection of the person and work of Christ. This is a core element of the gospel.

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18, NIV

Christians do not need fear the judgment even though we do not measure up to the legal requirements for entrance into the heavenly kingdom. Jesus lived a perfect life and became a perfect sacrifice for our sins on the cross. This allows Him to place His perfect robes of righteousness over our filthy rags of human righteousness. We are judged while standing in His robes of perfection and are declared, “Not Condemned.”

The good news is that Christians have the assurance of eternal life and have already been adopted into the family of God. We have nothing to fear of a judgment due to the person and work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Stephen Beagles (2021)

The Five Essentials of Christianity


A question I have been pondering over the past few decades is what are the essential teachings of Christianity? What does a Christian have to believe to be a representative of Jesus Christ?

What MUST I believe to be saved?

There are Five essential teachings:

1. The Bible is the word of God. If a person does not believe the Bible is a product of divine revelation they have no basis to believe in Christ or God’s plan of salvation. The gospel becomes speculation and myth and Christ cannot be the object of genuine faith.

2. The Trinity. One God existing in three distinct forms and personalities. If someone were to pull the plug on God then all three persons would disappear in an instant. God has revealed Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The human brain cannot fathom the complexities of God, but this is how God has revealed Himself. Jesus is fully divine and as eternal as God the Father, but with His own distinct function and role in the God head. To deny the full divinity of Christ is to deny the one and only true God.

3. The Blood Atonement of Jesus. Jesus died in our place on the cross of Calvary. This is the central doctrine of Christ and the Apostles. It does not take a Ph.D. in theology to understand and God does not require a five page essay on the person and work of Christ on the cross to be born again. However, this is a basic truth that must be accepted: Jesus died in our place for our sins. Without the cross there is no resurrection, no Christianity, no salvation for humanity, and no basis for our faith as Christians.

4. Righteousness by Faith. What does God require of us to have the assurance of salvation? God demands we accept Jesus as the full substitute for our sins. There is no condition for salvation other than simple faith and trust in our divine savior. We are declared righteous the instant we place our faith in Jesus. Warning: We deny Christ when we worship other Gods or if we pervert the truth of the Gospel–Righteousness by Faith Alone.

5. The Second Coming. To be a Christian we must believe Jesus is coming back to provide eternal life for His followers. It is not essential that Christians agree on when and how the second coming will occur. However, the second coming is an integral part of the plan of salvation. To deny the reality of the second advent would be to deny a major promise that Christ proclaimed to His disciples–He would return to earth to set up His kingdom. Jesus will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all eternity.

All Christians must accept these five major teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. These are non-negotiable teachings of the Bible that are simple enough for any Child to understand. They also leave us with a complexity of understanding, depth of knowledge, and profound thought that will never be fully exhausted by an eternity of study.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

The Gospel in a Nutshell

The Full Armor of God

The Belt of Truth

Yes, truth exists and it is possible to know right from wrong. Being an expert on the Bible doesn’t grant a person infallibility, but a heart full of the Holy Spirit will have a divine interpreter waiting to guide a person into the truth. (John 16:3)

Nothing is more disheartening than to be faced with a wide range of opinions in the world and to be persecuted for standing up for what you know as truth. The only way to overcome this is to accept the Bible as the word of God and to follow it closely. The power of the truth will comfort the afflicted and will afflict the comfortable. To wage war against the devil we need to confront his lies with the truth of God’s word.

The Breast Plate of Righteousness

The truth of God’s word will always lead us to a knowledge of righteousness by faith. As a breast plate covers the vital organs, the truth of the gospel will shield us from self-righteousness and pride. It reminds us of our natural weakness apart from the righteousness that Christ offers as a gift for all who place their trust in Him. Even though we are weak on the inside, we are made strong as we trust in the breastplate of His righteousness.

Feet Fitted with the gospel of Peace

When God calls us into His army, He issues the gear that we will need to survive the rough and rugged terrain of our sinful environment. He calls us to take the gospel to every part of the world. A sturdy boot that protects our feet is essential for traveling long distance over land. A knowledge of the gospel of peace is essential to accomplishing our mission.

The Shield of Faith

Doubt is the preferred weapon of our enemy. If the devil can get us to doubt the word of God then he has us in his grasp. When ever we are exposed to the lies of Satan we must extinguish them by refusing to doubt the truth of God’s word. We must allow ourselves to study differences of thought and opinion, but it is essential to become more familiar with the truth. Exercise genuine faith in the promises of God. Refuse to doubt.

The Helmet of Salvation

We must never go anywhere in battle without our helmet. It is designed to protect our brain in the event of a bullet or an explosion. The deep and holy assurance of salvation will help to protect our minds from the deadly deceptions of the evil one. If we lose that assurance for even a second then we might be impacted and subjected to eternal loss. We are not safe for a second without the helmet of Salvation.

The Sword of the Spirit

This is our only offensive weapon. The word of God must be proclaimed. The word of God itself is powerful enough to neutralize error. We should never argue or debate with the devil, but we should be ready to answer all charges with a plain thus saith the Lord. The word of God is powerful and must be presented accurately There is nothing more powerful than the truth of the gospel to win souls for Christ.

(to be continued…)

Stephen Beagles (2020)

Let it Shine!


Controversy is nothing new to me. When one takes a stand on the word of God it is inevitable that someone will challenge what you are saying. If we are to follow the Biblical examples of the early Apostles then we must be bold and proclaim the truth in the face of persecution. There will be mockers, but we must continue to move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t see any examples of Jesus debating a scribe or pharisee. The pastors of his day would often try to trick him or trap him theologically to make Him look bad. This often backfired. Instead of backing down to the challenge, Jesus would turn the tables on them and call them out on their ignorance.

I am convinced that we cannot out argue the Devil. He is a master at mental illusions and building fanciful arguments based on unwarranted assumptions and faulty interpretations. Instead of arguing, the best approach is often to continue proclaiming the truth in a confident manner while asking the Holy Spirit to break through the blindness of the persons heart.

The devil is everywhere and he loves to masquerade as an angel of light or a minister of righteousness. Not everyone who disagrees with us is an agent of the devil, but the devil can often use these disagreements as opportunities for temptation. One of the traps we can fall into is bitterness and mistrust. We must always show love for the sinner while calling out their sin.

Spiritual blindness is a curse. It can only be overcome by proclaiming the word of God. The word of God that called light out of darkness is still powerful enough to dispel the darkness of this evil world.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

Breaking the Chains


The Gospel of Perfectionism

Jesus died on the cross to give us all a second chance at eternal life. Once we put our faith in Christ then He gives us the Holy Spirit who then cleanses us from all sin. Real Christians do not sin. If you do something deliberately you know is wrong then you are forfeiting salvation until you confess your sin and change your ways. Yes, it is possible to live a sinless life.

God isn’t going to wait until heaven to give you a perfect character, and the character building must happen prior to the close of probation. Once probation closes, your case is closed and you can no longer receive forgiveness for sins.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Jesus bore the penalty for all sin at the cross. People who place simple faith and trust in Christ have the verdict of the pre-advent judgment and the assurance of salvation. Christians are never without sin in this lifetime due to complications of the sinful nature. The Holy Spirit has promised to help us overcome deliberate sins and to keep our faith strong, but there is nothing in the Bible to suggest sinless perfection on this side of heaven.

Salvation is a free gift provided for all who trust Christ for salvation. We are declared righteous the instant we accept the forgiveness he has to offer. Once we have faith in Christ then the Holy Spirit works to make us holy as we mature in the faith, but this is a work of a lifetime. Christians do not reach sinless perfection until the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Jesus. We will all receive glorified bodies and sinless natures prior to the entrance into the heavenly kingdom.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

Theology and Practical Christianity

Much of my life I have been a student of biblical theology. I was given books to read by my teachers and then I had to write essays, do workbooks, and take exams based on the reading. That covers Bible class for most of my early education grades 1-12.

Then I attended chapels, church services, and spiritual retreats where we studied the Bible and engaged in discussion with other students over the meaning of biblical passages and how they relate to doctrine and lifestyle.

There was much prayer and song during this time, and I learned most of the songs in the hymnal by memory. Needless to say I was immersed in Adventist theories and doctrine from the earliest of ages. I was educated by the best pastors and theologians in the world who taught me how to study the bible and how to pray. I learned the scriptures while sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ who guided my education,

One of the things that I learned over the years is the difference between theoretical doctrines and practical Christianity. We tend to get unbalanced when we focus on one at the expense of the other. We can give a bible study on the Trinity and the nature of Christ which is extremely philosophical in nature, or we can tell people how to schedule their day, how to spend their money, how to dress, how to live a healthful life, and how to live out the Christian life in a practical way.

I believe the most effective ministers of the gospel balance both theological and practical Christianity in a way that is interesting and inspiring to the members of their congregation.

The next time you read a verse of scripture ask yourself how this verse fits into the bigger picture of biblical doctrine and the plan of salvation, but don’t forget to look for the practical spiritual applications that can help you gain spiritual blessing from God as you apply His word to your life.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

Worthy is the Lamb

Jesus was crucified at 9:00 am and suffered for our sins on the cross until 3:00 pm on a Friday in April. During this time in 31 A.D. the sins of mankind were placed upon the messiah who bore the wrath of God in our place. God satisfied His own law by offering up His beloved Son Jesus to die as our substitute. From that point forward the entire universe has been singing ““Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”(Revelation 5:11, NIV).

As we celebrate the empty tomb of Christ this Sunday, let us remember that without the cross there would be no resurrection. Without the blood there would be no salvation for mankind.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

Take Heart in Jesus



It is times like these we need to be reminded God is the only one who offers us peace and security. All of the guns in the world cannot stop a deadly virus from spreading throughout the world.

However, we can sleep in peace knowing that God loves us and is watching over us. He will only allow for what is best for us and our families. Even in sickness and death we can trust Him.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” Job 13:15

Be at peace my friends and remember the words of Jesus:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Stephen Beagles (2020)

The Meaning of Holiness


One half of the Seventh-day Adventist church believes the other half is in apostasy. This is sad, sad, sad.

If there is a diagnosis for the church it is lukewarm on the gospel of Jesus Christ. They put rules before relationships and commands before compassion. It is high time for our leaders to cast aside the confusion they have allowed to fester in the ranks and take a stand for Christ and Him Crucified.

This does not mean we lower our standards of lifestyle or behavior. It does however mean that we set aside our individual differences to lift up the merits of Christ alone.

Let the people know that their salvation depends on the life and death of Christ their substitute who paid the penalty for their sins. Only the heart that has cast aside self-righteousness will receive the Holy Spirit who will make us Holy.

The more I know Christ as my Lord and Savior, I hear him tell me that holiness is about living a balanced life centered on biblical principles. Stay away from extremes. This means we will have to become stricter in some areas of life while becoming less strict in other areas. Stop straining out gnats while swallowing camels (Matthew 23:24).

Ellen White the founder of our Church warned against fanaticism and going to extremes: “As the end draws near, the enemy will work with all his power to bring in fanaticism among us. He would rejoice to see Seventh-day Adventists going to such extremes that they would be branded by the world as a body of fanatics. Against this danger I am bidden to warn ministers and lay members. Our work is to teach men and women to build on a true foundation, to plant their feet on a plain “Thus saith the Lord.”—Gospel Workers, 316 (1915).

We must be Holy as Christ was Holy. Remember, He was accused of breaking His own laws concerning the Sabbath. It was diligent Sabbath Keepers who demanded the death of Christ. Christ was perfectly balanced in His attitude towards the letter of the law and the Spirit of the law while rejecting the unhealthy fanaticism of the leaders of Israel.

Let us renew the urgency of the gospel of Jesus while guarding against the fanaticism of the evil one. Lift up Jesus and His death on the cross. Allow Him to draw all men unto Himself.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

The Age of Atonement



Messianic Fulfillment of Sanctuary Types and Shadows

When Christ was crucified the veil that separated the Holy from the Most Holy Place was torn in two. This meant that the entire sanctuary became the Most Holy Place and there was no longer any barrier to the presence of God. This explains how Christ entered the Holy Places (Sanctuary) at His ascension. Christians have had access to the Most Holy place since Christ began his priestly ministry in heaven. He is the inner veil through which we must all pass to commune with the Father.

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” Hebrews 10:19-20

End Time Fulfillment of the Day of Atonement

In keeping with the Historicist view of Daniel and Revelation, and the Day of Atonement Imagery of Leviticus, we see Jesus beginning His ministry in the sanctuary by allowing all people an opportunity to seek the free gift of His righteousness. Salvation is available for all who believe and He places the robe of righteousness around those who enter the Most Holy Place and into the presence of the Father.

In 1844 a final warning was issued to humanity about the day of atonement. Probation would soon close and preparations should be made to endure the final tribulation and end-time deception of anti-Christ. Once probation closes then the opportunity for salvation is withdrawn from the world. Only those who accept the gift of salvation prior to the close of probation are sealed and prepared to endure the final test of loyalty to God

This message is sounded three times by three angels with each one increasing the intensity of alarm until the day the door of mercy is closed to the wicked. The Pre-Advent judgement books are sealed and only those who have placed their full assurance of salvation in the merits of Christ alone will remain in the Lamb’s book of Life.

At this point a special grace is granted to the saints that will allow them to reflect the Character of Christ in its fullness. Those who endure the final testing of tribulation will remain alive until the second coming. During the resurrection of the dead in Christ there will be a flash of glory that will bring perfection to imperfection and immortality to our mortal bodies. Our bodies will be changed and glorified prior to entrance into the heavenly kingdom.

Those rescued from the earth will live with Christ for 1000 years and will pour over the books of judgment to understand why God has damned the wicked. At the end of the 1000 years God will destroy the wicked, the devil and his angels, and restore the earth to its original perfection and beauty. This concludes the day of atonement phase of the sanctuary. The entire universe will be cleansed of sin, suffering, and death.

Join me with proclaiming the message of the free gift of salvation available to all who accept Jesus into their heart. We must also warn the world against rejecting the love of God. The day of Mercy is running short and no one knows when the door of probation will close against the wicked.

Accept Jesus into your heart today!

Stephen Beagles (2020)

Jesus Only

Definitions often play a huge role in a discussion involving theology. For example, the term Jesus Only.

For some this means that Jesus is the only way to salvation by grace through faith in His atoning blood. It also recognizes Jesus as the fulfillment of all scripture. All doctrines are there to support Jesus and the plan of salvation.

For others the term Jesus Only means that Jesus is the only topic of discussion and all other doctrines are non-essential and get in the way of knowing Christ alone as Lord and Savior.

Your view of Christ and the gospel can be directly impacted by which definition of Jesus Only you accept as the truth. I find it hard to imagine that anyone would accept the second definition as the truth, but I suppose there may be a few. The first definition is completely biblical and is what I mean when I say Jesus Only. It is in complete harmony with what Christ said,

“…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” See also Acts 4:12

Please be careful how you define your terms.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

 

Will Jesus Come in My Lifetime?

Folks, let us be honest.

I have been hearing that the Sunday law is right around the corner for 40 years now. Understandably, there are Adventists for whom all this is still new.

Do I believe Jesus is coming soon? Absolutely. His coming is much sooner than it was 40 years ago.

Do I believe Jesus is coming in my lifetime? I don’t know.

No one knows the day or the hour. I have come to terms with the fact that I might die before he returns. However, my comfort is that Jesus is the first face I will see when I am resurrected.

Jesus might not come for another 100 years. The timing is up to him. The real question is if you were to die today then where would you spend eternity?

I understand we must all be ready for the final tribulation. We must be able to withstand the assaults of the world against our faith. Only those who are completely in love with God for sending Jesus to be our perfect sacrifice will have the strength to endure.

Everyday counts. Every prayer is on record. Time spent with Jesus is never wasted! Live every day as if it were your last chance to share the gospel.

Stephen Beagles (2020)

What is the Plan of Salvation?

Justification: We are forgiven our sins. We are declared righteous. God looks past our imperfections and sees us as the sinless beings we one day will be in heaven. Salvation is 100 percent based on the work Christ did for us on the cross when He shed His blood and died for our sins.

Sanctification: We are cleansed from sin. The Holy Spirit makes us functional Christians while we are still sinners saved by grace. While we mature in our walk with God and become more like Him on a daily basis, this cleansing from sin is not 100 percent. Our salvation is still rooted in the imputed righteousness of Christ (Justification).

Glorification: We are given sinless bodies with sinless natures. We will no longer fight against our natural impulses and will be capable of obedience to all God’s laws. We will be able to live in the will of God for eternity. We will be 100 percent perfect and sinless while living in the presence of God.

Stephen Beagles (2019)

The Message of the Cross for the year 2020


We are living in unprecedented times full of nuclear weapons, satellites, space ships, and smart phones. We are living in the last paragraph of the last chapter of earth’s history.

We may be alive to see Jesus return. The only way to endure to the end is to focus on Jesus and His death on the cross. This is not a theological exercise but a spiritual meditation designed to release the power of God in our hearts to overcome evil. Rev 12:11

The death of Christ reminds us of the justice of God and His refusal to change one iota of the law to release us from the curse of death. Instead, He sent His son to fulfill the law to give us a way of escape.

The death of Christ reminds us of the love of God who was willing to sacrifice His only Son to release us from eternal death. God is a God of self-sacrificing love. We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

The death of Christ remind us of our call to sacrifice our lives for Christ in the same way that Christ sacrificed His life for us. God understands our sufferings as Christ endured the worst of the suffering for us. He is our example.

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Stephen Beagles (2020)

What is Holiness?


What does holiness look like in everyday life? Is it a monk living in a monastery? Is it taking a vow of poverty? Is it living in a foreign land without the comforts of civilization?

Is it giving up television, movie theaters, dance clubs, and fiction novels? What is the mental picture that comes to mind when you hear the word “holiness”?

I hear myself saying, “Obedience to God in all things.”

How does God want us to be obedient to Him? What set of rules have been given us to follow in the Bible? The Ten Commandments? The Sermon on the Mount? The exhortations of Paul and the Apostles to live a moral life without reproach and free from the appearance of evil?

What does it mean to live a moral life? Honesty? Loyalty? The fruits of the Spirit? Whose set of rules do we live by? The Catholic rules? Orthodox rules? Lutheran rules? Episcopal rules? Baptist Rules? Methodist Rules? Pentecostal rules? Adventist rules? Or are we left to make up our own set of rules?

I hear Jesus saying, ” By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:15

I hear Paul saying, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

I hear John declaring, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4: 7

To be Holy is to be like God. What is God’s chief characteristic?

God is love (1 John 4:8)

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

Stephen Beagles (2019)

Justification by Faith–A Message from God


“The present message—justification by faith—is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness.”

~ Ellen White

It is almost guaranteed when I mention Justification by Faith in a church setting, I will get one of two reactions. First, some act as if the language I use is beyond ability to comprehend. This is strange, because many of these people ought to know Justification is a key element of the plan of salvation.

Justification is a common term in the writings of the Apostle Paul. In a biblical context it means declared “Justified” in the divine court of law. It is the same as being “declared righteous” by faith in Christ apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28). It is a gift from God to those who believe. It is the assurance of salvation by faith in Christ alone.

The second reaction I get is from seasoned Adventists who say, “Yes that is true. But faith without works is dead. Let’s turn our Bibles to James Chapter 2. ”

It is a programmed reaction I have experienced hundreds of times. Few Adventists, who are proud of their protestant heritage, actually take time to meditate on what it means to be Justified by Faith.

Often the major assumption when Justification by Faith is discussed is that we want to get out of keeping the Ten commandments by claiming justification apart from the keeping of the law. This is a false assumption. The Bible clearly states that while we are saved apart from the law, we are still bound to the law as our moral standard of righteousness (Romans 3:31).

Justification will always lead us into a closer walk with Jesus and a cleansing from sin (sanctification) that is rooted in love for God who grants us the assurance of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. “We love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19, KJV).

(To be continued…)

Stephen Beagles (2019)

Reference

White, E. G. (1958). Selected Messages From the Writings of Ellen G. White, Book 1 (p. 359). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

Genuine Christianity

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Being a follower of Jesus means accepting Him as God, believing He died for your sins, and accepting the gift of His righteousness in place of your own in the final judgement.

He also calls you to love others in the same way that He has loved you. Christians keep the 10 commandments only after they have the assurance of salvation by simple faith in the blood that was shed on the cross. No one is perfect in this lifetime, but we set aside our differences to lift up Jesus.

Every verse in scripture is there to support this simple proclamation–Jesus died for you. Will you accept Him as Lord and Savior of your life?

Stephen Beagles

The Endurance of the Saints

After 35 years of Bible study, prayer, and reflection, I am more convinced than ever that the message of Justification by faith needs to be taken more seriously. Many pastors and teachers give it lip service, but their hearts are geared towards teaching morality and Christian living. They forget the Holy Spirit is only given to those who have assurance of salvation.

Justification by faith is not “once salved always saved” or “cheap grace.” It is possible to lose salvation by walking away from Christ, by taking ones eyes off Jesus, or by perverting the gospel of grace by placing conditions other than simple faith. Salvation is a free gift and is only cheapened when one believes salvation can be earned by keeping a set of rules.

Many Christians believe they are saved by grace, but act like they are saved or lost based on behavior. They tend to be critical of other Christians who don’t “measure up” to their expectations of Christian living. They lack the joy and peace of knowing Christ, because there is always another habit to overcome or level of holiness to attain.

The saints who are alive when Jesus returns will keep the commandments of God and  have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12). However, the saints will keep the commandments, because they have the assurance of being declared perfect “in-Christ” and have the verdict of the final judgment. The saints endure because they refuse to question the promise of salvation freely given to all who trust in the merits of Christ alone.

Stephen Beagles,

What is legalism?


Being obedient to Christ is not legalism. Keeping Commandments is not legalism. Focusing on the rules over relationships is not legalism.

PLACING CONDITIONS ON ETERNAL LIFE OTHER THAN SIMPLE FAITH AND TRUST IN CHRIST IS LEGALISM.

Legalism is a curse upon professed followers of Christ who are more concerned with their own righteousness than with admitting their sins and pleading the grace of God.

The devil is deceptive and knows how to slip in the back door of the church. Few legalists will ever tell you that you have to keep the law in order to be saved. Instead, they are quite adamant that one cannot be saved without keeping the law. This type of double talk is present in every Christian denomination. We need to recover the genuine teachings of the Apostles that state we are saved apart from keeping the law (Romans 3:28).

Christians do not keep the law in order to be saved but strive to keep the law because they are saved. Their motivation is not fear of damnation but love for the sacrifice Christ made on the cross to grant assurance of eternal life.

Stephen Beagles

The Once for All Covenant

The relationship between the old and new covenants of the Holy Scriptures have perplexed many theologians over the last 2000 years. Some bible scholars believe the old and new covenants represent two separate plans of salvation. Others have a difficult time separating the mosaic laws from the original covenant God made with Adam and Eve. In reality, there is only one major difference between the original covenant and the covenant given to us by Christ after the cross.

Here are some points to ponder concerning the simple and yet profound relationship between the old and new covenants:

1. There is only one plan of salvation provided to human beings.
2. The original covenant began with Adam and Eve and looked forward to what Christ would accomplish, while the new covenant looks back on what Christ has accomplished.
3. All human beings are saved because of the blood that Christ shed on the cross. If Christ had not been the once for all sacrifice for sin then every human being would be doomed to eternal destruction.
4. The laws given to Moses for the nation of Israel were only binding on those living within the borders of Israel and did not add or subtract from the original covenant. The Moral Law of God, the 10 Commandments, was written by the finger of God and summarizes the eternal law for the human race that was violated in the Garden of Eden and for which Christ died.

These four points are evidence that every human being who is saved will be saved by grace alone through the atoning blood of Jesus. The same blood that was shed for us who live under the new covenant saves those who lived before Christ under the original covenant.

The major difference between the covenants is the original covenant promised a future messiah who would save His people from sin, while the new covenant fulfills that promise and identifies Jesus as the divine son of God who shed His blood as the once for all sacrifice for all people, for all time, and for all sin (Hebrews 10:1-18).

The notion that those who lived before the cross were saved by law and that New Testaments Christians are saved by grace is false. There is only one plan of salvation for all humanity—the blood of Christ that was shed once for all.

Stephen Beagles (2019)
Founder of Gospel Adventist Ministries

Fundamental Teachings vs Test of Fellowship

QUESTION:

Do I have to believe in all of the 28 Fundamental beliefs to become a Seventh-day Adventist Christian?

ANSWER:

It is important to make the distinction between the official teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist church as recognized by the General Conference and test of fellowship that is required by new believers when they are baptized into the church. By becoming a member, a person is stating that they understand the 28 fundamental beliefs and are willing to live and worship in harmony with Seventh-day Adventists who hold to these beliefs.

The only real test of fellowship is that the member acknowledges the fundamental beliefs in principle and refuses to be in open opposition against those who hold to the basic teachings of the church.

The church recognizes a member’s personal choice on how to apply certain fundamentals of doctrine to lifestyle and practice. For example, the wearing of jewelry is discouraged, but there is a wide spectrum of members who hold differing views on how strictly the church should enforce this teaching. In practice, a member can wear jewelry to church as long as they are able to worship in harmony with the other members who decide not to wear jewelry.

The Adventist teaching against unclean meats is clear enough, but I have yet to see anyone thrown out of church for eating bacon with their eggs. Members who are not “strict” on diet and health do not discourage others from following the churches teachings on health reform. The less strict respect the liberty of more conservative members and refuse to allow the issues to become a matter of personal conflict.

It is hard for me to imagine that a person would become a member of the Adventist church who did not agree in principle with the major doctrinal teachings on the sabbath, the non-immortality of the soul, and the second coming of Jesus. I would discourage any minister from allowing people who do not hold these beliefs into membership. It would be hard for these people to support the Adventist church. However, a person can believe that the Sabbath is the Seventh-day and yet have different views on what it means to keep the Sabbath day holy.

While there is a wide spectrum of Adventists who interpret the fundamental beliefs differently, most Adventists would allow for church discipline against those who blatantly live or teach against the fundamental norms of the church. A member would not last long in fellowship if he or she decided to openly espouse a doctrine that was directly in conflict with a fundamental position.

Historically, there has always been a wide gap between the accepted beliefs of the General Conference and the practice of the individual member’s in the church. Adventists allow for differences of opinion on matters of lifestyle as long as the members acknowledge the church’s teachings and refuse to allow their personal choices to interfere with their ability to live in peace and harmony with other church members.

Then there is the distinction between a lay member of the church and an active leader within the denomination. Those who take leadership positions should hold themselves to the highest standard in regards to the fundamentals. The leaders need to allow for the differences of opinion among the lay people while encouraging spiritual growth that is in harmony with the official teachings of the church as an organization.

To answer the question more directly: Yes. A person needs to acknowledge all 28 Fundamental Beliefs in principle before they are accepted into membership. However, keep in mind that it is up to the individual member how to put these beliefs into practice. All members must allow for differences of opinion while living and worshiping in harmony with other Adventists.

Stephen Beagles (2018)

Agree to Disagree

I wish could exclude myself from this conclusion, but being a former post-graduate student qualifies me to partake of the criticism.

Having a degree or two in a particular subject does not make one infallible. There are Atheists with doctoral degrees, there are Pantheists with doctoral degrees, and there are Polytheists with doctoral degrees. The degrees that people hold do not automatically make them more intelligent, less biased, or less capable of error. Education does not lead to infallibility.

Even Christian theologians come from many different backgrounds and support a wide range of theories that often contradict one another. There are Catholic scholars, Lutheran scholars, Presbyterian scholars, Methodist scholars, and Pentecostal scholars. Often the most educated theologians who teach in seminaries no longer believe in the infallibility of the scriptures and are prone to be critical of the most basic of Christian doctrines.

The problem with human beings is that we are all biased. Even those who claim to be completely objective have their blind spots where sentimentality creeps in and affects perceptions of reality. We are often more inclined to accept evidence that supports our pet theories and we tend to be far more critical of the evidence that may contradict our cherished viewpoints.

This does not mean that truth does not exist or that human beings are incapable of knowing truth. However, it does mean that we need to be more humble and tolerant of those who may perceive reality differently than we do. There are intelligent people with many different ideologies and dogmas. When will we learn to be tolerant of those with viewpoints we believe are erroneous and accept them as intelligent human beings?

It is virtuous to agree to disagree on a subject and still allow for the intelligence and moral integrity of those who contradict us. I am not saying we need to stop defending our view of reality, but I am encouraging those who have education and degrees to allow for discussion and debate on sensitive topics without demonizing ideological opponents.

Stephen Beagles

 

 

The 2300 Days of Daniel

My position on the 2300 days prophecy is if the baptism and death of Christ was foretold by this view of prophecy then why not allow it to extend to its logical conclusion: 1844.

What Happened in 1844?

1. People awakened to an urgency of the second coming of Christ and the message about the closing of probation.

2. Electronic technology began giving people faster methods of communications.

While Christ could have come prior to 1844, the fulfillment of the 2300 days prophecy was given as a final warning to the world.

But I strongly believe that a person’s salvation does not depend on their view of the 2300 days. However you look at the investigative judgment–we already have the final verdict and the assurance of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.

Stephen Beagles

 

Get a GRIP on Prayer

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1. Gratitude: Start your prayers by thanking God for all His blessings. List them one by one and praise Him for being a loving friend.

2. Relationships: Ask God to help you to love Him with all your heart, mind, and soul. Once you have spent some time on this topic then shift your focus onto being a better representative of Christ to those in your family, circle of friends, and workspace.

3. Intercession: Pray for those around you that have physical or spiritual needs. Ask God for divine intervention as you pray for them.

4. Petition: Ask God for your own personal needs and wants. Remember that God wants to bless you and provide for those things that will bring comfort and strength to your life.

Above all, pray that God will answer your prayers according to His will. He may have something better in store for you than anything you can imagine. Be patient and know that God will only do what is best.

Stephen Beagles

Nine Lessons From the Heavenly Sanctuary

1. God is the judge and not man.

2. Jesus is our mediator and not a pastor, priest, or pope.

3. Jesus died once for all–no reoccurring mass as atonement for sin.

4. God judges from the mercy seat where mercy triumphs over condemnation for those written in the book of life.

5. Sins are blotted out of the record by the blood of the lamb.

6. The wheat and tares (sheep and goats) will be separated. Only those who trust in Christ alone for salvation will remain in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

7. The verdict of the final judgment is “No Condemnation” for those who trust in the merits of Christ, and “Condemnation” for those who reject Christ and the free gift of salvation.

8. The Saints will not be judged by their works, but by the works of Christ who lived a sinless life and died a perfect sacrifice.

9. One day, prior to the second coming of Christ, probation will close and the records will be sealed making it impossible for the wicked to repent and be saved. The righteous will be sealed for eternity in the kingdom of God.

Stephen Beagles (2017)

REASONS TO BELIEVE IN SABBATH KEEPING

1. The Sabbath was instituted at Creation:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

2. The Sabbath was given to Hebrews prior to Mount Sinai:

“How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:28-30).

3. The Sabbath is part of the 10 Commandments:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).

4. Jesus worshipped on the Sabbath Day:

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16).

5. Jesus declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath day:

“For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8).

6. Jesus taught the Sabbath was created for all people:

“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

7. Jesus warned about coming destruction of Jerusalem and taught that Christians in Israel should pray that the future destruction not come on the Sabbath:

“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:” (Matthew 24:20).

8. The disciples waited until after the Sabbath was over before finishing the burial process of Jesus Christ:

“And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them” (Luke 23:54 – 24:1).

9. The Apostle Paul continued to worship and teach on the Sabbath:

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2).

10. The Moral Law–including the Sabbath–is still binding on man:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

11. Sabbath Keeping will be part of worship in the New Earth:

“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, And from one sabbath to another, Shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD (Isaiah 66:23)

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12. The Sabbath is the gospel of Jesus that teaches us to rest in the completed work of Salvation:

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9-10, ESV).

Stephen Beagles

Why I am a Gospel Adventist

QUESTION: Why do you call yourself a Gospel Adventist?

ANSWER: I am a 4th generation Seventh-day Adventist who grew up in the church. As a teenager I thought that the spirit of God would allow us to perfect our characters, if not now, then prior to probation closing. Once probation closed than we would be lost if we had unconfessed sin in our lives. But I found out through reading the scriptures that the only condition for salvation is simple faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit before I even knew much about church history.

Then I studied the reformation and found justification by faith was the major teaching that separated protestants and catholics. I even found that Ellen White held this position alongside Jones and Waggoner, and she rigorously supported the view of righteousness by faith even at the cost of her personal popularity and influence in the church.

Then I have experienced how legalism can damage our relationship with God and our fellow man, while the gospel brings us the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I have witnessed a deliberate attempt by church leaders to purge the church of gospel Adventist pastors and laypeople to keep the tithe money flowing into the general conference. Yet, despite the works of the enemy to keep the church in bondage, the Holy Spirit has allowed the gospel to come to light in a way that cannot be hidden.

I am a Gospel Adventist who focuses on the cross of Christ and the atoning sacrifice made for our sins, as opposed to focusing on behaviorism and moralism as conditions for salvation.

I still believe in obedience to the 10 commandments that exist as a summary of God’s perfect law of love. I confess that there is a blessing to obedience to the law of God. However, our obedience comes as a result of having the assurance that we are sons and daughters of God by faith in Christ alone.

Stephen Beagles

The Principles of God’s Law

“No man who willfully disregards one principle of the law shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Ellen White, Desire of Ages pg. 309

This is one of the favorite quotes of Adventists who are mired in a legalistic attitude towards the law and gospel. They use this quotation to justify their attitude towards people they believe are not living up to the standards of the Christian life. Then there are critics of Ellen White who use this quotation to prove she did not understand the gospel of Jesus–that she made keeping the law a requirement for salvation.

The problem with taking a quotation from a paragraph without a full understanding of the entire chapter is that it can lead to applications that the author never intended. This is evident in that only two paragraphs prior to her making this statement Ellen White makes it plain how she personally viewed the law of God and its place in the plan of salvation.

1. Without the law there is no need for Christ or the gospel.

A full understanding of God’s law is essential to understanding the gospel. Rejecting the principles of God’s law affects how people view Christ and their need to be justified by faith in the merits of Jesus:

“When the law was proclaimed from Sinai, God made known to men the holiness of His character, that by contrast they might see the sinfulness of their own. The law was given to convict them of sin, and reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In the life of Christ the principles of the law are made plain; and as the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as the light of Christ reveals to men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying righteousness, the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” ~ Desire of Ages pg. 308

2. God will not save people who are willfully engaging in idolatry and false religion and who are not motivated by love for God and their fellow human beings.

There is no such thing in the universe as a Christian Hindu, a Christian Pagan, a Christian Buddhist, a Christian New-ager, or a Christian Atheist. Beyond this the major principle behind the law of God is Love. Anyone who’s heart is not motivated by love for Christ cannot be full of the Holy Spirit: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5, NKJV). “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).

Ellen White understood the difference between different types of sins and how God reacts to sins of ignorance, sins of immaturity, and sins of imperfection. But she warns of the deliberate sins of immorality, for those who cherish immoral and ungodly behavior will ultimately slip into the unpardonable sin of idolatry and false religion. While God is patient with those who engage in immoral behavior to a point, there is a dividing line that moves us into the curse of idolatry and rebellion.

3. A person who loves God will ultimately be ashamed of their sins and attempt to move towards higher standards of righteousness and holiness of life.

People who blatantly engage in rebellious behaviors with no regard for God and who take pleasure in hurting other people cannot be motivated by the Holy Spirit who implants the spirit of God’s law of love into our hearts by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).

The major principle of every one of the 10 commands is love for God and our neighbors. But not one of us has perfect love, and we all fall short of God’s ideal of moral perfection. The law of God convicts us of sin and it condemns us all to eternal death. It is not only designed to teach us morality but to crush our self-righteous spirit to the point where all we can do is cry out to God for forgiveness and mercy. If we attempt to lower the standard of perfection to make it possible for humans to achieve then we remove the need for the cross of Christ and the plan of salvation.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:21, NIV).

“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24, NKJV).

Ellen White did not place conditions on salvation other than simple faith in Christ for this would be a blatant contradiction of the Holy Scriptures which clearly proclaim “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

However, she did condemn, in no uncertain terms, those who attempt to remove the law from its central place as the unchangeable foundation of God’s character. She also condemned those who claim to be Christians who blatantly disregard God’s command against the worship of false Gods and those who are not motivated by love for Christ or for those He died to save.

Ellen White was a genuine believer in justification by faith and explained the true nature of the righteousness of God that is imputed to us the moment we place our simple faith in Jesus:

“Knowing himself to be a sinner, a transgressor of the holy law of God, he (the sinner) looks to the perfect obedience of Christ, to His death upon Calvary for the sins of the world; and he has the assurance that he is justified by faith in the merit and sacrifice of Christ. He realises that the law was obeyed in his behalf by the Son of God, and that the penalty of transgression cannot fall upon the believing sinner. The active obedience of Christ clothes the believing sinner with the righteousness that meets the demands of the law.” ~ Ellen White, Sons and Daughters of God pg. 240

“The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been – just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents, -perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.” Ellen White, Steps to Christ pg. 62

Stephen Beagles

Saved by Faith for Works

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Many Christians still struggle with the relationship between faith and works.

Are we saved by our good works? No.

Are we saved by our faith and good works? No.

Are we saved by faith that works? No.

Then How are we saved? We are saved by faith FOR good works.

This is a huge paradigm shift for many who struggle with the assurance of salvation. We all know that God demands obedience to both the law and gospel, but the two often seem irreconcilable. We never seem to reach that standard of holy perfection and we never feel worthy enough to enter the gates of sinless paradise.

But there is hope–Salvation is a free gift granted to all who trust in the merits of Jesus Christ for eternal life.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, ESV).

What about good works? Why are they important to us as Christians?

After decades of prayer, meditation, study, and mulling over this topic, I came to the conclusion that while God saves us by faith alone in the blood of Christ, He rewards us for our obedience to His eternal law.

Yes, we will be judged by our works.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, KJV).

When we stand before the judgement seat of Christ there will be two questions under consideration:

1. Did you trust in Christ alone for your eternal salvation or did you place other conditions on salvation other than simple faith?

2. What type of responsibilities and privileges will you be granted in the eternal kingdom?

Didn’t Jesus tell us about laying up our treasures in heaven?

Didn’t Jesus keep telling us that we are to expect great rewards in heaven?

Didn’t Jesus keep reminding us that the first in this life will be last in the kingdom and the last in this life will be first in the kingdom?

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

~Matthew 19:27-30, ESV

Many Christians assume that we will all have the same rewards in the heavenly kingdom. However, just as the angels have different ranks and responsibilities in the eternal kingdom, the saints will also be granted different rewards in heaven based on their willingness to deny themselves and follow Jesus even unto death.

In the words of Jesus revealed to the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation we learn of rewards granted by Christ according to our works in this lifetime:

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12, KJV).

Our faith will get us into heaven, but it is our works that determine our rewards in the eternal kingdom. It is not for us to decide what our works are worth in this lifetime, for that is up to the Father, but we can trust that God is a righteous judge who will bless us for our obedience.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV).

Stephen Beagles

Simplicity of Truth

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“Give me a text from the Bible,” she said.

“Okay, how about this one,” he replied.

“That doesn’t mean what you think it means. See I told you that you don’t have any scriptures that back up your beliefs.”

“How about this one over here.”

“You are completely misguided. You don’t know how to read the Bible correctly. You don’t really believe in the bible.”

And so the arguments go around and around and around. Yes, most of us believe the Bible even when we disagree. It is not that we do not believe in the Holy Scriptures, but we all have different ways of interpreting the same texts to support our belief system.

The most important thing in the Bible is the gospel found in John 3:16.

1. God loves the world.

2. He gave Jesus to the world to die for our sins.

3. Eternal life is granted to those who believe in Jesus.

How simple it is to understand those profound statements. How hard it is to really believe that faith is all that is required for salvation.

The secondary doctrines of the Bible are important, but there is room for interpretation and debate in many of these issues. Important as they might be for many Christians, they are not what make us part of the kingdom.

~Stephen Beagles

Doctrinal Unity within the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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Over the past few days I have been meditating on what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist. It is obvious to say that being a member of the church means one is willing to support the official teachings of the church as documented in the Statement of Beliefs.

However, while the church pushes for doctrinal unity, it is important to note that unity is not uniformity. The church still allows for diversity of thought and disagreement. One group wants to emphasize the holiness and justice of God, while another group wants to emphasize God’s love and forgiveness. The problem we face is that liberty can lead to license for some groups who disregard the official church doctrine at any cost.

The real danger within the church is when doctrinal truth is stretched to extremes and fervor becomes fanaticism. Too much of a good thing is extremely bad. This is why I have always supported a balanced approach that seeks to avoid extremes.

“Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?
Do not be overly wicked,
Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time?”
Ecclesiastes 7:16-17,NKJV

Should the church focus on God’s justice or His mercy? It would be a mistake to make this an either/or problem. The truth is we need to emphasis both in a way that fully explains the character of God.

This balance is found at the cross where God satisfied the justice of the law by pouring out his punishment for sin on Jesus. God did this so He can have mercy on us sinful and fallible human beings. If God could have changed His law then there would be no need for the cross, but if God was not loving then He would have destroyed us all at the beginning.

We do not worship only a God of holiness, or only a God of love, but we worship a God of Holy Love. This should be our balance and our emphasis when it comes to expressing the character of God.

Paul understood this balance when he declared, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23, NKJV).

When it comes to doctrinal unity, I think the quote by C.S. Lewis explains the correct approach to various doctrinal theories:

“The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work” (Mere Christianity, Book 2).

When it comes to diversity of thought within the Adventist church there are many theories about inspiration, prophecy, and the atonement. While we might not all agree on the details, we should all agree that we are talking about divine mysteries that are rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We should be able to focus on the main and the plain teachings of scripture, and while we may not be able to explain them fully, we can know that they are divine truth.

At the same time, we cannot allow spiritual liberty to decay into spiritual anarchy. If a member of the SDA church cannot agree (at least in principle) with the official teachings of the denomination, then they should not be calling themselves Seventh-day Adventist.

If the church is serious about doctrinal Unity then we need to focus our teaching around the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is our focus and it is His spirit that brings us into oneness with Him.

Stephen Beagles

Gospel Adventism and The Eternal Law of God

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As a Gospel Adventist, I believe that the Ten Commandments are the eternal law of God. This is the law by which all human beings are judged. This is the law that condemns us all. The law has never changed, and God still requires obedience to ALL His commandments. What has changed is that we have all been forgiven for our sins under the law, and we now live under the banner of Christ our Righteousness.

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17, ESV).

Ellen White changed her focus in 1888 after realizing that the Adventist church had simply taken the grace of God for granted. She then spent the rest of her life trying to fix this mistake, and it cost her many friends in the process.

Yesterday morning I arose with an agony upon my soul, and I could only say, “Lord, thou knowest all about it. My heart is burdened, and thou knowest that I cannot bear this load. I must have more help than I yet have had. Thou knowest that when I see men taking positions contrary to thy word, I am crushed under the load, and I can do nothing without thy help.” It seemed that as I prayed a wave of light fell about me, and a voice said, “I will be with thee to strengthen thee.” Since then I have been resting in Jesus. I can hide in him. I am not going to carry this load any longer. I shall lay it down at the feet of my Redeemer. Brethren, shall we not all of us leave our loads there? and when we leave this meeting, may it be with the truth burning in our souls like fire shut up in our bones. You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth. Our eyes must be anointed with eye-salve. We must draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to us, if we come in his own appointed way. O that you may go forth as the disciples did after the day of Pentecost, and then your testimony will have a living ring, and souls will be converted to God.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has struggled over the years to harmonize the law and gospel teachings, and as a result many different groups have sprung up who have misused and abused church doctrine to the point where they have done more harm than good. I thank God that I was exposed to many different teachings in my early years which caused me to examine things for myself.

I am certain of what the Bible teaches about the law and grace, and I am more than willing to stake my eternal destiny on what I have learned. I have been instructed by the Lord Jesus most of all, and I am humbled that He would be my personal guide. I am not perfect (by any stretch of the imagination) and I still have a long way to go. My eternal destiny is dependent on simply believing and trusting in the merits of Christ. I am blessed the more that Jesus changes my heart and mind, but I am painfully aware of my sin and imperfection. I take comfort in knowing that my life belongs to Christ and that He has no intention of letting me go–as long as I keep my trust in Him alone for salvation.

The law of God, the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20, tells us what God expects of all us. It also tells us that we are condemned because we all fall short of the holy standard. Jesus removes the condemnation of those who trust in the merits of his life and death. He then changes our hearts and minds, but we are never perfected before we see Christ coming in the clouds of heaven. Rewards are given to us in the New Jerusalem based on our willingness on earth to obey the commands of God, but our eternal destiny will always be based on the Blood of Christ that paid the ultimate purchase for our redemption. Our eternal motto will be “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”

Stephen Beagles

Reference
The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, Page 560

The Importance of Doctrine

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Is Doctrine Important to our Salvation?

God reveals truth to us through the scriptures. We ignore the essential teachings at our own risk. If bad theology is the result of an innocent error then God may overlook our ignorance. However, if we willfully reject the plain teaching of His word then we run the risk of grieving His spirit and may fall into spiritual darkness.

What are the essential doctrines necessary for genuine faith?

The main and the plain teachings regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ are essential to genuine faith. We must understand that God exists as the one and only true God who created the heavens and the earth, and that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who died for our sins and was resurrected for our eternal life. Once we understand Jesus is the only way to eternal life and salvation is offered as a free gift for all who trust in the merits of Christ then we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 1:13 (ESV):

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”

Jesus gave the clearest statement of the essentials of  faith in John 3:16-18:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

The essence of the truth is that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins and eternal life is granted to all who have simple faith in Him for salvation. Anything that distracts us from the clarity and simplicity of this truth is rooted in demonic deception and is designed to pull us away from genuine faith in the plain teachings of scripture.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, affirmed the necessity of believing the essential truths of the gospel of Jesus:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

One of the earliest Christian creeds gave us an indication of the essential truths passed down from the Apostles:

Πιστεύω εἰς θεòν πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς.
Καὶ εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστòν, υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τòν μονογενῆ, τòν κύριον ἡμῶν,
τòν συλληφθέντα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου, γεννηθέντα ἐκ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου,
παθόντα ὑπὸ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, σταυρωθέντα, θανόντα, καὶ ταφέντα,
κατελθόντα εἰς τὰ κατώτατα, τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστάντα ἀπò τῶν νεκρῶν,
ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καθεζόμενον ἐν δεξιᾷ θεοῦ πατρὸς παντοδυνάμου,
ἐκεῖθεν ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς.
Πιστεύω εἰς τò πνεῦμα τò ἅγιον, ἁγίαν καθολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν, ἁγίων κοινωνίαν,
ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, σαρκὸς ἀνάστασιν, ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
Αμήν.

The English Translation reads:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed serves only as an outline of the essential truths of the Bible and a mature Christian will ultimately come to know the fine details of these basic doctrines the longer they study the word of God. It is also true that knowledge does not save us any more than our obedience to the law of God enables us to earn salvation, but these truths serve as a safeguard against demonic deception designed to pervert the truth and destroy our faith in the genuine Christ of the scriptures.

Why is it important to believe the essentials teachings of Scripture?

Jesus warned against falling into spiritual deception:

“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:5, ESV).

Paul predicted the state of the world in end times regarding deception:

” Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

The Apostle John counselled early believers:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

The Apostle Peter warned:

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).

Jude wrote:

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

These verses of scripture reveal the importance of knowing the essential truths of scripture as a means of safeguarding us against spiritual deception. While some claim that God knows each individual heart and it does not matter how we interpret the scriptures as long as we are sincere, we are warned against believing false interpretations of scripture:

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:15-18, KJV).

The main and the plain teachings of the Bible are the essential doctrines that ALL must know and understand to avoid falling prey to false Christs, false prophets, and doctrines of demons. The knowledge of the truth allows us to place our faith and trust in the genuine Christ of scriptures who died for our sins and offers eternal life to all who place their trust in Him.

Here is an acronym that may help you remember the essential teachings of scripture (STARS):

Scripture: The Bible is the Word of God
Trinity: God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Atonement: Jesus died for our Sins
Righteousness: A believer is declared righteous by faith in Christ alone.
Salvation: Jesus grants eternal life in paradise to all who place simple faith in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection.

Stephen Beagles

Truth: The Main and the Plain

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People tell me over and over again that my beliefs about the Bible are simply a matter of personal interpretation. But that statement assumes truth cannot be known as objective fact. No one agrees 100 percent of the time, yet there are some basic undeniable facts. For example, if a person jumps off an airplane at an altitude of 13,000 ft without a parachute then that person will succumb to the laws of gravity.

I understand why people are skeptical of anyone claiming to have objective truth. Everyone has their own opinion and few will ever admit to being wrong. Logic states if you put 100 master theologians in a room and they all disagree on a certain point of doctrine then only one of them can be right. The odds are all of them are wrong. Still, it is possible for one to have the truth. It pays to be skeptical in most cases, but there is danger in being overly skeptical when we assume it is not possible for anyone to know the truth about anything.

If truth does not exist then how do scientists establish scientific fact? How can a jury find anyone guilty of committing a crime?

When it comes to understanding the Bible, many people are convinced it takes years of seminary training to interpret scripture. It seems we give people with a doctoral degree in theology more credibility than the average lay person. However, the important truths of holy scripture are easy to comprehend.

The following verse about Jesus is crystal clear:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

I know some philosophers will torture logic to make that verse say the exact opposite of what the author intended, but a majority of rational people with no ax to grind will be able to understand the plain meaning of the text–Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life.

Not every text of scripture is easy to understand, but a major principle of biblical interpretation is to interpret the difficult passages in the light of the easy ones. The clear teachings of scripture can never be contradicted. If we allow ourselves to disregard the main and plain teachings when interpreting difficult Bible texts then we are only encouraging a form of spiritual anarchy.

Join me in fulfilling our responsibility to spread the truth of God’s word.

Stephen Beagles

Is Religion Merely a Cultural Bias Based on Tradition?

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Popular athiests have recently published books about the pros of atheism and the cons of Christianity. One reason they promote for rejecting the existence of God is they believe all religion is merely a cultural bias based on tradition.

One of the atheist’s favorite expression is “Christians are only Christians because they live in a culture that favors Christianity. If the same people were born in a Hindu culture then they would be Hindus instead of Christian.” There are a couple of problems with that type of reasoning.

First, it is stating the obvious that people who are born in Christian homes are going to be raised with Christian values. Furthermore, being born into a Christian home does not say anything about the truth claims of the Bible.

Second, it does not follow that being born into a Christian home will ensure a person becomes a Christian. Many children born in Christian homes decided not to remain Christian. Studies have revealed 70-75 percent of Christian young people leave the church after high school. Those who stay in church have had many opportunities to question beliefs and choose to remain true to the faith despite the unpopularity of their stand for Christ.

Rejecting the God of the Bible over claims of cultural bias is not logical or rational. Only a small percentage of people are Christian because that is the way they were raised. A majority of people who become Christians are convinced that the Bible is the word of God and that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

Is knowledge Essential to Salvation?

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I almost do not want to write about this subject. Many times, I have come close to giving up on any attempt to communicate this message. I am not even sure that I completely understand all of the implications that arise because of my conclusions. However, it is an important message to understand in the 21st century of post-modern relativism and mass communications where conflicting opinions bombard us from every direction.

Recently, I engaged in many debates on social media regarding the fine complexities of biblical doctrine. It is interesting to see how many people arrive at different ideas about the Christian faith. It can also be confusing. But the first major fallacy that is easy to overcome is the “ALL or Nothing” paradigm where if a person does not agree with everything someone else teaches regarding the Bible then they are servants of the devil. Even the apostle Paul, who had his own disagreements with some in the church of Jerusalem, allowed many to follow their conscience over some theological issues of the day such as whether or not to observe Jewish festivals.

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 4:15, KJV).

Paul taught there was room for disagreement on some points of doctrine as long as personal opinions did not directly conflict with the message of Christ. On the other hand, Paul was adamant that all Christians believed some essential facts regarding the person and work of Jesus.

For example, Paul proclaimed to the Galatians:

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4, NIV).

This statement reveals that a prerequisite for salvation is to give up attempting to be justified by the law of God, which means not placing conditions on salvation other than simple faith in Jesus Christ. Those who bought into a false gospel had been alienated from Christ and had fallen outside the grace of God.

These scriptures force me to conclude there are two groups of Bible doctrine. The first group are the essential doctrines of Christianity requiring an understanding of basic facts regarding Jesus and the plan of salvation. The second group contains the secondary and supporting doctrines needed for a full understanding of the Christian life, but are not necessary for faith in Jesus.

A basic understanding of the essential doctrines of Christianity is necessary for genuine faith in the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ.

FALSE PROFESSION AND SPRITUAL DECEPTION

Some Christians believe that all who profess Christ are granted eternal life. What is required for salvation is a simple profession of faith in Jesus, but this is not the truth. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned about professing Christians who would be lost in the end-times:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23, KJV).

Jesus taught a mere profession of faith in Him is not enough to bring a person to salvation. More is required than simply addressing Jesus as Lord even if professed Christians are able to perform miraculous works in His name.

Jesus also warned about mass deception that would lead many astray:

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5, KJV).

FALSE RELIGION AND FALSE GOSPEL

Jesus repeated this sentiment later on during His ministry when He taught about the goats who professed Christianity:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25: 32-46, NIV)

Jesus gave us a hint of the major reason for their disqualifications as Christians. They saw themselves as God’s people, but they isolated themselves from the “least of these” and closed themselves off from those they saw as being unfit for the kingdom. They thought they were doing the right things, by doing good works, but their motivation was to bring glory to themselves instead of reaching out to the sinful and the ungodly. They saw themselves as good people and above the sinfulness of the world, but instead they are accounted by Christ as the worst of the cursed.

Jesus also rebuked the religious leaders of Israel and gave us another clue to the reason behind mass spiritual blindness:

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29, NIV).

These warnings of Jesus teach us the importance of knowing the Holy Scriptures as it pertains to the power of God to avoid spiritual deception. The power of God is nothing other than the cross of Christ to save all who trust His saving grace.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV)

Jesus warned the people of Israel about spiritual deception and gave them enough information about what to avoid so that they would not fall prey to false Christs. However, His primary motivation for these warnings was to help them to understand truth about Himself:

“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am” (John 13:19, NIV).

Is the Universe Eternal?

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There are two ways of looking at the universe. One way is to claim that energy is eternal. If this is the case, then an intelligent designer is not a necessary cause for human existence.

Another way of looking at the natural world is that an intelligent creator is the source of all energy, and this higher power programmed the laws of nature.
The first law of thermodynamics seems to support the eternal nature of energy by stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed. However, the first law is not based on observation but is an assumption open to interpretation by experts who arrive at different conclusions when presented with the observable facts within the natural world (Geisler & Howe, 1992).

The second law of thermodynamics, on the other hand, supports the conclusion that the universe had a definite beginning. This law states that the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing over time. If the universe was eternal, and did not have a beginning, then the amount of usable energy would have been depleted long ago.

Is the universe eternal? No, the universe had a definite beginning according to scientific theory. If the universe had a beginning then it must have had a definite cause. Logically, it makes more sense to believe in an intelligent designer who created the natural world than to assume that the universe created itself by chance.

Stephen Beagles

The Mark of the Beast

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I had breakfast with George Vandeman, the famed Adventist evangelist from the It is Written television broadcast, and we talked about the Book of Revelation and the Mark of the Beast while we ate our morning pancakes at a Northern New England Camp Meeting many years ago.

We both agreed that the Mark of the Beast was symbolic and was given to people in the end-times, after the close of probation, who perverted the genuine gospel of Jesus with a gospel of works involving a forced conversion to Christianity and the worship of a false Christ. Furthermore, the Sabbath is a symbol of the free gift of salvation through resting in the completed works of Christ, and a reminder that we cannot work our way into the heavenly kingdom.

Forcing someone to worship God, or submitting to the worship of a false Christ, is a spiritual death sentence for those alive at the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Sabbath is a reminder of the gospel of Jesus.

This is the REAL meaning behind the Sabbath and the Mark of the Beast in the end times. It will be clear to all genuine Christians living in that time period that God does not force anyone to worship. Obedience that is not motivated by love for the free gift of salvation purchased by the blood of Christ is worthless, evil, and idolatrous.

Stephen Beagles

How to Pray to God

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PAUSE. Reflect on what it means to be in the presence of ultimate power, wisdom, and source of life.

PRAISE. Begin by thanking God for all of the blessings He has already bestowed. There is always something for which we can be grateful.

POUR. Tell God what is on your mind and don’t hold back. Give Him the good, bad, and ugly about what is on your heart. Pour out your heart to God who loves and cares about you.

PETITION. Tell God what you want and need for yourself, your family, and friends. He answers 100% of our prayers with a yes, no, or wait for the right time. Nothing is too hard for God.

PROCLAIM. Renew your willingness to be a channel of God’s love to the world. Proclaim your intentions to use your spiritual gifts to build up the kingdom of God. Proclaim your desire to do your part to promote the truth of God’s word. Commit yourself to follow God’s direction wherever it leads.

PREPARE. God has heard your prayer. Prepare to receive the answers that He alone can give you. Remember, we may not always get what we asked, but know that God has promised to give us what is best.

Stephen Beagles

“Let us be united in Christ”

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Arthur White, grandson of Ellen G. White, related the following story about his grandmother’s influence at general conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church during the later years of her life. The SDA church had grown to 750,000 members worldwide, and a small group of general conference leaders were reluctant to restructure the church to allow a more decentralized approach to church ministry, evangelism, and world mission.

At the opening meeting of the general conference session, Ellen White moved up to the pulpit and gave the following statement:

“Every soul in every conference, in every part of the Lord’s Vinyard, has the privilege of knowing the truth. But truth is not truth to those who do not practice it. Truth is only truth to you when you live it in daily life, showing the world what those people must be who are at last saved.”

In this statement, Mrs White counselled church leaders to do more than proclaim the truth; they must also be obedient to the truth. To be the light of Christ to a dark world, our actions must be consistent with our beliefs. If we believe God is love and Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, then our lives must reflect trust in Christ and His righteousness. How often has the church honored the gospel with its lips while its heart is still mired in legalism and a focus on human performance?

Our actions must reflect our love for God and our trust in the merits of Christ.

Ellen White added, ” According to the light that been given me–and just how it is to be accomplished I cannot say–greater strength must be brought into the managing force of the conference…There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.”

By this she meant the SDA church needed to rely on God and His wisdom. There was a need to decentralize church authority and rely on the power of God to bring people into church ministry and evangelism. If the Adventist Church was led by Christ, the church would not fail. General conference leaders needed to place more trust in Christ instead of maintaining a strangle-hold on church policy.

At the General Conference Session, after three weeks of church re-organization, Mrs White made these concluding remarks:

“Who do you suppose has been among us since this conference began?…Who has walked up and down the aisles of this tabernacle? The God of heaven and His Angels. We have been trying to organize the work on right lines. The Lord has sent His angels to minister unto us who are heirs of salvation, telling us how to carry the work forward…Press together, press together. Let us be united in Christ.”

Those words revealed Ellen White’s genuine attitude towards the Adventist movement. God was to be in charge. The King of the Universe would be actively involved in managing the church policy. Mrs. White then gave the key to maintaining organizational unity within the church.

She proclaimed, “Let us be united in Christ.”

Effective ministers of the gospel allow Christ to lead. God and His angels are available for guidance, wisdom, and courage to make difficult choices. Our ultimate success does not depend on human programs, human psychology, or human leadership programs. Ministers of Christ must be united in Christ and must acknowledge the supremacy of Christ in the daily life.

The more we are obedient to the Holy Spirit, the more effective will be our witness for Him as we proclaim the gospel to the world.

Listen to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the following while under divine inspiration: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).

Please Join me and unite under the banner of Christ and His Righteousness. Let our daily proclamation be, “Not I, but Christ!”

~Stephen Beagles

The Reality of God

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God is real. He is as real as the air we breathe and the water we drink. The creator of the universe is as real as the heavens and earth that we observe in the natural world. The divine king of creation is as real as the printed page of divine revelation that reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1. KJV).

God is not a philosophical idea or an educated hypothesis. God is ultimate reality. Christians who doubt the reality of God cannot possess genuine faith. Theists do not merely have faith in the existence of God; we accept the existence of the supernatural world as fact. Our belief in God is not based on probabilities or wagers, but in real history–God has revealed Himself to us in time and space.

The focus of our faith is not in the existence of God, but in the trustworthiness of His divine love. We have faith that Jesus is coming again to take the righteous to live with Him for eternity. We place our life in His hands for grace and peace. We trust His wisdom to guide us and to help us endure the tribulations of our current existence.

Ellen White, in the book Gospel Workers, stressed the importance of focusing on the reality of the truth about God: “The subjects which we present to the world must be to us a living reality” (2015, p. 299).

She also exemplifies this point by telling the following story:

“On a certain occasion, when Betterton, the celebrated actor, was dining with Dr. Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop said to him, ‘Pray, Mr. Betterton, tell me why it is that you actors affect your audiences so powerfully by speaking of things imaginary.’ ‘My lord,’ replied Betterton, ‘with due submission to Your Grace, permit me to say that the reason is plain; it all lies in the power of enthusiasm. We on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real; and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.'”– Counsels to Teachers, p. 255. (1913)

There is no room for doubting the existence of God in the 21st Century. Modern Christians need to spend more time contemplating the reality of God in an age where a constant barrage of fictional drama and philosophical speculation has become the cultural norm.

One day we will see Jesus face to face as we sit next to Him on His throne in the heavenly kingdom. Until then we wait, we dwell on the reality of God, and we pray that God continues to makes His presence known in a world where everything seems to be a matter of opinion.

The reality of God is not theory–God is a fact. Let us honor Him by acknowledging the reality of His presence in our daily lives.

~Stephen Beagles

The Significance of the Judgment

 

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In my last article, The Investigative Judgment, I stated that it pays to have an open mind concerning the actual meaning of the 2300 days prophecy. I can see the value of the 2300 days prophecy when it comes to predicting the first advent of Jesus Christ, but the significance of the year 1844 leaves many unanswered questions in my mind. But the main point of the article was to focus on the meaning of the judgment in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The point of all scripture is to make us wise unto salvation.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-14, KJV).

Many Adventists believe that the sanctuary message, along with the day of atonement (judgment) represent the core message of Adventism. This is correct only if the doctrine is interpreted in the light of the free gift of salvation that is guaranteed to those who trust in the merits of our crucified savior–Jesus Christ. I also said that gospel Adventism takes nothing away from the traditional doctrines of Adventism, rather the gospel gives them life and meaning apart from the fear based focus on perfectionism.

The sanctuary message represents the entire plan of salvation including the day of judgment. To be certain, All of Christendom agrees that Christians face a future day of judgment:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, KJV).

The judgment is a central pillar of Christianity, because it establishes the necessity of the gospel. Either we will appear before God clothed in our naked and filthy human righteousness or we will appear before God clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of Christ covers our imperfections and is the only way for human beings to be declared perfect before a Holy God.

The doctrine of judgment points us directly to the need to be justified by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Without the judgment, there is no need for the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Genuine Christians look to the judgment with confidence that they already have the final verdict–“Righteous by Faith in the Blood of Jesus”.

Jesus said clearly: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5: 24, KJV).

~Stephen Beagles

The Investigative Judgment

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Do Gospel Adventists believe in the investigative judgement? Do we believe that God judges both the righteous and wicked prior to the second coming of Jesus to decide their place in eternity?

The answer to this question is yes. The problem has never been about whether there is an investigative judgement (IJ), but the real issue has been related to the nature of the IJ. The traditional view leans heavily on character perfection as a prerequisite to passing through the judgment into eternity, while gospel adventists believe that christians already have the final verdict in their possession as a result of the gift of salvation.

Genuine Christians have nothing to worry about as they wear the perfect robes of Christ’s righteousness. However, false christians who lean on their own self-righteousness will be wiped off the books.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV).”The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:5, NIV).

My own questions regarding the 2300 days prophecy that ended in 1844, is two fold: a). Could Christ have returned prior to 1844? b). When did Christ enter the Most Holy Place?

My understanding is that Christ could have come anytime after his ascension if the gospel had gone to the entire world. The problem with the traditional view that states Christ waited in the Holy Place until 1844 and then moved into the Most Holy Place to begin the judgment phase of His work is ruled out by the Bible that clearly states: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12, NIV).

The question has never been about the existence of a judgment, but the argument has been over the validity of the 2300 days prophecy. However, I remain open minded on this topic. If the 2300 days prophecy is true then it does nothing to rob me of my faith in the gospel. I already have the final verdict: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

The Vision of 21st Century Gospel Adventism

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The Seventh-day Adventist church founded by James White, Ellen White, and Joseph Bates, started out as a progressive movement that resisted the biblical dogmatism of its day. The scholars in the church were consistently revising its biblical theology as new information was received through Bible study and prayer. It was with much reluctance that the Adventist church began to solidify its teachings into what have now become its 28 fundamental beliefs. Adventists desperately wanted to move away from the traditionalism of the past and accept only those beliefs and practices that could be proved from Holy Scripture.

Ellen White was regarded as an authoritative source of truth, although she never originated any doctrinal beliefs. Mrs. White only accepted those truths that were explained to her from the Scriptures. Once she had taken a position based on Bible teachings, she would receive a message from God that confirmed the doctrinal position. On occasion she would reject a teaching that God had shown her was in contradiction with the established truths of the Bible.

In 1888, Ellen White realized the need to shift the church’s focus away from teaching the distinctive doctrines of the denomination to a more Christ-centered approach. Every doctrine was to be taught only in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, a few within the denomination were worried about losing the distinctive doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and many saw the new approach to evangelism as a compromise instead of a correction. Unfortunately, many of those resistant to the new focus on righteousness by faith were established leaders within the denomination.

Since those early days, Adventists were split into two major camps of theology. The law Adventists believed genuine faith equated to keeping the 10 commandments, and “righteous by faith” Adventists promoted a righteousness from God apart from law keeping. Since the major split in 1888, the two camps within Adventism have been worshipping together in the same churches, and debating the proper way to define the gospel, for over 120 years. It is often hard to identify the division within the churches, because they all use the same doctrinal language. The problem is that those in the two camps define many theological terms much differently resulting in doctrinal tension and confusion.

Every few decades there seems to be a pendulum shift within the leadership of the church between those who focus on the law and character perfection and those who place the gift of salvation at the center of evangelism. Occasionally, the tension builds and mini theological explosions occur that result in many walking away from the general conference and joining independent Adventist groups. One of the most recent examples of this happened in glacier view in the 1980s when Desmond Ford began identifying serious problems with the traditional view of the investigative judgment.

The 1980s began a serious time of doctrinal soul searching as the scholars and administrators battled for the heart and soul of the organization. It was out of this tension that gospel Adventism began to take shape within the organization. Gospel Adventism is the synthesis between the teachings of traditional Adventism (thesis) and the doctrines of liberal Adventism (anti-thesis). While the seed was planted in the early 1980s, the movement is beginning to blossom in the 21st century.

Gospel Adventism is not a choice between traditional Adventism and a new theology. Gospel Adventism is both traditional and gospel centered. In fact, gospel Adventists understand the best way to explain traditional Adventist theology is in light of the cross of Christ and the gospel of Jesus. We see Jesus in all of the doctrines of the Bible—especially in the sanctuary and investigative judgment doctrines of the Adventist church.

Not one distinctive doctrine of Adventism is lost when proclaimed in the full light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The major difference between traditional and gospel Adventism is the focus is always on Jesus and the free gift of salvation that He purchased on the cross. The vision of Gospel Adventism is to interpret all doctrines of the Bible in light of the free gift of eternal life for all who place their simple faith in the merits of their crucified savior—Jesus Christ.

~Stephen Beagles

How to Hear the Voice of God

 

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Many people wonder how God speaks to me. How can I claim to speak the words of God unless I am able to discern the voice of God?

It took me awhile to be able to explain how I am able to separate the word of God from my own inner voice. The simplest way to describe the process is that everything—every thought, feeling, emotion, impulse, and experience– must be filtered through a knowledge of the written word of God. The noise must be filtered out. The “still small voice” can only be heard when all the static created by the world, the flesh, and the devil, is filtered out. Even then, it is not audible to our human ears, but is understood as a quiet whisper inside the heart.

Read the following verses of scripture:

(a). “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, NIV).

(b). “’This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33, NIV).

(c). “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand– I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people'” (Isaiah 51:13, NIV).

(d). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, KJV).

If you filter the above paragraph through these scriptures then you are able to get the basics of what I am saying about how God speaks to His people. Anyone can hear the voice of God if they tune their hearts to understanding the word of God communicated to the ancient prophets. The “noise” of the world must be filtered out through the truth of the Holy Scripture. The gentle whisper, consistent with the revealed truths of the Bible, is the voice of God.

Of course, God can speak to us directly using more dramatic methods such as personal visitation, visions, dreams, angelic visits, or an audible voice from heaven. However, these are rare and, more often than not, can be a counterfeit message sent by a fallen angel.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NIV).

And when God speaks to us then we are accountable for being obedient to His voice. It is our divine responsibility to follow through with what He is asking of us. The more obedient we are to His commands, the more clearly we are able to decipher His messages to us.

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands” (1 John 2:3, NIV).

In my own life, I have learned the scriptures by reading and studying the Holy Bible and by listening to ministers who have received a word from God to share with other people. God has allowed me to share in the ministry of the gospel by teaching others the divine plan of salvation. God grants me wisdom that I might share the knowledge of His divine plan with others by using my spiritual gifts to His name’s honor and glory. God has allowed me to use my writing as a way to minister to other people.

Recently, God spoke to my heart through the writings of a special prophetic messenger of her time, Ellen White who received numerous visions, dreams, and angelic visitations. This is what she says about the spiritual gift of writing:

“The pen is a power in the hands of men who feel the truth burning upon the altar of their hearts, and who have an intelligent zeal for God, balanced with sound judgment. The pen, dipped in the fountain of pure truth, can send beams of light to dark corners of the earth, which will reflect its rays back, adding new power, and giving increased light to be scattered everywhere.”

I know that when God speaks to me that His desire is to speak through me to the rest of the world. He is also willing to use your talents to His name’s honor and glory. Tune your hearts to His word, and tell others of the wisdom that He imparts to you as His ambassadors of truth.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” 2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV).

~Stephen Beagles

What is in Your Heavenly Treasure Chest?

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I am not convinced the judgment actually began in 1844, but that is most certainly the year God spoke to draw the world’s attention to this message.
May I add, Christians are not judged by their own works in the judgment as a means to salvation. Christians are justified by the perfect works of Christ that cover their imperfections as they stand before a Holy God. The real question to be decided will be if they trusted Christ for salvation or if they relied on their own righteous obedience to get into heaven.

However, Jesus will reward Christians for the works done in the power of the Holy Spirit. These treasures will be enjoyed for eternity. This is what Jesus meant when he proclaimed: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

In essence, there are two parts to the judgment scene. The first will decide our eternal salvation. The second will decide our rewards in the heavenly kingdom. Some Christians will receive an abundance of heavenly treasure, while others will simply be grateful to have made it through the gates of the Kingdom. Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Some people might question that God will reward people in heaven according to their works on earth. But the Holy Spirit clearly spoke through the apostle Paul who declared, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Our salvation is secured by Christ as we trust Him alone for our eternal life. The blessings received now and throughout eternity will be rewarded based on our willingness to be obedient to Christ in all things. These are the three angels messages that are becoming more clear and pronounced as the time clock ticks away the final seconds of earth’s dark history.

~Stephen Beagles

Video: Facing the Judgment with Confidence

Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?

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The authors of the Life Application Study Bible stated our galaxy spins at 490,000 miles per hour. Even at that speed, it still takes 200 million years to make one full rotation. If that does not overwhelm your senses, add one billion other galaxies into the equation. Cosmologists estimated the number of stars in the universe is equal to the number of grains of sand on Earth.

Imagine the power and intellect involved with creating a single atom, and multiply that by the size and scope of the entire universe.

Biblical commentator Matthew Henry told us to contemplate the variety, beauty, exactness and accuracy, power, order, and mystery involved in the things of nature, and ask how the world could possibly create itself out of nothingness? His conclusion was that atheism is folly for the universe could not have come about by mere chance.

How can we deny the existence of a God who brought all things into existence? Meditating on the things of nature helps to lead us in the right direction concerning the spiritual nature of the universe. But the real proof of God’s existence is He revealed Himself directly to humanity through the prophets.

Not only did God speak through the prophets, but He also sent a divine emissary to live among human beings to teach us about the true nature and character of the creator.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV

The next time you are tempted to doubt the wisdom and power of God in your life, ask yourself is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27) If God can create the heavens, the earth, and everything within, then is there a problem that He cannot solve?

In my own life, I have witnessed God turning my burdens into blessings and my tribulations into triumph. If God allows adversity in my life, I can rest assured He has a plan for every problem that arises.

The question remains: Do I trust Him?

I have been tempted to believe God is unwilling or unable to fix my problems, but even in these darkest moments, I am reminded that the God who created all things, and who sent Jesus to die for my sins, will work all things in accordance with His will for my life. (Romans 8:28)

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

~Stephen Beagles

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