Tag Archives: Stephen Beagles

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

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