The preaching of ‘this gospel of the Kingdom’ ushers in new creation Kingdom of God. This is the gospel of Jesus, John and Paul - the apostle’s teaching. It is not humanism with Jesus added to assist us in a program of self-effort. It is Christ our life. It is an illusion to think that we are advancing the Kingdom when we are promoting a religion of law and old creation.
It pays to live from the gospel of the Kingdom, rather than an ‘added to’ gospel, a distorted gospel or ‘another gospel’ of the kind Paul warned Believers to steer clear of. Believers can be lovely people, yet live crippled lives unbeknown to themselves. Crippled because they have been conditioned to live in a gospel different to the gospel of Jesus and the apostles teaching. In law culture Christ is effectively suffocated out of our lives. As a result Christian witness is called ‘service’ - a ‘worker’ mentality devoid of the spirit and life that is Jesus
‘But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!’ Gal 1.8 NIV.
We would understand that the wearing of a burkah by a Muslim woman or the hijab or the wearing of a beard according to the pattern of the prophet for men, neither makes one holy or unholy. There is no effect at all on one’s status in God or on one’s nature as a human being. Except perhaps to make one judgmental. ‘Sabbath-keeping’ is equivalent in merit and life-giving efficacy to burkah wearing and hijab donning. It has no effect on our status with God, does not make us holy or wholesome. It insulates us from the fullness of Christ who is available in abundance to all who take His name. Life in the law is retrograde and diminishing. All Sabbath-keeping does is confirm us in the illusion that we can gain union with God by doing. But we don’t. Union with God is ours in Jesus. Ours because He is our life and ours because when we believe in Him and not some substitute Christ such as the Sabbath, Father, Son and Holy Spirit come to dwell in our being.
‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV.
Deep down satisfaction, rest and peace is found in Jesus alone. Forgiveness of sins is ours. But our inheritance - this pearl of great price - is life itself. Life that is visionary, imaginative and infinite. This life is so unlimited that it bubbles up to eternal life. And all because Jesus by His Spirit is in us and with us.
‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ Eph 2.14 NIV.
To be tied to the law by ideology and the Sabbath is to be alienated from God. We cannot be one with each other because we are not one with ourselves on account of the fact that we are not one with God. There is no real at-one-ment in Adventism. Even the words ‘keeping close to Jesus’ imply that it is our task and our concern and responsibility to secure closeness to God. But intimacy and union are already ours, endorsed by a covenant that can never be broken.
‘To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ Col 1.27 NIV.
We need to stop striving for an inheritance that is already ours and live in the union with God that is ours by the One Spirit. We are not living in the knowledge of good and evil today. We are alive in God, filled with His Spirit and joined by the One Spirit of God. Because we are alive in a living Christ we are sons and daughters who are alive with spirit and life.
‘But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him’ 1 Cor 6.17 NLT.
In the new testament you will find absolutely no instruction to keep the Sabbath. This is because the Sabbath and the commandments were given specifically to the Hebrews. As well as this Sabbath-keeping is not intended because Father intended that the law should cease and be replaced by the person of Jesus living in the Believer to impart life. Jesus would impart His life to the disciple and be his life. Thus through Christ in the disciple the creation would emerge and multiply. The new creation is set in motion through Christ come in our flesh. Jesus’ resurrection is the sign that we are participants in the new creation. Sabbath-keeping is the evidence that we are still living in the old covenant, bound to the law and the withered life and civilization of Adam. In one there is spontaneous and infinite life. In the other there is fade-out, decay and a dormant spirit. The sign of the new creation life of Jesus is a forest of trees of life. The sign of the law and old Adam is an entire denomination of dead trees.
‘But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ John 4.14 NIV.
Jesus’ attitude to religious rites can be seen in His reply to the Samaritan woman. She wanted to know where to worship. Jesus replied that ‘the where’ did not matter. What counted was worship in spirit and in truth. There is a concise definition of spirit and truth: Jesus.
When I was growing up spirit and truth were defined as living in the law. Jesus use of the words ‘commandments’ was taken to mean the Ten Commandments. Neither is the case. To live in Spirit is to have Christ come in our flesh. To live in truth is to be in step with heaven’s new covenant plan - Christ our life.
Paul restates the same principle declared by Jesus to the woman at the well. ‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation’ Gal 6.15 NIV. What counts is the Spirit of Jesus welling up in your and spreading life to all that your touch.
All new creation life comes from our rootedness in the trinity. Here we are rooted in person not ‘thing.’ Here Jesus is the Vine connecting us to the Root. The Root is the Family of God. Jesus is God and joins us to God. The Kingdom of God will never grow from any community grounded in the law because life does not grow from inert, lifeless abstractions. Life can no more grow from the law than it can evolve from a puddle of warm water.
Wisdom, discernment and vision are products of the Spirit. So is intelligence. A life in the law with a legalistic attitude shrinks the mind and dulls intelligence. But it also increases the ego.
Creativity, imagination and intellectual brightness are associated with spirit and truth and the reality of living in the Spirit. So is humility and grace. Jesus neither lived from the law or represented it. He came from His Father, lived in His Father and revealed His Father. This is what sons do. Servants, workers and slaves live in the law with its restrictive compartments of good and evil. They produce a culture of dimness of spirit and intellectual dullness. Sons live in God. The Sons of God are channels of His life into the creation. They impart spirit and life. Tied to the law one can manufacture religion and build a system. When Christ is our life we multiply spirit and life and build the new creation.
Religion comes from the law and old covenant. Spirit and life come from the new.
To live in spirit and in truth means to have Jesus as our life. To be in the truth means to be in Christ and one with God. It is to be a new covenant believer who no longer lives from the law but whose life is lived from Jesus, our Father and Holy Spirit. The ‘commandments’ in the new testament refer to the teachings of Jesus who presented Himself as life, righteousness, truth, liberty, wholeness and holiness. ‘Keeping His commandments’ means living in alignment with His teaching. Truth today has nothing to do with the Mosaic law and commandments. It has everything to do with Christ living by the Spirit in our being.
We are graced with His life. Jesus is grace. We live as ourselves in the liberty of a life that is not ours.
None who live in the law are whole or holy and none whose rest is the Sabbath have genuine and abiding rest. There is a Rest who is Christ our peace and our life. In Christ we are delivered from every kind of self-authentication, self-validation and self-effort. In this rest we gain vision, creativity and life to the full. We live in the spirit instead of in the flesh. We are not slaves or workers but sons of God, not in theory but in spirit and in truth.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
The teachings of Ellen White and the pioneers involve a negation of the gospel and the undoing of the cross. The result is life in the flesh instead of life in the Spirit of Christ. There are no sons in Adventism. Only workers and slaves. Adventism is the tragedy of the Ancient Mariner. He never gets set free from enforced stagnation and is continually becalmed. He is caught in the reed beds of old covenant, law and ignorance of the mystery of Godliness revealed in the person of Jesus.
‘He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit’ Titus 3.5 NASB.
Adventism thought it had an improvement, an advance on the gospel of the Kingdom. It promotes its negation of the kingdom as the Kingdom of God. In its futility it killed the albatross of life in the Spirit. With its crossbow of law and Sabbath it regressed to a pre-cross mentality while touting this as ‘the truth.’ Adventism wears the dead albatross of law and Sabbath around its neck, not in shame but as a sign of its retro- message and misguided identity. But this is the identity of a dead man walking. Adventism, the Sabbath and its alternative cosmology is a body of death that denies the Spirit of life and becalms its community in the stalemate of religion and law. But you have a life that is entirely Christ. This is Christ your life and you’re in the Spirit of Sonship.
The message to those who live in the lie of Adventism is this:
‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life’ Ezek 37.5 NIV.