“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11.
In 1914 the Lord called into existence the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Reform Movement, to keep the flame of truth burning, to defend faithfulness to divine principles in time of crisis, and to prepare a people to be light bearers in the world. This year, 2014, is the centennial of that movement. It has therefore been considered as fitting that the subject of “Revival and Reformation” be studied around the world.
These Sabbath School Lessons were originally written by Elder Oscar Kramer, a Reform Movement pioneer who as a child witnessed the serious crisis within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1914-1918 in Europe. For decades he stood as a faithful servant of God. When others surrendered the gospel principle of pacifism because of government compulsion, he was one who understood what sacrifice was necessary and with all his strength and the special help of God firmly defended the faith, despite opposition and difficulties of many kinds.
Included in these lessons are (1) the Biblical principles on which revival and reformation are based, (2) the spiritual characteristics of leaders who were used by God to bring about change, (3) Scriptural examples of reformations in ancient Israel, (4) the historical context that brought about the Reform Movement, and (5) what God is doing now to cleanse and seal a people who will be ready to meet Jesus with joy at His second coming.
It is important to search out the issues as well as the Biblical and historical context of this subject, and this special year gives us the opportunity to look back and assess where we are now. Everything that happened in the past directs our hearts and minds to what is ahead.
“The wonderful things to take place in our world–the greatest events of all ages–are incomprehensible to worldly minds; they cannot be explained by human sciences. The powers of heaven shall be shaken. Christ is coming in power and great glory, but His coming is not such a mystery as the things to take place before that event. Man must be a partaker of the divine nature in order to stand in this evil time, when the mysteries of satanic agencies are at work. Only by the divine power united with the human can souls endure through these times of trial. Says Christ, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing.’ Then there must be far less of self and more of Jesus.
“External forms cannot take the place of inward piety. The Jewish teachers exalted themselves as righteous; they called all those who differed from them accursed, and closed the gates of heaven to them, declaring that those who had not learned in their schools were not righteous. But with all their criticisms and exactions, with all their forms and ceremonies, they were an offense to God. They looked down upon, and despised the very ones precious in the sight of the Lord. And among the people who claim to believe the doctrines of our faith are those also who are filled with Pharisaism. Unless they are laying hold, moment by moment, of the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour, they will preach Christless sermons, and will become stumbling-blocks to souls who are inquiring the way to be saved. Human devices, human plans, and human counsels will be without power. Only in Christ Jesus will the church near the period of Christ’s coming be able to stand. She is required of her Redeemer to advance in piety, to have increased zeal, understanding better as she nears the end that her own ‘high calling is of God in Christ Jesus.’ ” –The Ellen G. White Materials, pp. 332, 333.
More than a century ago, the Lord inspired His servant to write: “A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from the spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.” –(Review and Herald, February 25, 1902) Christian Service, p. 42.
Let all Sabbath school teachers and students prayerfully and carefully store up in their hearts and minds the truths impressed by the Holy Spirit that are so necessary today and tomorrow–all for His glory.
–The brethren of the General Conference Ministerial Department
Special Sabbath School Offering for
Let the blessings Heaven has given you be reflected in your offerings!
Sabbath, July 5, 2014
“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God, and striving to conform their lives to its precepts…. God calls for a revival and a reformation.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 626.
1. What is revival? How is this to be understood spiritually?
Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
“A period of renewed religious interest.” –Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Also, “awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion,” “a reawakening of faith or renewal of commitment to religion.”
“Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from the spiritual death.” –(Review and Herald, February 25, 1902) Christian Service, p. 42.
2. Of what spiritual danger does the church always need to be aware?
Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
“Why not come back to our simplicity and life of fervor? The reason why we are not more joyful is that we have lost our first love. Let us then be zealous and repent,…” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 368.
“The word, ‘Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,’ is applicable to many living in this time. God calls for immediate repentance and reformation. It is time for a great change to take place among the people who are looking for the second appearing of their Lord. Soon strange things will take place. God will hold us responsible for the way in which we treat the truth. Our purity of faith and action will decide our future.
“God is in earnest with us…. A clear, decided testimony is to be borne, for a people is to be prepared to meet a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” –(Manuscript 136, 1902) Medical Ministry, pp. 37, 38.
3. What are those who have received light to do?
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
“If there is not an awakening among us who have had so great light and so many privileges, we shall sink to ruin, and our fate will be worse than that of Chorazin and Bethsaida;…” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 529.
“Everywhere people are perishing for lack of a knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. The members of the church are in need of an awakening, that they may realize their responsibility to impart these truths. Those who have been enlightened by the truth are to be light bearers to the world. To hide our light at this time is to make a terrible mistake. The message to God’s people today is, ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.’ ” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 455, 456.
4. In view of this, what is it important to do?
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
“The end is near, and God forbid that we shall be asleep at this time.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 362.
“On every hand we see those who have had much light and knowledge deliberately choosing evil in the place of good. Making no attempt to reform, they are growing worse and worse. But the people of God are not to walk in darkness. They are to walk in the light, for they are reformers.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 456.
“Study the Scriptures more earnestly; for their treasures of wisdom and knowledge do not lie upon the surface for the superficial reader.” –Review and Herald, February 4, 1890.
Surprise for the unprepared
5. How and why will people be surprised at Christ’s second coming?
Matthew 24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
“The world, full of rioting, full of godless pleasure, is asleep, asleep in carnal security. Men are putting afar off the coming of the Lord. They laugh at warnings. The proud boast is made, ‘All things continue as they were from the beginning.’ ‘Tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.’ 2 Peter 3:4; Isaiah 56:12. We will go deeper into pleasure loving. But Christ says, ‘Behold, I come as a thief.’ Revelation 16:15.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 635.
“In these last days many are weighed in the balances and found wanting, because they suffer their minds to be engrossed with things of little importance, while eternal truth is neglected….
“They failed to search the Scriptures.” –Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 4.
Invitation and prophecy
6. What true revival must and will come individually and collectively before the end of time?
Joel 2:12-17 Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
“Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times.” –The Great Controversy, p. 464.
“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 121.
7. To experience this revival, what must God’s people do? See also Luke 11:9-13.
1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
“A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer. While the people are so destitute of God’s Holy Spirit, they cannot appreciate the preaching of the Word; but when the Spirit’s power touches their hearts, then the discourses given will not be without effect.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 121.
Hindrances to avoid
8. How should the truths of Scripture be considered? What does the Lord invite every person to do?
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
“It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. ‘Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.’ Jeremiah 6:16.” –The Great Controversy, p. 478.
“The old standard bearers knew what it was to wrestle with God in prayer, and to enjoy the outpouring of His Spirit. But these are passing off from the stage of action; and who are coming up to fill their places? How is it with the rising generation? Are they converted to God? Are we awake to the work that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary, or are we waiting for some compelling power to come upon the church before we shall arouse? Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 122.
9. What hinders a revival? Who is working both behind the scenes and openly to defeat God’s purposes?
Isaiah 59:1, 2 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
“There is nothing that Satan fears so much as that the people of God shall clear the way by removing every hindrance, so that the Lord can pour out His Spirit upon a languishing church and an impenitent congregation. If Satan had his way, there would never be another awakening, great or small, to the end of time.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 124.
“I viewed God’s people as partaking of the spirit of the world, imitating its fashions, and getting above the simplicity of our faith. It seemed that the church at Battle Creek were backsliding from God, and it was impossible to arouse their sensibilities. The testimonies given me of God had the least influence and were the least heeded…. I knew that the Lord had not forsaken His people, but that their sins and iniquities had separated them from God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 596.
Importance of verbal affirmation
10. What hearty response was often spoken in Biblical times after a message was presented?
1 Chronicles 16:36 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord.
Nehemiah 5:13 Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the Lord. And the people did according to this promise.
The meaning of the word “Amen” is “so be it”. It was “used to express solemn ratification (as of an expression of faith) or hearty approval (as of an assertion).” –Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. “Hebrew, Aman” was used “to establish, to build up or support, to trust or believe.” –Strong’s Concordance, 539, 541.
“Praise the Lord in the congregation of His people. When the word of the Lord was spoken to the Hebrews anciently, the command was, ‘And let all the people say, Amen.’ When the ark of the covenant was brought into the city of David, and a psalm of joy and triumph was chanted, ‘all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord.’ This fervent response was an evidence that they understood the word spoken, and joined in the worship of God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 318.
Just as the people in Biblical times responded when they heard heavenly messages, what should we answer today to the call for a revival?