6 The Delusion of Superiority

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

We want to meditate upon our need to put away the delusion of spiritual pride. According to prophecy, we are at this present time in a transition from the church militant to the church triumphant. There are people who say they are God’s church and they stand by and prove themselves to be God’s church on earth; but that mentality is a delusion. We should not hold on to the idea that just because we have truth we are necessarily God’s church.

The message for this time is not, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.” Whom does the Lord receive as vessels unto honor? Those who cooperate with Christ, those who believe the truth, who live the truth, who proclaim the truth in all its bearings. {SpM 321.6}

The message is not, “Here is God’s church! The temple of the Lord are we!” Who does God regard as His people? Those who cooperate with Christ, those who believe the truth, who live the truth, who proclaim the truth, not only in theory, but in all its bearings. This leads us to our present message. We need to put away the delusion of superiority. We have this feeling of superiority because we have the truth; but it is a delusion.

Here are people who have a sense of superiority,

Isaiah 65:5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These [are] a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

It is a delusion to think that, “We have the truth; we have all these wonderful messages; we are rich and increased with goods, and have need nothing.” We may say that, but we do not realise what we are really like. The temple of the Lord are we, we say, and it’s a smoke in God’s nose. It is something that He detests; this is why Jesus says, I will spue them out of my mouth.

Those who harbour the delusion and hold on to this idea that they have all the facts rights and all the truth in place, and yet who do not have it in all its bearings and are not cooperating with Christ, are addressed in the following words:

In the work of God no kingly authority is to be exercised by any human being, or by two or three. The representatives of the Conference, as it has been carried with authority for the last twenty years, shall be no longer justified in saying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.” The men in positions of trust have not been carrying the work wisely. {ChL 26.2}

There is to be no kingly authority, no sense of superiority over others, in God’s church. Those are to be no longer justified who say, The temple of the Lord are we. Therefore we want to explore the nature of individuals who are in a transition from the church organisations that claim they are God’s church, to the church triumphant; we want to explore the nature of the people who will become the church triumphant.

In Transition

In the church militant men will be ever in need of restoration from the results of sin. The one who in some respects is superior to another is in other respects inferior to him. Every human being is subject to temptation and in need of brotherly interest and sympathy. The exercise of mercy in our daily relations with one another is one of the most effective means of attaining perfection of character, for only those who walk with Christ can be truly merciful. {HP 290.5}

Can you see a transition here? To become perfect, to become the church triumphant, what are we to do? The exercise of mercy in our daily relations with one another is one of the most effective means of attaining perfection of character. If we are now according to prophecy in this period of transitioning from the church militant to the church triumphant, then this subject is important to us that we may realise that while we are in the church militant and while we are still in a transition to perfection, we should harbour no delusion of superiority, because the one who in some respects is superior to another is in other respects inferior to him.

As we realise that we are living so close to the end, we should realise the call that is given to us in this time of transition to the church triumphant.

1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.

It is important for us to really open our hearts to these counsels of God’s word. Because the end of all things is at the end, if we are going to meet Jesus at the very end, we need to be perfect; and to be perfect in this transition, we are called upon to have fervent love, which is a love that is prepared to cover a multitude of sins and use hospitality to others without grudging. As we are conscious of our human deficiencies and mistakes, we can be hospitable to one another without grudging as we are perfecting our characters, and we can exercise the gifts that God has given us.

Every man has received some gifts; there is no superiority. Whatever the gift is, it is to be used to minister to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Then, as we speak, we should speak the oracles of God; as we minister, let it be the ability which God giveth, so that there is no sense of superiority. It is a delusion to feel that I am superior over someone else; because according to this, there is no superiority; it is God who receives all the superior glory, and we are just instruments in God’s hands.

The members of the church militant must have a particular characteristic to become the members of the church triumphant.

The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and He longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. {FE 179.3}

What was it all about? To impart the love of God in rich measure. How did this manifest itself?

Compassion beamed from His countenance, and His conduct was characterized by grace, humility, truth, and love. Every member of His church militant must manifest the same qualities, if He would join the church triumphant. The love of Christ is so broad, so full of glory, that in comparison to it, everything that men esteem as great, dwindles into insignificance. When we obtain a view of it, we exclaim, O the depth of the riches of the love that God bestowed upon men in the gift of His only-begotten Son! {Ibid.}

What is written in regards to how we may be part of the church triumphant? We are in a transition according to prophecy.

Prophetic Lineup

This is the prophecy in reference to where we are at this moment:

Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

This is the church period of Laodicea, which commenced in 1844. Philadelphia lasted from 1833 to 1844, and Laodicea started just after that. This is the last church period. And who is Jesus writing to here? To the angel of the church of Laodicea. The angel are the ministers, the ministry, the leadership of the church; and He is telling them, You think you are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; but you are lukewarm, I’m going to spue you out. So here is the prophecy that identifies the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist church. And after He has denounced their wrongs and pointed out what they needed to do, the prophecy continues:

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Do you notice something? Before, He spoke to the angel; but now He speaks in the Laodicean period to the any man. He bypasses the ministry and says to the any man, They’re out; now I’m outside the door, will you let Me in?

And according to this prophecy, the any man who opens the door to Jesus, will sup with Him. But this is not yet the triumphant people; they are the people who begin to sup with Christ out of the Laodicean period, but the prophecy continues in verse 21:

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Here we have the final overcoming people, the people who are the church triumphant, the overcomers. This is prophecy. And this is repeated here:

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The woman was the Laodicean church; then comes the any man, which is her seed; and then the overcomer, which is the remnant of her seed. This is the prophetic lineup. And this is no different to Revelation 14:12. Here is the church triumphant:

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

These are all prophetic lineups. The question is, Do we choose to be in that remnant of her seed? We are right at the very end; it is time to be sober, time to really place ourselves into the position, if we will, in this prophetical transition of the church militant to the seed and to the remnant. Do we choose to be one of them? If we choose to be one of them we are to have a focus upon Jesus.

The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, … Compassion beamed from His countenance, and His conduct was characterized by grace, humility, truth, and love. Every member of His church militant must manifest the same qualities, if He would join the church triumphant. {FE 179.3-4}

We are to receive the message of this hour, to be the people that are going to be part of this company; not the people that say, “We are the church; we’ve got the right church, we’re in the right place;” not these people deluded by this sense of superiority, but those who read the word of God and are filled with a frightening sense of, How am I?? Lord, have mercy on me.

Trembling

Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? 2 For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

Who does God look to? Are we of that people that tremble at God’s word and are of a poor and contrite spirit? Not a spirit of superiority, but a spirit that trembles at God’s word. This is those to whom God looks in those days; and we see in the followings words those who are in a transition experience from the church militant to the church triumphant:

Isaiah 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose [that] in which I delighted not. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

Here are people who cast certain people out of their church for the name of God’s sake. Here is the transition of the church militant that cannot tolerate those who tremble at God’s word and are of a contrite spirit. Why do they tremble at God’s word? Because they are sinners like the others are. But those who are in the church militant like Laodicea are saying, “But we are rich and increased with goods; we are God’s church;” and these are people who have a kingly power of authority in their midst. What will they do? Those who are sinners like them are being attacked and disfellowshipped. God addresses these Laodicean people with these words, “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, they will say, Let the Lord be glorified; but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” This is a description of the transition period experience.

And these people whom God looks to, who are of a humble and contrite spirit, who are totally dependent upon God for His mercy, who do not believe they have anything good about them, these are the people that are identified in the followings words, and this is the hallmark of these kinds of people:

Jeremiah 30:16 Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey. 17 For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, [saying], This [is] Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

“This is a church that no man wants.” “These people call themselves a church, oh…” They are called outcasts; but God will restore health unto those; He will heal them of their wounds. They are a people who are wounded by the enemy, a people who are overwhelmed by their own shortcomings, but who come to God for mercy, making no claim but the merits of Jesus Christ. No sense of superiority at all. They are trembling at God’s word; outcasts.

Psalm 147:2 The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.

This is the description of the people who have to stand in the last days among the church triumphant that God is healing and restoring. They are humbled and contrite, they embrace the love of God for their soul; they do not let any human pride get in the way, they lay aside these delusions. This sense of an outcast, broken person, this kind of humility, is

The Characteristic of These People

Followers of Christ will not exhibit characteristics that are cheap and selfish, but in word, spirit, and action they will reveal the tenderness of Christ. . . . A domineering, overbearing spirit is not of God and should not be exercised toward believers or unbelievers, however lowly may be their station. {HP 293.2}

When we see someone lowly, when there is someone who is showing deficiencies and their deficiencies are beneath us, it’s so easy for us to treat them in a way that shows that we actually scorn them. But this is not the characteristic of those who are in transition, moving towards this perfect church triumphant. They will have the compassion of Christ.

Christians are required to represent Christ in all their dealings with those for whom He has given His precious life. {Ibid.}

He who continually beholds Christ will make it manifest in his spirit, in his words, in his course of action. {HP 293.3}

What will he not do? As we saw, a domineering and overbearing spirit is not part of that. We will show compassion, as Jesus has, because we are looking to Him.

He will not crowd anyone, will not push tried souls into stronger temptation or indifferently leave them on Satan’s battleground. He will reach out a hand to help and seek to draw souls upward and heavenward. As a laborer together with God he will see to it that the feet of the tempted ones are firmly planted on the Rock of Ages. {Ibid.}

These words are really something to let sink into our being. What a different attitude is that. The membership of the church triumphant are the people who come out of the domineering attitude to this one and put away the delusions and place themselves under the influence of this compassionate Saviour, constantly beholding Him, following Him in His spirit of humility. Because what are they? They are sinners themselves; they know it. They feel so short of the mark, so oppressed by the sense of their own unworthiness; how can they have no compassion on those that are weaker than they? This is a beautiful representation of what Jesus was when He became one of us. It is these kinds of people that God will use, according to the prophecy we have been considering.

Men and Women That God Can Use

In Revelation 18 you see the same prophecy again. First the third angel, then the other angel of Revelation 18 became another movement (as Sister White identifies it) – this angel is the seed of the third angel’s people. And then you have the very last people, the very last movement:

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

You have to have a people there to say that sort of thing, so that God’s people will recognise, “This is the voice of God; this is the compassion of Jesus; this is the kind of atmosphere that Jesus represented.” So this is another movement – it is the church triumphant that calls the people out of Babylon to be part of the church triumphant. This true spirit of the members of this church needs our attention to actually take it in.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, [be ye] all of one mind, having compassion one of another,

Compassion is for someone who is in desperate need spiritually, isn’t it? Someone sinful and weak, someone who is failing; we are to show compassion, as Jesus has.

1 Peter 3:6 …love as brethren, [be] pitiful, [be] courteous:

This is the characteristic of these people that we are called to be part of.

“Be courteous,” is a Bible injunction. We all have our peculiar temperaments. {HP 296.2}

Don’t we?

Some have very quick tempers; some are inclined to be morose, some stubborn, and others coarse and rough, unkind in words. Therefore we need to cultivate our tempers, take ourselves in hand. . . .Soften whatever is harsh in your temper and burnish off the rough edges of your character. {Ibid.}

Never be sour and harsh at any time. Abstain from frowns and contempt, however much you may feel them. {HP 296.3}

Can you see here what a characteristic is among these people? No sourness, no harshness, no frowns upon each other, no contempt, however much you may feel these things.

You should win respect by being respectful and courteous. Treat every one with civility; they are the purchase of the blood of Christ. If you seek to imitate Christ in your character, the impression upon the people will not be made by you, but by the angels of God that stand right by your side; they will touch the hearts of those to whom you speak. {Ibid.}

Can you see something developing here? The Revelation 18 movement are crying, Come out of her, My people. And as we put into action the things we have just read, putting aside these stubborn characteristics, having compassion, looking to Jesus, conquering these human deficiencies, these domineering mentalities, this crowding of one another; as we discover them in our life, instead of saying, “Oh, but, but;” no, we lay them down, because this is not the spirit of Christ. And as we lay them down, what will happen? Angels of God are standing by our side; they will touch the hearts of those to whom we speak! Come out of her, My people? We will speak the word of God to people, and the angels of God will be there and they will be doing a work there.

When this is manifest in the people who are in this transition from the church militant, who are in this experience of perfecting character, the time in which we are living is going to bring us to terrible conflicts and spiritual upheavals, and Satan will harass us.

Satan brings all his powers to the assault in the last close conflict, and the endurance of the follower of Christ is taxed to the utmost. {HP 297.2} 

Aren’t we feeling it? Our endurance is taxed to the utmost.

At times it seems that he must yield. But a word of prayer to the Lord Jesus goes like an arrow to the throne of God, and angels of God are sent to the field of battle. The tide is turned. The wondrous light that shines in the face of Jesus Christ has stopped the mouth of the caviling opponents. Under the power of the spell that is upon them their lips are closed, and the oppressed are delivered. The believing, harassed souls are borne up as on eagles’ wings, and the victory is gained. {Ibid.

This is the church triumphant.

God calls upon His people to prepare themselves for scenes of severe conflict. Take up your duties in a meek and lowly spirit. Ever face your enemies in the strength of Jesus. Discharge with faithfulness every duty. Realize that you must now obtain by daily conversion and humility an unquestioning trust in the One who has all power and who will not leave you to be destroyed. You may know Christ by personal experience. . . . In the trials of these last days Christ will be made unto His people wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…. They are to develop an experience that will be a convincing power in the world. {HP 297.3}

We are seeing here the process by which we may be members of the church triumphant and God can use us; because in these trials of the last days Christ will be made unto His people wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. As we are harassed by those who are superior to us, as we are affected by this spirit of antagonism, the Lord comes with healing in His wings and shows us in our broken condition the love He has for us. And as we open our hearts to this, humility and a sober mentality takes roots in our lives; no cheap activities of the old nature will be permitted; it will be put away; because as we feel our own sense of hopelessness, why should we be harsh to anyone else if we have been treated by Christ with such love? This attitude will cause a power within this company that will convince the world around them. This is the overcomer-people that God will use in the last cry, Come out of her, My people.

Thus will the truth be brought into practical life, and thus will be answered the prayer of Christ, uttered just before His humiliation and death: “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” John 17:21. The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord. {6T 401.1}

People are waiting for the loud cry, waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; but we have just followed a carefully connected thread of Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy guidance by which we can identify how this is actually going to happen.

We are under the power of the Holy Spirit as He teaches us the truth as it is in Jesus. And as we realise that the truth as it is in Jesus means that I am a terrible sinner, that I have made mistakes, and that I am full of unworthiness, God says, You who are outcasts, I will heal you, I will restore you. And as we in humility depend on the Lord like this, all that is written for the church triumphant becomes ours.

It is my prayer that we have been opening our hearts, not to my words, but to the Testimony of Jesus; we have been hearing Jesus speaking to us here. And as I have read all this to you, you have no idea how I feel inside about myself. Don’t think for one moment that I am standing here telling you a thing or two. No; this is telling me a thing or two. We are standing before God a broken people, and we can look at one another and acknowledge that we are outcasts; but how do we treat one another in that acknowledgment? The Lord has got us in the place where He can use us, if we will only yield to the things we have here studied.

God grant us this kind of experience that will produce the people which is called the church triumphant and which will be the movement without any sense of superiority, that is saying, Come out of her, My people.

Amen.

(Painting: Pharisees and Herodians Take Counsel Against Jesus by James Tissot (1836-1902). Public Domain)

Posted on December 3, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Removing Delusions and Fallacies Series and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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