Johnny is a middle-aged man, a devout religious man, and elder in the SDA church.He’s been a SDA his whole life, being brought up by his parents to be strictly a God-fearing man.
Deborah is a young woman in her late 20′s, single, and a SDA member for 8 years. She’s active in her church but hasn’t felt the inspiration to join in any official capacity of the church. She loves the church and gives her time when she can help out in a church cause.
David is a middle-aged man, single, had somewhat of a rough life. He was a biker and in a not so nice group for a few years. His life was completely opposite of a Christian life, drinking, smoking, carousing , you name it he took part in it. Then about 5 years ago, he decided to read the Bible from beginning to end. It changed his life, the power of God’s word took this low and unholy man and transformed him.
This story is about these three people and the different paths they take on their Christian walk. Let us now she how and why they made the decisions they did. How their course will decide their future destiny.
Let us begin with Johnny and David.
As we noted, Johnny devoutly holds on to his membership and serves as an elder. He is sometimes asked to give the Sabbath school lesson and often helps with various church functions (lunches, meetings, social functions, Sabbath functions such as door greeter, tithe helper, etc.)
He feels his life is going very well and that his walk is just where it should be. His family is growing and also they are members of the church as well. His personality is such that he makes friends easy and is a good listener.
One day he arrives early, about 9 a.m. Sabbath morning. As he walks up to the steps he meets an unusual looking man. He has longer hair than is normal but well-kept. His dress is also well-kept, though simple. The stranger reaches out to shake his hand. “Hello sir, my name is David, I’m new to this church” he says. Johnny responds, “Oh, good. Can I help you in any way?” David responds, “Not really, I just wanted to introduce myself.” Johnny pauses for a moment then says, “Ok, nice to meet you, come on in if you’d like”. ”Ok” David responds.
They go in together and Johnny goes off to take care of a few tasks. David goes into the sanctuary. David sits down towards the front and looks over the church bulletin. As it is early, he’s the only one in the sanctuary. Shortly after reading this, David gets on his knees and begins prayer in God’s house. He well knows the Scripture, “.It is written, My house is to be called a house of prayer…”(Matt. 21:13)
Later the services begin and the house is more filled and the Sabbath service goes on to completion.
As time goes by David and Johnny becomes church friends. They enjoy each other and have had more than one church lunch together. David is more reserved and hasn’t requested to join the church officially or to be in an official position (deacon, elder, etc.). Johnny noticed that David was quite particular in his ways. He showed an eye for details and seemed to be more zealous than normal in wanting to honor the Lord.
For instance, the last church lunch, at the beginning of the lunch service, David had noticed that the long sliding curtain door that separated the sanctuary from the lunch room was left wide open. The laughter, the loud conversation, all the noise was going right into the sanctuary. So David got up and walked over to the curtains and closed them himself. He preferred to keep the sanctuary separated from the commotion in the lunch room. Johnny saw this and mentioned that it was good to do that (although Johnny went through many lunches without that thought ever occurring to him).
Johnny also noticed that during the lunches , David’s conversation would mostly be about the things of the Lord. For David remembered .”If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath…nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth..” (Isaiah 58:13-14) So over time David showed to Johnny and to other’s that he was quite dedicated to the Lord. His actions backed up his words. David became a full-fledged member by being baptized into the SDA church. Later David was invited to be an occasional speaker for the pre-Sabbath school lessons.
Now let’s look at our other party, Deborah. She as mentioned had joined the church 8 years ago and she , too, was committed to obeying the Lord as best she knew. Although no one else in her family were SDA (they were Catholics) she came to believe in the Sabbath by her daily study of Scripture. After being convicted of God’s holy day, she decided to start worshiping on the true Biblical Sabbath. She made time to devote to study and the things of the Lord. As time went on she also had become friends with both Johnny and David. Although somewhat reserved like David, she still was friendly and willing to engage in fellowship with other members.
But of the three, David was by far the more zealous student. God’s word and the Spirit of Prophecy became his passion. He seldom watched TV, didn’t have time to listen to much music or other things of the world, and put into practice all that he learned from God.
Then one day David was on the internet after getting home from Sabbath services. He had been involved in a deep study on the topic of the 144,000. In his study of the Spirit of prophecy, he found were Ellen White had said to “strive with all power God has given us to be among the 144,000.” (Review and Herald, March 9, 1905). As he surfed the net, he noticed a sermon call “The 144,000, who are they?” He decided to listen to. About 30 minutes into it, he suddenly fell to his knees! He had found his answer! The light had shown in all it’s glory.http://www.shepherds-rod-message.org/audio/rev_7.mp3 (audio sermon)
As he had struggled with this subject for many months, he had been so confused. For the church taught that the 144,000 were like “super apostles” yet he knew SOP very well and the picture of them from this source showed something different in many regards. But now, as he listened to SOP and Scripture, both had come completely together in revealing the mystery of who, what and where are the 144,000. Quotes and references were used and not just “I said so”.
So after the sermon was heard David was stunned. Why hadn’t all these quotes and references been discussed in the church? Why the silence? Being sold out to Christ (meaning the Lord came first in all areas of his life) David pondered this deeply. But on the other hand he was elated that his God had gifted him with these powerful and majestic truths.
So as he pondered how to communicate the new light shown to him,he began to study further the teachings of the person who had done the sermon. He found out that he was from an organization based out of New York. He ordered some free CD’s and DVD’s from them. David carefully listened to them all. His joy was increasing as all these new teachings were completely backed up by SOP and the Bible. He felt he was standing on solid ground.
Then one day as he arrived early to church, he met Deborah and asked her if she would like to do a study with him on the 144,000. She responded, “Yes! I have always wanted to know more about that subject.” So they agreed to get together later that week to study.
The study went well and Deborah was quite impressed as she had many questions that were soundly cleared up in her correspondence with David. David handed her some CD’s and DVD’s and literature to further study.
The following week she called David, “Hi David, I want to let you know that those Cd’s you gave me are awesome!” I never heard anything like it! Why doesn’t our church talk about these future things?” David responded, ” I have been thinking the same thing.”
So they both decided that they would make copies of them and pass them to selected members of the church. their joy was great in these truths and they wanted others to have joy as well. So on Sabbath they both arrive early with their new material. Deborah sees Johnny in the foyer. “Elder Johnny, how are you?” she says. “I’m fine Deborah and you?” he responds. “Oh Johnny, I have got some great Cd’s and DVd’s you MUST hear, it explains the truth of the 144,000 and also about Revelation”.
Johnny takes them then asks,”who is it from?” Deborah doesn’t really know as she hadn’t asked this question. All she knew is that it was solidly based on Scripture and Ellen White. Her thinking was that even if a monkey had put it together–it was great! Johnny said he would review it and get back to her. David has also passed a few to others before services.
The following week, Deborah gets a call from Johnny. He says. “Hello Deborah, this is Johnny from church. “Oh hi Johnny” she says. “Listen I must tell you that what you are listening to is what is known as the ‘Shepherd’s Rod’, an offshoot group that the church investigated back in the early 30′s and found in error.” She was speechless for a moment. “what do you mean?” she haltingly said.
“Deborah, this teaching is full of error and you shouldn’t get involved with it. The church has studied it, and like I said found it is in error. Please sister don’t get involved in this” he said firmly. “Oh wow. Well I’ll talk to David about this and get his feed back.” she responded. “David?” Johnny asked. “Yes David was the one who gave them to me.” She replied. “Oh I see, well I’ll need to call him as well, we can’t have this teaching going around our church. The Lord wouldn’t want that.” Johnny interjected.
After the call Deborah sank to the ground. Her mind was so confused. She remembered all the solid words of truth she had heard, yet could it somehow be lies and falsehood as well? She spent the night in turmoil. Her prayers were many that night.
Stay tuned for next week’s 2nd part and conclusion.