Understanding Progressive New Light (Part 1 of 2)

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As faithful Bible students, we all should know the idea of progressing “new light”.  In other words the Scriptures are an evolving scroll of truth, allowing us to gain more and more understanding as we go through Its pages, front to back.

For example, in the time of Moses we saw that the Lord spoke through him to enlighten the people of the sacrificial and sanctuary services and its significance in pointing to Christ as the final and fulfilling sacrifice for humanity. The scroll soon unrolled further to say that, unlike in Moses’ time, the ceremonial services would no longer be needed in order to obey the Lord and His new progressive light (Truth). Apostle Paul makes that clear —

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Col. 2:13-17)

Ah, but did you see something in that light that would later be adjusted and straightened out for God’s people today? As we read that we see a perfect example of progressing light from one time to another and even something that would be clarified in detail later (today).

Paul, at that time, was living among God’s people who were free to eat “meat”. At that time God allowed it to be partaken of. But progressive light later came through prophetess Ellen White and prophet Victor Houteff, as we see below.

“Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done. There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat-eating, who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat-eating will go from God’s people to walk no more with them….. A diet of flesh meat tends to develop animalism. A development of animalism lessens spirituality, rendering the mind incapable of understanding truth.“(Counsels on Diet and Foods, p.382)

“Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God’s original purpose in the creation of man.”—Manuscript 115, 1903 (Counsels on Diet, p.380)

“..while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God provided them with manna. But when they murmured against it, and attributed its phenomenon only to circumstances, claiming that it was impossible to obtain flesh foods in the desert, He literally and angrily heaped quail upon them. At what price, though! Thousands died in order to teach the lesson that the manna was not the mere result of circumstances but rather a purposive Providence. For “while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” Num. 11:33.

Because the Exodus movement was to fit up a people to take the promised land and to set up the kingdom then, as we are now, they were charged to abstain from all flesh foods. And because John the Baptist bore an important message in his day (“Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”–Matt. 3:2) similar to ours today, his diet was of honey and of the fruit of the locust tree. How much more important, then, as our types teach, that we who have the culminating message of the gospel, and who are the vanguard of the hosts of the eternal kingdom, defile not the temples of our souls with that which our types were forbidden to eat.” (Answerer, vol. 5, Q-148)

Thus we see that progressive light illuminated down through the ages to today. Our truth is not necessarily their truth, yet both were/are –truth.

Inspired Counsel

There is a real need among us advanced students of the unrolling scroll to know how we can understand certain difficult areas of the message.

The following shows some relevant quotes that the “restoring message” tells us about understanding difficult passages within God’s word (including SOP and the Rod). Here will be our basis on how to decipher and comprehend seemingly difficult and sometimes seemingly contradictory statements that we’ll show in part two.

“As no prophet’s writings ever predicted the entire Truth needed by the church to carry her clear through to the Kingdom, and as other prophets followed, either enlarging upon or adding to the prophecies already recorded in the Scriptures, then for anyone to turn down the good tidings of the Kingdom on the grounds that this phase of the Kingdom is not found in Sister White’s writings is for him to take the same inexcusable and fatal stand as did the Jews. It is to say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Rev. 3:17. It is this attitude that compels God to spue out of His mouth the lukewarm, satisfied Laodiceans.” (Answerer, vol. 2, p.77)

“...any statements incidental to a subject that is still out of sight in the unrolling of the scroll are made only in terms of truth as it is seen, or as it is commonly understood, not in terms of truth not seen. And if the understanding of that be wrong, the writer cannot be responsible for that which he has necessarily borrowed.

This circumstance is natural and common to every writer treating of present truth, even to the gospel writers, and will thus continue until every component part of the Truth is made known.

For example, John the Baptist’s message was to proclaim, not the setting up of the Kingdom, but the coming of the King. But while announcing the one, he incidentally had to make mention of the other. When speaking of the coming King, he expressed himself in terms of revealed truth. But when circumstantially alluding to the coming Kingdom, on which there was no light, he necessarily expressed himself in terms of the subject as then commonly understood.

Nevertheless, when the further unrolling of the scroll revealed that the Kingdom was not to be set up at that time, then the honest truth-seeking ones did not accuse either John or Christ, but joyously watched the scroll unfold, and jubilantly marched on with the Truth. Not so, though, with the vast majority of the Jews. Their pride of opinion forbidding them to forgo their errors and to embrace advancing Truth, they went deeper into error, rather than rising higher in truth!” (Sym. Code, vol. 7, no. 7-12, p.21-22)

“…the end-products of Inspiration fall into one of two categories– either Inspiration of words or Inspiration of ideas. To illustrate specifically: an angel appears and says to one, “The Lord is at such and such a time to do thus and thus with His people. Speak unto them this message, and show it unto them from the Scriptures of truth, for the prophets have therein spoken it of old.” The angel’s message must be delivered with fidelity to the idea; though obviously the choice of words, aside from the quotations, is necessarily left to the messenger. Consequently, anytime he sees the possibility of making the inspired idea stand forth more clearly and powerfully, the messenger is under deepest moral obligation to revise his language. Only thus can the stream of inspired ideation become progressively more lucid and beautiful.

Still further, there are circumstances in connection with certain aspects of every message which necessitate clarification. Such clarification, however, can be no greater than the light which shines at the time. And the light may come solely from within the message itself, or, again, it may derive from a limited understanding common to the time “then present”–an understanding which the messenger himself shares….Inspiration, moreover, always brings the messengers of God into perfect harmony, never into division.” (Answerer, vol. 1, p.48-49,51)

 

“ Let us remember always to observe the inviolable rule that an interpretation of one inspired statement must harmonize with all other related statements.”(Answerer , vol. 3, question 56)

“While Ezekiel calls them “men,” John says they are “virgins.” (Rev. 14:4.) Now, if we should take the position that Ezekiel means men only, then we can as well say, John means women only. Can it be possible that one writer should contradict the other? No indeed.”(Shepherd’s Rod. vol. 2, p.167)

  Wow, now that is so much information and counsel in understanding progressive light! Let us breakdown the main points we learn —

1. No prophet wrote all the light for us.

2. Later prophets came and either enlarged upon the light given or they added to it.

3. Prophets sometimes make writings that agree with the “commonly understood” understanding of that day. Though this may not be the full light on that subject which comes later.

4. Inspired messengers are harmonious, not divided. In other words, we must strive to see the underlying harmony that exists.

5. Interpretation of one inspired statement must harmonize with all other related statements. One writer of God’s inspired writings should not contradict the others.

With this counsel, we shall look at three areas of the Lord’s Rod message next week, in relation to SOP that sometimes makes people scratch their heads, even throw up their hands and say “well one is wrong the other is right..” Or they say “one had correct light the other had incorrect light”. Both of these lines of thought are not in harmony with our above divine counsel. There is a right way to understand these difficult areas according to Inspiration.

More Counsel for us —

“But no man, however honored of Heaven, has ever attained to a full understanding of the great plan of redemption, or even to a perfect appreciation of the divine purpose in the work for his own time. Men do not fully understand what God would accomplish by the work which He gives them to do; they do not comprehend, in all its bearings, the message which they utter in His name.” (GC, p.343)

“Some who are anxious to risk Present Truth on the weight of what one inspired statement seems to say or imply, are thereby presumptuously or very ignorantly overlooking the “weight of evidence.” Others are doing this through shortsightedness, while still others are doing it to prop up certain cherished ideas of their own.” (Answerer ,vol. 3, p.41-42)

 

Next week, God willing, we’ll conclude with part 2 ….

 

 

 

 

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