Today is my last time leading our Sabbath worship with you as your pastor. Transition is upon us all.
The word heaven has sent us today is simple. Receive and deliver. After Paul had received what the Lord gave to Him to give to His church, Paul turned round and did exactly that--he gave it to the church. You and I are Christians. We are Christians of the last days. The name we go by is Seventh-day Adventist. We do not use that designation at random; we have a purpose. The name highlights neglected truths.
Ellen White wrote a crucial line:
"Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles' spirit, the belief and teaching of the truths they taught, this is the evidence of apostolic succession" (The Desire of Ages, p. 467).
If this statement is true, and I believe it is, then there is an apostolic succession. It is provable; it has a basis. And you and I either are in it or out of it. Are our lives actuated, that is, moved by the apostles' spirit? Do we believe and teach the truths that they taught? Then we are their successors, those who come after them.
Think of it. Then we are the true successors, the remnant, the last end piece. Then we are the seed of the woman of Revelation 12. And the dragon is wroth with the remnant.
It goes without saying does it not, that those who are the true successors will be those with whom Satan is especially perturbed. He would have killed Jesus as a defenseless babe if he could have. This he was not able to do. And so, there is a truth that Jesus originally gave, then when He became incarnate and came here to earth, there is a truth that His mother taught Him at her knee all over again. Then as He grew, there is a truth that Jesus' father Joseph taught Him, and there is truth He was taught in seasons of worship in synagogue and at the temple in Jerusalem. That truth Jesus received and then delivered to His apostles. They received it and they delivered it on down the line. That truth was inscripturated and was inwrought as the Bible you hold in your hand, whether in conventional book format or as data bits in an app on a cell phone. The truth filled the lives of the Adventist pioneers, and was transmitted down the line further and further, being received, then delivered; being received, then delivered; being received, then delivered. And someone received it and turned around and delivered it to you.
Can I give you what I do not have? No, I cannot. I must receive before I can deliver.
We come to church to receive. We come to our own individual Bible study to receive. Most of us leave our home for work outside of our home. That is when we go to deliver. We also deliver in family worship, when husband and wife and children gather round for spiritual time worshiping God together as a family.
So let's think about these two things.
God wants us all to receive. But we have to learn how to receive graciously. We can only receive so much, then we become full. Remember the story Jesus told about the man who had such great crops that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones to store his crop. This fellow was really working at the receiving part. But he had a problem on the delivering part. The more he received the more he decided to keep for himself. Look at yourself. You have only so many pockets. Women even carry an extra pocket called a purse. But you only have so many pockets and you only can receive so much before you are full up.
In our case the problem is not usually too many apples, or too many potatoes, or too much money. It is usually too much information. We have the television on at home, the radio or CD player or MP3 player in the car, the cell phone and the earphones on when we go for a walk. It can be the big screen TV, or for some families DVD rentals, or just the computer and websites, or maybe text messages beeping on your phone every few minutes. There is so much coming at you that your head is filled with trivia, things here one moment then gone the next. Busy things. Time-eating things.
We cannot get away from all of these kinds of things in our age, but we can limit them better than we do. I would appeal to you to replace them. Replace the receiving of them with the receiving of the Word of God. Take a Bible, a Bible in readable form, with you wherever you go. Try to put that into yourself. Receive the Word. You might get Ebola and you might not get ebola, but listening to the radio talk about Ebola while it won;t infect you with Ebola will do something worse. And that is it will fill up one of your few pockets with Ebola thoughts rather than thoughts of God. What am I saying? Clogged pockets keep us from receiving. Start by unclogging your pockets.
And don't be like the fellow who made bigger barns so he could receive more. Deliver to others, in thoughtful, wise, non-obnoxious ways what you have received from God. Receiving is only half the fun. The other half is delivering. Share the truth about Jesus with others. Be like Paul, who received from the Lord and delivered for the Lord.
Now let's move on to the particulars here. This is a particular case. Paul is sharing something about something particular that He has received. Paul says, "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
Paul is saying that in spite of His awareness that He would be betrayed, still He went forward. Still, knowing that the experience of the cross was looming just ahead, still He moved straight on toward it. Still, even while He was being betrayed, still, Jesus kept on toward His goal of being faithful to the plan He and the Father and the Holy Spirit had worked out and sacrificing His life for these criminals on the cross.
This experience of self sacrifice for others Jesus embraced, confirmed, and carried out. Now look at Paul's life. No, Paul didn't die on a cross, but he certainly was self-sacrificial in the way he pastored. He would preach or write unappreciated things. He called for people to live in a higher way. He upheld standards on Christian conduct. Does anyone doubt that Paul received and delivered and that he did so based on the example of Jesus here?
Is there any doubt that Paul received the truths we find him writing in the New Testament from Jesus, and that he passed them on, delivered them, to us?
So in a few minutes we will be partaking of the Lord's Supper. We can only do that authentically because we have received and are delivering the truth of God to others. We have received Jesus and are bringing Him to others. We have been and are being changed by Present Truth, and are delivering it to others. All of this is because of Jesus.
So the apostolic succession is alive and well in Clark Fork today. But only as we have an authentic spiritual relationship. Only as our life is actuated by the apostles' spirit, by the belief and the teaching of the truths that they taught.
Clark Fork, don't be led off into sidetracks. Don't be too impressed by flashy new ideas or the latest DVD that falls your way. Be in the Word. Take seriously the writings of Heaven gave to us through Ellen G. White. Don't just read, apply what you read. Preserve your families the best you can. Satan tries to destroy us by destroying families. And so, he is working to confuse and destroy the church family. The apostolic succession must live on though. It must be true in Clark Fork and in every Jesus-centered, faithful, Seventh-day Adventist Church. May God be with you.
Clark Fork ID SDA 2014-10-11