Peace of Mind and the Latter Rain

Peace of Mind and the Latter Rain Conclusion

MAN'S obsession for peace characterizes society. Never be fore has the prophecy "When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them"1 had such impact upon those willing to consider its implications. More significant than political talks and efforts for world harmony, however, is the impulsive search for inner serenity. . .

MAN'S obsession for peace characterizes society. Never be fore has the prophecy "When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them"1 had such impact upon those willing to consider its implications. More significant than political talks and efforts for world harmony, however, is the impulsive search for inner serenity. The burgeoning tranquilizer industry testifies to a fantastic peace-of-mind binge. The sex-and- drug scene disguises a hidden drive for meaning and tranquility, while the growing appeal of Eastern mysticism to Western Christendom evidences a peace-of-mind mentality. The psychiatrist-psychologist- counselor complex is fast being overshadowed by a facination with the occult, proving both the fruitlessness and the desperation of this obsession. So urgent is the desire for security that each frustrated effort toward its achievement demands ever more deviant methods of capturing this illusive dream.

That many are driven by demons appears evident. Without doubt, satanic agencies are beginning a last great roundup in preparation for the final conflict. But are we not also witnessing the Holy Spirit's efforts to remove a deceptive security that has permitted man carelessly to ignore God's claims? Is not God stripping man of his self-confidence in order to grant him a peace reflecting eternal security?

At the very time when we must learn to depend fully upon Christ, who will soon be our only anchor, a serious security gap is evidenced by growing restlessness within the church. The alarming use of tranquilizers and the growing tendency to seek human counselors instead of God indicates the fact that the church is snared in the world's quest for peace. If God calls to the world by with drawing its security, does He not shout to us who have been entrusted with the very message calculated to secure the church and give hope to the world?

Prayerful consideration must be given to this divine prescription that, when taken according to directions, will enable us to present the three angels' messages to the world with a power that will swell to the loud cry. Our failure to internalize the Laodicean mes sage engenders within us a state of uncertainty and prevents the world from comprehending the third angel's message.

A century ago Mrs. Ellen White stated that this message had been prevented from doing its work by the hardness of the hearts of church members, and continued, "The heart must be purified from sins which have so long shut out Jesus. This fearful message will do its work." 2 This "solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance, and all that truly receive it will obey it and be purified." 3 Those who will not bear this straight testimony "will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God's people." 4

The Faithful Witness speaks both negatively and positively. Ignorance concerning our condition demands a negative approach, but only to prepare us to receive the positive revelation. Rebuke is but His loving way of knocking at the heart's door. He longs to restore the fellowship prevented by sin. How heartbreaking that trials and defeats must be multiplied because of our failure to throw wide the door to His presence. The light of His Spirit must penetrate the inner recesses of our hearts, producing in us a repentance that resolves in fellowship. Only by responding in gratitude to the negative can we appreciate the positive. Unfortunately, we often mistake the voice of our best friend for that of an enemy.

A troubled conscience is unbearable, for it deprives us of peace and threatens our home made security. We must have peace. But, in our blindness, we seal ourselves off from rebuke, and the Messenger of Peace speaks in vain. The extent of our blindness can be measured by our complex system of defense reactions. One generally effective device is to neutralize the pangs of uneasy conscience by focusing attention on others especially church leaders who do the same or worse. When God amplifies His voice through a human agent it is comforting to be able to point to some defect that disqualifies him from speaking. We may refrain from attacking the agent of rebuke, only to blame circumstances or transfer the guilt to someone else. If divine counsel threatens a cherished idol it is assuring to remind ourselves that times have changed or insist that we don't want to become involved in legalism or fanaticism. If neither of these appear helpful we may be able to relieve the tension by focusing our attention upon the good we hope to accomplish by maintaining our own way.

These psychological mechanisms are only relatively effective in restoring a peace that the True Witness calls a terrible delusion: "Knowest not that thou art ... miserable . . . and naked." If these are ineffective many other devices are available, such as reminding ourselves that "no one is perfect," for after all, "we all have our sins." Or we may console our selves with the assurance that someday we'll have strength to resist. We can simply deny the validity of the rebuke on the grounds that Cod would not use such a negative approach. After all, doesn't modern psychology prove the necessity of a positive approach to avoid ego damage?

The terms of the Laodicean mes sage are negative and unflattering, and they contain not one commendation. Nevertheless, its tones express love that yearns for a long-denied fellowship. Our tendency to mute that voice has deprived us of the peace that Christ offers, leaving us with an ineffective, homemade peace that must be restructured at every new disturbance of the ego. Until we recognize the nature of our defensiveness and submit fully to His loving counsel we cannot grasp the positive nature of the straight testimony. Its challenge to self-will is truly an overture of peace, for it is the love of self that destroys our peace. A synthetic peace muffles the voice of the Spirit and prevents the latter rain.

Christ does not offer a state of nirvanah, free from spiritual turbulence, that could only mask the deep-seated maladies of the soul. Instead, He offers a progressive security, to result from our grateful interaction with a deepening and ever more penetrating rebuke of the Spirit, who in purifying the heart must convince the soul of sin by presenting ever clearer concepts of righteousness. The resulting peace is frequently disturbed by the voice of con science. But each disturbance furnishes new assurance that He who has committed Himself to prepare us for the latter rain in tends to fulfill His commitment. In this ever deepening sense of sinfulness, we come to identify sin, not with actions of others or of ourselves, nor even with the state of the world, but with the independence and self-centeredness of our own nature. The voice of rebuke that threatens our pseudo-security becomes a symbol of security in Him.

The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less we shall feel like exalting ourselves. ... At every advance step in Christian experience our repentance will deepen. . . . "Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight." 5

Does the principle that proximity to Christ determines the degree to which one senses his sinfulness apply even after the commencement of the latter rain? The passage from Ezekiel in the above quotation refers to the experience of God's people following acceptance of the New Covenant promise and their reception of the Spirit. Mrs. Ellen White continues:

Again He says, "I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shall know that I am the Lord; that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." 6

Thus, even after fulfillment of the covenant promise to cleanse the heart by writing within it the law and filling it with the Spirit, God's people will see in self nothing but shame. Indeed, this attitude is prerequisite to the outpouring of the latter rain. When self-distrust is total, and shame of our independent spirit inspires only hatred of every form of self-will, then God can grant us a full measure of His Spirit, for we will neither attempt to use Him for our own purposes nor take personal credit for His work. Those who are fully and forever dead to self can and will be entrusted with measureless and unlimited power with which to exhibit the character of God before a waiting universe.


REFERENCES

1. 1 Thess. 5:3.

2. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 186.

3. Ibid., p. 181.

4. Ibid.

5. Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 160, 161.

6. Ibid., p. 161.


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May 1973

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