Timely Greetings Volume 2, No. 27
CHRONICALLY ILL WITH TOO MUCH KNOWLEDGE AND TOO LITTLE UNDERSTANDING
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF D. SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, FEBRUARY 14, 1948
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
TEXT FOR PRAYER
The Good-Ground Hearer
I shall read from “Christ’s Object Lessons,” beginning on page 60, third paragraph.
“The word of God often comes in collision with man’s hereditary and cultivated traits of character and his habits of life. But the good-ground hearer, in receiving the word, accepts all its conditions and requirements….
“And he brings forth fruit ‘with patience.’ None who receive God’s word are exempt from difficulty and trial; but when affliction comes, the true Christian does not become restless, distrustful, or despondent. Though we can not see the definite outcome of affairs, or discern the purpose of God’s providence, we are not to cast away our confidence. Remembering the tender mercies of the Lord, we should cast our care upon Him, and with patience wait for His salvation.
“Through conflict the spiritual life is strengthened. Trials well borne will develop steadfastness of character, and precious spiritual graces. The perfect fruit of faith, meekness, and love often matures best amid storm-clouds and darkness.”
Let us pray that our spiritual perceptions be quickened so that we shall more readily understand God’s dealings in answer to our prayers; that through conflict the spiritual life is strengthened; that we throw not away our confidence when afflictions arise, but that like Paul we rejoice for having been accounted worthy to suffer in patience.
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CHRONICALLY ILL WITH TOO MUCH KNOWLEDGE AND TOO LITTLE UNDERSTANDING
To illustrate the subject of our study this afternoon, let us take for example the book which the Denomination has put out on Daniel and The Revelation, the two most invalued books of the Bible. The book which I have in mind was originally entitled Thoughts on Daniel and The Revelation. It is written in scholarly fashion, and so convincing are its contents that thousands of copies have been sold all over the world in a number of languages. Anyone that can write a book like it, evidently has great knowledge. We should, however, examine to see how much understanding is there on the books of Daniel and of The Revelation themselves.
Take for example Revelation chapter 12, where it speaks of the 12-star-crowned woman. The Denomination in the book I mentioned explains that this woman is a symbol of the Christian church, that her sun-clothing is the Gospel of Christ, and the public seems to take it in very nicely.
But if the brethren were asked the question: “How could the woman be a symbol of the Christian church, and at the same time be Christ’s
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mother?” They will have a time answering, for Christ Himself brought the Christian church into being thirty or more years after He was born. Consequently she could not be His mother.
And if they were asked, “How could the woman’s sun-clothing symbolize the Christian church clothed with the Gospel of Christ, as you contend?” they would have a hard time answering for she was clothed with the sun before Christ was born, and before the Gospel even came into being.
Were these questions put to the brethren, I am sure they would become profoundly confused in trying to answer. But the fact that no one asks these questions, shows that there is altogether too little understanding throughout Christendom.
Again you cannot deny the fact that the Denomination has made a very scholarly exposition of The Seven Trumpets, of plowing through such an intricate symbolism, propping their explanations of it with commentaries and history and making the people take it as nicely as they do. By their scholarly methods, though, they contend that the locusts which were released as soon as the Heavenly Star unlocked “the bottomless pit” at the sounding of the fifth trumpet (Rev. 9:1-3), are symbolical of the armies of the Mohammedans. This they do in spite of the fact that the locusts were not to kill anybody, but only to torment those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads, whereas the Mohammedans killed everybody that stood against them, especially the Christians, those who had the seal.
Moreover, the brethren explain that the 200,000,000 horses and horsemen that were to kill
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a third part of men (Rev. 9:18), are symbolical of a Mohammedan cavalry, although the Mohammedans never had such a large cavalry in all their existence.
Furthermore, John the Revelator plainly tells that the horses’ tails were like serpents, and their heads the heads of lions belching fire, smoke, and brimstone. Contrary to these facts, the brethren say that the horses were common Arabian horses, that Turks armed with guns were riding them, that John failed to detect that the fire, smoke and brimstone came from the guns, not from the horses’ mouths.
I say for one to so garble the Scriptures and yet make people believe that he is thus unfolding Truth, he must have great ability, but too little understanding of the fact that if John was left to blunder in this part of his vision, he could have been left to blunder all through The Revelation, and that for anyone who thus voices his opinion of the Scriptures is not building but tearing down faith in all the prophets, causing one to say that if the Scriptures be so imperfect as they make them appear to be, then what good are they? And how can we find the Truth and be saved by It, for if the prophets themselves could not tell the facts, then how can any of us do so thousands of years after their time?
Since the brethren have not been able to see this, and since no one who has studied their expositions of them been able to either, then does it not appear to you that although there is much knowledge everywhere, there is very little understanding anywhere?
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Dealing with a situation similar to this, Paul declared:
1 Cor. 3:1 — “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.”
Here Paul reproved those whose knowledge seemed to be great, but their understanding dull, those who had not spiritually advanced commensurate with the time, who could not stick strictly to what the Word says, were not developed into full-grown Christians. He was, therefore urged to say:
1 Cor. 3:2 — “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”
Paul was disappointed with the progress which the Corinthians had made: They were still unable to take strong meat. Concretely speaking, he said–
1 Cor. 3:3, 4 — “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”
By taking sides, some for Paul and some for Apollos, they were actually accepting what God had sent through one messenger, and rejecting what He had sent through the other messenger. This you will see even more vividly in the verses which follow:
1 Cor. 3:5-7 — “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the
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Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
God is everything, and the men of His appointment are only His mouthpiece.
1 Cor. 3:8, 9 — “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
This side-choosing was ruining the Christians in Paul’s day, and it is ruining them in our day; that is, people are setting their affections on men who bring them the knowledge of the Gospel rather than on the One Who sends them with the Gospel. And worse than this is the fact that multitudes are setting their affection even on men who have not a spark of Inspiration, men who are not sent by God at all, but who are running loose of their own accord.
1 Cor. 3:10 — “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”
The Christian’s life is, as it were, a building under construction. One messenger of God lays the foundation, another builds thereupon. Thus to no one messenger is given all the material with which to build.
Consequently, if anyone should choose to give heed to this or to that messenger instead of to
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God and to all His servants as He Himself sends them one after another, that one will certainly be left with insufficient building material, and consequently without the acquirement which he needs to have at the coming of the Lord.
1 Cor. 3:11-18 — “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”
Here we are told that the theories — wood, hay, stubble — brought in by men whom God has not sent, not inspired, such as I called your attention to at the beginning, theories which appear to arise from a great store of knowledge, but which are devoid of the Spirit, are as you already see rubbish on which the fire of God thrives and the souls of men starve.
And again we are told that worldly wisdom is foolishness with God, and that if we wish our structure of Truth to withstand the storm, we need to throw out the rubbish and take all the
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God-sent materials as we continue building.
1 Cor. 3:19, 20 — “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
Since the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, we had better have nothing to do with it, and quit taking sides — one for Luther, another for Wesley, still another for Campbell, or White — but we had better stand with the Lord, and accept all the Truths from all His servants He chooses to send. Otherwise when we arrive at the door He will have to say to us, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
1 Cor. 3:21, 22 — “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s.”
To glory in man, whether it be in self or in another, is to cheat yourself of everything. Take for example the Jews: They were determined to “be of Moses,” and as they saw it, to accept the prophets, or even Christ, to them it meant to give up Moses! As a result, rather than all things being theirs, they lost everything, even Moses, and where are they today? The wood, hay, and stubble which they piled upon the structure of Truth after Moses left them, has long been swept away by the Fire of Truth, the Holy Spirit.
The only safe way to build is with Truth sent from the throne of God. This is how
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Moses, the prophets, and the apostles built, and this is how we must build. Moses, for example, founded his structure of Truth on the solid rock of creation, the Genesis, on the work of Him Who created the worlds (Heb. 1:1). The prophets after him, also the apostles, continued building on the same foundation, not on the theories of the priests and rabbis, the so-called religious educators of that day. And that is why their structure of Truth stands today firmer than ever before.
Knowledge, you see, devoid of Divine understanding is as devastating to the soul as is fire let loose in a house that is built of wood and hay. Let us therefore no longer be side-choosers, but come to the table which God has spread so abundantly with spiritual food, and unbiasedly and free from prejudice feast to the full, refresh our souls and strengthen our backbones with good understanding so that we may be able to stand against the chronic ills of worldly knowledge; that we overcome temptation in the strength of the Mighty One, and be permitted to have a part in proclaiming the message when it shall swell into the Loud Cry.
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Soon He Comes
Long upon the mountain, weary,
Have the scattered flock been torn;
Dark the desert paths, and dreary;
Grievous trials have they borne.
Now the gathering call is sounding,
Solemn in its warning voice;
Union, faith, and love, abounding,
Bid the little flock rejoice.
Now the light of truth they’re seeking,
In its onward track pursue;
All the ten commandments keeping,
They are holy, just, and true.
On the words of life they’re feeding,
Precious to their taste, so sweet;
All their Master’s precepts heeding,
Bowing humbly at His feet.
In that world of light and beauty,
In that golden city fair,
Soon its pearly gates they’ll enter,
And of all its glories share.
There, divine the soul’s expansions;
Free from sin, and death, and pain;
Tears will never dim those mansions
Where the saints immortal reign.
Soon He comes! with clouds descending;
All His saints, entombed, arise;
The redeemed, in anthems blending,
Shout their victory through the skies.
O, we long for Thine appearing;
Come, O Saviour, quickly come!
Blessed hope! our spirits cheering,
Take Thy ransomed children home.
–Annie R. Smith.
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