Breaking Through the Barriers (Part 1 of 3)

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” – Mark 2:1-5  (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Want To Be A Roof Breaker!

     The first time I really thought about this story it sort of took my breath away.  Jesus was teaching the scriptures to a very large group of people inside of a house. It was so crowded that even the doorway was inaccessible. Until fairly recently those facts were minor enough to me that I had ignored what was going on before the interruption. I just assumed it was another situation where the crowd was loud and chaotic simply looking for more miracles. However, Jesus was actually teaching them scripture! Certainly with His authority they were hanging on His every word. It is much more likely that, with the exception of the cries of a child here and there, it was absolutely silent as the people listened. All of a sudden there was a loud interruption above them. Pounding… thumping… muffled voices… perhaps the disturbance grew even louder with the cries of startled women or frightened children. It soon became clear what was happening; the roof was being removed! I imagine debris falling to the ground inside of the home as light began to pour in through the hole that was growing larger by the moment. I imagine Jesus, knowing full well what was happening, patiently watching as the scene unfolded. I cannot help but wonder what He had been teaching just before this event took place. I have no doubt that it prepared His listeners for the display of love and faith they would soon encounter. I imagine a shadow emerging over the hole in the roof and the people below quickly understanding what was happening, as they could finally hear the words of the four men above working together to carefully execute their plan without bringing harm to the paralyzed man.  In united effort, the men slowly began to lower their broken friend through the hole in the roof down to the feet of Jesus. There the helpless man finally looked up and stared with great anticipation into the eyes of the only hope he had for restoration.  
  

 I recently heard a sermon on this passage. The pastor was calling Christians to take on the role of the roof breakers and work to destroy the barriers that keep people from experiencing the healing power of Christ. I loved the call! YES! I want to be a roof breaker! After leaving Adventism I was often asked why I could not just leave quietly, enjoy my new “experience,” and leave them all alone. I often heard Adventists describe those who expose the differences between Adventist doctrine and Christian doctrine as being divisive within the Body. Well, if I had the chance to answer them now, I would use this story in Mark to illustrate my intentions. I believe that being another voice among those who have left Adventism and long to reveal the truth of the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ, God the Son, is the way in which I have been called to be a roof breaker for Truth. If, in fact, the issues that separate Adventism from Christianity were minor issues that didn’t stray from Biblical teachings about God and salvation, then I would agree that it would be divisive within the Body. However, through study of the scriptures it has become clear that the Adventist gospel is not the same as the Christian Gospel as taught from scripture only. The Adventist teachings of Jesus describes a different Jesus all together, and consequently a different gospel with a different purpose. See the following issue of Proclamation! for more on this: Living in a World of Deception: The Great Controversy.    
  
  

I will spend the next couple of blog posts explaining why I feel it is important to be a roof breaker for Truth in the context of exposing Seventh-day Adventist doctrine and sharing publicly the experience of leaving and growing in truth. There are some who are offended by the tearing apart of another mans roof, but the fallout from the damage is worth the outcome of seeing others come to Truth and saving faith! I want to be clear that my desire here is to expose the unbiblical teachings of Adventism, not to attack the Adventist people or claim to know who among them is included in the Body of Christ. I know there are Christians within Adventism, but I also know from scripture that they are Christian in spite of Adventist doctrines, not because of them. It is the new birth that places and keeps us within the Body of Christ, nothing more. I encourage you also to spend time with this passage and prayerfully consider how you will be a roof breaker for Jesus.

Read Part 2 of this post HERE.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://blog.lifeassuranceministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IMG_7970.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Nicole Stevenson lives in Southern California with her husband, Carel and her two children, Joshua and Abigail. Nicole graduated from La Sierra University with a degree in Social Work and is currently staying home to raise their kids. Carel is an alumnus of Walla Walla College and graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Structural Engineering. While Adventists, Carel and Nicole volunteered their time as mentors to youth. They are now involved in helping design an outreach for Seventh-day Adventist youth who are processing out of Adventism or are questioning the religion they’ve inherited.[/author_info] [/author]

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki Stevenson

Nicole Stevenson lives in Southern California with her husband, Carel and her two children, Joshua and Abigail. Nicole graduated from La Sierra University with a degree in Social Work and is currently staying home to raise their kids. Nikki, with her husband Carel, were on the launch team of Redeemer Fellowship, a new evangelical church in Loma Linda, California.
Nikki Stevenson

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5 comments

  1. A wonderful story of Jesus, well told Nikki! Even a dyed-in-the-wool SDA can appreciate it.
    However, I have ought against your language. I’ve noticed that one of the critiques former Adventists make of SDA is the perceived arrogance expressed in the traditional Adventist concept of “the remnant”…the “us and them” attitude and the consignment of non-SDA to the ranks of “Babylon” and the “daughters of Babylon” It seems that some of the Adventist escapees have taken that attitude with them, like a bad smell that has attached itself to their clothing. Refering to SDA as non-Christian is an illustration of that arrogance. Perhaps it is a necessary part of making the separation, a kind of psychological necessity to relieve dissonance. With time and maturity, hopefully you can grow out of the temptation to put down the other’s understanding in order to elevate yours. More, you may even find out that many of the despicable things you look down on in Adventism with such scorn are really ‘straw-men’. Your own experience and knowledge of Adventism, you may find, is rather narrow, and to characterise the entire Adventist community and doctrinal understanding by that measure could turn out to be quite embarrassing for you from the vantage point afforded by perspective.

  2. “Refering to SDA as non-Christian is an illustration of that arrogance. Perhaps it is a necessary part of making the separation, a kind of psychological necessity to relieve dissonance.”

    Bruin,
    I can certainly understand why this would be your reaction. It would have been my reaction while I was an SDA and was my reaction even for some period after leaving SDAism. This is due to the complexity of examining SDAism, and how one chooses to look at it. I hope that you will give me the benefit of the doubt and continue through to the end of the explanation, even if it gets a bit lengthy.

    I knew, or rather still know, many SDAs (pastors and lay people) who have a solid grasp that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, apart from any works of the law. If we focused only on this group, I wouldn’t be comfortable saying that SDAs were non-Christian.

    Nor do I believe that anyone is contending that there are not Christians in the SDA church. The view of many Former SDAs (at least among those I have interacted with) is quite similar to the SDA view towards Catholicism. God has saved people within a false teaching and He is calling those people out of false teaching. On the surface, this would certainly seem like the same “arrogance” as we have accused SDAism of having. But there is at least one difference, we don’t believe that we now belong to the one and only true denomination that people are being called into. I think that you failed to account for this one difference.

    It becomes far trickier if our criteria for “Christian church” is based on the official doctrines as stated by the SDA church and on the authoritative writings of Ellen White. Plenty of churches have largely departed from the actual teachings of EGW, and these churches give, at best, lip service to some of the Fundamental Beliefs. But should we look at SDAism based on what the church officially teaches, or on what some of the churches practice? If I choose to look at the official teachings of the church (particularly incorporating EGW, since all of her writings are encompassed as church beliefs from the Fundamental Belief calling her writings authoritative) then I too must conclude that the official positions of the SDA church are not Christian.

    Why do I say this?

    Primarily because of Gal 1:8-9. I have concluded that the teachings of EGW and the official doctrines of the SDA church are not the same gospel as the Gospel Paul proclaimed. Paul tells us that anyone, even an angel proclaiming a different gospel is “accursed”. Please ask youself, would we be honest if we said we thought that the gospel taught by SDAism isn’t Scriptural but still called the official SDA Church “Christian”? This isn’t a defense mechanism, this is about realizing all of the consequences of your doctrines and being honest about the resulting conclusion.

    If I can return to the idea of SDAs that have embraced the message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. A few years ago we attended the funeral of one of my closest SDA friends, a man that was a mentor to me in my final years in SDAism. He was an ecumenical, progressive SDA who taught me (and many other SDAs) a great deal about grace. At his memorial service, in a church known among local SDAs for being grace-based and never hearing EGW at church, the mourners were told that IF this man is in heaven…. This constant, lingering doubt about our salvation is not a Biblical, nor a Christian, teaching. And that doubt, with its roots in EGW and official SDA teaching, reaches out its tenacles and continues to snare even those SDAs who have grown in the understanding of grace. SDAism, as much as some churches and many members would like, can never fully escape the historical errors on which its foundation was built.

  3. Thanks for a good response Rick. I am keenly aware of the truth of your point, after twenty two years as an SDA pastor, starting out with the misconception that human effort aided by the Holy Spirit is in some way part of the formula for salvation, and growing out of that thru the years(incidentally, without dismissing EGE) until Historic SDA in my congregations rose up against me, and eventually engineered my ejection from the SDA ministry. However, not even Paul, as irate as he was over the retrograde of the Galatians, would not dismiss the entire Galatian church as non-Christian…misguided? yes indeed they were! Disappointing? Certainly! Look again at the messages of Christ to the seven churches of Asia Minor, with their real problems and departure from the purity of the gospel. Christ Himself did not “vomit them out of His mouth”, yet He did not dismiss them …He still addressed them as “the churches”.

    We SDA consider the message of Revelation 14:6-12 to be the last proclamation of the gospel appeal to a sinful and lost world, and it is the “everlasting gospel” presented by “angels”. We must assume that the gospel they proclaim is the same gospel that Paul and the other apostles preached, otherwise those three angels would be under the “curse” of the apostle Paul. Those verses are the bedrock of the SDA message, and I and others have preached entire evangelistic series by simply unpacking that portion of scriputure and the allusions to other Old Testament scriptures found within it. Does that make us “non-Christian”? While we would like to help you out by pointing out the arrogance of dismissing SDA from the Christian community while by inference naming yourselves among the pure and true ones, in the final analysis our heads are not turned by your opinion one way or the other. We are on a spiritual journey, and we are learning more and more about where God is leading us. We have left behind and are modifying our understanding of many Biblical insights about God’s precious plan of salvation and related issues, while many others continue to stand the test of time and the unrelenting contradiction from our brothers and sisters in various other denominations.

    We are content to let the Lord, the Righteous One, be the judge of our work, whether we should be saved while our work is burned up, or whether our work will survive and remain through the fire.

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