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Pastor Elizabeth Talbot at PUC: "Where Sin Abounded, Grace Abounded Even More"

Lauren Armstrong, May 29, 2012
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Courtesy Azusa Pacific University

Elizabeth Talbot, former associate speaker for the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast, spoke at PUC May 18 and 19 about God’s abounding love and the Holy Spirit’s calling for each person.

At Friday night Vespers, Talbot focused on the story of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well, found in John chapter 4. “She had never met anybody who loved her more than her failures,” Talbot said of the Samaritan woman. Talbot outlined five obstacles the Samaritan woman had to overcome before Jesus could reach her.

First came the obstacle of prejudice. Talbot said that this woman had an inferiority complex that prevented her from understanding how Jesus’ love transcended society’s prejudice. “God never spoke the prejudice language and never will,” Talbot declared.

Second was superiority, seen in verse 12. The woman asked Jesus if He compared Himself to her ancestor Jacob as a way of giving herself false superiority. “Religious superiority is the worst kind,” Talbot said. “It’s when you bully other people with your religious heritage.”

Third was her use of superficial truth, rather than the whole truth. In John 4:17, the woman told Jesus she had no husband, saying nothing of the five husbands she had in the past. “In church, we are not very good at truth,” Talbot said. “We’re very good at superficial truth. We all have skeletons in our closets. We are all struggling with something and God knows about it. And He’s still talking to us. He still loves us. Because where sin abounded, grace abounded even more.”

Fourth was the problem of religiousity, or the misplaced importance on rules and regulations. In asking Jesus on which mountain she was to worship, Talbot said, the woman was diverting attention from her shameful past. “If your whole religion is mountains, you’ve missed Jesus,” said Talbot.

Last was procrastination. The woman declared in verse 25, “I know the Messiah is coming.” She was not prepared to accept that Jesus—the Messiah—was standing before her at that very moment.

Talbot summed up the message as it relates to us today, saying, “‘I know what you’ve been through, I know what you’re going through now, I know the whole thing,’ says Jesus, ‘And I’m here talking to you because I want you! And I love you above all those other things.’”

Talbot’s sermon on Sabbath morning, titled “On Dreams and Robes,” centered on Joseph’s story in Genesis. “In spite of your handicaps and dysfunctionalities, God is using you,” Talbot said, describing what would be theme of the sermon. She likened the stages we each go through on the way to realizing our calling to different “robes.”

The first robe, Talbot demonstrated, is the robe of one’s calling. This is the stage where one’s calling is made clear and he or she becomes passionate. The second robe is the robe of one’s training. “In this stage of your life, your integrity will be tested,” Talbot said, alluding to Joseph’s situation with Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. The third and last robe is the robe of one’s investiture. Once we begin working with the gift God has given us, Talbot said not to forget that the gift still comes from God. “When you start believing that the gift is yours, God can no longer use you,” she warned. She called this stage the “the tomb of the caterpillar; the womb of the butterfly.”

Talbot was the senior pastor of The Grace Place Seventh-day Adventist Church in Alhambra, Calif., for a number of years. She contributed to denominational history, serving for a time as the only female Adventist pastor of a church in the Southern California area. Her sermons may be found at www.jesus101institute.com or by searching the Jesus 101 channel on YouTube.