Friday, August 18, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #8 August 19, 2017

Third Quarter 2017 Sabbath School Lesson
"From Slaves to Heirs"
August 19, 2017 
 
Read for This Week's Study: Gal. 3:26-4:20; Rom. 6:1-11; Heb. 2:14-5; Rom. 9:4, 5. 
 
Memory Text:  "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Galatians 4:7, KJV)
 
A truth which was brought out in the lesson and furthered here is that we are not to live like slaves but as sons and daughters of God.  The lesson says with all the rights and privileges, but do many know what that really means?  Someone today told me that once we believe, we also have to witness.  The greatest right and privilege of the Christian is to experience the power of true faith and the righteousness of Christ, which makes us obedient, out of love, to all the commandments of God.  These things come naturally when the heart is kept by the power of God through faith.  Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure.  We walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light.  We truly are "born again" of the Spirit.  Faith obeys, for the nature of faith is to say, Not I, but Christ, who lives in me, and Jesus' life was a life of loving obedience and trust in His Father.  Naturally does NOT mean automatically, but the person who walks in the Spirit will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Galatians is not just about "avoiding legalism."  It is doing so, by truly experiencing conversion.  Spiritual freedom comes by knowing God, and experiencing the Gospel, as revealed clearly in Galatians.  This was the point about the "schoolmaster" in Galatians 3, as well as the discussion of the Two Covenants of Galatians 4.  God gave the law to make sin exceedingly sinful and to symbolically represent the plan of Salvation, and when we know and experience Christ, we are free from the power of sin and its condemnation, and we have the reality of Christ, instead of the types and shadows.  We have the Christ in the Law, and He lives in us, to bring to us the "fruit of righteousness" as a miracle.  We are free in His act, and in His promises.  We are not free to rest in an intellectual belief, without the true heart change that God's grace can bring us. 
 
Sunday's Lesson – "Our Condition in Christ"            
In Christ, our relationship to God and to His law changes from a slavish child to a mature adult, who is free in the gift of Grace to love, to know freedom from guilt and condemnation, and the freedom to live a truly righteous life, while waiting for the day of reunion with Christ.  Paul also sees that all people on earth have equal opportunity and access to Christ and salvation, that there are no valid human exclusions to the universality of the redemptive act and purpose of Christ. These verses are not referring to spiritual gifting or ministry calls, but to the universality of the Gospel message, and the access all have, putting away human distinctions, to form the world-wide Body of Christ.  We become heirs to all the Covenant promises made to Abraham and his descendants.  Thus, the "true Israel" are those in faith relationship with Christ, and thus have access to the Covenant promises, which could never have been given to those who do not believe in Christ, and thus are outside His covenant promises.  Faith and baptism are our avenue to uniting with Christ, and in Paulien theology, baptism is a radical change of life, motives, experience, as we become "new creatures."  Many of us echo Raymond Holmes' book, "Baptized but Buried Alive".  We need to experience the total freedom of death and a new life in Christ.
 
Monday's Lesson – "Enslaved to Elementary Principles"             The principles of the sacrificial system and all ceremonial aspects were instructive in the basics of salvation.  They were meant to help us to see the work of Christ as our sacrifice and High Priest but had no salvific power, apart from pointing us by faith to the object of faith, or Christ. Paul does not want us to regulate our lives around rules, but around a heart union with Christ and neither does God.  As Jesus said, in John 15:5, "If you abide in me, and I in you, you will bear fruit."  The Galatians, by going back to circumcision and the sacrificial system, were reverting back to a more immature spiritual life.  The ritual law was for a time and purpose, but we are to grow to maturity, where by faith we experience all that it represents, as Love is placed into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and "love is the fulfilling of the law."  Moral principles remain, but shadows flee away, to the reality of a mature faith. 
 
Tuesday's Lesson – "God Sent Forth His Son"             
Jesus came in direct fulfillment, prophetically, of the Messianic passage of Daniel 9.  God took the initiative in our salvation, and the Gospel includes the truth that Christ took upon His divine nature our sinful human nature, to unite with us, so that He could "condemn sin in the flesh", by an obedient life, even unto death. "Born under the law" is used by some to indicate that He came under the Jewish law, and today we are free from that.  The point of Paul is that, like all humanity, He was born in the Incarnation, and would bear our condemnation as the Second Adam, the Head of Humanity, who would redeem the race through His act of love and faithfulness.  It was thus necessary for Christ to assume our humanity because we could not save ourselves.  By uniting his divine nature with our fallen human nature, Christ legally became qualified to be our Substitute, Savior, and High priest as well.  He reclaimed all that the first Adam had lost through transgression.  By his obedience, He worked out a perfect righteousness. And redeemed Adam's failure.  By His death on the Cross, He paid the corporate penalty for all mankind, and thus gained the right to redeem the race, and to ultimately save, experientially, those who come to Him in true faith and surrender.   The Jews were not required to be saved BY keeping the law, for as Heb. 4:2 says, they had the same Gospel preached to them as we do, in the New Covenant, brought out in Hebrews. 
 
Wednesday's Lesson – "The Privileges of Adoption"            
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law.  Because of His love for all sinners, He redeemed the race.  I Timothy 4:10.  He is the "Savior of all men, especially those that believe."  The Greek word for especially, malista, is used 8 times in the NT, and always means "especially."  In the corporate sense, Christ is the Savior of all men, by paying the redemptive price, "saving" the race from the second death Adam and Eve should have immediately experienced, giving them probationary time to experientially "believe" and receive Christ by faith.             
Paul uses the imagery of "adoption" with all the privileges understood for that term in the first century.  These included the impossibility of the adopter repudiating (deny) his son, an inheritance, full provision for needs, there was no possibility of slavery, and the natural parents could never reclaim the person.  Of course, the "son" could leave the adoptee.  Question - Does Jesus adopt the believer, or did He adopt the corporate world, and it becomes effective in those who believe?  I would suggest that the act of redemption and taking all humanity into Himself at the cross was a corporate, and legal adoption of the race, justified unto life, and entitled, again, legally, to all the rights and privileges.  Man is called to the cross, to respond by both faith and a heartfelt appreciation for the cost of Calvary, and the degree of love revealed there, and to "receive" the adoption.  The word "Abba" in Gal. 4:6 is like saying 'da da' today, a very intimate word for the relationship we can have with God through Christ. 
 
Thursday and Friday's Lesson – "Why Turn Back to Slavery?"        Paul's concern for the Galatians, drawn out even further as we proceed through the book, was that they had placed themselves under a "curse" and had "fallen from Grace."  It should be noted that one cannot "fall" from Grace, unless they first had it, and so Once Saved, Always Saved is exposed as the demonic doctrine it is, for it subtly teaches the Edenic lie of Satan that "sin won't hurt you", or "you will not surely die."  One cannot remain saved while no longer possessing Grace.  The Savior will never abandon us, but man can choose to revert back to "slavery" for God never violates free will choice.  Some try to negate the Sabbath by Paul's statement about observing "days and months and seasons and years."  This is a reference to the Jewish calendrical year of types and shadows.  If the Sabbath brought bondage, then God gave Adam and Eve bondage, before the sin problem existed, when He made "all things good", and that is impossible.  As God observed, and blessed and sanctified the First Sabbath, it is obvious He did not place Himself in bondage, nor did He intend to do that for man.  The Sabbath is a part of that perfect plan for man, created and given to man, to be a blessing and constant reminder that God, as our Creator, provides and can now recreate us in holiness.  If the Sabbath is bondage, then when Jesus taught that it was "lawful to do good on the Sabbath", and then directed us to go to the world and teach "ALL things whatsoever He commanded", that would mean that He intended for us to teach bondage to the whole world. The Great Commission is Good News, not bondage, and all Christ's teachings represented the freedom of the New Covenant.        
 
Man cannot trust to any works of righteousness that we may do.  We trust wholly in the merits of a crucified and risen Savior.  Do not resist the adoption as sons, received through a total surrender in trust in Christ.  Do not resist the work of the Holy Spirit, but be led by the cross in repentance of the sins that crucified our Savior.  Put away childish ways, and live in spiritual maturity in the freedom we have in Christ. 
 
~Pastor Thomas Cusack
http://www.1888msc.org/article/512/resources/sabbath-school-insights/2017-quarter-3-jul-sep/insight-8-august-19-2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #7 August 12, 2017

INSIGHT #7 AUGUST 12, 2017
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Third Quarter 2017 Sabbath School Lesson
"The Road to Faith"
August 12, 2017
 
Read for this week's study: Gal. 3:21–25; Lev. 18:5; Rom. 3:9–19; 1 Cor. 9:20; Rom. 3:1, 2; 8:1–4.
Memory Text: "Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:22, NKJV).

Recently I wrote to one of the major critics of Seventh-day Adventists this statement, in response to their stated, printed belief that SDA's have the "Galatian" problem, namely, seeking to be justified BY keeping the Law. This is what I said. "It is intellectually and morally dishonest to state that the Seventh Day Adventist churches officially teach salvation BY keeping the law. It is a straw man that does not exist, for the church has NEVER officially taught salvation by works of any kind, let alone the Moral Law of God." I am, of course, referring to our stated Fundamental Beliefs, which do reflect some of the concepts of righteousness by faith. We endeavor in the 1888 Message Study Committee to elucidate to the fullest degree the Most Precious Message, which will lighten the earth with its glory. This message even further presents the truth of Righteousness by Faith alone. Of course, there have been those in church history, and today, who teach legalistic concepts, and the committee exists because of the issues which were raised in 1888, and which in our experience as a church always needs to be remembered, bringing about a true Christian experience based on faith in the merits or righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. What was the Galatian problem, and what was Paul's concern, and what is the true Gospel? Previous lessons have addressed this, but I am convinced that the next two lessons, both of which I am writing, are key to Paul's theology and concerns. Galatians 3:11 is very clear, as is Galatians 2:16, 20.

Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

We have seen Paul's theology, that we are justified "by the Faith OF Jesus." His act of faithfulness accomplished the redemption of the race, as our Head of Humanity, the Second Adam. The corporate, legal justification of the human race, if believed, results in the justification of the individual, by the faith of Christ. Christ took all humanity into Himself.

What is the Gospel? The Gospel is the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, accomplishing a gift of salvation for the human race, rescuing us from the second death, giving us probationary time, resulting in "justification unto life" all accomplished by His act and experienced by our belief in the wonderful truths of what Christ has done for every man.

I Timothy 4:10 "For thus we labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who IS the SAVIOR of ALL men, especially those who believe".

What is the "road to faith?" My response is to ask a question. Do you mean the Faith of Jesus, the belief in the gospel that we all have an opportunity to exercise, or the object of faith, Jesus Christ Himself?

Jeremiah 31:3 tells us, as does John 12:32, that God draws us to Christ, to the cross to hear the unspeakable good news of the "gift" of Christ's righteousness, to be received, and experienced daily, by faith alone.

Many object to this concept of faith alone, saying there must also be obedience, there must also be good works, etc. The beauty of the 1888 Message, in addition to the incredible sacrifice Christ made for all, is the truth that the Message links the cross to the heavenly sanctuary, making it possible for all to obey God's commandments, as Christ fulfills His Heavenly Sanctuary ministry, by interceding for us, by sending us the Holy Spirit, by guiding us into all truth, by living out His life in us, and by writing His law, His character, in our hearts.

The path of the Faith of Jesus is the path of a perfect life and atoning sacrifice.

The path of response to His gift is through His drawing us to the cross, and our response to the salvation message. The path to Christ Himself is the opportunity we have, to love because He first loved us, to have both an intelligent understanding and a heartfelt appreciation for the cost of Calvary, to thus fall in love with Christ, to recognize His incredible heart of mercy, grace and love, and to walk with Christ again as we once did in the Garden, and as we will for all eternity. The road includes the law, for one simple reason. The Law reflects the character of Christ, and the Gospel enables us to experience Christ in the Law.

Sunday's Lesson - "The Law and the Promise"
The mistake many make, and which the Judaizers made, is to assume that man's part in the plan of salvation is to "do" something. In the first century, it was faith plus circumcision. The Roman Catholic will say "faith plus works." When Jesus was asked about works, this was his response. John 6:28 Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

However, the response of many is to point to our major text, Galatians 3:21-25, and point out that the SCHOOLMASTER is no longer needed, thus we don't need the Moral Law anymore, and of course, by extension, we do not need the Sabbath. Yet they would admit, if honest, that the commandments are restated in the New Testament, that Scriptures such as I Cor. 7:19, John 14:15, the Sermon on the Mount, Revelation 14:12, 12:17, 22:14, all speak of "keeping the commandments", and both Revelation 12:17 and Hebrews 8:10, in speaking about the commandments, or the law in the heart, are in the context of sanctuary imagery, including the Ark of the Covenant, and any Hebrew mind or anyone familiar with the OT sanctuary would know that such a reference in relation to commandments or the law is referring to the Tables of the Law which were contained in that Ark. Paul asks a question. 

"Is the law then contrary to the promises of God?" (Gal. 3:21, ESV). Paul's response is a strong "NO". Why not? God gave both the Law and the Promise, and He does not contradict Himself. Was the Law and the Covenant given to Abraham the same Covenant? Many are not sure. I would like to share a text. I Chronicles 16:15-17.

I Ch 16:15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
I Ch 16:16 Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
I Ch 16:17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,

Israel at Mount Sinai was not given a legalistic covenant, that would guarantee they would all be lost, for no one can obtain salvation through law keeping. Hebrews 4:2 is clear. "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." The "them" is referring to Israel in the wilderness experience, thus implying which we know to be true, that they had the promise to Abraham, typified in the types and shadows of the sacrificial system, also taught in the blood over the door lintel in Egypt, that salvation comes through the blood of Christ, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. The God they met was the God of "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob".

Paul said, in Galatians 3:12, the "law is not of faith". The point being made is that justification is not through the law, it is through the faith of Jesus, and our response to His gift. The Jews wanted to merit justification through obedience to the law.

Some misused texts such as Lev. 18:5 and others which speak about the conduct God called His people to, and assume that "life" comes by observing those principles of the law. The Bible is clear that we are "dead" in trespasses and sins, and a dead person cannot "do anything" to be spiritually alive. We have been called to a "holy calling", but only AFTER we have received Christ.

John 1:12 "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."

Glad Tidings, p. 75. "In Him (Christ), the carnal mind, the rebellious mind, is taken away, and the mind of the Spirit is given in its stead, "in order that the just requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Romans 8:4. We may be partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4.

Many think like the Judaizers, that we must "do" something in order to be saved. I SM 353. "There is a need for watchfulness against sin and temptation, but these will come NATURALLY when the soul is kept by the spirit of God through faith. Duty becomes a delight and sacrifice a pleasure…This is walking in the light, as Christ is in the light." Truly, we must be born again. Even the "doing", while we play a role in surrender to God, is a miracle of grace. Obedience is the fruit of faith. Faith obeys.

Monday's Lesson - "Kept Under the Law"
Galatians 3:23 "Before faith came, we were kept under the law." The literal Greek reads, "before THE faith came." This is speaking about the object of faith, or Jesus Christ, and His faithfulness.

What does the phrase "under the law" refer to? First, we must establish that the OT people were NOT to obtain salvation by keeping the law, or through their own "righteousness". Paul is clear that the gospel as seen in the promise of Abraham, and the law, given centuries later, did NOT disannul the promise. The law was never a Gospel, it was God's will for the life of one who experienced the Gospel. The Law is God's promise to us, repeatedly stated in the Bible, as reflecting the character of God, which is love, and which is placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5.

The phrase "under the law" actually has two connotations in Pauls' writings. The major point is to be under the condemnation of the law, which is only taken away by the grace of God in His mercy. The second is to view the law as a "means" of salvation, and this was the essence of the Judaizers problem. The law + something else. Anyone seeking salvation by keeping the law remains under its condemnation for we have "all sinned" and are continually coming short of the glory of God. Once we sinned once in our lives, our only hope was a miracle of grace, or we would face eternal death. No amount of obedience, once we have sinned, could EVER equal the everlasting righteousness, and atoning sacrifice of Christ. Thus, according to Christ's Object Lessons, p. 333, "All His biddings are enablings." The Law itself is in the promise.

The law is righteousness, but could never bring life, for life is only in Christ. Seeking life through the law is death, condemnation, legalism and failure. Seeking for life in Christ produces the law in the heart, as we have been revived unto spiritual life, and love actuates our hearts and minds and "love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:10

Tuesday and Wednesday's Lessons - The Law as our "Guard" and as our "Schoolmaster"
The law does not nullify the promise of God, and it is not against the promise of God. What is the role of the law? Paul says the law was "added" because of transgressions. He uses three words to expand on this concept. "Kept", "shut up", and "School Master". We need to remember, first, that God did not give the law to Israel to be a curse. God said there would be "blessings" for obedience. God wanted Israel to be the "head" and not the "tail". The School Master, in Greek, is the pedaigogos, the custodian, the one who kept the student in line, often by rather harsh disciplinary means. One did not have freedom while under the supervision of the custodian. The law leads us to Christ, informs us of sin, and through the Spirit, convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The law was given to impress the mind with the Holiness of God, and thus our need for supernatural help, moving us out of self- reliance, to utter dependence by faith in God, through Christ. It was meant to "break" us of pride and self-esteem, which can never exist in the true perception of the love at Calvary. The sacrificial system obviously pointed out the promise of an atoning sacrifice. Once we have Christ, there is no condemnation for those in Christ. Romans 8:1. We have peace, the continual promise of forgiveness, and the promise to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. I John 1:9. We have passed, in experience, from death to life. As we have Christ, we have Christ in the law, and the promise to be a "new creature". In Christ, nothing can condemn us. We have joy, peace, and freedom in Christ, and the guilt, fear, condemnation, etc. is gone, replaced with the "peace" of Justification, received by faith. God did not get rid of the sin problem by getting rid of the law. He provided a way by which the guilty can get rid of their guilt. Glad Tidings, p. 81. Sin still IS the transgression of the law. I John 3:4. Therefore, the law still IS. Obviously, we still all need a Savior, and continual forgiveness for the times we still fall and transgress the law. If the law was eliminated, as some claim, let us consider these points. The NT still defines sin as transgression of the law, Jesus Himself preached on the deep spiritual depths of the meaning of the law, and the NT lists the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, as seen in Acts 13, 16, and 18, and I Cor. 7:19, as well as Revelation 14:12, and 12:17 thus Christ in the law, therefore the NT is clear, the law was not eliminated. Jesus said "If you love me keep my commandments." The word for commandments is "entole", referring to all of Jesus' teachings. What did He teach? He taught the deep spiritual implications of the law, and thus our need for a supernatural answer to the sin problem. We continually need instruction, not only in what is righteousness, but in what is the answer to the sin problem, and that is a substitutionary sacrifice. Once we have Christ, by faith, we are free from sin and its condemnation.

Thursday's Lesson - "The Law and the Believer"
Rom 6:14 "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." This is the essence of Paul's argument in this section of Galatians. Sin no longer has dominion over the Christian, either in terms of condemnation, or in terms of power. We are free unto righteousness, peace, mercy, joy, real freedom. The Bible has equivalent expressions for the Christian walk.

"Christ in me, the hope of glory."

"Christ, who lives in me."

"Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit."

"The Law is written in the heart and mind."

Christ is the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free. In that freedom, we are called to a "holy calling", and a life that is pleasing to God. I Thess. 4:1. "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more." We walk by abiding in Christ, by faith. "If you abide in me, and I in you, you will bear fruit, for without me you can do NOTHING." John 15:5. We desire to reflect the Character of God, and thus we keep our eyes on Christ, for "by beholding, we become changed." By desiring to please God and reflect His character, we willingly and lovingly behold Him, the matchless charms of Jesus Christ.

Friday's Lesson
We are told in inspiration that "in principle, all of the OT is still in effect."

I have placed that quote here, to emphasize that Jesus was the foundation of the entire Jewish economy, and that all the practices that reflect the moral code are also binding on us, and thus, promised to us, through Christ. The types and shadows are fulfilled in Christ, and yet their meaning is still also relevant, as they point out aspects of the entirety of the plan of salvation. In principle, (I emphasize "in principle") all of the OT is still in effect. They are also impossible to keep, any of them, without the transformation of heart and mind that is a miracle. Moreover, salvation will always be based on what Christ has done. We are "unprofitable servants." Luke 17:10. We choose to do God's will, out of love, not to seek merit.

Our experience in the judgment is based on trust in the merits of Jesus Christ alone. He draws us to Him, He wins our hearts, He forgives us our sins, He changes our hearts, and He keeps us by His grace and faithfulness, as long as we place our trust completely in Him. May you totally, and truly, experience the peace that passes all understanding, through faith in Christ.
 
~Pastor Thomas Cusack

http://www.1888msc.org/article/511/resources/sabbath-school-insights/2017-quarter-3-jul-sep/insight-7-august-12-2017

Thursday, August 03, 2017

INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017

INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017
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THIRD QUARTER 2017 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"THE PRIORITY OF THE PROMISE"
AUGUST 5, 2017

Inheritance

A will is a legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his death.  Years ago there was a distinction between a will and a testament, but over time the distinction has disappeared in that a will, can also be known as a "last will and testament."  A will serves a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his heirs rather than allowing the state laws of descent and distribution to choose the heirs, who, although among blood relatives, might be people the testator deems as unfit or with whom he is unacquainted. Therefore a will allows a person to decide which individual could best serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property to the beneficiaries while protecting their interests, rather than allowing a court to appoint a stranger to serve as administrator. In addition, a will also safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve as guardian to raise his young children in the event of his death.  Thus, the testator bequeaths his property or estate to heirs of his choosing.  To the heirs, what is bequeathed to them is an inheritance.  The heirs typically receive the inheritance without having to work for it; it is a gift.

Now, the word "covenant" today means contract, but in the Bible it can be used in two ways.  In the Greek, we have two separate words that can be translated as the word "covenant" in English.  The words are 'will' and 'contract'. As seen above, a will is made by one person but may affect many.  The word translated as covenant in relation to what God gave to Abraham, is "will." A contract, however, is made between two persons.  For example, the giving of the law at Mount Sinai ended up being like a contract, not because it was the Lord's intention, but because of the response of the Hebrews. God gave the law and the Hebrews responded with, "All that you have said we will do" (Exodus 24:3).

What we see in Genesis is that the Lord promised an inheritance to certain individuals.  The Lord did this with Noah, his sons and all the creatures alive after the flood (Genesis 9:9-11).  Neither Noah, his sons, nor the animals responded to God with what they would do, they just received the promise.  

A few chapters later, the promise of inheritance was also given to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3,     

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:  

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 

Abraham responded by hearing and believing the word of God. 
The Lord appeared to Abraham in chapter 15 and reiterated the promise.  Abraham asked the Lord who should be his heir and the Lord answered, I will give you a son "that shall come forth out of thine own bowels" (Genesis 15:4).  The Lord then told Abraham to look at the sky and count the stars.  Abraham realized he could not, to which the Lord said, "Your seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky" (Genesis 15:5).  Then verse 6 gives us one of the most important thoughts in the Bible: Abraham, "… believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness."       

When Abraham asked for surety, the Lord had him prepare a sacrifice in the way 'business deals' were confirmed in his time.  Abraham slayed the animals and laid them on the ground according to the custom.  The custom was for both parties involved in the deal to walk through the sacrifice.  However, in verse 17, we read only the Lord walked through the sacrifice.  This showed that God did not make a deal or contract with Abraham.  The Lord promised Abraham the inheritance and the Lord would deliver it.  Abraham (and his Seed) just accepted the inheritance by faith.

Sadly, to the Jews this posed a problem. Why give the Law?  What was the purpose?  (Wherefore the Law?) Paul answered, that it was added (spoken) "because of transgression" (Galatians 3:19). The law was added because of unbelief.  Why did Moses permit divorce?  Moses allowed divorce, because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:7-8).  The law was spoken to show the children of Israel, and the world, how sinful they were and how incapable they were of keeping the law.  It was spoken to make sin exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13).  It was spoken to make justification by faith desirable and was never meant to be used as an instrument to achieve righteousness or to be a method for salvation.  The law is not an alternate.  Therefore, it has not disannulled justification by faith.       

In Paul's time a Will or Testament could not be changed (by taking away or adding anything) or disannulled after it was confirmed (Galatians 3:15).  Thus Paul is saying that the promises made to Abraham and his Seed cannot be modified or disannulled, either (Galatians 3:17).  Just so, the giving of the Law did not change the covenant, nor "make the promise of none effect" (Galatians 3:17).  Paul adds in verse 18, "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise."  And, Abraham believed God.  For this reason, the law was not spoken to Abraham because he believed the promises of the inheritance.  Had the children of Israel believed as Abraham believed, there would have been no need for the law and no need to write it on tablets of stone.  The Lord would have written the law in their hearts.

So what about today? Are we repeating the same mistake by misperceiving the Promises of God as well as the law? Are we demanding the Lord to be in a contract with us in regards to the law, and the inheritance, in order to earn His favor? Or will we allow Him to write the law in our hearts and minds, so that when He (the Lord) makes promises, we'll respond with a heartfelt, "I believe, help Thou my unbelief?"

~Raul Diaz
 
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Friday, July 28, 2017

OLD TESTAMENT FAITH

INSIGHT #5 JULY 29, 2017
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THIRD QUARTER 2017 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"OLD TESTAMENT FAITH"
JULY 29, 2017
 
 
            "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."  Gal. 3:6.  If you had a choice, would you rather be accounted righteous, or would you rather be righteous?  Or, is Paul in this verse actually describing the experiencing of being righteous with the word, "accounted"? 
 
          Does God engage in a sort of, "make-believe" when He "reckons", or "counts" us as righteous?  Clearly God knows our true condition.  What would be His purpose in saying something is the case, when it is in fact not the case.  We're told in Titus that God cannot lie, so if He says it then it has to be true.  Why reckoned, or "accounted" then.
 
          Perhaps, as is often the case, we need to do our homework.  A good rule of thumb on a verse that seems a bit confusing is to go through the following exercise:  1.  What does the verse actually SAY?  Yes, you need a concordance and you need to look things up – i.e. Bible STUDY.  2.  What does the verse MEAN?  Look at context, other uses of the word, etc.  3.  How do I APPLY the verses?  Said another way, look at such verses with the following axiom – WHAT, SO WHAT, NOW WHAT!  What does it actually say?  What does it mean?  And, how do I apply it?
 
          So, what does the word "account" or "reckon" actually say?  The word in Greek is "logizomai", which comes from the root, "logos", where we get the translated word, "word".  It is similar to the idea of considering or estimating something or someone to be in a certain situation.  So another way of saying Gal.5:6 is to say that God "esteemed" or "considered" Abraham to be righteous.
 
          And now for the important question.  Did God esteem, or consider, or account Abraham to be righteous because God needed to do that to balance some heavenly accounting books?  Did God reckon Abraham to be righteous because God needed to do a heavenly bait and switch, where somehow God miraculously pretended that Abraham's still immature faith was going to be called righteousness, even though we all know (including God and Abraham), that it's not really righteousness, but by "counting" it so, then the heavenly justice books are satisfied?
 
          Or, did God esteem, consider, "reckon", Abraham to be righteous, because Abraham needed to see the confidence (or faith) that God was expressing in him, in order to give Abraham the courage that God was for him, and with him, and supporting him, even when Abraham knew that he was immature and still making mistakes?  God reckons or accounts things to be the case in our lives, not because God is doing some mystical or fancy heavenly accounting to balance some heavenly ledger, but God esteems us better than we are FOR OUR BENEFIT!  God knows our true condition irrespective of how we are esteemed or reckoned or accounted.  But God RELATES TO US as if we were His righteous children, even though we're still growing and falling and getting up and falling again.
 
          We need that reckoning or accounting on God's part towards us to encourage and strengthen us so that when we do fall short, we can fall back on the assurance that our Heavenly Father is still on our side – esteeming us and considering us and reckoning us to be better than we actually are.  It's that confidence or "faith" that God has in us, that ultimately produces the mature righteousness in us that we lack at the beginning of our salvation walk while still being considered righteous.
 
          So eject from your mind and heart any idea that God is accounting something to be the case because He needs to do that for His holiness or justice to be satisfied.  He is accounting things to be the case because we need it!  If God is for us, who can be against us!  (Rom.8:31).  God being for us is another way of saying that He is esteeming us or considering us to be not merely what we are at the moment that we first believed, but what He sees that we can and will be as we appreciate His faith (esteeming) in us.
 
          The only question is, will you believe - and thus experience - what God's faith and estimation of you promises that you will be, or will you believe what Satan and your fickle emotions tell you that you are when you fall short?  As John the Baptist said, "Believe the good news", (Mark 1:15), of how God has chosen to relate to you!  When you have faith in God's prophetic view of your future, then righteousness will follow – not by a sense of obligation or requirement – but out of an appreciation for God's confidence in you when everyone else, including yourself, saw no reason for confidence or trust in you.
 
          May we believe God's "accounting", and experience the righteousness (love) inherent in it!
 
~Bob Hunsaker

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