Friday, July 21, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #4 July 22, 2017

FOURTH QUARTER 2016 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE"
JULY 22, 2017


   Paul's letter to the Galatians is a carefully written uncompromising, passionate, persuasive polemic by which he approaches the anti-gospel problem in the churches of Galatia. He comes to the problem from three directions: the gospel of grace defended (chapters 1–2), the gospel of grace explained (chapters 3–4), and the gospel of grace applied (chapters 5–6). In point of fact, the letter begins and ends with grace (see 1:3; 6:18).

  Our lesson for this week is the gospel of grace expressed as justification by faith in Christ alone. Justification lies at the heart of the gospel. The gospel is the good news about Christ. He is the gospel. Wherever Christ is, there is justification. Christ is our justification. It cannot be separated from Him.

   Again: justification is not a formula. It is a Person – the Person Christ Jesus. He has been given to all men. Because of this justification has been given to everyone. The fact that men live is an evidence that justification has been given to them, for "justification of life" has been given to all men. This justification that is in Christ is to be believed. It is to be experienced by faith in Jesus.

   Our union, by faith alone, with Christ alone, is the reason we experience justification. Union with Christ and justification by faith must be understood in relation to each other. It is by our faith response to His initiative that we become united to Him and the result is a justified life.

  There are two aspects of justification. One is experiential; the other is independent of our experience. The experiential aspect of justification is the direct participation of a person in the righteousness of Christ when and as s/he believes in Christ alone for salvation. The other aspect of justification is independent and outside the experiential standpoint. This aspect is what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross and by His faith.

   Justification is God's declaration of righteousness and innocence: "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us" (Romans 8:33-34). It is the devil who condemns and brings charges against us. We need to remember always that he has been cast down – from heaven (Revelation 12:10). We need to remember also that God repudiates and throws out the devil's charges against us as observed above in Romans 8:33-34. The devil's charges are legal. We are guilty; we know it and he knows it. BUT Christ "gave Himself for our sins" (Galatians 1:4). He took our guilt and our condemnation. "Messiah" was "cut off, but not for Himself" (Daniel 9:26). He was "cut off" for you and for me. He suffered the death penalty that was ours. "By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon" (1SM 340). Pardon was provided when Christ exhausted the penalty that was against us. This occurred when He died on the cross.

   And so, as stated in Sunday's lesson title: "The Question of "Justification" (Gal. 2:15, 16), the author correctly states that "justification … is a legal term. It deals with the verdict a judge pronounces when a person is declared innocent of the charges brought against him or her. It is the opposite of condemnation." (Emphasis his).

   Both justice and mercy are terms used in earthly court systems today. One who is guilty pleads for mercy and it is granted. He is pardoned and is no longer condemned. In this setting, mercy as well as justice are legal terms pronounced by a judge. Likewise, justification is a legal term and is used today in court cases of earth. But more importantly it is a forensic term used in God's pronouncement of justification. This is because of Christ's death. Notice this thought regarding justice and mercy:
 
    "His [Christ's] object was to reconcile the prerogatives of justice and mercy, and let each stand separate in its dignity, yet united. His mercy was not weakness, but a terrible power to punish sin because it is sin; yet a power to draw to it the love of humanity. Through Christ Justice is enabled to forgive without sacrificing one jot of its exalted holiness." (General Conference Bulletin, Fourth Quarter, 1899, vol. 3, p. 102).
 
   Justification is because of God's justice as well as His mercy and was accomplished by His judicial declaration – by and through the Word, Christ Jesus. Christ's death was and is God's legal justification. Justification was/is "by the blood" of Christ (Roman 5:9). It is inseparable from His death.
 
   God's justification is also accomplished, in practical experience, by His treatment of those who believe in Christ alone for salvation. In this He treats us as though we had never sinned.
 
   "If you give yourself to [Christ], and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned" (Steps to Christ 62).
 
   "We are not to serve God as if we were not human, but we are to serve him as those who have been redeemed by the Son of God and through the righteousness of Christ we shall stand before God pardoned, and as though we had never sinned" (Signs of the Times, April 10, 1893; This is found also in Selected Messages Book 3, p. 140).
 
   "In Christ we are as if we had suffered the penalty we have incurred. In Christ I am as if I had obeyed, and rendered perfect obedience to the law, which we cannot perfectly obey without Christ imparts to us His merits and His righteousness. O, the plan of salvation is a wonderful matter, and we have enough to think of, and talk of, and to be thankful for every day of our lives." (Pacific Union Recorder, September 4, 1913).
 
   In closing let's consider the memory verse for this week's lesson (Galatians 2:20) along with verse 16. The first part of Galatians 2:20 is known in the original language as an envelope construction. It looks like this:
 
Christ
            I was crucified together with
            nevertheless I live
            yet not I
            but living in me
Christ
 
   The life now lived by all men, especially the believer, is the result of Christ's faith as the second half of verse 20 states: "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."
 
   The reason Paul wrote this part of the letter is because Peter had turned from "the truth of the gospel" both in practice and in doctrine (verse 14). Paul's rebuke of Peter is unleashed from this verse to the end of the chapter.
 
   Verse 16 is the heart of the gospel – "justification by the faith of Christ." Peter knew this. But he had been shamed into denying the gospel. Because of his denial Paul rebuked him saying:
 
"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" (verse 16). This verse is constructed as a figure of speech known as a chiasm. It looks like the following:
 
          A.  A man is not justified by the works of the law
                B.  But by the faith of Jesus Christ
                     C.  Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ
               B.  And not by the works of the law
          A. For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified

   The centerpiece of the chiasm is the most important part – we believe in Jesus alone so that we may be justified by His faith. Here the gospel of grace is defended mightily. And now, you and I have the privilege to be among the last believers on earth just before the second coming of Christ who will be known as those who are justified by "the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). "Believest thou?"
  
~Jerry Finneman

http://www.1888msc.org/article/508/resources/sabbath-school-insights/2017-quarter-3-jul-sep/insight-4-july-22-2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

THE UNITY OF THE GOSPEL

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INSIGHT #3 JULY 15, 2017
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FOURTH QUARTER 2016 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"THE UNITY OF THE GOSPEL"
JULY 15, 2017

"Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of
the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ;" Eph. 4:13, NKJV.


Our primary passage of consideration this week, found in Galatians
2:1-14, brings out several principles that are essential for unity.
Each of these principles derive from the gospel itself - from the good
news of God's revelation in Christ, and the practical experience
(i.e., commandment keeping) of the Faith of Jesus. The unity of the
gospel is truly unity of the Faith of Jesus. It is what unites the
remnant, following the perfect example of the Lamb, in patient
endurance in the final conflict. This conflict results from the
confused Babylonian denial of a loving Creator which overtly and
covertly promotes "me first" theology, threatening all humanity with
division and destruction. (Rev. 14:1-12)

Divine Direction (vs 1, 2)

Paul exercised the Faith of Jesus by waiting for God to direct him as
to time and place for his work. He went up to Jerusalem because he was
paying close attention to God's voice in the Scriptures and through
the Spirit. The same was true of Christ, who believed and acted on the
prophetic word (Mark 1:14, 15), and was directed in word and action by
the Father through the Spirit (John 14:10-12; Luke 4:1).

Humility (vs 2)

Prior to becoming a power proponent of his understanding of the
gospel, Paul submitted to the scrutiny of those who had the reputation
of personal connection with Christ and the direction of the Spirit. He
had a strong desire to "run with it," but wanted to make sure he was
not running in vain. Christ also had a will to win in His conflict,
but humbly submitted His will to that of the Father all the way to the
cross (Luke 22:42; Phil. 2:5-8)

Freedom (vs 3-5)

Paul understood the freedom that comes in Christ - freedom from
submitting to mere human tradition or expectation. This freedom gave
him understanding of the sneaky methods used to spy out and disrupt
the power of this freedom. Only Christ brings freedom from sin:
"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John
8:36. Jesus was under the same scrutiny by spies, but used the
Scriptures under the direction of the Spirit to confound their efforts
(Luke 20).

Confidence (vs 6)

Although Paul was willing to submit his understanding and experience
to others of like mind, in no way did he derive his confidence or
assurance from those in authority. His confidence arose from the
understanding that God has no favorites - that in salvation His love
and forgiveness are generated and expressed freely, and that our
acceptance and experience of that love is by free will, and not by
coercion or fear. (Titus 3:3-7; Rom. 3:23, 24; 4:24, 25)

Affirmation (vs 7-9)

Paul's desire to serve in the body of Christ was strengthened and
affirmed by the church leaders of his day, who gave him "the right
hand of fellowship." True unity is based on the recognition and
appreciation of where God is working, even if it is in ways and in
people that stretch our comfort zones. We should affirm and strengthen
those who are thus blessed by the grace of God, regardless of peer
pressure or our own biases. Christ encouraged his disciples in this
vein. (Mark 9:40; Luke 9:50)

Service (vs 10)

The desired result of unity is service, which all who like Paul truly
appreciate the gospel are most eager to do. We love, because we were
first loved. We want what is best for others, as God does for us:
"Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment
of the law." (Rom. 13:10) "For even the Son of Man did not come to be
served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark
10:45)

Integrity (vs 11-14)

Paul was not afraid to confront even those who had previously affirmed
his calling and mission, when he saw that self-interest was
undermining the gospel. The integrity of the gospel was paramount. Of
course, Jesus also directly confronted hypocrisy. (Matt. 23:13-29;
Mark 7:6) Talk is cheap, if our gospel does not show love in action.
Do we really believe the universal scope of the sacrifice of Christ?
Are we willing to call others to account for a distorted gospel?

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One
died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live
should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them
and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to
the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know [Him thus] no longer." (2 Cor. 5:14-16)

Why Paul Went Up to Jerusalem. - The record in Acts says that it was
determined at Antioch that Paul and Barnabas and some others should go
up to Jerusalem about this matter. But Paul declares that he went up
'by revelation.' Gal. 2:2. Paul did not go up simply on their
recommendation, but the same Spirit moved both him and them. He did
not go up to learn the truth of the Gospel, but to maintain it. He
went, not to find out what the Gospel really is, but to communicate
the Gospel which he had preached among the heathen. Those who were
chief in the conference imparted nothing to him. He had not been
preaching for seventeen years that of which he stood in doubt. He knew
whom he believed. He had not received the Gospel from any man, and he
did not need to have any man's testimony that it was genuine. When God
has spoken, an endorsement by man is an impertinence.

The Gospel Not Magic. - The great lesson taught by this experience, to
which Paul referred the Galatians, is that there is nothing in this
world that can confer grace and righteousness upon men, and that there
is nothing in the world that any man can do, that will bring
salvation. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and not the
power of man. Any teaching that leads men to trust in any object,
whether it be an image, a picture, or anything else, or to trust for
salvation in any work or effort of their own, even though that effort
be directed toward the most praiseworthy object, is a perversion of
the truth of the Gospel, - a false gospel. There are in the church of
Christ no 'sacraments' that by some sort of magical working confer
special grace on the receiver; but there are things that a man who
believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who is thereby justified and
saved, may do as an expression of his faith. The only thing in the
world that has any efficacy in the way of salvation, is the life of
God in Christ. 'By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should
boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
works, which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them.'
Eph. 2:8-10." E. J. WAGGONER. (December 15, 1898 EJW, SITI 788)

~Todd Guthrie

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Raul Diaz
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