Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 1, Qtr 3-05

Sabbath School �Insights� No. 1
Quarter 3, 2005, �The Spiritual Life�
Lesson 1, �Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ�
Prepared by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee

These Sabbath School INSIGHTS are not intended to be Lesson commentaries, nor intended to take the place of the General Conference-produced Study Guides for this Third Quarter. The Lesson topics for all thirteen weeks are serious, and the Bible portions to be studied are worthy of reverent and prayerful attention.

These INSIGHTS are unique in that they focus light on the lessons from the special message of Christ�s righteousness which the Lord sent to us in the 1888 era. They demonstrate that the �most precious message� which �the Lord in His great mercy sent� to us is indeed worthy of the name Ellen White gave it--�the third angel�s message in verity,� ultimate practical godliness.

Since the message was intended by its Divine Author to prepare that generation to meet the final issues of the mark of the beast, the seal of God, and the close of human probation, it is clear that it embraces the entire life of those who receive Jesus Christ as �their Lord and Savior.�

The contribution which the 1888 message makes to Lesson One is to see that making Jesus Christ our LORD is not only a duty imposed upon us (as we will often read in the Study Guides), but it�s far more than that--a joy, a commitment that is constrained upon us by the motivation of love (the agape of Christ). In other words, in this special Day of Atonement when the heavenly High Priest is closing His work as High Priest of our souls, Christ as our Lord is also our Friend.

To recognize Jesus as the LORD of our life is to surrender our will, our choices, to Him, and that�s what we Laodicean Christians squirm at. Yes, we�ll keep Saturday as our rest day, and we�ll pay tithe, and we�ll dedicate a year or so of our life to be a foreign missionary somewhere, and we�ll give offerings; and then, we having done our duty, He won�t mind if we spend all we have left of means or time in enjoying our wonderful economic heritage. We�ve done our duty, haven�t we? So, yes, we
recognize Jesus as not only our Savior, but as our LORD. Can we do better than that?

The 1888 Good News is Christ capturing our hearts as our Lord. He is nudging His disciples awake in �Gethsemane.� It�s the agape of Christ as a kind of love wholly different from what we think of as �love,� for it motivates those who believe in Him to a totally selfless life of service to Him as LORD. Neither fear nor hope of reward enters into the picture. It�s a measure of devotion to Christ that is parallel to the unique experience of living in the heavenly Day of Atonement, the time of the
final cleansing of the sanctuary. That�s not merely a theological quirk that our pioneers had for their day; it is vital truth in living for Christ as LORD in these last days. There are trials that will beset God�s people before the close of probation and the pouring out of the seven last plagues; we�d be foolish to dismiss their reality into an Adventist oblivion. Ellen White says it will not be possible for anyone to meet those final tests coming on the human race apart from this knowledge of
Christ as High Priest in His sanctuary ministry in the Most Holy Place. It�s in His work there that His Priestly ministry finally coincides totally with His LORDSHIP for those who believe in Him.

It becomes obvious that this is �Christian experience� that is unique. If our attention is fixed now on Christ as our LORD, this requires the revelation that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation define what �the time of the end� means (Dan. 12:4). The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been raised up by God to proclaim to the earth His final message of reconciliation, that is, of atonement. At last at the end of human history, a people is to be prepared who are truly at-one-with God, as close
in relationship to Christ as a bride is related to her bridegroom. It�s not a new works-program; it�s a new faith program. Christ�s role as LORD is actually welcomed as a bride welcomes her wedding day--not as our famous �Runaway-Bride� of recent notoriety. (The truth is that the church in her role as �Bride� has been on a runaway jaunt for over a century!)

Getting acquainted with Jesus as our LORD is a preparation for meeting Him when He returns the second time. It is thus a unique Adventist idea; all through history true Christians have recognized Christ as their Lord, but in this particular time of final Day of Atonement judgment, we are privileged to know Him as (1) our Savior, (2) our heart-cleansing High Priest, (3) our LORD of our obedience, (4) our Friend and (5) our Lover of the ages.

For the next 13 Sabbaths we shall explore our relationship with Him as subjects of His LORDship. They are precious weeks of time. It is not the Lord�s intention that they be weary weeks of boring study, but a fresh spiritual experience appropriate to the crisis of world life today. The servant of the Lord assures us that all Heaven is deeply concerned for the spiritual condition of the church of the Laodiceans today. Add to your Studies this new Quarter, this contribution of the 1888 message:
the unique Adventist idea of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is the grand truth that makes the Lordship of Christ become so totally received that His church will glorify Him as never before. The church will make possible His being crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. Forget about getting your own crown; pray to have a part in crowning Him.

Robert J. Wieland
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