Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 2, Qtr 3-05

Sabbath School Insights No. 2
Quarter 3, 2005, Adult Sabbath School Lessons
�The Spiritual Life�
(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

�Lord of Our Priorities�

�But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you� (Matt. 6:33). The Quarterly�s memory verse is an ideal springboard for this week�s theme: �Lord of Our Priorities.�

As Christ spoke these words at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, the kingdom of God was standing in the very midst of the people. The righteousness of God was standing in the very presence of the rabbis, scribes, and Pharisees. The people were beholding, in the person of Jesus Christ, the rectification of what had gone wrong with mankind at the Fall. The loss of the image of God in humanity was rectified by God manifest in the flesh. The righteousness of God was being manifestly displayed
through the faith of Jesus Christ. God was setting right (rectifying) that which had gone wrong with the universe, while at the same time vindicating Himself through the faith of Jesus which culminated at the cross.

But the culmination of God�s vindication awaits the fulfillment of imperative among His disciples: �Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.�

The grandest opportunity of the ages for making Christ the Lord of our priorities was presented to His church at the Minneapolis General Conference in 1888 and in the decade following. �Christ, our righteousness� became the central theme during that decade of the preaching by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, which was complemented and endorsed by Ellen White�s own preaching and testimonies.

The motivation for putting Christ �first on our agenda� by doing what He says in obedience to His Word, and the motivation for making Christ �first in your day� in prayer and meditation on His Word, can only come from appreciating and comprehending the righteousness of God made manifest through the faith of Jesus Christ.

It was this message of God�s righteousness that proclaimed that God could be just while at the same time justifying the one who would be willing to live by virtue of the faith of Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:26). In fact God justified (vindicated) Himself through the faith of Jesus Christ, and at the same time redeemed the sinner, especially those sinners who believe. [The vindication of God from the charges of Satan is the primary focus of the plan of redemption; the salvation of man is an ancillary
benefit of that plan.] Christ tasted death for all men and redeemed all from the curse of the law. The ransom was paid which was demanded by the law by Christ�s own blood and the emancipation papers were signed in crimson red for all.

God�s purpose in redeeming mankind is the origin of all grace. We all stand in that grace, believer and unbeliever, and have access into that same grace by faith, thereby receiving power for a transformed life. It is that same grace that bestows the gift of eternal life upon both the believer and unbeliever. Eternal life resides in God�s Son and the His Son has been given to the world, thereby conveying the gift of eternal life to the world. We read, �This is the testimony: that God has given
us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life� (1 John 5:11-12). So the question that God puts to the world is: �What are you going to do with the gift--the gift of my Son?�

Tuesday�s lesson points to the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who day-by-day surrendered His will to His Father�s will. The crux issue in how God saved the world revolves around the nature of Christ. Did Jesus take the nature of unfallen Adam or the nature of Adam after the Fall? The self-centered will we all inherit from Adam�s Fall is the essence of the fallen nature of man. Being separated from God, we all yield to that nature and go our own way opposed to God�s way. The Bible describes
this predicament of our fallen self-centered nature as the �law of sin in my members� in Romans 7. Christ inherited this same problem being born of fallen woman, who was miraculously impregnated with �spermatos� composed of fallen DNA. The law of sin dwelt within the members of Christ�s humanity. But that humanity began life and ended its record with a sanctified will. Yes, He was not exactly like us. His inherent divinity qualified Him to be united from conception with the divine power of His
Father. We may begin life anew united with divinity through intimate union with Christ, our Righteousness.

This message was proclaimed in clear and distinct tones in the 1888 message, which was intended to induce people to make Christ the Lord of their priorities. The message of righteousness by faith in the context of Heavenly Day of Atonement, with the cleansing of the sanctuary and the hour of God�s judgment, was the beginning of the latter rain which was quenched and resisted in large measure by the leading brethren at that time. But the promise remains: �the sanctuary shall be cleansed.� This
was the beginning of the message that is to �lighten the earth with glory� and that will in its full development prepare a people for translation.

--- John W. Peters

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