Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 4, Qtr3-05

Sabbath School Insights No. 4
Quarter 3, 2005, Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Spiritual Life"
(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)
"Lord of Our Desires"

We are very thankful that the Adult Sabbath School Quarterly provided us with the opportunity to discuss the nature which Christ assumed in His incarnation. It is the heart of the Gospel message, and was recognized as such by the 1888 "messengers," A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. It was a prominent theme in Jones' sermons at both the 1893 and the 1895 General Conference Sessions.

The Humanity of Christ Is Everything to Us
One might well ask the question: Why is the humanity which Christ assumed so important to us? Is it worth discussing; or is it just a focal point for argument? What difference does it make whether He took upon Himself the sinful flesh of Adam after the Fall or assumed the sinless flesh of Adam before the Fall?

"The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. Christ was a real man; He gave proof of His humility in becoming a man. Yet He was God in the flesh" (The Youth's Instructor, Oct. 13, 1898).

"To believe that He is the Son of God means to believe that He is come in the flesh, human flesh, our flesh. For His name is 'God with us'" (The Glad Tidings, p. 42).

We need a Savior that is "nigh at hand;" one that has been touched with "the feeling of our infirmities" and is therefore able to comfort and guide us in overcoming all temptation and sin in our lives (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16). "If He comes no nearer to us than in a sinless nature, that is a long way off; because I need somebody that is nearer to me than that. I need some one to help me who knows something about sinful nature; for that is the nature I have; and such the Lord did take" (1895
General Conference Bulletin, p. 311; all GCB pagination is from the original editions).

"It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon Himself the form and nature of fallen man, that He might be made perfect through suffering, and Himself endure the strength of Satan's fierce temptations, that He might understand how to succor those who should be tempted" (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, pp. 39-40; cf. Heb. 5:7-8; 2:14-18).

"The mystery of God is not God manifest in sinless flesh. There is no mystery about God being manifest in sinless flesh; that is natural enough. Is not God Himself sinless? Is there then, any room for wonder that God could manifest Himself through or in sinless flesh?...... No, that is natural enough. But the wonder is that God can do that through and in sinful flesh. That is the mystery of God,--God manifest in sinful flesh (1895 GCB, p. 303; emphasis in original; see 1 Tim. 3:16).

The Battle for Our Mind
The flesh is corrupt and unredeemable. Our fallen, sinful flesh will never see heaven; it will be destroyed "in the twinkling of an eye" at the second coming of our Lord (1 Cor. 15:52-54). The battle is not for the flesh, but for our minds. With the mind we serve either God or Satan. We need a new mind--the mind of Christ.

Jones elaborated this point at length at the 1893 General Conference Session. Quoting Romans 8:7, he said: "Cannot God make that mind subject to His law? [Congregation: 'No.'] What is that mind? It is enmity against God....... There is the point: if it were at enmity, then it might be reconciled, because the thing that would make it at enmity would be the source of the trouble. And therefore take away the source of the trouble, then the thing that is at enmity would be reconciled. We are at
enmity; but when He takes the enmity away, we are reconciled to God. In this matter of the carnal mind though, there is nothing between it; it is the thing itself. That is the root [the carnal mind is the source of the trouble].......The only thing that can be done with it, is to destroy it, uproot it, annihilate it. Whose mind is it? [Congregation: 'Satan's.'] It is the mind of self, and that is of Satan" (1893 GCB, p. 260; all emphases in original).

The mind cannot be "converted"; we need a new mind, the mind of Christ. Without the mind of Christ in control, working enmity against our carnal desires, we will serve the flesh. Jesus must become "Lord of our desires" though our receiving a new mind--His mind.

Therefore we are enjoined to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). "He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh; not in the likeness of sinful mind. Do not drag His mind into it. His flesh was our flesh; but the mind was 'the mind of Christ Jesus.' Therefore it is written: 'Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus'" (1895 GCB; p. 327).

"All have been purchased with the precious blood--the life--of Christ, and all may be, if they will, free from sin and death...... We need not sin anymore! He has cut the cord of sin that bound us so that we have but to accept His salvation in order to be free from every besetting sin...... Christ has gained the complete victory over this present evil world, over 'the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life' (1 John 2:16), and our faith in Him makes His victory ours"
(The Glad Tidings, p. 61; emphasis in original).

What glorious good news! God loves us enough that He came right onto the battlefield, into the thick of the conflict against sin; fighting the battle for us and as us. We already have the victory in Him. The nature which Christ assumed at His incarnation is the foundation of our confidence in Him as our Savior. He came to "save His people from their sins." He is "God with us," "who takes away the sin of the world" (Matt. 1:21, 23; John 1:29).
--Ann Walper

[Note: Supplemental quotations on the nature which Christ assumed may be found at: under Sabbath School Insights, 3rd Quarter, Lesson #4.]

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