Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 8, Qtr 3-05

Special Insights No. 8

Third Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Spiritual Life”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“Lord of Our Resources”



The scriptures are clear and it becomes self-evident to the believer that every gift that man possesses whether it is health or wealth or home or property comes from the “Father of lights.” The Quarterly summarizes this truth in a nutshell: “The greatest gift of all was bestowed when God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. ‘He poured out all heaven to man in that one great gift. And then he completed the work by surrounding man with unlimited blessings, favor upon favor, gift upon gift, opening to our view all the treasures of the future world’” (Signs of the Times, August 17, 1891).


When the Christian recognizes that not only have they been surrounded by “unlimited blessings,” with “favor upon favor” and “gift upon gift,” but that all mankind also has been surrounded by these same unlimited blessings, favors, and gifts, it is then that believer begins to catch a glimpse of the indescribable gift of grace bestowed upon the world by virtue of the incarnation and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This revelation compels him no longer to live for himself, but only for the one who died for him and rose again.


Favor Upon Favor

Perhaps it is well to rehearse one prime example each of the blessing, the favor, and the gift bestowed upon all. First, by virtue of “His wonderful work in giving His life, He restored the whole race of men to favor with God” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 343), but it is “favor upon favor” which is heaped upon man.


God chose all mankind in His Son through the incarnation from the foundation of the world. God shows no partiality--all were chosen in Christ for salvation. “Favor upon favor” was heaped upon mankind by means of the mystery of Christ. The unveiling of this mystery reveals that all were “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). He was the firstborn, since it was in Christ that the image of God was restored in fallen man. God not only chose all and predestined all, but He elected all and adopted all in His Son for salvation. “Favor upon favor” was heaped upon the fallen race.


We are stewards not only of our time and possessions and monetary resources, but we are to be stewards of our greatest resource of all--the gospel of Jesus Christ. The privilege of being a steward means we cherish and propagate the resource, the mystery of the Christ. Paul does not refer to the good news as the “mystery of the gospel,” or the “mystery of Christ,” or the “mystery which was kept secret since the world began,” or the “mystery of God” by accident (see Eph. 3:3, 6:19; Col. 4:3; Rom. 16:25; Col. 2:2). It is a mystery that was revealed to Paul and it is a mystery that we are to plumb to the deepest depths and cherish in order that we might share the mystery with the world as good stewards of the gospel.


Unlimited Blessings

The unveiling of the mystery reveals that unlimited blessings surround all mankind. First and foremost among these blessings is that “God would justify the nations” (Gal. 3:8) by virtue of the faith of Jesus Christ. The blessing that has come upon all nations is the gift of an acquittal from the curse of the law. This blessing is also referred to as “justification of life”--probationary life concomitant with certain temporal benefits. It is the faith of Jesus that made this inexpressible blessing possible. So we read in Gal 3:8, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith [the faith of Jesus], preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, [saying], ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” All nations would be blessed through the Seed that would come from Abraham’s loins, and that Seed is Christ. God foresaw that all nations would be justified by what the Seed would accomplish by His faith. As it is written: “The Just One shall live by His faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Heb.). We are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we who have believed in Christ (see Gal. 2:16, KJV). Thus all nations have been blessed in Christ. Those who receive the blessing will reap manifold blessings.


Gift upon Gift

Finally we may proclaim without reservation that the gift of eternal life has been bestowed on the world through the gift of Christ. “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived” (The Desire of Ages, p. 530). He is the gift that God gave to the world and in that gift, in Him, is eternal life. The testimony that Christ is the divine Son of God who has been given to man has been witnessed to the world in three ways: by “the Spirit, the water, and the blood.” The unbeliever refuses to believe the testimony and makes God a “liar.” “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life [believer and unbeliever heard the testimony], 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 5:8-12).


Unlimited blessings, favor upon favor, gift upon gift--the truths embedded in these concepts were unveiled in clear and distinct tones by heaven’s delegated messengers in the years leading up to, during, and following the Minneapolis 1888 General Conference which led Ellen White to heap endorsement upon endorsement of the message borne during those years and following.


How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? This evidence should be sufficiently clear to all believers that we are to be good stewards of all our resources that come from the “Father of lights,” in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

--John W. Peters


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