Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 13, Qtr 3-05

Special Insights No. 13

Third Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Spiritual Life”

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

“King of Kings and Lord of Lords”



1. Jesus always said that He was “meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). Why now does He change His personality and choose to come in the grandest arrival of the most exalted Person ever known in the history of the universe?


Answer: This is not His personal choice. This high honor has been conferred upon Him: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name,.... that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11, KJV). This is a development in sacred history that He dare not refuse to participate in, because in reality it is “to the glory of.... the Father,” says Paul.


2. Why should the Father grant this unprecedented honor to Jesus?


Answer: Because Jesus is the only Person in all the wide universe who has “poured out His soul unto death” (Isa. 53:12). There have been many people in history who have given their lives in order to help or save others—for example unselfish soldiers in wars. No one in time and eternity has chosen to sacrifice himself as Jesus did, for others.


3. There have been many unselfish people in history who have given their lives for the good of others, or to save them from death, as for example soldiers in battle. Why is this death of Jesus so special? For example, we in this country owe our peace and tranquility to brave men who died in wars like our Revolutionary War, our Civil War, World Wars I and II, etc. Is it because Christ was divine, and everybody else has been merely human?


Answer: As “Emmanuel,.... God with us,” only Christ was capable of “pouring out His soul unto death.” No merely human person could ever do it! All that any purely human person could ever do for someone else was to go to sleep for him, for death is a sleep (John 11:11-14; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17). Jesus only was both human and divine. Only a divine person could “pour out His soul unto death.”


4. Why? Will the answer tell us why Jesus is to be so very highly honored?


Answer: The death unto which Jesus “poured out His soul” was very different than the death we know that comes to all. It was not the death that soldiers die on the battlefield. It was the second death.


5. But what is so different about the second death, and the first death that we all know? Is it because the second death must take place in a lake of fire? If so, Jesus didn’t die that way! (Cf. Rev. 20:12-15).


Answer: We distort the meaning of that passage in Revelation if we conclude that the anguish of the lost will be the Fahrenheit or Centigrade temperature of the fire. The second death is not merely physical torture. The pain will be the judgment of verse 12 when the sacred books are “opened” and the lost finally see themselves as they have been all along. The horror of self-condemnation that results will be unimaginable, far worse than fire.


6. Does God inflict this torture on these unfortunate people?


Answer: Some who love the Bible say yes, some say no. For the lost, it will in reality be their own conscience that can’t help but see the contrast between their sinful character and the character of Christ. In that final hour, God doesn’t need to press home on those people the truth: they will see it in the most stark reality they have ever known. The Great Controversy says they will be horrified to sense their own judgment (pp. 666-668). They will welcome the fire that will end their soul agony.


7. Has anyone in the past ever felt that same agony of soul?


Answer: Yes, the Son of God felt just what they will feel. It was when He cried out on His cross, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). So terrible was His anguish that He felt the curse of God (Gal. 3:13). He was “made to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Because He endured this ultimate level of suffering, it is right that He be acclaimed “King of kings and Lord of lords.”


8. Does our Lesson 13 tell us the reason why Christ’s second coming seems to be so long delayed?


Answer: No; it takes a neutral stance. Scholars debate back and forth whether there has been any kind of delay; some feel that the Lord is well pleased with our progress and that we as a church are fulfilling our duty so well that we are “right on schedule.” Some believe that the Father has pre-appointed a time for Christ to return, and nothing can delay or hasten it. Some believe that Peter tells us it is in our power to hasten it (2 Peter 3:12). Ellen White quotes that statement: “By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return [then she quotes Peter]..... Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory” (The Desire of Ages, pp. 633, 634).


9. Is there some relationship between the 1888 message and the long delay in Christ’s return?


Answer: Yes; she declares that the Lord sent the 1888 message as “the beginning” of the long awaited Loud Cry of Revelation 18, which also meant, she says, that He sent with it incipient “showers from heaven of the latter rain” (Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892; Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 6, p. 19). She declared in 1893 that the gospel commission could have been completed by then if “our” 1888 unbelief had not interfered (General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 419).


10. Before Christ can be declared and crowned “King of kings and Lord of lords,” is a repentance of His people to become a present blessing?


Answer: Yes; Ellen White declares in the context of the 1888 message that “there will be great humbling of hearts before God on the part of every one who remains faithful and true to the end” (Ms. 15, 1888; quoted in A. V. Olson, Through Crisis to Victory, p. 297).


11. What studies await us in our next Quarter of Lessons?


Answer: Heart-warming, good news messages from Paul’s “most precious” letter to the Ephesians. This letter from Paul firmly supports the unique concepts that permeate the 1888 message of Christ’s righteousness.

Robert J. Wieland


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