Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 10, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 10

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

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

“The Christian Walk”



For most of us we learned how to do it in the first year of life and have not stopped doing it since. From the time we get out of bed in the morning until we lie down at night we walk. Some more than others, but we walk. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. We do it every day and give little thought to how it is done or what life would be like if we couldn’t. Until, that is, some tragedy strikes. A physical change, like a mangled limb from a war wound, paralysis from a stroke, pain from a broken hip, or weakness from progressive multiple sclerosis, now hampers what came so naturally.


We might find ourselves with a limp unable to move so quickly, or a shuffling gait prone to trip and fall, or worse yet unable to walk and confined to a wheel chair or imprisoned in a bed never to know that freedom of mobility we once knew. To some who have lost this precious ability life may seem not worth living. Though many, like Joni Erickson Tada, have come to realize that life is worth living even without the ability to walk physically. In this week’s passage, however, we learn from Paul that for the Christian who cannot walk (spiritually speaking) there is no life at all. It is death. [1]


Paul in his letter to the Ephesians first makes it clear what the Christian walk is NOT: stealing, corrupt communication, grieving the Holy Spirit, bitterness, wrath, anger, loud quarreling, evil speaking, malice, walking in the futility of your mind, darkened understanding, hardened heart, licentiousness, greed, deceitful lust, fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, course jesting, idolatry, disobedience, darkness, unfruitful works, and being unwise. [2]


It therefore follows that the Christian walk is (but not limited to): giving instead of taking, up lifting conversations, saying yes to the Holy Spirit’s leading, kindness, peacemaking, speaking well of others, following God’s will instead of our own, enlightened understanding, humble heart, self denial, purity of thought and motive, integrity and faithfulness in relationships, contentment, single mindedness toward God, obedience, forgiving, fruitful works, and wisdom. Paul simply summarizes it with these words, “goodness, righteousness, and truth.” [3] The 1888 message contribution is this: If one understands and believes how powerful is this “most precious message,” faith motivates one to walk “even as Christ” walked.


Is this part of the good news that Paul has for us in this passage? Yes, it is good news that there is a right and a wrong and that Paul is not afraid to point it out. A right and wrong that when made known to us again or for the first time awakens in our heart conviction that brings to light areas of our life that are out of harmony with our heavenly calling, and expose our weakness and need. But the good news is not just a list that brings conviction. Paul has better news for us.


The better news is how the love of Christ constrains one in the Christian walk. “Be followers of God, as dear children.” “Walk in love, as Christ Himself also has loved us and given Himself for us.” “You are light in the Lord, Walk as children of light.” “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead.” [4] These words are not just an exhortation to simply aim higher nor are they an optional accessory for the Christian to add to the purchased pardon of Christ’s blood. The Christian walk is the very salvation that Christ gives. [5] It is as much a part of and inseparable from salvation as is forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. In these passages, Paul is delivering the very word of God to us that makes the Christian walk a reality and also a delight.


These words are no different than the words of Jesus to the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda in John 5, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” After 38 years of failure using the faulty religious methods of his day, the miraculous good news came to him in these words from the Lord. Take note that the paralytic could not add anything to the Lord’s miracle. He simply used what the Lord had given him, faith and the ability to walk. He heard the word of the Lord to him, believed, stood up, and walked.


In the same manner the word of the Lord has come to us through Paul, “Walk in love as Christ Himself also has loved us and given Himself for us.” Can we ever fathom what it is to give ourselves for Him in like manner as He gave Himself for us? Before we think that this cannot be done we must put ourselves in the paralytic’s shoes. We are the paralytic and the Lord has just now spoken to us after many years of trying to walk by the faulty religious methods of our day. What is needed for us to “walk in love as Christ Himself”? Believe His word, stand, and walk. Choose to use that which He has given us.


In The Glad Tidings, the 1888 “messenger,” E. J. Waggoner, wrote:


“Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—these must come forth spontaneously from the heart of the true follower of Christ. They cannot be forced. But they do not dwell naturally in us. It is natural for us to be angry and exasperated instead of gentle and long-suffering when opposed. Note the contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The first come naturally; therefore, in order for the good fruit to be born, we must be made completely over into new creatures..... Goodness comes not from any man, but from the Spirit of Christ continually dwelling in him” (p. 121).


“Arise, shine; For you light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you..... But the Lord will arise over you And His glory will be seen upon you, the Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.” [6]

Kelly Kinsley



1. Eph. 5:5, 6, 14.

2. Eph. 4:17-19, 22, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31; 5:3, 5, 10.

3. Eph. 5:9.

4. Eph. 5:1, 2, 8, 14.

5. Luke 4:18.

6. Isaiah 60:1-3.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 9, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 9

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

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

“Living the New Life”



It seems a paradox that Paul spent four chapters of Ephesians explaining the amazing free gift of the Gospel, and then, details a new way to live. This week’s Quarterly begins with a profound statement:


“This new way is neither a modification nor an improvement of the old.” David understood this when he pleaded, “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”

(Psalm 51:10, NKJV). We must never confuse the order in which this transformation is to take place. God “quickens” or gives life to our dead hearts by showing us our living position in Christ. Our gratitude for what our loving God has already accomplished for us compels us to want to live our lives for Him. Certainly the sublime description of the Gospel given in the book of Ephesians motivates every believer to change his life.


What is also paradoxical is that this change may not appear to be a change at all. Consider the legalist who is trying to conform his actions to what he considers a Christian lifestyle. One day the sense that whatever he does is never enough lifts as he hears the freedom of a Spirit-directed life. It is possible that he will continue many of the good habits that he developed during his “works” lifestyle. The big difference is the motivation behind it. No longer is he trying to chalk up enough points to obligate God to “reward” him with heaven.


“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us” (The Desire of Ages, p. 668).


We know that quotation, but do we really believe it? Doubts creep in when we look at our own performance and see nothing close to “continual obedience.” That’s just the problem, we look to ourselves. The Word of God is how the world was created, and no less is required to recreate a heart. By beholding the Word in the word, we become changed. It sounds too good to be true. Just by reading the Bible, we’re changed? Yes and no. Reading can occur without belief. The precondition is “when we know God....” This is the key. Knowing God requires humble prayer in response to lessons learned from the Word.


Verse 30 of Ephesians 4 has troubled many into thinking they have committed the unpardonable sin by grieving the Holy Spirit. A brief look at God’s grief will help. Psalm 95:7-11 shows a long-suffering God, grieving when Israel hardened their hearts in the wilderness and would not enter His rest. Mark 3:5 shows Christ grieving at the hardness of the Pharisee’s hearts. Judas and Saul are examples of grieving God until He gave them over to their choices. Romans 1:24-32 shows that God, however reluctantly, eventually honors the deliberate, persistent choice of the individual. How long does His Spirit strive with us, how many “chances” do we have? As many chances as our Elder Brother-Judge knows we need to seal our choice.


Ephesians chapter 4 ends with Paul encouraging us to love each other with agape, of which forgiveness is a facet. E. J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 “messengers,” put it this way:


“Says Paul: ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.’ Eph. 4:32. No one can know how to forgive, unless he knows how God forgives; and nobody can fully understand how God forgives, until he has felt in his own soul the fullness of divine pardon.....


“It is very common for people to say that they can forgive but they cannot forget. That is not true forgiveness...The man who does not forget an injury done him, has never really forgiven the offender;.... [With God] the pardoned one is as though he had never sinned; where there was nothing but guilt before.... Then if we forgive as God forgives, we must regard the repentant offender as though he had done nothing against us. We must forget that he ever injured us. We must treat him and regard him as though he had done us nothing but good instead of nothing but evil.


“The man who forgives in this manner is a true disciple of Christ, because no one can do this unless he has experienced, and does at the time experience, the blessing of divine forgiveness..... When we contemplate the magnitude of our sin against God, all the wrongs that all men may have done to us, sink into insignificance” (The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1887).


Like Mary Magdalene, we must allow the Holy Spirit to dig deep into our souls to show us the magnitude of our own sin to appreciate God’s forgiveness. As we come to see ourselves as God sees us, forgiving others of much lesser wrongs becomes natural—as if “carrying out our own impulses.” Like every thing good this kind of forgiveness is a gift from God. May He give us the grace to not resist this Gift.

Arlene Hill


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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 8, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 8

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

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

“Unity Amid Diversity”


Think of a wheel. Now this wheel has a hub, a rim, and spokes going between. The outer edges of the rim are where we are before God begins His work in us. When we say “yes” to Christ, He begins to take us on a journey. From the position on the outer edge of the rim where we are running around all over the place, with our own personalities and agendas, Christ begins to harness all this energy and puts us on one of the spokes. Now we are all on different spokes, in different places on this wheel—still with our different, individual personalities, but now in the harness and on a specific path determined by Him.


Jesus does not leave us at the outer edge of the spokes, He begins to move us toward the center—each of us still on different spokes with our different personalities. But, look! As we move closer to the hub, we become closer to each other on our different pathways—still with our different personalities, but now closer. Not only do we move closer to each other as we move toward the hub along these different spokes, but we move closer to Jesus, because He is the Hub. If we let Him, He will complete the process and bring us all to Him in the center. He then has completed His work in our hearts and we now we completely reflect His character, for He has fully reproduced His character in us—while still, all along the path, maintaining our individual personalities.


It is this journey that I want to discuss today. How does it take place and what is our part in the process?


E..J. Waggoner in his book on Romans, pp. 126, 127, makes the following statement:


“Getting into Christ is only the beginning, not the end, of Christian Life. It is the entrance to the school where we are to learn of Him. He takes the ungodly man with all his evil habits and forgives all his sins, so that he is counted as though he never sinned. Then He continues to give him His own life, by which he may overcome his evil habits.


“Association with Christ will more and more reveal to us our failings, just as association with a learned man will make us conscious of our ignorance. As a faithful witness, He tells of our failings. But this is not to condemn us. We receive sympathy, not condemnation, from Him. It is this sympathy that gives courage, and enables us to overcome.


“When the Lord points out a defect in our characters, it is the same as saying to us, ‘There is something that you are in need of, and I have it for you.’ When we learn to look at reproof in this way we shall rejoice in it instead of being discouraged.”


The other 1888 “messenger,” A. T. Jones, follows up in the 1893 General Conference Bulletin, p 404:


“When sin is pointed out to you, say, ‘I would rather have Christ than that.’ And let it go. [Congregation: ‘Amen.’] Then where is the opportunity for any of us to get discouraged over our sins? Now some of the brethren have done that very thing. They came here free; but the Spirit of god brought up something they never saw before, went deeper than ever before, and revealed things they never saw before. And then, instead of thanking the Lord and letting the whole wicked business go, and thanking the Lord that they had ever so much more of Him than before, they began to get discouraged.


“If the Lord has brought up sins to us that we never thought of before, that only shows that He is going down to the depths, and He will reach the bottom at last. And when He finds the last thing that is unclean, out of harmony with His will, and shows that to us, and we say, ‘I would rather have the Lord than that’—then the work is complete, and the seal of the living God can be fixed upon that character.


“Which would you rather have, the completeness, the perfect fullness of Jesus Christ, or have less than that with some of your sins covered up that you never knew of? So He has to dig down to the deep places we never dreamed of, because we cannot understand our hearts.


“Let Him go on; let Him keep on His searching work.”


Ezekiel has some things to say about unity and what is required to obtain it:


“Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore..... My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (37:19-24, 27, 28).


Yes! Let Him do it! Let Him go on. Ask Him to show us our worst case. Let us keep our eyes on the divine Hub, for He will take us all the way into the Kingdom. And when we get there, we still will be able to recognize each other, because the Lord will keep our individualities intact.


Craig Barnes


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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 7, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 7

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

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

“God’s Mystery: The Universal Fellowship”



The Jews had the grandest resume/endorsement from God of any people on earth. As our Lesson reminds us, they were a “holy people,.... chosen.... to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deut. 14:2). But Israel ran with this and developed the most exclusionary culture the world had known. Why? Their natural human hearts were as sinful as of anybody else.


They translated the Gospel into the very opposite of what love is (agape) and were so proud they actually hated the rest of the world. God had chosen them to be His missionary people to reach the world with Good News; they became the most anti-Good News people the world has ever known, even murdering the Author of the Gospel (a lesson for all who profess to follow Him!). Israel’s story is the most astounding violation of founding-principle any nation has ever demonstrated.


It is most astonishing because the Lord had proclaimed to their “father” Abraham the seven promises that make the New Covenant (Gen. 12:2, 3), which included the assurance that “you shall be a blessing” to all nations. From their first beginning, Israel were to be a missionary people. When they came out of slavery in Egypt and arrived at Mt Sinai, they turned the New Covenant on its head and invented their own Old Covenant to take its place, promising obedience like fickle Peter’s later promise never to “deny” His Lord (Matt. 26:33, 34). Like Peter, ancient Israel fell flat on their face.


Our Tuesday’s Lesson notes that it is “not to this world only but to the universe [that] we are to make manifest the principles of [Christ’s] kingdom.” While we are doing it, could we also “make manifest [those] principles” to the current Jews and Palestinians in constant bloody conflict? We probably think of ourselves as too insignificant to make an appreciable impact on Ariel Sharon and Abbas. But is that God’s intention? Am I thinking a “big idea” too big for reality (cf. Evangelism, p. 169, “preach so that the people can catch hold of big ideas”)? Can the teaching of Seventh-day Adventists electrify the world? Can it hit the front pages of newspapers and get on the evening news? Can it “lighten the earth with glory”(Rev. 18:1, 2)? Can we be what the Lord told Abraham his descendants would be—“a blessing” to all nations, including Israel, the Palestinians, and Iraq? Are we somebody important-to-be?


The answer has to be an unswerving YES!

Such a “big idea” does not convert the world—that won’t happen, we know, but for sure it’s a proclamation of truth so clear that it acts upon warring populations as that “other angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God.” “With a loud voice” he commands the four angels to hold their four winds of warfare, hatred, and strife, until God “seal[s His] servants.... on their foreheads” (Rev. 7:1-3). (An “angel,” remember, = a “most precious” message.) Don’t let the message be muffled—there may be tragic consequences.


The sealing message has a direct effect on the “holding” of terrorism and international strife. Two world wars, for example, can testify to negligence in proclaiming that special message which prepares a people for the close of probation—the sealing message. “In a great degree” it eluded us. Our God-given task is specific: prepare a people for the second coming of Christ and do it in this generation. If we will do so, the Lord has promised He will do his part: He will tell those “four angels,” “Hold, hold, hold, hold!” their “four winds” until the sealing work is completed (Early Writings, p. 38). Tuesday’s lesson emphasizes that this should happen now, not wait another century for us to wake up and do it.


What does Paul’s letter to the Ephesians have to do with this work?

Much, because Ephesians 3 in particular is concerned with God’s people reaching the zenith of character development which means being “filled with all the fullness of God” (vs. 19). That’s not perfection of the flesh (which is a heresy!) but Christlikeness of character—manifested in the church as a body. That’s why Ephesians belongs with Daniel and Revelation; it’s a message for the last days proclaimed by the Bride-to-be of Christ. Tuesday’s lesson zeroes in on this idea of something happening in the church which is also “through the church”(Eph. 3:10)—repentance in and of the church as a body. Long said to be impossible, it has to come, and it will. Our Seventh-day Adventist church in Germany and Austria is demonstrating how it can come; they have hit the papers.


That means the sealing message is not proclaimed by a handful of zealots scattered almost invisible in the church, but it’s by the corporate body of the church. It means the church will at last be united in their understanding of the message! In other words, Tuesday’s Lesson makes clear that it’s God’s purpose that the entire body of the church be united in their heart-appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ as no corporate body in history has been so united, so grown-up in their understanding of the atonement. At last, they comprehend something—what it cost the Son of God to save this world. And that constrains them.


What Sunday-keeping churches just can’t see.

Paul’s prayer is that we might comprehend the grand dimensions of this agape-love of Christ (3:14-19). It’s no fault of theirs they can’t see it—the false doctrine of natural immortality they inherited from Romanism (and eventually paganism) hides their eyes from “comprehending” the kind of death Christ died on His cross. We have yet to become united in our understanding of what happened there, but the Holy Spirit is working. We have a unique New Covenant message to proclaim to “all nations.” It will arrest the attention of every honest soul in the world.


This week, may the Lord bless as we study deeply into what it’s all about. Ephesians has truth woven into it that is electrifying. Claim the “eyesalve” of discernment that Jesus has promised to give you on condition of repentance (Rev. 3:18, 19).

Robert J. Wieland


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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 6, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 6

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

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

“The Church Without Walls”



The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been described as the Hall of Faith. The great patriarchs listed there include Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. But amongst these giants, verse 31 records, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”


As we study this week’s lesson, the story of Rahab gives us helpful insights central to the gospel story. Please read Joshua chapter 2, which tells us the story in detail. When Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given you the land..... For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt.... for the Lord your God He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath,” where did this revelation come from?


Waggoner, in The Everlasting Covenant, p. 270 says, “The Gospel is the power of God to salvation, and since God’s mighty power was exhibited in the salvation of Israel from Egypt, it is evident that the Gospel was at that time proclaimed as it has never been since. The effect of that proclamation is shown by the words of a heathen woman, the harlot Rahab. She then pleaded for her life and that of her family and was told to bind a scarlet cord in the window and when destruction came to the city she and her family would be “passed over” and their lives would be spared. Joshua 6:25 says, “... she dwells in Israel to this day.”


The lesson asks the question: “What was the position of the Gentiles before they found Christ?” The 1888 message will clarify this question and give us the answer. Thankfully, the lesson itself gives us two great passages of Scripture to work with: Romans 3:20-31 and 5:12-18, and I will add a third, Galatians 3:8, 9. Where were the Gentiles, and did they find Christ? Romans 1:10-3:20 makes it clear that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin: “There is none righteous, no, not one.... [and] none who seeks after God.” “But now.... the righteousness of God which is through the faith [of] Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:10, 11; 21-24).


Let us stop here and unpack this marvelous truth. First of all the phrase through the faith of Jesus Christ does not appear in my translation (the NKJV); it says in verse 22, “even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ.” Understanding whose faith is referred to is important in appreciating the gospel and the riches we have in Christ Jesus. Verse 21 uses the perfect tense: “the righteousness of God has been manifested in the past, in the faith/obedience of the crucified One.” The main concern of Paul in Romans 3 is to assert the integrity of God. Earlier in the chapter, God’s faithfulness (vs. 3) and righteousness/justice (vs. 5) are called into question. Our faith in Jesus Christ cannot prove God’s justice or righteousness. However, God’s righteousness is made manifest by the faith of Jesus Christ who became “a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy…” (Rom. 15:8-11; see also Luke 2:25, 32).


What glorious good news. The faith of Jesus accomplished something for every person, Jew or Gentile, without a cause. We were not the initiators, God was. So also the Gentiles did not find Christ, He found them. Galatians 3:8 says, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” Chapter 3:14 clarifies “nations” as Gentiles: “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus…” The crucial question in verse 8 is: are the Gentiles justified on the basis of their faith or Abraham’s faith. Paul suggests that the justification of the Gentiles comes as a blessing from God in Abraham long before and apart from any believing on their part. God made a covenant (His one-sided agreement) with Abraham, promising to bless all nations, Jews and Gentiles alike, through him.


In addressing the question posed in the quarterly, “What was the position of the Gentiles before they found Christ?,” we find several answers in the 1888 message:


1. All men were in the same position in the first Adam. All that were in the world were included in Adam. Adam in his sin reached all the world without our consent and without our having anything to do with it (A. T. Jones, 1895 General Conference Bulletin, p. 73).

2. God was the One looking out for us, not the other way around. The text says when we were still without strength, while we were still sinners, when we were enemies, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, “But God” or “But now” (Eph. 2:13).

3. God in Christ has done something for every person on planet earth through the faith of Jesus Christ, and that is justification of life. Jesus Christ the second Adam, in His righteousness touches all humanity. What the second Adam did,embraces all that were embraced in what the first Adam did (op. cit., p. 73).

4. The cross of Christ (He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world) is everything to us. It reconciles Jews and Gentiles to God and to each other and it puts to death the enmity we have toward God and each other (Eph. 2:14-16).

5. The agape of Christ is a self-emptying, self-sacrificing love that seeks not her own. It breaks down the dividing walls and allows us to deal with our fellow man as He dealt with us.

6. If we don’t resist this good news, but instead respond to the faith of Jesus with an answering faith and receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, we Jews and Gentiles will reign in life through the One Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17).


One final thought comes from Waggoner in The Everlasting Covenant, p. 271. The background text is Matthew 1:5: “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse.” Waggoner says, “That the poor heathen woman of disreputable life, who could utter a lie with a composed countenance, and with no consciousness of guilt, had a most meager idea of the difference between right and wrong; yet God acknowledged her as one of His people, because she did not turn away from light, but walked in it as it came to her. She believed to the saving of her soul. Her faith lifted her out of her sinful surroundings, and set her in the way of knowledge; and no stronger evidence can be found that Christ is not ashamed to acknowledge even the heathen as His brethren, than the fact that He is not ashamed to have one of them, a harlot to boot recorded in the roll of His ancestry after the flesh.”


Ephesians 2:19-22 describe the Gentiles as fellow citizens with the saints, members of the household of God joined together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord for a habitation of God in the spirit. Paul later describes this as a mystery. The mystery is the agape of God manifested by the church to the on-looking universe as a final revelation of the character of God. May we allow God to work in us to present this final revelation for His Holy name’s sake.

Lyndi Schwartz


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