Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 8, Qtr 1-06

Special Insights No. 8

First Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Families in the Family of God”

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

“Keys to Family Unity”


The authors of this Sabbath School Quarterly seem to have a good grasp of some of the foundational principles that form the basis for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this week’s lesson two of those principles shine forth with clarity. The twin principles of corporate solidarity and agape, supremely revealed at the cross, form the basis for all family unity.


The key to all family unity, whether it be in the home front, the local church, or committees resides in the truth that the Son of God became part of the human race and took our human nature upon His divine nature. The incarnation is the basis for the biblical principle of corporate solidarity. The Son of God in coming in flesh, our flesh, became the new head of the human race, the second Adam. This fundamental principle in many ways underscored the messages of A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner in the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference and its aftermath which received the enthusiastic endorsement of Ellen White.


“In assuming humanity, Christ took the part of every human being. He was the Head of humanity. A Being divine and human, with His long human arm He could encircle humanity, while with His divine arm He could lay hold of the throne of the Infinite. What a sight was this for Heaven to look upon! Christ, who knew not the least taint of sin or defilement, took our nature in its deteriorated condition. This was humiliation greater than finite man can comprehend. God was manifest in the flesh. He humbled Himself. What a subject for thought, for deep, earnest contemplation!” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 252).


The authors state that “through the body of Jesus Christ on the cross all humanity has been reconciled to God and to one another (Eph. 2:11-16, Col. 1:21-23).” In a similar manner on the same basis of corporate solidarity we can say that “through the body of Jesus Christ on the cross all humanity has been justified and acquitted” (Rom. 3:24; 4:5, 25; 5:10; 5:18). It is upon this principle of corporate solidarity we say that God chose, predestined, elected, and adopted all mankind in Christ.


The Son of God became us by coming “in the likeness of sinful flesh” and when He died on the cross, from a corporate point of view, the whole race of men died in Him. So even though Jews and Gentiles are still fighting like cats and dogs in Palestine and Israel, God sees both Jews and Gentiles united together as one in Christ Jesus “having created in Himself one new man from two thus making peace.”


Apart from being united with Christ all this good news will avail naught to bring about family unity whether in the home, the church, or in committees. Even an intellectual grasp of the incarnation and corporate solidarity and the reality that through the blood of the cross that Christ has reconciled all things in heaven and earth to God thus making peace—this reality will fail to bring unity apart from the abiding presence of the Spirit of Christ in the heart.


So not only Jews and Gentiles are squabbling and literally killing one another in Palestine, so Christians in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are squabbling and killing each other by character assassination over theological and philosophical issues because both groups, Jews and Gentiles on the one hand and Christians on the other, refuse to be crucified with Christ. Self will always insist on reigning supreme irrespective of the cost to the Son of God.


Only when we catch a glimpse of that agape of Christ in condescending to step down from the royalty of heaven and to become one of us and die our second death at Calvary—only when that indescribable love penetrates our very soul, our mind, and heart will unity in the family begin to prevail whether it be in the home, the church, or committees.


When the love of Christ begins to constrain us, we will acknowledge, even in situations where we believe we were not necessarily at fault, that “I was wrong, I take responsibility for difficulties that have arisen here.” The goodness of God will lead us to both personal and corporate repentance. The love of Christ will cause us to esteem the other person better than our self. The love of Christ will compel us not to criticize the other party and justify our self. The love of Christ dwelling within the heart will constrain us not to bring a reviling accusation upon our brother.


When this evidence begins to appear in our lives we will know the meaning of justification by faith because we will have peace with God having been justified by faith. Then the following saying will be brought to pass:


“What is justification by faith?—It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When they begin to praise and exalt God all the day long, then by beholding they are becoming changed into the same image. What is regeneration?—It is revealing to man what is his own real nature, that in himself he is worthless”(Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 9, p. 62; Nov. 22, 1896).

—John W. Peters


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