Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 10, Qtr 2-06

Special Insights No. 10

Second Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Holy Spirit”

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

“Life Through the Holy Spirit”



Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?

(Galatians 3:3).


How many of you helped your mother give birth to you? Well, you don’t remember. Fair enough. How many of your mothers thanked you for your help while she was laboring to give you birth? Silly questions, that has never happened. Sometimes we say things like “the baby just isn’t ready to come out yet,” but we really mean the marvelous chemistry that sets up the forces of labor with the mother’s help isn’t ready. Babies are the focus during the birthing process, but they don’t really help much. The one thing that can be said of babies is that they don’t resist the process. This is the point Paul is trying to make with the Galatians. We continue living in Christ, the same way we were born into Christ, by the Holy Spirit.


A heart appreciation of this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit starts with understanding why this life is possible. The legal acquittal Christ accomplished for the human race is real and ethical. His death was “substitutionary” in the sense that you and I did not physically go to the cross. But, the same as you and I were not physically present in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to sin, our legacy from them is a sinful nature. When Christ assumed the “likeness of sinful flesh,” He became the second Adam from Whom we receive His legacy by virtue of His having taken the human race in Himself. Therefore, in Him the human race paid the penalty for sin, the second death, and met the demands of the law by living His sinless life. Thus, the cross is real and ethical, and is what allowed the human race to be born. Otherwise, God’s prophecy in Genesis 2:17, “... for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (NASB) would have been fulfilled. Sometimes we explain that text by saying the human race began to die, which is true, but there is more to it. The reason Adam and Eve didn’t die that day is because the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, stepped in and began pleading His blood for the human race.


The quotation at the beginning of the lesson from The Desire of Ages (p. 671) echoes the objective aspect of the gospel as well as the subjective. The objective gospel happened on the cross though the world barely noticed let alone understood what was happening, with the possible exception of Mary Magdalene. But, like the Hebrew Day of Atonement, the subjective aspect of the gospel requires attentive, intentional involvement by the repentant sinner. Our early pioneer, William Miller, recognized this aspect of the concept of “atonement.”


“In Miller’s view there is clearly an atoning act of God objective to man which makes reconciliation available. Atonement does not seem to be complete for an individual, however, until there has been a personal response” (“William Miller’s Use of the Word ‘Atonement,’” Dalton D. Baldwin, Appendix A, DARCOM 5, 164; emphasis added).


The Desire of Ages quotation states how this wonderful “rebirth” occurs. “It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.


Although not discussed in the lesson, this is the process of the cleansing of the great antitypical Day of Atonement, in which the world has been living since 1844. Throughout the year, the confessed sins of the children of Israel were transferred daily by the blood sacrifice performed by the priest. The blood was sprinkled on the veil, symbolically transferring the sins to the Most Holy Place. Unlike the daily, which was accomplished by the priest without the attentive involvement of the people, Yoma was to be a subjectively personal experience for each individual. This meant they were to pray that God would send His Spirit to reveal hidden sin, so they might confess that sin and transfer it to the Sin-Bearer symbolized by the Most Holy Place.


A. T. Jones, one of the 1888 “messengers,” describes the difference between the daily and the Day of Atonement:


“The sanctuary itself could not be cleansed so long as, by the confessions of the people and the intercessions of the priests, there was pouring into the sanctuary a stream of iniquities, transgressions, and sins. The cleansing of the sanctuary, as to the sanctuary itself, was the taking out of and away from the sanctuary all the transgressions of the people which, by the service of the priests, had been taken into the sanctuary during the service of the year. And this stream must be stopped at its fountain in the hearts and lives of the worshipers, before the sanctuary itself could possibly be cleansed. Therefore the very first work in the cleansing of the sanctuary was the cleansing of the people” (The Consecrated Way, p. 120; emphasis in original).


At the end of this process, the entire camp stood before the sanctuary with their sins confessed, and once taken away, for a brief moment in type, the censer could be “thrown down” and they stood before God without a mediator. Since they were symbolically cleansed from sin, a mediator was not necessary.


This is the condition that the people of God will have at the end of time when they will be sealed and Christ will return to bring them home. This group will constitute the bride of Revelation 19:7 who has clothed herself in fine linen, bright and clean. Is it this serious? Is living “the Christian life” that important? It is.


“The supreme interest of Jesus, our High Priest, is to win the heart of His Bride, which will make the atonement complete. Her reticence to accept her Divine Lover is the result of her immaturity. Her fickleness and her consorting with the princes of Babylon grow out of her childish appreciation of what her real Lover has given and gone through to win her hand..... He is waiting for His Bride to grow up and cease her playful infatuation with the human honor that comes one of another, but which destroys faith (John 5:44)..... She will understand what it means to have the assurance of the Spirit because she has received Christ by faith and His life has become her life. Her union with the Bridegroom provides much more than forgiveness of sin. Her sin is not only taken away but the vacuum is filled with the Holy Spirit. This means divine illumination, humanity joined to divinity. Here will be the wife committed to the marriage of the Lamb....”(Donald K. Short, Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed, p. 91).

Arlene Hill

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