Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 2, Qtr 3-06

Special Insights No. 2

Third Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment”

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

“Judgment Must Begin”


The author of this week’s lesson employs the word “judgment” in two different ways. In Sunday and Monday’s lessons, judgment is used in the sense of executing the judgment or the verdict; in Tuesday through Thursday’s lessons judgment is used in the sense of determining the verdict, which Adventists normally connect with the investigative judgment.


The author sets out to answer the question, “How are the judgment and the gospel linked?” He rightly answers that Jesus died as our Substitute and that “there is no such thing as the gospel without judgment, because the ‘good news’ of the gospel is that we are spared condemnation.” But upon serious reflection this view of the gospel seems somewhat narrow and man-centered.


Corporate Judgment

The Bible is abundantly clear that the gospel is all-inclusive, irreversible, and contains some unconditional good news. Jesus is the Savior of the world; He is the Savior all men, especially those who believe; He gave Himself a ransom for all; He, Himself, is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (John 4:42; 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 Tim. 1:6; 1 John 2:2). He tasted the second death for all and abolished that death temporally and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (Heb. 2:9; 2 Tim 1:10). As a result of the gospel Adam’s fall has been redeemed and man has been placed on vantage ground and given a second trial, a second probation.


“The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the broken links to God. As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death. But Christ steps in and passes over the ground where Adam fell, enduring every test in man’s behalf. He redeems Adam’s disgraceful failure and fall by coming forth from the trial untarnished. This places man on vantage ground with God. It places him where through accepting Christ as His Saviour, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Thus he becomes connected with God and Christ. Christ’s perfect example and the grace of God are given him to enable him to train his sons and daughters to be sons and daughters of God” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 236).


“Christ died for a ruined world, and through the merit of Christ, God has elected that man should have a second trial, a second probation, a second test as to whether he will keep the commandments of God, or walk in the path of transgression, as did Adam” (Review and Herald, Sept. 28, 1897).


Adam’s offense condemned our human nature, but Christ assumed that condemned human nature and executed that condemned nature at the cross, thereby providing the gift of justification to every man while simultaneously bestowing probationary life upon all men. This is the corporate, unconditional good news of the gospel. The verdict of condemnation that came upon the world from Adam’s offense was executed at the cross. So we read in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world, now the prince of this world will be cast out.” From a corporate perspective and by virtue of the incarnation whereby the Son of God assumed our condemned human nature, God not only executed judgment upon the world at the cross, He saved the world.


“Christ was tempted by Satan in a hundredfold severer manner than was Adam, and under circumstances in every way more trying. The deceiver presented himself as an angel of light, but Christ withstood his temptations. He redeemed Adam’s disgraceful fall, and saved the world. There is hope for all who will come to Christ, and receive Him as their personal Saviour” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 40).


Those who disavow this good news will ultimately condemn themselves and suffer the wrath of God. This is the condemnation: light has come into world and men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19).


Personal Judgment

The Bible is also clear as the quarterly points out that everyone will come into judgment where a verdict will be rendered concerning everyone’s response to the corporate good news of the gospel. Seventh-day Adventists should feel a special sense of urgency and responsibility to the world. Not only is the judgment underway in heaven, but the wedding is underway. Jesus Himself said, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocks, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them” (John 12:35-37).


The world is to be warned of the impending executive judgment and they are to be compelled by invitation to go the wedding in heaven. But the invitation must be bathed in the unconditional corporate good news of the gospel. Namely, by His sacrifice Christ has wrought out and provided the gift of an acquittal to all while bestowing probationary life upon all. But there is a cost for those who wish to go to the wedding. They must surrender their righteousness by identifying with Christ and His death and resurrection and thereby be clothed with His righteous character. The cost is extravagant for God and free to the sinner.

John W. Peters


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