Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 5, Qtr 4-06

Special Insights No. 5

Fourth Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Beginnings and Belongings”

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

“Destruction and Renewal”


After studying the Sabbath School lesson on how God had created a perfect world, a woman asked me a painful question: “Why did Adam and Eve sin? If conditions were so good for them and they fell into sin what hope is there for me?”


Our study of Genesis has brought us to the third of three stories (Adam and Eve’s sin, Cain’s murder of Abel, and the Flood) that have the same plot: God provides blessings, mankind rebels, man reaps the consequences. Does this mean that sin was inevitable? For this woman, based on the apparent evidence, this is true, and it’s extremely discouraging. How can we deal with the “logic” that we are sinners, apparently doomed to continue as sinners? That such a condition will lead God to not only hold us accountable for our “inevitable” actions as sinners, but that He will destroy all unrepentant sinners as He did in the Flood, is bad news.


Temptation is defined in James 1:14, 15: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (NKJV). Desire is two-sided in that it is controlled by our free choice, without which we are merely robots. When Adam and Eve gave in to temptation they gave in to their desires, which were contrary to God’s will. What makes their sin so unimaginable to us is that our Heavenly Father had done everything for them. He created the Garden, provided for their every need, and warned them about their vulnerability. He expressed His love for them through all that He did for them. With all this evidence of God’s love, how then could they disobey?


Not understanding the good news, it is easy to come to the same conclusion and discouragement as the woman asking the question. The good news that we often overlook or simply cannot believe is that through it all God was there! Whether it was with Adam and Eve in the Garden, with Cain, or with the people before the Flood, God was striving to prevent His people from committing sin! In each of these instances He was present to encourage and empower the tempted. They didn’t have to fall into sin; they freely chose to, but it was not inevitable. After Adam and Eve sinned, and when Cain killed his brother, God was there! Isn’t this good news?


Forgiveness is not just being sorry for what we’ve done, and being told all is forgotten. It includes full reconciliation and restoration, which is only through the revelation of God’s love for us. This will woo us back to Him, calming our fears by giving us evidence that: (a) we are not hopeless, (b) in spite of what we have done we are redeemable, and (c) He is able “to keep [us] from falling and to present [us] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24, KJV).


It is (c) that “gnaws” at our faith. Christians understand that God considers us redeemable; Christ died for us on the cross. But the fear is that we will continue to do things that will create a barrier between us and God, causing Him one day to give up on us. This fear is based on a misunderstanding of God’s love. It wells up from a deep-seated self-centeredness.


God has done a wonderful thing in raising up a church that could tell the world that Jesus as our High Priest is working not just to declare us righteous but to make us obedient to His law by cleansing our hearts of all sin. He is developing our character (righteousness) by faith in His power over sin. Thus “self” is gotten out of the way, and fear is destroyed. It is comforting that our Father deemed it important to send a message of great hope through His “messengers,” E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, that emphasized a Savior that was near at hand and not afar off. This message showed clearly the nature of God’s promises and the life of faith in those promises (the everlasting covenant) so that we would not live in the fear that we had not done enough to be saved.


You might be wondering what this has to do with the Flood. It is this: Jesus said that the last days will be like the days of Noah. If we question our chances of deliverance from sin because we are unable to change our ways of sin and rebellion, then imagine living in the times of Noah, knowing exactly what is going to happen; the boat will be built, the animals will come on board, the door will be shut, and the rain and flood will come. We wouldn’t be on the boat because we convinced ourselves we don’t deserve to be there. The stories of the fall of man from Genesis 3 to 11 are not told to discourage us. They tell of our failures, but also of God’s refusal to give up on us. This message is told over and over in the Bible record, as in Rom. 8:31-39:


“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”(NKJV).


Compare this truth with what took place among those who did not enter the ark:For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. … Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Rom. 1:18-25, NKJV).


Notice the process the wicked took for God to give them up. Even when they knew God they refused to glorify Him as God. The heart of the issue is knowing God as He really is. This is the line of demarcation between the saved and the lost. But also note that the work of knowing God is His work and the lost will be those who reject that knowledge of God. May Satan’s “logic” about our fear of never overcoming sin in Christ be forever banished.

Robert Van Ornam


Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe. "Insights" on the Internet:

To subscribe send an e-mail message with subscribe in the body of the message to: <>

To un-subscribe send an e-mail message with un-subscribe in the body of the message to: <>