Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Wisdom of His Teachings

The Wisdom of His Teachings

This lesson opens with a quotation from Ellen White: Jesus “would not spare a moment from teaching the knowledge of the science of salvation. His time, His knowledge, His faculties, His life itself, were appreciated only as the means of working out the salvation of the souls of men.”

“And the Father demonstrates His infinite love for Christ, who paid our ransom by His blood, by receiving and welcoming Christ's friends as His friends. He is satisfied with the atonement made. He is glorified by the incarnation, the life, death and mediation of His Son.

“This is the science of salvation, ... which the student can take with him into the higher grade—the courts above” (Australian Union Conference Record, July 12, 1899).

We must “not spare a moment” of our lives from living and teaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The study of science is the study of many small details. As we study and teach the growing number of the small details of the Gospel, we will grow in grace and hasten the coming of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

The Beatitudes

It has been taught that “blessed” means “happy.” Good! I suggest going back to Genesis 1 and 2 to look at the first uses of this word in the Bible. Man was “blessed” in that he was empowered to fulfill what he was created to do; he sensed that God had equipped him to do what he longed to be able to do.

That concept is in the “Sermon on the Mount” as well. It is in keeping with God’s New Covenant promises empowering us to fulfill His will. In Matthew 5, Jesus empowers us to recognize our poverty of spirit; He empowers us to be meek, merciful, etc. When we allow Jesus to make all the provisions of the Beatitudes real and operative in our lives, we will be happy.

He Taught About God

God is continually looking for the helpless. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chron. 16:9). The Father is the Good Shepherd looking the world over for poor, helpless lost sheep. He is not looking to condemn and punish them; He has already saved (justified) them. He is looking to get the message to them and to empower them to fulfill their divine function (see John 8:36; Rom. 2:4, 3:21, 4:5; Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:4; Titus 2:11, etc.).

In the entire universe of God, this little fallen world is the most pathetic and helpless. It was the place where He chose to focus His divine attention, and save to the uttermost. How blessed we are to have this picture of God the Father in the life and teaching of Jesus.


“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world, taking in every sinner who should live, until the end of time” (The Story of Redemption, p. 222; emphasis mine. If you have access to this book, please read the entire quotation.)

That prayer includes me, and when I truly appreciate and accept God’s forgiveness, how can I be unforgiving of others?

“After Christ had taken the necessary steps in repentance, conversion, and faith in behalf of the human race, He went to John to be baptized of him in Jordan” (1901 General Conference Bulletin, April 4).

“As we see souls out of Christ, we are to put ourselves in their place, and in their behalf feel repentance before God, resting not until we bring them to repentance. ... showing them how to repent, and trying to lead them step by step to Jesus Christ” (MS 92, 1901; SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 960 [404]).

Forgiveness is an integral part of witnessing, or what some call “soul winning.”


As I try to picture the God of the universe becoming “one of us,” I am overwhelmed and speechless.

Grace and Faith

The gospel is defined as the birth (incarnation), life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He came to this world to be the gospel, and He became or embodied the gospel. “Christ makes no apology when he declares, ‘I am the Light of the world.’ He was, in life and teaching, the gospel, the foundation of all pure doctrine” (The Youth’s Instructor, Sept. 16, 1897).

Paul was chosen by God to preach and write (expound) the Gospel. The two go hand-in-hand.

Revelation 10 and chapter 14:6 are two texts that give us our “marching orders.” We are to preach the Everlasting Gospel. Ellen White said, “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message in verity’” (Review and Herald, April 1, 1890; Evangelism, p. 190).

This is present truth for us living today, and it is the light that will yet lighten the whole world! We cannot let anything sidetrack us from living and preaching it.

—J. B. Jablonski

Thursday, April 17, 2008

“The Reality of His Humanity”

Are there eternal consequences to what we believe about what kind of human nature Christ assumed? What is the problem God solves by sending His Son in human flesh? Was there ever a time when we were united on this subject?

Let’s begin with the historical context. “Adventist thought leaders up through the early 1950s generally followed the lead of Jones and Waggoner in holding that Christ’s human nature was the same as Adam’s sinful one after the Fall” (George R. Knight, Angry Saints, p. 131). From the 1916 edition of Bible Readings for the Home Circle, p. 174: “In His humanity Christ partook of our sinful, fallen nature. If not, then He was not ‘made like unto His brethren,’ and was not ‘in all points tempted like as we are,’ did not overcome as we have to overcome, and is not therefore the complete and perfect Saviour man needs and must have to be saved. The idea that Christ was born of an immaculate or sinless mother, inherited no tendencies to sin, and for this reason did not sin, removes Him from the realm of a fallen world, and from the very place where help is needed. On His human side, Christ inherited just what every child of Adam inherits,—a sinful nature. On the divine side, from His very conception He was begotten and born of the Spirit. And all this was done to place mankind on vantage-ground, and to demonstrate that in the same way every one who is ‘born of the Spirit’ may gain the victories over sin in his own sinful flesh. Thus each one is to overcome as Christ overcame. Rev. 3:21. Without this birth there can be no victory over temptation, and no salvation from sin. John 3:3-7” (condensed).

A.T. Jones wrote regarding the origin of the doctrine of the unfallen nature of Christ. It is the “official and ‘infallible’ doctrine of the Immaculate Conception” defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. “It is thoroughly understood that in His birth Christ did partake of the nature of Mary—the ‘woman’ of whom He was ‘made.’ But the carnal mind is not willing to allow that God in His perfection of holiness could endure to come to men where they are in their sinfulness. Therefore endeavor has been made to escape the consequences of this glorious truth, which is the emptying of self, by inventing a theory that the nature of the virgin Mary was different from the nature of the rest of mankind; that her flesh was not exactly such flesh as is that of all mankind. This invention sets up that by some special means Mary was made different from the rest of human beings, especially in order that Christ might be becomingly born of her” (The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, pp. 41-42; please read the entire discussion on pp. 39-46, posted on, “Insights” page).

Our second question: “What is the problem God solves by sending His Son in human flesh?” When Lucifer rebelled in heaven and was “cast out” (Rev. 12:9), he brought the war to this newly created world. Through the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan hoped to secure on earth an eternal beachhead for his rebellion against God. His own enmity against his Creator was instilled into the mind and soul of humanity so that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Like an incurable virus, sin took up residence in the creatures God created in His own image. We can imagine Satan’s malignant mind reveling in the pain he brought to the heart of God through this tactical maneuver. Satan thought he had God over the proverbial barrel. Adam would die, but there would be more and more men born, all infected with sin. There was no solution to this problem. The eternal law of God could not be altered, and man was condemned to die by God’s own word.

However, Satan never imagined that God had the ultimate trump card. “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). By taking upon His sinless nature our sinful nature which needed redeeming, and by faith in His Father’s power over Satan, Christ never allowed that fallen nature to become a sinning nature. “God, in Christ, condemned sin, not by pronouncing against it merely as a judge sitting on the judgment seat, but by coming and living in the flesh, in sinful flesh, and yet without sinning. In Christ, He demonstrated that it is possible, by His grace and power, to resist temptation, overcome sin, and live a sinless life in sinful flesh.” (op. cit., Bible Readings, emphases in original, condensed).

The nature of Christ confronts us with the truth about sin and redemption—how horrible sin really is, and how expensive it was for God to save us from it. The human nature which Christ assumed convicts us of the sin in our own lives and of our guilt before God. At the same time, through the same process, He gives us our only hope, and the power to overcome all sin here and now. The “faith of Jesus” is not some theological enigma. It is the dynamite that destroys sin. This faith is given to all (Rom. 12:3) and is one of the identifying characteristics of God’s people at the end of time (Rev. 14:12).

Just as the nature of Christ is precious to us, so is the faith which He perfected in that flesh. “And from the standpoint of the weakness and infirmity of the lost, He trusted in God, that He would deliver Him and save Him. Laden with the sins of the world; and tempted in all points like as we are, He hoped in God and trusted in God to save Him from all those sins and to keep Him from sinning. Ps. 69:1-21; 71:1-20; 22:1-22; 31:1-5. ... This victory of His it is that has brought to every man in the world divine faith by which every man can hope in God and trust in God and can find the power of God to deliver him from sin and to keep him from sinning. That faith which He exercised and by which He obtained the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil—that faith is His free gift toevery lost man in the world” (The Consecrated Way, pp. 56-57).

Jesus did more than just “appear in a body” (the Greek word for “body” is soma as compared with “flesh,” which is the Greek word sarx—the concrete form of human nature marked by Adam’s fall). Jesus did more than merely “feel our pain” of hunger, fatigue, sorrow, and physical and emotional injury. Through the fallen nature which He assumed He personally knew the struggle against sin that each of us deals with on a daily basis. Our hope in the battle with sin rests on the conviction that Jesus, in the same nature that we have, did indeed deal with and conquer every temptation that confronts us. Through the power of the faith of Jesus working in our lives, we can say “No” to Satan’s temptations. Christ endured the very same battle and thus He can honestly and unequivocally, here in our fallen condition, say to us all: Follow Me, the path I prepared leads straight to the throne of God! “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).

The Gospel lays the glory of man in the dust that the righteousness of Christ might shine forth. An unwillingness to believe that sin “in the flesh” can be overcome is at the root of the age-old controversy over the human nature of Christ. It is the foundation for the resistance to accepting that Christ truly was like us in our fallen nature. The truth about the nature which Christ assumed in His incarnation means that there is no excuse for sin in our own lives. Let’s reverently study this subject in all that it means to us in this cosmic Day of Atonement with its cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.

Ann Walper


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

“The Mystery of His Deity”

“Since the beginning of the Advent movement in 1844, the divinity of Jesus Christ has been one of its fundamental beliefs. Formulated for the first time in 1872 and several times since, it was stipulated again in the following terms at the General Conference session of 1980: “God the Eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ.” [1]

However, James White, Joseph Bates, Uriah Smith and, later, Joseph H. Waggoner, “initially believed the semi-Arian concept that although Christ was the Creator and Saviour Son of God, He had a beginning in the infinite past.” [2] “Even [E. J.] Waggoner believed that ‘there was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came out from God, ... but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning. [3]

Ellen G. White seems to have settled the question. One of her clearest statements is quoted in the Quarterly for Monday, April 7: “In speaking of His pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. ...” (Signs of the Times, Aug. 29, 1900).

The 1888 message correctly places a great emphasis on the fact that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh with regard to His humanity. However, the divinity of Christ is also essential to the 1888 understanding of the plan of salvation. It is not so much that Christ existed before the incarnation, but that He pre-existed as God, not a created being.

“In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. ‘He that hath the Son hath life.’ 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life. ... The miracle which Christ was about to perform, in raising Lazarus from the dead, would represent the resurrection of all the righteous dead. By His word and His works He declared Himself the Author of the resurrection. He who Himself was soon to die upon the cross stood with the keys of death, a conqueror of the grave, and asserted His right and power to give eternal life” (The Desire of Ages, p. 530).

It was only a Creator-God who could be the “Author of the resurrection.” “The angels prostrated themselves at the feet of their Commander and offered to become a sacrifice for man. But an angel’s life could not pay the debt; only He who created man had power to redeem him” (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 64, 65).

It was out of Himself that the human race was given an existence. “By His obedience to all the commandments of God, Christ wrought out a redemption for men. This was not done by going out of Himself to another, but by taking humanity into Himself. Thus Christ gave to humanity an existence out of Himself. To bring humanity into Christ, to bring the fallen race into oneness with divinity, is the work of redemption. Christ took human nature that men might be one with Him as He is one with the Father, that God may love man as He loves His only-begotten Son, that men may be partakers of the divine nature, and be complete in Him” (Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 250, 251).

The 1888 message understanding of the need for the incarnation, life, death. and resurrection of Christ is unique. The angels, though willing, were not allowed to become the substitute to die in mankind’s place. According to Ellen White, only the Creator-God was appropriate to stand in our place.

By uniting humanity with His divinity, Christ achieved the two things demanded by the law Adam violated. Because God had said, “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17; all texts are from the NAS). Christ stepped in as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. By taking humanity into Himself, He qualified as our substitute, and in Him, the human race satisfied the law’s demand that “the soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4). But, the death the law required was not the sleep death with which we are all too familiar. It was the second death that was necessary.

Another requirement of the law that was violated by Adam and Eve’s sin, was perfect obedience. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them’” (Gal. 3:10). Only by uniting humanity with divinity could Christ satisfy the second requirement of the law, that is His perfect obedience. This perfect obedience, accomplished by Jesus, is ours, through His faith which is given to us.

Monday’s lesson directs us to John 3:13: “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” One might ask about Enoch and Elijah who were already in heaven when Christ made this statement to Nicodemus. A true understanding of the union of divinity with humanity in Christ realizes that Enoch and Elijah were in heaven only because of their position in Christ, and what He would accomplish as covenanted on the cross.

All believers are described as sitting in heavenly places (Eph. 1:20), but only by our position in Christ can anyone claim this. Even in heaven, every redeemed person will forever owe their presence to their position in Christ. Never will any be entitled to say they earned it. Christ truly is our High Priest forever.

Arlene Hill


[1] Seventh-day Adventists believe: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1988), p. 36; quoted in Touched With Our Feelings, Zurcher, Jean (Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1999), p. 31.

[2] Touched With Our Feelings, p. 31.

[3] Ibid., pp. 36, 37.


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Thursday, April 03, 2008

These new lessons are rich in Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy worthy of prayer and study throughout this new Spring Quarter.

Make a choice at the beginning as you open the Lesson Book that you will respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit when He appeals to you to read the Word that is the heart of the Lessons themselves.

The Bible is the Book that the Lord intends we shall not only read faithfully, but mark it in ways that the accompanying Holy Spirit may indicate to us, so that your Bible becomes a personal book to you, reminding you of precious moments you have enjoyed alone with Jesus. From time to time you will find statements that you can clip and paste in the blank pages at the back of your Bible.

Thus your personal Bible will be one like nobody else’s—it will be a part of you. The Word will become “flesh” in you—a miracle related to what John 1:14 describes, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten [Son] of the Father)”!

Here’s the Lord’s faithful promise that can never fail of being fulfilled: “Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you. I will make known My words unto you” (Prov. 1:23).

At the beginning we want to remember that we are living in the “time of the end” of Daniel 12:4, when the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24 is being fulfilled all around us: “There shall arise false Christs, ... and shall show great signs and wonders” (vs. 24). All that professes to be “Jesus” is not necessarily the Jesus of the Bible.

For example, there is the “Jesus” worshipped by nearly a billion, who was born of a “Virgin Mary” the Bible knows nothing of, through the popular dogma of “the Immaculate Conception.” This man-made dogma declares that when she was an embryo in the womb of her mother, she was miraculously “exempt” from inheriting the same common human nature that all other fellow human beings possess—inherited from the fallen Adam. Thus she was separated from us.

That man-made “dogma” declares that since Mary herself did not partake of our common humanity, therefore her Son (Jesus) likewise was not a true human as we all are. He could not have been tempted “like as we” are. Thus He is a stranger to us; He belongs in our stained glass Cathedral windows.

“What’s the difference?” someone may ask.

If the Roman Catholic dogma is true, there is no way that God can have a people in the last days who will be ready to meet Jesus at His second coming; for if Jesus never “overcame” as they must, they too will not “overcome” and the plan of salvation will fail in its latest hour.

But Revelation 14 tells us that “144,000” will follow Christ, “the Lamb,” wherever He goes; in their mouth will be “no guile” for they will be “without fault before the throne of God” (vss. 1-5; literal or symbolic number is not the issue now). This accomplishment will be through the faith of Jesus, the true Christ of the Bible.

Welcome to a new series of 13 Bible lessons about Him!

Robert J. Wieland


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