Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Animals are good. Sometimes they are even fun to have around; and they can be a real comfort to us, as well. Yet, animals do everything by instinct. They do what they do because that is what is in their makeup. They do what they do because that is what they are. They do not have the capacity to worship; rather, they only do what God created them to do, or what we human beings train them to do. Animals are intelligent enough to be capable of only the very most basic of decisions.

God could have made us to be animals. But instead, God made an order of beings with the capacity to wor-ship Him. Moreover, this new order was to repopulate heaven, presumably to replace the fallen angels (SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 1, page 1082.4) God gave human beings the power to make a choice. Having implanted the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong, God looks for human be-ings to make right choices in life. These choices are many and varied. What shall I eat? What shall I wear? Who shall be my friends or my spouse (or whether even to have a spouse)? What shall my life work be? Who shall I work for? What shall I choose for pleasure? What kind of car shall I drive? Shall I go to class today? These do not even mention choices between the varied options within politics or religion.
Many spiritual blessings have been given to us as gifts. Among these are salvation, eternal life, and righ-teousness. These gifts have all been given to us in title before the foundation of the world. Let‟s look at what the apostle Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained [NIV: prepared in advance] that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10).

Please note that you have already been chosen by God, you have already been given good works, and your destiny is all the way to holiness and good works. Your destiny is to be adopted into the family of God. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”( Ephesians 1:5).

All of these spiritual blessing have been given to us by God in title, but this does not necessarily mean that we are allowing them to function in our experience. They are ours because they have been given to us be-fore the foundation of the world. (This is why no one has been left out; for they were bestowed before we had an opportunity to make any choices.) All these spiritual blessings await us as we come into the world. They are our birthright possession—an inheritance. Through a series of poor choices, man fell in the gar-den, and by so doing gave up his birthright possession, including the dominion of planet earth. Fortunately, Christ immediately stepped in and won it back, ratifying His gift and victory by going to the cross and tak-ing our penalty, the second death—that “anguish of impending eternal separation from God which the sin-ner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages page 753.2)

We all have been given all things, in title, by God. God has pre-determined that we will be adopted into His family. But we can choose not to be adopted as His children. Having given us the power of Choice, God has bound Himself to respect the choices we make. He has provided abundantly for our complete res-toration, but He does not force His gifts upon us.
There are many choices that we make during our lives, but God has simplified them for us. They all boil down to this one choice, really: God, or self. Whether we recognize it or not, the “self” choice is a deci-sion to be dominated by Satan. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). We can choose to receive Christ‟s kingdom and by so doing, we begin to receive into our experience all the gifts of Heaven, including His righteousness. We re-ceive these gifts moment by moment as we need them in our daily walk with God.

On the other hand, we can choose our own way. If we do this, even our righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We don‟t have to receive our own way, because we are born with it. Thanks to Adam, we are born with the fallen sinful human nature inherited from our father Adam.

Our flesh will not change until Jesus comes and we are translated into the glorious bodies God already holds in trust for us. But before receiving these glorious bodies, we need a change of mind—and that we can choose to receive right now. “Let this mind (or attitude) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philip-pians 2:5). “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). By receiving the mind of Christ, we are empowered to believe God‟s promises. In accepting Christ, we re-ceive into our experience the good works of God, which He has already bestowed in title.

From birth we are already in possession of probationary life, the power of choice, and the presumption of innocence with which Christ surrounded humanity when He became the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is at the point of our conscious decision to let Christ have the throne of our hearts that we are adopted by God into His family. Moreover, this mind of Christ will beat down, pummel, and crush all the cravings of the fallen sinful human flesh, thus paralyzing Satan in his attempts to take us down to his level. God is able to carry out His righteousness, even in our fallen, sinful flesh, thus demonstrating that grace is stronger than sin.
This is what it means to partake of the divine nature:

“The whole universe is given to us in Christ and the fullness of the power that is in it is ours for the overcoming of sin. God counts each soul as of as much value as all creation. Christ has by the grace of God, tasted death for every man, so that every man in the world has received the ‘inexpressible gift’ (Hebrew 2:9; 2 Corinthians 9:15). ‘The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many,’ even to all; for ‘as by the offense of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life’ (Romans 5:15, 18, KJV)...” {E. J. Waggoner, Present Truth, Volume 14, January 13, 1898, }

“In that Christ is given to every man, each person gets the whole of Him. The love of God embraces the whole world, but it also singles out each individual…
“Christ is the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness. But light is not divided among a crowd of people. If a room full of people be brilliantly lighted, each individual gets the benefit of all the light, just as much as though he were alone in the room. So the life of Christ lights every man that comes into the world, and in every believing heart Christ dwells in all His fullness” (E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, page 16).

When the individual believes, the inexpressible gift already given begins to be seen in the individual‟s experience.

“All this deliverance is „according to the will of our God and Father.‟ The will of God is our sanctification (1Thessalonians 4:3). He willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4). And He „worketh all things after the counsel of His own will‟ (Eph.1:11). „What! do you mean to teach uni-versal salvation?‟ We mean to teach just what the Word of God teaches, that „the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men‟ (Titus 2:11, R.V.). God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it, and throw it away. The Judgment will reveal the fact that full and complete salvation was given to every man, and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession…” (E. J. Wag-goner, The Glad Tidings, page 22)
Would you like to partake of the divine nature? You can, if that is what you want. The choice is yours.

-Craig Barnes


Sabbath School Today