Wednesday, June 09, 2010

“Optimism: Happiness, and Healing”

Medical science has long recognized the link between the mind and the body. Over two decades ago,
my college class discussed psychosomatic illnesses. Some doctors believe more than 90% of all
illnesses have a psychosomatic link. Multitudes are sick because of negative thought patterns.

Eating drinking and other habits involving intemperance have a powerful effect upon the body. The
mind is no less powerful. This is one of the reasons the Bible encourages us to praise the Lord
continually, and to keep our minds focused upon the promises of the Word. The Bible even says:
“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). If we keep in mind the
Love of God and rejoice in His saving grace, we will be lifted out of depression and despondency.

Those who understand the gospel, have a reason to rejoice. They will face trials, difficulties and
discouragements like all other inhabitants of this fallen planet, yet their hope ultimately lies beyond
this world, in something which cannot be taken away. “Who shall separate us from the love of
Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
(Romans 8:35)

Ultimately sin is the cause of all unhappiness and despair. Without sin, there would never have been
sorrow. This knowledge the enemy uses against us. We are tempted, like Job’s miserable
comforters, to believe that trouble means that there must be some sin in our lives for which we are
being punished. If the difficulty continues long enough, we are tempted to believe that God is really
angry with us and we may fear that our case is hopeless. One who understands the good news of the
gospel knows that this is the enemy’s reasoning, and thus can avoid complete despair.

Standing in the light which streams from the cross, we know and are certain that our sins, no matter
how terrible they may be, are all forgiven. Jesus has paid it all. Friday’s lesson reminds us of this
truth: “Without the cross, man could have no union with the Father. On it depends our every hope.
From it shines the light of the Saviour’s love; and when at the foot of the cross the sinner looks up to
the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy; for his sins are pardoned.
Kneeling in faith at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain” (Ellen G.
White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 209 -120).

The cross guarantees that our sins are forgiven! Knowing this, who can despair? Who can become
so discouraged or anxious that it robs him of peace or sleep or health? The cross is the revelation of
God’s forgiveness of all of our sins.

Many do not understand the meaning of the cross. This point is illustrated by an historical event.
On December 6, 1829 two men, George Wilson and James Porter robbed a mail carrier in
Pennsylvania and were apprehended, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Friends of
George Wilson appealed to President Andrew Jackson, who issued a Presidential pardon. However,
the US Supreme Court ruled that the pardon had to be presented to the court in order for the sentence
to be abated. As amazing as it may seem to the outside observer, Wilson refused to do this. He
actually rejected the pardon. And therefore Mr. Wilson was hanged.

This story has been repeatedly compared to the redemption which Christ ratified at Calvary. The
reasoning suggests that if we do not avail ourselves of what Christ has done by repenting and
confessing our sins, then we have no pardon. It has even been suggested that Christ’s death does us
no good. It is said the pardon becomes null and void and we die for the sins for which Jesus has
“provisionally” already shed His blood.

Many do not realize that there is another type of pardon that can be issued and received by a convict.
It is called a Parliamentary pardon. If the Parliament or the US Congress issues a pardon it does not
have to be accepted or presented to a court to result in abatement of a penalty. A Parliamentary
pardon is considered a “public law” and binds the court to stay the execution or penalty regardless of
whether or not the person who is pardoned presents such documentation to the court.
Is God’s pardon merely a “Presidential pardon” or is it like a “Parliamentary pardon”? When “Christ
died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3) was that something that was privately presented to the convict or is it
a matter of public record?

“Christ . . . has abolished death and brought life…” (2 Tim. 1:10) Thus it would appear that God’s
pardon is more like a “Parliamentary pardon” than a “Presidential pardon.” It is a matter of public
record. This is perhaps one of the reasons that when Christ fell to the ground “dying” in the Garden
of Gethsemane an angel was sent to strengthen Him (see ST 8/14/79). His death had to be a public
event in order to justify God’s decision allowing mankind to live in spite of their guilt.

It is true that an individual who ultimately and finally refuses to believe in Jesus Christ as his Savior,
and surrender to His leadership will be condemned a second time. This condemnation Jesus never
did and never will atone for. The second death of the sinner in the lake of fire is the punishment for
this willful, persistent rebellion.

But the good news is that “the condemnation brought upon the race in Adam has been fully reversed.
All are under probationary grace. All have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13) and
justified unto probationary life (Rom. 5:18). This justification unto life is a probationary grace
period granted to the world so that all may accept Jesus Christ and be justified unto eternal life” (K.
M. Duncan and E. D. Peters, In Search of the GUT p. 27).

Therefore, the one who understands the gospel properly, as it is explained in the Bible rather than as
it is explained according to Armenian philosophy, understands that his sins have all already been
pardoned. The death sentence has been “abolished,” and time has been granted in which he may
learn to let Christ be his Lord as well as his Substitute. Salvation is so full, so free, and so complete
that every man may rejoice in Hope which cannot be extinguished and joy which is unquenchable. It
therefore makes sense to “rejoice in the Lord always.” We have every reason to have happiness and
optimism that leads to health. --Mark Duncan