Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gospel and the Church

Fourth Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“The Gospel and the Church”
For the week of December 18 – 24, 2011

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). The Church is one body though it has many members, and Paul affirms what should be a self evident truth.

In accepting and receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord, we have the joyful privilege of thinking, living, and dying with Him, and as Him, in every relationship within the church or outside the church. “For the death that He died, He died to sin once and for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:10, 11).

God is love, and love does good and nothing but good. In speaking of our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the church, A.T. Jones asserts in His Studies in Galatians, “Note that when a man is overtaken in a fault, the only thing that the Scripture commands the Christian to do is to ‘restore such a one’. There is no commandment to condemn him, to set him at naught, to ostracize him, to talk about either, but to ‘restore’ him’” (Studies in Galatians P 181). God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).
If we are spiritual, experiencing a deepening repentance, we are all too aware of the weakness of our fallen nature which enables us to identify with our erring brother or sister. We recognize that the moment we are distracted from Jesus we are likely to fall. Without this awareness, we may discover that we are carnal, not spiritual. “For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men” (1 Corinthians 3:3). The first step in restoration is to, “Go tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Mark 18:14).

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ…For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:2, 5). Jesus bore not only His own load, but mine and also that of the whole world. For when we were “still without strength”, “sinners”, “enemies”, He bore the load of guilt, shame, and eternal death for every one of us (Romans 5:6-10). As a result we have been reconciled, in Christ, to God (2 Corinthians 5:18).

What is the law of Christ? It is the law Jesus quoted. It is the law which He, Himself, first gave to ancient Israel. Jesus was asked a question by a lawyer as to which is the great commandment of the law (Torah or Pentateuch). The answer Christ gave was this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

All of scripture is given to teach us how God loves us through Christ. He shows us the love that He longs to manifest through us to each one of His children. John, the beloved, expresses the same glorious truth in his first epistle. “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and hates (loves not) his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:17). If we treat others and relate to them as Jesus has always done, we have the evidence that we are “partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
“He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all” (Galatians 6:8-10), especially those in the church.

What assurance is ours, what freedom, what victory! As we keep our minds stayed on Christ we are sowing in the Spirit and reaping eternal life. “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror (Jesus) the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the sane image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:17, 18).


--Lloyd Knecht