Wednesday, January 25, 2012

“God of Grace and Judgment”

First Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“God of Grace and Judgment”
For the week of  January 22-28, 2012
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people--saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water" (Rev. 14:6,7 NKJV).
The proclamation of the everlasting gospel of righteousness by faith brings judgment. God declared it to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Noah preached it prior to the flood in Genesis 6 (cf Hebrews11:7, 2 Peter 2:5). The remnant must preach it and live it in order for the final judgment to occur. This demands a mature understanding of the grace that has been manifested to mankind in Christ.
Christ Himself suffered the judgment and condemnation that sin brought on Adam’s race as promised in Genesis 3:15. As represented in Him, the entire race died the death that justice demands (2 Corinthians 5:14), was justified by grace through His blood, and was given the right to eternal life:
[Jesus] was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:25 NKJV).
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11,12 NKJV).
Therefore, as through one man's offense [judgment came] to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act [the free gift came] to all men, resulting in justification of life (Romans 5:18 NKJV).
When this much more abounding grace is preached in its fullness, the judgment will come as a natural result. It will determine who is breathing in this life-give atmosphere of grace, letting the universal dimensions of justification become personal and practical in their own life:
  Jesus Christ, the Majesty of heaven, has been offered to the world, has been given to man as his Saviour and Redeemer (Ellen White, Signs of the Times, June 19, 1893). 
A free gift is much more than a contingent offer. Rejection is as unnatural as holding one’s breath to the point of death.
 In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, page 68.1).
Consider the following written by W. W. Prescott:
Justification by grace, Titus 3:7, "Being Justified freely by his grace;" Justified by his blood, (Romans 5:9), "Being justified by his blood;" By faith, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God"(Romans 5:1); By works, "Ye see how that a man is justified by works and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Now much confusion has been caused from our failure to apprehend clearly these methods of justification. Justification by grace, divine grace, is the source of all justification. Justification by his blood: The blood of Christ - and the blood is the life - was the divine channel through which justification should come to humanity, in uniting himself, his life, with humanity. By faith: That is the method through which the individual apprehends and applies to his own case the justification which comes from grace through the blood of Christ. By works: The outward evidences that the individual has applied by faith the justification which comes from grace through his blood.
Now, justification by grace; that is on God's part. Justification by His blood, that is on God's part and he has done that for every single human being on his part. He has done all for justification to every human being; his grace is free to every human being, and his blood is the channel through which it flows to every human being, and "we thus judge that if one died for all, then all died," so that is of God's grace. But while he has done all this for every human being, yet it avails only for those who personally apprehend it by their own faith, who lay hold of the justification provided. It is freely provided for every one, but by faith in him, the individual lays hold of that justification for himself. Then the provision which has been made freely for all avails for him as an individual and when, by faith, he has made a personal application to his own case of the justification which comes from God through the blood of Christ, then as a consequence, as the inevitable result, Christ's works appear in him. Therefore for the person in Jesus Christ, it does not make any difference which method of justification is mentioned. If he is justified by grace, as of course he must be, all these other consequences follow. If he is justified by grace, then he is justified through the blood, by his own individual faith, and the works will appear; and you may touch this at any point. If he is really justified by works of faith, when you say he is justified by works, you imply all the rest before it. This ought to do away with our discussion as to whether we are justified by faith or by works, or whether it is by grace, or how it is. One who is truly justified personally, must be justified by every one of them. And when one who is truly justified, manifests one of the four, the other three are all implied.
--W.W. Prescott, General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 6, 1895
·        God’s Grace is universal (Hebrews 2:9, Titus 2:11, 3:7).
·        Christ’s Blood is universal (Romans 5:8-10).
·        The Faith of Jesus is given, but not exercised, universally (Romans 5:1, 12:3, Revelation 14:12).
·        Good works are prepackaged for all, but not exercised by all (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:17-26).
Once all have accepted or rejected the entire justification provided in and through Christ, and the “thoughts and intents” of the heart are either evil or good continually, then executive judgment can proceed as it did in the days of Noah.
But the hour of judgment reveals the human response to God’s grace only as His grace is proclaimed in its fulness. Those who accept the fulness of this gospel in Him are not condemned. Those who reject it are “condemned already,” as they have taken the condemnation upon themselves that was lifted in Christ.
For the time [has come] for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if [it begins] with us first, what will [be] the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17, NKJV).
Are God’s people ready to proclaim the everlasting gospel? There are glimmerings that it may soon be so!
--Todd Guthrie