Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christian Life

Fourth Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The  Christian Life
For the week of December 15, 2012
The Christian Life
“Anyone can call himself or herself a Christian. What, though, does that mean in practical terms?”
Nothing is more practical than the indwelling of Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is the only way to arrive at “correct living,” because any good work produced is His work:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10.
The lesson this week is thus a study in some of the ways the indwelling of Christ is manifested in the life of the believer.
For example, proper stewardship of resources is simply the practical application of the Faith of Jesus. What did Jesus believe about ownership? From whom did He receive all things?
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. John 3:35.
And how does this impact how we view our “possessions,” as we call them?
Yet for us [there is] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom [are] all things, and through whom we [live]. 1 Cor. 8:6.
As the verses in Sunday’s lesson indicate, we see the Lifegiver laying down His life, showing that humility of complete dependence on His Father, and thus showing us the stewardship of the Father - He also loves to give. This is the essence of stewardship - agape love. This is what we need dwelling in us - not simply the concept, but the real deal.
Tithe then becomes a token of complete surrender to the One who gave Himself to the race, and redeemed the race from the curse, restoring the blessings of God (Monday). 
Identity is probably a better hook than “love for self” on which to hang our thoughts about how we view ourselves (Tuesday). This identity change is possible only as we see how complete was the union of Christ with humanity:
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know [Him thus] no longer. 2 Cor. 5:14-16.
The “in Christ” theme is not just a motif, it is the motive for living and giving!
Marriage becomes a one-way covenant (Wednesday), a promise to love and cherish our spouses according to the law of agape love, which is what is needed living in bodies affected by the curse. By the faith of Jesus, we are looking for the redemption of our bodies from the curse (1 Cor. 15), even as we treat them as the temples of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19). This has practical application in our marriages.
Faithfulness in our relationships, be they those of employment, civil society, or social circles, is based on God’s faithfulness toward us and His entire creation. This is of course in the context of the Great Controversy, where we see the effects of the battle raging in all of these areas. Only the mind of Christ knows how to negotiate the conundrums which are created for us on a daily basis.
From W.W. Prescott:
“Writing the law in the heart is simply having Christ dwell in us. Christ was the living law, the law in life. Christ's Spirit is the Spirit of that divine-human life that lived in obedience to God's commandments. That is the Spirit He puts upon us, His other self dwelling in us. The law of God is ministered by the Spirit of God. When that comes into the heart, it is Christ Himself; it is "Christ in you the hope of glory." And when Christ comes into our hearts, He is the living law, the law of God worked out in character. Christ dwelling in our hearts, means bringing the character of God into our lives. Keeping the commandments of God is manifesting the character of Jesus Christ.” (January 27, 1896 WWP, BEST 28.1) 
From Ellen White:
“In Peter's talk to Cornelius and his company, he told them "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed with the devil; for God was with him." These are the works that he did; for God was with him. Nicodemus said, "We know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him;" and Christ himself said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." God was with him as his indwelling life and power. How this experience was accomplished is made plain by the scripture, "For he whom God has sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." The Spirit was not given by measure; it was the fulness of the indwelling Father. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. That is to say, God was in Christ, working in him, reconciling the world unto himself, and he dwelt in him in his fulness by giving the Spirit to him without measure. That was the Father dwelling in him, and the Father dwelling in him was the working power in him. Not that Christ had no power of himself, and could not have worked himself, but we must keep before our minds continually that Christ voluntarily took a position that his own character did not require him to take, in order to help us out of the position that we are in, where we cannot help ourselves. He consented to this experience of living wholly by the life of another, keeping his own self in abeyance, in order that another's self might appear in him, to be an example for us, and further, in order that this experience might be possible for us. There is a wonderful mystery about the incarnation of Christ, that his experience in the flesh should be our experience in the flesh by his dwelling in us. And when he came to identify himself with flesh, and to dwell in flesh, it was not simply to dwell in flesh in Galilee, but everywhere where flesh would submit itself to his indwelling. This is why Christ identifies himself so closely with his followers, because it is he himself in his followers. This is not to be regarded as a shadowy experience, beyond our daily life. This is to be our daily life, and we are to rise above the idea that the power to live is in ourselves, and that we have to depend upon our own might. To set forth the example of Christ without the power of Christ is of little avail. God has not left us simply with Christ's life before us as an example, but Christ came in the flesh, came to live the life of righteousness, identifying himself with human flesh, in order that he might through all time identify himself completely with his followers, and that he might live in them, to be life and power and wisdom and righteousness to them. The life that Christ lived in Judea is the life which we are to lay hold of by faith in the promises of God. 
Now the giving of the Holy Spirit is the giving of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit is the presence of Christ in us, and the power of the Holy Spirit is the power of Christ in us, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the indwelling of Christ in us, for the Holy Spirit is Christ's actual representative.”   (GCB 632) 
-Todd Guthrie