Wednesday, February 20, 2013

“Jesus, Provider and Sustainer”

Insights #8 Feb. 23, 2013
First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Jesus, Provider and Sustainer”
For the week of Feb. 23, 2013
Because Jesus is our Creator and Redeemer He provides for and sustains us. Not only does He do this for believers, He is actively involved in providing and sustaining even those who reject Him. Although most people will not acknowledge Christ as Creator or Redeemer, every person on earth (and in the universe) is totally dependent upon Him. Every morsel of food, every drop of water, every breath taken into our bodies come stamped with the cross of Christ. Man’s mental and spiritual powers as well as our physical powers are imprinted with Calvary. All the blessings of life are given to mankind, because of Calvary. Everything has been purchased for mankind by the blood of Christ.
Our lesson this week is about Christ as our Creator, Christ the Crucified, Christ the Sustainer. He sustains us, the world, and the universe.
Belshazzar, mentioned in Sunday’s lesson, was the recipient of God’s blessings. Daniel told him that it was “God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways” (Dan 5:23). Just before this, Daniel presented a history lesson to Belshazzar. The lesson was about Nebuchadnezzar, his grandfather, who was humbled in the dust. Belshazzar “knew all this” and yet refused to humble his own heart (v 22). Nevertheless  God sustained Belshazzar until that last fateful night of his life when he willfully and persistently grieved the Spirit of God. His conscience was seared beyond repair. Is not this happening today, as prophesied by Paul (1 Tim 4:2)
Paul, in Acts 17:28, presented the “In Christ Motif” to the pagan teachers of Athens in words not unlike those spoken by Daniel to Belshazzar: “in Him we live and move and have our being.” Not only does Jesus give everyone on earth everything, but His sustaining power is exerted not only for believers and nonbelievers, but for the entire cosmos, or universe, as outlined in Col 1:14-17 especially v 17: “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (or hold together).” Here the equality and identity of Christ as God is clearly stated, for it is by nothing short of the fullness of God by which Jesus holds the universe together. No wonder His disciples “worshipped Him” (Luke 24:52). That worship would have been idolatry if Christ were not God. And it is because He is God that He holds the cosmos together.
The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, declares of Christ that “all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16,17, R.V., margin. The hand that sustains the worlds in space, the hand that holds in their orderly arrangement and tireless activity all things throughout the universe of God, is the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.[1]
To the angels and the unfallen worlds the cry, “It is finished,” had a deep significance. It was for them as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished. They with us share the fruits of Christ's victory.[2]
Sunday’s lesson concentrates on Christ as our Sustainer. He upholds all things by the power of His word (Heb. 1:3). Col 1:14-17 presents to us Christ as Creator, Christ crucified for our redemption, and Christ as the One who holds the universe together. So, two questions are in order here:
(a)   Could Christ have sinned?
(b)  If Christ had sinned, would He have lost His eternal existence?
The answer to both questions is yes. Christ risked His own existence for us. Not only He would have perished, but the universe along with Him, because by His power all things exists. All of cosmos creation is dependent upon Christ both as Creator and as Redeemer. Had He failed as Redeemer, the universe would have gone into chaos, because “all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” or hold together (Col 1:17).
It is by Christ’s superhuman mediation, because of  His victory on the cross, that holds everything together. Think of the consequences not only for us, but for the entire universe if Christ had failed in His mission to redeem us. If He had failed He would have lost His existence. Heaven itself was risked. The following quotations are from Ellen White (emphasis supplied):
Look upon that wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all; “tempted like as we are,” he staked even his own eternal existence upon the issue of the conflict.Heaven itself was imperiled for our redemption. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Jesus would have yielded up his life, we may estimate the value of a soul. [3]
Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His Deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty.[4]
“To the honor and glory of God, His beloved Son -- the Surety, the Substitute -- was delivered up and descended into the prison house of the grave. The new tomb enclosed Him in its rocky chambers. If one single sin had tainted His character the stone would never have been rolled away from the door of His rocky chamber, and the world with its burden of guilt would have perished.” [5]
Not only this world, but the entire universe would have collapsed and would have gone onto chaos. Based on Col 1:17, E. J. Waggoner had this keen insight regarding the risk issue:
It is the word of God in Christ that upholds the universe, and keeps the innumerable stars in their places. “In Him all things consist.” If He should fail, the universe would collapse. But God is no more sure than His word, for His word is backed by His oath. He has pledged His own existence to the performance of His word. If His word should be broken to the humblest soul in the world, He Himself would be disgraced, dishonored, and dethroned. The universe would go to chaos and annihilation.[6]

Thank God Christ succeeded. He continues to uphold “all things by the word of His power”(Heb. 1:3). This includes you and me. His sustaining power is enough to uphold us and hold us together both now and forever. We shall praise His name throughout eternity!                                                                                                                                                   
-Jerry Finneman

[1] EGW Education, p. 132
[2] Desire of Ages, p. 758
[3] E.G. White, General Conference Bulletin, December 1, 1895
[4] EGW, Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899
[5]Ms. 81, 1893, p. 11, Diary entry for Sunday, July 2, 1893, Wellington, New Zealand)
[6] E. J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant (1900), 113.