Monday, October 28, 2013

"Atonement: Purification Offering"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 5: "Atonement: Purification Offering"
Our purpose is not to pass over the same ground that the lesson study has adequately covered regarding the daily sacrifices performed in the ancient tabernacle. Rather, our objective is to bring to bear the practical application of the sin offering as it is focused in the 1888 message.
Christ is the Sin-bearer. He takes the sin and guilt of the race as the Lamb of God. He cancels our debt. Ellen G. White writes: "His garment of human flesh was rent as He hung on the cross, the sin-bearer of the race. ... He has qualified Himself to be not only man's representative, but his advocate, so that every soul, if he will, may say, I have a Friend at court." [1] "The guilt of every descendant of Adam of every age was pressing upon His [Christ's] heart ... He, the sin-bearer, endures judicial punishment for iniquity and becomes sin itself for man." [2]
Justice is certain. God cannot abrogate that law. Sin brings its own penalty--death. Not the cessation of life which we now call "death" (the Bible calls that "sleep"). The real thing is the "second death," the total conscious end of all hope, the total realization of ultimate condemnation. Christ has met that claim of justice: He has paid the penalty for that common sin of humanity in His death on His cross. He has borne the total guilt for the world. Therefore there can be no further penalty of eternal death for any sinner unless he chooses to reject the forgiveness given him by the great Sin-bearer.
Romans 3:19-25 tells us clearly that our guilt is, in reality, that of murdering the Son of God. "All the world may become guilty before God." "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." And Jesus reminds us how this is true: whatsoever "ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt. 25:40). And Isaiah 53:6 tells us that the Lord (the Father!) has laid all this iniquity upon Christ our sin-bearer. You and I are convicted sinners (and all that that implies) pardoned, set free, acquitted--yes!
Christ indeed redeemed the entire human race by His sacrifice, "abolished [the second] death," uprooted the fear that haunts mankind, has "drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us," chained Satan and his evil "principalities" to His triumphal chariot in His victory procession, cancelled the "handwritten" record of our trespasses which we ourselves had signed as our indebtedness to be paid for by our own second death, and reversed the "condemnation" that came on "all men" in Adam, pronouncing on "all men" a glorious "verdict of acquittal."
The love (agape) of God in Christ our Substitute convicts of sin. This work of the Holy Spirit draws us to confess and forsake our sin. "Laying our hands" on the Sacrifice we confess responsibility for the murder of the Son of God.
The real problem is not particularized "sins," but the sin of sins--taking part at Calvary. You begin to realize that the sin of somebody else (bad as it may be!) would be your sin, but for the grace of a Saviour. And before heaven's sensitive x-ray vision of your heart-baggage, you see at last that the sin of Calvary is in your heart. The sin of the world is your sin (that's the case of all of us). By nature you are innately no better than anyone else; you share the world's guilt. You are a part of a lost human family that desperately needs to be saved. But the Good News gets on stage now--you have a Saviour, and you can begin to share with Him a repentance for the sins of the world.
Sin can never be truly forgiven in an experiential way until "we confess our sins" (1 John 1:9). But if we have never learned what our sin really is, how can we truly "confess" it? Multitudes stumble along never knowing true forgiveness. They have to rack their brains to think of something bad enough to "confess." So, ugly realities keep popping up and they find besetting sin continually transmuted into cherished sin. [3] A thousand temptations do not equal even one sin unless we cherish them. Having a sinful nature is not sin; yielding to it is.
We cannot cherish one sin if the heart appreciates the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of the love that led the Son of God to go to hell to find us there. That is what "believing" is defined to be in John 3:16. Say "No!" to temptation, a thousand times a day if necessary. Let the Good News set you free in glorious liberty. Christ "was in all points tempted like as [you] are, yet without sin" (Heb.4:15), and even though you are tempted you too may overcome "even as [He] also overcame" (Rev. 3:21). And that's today; you don't need to wait until your deathbed. Like Christ, you will learn instantaneously to tell the devil, "Get thee behind me!"
Faith appreciates what it the cost the Son to purchase forgiveness.Agape constrains the sinner's heart to let the blood of Christ cleanse and purify it from sin.
Our favorite text for forgiveness is 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That text is often misunderstood as a virtual license to go on sinning. Just keep on sinning, confessing your sins, and you'll keep on being forgiven. But what is Bible forgiveness? Is it merely pardon that justifies sin? No, the Greek word in this verse for "forgive" means to take away sin, here and now, to do the "washing" with the "blood of Christ" (Rev. 1:5). Is anything more precious than such cleansing?
We read in 1 John 4:8 that "God is agape." And what is agape? Verse 9 tells us it is the motivation that led the Father to give His only begotten Son to die for us "that we might live through Him." It is a special kind of love that is willing to die the second death so that we might live eternal life. It is a love that is willing to go to hell so that we might go to heaven. It is a love that chooses to die on a cross rather than indulge self. If "God is agape," and if Jesus is the Son of God, then in His incarnation Jesus is agape in human flesh. When He came to earth He laid aside all the prerogatives of divinity, but He could not empty Himself of agape. And that's why He chose not to sin--He chose a cross instead.
But there are counterfeits! How can we tell the difference? Why are so many preaching "love, love, love," yet the listeners sense no need to overcome sin itself? There's nothing wrong with love itself if we know the right idea of it when the Bible says "God is love." We assume our natural egocentric human idea. It's impossible for an honest heart to hear, to understand, to contemplate, to "survey" thatagape displayed in the "wondrous cross," and then go on in captivity to sin.
Sin is recorded in the heavenly sanctuary. God takes responsibility for the removal of sin in the hour of His judgment. The sinner's concern is for the honor of God in His need for vindication. We are His witnesses before the universe of the saving and delivering power of the blood. The Good News is, when God wins His case, we are included in it.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] "Caiaphas," The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 12, 1900.
[2] The Story of Redemption, p. 225.
[3] A "besetting sin" is one that dogs our footsteps even after we think we're converted. It tries to drag us back into the abyss of guilt. The dictionary defines "beset" as "to attack from all sides; harass or besiege; to surround or hem in." It's not the sin you cherish; it's the one outside your will that tries to hang on like a leech. It's the clamor of our sinful flesh banging on the heart's door again. If you open the door even a crack, you invite it to enter and become a "cherished sin." So, ugly realities keep popping up and they find besetting sin continually transmuted into cherished sin. A thousand temptations do not equal even one sin unless we cherish them. Having a sinful nature is not sin; yielding to it is.
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