Friday, June 20, 2014

"Christ's Church and the Law"

Insights #12 June 21, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ's Church and the Law"
For the week of June 21, 2014
Rev. 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.


What is the church but the body of Christ? To discuss the commandments of God without giving equal prominence to the 'faith of Jesus' (the Head of the church) is like teaching about the Sabbath without giving equal time to the Lord of the Sabbath.

"The faith of Jesus has been overlooked and treated in an indifferent, careless manner. It has not occupied the prominent position in which it was revealed to John... The great subject of the righteousness of Christ connected with the law, which should be constantly kept before the sinner as his only hope of salvation." - {1888 212.1}

"While you hold the banner of truth firmly, proclaiming the law of God, let every soul remember that the faith of Jesus is connected with the commandments of God."  {SpTA01b 15.1}

"Let Jesus be our theme. Let us with pen and voice present, not only the commandments of God, but the faith of Jesus.This will promote real heart piety as nothing else can." {SpTA01b 19.1}


The cross of Jesus Christ established the principle of freedom. Because of Calvary and only because of Calvary can God now say, "choose ye this day whom ye will serve."
Freedom of conscience and choice has always been dear to the Ruler of Heaven.  As the greatest Freedom Fighter of all time declared, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).


Genesis 6 was an investigative judgment for the Antediluvian world. In "investigating" humanity at that time heaven's verdict was, "the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;" (Gen. 6:5-7). The lesson writer asks if God was "unaware of what was going to happen?"  Because the faith of Jesus is bound up with this week's study (see Rev. 14:12) it is of no small consequence to note that the two passages where the faith of God is mentioned (see Mk. 11:22; Rom. 3:3) judgment (of Israel in one and of God Himself in the other) is the context.

God is justified when He is judged because He has always operated towards all people from a position of faith.  He has treated all creation with the "faith of Jesus." God knows what we might "become through redeeming love" (COL p.118) and treats us that way to the very end (Matt. 26:50).  He also knows what we will choose to become by personal choice.  If the two differ and He is forced to "let him alone" (Hosea 4:17) His great heart and hopes are dashed and He is grieved on a level that we will never imagine.


In Gen. 12:3, " thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" God repeated the Edenic promise of a Savior for the whole world. Gen. 15:6 details Abraham's continued and ever strengthening choice, "he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness."  Man often emphasizes his law keeping as righteousness but God counts biblical faith as the "right thing" for the sinner to "do" (John 6:28, 29). Perhaps that's why Hebrews 11 reiterates "by faith" instead of "by keeping the law." A faith surrender to a living and indwelling Christ is obedience and results in a life that keeps both the letter and spirit of God's holy law.


That the church cannot save herself by wonderful performance is clear, "For... Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10).  None have "continued in all things" from cradle to grave in action, thought and motive.  We who continue to fall short need the righteousness of the Promised One; the church can only have and experience righteousness when she receives "the promise... through faith" (Gal. 3:14).


The lesson writer asks us to read Rev. 12:17 and Rev. 14:12.  The common thread between the two is the commandments of God. That we get and have remained fixated upon often to the exclusion of the second half of both texts.  The "testimony of Jesus" has repeatedly, pleadingly reminded us that "The commandments of God have been proclaimed, but the faith of Jesus Christ has not been proclaimed by Seventh-day Adventists as of equal importance, the law and the gospel going hand in hand... I cannot find language to express this subject in its fullness. 'The faith of Jesus.' It is talked of, but not understood." - (Dec. 1888, "Looking Back at Minneapolis," EGW 1888 Materials, pp. 212, 217)  May we acknowledge our "blind spot" and receive the True Witness' eye salve that we may see, experience and proclaim as a church the law and the faith of Jesus.
-William Pergerson