Friday, April 10, 2015

“Baptism and the Temptations”

Insights #2 April 11, 2015
Second Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Baptism and the Temptations"
For the week of April 11, 2015

The "amazing condescension" of Jesus Christ is not to help us to be willing to "humble ourselves whenever the occasion warrants it" but to lay our glory in the dust - period. Our entire lifetime is the "occasion". If you have an E.G. White study Bible, read the comments for John 1 under the title "Divine-Human Saviour" and follow the journey of the Son of God from the heavenly courts above, down to this dark earth and His "most shameful and most cruel death upon the cross as a malefactor" (5BC 1127).

Can we exalt ourselves in the light of this "amazing condescension?" Dare we lift up our heads in pride on ANY occasion? "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low." "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Isa 40:4; Matt 23:12).

The work of John the Baptist was to "Prepare ye the way of the LORD" (Luke 3:4). Our work today is the same. The next few verses of the chapter in Isaiah from which John received the instructions for his ministry contains instructions for us today:

The voice said, "Cry out!"  And he said, "What shall I cry?"  "All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever" (Isa 40:6-8).

This Loud Cry was first given in 1888 and is now desperately needing to be revived in our own hearts. Without this message, we can never say to the world: "Behold your God!" (verse 9).

The baptism and temptation of Christ exemplified these realities. Before even setting an example of baptism, He waited patiently and came forward only after everyone else had been baptized (Luke 3:21). As He bowed upon the shore, the Father glorified the Son. But Christ never glorified Himself. He left Himself completely out of the picture. He did not come to live His own life, but to live the life of the Father.

Without Christ, our case is hopeless. All our right-doings are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). "Everything that we of ourselves can do is defiled by sin." (COL 311.4) It does not matter how perfectly we keep God's law, if it is "we" who are doing it, it is sin. Christ came to bring us the working of the Father. He says, "I can of my own self do nothing;" "but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." Christ did not do His own works. The Father worked through Him. All His miracles were not performed by His own power, but by the power of the Father.

He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the "Master of earth and sea and sky" that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." He trusted in the Father's might (DA 336.1).

The life of Christ is what we need. As the Spirit of God descended upon Christ, so the Spirit will descend upon us when we rise to newness of life in Him. "The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ." (DA 805.3) Imparted, not imputed - the living, practical reality. But what was the life of Christ? How was it that He lived a sinless life? What was it that brought to Him the working of God?

Jesus met Satan with the words of Scripture. "It is written," He said. In every temptation the weapon of His warfare was the word of God. Satan demanded of Christ a miracle as a sign of His divinity. But that which is greater than all miracles, a firm reliance upon a "Thus saith the Lord," was a sign that could not be controverted. So long as Christ held to this position, the tempter could gain no advantage  (DA 120.1).

This lesson is for us. One of the fundamental truths of God's word is that there is power in itself to perform the thing which it says. This is why God "cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). Read Deuteronomy 32:1-3 and Isaiah 55:10-11 and you will see that the outpouring of the Latter Rain is bound up with the truth that there is power in the word to perform the thing itself. As in creation, so in redemption. "God said, Let there be light: and there was light;" "He spake and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast." Knowing the power of the word, Christ said, "Thy word have I hid in Mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Gen 1:3; Psa 33:9; 119:11).

This is how it was that the Father worked through His Son. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth." (John 5:19-20) Day by day, as the Old Testament scrolls unrolled, the Father unfolded to Him His will. When on the road to Emmaus, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He [Christ] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). When the time came, the Father worked through that word.

But the faith of Jesus encompassed more than this. Christ "knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man" (John 2:24-25) because He was all men. A.T. Jones described this perfectly in 1895:

God dwelt with Him and He was ourselves. Therefore His name is Emmanuel, God with us. Not God with Him. God was with Him before the world was; He could have remained there and not come here at all and still God could have remained with Him and His name could have been God with Him. He could have come into this world as He was in heaven and His name could still have been God with Him. But that never could have been God with us. But what we needed was God with us. God with Him does not help us, unless He is we (February 21, 1895 ATJ, GCB 270.3) .

Therefore in the following lesson he says:

And Christ having taken our human nature in all things in the flesh and so having become ourselves, when we read of Him and the Father's dealings with Him, we are reading of ourselves and of the Father's dealings with us. What God did to Him was to us; what God did for Him was for us (February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 299.1).

Christ became ourselves, and the Father worked the victory in Him. When Christ overcame Satan in the wilderness, He overcame Satan as ourselves. "What God did to Him was to us; what God did for Him was for us."

The faith of Jesus laid hold of this reality. When He was pleading with God for power to overcome sin, He knew that the answer to His prayer would bring us power to overcome also. He knew that when He overcame, we would overcome in Him. His victory would be our victory. This is why it is that A.T. Jones says:

Faith is not something that comes from ourselves with which we believe upon Him, but it is that something with which He believed--the faith which He exercised, which He brings to us, and which becomes ours and works in us--the gift of God (February 21, 1895 ATJ, GCB 270.1).

If we will be among that number who have the faith of Jesus, we must believe that what God worked in Him, He was working in us, because He was we. The life that He lived was our own life. The word that worked for Him, was working for us. All we need to do is accept the fact and LET it be our reality.

When He put Himself where we are, where did He get salvation?... This word of salvation saved Him when He was ourselves, and it saves us when we are in Him. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake--me, me! And this in order that every one on the earth can say in him, "He leadeth me" (February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 301.8).

When we see Christ rising from the waters and the blessing pronounced upon Him, we must see ourselves in Him. When we see Him suffering the great test over appetite, presumption and pride, we must see the Father working the victory in ourselves. If we will do this, and we will see this in every act of His life, the amazing reality will dawn upon us that we already have a perfect life in Christ. And then, shall we not live it?

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me Galatians 2:20.

May God help us to learn quickly that we may teach others this wonderful truth.
-Camron Schofield