Insight #1 July 4, 2015
Third Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Missionary Nature of God"
For the week of July 4, 2015
God's mission was established in eternity. His mission was to redeem and to save any inhabitant of the universe if they should turn from Him. The first to depart was Lucifer. He who knew the love of God more fully than any other created being rebelled.
When Lucifer first chose his course of sin, God did not give him up. God still loved him with His everlasting love. We observe the missionary nature of God at work as He set into operation the plan of salvation to save Lucifer. Notice:
God in His great mercy bore long with Lucifer. He was not immediately degraded from his exalted station when he first indulged the spirit of discontent, nor even when he began to present his false claims before the loyal angels. Long was he retained in heaven. Again and again he was offered pardon on condition of repentance and submission. Such efforts as only infinite love and wisdom could devise were made to convince him of his error…. [A]s his dissatisfaction was proved to be without cause, Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong, that the divine claims were just, and that he ought to acknowledge them as such before all heaven. The Great Controversy, pp. 495-496.
Loyal Angels Influenced Lucifer Through Song
The influence of the holy angels seemed for a time to carry him with them. As songs of praise ascended in melodious strains, swelled by thousands of glad voices, the spirit of evil seemed vanquished; unutterable love thrilled his entire being; his soul went out, in harmony with the sinless worshippers, in love to the Father and the Son. But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 36.
Unknown to Lucifer there was a plan of redemption. This plan was the agreement between Father and Son that in the event that if anyone should sin, Jesus would step in to save that person or persons. As Savior He was foreordained to be the sacrificial Lamb who volunteered to take sin upon Himself (1 Pet 1:18-20; John 1:29). When sin entered the angelic host Jesus was their Redeemer. Lucifer refused to submit and to repent. His was a voluntary and persistent rebellion. Rather than accept God's pardon he justified himself.
Lucifer indulged in murmuring against God. Next he began to envy Christ. Then came his accusations, his rebellion and his deceptions to gain the sympathy and support of holy heavenly angels. God would have granted Lucifer forgiveness but he stubbornly persisted in his self- generated tendencies.
Lucifer was created innocent and pure. He is the great "mystery of iniquity" – it is a mystery as to how a perfect angel became a devil. And there is another mystery, a greater mystery. It is "the mystery of godliness." This mystery is the power of God to change "children of wrath" into godly people (Eph 2:1-9).
During the war in heaven Lucifer and his army of rebels were cast out (Rev 12:7-9). In coming to earth he made war against the couple in the garden of God. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God with the ability to choose and to do. They chose to follow Lucifer. Nevertheless, as soon as there was a sinner on earth there was a Savior. He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World" (Rev 13:8). Grace was waiting to take Adam and Eve by the hand to lead them back to God.
God's missionary activity, on earth, is first seen as He searched among the fig trees and found Adam and Eve naked and hiding with shame and guilt. In mercy God covered their nakedness with skins from slain animals (Gen 3:21) typifying the reality of what would occur some 4,000 years later. He would be slain and His skin – His garment of righteousness – was prepared to cover the nakedness of fallen man.
In His death Jesus took mankind's place and paid the penalty for our sins. He was sent from heaven to be the "Savior of the world" – "of all men, especially those who believe" (1 John 4:14; 1 Tim 4:10). This was His mission. He could do no other because His very nature is that of a missionary.
The "mission of Christ will reveal the truth as it is in Jesus. Man can know the depths to which he has sunk only by beholding the wondrous chain of redemption employed to draw him up. The extent of our ruin can be discerned only in the light of the law of God exhibited in the cross of Calvary. The wonderful plan of redemption must be discerned in the death of Christ" (RH, February 8, 1898).
This quarter's Sabbath School lessons are about some of the missionaries from Old and New Testament times sent from God to share His mission – "to save to the uttermost those who come to" Him through Christ (Heb 7:25).
In these last days of earth's history God raised up a remnant to be missionaries to the world. As He did in the past by giving the gospel to His missionaries, so He does today. Besides raising up an end-time prophet, God sent two young men with a message of righteousness by faith in Christ alone to be given to the world.
The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure (1888 Materials, pp. 1336-37).
As you and I become partakers of God's missionary nature, we too shall become missionaries proclaiming His message to a dying world (2 Pet 1:4; Rev 18:1-4). What a mission! What a message! What a privilege!
-- Jerry Finneman