Friday, March 11, 2016

“Peter on the Great Controversy”

First Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Peter on the Great Controversy"
 March 12, 2016
The Great Controversy is foundational in the entire study and experience of Righteousness by Faith.  Peter, both because of his overall experience with Christ and also because of his experience of denying Christ at the time of Christ's trial, had a valuable understanding of the need of true faith, of the importance of corporate as well as individual repentance, and the right understanding of righteousness by faith being both a perfect standing as well as a progressive experience of sanctified living and character.  His famous text in I Peter 5:8 reveals his understanding of the need or a true New Testament faith to be safe against the continual attempts of Satan to devour us and to snatch away our faith experience.  Peter understood the importance of believers to live a life that truly is representative and worthy of our high calling and election in Christ.  Peter experienced first hand the reality of the Great Controversy being waged in his own mind and life, and the importance of remaining faithful, as he eventually faced crucifixion himself.  As Revelation 12:11 points out, we overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our Testimony, and love not our lives more than Christ. 
          Peter envisions our Christian walk as progressive, and one which needs to continually remember our sinful condition.  Our true condition leads to our utter dependency upon Christ for His righteousness, and to see His life and promises fulfilled in us.  The entire human race was purposed by God for salvation, and those who believe especially experience the high calling and the joy of the work of participating in the proclamation of the Gospel.  The righteousness of Christ lays the glory of man in the dust, and the true message calls for such a belief as a part of true faith.  Christ is everything to us, His coming, nature, work, goal and victory embody a gospel experience of total faith in His faithfulness.  Christ is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.  I Cor. 1:30.  It is Christ who redeemed the human race, who calls us to Him in love, who justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies us, as we cooperate through full surrender, experiencing His gift of repentance, loving obedience, and growing faith. 
"The gospel is God's remedy for sin; its work, therefore,  must be to bring men into harmony with the law--to cause the workings of the righteous law to be manifested in their lives. But this is wholly a work of faith--the righteousness of God is revealed from "faith to faith"-- faith in the beginning and faith to the end--as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."  E.J. Waggoner, Lessons on Faith p. 2
"There are too many who try to live the Christian life on the strength of the faith which they exercised when they realized their need of pardon for sins of their past life. They know that God alone can pardon sins and that He does this through Christ, but they imagine that having once been started they must run the race in their own strength. We know that many have this idea, first, because we have heard some say so, and second, because there are such multitudes of professed Christians who show the working of no greater power than their own. If they ever have anything to say in social meeting, besides the ever-recurring formula, "I want to be a Christian, so that I may be saved," they tell only of a past experience, the joy they had when they first believed. Of the joy of living for God and of walking with Him by faith, they know nothing, and he who tells of it speaks of a strange language to them. But the apostle carries this matter of faith clear through to the glorious kingdom in the following most forcible illustration: 
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God.    But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Heb. 11:5, 6."  Ibid, p. 3. 
          Peter understood "peer pressure" and the various temptations the world exposes us to in order to possibly see us compromise or lose our faith.  He encourages us to stay faithful and not back slide.  Peter would resonate as well with the truth of "corporate repentance", an attitude of corporate solidarity and humility, thus not allowing certain types of peer pressure to cause us to self righteously leave others in the church behind, in the mistaken idea of "saving yourself."  We are to exercise the Lordship of Christ and not respond TO pressure, but to influence others by our obedience to Christ and faithful witness in love to them.  A true New Testament faith of both an intelligent understanding and heart felt appreciation for Christ and His loving redemption enables us to avoid letting him down, and thus harming the experience of others as well.  As Hebrews 12 says, we have not yet struggled unto blood, striving against sin, and the Faith of Jesus, the life of Christ lived out in us, enables us to see victory over victory and to maintain our spiritual walk of faith. 
          Peter encouraged us towards a more sure word of prophecy, and He understood the "moral purpose of prophecy", revealing the ultimate victory of Christ and also in the course of a study of prophecy, having revealed to the mind the promises of God and the character growth that will take place we fulfull our rightful place in the history itself that is prophecy.  He calls us to make our "calling and election sure."  He urges us to be "partakers of the divine nature", and to escape the corruption of the world.
          Peter recognizes the true nature of "scoffing", namely, the unbelief of the human mind that is cherished by some, as they deny and resist the work of the Holy Spirit on the heart and life.  The true motivation is the secret desire to maintain the life of a love for the world and its pleasures and lusts.  Christ is coming soon, and will put an end to the mocking that is taking place, in the church, and without, regarding the nearness of that event.  We are to endure to the end in our faith in the Blessed Hope and the soon glorious appearing of Christ. 

~Pastor Tom Cusack