Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Seen and the Unseen War

INSIGHT #5 APRIL 30, 2016
Second Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Seen and the Unseen War
April 30, 2016

This week's lesson underscores the reality of the Controversy between Christ and Satan, a warfare that began in Heaven. (Revelation 12)  The entire controversy, summarized, has to do with the character, purposes, goals, and most importantly, the underlying foundation of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is based on God's character of Love, a love that is sacrificial, serving, merciful, and Holy.  Satan brought the charge in Heaven and the Garden of Eden that God is not love, but instead autocratic, selfish, and restrictive.  He claimed that, in effect, sin will not hurt anyone, and in fact, elevate man to "godhood" knowing good and evil.  Satan of course knows what the Bible presents as to the fate of those who follow such a philosophy, and spiritual warfare is being battled, beginning in Heaven, over whom should rule the universe.  Satan also knows that He needs access to the Tree of Life to have immortality, as He knows as the Bible states, "the wages of sin is death", thus declaring His fate as well as all those who refuse the "antidote" for the poison of sin, namely, the Gospel of Christ Our Righteousness, both for mercy and the transforming power of Love to reclaim us from the varied effects, and results of sin, which at its essence is selfishness instead of Love. 
The lesson brings out that the principle of Love has as a part of it an aggressiveness in the warfare, and takes the Kingdom by "violence."  The events in the warfare are unseen, as well as seen, as the spiritual battle for each human beings' mind, heart, and loyalty is continually going on.  There is always a harassing demon around us, probably more than one, and our need for vigilance and dependence upon Christ is an ongoing reality.  We cannot understand all aspects of the spiritual realities, but we have ample evidence in the Word of God and the experiences of life to know the character of God and His love.  The power of love is forcefully pushing back the powers of darkness, and will be victorious against all of Satan's weapons and strategies.  Satan of course tries to steal the gift that God has purchased for all of us in the legal justification of humanity, or the redemption obtained in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  He attempts to steal this gift by offering something better, but which instead places us in bondage, and slavery, to Him, to sin, and to fear, anxiety, guilt, condemnation, and hopelessness.  The Bible is clear that Satan will be defeated, and the pages of the Bible reveal, as well, HOW this defeat will occur.  "Only by love is love awakened."  God commended His love to us, in that while the world was surrendered to sin, Christ died for us.  God's plan is to win our allegiance by revelations of Love, and we "take the Kingdom" by assisting God in revealing agape love to lost sinners ourselves.  God's love includes rebuke and chastening, thus showing that God, in love, has to forcefully convict us of the dangers of sin, and what He does is for our good, to work a peaceable fruit of righteousness in those who will open their hearts to God's love.
I believe that it is vitally important to remember that God's goal is greater than to merely "save" us.  Certainly He came to seek and to save the lost, as He desires that what He has done for every human being is received by faith in Him as the Savior of the World.  But Isaiah 43:7 tells us God's initial, and continual goal, which the Plan of Salvation always entails in its entirely.  We were created for His glory, meaning, we were created to reveal in our own lives the character or love of God.  All that God does, in his personal relationship with all believers, is to bring them ever further in their spiritual walk to fully reveal His love in their own lives.  His discipline, His blessings, His conviction, His trials, His tests of faith, are all intended to bring us to Christlikeness.  Revelation 18:1 tells us that eventually, God's church will be triumphant, and the whole earth will be lightened with His glory, or His character revealed through us. 
The Bible of course reveals the final victory of Christ, and we can know, now, what will be the result to Satan of His lies and warfare.  Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that Christ came to destroy the works of Satan, and to free us from the bondage of the "fear of death."  As perfect love casts out fear, we find peace, freedom from condemnation, and the transforming power of love to make us a "new creature"  II Cor. 5:17.  Revelation 12:12 tells us that we "overcome" by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and we "love not our lives", but instead, live for Christ, for His love has won our hearts and loyalty 
We grasp the truth that Christ is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe.  I Timothy 4:10.  The entire Great Controversy will be over when we have learned the truth that God is love.  For all that Satan and his forces attempt, there is no defense, ultimately, against the truth of God's love, and how it was and is demonstrated on earth.  When we grasp that in spite of our sins, Christ has accomplished and offered to each human being, and given to every human being, through a knowledge of Him, a universal salvation for mankind as the Head of Humanity and the Second Adam, our hearts respond with a heart felt appreciation for the Cross of Calvary.
In my own life, God has worked progressively to win my heart, to subdue pride, selfishness, independence, enmity, and rebellion, and to bring me the peace of a full surrender to Christ.  We all have growing to do, but Christ promises to be the "finisher of our faith", to "write His laws in our hearts", to place love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and to bring us off more than conquerors.  We will be given, in heaven, the opportunity to, daily, receive new glimpses of the Heart of God.  It is a truth that makes this warfare worth enduring.  May God bless you all. 

~Pastor Thomas Cusack