Friday, July 29, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #5 July 30, 2016

INSIGHT #5 JULY 30, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus on Community Outreach
July 30, 2016

Jesus on Community Outreach
                        "Christ is the only true, the great, the model missionary. He is the one who has to be constantly looked to as the guide and ever to be followed as the great exemplar in all missionary work. And to every one of his he speaks the word, 'As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.' And as the Father who sent him was ever with him, so he gives to us the same word, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.'
As Christ was sent to reveal the Father, so we are sent to reveal Christ, and in him the Father. In order that he should truly reveal the Father, 'He emptied himself, and took upon himself the form of a servant;' and to us who are to reveal Christ, and in him the Father, the word is spoken, 'Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who . . . emptied himself, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.'" July 1905 ATJ, MEDM 194.
In order to reach our communities for Christ, we must have the missionmotivation, and methods of Christ. This is fundamentally predicated on being emptied of self, and full of Christ. There can be no effective outreach without this experience.
When Jesus describes his mission in Luke 4:16-19, he is quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2, where the gospel prophet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had placed it there for him to take up by faith and place into action. His ministry was to fulfill the purposes of the heavenly farmer, who was sacrificially revealing Himself in His Son.
"For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." Isaiah 61:11.
The method for obtaining this gospel harvest is the laying down of the life of Jesus for all humanity: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24.
Perhaps this is why Jesus left off the last part of verse 2 of Isaiah chapter 61. He wanted no misunderstanding about the full and free gift he was to provide, in his humanity bearing the vengeance and fury of perfect love meeting sin head-on. This is how God desires to repay: He becomes one with us, takes our sin, and pays us his righteousness. Reading further on in Isaiah:
"Who is this who comes from Edom, 
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
'I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.'
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
'I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.'"
Isaiah 63:1-5
In preaching the gospel, healing broken hearts, liberating the sin-enslaved,  giving sight to the blind, he was proclaiming "that most blessed time when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound." Thayer's Greek Lexicon on Luke. 4:16.
The universal scope of the gospel, the revelation of the love of God in His own sacrifice for all humanity, is the purest motivation for implementing the same mission to reveal how good God is to our communities.
Loving Your Neighbor - How does God love His Enemies?
In Luke 10:33, Jesus gives us a glimpse of this love, where the perceived enemy (the Samaritan), sees the one who would hate him, and "Saw him, and had compassion" on him.
It is God, who, "when we were enemies" reconciled us to Himself "through the death of His Son." (Rom 5:10). It is because of His compassion to us that we see others in our communities differently - we can act as God acts in and through us:
                        "In the parable we have a man, presumably a Jew, since he was going down to Jericho from Jerusalem, who was maltreated by robbers, and left for dead. Some of his own countrymen, a priest and a Levite, passed by, and left him to his fate. But a Samaritan, one of the despised and hated race, came by, and did to the wounded man as is described. He could not have done more for him if he had been his brother. Now the question is, Who was my neighbor to him that fell among thieves? The answer is, 'He that showed mercy upon him,' and this answer is accepted. The good Samaritan was neighbor to the disabled Jew, whom he treated as his own neighbor. And yet, the Jew was the enemy of the Samaritan. The only inference is, that when the law says, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' we are to hold ourselves ready to serve anybody who needs our assistance, and are not stop to inquire whether the needy person is a 'neighbor' or 'enemy' and have two standards of action. In other words, our enemies are to be treated as our neighbors; or, better still, we are to act as though we had no enemies. In our dealings with our fellow-men we are not to consider if any man is our enemy, but are to treat all with kindly consideration."  November 25, 1886 EJW, SITI 711.
The Whole Recipe - Love and Politics?
Tuesday's lesson includes a quote from The Desire of Ages, in which Ellen White equates the the savor of the salt to the love of Christ. It is the love of Christ, the great motivation of his heart, that is the only power for good in our lives. If this love is not in the mix, the recipe for community outreach flops. Love, not politics, is the real force for hope and change in our communities. Thus, we might contemplate more seriously our role in our communities, especially in this election season.
                        "'YE are the salt of the earth.' So said Jesus Christ to his followers, and the words remain true of his followers to-day. That is to say, the followers of Christ—Christians—are the preservers of the earth.
                        They are the preservers of the earth because they are Christians. And Christians are not of this earth, but have been 'born from above.' They are in the world, but not of the world. They have been 'called out' from that which is of the world. Christ has chosen them out of the world, and the world recognizes this fact by hating them. John 15:19.
Christians therefore are the preservers of the world by being unlike the world. They are the 'salt of the earth' by being unlike the world in which they are, even as salt is unlike that in which it is placed.
                        But to this statement that Christians are the salt of the earth, the Saviour added: 'but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.' Matt. 5:13. If the salt loses its taste, so that its presence in the food cannot be distinguished, it is good for nothing; it will neither season anything nor preserve it. And if Christians, in the world, become conformed to the world, they are good for nothing as preservers of the world.
                        And now for years it has stood forth as a fact before all the people, and one becoming ever more prominent, that those who profess to be follower of Christ, the members of the churches, are combining into organizations to work by political methods for the salvation of the state. Through methods which are of the world, and in the use of which they must be identified with the world, they propose to work for the preservation of the world.
                        While the Word of God which they profess to believe says that the world is preserved only by that which is unlike the world, they propose to preserve it only by that which is like the world.
                        It is perfectly plain, therefore, that as certainly as the words of Christ are true, the Christians Citizenship and kindred organizations who are working to get control of the popular ballot and to shape legislation, for the preservation of the state, in these very things are working directly for the destruction of the state. In just so far as they make use of these methods they become identified with the world and lose their identity as Christians; for as Christians, they are to pursue methods of work for the uplifting of mankind which rest not upon the power and wisdom of man, but of God; not upon the power of law, but of love.
                        "Why cannot Christians see that in their Christianity—their separation from the world, their nonconformity to it, their very lack of identity with it in anything—lies the only guaranty of the world's preservation? " March 3, 1898 ATJ, AMS 129-130.
                        "God put people in this world to be together. He knew the nature of the beings whom he created, and knew that society was necessary to their welfare. He brings people into this world for their happiness, to enjoy themselves together, not to be miserable somewhere in seclusion. But aside from the enjoyment to be derived from human companionship, he puts people together for their spiritual good. His own work in the earth, the proclamation of the gospel truth, so far from demanding the exclusion of its adherents, demands the exact opposite. God's servants are the 'salt of the earth:' and to be this they must be in the world, mingling freely with all classes of society, and with world-loving people especially. God sends his servants to sinners, not away from them."  September 8, 1898 ATJ, AMS 550. 
                        "Politics represents selfishness—the instinct of self-preservation, self-advancement, self-exaltation—which is common to all people. Any person, except perchance the true Christian, will resent an invasion of his rights, and will make trouble if he can for the person or party seeking to invade them. Hence there is a necessity felt to a greater or less degree by all persons in power, of respecting the rights of the people; and it is this necessity caused by the common instinct to 'look out for number one,' and not the 'Christian vote,' that maintains the rights and liberties which civil governments are instituted to preserve." April 5, 1900 ATJ, AMS 211.
                        "Christians are the salt of the earth. That means that they are to have a saving, purifying influence on the world. But that does not mean that they are to become a part of the world, and to adopt the ways of the world, salt must remain salt, if it is to do any good. If we use it to preserve meat, we do not want it to turn to meat, but to retain its distinctive character. The church is not going to overcome the world by using the weapons of the world. The Gospel is the power of God, not the power of man; and God's ways are as much different from man's ways as the heavens are different from the earth."  July 13, 1893 EJW, PTUK 240.
On Being a Farmer - The Work of Faith and Love
In John 4, Jesus showed how the gospel harvest is produced. His faith and love, freely expressed and given to the woman at the well, in spite of her past, sprang up in her, and through her, spread to the entire town in which she lived. This was His method of cultivating community outreach - faith and love. This is how the gospel seed grows.
                        "In the growth of the grain we have an illustration of the Christian's growth in grace. 'For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.' Isa. lxi. 11. In the first place, the work is wholly of God. The showers that fall upon the earth show the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; the sunshine which warms the seed into life, shows us how the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings. So the grain grows, because under the favourable conditions which God provides, it cannot do otherwise. We also, if we are consciously as passive in the hands of God as the corn is involuntarily, and as willingly receive the things that pertain to life and godliness, which His Divine power gives in perfection, will as surely bring forth fruit to the glory of God throughout eternity, as the corn ripens to the harvest." September 1, 1898 EJW, PTUK 545.
Church Planting - Human Resources, or Divine?
Why were the disciples sent out without any resources of their own to speak of? Perhaps so they could realize that no human resource can accomplish this work.
God has all the resources, but He can bestow them on us and bless our planting efforts only as we exercise faith and love in each other, working together to plant the gospel seed which will raise up enduring, effective fellowship.
"Christ's dignity and office work are in imposing such conditions as he pleases. His followers are to become more and more a power in the proclamation of the truth as they draw nearer to the perfection of faith and of love for their brethren. God has provided his divine assistance for all the emergencies to which our human resources are unequal. He gives the Holy Spirit to help in every strait, to strengthen our hope and assurance, to illuminate our minds and purify our hearts. He means that sufficient facilities shall be provided for the working out of his plans in this field. I bid you seek counsel from God. Seek him with the whole heart, and 'whatsoever he saith unto you, do.'
'Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.'
ELLEN G. WHITE. March 2, 1899 N/A, GCDB 131.

~Todd Guthrie

Thursday, July 14, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #3 July 16, 2016

Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament- Part 1
July 16, 2016

The lesson this week is so timely, with all the events taking place in the news recently, which raise issues of equality, justice, the need to help the poor and needy, and to speak out as to how all the events relate to the issue of the Character of God, and also the Great Controversy Theme, for "man's inhumanity to man is our greatest sin", and also, Christ's character is clearly described in Acts 10:37 as one going about "doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him." 
Our Memory Text is Psalm 146:7-9.  The text describes the character of God as one caring for the oppressed, hungry, prisoners, handicapped, the foreigner, fatherless, and the widow.  I remember a Charlie Brown cartoon once, in which Charles Schultz was influenced by his Christian background, and thus in the cartoon Charlie and Lucy express sympathy to Snoopy as he shivers in the cold in the winter time and say "God bless You."  Snoopy responds, "I would have rather they gave me a coat."  Justice and mercy in the Old Testament, as well as the New, are speaking not only about the character of God, but also Christianity in action.  If we are truly His, we will passionately care about and provide for the poor and the powerless.  But now I will challenge you a bit.  Are the categories of the "poor" and the "powerless" only the ones we typically think of, or are there even more areas of life that could fall under these categories.  There are certainly serious issues of poverty, which Christ said would always be with us.  There are serious issues in the U.S. and the world of economic inequality, educational inequality, racial, ethnic, and cultural prejudice and bigotry, sex slavery, molestation, marital violence, rape, sexual exploitation, religious violence, political lies and exploitation, chrony capitalism, greed and selfishness of businessmen, inequalities in health care, drug issues, and many, many other issues.  God created us all a part of the human race, and people everywhere want homes, a family, a good job, freedom, religious liberty, and justice and fairness.  We as Christians ought to do all we can to ensure to the degree possible in this fallen world that we care for those less fortunate, oppressed, mistreated, etc.  But then I ask a question.  "How far are you willing to take it?"  I am going to stretch your thinking.  Let us say that a policeman is accused of a racist act, driven from his position, prejudged before all the evidence comes in, and then when the case is completed, it becomes obvious that the original "rush to judgement" was wrong.  Should we help him financially and otherwise as a result of "injustice" as well.?  What if someone is poor because they refuse to work, thus violating basic Biblical principles that God himself has laid out?  What do you do with the text that says that He who will not work should not eat, and thus is stealing in the process.  I am speaking hypotheticals, but they are real examples in today's world.  I realize that the former I mentioned are far more prevalent and important, but if we truly believe in Justice and Mercy, we need to stretch ourselves in being honest, sympathetic, and responsible wherever and whenever an injustice has occurred, without any boundaries to those principles.  Moreover, are we willing to speak out against acts of violence, retaliation, revenge, and hatred in response to injustice, when the Bible says to "overcome evil with good" and to "love your enemies", and to allow God alone to seek vengeance?
The early Old Testament was replete with a concern for social justice, wanting to create a world in which people had opportunity, justice, and peace would be seen as God's ideal.  Sadly, through the recalcitrance of the Jews to experience the Gospel and the power of Agape Love, when self became the motivating factor in their lives, they not only failed to evangelize the gospel in relation to the truths of God and the coming Messiah, they also failed to model and witness to principles that would have benefited society in general, and caused many to question why they were so fully blessed.  In only short sections of Old Testament history could they really fulfill their destiny, such as, for a time, under the rule of Solomon.  Sadly, for most of their history, their experience was marked by rebellion, and injustice towards God in that rejection of His grace, for how we treat God is how we treat others, and vice versa.   
The Three Sabbaths discussed under Sunday's lesson reveal God's concern that all have equal opportunity to rest and worship, a time for canceling debts and freeing slaves, the restoration of sold property, the careful stewardship of the land, and in every respect protecting against extremes that can occur in a selfish society.  When we reflect on what the violation of these principles mean, we realize much more why God finally placed them in captivity.  We live in a pluralistic society today in which it is much more difficult to implement these principles, but our concerns for poverty, slavery, and simply the opportunity for a "new start" should still exist.
Jesus said that the "Sabbath was made for man."  Mark 2:27. The Sabbath, and all the privileges and opportunities it brings to man should and has universal application.  Israel had a calling to be a "light to the gentiles" Is. 49:6, and a deep understanding of the Sabbath rest, with implications for the commonality among us all in experiencing it obviously points to the need for the entire world to experience its blessing.  If the Sabbath is a blessing to you, see that you share the truth to others, for God wants all to experience rest, peace, fellowship, worship, communion with Him, and the Gospel projected into that special time of fellowship with God. 
Tuesday's lesson is a clarion call for us to speak up for those who may not be able to fully speak for themselves.  If there are inequalities in the justice system, economic system, educational system, political system, as there obviously is, it is our duty to seek to let people know we care, and to contact leaders to really embrace these issues.  We also need to educate on what God's methods are.  Revelation 11:18 says that the "nations were angry."  We, in our call for justice, can only use God's method, which is love.  Love has many dimensions to it, but it does not include justifying sinning for the sake of obtaining justice, it does not include unforgiveness, evil surmising, bitterness, rage, revenge, separatist mentalities, for Satan does not care HOW you develop a Satanic character of anger, etc. just as long as He gets you there.  Our working for justice NEVER takes us out of the realm of our continual call, seen in Isaiah 43:7, to reflect the glory of God in our characters.  The Social Gospel does not take the Christian out of the Gospel experience.  Real justice is understood as coming from God, and that the only resolution to injustice will be the judgment itself.  The marginalized and oppressed need to be defended.  We need, as well, to defend against ALL anger and unchristian behaviors, for oppressed can become oppressors themselves, if they do not see the danger in the satanic trap.  True worship is based on mercy, love, compassion, patience, long suffering, and most of all, a belief that ALL need the Gospel, including the oppressor.  Our caring for the oppressed should never result in total rejection of the oppressor, for Jesus died for all.  Human nature is to become imbalanced, where we preach the truth that Jesus is the Savior of ALL men.  The Bible is clear that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Therefore, I care for the welfare of all men, and their ultimate salvation.  I told one woman who was cheated on and abandoned by her husband, resulting in a divorce, that I would still seek to help the ex-husband, for God still cared about him, and she was angry, simply wanting him to get "what he deserved".  When the call for justice becomes a desire for revenge, it is no longer justice.  As we are told, except for His mercies we would ALL be consumed.  We can never rise above the humility that we are the chief of sinners, and that the oppressor still deserves to be loved, even as our enemy.  Easy to say until we are in a similar situation, but that's the issue.  Exercising justice ALSO includes mercy, and mercy is to be extended, as much as possible, toward the offender, for we desire their salvation more than human justice.  We should always desire justice, in part, to help the oppressed, but also to sensitize the conscience of the oppressed.  You have probably heard the story of the Jewish woman who encountered the guard who had helped oppress her and her sister in a concentration camp, and she was able to find forgiveness, and to work with him in evangelizing Europe.  This is true justice, and true mercy.  The essence of the Gospel, not matter what is still, at least hopefully, restoration.  "I came to see and to save the lost."  We can afford NO other response to evil. 
Isaiah 58 is clear that we are to be actively involved in meeting human needs.  If we do not have "works" our faith and outward piety is a sham.  The Bigger Issue is always the revelation of the Character of Love, in practical ways, with a real concern that through a revelation of the Heart of God, people may finally seek His heart and Gospel.  Agape love, given to us (Romans 5:5) flows out to others, not primarily in a concern for us.  When we minister to others, we are blessed ourselves.  The Greatest Revelation of Christ's Character is His response to sin.  He died for the worst of sinners.  As I reflect on much that is occurring in the world, of murdering people in the name of God, of worshipping in church and then participating in destructive acts, in justifying not justice, but murderous anger, we need to see that unless we are, ourselves, willing to die for the salvation of others, we do not yet really understand the true Christian Heart.  TMB, p. 128
Not until you feel that you could sacrifice your own self-dignity, and even lay down your life in order to save an erring brother, have you cast the beam out of your own eye so that you are prepared to help your brother. Then you can approach him and touch his heart. No one has ever been reclaimed from a wrong position by censure and reproach; but many have thus been driven from Christ and led to seal their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins. The revelation of Christ in your own character will have a transforming power upon all with whom you come in contact. Let Christ be daily made manifest in you, and He will reveal through you the creative energy of How word--a gentle, persuasive, yet mighty influence to re-create other souls in the beauty of the Lord our God.

When a crisis comes in the life of any soul, and you attempt to give counsel or admonition, your words will have only the weight of influence for good that your own example and spirit have gained for you. You must be good before you can do good. You cannot exert an influence that will transform others until your own heart has been humbled and refined and made tender by the grace of Christ.

Passion about any issue is not enough.  One must first "seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness", and then God will provide in other areas.  True justice and mercy is only found in the heart of God, in a right understanding of the Cross, in the universality of the sin problem, in a heart that loves the most undeserving, and truly has "tears" in the heart and voice as Jesus did while giving His scathing rebukes. 

Yes, we need to minister to human need, but in our fallen state, we can become restrictive, selfish, or misguided in how we interpret human events and human need.  Man shall live by "every" word of God.  Matthew 4:4. We cannot truly meet human need, seek for justice, feel mercy, unless we have gone to God in deep heart anguish, taking the "plank" out of our own eye first, and seeking God's love in motive, method, and mission.  One of the reasons I say this is that if we become totally absorbed in injustice and our feelings about it, we fall for the smokescreen of Satan, who is seeking to develop an "ecumenical union" as the human way of creating "peace", and forget that while we seek for these lofty ideals, we can never compromise on the Gospel or Christian spiritual graces in order to accomplish them.  For example, I can't steal from a rich person to help the poor.  I cannot take a baseball bat to the head of a rapist.  For the principle of justice includes the idea that we can call for justice, but we are not to mete out, ourselves, the consequences for injustice.  That is given to the courts, and more importantly, the Heavenly Court above. 

As Luke 10:2 tells us, we are to plead with God to throw us out, amongst wolves, to help with His Harvest.  I am fully convinced that if we give someone a loaf of bread, and ignore their spiritual needs, in time, we do not understand either justice, nor mercy.  We are willing to help all, but we do feel the calling, when appropriate, if ever appropriate, to reveal where that goodness came from, the Heart of God. 

May God bless you as you seek to fulfill His will to minister to the poor, needy, downtrodden.  In doing so, maintain the spirit and love of God, for the message is as important as the ministry.

~Pastor Tom Cusack

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #2 July 9, 2016

INSIGHT #2 JULY 9, 2016

Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Restoring Dominion
July 9, 2016

This has been a rough week. Tuesday night when I went to feed our horses, I noticed our mare, Kelsee, wasn't hungry. Wednesday morning she ignored her hay. That day she showed other signs of distress, pain, and dehydration, prompting a call to our local horse vet, who recommended we take Kelsee to an emergency clinic. Colic (abdominal pain) is one of the major causes of death in horses. Thankfully, Kelsee is recovering, but it's hard to watch animals suffer. The Sabbath School lesson this week, "Restoring Dominion," invites us to take a deeper look at why "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now" (Rom. 8:22). 
In our Sabbath School Insights, we want to focus especially on the biblical "In Adam, In Christ" motif as a framework for understanding  the dominion that was lost in Adam and what Christ came to restore.
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them employment. All creation was placed in their hands to tend, nourish, and keep: the ground, the plants and trees, the animals, water, air, others, and themselves. Upon Adam in particular was this responsibility enjoined. The health and well-being of our planet was dependent upon the choices that Adam would make.
God had warned Adam, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" Gen. 2:17.
Adam's sin brought death not only to himself, but to all the dominion given to him by God. Much is enjoined in Paul's statement "For as in Adam all die," (1 Cor. 15:22). Everything in his dominion would experience the consequence of Adam's choice -- death. How tragic! 
Adam was warned, but who could have imagined? Death had never been witnessed in the history of the universe. The principle of God's government of self-giving love in contrast to self-centered grasping would be unfolded to a depth never conceived by any created being.
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" John 1:4. The light had been shining in the darkness, but the darkness had not comprehended it. Sin often lurks in the shadows. Now it would be brought into the light in order to reveal its true character.
Adam had imbibed of death. Thus separating himself and all creation from God, there was nothing left for him but instant, eternal death.
Enter Jesus, the second Adam, who from the eternal ages past had made a solemn covenant with the Father to save man at any cost to Himself. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).
This plan involved Christ, the Lamb, "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).
Years ago we were traveling down the highway when a mother duck followed by perhaps a dozen ducklings made an ill-advised journey into the path of our rapidly approaching vehicle. My children cried out, "Mom, the ducks, watch out!" Realizing her danger, the mother duck hurried her ducklings along. I tried to avoid them, but alas, not all escaped. In my rearview mirror, I saw some of the ducklings strewn across the road while the mother gathered those that were left on the side of the road. I felt sick inside. My kids cried, "Mom! Why did you do that?" It was really awful.
When the first Adam sinned, Jesus enfolded him in the shadow of His wings. His wings were broad enough to encompass the entire human race -- in the second Adam -- so that not one child of God was left to perish eternally from Satan's cruel blow. The fatal assault that by all rights should have fallen on the head of Adam fell on Jesus. The Scripture says, "You have seen . . . how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to Myself" (Ex. 19:4). 
The human race would have a second chance.  As children of the first Adam we struggle with the pull of our fallen, sinful nature. Outside, our world is groaning under the weight of sin. Innocent animals suffer and die. The ground produces poisonous plants. People get cancer. Flowers wither and die. All of this because of Adam's sin. 
These tragedies point us to Jesus, the second Adam, who took upon Himself the eternal consequences of our sin. The death that we deserved, He died on the cross as us
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned --
"Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Rom. 5:12, 18).
There are many people in this world who are unaware of what Christ has done for them. Instead of blaming Satan for the entrance of sin into our world, they blame God! This is a challenge for God, because by all rights we should be dead! According to the laws of the universe it is not possible to sin and continue to live. God, in Christ, has in a sense suspended this law enabling we who sin to continue to live. That gives many the illusion that we can sin and live throughout eternity! Not so! The only reason any person, plant, or creature is alive on this earth today is because their lives were purchased by the blood of Jesus, the second Adam, on Calvary! The Bible tells us that the beasts "perish," but that "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" John 3:16.
The earth as we know it will pass away. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. In the home God is preparing for all those who identify with Jesus, the Second Adam, we read that "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4)."
Adam's dominion will at last be restored. "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together. The lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,' says the Lord" (Is. 65:25).
In becoming the Second Adam, the new Father of our race, Christ restores us in His image, giving us a new identity in Him, a new mind (His), a new heart (of agape love). The saved of all ages, children of the Heavenly Father and Second Adam, will again find joy in pursuing care of our newly restored dominion: "They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit." "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind" (Is. 65:21, 17).

~Patti Guthrie

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #2 July 9, 2016

Friday, July 01, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #1 July 2, 2016

INSIGHT #1 JULY 2, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The " Restoration of All Things"
July 2, 2016

The last three chapters of Revelation reveal that all things of earth will be restored including man. In the beginning man was created in the image of God as it is written in Gen 1:26–27 – 26"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness … 27So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.' " To be made in the image of God includes the physical, as well as the spiritual and mental dimensions that reflect God's likeness and image.

Most people think of God as an immaterial, intangible, floating, formless gas-like spirit with no physical form or substance. Four words of a text are brought forth to end all discussion about God along this line. The words are found in John 4:24 – "God is a spirit..." but these words are lifted from their context. The rest of the text says "and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." And the verse preceding records that: "the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." This is not addressing the nature of God, its focus is on worship. God must be worshipped both spiritually and in truth. God is Spirit, yes. But He also has a "shape" (John 5:37, KJV) or "form" (NKJV). Jesus was and is "the express image of his person" (Heb 1:3).

Man was not made a god, but he was make in the "likeness" and "image" of God. Monday's lesson brings out the meanings of these two words: "The word for 'image' in Hebrew is tselem; the word for 'likeness' is demuth. These words can connote the physical (tselem) and the inward (demuth), which includes the spiritual and mental aspects of humanity." Two quotations from Ellen White confirm this: "When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, likeness to his Maker."— Ellen G. White, Education, p. 15. (Italics supplied.) Man was made in God's image, "both in outward resemblance and in character."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.

The word Adam means not only the first human male and female. "Adam" encompasses the entire human race. The term "Adam" is used over 500 times referring to corporate mankind or a segment of mankind. The first Adam was the father and the representative of the race. He sinned and brought condemnation upon all humanity. Jesus entered into our humanity and became the Father and Representative of the fallen human race. 1 Cor15:21–22 contrasts two motifs – "in Adam" and "in Christ" – 21"For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."

In Romans, Paul likewise contrasts the two Adams in regard to sin, condemnation and justification for all men. Romans 5:14-21. The first Adam brought sin, death and condemnation into the race. Christ, the last Adam, brought in everlasting righteousness, life and justification through His merits of righteousness. Notice that verse 12 is not a completed thought. Its completion is found in verse 18. In between these verses there is a parenthesis. Verse 12 is repeated in verse 18a: "as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation" and then concludes the completed thought in 18b: "even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life."

The larger context of Romans 5, beginning with verse 6-11, speaks of Christ dying "for the ungodly" "sinners" (verses 6 and 8). By His death we were justified – "by His blood" (verse 9). Reconciliation came to us following justification through that same death, "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son" (verse 10) which is the cause of rejoicing for those who accept "Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (verse 11).

The grammatical selection and arrangement of words, phrases, clauses and sentences from verse 6 through 18 point to the concluding principle of "justification of life" for "all men" through Christ's righteousness as stated in verse 18.

There are some who add terms such as "provisional" into Romans 5:18, but this is very subjective and is therefore productive of somewhat arbitrary conclusions. Subjective reasoning may be intellectually productive, but is inventive to a marked degree. The chosen term "provisional" adds confusion that is unnecessary. As with other approaches to these verses, this amounts finally to a guess. If it has any merit, it lies in its attempt to see the narrative as making sense in a subjective interpretation. But the difficulties involved in this proposal raises more problems than it solves. Simply accept the passage as it reads. The Achilles' heel of subjective interpretation is the willingness to compromise undiluted loyalty to the Word of God.

Notice what Elder A.T. Jones wrote the truth of the matter: "The question is, Does the second Adam's righteousness embrace as many as does the first Adam's sin? Look closely. Without our consent at all, without our having anything to do with it, we were all included in the first Adam; we were there. All the human race were in the first Adam. What that first Adam--what that first man, did meant us; it involved us. That which the first Adam did brought us into sin, and the end of sin is death, and that touches every one of us and involves every one of us….

"Now here is another Adam. Does He touch as many as the first Adam did? That is the question. That is what we are studying now. Does the second Adam touch as many as did the first Adam? And the answer is that it is certainly true that what the second Adam did embraces all that were embraced in what the first Adam did." (A.T. Jones General Conference Bulletin, February 21, 1895, p. 269).

Christ as the last Adam goes back to the first gospel promise of Gen 3:15. Both prophecy and gospel are rooted in this verse. The entire Bible builds on this text revealing the Great Controversy Theme that exists between Christ and Satan. These two leaders contended in heaven. Lucifer lost the battle and was banished. The conflict continues on planet earth.

In enticing Adam and Eve to sin Satan thought he had gained ruler ship over, and had obtained representative status of, the fallen human race. But Jesus defeated Him again, in the wilderness, not as God but as Man depending on the power of God the Father. This contest was over who would be the Representative of the race. When Jesus said that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt 4:4), He was proclaiming to the devil that He, Jesus, was Adam – the true Representative of the fallen race. Jesus quoted Deut 8:3 – "man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." The word "man" used here is "Adam" the same as in Gen 1:26-27. Jesus announced that He was the second Adam and the rightful Representative, Redeemer and Savior of mankind. Satan eventually left the field of conflict completely defeated, for a time.

Not only did Jesus announce that He was the "last Adam." He also announced that He was the fulfillment and antitype of Israel, the subject of Deut 8:3. Not only was Adam a type of Christ. So was Israel. Christ as Israel and as Adam lived by faith alone which is the meaning of living "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Because the first Adam and the first Israel failed, Jesus came and took their places, lived and died for them, making full atonement for them and for the rest of mankind. Israel refused to believe God and consequently the crown and diadem was taken from the nation and was given to Christ.

Ezekiel wrote of the removing of the diadem and crown from the last king of Judah: "I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it to him" (Eze 21:27, KJV). This will be fulfilled when Jesus comes the second time. When He came the first time, instead of receiving that crown prophesied by Ezekiel, He received a crown, but it was a crown of thorns. Instead of a throne, He was nailed to the cross as the atoning sacrifice for fallen man.

It is at His second coming when Jesus will be seated upon "the throne of his father David" having "on his head many crowns." Then it is that "the kingdoms of this world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Rev 19:12; Luke 1:32; Rev 11:15).

It is written in Gen 3:15 that the Seed of the woman would come and be bruised and that He would bruise the serpent's head. When Jesus came the first time He was bruised, even to death (Isa 53:5). When He comes the second and third time (at the end of the Millennium) He will completely bruise the serpent's head. This bruise is fatal for all eternity. After Jesus first came, died, arose from the dead and ascended to heaven – even thirty years after these things it was written that God's people will have a part in bruising Satan's head: "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom 16:20).

So from the very beginning of man's fall, God put into motion the plan of salvation and restoration of man to Himself along with "the restoration of all things." This is the meaning of atonement – the At-One-ment with God. Christ is our Atonement. He exhausted the penalty of sin and condemnation that was against us. As we receive Christ into our lives the words of Tuesday's lesson are fitting: "Though we are sinners, though we have done wrong, we are pardoned, forgiven, and justified in His sight. This is the crucial and foundational step in the "restoration of all things (Acts 3:21)."

Man (believers) will be restored to the image of God mentally, spiritually and physically through the righteousness of Christ. His righteousness which He works within us will "move people toward being restored in God's image—physically, mentally, and spiritually." (see Thursday's lesson).

~Jerry Finneman