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