Friday, August 12, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #7 August 13, 2016

INSIGHT #7 AUGUST 13, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Desired Their Good
August 13, 2016

The title of our lesson this week is, "Jesus Desired Their Good".  This statement is true for all people, for all time, in all circumstances, in all the universe.  Jesus is the "exact representation" of the Father, and thus we can know that for all people, for all time, in all circumstances, in all the universe, God desires only good for us, and for everyone – angel, saint, or sinner. 

This is one manifestation of agape.  Agape desire only the good for others.  1Cor.13 tells us that agape hopes all and only good things.  It believes all and only good things.  It keeps no account of wrongs.  Since God is love, we know that this is a revelation of the truth about God – and we see this clearly and definitively lived out in Jesus life.  Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit desire only good for us, and only good for every human being, whether they profess belief in God or not.

"The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses" (Rom.8:26) – so we know that the Holy Spirit is on our side.  "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom.8:31-32) – so we know that God the Father is on our side.  "Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." (Jn.13:1) – so we know that Jesus, God the Son, loves us and is on our side.  So – the whole Godhead is on our side, and desires only our good.

Now perhaps someone may read this who is not a Christian, or not religious, or perhaps an atheist, and agree that God's desiring only their good may be true for the Christian or for the religious person, but certainly not true for an atheist!  But, the Bible tells us that God is, "no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34), and that "God shows personal favoritism to no man" (Gal.2:6).  So with this, any man, believer or unbeliever, atheist or agnostic, saint or sinner, save or lost, can have assurance that God desires only their good.

Take courage, it is the love of God, the goodness of God, that convinces us of the opportunity to spend eternity with a God who relates to His creation like this.  The life of Jesus demonstrates that to all people in all places and circumstances, Jesus (God) desires only our good.  This is love.  This is agape.  This is the heart of the 1888 message that God sent to the Seventh-day Adventist church over 100 years ago.  It was not an  abstract argument about the 10 horns in the book of Daniel.  It wasn't an esoteric argument about the law in Galatians.  It was, fundamentally, a presentation of the love and beauty of character that resides in the heart of God and was manifested in the life of Jesus.

If God so loved the world that He gave us His Son, what more could He do to convince us that He desires only and always our good.  Paul recognized this idea that God desires only our good, and articulated it in Rom.8, in terms of agape:
"35 Who shall ever separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . .  37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]. 38 For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

As you try and take in truth that God always and only desires our good – even at the end of the millennium – be blessed by this closing  quote of A.T.Jones about the love of God.

"The power (of love) is the greatest power in the universe. It is the power of God; for "God is love." And being the greatest power in the universe, it is the power bequeathed to the Christian Church for the accomplishment of her mission in the world.

It is the power of love that is represented by the cross of Calvary. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son." And the Son of God so loved the lost human family that he voluntarily descended from his throne of glory to hang as a malefactor upon the instrument of torture and death.

The channel of this power—the channel of love—is self-sacrifice. By self-sacrifice, therefore, the Christian Church is to accomplish her appointed work for mankind. In nothing is self to be exalted or ministered unto. There can be no seeking after earthly power, no grasping for worldly honor or position. The Head of the Church renounced the power, the honor and glory that he had in heaven, and sought none of these upon the earth; and so long as she is directed by her Head, the church will manifest only His spirit and character to the world.

The power of love is the opposite of the love of power. This reversal of the divine principle came about in the early history of the church, and there was a strife in the church as to which should be the greatest. And after many years of this strife, the bishop of Rome—the pope—was elevated to the seat of supreme authority and power, —the power not of love and self-sacrifice, but of authority over men, and of worldly honor. The pope became—what he has ever since continued to be—a mighty factor in politics. And when the church engages now in political strife, she is moved by the same spirit which led the church into politics in the early centuries.

As much of political power as was possessed by the dying Son of God upon the cross, as much of worldly honor and preeminence as was then his, so much and only that may properly be held and exercised by the Christian Church to-day." {September 29, 1898 ATJ, AMS 598}