Friday, December 29, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #13 December 30, 2017

"Christian Living"
DECEMBER 30, 2017
In Romans, Paul has done a thorough job of explaining and outlining the everlasting gospel focusing on God's agape love and His infinite sacrifice as manifested by Christ's birth, death, life, and resurrection and the meaning it has for each and every one of us. Now in the closing chapters of Romans, Paul wants to bring it home and show us how it can become real in our lives.
The title of our lesson, "Christian Living", could just as well be summarized by the phrase "Living for Others".  But with our selfish human natures, how is that even remotely possible?  Our human love might extend to caring for and making sacrifices for close friends and family but, even so, it looks for them to love us back in return and is self-centered—looking for a response and what's in our best interests. God's agape love is the exact opposite---His love is totally unselfish, it is infinite and is given to the entire universe, including the whole human race.  Whether we respond or not, His love is a wonderful gift.  Really, God is giving us Himself—it's who He is!—"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16.
At the incarnation, Christ, as the second or last Adam, put the entire human race into Himself, and through His birth, life, death and resurrection paid the price for humanity's sin.  In His own words (John 15:4), Christ promises to us: "Remain (abide) in Me, and I will remain (abide) in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself: it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me."
It is still our choice as to whether we remain in Christ, but if we do, His power and His love will remain in us through the Holy Spirit in our heart and in our lives. It is His love, His power, and His strength that allows us as Christians to live for others and not ourselves.
Now, with these thoughts in mind, we look at Romans 14 and see that we are not to judge or condemn one another (vs 10: But why does thou judge thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ).
As Waggoner states, (Waggoner on Romans pp. 196-197): "We have learned that the members of the church of Christ are not judges one of another, but fellow servants of one common Lord.  We are not taught that is a matter of indifference whether or not we keep the commandments of God—quite the contrary, since we are all to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and be judged by them—but we are taught that in those things concerning which the law of God does not speak particularly, one man's ways are as good as another's.  We learned even further that even one who may be faulty with respect to an express commandment, is not to be dealt with harshly, and condemned.  Such a course cannot help one, and, besides, we have no right to do so, since we are but servants."
Continuing on, as we look at Romans 14: 14-23, there are many that take these verses as a license to eat or drink what we wish whether it be clean or unclean.  However, we need to look at these verses in context.  In Paul's day, the issue creating conflict was food that had been dedicated to pagan idols and was subsequently sold by their priests in the markets to raise funds at very good prices.
Let's look at Waggoner's comments on this topic (Waggoner on Romans pp. 197-198):
"If we consider well the subject under consideration, we shall not wrest this scripture from its connection.  The thing presented from the beginning of the chapter is the case of a man with so little real knowledge of Christ that he thinks righteousness is to be obtained by the eating of certain kinds of food, or by not eating certain things.  The idea clearly conveyed by the entire chapter is that it is by faith, and not by eating and drinking, that we are saved.
A little consideration of the question of clean and unclean food will help us much.  There is a strange idea prevalent, to the effect that things that were at one time unfit for food are perfectly wholesome now.  Many people seem to think that even unclean beasts are made clean by the gospel.  They forget that Christ purifies men, not beast and reptiles. Enlightenment brings carefulness in the selection of food."
Jack Sequeira's book, "Romans, The Clearest Gospel of All "(RCG) is also a very thorough study of Romans and provides some additional insights for our benefit (RCG pp.213-216), Referring to Romans 14:14 he says:
"We should not equate this statement about uncleanliness with the health laws of Leviticus 11.  Paul is not discussing the health issue.  He is discussing food offered to idols.  Is it right or wrong for a Christian to buy market food which was once offered to idols? Clearly Paul is not discussing rules of healthful living which are still viable to Christians.  When God gives health laws in Leviticus, (or in the Spirit of Prophecy) He is not giving these rules as requirements for salvation.  He is giving them for the good of His people.
God is not only our Savior, He is our Creator (and Re-Creator).  As our Creator, He knows what is best for our health.  He wants our bodies, our souls, and our spirits to be kept blameless (1 Corinthians 1:8) until the coming of the Lord.  God gave health rules and many other rules.  We take these rules and apply them to ourselves, as Christians, not because we want to be saved but because we want to have bodies that are healthy so that God can use us more fully for His glory.
Christians must never take the guidelines God gives us in the Old Testament regarding lifestyle, eating, or dressing, as requirements for salvation.  Men and women are saved only one way—by grace.  True justification by faith creates a relationship to God and fellowmen that differs radically from the pre-conversion way of life.  Before conversion, human beings live as they please.  They do as they please, it's no one else's business.  But now they live for God, uplifting Him before all, doing nothing to cause either believer or unbeliever to reject Christ.
Genuine Christians live unto God and for the sake of others.  These become controlling factors in whatever they do.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whatever Christians do, eat, or drink, let it be to the glory of God.  God wants Christians to live for others.
In Romans 14:18-23 we read: "For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men." What a wonderful statement!  Christians should live lives that please God and bring honor to the cause of God. Verse 19 says, "Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another".
True Christianity brings peace between human beings—not only between man and God.  Justification by faith gives peace with God but also produces a lifestyle conducive to peace between man and man.
Christian living involves a cross—self-denial (Luke 9:23).  In exchange, Christ lives within.  The life Christ lived 2000 years ago He can live in the Christian today, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The world needs to see, not how good Christians are, but how the goodness of God can be manifested in them. In other words, Paul says "You are God's children.  Please behave as God's children.  Let the world see.  Let the Christian church be an example of the unity of the Trinity.  Let us be of one heart—one mind—so that the world recognizes that the gospel is the power of God to redeem us from selfishness as well as condemnation."
God wants nothing but the best for us, His children.  He wants us to be healthy and strong in mind, body, and spirit. God's biblical health laws were intended for our good as are the health laws brought forth in the Spirit of Prophecy for His last day church.  In Jeremiah 29:11, He says: "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future."
God truly loves us, but He does not force and allows us to choose. Similarly, as we discussed at the beginning, if we are truly abiding or remaining in Christ, then we will be living for others and neither will we be judging, forcing, or criticizing our Christian brothers and sisters (or anyone else).  Rather, we will be seeking to build them up, help where we can, and look to share with them all the blessings that God has in store for them and us.  May you be blessed as you study this week's Sabbath school lesson.

~John and Monica Campbell

Friday, December 22, 2017

Living on the Altar

Living on the Altar

In Romans 12:1, Paul invites us to become living sacrifices.  Let us read the text, 

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

Most animal sacrifices take place on an altar, and are too dreadful to consider even occasionally, let alone on a daily basis.  However, as gruesome as an animal sacrifice may seem, we modern readers need to become familiar with the Old Testament sacrificial system, as it accurately symbolizes various aspects of Christ's death on our behalf. The Greek word for 'sacrifice' or 'victim' is thusia: which is the noun form.  The verb form is thuo, which means to kill by fire or immolate, slay or slaughter. In addition, the word for 'living' in Greek is zao, it is the root word for zoe, the word used for eternal life. However, Paul uses another word for life in relation to Sin which is bios.  To become a living sacrifice as Paul suggests, these opposing ideas must be reconciled in our minds. A cursory reading of Romans 12:1, 2 can elicit the question, how can we live eternally while at the same time die daily? God's principle of living as a sacrifice, is stated in Galatians, and says, "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

Let us consider what this would mean if someone were the literal sacrifice. Once on the altar, we'd hope they would stay there until self was consumed. But unfortunately, we have all seen self rise in those who we thought were beyond that level of selfishness, such as when Moses struck the rock twice, or when King David took Bathsheba or how about when Martha had anxious care and reported her sister Mary to Jesus. Since we are to die to self daily, when we resist, others are negatively impacted, as is obvious from our previous examples. This reminds me of the warning Jesus gave regarding the choice to be sacrificed, "If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire" (Matt. 18:8, NKJV). In other words, if self rises through the members of your body cut them off and discard them. Jesus was not, of course, recommending amputation, but was using imagery to emphasize the importance of separation from sin.  

Instead of self-amputation, what the Lord requires of us is willingness to allow Him to remove objectionable selfish traits of character, much as a surgeon would -- with skill and precision, remove a diseased organ. Paul calls this our reasonable service. 

It is through this continual process of sacrifice that our minds are renewed, our characters transformed and we have the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2, Eph 4:23, Phil 2:5:1:6, 1 Cor. 2:16). This renewal gives evidence of the goodness, perfection, and Love of God, revealing His acceptable will. All those who have gone before us have endured this process: the patriarchs, the prophets, Christ's true followers, and even Christ Himself (Hebrews 11). All have been living sacrifices. Of Christ it is said," For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).
In other words, the very process Christ allows us to be put through, He endured and is, therefore, our empathetic helper and comforter, empowering us to persevere as we die daily. Paul states in Hebrew 4:15, "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

The suffering Christ, who prevailed by faith, trusting to His Father's goodness-- gained the victory on our behalf. We who are actively watching His experience through the scripture may receive the same victories and may have heart transformation as did those who have gone before us. Like Isaac, we too can be willing to be placed on the altar. Ellen White sums this up well. Let us read,

"Greater is He that is in the heart of the faithful, than he that controls the hearts of unbelievers. Complain not bitterly of the trial which comes upon you, but let your eyes be directed to Christ, who has clothed His divinity with humanity, in order that we may understand how great His interest in us is, since He has identified Himself with suffering humanity. He tasted the cup of human sorrow, He was afflicted in all our afflictions, He was made perfect through suffering, tempted in all points like as humanity is tempted, in order that He might succor those who are in temptation" (YRP 131).

The Lord is wooing, and convincing us to allow Him to change us and thus our ways from the inside out. Unfortunately, not all answer the call. And out of those who do, many, once on the altar grow weary and discouraged by the length of the process. Gradually they free themselves from that which they consider as unnecessary suffering. But, it is not really the suffering that makes them leave: it is instead their distrust of Christ and unwillingness to be led by the Holy Spirit; it is unbelief. They are convinced of their need, but are unconverted. In the history of the Israelites, it can be seen that those who left the altar, left because they did not believe (Hebrews 3:19). They did not receive the Truth in the love of it, by faith. Instead they had a selfish kind of love -- pretending not to see the truth. In contrast, the Gentiles, who heard the word in faith, were gladly sacrificed on the altar and remained there until the work was complete. Paul warns us to be careful less we remove ourselves from the altar as did the Jews. Let us read the warning in Hebrews 3:12,
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."

The question to us is, will we trust Jesus enough to remain on the altar? When the sacrifice of an animal took place, it was bound so that it would not flee. It had no choice in the matter. Contrast this with the willingness of our forefather Isaac, who allowed himself to be bound to the altar, and of Jesus Himself who was nailed to His cross. In light of this, will we allow the Lord to will in us to will and to do of His good pleasure?

Friday, December 08, 2017

"Children of the Promise"

Sabbath School Insight

"Children of the Promise"

December 9, 2017

"Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth." (Romans 9:18).
It is a mystery, but this is the truth:
"The human agent sees what he has to contend with--a strange power opposed to the idea of attaining the perfection that Christ holds out." Maranatha, p. 274.
When one considers the options--living with Christ in the heavenly mansions throughout eternity or experiencing a horrific separation from God and a fearful looking forward to eternal death--it is astounding to think that anyone would (and in fact most of the world's populace will) choose the latter. Why? Because of that strange power that works in us and opposes any notion of our becoming Christlike in character.
This strange power is at work in all of us -- Jew and Gentile alike. The pull of our sinful flesh is real and powerful, as we have already seen in Romans 7. Yet the book of Romans doesn't leave us in a state of hopelessness. In this book Paul lifts up Christ as the sacrifice and permanent solution for the sin problem. Paul teaches that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. His words bring hope.
After Paul's thrilling gospel summary in Romans 8, culminating in his conclusion that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, Paul pauses to field questions, as it were, from his reading audience, which cover topics he has already touched on in the previous eight chapters. 
Let's imagine some of the questions that might have been brewing in the minds of the newly-converted Christian Jews:
Question: Paul, you've experienced a huge paradigm shift in recent years. You've gone from being an influential Pharisee to a converted Christian. How do you feel about your former Jewish colleagues in ministry?
Paul: "I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh. . . "
Romans 9:2,3.
Note: Paul's remarks show a more-than-human love for his brethren, like Moses' love for the children of Israel when he asked God to blot out his name from the book of life. Moses would rather die with Israel than be saved without them; we see a similar evidence of God's agape love working in Paul's heart. 
Question: Paul, doesn't God promise that all Israel will be saved? Don't we have assurance of salvation because we are Jews?
Paul: "They are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham."
Romans 9:6,7.
Question: What do you mean? I am a Jew.
Paul: "That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed." Romans 9:8.
Note: Abraham believed God and it was counted to Him as righteousness. "The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ's day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. . . . The Pharisees claimed to be children of Abraham, and boasted of their possession of the oracles of God; yet these advantages did not preserve them from selfishness, malignity, greed for gain, and the basest hypocrisy. They thought themselves the greatest religionists of the world, but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of glory.
"The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they have not bought the truth into practical life. They have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and grace that come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world."
Desire of Ages, p. 309.
Question: Does God treat people differently according to whether or not they choose to serve him?
Paul: "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? . . . For the Scriptures says to the Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.' Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens."
Note: "One thing is certain: [this verse] does not teach us, as is commonly supposed, that God brought Pharaoh to the throne for the purpose of wreaking his vengeance upon him.
"The purpose of God in raising Pharaoh up, or causing him to stand, was that He might show to him and in him His power, and that His name might be declared throughout all the earth. This purpose was accomplished in the destruction of Pharaoh because of his stubborn resistance. But it would have been accomplished just as well, and much better for Pharaoh if he had listened to the word of God. Pharaoh saw God's power, but would not believe. If he had believed, he would have been saved, because the power of God is salvation to every one that believeth." Waggoner on Romans, p. 155.
In considering the story Paul uses in this example, we see that God's purpose for Pharaoh--and all men--is that they would be saved. He showers us with blessings and comforts us in trial. Gently, persistently, He leads us along. When we resist, as Pharaoh did, He utilizes stronger measures to get our attention and bring us to repentance. In Pharaoh's case, his heart only grew harder. 
In a sense, Seventh-day Adventists are the spiritual descendants of the Jewish people. To this church God has entrusted light to be shared with the world: His law of love, the covenants, the gospel, His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, and news of our soon-coming Savior. The judgment will reveal our heart response to this sacred calling.
Paul quotes Hosea, "I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." Romans 9:25, 26.
God had called the Jews, His people, to be a light to the Gentiles. Nevertheless, the Jews rejected this light while many Gentiles responded to the gospel message. Now He calls the Gentiles "His people."
"Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth." Romans 9:27,28.
The true Israel of God are those who believe God's promises and take Him at His word. God is not looking for numbers. The world needs to see a demonstration of God's agape love in real people, not just in the dusty pages of history. He has promised to cut His work short in righteousness. The earth will be lightened with His glory, and Jesus soon will come.
"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." Romans 8:19.
~Patti Guthrie
Raul Diaz

Friday, December 01, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 December 2, 2017

DECEMBER 2, 2017
First, Universal Corporate Amnesty was given to the human race the moment Adam sinned. Jesus, at that moment, took the whole human race into Himself including the condemnation and penalty for all our sins based on His future perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross (2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 3:23, 24; Rom. 5:18; I Tim 4:9-11)
"After the transgression of Adam, the Lord spoke no longer directly with man; the human race was given into the hands of Christ, and all communication came through Him to the world" (White, FE p.237).
Second, "In Jesus Christ" experientially means he or she has accepted, from the heart, Christ as his or her personal Savior and Lord by faith and are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the active agent in salvation making the work of the Father, and the Son in the eternal salvation effective in the believer.
The Holy Spirit is the third living person of the Godhead. He has all the personal characteristics of a person: He loves (Rom. 15:30); speaks Acts 8:29; constrained and restrains the Apostle Paul (Acts 16:6, 7); can search (1 Cor 2:10); cry (Gal:4:6); pray (Rom. 8:26); testify (John 15:26, 27); teach (John 14:26); lead into truth (Rom. 8:14); be grieved (Eph. 4:30);and blasphemed (Mark 3:29).
There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers --- The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit --- those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will cooperate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ" (White, Evangelism p. 615)
What the Law Could Not Do vss. 3, 4: Jesus did for us and will do through us if we do not resist. He is our only Savior, and by faith we are "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6) Guaranteed!
We purpose in our heart, in love to Jesus, to never commit a known sin, by commission or omission. "Satan will come to you saying, "You are a sinner"…. "Yes I am a sinner, and for that reason, I have a Savior" (White, HP p. 116) "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins (and occasional besetting sins) He is faithful and just to forgive (Gr. aphiemi, separate us from) us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9), in contrast to forgiveness (Gr. pardon) as in Colossians 2:13. We praise God. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made the believer free from the law of sin in the flesh.
The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer giving assurance of salvation in Christ, peace that passes all understanding, bringing deliverance from a sinful lifestyle. The true believer depends completely on the righteousness of Christ and He has been given a perfect history and present continuous perfection "in Christ", his substitute by grace through faith.
Carnal professed Christians have compromised their "faith" in Christ with the principles of the world depending on human wisdom and strength rather than the Spirit and "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." They may believe the theory of the truth but are no longer being transformed by God's unconditional, changeless, self-denying love in sharing Him with others by the power of their lives and personal testimonies, and like their Savior ministering to the lost and oppressed.  
We should anticipate the sorrows, the difficulties, the troubles of others. We should enter into the joys and cares of both high and low, rich and poor. "Freely you have received', Christ says, "freely give" (Matt. 10:8). All around us are poor tried souls that need sympathizing words and helpful deeds (White, COL p. 385).
They may have once experienced the joy and power of knowing Christ but have lost their first love. To be carnally minded is death.
Jesus died to give us the freedom to choose our life's top priority, living to change our world for Christ, or floating along in carnal pleasure. Paul is writing to those who profess Christ as he addresses them as brethren.
"But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (vs. 9).
Through living in the Spirit we are Sons and daughters of God. Joyfully suffering for Christ as we wait for our deliverance at Christ's coming. The Spirit helps our weakness presenting before the Father our needs in the language of heaven, making intercession for us. Therefore, "We know all things work together for God to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (instruments in saving the lost) " (vs. 8).
He foreknew us and, "predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son" (vs. 29) that our lives and words declare Him to be the firstborn of all believers in their heart. Through continual faith and surrender in spite of condemnation and opposition, nothing or no one, can separate us from Jesus. "As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels or principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:36-39)
~Lloyd Knecht

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #7 November 18, 2017

"Overcoming Sin"
November 18 2017
Paul extends his discussion of righteousness by faith to include the true fruits of faith, and the working of true righteousness in one's life. You often hear many people say "We are saved by grace", but often grace is not sufficiently understood. For many, grace means that God saves people and forgives them, but they limit the work of righteousness to that of a legal, forensic transaction, without an accompanying heart change revealed in the life.
Romans 6:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 
When we believe in Christ as our Savior and our righteousness, true faith leads to a change of heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the life of Christ lived in us, and we experience progressive victory over sin and sanctification of character. True faith works by love, (Gal. 5:6), and purifies the soul. (2 Cor. 7:1). Paul is now dealing with an issue that is at the heart of the Gospel, the Sanctuary message, and the experience, ultimately, that God's people are called to fully experience at the end of time. Jesus did not come to save us in our sins, but from them, both in terms of the penalty for sin, the power of sin in our characters, and ultimately, the presence of sin in our natures. I have heard many say, "You can't stop sinning", but Paul understand that as we identify with the cross and the death of Christ, symbolized in baptism, we truly can rise to a new life. 
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
As Galatians tells us, if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We can identify fully with Christ and His death to sin, so that we no longer need to serve the principle of sin, or self. Greater is He that is within you, than he which is in the world. There is nothing too hard for God. 
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
We are not "under the law" as believers. What does this mean? It means we are trusting in the merits of Christ, instead of seeking salvation by works of the law, and thus we are not under either the condemnation, or power, of the law, for we have been freed through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. 
We have been called to holiness, to character perfection. Many struggle with that concept, but as Mary, we can say, "so be it." We can allow God to perform what He has promised, to write His law in our hearts. The Gospel is linked with the heavenly sanctuary, and ultimately, the Most Holy Place, where we experience the life of Christ en grafted into our hearts and minds forever. Perfection is both a goal, and also a present moment possibility. The next time you are tempted to sin, don't. That is all we have, the next moment, and we can live a life of freedom in the next moment, trusting in God, and "working out", what He has first worked within. 
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
This is the true Gospel, a gospel which gives us victory over sinning, and the fruit of holiness in the life. Paul wants everyone to experience the true power of love in our lives.
The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.
~Pastor Tom Cusack

Friday, November 10, 2017

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #6 November 11, 2017

Sabbath School Insight #6
"Adam and Jesus"
November 11, 2017
Romans 5 is very important in the points expressed as a part of the 1888 Message.  Paul has established the truth of Righteousness by Faith alone.  Salvation is by faith alone, in the merits of Christ, obtained for the human race through His love and grace.  Romans 5 then goes further to look at the issues of Adam vs. Christ, and the results of both lives in the history of sin and salvation.
The issues raised in Romans 5 and the realization of what Jesus accomplished for the human race, corporately and legally, in the redemption of mankind, has been discussed in many avenues in our church in the last few years, and I feel a deep responsibility that people understand what Jesus did, and did not do, through His life, death, and resurrection. Justification, received by faith, results in forgiveness of sins, power to stand, and hope in the glory of God, or His character reproduced in us.
I Corinthians 15:1-4 reveals the Gospel, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  Man did not, and cannot contribute to this finished work of redemption.  We are called, in John 6:28-29, to believe in Christ as the Savior of mankind.  When we place faith in Christ, we have peace, freedom from condemnation, and the promise of a changed heart through the power of love in the Holy Spirit.  See Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:1.
Paul reveals the history of the First and Second Adam, and the results of their lives on the problem of sin in the human race.  Jesus came to rewrite the history of the human race, and to undo what Adam did in the fall into sin.
God took the initiative in our salvation, dying for the human race while we were His enemies.  We were saved from wrath by Him.  This is true historically, as well as in terms of present assurance and future reality.  Adam and Eve should have perished due to their sin, but because of the intervention of God, mankind had a second chance to return to loyalty and allegiance to God.  When we are in right standing with God, we have peace, and the hope of eternal life, through the grace and forbearance of God.
Paul expresses the truth that due to Adam's sin, condemnation came upon the human race, in him as the head of the human race.  In the same way, justification unto life came upon all men, through the Victory of Christ at the Cross.  What does this mean, and what does it not mean?  I Timothy 4:10 tells us that Christ is "the Savior of ALL men, especially those that believe."  
Jesus saved us all,
in Him as the Head of Humanity or the 2nd Adam, in paying the redemption price, saving the world, in Adam. 
We have quotes in inspiration that reflect the Biblical point.
See Selected Messages, I, p. 252. 
"In assuming humanity Christ took the part of every human being, He was the Head of Humanity.  A being Divine and human, with His long arm He could encircle humanity, while with His Divine arm, He could lay hold of the throne of the Infinite."
Letter 67, 1902.
"Christ came to the earth and made an offering of such value that He redeemed the race." Ministry of Healing, p. 90.
"With His own blood He has signed the emancipation papers of the race." Letter 136, 1902.
"The world does not acknowledge that, at an infinite cost Christ has purchased the human race.  They do not acknowledge that by creation and by redemption, He holds a just claim to every human being.  But as the redeemer of the fallen race, He has been given the deed of possession, which entitles Him to claim them as His property."
Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
The entire human race was legally justified, unto life, redeemed from the penalty of sin, and reconciled to God through Christ's death.  This, of course, does not mean that every human being, in their own personal spiritual experience, are "born again."
What Christ has accomplished for every human being, in order to be personally experienced, must be united with total faith and surrender in the merits of Christ for His freedom from condemnation in the judgment. When we do so, we stand before God as though we have never sinned, and moreover, He changes the heart, brings us back into right relationship, gives us a new heart and a new spirit, causes us to walk in His commandments, and fills us with His love.
Mankind must, themselves, be reconciled to God in their hearts and minds.  We are to submit by faith to the righteousness of God, which alone is our title to Heaven.  God promises to sanctify the character of those who believe in Christ. 
We are all in the water, drowning, in our experience, before Christ.  God has purchased the lifeboat, given us the life preserver, and our name is inscribed on a seat in the "ark" of salvation.  We are called to enter into Christ, by faith, and to abide in Him.
Waggoner on Romans.   "Justification of Life." -- "By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, He has given himself to every man. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift.  p. 5, Para. 44, [WROM]. It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth. There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it. So many spurn the gift offered so freely.  p. 5, Para. 45, [WROM].
~Pastor Tom Cusack

Friday, November 03, 2017

1888 Sabbath School Insight

Sabbath School Insight #5
November 4, 2017

Was Abraham justified by his works? James 2:21. Or was he justified by faith and not by works? Romans 4:1-6. Our study this week is central to understanding Paul's theology of righteousness by faith alone, using a very practical example, that of the life of Abraham. Is salvation by faith alone? Is it faith plus works? Or is it a third option, that brings into the play the issue of good works in the life of the person of faith?
The Laodicean condition is self-righteousness. The Jews of Paul's day had the same issue. Romans 9-10, which we will study further in a subsequent lesson, clearly state that the Jews sought salvation by work of the law, instead of faith, and trusted to their own righteousness, instead of surrendering to the righteousness of God.
The phrase "righteousness of God" refers to a divinely produced righteousness in the perfect life and atoning sacrifice of Christ, then offered as a gift to the human race, having accomplished the legal justification of the race "In Christ" as the Head of Humanity and the Second Adam. I have often heard, after preaching on the beautiful truth and miracle of righteousness by faith, "yes, but we ALSO have to obey." That is another form of faith plus works. The Jews in the first century argued for circumcision and the keeping of the law as the means to obtaining justification, and men continually wrestle with the question of their "part" in the plan of salvation.
Romans 4 presents three phases in the plan of salvation.
The promise of divine blessing (the promise of grace.)
The human response to that divine gift.
The divine pronouncement of righteousness credited to those who believe (Justification.)
Paul, in Romans 5, of course reveals the resulting experience of a changed heart and the divine implanting of the Holy Spirit, all predicated on the Justification unto Life obtained for all mankind, to be received by faith alone.
When we understand Romans 4, we begin to truly appreciate salvation as a miracle, as something beyond man's ability to produce through human effort, and the unspeakable gift that Christ is to the human race. We also begin to see very clearly the universality of the gospel to both Jew and Gentile, as Abraham is the "father of us all." This clearly negates dispensationalism, the theology that drives the "secret rapture", and the idea that there is more than one Gospel and one Plan of Salvation.
Paul brings out that in the Old Testament, Abraham believed and it was credited to Him as righteousness, to illustrate that the Old Testament, as well as the new, present the one gospel of grace. Hebrews 4:2 tells us that they had the same Gospel preached to them that we have. To keep a balanced perspective, Romans 3:31 points out that faith does not make void the law of God, but establishes it, because the New Covenant promise, the experience of salvation, was available in the OT as well. See Psalm 40:8, Psalm 37:31, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 6:6. The OT people had the same gospel we do, and the Gospel granted to Abraham was the same given to Israel at Sinai, typified in the sanctuary services which prefigured the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word which He commanded to a thousand generations;16 Even of the covenant which He made with Abraham, and of His oath unto Isaac; 17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
1 Chronicles 16:15-17
Salvation is by grace and not of debt. Paul is arguing that if man had to work to obtain his salvation, it would eliminate the reality of grace, and make the basis of salvation the debt man owed God through sin. He shows that Abraham experienced justification by faith before He was circumcised making it impossible that circumcision was the means of obtaining the grace of God.
And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform." Romans 4:21
Faith in God is revealed in this text, that we place implicit trust in God, in full surrender that what God has promised, He will perform. COL, p. 333.
"All His biddings are enablings" The key verse which harmonizes faith and works is Galatians 5:6… "A faith which works by love." Faith works by love and purifies the soul. True faith produces an experience of heart change, giving us new motives, a new focus, and the power of the Gospel to make us sons and daughters of God. Ephesians 2:10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works, which God has foreordained that we should walk in them."
A "hidden treasure" in this chapter is the fact that God honors Abraham's faith, in stating that He did not stumble in unbelief, but was strong in faith. Yet doesn't that trouble you? The fact is, Abraham DID stumble in unbelief, with Hagar, resulting in the birth of Ishmael, who along with his mother had to eventually be cast out of the camp. The good news is that when we finally gain victory over the unbelief of our life, God does not remember our sin, or hold it against us, but rejoices in the victory. I find tremendous comfort in that aspect of Romans 4.
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all. Romans 4:16
Christ is the surety of the promises of God.
~Tom Cusack
Raul Diaz