Friday, May 26, 2017

INSIGHT #9 MAY 27, 2017

INSIGHT #9 MAY 27, 2017

Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson

"Be Who You Are"

May 27, 2017

This week's Sabbath School lesson might well be titled "Be who you are in Christ" because to "Be who we are" without being "In Christ" is not a pretty picture. To the outside world, we may appear to be in good shape---self-assured, self-confident, self-reliant with high self-esteem. However, those "self" signs are flashing a warning signal of the sinful human nature within. As Romans 3:12 tells us. "There is no one who does good, not even one." So, this week we want to explore the meaning and importance of being "In Christ" in our daily walk for Him as Christians.
Let's start with the memory text, 2 Peter 1:5-7. It is important to look at all scriptures in context, so we need to examine verses 1-4 closely first:
  1. Verse 1 – Tells us that it is through the Righteousness of Christ that we have received a "precious faith".
As the lesson points out, this faith cannot be earned, nor is it deserved, for "it is the gift of God." (Eph. 2:8). Also in Romans 12:3 we are told that God has given all of us a "measure of faith". This faith is part of the free gift of salvation for all and it is the same faith that Jesus had in his Father when He was on this earth - "the faith of Jesus". We are told that the "gospel of Christ" is the "righteousness of God" (Romans 1:16-17) and that it was planned and initiated before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). God knew exactly what faith we would need and planned accordingly.
  1. Verse 2 – Speaks of the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. This knowledge was promised to mankind since the fall (Gen. 3:15) and fulfilled in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (John 3:16-17; Gal. 4:4-5.)
  2. Verse 3 - 4 – tells us that "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness." "He hath called us to glory and virtue". "He has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature."
What power (the power of God) and what promises (the promises of God)! It is important that the power and the promises all flow from the Righteousness of Christ. It is His power, His promises, His faith and His Righteousness, all entirely of God's doing without any human contribution whatsoever (Romans 3:23-24, Gal. 2:16).
We know that faith is being sure of things hoped for (God's gift of salvation in Christ) the substance of which we have not yet fully realized (Hebrews 11:1). It is through faith (the faith of Jesus), that we connect ourselves with Jesus Christ and His crucifixion. This means that at conversion, when we believe and accept Jesus as our Saviour we effectively became one with Him and His death (second) becomes our death. In Romans 6:3, Paul tells us: "or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (In Christ).
In Romans 6, Paul is very clear that just as we die (to sin) through Christ's death we also are "alive to God in Christ Jesus" (verse 11). The "In Christ" concept or idea is a central theme of Paul's theology. Why is it important to us today? "In Christ" is based on the biblical teaching of corporate "oneness" which is a familiar concept historically and in many parts of the world even today but in western society which is primarily individualistic in thinking, it is a foreign thought. Throughout the Bible we can plainly see that all of humanity is linked together in a shared life and existence which constitutes a common unit of shared identity. This is seen in Romans 5:12-18 where we read: " just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned"; "Consequently just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men." Thus, "in Adam" we stood condemned meaning that corporately, the entire human race was condemned by Adam's sin. However, by God's miraculous plan of salvation, initiated and carried out by Him, He united in one person - Jesus Christ - our corporate humanity that needed redeeming with His one perfect divine nature. Through this wonderful union, a just and merciful God qualified Christ to become the second or last Adam representing the entire human race. (1 Cor. 15:45). At His Incarnation, Christ assumed the corporate life of all of humanity in its fallen condition (1 Cor. 1:30). And so, Paul is able to say in Romans 5:18, "so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men".
So it is that, In Christ, we have a new life which includes the faith of Jesus which in turn gives us access to the same power of God that Christ had access to when He was on this earth fully surrendered to His Father's will (John 14:10). Jesus himself speaks of this in John 15:4. He says: "Abide (remain) in Me, and I will abide (remain) 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."
In order for us to remain in Christ, we must already be in Christ which is where He puts us when we believe and accept His sacrifice on the cross, His gift to us and as already noted we become new creatures in Christ. It becomes our choice as to whether we continue to abide in Christ which in turn allows Christ through the Holy Spirit into our lives personally. A branch separated from the vine is a dead branch bearing no fruit.
And so it is, when we now look back at our memory verse that it is our response to God's unconditional agape love as reflected in Christ's death and infinite sacrifice on the cross that "In Christ" we have access to the faith of Jesus from which His virtues flow! Thus, the effort Peter is referring to is not a works program but a recognition of the power of Christ that is available to us when we are fully surrendered to His will and relying on His strength.
Ellen White recognizes the importance of abiding in Christ as we see in the following quote from Steps to Christ (p. 69 - 70):
"Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness, — all depend upon our union with Christ. It is by communion with Him, daily, hourly, — by abiding in Him, — that we are to grow in grace. He is not only the Author, but the Finisher of our faith. It is Christ first and last and always. He is to be with us, not only at the beginning and the end of our course, but at every step of the way. David says, "I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." Psalm 16:8. {SC 69.1}
Do you ask, "How am I to abide in Christ?" In the same way as you received Him at first. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." "The just shall live by faith." Colossians 2:6; Hebrews 10:38. You gave yourself to God, to be His wholly, to serve and obey Him, and you took Christ as your Saviour. You could not yourself atone for your sins or change your heart; but having given yourself to God, you believe that He for Christ's sake did all this for you. By faith you became Christ's, and by faith you are to grow up in Him — by giving and taking. You are to give all, — your heart, your will, your service, — give yourself to Him to obey all His requirements; and you must take all, — Christ, the fullness of all blessing, to abide in your heart, to be your strength, your righteousness, your everlasting helper, — to give you power to obey. {SC 69.2}
Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, "Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee." This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ." {SC 70.1}
In addition, the "In Christ" concept was a central theme of the most precious 1888 message brought to us by Waggoner and Jones. Here is an example from Jones' thoughts (1895 GCB #18):
"Now it is written of the Christian: "Ye are kept by the power of God through faith." That is done in Christ. We yield to Christ; Christ abides in us, giving us His mind. That mind of Christ enables our wicked self to be in the background. The mind of Christ--"let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"--puts our wicked selves beneath and keeps ourselves back and keeps us from asserting ourselves, for any manifestation of ourself is of itself sin. When the mind of Christ puts ourselves beneath, that gives the Father a chance to work with us and keep us from sinning. And thus God "worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Thus it is always the Father and Christ and ourselves. It is the Father manifested in us through Christ, and in Christ. The mind of Christ empties us of our sinful selves and keeps us from asserting ourselves in order that God, the Father, may join Himself to us and work against the power of sin and keep us from sinning. Thus Christ "is our peace, who hath made both [God and us] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity . . . for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace."So it is always the Father and Christ and we; we, the sinners; God the sinless; Christ joining the sinless One to the sinful one and in Himself abolishing the enmity, emptying self in us, in order that God and we may be one, and thus make one new man, so making peace. And thus the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through, or in, Jesus Christ.  {February 25, 1895 ATJ, GCB 349.5}"
In closing, may we be who we are in Christ, appreciating His love and sacrifice for us, believing in Him, trusting in Him and relying on Him always as we look forward to Him coming to take us home! 

John and Monica Campbell
Raul Diaz