Thursday, April 11, 2019

1888 Message Study : The Choices We Make




This week's lesson is about God's gift of choice. The areas this lesson highlights are: (1) choosing friends, (2) choosing a life partner, and (3) choosing a life occupation. In Sunday's lesson we have this thought: "This week, we will look in a very broad way at the question of the choices we make, how we should make them, and what impact these choices can have on ourselves and our families." The impact of our choices is seen in ourselves and our families.


Let's begin by going to the beginning when God gave the gift of choice to the human family. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God which means they were "endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator – individuality, power to think and to do." Education, 27. This ability to think, and to choose, and to act involved also the consideration of alternatives for putting into practice wrong, as well as right, capabilities.


This is of special concern with regard to the freedom of choice given to humanity. Both Adam and Eve freely chose a different direction than God's way. When they came to a fork in the road, they chose the enemy's path. Because of their choices, life-changing consequences happened to them, but not to themselves only. Their life-changing consequences had, and has, eternal end results for every member of their human family.


God did not take back His gift of choice after Adam and Eve sinned. The power to choose is an eternal principle with consequences reaching into eternity. This freedom to choose continued in humanity after as well as before the fall. While it is true that humans reap the results of the wrong choices made by our first parents (and present ones), we are responsible and accountable for our own sinful choices. Persons eternally lost will be so because of their God-given freedom of choice exercised in a different way than God's choice for them.


Jesus, Himself, made an eternal choice to take Adam's place and also our place. Christ's choice has had on-going eternal consequences for Himself. He will never be the same as He was before He came to earth. He became human in order to save us from both Adam's sin and from our own sins. He will forever retain the human nature He came to save. Because of His incarnation into fallen human flesh, Christ became the Son who took the place of the first "son of God" – the first Adam (Luke 3:38). As the second and "last Adam," He was the last "Son of God." But unlike the first Adam He was made to be sin itself so "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). "He, the Sin Bearer, [endured] the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself." The Desire of Ages, 755. What an exchange! Christ became sin and we become righteous in Him.


Christ appeared "bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11). In the words of Waggoner, "God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it, and throw it away. The Judgment will reveal the fact that full and complete salvation was given to every man, and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession. Thus, every mouth will be stopped." The Glad Tidings, 22-23. It is because of their freedom of choice men and women spurn and throw away eternal salvation which God wrought out for them and gave to them, in Jesus. Consequently they will be lost for eternity.


From Monday's lesson we read, "We all know very well the importance of the choices we make. And we all know, too, how wrong choices can very negatively impact our lives and the lives of others. The question is, how can we know how to make the right choices?"


Before we consider some answers to this question, take into account some observations about the plight of thinking, choosing and doing because of today's educational system. In receiving a secular education, I was never taught how to think and to choose correctly. We were taught to regurgitate the mental cuisine we were fed in the various required classes.


We observe the same today. Education made a turn for the worse when it came to another fork in the road. The fork chosen was socialism instead of the Protestant system of education upon which America was built. Today minds are made mush through educational institutions. Students are not taught how to think and to make intelligent personal choices, but they are told what to believe and how to riot socially as demonstrated on college and university campuses today. This is group think that produces mob action; not how to make correct personal choices. They are not taught to think for themselves, but to reflect their teacher's thoughts. This is because of the systematic destruction of mental processes through false education. The consequential result is continually seen in poor choices of friends, of a life partner, and of a life occupation.


Continuing the thought of the above passage earlier from the book Education we read: "It is the work of true education to develop this power ["to think and to do"], to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen. Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves of circumstances, men who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions" (Education, 17-18). This is true Protestant education continued in the Spirit of Prophecy for us today. The break-in into our families and the robbery of the ability to think, choose and do can be changed by God's grace as we return to the question of Monday's lesson:


"How can we know how to make the right choices?" There are several Scripture references given and summarized here: prayer, willingness to obey God, to study His word diligently, to trust in God with all your heart, and to seek counsel from godly men and women. Convenience, cultural trends, peer pressure, emotions, habits, and mere preferences are unreliable guides for the choices that lead to the life God intends for us.


In closing I want to leave you with a couple practical ideas to help in learning to make proper choices. The first is to lend a hand to those who are afraid to make a choice for fear of making the wrong one.


"Long delays tire the angels. It is even more excusable to make a wrong decision sometimes than to be continually in a wavering position, to be hesitating, sometimes inclined in one direction, then in another. More perplexity and wretchedness result from thus hesitating and doubting than from sometimes moving too hastily" (Testimonies, vol 3, 497).


Think of it this way. If you seek prayerfully for God's guidance and you make a wrong choice, He will not abandon you. He will take you back to where He wants you to be. We can then learn from those mistakes. On the other hand, if we make the right choice, we will have heaven's affirmation, in time, as we see how God leads us.


"Every child [and adult] should understand the true force of the will. He should be led to see how great is the responsibility involved in this gift. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, [it is] the power of decision, or choice. Every human being possessed of reason has power to choose the right. In every experience of life, God's word to us is, 'Choose you this day whom ye will serve.' Joshua 24:15. Everyone may place his will on the side of the will of God, may choose to obey Him, and by thus linking himself with divine agencies, he may stand where nothing can force him to do evil. In every [adult,] youth, every child, lies the power, by the help of God, to form a character of integrity and to live a life of usefulness." Education, 289.


The following is a practical promise:

It is for you to yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ; and as you do this, God will immediately take possession and work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your whole nature will then be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him." Testimonies, Vol. 5, 513.4.


"Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or unto disobedience. Ibid., 513.1.


So, God's word to us continually is, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve."


~Jerry Finneman