Friday, April 05, 2019

1888 Message Study : The Rhythms of Life




          We begin a new quarter of Sabbath School studies entitled, "Family Seasons".  The cover photo of two new young parents with their newborn baby direct our focus to the topic for this quarter as we study "the family" with all the influences and circumstances that affect it and are affected by it.


          With the destructive influence of sin invading nearly every aspect of our society and individual identity, it is no wonder that our discernment of God's ideal and plan for families (husband, wife, marriage, parent, children, brother, sister) is dimly understood and in need of Biblical clarity as well as inspired commentary from Ellen White.


          As we begin our study, it's vital for us to remember – as the first lesson points out – that "the Bible is a book of relationships" (p. 11 quarterly).  It makes sense that the Bible is a book of relationships because it reveals the character of its author Who is fundamentally relational!


          God in His very character and constitution is relational.  From eternity past there have been three individual beings composing one God.  And they existed for all eternity past together – and together in loving relationship.  "You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (John17:24).  The word for "world" in John17 is the Greek word "kosmos".  The verse literally reads, "God loved His Son Jesus before they began creating anything in the universe"!


          We as human beings are, at our core, relational individuals, relational beings.  And we are that way because we were created by relational God.  A God who was relational from eternity past.  In order for us to have a glimpse of their relationship with one another they have self-identified to us as, "God the Father", "God the Son", and "God the Holy Spirit".  The Godhead compose a family unit!  Not in a gender-based sense.  Not in a hierarchical sense.  But in an intimate, familial, devoted, affectionate, personal sense!


          The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are a family made up of three members who love and like each other.  They care about each other.  The fact that GOD IS RELATIONAL, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN, is one of the strongest arguments for the truth of the doctrine of the trinity.  If there ever was a time when God was not a family, but rather was a singular being, then it could not be said that God was – in His very essence – and had always been, RELATIONAL.


          For those who don't believe in the trinitarian nature of God from eternity past, they must admit that God at His very essence is not relational – and therefore cannot be love – as love by its very nature is relational.  If God existed in eternity past as an isolated singularity, there would be no "relationships" by definition, and thus there would be no love possible by definition.  Thankfully for us, God has been a relational, loving trinity for eternity.


And it was out of Their love and care for each other, that They wanted to share Their love and care – and this led Them to create "others" to include in Their family.  "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," (Ephesians 3:14-15).  At its very core, the intelligent life in the universe from God to angels to other created beings such as humanity, is a family entity.


The universe is not run as a business with God the owner giving orders to all His employees.  The universe is not run as a dictatorship with God as the head power broker controlling minions based on a system of dispensing rewards and punishments.  The universe is not even a "cooperative" where everyone shares to receive and give with God as the head.  The universe is fundamentally a family!  The angels see each other – and they help us – as brothers and sisters in God's family.  God sees us as a parent sees His children.  We are part of a massive social network infinitely bigger than Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.  We are part of a loving, social, relational network called the family of heaven and earth according to Paul in Ephesians 3.


Sadly, one member of the family decided to break with the family and take as many as possible with him in a rebellion.  He chose that path of self-concern and self-interest as the primary "family" attitude – and this always leads to discord and alienation.  Other members of the family chose to continue on the path of self-giving and self-sacrifice.  And these two types of "family" relationships are present in our world today.


"The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts.  He should gain a knowledge of its grand central theme, of God's original purpose for the world, of the rise of the great controversy, and of the work of redemption.  He should understand the nature of the two principles that are contending for supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records of history and prophecy, to the great consummation.  He should see how this controversy enters into every phase of human experience; how in every act of life he himself reveals the one or the other of the two antagonistic motives; and how, whether he will or not, he is even now deciding upon which side of the controversy he will be found." {Ed 190.2}.


As we study these lessons this quarter, may we keep in mind the two ways of relating to the other members of the family – even the rebellious members of the family – and reveal the great motive that prompted the heart of God to share His family intimacy with us.  And as we reveal the great motive of God's heart, may we win over some rebellious brothers and sisters to God's side of the family.


"The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian." 
{AG 276.7}.



~Bob Hunsaker