“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pursuit of happiness

Joined with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness fills out the description of the true purpose of man. The deep thinker who coined that now famous phrase had read and studied widely in the field of law and philosophy and religion.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Happiness, being more illusive than the first two unalienable rights, cannot be nailed down except by precluding it with a more definable, measurable verb. Life alone is not enough for the intelligent human. Life and liberty are not enough. If we were amoebas without intelligence, life alone would suffice. But because we are intelligent we demand freedoms of thought and expression. Yet, life and liberty are not enough. We are also spiritual beings. Thus, the pursuit of happiness.

So the American Declaration of Independence speaks to the physical, mental, and spiritual components of the nature of man.

But how do we get to that illusive happiness? We can pursue it all our life long; will we ever attain it? I believe we cannot find it in ourselves. There are so many diversions in life, especially in America. Almost all of them focus on pleasing self. We can spend our whole life running from one self-pleasure to another, as so many have done, and never discover happiness. This is because real happiness for self is found in the paradox of forgetting self instead of remembering it.

But we are sinners. Sin has soaked into our being, we are marinated in it, and sin is selfishness. Our parents can’t help us out of this sad condition. Psychologists and psychiatrists can’t remove sin. Of all the taxpayers’ money poured into science, none has produced a cure for the most basic cause of humanity’s trouble.

Why can’t science find the answer? It could, but it has divorced itself from its Creator, and refuses to listen to His counsel. Science is married to another counselor, who has been leading it further from the truth and from its purpose in uplifting the world.

Forgetfulness of self is the path to happiness and uplifting troubled man. It is also the answer to liberty and life. A good definition of liberty is being equally free and independent. This definition gives freedom to others—forgetting self. And our life is ministered to as we lose sight of self. Its because of self-serving that we find the good things creating disease and turning to corruption in our hands.

But humanity has this endemic problem of selfishness, self-centeredness, self-preservation, self-justification, self-congratulation, self-exaltation, self-pity, and all the other self-prefixed words. We seem to be in a race to build up a world that is far departed from the natural order handed down from the beginning. The last vestige of our natural character, made in the image of our Maker, is quickly being replaced by a character mold that pampers and nourishes self.

How do we escape selfishness? To the extent that we separate from selfishness happiness will grow. So how can it happen? How will we be delivered from this body of death?

Trust in someone. Faith. No other way will we lay down our sword to protect the all-important self than if we can trust in another. Every relationship stands or falls depending on the presence or absence of trust. Only within a relationship can selfishness be dissolved and washed out of our system.

But the bond found in a friendship, marriage, or even a nuclear family is not big enough to remove the selfishness that plagues us so. Those human relationships don’t go deep enough, the issues surrounding those social units don’t demand powerfully enough. Yes, forgiveness is required; self-forgetfulness is required in human relationships. But not to the degree that brings a complete removal of self, to have sin not just cut off at ground level, but pulled up by the roots. This is the big need of the world today.

So how do we get to this illusive trust? The Bible. No, its not necessarily the easiest book to read. But it immediately appeals to that comatose power of trust which is atrophied in us all. Do we recognize that appeal to trust? Some will see it sooner than others, depending on the amount of life's abuse or neglect suffered, but all can eventually see it if they persist in looking for it.

What is it about the Bible that appeals to our trust? The reality of it all; the real people, common, everyday people who made mistakes or faithfully did what was right. The dating of events, the connections with verifiable outside rulers, the people and places and things which left evidence that archeologists have unearthed over the past two centuries. The inside view of flawed or personable foreign kings and leaders who outside the inspired record were found in their own histories to be untouchable and infallible gods worthy of worship.

What else? The mercy, the abundance of mercy booming from the Bible. The forbearance, the pathos of God and His prophets, the promises to Israel and to us today, the Good Tidings of God's acceptance.

Anything else? The justice. The righteousness, truth, judgment on evil exemplified therein. Mercy and justice, the two polar elements of love—deep, responsible, true love. Justice is scary to the self-preserving heart. Justice and righteousness and truth immediately cause a wall of distrust to separate us and protect us from them.

We’re all for mercy—mercy for us, that is. Our selfish hearts are all for justice—justice for the bad guy, that is. But when the table is turned, and we must give mercy to the “bad guy” or accept justice for ourselves, we feel very nervous! Suddenly, our trust in the Book becomes tenuous; and our faith in the Person behind the Book blows out the window. We become like the courageous lion in the Wizard of Oz; we go running away and jump out a window.

But if we will endure the discomfort of fearful, albeit equitable, justice, accepting that the finger of conviction can point at us as well as the other person; if we will accept for ourselves and appreciate the mercy that was proffered others; then, we will find the Bible and Divine mercy and justice—Divine love—slowly but surely transforming our minds and selfish natures. For it is written “God considered Abraham blameless despite all the bad he had done. Now it was not written for his sake alone that God forgave him, but for us also, if we will believe Him to forgive us.” (Rom. 4:22-24). If it was written down, it was for all the world who would read it afterwards.

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walking with Paul through Romans 8

The Propitiation
This chapter and any explanation of the salvation of God mean nothing from an intellectual approach. Paul doesn’t go deeply into the cross and Calvary because he has done that already for the Roman believers and this epistle is reiterating to them the nuts and bolts of the structure of salvation.

Therefore I would like to revisit the cross as revealed in the powerful 53rd chapter of Isaiah:

“He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.” Vs. 2. God sent His only beloved Son, as a tender plant, One in whom was no sin and in whom God was well pleased. The infinitely deep and tender ties between Them both, we will never fully comprehend. But God has allowed us to taste of that divine Parent/Child bond when He gave us the natural love for our earthly children.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Vs. 3,4. Until now, this prophecy describes the human rejection and abuse of the Son of God which tore at His heart.

We are all co-offenders together of Jesus, co-offenders, whether Christian or athiest; for all have sinned and harmed the soul of their Maker. Yet, the Father brought an unfathomable burden upon Christ. It was terrible to His soul that we rejected Him, but His highest love was for His Father, who also must reject Him. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Vs. 5. The bitterness of sin, that “wrath of God” abiding on us (Jn. 3:36), which causes us no rest day nor night (Rev. 14:11), the chastisement of our peace due to the separation from God caused by sin crashed upon His head like the fire that consumed Elijah’s evening sacrifice.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Vs. 6. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief…. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Vs. 10,11. It pleased God to destroy His Son. To save us? What kind of God is this? What value system does He have? What are we that He should do this for us? Are we so needful for His own heart’s peace that He would make His own beloved Son pass through the damnation for high treason? Is the race of corrupt humans so valuable to Him that He should spend all His wrath upon sin, heap all of His pent-up fury and frustration and sorrow which sin has caused Him and His immense creation, upon His only Son rather than upon the billions of corrupt rebels on this raging planet in rebellion? Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.

When Jesus went into Gethsemane, He knew how high the stakes were, how much was weighing in the balances. He only could complete the atonement, He alone knew how much would be lost if the sacrifice wasn’t good enough. It must satisfy the infinite God. It must satisfy every nuance in the claims and every insinuation in the charges brought, or that could ever be brought, against His character and reputation. This never to be repeated event must endure throughout eternity. Only the Son of God could accomplish this, only the Son could cooperate with the Father’s omniscient remedy to the great controversy. Only He understood the mystery strategy against the arch rebel, his allegations and hidden accusations. Only Christ could endure the omnipotent wrath of His beloved Father. “By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.” Vs.11.

In the midst of infernal soul darkness, wracked by a total barrage of physical pain, and surrounded by every disguised and open temptation Satan could muster, Jesus announced the charter of the atonement, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34). His sacrifice was enough. He could have fallen under the heavy load, He could have proven Satan’s claim true, that it is impossible to obey God’s will; but Jesus succeeded, even under the harshest conditions. He became obedient unto death. “When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Vs. 10.

“By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” vs. 11,12.

Christ’s victory cry, “It is finished,” echoed and re-echoed in the vast heavenly throne. It passed from mouth to mouth throughout illimitable space. The Father is proven trustworthy! His reputation is proven clean! When He justifies the ungodly, He will be trusted by His faithful universe and be considered just for doing so. He who knows the heart and thoughts of His creation can accept true repentance from humbled rebels and forgive them. He can take sinners and rehabilitate them by His grace without damaging His demand of perfect obedience from the rest of unfallen creation, and perfectly restore a lost world to that perfect obedience.

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:11-13).

“A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.” (Ps. 22:30,31).

Effect of Christ’s Propitiation
The following is a commentary on the 8th chapter of Romans:

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

“Therefore now” speaks of resolution to the preceding chapter’s futile exercises of the unconverted heart to obey God’s law. “…no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” speaks of justification and says that justification forms the only foundation of sanctification (walking “after the Spirit.”) Thus, at the outset of Paul’s treatise on victory over sin, he makes true obedience firmly dependent on reconciliation with God and His Law.

2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The power that reconciliation with God in Christ brings, automatically and immediately releases the sinner from his old human efforts to manufacture righteousness. All the distress was killing him, and he happily gives it up. This is a recap on Paul’s statement in chapter 7, “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (vs. 6.) His newfound faith in a living, loving Jesus puts energy into the mind and soul and body of the rebel-turned-child of God.

When the sinner surrenders to the pressure of the Holy Spirit, he sorrows for his sin and hatefully turns away from it. Thus, the sinner reconciles with God; God no longer is the enemy, but a wonderful Counselor.

“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature.” (Desire of Ages, p. 324.)

3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

In the extreme justice brought to bear upon the Son of God who on the cross was treated as sin, the wrath of God against sin, unmixed with even the slightest mercy, indirectly destroys any loyalty we have toward sin. The more we go to the cross of Christ, the stronger will be our reticence toward presuming that God will license even the smallest sin. His anger spent on sin shakes us to the core. From the cross we see that there can never be any excuse for sin. He condemned sin. We also see the inestimable mercy of God through His forcing the display of grace in the unshakable claim, which He knew was in His Son, to keep His beloved rebel world. Surely, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

“In this life we can only begin to understand the wonderful theme of redemption. With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the cross; yet with the utmost stretch of our mental powers we fail to grasp its full significance.” (Great Controversy, p. 651).

“When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice. We see in the midst of the throne One bearing in hands and feet and side the marks of the suffering endured to reconcile man to God. We see a Father, infinite, dwelling in light unapproachable, yet receiving us to Himself through the merits of His Son. The cloud of vengeance that threatened only misery and despair, in the light reflected from the cross reveals the writing of God: Live, sinner, live! ye penitent, believing souls, live! I have paid a ransom.
In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us.” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 333, 334).

4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

“The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin.” (Desire of Ages, p. 324).

5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

That is, those who follow after the flesh have never reconciled, or have lost that reconciliation they once had, with God through the work He did in Christ.

6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

“Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ sets us ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8:2.” (Desire of Ages, p. 466).

8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Even the slightest work of obedience without the reconciliation cannot satisfy the infinite God. The only thing that is acceptable to God is the human heart reconciled to Him.

9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

10And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

That nature which longed for sin is dead; now the divine nature brings new life to disinterested love and righteousness.

11But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.

When we see the wrath of God against sin, our spirits die with the crucified One. But when we see Christ’s longing to keep us with Himself for eternity, regardless of His Father’s terror on Him for embracing us, when we see His sacrifice has satisfied God and we see Him raised from the tomb and ascended to be our intercessor forever, we are revived from the damnation at the crucifixion.

12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

“In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.” (Desire of Ages, p. 466).

So long as we retain an unrenewed heart, we are dying. Our life habits are sapping the soul, mind, and body of life. But if we walk in reconciliation and reconnection with God through justification ministered to us by the work of the Spirit of God, we have the power to rid our daily life of it’s old practices; we will have life and health, and that more abundantly.

14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (1Jn 3:19-21).

17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil. 3:10-11).

19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Are we patiently waiting and groaning for a world and body without sin?

20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

“The whole family in heaven.” (Eph. 3:15).

23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
This is a work within us, as Paul wrote above, “we…groan within ourselves.” vs. 23.

27And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

The love to God that attends justification brings with it the love to obey Him and to keep His commandments. Commandment keeping and allegiance to the authority of the Law of God will always characterize true justification and will be the test of its validity.

“He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” (1Jn. 2:4-6).

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”(2Cor. 13: 5).

29For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

If we were justified, then we must have been called, predestinated to be conformed into His image, foreknown, and be on our way to glorification (the grand finale of our redemption). But it’s possible to lose our right standing with God through justification. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15). Let us keep our robe of righteousness tightly around us and not shame ourselves and our Lord. If the salt has lost its savor, let us repugnantly throw it out, whole-heartedly trample it under foot, and then go get some new salt and be re-justified.

31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

32He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is a higher judge than God? Who can condemn if God has justified and obedience to His Law is the fruit in the life? If our justification is current, then in spite of the references to our past by others, we can safely forget “those things which are behind,” and reach forth “unto those things which are before,” pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14).

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jesus our protitiation

Take your pet lamb, your only beloved lamb. If you don’t have a lamb, get your puppy or your kitten or whatever pet you own. Carry him on your shoulders or in your arms, as you have done so many times before. And while he lays on a pile of stones or on a table out back, pick up a sharp knife, and rehearse in your mind the act you are about to perform. Beg the little animal to forgive you for what you are about to do and beg God to forgive you for your act in the crime you have recently committed and which hounds your conscience. However long it takes, weep and pray for the pain you have caused God, your loved ones whom you have hurt, and also this little pet who had nothing to do with your weaknesses and flaws which seem to so define who you are.

Then, hold down that little friend of yours whom you have fed and brought up and nurtured, who loves you and trusts you as its perfect benefactor in everything. Next, plunge that knife into the heart of your beloved little friend. You cannot refrain from this act; you have to kill this substitute for your sin. You have no choice in this matter; someone else’s life must be sacrificed because of you. Do not stop short of pushing that sharp edge all the way through the fine baby fur and soft, supple skin, and send the point of that knife all the way to the heart.

Don’t stop now! Do the painful act! You must, or you will bear your own iniquity and be cut off from any hope in God forever! God demands this! He has demanded it from the beginning! Do it! Justice requires this because of your sin! Justice must be satisfied! —Divine justice, no matter how badly you feel about it! Justice must be done! Now do it!!!

Gripping with a nerveless, trembling hand, in goes the knife. You stab the helpless thing only once and then drop the knife. Take careful notice of the little one’s face. Watch his eyes as they look to yours for help because that is what he has always done before. Watch his mouth as he sadly stares at you and tries to frame the quiet words, “Please help me, Master. Please take away the pain; oh, take away the pain!... Please, dear Master, please…do…something….” Observe that not a thought of revenge comes to his mind—not a single thought. All you see is love and forgiveness, in spite of your aggression. Keep a careful vigil over this whole scene with your beloved animal, until shock overcomes it and it passes silently into oblivion.

Then, unless you can coldly refrain yourself, collapse on the dead body of that little friend. Weep and let your fury know no limit for the incredible injustice of your sin and what it caused this innocent being. Let its blood stain your face and hands and clothes and let it paint your conscience and resolution and all the halls of your memory. Let its pain become you. Know the mercy and justice of God. Mercy provided you, and justice poured upon Himself. And go and sin no more.

We are approaching the Passover/Easter season. The ancient memorial of the act of the ages is just upon us. The cross of Christ paid the costly price for a world in rebellion in order to reclaim our attention and regain our loyalty.

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of Him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:24-26). “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1Pet. 2:22-25).

We become dead to sin and live unto righteousness. Thus God can be just while declaring us innocent. This is a pure act of gracious judicial maneuvering on the irrecoverable sinner’s behalf. No one deserves it, yet no one can deny its power to change confirmed criminals into truly loving and good people. Reclaimed by grace and justice alone—there’s no other way. No atheistic, secular agency can do what the grace of God will do to rehabilitate sinners into the way of life when they see the justice for their sins paid by Himself.

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:2-6).

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Law fulfilled in us

“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Cor. 15:56,57).

Oh, how I love God’s Law, it is my meditation all the day. This might sound strangely like Psalm 119:97, but it is my experience. But I can also say that I have known that same Law to be the strength of sin. Odd, that the very same transcript of God’s character can have two very different results!

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7). Yet, the strength of sin is that very same Law. How can this be? Certainly, this isn’t doubletalk! Surely, the Bible is one whole, and “the scripture cannot be broken.” (Jn. 10:35).

It isn’t doubletalk. It is very plain to see and essential that we do see. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh ….” (Rom. 8:3). The problem is not with God’s Law; the problem is with our fallen nature. Our natural rebellion weakens the authority of the Law of God—in our minds. Nowhere else in the universe does God’s laws pose a problem, except in the reprobate heart of man. No one else has consternation with righteousness (except for the arch rebel and all his cohort hosts).

But our problem became God’s problem. Why? Because the Father couldn’t live without us. While we are lost, He cannot be comforted. Until we are safely home again and beyond the possibility of falling into Satan’s hands, They cannot rest. The Plan of Salvation is the Father’s design, and perfectly agreed upon by His self-sacrificing Son, our wonderful Counsellor and Savior.

So, what can our Creator do to fix our resistance to His Law, the Law of His coming government where He wants us all to be? He must give us a new heart. All our work to reconcile ourselves with His Law can never result in reconciliation. This is His work, wholly His department. We are born rebels and cannot change ourselves. Without His new heart we will live and die rebels.

“God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:3,4). Jesus showed us that to attempt obedience through our old rebellious strength could never work. The true example, which He gave, was to live in a right relation with the Giver of the Law, not to rely on even His own strength to keep the Law.

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (Jn. 5:19). “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” (Jn. 5:30). “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things.” (Jn. 8:28). “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5).

Thus, through His example of walking in His Father’s love, He condemned obedience through any other means than through that Spirit of holy love. “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” (Jn. 17:23).

Already being His children because we have bowed to the authority of His Law and have sought His infinite mercy and comfort, we can have “the righteousness of the law … fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The walking dead are attempting the law

Hello J___,

I just looked up the lyrics. I’ve not heard the song before. I don’t know the music. Do you know how I can hear them? How could we practice, except on the anniversary Sabbath? I will have other friends with me and I wouldn’t be able to practice then. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but also with M____, I think I’ve worn out my welcome with her. She has made it pretty clear she doesn’t want any more pressure from me. We’re still on speaking terms, but only on a secular basis. So if you want to ask her to sing, you will have to be the one to ask. And I recently asked her again if she might join us at the 100th anniversary of SVA and she said she would not be able to. (Maybe for her the religion pill from last year is good enough for another decade.) It really saddens me. :(

I love you brother. I’m so happy we still have our faith. You are a real encouragement to me. So many are barely awake. Jesus is so far away from them. All they can see is the law according to Ellen White. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Spirit of Prophecy. But when people can’t see Jesus, they misinterpret EGW, and she found this to be true the whole time she was serving the Lord. She served Jesus, and in the process found a powerful resource to uphold and enforce God’s Law. Serving Him is the only way we can ever genuinely love God’s Law and uphold it. Serving the law doesn’t make us uphold it. The high standard becomes a galling yoke, and as Paul put it, “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Rom.7:5,6).

Serving the rules and taboos of the people only leads to “going through the motions” as Paul puts it. And death. This is why the church of today is the walking dead. But we are prisoners of hope. The Remnant church will come alive again one day soon. And I, for one, want to be part of that when it happens. The other denominations won’t have that experience at its core. They will have people waking up also and joining us, but only in the SDA denomination will the revival happen at its core. It will happen with us because we still have God’s Law, and thus we alone can know the fullness of His grace.

The other denominations can only pretend or imagine to have His grace. Many offshoot SDAs believe they have His grace, but theirs is only pretended grace also because they forsook God’s Law in the Spirit of Prophecy, in an effort to follow the empty promises of the Evangelicals. The real revival is yet to come. That one will be characterized by primitive godliness. Ooo, I can hardly wait! There will be true victory over sin seen in many lives. That will be exciting. To see the joy in the faces of so many who found the power of God unto salvation because they were finally able to discern the true character and love of Christ for a ravenously rebellious world.

Well, J___, I hope I didn’t talk you ear off. We need to exhort one another daily, and so much more as we see the Day approaching, which it is. Bless you, brother.


Just so no one misunderstands this email, I quote more from Paul. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Rom. 7:4).

When the cross is revealed to the conscience through the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, then and only then will we become dead to the law and bring forth fruit to God instead of to the law. Before we have the change of heart that only God can give, all our efforts to keep the Law are dead works. All we can possibly do to keep the Law is without faith and leads only to being good upstanding citizens and good moral church people—pure, unadulterated “death warmed over.”

Some SDAs still interpret this law Paul refers to as the ceremonial law, as they also do of the law in Galatians. With this wrong understanding they will never find the way of escape from the suffocating legalism to which they are bound captives. Legalism is the only alternative for someone who desires to keep the rules of the high standard, without ever being forced to come face to face with Jesus and His love. And it is truly a sickening alternative—the reason many Christians, Bible-believing, health conscious Christians, are so sick and physically suffering. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (1Cor. 11:30).

Certainly, the law is “ordained to life.” (Rom. 7:10). And when “the righteousness of the law” is “fulfilled in us,” we will truly be living. (Rom. 8:4). However, we must first wrestle with Jesus and be given a new nature before we will ever be in the right relation to the Law to be able to keep it. Until then our efforts are all wasted and truly demoralizing, not only to the individual attempting the impossible obedience, but also to everyone around them who must endure his maligning of God’s character.

By attempting obedience without first receiving the gracious Spirit of God we break the 3rd commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7). Our only true option in living the Christian life is to find the grace of God in Jesus and let it transform us. Surrendered, submissive to God—truly a miracle we can never manufacture. New creatures, in newness of spirit, keeping the Law of God in all its loving righteousness.

What a blessing to know the fulfillment to Abraham’s promise, “I will make of thee a great …blessing.” (Gen. 12:2).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Find Jesus' wonderful grace

Hi A________,

Its real good to hear from you. Its good to hear I’m missed. Being missed is the real meaning of life. Being praised for some talent or genius or some other ability means nothing. Just simply being missed by friends means everything.

I know what you mean by truth without love. It just doesn’t make any sense. Yet loveless truth happens all too often. It makes me wonder why? How does that happen? We say the Bible is a book of love from a God of love. Yet few Christians know how to love. How can these things be? Where did we go wrong? I’ve been looking hard at this question lately. If we look closely, I believe we will see so much in the Bible that creates turbulence in the soul. Quite possibly, the love of God is all there in everything, but I don’t think we pick up on any of it. At the best, we force ourselves to believe in His love, without any evidence from the Word. I hope you read that last sentence twice.

If you look in the Old or New Testaments and ask, Am I hearing Someone who presents Himself as winning to my trust and soul? I think you will see with me that we are programmed to see only the cold, hard truth being communicated. The Friend doesn’t come through. If He did, every Bible reading Christian would be winning and warm-hearted, a living, breathing, loving soul. Contrariwise, Christianity is the home of Crusades, Inquisitions, legalism, and self-righteous indignation. And more pervasive than those is the cold apathy and jaded indifference so widespread. “Dead in sin” is written in every forehead.

Shouldn’t the SDAs have more to offer the world that this?

Now, before you think I’m apostatizing, let me reassure you I’m not!!! But we’ve been told to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. All those thoughts above, come from a torn, ravaged heart-searching.

My conclusion: we have every right and reason to look for a Savior from sin who meets the needs of hearts crushed by a non-stop barrage of truth given to us from the Bible. Our very existence as a remnant depends on this. We must find that appealing personality that is in the Prince of peace—the Person the disciple saw. “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (Jn. 17:12).

I don’t think we’ve found it, and neither has the rest of the Christian world. It will only come by heart-searching and honest, genuine prayer straight to Jesus, demanding from Him His grace and love. And the last one there is a rotten egg.

Take care, sister. I love you much because I see your earnest, longing need of God. Thank you so much for all your encouragement.