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Insights #10 December 6, 2014
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Fourth Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Weep and Howl!
For the week of December 6, 2014
 
One of the primary purposes of the 1888 message, was to bring a gospel message to the Seventh-day Adventist church that demonstrated the power of faith to produce righteousness.  Not a message that promoted faith alone, or that promoted righteousness alone, but that demonstrated to the world and the on-looking universe that faith actually does work through love.  Righteousness by faith is actually righteousness in the life, not merely righteousness “applied” to the life, or righteousness “covering” the life, but actual righteousness in the life.  Righteousness – the thoughts and feelings and behavior that are motivated by self-sacrificing love – is the goal of the gospel.
    
Ellen White brought out this reality in her summative statement about the Minneapolis message:

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.  {TM 91.2}

Did you see it?  It presented “justification by faith,” that reveals itself in righteousness.  Faith isn’t merely a fiduciary exchange whereby we purchase salvation with faith.  Faith isn’t to accomplish a book-keeping hurdle that God has in the books of heaven.  Faith is a productive reality.  Faith is a causative agent.  Faith causes, it produces, righteousness – heavenly thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Our lesson this week talks about righteousness as it applies to financial matters.  How we acquire money, and how we use money.  Acquiring and using money in “right” ways are practical aspects of “doing” righteousness.  How we acquire and use our dollars and cents, reveal righteousness or selfishness.  It reveals love or evil.  It reveals compassion and wisdom, or ego and delusion.  

And as we’ve already seen, the path that produces right use of money (righteousness) is the path of faith.  The path that produces Godly spending and giving of money (righteousness) is the path of a heart appreciation of the love of God as manifested in the life and death of Christ (faith).  The 1888 message has the power within it to cause us to use money righteously.
    
Notice in the following passage how E.J. Waggoner speaks about the right view of value – and money is merely one measure of value:

'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' Mark viii. 36, 37.

Many a man has exchanged his soul for something far less than a world. No man this side of Adam ever owned a continent. Very few have more than a few square miles of the earth's surface, or hold even this much by more than a precarious tenure. The vast majority have never possessed more than a few hundreds or thousands of pounds; yet even this is sufficient to blind the eyes of men to the value of their souls. Men have bartered away their souls for a little worldly honour or a moment's pleasure. They are making just such bargains to-day. They do not do this understandingly of course; but they do it because their eyes are blinded by the god of this world, and they have no realisation of what the soul is worth.

Yet these same persons have a vivid sense of their own individual importance. They think that no position on earth is too high for them, and no honour too good for them. They are ready and anxious to be exalted above their fellow-men. They live as if it were their aim to make themselves the centre around which everything else ought rightfully to revolve.

But the prophet David, with mind enlightened by a higher wisdom, exclaimed, "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained,-what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" Ps. viii. 3, 4. Man, considered by himself, becomes very small when the eye looks over creation; so small that, as an individual, he sinks into absolute nothingness. What is the globe itself, upon which man dwells? Astronomy reveals it to be nothing but a tiny speck among the myriads of lights that fill the heavens,-in which it is lost like a grain of sand upon the seashore! And what is the nation itself to which an individual belongs? It is only one among hundreds of other nations that have existed upon the earth since time began. And what is he himself? Only one among the countless myriads that have been born and lived and moved upon the earth since it became the home of the human family,-an indistinguishable speck upon an indistinguishable speck, compared with a great creation which exists and moves and lives and fills the immensity of space, upheld by the life of God!

But only God Himself can estimate the soul at its true value; and He has revealed His estimate to the sight of man. The cross of Calvary tells what the soul is worth to God; and its worth to Him is also its worth to us. For we belong to Him, and were created for His pleasure and His glory. But apart from God the worth of the soul is lost. Without Him life would not be worth living. The sinner apart from God would eventually long for death. Connected with God, the soul is of infinite value; but severed from Him it is lost both to the individual and to Himself.

The cross of Calvary is the link that connects the soul with God. Life has its value to us by virtue of that alone. Let us say therefore with the apostle, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Gal. vi. 14. {October 12, 1893 EJW, PTUK}

As we experience the love of God that energizes our faith and leads to true righteousness, that manifests itself in our use of finances, may we appreciate Waggoner’s true statement that our lives have value only as they are connected to Calvary.  Money, in and of itself, produces no value, but is a measure of how we value things.  If we value others, and if we value the sacrifice of Jesus, it will be manifested in the use we make of our money (righteousness) for His cause and His kingdom.  May He be first and last and all in our finances, as well as every other corner of our lives.
-Bob Hunsaker