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Insight #11 June 11, 2016
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Second Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Last Day Events
June 11, 2016

 
    The Second Coming of Christ is the climax of the Christian faith.  Isaiah 43:7 says that we were created for His glory, namely, to reflect the character of Christ.  Sin marred that plan, but through the Gospel and the New Covenant promises Christ will complete that plan in the people who are found faithful at the end of time.  The final events on earth are actually a blessing, as they provide us with the trials which are intended to result in a fuller faith, total surrender, and the revelation of Christ's love to a fallen world, as the whole earth is lit with His glory.  The Gospel and the Cleansing of the Sanctuary are inextricably linked, and they will result in a people to stand for the truth in the last days, when there are few with the faithful, and most of the earth has fallen for the deceptions of the "beast" power of Revelation 13. 
    In Jesus' call to the Jewish leaders to repent and accept Him, we can see a similar theme to that of the Laodicean Church at the end of time.  Those God loves He rebukes, chastens, and calls to repentance, but He also offers full fellowship and an abiding relationship.  God had chosen the Jewish people to be a "light to the Gentiles" and to bring "salvation" to the "ends of the earth."  Is. 49:6.  They had not proven to be faithful, nor to repent, and God finally had to, as a part of the 490 prophecy and the principles of His Kingdom, move away from the Jewish nation for the anticipated positive response of the church in the New Covenant.  Gal. 3:29 describes them as the faithful Israel, or the "seed of Abraham" and heirs to the promises.  There is a positive lesson to be seen here.  Jesus was faithful in attempting to reach Israel to the end of His ministry and time on earth, and to the ending of the Daniel 9 prophecy.  It reveals the character of God's agape love, willing to sacrifice and to suffer long with us in patience, trying to reach our hearts through the manifestation of His love.  The Old Covenant was the same gospel we have, typified in the sacrificial system, depicting the substitutionary atonement and thus the depths of God's love for fallen humanity.  They, sadly, chose salvation through the works of the law instead of a faith response, never understanding the need to yield to the righteousness of God in Christ.  Laodicea today faces the same choice, to replace "self righteousness" with the free gift of Christ's righteousness, a miracle and free gift to be received in living faith, a faith which works by love and purifies the soul. 
    Matthew 24, in a dual way, reveals the ultimate fate of Jerusalem as a result of Israel's intransgiency, but also is a lesson to us as to the ultimate fate of the world if they do not receive Christ.  Many things are experienced as a result of the continuing rejection of Christ and the false hope of the promises (lies) of Satan, namely, that sin will be beneficial and will elevate us to a state of wisdom, godhood, and freedom, instead of the truth of the bondage and slavery of sin.  God allows winds of doctrine, deceptions, natural disasters, etc. as a way of speaking to the minds and hearts of people in the world that there was a decided changed needed in choice, heart, motive, action, and faith response.  The Great Controversy must and will come to its intended close, in which all have ample opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and to see the utimate outworking of both Satan's plan to take the throne from God, and the ultimate truth of the power of Love and the healing nature of that love in those who respond to God's message and drawing.
    The Bible promises that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  As Malachi 3 tells us, Christ will refine us as gold tried in the fire, for the true experience of righteousness by faith is a life demonstrating the fruit of the spirit and total abandonment in faith and surrender to Christ.  The trials will include the various deceptions of Satan, including deception regarding the Second Coming itself.  Satan is said to deceive through miracles, signs, and wonders.  The "remnant" will instead prioritize the power of love, and the character of God, as opposed to external events and power over love.  Satan will come claiming to be Jesus, but those who have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, and have come to know the character of Christ, will recognize the deceiver and not fall for His attempts to lure people into a false security and ecumenical unity that will both disparage the Bible and subtly express an independent spirit and will against Christ. 
    The one main point of Matthew 24, which also extends into Matthew 25, is a "watchfulness", a recognition of our continual need to keep our eyes upon Christ and not let daily living, or the problems and pressures of the world steal the seed out of our hearts.  We are told to stay faithful even if there is seeming delay, for daily expressing our faith in God, and our duty to the world forms a character of perseverance, endurance, and bondedness with the heart of Christ.  We live in an evil world, one increasingly filled with worldliness, unbelief, spiritualism, false teachings, carnality, secular humanism, eastern mysticism, skepticism, a denial of creation, and many other issues with which prove to be a test to our spiritual endurance and peace.  The Gospel, in the life of Christ in us, produces a "hope of glory" and a faith that will be sustained as the sin problem comes to an end.  The Gospel promises to both forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, to give us courage, faith, love, and a sound mind, and an ever growing commitment and love relationship with Jesus.  I encourage all to stay faithful, to watch and wait, and to believe that Jesus will return again soon.

~Pastor Tom Cusack