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Insight #4 April 22, 2017
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Second Quarter 2017 Adult Sabbath School Lesson

"Special Relationships"

April 22, 2017


            A gospel message that is not practical and effective in our daily lives, relationships, and interactions with others – is not a gospel message!  2 Tim. 2:5 says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  If our gospel is not powerful or effective enough to dramatically influence how we relate to our spouses, our family, our coworkers above and below us, and our government, then it is meaningless – and a waste of time.
            The 1888 message is the gospel message that has the power to heal, enhance, elevate, and dignify, all our social interactions and relationships.  Notice the statement we are all familiar with from the pen of E.G.White.  “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.”  TM91-92.  “Obedience to all the commandments of God” is a theological way of saying, to love and respect all others in your “social relationships” – which is the focus of our lesson this week.
            This “obedience” can feel messy at times due to the various personalities, characters, and circumstances that come in play in our families, at work, and in our social and civic sphere.  The 1888 message is a complete message.  A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner wrote prolifically on how the gospel principles are applied in our daily lives – practically!  To look at all the situations raised by our passages today would take a whole book, but let us look at how Waggoner did a study on how we are to relate to governments and see if that gives us a template for discerning the truths in the rest of our passage for today.  May God give us His wisdom to discern how to represent Him in any given situation.
 
             “Subject to God.- God's word admonishes us to be subject to the powers that be, but it never countenances disobedience to God. God has never ordained any power to be above Himself. It is the height of folly for us to argue from this chapter that it is the duty of Christians to obey human laws when they conflict with the law of God. God does not grant indulgence to sin; much less does He command us to sin. We are not to be subject to the powers that be instead of to God, but because we are subject to God. "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Col. 3:17.
             Subjection and Obedience.- Ordinarily subjection implies obedience. When we read that Jesus was subject to His parents, we are sure that He was obedient to them. So when we are exhorted to be subject to the powers that be, the natural conclusion is that we are to be obedient to the laws. But it must never be forgotten that God is above all; that both individual and national power comes from Him; and that He has a right to the undivided service of every soul. We are to obey God all the time, and to be subject to human power as well, but always so that it does not involve disobedience to God.
             Cannot Serve Two Masters.- "No man can serve two masters. . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The reason is that God and mammon are opposite in their demands. Now everybody knows that there have often been human laws that conflicted with God's commandments. There was once a law in America in the days of slavery requiring every man to do all in his power to return fugitive slaves to their masters. But God's word said, "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee." Deut. 23:15. In that case it was impossible to obey the law of the land without disobeying God; and obedience to God made disobedience to the human law absolutely necessary. Men had to make their choice as to whom they would obey. The Christian can not hesitate a moment in his choice. The law that contradicts God's law is nothing. "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." Prov. 21:30.
             Every Ordinance of Man. - "Some reader may quote 1 Peter 2:13 as opposed to this. It says, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." Others may say that we are to submit to every ordinance except when it is opposed to God's law. No exception, however, is implied, nor is any necessary. Neither does the text teach obedience to human laws that contradict God's law. The error arises from a misapprehension of the word "ordinance." It is supposed that this word means "law," but a careful reading will show anybody that this supposition is a mistake. Let us read the 13th and 14th verses carefully: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance [Greek, creation] of man for the Lord's sake." Well, what are these ordinances or creations to which we are to be subject? It makes no difference; to all, "whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him." It is very clear that the text says nothing whatever about laws, but only about rulers. The exhortation is precisely the same as that in the 13th of Romans.
             Submissive yet Disobedient. - Let the reader follow on in the chapter last quoted from, and he will see that the submission enjoined does not involve obedience to wicked laws. We are exhorted: "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." We are to be subject to rightful authority, whether the exerciser of that authority be good and gentle, or froward. Then come the words, "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." 1 Peter 2:17-19. Now a man could not for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, unless conscience toward God had compelled him to disobey some command laid upon him. This statement, immediately following the exhortation to be submissive, plainly shows that disobedience is contemplated as a probability when those in authority are "froward." This is emphasized by the reference to Christ, who suffered wrongfully, yet made no resistance. "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." Isa. 53:7. He was condemned for His loyalty to the truth, which He would not compromise in the least, and yet He was submissive to the authority of the rulers. The apostle says that in this He left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. {March 21, 1895 EJW, PTUK 180.7}
             Christians and Civil Government. - "For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Phil. 3:20. Those who through Christ have access by one Spirit unto the Father "are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Eph. 2:19. Let every man concern himself with the affairs of his own country, and not with those of another. For an American to come to England and presume to lecture Parliament for the way in which it conducts the business of Government, or for an Englishman to go to America and distinguish himself by his advice to the authorities, would be the height of impertinence. But if they should begin actively to interfere in the conduct of public affairs, or should stand for office, they would speedily be shown that they had no business there. Let them become naturalised, and then they may speak and act as much as they please; but then they must hold their peace if they return to the country to which they once owned allegiance. No man can be active in the affairs of two governments at the same time.
             This applies to the Government of heaven as related to earthly governments, as well as to different countries on earth. The one who is a citizen of the heavenly country has no business to meddle with the affairs of earthly governments. He must leave that business to those who acknowledge this earth to be their home. If earthly rulers think to regulate the affairs pertaining to the kingdom of God, they are guilty of gross presumption, to say the least. But if they may not of right presume to regulate the affairs of the kingdom of heaven, much less may the citizens of heaven interfere in the affairs of earthly kingdoms. {March 21, 1895 EJW, PTUK}
~Bob Hunsaker