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Insight #4 April 28, 2018
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SECOND QUARTER 2018
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #4
APRIL 28, 2018
“SALVATION AND THE END TIME”
 
Christ our Righteousness

What happens when we reject, ignore or misinterpret a message from the Lord? Consider Sarah and Abraham. Ishmael is the answer, and with it, the many centuries of conflict and violence. Consider Lot’s wife – a pillar of salt is the answer. Consider Jonah – even though he was a prophet, he, refusing to heed God’s message, turned and fled in the opposite direction. Consequently, he suffered through a terrible storm, was thrown into the sea, and swallowed by a big fish.

What if the word comes from a prophet? Is there any difference when we reject, ignore, or misinterpret a message from the Lord through one of His prophets? Consider Jezebel and Ahab. Jezebel did not repent; instead, she died as was predicted as opposed to Ahab, who listened to the prophet. What happens when we listen and heed? Since Ahab heeded and repented, he did not die the horrible death which was predicted of him. The people Jonah spoke to also repented and they were spared from earthly destruction and possibly eternal death.

What happens when we emphasize part of a prophecy and not the other? We end up like the Jews in Jesus’ time, expecting the wrong Messiah. We are not too far from them. We do just that with the first part of the 1st Angel’s Message. Let’s read what Apostle John wrote,

Revelation 14:6, 7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

When talking about what the angel has to say, many focus on verse seven. Thus, they emphasize the judgment and the law – specifically the Sabbath. But, they ignore verse six. What does verse six say? It says that the angel has the everlasting Gospel to preach to the entire world. The Gospel is the good news of Salvation. This is the news that salvation which has already been given to us, is made ours personally by faith through grace. It is the news that the righteousness of Christ which saves us, is His, and not our own. In other words, it is the good works of Christ that saves us, not our faulty works. This is why Sister White said that the Three Angels’ Message is Righteousness by Faith in verity. Let us read the quote,

 “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel's message, and I have answered, "It is the third angel's message, in verity." The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890. {1SM 372.2}

What is the message of Justification by faith? Ellen White declares,

"What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.'' Ellen G. White, —Testimonies to Ministers, p. 456.

Elsewhere Ellen White stated that, "As the increasing glory of Christ is revealed, the human agent will see no glory in himself; for the concealed deformity of his soul is laid bare, and self-esteem and self-glorying are extinguished" (Review and Herald, Sept. 18, 1894.)

There is nothing in us that can save us.

As the glory of Christ increases in us – as our character becomes more like His - "Light is to shine forth from God's people in clear, distinct rays, bringing Jesus before the churches and before the world. ... If through the grace of Christ His people will become new bottles, He will fill them with the new wine. God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered, and replaced in the framework of truth; and wherever the laborers go, they will triumph. As Christ's ambassadors, they are to search the Scriptures, to seek for the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of error. And every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other—Christ our righteousness." —Ibid., Dec. 23, 1890.

Many, who profess to believe, declare that the message of Justification by Faith makes the law void. However, Sister White had this to say,

“Some of our brethren have expressed fears that we shall dwell too much upon the subject of justification by faith, but I hope and pray that none will be needlessly alarmed; for there is no danger in presenting this doctrine as it is set forth in the Scriptures. If there had not been a remissness in the past to properly instruct the people of God, there would not now be a necessity of calling a special attention to it.... The exceeding great and precious promises given us in the Holy Scriptures have been lost sight of to a great extent, just as the enemy of all righteousness designed that they should be. He has cast his own dark shadow between us and our God, that we may not see the true character of God. The Lord has proclaimed Himself to be "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth."” {1SM 372.1}

Indeed, Justification by Faith exalts the Law. Christ’s righteousness is the perfect keeping of the Law. And, that righteousness becomes ours when we allow Christ to dwell in us.

In Romans 3: 19 – 31 Paul expounds on this topic. Let us read the passage,

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 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. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

So, it is the good news -- of salvation by grace through faith in the Righteousness of Christ -- which the 1st Angel preaches unto the whole world. The keeping of the law and the knowledge of the judgment will come as a result of that faith. As we live by faith, the Holy Spirit renews our minds into the likeness, perfection, maturity, and stature of Christ. Trying to live by the law so we can stand in the judgment will not help us. We will be found wanting. By letting the Spirit fill us with the fullness of Christ, we are transformed into holy and selfless beings who meet God’s approval, and the Law’s requirements. Will you let the Spirit do this work in you?

~Raul Diaz