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Sabbath School Insights
2010 Quarter 3: Jul - Sep
Insight #10, September 4, 2010
Third Quarter 2010 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Redemption for Jew and Gentile”
For the week of August 29 – September 4, 2010
In Romans 9:1-3 Paul displays the explosive power of the gospel. He who held the garments of the men who stoned Stephen, now cries out in anguish, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.”
As a chosen instrument to proclaim the gospel to the nations Israel corporately failed. Self became the focus of their national mindset. They sought to appropriate to themselves alone the promised blessings. Like Jonah they ran from their evangelistic mission. Like the Egyptians under Pharaoh, they rejected God’s gracious design for them. They were chosen by God to be His people, but they were not choosing to be God’s servants.
Could we, who rejoice in this most precious message of the gospel, share in their guilt? God has given every believer a commission. Every one who believes and receives Jesus as Savior and Lord is born again to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ by a life of loving service, as well as by words of grace. This is the fruit of the gospel.
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteous-ness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:6-9).
Then Isaiah affirms that only such holy ones can effectively repair the breach in God’s law. Only these can truly cherish and exalt the Sabbath as their delight. The good news is that all have been redeemed from sin’s slavery through the blood of Jesus Christ. God has placed our feet on vantage ground. All have sinned. All miss the mark from time to time. But, praise God, all may be justified by faith – fully reconciled by the redemption that is in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (Romans 3:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:14-19).
Salvation operates in the past, the present, and the future. All have been saved (past tense) at the cross. All who believe from the heart and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord are being saved (present tense). All who endure unto the end will be saved (future tense) by a faith that works. God guarantees our salvation unless we interpose a perverse will (see Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing page 76). “He that has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
God’s ultimate purpose will prevail, with or without us. Neither Jew or Gentile, Christian or Atheist can frustrate the purposes of God. The history of Israel and the surrounding nations clearly demonstrates this fact. God has a specific plan for your life and mine. Like Pharaoh we may refuse His plan. God manifested His power to Pharaoh in the plagues, and through Pharaoh in the deliverance of His chosen people. God would have preferred to manifest His power through a repentant Pharaoh. God hoped that Pharaoh would recognize His gracious purpose and surrender long before Egypt lay in ruins. But Pharaoh decided to interpose a perverse will. Therefore, God’s gracious purpose had to be carried out through the destruction of Egypt instead of through its exaltation to the status of servants of the Most High God.
Paul also resisted until confronted with Jesus on the Damascus road. Compelled by the love of Christ, he counted no sacrifice too great, no suffering too intense, if only he could fulfill his mission as the apostle to the Gentiles.
Self is the stumbling stone that blinds our eyes to the freedom, power, and victory that is ours in Christ. A friend once said to me, “We all do what is good.” That is, whenever we choose our way instead of God’s way we believe we will receive some personal benefit. Eve “saw the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of the fruit and did eat” (Genesis 3:6).
A few years ago I was in Irkustk, Siberia as a member of Wilbur and Dorothy Nelson’s evangelistic team. During a Health Expo, a lady approached me for a blessing on her healing ministry. I talked with her about how we can know for sure which master empowers our ministry. “One way is to examine our motives and attitudes,” I told her. “Jesus said ‘Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’”
“But that is so difficult!” the lady protested. “No,” I said “It is impossible. But if we have been transformed by the Lord Jesus, all things become possible to us.”
All humans have all been elected to be “kings and priests.” Jesus invites us to live up to our high calling by faith. Paul tells how He was empowered to declare this message with explosive power, “I have made myself a servant of all, that I might win the more…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means win some” (Romans 9:19-23).
“The love of Christ compels us,” he exclaimed, “Because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).
“Now … where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:17, 18).