The Elect Lesson
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #11
"The Elect Lesson"
December 16, 2017
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-- that, as it is written,
"He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 1 Cor. 1:27-31
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Eph. 1:4.
Christ and the Law
The universal human problem, from the original temptation, was an attempt to establish our own righteousness, not knowing the depths of the righteousness of God. He expressed this righteousness in His law, so that we might come, sooner or later, to the inevitable conclusion that we cannot arrive at God’s righteousness from our own resources. Of course, we really have no resources of our own - that is part of the original deception!
Christ Himself is the endpoint, the purpose of the law. In Him we see its perfect manifestation and power, demonstrating the righteousness of God. Every resource with which we are endowed comes in and through Him.
Righteousness by faith hinges on grasping just how near God already is through His righteousness revealed in Christ, and how momentarily dependent we are on His sustenance.
“Remembering that the word is Christ, we read, ‘The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach.’ Is Christ so near as that? Indeed He is; for He Himself says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.’ Rev. 3:20. It is not alone to the good that He is near, but He is ‘not far from every one of us.’ Acts 17:27. So near is He that ‘in Him we live, and move, and have our being.’ We can not reach out our hand without finding Him. Christ is in (the entryway of*) the heart even of wicked men, waiting for them to recognize the fact that already exists, and will in all their ways acknowledge Him; then He will dwell in their hearts ‘by faith.’ He will then direct them in all their ways. In nothing is the love of Christ more fully shown than in His dwelling with sinful men, and enduring all their hatefulness, in order that by His patience He may win them from their evil ways.” July 23, 1896 EJW, SITI 452.7
(*Added for clarity - cf Rev. 3:20).
The Election of Grace
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That world includes every member of the human race. All were chosen by God in Christ as their representative substitute and surety to be holy and blameless through the faith and love that He exercised on their behalf. His measure of faith (Rom. 12:3) is given to all men in the gift of Himself. Therefore, the election, or choosing that determines the effect of grace, is man’s response to God’s amazing free gift. God’s choice, His desire, is salvation for all.
“He came as a representative of the human family before heaven and earth. He was to stand as man's substitute and surety. He was to live the life of humanity in such a way as to contradict the assertion that Satan had made that humanity was his everlasting possession, and that God Himself could not take man out of His adversary's hands.” EGW, ST July 30, 1896.
“Although God had not cast away his people, they were in a bad way. The fact that God had not cast them off, did not prove that they would be saved. Paul intimated that there was danger that even he, after he had preached to others, might be a castaway. 1 Cor. 9:27. The case, however, lay wholly in his own hands. There was no danger that God would cast him away against his will. We have the words of the Lord, 'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ John 6:37. And all may come; for He says also that ‘whosoever will’ may come. God casts no one off; but if they utterly reject Him, then, since He forces no one, He has no alternative but to leave them to themselves. ‘Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all My counsel, and would none of My reproof; . . . therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.’ Prov. 1:24-32.
God stretches forth His hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people (Rom. 10:21), and they have it in their own power to say if they will be saved. God accepts everybody; the only question is, Will they accept him?”July 30, 1896 EJW, SITI 468.4
Broken Branches and Salvation for All Israel
We are all branches of Adam’s family tree. Because of his decision, the entire tree was condemned to die. But because Christ was the “Everlasting Father” and the “Prince of Peace” He was the true root of the race. He alone had the responsibility and right to become the true Vine to which all humanity could be grafted back to life. All were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world as God’s salvation plan for the world.
“No Change of Plan. Let us not forget that in thus grafting in the Gentiles to take the place of rebellious Israel, there has been no change in God's plan. It was all included in the original promise to Abraham. ‘Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached the Gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.’ Galatians 3:7, 8. In the beginning God made Adam, the father of the human race. Adam was the son of God (Luke 3:38); therefore all his descendants are by right God's people. He did not cast them off because they sinned. His love embraced the world (John 3:16), and it did not contract in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The only advantage of Israel was that they had the privilege of carrying the glorious Gospel to the Gentiles, for whom it was always designed as much as for them.” February 7, 1895 EJW, PTUK 83.8
“All of Faith.-It was through faith that Jacob became Israel. It was through unbelief that his descendants were broken off from the stock of Israel. It is through faith that the Gentiles are grafted in, and only by faith that they stand; and it is through faith that the Jews may become reunited to the parent stock. Faith in Christ is the only thing that makes one an Israelite, and only unbelief cuts one off from being an Israelite; this was fully shown by Christ when He marvelled at the faith of the centurion, saying; ‘I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.’ Matthew 8:10-12.
“All in Prison.-‘God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.’ The word ‘conclude' means literally ‘to shut up,’ as indicated in the margin. He hath ‘shut them all up together.’ So in Galatians 3:22 we read that ‘the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.’ And the next verse speaks of all being ‘shut up’ and guarded by the law. Both Jews and Gentiles ‘are all under sin.’ Romans 3:9. All are shut up in prison together, with no hope of escape except by Christ, ‘the Deliverer,’ Who proclaims ‘liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.’ Isaiah 61:1. He comes as the deliverer ‘out of Zion,’ bringing the freedom of ‘Jerusalem which is above.’ Galatians 4:26. All therefore who accept the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, are the children of Jerusalem which is above, heirs of heavenly Canaan, members of the true commonwealth of Israel.
“Wonderful Knowledge.-‘By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities," says the Lord. Isaiah. 53:11. Thus by forgiving sins He will build the walls of Jerusalem (Psalms 51:18), and restore her captive children. ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’ Let no one, therefore, presume to criticise God's plan, or to reject it because he can not understand it. ‘For who hath been His counsellor?’ ‘For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.’"
February 7, 1895 EJW, PTUK 84.5-84.7