>Home >Resources >Sabbath School Insights >2018 4th Qtr. Oct - Dec >Unity and Broken Relationships

Unity and Broken Relationships

FOURTH QUARTER 2018

SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #10

DECEMBER 8, 2018

“UNITY AND BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS”

 

Our lesson this week insightfully makes this comment, “Christ took the initiative in reconciling us to Himself. It is the “goodness of God [that] leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4, NKJV). In Christ we were reconciled to God while we were yet sinners. Our repentance and confession do not create reconciliation. Christ’s death on the cross did; our part is to accept what was done for us.” (Sabbath School Quarterly, p. 84 standard edition)

 

Notice two key elements in this statement, and ultimately in the gospel. One, our condition at the time of God’s act as sinners, and, two, how God related to us as sinners – “took the initiative”, “reconciling”, “goodness”, “reconciled”. Christ’s death on the cross revealed the reconciliation in God’s heart. His heart that He had ALWAYS had towards us.

 

Let’s look at these two elements from Scripture. First, our attitude and heart and thoughts towards God:

 

  • The carnal mind is enmity against God – Romans 8:7
  • When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly – Romans 5:6
  • While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8
  • When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son – Romans 5:10
  • Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ – Acts 4:25-26
  • And you, . . alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled – Colossians1:21
  • By nature the children of wrath (our wrath towards God) – Ephesians 2:3
  • And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins – Ephesians 2:1

 

Now, let’s look at the 2nd element, God’s attitude and heart and thoughts towards us:

 

Note several of the above verses:

  • We were without strength and ungodly and sinners – and Christ died for us – Romans 5:6
  • When we were His enemies – Christ’s death reconciled us to God
    – Romans 5:10
  • We were alienated, enemies, wicked – and Christ reconciled us
    – Colossians 1:21
  • When we had wrath towards God, He demonstrated “rich mercy”, and “great love” – Ephesians 2:4
  • When we were dead in trespasses and sins, He made us alive – Ephesians 2:1

 

And how about these other verses:

  • Christ suffered once for sins . . . that He might bring us to God – 1 Peter 3:18
  • God, has reconciled us to Himself – 2 Corinthians 5:18
  • God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them – 2 Corinthians 5:19
  • I have blotted out your transgressions, and your sins.  Return to Me, for I have redeemed you – Isaiah44:22

 

NOTICE – the blotting out of transgressions, sins, and redemption, precede the returning!!!

 

Don’t miss this vital principle of the gospel. The plan of salvation IS NOT about anyone (INCLUDING JESUS), getting God to love us, care for us, accept us, forgive us, redeem us, be reconciled to us, be merciful to us, etc. God already loves, cares, forgives, redeems, accepts, reconciles, and is merciful to us.

 

The plan of salvation is first and foremost a revelation of God’s love and goodness to us, and then a response from us of acceptance, reconciliation, repentance, appreciation – FAITH.

 

The function of Jesus in the salvation “equation” is not to get God on our side, but TO GET US ON GOD’S SIDE.

 

The gospel is not about reconciling God to us, but us to God.

 

The gospel is not about changing God’s heart towards us, but about changing our heart towards God.

 

The gospel is not about getting God to forgive us, but about us accepting God’s already existing forgiveness.

 

The gospel is not about appeasing God’s wrath towards us, but about appeasing our wrath towards Him!

 

The gospel is not about Jesus functioning as a barrier between us and God’s holy justice or anger, but about Jesus being the window whereby we see God as He truly is.

 

The gospel is not about changing God’s attitude towards us, it’s about changing our attitude towards God.

 

The gospel is not about getting God to love us, but getting us to love Him and His kingdom.

 

Whatever your spiritual paradigm, the fundamental difference between paganism or legalism, and the true gospel, is that at its root, paganism or legalism function to change God’s heart towards us. While the true gospel of Jesus Christ is about changing our heart towards God.

 

This is part of the core of the 1888 message. Notice this article from E.J. Waggoner in the era of Ellen White’s strongest endorsements:

 

From all that has preceded it is very evident that the only object that Christ could have in coming to earth and dying for men, was the reconciliation of man to God, so that he might have life. "I am come that they might have life." John 10:10. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight." Colossians 1: 21, 22. Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, "that He might bring us to God."
1 Peter 3:18. "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Romans 5:10.

 

"But," someone will say, "You have made the reconciliation all on the part of men; I have always been taught that the death of Christ reconciled God to man; that Christ died to satisfy God's justice, and to appease Him." Well, we have left the matter of reconciliation just where the Scriptures have put it; and while they have much to say about the necessity for man to be reconciled to God, they never once hint of such a thing as the necessity for God to be reconciled to man. To intimate the necessity for such a thing is to bring a grave charge against the character of God. The idea has come into the Christian Church from the Papacy, which in turn brought it from Paganism, in which the only idea of God was of a being whose wrath must be appeased by a sacrifice.

 

Stop a moment, and think what reconciliation means. The existence of enmity is the only necessity for reconciliation. Where there is no enmity, there is no necessity for reconciliation. Man is by nature alienated from God; he is a rebel, full of enmity. Therefore, man needs to be reconciled-to have his enmity taken away. But God has no enmity in His being. "God is love." Consequently, there is no necessity for Him to be reconciled; there is no possibility of such a thing, for there can be no reconciliation where there has been no enmity.
{September 21, 1893 EJW, PTUK 386.8}

 

Again: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. Surely, they who say that the death of Christ reconciled God to men, have forgotten this blessed text. They would separate the Father and the Son, making the former the enemy, and the latter the friend, of man. But God's heart was so overflowing with love to fallen man, that He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;" and in so doing He gave Himself, for "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." The Apostle Paul speaks of "the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28. This effectually disposes of the idea that there was any enmity toward man on the part of God, so that He needed to be reconciled. The death of Christ was the expression of God's wonderful love for sinners.
{September 21, 1893 EJW, PTUK 386}

 

May we take from this lesson of how God has worked to restore unity with us, the lesson, that in restoring unity to our broken relationships, may we take the initiative to bring healing and reconciliation and forgiveness to those who are, like us to God, without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. May we relate to others with the spirit of Christ – to initiate unity and peace and atonement – even with those who may never return the same spirit.

 

~Bob Hunsaker