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Sunday: Under the Cross of Jesus — 22 Comments

  1. When everyone is focusing on Jesus and coming closer to him the fruit of the Spirit becomes more noticeable through our actions and way we encourage and think of our neighbors in their daily walk as well. We forget about self.

    Amen!(23)
    • An adventist friend of mine argued recently that the statement preachers say that one can receive salvation by "believing in Jesus Christ" is an understatement. That salvation may require much more than this. He further supported his argument with James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." His argument is that there might be more effort required from our side. I opted not to engage in an discussion on this matter due to the fact that he seemed so convicted on this thought and was visibly irated by the preaching.

      But interestingly, we seem to struggle with "truth". The Bible has been so consistent on salvation. Jesus also in John 3:16 and many other points talks of Salvation through Him. Unfortunately, as humans, we always want to be seen as we participated in making salvation possible.

      I don't know, but (and I stand to be corrected) I presume that the "believe" that Jesus talks about comes with " Total Surrender and Trust".

      Amen!(15)
      • Hi Stanley

        There is truth to what your friend is suggesting as per James 2:19.

        "...we always want to be seen as we participated in making salvation possible." This is where people get hung up. There is a tendency to assume that if we do anything, then we must be doing it to MERIT salvation.

        We can do nothing to merit salvation. At the same time, there is much we need to do - not to participate in making salvation possible, but to collaborate with God making salvation effectual in our life.

        God is not trying to merely save us from the consequences of our sins. He is wanting to put sin into remission within each of us. Consequently, the Robe of Christ's righteousness is not something He puts on or over us - it is something that He works with us to re-created within us. Robes in scripture are frequently a metaphor for character. It is our character that needs to be re-developed to be Christlike.

        Here's the important point: we cannot develop a Christlike character in our own strength, and God cannot develop a character for us. Therefore, character redevelopment is of necessity a collaborative partnership between God and us. This is what is being described in Phil 2:12,13.

        Work is an inseparable part of faith - that is why faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17). But this work is NEVER to merit salvation. It is to make salvation effectual in our life via the transformation of our life/character to Christ-like (Phil 2:12,13). And it is always a collaborative partnership between God and us (Jn 15:5).

        Amen!(7)
        • God does not need our help to save us. The fruit (good works) we show are the result of being saved by Jesus at the cross and being given His righteousness by grace.

          Everything else is just another version of faith + works, faith and works OR faith then works. All of these are sure ways to perdition because by making them our reality, we deny the reality of the cross (unbelief).

          Amen!(1)
          • "Faith and works are the two oars with which we are to make our way in the Christian life. The Lord calls upon all who think they know what faith is, to be sure that they are not pulling with only one oar, and their little bark going round and round, making no progress at all. Faith without intelligent works is dead. Faith in the healing power of God will not save unless it is combined with good works." {AUCR October 15, 1905, par. 1}

            Amen!(0)
      • Participation is the one thing I would agree is our part. God will never impose His salvation on us against our will. Since we are saved by Jesus’ life (Rom 5:10) He can only impart it to us with our participation. EGW said, “We live His life.”

        Amen!(5)
        • (Romans 5:10) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

          I don't find the word "participation" anywhere unless you count being God's enemy as our "participation."

          God reconciled the world to Himself through Jesus' blood on the cross. He did not wait for anyone's permission, participation or other works. It was a gift of God. How do we "participate" when we get a gift? We accept it with gratitude. Period.

          Amen!(1)
          • "The faith that accepts Christ as One who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, means perfect belief and trust. To be intelligently convinced is not enough. The apostle James writes: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Many there are who believe that Christ has died for the sins of the world, but they make no appropriation of this grand truth to their own souls. Their hearts are not enlisted in the service of God, their lives are not reformed. They are not sanctified by the truth they profess to believe. Not having the faith that works by love and purifies the soul, no genuine good appears in their lives. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” asks the apostle. “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”" {YI March 1, 1900, par. 2}

            Amen!(2)
          • Sieg, I believe you would agree that the "acceptance with gratitude" of the gift of salvation means to actually *use*/*practice* the gift. After all, the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation." (Rom 1:16)Passive acceptance/intellectual assent without actively taking advantage of the gift is not true acceptance, is it?

            The way I see it, the "power of God" includes power over temptation and power to live a Christ-like life. The growth in overcoming temptation and living a Christ-like life is the result of being in a saving relationship with Christ. In other words, obedience and sanctification are not the prerequisite/grounds of salvation, but the fruit of salvation.

            Just trying to clarify and perhaps give you a chance to clarify.

            Amen!(2)
          • Yes Inge. As a new man (Ephesians 2:15), we most certainly exhibit new unselfish motives for everything we do. But the idea that we participate in earning our salvation is a works-based error inasmuch as we contribute nothing to our salvation (Christ died for us while we were yet sinners). If we did, then God could not rightly call salvation a gift (Romans 6:23) and our claim of earning our salvation by obedience, participation, cooperation, etc. would make God a liar.

            Once we begin to comprehend the amazing grace and love which saved us, the power of God changes us. We hate what we once loved and we love what we once hated. It is still the power of God by which these things are accomplished so we take no credit for our "participation" in this change. Even Jesus said, that it was God's power which worked in Him (John 14:10) and that "I can of mine own self do nothing..." (John 5:30).

            So most certainly our new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26) and the new life we live "... are not the prerequisite/grounds of salvation, but the fruit of salvation." I think we often get the cause/effect relationship reversed and this is a grave mistake.

            Our good works are NOT the root of our salvation but the fruit of our salvation. Even then, it is the power of God who works out His will in our lives and produces that fruit in us (Philippians 2:13; John 3:21 KJV). So if we wish to boast, let us not boast of our works, our participation, our obedience, but let us boast in the Lord without whom we could do nothing (1 Corinthians 1:31; John 15:5).

            Amen!(2)
      • We must consider the Word to confirm or disclaim our beliefs or opinions. “For God so loved the world, that He gave... that all or everyone (not whoever) believing in Him... shall have everlasting life... that the world might be save through Him.” (Jn 3:16,17). These are the words of the Savior including Jn 3:36; 5:24; 6:29,40.
        Paul and Silas to the Jailer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.”Acts 16:31. And they were saved. The Lord to Cornelius: “And he(Peter) will speak words to you by which you will be saved, and all your household.” “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift (Holy Spirit) as to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ...” (Acts 11:14,17).
        How is “works” related to faith and salvation? If James is saying faith and works of believers bring salvation, that is false. James is actually describing what Paul says in Gal 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” What the devils believed was not unto salvation. The faith unto salvation is a gift of God. The attendant works are from God also, He having pre-prepared them specific to every believer. (Eph 2:10). The work that James cited as ‘confirming’ Abraham’s faith occurred more than 25 years after God accounted righteousness to Abraham’s faith(Gen 15:6), and changed his name to Abraham from Abram, and sealed his righteous faith with circumcision (Rom 4:11).
        Is it that Abraham was saved not until he offered his son on Moriah?
        Stanley I believe you are standing on solid ground.

        Amen!(2)
    • The cross of Jesus is the common ground for all people it draws us all together as we unite in Christ Jesus our Saviour and Lord .

      Amen!(3)
  2. Galatians 3:26&27
    For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
    1) This was written when a gentile would be treated lower than a dog, inspiration writes you are ALL sons of god.
    Christianity was all about breaking human shackles and setting people free.
    The basis of our discussion must be made on the premises of unity where all would be treated as equal. (Gal 3:28)

    2) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
    His salvation is available for all of humanity not one of us have to be left out.

    The requirement
    We must be willing to die.
    We must be willing to be buried.
    We don't remain in the grave. We are raised up to walk a new life.
    A new life example - Remembering Graham Staines, 19 Years After His Murder
    https://www.thequint.com/news/india/remembering-graham-staines-17-years-after-his-murder

    Amen!(9)
  3. "Whatever else we believe as Seventh-day Adventists, whatever message we alone are proclaiming, the foundation of our unity exists in our common acceptance of Christ’s death in our behalf."

    What do we mean by this? We need to dig deeper to understand/unpack "Christ's death on our behalf". I will try to do this as briefly as possible.

    In Romans 5, Paul spends considerable time building the understanding of Christ as the 2nd Adam by comparing and contrasting Him with the 1st Adam and the implications to/for humanity of each Adam.

    What did the 1st Adam do in Genesis 3? At creation, Adam was created in God's image - and a core part of this image is a heart motivated by self-renouncing love. Remember that self-renouncing love is THE ONLY foundational basis that makes life possible (see Desire of Ages 19-21). In Genesis 3, that heart motivation was surrendered to one that was based on self-gratification, self-indulgence, etc. Because any heart motivation other than self-renouncing love cannot support life, Adam unleashed a cascading trajectory of impacts associated with 'death' - or what the bible refers to as 'perishing', just as God had said would happen. This 'terminal heart condition' did not only affect Adam, but also unfortunately became the inheritance of every descendant of Adam (as per Rm 5:14).

    Notice what it was that happened here - self-renouncing love was exchanged for self-gratification/self-indulgence. And humanity collectively, and each human individually, was doomed under this inheritance of the 1st Adam.

    So, what was needed to fix this catastrophe? A 2nd Adam. And what did the 2nd Adam need to do to fix things? He needed to restore within humanity a heart that was once again based on self-renouncing love, thus putting humanity's terminal heart condition into "remission". This was why Jesus entered earth as a human - the 2nd Adam, the Son of Man. This is how He would save people from their sins (Matt 1:21), how he would take away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).

    Just like the 1st Adam, Satan tried to tempt the 2nd Adam to self-indulgence and self-gratification. This is what the temptations in the wilderness were about. But while the 1st Adam succumbed to the temptation to exchange self-renouncing for self-gratification/self-indulgence, the 2nd Adam did not.

    So, Satan brought about even stronger temptation. He tempted the 2nd Adam with the threat of the worst form of death known to humanity at that time - death on a cross. Watch the strength of that temptation upon Jesus in Gethsemane - but also watch how Jesus would not let go of self-renouncing love, no matter what. Now Jn 15:13 makes sense. Jesus laid down His life rather than surrender self-renouncing love. And as Rm 5:19 (in conjunction with Phil 2:8 and consistent with Isa 53:12) points out, this is how Jesus, the 2nd Adam, saved humanity.

    This is how Jesus re-united humanity back in connection with life - He became a human who retained a heart of self-renouncing love no matter what. This is how He redeemed us from under the curse of sin. This is how He defeated death and sin. This is what the cross was about (and this is what the OT sacrificial system was meant to be understood as - the LIFE is in the blood (Lev 17:11,14) - meaning that the shedding of blood is the expression of Jn 15:13, the most ultimate possible expression of self-renouncing love).

    And this is the inheritance that Jesus, the successful 2nd Adam offers to share with and reproduce within everyone who is willing to be united with Christ to have their heart renewed and re-created back to being based upon self-renouncing love.

    This is the good news of the gospel in a nutshell. And this is also the same underpinning to the 3 angels messages of Revelation - the reversal from hearts that are self-based to hearts that are once again based on self-renouncing which "springs up to eternal life" (Jn 4:14).

    So what is the significance of what I have (briefly, and perhaps too briefly) outlined above for today's lesson?

    As was mentioned in the comments under yesterday's lesson, a heart of self renouncing love is THE basis of our connection/unity with Christ (because it is the basis of Christ's own heart). And it is this same heart of self-renouncing love that is the basis for the BY-PRODUCT of genuine unity with all others who also have a heart of self-renouncing love (as per the memory verse a couple of week's back: Gal 3:27-28).

    And it was to reinstate self-renouncing love back into humanity that Jesus, the 2nd Adam, came and lived a life of obedience unto death (Rm 5:14; Phil 2:8; Isa 53:12).

    This is the same thing that Paul is talking about in Rm 6 when he speaks of being united with Christ in/through baptism. (Note that Rm 6 follows on directly from what I have outlined above from Rm 5 - there is a direct connection.)

    What I have attempted to outline above is what actually produces (ie, results in the by-product of) unity under the cross of Jesus, the 2nd Adam. This is why we need to dig a little deeper to understand the connection between the cross and unity.

    I welcome feedback.

    Amen!(7)
    • Phil; I think you nailed it. Only by self-renonuncing love can we ever hope to become like Christ and to see Christ. We obviously cannot do it by forcing a group of chosen individuals of our body of faith to subject our Will upon.

      Amen!(3)
      • No. If it were possible, Jesus would not have had to become a human because humanity could have recovered itself back to what is needed for eternal life. Only God can rebuild self-renouncing love back within us.

        Amen!(1)
    • Whilst trawling through Ellen White commentary in the book Darkness before Dawn, I came across a more accurate term than the ones I used above to describe more precisely the sin that originated in/with Lucifer and was reproduced in Eve and Adam: self-exaltation.

      "Little by little, Lucifer came to indulge a desire for self-exaltation." (DD 2.1)

      Lucifer chose to indulge, rather than resist, stirrings within his heart that were motivated by the desire for self-exaltation rather than self-renunciation, and deceived Eve into doing exactly the same thing.

      Self-exaltation is the putting of self-interest above all else - even above negative impacts to others. The nature of self-interest is the nature of lust.

      And that is why self-exaltation is the exact opposite of self-renunciation. Self-renunciation genuinely prioritises/puts the welfare of others above self-interest and in doing so extinguishes self-interest.

      Self-interest = lust. This is the basis and nature/character of everything pertaining to the Kingdom of Darkness - the outcome of which is and can only be "steal, kill and destroy"(Jn 10:10)

      Self-renunciation = genuine love. This is the basis and nature/character of everything pertaining to the Kingdom of God - the outcome of which is and can only be "abundant life" (Jn 10:10).

      Amen!(1)
  4. Just how is it that the cross of Jesus brings unity? How is baptism and unifying experience? Can we be united on these “truths”, while being divided over other matters?

    I would suggest that both Jesus death for sin and baptism are the means for any sinner to become one with Christ through justification when faith in Jesus leads to repentance and believing in Him, which is revealed when we “observe all things whatsoever” He has commanded us. Truly keeping His commandments is nothing less than being partakers of the Divine nature, and thus the unity of all who are also sanctified by the truth. The teaching/beliefs themselves cannot unify anyone not conformed to the image of God.

    If not restored from the fall, we are not restored nor united with “all them which are sanctified”. Only those who allow the “power of God unto salvation” to cleans them from all unrighteousness will be found holy as He is holy. This holiness is our unity with God and one another. It is such unity that Jesus prayed for, which eliminates every point of division that would otherwise prevent it.

    Without the cross, and our full acceptance(beginning with baptism) of heaven's offer, there will be no unity.
    The cross is the Door by which we enter into an experience, and not merely a “belief” we might hold in common.

    Amen!(5)
  5. I question the idea that humans don’t create unity. Plenty of clubs and organisations unite strongly without any reference to God or Jesus. Sure He is the source of Christian unity but Jesus told the rich young ruler, “one thing you lack.” The one thing we lack is what I’m interested in. Farmers don’t spend their days admiring all the good things on the farm, they’re looking for the broken pipe, the damaged fence, the sick animal. This is a productive way to work. Adventists need to be seeking out sources of discord instead of “celebrating diversity.”
    This is why I harp about Seventh-day Adventist Sunday keeping in 5 Pacific nations. It must be addressed if we are to achieve unity. Until it is we’re delusional.
    Finally a lesson admits unity is built on things shared in common but the author still struggles to shake the PC idea of “diversity” being a virtue

    Amen!(11)
    • I experience unity with a wide range of people groups/sub-groups.

      But the depth/level of unity that I share with a particular group/sub-group varies.

      The shallowest depth of unity I experience with others is where we are bonded by a common interest/hobby/etc.

      The next deepest level of unity I experience is with others who have a personal commitment to being of benefit to others.

      But the deepest level of unity I experience is with those who have a personal commitment to being of benefit to others and a personal commitment to God. I haven't experienced anything that matches that depth of unity to date. And I have found that this level of unity is independent of denomination - it is no deeper whether the other person/s is/are Adventist or not.

      Amen!(2)

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