Sunday: The Sustainer
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Read Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:16-17. What is the role of Jesus in the

Image © Damon Bowie from GoodSalt.com

Image © Damon Bowie from GoodSalt.com

ongoing existence of the universe?

The implication here is that Jesus continues to sustain the existence of the universe by His power. The universe is not independent; its existence depends on the continuous exercise of divine will. This is a refutation of deism, the philosophy that teaches that God created the world to govern itself and then left it to evolve without any further action from Him. The Bible rules out such theories.

Also, God is not within the creation, constantly creating it, as in the false theories of pantheism (God and the universe are the same thing) or panentheism (God inhabits the universe as though it were His own body). God is not dependent on the universe in any way. He is separate from the universe. He existed, and continues to exist, independently of it. The universe depends on God; God does not depend on the universe.

Read 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Acts 17:28. How does Paul describe our relationship to Jesus?

We are dependent on God’s sustaining power, moment by moment, day by day. It is because of His love that we continue to exist and are able to act and also form relationships. This is true in a special way for those who have committed themselves to God and who are, as Paul would describe it, “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17Eph. 2:10; Note the references to creation in these texts). It is also true that even those who reject salvation are, nevertheless, dependent on God’s sustaining power for their existence. Daniel made this point very poignantly to King Belshazzar when he said, “and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified” (Dan. 5:23).

With all this in mind, how do we understand the reality of free will and free choice? Why are these elements of our existence so important to all that we believe?

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Sunday: The Sustainer — 24 Comments

  1. When a car is made,it looks perfect but that isn't always the case. Time to time the car need proper maintenance. That's how we are. We can't be on our own. We aren't perfect. We are helpless. We frequently need our maker to sustain us. Let us cling on him for this.

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  2. The universe is not independent as its existence depends on the continuous exercise of the divine will. I like that because we are the part of the universe.

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  3. God knows what choices we will make, but He never forces our will. He only makes it simple for us to choose Him and live in Jesus as we will. I am so thankful for His Love and His dealing with us, drawing us to true Love and Life.

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    • In Christendom, a great conflict continues between the Calvinists and Arminians over the tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. The two consistent positions are named after French Reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) and the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). Calvinism emphasizes divine sovereignty while Arminianism focuses on human responsibility. As in all doctrinal polarities, there are extremes. Radical Calvinism puts too much emphasis on divine sovereignty to the exclusion of human responsibility. Arminianism in the deep end, advocates human free will and responsibility at the expense of divine sovereignty.

      Within Adventism, Questions and Doctrine, pp. 405-406, states:

      "The Seventh-day Adventist Church is neither Calvinist nor totally Arminian in theology. Recognizing the virtues of each, we have endeavored to assimilate that which to us appears to be the clear teaching of the Word of God. While we believe John Calvin was one of the greatest of the Protestant Reformers, we do not share his view that some men "are predestinated to eternal death without any demerit of their own, merely by his sovereign will" (Calvin, Institutes, bk. 3, ch. 23, par. 2). Or that men "are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others" (Ibid, bk. 3, ch. 21, par. 5)."

      However, QOD stopped short of telling exactly what that Adventist assimilation is. Dr. Walter Martin, a major influence in the writing of QOD, called himself a CALMINIAN. John Wesley, father of Methodism, was more closely aligned to Arminianism. A host of Adventist theologians, including Ellen White, identifies with the Wesleyan perspectives on salvation. Thus, we are considered Arminians in the Evangelical community. However, as stated earlier such an impression is not completely true.

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      • Flower acronyms have been used to describe Christian positions on the tension between God's sovereignty and man's free will. Calvinism is summarized in the famous acronym TULIP.

        T - otal depravity

        Because of the Fall, man is dead in sin and is thereore, unable to save himself.

        U - nconditional election

        In eternity past God unconditionally elected certain people to salvation based solely on His sovereign grace and not man's response.

        L - imited atonement

        God determined that Christ should die only for all whom God has elected to be saved.

        I - rresistible grace

        God draws the elect to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him and man cannot resist this divine initiative.

        P - ersevernace of the saints

        The elect will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure.

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        • On the other hand, Arminians have commonly used the DAISY acronym to encapsulate their teachings:

          D - iminished depravity

          The sinner has the power to either respond to God and be saved or resist God’s grace and perish (free will or human ability)

          A - brogated election

          God elected those whom He foreknew would fulfill the condition believing the gospel (conditional election).

          I - mpersonal atonement

          In His atonement, Christ made it possible for everyone to be saved but only those who believe will be saved (unlimited atonement).

          S - edentary grace

          While God’s saving grace can save, it can be resisted and thwarted by man (resistible grace).

          Y - ielding eternal uncertainty

          Those who are saved can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith (falling from grace).

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  4. Many of us take for granted the fact that we are nothing without God. I believe some are of the opinion that they are invincible, which is far from the truth. We could be taken out at anytime, but God in His love, sustains us everyday. Let's give Him all the Glory, He Alone deserves it.

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  5. It is amazing that Christ can speak to nature and it obeys His voice but the humans who are more intelligent, tells the one who provides all our needs and holds our breath in his hand that we do not want to obey His commands. How intelligent is that?

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    • Sam, it would seem that intelligence is not the true measure, but whether we are wise or foolish with our God-given intelligence. It seems that many of those with very high intelligence choose to not believe in God. The Bible does not call them unintelligent, but foolish. What creature is more intelligent than Satan, yet a righteous child is wiser.

      The 10 virgins were only classified by their wisdom or foolishness, not their intelligence. They all had lamps and oil, but some prepared for the possible delay.

      How we choose to use our intelligence determines if we are foolish or wise. I would venture a guess that fools are full of pride, while the wise are meek and lowly like Christ.

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  6. I cannot see how Colossians 1:16,17 can be used to implicate Jesus in the existence or creation of the universe, because such things are not mentioned in these verses. I believe that in doing so the verses are grossly misread.

    The term “All things” which is used in Colossians 1:16 must always be defined by context. For instance, my wife sometimes comes to me with the question or rather accusation, “Did you eat all of the pears?”. Greedy as I can be she does not mean that all humanity will now have to go without pears because of me. In fact she does not even mean to suggest that, were I to go down to the supermarket, I would not be able to get more pears (which is what I will often have to do). What she means is that the house no longer contains any pears because of me. Our immediate home is the implied context of her statement.

    In Colossians 1:16 the term “All things” is indeed given a clear context, it does not even need to be implied. The context given is “thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities, in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.” Stars, trees, animals etc. are never mentioned, and it is therefore incorrect to apply these texts to such things.

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      • Dear Vee Jena,

        By referring only to the first part of Colossians 1:16, you have omitted the context the bible provides for the term, "all things." I explained the context in my previous post. Perhaps you failed to read that part of my post, or I didn't make it as clear as I could.

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    • Hi Lowel,

      The natural and contextual reading of the passage (Colossians 1:15-23) does not impose a dichotomy between creation and rulership. It declares the paramount creative role of Christ (v. 15 "firstborn over all creation") and His supreme authoritative rank (v. 18 "so that in everything he might have the supremacy"). Paul affirms both His infinite creative instrumentality ("by Him") and His intentional preeminent position ("for Him").

      Relevant to the Bible study this week, the text also establishes Christ's omnipotent providence (v. 17 "in him all things hold together"). True to His gospel-centered orientation, Paul establishes the cross as the foundation of the preceding eternal functions of Christ (v. 19-20 "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross").

      Blessings,

      Bing

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      • Dear Bing,

        You are correct in saying that Paul is talking about the pre-eminent position of Jesus. Jesus holds the position of first-born over creation, second only to Jehovah. He is in heaven now, preparing a place for us (John 14:2). This is one of the main themes of Paul's letter. He introduces it when he talks of the hope being laid up in heaven (Colossians 1:5). He starts to develop this theme when he talks about our deliverance from the authority of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

        Paul does affirm Jesus' creative instrumentality (“by Him”) and his intentional pre-eminent position (“for Him”). But the context for this is given by Paul in the same verse, and is clearly defined as “thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities” (Colossians 1:16), and does not refer to rocks and trees. A further hint regarding Paul's context may be gleaned by thinking about why the stars and planets would need to be reconciled by Jesus' sacrifice (Colossians 1:20)? The reconciliation here is not about the stars and planets, but about the qualification of Jesus through his sacrifice to become second to God.

        The writer provided the separation or dichotomy (had to look that one up) of context according to the meaning which he wished to convey. For instance Paul uses a similar phrase in Colossians 1:23. He first talks about “every creature under heaven” which encompasses aardvarks, goats, chickens, ants and so on as well as humans, but then goes on to provide the limiting context of those to whom he ministers. Of course he only ministered to the humans.

        Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He is responsible for his government in heaven and also his church on earth. This responsibility was given to him by his Father. It was earned by his love for his Father and for us and manifested ultimately by the sacrifice of his life. He is our saviour from the authority of the ruler of this world, and we, who choose to be, are his. I believe this is an important theme from Paul's letter to the Colossians.

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        • Lowel, I do believe that God is reconciling Himself to all creation (stars and their worlds) through Jesus. This manifestation of God's true character which was the original accusation of Satan is being answered so that ALL creation will believe God is true, and no liar, as the serpent hinted to Eve, and, as we can safely conclude from the facts, that he has hinted throughout the universe.

          The plan of salvation was directly needed on this world, but the understanding it brings will establish righteousness and truth throughout all worlds for eternity. This was the intention of God when the plan of salvation was laid "before the world began". The great controversy between Christ and Satan affects every creature(with ability to choose) and only in this conflict has God been fully revealed through His grace for sinners. This is not to say rebellion was needed, but the questions are now answered beyond dispute.

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        • Hi Lowel,

          Thanks for your reply and for looking up "dichotomy";-) I concur that the supremacy of Christ is an important theme in Colossians 1. In fact, verses 15-20 is a lyrical passage on that truth if closely observed. Some translations include verses 21-23 as part of the "Christ is Supreme" theme. Whether the text is partitioned into two or grouped into one, the verses have to be understood in the purview of the entire section. Paul's contextual themes are creation, providence, redemption and reconciliation over which Christ is supreme.

          Contextual reading will not sever the themes from the sectional passage. Paul was not separating but expressing inter-connected thoughts. IOW, verses 16-17 cannot be extricated from the contextual passage comprised of verses 15-20 or verses 15-23. Otherwise, Paul's message will be fragmented. He is essentially saying, Christ is supreme in creation, providence, redemption and reconciliation.

          Blessings,

          Bing

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  7. One of the things that continually baffle me is the thought that God controls the placement and action of each individual sub-atomic particle on a sub-picosecond basis (less than one trillionth of a second). If there were only a few of them I could possibly conceive of Him doing that but we are talking here of the numbers of particles being written perhaps with more than a hundred zeros after it. How does He do it?

    I also have a difficult time conceptualizing God planning the laws of His creation when there was nothing but Himself - no planets or stars, no galaxies - no universe - not even an atom, nothing! And then He created from that nothing. We often think in terms of relativity and the relationship between energy and mass and say that He must have transformed energy into mass but then the energy would have been something rather than nothing so we really can't use those relationships in describing how God created. God created both the energy and the mass out of nothing and actively has both conforming to the laws He first established.

    The more I think of things like this the greater God becomes in my mind and the more respect I have for Him and usually end up like Isaiah:

    I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts" (Isa. 6:1-5 NKJV).

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    • in deed all things were made by him and for him and in him all things consist. Without him, nothing was made. His pre-eminence supersede everything.

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    • "One of the things that continually baffle me is the thought that God controls the placement and action of each individual sub-atomic particle on a sub-picosecond basis (less than one trillionth of a second). If there were only a few of them I could possibly conceive of Him doing that but we are talking here of the numbers of particles being written perhaps with more than a hundred zeros after it. How does He do it?"

      I love that thought. What an amazing God we have the privilege to worship and love. To extend your thought, the entire universe and every particle in it is like a clock whose every tick is continually commanded by God. For every creature, every single breath, every single heartbeat occurs only by His will and only by His command. Baffling indeed!

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  8. I like this statement: We are dependent on God’s sustaining power, moment by moment, day by day. It is because of His love that we continue to exist and are able to act and also form relationships.

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  9. It is indeed funny that humans copyright, patent and trade mark; claiming every artificial thing though cheap, unreliable, dangerous, ephemeral and fluid has to be credited, yet this same rationalism does not apply to natural things.
    Gravity
    Relativity
    Evolution
    And all such natural phenomenon of monumental proportions was discovered in their perfect state and those who merely discovered it claim attention. How pathetic! The maker is anonymous. true humility. May we find this serene attitude “humility before ability”.

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  10. To diffuse the rigorous conflict between the 2 flowers above, another flower(s) has been introduced, i.e. ROSES comprehensively explained in 2 books: “Amazing Grace” by Timothy George, executive editor of Christianity Today, and “Salvation and Sovereignty” by the staunch spokesperson for the Society of Evangelical Arminians Keneth Keathley. Here’s the breakdown of the ROSES acronym:

    R - adical depravity

    Every aspect of our being is affected by the Fall and renders us incapable of saving ourselves.

    O - vercoming grace

    It is God’s persistent beckoning that overcomes our wicked obstinacy.

    S - overeign election

    God desires the salvation of all, yet accentuates that our salvation is not based on us choosing God but on God choosing us.

    E - ternal life

    The Believer enjoys a transformed life that is preserved and is given a faith which will remain.

    S - ingular redemption

    Emphasizes that Christ died sufficiently for every person, but efficiently only for those who believe.

    The ROSES acronym avoids extreme positions and both divine sovereignty and human responsibility are kept in proper tension. The Bible teaches that we have been chosen by God since the foundation of the world. It also declares that the Holy Spirit enables us to freely respond to His grace. It’s amazing how much commonalities the 2 above authors, one a Calvinist and the other an Arminian, arrived at in their respective books. Surrendering reason in faith to this profound Biblical paradox will lead to better dialog among Christians and a more awesome picture of God’s grace.

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  11. It's nice to listen to Adventists discussing their ideas about our weekly training because by doing this, we are able to open the brain to individuals ideas which we do not have and after could make responses.

    Our lesson,"Jesus,Provider and Sustainer, is definitely an awesome subject that may help, especially to individuals who're new within our group/chapel and particularly to the non-SDA site visitors. It's a subject where everybody could recognize we have nothing about this earth, but God is the owner of all things. And due to this, everyone has to recognize that there is nothing for all of us to be proud, we borrowed everything from God. It requires a great focus on being careful, He is reliable. If we don't have, He will provide, if we think we can't survive of circumstances, He then will sustain us.

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  12. Everything about God seems too good to be true, but in fact, it is absolutely true...Our limited selves will never be able to fathom who God really is...This is where faith comes into play...In front of such a marvelous God, let us join the angels in the worship of our faithful sustainer and provider of all created things! Psalm 145...

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