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Friday: Further Thought ~ Choose Life — 13 Comments

  1. The core theme of Deuteronomy is Moses outlining to the Israelites that, like their forefathers, they will inherently choose one of two options in the way they 'live' their everyday lives:

    1) embrace the one and only true God and His revealed ways because that is the only way true life can and does exist, or

    2) embrace what seems good in their own eyes which will lead them on a path apart from God (and the only way true life can and does exist) - and in so doing, cut themselves off from the Source and Way of life and consequently perish.

    Today, thousands of years later, we too are presented with the same reality. Which option is being reflected in how you are going about your day today?

  2. I mentioned some time ago that I encountered a Christadelpian minister in my youth who gave me a Bible study on good and evil. His essential message was that Satan was a metaphor and that the real enemy was self. While he did not convince me of his theology, his message had a lasting impact on my perception of self.

    Atheists believe that nature is essentially competitive and self-preservation (or species preservation) lies at the very heart of our existence. We survive by knocking down the weak. This is the very antithesis of what Jesus taught and also the central message of Deuteronomy. Self is less important than out relationship to God and our concern for the needs of others. That concern for others runs like a golden thread though the Bible and also reveals itself like a glimmer of hope throughout history. Even Charles Dickens, in his "Tale of Two Cities" gives his character, Sydney Carton these words:

    “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

    as he is led to the guillotine in place of his friend.

    Paul talks about it to:

    For to me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying—well, that’s better yet! Phil 1:21 TLB

    Paul understood what "Choosing Life" really meant. Living in Christ is not competitive, it is collaborative.

    • Maurice, while I agree with you that "choosing life in Christ is not competitive", I cannot see this being done collaboratively. My understanding of my life in Christ is that 'I' become less as Christ's presence in me increases. I do not see the two - man and God - to be compatible to call this a 'collaboration', unless you consider dying to self the act of collaboration with Christ - Gal.2:20.  
      One can see that 'gain', (Phil 1:21), is also accomplished during our lifetime, not only after death. Man's true life is therefore all Christ's; ours is the desire to allow the Creator to live His life/will within oneself - consent is our 'collaboration'.
      The fruit of the Tree of knowing good and evil still holds sway over the mind of many Christians - - but we know, there is nothing good in man - nothing! Rom.7:14-25.

      • I have a cousin who, at nearly 80 years of age, still operates heavy earthmoving machinery. He is happiest when he is sitting in the cab of a Caterpillar D9 pushing tonnes of rock and earth back into the huge open pit coal mines in Queensland. He does not compete with the CAT 9. He and the heavy machine (I am not allowed to call it a Bulldozer) work together. He does not stand next to it with a shovel in an attempt to see who can fill in the hole the quickest.

        It is not a perfect analogy. I recognise that. But in a small way it illustrates that we work together, not to be saved, but because we are saved.

        • Maurice - yes, your cousin and his Cat work together because both work in the same physical environment - moving earth. Though Christ lived in a body like man, the essence of His life is spiritual - God is spirit! Therefore, His work is sourced from/by spirit, though able to manifest in the physical world.
          This is the ongoing problem with ‘work’ -; man appropriates that which is spiritually sourced to himself. - i.e. ‘good works’. Co-laboring takes only place through our faith; we believe that His Word is true, engaging the spirit of His Word - benevolence - to do the work ‘in us’ and ‘for us’ and for Himself, so allowing Christ’s spirit expression in the life of the believer by lending our physical body.

          We cannot collaborate in the spirit because ours is of this world; ours is sourced from the fruit of the ‘Tree of knowledge of good and evil’ and needs to die if we want to live. We cannot do anything spiritually, life-giving from within ourselves; unless one considers the spirit of this world to be acceptable or equal when deciding to engage in ‘good works’. To me, ‘Living in Christ’ is all Christ!

          • Brigitte, I said that the illustration was not a perfect one. And it is easy to take the imperfections and magnify them.

            There is no problem with work. Jesus said:

            Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matt 5:16 KJV

            That is why we work, not to gain salvation but because we are saved. That work which we do is collaborative, not competitive. I think that sometimes we make this faith/works thing so complicated that many give up, convinced that if mental gymnastics are necessary for salvation they are simply not up to it. Salvation is available freely but we have to make the choice to be saved. That is what free will is all about.

            • Maurice - I appreciate your thoughts, thank you for sharing. Yes, it is not fruitful to talk with someone who does not know Christ's Faith in the way I have talked with you, because these Truths are spiritually discerned - 1Cor.2:14.

          • For what it's worth, I find the lingering legacy of the 'works debate' to be something that, although raised in certain Christian circles such as Adventism, actually isn't a question of relevance to most people. Most people aren't trying to work their way to heaven - though most people are living a self-seeking existence. At the same time, this debate that has been plaguing Adventism for decades, seems to have resulted in a 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' such that any form of 'working' becomes 'tarred with the same brush'.

            Paul talks about God working within us to will and to do of His good pleasure in order that we might be able to 'workout*' our salvation (Philippians 2:12,13). By way of a metaphor, I find the principles of potential and kinetic energy interesting to consider. Potential energy seems to align (in principle) to the working of God within us to will and to do. But unless that potential energy is put to use, it remains what it name suggests - only potential. However, when potential energy is put to work, it then 'transforms' into kinetic energy which is able to accomplish things.

            Relatedly, I find that while salvation is a gift in so far as we cannot initiate it ourselves, at the same time like a typical gift, unless that gift is not only received, embraced and also put to work, it won't be what it was given to be.

            Salvation is initiated with rebirth (John 3:3-6) but then it needs to grow to maturity of re-developed, Christlike character. We do not achieve this independently of God's constant, ongoing involvement - but neither can God achieve it for us while we sit back and do nothing. It is an active, collaborative process of re-growth involving re-conditioning of our character from our former flesh-based, self-seeking default that results in perishing to the necessary Spirit-based, other-seeking that humanity was originally created with which results in life (as per Romans 8:2).

            * The idea is, in principle, similar to a gym workout that fosters progressive growth and development via repeated putting muscles to work that in turn fosters greater and greater maturity of capacity. This principle of resistance (effort)-based growth is inherent to human development (eg, Hebrews 5:14) and as such is something that even Jesus wasn't able to by-pass as a human (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8,9)

            • Phil, thanks for your input. I do not know about the history of SDA's 'works debate', so I want to pose the question: "What is at the heart of all efforts of those who seek Salvation"? Is it the 'effort' of man or is it God's effort - Grace and Faith? Grace and Faith collaborate, yes! We cannot say we collaborate with God, this would imply that we are on the same level with God; only things placed on an 'equal premise/realm' can collaborate. Grace and Faith are spiritual - therefore it is all God's work.

              I see our only 'collaboration'/involvement when we believe the Word of God; that we have faith in that the Righteousness of our Savior Christ Jesus has set things right for us; that we are faithfully and gratefully allowing God's Son do His work in and through us, being His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works - Eph.2:10.
              To fully understand this Truth is paramount to our FAITH. I want to leave this topic by pointing to these scripture references - Matt.4:4; 1Cor.1:27-31; Rom.3:20-27; Rom.4:3-16.

            • Hi Brigitte

              As you have illustrated, our views rest upon underpinning presuppositions/assumptions. The assumption that "only things placed on an 'equal premise/realm' can collaborate" is not one that I share.

              I was formerly a primary teacher. Learning is a collaborative process. To be a teacher required that I be formally assessed to have a level of competence and 'expertise' that the students were not required to have - and could not have because they had not undertaken years of university training and subsequent supervision - not to mention life experience. And I was held responsible for their wellbeing - they were not held responsible for mine. Thus, the students and I were involved in a collaborative effort even though we were not on an 'equal' realm - despite coming together within a mutually shared space where learning took place.

              Perhaps this give insight as to why I don't have an issue seeing salvation as a collaborative process.

  3. Rom. 6:23 - "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." "It is 'the second death' that is placed in contrast with everlasting life.' - Ellen G. White.
    Looking back over the lessons studied so far, I wonder if we are experiencing a lowered capacity to really appreciate 'everlasting life'? Maybe leading a 'good life' here and now has jaded our anticipation regarding the promise for 'everlasting life'. Could it be because our 'good life' here on earth is 'good enough' that we lose sight of the life so far out in the future? Maybe this is why it is 'almost' impossible for a 'rich/satisfied' man to 'enter' Eternal Life.

    What can bring our focus back to the 'True' Life, what is it that will help us increase our appreciation for the everlasting life offered as a gift of God for man? I think it necessary, life-saving, that we engage in a daily 'reality-check' to help us remember what makes the difference between the two lives - one 'good life' leading to death, and the other 'good life' leading to everlasting Life, letting our Savior know that we love Him and appreciate His Gift He has given us!

    I think our real struggle whiles we enjoy our 'good life' in comfort and ease is to firmly recognize that this is a temporary life, decaying/vanishing with death; but True Life lived now becomes everlasting life for those who love and trust God with all their heart and do not lean on their own understanding - Prov.3:5-6.
    p.s. As I see it, our own understanding is the effect/result of our original parents eating the 'fruit' from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil.

  4. Deut 30 contains a prophecy hailing the effectiveness of the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace, through Faith.

    God had established a covenant with Israel, the Law. Israel promised, like a faithful wife, to keep the covenant, obeying all His commands. Moses encouraged Israel: “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.” (Dt 6:25). But God highlighted an enormous problem with their commitment: “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!” (Deut 5:29). Almost 40 years later Moses laments: “You have seen…the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” (Dt 29:2-4).
    They’d been delivered from Egyptian slavery, physical, but were yet sin slaves (Jn 8:31-35). The condition of the heart was stony as expressed in the twin tablets of stone (Ezk 11:19,20; 36:26,27), thus their inability to fulfill their promise of obedience.

    Only the ministry of Christ, of the Spirit,(2 Cor 3:3-11) can deliver from sin, creating hearts capable of loving and obeying God. The purpose of the Law is clarified in Scripture. It became a “tutor” up to Christ’s time. We learned of the Infinite Holiness and Righteousness of God, of the awful sinfulness and depravity of the human heart, of the coming Savior of the world and the ministry of the Spirit (Rom 3:19,20; 5:13,20,21; 7:6-13; Gal 3:19-24). The Law was a preparatory ministry like John Baptist’s. It convicted of and even magnified sin. Salvation from sin is Christ’s domain.
    Therefor when Dt 30 speaks of heart circumcision in the latter part of Israel’s existence and love from the heart, and of the Word being “near you in the mouth and in the heart” (Rom 10:8-11), it is a prophecy of the administration of the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace, administered by the Holy Spirit.

  5. Praise the Lord, Brigitte, for “ we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” 2 Cor 4:7. All the glory belongs to God.


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