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Friday: Further Thought ~ Covenant at Sinai — 17 Comments

  1. Back in the 1970s I was a young teacher in an Adventist boarding academy. And, during that the time the faith/works arguments erupted like a volcano. Every worship/chapel/service/vespers was about grace/works/perfection/imputed/imparted/justification/sanctification. I was in the thick of it and one Sabbath morning, taking a student Sabbath School lesson I remarked that the Vesper service the night before was a particularly good one on grace. I asked my students what they thought about it. One of my students remarked, "It's just more words!" I have long forgotten what my reply to him was, but the effect of those words has echoed down through the halls of my mind ever since. We have said too much, and now it is time to live as though grace fills our lives.

    One of the problems has always been that there are extreme views on either side of this discussion and when we argue about it, we try and picture ourselves as near the centre and the folk we are arguing with as at an extreme position. We need to remind ourselves that we are not saved by getting the wording right.

    I am not sure that Abraham had all the words right, when he moved from Ur to Canaan, but the Bible records this about him:

    And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Gen 15:6 KJV

    I don't ever recall that Abraham made a statement about his view of grace and works, but his belief was "counted as righteousness". And, if you go through Hebrews 11 as it lists the old testament men and women of faith, they are noted, not for their exposition but their action based on their faith.

    I am sure that many of us who depend on words to describe our views of faith and grace often still have much to learn. Perhaps it is time to show that we live by grace rather than just talking about it.

    Amen!(35)
    • I used to come here almost everyday, but stopped from doing it because I felt and noticed as your student did: “It’s just more words”.

      After a couple of years of not coming here, lately I’m coming sporadically to quickly browse some posts, but nothing changed. Still the same: “It’s just more words” ... Same “old-tune mindset” by same “singers”.

      Amen!(0)
      • Hi Eli.

        Thank you for your candour. By its very nature, a blog is where we exchange words rather than deeds. For most of us, this forum is only one aspect of our lives and hopefully, as a result of our interchanges, our actions in the rest of our lives show growth and development.

        Another illustration: I taught computer programming for many years and while the language and environment changed, the same fundamental principles needed to be taught year after year. Perhaps we do need to reminded of some of the spiritual fundamentals time and time again, hopefully with a fresh look.

        Amen!(8)
      • Hello Eli - I am fairly new to the blog and look forward every morning to spend time with my heavenly Father. I really enjoy reaching out to His spirit to then share our conversation with fellow students of His Word.

        ‘A couple of years’ of absence is a long time! I am curious - what do you suggest could change to move the conversation beyond ‘words’? You express your disappointment using interesting language: “Same ‘old-tune mindset’ by same singers!
        When you used to participate, did you sing a special tune - did you sing solos, beautiful melodies the Father impressed your heart to share with others?
        I hope you will rejoin the chorus of the many voices, blending yours with others, lifting our voices together praising the Father in heaven.

        Amen!(2)
      • Hi Eli- in response to your concerns about this SS. Let me give you my own experience. I was introduced to a group of SDA believers from my past country. I was told why the group was formed and what was the mission. The mission of the group is to serve those back home with help from all sort of help that we can give. As a result, I began following the group. It appears to me like the group is more becoming a social gathering on line and digress/diverted from its mission. Every time, whenever I raise the topic of helping and to stay on our mission others seems not interesting and tries to shut me down. As a result I am still a part of the group but I took it on my own to always keep the mission of my Lord ahead of me and not depend on humans. I do what I know the Lord expects of me. I gave ongoing help to others from my past countries. I do not need a group to do this with me.
        Eli- what are some of the actions are you looking for from the SS blog?

        Amen!(0)
      • Check out this website to see SDA members in action.
        https://www.adventistworld.org/news/
        This SSNET blog is for Bible study - so of course words - but there others for action. Choose the one that suits your spiritual gift or even both, don't look down on those who make a different choice. Read 1Cor 12:18-24

        Amen!(2)
      • Eli excuse me for interrupting your words with Maurice. Maybe you will find joy, rest, and rejoicing with your soul from the following Bible text.

        For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
        Matthew 18:20 KJV.

        Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
        Psalm 50:5 KJV

        I have found that God's promise of bringing to remembering in the presence of those who are receptive to sharing is inhanced by this method of learning the Sabbath School Lesson. There are many ways of learning, and if you have a different way, God will bless you, if your motives are set on His will. What is His will? I believe one aspect is to learn of him. We learn of Him also by discussing His ways with others if thy speak according to God's word. We are all growing in Christ. And help each other along that path. That is the beauty of gathering together in Christ name.

        Amen!(1)
  2. What is salvation? By surrendering our lives to become His people by faith, we are through His grace granted eternal life as a free gift and the fringe benefit is: that He is, in the meantime, continually transforming our character day by day, so that we live according to His Principles of Life. There are many passages in the Word of the LORD that support this point of being changed into His character.
    Rom 12:2; Rom 8:29; 2Peter 1:3-4; 2Cor 3:18; 1John 3:2
    Php 1:6 MKJV  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
    In addition to the extracts in the study guide from EG White's writing, here is another one that I have found helpful.

    Desire of Ages, 668
    But to pray in Christ's name means much. It means that we are to accept His character, manifest His spirit, and work His works. The Saviour's promise is given on condition. “If ye love Me,” He says, “keep My commandments.” He saves men, not in sin, but from sin; and those who love Him will show their love by obedience.
    All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.
    As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ—the “all things” to supply the need of fallen men—was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity.

    Amen!(21)
  3. O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. Micah 6:1

    Covenant at Sinai

    “During the bondage in Egypt many of the Israelites had, to a great extent, lost the knowledge of God’s law, and had mingled its precepts with heathen customs and traditions. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 334.

    What about us today, are we the same? Have we lost the knowledge of God as spoken in his word? What does the bible says he has a controversy with us about? Why/ Micah 6:6-8. The Lord specifically told the Israelites how to treat the strangers among them since they also were strangers in Egypt and he had compassion on them. Do we have compassion on illegal/legal immigrants or do we think they came to take what we have or what we supposed to have?
    I heard several stories of people who were illegal immigrants who were in the process of actively working on their papers. The government was trying to deport them but some churches, non SDA took them and placed them in their churches to live. The church supported them and their children. Now a new government took over and they are now free to move back to a home and be free. Do we know anything about the very people who visit and sit next to us sabbath after sabbath? Do we know about members struggles day by day, or all we concern with is the members return the tithe and offering?
    What is required of us SDA is to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

    Amen!(5)
  4. Regarding the Discussion Questions:

    1. The covenant was simply the reality of how life would be if one feared the Lord vs those who would violate His will, thus rejecting His blessing and protections.

    2. If we observe the Sabbath as commanded by God, we will not lose sight of His ownership and sovereignty. If we set ourselves to be “above” God, He will not interpose for us, but leave us to our chosen ways and the sure results.

    3. If we know and believe His “exceeding great and precious promises”, we will understand God's role in our sanctification.

    Amen!(6)
  5. Again and again, I find Faith to be the central part to religion. No matter what man's religious conviction, it always boils down to faith. Though, just having any kind of faith is not enough, one needs to have faith in the right God giving the correct guidance to help the living soul to live rightly.

    Even the religion of evolution is at its core a matter of faith. In Christianity's historical setting, all the way back to Adam, faith is the only vehicle which carries the exchanges between our Creator God and His intelligent creature - man.

    Faith is truly a peculiar thing. It is God's vehicle to convey His spiritual messages, communicating with His intelligent but material beings. The Creator gave man the ability to hear and speak the language of faith. He chose spiritual faith and not the language of the mind - reason - to communicate with man, employing Prophets and teachers to bring to us His messages. Faith translates His Word into action, it manifests that which His Word proclaimes.

    I see God relating through His spiritual covenants with man on HIS terms. There is no equal 'partnership', there is only our God who loves and cares that man knows what is right. All Scripture is given so we can learn - to believe that God is, that He created man, that He desires to bring mankind back into union with Him, and that He teaches man how to do that by His Son.
    Man referes to His Word as – Law, but it is so much more than Law; it is His Blessing to guide us away from our ignorance into His heavenly Light. Law is His Love's expression which reached out to His people Israel; teaching them right from wrong, guiding them through the perils of their times, helping them to establish themselves, their families, their religious and communal lives - all established through faith that His Word is true.

    I think that all our learning 'about' God focuses on placing our faith and trust in Him. We have His living testimony, the testimony of His Son Jesus to show us how to live by His faith; His helping us to trust Him cannot be anymore specific.
    Yes, it is because of His Grace and love for His creation that the Creator Father reaches out to let us know that it is He, the great I AM from the beginning of time wanting to talk with us, have communion with us, helping us to guide us home by Faith – Isaiah 12:2KJV; Psalm 9:10KJV.

    Amen!(2)
    • The really important thing about the Christian faith is that it is the "spring of action", not some esoteric mystical experience. Most of the men and women who are mentioned in Hebrews 11 are noted for their actions based on their faith. Paul's admonition to us after that great exposition on faith is:

      Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Heb 12:1 TLB

      Amen!(7)
    • Brigitte you said- 'We have His living testimony, the testimony of His Son Jesus to show us how to live by His faith'. In your writing you did not mentioned anything about works. While Jesus was on earth he lived both by faith and works. Hear what he mentioned in John 17:4. 'I have finished THE WORK which thou gavest me to do'. James stated faith without WORKS is a dead faith. James 2:14-16. The question is asked- can faith save us?
      James went on to give a perfect example of faith without works.

      Amen!(1)
      • Hi Lyn – I appreciate the opportunity to clarify what I meant by ‘We have His living testimony, the testimony of His Son Jesus to show us how to live by His faith’. By this I mean to say that *His Faith* is ‘His living testimony’ which demonstrates to us a life lived by faith. Jesus' whole life is the Testimony of His Faith, and therefore, Works is the Life lived by Faith!
        Eph.2:10KJV states: ”For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (prepared) that we should walk in them.

        The born-again nature is the living Faith of Christ – this new nature is His workmanship in us; all our living by faith according to His Will is the ‘works’ which God prepared that we should walk in.
        This, our new life, we live by faith, reflecting the spirit of God working within us to produce these ‘good works’ to glorify our Father which is in heaven – Matt.5:16KJV. ‘Good works’ are the testimony of God’s Glory!

        As I understand it, there is no separation between ‘good works’ and ‘living the Will of God’ by faith. Living His Faith is synonymous with WORKS; should we separate them, then we would live ‘our’ works.
        The Lord refers to ‘works’ as the ‘evidence’ of spiritual Faith. God’s Faith present in us expresses the Spirit of God - spirit manifesting the spirit's work. When we live Faith, Faith manifests itself in ‘godly’ works; ‘works’ are the evidence that God’s Spirit lives within us, expressing itself through the members of our body – James2:17KJV.

        We decide to live by Christ's Faith which is according to the Will of God, allowing the Holy Spirit’s fruit to be produced in us for our benefit and for the benefit of those we share it with to the Honor and Glory of God.

        Amen!(0)
  6. Question #1: Will the Lord reward you with physical and spiritual needs, if you listen then take action on His covenent?

    Answer: One time in Sabbath School class many moons ago, one member piped up and said the Bible supports a reward system. Many of us cringed thinking he may be going down the line of working for a reward. Several weeks later I came onto a text and the next time we I talked with him I said you are right, let me read you this text.

    And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
    Luke 14:4. And then later Christ said. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
    Revelation 22:12 KJV
    Don't get we wrong my friend Christ is not talking about working your way to heaven, no He did the work for your salvation once. Marvel of wounderous marvels, He is going to reward you because you came unto Him, surrendered, and gave your consent for Him to work through you.
    Happy Sabbath all
    John

    Amen!(4)
    • John- Are you saying there is no reward for those who follow Jesus on this earth now? Eternal life begins on this earth now, I mean in May 2021. The Blessings and the Cursing's in Deuteronomy chapter 27-31, were for the Israelites and their generations in their present day not just looking forward for any future time in heaven. Some people think in this life Christians must stay poor and beg their way to heaven which is future. My brethren, heaven begins here on earth for those who understands Jesus. The Holy Spirit dwells with and in us here and now, not now and later. What does the bible says? What about our materially rich Israelites? They were enjoying the blessings the Lord had for them? Read about the Israelites economy in
      Psalms 62:10. this is saying to me the possibility that riches will come to God people but don't let it be through oppression and robbery of all sorts.

      Amen!(0)

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