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Sabbath: The Everlasting Covenant — 16 Comments

  1. I am a pragmatist at heart. I like things that I can see, hear, taste, smell, touch, measure, and carry in the present. One of the things that I have noted about the covenants in the Bible was they they too are about practical things. Our discussion this week is about the everlasting covenant. I carry this question in my mind when discussing this topic: What practical application does this have in my interaction with those who need to hear the Gospel?

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    • Hi Maurice - Being the curious, ever-inquisitive person that I am, I went to WikiDiff to find a description of 'pragmatist':
      - A pragmatist is someone who is pragmatic, that is to say, someone who is practical and focused on reaching a goal. A pragmatist usually has a straightforward, matter-of-fact approach and doesn't let emotion distract her/him.
      - Most pragmatists try to find a middle way between metaphysical realism and relativism, between dogmatism and skepticism by using the pragmatic maxim, that in order to ascertain the meaning of a conception we should consider what practical consequences might conceivably result from the truth of that conception.
      - The philosophical differences between pragmatism and realism are profound. Pragmatism views scientific inquiry as the attempt to find theories that work, that make a difference, to a practical or intellectual problem. ... The realist posits a mind-independent world that scientific theories attempt to describe.

      We have been sharing our comments for a while now. I am not surprised to find you declaring yourself a pragmatist. Please allow me to surmise that you, as a pragmatist applying faith, want to see practical results. What do you see God, as the Authority and author of the New Covenant with man based on Faith, accomplishe practically and spiritually by His Covenant?
      You 'like' things you can "see, hear, taste, smell, touch, measure and carry in the presence". Do you see them as proof of your faith, or do you also accept, but without sure, rational, practical proof, that the ultimate purpose of applied Faith is everlasting life - the by faith accepted practical outcome of all we do based on faith? Can you, the pragmatist, truly value/accept everlasting life as the ultimate spiritual and practical outcome of applied faith?

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      • Hmmm! To be honest Brigitte, I am not exactly sure where you are going with this. All I really wanted to say is that Christianity is not just a mind game. It has to have a practical application where and when the rubber hits the road.

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        • Maurice, the intent of my comment/question was to inquire if you could consider God to be also a pragmatist. If not yet, then you might look at His complex task of bringing material, sensory oriented man to accept spiritual truth to bring about a physical, material outcome beneficial in this life, but ultimately meant for the spiritual life to come.
          And yes, his approach of using faith to accomplish that is the only means by which the rubber can meet the road. Christianity was never meant to be a mind game; that is what his adversary turned it into. God always, from the beginning, has been very pragmatic - almost to a fault. If looked at it with spiritual eyes, you can ‘see’ this very clearly.
          My ending question was: ‘can you, the pragmatist, truly/fully value the spiritual outcome of applied, practical faith to be everlasting life if you do not know how this will be lived?

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          • Yes, God is pragmatic but I don't think he is a pragmatist in the philosophical, metaphysical sense that you read about. He wants us to know him and that knowledge is available to us in a variety of ways and experiences. All of us are different, I have a background in Chemistry and Physics so I come to my understanding of God by considering the real physical world. I also see God in the interactions I have with fellow believers. I am unsure of what you mean by your last question. I am not all that worried about eternal life. I have life now, and hopefully the way I live that life is a practical witness to the God I love.

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            • Maurice - Thank you for your willingness to engage in this somewhat personal dialogue. I avoid being too personal in my questions, though hope that others might benefit from this exchange as well, as it relates to the everlasting Covenant God made with man for the benefit of man and His Glory; a practical goal and valued purpose.

              In your reply you mention that you are "not all that worried about eternal life". If not worried, you are at least interested in obtaining it, as it is the reason why you chose to live the way you live now, correct?
              We learn that God designed and offers this practical Way of Life, containing the life-giving spiritual essence/core, as the means to redeem us from the life of sin and, having remained faithful, obtain the ultimate price - eternal life.

              There is no other reason why man would choose to live this life, unless he thinks that this choice, [made outside of God's Grace, without repentance], has the capacity to beneficially influences his life lived now; not recognizing that only because of His Grace are we still alive. In my understanding, living His *Way of Light and Truth resulting in Life*, and mankind's Redemption are one and the same.

              Are a pragmatist's actions not depending, or directly linked to the goal/outcome or valued purpose because this defines and therefore selects how best to reach the chosen goal or purpose? The Way of Life by faith is two-fold, as it is practically applied in order to reach a spiritual goal.

              As I see it, those who live the Will of God do so because of the purpose (reason = Salvation) and goal (desired eternal life) recognized in heart and mind, don't you think so too?
              As a pragmatist, do you consider that doing acts of kindness, your practical focus as you live your life, showing with this that you love God, can be done without being motivated by the reward of God's Plan of Redemption - His ultimate goal for mankind? - for, if followed faithfully, this offers existence beyond this earthly experience.

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            • Ah Brigitte, you wrote:

              n your reply you mention that you are "not all that worried about eternal life". If not worried, you are at least interested in obtaining it, as it is the reason why you chose to live the way you live now, correct?

              I choose to live the way I live now because it is the way that builds my relationship with my friend, God. I am not living to get eternal life.

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            • For me, eternal life is not something in the future. To me, eternal life and abundant life are the same thing - just different terms. I believe there is only one way that life can actually viably be possible and that is what God lives and what He creates creation to also experience. If we use a label, we can say that Adam and Eve were daily, moment by moment living eternal life prior to Genesis 3. In Genesis 3 they lost connection with eternal life because they went out of harmony with what was essential for true life. And so God has been working to progressively rectify this ever since.

              Thus, eternal life is a way of living rather than something that begins at some point off into the future. Consequently, I believe John 5:24 is a present tense statement.

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        • Hi Maurice,
          I understand and agree with you, that we need to see the practical part of our faith in God.

          Our Sabbath school lesson says, “God out of His saving grace and love offers you a salvation that you do not deserve and cannot possibly earn;”, which is 100% true. However, Jesus told his disciples a parable about the fig tree in Luke 13;6-9. The owner of the garden came to a healthy looking fig tree, but couldn’t find any fruit (or figs) to eat. He asked the vineyard’s dresser, “these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?”. He wanted to “see” some physical evidence that the fig tree was healthy and growing stronger. If it is healthy, then it should have some figs on it. If not, then it’s just a fake tree, looking healthy, but taking up space where other trees could grow and be healthy.

          In Matthew 21:17-22, Jesus, the morning after His triumphant procession into Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he saw a healthy looking fig tree, but again there was no figs on the tree. He told his disciples, “ Let no fruit grow on thee [on this fig tree]”, and the fig tree immediately withered. Jesus wants to see evidence, the practical evidence, that this fig tree was doing what it was created to do, produce figs. His disciples was amazed, and somewhat bewildered that Jesus would pronounce such a harsh and swift sentence on a tree; they probably felt like the vineyard dresser in the parable , “give the fig tree more time, to see if maybe it will improve with some additional pruning “. Jesus answered their questions and thoughts, about how quickly the fig tree withered, with the True meaning of Faith, a faith that you (and everyone else around you) should be able to see; a Faith that we still do not understand. Jesus told them, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

          Recently, I have decided that I want to plant a fig tree, so I’m studying how (and when) to plant and grow a healthy fig tree. I tried to root a young fig tree from a cutting that I got from a neighborhood produce stand, who has several fig trees on their property. She warned me that it usually takes about three years to see any figs (fruit) on the tree. My cuttings all died from too much water (I remembered my mother doing that with her cuttings); so, now I’m studying again how to plant and grow a fig tree. It’s not as easy as it looks, you have to plant it in the right place, a very sunny place in your yard, but they do grow in mostly any kind of soil, so that’s a good thing. However, you do have to learn how to prune the fig tree from year to year, as well as cultivated the soil; adding mulch and eggshells around the base of the tree can help fertilize the tree. However, you still have to watch out for predators that will destroy the fig tree. One of the uncommon predators, which one person said destroyed her fig tree, is the Gopher; the gopher destroyed the fig tree by digging down in the ground, and ate the root balls of the fig tree.

          I’m saying all this to say that Jesus was illustrating to us, in the parable, that we are the fig trees, and we should be producing fruit. Fruit, not just in the sense of bringing in new disciples (although that is a part of it, see Matthew 28:18-20), but also the fruit of living out the purposes you were born to do. That’s the physical and practical evidence of our belief in God. The need to see the physical evidence is also why we have a “revolving door” in many of our churches. They, the new converts, come in wanting and needing to see the practical side of religion, but often they see something different in our churches, and we don’t teach them that it’s a spiritual process (growth period), so they leave our churches in search of some other practical methods to satisfy their needs. If we would remember that all living things (plants, animals, and humans) are always in search for something to satisfy their needs (be it water, food, love, money, or acknowledgment), then we as the vineyard dresser would be able to cultivate them to grow into disciples. But unfortunately, we are too busy with our own lives, thinking about our own needs, to be bother with studying and providing for others needs.

          Sorry again for the long post.

          God’s blessings to you!!

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  2. Today's lesson 'defines' covenant and gospel as follows:

    "...God out of His saving grace and love offers you a salvation that you do not deserve and cannot possibly earn; and you, in response, love Him back “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30), a love that is made manifest by obedience to His law..."

    [Now what I am about to say is not a criticism of the author because this definition is widely portrayed across Christianity.]

    What do you notice as you read this definition/description? Does it have a radiant warmth about it that draws you in - or is it rather 'sterile' and 'contractual'?

    It is really hard (?impossible) to put into words what the 'LOVE' that God both has and shares with us (so that we too are consumed by that same love) is like. It is 100% experiential, yet also 100% reality-based. Love can't exist in a vacuum and it can't not love. Infact this love can't not shower everything around it in love - unless something doesn't want to be showered in love. Then, and only then, will love respect that freedom and reluctantly refrain from such showering.

    This kind of love is unable to see another as 'non-deserving'. It is incapable of expecting or requiring to be loved-back in return. And "obedience to the law" is not a manifestation of love so much as it is the heart-beat of love.

    The consideration of God's true version of 'love' is at the same time both reality-based and infinitely experiential. It is no mere sentimentalism but is at the same time profoundly sentimental.

    So what then is covenant/gospel? I would propose that it is God's promise to, as Creator, provide everything needed to enable you to be part of a community (common-unity) of people that together with God delight in mutually sharing-experiencing abundant life characterised by nothing but authentic and perfectly harmonious other-focused love - if you are willing. Can you imagine what that feels like?

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    • Phil, if all that flows from the being is love, is it possible for such to refrain from showering that love? Is it a different attribute that would “hate” evil or sin (Dt 18:12; Ps 5:5; 11:5; 45:7) or be “jealous” about unfaithfulness (Ex 34:14; Josh 24:19)?

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      • May I suggest my take on the question?
        The way I see it, since "God is love," He will never act from any motivation other than love.
        To love righteousness/right is to "hate evil" because evil destroys happiness and all that is good.
        Since the only way to be happy, healthy and holy is to worship God alone (since we become like the object of our worship), God's "jealousy" is not to protect His self-interests (as human jealousy is likely to be), but an expression of self-forgetful love for His created beings - He does not want them destroyed through the worship of an inferior "god" who would debase their character.

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      • Kenny, while I agree with Inge's comment, I would add that our considerations on the question you ask will be best answered if we realize the Love of God, and thus our love for Him and our fellow man, cannot be a love based on feelings, sentiments, and emotions, but that love must be a living principle of action that is always fair, honest, just, kind, courteous, unbiased and uncontrived. Such a love will be easily and naturally demonstrated even to an enemy.

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      • Hi Kenny

        True Love also does not coerce - which includes not forcing itself upon someone that genuinely doesn't want it. I believe and find that while God does not shower/emanate anything but love, at the same time He will not force anyone who doesn't want to receive that love and the accompanying abundant life that love fosters. Therefore love will reluctantly but nevertheless definitively allow that person to not receive (participate in) that life - the inherent consequence of which is cessation of existence.

        Although the Bible talks about God hating and being jealous, I believe God's experience of what we understand by these terms is radically different than we typically perceive such to be. I agree with Inge's thoughts re God's 'jealousy'.

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  3. The everlasting covenant with God is the result of a sinner accepting the Gospel on the terms provided(e.g. God forgives if I repent, though God is always forgiving in nature). I am simply unable to benefit from God's forgiveness without my repentance. My repentance therefore is the evidence of my faith and acceptance of God's covenant to save me by the Gospel of Christ. It is everlasting since it comes with no expiration date, though it was not needed/offered until there was sin. Sin did not exist in God's “very good” creation until a creature of high position desired to be above God Himself, and exercised his free-will against God's government, and as absurd as this notion sounds to most, every departure from the Sovereign will of God(expressed in His law) is the very act of placing one's self above the Sovereign God who created all things. In such an act one mimics the original Apostate. Yet God, who is “merciful, gracious, longsuffering...willing to forgive...” offers His covenant to every sinner, who must exercise their free-will to accept on the terms provided.

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