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Sunday: Eternal Choices — 19 Comments

  1. We changed fron Summer time to normal time early this morning and the change has had me out of synch all day. Consequently, I did not get around to writing a comment this morning.

    The problem with choices is that they are often broken up into little choices that we don't worry to much about until we find that our little choices have backed us into a corner.

    In computer science, we often look at the multiple processes that are taking place in the computer as little choices about moving from one state to the next. The issue is that sometimes processes lock up because they have each made choices where they can neither move forward of back out. We call this state deadlock.

    In our spiritual lives, we each make little stepwise choices every day and when we make those choices selfishly they add up until we ultimately find that we have made a big choice that we cannot back out from easily. Growing in grace means that we need help in making the little choices. That is where a relationship with God comes into play. We do not have to make those little choices by ourselves.

    (54)
  2. We changed time 3 weeks ago. You could say though, the 1st shall be last and the last shall be 1st. I hear a while back that Putin the , staying with standard time year round. Makes sense to me then I would not have to remember, Fall, fall back. And Spring, spring forward.

    Last week there was posed the question: Why do we speak of the three angels' message and not the 4 or 5, looking at Revelation 18 and Revelation 14? Now I do believe that throughout the Bible, messages are reiterated. God knowing us better than we, knows we have a thick skull. We need the reminders, such as in today's lesson: "Three times in Revelation 22:1-21 Jesus says that He is coming quickly (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20)." He loves us so much, He takes the burden of reiterating. Just like our parents. It behoves us not to take offense. Accept the love.

    (11)
  3. Our daily choices determine whether we are either for or against Jesus. Similar to the old saying, "You are what you eat," your daily choices and decisions that you put into your mind will gradually shape your characters. Obviously, we can't shape our character out of what our heart wants, for the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9).

    We honor God by allowing Him to shape our character to conform to His image. That can only be done if we are fully controlled by His Spirit. This process of sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love. “God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16). The life of him in whose heart Christ abides, will reveal practical godliness. The character will be purified and elevated. Pure doctrine will blend with works of righteousness; heavenly precepts will mingle with holy practices.

    So, what is our first choice that we need to pick which leads to our salvation? We choose to surrender ourselves to God and let His Holy Spirit work as our divine agent to lead our life.

    (13)
  4. Today's lesson states that "There will come a day when every human being on planet Earth will make their final, irrevocable decision, either for or against Jesus." However, consistent with the principle expressed in Revelation 22:11, it would be more true to say that there will come a day when every human being on planet Earth will have made their final, irrevocable decision, either for or against Jesus. This suggested refinement is more in line with what today's lesson subsequenlty states when it says "... every day, by our choices even in the so-called “little things,” we are choosing either for or against Jesus." And with what the Ellen White quote states: "...Our daily lives are determining our destiny."

    The lesson then asks "How does God shape our characters?" Again, it would be more accurate to ask "How does God help us shape our character". In harmony with what has been said above, God through His Spirit invites us to choose ("in the so called little things" that we encounter every moment in the course of "our daily lives") to think and act in ways that reflect the principle of other-benefiting rather than self-seeking/indulging. Which ever of these two opposing principles we consistently follow in those "little things" in "our daily lives" will progressively shape our character* to be either in harmony with God's Kingdom or in harmony with the Kingdom of Darkness. The former will result in life, the latter in perishing/death (as per Deuteronomy 30:15-20). As per Philippians 2:12-13, our character cannot be changed by God unless we are actively involved in the transforming process. It really, practically does come down to that.

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    * From a neurobiological perspective, when you 'choose' to respond in a certain way in a particular situation, the neuronal 'pathways' in your brain involved in that response are strengthened - increasing the chances that you will repeat that same choice next time. This is why and how, via repetition, we progressively shape and strengthen our responses in one direction or another until our character is ultimately, "irrevocably" set/'decided'.

    (20)
    • But isn't it amazing how Revelation 22:11 is placed on the "Last Chapter" of this book? So then who gave anyone the right to say that this verse belongs just before the seven Last Plagues start to fall and that therefore "Probation" has closed for SDA'S also? Yet, for me it is clear that Revelation 18:4 is the "Voice of God Himself" during the "Seventh Plague," for one last call to come out of "Spiritual Babylon" for not just SDA'S but for anyone who will heed that voice to do so; the voice of God Himself because He is a very "Merciful" God still giving Earths' Ihabitants" one last call of mercy to us.

      (0)
  5. What is the gospel?

    A person could answer by telling me a story, THE story. "In the beginning"....then Eve, Adam, serpent....the sacrifices...our Savior on the Cross....our High Priest cleansing the Heavenly Sanctuary....our King returning for us.

    But there is another answer too. This one really gripped me this morning. It is one word. And it means that perhaps a better question would be, "WHO is the gospel?"

    Jesus.

    Jesus IS the gospel. Christ is the gospel. The person of Jesus. Here's why this distinction matters to me. The gospel spotlight is to be laser-focused on Jesus, not on self. Sometimes the gospel message going out into all the world sounds to me sort of like, "Do you want to go to heaven? You don't want to go to hell, do you? Jesus loves you", and so forth. Whereas, John the Baptist prophetically reminds us that we must decrease and Christ must increase if we want to be runners for the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15).

    We can tell of God's work in our gospel proclamation....but perhaps more compelling is our testimony towards God's character. Here are two examples: (1) Job is a friend of God and in his trials, the severe losses God was allowing, Job tells God, "Though You slay me, yet will I trust You. (Job 13:15)" Job shows Satan and the watching worlds that He loves God apart from what he feels that means to himself. And his confusion about God's role in it. (2) Abraham has been given a covenant promise by God and yet God tells him to go up on a mountain and sacrifice his only son and do something seemingly against God's character, and out of keeping with the promise God made to him. The focus is off of Abraham's needs here, for sure, from Abraham's viewpoint. And yet Abraham does it. His testimony is that though he can't explain God's ways, He's solid with God Himself (Heb. 11:19).

    It is because of God's character that we are secure in His love (Romans 8:31-39). Nothing within or without can separate us from God's love because God's love springs from within Himself (the 3 of the Godhead love and serve each other). God told the infant Israelite nation in Deuteronomy 7:7-8 that they were chosen not for any characteristics of theirs or anything they had done, but just because He loved them. God answers that age-old lover's question, "Why do you love me?" with the best answer...,"Just because I do!" No chance of messing something up and losing that love. Is it going too far to think that God wants this same kind of love back from us? He wants to imprint Himself upon us so much that we can be secure in OUR love for HIM?

    One day during Jesus' earthly ministry, He told everyone to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and if they refused they were dead (John 6:53). Would you have stayed to continue listening to that sermon? Many left, misunderstood Him. Jesus asked His chosen twelve, (maybe with a choke in His voice), "Are you going to leave me too?" Peter's answer has become our own:

    “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:68

    I know this is a fine-line distinction about the gospel message. The gospel story is very Good News about God's work on our behalf. And beyond the story of God's work, we share with people the person of Jesus. His being. Our favorite Bible characters - Joseph, Moses, David, Jonah, Ruth, Rahab, and so many more - point us to Jesus through the divinely-directed details of their own life stories, through their own character development, their own dry bones coming to life, because of their choice to humble themselves before our Great I AM. We, too, are to be the ones personifying the testimony of Jesus, as we have experienced Him, as we are experiencing Him.

    (15)
    • The Gospel is "The Good News of Salvation via Jesus and His spilled blood for the Wages of Sin of all Humanity." The Apostle Paul makes this message very short in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord." And while there are 10 commandments to go by now and for eternity to have this "Eternal Life Forever and Forever" too, It is only by "Moment by moment Dependence upon what Jesus did for us 2,000 plus or minus years ago and what He is doing in heaven to help also," that we will then recieve His Seal in our foreheads etc.

      (2)
  6. The only thing we can do is to accept Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Because there is nothing else to do. The work is done throughly by God Himself. For God to shape my character I must pass through trials. That's the only way to change and keep resilience! I must learn to be thankful for my trials, because I probably won't move without a challenge.

    (7)
  7. Can someone expand on what this statement in the context of it being written by EGW is seeking to convey?

    The context of where that statement is pulled from include these statements:

    1) "...for the character you bear in probationary time will be the character you will have at the coming of Christ."

    2) "you must first be a saint on earth. The traits of character you cherish in life will not be changed by death or by resurrection."

    3) "You will come up from the grave with the same disposition you manifested in your home and in society. Jesus does not change the character at His coming."

    How do we understand these statements? What is character? Is this different from our natural bending towards self that we have today?

    How do people like the thief on the cross fit into these statements?

    I ask sincerely - as I don't have a good grasp of the intent of these statements. My understanding is we are changed to some degree when God returns.

    (4)
    • One way I tried to understand these statements was to think through what we know and possible definitions for “character”.

      https://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/how-perfect-is-perfect-or-is-christian-perfection-possible/

      Looking at this article it shows how we do struggle with our sinful nature and that is what is changed at the time of Christ Second Coming.

      Hence, “character” used in the letter sent by EGW to a family that sounded dysfunctional — and maybe a husband that sounded stubborn…

      That EGW was focusing on the training of children by the parents and maybe her focus was on the training of the children’s character to be reliant upon Christ.

      Another words she wasn’t using character to describe the sinful nature we struggle with in this life… but rather “character” more limited in scope to how we learn to spiritually mature by becoming on dependent on Christ.

      In shot, that leaves open the concept that our sinful nature is done away with at the second coming.

      (4)
    • Hi, Chad. Oxford Languages online defines "character" as:

      "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual."

      This seems to be a fair description of what I believe Ellen White says we are forming now, and that will not be changed when Jesus comes back. You ask:

      "Is this different from our natural bending towards self that we have today?"

      Frankly, I'm not 100% sure of the answer to that. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on it. On the one hand, Jesus asked the question:

      "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?" Luke 16:12 NKJV

      To put this in context, Jesus was talking about money or material resources. We are managers (stewards) of all that we now possess, but the implication seems to be that those found faithful will become actual owners in the hereafter. I believe this also applies to righteousness. We are stewards of the grace of God, partaking of the righteousness of Christ. Depending on what we do with this, God will give us righteousness of our own when Jesus comes back, like Adam and Eve had before the fall, but forfeited. They were inherently righteous; we are inherently sinful, helpless but for the blood of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.

      On the other hand, Ellen White says something very interesting, that might shed more light on your question.

      "We must learn of Christ. We must learn what He is to those He has ransomed. We must realize that it is our privilege through a belief on Christ to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. We [may] escape from all sin, all defects of character. [Christ] is the Sin-bearer, and John pointed the people to Him, saying, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' [John 1:29.] We need not retain one sinful propensity." Letters and Manuscripts, Volume 14, Manuscript 11, 1899

      Clearly, what you have called our "natural bending towards self" is identical to what she calls our "sinful propensities." Evidently she is saying that, by God's grace, we can get rid of all that now, in this life. Jesus will take it away.

      You ask:

      "How do people like the thief on the cross fit into these statements?"

      We shall see what traits of character they cherished in the end.

      I hope this helps to clarify.

      (1)
      • Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful reply.

        How do you reconcile this concept (taken from article) and the quotes listed? Is this simply the debate inside of Adventistism on if this inclination towards self can be overcome prior to the second coming?

        In almost all the great revivals believers have sought in one way or another to attain to perfection of living. They have longed for it, prayed for it, and worked for it. But the testimony of all great Christians is that they have never attained to it; that the more they strived and the closer they came to Christ, the deeper was their sense of inadequacy and inherent sinfulness.

        While their lives bore testimony to victory over sin, at the same time they felt a deeper sense of their own need and unworthiness.

        Ask Peter, James and John. Ask Martin Luther and John Wesley. Ask the noblest souls that the Christian church has ever seen, the most zealous spirits that mankind has ever produced. With one mighty chorus and with one accord they exclaim with Paul:

        Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14)

        If there is one central truth borne out in Scripture in the experience of all true believers who have come to know the saving power of God, it is this: that the only perfection, the only sinlessness they have ever seen or known has been that of Jesus Christ, the only perfect and sinless man; that because of this Jesus is the whole of their salvation, the whole of their righteousness and perfection. To be a genuine Christian means faith in Christ, fellowship with Christ, faithfulness to Christ, and fruitfulness for Christ. Faith means that man has no perfection and no righteousness of and in himself; that man trusts wholly and solely in Christ.

        https://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/how-perfect-is-perfect-or-is-christian-perfection-possible/

        (4)
        • Chad, we all need to come to grips with the fact that being born again does not make temptations go away. However, while I may not be able to control my heredity and the inclinations that comes with my heredity, I can control my choices with the help of the Holy Spirit. I see no need to "debate" the issue any farther than that. Everyone has their own idea as to what last generation perfection will look like, and the fact is, God will take care of that Himself without our debates. My job is not to win a debate on perfection. My job is to surrender to Jesus each and every day. When I fall, confess my sins and claim His forgiveness and the gift of repentance. I am to love Jesus with all my heart and strength. God Himself will work out all the details.

          "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

          No matter what we "debate" possible, Paul has already told us God will do way more for us and is us.

          (7)
          • My experience has given caution about assuming I understand what people intend to convey. Hence the clarifying questions to connect the proverbial dots and gain a better perspective on the intended context and ideas.

            And yet- appreciative with the idea that some things may not be clarified beyond a high level perspective.

            (1)
        • Hi, Chad. I totally agree with what William has said. I also agree with you. In fact, I think that you have expressed it wonderfully well!

          As with most such debates, I believe that both sides are right and both sides are wrong. Typically, they are right in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny. Eternal truth tends to go much deeper than we are fully capable of going, and as a result, the Bible is full of paradoxes.

          Since you began with a discussion of some of Ellen White's statements, I want to show you that she was on the other side of the question as well.

          "The closer we come to Jesus, the more faults we will see in our own lives. We will see our faults more clearly as we compare our sinful selves with the perfect Saviour. This will show that Satan’s false ideas are losing their power over us and that the life-giving Spirit of God is leading us.

          "Deep love for Jesus cannot live in our hearts if we do not know we are sinful. If we are changed by the grace of Christ, we will admire the Saviour’s holy character. If we do not see that we are sinful, this shows that we have never seen the beauty and perfection of Christ.

          "The less we find to admire in ourselves, the more we shall see to admire in Christ’s infinite purity and beauty. When we see how sinful we are, we turn to Him who can pardon. When we see that we have no power, we reach out after Christ. Then Christ comes with power to help.

          "Our sense of need drives us to the Saviour and to the Word of God. The more we see of His beautiful character, the more we shall become like Him." Steps to Jesus, pages 63-64

          If we had any righteousness of our own, then that would obviously give us some merit. But see what Ellen White had to say about that.

          "Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect [accomplish] anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit." Faith and Works, page 19

          So, we needn't suppose that Ellen White was on just one side of this "debate," or that there was anything incomplete or one-sided in her approach. How do we reconcile the two sides of the question? I think you said it yourself.

          "While their lives bore testimony to victory over sin, at the same time they felt a deeper sense of their own need and unworthiness."

          Isn't it the coolest thing that, in the investigative judgment, the character of such unworthy creatures as we, should be "found to be in harmony" with the law of God!

          (6)
          • Appreciate your kindness in your responses. I was quoting from the article, but didn’t use the right html tags to do the quotations like you and William have done so well.

            Why the paradox in the statements? To attempt an answer maybe the concept is to push the idea to always press forward and simply don’t give up even if you see your own unworthiness … and that feeling unworthy is a good sign.

            Hence, what is changed at the 2nd coming and what is achieved before then is left in this tension of two ideas so that we don’t look to ourselves.

            Not a great answer. I see why there is opinions either way. Seems to come down to which statements one chooses to emphasize.

            Thank you both for your thoughts and help. It is appreciated and wish you all the best.

            (1)
        • In one sense it is a little bit like studying for a PhD. The more you learn, the more you understand how much you don't know. The sensible thing is to understand where you are in that spectrum of learning and understanding.

          In our Christian growth, it is not so much about attaining, but appreciating where you are in that spectrum of growth. That has the potential to give us confidence.

          (6)
  8. Jesus showed to us His total love when He gave out wholeheartedly to die for the sinners ,for Love is the greatest commandment ad Jesus gave us freely ,,,,
    the day of the greatest attornment everyone with get exactly with the same measure what he/she planted ,,, ( eternal choices) thus are more easy when we give out a clear way paths towards earning salvation

    (2)
  9. How does God shape our characters? In His School, one day at a time via His Word, His Promises, etc. and etc.

    (4)

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