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Wednesday: The Divination Cup — 37 Comments

  1. Whatever else we learn from this episode, Judah is an example of self-sacrificing love. Judah had had a checkered history, but clearly, he had learned from his mistakes. That is both a challenge and encouragement to all of us.

    Amen!(50)
  2. Question in study: What principle of love, as exemplified in Judah’s response, is implied in the process of substitution? How does this kind of love explain the biblical theology of salvation? (See Romans 5:8.)

    Exodus 21:
    23 “If there is an injury, then you must give *life for life*
    24 “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
    25 “burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.

    The law's Justice shows a one life for a one life, same for same !

    What sort of LIFE can redeem *ALL* creation to an elevated status..?

    None other than the *Divine Life* (full content of divine nature) of the incarnate Word of God. Oh What Love and humility!

    Proof the WORD / Jesus is fully Divine and is worshipped by all, in Revelation 5.

    2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (CSB)
    16 ...... Even if we have known Christ from a *worldly perspective* yet now *we no longer know him in this way.*

    17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

    18 Everything is from God, who has
    *reconciled us to himself through Christ*
    and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

    19 That is, *in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself*

    not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

    20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him *we might become the righteousness of God.*

    Shalom in his Majesty
    🙏

    Amen!(15)
  3. I found an interesting comment by GC publishers on that subject:
    „ God sometimes allows someone to put a cup in our sack as a reality check- to see where we are in our Christian walk. Perhaps we have a lustful experience and a cup is put in our sack to see if we are still controlled by the flesh. Perhaps we are facing a time when coveting, lying or stealing seem to be the best option (God doesn’t tempt us to sin, but He does sometimes allow others to). Perhaps a cup is put in our sack that calls upon us to turn the other cheek or maybe a cup that tests our response to ill health.
    Joseph found his brothers were not the men they used to be; it is evident that they have grown in their lives. When a cup is put in your sack, what about you? Do you and others, see spiritual growth in you when the test comes? „

    Amen!(41)
    • God does not temp us to sin? Did God not "tempt," Abraham to sin? Did God not tempt Abraham to "kill" his son Isaac? And did Joseph not "lie" when he told his brothers that he could "divine?" Some will say that God did not tempt Abraham but that He "tested," him. So what is the difference between testing us and tempting us? And yes, God did not allow Abraham to go through with the test to kill his son but provided instead a ram caught in the branches by its horns as a substitute for Isaac and also for Abraham. And scripture does say that "a way of escape" 1 Corinthians 10:13 will be provided by God for us when we are tempted to sin. But Scripture also says that "If we sin we have an (advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous) who is the propitiation for....the sins of the whole world" 1 John 2:1,2. So, then Jesus is the way of escape not only to keep us from sinning but also to save us from the condemnation of sin if we fail the test!

      Amen!(2)
      • Hi Pete
        I always enjoy your comments. 👍

        What some people overlook in the ATONEMENT = AT-ONE-MENT is
        That GOD is both JUST (to himself) and Justifier to fallen mankind.

        The #FIRST# part #JUST# is that God can #NOT# compromise his DIVINE nature of Love, Mercy, long Suffering and Justice.

        Here are two scriptures that stress this truth !

        Colossians 1:19-23 (CSB)
        19 For God was pleased to have all his #fullness dwell# in him,
        20 and through him to #reconcile everything to HIMSELF# , whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

        2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (CSB)
        18 Everything is from God, who has #reconciled us# to #HIMSELF# through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

        19 That is, #in Christ, God was reconciling the world to HIMSELF#
        not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
        20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: #Be reconciled to God#
        21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him #we MIGHT become the righteousness of God#

        The divine life tasted death, all creation died when the sustainer of all life died on the cross.
        The resurrection IS A NEW CREATION.
        Satan had no idea !

        Hebrews 1:3 (CSB)
        The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, # sustaining all things by his powerful word#
        After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

        In Christ
        🙏

        Amen!(1)
  4. I believe that substitutionary atonement explains the biblical theology of salvation.
    These three agree.
    Jesus said: Mat 26:28 MKJV For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
    Paul said: 2Co 5:21 For He (God) has made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
    Peter said: 1Pe 2:24 MKJV He (Jesus) Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.
    John also agrees: 1 John 1:7-9 the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    Substitutionary Atonement is one of the Fundamental Beliefs of the SDA Community of Faith.
    BELIEF 9: THE LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
    In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The bodily resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22:1; Isa. 53; John 3:16; 14:30; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.)

    The Biblical Research Institute published an article which gives an in-depth biblical discussion on substitutionary atonement that answered all my questions and I highly recommend it.
    https://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/BRI-Release-12-2.pdf
    Substitutionary Atonement

    Amen!(18)
    • Substitutionary Atonement is an interesting document. That the author takes over 10,000 words to make his case implies that the matter is not cut and dried.

      Thanks for pointing out an interesting read. An in-depth study of this topic in the context of God's love as expressed in Christ could make for a worthwhile Quarterly lesson study.

      Amen!(1)
    • I have taken the time to review the Substitutionary Atonement article very carefully. This article is based upon an underpinning assumption - that the connection between sin and death (eg Romans 6:23) is imposed rather than inherent in nature. IF it is in fact the case that the connection between sin and death is an imposed rather than inherent phenomenon, then it is also true that sin is actually a viable state of living whereby if God did not require application of a death penalty, the sinner could actually continue living on in sin. Such a view accords with Satan's statement to Eve that "you will not surely die" (Genesis 3:4).

      But if I carefully examine scripture through a functional analysis perspective (ie, how do things actually function/operate), I find clear and consistent presentation of inherent reality as the widest reality in operation (as per Galatians 6:7 summary statement). Such a view is consistent with careful reading of Romans 6:23 that identifies sin as paying the wage of death* and explicitly contrasts that with God providing the gift of life. This parallels perfectly with Galatians 6:8 which notes that ruin and destruction are reaped "from the flesh" while "eternal life" are reaped from the Spirit. Romans 8:2 is yet another perfect parallel.

      Within the kingdom of this world, we do not have the power to create inherent reality and therefore are so accustomed to, by default, perceiving things through an imposed reality paradigm. But such is not the case with God and the reality that is the Kingdom of God.

      ----------
      * All English translations of the Bible that I can find state that the wages OF sin is death. Such is consistent with a view of the connection as inherent. On the other hand, if the connection is in fact imposed (non-inherent), then the verse should be translated as the wages FOR sin. This alone is not my basis for proposing inherent rather than imposed, it is just one of many threads that together provide consistent support for such a proposition.

      Amen!(2)
      • Phil, we obviously disagree, I believe that it is God who grants eternal life or not. I don't believe that "sin" has power to decide my fate. Sin is another word to describe rebellion against the law of God.
        I believe the only "reality" that exists is the LORD's Kingdom governed by His Principles of Life. An example of how it operates is found in Leviticus 26. The LORD said if you obey I will bless you but if you do not obey I will punish you. However if you repent and confess your inquity I will remember My Covenent.

        In Christ's life and death God provided the only means of atonement for human sin which vindicates the righteousness of His law and the graciousness of His character, for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming.

        One of my favourite verses is 1John 1:7-9 the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

        I am not trying to change your mind, I am just sharing what I believe based on the Word of the LORD.

        Amen!(4)
        • I appreciate your response Shirley. Yes, we do indeed differ in regard to how we each interpret and understand the Word of the LORD due to our differing belief regarding the nature of the realities and principles of the LORD's Kingdom.

          I understand and appreciate that you are not trying to change my mind - as I am not trying to change yours. We are both just sharing what we believe and why regarding our understanding/s of the Word of the LORD. As I suspect you may agree, that is all we are called to do - to give the reason for the hope we each have in the LORD and to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). And then each person here at Sabbath School net can search out for themselves what they believe and why (Acts 17:11), being assured that even when we have differing views, we can still walk together in unity in Christ because we retain a Spirit of respect and benevolence towards each other as fellow believers in God.

          Thanks for taking the time to outline your beliefs and your basis for such in regard to the topic under discussion, including the link to the article on Substitutionary Atonement.

          Amen!(3)
      • “For the death that He (Christ) died, He died “to sin” once for all…” Rom 6:10
        “He made Him who knew no sin sin on our behalf…” 2 Cor 5:20
        “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that “we might die to sin”…1 Pt 2:24
        If the death is inherent in the sin, how does an absolutely holy, sinless Christ die an inherent death to sin? Our only hope was in a pure, holy, divine substitute who alone is able to endure that death. A substitute is valid only if it is a penal death.
        The death imposed on Adam was God’s righteous judgment of the act of eating that which was forbidden (Eccl 8:11; Rom 1:32; 2:2,4,5; Rom 3:5,6,21-26; 8:3).

        Since all have sinned, all must die that death. All believers die that death in Christ. All unbelievers suffer that death on the last day.

        Amen!(5)
        • Hi Kenny. Thanks for your contribution.

          In response to your valid question "If the death is inherent in the sin, how does an absolutely holy, sinless Christ die an inherent death to sin?", the answer is Christ didn't. Christ's death was different as per Philippians 2:8 and John 10:18. Because Jesus didn't sin, He retained the 'right' to and connection with eternal life - just as Adam would have if he had not sinned. Therefore Jesus could not die unless He laid down His life - which also involved the Father temporarily 'forsaking' (Matthew 27:46, ie releasing) Him to do so (via temporary release of the connection of the oneness that Jesus referred to in John 17:21).

          With regard to the bible verses you listed, reading the exact same words in those (and any other) bible verse will produce a different view according to whether they are seen through an imposed or inherent presupposition. That is why the issue of whether God operates on an imposed or inherent reality basis is such a significant issue to investigate.

          Amen!(1)
        • “He made Him who knew no sin sin on our behalf…” 2 Cor 5:20

          What a person thinks about God’s character and the reality of his laws will determine not only how he reads the Bible, but how he translates it. Your citation is a good example of this.

          God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NET.)

          He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 TLV.)

          Jewish (and some other) translations of the Bible all make the Messiah a “sin offering” not “sin” for us. As a religiously educated Jew, Paul would have understood the Messiah as a “sin offering” not “sin.” There is a huge difference in the theological understandings behind these statements.

          The idea that God would make the Messiah “sin” for us implies God is a vengeful (loving?) tyrant who requires that somebody has to “pay” when his will (as expressed in his law) is crossed to satisfy his wrathful character. This would appear to be a very dysfunctional form of “love.”

          However, if God made the Messiah a “sin offering” who was offered as a propitiation to us, it would fundamentally demonstrate his character of love as embodied in his law. In this, “God demonstrates his love for us by the fact that the Messiah died for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 ISV.) “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.” (1 John 4:10 MKJV.)

          The revelation of God’s love for us is the point of the cross, not substitution. (John 3:14-17.) It is this demonstrated love that calls us to have the same attitude (mind) as Christ. (Philippians 2:5-8.) It is this demonstration that calls us to fully identify with (be in) the Messiah.

          Just some thoughts.

          Amen!(1)
          • “He made Him who knew no sin sin on our behalf” is a literal translation of 2 Cor 5:21. Both “to be” and “offering” are supplied. No believer conceives of Christ as having actually been “made sin”. He was a sin offering and that involves His necessary “death to sin”. No vengeance is involved whatever.
            In the type, under Law, the penitent brings an animal that is perfect, unblemished, without defect and places his hand on the animal’s head, a symbolic act indicating that the animal was to stand in the penitent’s place.
            Lev 4:3 If the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.
            Lev 1:3 “… he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.
            1 Pt 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, just for unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

            Why is the death of the perfect unblemished animal (Christ) necessary? Why couldn’t the perfect, blameless, unblemished character and life of the sin offering suffice for redemption, reconciliation? The offered animal is first put to death, then its blood, representing its perfect blameless unblemished life is presented to God as the life of the penitent, now justified before God. Without the shedding of blood there is no life for sinners.

            Six days before Passover Christ became “troubled in soul” and He said: “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” The same troubled soul, in the garden, begged for relief from “the cup”. The cup in context is symbolic language for God’s wrath against sin (Job 21:20; Isa 51:17,22; 63:6; Jer 25:15,16; Ezk 23:31-35; Hab 2:16; Jn 18:11; Rev 14:10; 16:19). The covenant of redemption was forged between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world (Jn 6:38-40). That covenant involved Christ bearing “eternal separation” from His Father, from which, in the garden, His soul was revulsed. God poured out the full fury of His wrath on His Son (Rom 8:3; 6:10; 3:24,25; 1 Jn 2:2; 2 Thess 1:4,5,8-10). This occurred on the cross during the 3 hours of deep darkness before He yielded up His spirit in physical death (Matt 27:45,46; Mk 15:33,34).
            Christ, by His death and His life, has rescued His people, whom He so loved, from the wrath to come (1 These 1:9,10; Rom 5:8,9; Eph 5:5,6; Col 3:5,6).

            Amen!(2)
            • Kenny, I appreciate your detailed and thought-provoking response.

              Actually, there are Christians who believe that Christ was literally made sin specifically so that he could be our substitute and experience the penalty for our sin so that we would experience God’s forgiveness and eternal life. That this is a common evangelical misunderstanding of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is obvious from the many Internet articles written to clarify the error. Just google “2 Corinthians 5:21”.

              My experience is that post-modern secular humanists find the theology of the suffering and death of an innocent person to “pay” for the sin of the guilty incomprehensible and inhumane. This is how my wife’s atheist cousin reacted when approached with “substitution” theology: “Don’t tell me about your vindictive petty god, who sends his son (that he supposedly loves) to do his dirty work.” As she points out, a god who would do this has a character of something other than love.

              You cite Levitical sacrificial law to support substitution. However, the way I read the laws regarding bloody sacrifices, the act of placing the hand on the animal’s head was symbolic not of substitution, but of fully identifying with the archetype the sacrifice represented in type, that is, the Messiah. There appears to be nothing in the Levitical texts to support the idea of “that the animal was to stand in the penitent’s place.”

              You cite 1 Peter 3:18 as support, but context verses 19 to 22 make it abundantly clear that only those who identify with Christ (that is, are in Christ) are reconciled to God, just as only those who were in Noah’s ark were saved from the destruction of the flood. Peter’s letter makes the point that it is only in Christ that we can die to our “fleshly” nature, be made alive in the spirit and be united with God at the final resurrection. This is at-one-ment (atonement), not substitution. Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension is only accessible to the believer if he is “in Christ.”

              Atonement through identity with the Messiah (not substitution) is the focus of Jesus’ words in John 15 and 17. And it is the focus of the letters of Paul, John and Peter that have over 150 references to being “in Christ”, “in Christ Jesus” and “in him.” Atonement in Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father unless he is in Christ. (John 14:6,11.)

              “The offered animal is first put to death, then its blood, representing its perfect blameless unblemished life is presented to God as the life of the penitent, now justified before God.”
              I understand this differently. The blood of the Lamb of God is his life, and is not represented as that of the suppliant, and if the supplicant has identified himself with the Lamb (that is, he is in Christ), his offering will be effective because he has put his trust in Lamb’s faithfulness.

              The blood of animal sacrifices is not presented before the Lord in the Holy Place, unless either the High Priest or the whole congregation inadvertently sins, which would likely occur very infrequently. Instead, it is poured out at the base of the Altar of Burnt Offering located in the sanctuary courtyard. If it is for the inadvertent sin of a leader or common person, then the blood is first applied to the horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering. (Leviticus 1 to 7.)

              The sanctuary service teaches in type that it is only by identifying himself with the One the sacrificial animal represents that the supplicant can be forgiven of sin and guilt, be fully dedicated to God, and have fellowship (peace) with God and man.

              The last paragraph of your comment states that Christ “in the garden, begged for relief from ‘the cup’. The cup in context is symbolic language for God’s wrath against sin.” However, when the mother of the sons of Zebedee requested special status for her sons, Jesus replied:

              “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you [the sons of Zebedee] able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He told them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give. Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:22-23 NET.)

              Would you please explain how James and John drank the cup that Jesus drank? It may be that reading the assumption of penal substitution into the cup that Jesus (and James and John) drank does not actually fit the context.

              Amen!(0)
          • Richard, you wrote

            However, if God made the Messiah a “sin offering” who was offered as a propitiation to us, it would fundamentally demonstrate his character of love as embodied in his law. In this, “God demonstrates his love for us by the fact that the Messiah died for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 ISV.) “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.” (1 John 4:10 MKJV.)

            The revelation of God’s love for us is the point of the cross, not substitution. (John 3:14-17.)

            Could you explain what you see "propitiation" to mean when you say that the Messiah was offered as "propitiation to us"?

            Furthermore, could you explain the function of the offerings in the OT sanctuary system? Somehow the ides of offerings made to the sinner by the sinner (which would parallel your statement) don't make a lot of sense to me.

            I agree that the cross was a revelation of God's love for us, but that was not all. I see the Atonement as multi-faceted - a subject we will explore for eternity. Thus reducing it down to a single facet does not do it justice and makes us miss much of what God designs to teach us.
            Could you consider that Christ's death on the cross was a revelation of His love and a substitutionary death? Most Christians actually see it as an act of love because He died in place of us - that is, His death was a substitutionary death.

            Amen!(1)
      • Phil, you wrote

        ... careful reading of Romans 6:23 that identifies sin as paying the wage of death* and explicitly contrasts that with God providing the gift of life.

        Responding narrowly to this specific statement - one could as easily say that "the wages of sin is death" means that somebody other than sin "pays" the wages to the sinner because in physical reality, the work itself (sin) does not "pay wages," but someone else does.

        When it is said that the wages of carpentry is $50.00 and hour, the wages are paid to the carpenter, not "carpentry." That is, unless you consider sin an entity that dies, rather than the person who sins. So perhaps we need to know whether in this text you consider that it is sin that dies or the sinner who dies in consequence of sin.

        Amen!(1)
    • So where does "Faith," fit in to this substitutionary atonement idea of redemption? And why do we need another written document of so many words besides the one that is already in the Bible? For example in Hebrews 10:19,20 for us to enter "The Holiest by the blood of Jesus....etc.?" There it says very clearly that it is Jesus' own flesh, represented by "the veil" that was torn at Jesus' crucifixion that can be ours, "by faith" to be sure! But again, why then do we need more than what is already written in God's Word, "The Bible?"

      Amen!(2)
      • Yes Pete, I believe the Word of the LORD confirms that Jesus died for our sins and if we accept this by faith we will be saved. 1Jn 1:7-9 KJV  the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. ...  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. See all the texts below that confirm and support this understanding of redemption.
        *However there are some people that don't believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins so they need additional reasoning to convince them.

        BELIEF 9: THE LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
        In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The bodily resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22:1; Isa. 53; John 3:16; 14:30; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.)

        *With gentleness and respect see Phil's comment: 2nd Adam

        Amen!(3)
        • I disagree with your idea, Shirley Debeer, that people still need additional reasoning to convince them that Jesus died to pay for their sins etc. There is a proverb in the Bible that is so clear that "Of the making of many books there is no end." And even EGW wrote in her "Many books," that if God's people had been reading "The Bible," that there would have been no need for her writings at all. So here we are, still "Writings many books about Jesus dying for our sins etc." And here we still are just needing to get into "The Bible and the Bible only," to get what we really need spiritually for our salvation in Jesus and Jesus only.

          Amen!(2)
          • I'm curious, Pete, as to what you see as the commission given to Christ's followers. Since the writing of the Bible was concluded many hundreds of years ago and widely available, what's left for us to do?

            Amen!(1)
            • I tell people that the Gospel is very simple and the Apostle Paul who also wrote much yet also wrote things that made the Gospel of Jesus very simple like Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." And While the writing of the Bible was concluded when the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation, even Moses left a Gem of Spiritual value in Deuteronomy 4:29,30 that was meant for you and me for the "Latter Days." Simply to seek God with our whole mind, heart, and soul, and that we would find Him. This is our commission: help people to seek God with their whole mind, heart and soul. EGW compared her ministry and writings to John the Baptists ministry and said that her ministry and writings were a "lesser light pointing to the greater light." So, we are to be lesser lights pointing to the greater light Jesus and Jesus only via Bible and Bible only.

              Amen!(2)
            • Thanks, Pete. I agree with most of your comment. However, your disagreement with Shirley seemed to indicate that since the Bible is available, people have all they need. Now you are clarifying that we do have a work to do - to point people to Jesus, and I whole-heartedly agree.

              Shirley said that some people don't believe that Jesus died for their sins and that they need more reasoning, and that makes sense. We don't just hand them the Bible. We use the gifts God gave us to use whatever means appropriate to help them to see Jesus. We can't do that, obviously, unless we demonstrate the love of Jesus in our own lives.

              Amen!(1)
          • My Mission is - 1Peter 3:15 - Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
            So I was searching for the Biblical answers to the following questions:
            1)What is God’s standard to grant eternal life?
            2)What is God’s consequence if one misses that mark?
            3)What is God’s solution for those who fall short of the mark?
            With your answer to each question please provide at least two texts each from the Old & New Testament.
            Please also explain in simple words any theological terms used.

            All contributions welcome.

            Amen!(1)
  5. Judah was willing to sacrifice himself for his father, for his brother(s), for family. He lived out 1 John 3:16-18. Here he exemplified Jesus, our Big Brother who perfectly loved not only with truthful words but with truthful actions.

    When Jesus and all of his disciples were seated around the Passover table that final time, and Jesus said that one of them would betray him, none of them could guess who it would be. That really strikes me! Jesus loved Judas so much that he was one of the group and they never perceived anything “off” with him because of how Jesus treated him. Jesus’s words and actions always showed true love because that was the truth of Him.

    As an elementary classroom teacher for 22+ years, I feel much empathy for these children and teachers in the USA where we’re having so many school shootings. And I ask myself, if I was again teaching 4th or 5th grade, and I had a student of whom God had revealed to me would return to the school as an 18-year-old and shoot and kill many people, would I treat him with the same kindness and love as all of my other students? What if I knew that not only would he return and kill many people but that he would kill my own child, my own young , innocent precious son or daughter sitting at a little desk, would love bubble over in my heart for that student? (Yes I’d report concerning behaviors, but this story informs me as an illustration to check the temperature of my Christlike love.)

    As Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” To me, laying down my life can mean giving up my breath for somebody, but more commonly it can mean laying down my judgments, my grudges, my pointing finger, my feelings of superiority, my entitlement, my excuses, my blindness to my own cold damage and the grace my Father is pouring out.

    Amen!(22)
    • So true Esther, Joseph was displaying the same thoughts and ways of the LORD that Paul in later days through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit advised the saints in Romans.
      These were some of Mother's favourite verses that she often repeated to us as we were growing up.

      Rom 12:14-21 MKJV  Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse.  (15)  Rejoice with rejoicing ones, and weep with weeping ones; ... (17)  Repay no one evil for evil. (18)  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all men  (19)  not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to God's wrath; for it is written, *"Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  (20)  Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, give him drink. For in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.  (21)  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

      *See my previous comment. God's wrath

      Amen!(7)
      • Thank you so much, Shirley! That Romans text would be a good one for me to memorize, following the example of your dear Mother.

        Amen!(5)
        • Truly that is a challenge..that with my human nature I will not be able to show Christ-like love. But I need divine power from God to show his love to others.

          Amen!(5)
    • Further to Esther's thoughts in her last paragraph, would true love (other-focussed beneficence) even be willing to lay down the desire to see the other person 'get the punishment they deserve' (the typical notion of justice and retribution)?

      I am not talking about doing away with appropriate consequences. I am talking about the typical desire/feeling for revenge-based retribution that seeks for the other person to experience pain and suffering as 'pay-back' for the pain and suffering we might have experienced from them... eye for eye, tooth for tooth style.

      Amen!(7)
      • Thank you for that additional thought, Phil.

        This is an interesting article from a courtroom judge’s perspective (Judge Timothy Corrigan at https://judicature.duke.edu/articles/who-appointed-me-god-reflections-of-a-judge-on-criminal-sentencing/)…

        Just as “there is no crying in baseball,” there is also no crying allowed by the judge when sentencing a person to prison. So powerful are the emotions at many sentencings, that in a heavy sentencing week, my courtroom deputy will hand out a full box of tissues to defendants, family, victims, and occasionally court personnel. But never to me….

        It is not uncommon for a probation officer to tell me before a sentencing, “I don’t think you will ever see this person again.” Indeed, by the time of sentencing, some defendants have demonstrated appropriate remorse, completely turned their lives around, and have already transitioned to becoming law-abiding, productive citizens. Thus, their “history and characteristics” are positive, specific deterrence is not an issue, and the public needs no protection “from further crimes of the defendant.”Sometimes these defendants receive sentences of either time served or probation. But there is another feature of our sentencing regime for which we must account: A defendant’s sentence is also supposed “to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law and to provide just punishment for the offense.” Thus, “just punishment” must also be meted out. This requirement sometimes results in a prison sentence even when all other sentencing factors point to a non-incarcerative disposition. I frankly struggle when deciding such cases. But the concept of accountability and punishment for past misconduct has long been rooted in our criminal justice system.

        I was looking for quotes from judges at sentencing….here’s an example from the Larry Nassar trial (“The judge in the Larry Nassar trial: Incredible quotes to victims and their abuser” at usatoday.com)…

        “The monster who took advantage of you is going to wither, much like the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the water gets poured on the witch and the witch withers away," [Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie] Aquilina, 59, told one victim last week, per CNN.
        "That’s what’s going to happen to him, because as you get stronger, as you overcome —because you will  — he gets weaker and he will wither away. Prison is no place for a human being to live.”

        I’m so grateful that no matter how horrific our crimes, God our Judge always offers us hope. Jesus withered the unfruitful fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-26) and it’s important to note that in THIS withering context, Jesus instructs us to forgive (Mark 11:25-26). At the final sentencing at this world’s end, when sheep and goats are divided and those who embrace evil will be no more, God will still demonstrate only love for every human being, justice and mercy are forever combined in Jesus. 🙏

        Amen!(9)
        • Thanks for your effort involved in your response Esther.

          I found Judge Timothy Corrigan's statement particularly interesting: "A defendant’s sentence is also supposed “to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law and to provide just punishment for the offense.” Thus, "just punishment” must also be meted out." Many christians would hold to this view with respect to God's judgment and retribution. However, as Timothy also notes "...the concept of accountability and punishment for past misconduct has long been rooted in our criminal justice system."

          Thus, this is a description of our human ways and 'reality'. But is it also God's way/s and reality (see Isaiah 55:5-8)? If it is God's way and if Joseph was a representative of Christ, then Joseph would appear to have failed to carry this out in regard to his brother's offences. And the prodigal's father would also appear to have failed to carry this out in regard to his prodigal son's offense - something that really bothered the older brother. And Jesus too would seem to have failed to hold this attitude towards those who had mistreated Him when, on the cross, He called for forgiveness rather than punishment...

          Rules ultimately don't have power unless there is imposed punishment to back them up. But reality laws are of a different nature and character. For example, the reality law that drinking a substance that is fatally poisonous will result in your death if you drink it doesn't need punishment to promote respect for that law. The inherent cause and effect consequences already create that respect. Is it possible that we fail to recognise how God's reality is very different to the reality and realities that we are familiar with in our fallen world?

          Could what we term 'retribution' be very different from God's reality than it is in our worldly reality that we are familiar with? What do readers think?

          Amen!(4)
          • Thanks Phil, what an important conversation for we’re going deeper into what Christ on the cross means…

            “Cause and effect” consequences of sin make me think of Rom. 6:23.
            The natural long-term effects of sin in our bodies and souls is death. Sin always kills.

            EGW says:We cannot know how much we owe to Christ for the peace and protection which we enjoy. It is the restraining power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan. The disobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God’s mercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignant power of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of divine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but he leaves the rejecters of his mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown, which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan. (The Great Controversy, p35-36)

            So here we read that the harm or “punishment” comes from Satan and results of sin; It comes from God only in the sense that He does not prevent it.

            A few more EGW quotes
            “Read the Scriptures carefully, and you will find that Christ spent the largest part of His ministry in restoring the suffering and afflicted to health. Thus He threw back upon Satan the reproach of the evil which the enemy of all good had originated. Satan is the destroyer; Christ is the Restorer.” (Medical Ministry, pg. 240)

            “A terrible contest is before us. We are nearing the battle of the great day of God Almighty. That which has been held in control is to be let loose. The angel of mercy is folding its wings, preparing to step down from the golden throne and leave the world to the control of Satan, the king it has chosen, a murderer and a destroyer from the beginning.” (Our Father Cares, p246)

            “I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them, but in this way: They place themselves beyond His protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then if those who have been the objects of His special care will follow their own course independent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan’s decided attacks upon them. It is Satan’s power that is at work at sea and on land, bringing calamity and distress, and sweeping off multitudes to make sure of his prey. And storm and tempest both by sea and land will be, for Satan has come down in great wrath. He is at work. He knows his time is short and, if he is not restrained, we shall see more terrible manifestations of his power than we have ever dreamed of.” (Manuscript Releases 14, nos. 1081-1135, p3)

            “The same Hand that kept the fiery serpents of the wilderness from entering the camp of the Israelites until God’s chosen people provoked Him with their constant murmurs and complaints, is today guarding the honest in heart. Were this restraining Hand withdrawn, the enemy of our souls would at once begin the work of destruction that he has so long desired to accomplish. And because God’s long-continued forbearance is not now recognized, the forces of evil are already, to a limited degree, permitted to destroy. How soon human agencies will see blotted out of existence their magnificent buildings, which are their pride!” (Manuscript Releases 19, nos. 1360-1419, p 281)

            Christ on the cross is a mystery and so I keep contemplating it. In a nutshell, for the sake of space here, I have digested it this way…

            I think of a computer analogy. I see that God the Father “downloaded” upon Jesus all of our sins, our polluted minds and the evil and guilt stored there (Is. 53:4-6). Jesus bore our final judgment hour and so God the Father withdrew His grace and turned His face away. Purity cannot exist with evil. When Purity “touches” Evil there is consuming wrath (there are so many texts about how sin is like an “accelerant” for the cleansing fire of God’s wrath, like John 3:36; Rom 1:18; 4:15, 5:9; Col. 3:6; Rev. 19:15).

            And because Jesus was innocent and pure, and also the only Son of God, Satan came at Him with all of his hatred and fury. But as Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation… If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12:25-26 KJV). So at the cross…Satan destroyed himself! Evil fought against the evil downloaded onto Jesus. God’s sacrifice “shorted out” Satan’s power over the human race…. if we accept this “system override” we are saved from the wrath of Satan. The pure glance of God - which will feel like wrath to the unbelieving- will not consume us.

            Amen!(6)
            • Thanks Esther.

              Yes, the EGW quotes you have reproduced do paint an interesting alternative picture of an inherent rather than imposed reality that mirrors Galatians 6:7-8.

              With regard to the mystery of Christ on the cross and consistent with what the EGW quotes and Galatians 6:7-8 are saying in regard to an inherent rather than imposed reality, have you considered the notion of the Godhead in Christ picking up (ie 'bearing') responsibility for actually dealing with the entire sin problem that was unfortunately unleashed within humanity by the first Adam? Could it be that Christ as the second/'substitute' Adam (Romans 5:12-19) came to actually re-trace the steps of the first Adam in terms of resisting every temptation to let go of self-renouncing love and instead embrace self-seeking? Could it be that Jesus death was the ultimate and culminating expression of such - rather than merely the payment of a 'death penalty' (as per John 15:13; John 10:18; Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; Isaiah 53:12 and therefore 2 Corinthians 5:21)? Could it therefore be that Jesus therefore actually repaired the core of the terminal condition that humanity was otherwise locked into (Romans 5:12-14)? Could it be that this is how "by His stripes we are (actually) healed" (Isaiah 53:5)? Therefore could it be that Leviticus 17:11 is a description of how laying down one's life in self-renouncing love actually expiates/propitiates the sin problem via fixing sin's core issue - reinstatement of a perfectly self-renouncing heart within a valid human to displace the self-seeking heart condition that all humanity is otherwise subject to - rather than merely paying-off a compensatory or 'retributive' penalty? And could this reflect the reality that God's ways of actually fixing the thing that was broken in Genesis 3:6 are in fact higher than (radically different to) our human ways (Isaiah 55:8-9)?

              Just something to consider and investigate for those who may be willing...

              Amen!(2)
          • Yes, thanks Phil, (In response to your last post on this thread) more to prayerfully meditate upon. The two ideas seem to marry, to me. Jesus shows the unbounded love of the Godhead for humanity by laying down His life. And the 2nd Adam also shows perfect obedience and trust in the Father. That idea marries with the one that suffering and death demonstrate perfect love only in an evil world (Is. 11:9). God’s and our highest demonstration of love throughout eternity will not involve any death, pain, suffering (Rev. 21:4) because the source of those states/reactions/effects will be no more. Amen!

            Amen!(7)
    • Thank you for your thoughtful and thought provoking comments on living out our lives in the context of Christ's love. It is easy to have a single dimensional idea of God's motives in his judgements; however, as I read through the article you cited from Judicuture, it occurred to me how little I know of God's thoughts and ways. Retributive justice is easy for man, but it is God's strange act. Insight comes from the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, who is distinguished in practical advice and magnificent in sound wisdom. (Isaiah 28.) 

      Amen!(3)
  6. This part of the story can be read in less than a few minutes, but would play out over hours. It clearly shows the change in the brother’s characters. When Benjamin (the favoured son of Rachel) is found in possession of Joseph’s silver divination cup, all of his brothers tear their clothes in anguish. Joseph’s steward gives them the opportunity to abandon Benjamin, but they will not. (Genesis 44:10.)

    This offer is repeated by Joseph when they return to his house, but again they refuse to abandon the favoured son of Jacob. (Genesis 44:17.) This is in stark contrast to what occurred as Joseph was sold into slavery. Here the brothers pass the test; they will not abandon the favoured son of their father, even at severe detriment to themselves.

    Further, Judah (the one who suggested selling Joseph into slavery) begs to become a slave in the place of Benjamin. His speech is one of the most moving in the bible and it shows the depth of change in his heart and character.

    There are other elements in the story that stand out to me. As the brothers head back to Joseph’s house, they have time to consider why they are in this situation. From their point of view, it is God’s retribution for how they treated Joseph. God has exposed their sin. However, the reality is that Joseph is gathering information to determine how he will rescue his family from the famine and reunite with them. Retribution or rescue is a matter of perspective.

    As Joseph listens to Judah’s words, the reader needs to understand that Judah’s words are being “interpreted” to Joseph, who hears them first in his native tongue and then again as the words are “interpreted” to him. In the “echo chamber” of that situation, the impact of the words is doubled.

    When Joseph cries out in Egyptian for all to leave his presence, his brothers would not have known why his Egyptian attendance left in haste—they would only have heard him shout at them. His next words to his brothers in fluent Hebrew would leave them dumbfounded, then in fear and finally in hope, “I am Joseph.” (Genesis 45:3.)

    Amen!(9)
  7. Whoever loves you, will make sure that he/she remains with you under whatsoever condition.
    So same case to our God, despite our sins we do day in day out, he still loves us.

    Amen!(5)

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