Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Creation and the Gospel"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Lesson 12: "Creation and the Gospel"

We are still living with the results of Adam's original sin. We have all followed his example. What is the original sin? Is there a solution for it within the 1888 message?
Some major sects of Christianity claim that the first sin was carnal knowledge. One thing is for sure. Sin produced deep guilt in Adam that led to four consequences. What does the Bible teach?
The first consequence was the guilt of shame. He hid among the trees (Gen. 3:8). Second, Adam was afraid of God (vss. 9, 10). Third, he repressed the guilt and couldn't confess his sin, blaming it on Eve (vs. 12). The fourth was enmity against God: "The woman whom Thougavest to be with me" (vs. 12). The woman implied that God was responsible for sin because He created the serpent who beguiled her (vs. 13). [1]
The original sin is repressed hatred against God. "The carnal mind isenmity against God" (Rom. 8:7). Adam's anonymous seed of anger toward God was the acorn which produced the full-blown tree of mankind's murder of the Son of God at Calvary.
God revealed it to him in the sacrificial victim offered in the garden. Adam "saw Christ prefigured in the innocent beast suffering the penalty of his transgression of Jehovah's law." [2] And "he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God's dear Son could expiate." [3]
The human brain's mechanism of repressing guilt has its beneficial side; otherwise the guilt of sin would crush the soul in self-condemnation and fatal despair. But the negative side of repression is that hatred of God goes unrecognized. On His cross Christ prayed to His Father, "forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). It was our sin which murdered Christ.
It is this repressed original sin of enmity against God which the Faithful and True Witness diagnoses in the last-day church of Laodicea. "Thou ... knowest not" (Rev. 3:17). It is the Bride's unresolved guilt and ongoing controversy with her Bridegroom that necessitates the Laodicean message.
When Adam sinned he was not entitled to one more breath of air, one more bite of food, one more moment of blissful love. All his innocence and goodness was gone forever. All he deserved was the grave. But he continued to live because of "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8; 1 Peter 1:19, 20).
The 1888 message has brought to our attention familiar Scriptures to help us see the solution to our "original sin" problem of enmity with God. God spoke the everlasting covenant to the serpent. He promised to put "enmity" between Satan and the woman and her descendants (Gen. 3:15). God didn't ask Adam and Eve to make a deal with Him by promising to do good. Their sin had defrocked them of all goodness. God simply wanted them to believe His covenant of salvation in the Surety, Christ Jesus, who pledged Himself to stand good for all the promises.
God promised them "enmity" against Satan. He freed their enslaved will so that they could choose to believe. God has done for us what He did for Adam. "God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3, NKJV). He has given, not merely offered, faith to every person.
Divine love took the initiative. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us ... When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son" (Rom. 5:8, 10). Christ effected a legal reconciliation [atonement] on behalf of God's "enemies," "sinners," "the ungodly;" without their even repenting of sin beforehand. God has pardoned the transgressors. [4] "As the result of one misdeed [Adam's] was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act [Christ's cross] is acquittal and life for all" (Rom. 5:18, REB). The gift of God is "acquittal and life for all" (vss. 15-18).
But let's be careful here: legal justification and "receiving the atonement" are two different things. We receive the atonement [reconciliation] only when we believe. "We have now received the atonement [reconciliation]," Paul says in Romans 5:11, when we are "justified by faith" (vs. 1). But the reception of the gift, that is another matter. The reception is up to us. Only by believing can we receive the Gift that is already given. If I give you a gift, no strings attached, and then you throw it away, that doesn't change the fact that I gave it to you. To confuse legal justification with justification by faith will not help us finish the work in this generation; it will set our clock back to the 16th century, and lead to antinomianism. Instead of completing the Reformation begun by Luther and Calvin, such confusion will only retard its progress.
Have you ever tried to hug someone to express your love and found that person like a stone or a telephone pole, no responsive hug given back? Maybe as a parent you are concerned about emotional frigidity in your child. This person is like a statue, no response to you. Welcome to God's "club"! This is His problem with the human race--massive alienation. We are born separated from Him.
Ever since sin invaded planet earth with the fall of Adam and Eve, God has wrestled with this most serious problem He has ever faced. He is handicapped in that He cannot force anyone. He has to obey the rules, to stand back; a human heart can only be "won." All He can do is "hug" us and keep hoping that somehow His love can get through, and those barriers will come down. It's like waiting for a whole new creation, and that is precisely what it is: "Henceforth ... if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things [coldness] are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:16, 17).
Here we catch a glimpse of Christ as our great High Priest in the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary--working night and day to woo us, to win us. When you hug someone you try to look in his/her eyes, to "hug" with your eyes, to say, "I love you" that way, hoping you can arouse something warm in response, hoping to provoke some little response of a choice, "Yes, I choose to respond; I don't know how, but I choose to be reconciled to you." When that happens, how happy you are! Welcome to the Most Holy Apartment of Christ's heavenly sanctuary! You can sympathize with Him as He wrestles with His problem worldwide. But don't give up on Him. He has resources to accomplish His objective. But the struggle is intense. If He fails to win the heart of His Bride-to-be, to melt that icy coldness in Laodicea, He will be forever pained and humiliated.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] "After Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, they were filled with a sense of shame and terror. At first their only thought was how to excuse their sin before God and escape the dreaded sentence of death ... The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam" (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 637, 638).
[2] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1095.
[3] Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 68.
[4] Ellen White speaks thus of "conditions": "The question will come up, How is it? Is it by conditions that we receive salvation? Never by conditions do we come to Christ" (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 537). We can receive agape "only as the unmerited bestowal of the Father's love" (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 210).
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