Monday, July 29, 2013

"Obedience: The Fruit of Revival"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Revival & Reformation
Lesson 5: "Obedience: The Fruit of Revival"

"There are no obedient ones. But there is nevertheless hope for all, because the righteousness of the law is put within and upon all who believe in Christ, so that a man is made a doer of the law by faith. One God justifies all alike through faith. Faith is not a substitute for obedience to the law, but insures the doing of it." [1]
"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, ... bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4, 5).
Obedience is not the act of the individual or else self would take credit for it. It is the "obedience of Christ"--His very own obedience received by the individual through the faith which works by love, and is credited to the penitent as if it were his own.
To teach that obedience is the result of revival is to suggest that we must continue making old covenant promises to do all that God has said. This old covenant mindset is suggested for the purpose of trying to get ourselves worked up and into a place where the Lord can bless us. It is from this carnal old covenant unbelief that the angel of the Church of Laodicea is being asked to repent.
Obedience is not the fruit of revival [2] but the result of faith which works by love laying hold on Christ and having His righteousness imparted to us. This is the result of self being crucified with Christ and a deep repentance for our sins. It is God Himself that revives: "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones'" (Isa. 57:15).
This thinking that somehow we can do something to recommend ourselves to God is nothing more than trying to make God obligated to us because of something we did. Christ does not ask us to try to revive ourselves, but He asks us to be humble and contrite--both of which are outside of our ability to achieve. It is a deep and carnal false pride within us that forms the basis for our continued attempts to perform.
Obedience is conformity to the law of God and since the fall of man only Jesus has succeeded in this. Obedience is the righteousness of Christ. There is no other righteousness. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor.5:21).
The apostle Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). "For he who has died has been freed from sin. How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom. 6:7, 2).
Sin is the opposite of obedience, it is disobedience or unbelief. "Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Heb. 3:17-19).
Jude says that God is "able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24). The Father sent Jesus "to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities" (Acts 3:26). And Matthew wrote, "you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). He saves us from disobedience to the law, by saving us to obedience of the law.
"The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit." [3]
"'He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.' Heb. 7:25. By His spotless life, His obedience, His death on the cross of Calvary, Christ interceded for the lost race." [4]
People sometimes say that they can believe that God forgives their sins, but they find it difficult to believe that He can keep them from sin. The forgiveness of sin is the entering in of righteousness, or obedience. The righteousness replaces the disobedience.
So, with Christ in us, the hope of glory, we are "dead" to the world through being crucified with Him. For our sins that are past we receive the blood of Christ--this is called imputed righteousness. This covers us and we are counted as having never sinned from birth to the present. Now the righteousness of Christ is imparted to us to prevent us from sinning in the present. This is also referred to as "being saved by His life."
Obedience does not stand alone as something we do, but it is at the very heart of the Third Angel's Message of righteousness by faith. Righteousness by faith is the same as justification by faith, and these terms mean obedience by faith.
"Justification has to do with the law. The term means making just. In Rom.2:13 we are told who the just ones are: 'For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.' To be just means to be righteous. Therefore since the just man is the one who does the law, it follows that to justify a man is to make him a doer of the law. Being justified by faith is simply being made a doer of the law by faith.
"It is impossible for any man by nature to be subject to the law of God. He cannot do what the law requires.
"How is the man justified, or made righteous?--'Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus' (Rom. 3:24). Remember that to justify means to make one a doer of the law, and then read the passage again: 'Being made a doer of the law freely, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.' The redemption that is in Christ Jesus is the worthiness or the purchasing power of Christ. He gives himself to the sinner; his righteousness is given to the one who has sinned, and who believes. That does not mean that Christ's righteousness, which he did eighteen hundred years ago, is laid up for the sinner, to be simply credited to his account, but it means that his present, active righteousness is given to that man. Christ comes to live in that man who believes, for he dwells in the heart by faith. So the man who was a sinner is transformed into a new man, having the very righteousness of God.
"It will be seen, therefore, that there can be no higher state than that of justification." [5]
"The law is the statement of the righteousness of God and is universal in its jurisdiction, and as it condemns all, yet none can get righteousness by it. But God has promised righteousness to men, therefore they must get it aside from trying to obey the law, namely, in Christ. A man is made a doer of the law by faith alone, without the deeds of the law. This is the mystery of the Gospel. It is Christ in men, the hope of glory, and God in Christ working out His own righteousness.
"In the death of Christ therefore, if we are crucified with Him, we receive His life as a substitute for our sinful [disobedient] life, which He takes upon Himself. Our sins are remitted through faith in His blood, not as an arbitrary act, but because by faith we exchange lives with Him and the life, which we get in return has no sin." [6]
May our prayer be that we might be "filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:11). This is the righteousness or obedience to the faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). This is not a mere theory; it is a practical truth.
Father, thank you for the obedience of Christ that You give to us through faith. May we begin to learn the magnitude of the cost of Calvary through which this righteousness comes to us, and may we be forgiven for thinking that obedience could be a result of anything we do.
--Daniel H. Peters

[1] Ellet J. Waggoner, "Studies in Romans. The Glorious Persuasion," The Signs of the Times, June 18, 1896.
[2] Revival defined: an instance of something becoming popular again; a new production of an old play; a reawakening of religious fervor, especially by means of a series of evangelistic meetings.
[3] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 172.
[4] Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 156.
[5] Waggoner, "Being Justified," The Signs of the Times, May 1, 1893.
[6] Waggoner, The Signs of the Times, March 5, 1896.
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