Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lesson 7: Jesus and the Social Outcasts

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 7: Jesus and the Social Outcasts

Outcasts the world over have one common fear--that God will not accept them and thousands who have been professed followers of Christ for years, still doubt their acceptance with God. It is for us, the outcasts, that Ellet J. Waggoner wrote to give us simple assurance from God's Word that we are accepted and outcasts no more. [1] This truth is a cornerstone of the 1888 message.
"Will the Lord receive me?" I reply by another question: Will a man receive that which he has bought? If you go to the store and make a purchase, will you receive the goods when they are delivered? Of course you will; there is no room for any question about it. The fact that you bought the goods, and paid your money for them, is sufficient proof, not only that you are willing, but that you are anxious, to receive them. If you did not want them, you would not have bought them. Moreover, the more you paid for them the more anxious you are to receive them. If the price that you paid was great, and you had almost given your life to earn it, then there can be no question but that you will accept the purchase when it is delivered. Your great anxiety is lest there should be some failure to deliver it.
Now let us apply this simple, natural illustration to the case of the sinner coming to Christ. In the first place, He has bought us. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
The price that was paid for us was His own blood--His life. Paul said to the elders of Ephesus: "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18, 19). He "gave Himself for us" (Titus 2:14). He "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (Gal. 1:4).
He bought not a certain class, but the whole world of sinners. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Jesus said, "The bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:51). "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. ... But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6, 8).
The price paid was infinite; therefore we know that He very much desired that which He bought. He had His heart set on obtaining us. He could not be satisfied without us. (See Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 12:2; Isa. 53:11.)
"But I am not worthy." That means that you are not worth the price paid, and therefore you fear to come lest Christ will repudiate the purchase. Now you might have some fear on that score if the bargain were not sealed, and the price were not already paid. If He should refuse to accept you, on the ground that you are not worth the price, He would not only lose you, but also the amount paid. Even though the goods for which you have paid are not worth what you gave for them, you yourself would not be so foolish as to throw them away. You would rather get some return for your money than get nothing.
We have nothing to do with the question of worth. When Christ was on earth in the interest of the purchase, He "had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man" (John 2:25). Jesus made our purchase with His eyes open, and He knew the exact value of what He bought. He is not at all disappointed when we come to Him and He finds that we are worthless. We have not to worry over the question of worth; if He, with His perfect knowledge of the case, was satisfied to make the bargain, we should be the last ones to complain!
The most wonderful truth of all is that He bought us for the very reason that we are not worthy. His practiced eye saw in us great possibilities, and He bought us, not for what we were then or are now worth, but for what He could make of us. He says: "I, even I,am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins" (Isa. 43:25). We have no righteousness; therefore He bought us, "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Says Paul: "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:9, 10).
Here is the whole process: --"We all ... were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:3-10).
When He takes us, worth nothing, and at the last presents us faultless before the throne, it will be to His everlasting glory, and then there will not be any to ascribe worthiness to themselves.
Surely all doubt as to our acceptance with God ought to be set at rest. But it is not. The evil heart of unbelief still suggests doubts. "I believe all this, but--." There, stop right there; if you believed you wouldn't say "but." When people add "but" to the statement that they believe, they really mean, "I believe, but I don't believe." But you continue: "Perhaps you are right, but hear me out. What I was going to say is, I believe the Scripture statements that you have quoted, but the Bible says that if we are children of God we shall have the witness of the Spirit, and the witness in ourselves; and I don't feel any such witness, therefore I can't believe that I am Christ's. I believe His Word, but I haven't the witness." I understand your difficulty; let me see if it cannot be removed.
As to your being Christ's, you yourself can settle that. You have seen what He gave for you. Now the question is, "Have you delivered yourself to Him?" If you have, you may be sure that He has accepted you. If you are not His, it is solely because you have refused to deliver to Him that which He has bought. You are defrauding Him. He says, "All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people" (Rom. 10:21). He begs you to give Him that which He has bought and paid for, yet you refuse, and charge Him with not being willing to receive you. But if from the heart you have yielded yourself to Him to be His child, you may be assured that He has received you.
Now as to your believing His words, yet doubting if He accepts you, because you don't feel the witness in your heart, I still insist that you don't believe. If you did, you would have the witness. Listen to His Word: "He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son" (1 John 5:10).
And "he who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself." You can't have the witness until you believe; and as soon as you do believe, you have the witness. How is that? Because your belief in God's Word is the witness! God says so: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom. 7:16). How is the witness given? By the Word. There the witness is written, and the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance the words recorded.
We must remember that Christ accepts us not for our sake, but for His own sake; not because we are perfect, but that in Him we may go on unto perfection. He blesses us in order that in the strength of the blessing we may turn away from our iniquities (Acts 3:26).
God spoke in the beginning and put the stars in their place, and this same Creator, the Savior of the world, spoke again to the woman "taken in adultery" saying, "Go and sin no more." The power that holds up the stars was hers to keep her from sinning. This command is for us today and will keep us from sinning--if we but believe.
Outcasts no more!
--Ellet J. Waggoner/Daniel H. Peters
Endnote:[1] Christ and His Righteousness, "Acceptance With God," pp. 78-86 (Glad Tidings ed.).
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