Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lesson 7: "Living Like Christ"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic 

The Teachings of Jesus

Lesson 7: "Living Like Christ"


"Love was the element in which Christ moved and walked and worked. ... We are to follow the example set by Christ, and make Him our pattern"(Ellen G. White, Our Father Cares, p. 27; quoted in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, p. 56).

Sounds simple, just follow Christ's loving example and you are living like Him. Most people focus on how a Christian should act. Like the jailer of Paul and Silas who asked them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30, NASB). People think they must look for things to do.

All pagan religions are based on the concept of humans performing some exceptional act so the imaginary god will notice them and grant their requests. There are also many religions that purport to understand the Christian gospel, but fail to recognize the subtle legalism that finds its way into their creeds and teachings. The message given to our church in 1888 is as simple as the response Paul and Silas gave to the jailor's question: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved." Then they spoke God's word with him (vss. 31, 32). We aren't told exactly what Paul and Silas told the jailer, but it must have been about Jesus and what He did for humanity. We know the jailer's conversion was genuine because he immediately demonstrated compassion. We are told that "he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized" (vs. 33). It's exactly what Christ would have done. The jailer's reaction flowed spontaneously from his knowledge and appreciation of the cross.

This simple story demonstrates how hearing of God's supreme act of love (agape, that selfless love of God) revealed at the cross melts hearts into acceptance and produces good deeds. It also produces a desire to publically declare death to self, symbolized by baptism.

"When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, like sweet fragrance it cannot be hidden. ... Love to Jesus will be manifested in a desire to work as He worked for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. ... No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus; the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart" [1]

So, it sounds more like our focus should be on putting on the mind of Christ in order to live like Him, rather than copying His actions. How does one put on the mind of another? Humanly speaking that is impossible. But Paul simply tells us "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5, NKJV). The word "mind" is rendered "attitude" in the New American Standard Bible. But the difficulty comes with our sinful nature. Even if we sincerely attempt to develop an attitude or mind like Christ our minds are "bent to self," and are nothing like Christ's.

Ellet J. Waggoner described the problem: "Instruments. We have in this chapter [Romans 6:12-23] two terms to describe people, namely, servants and instruments. It takes both to illustrate our relation to sin and righteousness. Sin and righteousness are rulers. We are but instruments in their hands. The kind of work a given instrument will do depends entirely upon the one who uses it.

"For instance, here is a good pen; what kind of work will it do? It will do good work if it is in the hands of a skillful penman, but in the hands of a bungler its work will be poor. ... But man is not a mere tool. No, not by any means. There is this difference between men and ordinary instruments: the latter have no choice as to who shall use them, while the former have full choice as to whom they will serve. They must yield themselves, not once only, but all the time. If they yield to sin, they will commit sin. If they yield to God, to be instruments in his hands, they can do nothing else but good so long as they are yielded to Him." [2]

A. T. Jones went a little deeper: "In His coming in the flesh--having been made in all things like unto us, and having been tempted in all points like as we are--He has identified Himself with every human soul just where that soul is. And from the place where every human soul is, He has consecrated for that soul a new and living way, through all the vicissitudes and experiences of a whole lifetime, and even through death and the tomb, into the holiest of all, ... at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens!" [3]

How is this accomplished? "That Christ the Son of God, as priest at the right hand of God upon His throne, is there a 'minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle' ... must be an eternal fixture in the faith of every Christian, in order for that faith to be true and full.

"And this true faith in Christ the Son of God as that true priest, in that true ministry, of that true sanctuary, ... that His priesthood and ministry finishes transgression, and makes an end of sins, and makes reconciliation for iniquity, and brings in everlasting righteousness--this true faith will make every comer thereunto perfect (emphasis in original). ...

"In the confidence of this true faith, let every believer in Jesus take a long breath of restfulness forever, in thankfulness to God that this thing is accomplished: that transgression is finished in your life ..." [4]

Notice that the only thing we have to do is come to the true faith that Jesus already perfected in His flesh. Christianity is not a religion of deprivation, but of the exchange of our sinful character for His perfect character. The proud heart despises a life of service as beneath his dignity.

But, "... the effort to bless others will react in blessings upon ourselves. This was the purpose of God in giving us a part to act in the plan of redemption. He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men. Those who thus become participants in labors of love are brought nearest to their Creator ...

"If you will go to work as Christ designs that His disciples shall, and win souls for Him, you will feel the need of a deeper experience and a greater knowledge in divine things, and will hunger and thirst after righteousness. You will plead with God, and your faith will be strengthened, and your soul will drink deeper drafts at the well of salvation." [5]

--Arlene Hill

Endnotes:[1] Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, pp. 77, 78.
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 6.114.
[3] A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, pp. 87, 88 (Glad Tidings ed.).
[4] Ibid., pp. 129-130.
[5] Steps to Christ, pp. 79-80.
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