Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lesson 4: "Divine Wisdom"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Proverbs: Words of the Wise

Lesson 4: "Divine Wisdom"

In the Quarterly for Sunday's lesson are these words: "Wisdom is so important that it must reach everyone." Fortunately it has. The apostle John says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

But the statement continues: "God created all human life, and Christ died for each one of us. So wisdom, the knowledge of God, and the salvation He offers, is for every human being." Here is the Old Covenant at work--teaching that salvation is an offer--something that is activated once man does something first.

In 1888, God sent a message of love to His people using human messengers to turn His church back to "the old paths, the good way," so they could walk in it and "find rest." One of these messengers was E. J. Waggoner, who wrote in his book, The Glad Tidings, the truth about salvation: "All this deliverance is 'according to the will of our God and Father.' The will of God is our sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). He wills that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). And He 'accomplishes all things according to the counsel of His will' (Eph. 1:11). 'Do you mean to teach universal salvation?' someone may ask. We mean to teach just what the Word of God teaches--that 'the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men' (Titus 2:11, RV). God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it and throw it away. The judgment will reveal the fact that full salvation was given to every man and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession." [1]

"Christ is given to every man. Therefore each person gets the whole of Him. The love of God embraces the whole world, but it also singles out each individual. A mother's love is not divided among her children, so that each one receives only a third, a fourth, or a fifth of it; each child is the object of all her affection. How much more so with the God whose love is more perfect than any mother's! (Isa. 49:15). Christ is the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness. But light is not divided among a crowd of people. If a room full of people be brilliantly lighted, each individual gets the benefit of all the light, just as much as though he were alone in the room. So the life of Christ lights every man that comes into the world. In every believing heart Christ dwells in His fullness. ...

"How often we hear someone say, 'I am so sinful that I am afraid the Lord will not accept me!' Even some who have long professed to be Christians often mournfully wish that they could be sure of their acceptance with God. But the Lord has given no reason for any such doubts. Our acceptance is forever settled. Christ has bought us and has paid the price." [2]

Wisdom continues to cry out against false teachings in every place they exist: "Notwithstanding the Bible is full of warnings against false teachers, many are ready thus to commit the keeping of their souls to the clergy. There are today thousands of professors of religion who can give no other reason for points of faith which they hold than that they were so instructed by their religious leaders. They pass by the Saviour's teachings almost unnoticed, and place implicit confidence in the words of the ministers. But are ministers infallible? How can we trust our souls to their guidance unless we know from God's word that they are light bearers? A lack of moral courage to step aside from the beaten track of the world leads many to follow in the steps of learned men; and by their reluctance to investigate for themselves, they are becoming hopelessly fastened in the chains of error. They see that the truth for this time is plainly brought to view in the Bible; and they feel the power of the Holy Spirit attending its proclamation; yet they allow the opposition of the clergy to turn them from the light. Though reason and conscience are convinced, these deluded souls dare not think differently from the minister; and their individual judgment, their eternal interests, are sacrificed to the unbelief, the pride and prejudice, of another." [3]

 "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate" (Prov. 8:13). "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10; 1:7), so wisdom stands before all else. The fear of the Lord and His true worship are also described as the hating of evil--like He does. This virtue of wisdom is humility; therefore Wisdom hates, above all, self-exaltation in all its forms.

John the Baptist spoke true words of humility when he said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). These words show the true relation of every man to Christ. Every follower of Christ must believe from the heart, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

"To what extent must this increase and decrease take place? --The answer is plain: Inasmuch as the statement is absolute, with no limitation, it is evident that the increasing and decreasing must go on as long as it is possible, that is, so long as there is anything of us left, which can be diminished.

"It follows, then, that we must decrease until there is nothing left of us, and He must increase until He fills all things. This obliteration of self, the merging of ourselves in Him, is indeed the only way in which our existence can be continued. ... We do not lose our personality, but Christ becomes our personality, manifesting Himself in us for just what God has designed that we should be. To sink out of sight in Christ is greater than to exalt ourselves to heaven without Him." [4]

Monday and Tuesday's lessons deal with Proverbs 8:22-31, and how wisdom is related to creation. At the end of Tuesday's lesson this question is asked: "Why is His role as Creator so important in understanding His role as our Redeemer?" The answer to this question is basic to understanding the truth of salvation--the 1888 message.

"The Sabbath, as we have seen, is the memorial of the wonderful works of God. But the power of God is clearly seen in the things which He has made, and God expects all men to see His power in them; for He holds all men inexcusable if they do not know His eternal power and Godhead. 'For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse' (Rom. 1:20). Now the Gospel is 'the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes' (vs. 16). Therefore since the power of God is seen in the things that He has made, and the Sabbath is the memorial of His works, it is evident that the Sabbath is the great Gospel memorial. In and through it we learn the power of Christ to save.

"Creation and redemption are the same, and the Sabbath and the cross are so intimately connected, because both are alike manifestations of the life power of Christ. ... 'In Him all things consist' (Col. 1:17). 'In Him we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28)." [5]

"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10). The life, which does this, is the life from which all created things came, and by which they exist. The power of redemption is the power of creation, and that is the power of the life of Christ.

Dear reader, Jesus loves you. You have been purchased by the Lord Himself and He gave His precious life to redeem you. God has given to us His Divine Wisdom--Jesus. "In giving Jesus, in that one precious Gift, our heavenly Father gave you all the treasures of heaven." [6]

--Daniel H. Peters


[1] E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, pp. 13, 14 (Glad Tidings Publishers ed.)

[2] The Glad Tidings, pp. 11, 12.

[3] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 596, 597.

[4] Waggoner, "Back Page," The Present Truth, July 18, 1901.

[5] Waggoner, "The Sabbath and the Cross," The Present Truth, July 20, 1893.

[6] Ellen G. White, MR No. 929 (12 MR 34.1), May 19, 1895.