Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lesson 11: "Living by Faith"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Proverbs: Words of the Wise
Lesson 11: "Living by Faith"
Our lesson topic, "Living by Faith," is one of the "great gospel truths" of the 1888 message, therefore this week we would like to share with you an essay that focuses more on the topic from the Bible, Ellen G. White, and E. J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers."
The 1888 Message Dynamic Regarding Faith
When I first was introduced to the 1888 message I was confused about faith--"our faith," "the faith of Jesus," etc. The good news of the "most precious message" began to become clear as I came to understand the simplicity of God's salvation and what was actually given to us.
One of the first things I learned was about Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." I learned that the word "our" was not in the original and that it was added because the translators could not fathom Jesus Himself having faith. So the actual reading here is: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith." So Jesus is the originator and perfector of faith--therefore it is His faith that perfects us, if we do not resist its working.
One Faith: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:4-6). There is only one faith and that is the faith of Jesus. It is so important to take the scriptures as they read and to accept them for what they say.
The Measure of Faith: Next I learned that God had given a measure of faith to everyone: "For I say, ... to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). So is this where we get "our" faith? Yes, He gave everyone a measure of faith but He gave us much more in the process. E. J. Waggoner opened my mind to the real gift that came with faith: "In what measure has God given every man faith? This is really answered in the fact already learned, that the faith which He gives is the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is given in the gift of Jesus Himself, and Christ is given in His fullness to every man. ... Christ is not divided; therefore to every man is given all of Christ and all of his faith. There is but one measure." [1] (emphasis added).
The Faith of Jesus: In Revelation 14:12 we have the term "the faith of Jesus." This is the correct rendering of the original and should be used whenever one finds the term "faith in Jesus."
"We" know "that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Gal. 2:16). The prophet Habakkuk, under the Inspiration, wrote: "The just shall live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4). He understood that it was by God's own faith that we live.
The Works of Faith: "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. 2:8-10).
"Faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6) says that it is faith that does the "work." God's salvation has nothing to do with legalism (man's efforts) except to save us from it!
It is the faith of Jesus that obeys the commandments of God--man cannot obey, that is why salvation is a gift. "If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man, and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason." [2]
Faith and Sin: "For whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). This shows that the Law of God is the righteousness within us as a result of Christ in us. It is His faith that perfectly obeys God's law and so whatever does not come from this faith is sin.
Crucified With Christ: 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 of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). "Only the cross has the power to save. ... It is only in death that we become joined to Him (Rom. 6:3). ...The cross makes a new creation." [3]
When we are crucified we no longer live. We are dead. The dead do not have sin, life, or faith. But our text says that there is life present, but it isn't ours, it is His! Christ lives in us and everything Christ has comes with Him. This is the "mystery" of God--Christ living in us.
"The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:26, 27). So how does this mystery of "Christ in you" relate to our topic of living by faith?
Jude writes: "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3, emphasis added). Is this "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" a different faith than the one we have been discussing? Ellen White says no: --
"A large number who claim to believe the present truth, know not what constitutes the faith that was once delivered to the saints--Christ in you the hope of glory. They think they are defending the old landmarks, but they are lukewarm and indifferent." [4]
So the faith once and for all delivered to the saints is "Christ in you, the hope of glory"--the full gospel. This is the faith of Jesus--and Jesus is the gospel.
"Abraham's faith in God, as one who could bring things into existence by His Word, was exercised with respect to His being able to create righteousness in a person destitute of it." [5]
"The Bible so clearly teaches that righteousness is by faith. Therefore the only element that God's people need in order to prepare for the second coming of Christ is genuine faith." [6] This genuine faith is the faith of Jesus.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. ... For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:16-17).
From Faith to Faith. "Note that "from faith to faith" is said to be parallel with "the just shall live by faith." ... just as we live naturally by breathing, so we are to live spiritually by faith, and our whole life is to be spiritual. Faith is the breath of life to the Christian. So just as we naturally live from breath to breath, we are to live spiritually from faith to faith. We can live but one breath at a time; so we cannot live spiritually except by present faith. If we live a life of conscious dependence upon God, His righteousness will be ours, for we shall breathe it in continually." [7]
"So believing in Christ, we are saved by the faith of Christ, since we have Him personally dwelling in us, exercising His own faith. All power in heaven and earth is in His hands. Recognizing this, we simply allow Him to exercise His own power in His own way." [8]
"If faith in Christ is good for anything, it is good for everything. And that is just what it is good for." [9] This is what it is to live by faith.
--Daniel Peters
[1] E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, Aug. 6, 1896.
[2] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 816.
[3] E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, Galatians Made Clear, p. 139.
[4] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 403 (emphasis added).
[5] E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, Oct. 13, 1890.
[6] Robert J. Wieland, Ten Great Gospel Truths, Gospel Truth #9.
[7] E. J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 26.
[8] The Glad Tidings, Galatians Made Clear, p. 42.
[9] E. J. Waggoner, The Present Truth, May 21, 1891.