Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lesson 13: Rebellion

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Rebellion and Redemption
Lesson 13: Rebellion
We are well into the 21st century and the new millennium. Millions of Christians all around the world are convinced that it was God's original intention that what we now call this "new millennium" would have been those "thousand years" of Revelation 20. Something has delayed the finishing of Christ's gospel commission when He said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). There is a "little" issue named the great controversy between Christ and Satan that must be squarely faced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, before it can truly proclaim the good news to everyone. This is the unmentioned "back story" of this quarter.
Revelation 10 says that it was God's intention that with the blowing of the seventh trumpet, when the pre-advent judgment was to begin, that "the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets" (vs. 7). In other words, God's solution to the sin-problem with Laodicea, and His victory in the great controversy with Satan is the gospel-sanctuary truth in all its clarity, understood and appreciated by His people. God's intention cannot be forever nullified.
The millennium is the final judgment. The second coming of Christ comes before the thousand years when the first resurrection of believers and the translation of the living takes place. He takes us to be with Him where He is. The joys of the place that He has prepared for us will delight and inspire the senses. Those who overcome even as Christ overcame are given thrones to sit upon in Heaven as promised (Rev. 3:21). We will take an active roll in the judgment process of the dead left behind along with the devil and his angels.
Satan has sought to keep humanity enmeshed by sin. Satan has claimed that they have proved that he is the victor in the great controversy, and untold numbers of humans have felt they must agree with him: sin is too strong for sin-natured and sin-nurtured humans ever to "overcome," they think. The 1888 message asserts that in human flesh Christ "condemned sin in the flesh" 2000 years ago; but now comes the undisputed evidence that the human race can also "condemn sin" in their human flesh. The great controversy will be declared an unqualified victory for Christ, for His professed people will no longer be childishly content to remain "lukewarm."
At the conclusion of the thousand years our space ship city will transport us back to this old earth where we will witness the unbeliever's resurrection. Inspired by their leader, Satan, they will take right up where they left off, in opposing the Lamb and his kingdom city. When they are arraigned before the throne of God, they will acknowledge the justice of God's ways and desire to be put out of their misery with the death penalty.
Far from death being a friend to mankind, it is an enemy along with the grave called "hell" (Rev. 20:14). Says Paul, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:26). The death penalty has never been vacated by the law of God. It is the punishment for sin. God had decreed that it be only for the devil. Jesus said, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41).
The Lord is deeply saddened that anyone else must be abandoned to this fate. The prophet Isaiah calls this His "strange act" (Isa. 28:21). It is not in God's nature to destroy those whom He loves. He gives them up to their choice.
Not one person, no matter how wicked, has ever as yet endured what the Bible calls "the second death" (cf. Rev. 2:11; 20:14), with the sole exception of Jesus.
The second death will come only at the end of the thousand years ("millennium"). When it happens at last, there will be "silence in heaven" for a "space" of time (Rev. 8:1), God and the holy angels grieving for the death of all who have chosen to end their existence by the second death. They have chosen it!
Ellen White declares that at the end, the lost will welcome their death by the lake of fire—so the common picture of the lost being cast screaming and yelling in protest while being thrown in is incorrect. Let us look: "A life of rebellion against God has unfitted them for heaven. Its purity, holiness, and peace would be torture to them; the glory of God would be a consuming fire. They would long to flee from that holy place. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them. The destiny of the wicked is fixed by their own choice. Their exclusion from heaven is voluntary with themselves, and just and merciful on the part of God." [1]
The Lord Jesus Christ has done something for every man, woman, and child in the earth. The 1888 message says Christ has died the second death of everyone! "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9).
That "death" that Jesus "tasted" cannot be the first death, which is only a dreamless sleep. Therefore, it can mean only the "second death."
That's why the Samaritans said that Jesus is already "the Saviour of the world," and Paul says that He "is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe" (1 Tim. 4:10). That's two ways that Jesus is "the Saviour of all men"—He is practically, literally, the Saviour of those "that believe." But in a judicial sense, He is also "the Saviour of the world" in that He has died the second death of every man. "His love is bestowed alike upon all; to all he comes as a Saviour; but only those will be saved who will accept salvation." [2]
This is made clear in Romans 5:15-18: "God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many [everyone], its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. ... The judicial action, following on the one offence [of Adam], resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace [of Jesus], following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a verdict of acquittal. ... It follows, then, that as the result of one misdeed [of Adam] was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (Revised English Bible).
There can be only one response from us if we have honest hearts that can appreciate the agape of Christ: "henceforth" we are totally dedicated to Jesus, His love (agape) ever constraining us to bear our cross with Jesus, the cross whereon self is crucified with Him!
As so we conclude this quarter of lessons asking ourselves the question: Am I ready for God's new world? He is ready for you. Your name has been written on a dwelling there. Your place is assured by the side of the Lamb.
—Paul E. Penno
[1] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 543.
[2] E. J. Waggoner, "Goodness Leading to Repentance. Romans 2:4," The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1890.