Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lesson 6: "Resting in Christ"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Matthew

Lesson 6: "Resting in Christ"

The Sabbath [rest] is a revelation of Christ and a sign by which those who cherish it know that the Lord is the One who makes them righteous and sanctifies them. Resting in Christ is at the very heart of the 1888 Message. This message prepares a people, through righteousness by faith, for the second coming of Jesus. Ellen White writes concerning this message: "Christ is the complete system of truth. He says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." [1]
E. J. Waggoner elaborates and clarifies further: "The third angel's message is righteousness by faith; for the Sabbath is righteousness by faith; for by it a man comes into God's works, and those works are perfect. Therefore he gets rest by faith." [2] So, resting in Christ is at the core of the 1888 message and looking into the rest Christ gives is of great value. This is the rest gifted to us by Jesus (Matt. 11:28).
The Sabbath contains within it the creative power of God, the rest of God, the blessing of God, the presence of God, which makes holy, and the continuing dwelling presence of God, which sanctifies.
The Sabbath is a reminder of God as Creator: It is the reminder of His creative power manifested. It is a sign between Him and His people forever, "for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed" (Ex. 31:17).
The believer finds in Jesus the creative power of God manifested in making him a new creation: Creative power is the same as redemptive power, therefore redemption is creation—they are one and the same. The first thing that Jesus is to the sinner in this world is Creator (Redeemer), making the sinner a new creation. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). So the work of God in salvation is creation.
In the Sabbath is God's rest"For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'" (Heb. 4:4). We have seen that only those who believe can enter His rest. God is Spirit so therefore His rest is a spiritual rest. Spiritual rest is freedom from sin.
The believer finds in Jesus God's rest"For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Heb. 4:10). Rest is a gift, therefore it is written: "Come unto me, ... and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Spiritual rest is only received by faith.
In the Sabbath is God's blessing"Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Gen. 2:3).
The believer finds in Christ God's blessing"God, having raised up his Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities" (Acts 3:26). And "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). It is God who blesses us and turns us from our sins.
In the Sabbath is God's holinessOnly the presence of God can make anything holy. Moses, attracted by the sight of the bush burning yet not being consumed, turned aside "to see this great sight." "So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here am I.' Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground'" (Ex. 3:4, 5). That place was made holy ground solely by the presence of Him in the bush, just as the presence of the Lord made holy the seventh day, the Sabbath, when He rested on it and in it from all His works.
The believer finds in Christ the presence of God to make him holy: It is written: "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you" (John 14:20). And "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. 1:27). It is the presence of Christ that makes holy, and His continuing presence sanctifies.
Elder Robert J. Wieland remarked to me once: "Righteousness is holiness which has confronted the problem of sin in sinful human nature and has triumphed over sin. Thus righteousness is something far beyond mere holiness!" [3] So it is Christ in us that makes us righteous, and His righteousness is only received by His faith.
"The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (Isa. 32:17, 18). Righteousness is freedom from disobedience to the law and this is the definition of "spiritual rest,—perfect freedom from all sin." [4]
Ellen G. White wrote that the Sabbath points to Christ "as both the Creator and the Sanctifier." Moreover, "I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them ... (Ezek. 20:12). Then the Sabbath is a sign of Christ's power to make us holy." [5]
The Sabbath has in it Christ's sanctificationHe not only blessed the seventh day, but sanctified it that His presence might dwell in it. Christ's presence makes holy, but His continuing presence sanctifies.
All the above is what is found in Christ; for the Sabbath rest is the culmination of the everlasting covenant—of the gospel which is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The good news of the gospel is that all that is found in Christ is now your own experience because of Christ in you.
The believer finds in Christ God's abiding, dwelling, presence to sanctify him: For it is written: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23); and "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15); "For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (2 Cor. 6:16).
So we see that the Sabbath stands as God's sign of a completed work. It is the sign of a completed work at creation and a sign of the completed work of His secondary creation, the cross.
E. J. Waggoner wrote: "The power it took to create the world and all things that are in it, the power that keeps all things in existence, is the power that saves those who trust in it. This is the power of the cross." [6]
But to be made just or righteous means that self must die. We cannot kill self, but there is good news here too: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
We know from the Sabbath that Christ's presence makes holy—which is to make righteous, and His continuing presence within completes the sanctification.
Waggoner commented that justification is the highest state man can have on earth, and that sanctification is nothing more than this same justification moving forward over time. Christ's righteousness brings rest. Christ's righteousness is Sabbath.
Sanctification is the completed work of Christ manifested in the individual. Rest follows completed work. Spiritual rest follows completed spiritual work. The image of Christ is completely formed in the believer so that when God looks at the believer He sees His reflection.
"For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength'" (Isa. 30:15).
"So you see when God set up the Sabbath, he had set creation all before man to start with, and man could see God in creation. But, the Lord wanted to get nearer to man than that; man could study creation and find a knowledge about God. But God wanted him to have the knowledge of God. In creation he could know about Him; in the Sabbath he would know Him; because the Sabbath brings the living presence, the sanctifying presence, the hallowing presence, of Jesus Christ, to the man who observes it indeed." [7]
Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
 —Daniel Peters
[1] Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1273. [On page 730 we have a further statement: "We know that the gospel is a perfect and complete system, revealing the immutability of the law." And then that "ra is the complete system of truth." The 1888 message teaches that Christ Himself is the Gospel.]
[2] E. J. Waggoner, "Studies in the Book of Hebrews. No. – 16," General Conference Daily Bulletin 7, 17 (March 8, 1897), pp. 297-303.
[3] Personal email from Robert J. Wieland to Daniel Peters, March 8, 2009.
[4] E. J. Waggoner, The Gospel in Creation, p. 164.
[5] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 288.
[6] Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 140 (Glad Tidings ed.).
[7] A. T. Jones, 1893 General Conference Bulletin, pp. 136, 137.