Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Monarch and a Ruler

A king is a monarch, and in many cases, a sovereign. The concept of a sovereign monarch is foreign to those of us who live in democratic governments, where the political powers are divided into branches. In Biblical times, a king was also a judge. And as such, it was part of his duty to listen to claims of individuals or provinces against one another and make a determination to right the injustices that had occurred.

Christ has been given the title of King and Judge. However, unlike modern judges, Christ does not sit quietly, waiting to be convinced of guilt. Instead, He listens to the heart of the matter, and the inward motivations, while carefully observing both sides. His decision is not only binding, but is based in love for all concerned, and is accurate. He alone knows who is telling the truth. Unlike earthly judges, He is not swayed by the validity of any argument, nor is He corrupt; He cannot be bribed. A modern judge, after making his decision as to the guilt or innocence of the alleged offender, determines -- partly through the latitude the law allows, and partly through collaboration with his colleagues -- the punishment to be meted out. Often his decision not only penalizes the losing party, but rewards the winner. Unfortunately, many verdicts have been and are being bought from earthly judges who are corrupt. In the Jewish system, the Judge's duty was to advocate for the accused, and find the truth. It was his responsibility to submit his decision to the ultimate authority -- God-- for His ruling. With this in mind, we can understand Paul's context as He indicates that Jesus is the heavenly Judge who not only sets the record straight, but purifies and blots out the sins of His people who allow Him. And as in the Jewish economy which He set up, Christ is also our advocate. It is His objective to defend not only us -- sinful human beings -- against our accuser Satan, but to vindicate Himself and us before the onlooking universe . In so doing, He brings ultimate salvation, and deliverance from Sin to the oppressed and the exiled.

Christ sits as Judge in the Most Holy place as we speak, in this great Cosmic Age of Atonement. Our names are being called in the Investigative Judgment. Our lives are being investigated to determine if we are allowing Christ to live in us according to the profession we have made. What have, and are we professing? We profess that we have accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. We profess that we have welcomed God's Spirit into our mind, heart and body. Further, we've professed through baptism that we have chosen to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work of cleansing, purging and blotting out of Sin. Can it be seen that we are surrendering to and totally depending on the Holy Spirit? Can it be seen that we're living according to the Spirit's will for us, as indicated by the Word and the Spirit of Prophecy? To allow the Holy Spirit to do His work is nothing less than 'Sanctification.' Simply put, the Investigative Judgment is the cleansing of the soul temple -- the hearts and minds of Christ's followers (collectively and individually) of known and unknown sin. It is also the cleansing and restoring of the gospel from the dust and cobwebs of neglect and decay.

In regard to the individual preparation needed to enter heaven Christ has said:

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works?
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.

This week's lesson says of the above passage in Matthew 7, that our Savior is very clear: 'We can't separate a profession of faith in Him from a life of obedience to Him.' Christ says He 'never knew' those who 'through professing Him as Lord, and even doing deeds in His name weren't obedient to the will of God.' These statements demonstrate the futility of calling oneself a Christian while living the life of the sinner. To live as Christ lived, and to listen attentively, hearing eagerly with the willingness to do -- as Christ did (Obedience's true definition), is to die to self, daily. Living in Christ, is union with Him, and this is what Christ and the Father have described as salvation, which results in -- 'doing the will' of the Father. Unfortunately, many of us have described knowing and doing Christ's will in another way.
We've equated both salvation and His will with having a relationship with Christ. Unconsciously it has escaped us that to do so implies that each of us is both independent and equal with Christ. What has been lost can be found in John chapter 17, which says:

John 17:21 That they all might may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou has sent Me.
John 17:23 I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou has loved Me.

Ellen White says that individuals who profess but do not obey -- as in yield or surrender their will to the Holy Spirit's will --have no true love for God or man. Of them, she says, 'God called them to be co-workers with Him in blessing the world; but while in profession they accepted the call, in action they refused obedience. They trusted to self, and prided themselves on their goodness; but they set the commands of God at defiance. They refused to do the work which God had appointed them, and because of their transgression the Lord was about to divorce Himself from the disobedient nation (Christ Object Lessons p. 278).

Because of the Lord's great love for us, He -- as the 2nd Adam -- has saved the whole world in Himself. The judgment has been designed not to frighten sinful human beings into serving Him, but to vindicate our Saviour and His government. Remember, Satan has accused Him of creating selfish and unfair laws to curtail and restrict the freedoms of Angels and therefore men. Our Wonderful and Amazing Counselor is on trial before the universe. Don't you want to see and participate in His vindication? Yes, it's true that investigating, evaluating and cleansing human beings hearts and minds (and the gospel) is a part of the cleansing of the sanctuary. It is even more true that if we don't resist, we will not be found wanting. Friends, Christ is holding our hand. Our part, is simply not to yank our hand away, by choosing our own wills. Everyone who is not found in the judgment of the righteous has voluntarily chosen to cling to his Sin, and this will be made plain through the investigation. To cling to your Sin, while you await the various signs of His coming -- the close of probation or the passing of Sunday Law, will be to wait too late. For He has said, that when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according as His work shall be (Matt. 16:27).

Friends, the Investigative Judgment is not an inquisition. It is a loving process to determine if the Bride of Christ is ready for Her beloved Groom. Christ is waiting with angst more deep and powerful than we've chosen to know. His pain and disappointment that His Bride is not ready is palpable to those who choose to feel. Friends, Christ is calling His Bride to choose maturity, choose to grow up into the woman He's been awaiting -- for so long. How long must we disappoint His hopes and dreams? Choose with me today to lovingly accept your Saviour's work in your heart. After all, His name -- character-- is definitely worth having.

Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz
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