Thursday, November 10, 2005

Divine Mystery

George Orwell's story, Animal Farm, paints an accurate but disturbing picture of Human nature. The tale delineates what happens when those entrusted to serve believe that the privilege given to them is theirs by natural right. Early in the story, the animals, disgruntled by their treatment at the hand of the human farmers, band together, run off the farmers and take over the farm. Excited by their easy conquest, the animals realize that they must organize themselves and complete the various chores that need to be done. To carry out these tasks in an orderly manner, all of the animals meet and request a particular type of animal take charge of running the farm. The motto chosen by the animals in charge and agreed upon by all is, "All Animals are equal." As soon as the animals in charge become comfortable in their positions, they begin believing they are better than the rest of the animals, and that the other animals owe them homage and respect. Late one evening under the guise of darkness, the animals in charge re-write the motto to say, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." Needless to say, the rest of the animals revolt, and chaos and death ensue.

God chose Abraham to be the messenger of His good news to the world. He told Abraham that in Him all nations would be blessed (Genesis 18:18). Because Abraham overcame by the faith of Jesus -- by seeing Him who is invisible, he qualified to become the Father of the faithful. He represented those who accept the promises of God, and are faithful by and through the faith of Jesus. It was God's desire to fulfill His promise to Abraham - of being a blessing to all nations - through the Israelites. However, the Israelites, * who were to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6) - hoarded the blessings God had given them. They not only failed to share the Light, but hated anyone who even suggested that the Light should shine upon the Gentiles. After the Israelites were separated from the Jews, the privilege of being a Light to the Gentiles was given the Jews. But like their predecessors, the Israelites, the Jews hoarded the gift and never shared it. In fact, the Jews began to believe that Salvation was for the Jews only. And the term Gentile, which meant 'dog' and purportedly referred to unbelievers, became a term for anyone who was not a Jew. Of course, the Jews with money, land, political connections and power believed that they were elite, and therefore entitled to the special privileges given to the elite. Thus, not only did the Jews block the light from the Gentiles; the elite also blocked it from the lower strata Jews. Into this proud and boastful people came the Saviour, illuminating the character of His Father and setting forth as a bright gem, the principles of His law.

Although, Christ ministered to individual Gentiles (unbelievers) during His ministry, predominately His ministry was to the Jews. Through Peter and Paul, Christ taught the other disciples and we who were to follow, that Salvation is for the Gentiles (Acts 10; 13:46). This apparent new direction, was not an afterthought, but had been intended from the very beginning. In Isaiah 42:6, God had promised Christ to His people, "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles." In Christ, God saved not only the Gentiles, but the whole world.
Many Jews believed that the only way for a Gentile to be saved was for the Gentile to become a Jew. This meant baptism, circumcision, and other Jewish religious rites of passage. This belief also continued with some of the Christian Jews (Acts 15:1). Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to correct the matter. After prayerfully considering the matter under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the brethren decided that circumcision was not only not a pre-requisite for salvation, but that to require it actually nullified salvation by grace. Consequently, the hidden truth that Christ came to redeem the world (which included the Gentiles) was revealed, and confirmed. This is one of the Divine mysteries of which Paul spoke, that God gave his Son to save the World, and in Him we die, are resurrected, and live. Thus by default, the Gentiles are included. Paul tells the Ephesians in chapter 3 --

Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Ephesians 3:3 How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Ephesians 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Ephesians 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel:

It's obvious to most Christians, that the Jews were wrong in thinking that to be saved one must become a Jew. Yet, do we believe the same way? To Seventh - Day Adventists has been given the Divine privilege of being a Light to the World, reflecting the light of the Character and law of God. Are we allowing Christ's light shine in and through us? Are we allowing others to see the Divine mystery as revealed to us, by the Holy Spirit? God put us all in Christ, and through His merits we were justified. We keep the Sabbath, because we are led by the Spirit to do so, not to be saved, but as a demonstration of the salvation already won in Christ. Do we believe that the sheep in other folds must become 'Seventh day Adventists' to be saved? Pleasing to God? Have we been guilty of teaching others that to be saved they must keep the Sabbath, or become not only vegetarian but vegan? Unfortunately, some of us have thought this way, and in so doing, we've forgotten that God's grace applies to all the same. His sheep in other folds hear His voice and become Seventh Day Adventists not in order to be saved, but because the Spirit leads them to do so. God sees no distinctions in the human family, ultimately there are only those who choose to believe and follow, and those who don't.

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