Friday, December 28, 2007

The Most Important Choice

According to the Bible the decision to save man was done long before we ever existed. Three passages come to mind on this topic: Ephesians 1:3,4; 2 Timothy 1:8,9; Titus 1:2. Let us read all three verses.

Ephesians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Ephesians 1: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

2 Timothy 1: 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
2 Timothy 1: 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

These verses all say that the plan of salvation was in existence before the world began. In other words, before this planet existed as man’s home, Christ made a choice that He would die for anyone who would sin. Knowing how God works all the particulars of the plan had been designed and decided long before. It was a contingency plan that was put in effect once man sinned. Christ would come as a baby in the likeness of Sinful flesh. Not only would He have to suffer Satan’s persecution and punishment, Christ also had to endure God’s wrath against Sin. The wages of Sin is eternal death, which meant eternal separation from God; hence the prayer, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.

Being that God is omniscient, Christ knew what He was getting into. However, in Gethsemane, we find Christ as if trying to find a way out. It is as if the sacrifice was unbearable. Mark describes it in these words,

Mark 14: 33And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
Mark 14: 34And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
Mark 14: 35And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
Mark 14: 36And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Christ, in fact, prayed this three times. The Father seemed to be silent. It seems that although He made the decision to die for fallen man as God, now he had to make it as a man, because to save man he had to endure the wrath of God against transgression as a man (Desire of Ages p. 686). Sister White adds later in the same chapter

Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world's Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: "If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Desire of Ages p. 692-3

This should not discourage us. Christ, as a man, made the choice to finish the work. Christ successfully and effectively paid the penalty for Sin. Also, no one can say Christ cannot sympathize with suffering and feeling tempted. This makes Him a better High Priest, intercessor and helper.

What kind of a high priest was Jesus? One who was made like the ones he intercedes for, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was One which was tempted in all things as we are, yet never Sinned. He was One who suffered as we suffer - and perhaps even more. Because of this, He can make reconciliation for the Sins of people and is able to succor those who are also tempted. Because of this He can sympathize with us, save us to the uttermost when we come to Him, and live to make intercession for us (Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:15; 7:25).

Christ made His choice; because of this we are able to make our choice. The choice is very simple; accept His work of intercession and help for you or reject it. I pray that you make the right choice.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Meekness Is A Sign Of Godliness

If there is one thing we are invaded with in the USA is advertising and marketing. It is the preferred way of companies and businesses letting you know they exist. They want to let you know that their products and services are available to you. Anywhere you look and anywhere you listen someone is promoting themselves and what they offer. TV, printed and radio ads dominate the time and space of your favorite shows or publications. Ads are all over the internet. Billboards dominate the sky scene of our streets, roads and express ways.

As if this were not enough, much of the advertising is not so much about, “I am here,” but about, “I am the best.” Since companies and businesses compete for market share, they often advertise about how they are better than their competition and why. There is a lot of bragging and self-exaltation in advertising. Phrases such as - “We are the leading…,” “We are the first…,” “We are the fastest…” and “We are the biggest…” – are very common. Have we not heard these phrases elsewhere? If we stop to think about it these are the same phrases are commonly used by people like you and I. Companies and Businesses reflect the same identity of those who run them. When the people running these entities are proud, conceited and arrogant so are the entities they run. These attributes, however, are a lot more common than we think. Even people who do not run businesses use them to describe themselves. And, those who listen often cheer them on. “Flaunt it if you have it,” and “Toot your own horn” is what you hear them say. It is the nature of unconverted man.

But, pride, conceit and arrogance are the opposite of meekness. No wonder sinful men hate it. Men and women who are meek are considered weak, mocked, misjudged and misrepresented. True meekness stands against the principles of this world. True meekness is a gift given by the Holy Spirit to those who allow Him to dwell in them. As opposed to those who reject the Holy Spirit who are following their master, who said,

Isaiah 14: 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isaiah 14: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

In contrast, Christ calls Himself meek Matthew 11:29 and says that He favors the meek (Matthew 5: 5). In 2 Corinthians 10:1 Paul talks of meekness as an attribute of Christ. In fact, Paul advises us Philippians 2: 5-8,

Philippians 2: 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Humble yourself and submit to the Holy Spirit. Paul also describes agape as not being the opposite of meekness: “…love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (1 Corinthians 13: 4). For his part, John says that meekness is part of the fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:23).

The World hates God. The World hates meekness because it is one of the characteristics of the character of God. Therefore, anyone who is meek will be hated because they remind the World of Christ. In remembering Christ they realize how sinful they are. Which is not something that anyone likes to be reminded of; it shatters their pride, as it shows how vain and empty they truly are. The meek accept their vanity and emptiness, plus they let God fill them with His righteousness and glory. Will you do likewise?