A DAY TO REMEMBER

A DAY TO REMEMBER
We all have days in our lives that are very special to us. Many feel disappointed and even get angry when days that are important in their lives are forgotten by those that are important in their lives. We cherish our birthdays, our wedding day anniversary; graduation day et cetera. Many relationships have broken up because the other person forgot their birthdays. We all have days that are very important for us to remember. We keep diaries of important days not because a day is more important than another day astronomically but because there are some important events that add meaning and distinction to some particular days that make them worthy of remembrance. The sun shines on my birthday just as it shines everyday else; the sun rises and sets on your wedding day anniversary just as every other day. This means the significance of a day lies beyond the day itself but the activities that mark those days. The fact that no day is special in and of itself does not cancel out the need for people to celebrate or to remember their birthdays.
THE REST OF GOD
At the creation of the world, the bible gives us many details on how God in 6 literal, continuous days perfected his creation. After each day, the words of approval, “it was good” followed and after the 6 days of creation, the summary of the whole 6 days was “it was very good”. Everything that God created in its initial perfection was good. Before the curse of sin, there was no blight upon the creation of God. But the misuse of what God has created does not cancel out the fact that the creation of the universe was very good. When God looked at the creation of his hands, he was satisfied. On the Seventh day, God rested from his work of creation. ”Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”(Genesis 2: 1-2). The idea of God resting from his works is a very interesting one. In Isaiah 40:28 we are told that “the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength”. We understand from this fact that God can never be tired and in the context of God as the creator, it is emphasized that he cannot be weary. In Psalms 33:6, we are told that “by the words of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the words of his mouth”. God did not create the world by some exertion of physical strength and power that can lead to exhaustion but by the words of his mouth. The rest of God therefore was not a rest that came from tiredness but from fulfillment.
But that was not the end. God did not just rest from his work of creation on the Sabbath; he did two more things to the Sabbath. “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Sanctification is a word that is used to describe the separation of a thing or a person from common use to sacred use.
”And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy” (Exodus 32:29)

In Hebrews 4:4 we are told that “God did rest the seventh day from all his works” and these works were described as “finished from the foundation of the world”. This means that when God rested on the Seventh day, it was a rest from his work of creation and that rest has continued till today and when Jesus talked about he and his father still working(John 5:17), he was talking about the work of redemption that has continued from the time that man had fallen(John 6:19). The sanctification of the Sabbath; its separation for holy use as a day is not just the experience of God but an experience he desires his created beings to enter into. God does not create for another six days and rest and start all over again; his rest from creation has continued such that the sanctification of the Sabbath is for the use of man. Also, God blessed the day Sabbath as a day that he has separated unto himself. When a day is sanctified, it is separated from all other days not because of its astronomical qualities but because of the event of God’s rest that was to be a model for man.

BEYOND ASTRONOMY

Astronomy tells us why we have 30 days in a month; We speak of the month in terms of the moon – the lunar cycle, or a complete set of lunar phases, as in “From one new moon to another….”. We have 365 days in a year because of the orbit of the earth around the sun. We have 24 hours in a day because of the orbit of the earth upon its axis. But Astronomy does not tell us why we have a weekly cycle of 7 days. Some calendars based on the 8 day and 10 day weekly cycle have all failed and have been neglected. All over the world, across culture and civilization, we all live with this reality.”The week is a period of seven(7) days. It has been employed from time immemorial, in almost all countries”(Encyclopedia 11th edition Vol 4 Page 988) The seven day cycle originated from Eden. It is the cycle of the creation account. God created for six days and rested the seventh day. The divine pattern of six days of work and the Seventh day of rest has been brought to us down from Eden even though most times, we have lost the significance. Also, this fact implies that the Sabbath cannot be transferred to another day because it is rooted in God’s order of creation. If God rested on the Seventh day because his works were finished in the first 6 days, then the Sabbath must be on the day that signals the end of work; which is the seventh day. It cannot be on the 4th day because that belongs to the 6 days of creation; it cannot be the first because that is the day creation began.

After Adam and Eve, God began to work through different individuals to uphold his name and his law in the world. From righteous Cain to Seth when men returned to calling the name of God, from Enoch that walked with God to Noah who was just and perfect in a world filled with violence and wickedness, to Abraham who was faithful when men decided to build a tower that will reach up to heaven. However, God gave a promise to Abraham of how nations and not just individuals will be blessed through him. From his grandson came the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. Famine took them to Egypt under the protection of Joseph and Pharaoh. However, another Pharaoh emerged who could not tolerate their presence and feel threatened by their numeric growth. Israel went into captivity for 430 years and in those years they lost much of their heritage. They were worked tirelessly without rest. God raised up Moses who was to work for their deliverance from Egyptian captivity. The first point that Moses raised with Pharaoh was that the people should be allowed to rest from their labors. After many episodes, Israel was delivered and began a journey to Canaan. At Sinai, the voice of God called them. The law that they had forgotten as a result of their captivity needed to be spoken to them and written for constant reflection and for the next generation. The moral law; the Ten Commandments were given to Israel to guide them. The fourth of these 10 commandments began with the word, “REMEMBER”. The word ‘remember’ points us to two directions; to the past and to the future. Israel were called to remember what they have already been given in the past and to keep it in mind that they will not forget in the future. Israel need not be asked to remember what they have not been told before or what they need not regard in later times. What was it that Israel was to remember? “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” What God had made holy in Genesis 2, he called Israel to keep holy in Exodus 20; such that the making holy in Genesis 2 is for the purpose of man. “The Sabbath was made for man”(Mark 2:27) said Jesus. And in Exodus 20, God re-emphasized the creation origin of the Sabbath by reminding Israel that “ Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”(Exodus 20:9-11). Since we already learnt that God is particular, we see in this text God maintaining not just the generality of the Sabbath but the particularity of the Seventh Day, in such a way that the Sabbath cannot be divorced from the Seventh day. To root out the Seventh day is to root out the Sabbath and to attack the creation order of things

THE SABBATH EXPERIENCE

What was to be the experience of those who enter the Seventh day Sabbath rest? “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”(Leviticus 23:3). Every Seventh Day, just like God ceased from his work of creation on the Seventh day, Man was to rest from all his ordinary works and gather together with other believers to worship God while he spend the rest of the day resting; not in idleness but in the worship and contemplation of God. It was a full 24 hours of ceasing from the secular work and focusing entirely on he who made us.

When Jesus, the magnifier of the law came (Isaiah 42:21), he did not just deny the thought that he was going to destroy the law, he magnified the law by showing the spirit of the law and the principles that the law was to convey. In obedience to the commandment of God rooted in creation, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16). “And when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man, these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?”(Mark 6:2). And to show that the purpose of the Sabbath is anchored in the redemption of man and not in legalistic norms, he made it an occasion for many of his healings. To remind the disciples of their continuous obligation to spend time in contemplation of his sacrifice, he told them how they need to pray that their “flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day”(Mathew 24:20) and the bible tells us a lot about how the disciples “came into the synagogue on the Sabbath day”(Acts 13:14), preached about Moses every Sabbath (15:21); reasoned with Jews for three Sabbaths(17:2) and both the Jews and the Gentiles(18:4) for us to understand how after the cross, not just the Jews as a result of national heritage but how both Jews and Gentiles came together to worship.

THE SEVENTH DAY: LOST OR FOUND?

A faithful, careful, open heart study of the scriptures will not lead us to doubt the existence of the Sabbath but only to ask, which day then is this Seventh Day that God has “particularized” for his worship and for man to devote all of it to his service and his contemplation. Days in the bible are numbered from 1 to 7 while days today are named. Can we find today an equivalent of the Seventh day that was numbered? A dated event that is generally agreed with by Christians will suffice.

The day that Jesus died and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was described by the Paul in the account of Luke as the preparation day and on that day, the Sabbath was drawing on(Luke 23:53, 54).” This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.” This means that the day that followed the preparation day was the Sabbath and the day that precedes the Sabbath is the day that Jesus died. The disciples went away from the tomb to prepare spices on the preparation day, but they could not apply it because it was Sabbath and they went and “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56). Not even the decaying body of Jesus was an excuse for them to break God’s commandment. Not even a desire to honour his death was sufficient for disobedience, I wonder if his resurrection will also be a sufficient reason? The day that followed the Sabbath is referred to as the “first day of the week”. “Now upon the first day of the week”(Luke 24:1). Then followed an account of what happened on that day- THE RESSURECTION OF CHRIST. “He is not here, he is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee” (Luke 24:6). The order of events is clear and straight forward:
PREPARATION DAY (DAY OF CHRIST DEATH)→SABBATH DAY→FIRST DAY(THE DAY CHRIST RESSURECTED)

DAY OF CHRIST DEATH

SABBATH

DAY OF CHRIST RESSURECTION

An event is celebrated yearly by many Christians to remember this period of Christ’s life. The day of his death is called good FRIDAY; the day of his resurrection is called Easter Sunday. Even those who do not celebrate the days agree with the order. Wikipedia comments; “Easter[nb 1] also called Pasch[nb 2][1][2] or Resurrection Sunday,[3][4] is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.[5][6] It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.” “On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches. Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter.”(Christianty.about.com)
If Christ died on Friday and resurrected on Sunday, it means;
FRIDAY→ SABBATH→ SUNDAY

FRIDAY

SABBATH

SUNDAY

It means that the Sabbath( the seventh day) that was numbered is what we have named as the day between Friday and Sunday which any calendar anywhere tells us is SATURDAY

FRIDAY→SATURDAY (SABBATH)→SUNDAY

FRIDAY

SATURDAY (SABBATH)

SUNDAY

It means that from the testimony of Christians themselves, the Seventh Day is Saturday and it is the day that God has commanded for us to keep as the Sabbath

OTHER CONFIRMATIONS
The Jews are the first set of Sabbath Keepers. Just like the fact that they are the first set of people that came to the knowledge of salvation (John 4:22) did not preclude others from being saved (Galatians 3:28); the fact that they are the first keepers of the Sabbath do not preclude gentiles from keeping the Sabbath. If the Jews kept the Sabbath when it was numbered and they still keep it when the days have been named, the day the Jews still keep today (if there had been no change) is the Seventh day Sabbath. History does not provide us with any record of Jews changing their day of worship even when anti-Semitism was prevalent. Therefore, the question to be asked is what day the Jews keep today. Undoubtedly, it is Saturday. The nation of Israel even today still closes their shops on Saturday. For example, it was asked on Answers.com, “Is there public transportation in Israel on a Saturday? “ Someone responded
Answer by Doronsaar
Confidence votes 4
Most of the public transportation stops before the Sabbath begins (Friday evening) and continues after the Sabbath ends (Saturday evening).
According to Wikipedia.com, “Jewish Shabbat or Biblical Sabbath lasts from sunset on Friday to the fall of full darkness on Saturday, leading to a Friday–Saturday weekend in Israel”

The Oldest Church today is the Roman Catholic Church. It is the only Church old enough to exist between the time when the days were numbered and when they were named. Yet the Catholic Church has always held that the resurrection of Christ took place on Sunday and that Easter should be celebrated in its honor. This means by the bible account that Sunday is the first day when Jesus resurrected. For example, in the Convert Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, it was asked, “Which day is the Sabbath”; The answer, “Saturday is the Sabbath”

In many languages of the word today, the words for Saturday are root words from the word “SABBATH”. In Spanish it is “Sabbado”, in Greek it is “Sabbaton”, In Coptic it is “Sabbatan”, in Georgian, it is “Shabah”; in Yugoslav, it is “Subbata”; in Italian it is “sabbato”; in Portuguese, it is “Sabbato” in French, it is “Samedi”; in Russian, it is “Subbata” and so on. In summary, in 108 out of 160 languages, the word for Saturday is closely linked to the word Sabbath.

SATURDAY- Merriam Webster
• the seventh day of the week
SATURDAY- Dictionary.com
• The seventh day of the week, following Friday
SATURDAY- The Free Dictionary
• the seventh and last day of the week: the Jewish Sabbath

Has the calendar changed? The Julian calendar which went into effect in 45BC became part of the Christian church history as a result of decisions made at the Council of Nicea. It has 365 days plus leap year and one leap year every 4 years. It was off by 11 minutes every 4 years; so that over 400 years, it would gain 3 days. The Gregorian calendar was introduced in March 1582. 10 days were eliminated in this new calendar to bring March 21 back to the vernal equinox and it stopped the accumulation of 3 extra days/ 400 years by eliminating leap years in century years that are not evenly divisible by 400. This led to Friday the 5th of March , 1582 to become Friday, the 15th of March, 1852. It was adopted by Italy, Portugal and Spain at that time while England adopted in 1752 and Russia in 1918. This change does not affect the weekly cycle; Friday was still Friday and the next day was still Saturday. It was only the number that was adjusted and it did not affect the weekly cycle in any way.

REDISCOVERING THE SABBATH

The greatest test of our love for God is our ability to obey God just because God has spoken. “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. Those who love God will not do anything that disobeys him. Those who love God will long to spend time in his presence and rejoice in taking a whole day off work with God. Those who love God will trust him to take care of their needs when obedience to him seems to be leading us to difficult circumstances. Those who love God will keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the divine rest for human restlessness. God calls us every Seventh Day to rest in him and place our burdens on him; to rest in his righteousness by Faith and to remember his creation and redemption. Every Saturday, God calls us into his presence, to worship him with other believers. Even though it seems that the Sabbath has been lost sight of, God has preserved his holy day pure and even today there are those who worship God on his appointed day and rejoice in obedience to his will. They believe not just the promises of God but also his commands and that in every of his command is a promise of grace to accomplish it. If you have never kept the Sabbath in your life, I can assure you that it is an experience that you will always ask for again again. Rest from your secular labors, find God’s faithful people who still keep the Sabbath, worship with them and spend personal time in God’s presence worshiping and adoring him.

O Day of Rest and Gladness

O day of rest and gladness,
O day of joy and light
O balm of care and sadness,
Most beautiful, most bright;
On thee, the high and lowly,
Who bend before the throne,
Sing, Holy, holy, holy,
To the Eternal One.
2
Thou art a port protected
From storms that round us rise,
A garden intersected
With streams of Paradise;
Thou art a cooling fountain
In life’s dry dreary sand;
From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain,
We view our promised land.
3
A day of sweet reflection
Thou art, a day of love;
A day to raise affection
From earth to things above.
New graces ever gaining
From this our day of rest,
From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain,
We view our promised land.

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WHAT CAN CHRIST DO?

WHAT CAN CHRIST DO?
The story of Job is perhaps one of the most familiar stories in the Old Testament. The sufferings that Job passed through in his period of trials are major themes for discuss especially on the issue of trusting Christ in the midst of our sufferings. Perhaps, there is no preacher who has not preached about him. What a faithful man of God he was. But one thing that is majorly left out in the story is the question that Satan poses to God which was the prologue to the whole experience of Job
Satan was describing his efforts on the earth when God asked him if he had considered Job and in describing Job to the devil, God said he was “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and eschewed evil?”(Job 1:8) The devil surprisingly had no argument against this description of Job. He could not counter the statement by pointing to Job’s disobedience and impious life. However, Satan did not fully agree with the statement that Job was perfect by telling God that Job’s perfection was a cheap one. The devil has always pursued the argument that it was impossible for created beings to live in perfect obedience to the will of God. In his rebellion in heaven, he was against the government of God and his law, describing them as unachievable. Through the sin and disobedience of men, Satan has pursued his case and arguments all through the history of man. This is why he still went on to deny the genuineness of Job’s perfection as cheap and due to Job being blessed with all the good things of life without trials and struggles. Satan’s argument was simple; no one can live a life of perfect obedience to God in the midst of trials and temptations.
The following interplay shows Job going through the deepest and most serious trials and temptations and even discouragement from friends and foes. However, “in all these Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly”(Job 1:20). Though Job did not understand it all and he had more questions than answers, yet, he did not curse God in the midst of his pains. The experience of Job is a type of Christ. When Jesus came into this world, he took upon himself the fallen nature of man that he might understand the pains of humanity. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.” Hebrews 2:16,17” Christ did not come to this world with any exalted nature that man did not have for that would have disqualified him from being a faithful high priest.” “And took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7”. Though Christ had the same fallen nature that man has; it was recorded concerning him; ” Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth”(1 peter 2:22); “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”(Hebrews 4:15)
A BIBLICAL REQUIREMENT
However, Jesus did not come to live a perfect life just to provide a perfect sacrifice for our sins(Exodus 12:5); he did it also to show us an example of what is possible for us in our sinful flesh and human nature. “”For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; “””For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21; “ For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”. After concluding his sermon on the mount, Jesus instructs us, “Be ye therefore perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”(Mathew 5:48). The purpose of the spiritual gifts that are given to the church is that “we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man”(Ephesians 4:31). The purpose of the bible is “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”(2 Timothy 3:17) The purpose of the preaching of the gospel is “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”(Colossians 1:28). Paul writing to the Hebrews tells them that the great object of their whole Christian experience is to “go on unto perfection”. The fact that the bible requires perfection from us is not an issue to be debated; it is as clear as the noon
DEFINING THE TERM
But Christianity has been divided in history as it relates to this requirement of God. But maybe half of the issue can be solved with clarity of terms. It has been suggested that there are three different types of perfection; the perfection of God; the perfection of nature and the perfection of surrender. God is perfect in his own sphere and the perfection he possesses is unique to him. God has never sinned; he has never cherished any evil thought; evil is outside of him. God does not change and he cannot make any wrong decision due to wrong information or lack of information. The perfection of God is inherent. This is not the perfection that man is called to. This is only possible for God. When he asked us to be perfect as he is; it is to be perfect in our sphere as he is perfect in his sphere. God has what is possible for him to have and man is to have what it is his privilege to have. Perfection of nature was what man possessed in the beginning before sin. He was created perfect in the image of God without a sinful nature and no sinful inclinations originating from within. When he was tempted from outside, he succumbed to the temptation and man lost the nature he possessed. Man’s nature became fallen and sinful with sinful inclinations from within. This kind of perfection will be retained only when the saints are redeemed to live eternally with God in heaven.
The perfection that God desires for man at present is that which was manifested by Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. The burden of sin was crushing out his life and he wished that the bitter cup of God’s wrath for sin was taken away from his hands. Though he didn’t want to in all his feelings, yet he decided to surrender to God saying, “not as i will, but as thou will”. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life; Jesus gave him a definition of perfection. “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor”. The major hindrance in the rich man’s heart in his relationship to God was that his money has taken the affections of his heart and God will have him surrender it to be perfect. Paul also said that “love is the fulfilling of the law”(Romans 13:10). In describing what it means to keep the law, Jesus summarized the 10 commandments into love for God and love for man. Perfection is absolute love for God and for man; total surrender of self; the denial of self to do God’s will and to bless humanity. I would suggest that the life of service, of total self-forgetfulness out of a great love for others, always lightening their load and always blessing them, has more to do with perfection than any other thing I know of. This life of service has a closer connection with the cross than any other type of activity. Distrust of self, and total confidence in God, makes us safe in heaven for eternity. The cross teaches that lesson. If Christ would not trust Himself under those circumstances, but only His Father, when can you trust yourself? Total trust in Christ is perfection
“For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. At the moment of conversion, when we surrender our lives completely to Christ, we are counted perfect in Christ. The one thing that God asks of us in the conversion process is to give him our whole heart. Even though a plant is very immature when the first blade of green appears above the ground, it is no less important than the fully grown plant. Without that first growth, no harvest will be possible. The tiny blade is perfect, because it is all that it could be expected to be. At each stage of growth the plant may be perfect as it grows to maturity. Likewise, when our character is fully surrendered to God, that is a perfect surrender at that time, with the knowledge available to us then. We are fully surrendered to the degree that we understand ourselves and God’s will for us. God will accept the full surrender of all that we know about ourselves at that time. Thus our character surrender is perfect, because it is counted as perfect by God. Incidentally, this is the only requirement for salvation, now or in the future. God does not demand wisdom or education or years of living, as is illustrated in the story of the thief on the cross. A primary 6 student who has distinction in his common entrance exam is as intelligent in quality as the ss3 student who has distinction in WAEC and the part 4 student who has a first class. In quantity, they have more knowledge than each other but in quality they are all brilliant. Perfection is living by all that we know about God at every moment. It is not occasional good deeds or misdeed but a state of the heart in full surrender.
WHAT CAN CHRIST DO
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. This is the start point of perfection. It begins where our thoughts are fully surrendered to God and every evil thought is banished and the thoughts that fills the mind is that of Christ. It is a condition of heart where our hearts are totally given to the thoughts of Christ that evil thoughts no longer find a nest. It is not an absence of temptations but victory over temptations in the power of Christ and his spirit. “Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”(Gal 5:16). What makes the life of Jesus separate from every one that has lived is that he did not sin right from his birth and this is because he had the holy spirit from birth(Luke 1:35). But what Jesus had at birth we can have in our own new birth. It is the power of spirit delivering us from our inherited and cultivated propensities and giving us grace to now be servants of righteousness that makes perfection possible.Perfection is not a static state of mind where we have reached a peak in our Christian experience and we don’t need Christ again. Rather, as we grow in knowledge of God; we have more responsibility to live in obedience to what we know and we still trust Christ for strength; such that we can never get to a point where we shout in pride and self-fulfillment; “I am perfect”. It is not s static position. It is a daily surrender to all we know and convinced of. Unlike God, we can be devoid of knowledge and do things contrary to God’s will or we can be misinformed and sin against God but because the quality of our heart is total surrender to all revealed will; we confess our sins and we in the power of Christ start living in obedience to God’s will
This quality of heart is not what we accomplish in our human strength. Every command of God is a promise and the only reason why we talk of perfection is not just because God demands it but because Christ promises it. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy”(Jude 24). “I can do all things through Christ which strenghtheneth me”(Phil 4:13). God promises that he can help us to overcome all temptations. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”(1 Cor 10:13).
A DIVINE PROCESS
The reality of the issue is what Paul wrote to the Hebrews. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The Christian life is one of growth. Sanctification is not instantaneous. It is God taking our sinful nature and cleansing us from all of our sinful pleasures that has been part of us before we met Christ. Many times we look into our own lives and see no prospect for good. Many times we fall and fail God and it seems that we will always continue to be dominated by sin. But the promise of God is that sin shall not have dominion over us. We should not look at our failures but at Jesus the author and finisher of faith. Even though we struggle with sin, let’s remember that struggle with sin is a sign of life, we need to keep getting up. A righteous man falls seven times but he rises up again. They do not allow the devil to take advantage of their fall. They go back to God in repentance for cleansing. But God does not just forgive them for sins, he cleanses from all unrighteousness. As we continue to trust God, he takes us from the pit of sin and gives us the gift of surrender that all of our lives be lived in obedience to Christ. The question I ask those who object perfection is that which of their sins do they want to keep. If we truly love God and man, we will have no desire to sin and instead of objecting, we start tapping into what Christ can do for us. If we think that we will continue to sin, it means we accept that the devil is stronger than the devil for it is the devil that wants us to sin and God does not want us to sin(1 John 2:1; 3:6-9)
IT’S A REALITY
In that glorious kingdom above, when we gather there on the sea of glass, we will all be amazed at the others who are there; and we will stand there marveling at what God has done with weak human beings. None will take the praise to themselves. All the praise will be to Him.
May God help you this day to recognize that we can do nothing of ourselves. Without Him we are totally helpless. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This involves a unique relationship of total dependency on Christ and total distrust of self, and leaning on the everlasting arms for everything. We have not yet witnessed what God wants to do with man. He is singling us out in these special last days to be an example and an encouragement to weak individuals of what God can do. May we so fully depend upon Him that we become huge channels of blessing to all mankind, so that they know that God is not only love, but powerful. May the Lord make you perfect in every good work through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Perfection is not an option; it is what God demands. The righteous saints standing on the sea of glass are described as those in whose “mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev 14:5). Those that will eat of the tree of life; those that will not be hurt by the second death; that will eat of the hidden manna; those that will have power over the nations and be clothed in white raiment and sit with Christ in his throne are those that overcome(Rev 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21). It is either we overcome sin or sin overcomes us. Jesus said that perfection is what it takes to enter into life in his discourse with the rich young ruler (Mathew 19). When Christ comes; he is going to change our body (1 Cor 15) not our character. We who are on earth is who we will be in heaven in character. And if there is any of our character that cannot be accommodated in heaven; it’s time we ask God for the victory. Let’s ask him to give us the grace to live in obedience to all his revealed will.

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WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE NEW COVENANT

WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE NEW COVENANT
When Adam wakes up to the reality of his own existence, he must have been amazed that all that he needed for his life and existence were already there before him. God did not create man and began to plan and think about the creation of man; neither did he create Adam and delegate the task to him. Even when God decided to give Adam a companion that has the same essence and feeling like him, scriptures records that Adam was put to a deep sleep(Gen 2:21) and the next consciousness he had was the sight of a companion whom he named Eve. Adam played no part in the creation of Eve; God did the work but took the raw material for the creation from Adam but Adam can boast of nothing about the creation of the world. Every good and perfect gift that Adam ever possessed was from God. In this, man was meant to always depend on God for any good and perfect gift. But the creation of man was also distinctive in the sense that all the other creatures were made in five days through the words of God. But in the creation of man; God used his own hands to form and mold man out of the dust and brought beauty and brilliance out of dust. God took the raw material and he made man from it. In this sense, God intended for man to have a special relationship with himself. Communion and union were his desires for man and himself.
God made a covenant with man in the garden. He was to continue to inhabit a world he never made as long as he continued to obey the command of God; “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat :But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”(Gen 2:16,17). Man did not get Eden by his obedience or righteousness but he could lose it by his disobedience. Obedience to God’s command was the term by which Adam will keep the blessings of God. However, God never left them to obey by their own strength; he maintained communion with them and through this, if they cooperated with him, they are to experience the power of obedience and not be deprived of the blessings of Eden. Adam and Eve finally disobeyed God and the covenant he made with them was broken not by any arbitrary decree on God’s part but on their willful disobedience.
Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden and the woes of humanity began. It started in something as minute as eating a tree but it ended in a brother killing his own brother (what human tie can be closer). One single act of sin has led humanity to the downward retrogression and Genesis 6 opens with the whole world polluted with iniquity, wickedness and violence. In the midst of these however, God found a man named Noah and the covenant was restored to him. “But with thee will I establish my covenant: and thou shall come into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and the sons’ wives with thee” As long as Noah remained faithful, God will save him from the destruction that is coming. From this time on, God continued to deal with humanity as individuals. Noah, Abraham, Isaac were faithful to God’s covenant to them. But the time came when God brought out a nation through whom he was going to communicate the gospel to the other nations. From the 12 sons of faithful Jacob, the nation of Israel was established. Just like he made previously with individuals, God made a covenant with his people the Israelites after he delivered them from their captivity in Egypt. “ Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt”(Hebrews 8:8). Exodus 19 gives us an account of this event where God sealed a covenant with Israel. The terms of the covenant are so clear and definite. God made a promise to Israel that they will be to him a kingdom of priests and an holy nation (vs 6) but that’s based on a condition, “If ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant”. Obedience to God was the condition upon which Israel was to keep this covenant. In case they don’t understand what he meant by they obeying his voice, Exodus 20 records God speaking by his voice the Ten commandments (Exodus 20:1). These commandments were then written on a table of stone by the finger of God (Exo 31:18) . Israel in response to this commandment made a promise to God that “all that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exo 19:8). The covenant was ratified by a blood sacrifice with Moses as the mediator(Hebrews 9:19,20)
What happened to this covenant? “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”(Hebrews 8:7-9). Not more than 40 days after the covenant was made with Israel, the episode of the golden calf confronts us. Moses has gone to the mountain to commune with God and in their impatience they all contributed their rings and Aaron was persuaded to make a golden calf for them to worship. That is disobedience to the first 2 commandments. Since obedience to the commandments was the basis by which they could keep the covenant; Israel by this act broke their covenant with God. All through the history of Israel, God has never been unfaithful to the covenant terms. “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips”(Psalms 89:34). God said that he will not vary any terms of his covenant because the problem was not the covenant, the problem has ever been the recipient of the new covenant (finding fault with them). Daniel in his confessional prayer on behalf of Israel in their captivity agrees, “O lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments”(Daniel 9:4,5). Daniel states very clearly that God keeps his covenant as long as man keeps his commandments and the problem is not with God but with man’s disobedience. However, before Daniel closes the chapter, he gave a promise of a Messiah who will come and “confirm the covenant”
But God was not going to leave his children to the result of their disobedience. Though captivity was coming upon them, God through his prophet Jeremiah gave Israel a promise, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah”. Jeremiah wrote prospectively of this covenant while in Hebrews, the reality of the covenant was brought to bear. What is it about this new covenant? This new covenant had a mediator who is not Moses but Christ, the perfect one (Heb 12:24; 1 Timothy 2:5), it was ratified by the blood of Jesus (Heb 9:11) and made with the house of Israel (Hebrews 8:10). The house of Israel is no longer being a Jew by birth or nationality. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”(Gal 3:27-29). It is by believing in Christ that will become heirs of the gospel promise made to Abraham. God’s covenant was no longer with literal Jew or Israelites but with the Christian Church which combines both Jews and Greeks who live in reality of the cross. What are the terms of this covenant? God was going to cast our sins into the depth of the sea and forgive us all our trespasses. But what about the commandments, has it been done away with? NO! I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS. What does this leads to? “O that there was such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever”(Deut 5:29). The writing of God’s law on the heart was to lead to obedience (Deut 6:1-10). There is no covenant without a law. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets” Christ said because without the law there is no Covenant, there is no sin(1 John 3:4), there is no Saviour(Mathew 1:21) and all our faith is in the mud. In case we doubt what law Christ was talking about, he quotes to the rich young ruler from the Ten Commandments in Mathew 19. When Jesus gave the “new commandment” in Mathew 22, to love God, he quotes from Deut 6:5; to love our neighbor, he quotes from Lev 19:18. Christ does this to show us that he has not come to bring new laws. That first command to love God is the summary of the first 4 commands of the Decalogue which deals with our relationship with God and the second command to love our neighbor summarises the last 6 commandments of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) that deal without relationship with each other. The law of God is eternal, it cannot be broken.(Psalms 111:7,8) Those that are saved at last in response to this covenant are described thus, “Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”(Rev 22:14)
But what’s new about this new covenant? 1. This covenant is an everlasting covenant (Hebrews 13:20). No one will be saved outside of this covenant because there is no covenat that will come again. This is also a promise that this covenant will not fail. Not because the whole of humanity or the whole of the Christian Church will respond positively but because there will be some set of people in the last days who despite all odds will “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17). 2. I WILL. This covenant is not based on the futile promises of man which are like ropes of sand but are based on the promise of God to man. God knows that in our strength we will continue to fail like we have always done but in this new covenant he will do the work in and through us. Christ will keep the covenant with God on our behalf and he provides his merit for our justification only if we continue to trust in that power not just to receive forgiveness from sin but total victory over sin. 3. Boldness to enter into the holiest. The old covenant was made to Israel as a nation and only the priests could enter into the holy place and only the high priest into the most holy place. But in this new covenant, the failure of the church does not affect the individual. God deals with us as separate individuals having a distinct relationship with him in which we can be saved by that new covenant even if the whole Christian Church ignores the covenant. We will saved or lost as individuals and not as a group. 4. My laws into their hearts. In the old covenant, the law was written on the table of stone. But while God placed the law in the tables of stone; his desire has always been to have it in the heart (Deut 5:29). What is in the heart is what has the affection and they are the things will do easily with the whole heart. God will place his law in our heart so that his law becomes not something that we hate because it calls us to our sins and condition but something that we enjoy. God intends to bring us to the place where we say like David, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is written my heart.”(Psalms 40:8). God’s goal is to deliver us from sin and in this promise of the new covenant, God intends to deal finally with the issue of sin, bring forth people who will keep the covenant, not in their power or strength but because they trust in the merits and the grace of Christ. They do not obey God because they want to earn salvation by their works but they obey because the law is in their heart. Their obedience does not save them, but it prevents them from being lost.
The new covenant is not permissiveness of sin where we can do as we like and still go to heaven. IT is the total cleansing of the human heart from every defilement of sin. It is not the downplaying of the commandments, it is Christ coming to “magnify the law and make it honorable”(Isaiah 42:21), saying to the crowd, “ Thou hast heard, but I say”, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”(Mathew 5:20) and he concludes the famous Sermon on the Mount by saying, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect”. “ Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness– godlikeness–is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress. He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain, that includes everything good, and pure, and noble.” Christ will not bring down his standards to meet man, rather he loves us so much that he wants to bring us higher to meet it. God does not intend for humanity to continue to fall below. He wants to uplift us from the degradation of sin into righteousness and holiness that our character will be the perfect reflection of his own character, “holy, pure and undefiled”

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BECAUSE GOD SAID IT

BECAUSE GOD SAID IT

Perhaps one of the themes of the bible that is most talked about among Christians is Faith. Not just faith in general but faith in the sense that our salvation is by faith. One of the hallmarks of the protestant reformation is the preaching of the message of righteousness by faith. This was very timely because of the expansion of the Roman Church and its emphasis on penance and various expressions of a righteousness that is earned and not received. The reformers followed in the footsteps of Paul as he sought to reproof the Galatians who began to think that their works could save them and gave them a powerful discussion on the theme of righteousness by Faith

But though righteousness by faith is so much talked about, it is so little understand and I propose that the reason is because faith itself, which is the foundation of the theme of righteousness by faith is so little understood. If it is true that by “grace are ye saved through faith”(Ephesians 2:8), it means our salvation is dependent on our correct understanding of what faith is. Stated differently, Paul said, “without faith, it is impossible to please him(God)”(Hebrews 11:6) and the implication of this is that whether we are pleasing to God or not is dependent on our understanding of faith because action follows from conviction. A wrong understanding of faith means a wrong expression of it and that implies a risk of being lost.

If it is God that determines whether our faith is pleasing or not, it means God is also in the best position to explain to us what faith is. Jesus identification of faith becomes the model or the working definition by which we seek to understand Faith. Jesus said concerning a man, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel”(Matthew 8:10). This expression of faith that received the commendation of Christ is worthy of our thought. The centurion came to Jesus to seek the healing of his servant who was sick with palsy. Under his own understanding of his unworthiness to talk to Jesus, he sent some delegates that are leaders in the church. These leaders rehearsed to Jesus all the virtuous things about the Centurion and commended him to Jesus on that basis. Jesus agreed to their request and he whose heart of compassion is always moved by the suffering of humanity went with them as they approach the Centurion’s house. Seeing Jesus afar off, the centurion still under the sense of his unworthiness sent his friends to meet with Jesus before he comes to the house to inform him that first, he is not worthy in spite of all his achievements of the personal presence of Jesus. His second message was powerful, “but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed”(Luke 6:7). The centurion understood that the power of Jesus does not lie in its physical presence but in his word. It is not the lightning, the thunders, the earthquakes, it is the still small voice. The centurion understood that there is a power in the words of Jesus that performs that which it says. He believed that the performance of the words is inherent in the words themselves, such that if God tells you a blue object is black, if it is not black at that time, because God has spoken it will become black.”But speak the word only”. It was not just a belief in the power of God’s word but also in its sufficiency. Nothing else needs to be considered when God has spoken. No demonstration needs to be demanded, no questions needs to be asked. The first fact about faith is that Faith is believing that God’s word will perform what it says and holding on to that word alone and nothing else.

In the wilderness, Jesus was confronted with this same condition. God has just spoken from heaven confirming that Jesus is his beloved son in whom he is well pleased. The word of God was clear. However, the devil confronted Jesus with a question of his son ship two times. “If thou be the Son of God, command”(Matthew 4:3), “If thou be the son of God cast thyself”(4:6). The question at that time for Christ was whether he will rely only on the testimony of God’s voice or he will rely on the testimony of his own experience/ performance.Is he the son of God just because God said it or because he can feel it or because it makes sense from his exercise of power. Jesus reply is significant, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”(Matthew 4:4). If bread is that which keeps the physical body alive, it means spiritual life is sustained by us living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. True Spiritual life is manifested in our faith in every word that God speaks just because God has spoken it, irrespective of feelings, demonstrations, experience and what we think as rational.
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”(Galatians 3:6). If there is anyone whom God himself acknowledged his faith, it was Abraham. There are three stages(not in a chronological order) in the life of Abraham that are significant to an understanding of his faith. One of these is the event that led to the birth of Isaac. Coming out of his own faith crisis, Abraham received again the promise of an heir. Even though he was old and his wife has passed child bearing age and he already had a son, Abraham still believed in the word of God. The word of God came to Abraham as a promise; the promise of an heir. Abraham kept his eyes off all the “realities of life” that confronted him and he made a choice to believe that the word of God possessed in itself the power to accomplish what it has said. Abraham would rather disbelieve all his biological knowledge and all his experience and the experience of everyone that he has never known than disbelieve the word of God. Abraham held on to the promise of God despite the circumstances.

The second instance in his life was when the call came to him to go out of his home to an unknown land. The word of God came to Abraham as a command. “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him”. Abraham did not just believe a God that will fulfil his promises, he believed in a God that will give the grace to do what he commands. The faith of Abraham was to live by everything that God says whether it comes as a promise or as a command. Abraham obeyed the call even when the circumstances are not known and the consequences are not clear. In spite of this, he chose to obey God because he trusted that if the commands of God brings him into a condition, God would fulfil the purpose upon which he has brought him there. Abraham did not have faith in anything because there was nothing else to trust, he only trusted in what God has said and decided to follow through with the word of God wherever that leads.

The third instance was when the Child was already born. The call comes to Abraham again to take his son and sacrifice him. For one thing, this was the same son that God has said will be the heir. But Abraham was sure he heard right and even though it did not make sense to him why God would give such command, but because it was God’s word, that was sufficient for Abraham and he went on to live by the word of God, trusting in nothing but he who has commanded. The second instance was a command followed by a promise that Abraham will be a blessing to all nations. But this second command was given without a promise, the promise came only when the command had been trusted. Abraham does not obey God because he thinks a positive end will come from it(even thought it always comes); he did what God said just because God had said it.

The last example of faith comes from the faithlessness of Adam and Eve. The command of God to them was clear and well understood. However, eating or not eating from a tree was an issue that seemed had no moral implication. There was nothing poisonous or deadly about the tree. In fact after Eve’s mind has been distorted she saw a tree that was pleasant to the eye. Not just that but she saw that the serpent was touching the tree and nothing happened just as Adam saw Eve eating the fruit with no apparent consequence. What God wanted from them was a faith that holds on to the word of God even when it seems that disobeying it makes no difference, when it seems that it has no moral implication and even when the path of transgression seems desirable and pleasurable.

Faith is understanding that the power is inherent in the word itself, it is holding on to God’s word in spite of my feelings and experiences. It is holding on to both his promises and his commands and believing his commands even when it seems there is no promise. Faith is holding on to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God even when it seems that it will make no difference if we obey or not and when it seems that it has no moral point of reference. Righteousness by faith is nothing but believing in what God has said just because God has said and believing that that word will accomplish what it says. To a heart that truly has faith, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”(Exodus 20:8) is no different from, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”(Matthew 11:28). Since both of them are the words of God, righteousness by faith lives by every word. Since every promise of God is on the condition of obedience(Deuteronomy 28), faith believes that the promises of God will be actualised and by implication it believes that the same power that will keep the promise is the same power that will supply the power to do what God has commanded as the condition for the promise because the promise itself cannot come without the condition. Faith believes that every command of God is a promise and that God will accomplish not just what it promises but also what it commands. It is unbelief that seeks the destruction of the law of God because faith always uphold and live by every word that God says.

Then in Fellowship Sweet
We Will sit at his feet
Or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
What he says we will do
Where he sends we will go,
Never Fear, only trust and obey

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IS GOD PARTICULAR?

IS GOD PARTICULAR?

When you walk into a restaurant, you are handed the “menu” which contains all the available food and drink items that the customer can have at that particular time. The purpose of the menu is to communicate to the customer that there are options. The restaurants with the larger options/product lines has the higher customers base. Privatisation has told us that efficiency and effectiveness lies in our ability to have many options. Maybe in some issues in life, it is imperative we have options, but this same idea has been grafted into our moral thinking. The consequence is what is referred to as relativism or post modernism. It is the idea that there are always varied options to choose from and there is no need to be “stuck” with a particular choice. It is not just that we believe that what is good for me is not good for you, maybe that is acceptable on an aesthetic level, but we make a more dangerous error when we infer that there is nothing true for everyone. A relativistic world view falls on its own head. It is not just logically contradictory, it is empirically unlivable.

The greatest concern is however not just about how we have relativised everything, it is that we carry the same mindset to discussions about God. Though we don’t make the statements directly, we have now come to believe that some things are good for God but not for us. Worse, is that we believe that God is not particular about anything. We see God as the benevolent father who allows everything and distinguishes between nothing. The proliferation of religious systems especially in the Christian faith makes the arguments “seems” more plausible. Is God particular? Does he have absolute moral standards? Does he command without giving alternatives?

After the creation of man, God gave them a command that was very significant.”And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”(Genesis 2:16,17). The garden of Eden was filled with so many trees that God himself has planted in the garden. However, God was particular that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that is the midst of the garden should not be eaten. It would be as equally dangerous if Eve had thought that God could not be particular about a particular tree. What was physically special about the tree? Nothing. But is God still particular about the tree? Absolutely.

In Leviticus chapters 1 through 8, God took time to give all the instructions that were to guide the priests in their execution of the priestly ministry. After the inauguration of the service, two of the sons of Aaron were required to offer sacrifices to God. “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not”(Leviticus 10:1,2). The problem with them is not that they did not offer sacrifice to God when he asked them to, the issue was God requested for it to be done in some particular way, and they suffered that grave consequence because they wanted another option, a harmless alternative. But God did not accept that offering because God is particular. Two brothers were also commanded to bring offering in Genesis Chapter 4. Abel had an offering from the sheeps he kept and Cain from the fruit of the ground. Why did God reject the offering of Cain, is that not what he had? Has he not given another harmless alternative? Could atonement not be made by fruits of the ground as well as by a lamb? No. Why not? Because God is particular. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins”(Hebrews 9:22)

No one reads Exodus and Numbers and the instructions God gave there about the sanctuary and still believe that God is not particular.Careful and detailed instructions were given to Israel about the building of the sanctuary. There was no detail in the building plan that was not given by God. The lenght and breadth and the material of every instrument were carefully laid out. God was so particular about the fact that only the Levites and the Priests could offer sacrifices that he was dissatisfied with Saul for doing so and with Uzziah by striking him with leprosy(2 Chronichles 26). God was particular that the levites and the priests were to be the ones to offer sacrifices. God was particular that it was only animals without blemish that should be brought as sacrifices that he got dissatisfied with Israel for bringing sacrifices that were with blemish(Malachi 3).
God gave a command that no one should touch the ark of the covenant while it is being taken to Israel. Uzzah was zealous that the ark was about to fall and he made the attempt to assist the ark from falling. But he realised that God was particular.

This was not just an Old Testament issue. God was very particular that it is only through Christ that salvation can come. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none under name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”(Acts 4:12). Jesus himself made the most particular statement when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one cometh to the Father except through me”(John 14:6). For those who claim that God is not particular and that every religion has equal validity and what we belief does not matter, Jesus sure gives us something to think about. Paul was particular when he condemned the Galatians for trusting in their own works and told them that salvation can only come by faith. God was particular when he said it is only those who overcome that will reign with him in heaven(revelation 2, 3) and he was particular when he talked about a narrow way.

God was particular when he instructed Israel that they can gather bread from the first day to the sixth but none on the seventh day. God was particular that it was the sixth day that they should gather a double ration for it was on the Seventh Day that God commanded them not to eat. Those who gathered a double portion on other days found out that it spoilt. God was particular that it was the Seventh Day which is the Sabbath that they should save for. Why the Seventh Day? Who Knows. But was God particular about it?, Yes.

“Then said he unto them, O fools and slow of hearts to believe all that the prophets have spoken”(Luke 24:25). “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”(Mathew 4:4). God does not say anything that is not important. Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is very important. God means everything he says and says nothing that he does not mean. Our culture of relativism might have led us to believe that anything goes but not with God. Anything does not go for God, there are no common grounds, no grey areas. God has his standards, he is particular about everything he commands. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”(Isaiah 55:11)

LORD JESUS ONCE YOU SPOKE TO MEN
H.C.A GAUNT

Lord Jesus, once you spoke to men
Upon the mountain and the plain
O help us listen now as then
And wonder at your words again

We all have secrets fears to face,
Our minds and motives to attend.
We seek your truth, we need your grace,
Our living Lord and present friend

The gospel speaks and we receive
Your light, Your love, Your Own Command.
O help us live what we believe,
In daily word of heart and hand

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I WILL GIVE YOU REST

I WILL GIVE YOU REST

As we journey through life, we make plans, we have pursuits and there exist in all of us a well of potentials that seeks for manifestation.We all have desires that seeks for fulfilment, goals that seek for accomplishments and pursuits that seek for end points. One thing runs through all humans, our capacity to desire and our ability to go for it. “If you can conceive it, you can achieve it”, they say, and all our lives is an endless pursuits of ends that we make out for ourselves
|However, one enemy assail us all. The limit of time. I could have, but! Are statements we have been forced to make. Time is short we say, how time flies we complain. Timelessness seems to be only a dream and the boundary of time confronts us all in our varying experiences of life. Time seems to be the common enemy that we all have to battle in our experiences. How much unfulfilled dreams and desires; how much plans have crumbled under the weight of timeliness. We often talk of how we need more than 24hours for us to be able to accomplish the things we desire in our lives.We have lived all our lives thinking that what brings value to our lives is our business, our activities and accomplishments. We see this all around us. For this reason, we try to make maximum use of time accomplishing the things we think will bring value to us and will define us in society in comparison with our neighbours. No time, we say to our children, there is a project at hand. No time we say to our parents, there is a conference to attend. No time we say to our hubby, there is more money to be made and more luxuries to be bought. No time we say to God, lets enjoy the life we have now, we will devote the rest to God.

But what do we have in the world today?. It seems that the most prosperous nations have the most problems, the most busy people have little satisfaction and the most accomplished people have the minimum happiness in life. From a teenager shooting all his classmates out of hatred because they wont be his friend, to old men raping children of 3 years to prominent leaders being involved in assaults and the most accomplished CEOS in fraudulent dealings. Someone once said, that every time he hears all these dysfunctional cases, the first question he asks is, “does not this child have a mother”. The issue is not that he does not have a mother, the issue is the mother is busy making extra income to buy clothes for him/her, so that they can look better than the other kids. With most jobs spanning from 8am to 5pm and with many people ready to take extra shifts even after that, how come a child will be instructed. Someone once commented that “the very language and terms of the Christian religion are incomprehensible to a generation which hears nothing about them at home, and for whom religious instruction at school consists more often than not of comics, sex or mental arithmetic”. If I understand anything from this quote, it means morals and ethics are not internalised from without, it is to be emphasised from within the family. A child not given instruction on how to live in the house will turn out to be a man with no moral compass except what he sees his friends do. He has no moral ideals, only moral realities. And then we wonder why we live in a world with so much pain and horrors. Rehabilitation centres are not the solution, the child is not mad, he is only ignored. The home is meant to be the basic unit of society, the place where life is moulded and society was only to be a place where we live it out.But in an age where we are all on the rush, we see so much dysfunctional situations all around us. A child that is not cared for will be taught by the immoral and sensual men of the media. \We may think we have control over our children but in reality, the media is their god and we are only the people that provides what they need for them to get their “religious instruction” from the entertainers. Our children are being made in the image of the artists, art is resembling life and life resembling art.

The rate of divorce is increasing exponentially and the marriage relation which used to be the most solemn of all unions has been downgraded. I heard recently that open marriages are now being contracted whereby the wife and the husband have the liberty to have other lovers outside of the marriage with no legal wrong done. The psychological pains of divorce and the effects it has on the children and the society is an issue for another time. Most divorces are made not on the basis of lack of finance but based on the fact that the couples don’t even know each other. While they are connected physically, they are disconnected in heart and then they say the problem is that we do not love each others. Seriously? Then the man moves to another woman and in matters of months, another one hits. No love? I think we need to think again.

We spend more money on social security and insurances and if a leader does not make defence the highest of its budget, he is seen as an irresponsible leader. Why fight ourselves in the first place? When men are disconnected from God, they cannot be connected with each other. We have lost sight of him who alone can fashion our hearts into his image, lost sight of the only standard of absolute morals and we have relativised ourselves into our own destruction. When a man by neglect loses his conscience of God, we all need to be afraid of each others and what is the number one thing that rids us of all our hard earned funds, THE FEAR OF THE OTHER PERSON. High fences, big armies, multiple insurance policies and all our call for investment is not a call for a better future but only for a secured future, all in the fear of ourselves. T S Elliot was right when he asked, where is the life we have lost in living and where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge. Aldous Huxley once said that all the attempts of man are attempts to stop himself from thinking. In a world where we don’t have time to reflect on anything, what do we have? Meaningless pursuits, unhappiness, fraudulent governments, indoctrination by any teacher. NO convictions therefore no life

In contrast to all these, we read, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”.(genesis 1:31) G K Chesterton suggested sometimes ago that our problems is we look too much to the future without a contemplation of the past. We have failed to read the history of our forefathers while we have written the biographies of the unborn generation. In the beginning, it was all good. If that tells me anything, it means if there is any dysfunctional condition in society or in our lives, the solution is to go back to the beginning(to the created order). What was God’s plan for us in regards to time? “And on the seventh day, God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”(Genesis 2:2). The impossible of God being tired is written of by Isaiah when he said, “..the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary”, but rather, Jesus told us that “the Sabbath was made for man”(Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was not the rest of God but a model for the rest of man. God rested from his works of creation(Heb 4) but left the Sabbath as a day for man to remember in his own experience. Astrology tells us why there are 30 days in a month and why here are 365 days in a year but astronomy never told us why there is a weekly cycle of 7 days. God’s ideal was not that man should not work for it was he who commanded him to keep and tend the garden. However, it was God’s intention that in the midst of his work man was to devote a whole day out of work. “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein; it is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God in all your dwelling.” It was ever the intention that there will be a day in the week where man can seize his work but not just cease from his work but spend quality time with God and with others. A time where can pause from the hustle and bustle of life and contemplate about God and his word

It was to remind us of creation, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labour, and do all thy work:But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shall not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11) and as we behold the power of God in creation we are to acknowledge the same power that works in us to create a new heart that is not under the bondage of sin; “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:25). It was to remind us of how God redeemed Israel from captivity to Egypt that we will come to trust a God who can redeem us from all of our sins and save us from our own captivity. The Sabbath was a mark of sanctification(Ezekiel 20:12). The Sabbath was to call us to contemplate Christ and as we behold him in his beauty of Character, our desires will change. We see his humility and all our pride falls down in the desire of such humble heart. We see his love for his enemies and all desire for revenge flees from us. We see his love and care for his failing disciples and it encourages us to be patient with those that fail us. We see how he would rather obey God than display his power to turn stones to bread and all our appetites and desires bow in the face of his temperance. Christ is the highest pattern of virtue and the greatest incentive for its practice. In contemplation of him, we are prepared to live a week filled with good desires and a good heart that pervades all areas of life

“The Sabbath is God’s memorial of creation, and had it always been observed, there would never have been an infidel or an atheist in our world.” Peter in the third chapter of his epistle made a prophecy about a time in the history of the word where the fact that God created the world will be in great doubt. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water. Whereby the world that then was , being overflowed with water, perished”. For a God who has linked his existence with the fact that he created the world(Isaiah 45:18); “ For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else”. When we forget the fact of creation, we will lose sight of God. If we lose sight of creation, we will lose sight of faith in the word of God for “by the words of God were the heavens made”. And when we lose faith in the word of God, we better be pagans than Christians. Christianity is being eroded by the scientific claim of evolution that has become a religion of the scientists as originated by Darwin. The sabbath was the institution that God founded inorder to keep the fact of creation always before our eyes, that we may not forget that God has created us. As we behold the beauty of the created order, their purposeful design and meaning, it reminds us that God has created the world. The sabbath keeps our faith in creation, in the power of the word of God and his ability to transform us and make us what he wants us to be.

As the Sabbath calls us back to creation, it also reminds us of the imperfections of the present creation and it reminds us that this is not God’s ideal and that fact points us to the time where the world will be made new. A disbelief in creation leads immediately to a disbelief in the second coming of Christ. If God is not powerful enough to create, he is not powerful enough to do anything else. 2 peter 3 connects disbelief in the second coming directly with disbelief in creation. The Sabbath is God’s way of leading us forward to the second coming and in the consideration of the second coming, all earthy, vain glories lose their significance.

The Sabbath takes us away from the vain pursuits of life and brings us to close to those who matter most in our lives. It makes us to spend time with those who love us and appreciate their love. It makes us to come closer as family and plan how our lives will be a glory to the world. It brings us to close communion with our children as we teach them how to live and make them relish in our care and love, not the love that is bought with beautiful gifts but with a beautiful heart. And as we are taught the habit of contemplation, the week starts with us thinking before we take any decision and living a life of meaning and purpose. As we live under the influence of God, our minds are renewed and our consciences made pure. Our insecurity vanishes. “if chosen men never spent time, in secret with God, no greatness would ever have been imagined or dreamed”.

As we rest in his presence, we are also reminded to cast all our cares on him for he will give us rest. We are called away from the dreary thoughts and the fearful future before us and under the banner of God, we are called to the presence of him who says, “Come unto me all ye that Labour and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. Rest to our weary souls, what greater thing can we desire. All your anxieties, all your cares, brought and kept at the mercy seat. N\ever a sorrow he does not share and bear. Never a friend like Jesus.. He who clothes the birds with more beauty than Solomon calls us to rest in him for he feeds the sparrows, how much more the apples of his eyes.

“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day”(Isaiah 58:13). The bible reminds us that life is not all about ourselves. It reminds us that the beauty of our existence is in how much beauty we can bring to other lives around us. Our real existential value is how much lives we can make valuable by leading them to experience what we also experience in Christ. The Sabbath calls us out of our self as we share its beauty with others by spending time with them, giving them gifts and pointing them to the one gift that never diminishes in value, Christ and him crucified.

And lastly Christ reminds us that as we rest in him on the Sabbath, we should be reminded that our own works cannot make us righteous and it is by trusting in him that we are made whole. It reminds us that just as we contributed nothing to our creation, we can contribute nothing to our redemption except to accept what Christ has already provided. IT reminds us that salvation is by grace through faith(Eph 2:8), not of works lest any man should boast.

Every Seventh day, God calls us back to Eden to have the experience he has always desired for us and make our lives better in his sight as we await his ultimate redemption and that time when he is going to make all things new. \When the curse of sin would have been removed from the universe, where Eden would have been restored and we can now drink freely of the tree of life. But even in that perfect state, “from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me saith the Lord” (ISAIAH 66:23)and in his worship life finds its ultimate fulfilment.

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THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION

THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION
The fall of man filled all heaven with sorrow. The world that God had made was blighted with the curse of sin and inhabited by beings doomed to misery and death. There appeared no escape for those who had transgressed the law. Angels ceased their songs of praise. Throughout the heavenly courts there was mourning for the ruin that sin had wrought.
The Son of God, heaven’s glorious Commander, was touched with pity for the fallen race. His heart was moved with infinite compassion as the woes of the lost world rose up before Him. But divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed. The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin–sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race.
Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing–“the counsel of peace” (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. But “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Oh, the mystery of redemption! the love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which “passeth knowledge”? Through endless ages immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mystery of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.
God was to be manifest in Christ, “reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam might once more become “sons of God.” 1 John 3:2.
The plan by which alone man’s salvation could be secured, involved all heaven in its infinite sacrifice. The angels could not rejoice as Christ opened before them the plan of redemption, for they saw that man’s salvation must cost their loved Commander unutterable woe. In grief and wonder they listened to His words as He told them how He must descend from heaven’s purity and peace, its joy and glory and immortal life, and come in contact with the degradation of earth, to endure its sorrow, shame, and death. He was to stand between the sinner and the penalty of sin; yet few would receive Him as the Son of God. He would leave His high position as the Majesty of heaven, appear upon earth and humble Himself as a man, and by His own experience become acquainted with the sorrows and temptations which man would have to endure. All this would be necessary in order that He might be able to succor them that should be tempted. Hebrews 2:18. When His mission as a teacher should be ended, He must be delivered into the hands of wicked men and be subjected to every insult and torture that Satan could inspire them to inflict. He must die the cruelest of deaths, lifted up between the heavens and the earth as a guilty sinner. He must pass long hours of agony so terrible that angels could not look upon it, but would veil their faces from the sight. He must endure anguish of soul, the hiding of His Father’s face, while the guilt of transgression–the weight of the sins of the whole world–should be upon Him.
The angels prostrated themselves at the feet of their Commander and offered to become a sacrifice for man. But an angel’s life could not pay the debt; only He who created man had power to redeem him. Yet the angels were to have a part to act in the plan of redemption. Christ was to be made “a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” Hebrews 2:9. As He should take human nature upon Him, His strength would not be equal to theirs, and they were to minister to Him, to strengthen and soothe Him under His sufferings. They were also to be ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who should be heirs of salvation. Hebrews 1:14. They would guard the subjects of grace from the power of evil angels and from the darkness constantly thrown around them by Satan.
When the angels should witness the agony and humiliation of their Lord, they would be filled with grief and indignation and would wish to deliver Him from His murderers; but they were not to interpose in order to prevent anything which they should behold. It was a part of the plan of redemption that Christ should suffer the scorn and abuse of wicked men, and He consented to all this when He became the Redeemer of man.
Christ assured the angels that by His death He would ransom many, and would destroy him who had the power of death. He would recover the kingdom which man had lost by transgression, and the redeemed were to inherit it with Him, and dwell therein forever. Sin and sinners would be blotted out, nevermore to disturb the peace of heaven or earth. He bade the angelic host to be in accord with the plan that His Father had accepted, and rejoice that, through His death, fallen man could be reconciled to God.
Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. The glory and blessedness of a world redeemed, outmeasured even the anguish and sacrifice of the Prince of life. Through the celestial courts echoed the first strains of that song which was to ring out above the hills of Bethlehem–“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. With a deeper gladness now than in the rapture of the new creation, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7.
To man the first intimation of redemption was communicated in the sentence pronounced upon Satan in the garden. The Lord declared, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15. This sentence, uttered in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. While it foretold war between man and Satan, it declared that the power of the great adversary would finally be broken. Adam and Eve stood as criminals before the righteous Judge, awaiting the sentence which transgression had incurred; but before they heard of the life of toil and sorrow which must be their portion, or of the decree that they must return to dust, they listened to words that could not fail to give them hope. Though they must suffer from the power of their mighty foe, they could look forward to final victory.
When Satan heard that enmity should exist between himself and the woman, and between his seed and her seed, he knew that his work of depraving human nature would be interrupted; that by some means man would be enabled to resist his power. Yet as the plan of salvation was more fully unfolded, Satan rejoiced with his angels that, having caused man’s fall, he could bring down the Son of God from His exalted position. He declared that his plans had thus far been successful upon the earth, and that when Christ should take upon Himself human nature, He also might be overcome, and thus the redemption of the fallen race might be prevented.
Heavenly angels more fully opened to our first parents the plan that had been devised for their salvation. Adam and his companion were assured that notwithstanding their great sin, they were not to be abandoned to the control of Satan. The Son of God had offered to atone, with His own life, for their transgression. A period of probation would be granted them, and through repentance and faith in Christ they might again become the children of God.
The sacrifice demanded by their transgression revealed to Adam and Eve the sacred character of the law of God; and they saw, as they had never seen before, the guilt of sin and its dire results. In their remorse and anguish they pleaded that the penalty might not fall upon Him whose love had been the source of all their joy; rather let it descend upon them and their posterity.
They were told that since the law of Jehovah is the foundation of His government in heaven as well as upon the earth, even the life of an angel could not be accepted as a sacrifice for its transgression. Not one of its precepts could be abrogated or changed to meet man in his fallen condition; but the Son of God, who had created man, could make an atonement for him. As Adam’s transgression had brought wretchedness and death, so the sacrifice of Christ would bring life and immortality.
Not only man but the earth had by sin come under the power of the wicked one, and was to be restored by the plan of redemption. At his creation Adam was placed in dominion over the earth. But by yielding to temptation, he was brought under the power of Satan. “Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19. When man became Satan’s captive, the dominion which he held, passed to his conqueror. Thus Satan became “the god of this world.” 2 Corinthians 4:4. He had usurped that dominion over the earth which had been originally given to Adam. But Christ, by His sacrifice paying the penalty of sin, would not only redeem man, but recover the dominion which he had forfeited. All that was lost by the first Adam will be restored by the second. Says the prophet, “O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion.” Micah 4:8. And the apostle Paul points forward to the “redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:14. God created the earth to be the abode of holy, happy beings. The Lord “formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.” Isaiah 45:18. That purpose will be fulfilled, when, renewed by the power of God, and freed from sin and sorrow, it shall become the eternal abode of the redeemed. “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him.” Psalm 37:29; Revelation 22:3.
Adam, in his innocence, had enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but sin brought separation between God and man, and the atonement of Christ alone could span the abyss and make possible the communication of blessing or salvation from heaven to earth. Man was still cut off from direct approach to his Creator, but God would communicate with him through Christ and angels. Thus were revealed to Adam important events in the history of mankind, from the time when the divine sentence was pronounced in Eden, to the Flood, and onward to the first advent of the Son of God. He was shown that while the sacrifice of Christ would be of sufficient value to save the whole world, many would choose a life of sin rather than of repentance and obedience. Crime would increase through successive generations, and the curse of sin would rest more and more heavily upon the human race, upon the beasts, and upon the earth. The days of man would be shortened by his own course of sin; he would deteriorate in physical stature and endurance and in moral and intellectual power, until the world would be filled with misery of every type. Through the indulgence of appetite and passion men would become incapable of appreciating the great truths of the plan of redemption. Yet Christ, true to the purpose for which He left heaven, would continue His interest in men, and still invite them to hide their weakness and deficiencies in Him. He would supply the needs of all who would come unto Him in faith. And there would ever be a few who would preserve the knowledge of God and would remain unsullied amid the prevailing iniquity.
The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty. A star of hope illumined the dark and terrible future and relieved it of its utter desolation.
But the plan of redemption had a yet broader and deeper purpose than the salvation of man. It was not for this alone that Christ came to the earth; it was not merely that the inhabitants of this little world might regard the law of God as it should be regarded; but it was to vindicate the character of God before the universe. To this result of His great sacrifice–its influence upon the intelligences of other worlds, as well as upon man–the Saviour looked forward when just before His crucifixion He said: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me.” John 12:31, 32. The act of Christ in dying for the salvation of man would not only make heaven accessible to men, but before all the universe it would justify God and His Son in their dealing with the rebellion of Satan. It would establish the perpetuity of the law of God and would reveal the nature and the results of sin. From the first the great controversy had been upon the law of God. Satan had sought to prove that God was unjust, that His law was faulty, and that the good of the universe required it to be changed. In attacking the law he aimed to overthrow the authority of its Author. In the controversy it was to be shown whether the divine statutes were defective and subject to change, or perfect and immutable.
When Satan was thrust out of heaven, he determined to make the earth his kingdom. When he tempted and overcame Adam and Eve, he thought that he had gained possession of this world; “because,” said he, “they have chosen me as their ruler.” He claimed that it was impossible that forgiveness should be granted to the sinner, and therefore the fallen race were his rightful subjects, and the world was his. But God gave His own dear Son–one equal with Himself–to bear the penalty of transgression, and thus He provided a way by which they might be restored to His favor, and brought back to their Eden home. Christ undertook to redeem man and to rescue the world from the grasp of Satan. The great controversy begun in heaven was to be decided in the very world, on the very same field, that Satan claimed as his.
It was the marvel of all the universe that Christ should humble Himself to save fallen man. That He who had passed from star to star, from world to world, superintending all, by His providence supplying the needs of every order of being in His vast creation–that He should consent to leave His glory and take upon Himself human nature, was a mystery which the sinless intelligences of other worlds desired to understand. When Christ came to our world in the form of humanity, all were intensely interested in following Him as He traversed, step by step, the bloodstained path from the manger to Calvary. Heaven marked the insult and mockery that He received, and knew that it was at Satan’s instigation. They marked the work of counteragencies going forward; Satan constantly pressing darkness, sorrow, and suffering upon the race, and Christ counteracting it. They watched the battle between light and darkness as it waxed stronger. And as Christ in His expiring agony upon the cross cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30), a shout of triumph rang through every world and through heaven itself. The great contest that had been so long in progress in this world was now decided, and Christ was conqueror. His death had answered the question whether the Father and the Son had sufficient love for man to exercise self-denial and a spirit of sacrifice. Satan had revealed his true character as a liar and a murderer. It was seen that the very same spirit with which he had ruled the children of men who were under his power, he would have manifested if permitted to control the intelligences of heaven. With one voice the loyal universe united in extolling the divine administration.
If the law could be changed, man might have been saved without the sacrifice of Christ; but the fact that it was necessary for Christ to give His life for the fallen race, proves that the law of God will not release the sinner from its claims upon him. It is demonstrated that the wages of sin is death. When Christ died, the destruction of Satan was made certain. But if the law was abolished at the cross, as many claim, then the agony and death of God’s dear Son were endured only to give to Satan just what he asked; then the prince of evil triumphed, his charges against the divine government were sustained. The very fact that Christ bore the penalty of man’s transgression is a mighty argument to all created intelligences that the law is changeless; that God is righteous, merciful, and self-denying; and that infinite justice and mercy unite in the administration of His government.

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