May 31 Esight, 2007

A.T. Jones”Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Eph. 4:7. The measure of the gift of Christ is “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” This is true whether viewed as the measure of the gift which God made in giving Christ or as the measure of the gift which Christ Himself gave. For the gift that God gave is His only begotten Son, and in “him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Therefore, from this standpoint the measure of the gift of Christ being only the measure of the fulness of the Godhead bodily and this being only the measure of the grace that is given to every one of us, it follows that unto every one of us is given grace without measure, simply boundless grace.

Viewed from the measure of the gift in which Christ Himself gives to us, it is the same, because “he gave himself for us.” He gave Himself for our sins, and in this He gave Himself to us. And as in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and as He gave Himself, then the measure of the gift of Christ on His own part is also only the measure of the fullness of the Godhead bodily. It therefore follows that from this standpoint also the measure of grace that is given to every one of us is only the measure of the fullness of the Godhead; that is, simply immeasurable.

Thus in whatever way it is viewed, the plain word of the Lord is that unto every one of us He has given grace to the measure of the fullness of the Godhead bodily; that is, boundless, immeasurable grace–all the grace He has. This is good. But it is just the Lord; it is just like the Lord to do that, for He is good.

And this boundless grace is all given, given freely, to “every one of us.” To us it is. To you and me, just as we are. And that is good. We need just that much grace to make us what the Lord wants us to be. And He is just so kind as to give it all to us freely that we may be indeed just what He wants us to be.

The Lord wants every one of us to be saved, and that with the very fullness of salvation. And therefore He has given to every one of us the very fullness of grace, because it is grace that brings the salvation. For it is written, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11. Thus the Lord wants all to be saved and therefore He gave all of His grace, bringing salvation to all. The marginal reading of this text tells it that way, and it is just as true as the reading in the verse itself. Here it is: “The grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared.” All the grace of God is given freely to every one, bringing salvation to all. Whether all or any one will receive it, that is another question. What we are studying now is the truth and the fact that God has given it. Having given it all, He is clear, even though men may reject it.

The Lord wants us to be perfect, and so it is written: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Desiring that we shall be perfect, He has given us, every one , all the grace that He has, bringing the fullness of His salvation, that every man may be presented perfect in Christ Jesus. The very purpose of this gift of His boundless grace is that we may be made like Jesus, Who is the image of God. Even so it is written: “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. . . . for the perfecting of the saints. . . . till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Do you want to be like Jesus? Then receive the grace that He has so fully and so freely given. Receive it in the measure in which He has given it, not in the measure in which you think you deserve it. Yield yourself to it, that it may work in you and for you the wondrous purpose for which it is given, and it will do it. It will make you like Jesus. It will accomplish the purpose and the wish of Him who has given it. “Yield yourselves unto God.” “I beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”

Review and Herald 1894/04/17

May 31 Esight, 2007

Herb Montgomery

    Have you ever tried to define for someone what a paradigm is? Our paradigms are not the world around us, but the way we see the world.  They are our personal maps of our life surroundings.  When we look at a map, we are not looking at actual streets. We see someone’s interpretation of the actual streets.  We judge the accuracy of a map by how closely it matches the streets themselves.  In the same way, our paradigms are not reality, but rather the way we view that reality.  We can judge the accuracy of our paradigms by how closely they follow what is true. 

Understanding our own personal paradigms of God and the roles they play in our relationship with Him help explain why many of us get frustrated in our religious experience. How we see determines how we think.  How we think determines how we feel. And how we feel determines how we behave. When we run into difficulties, how often do we simply focus on our behavior and think we need to try harder? The problem is not our behavior, but the way we see God.  

   What is your picture of God?  What do you perceive His thoughts and feelings for you to be? The bulk of today’s religions, whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or even Christianity, focus largely on the area of behavior. Ninety-nine percent of all the sermons we listen to, all of the books we read, and all of the quotations we underline deal with our behavior. No wonder many of us feel as if we are getting nowhere.  As long as we focus our effort and attention in these areas alone, the solution to our frustrations with religion will continue to evade us.  

Over the years, I have met many people who claim they used to be Christians.  When I ask why they are no longer, the response is always the same.  They got tired of the frustration of never being able to exhibit the behavior they knew they should. Today they believe Christianity is a joke.  But I would like to suggest that the problem is not Christianity; the problem is the way we, as Christians, often view God.  

In John 6:63, Jesus explained it this way:

   “It is the spirit that quickeneth; he flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” 

   Here Jesus makes a profound statement.  What every Christian wants is a dynamic, real, Christian experience.  They want their relationship with God to be alive! Jesus states very clearly that it is the spirit that gives life.  The flesh profits nothing.  The flesh could be summed up as our attempts to put forth more effort on behavioral conformity.  But Jesus said this profits nothing.  What we need is the spirit, but look how He defines this spirit. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, they are life.”  What, or rather, who were the words of Jesus about? Many times, when Jesus spoke, His very first words were, “The kingdom of heaven is like . . .” Jesus was primarily concerned with how we see the kingdom of heaven, how we view God.  Jesus knew that to call for behavioral change while leaving our corrupted pictures of God in tact, would only produce frustration.  So, He began with the solution.  He sought to correct our maps.  Jesus sought to change our perception of what type of person we see God to be.  Jesus virtually was saying, “Listen, more effort will profit you nothing.  What you need is a radical change in the way you see God.  A correct understanding of what type of person God is will infuse your experience with the passion and life for which you so desperately long.  My teachings about God are spirit—they are life!”

   Notice the process.  Change in how we see produces change in how we think.  Change in how we think produces change in how we feel.  Change in how we feel produces change in how we behave.  The change that we long to experience in our behavior does not come through more effort.  It comes through a change in how we see. Look closely at the following illustration:

Seeing  – – – – Thinking – – – – Feeling – – – – Behavior

   Do you long for change?  Do you long to have a living, dynamic relationship with God?  Embark on a journey of change—a change in perception.  Step into the realm of Amazing Grace, Extravagant Love and Intimate Friendship. In these themes alone we will find the change we long for.

(To find out more concerning this topic, please listen to the presentation Darkened Eyes)  [Darkened Eyes - Listen NowMP3]

May 27 Esight, 2007

“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:19

The Greek word for “sanctify” here is hagiazo. It means, “To set apart for a holy purpose.” Did you catch that? It says a “holy” purpose. What is holiness? Holiness is godliness or God-like-ness. What is Godlike? God is love; therefore the foundation of holiness is love. And this being true, the Apostle John is here stating that Jesus was setting Himself apart for a purpose whose root principle was love!

What was that purpose? This setting Himself apart, fixing His gaze on Calvary, was “to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Jesus’ desire was that we might see the heart of God, that we might encounter the love that surges in His heart and the Father’s for each of us. That we might see the complete self-abandonment, the immense selflessness, the disinterested benevolence, and sheer concern for only our well-being and salvation with no thought or concern for Themselves. This is the Father’s heart toward you, dear friend. You are the most important thing to Him. You are the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8). He will risk and has risked all for you.

What is His hope in all this? Notice, not His motive, but His hope. That you might see “the truth” of what His inmost thoughts toward you are, and that this would awaken and inspire in you, His beloved, this same love; that by His love for you, love would be awakened. That the setting of Himself apart for you would cause you to also set yourself apart for Him. Seeing all He has given to us, without thought of Himself, His hope is that we, too, will take this life that He has given us with deep appreciation, and give this life back to Him in love. Do you want to be more deeply devoted to Him, dear Christian? Take time this week to notice how deeply devoted He is to you. May God bless your week. You are truly in my prayers.

May 20 Esight, 2007

Therefore, Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” — John 5:19Even for Jesus, His doing was dependent on His seeing. Here Jesus gives us an insightful glance into a universal law of human behavior. No matter who we are, we only do as we see. Especially in matters of spirituality, a person will reflect in their life only the type of person he or she perceives their God to be. We truly can do nothing of ourselves unless it something we see God doing.

Why? It’s quite simple. How we see determines how we think. How we think determines how we feel. And how we think and feel together determine how we ultimately behave. This adds special importance to the picture one possesses of the character of God. To see God differently and correctly will set in motion a most incredible chain of events in our lives. A change in how one pictures God will produce a change in their thinking, feeling, and behavior, toward God.

Have you been trying, dear friend, to fix areas of your behavior without first giving attention to the picture of God you hold in your heart? Don’t give up hope. Try putting first things first. Do you long to live differently? Are you tired of feeling imprisoned to the same self-destructive behaviors? Jesus stated, “…you will know the truth [about God], and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32) This week try focusing your attention and emphasis, not on fixing you behavior, but on seeing the truth concerning God and His unfathomable love for you. May it set in motion a world of change.

May 13 Esight, 2007

“As I passed by again, I saw that the time had come for you to fall in love. I promised to love you. Yes, I made a marriage covenant with you, and you became mine.” This is what the Sovereign Lord says.—Ezekiel 16:8, TEV

Even if He gets nothing in return, nothing back from His love, my dear friend, He has promised to love you! Period. God is not a man that He should lie. He never breaks a promise.

“Whether men receive or reject Him, He works earnestly for them. He grants them life and light, striving by His Spirit to win them from Satan’s service.” (Ellen G. White; Review and Herald, March 12, 1901 par. 5) 

In Luke 17:12-19, Luke tells us of ten lepers.  All where healed, but only one returned to say, “thank you.”  What happens next is remarkable.  What about those lepers who never came back to thank Him?  The blessing, then healing, is theirs to keep.  Jesus did not heal them in order to receive anything back.  Jesus simply healed them, because He loved them.  Is this truly what God is like?  Jesus stated that he who had seen Him had seen the Father.

Ponder this thought throughout your week.  Is your picture of God one who awakens in you love for Him, even if there is nothing in it for you? Of course, God has lovingly ordained that there are many blessings we receive from loving Him. But is God’s love strong enough to awaken love within us, even if there’s nothing in it for ourselves? By love is love awakened. And to love like this, with no interest in what’s in it for us, is the very fulfillment of the law Jesus came to write on our hearts.  This is the image of Himself that he wants to restore in you. But it can only take place if, right now, you will choose to believe that He loves you unreservedly, unconditionally, disinterestedly, unselfishly, and benevolently.  “Whether we serve Him or not…”

This is the love that changes lives. This week, may it change yours too. 

“The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, ‘with healing in His wings.’” Mal. 4:2.  (Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages pg. 22)