October 28 Esight, 2007

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.—Galatians 5:6Oftentimes, in religious circles, there are two ideas hotly debated by separate groups. Are we saved by faith or by works as well? Some focus on works, while others say no, we need to focus on faith. But here in Paul, we find that there are actually three key ingredients to the Christian path: 1) Faith, 2) Works, and 3) Love. Love brings them all together. When we see God’s love, faith responds. We are saved by God’s love, through our faith, which goes to work recreating this love in our life. Thus, we must fix our eyes on God’s love for us, for love produces faith and faith produces works. If our gaze is fixed on God’s love, we will experience both faith and the good works produced by that faith.

This makes perfect sense when you understand that faith is our deep heart’s response to God’s love. God’s love passes through our intellect, but it does not stop there! It travels further and touches our heart, awakening profound appreciation. This deep heartfelt gratitude, arousing within us the desire to love Him back, is what the Bible calls—FAITH! And this can only come as a response to seeing how much He truly loves us!

This is precisely why Paul’s greatest concern for those to whom he ministered was that they would encounter God’s extravagant love for them.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

This week, take advantage of our online resources concerning God’s great love for you. Let the vastness of God’s love awaken the sleeping giant of your faith and set burning within you a heart fully alive!

October 21 Esight, 2007

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”—Genesis 1:26What is God like and what does it mean to have been made originally in His image? Godliness is God-like-ness but what is God like? In short, “God is Love” (John 3:16). We were once made in the image of this love, but something happened. “Selfishness took the place of Love,” Deception, the place of Faith, and Lies, the place of Truth (E.G. White, Steps to Christ p. 17). Today, we stand in need of having our pictures of God and what He is like corrected. We have believed so many lies, and these lies themselves prevent us from being able to reach outside of ourselves and live for anything other than self-centered pursuits. But must we settle for the unsatisfying experience of a life centered only on ourselves? Isn’t there something greater to live for than just “what’s in it for us?” Can we truly ever be restored to the image of God’s other-centered love in which we were once made? The answer is an unequivocal yes. But we will never “be able to love others by trying to love others”(E.G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons p. 384). Our bent toward ourselves is based upon lies we have believed concerning God. Therefore the only hope of experiencing conversion from self-centeredness to other-centeredness is through having the Father “explained” to us once again (John 1:18). Only the truth can “set us free” (John 8:32). Only love can awaken love in us once again (E.G. White, Desire of Ages p.22 ) We desperately need a revelation outside of ourselves of God’s extravagant love to turn our hearts outward once more. Thus, we will love again “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It was to manifest this love that the God of this universe died for you, dear reader, that having died for you, you might “no longer live for yourself,” but be restored to the other-centeredness we once enjoyed (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). Do you want to be different? Do you long for change in your life dear reader? This week, take some time to try to learn something new, something deeper concerning God’s great love for you. Open God’s word and allow Him to unfold for you fresh revelations of how much He cares. Love is from Him, and only by His love can love be awakened in you and the image of God’s love in which we were once created be “perfectly reproduced” in us again (1 John 4:7, E.G White, Christ’s Object Lessons p. 69). The theme of God’s love for us will be our science and song throughout eternity (E.G. White, Steps to Christ p. 88). It will be our constant study, our engulfing theme, the purpose of our being. Why not let that eternity begin for you today?

October 14 Esight, 2007

“So through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” (Romans 5:18, New American Bible)This week is Part 2 of our two-part devotional. I’d like you to first get a grasp on some very specific words Paul uses in the first five chapters of the Book of Romans. In order to do this, I have shown below the linguistic origin of the words themselves.

The foundation is the word: Right (Dike, Greek).

On this word, there are three words built: Righteous (the adjective Dikaios), Righteously (the adverb Dikaios), and Righteousness (the noun Dikaiosune).

Then from the adjective Righteous (Dikaios) is built the verb Rightify (or more properly, justify, Dikaioo).

And then upon this verb Rightify (Dikaioo) are built two more Greek nouns: a Decision (Dikaioma) and Acquittal (Diakosis).

Why take the time to trace all these words out? Watch what all this reveals: When Paul uses the verb above Rightify (or more properly, justify), he is referring to a psychological and emotional “making righteous” of the one who has believed. It is a very real experience of one going from a sense of guilt and shame to peace (Romans 5:1), from an overwhelming feeling of condemnation to justification. This is where a person allows God to remove the life-crushing load of guilt from their past mistakes that they’ve been under in their conscience. Before one will ever be set free behaviorally, they must first be set free psychologically and emotionally. But what’s interesting is that this very real experience occurs via faith. But what is this faith built upon? Or rather, what is the person believing that causes them to experience this cleansing of their conscience from sin’s guilt and shame (Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 3:21)?

This is where the amazing news comes in. The answer is found in Romans 5:16-19.

Just as Adam’s sin brought mortality or death upon all of us (see last week’s devotional), from Jesus’ death on Calvary, “The free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.” (Verse 16), This word “justification” is Dikaioma. It’s a decision that God has made concerning every person. And this decision is a gift given to all. What is this decision? Paul goes on to say that this decision is a “gift of righteousness” (Verse 17). But what is the decision? The answer is to be found in Verse 18: “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” The word here for justification is Diakosis or Acquittal. God has made a decision regarding every man, woman, and child—and that decision is acquittal, charges have been dropped! He has “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). There two definitions for Acquittal: One is that a person who is not truly guilt is found innocent and is therefore acquitted. This definition does not apply to us. The other definition is where the prosecuting part simply drops the charges thus the defendant goes free. What Romans 5 is saying is that God has dropped all charges against us. He has relinquished all rights to repayment and has simply forgiven. He has ripped the charges up and nailed them to the cross!

Yet, this decision is a gift. And like any gift, although it has been given to every person, it can be accepted or rejected. His hope is that you receive it (Verse 16) and let this gift of forgiveness remove our guilt and shame and make us psychologically and emotionally righteous (Verse 19).

But before you rush off to go about your week, I’d like you to consider the fact that we are not innocent. We are guilty; the charges have simply been dropped. And as in all cases where the person who has been wronged lets the offending party off the hook, it costs them something to do so. They must choose to rise above the violation and willingly bear whatever loss the offending party inflicted. The forgiver always pays a price to drop the so-called charges. What I would like you to ponder this week is the question of the ages. It is the question that reveals forever what type of a God we worship. The answer to this question wins us at a heart level and truly changes our lives. The question is, “What did it cost God, the one we have wronged, to let us off the hook, to drop the charges, to forgive, to acquit every person who had ever sinned against Him?” The answer can only be found in closing moments of Calvary. Take time to ponder those closing scenes this week, dear reader, and allow them to reveal to your heart what is truly in God’s heart toward you. Having loved you, He loved you till the end.

October 7 Esight, 2007

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men—Romans 5:12.Or as Paul states a few verses later, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men . . .” (Romans 5:18). Throughout Christian history, many crazy ideas have existed about God, based on a misunderstanding of what these verses seem to be saying concerning our relationship to Adam and his original sin. This week I’d like you to ponder what I believe these verses are truly saying to us. This is Part 1 of a two-part devotional, so please don’t miss next week’s.

You see, Adam was created with conditional immortality—immortality that he lost through the fall. “Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 533). Moses shares with us the same picture: “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.’” Man became mortal. Over and over again in the scriptures, the contrast is made between “mortal man” (Psalm 146:3) and God, who “alone possesses immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16). But what does this mean for us?

“Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess” (White, p. 533).

This means that Adam could not pass on what he himself did not have. Thus we are born mortal, destined to die. So why spend time pointing out the obvious? Because we have failed to realize what this means to us. Even if we could live a perfect life, never sinning by even so much as a thought, we would still die. We still would not live forever. We are born having a date with death, and no amount of obedience can make us what we are not. This mortality we got from our predecessors Adam and Eve.

I remember sharing this one day in a class I was teaching, and one of the students could not take it any longer. He finally stood up and blurted out to the rest of the class, “If that’s true . . . then . . . then . . . then, there’s nothing I can do to save myself.” I looked back at him, grinned, and said, “flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you.” Follow carefully.

“Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race, had not God, by the sacrifice of his Son, brought immortality within their reach . . . only through Christ can immortality be obtained” (White, p. 533).

There is only one way we can have immortality, and that is to come into possession of the One who alone is Immortal! And praise God, that “One” has been given to the world!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave [to each person in the world] His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This week, why don’t you take some time to thank Him for that marvelous gift?