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Glimpes of the Cross Day 19; Why Jesus Lives

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. Hebrews 7:25 NLT

Charles Spurgeon was born to preach. Mother Teresa was born to care for the poor. Abraham Lincoln was born to break the bonds of slavery. Everyone was born for a reason. The verse above tells me Jesus was born with a purpose too. His eternal existence before birth also was not without purpose. It also tells us what His purpose for living and existing is. He does not live so He can be a tyrant and force people to worship Him. He does not live so He can hear angels sing His praises. He does not live so that He can sit on a throne in a golden castle in the sky. You can look as far back into eternity as eternity goes, and you can look as far into the future as eternity goes, and you will find that Jesus’ purpose for living is to be your eternal provider and Savior! “He lives forever to intercede with God on your behalf.” Not so much that He is trying to reconcile God to you as much as He works to reconcile you to God. God never ran from Adam. It was Adam who ran from God. Jesus never told the demoniacs He could not tolerate their presence. It was the demoniacs who could not tolerate His presence.

“It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.” – Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Pages 17-18.

Jesus’ passion is winning you back to God. Again, that is why He lives.

 ”So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

In the moment of temptation we can go to our High Priest, and find the grace to overcome the temptation.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

However if for whatever reason we do not ask for the grace to overcome, Jesus has made a fool proof way to sustain us still. We can come to the throne and ask for mercy and forgiveness.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

“How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour…. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father.

If you make failures and are betrayed into sin, do not feel then you cannot pray … but seek the Lord more earnestly.

The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are backslidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him.” –Ellen White, Our High Calling, Page 49

“We may plead for our pardon, justification, and our sanctification.” Before I fall, I can go to Jesus, and find grace so I don’t have to fall. His grace sanctifies me and frees me from the power of sin.

“ For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.  And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.  He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14 NLT

Even though grace leaves me with no excuse to sin, Jesus still offers mercy and forgiveness!

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms 51:17

The question is not how long will God be willing to forgive me, but rather, will I ever ask for forgiveness? I can go to a home to give a Bible study, and knock on the door. As long as I can hear somebody inside making their way to the door, I will wait as long as it takes. However, if I realize I could wait forever and they will never open the door, then and only then do I walk away. It is the same with Jesus. Probation closes when the sanctuary is forced out of business, because it no longer has “customers” asking for mercy. Jesus has reconciled those who are willing, and sadly walks away from the heart’s door of those who will never accept His reconciling grace. The fact that they would never accept God’s grace is seen by the fact that no one repents during the last plagues and of course nobody repents at the end of the thousand years. The problem is not that they can’t but that they won’t. God did not send them to the point of no return. They reached that point by themselves.

When Jesus forgave the repentant thief, while hanging naked on the cross, he was sending out a message to men and to Satan. “You can take away my clothes and dignity. You can take away my crown and replace it with thorns. You can even take away my life, but you will never take away my power to forgive sin!” Imagine that! Jesus-King of the Universe let go of all of His divine rights, except for the right to forgive sin! Jesus would rather die than give up His right to be your sustain-er and Savior. Why? Because the only reason why He lives is so He can save you! His death was all about you. His life is all about you. He is in love with you!

 

Our Works on the Day of Atonement

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson focuses on the work of Jesus our High Priest on the day of atonement, let’s take just a moment and focus on what the people were to be doing on the day of atonement.

This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.  For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, thatyou may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.  It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. Leviticus 16:29-31 NKJV

Even though this is not a weekly Sabbath we are to put away our works. Now when you consider that we have been living in the literal day of atonement since 1844 it does not sound logical to do no work since 1844. So how do we apply the no working part to how we should be living in the literal day of atonement? I believe the answer is found in Galatians 5:19-21:

 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Leviticus tells us to afflict our souls. What does that mean? Could it mean doing some heart searching and putting away our fleshly egos and lusts? This is where I think we need to be careful about something Paul warned us about a long time ago.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 NKJV

Hmmm….interesting….Paul says endure afflictions. Could it be that during the day of atonement, in the last days, when we should be afflicting our souls, looking for areas and rooms of our hearts that need to be surrendered to God, that Satan supplies us with false teachers with fables that make us feel so good about ourselves that we don’t feel the need to do any soul searching, much less afflict our souls or deny the lusts of our flesh and egos?

 

During the day of atonement, which we believe we have been in since 1844 we are to be afflicting our souls and putting away our works, so that the Holy Spirit can fill us with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is not our works but the works of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV

On page 623 God’s messenger describes the work of God’s people during the literal day of atonement, beginning in 1844. Does this sound similar to what God’s people were told to do during the symbolic day of atonement?

It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to him, to unite our weakness to his strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to his merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs, in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.  –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 623

Jesus will not force an entrance into our hearts. He will come into our hearts when we have taken a good look at our hearts and sense our need of a Savior. This means putting away the pride and works of the flesh and asking the Holy Spirit to replace our works with His fruit. While Jesus does not wish to harm the dignity of the individual, it is impossible for us to sense our need of Him, until through affliction, the ego has been crucified. This is how Leviticus 16:29-31 is fulfilled, when we afflict our souls and do no works of the flesh.

Forgiveness is not saying it is Okay

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

One Sabbath afternoon I received a phone call from the mother of a child I had corrected earlier at church, who had smarted off to me, when I told her to stay out of a room that was off-limits. The mother told me, “My daughter wants to tell you she is sorry, but before she gets on the phone, I wanted to ask you, when she says she is sorry, don’t tell her it is okay. Just tell her she is forgiven.”

“Wow!” I thought. This mother gets it! Forgiveness is not saying it is okay. So many are slow to forgive, because what happened to them was so wrong they can’t just sweep it under the rug. The deed deserves to be punished. What they don’t understand is that forgiveness is not sweeping it under the rug and saying it is okay. Then what is it saying?When I share the gospel presentation, I always share this passage from the Desire of Ages. It is so clear and simple, and to me, sums up the whole plan of salvation.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”  -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 25 

Now I would like to take this passage to the next level – beyond the plan of my personal salvation. I understand that Jesus took the punishment for my sins so that I can now be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Now I need to understand, that the sins my enemy committed have not been swept under the rug. Jesus was also treated the way my enemy deserves to be treated, so that I may now treat my enemy the way Jesus deserves to be treated.

Jesus did not only suffer for my sins, He suffered also for sins committed against me. Why do I need to take it out on my enemy when it has already been taken out on Jesus?

They made fun of me and humiliated me!
Jesus was mocked and humiliated on the cross in their place.

They killed my son! They deserve to die!
Jesus died because they killed your son.

They sexually abused me! They deserve to be sexually abused!
Jesus hung naked on a cross in front of the whole universe, including His own angels!

Earlier this year I was reading through the Old Testament, and when I came to Isaiah 53 something jumped out at me, when I read:

 “With his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Suddenly I realized something I had never seen before. I realized that retaliation against my enemy will never bring me healing. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, and not the stripes of my enemy. Jesus suffering for my sins can only bring partial healing and partial reconciliation. I am made whole, and totally reconciled, not just to Jesus but to my brothers, when I realize Jesus suffered for their sins too.

In the story in Matthew 18:21-35 a man is forgiven who did not ask to be forgiven. He only asked for more time to pay the debt. However the master forgave the debt anyway. This is important for us to note, because the master represents God who forgave us without us even asking. In the Lord’s prayer we find we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, meaning that we are to forgive in the same manner. God expects us to forgive without being asked to forgive, just as the man was forgiven while only asking for more time to pay the debt.

After the man was forgiven, he goes out and sees a brother who owes him a much smaller debt. Even after being forgiven he refuses to forgive. In the parable the unforgiving man ends up in prison until his full debt is paid.

Wait a minute! Wasn’t his debt forgiven? Separated as far as the east is from the west and into the depths of the sea? How did it come back? I believe it’s this way: When I refuse to forgive my brother, what I am saying is, “I don’t think Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay for what was done to me.” Well guess what? If Jesus’ death is not enough to pay for my enemy’s sin, then it is not enough to pay for my sin either! By not allowing Jesus to pay for my enemy’s sin on the cross, I have just disqualified the cross as a payment for sin and therefore I must still pay for my sins – and the only way I can do that is to die an eternal death.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is not saying “It’s okay.” It is saying, “I realize Jesus suffered for your sins on the cross.” It is realizing I am healed by the stripes Jesus received and not by the stripes my enemy receives. We have to be pretty sick ourselves to think that in order for us to be healed, someone else has to be hurt. Jesus does not have to hurt my enemy in order to heal me.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves.”  Christ was also treated as my enemy deserves, that I may now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.

With His stripes we are all healed.

You may explore this week’s SS lesson here.

Repentance: A Gift From God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

One of my life long battles has been colas. Actually I can’t honestly say I have battled it my whole life, which may be part of the problem. I am not going to debate temperance vs. abstinence concerning colas, but let’s face it, they have 0% nutritional value, and if you drink too much you have the risk of cancer, diabetes and acid re-flux. So you can’t really say the nutritional value is worth all the health risks. Anyway, believe it or not, colas are not the point of what I am writing about today. The point is repentance is a gift of God.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good. Matthew 5:45 NLT

God’s grace is not in response to my faith. God does not look down on me and say, “Well okay William believes, so I will give him my grace.” No, God shines His grace upon the good and the evil.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT

My faith responds to God’s grace. The same sun that melts butter hardens clay. When God’s grace shines down on us it hardens some and chases them away, like Pharaoh for example. Other hearts are melted by God’s grace, leading them to believe and have faith.

While my faith is in response to the gift of God’s grace, likewise my turning away from sin and repenting is a gift as well.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 NLT

Our repentance or turning from sin does not lead to God’s kindness. His kindness leads us to repent and turn from sin.

A while back while I was trying to get off colas, I decided one was not going to hurt. Here is where Satan gets us, not just on colas but on several areas of our life. First, depending upon what it is, it might be debated as to whether or not one time is going to hurt. Problem is it’s usually never one time! I had been off colas at one point for ten weeks, when I was giving blood and they offered me a Pepsi. Sure one time won’t hurt It old myself. Well it wasn’t just one time. I was back to drinking them all the time. So be careful. Even if it’s true that one time won’t hurt does not guarantee you it will be just one time.

Here is what happened later though, and this is the whole point of what I wanted to share. I had cut way back again on colas. Thinking that one time would not hurt, I went to the store and bought myself a cherry coke. I took a couple sips and the sweetness was so sickening that I dumped it out and filled the cup with water instead! That, my friends, was a gift from God. God made the cola so sickening sweet to me that I would not want it. He gave me a craving for water instead.

Fact is you can develop a taste for water, and when you do it tastes very good! Problem is our tastes have become perverted. As a matter of fact we have actually had to pervert our taste buds in order to develop a craving for unhealthy drinks. Once our taste buds are no longer perverted and are re-created by God’s grace to their natural state, we crave pure water instead of sugar and syrup.

I am so thankful God’s goodness led to my repentance. When the sugary syrup made me sick after two sips, and I had to dump it out and refill my cup with pure water, it was all a gift from God.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Creation Again; Death and the Resurrection in Light of The Cross

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

It’s that time of year when the leaves spring back onto barren trees and flowers bloom back to life. Every spring reminds me of the second coming and resurrection. I believe God lets everything die in the winter and come back in the spring to demonstrate for us His re-creation and resurrection power. Just as sure as the leaves come back to the dead and barren trees in the Spring, we can be sure our loved ones who sleep in Christ, will come back at the resurrection.  This week’s Sabbath School lesson touches on death and life, so I thought this may be a good time to share the study “Death in Light of the Cross” from the “In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides.” By the way, there is also a Spanish version available.

Death

Brief overview:

Death is a state of unconscious sleep. The dead do not know anything at this time and are not awakened until the last trump at Christ’s second coming. See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Job 14:12, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Why is it important to know the truth about Death:

The teaching that you don’t really die is a lie Satan started in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” By telling this lie Satan hoped to get Eve and all mankind to believe that there is really no consequence for disobeying God. He also wants us to believe that we are all immortal regardless if we have a relationship with God or not. This opens the door for spiritualism where people may actually be communicating with the devil and his angels, thinking they are speaking with their loved ones. Our salvation does not come from knowing what happens when we die. Our salvation is found alone in God’s love. However, no lie is ever harmless, and when Satan told the lie, “Ye shall not surely die”, not only was he lying but he was also calling God a liar. Not a safe path for us to follow.

Why understanding death in the light of the cross is important:

First of all if you don’t really die then Jesus did not really die for us and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death like Hebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six hour pain endurance marathon.

I remember sitting in a funeral a while back for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.

For Further study on Death:

What did Adam become?

And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

Whose spirit returns to God?

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

What is the Spirit?

All the while my breath [is] in me, and the spirit of God [is] in my nostrils; Job 27:3

What does God take that turns the body to dust?

Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Psalm 104:29

What age old question did Job ask?

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he? Job 14:10

What is the Bible answer?

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:12

Do the dead know what happens to the living?

His sons come to honour, and he knoweth [it] not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth [it] not of them. Job 14:21

How much do the dead know?

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6

What did Jesus call death?

These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:11-14

How long had Lazarus been dead?

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already. John 11:17

Did Martha believe Lazarus was in heaven?

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24

What did Mary say?

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. John 11:32

Was Lazarus called from heaven, hell or the grave?

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11: 43, 44

When are the dead raised?

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23

When do we receive immortality?

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Our hope and comfort:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. for this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Texts that are difficult to understand about death and other topics.

The Gospel and Creation

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?”

My mother knows that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knows the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother gets on an airplane she sure does not feel that it is safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not just a God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. I ask you, if John Huss, a mere mortal man could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?” The answer is John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way he deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

“I always do those things that please my Father.”

“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning.” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and it being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save someone else.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for everyman. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have died the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self- perseveration belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say goodbye to life forever in order to save us, then you have Moses showing more love than Jesus. This is impossible.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God, and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was goodbye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angel’s messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self- ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything-even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self -sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and it be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

Linda, Marissa, Felix, Terell and La Shanti’s Baptism Pictures

This morning, at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church,  we had a double header with baptisms in both services! Five people decided to give their lives to Jesus because He gave His life for them. Please enjoy the pictures and stories.

Baptism Class TAA

Felix, on my right, has been looking forward to being baptized for a while. Shortly after I studied with his older brother and sister, he was talking about it. This year he was able to attend my Baptism class at Tampa Adventist Academy. Felix also attended my Bible chain-referencing class where he learned how to present Bible studies hand written in his Bible. Later, I found out Felix not only had written the next verse by each previous verse, but he also looked up the page numbers for the next verses, and went back to each previous verse and wrote the page numbers. I had not thought of writing the page numbers with the verses, and neither did anyone else, but Felix did. Now that’s taking initiative.

Workbook

In our Baptism workbooks at TAA, we talked about baptism and other symbols. How do you like Felix’s answer for the “M” symbol? By the way, if you agree with Felix’s answer, we are currently having a “Best Weigh” Weight and nutrition seminar at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church. Contact me for more info.

Linda and Marissa

Linda and her daughter Marissa studied with me every Wednesday evening at church. Marissa, wanting to go beyond just the theory of Christianity is already joining the praise teams. She has been in school choirs most of her life, and wants to use her talents to help others become disciples for Jesus.

Terrell and Shante

Just a few months ago Equilla started visiting Tampa First with her family, and has been studying with me, joining my Seeker’s class with her oldest daughter Vanessa. Here we are having baptism studies with her youngest, Terell, and La Shanti. Terell will be going to Germany soon to live a while with his uncle in the military. Terell wanted to be grounded in God’s Word and a relationship with Christ before he leaves his family.

Cat

Terell’s and La Shanti’s cat joined our studies too every week. Every week he would wait for me to lay my lap top case on the floor so he could use it as a pillow. He never missed a study and liked to stay till the very end.

La Shanti

La Shanti writes: “Baptism means that God loves me ,my sins are washed away and I’m will be a new person.”

Terell

Terell writes: “What does baptism means to me? It means to give myself to God and Jesus, and then He will wash away my sins. He will heal my heart, and give me a new life with God.”

Felix

Felix writes: “I’ve been in baptism classes and I learned a lot. I know that I can get closer to Jesus. I know that Jesus loves me and wants me to be with Him. I want to follow him in all ways. I want to be by his side in the kingdom of heaven. I want to walk and talk with Him. I want to be a servant of God. I love Him and He loves me.

Linda

Linda writes: ” My parents raised me in the church and have always served God. I see how much God has blessed them in their life and he has also blessed me in my life even when I strayed away and I want to serve Him.”

Marissa

Marissa writes: ” For me, being baptized is showing God flat out that you have accepted Him into your life completely and will do anything humanly possible for Him.  I am not getting baptized for my own personal gain either.  I see it as me being one step closer to God.”

Terell la shanti Felix Brad

Brad Linda Merissa William

Then He [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT

While we rejoice today because these five precious souls have chosen to die to self in baptism, and follow Jesus, each and every day they along with us, have that choice to make all over again. Like a car going down the interstate, each exit is an opportunity to exit the path and go another way. A choice is made at each exit to stay on the interstate or leave. Likewise every day the choice to follow Jesus must be renewed, not only for those baptized today, but for each and every one. If you chose to follow Jesus again today, all heaven is rejoicing for your decision along with those who were baptized today.

Daytona Beach Sunrise 2012

Dawn is just beginning to break in this picture of Daytona Beach. Each dawn brings a fresh day, a blank page full of opportunities and possibilities. Those possibilities depend upon the choices we make. Today is your opportunity to choose to follow Jesus. If you are choosing to follow Him for the first time, or choosing to follow Him again, and would like to talk with me, I would love to talk with you. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, go ahead and contact me anyway and I can help you find a caring, Bible based church in your corner of the world.

Mark, Marian and Cecilia’s Baptism Pictures

If all the angels rejoice when one soul gives their life to Jesus, and they do, then all the angels must have been downright ecstatic this morning at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, when an entire family of three each gave their life to Jesus in baptism. Please join us and the angels in rejoicing as you enjoy the pictures and stories.

Mark and Marian

Several months ago, Marian showed up in my Seeker’s Sabbath School class. She told me she was raised Episcopalian, but wanted to learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her husband, Mark, had been an Adventist and lot of his family still are. Mark and Marian joined my Seeker’s Sabbath School class, and we began personal Bible studies in their home. Mark and Marian live just down the road from me, so it has been great not only making new friends at church but also making new friends in the neighborhood.

Cecilia

Mark and Marian placed their daughter, Cecilia in our church school at Tampa Adventist Academy this fall while they were still studying for baptism. Cecilia loves her new teacher, Mrs. Nowotny. Cecilia says Mrs. Nowotny really listens to her. Cecilia decided she wanted to be baptized and I began studying with her too. Cecilia has been enjoying the chapels at TAA and even joined our Wednesday after school Bible study group. Apparently, not only does Mrs. Nowotny really listen to Cecelia, but Cecilia listens as well, as during our Bible study time, she shared with me things she had learned about Jesus from Mrs. Nowotny.

Vows Morgans

As we did the baptismal vows, we also shared a little bit of the journey. Marian has this to share:

“Being baptized and growing up in the Episcopal church provided me with the foundational beliefs in the blessed Trinity and guidance to walk a path of Christian living.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend a faith-based college, and while attending, I was fortunate to volunteer and lead the adult choir in a Presbyterian church.  Throughout my adulthood, I desired to deepen my faith and searched for the right fit.  After my daughter Cecilia was born, this became more important to me than ever before.  I remembered that when Cecilia was blessed in the Seventh Day Adventist church how much joy we were surrounded with and the warmness our family received.  We attended several other churches of different denominations and nothing seemed to fill me with the joy I had once experienced.  Last spring, I decided to go online and research the Seventh Day Adventist faith and beliefs, I researched the school curriculum and found that it enhanced upon my foundational beliefs and was completely bible based.  I researched all of the area churches and found Tampa First to be the church that I felt a connection with and we planned to attend.  I then contacted the Tampa Adventist Academy and scheduled an appointment for Cecilia to be interviewed and tested for acceptance into the school.  I feel so blessed that my first experience at Tampa First was surrounded by so many generous members eager to help our family settle in. 

I met William on our very first visit and it changed me.  Soon after, William was studying with Mark and I in our home and my path was clear, I wanted to  be baptized, follow God’s laws and be reborn to self to honor the Lord for all his grace and glory for the things he had done and given up for me.  Toward the end of our baptismal sessions, our daughter, Cecilia, brought forth a very good argument on why she should be baptized.  William so graciously changed course and began studying with Cecilia as well.  I am so glad we delayed our fall plans to include Cecilia in our baptism. Today, January 12, 2013 I have been baptized with my daughter and husband and I cannot thank William enough for bringing his knowledge and the power of the Holy Spirit into our home and family to bring us to a closer walk with God our Father.  Pastor Brad has become a very dear part of our family by providing us with his time and guidance and I thank him for his deep dedication to our family and continued support.  I pray that the peace of the Holy Spirit remain with each of us always and thank each of the members at Tampa First and our families for being such an integral part of our journey to walk into baptism and may we continue to walk in Christ from this day forward.  If I stumble a time or two, I believe my roots are planted through baptism and God’s love will carry me through the storm to meet each of you in the air on that great day of rejoicing. 

Many blessings, Marian Morgan”

CECILIA 1

 Cecilia says, “I love God and want to teach people about God.”

Cecilia 2

Cecilia describes baptism by saying: “The water surrounds us with God’s love and holds us.” I had never thought of that before, and thought it was a very beautiful analogy.

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Marian

I always like to pray for the person being baptized and for them to always remember the amazing love that brought them to this decision.

Mark

Mark is a really cool dad. When most parents come by to pick their kids up after school during our Bible study, they take their kids and go. That is totally understandable as this is an informal after school study, and the parents have things to do and places to go. However, when Mark comes to pick up Cecilia, instead of taking her out of the Bible study, he stays and joins her and the rest of the kids in our study group. It makes Cecilia proud to have her dad there, and the other kids like it too.

DSCN1294

After church Mark, Marian and Cecilia invited me and their family over to the house for lunch as we celebrated a totally awesome Sabbath!

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Please don’t let the sun set on you before you give your life to the one who died to redeem you with his precious blood. We are planning another baptism at Tampa First February 23rd, if you feel the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart, I would love to visit with you about that date or another upcoming date. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net . If you are not in the Tampa Bay area, I would still love to hear from you so I can introduce you to a church family in your area who can help you with this important step.

The Scapegoat in The Sanctuary

Christmas Tree Cerca Pier

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There is a song I remember singing a hundred years ago, when I was a teenager. It went something like this, “I owed a debt I could not pay. He paid a debt He did not owe.” Beautiful song, but not exactly theologically correct if you want to get technical. And no, I do not like to get technical and I guess it may be theologically correct in one way, but in another way, it’s not. You see, fact is, I can pay the debt that I owe myself. Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death. I can pay for and atone for my sins all by myself with no help from Jesus, by dying. I am eternally grateful though, that Jesus did paid that debt for me! Because fact is, I could not pay the debt and live.

Satan, on the other hand, will have to pay the debt and atone for his sins himself.

“But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, [and] to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:10

The scapegoat is cast into the wilderness to atone for sin. The scapegoat represents Satan who, after the cleansing of the sanctuary and investigative judgment, has now been blamed for the sin problem. The guilt and responsibility for sin is placed upon the scapegoat who goes off to the wilderness. This represents Satan, after the literal investigative judgment, spending a thousand years after the Second Coming here on earth, as it lies wasted and barren. After a thousand years of considering his great idea to rebel against God’s government and start his own, he will then realize it was not such a great idea after all.

Still, many have trouble with the scapegoat representing Satan. The Seventh-day Adventist church is unique in believing Satan is the scapegoat. Other denominations ask how can Satan bear our sin? Good question! Fact is, he does not bear our sin, he bears his own sin. He shares our guilt when he tempts us to sin. While Jesus died for our guilt, He did not die for Satan’s guilt, so it is still placed upon Satan. Others point out that the word “atonement” is used. How can Satan atone for our sins? Again, he does not atone for our sins, he atones for his own sin by dying an eternal death. You see, often it is said Jesus died for our sins because we could not atone for our own sins, but this is not true. We can atone for our own sins by dying an eternal death. The wages of sin is death and we can pay those wages in full if we so choose. We can atone for our own sin if we want. Satan atones for his own sin and shared guilt in our sins by being the scapegoat sent off to die an eternal death (Revelation 20). The universe will no longer blame God for the sin problem. Ironically, when the sin problem has been done away with, the only trace of sin will be the nail scars in Jesus’ hands. Thus, the only Person who will bear eternally the result of sin will be the only Person who was totally innocent.

The perfect Lamb of God is my Savior for all eternity! Hebrews 7:25 says, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” My Savior does not live so that He can force angels and humanity to worship Him and sing His praises. He does not live so that He can be a tyrant and boss everybody around. Once the sanctuary is cleansed, and guilt is put in its proper place, it will be seen that the Son of God lives to make intercession for sinners. We will be able to look as far in the past as eternity goes and as far into the future as eternity goes, and see that Jesus lives for one reason; to be our Savior!

You can study this week’s SS lesson here. You can download the SS lessons to your phone here.