He Grew the Tree He Knew Would be Used to Make the Old Rugged Cross

Night 017

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Around a hundred years ago, when I was a teenager, a country singer by the name of Barbara Mandrell, sang, “He grew the tree that He knew would be used to make the old rugged cross.” The song brought out, that even at creation Jesus was planning our redemption. This song could not be any truer.

In Genesis 2:17 God says, “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.” We all know Adam and Eve did not die the day they ate of the forbidden fruit. Man has been trying to make excuses for God ever since.

Some say, well they began to die. However that is not what God said. He did not say you will begin to die the day you eat of the fruit. He said you will die in the day you eat of the fruit. Others say, they died spiritually that day. I don’t even know what the means! Sounds profound enough, I guess, but what does it mean? Besides, God did not say you will die spiritually the day you eat of the fruit. He said you will die – drop dead the day you eat of it. So what kept Adam and Eve from dropping dead the day they ate of the fruit?

Instead of trying to make up weak excuses for God, let’s let God’s Word explain itself. He does not need any help from us to get out of this so-called jam. We find the answer at the other end of the Bible. Revelation 13:8 tells us Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. There is our answer! God did not need us bailing Him out by making up our own theories about beginning to die or dying spiritually that day. Revelation 13:8 lets us know that Jesus’ death on the cross had already taken effect. God calls things that are not yet, as though they already were. Just like I can cut and paste, as I am writing this post on Microsoft Word, God can cut and paste through time and eternity and put the cross at the foundation of the world.

Jesus is truly the Savior of the whole world, as His sacrifice sustains not only the believer but the unbeliever as well. Adam and Eve were not believers; they were running from God. But they still had their breath that day because of the cross of Christ and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “and in thee [Abraham’s Seed which was Christ] shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Notice God said all families will be “blessed,” or benefit from the cross. That includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, and atheists. They all benefit the same way Adam and Eve did.

The reason Adam and Eve did not drop dead the same day they ate the fruit was because Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and His death had already taken effect. The reason we do not drop dead the same day we sin, is because of the cross of Christ as well. Believer and unbeliever benefit from the cross. This is what John was talking about in 1 John 2:2. He writes, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” John was writing to believers when he said not only for ours, the believers, but the whole world! An inspired writer, 1,800 years after John, echoes the same sentiments. “To the death of Christ we owe even this earthly life. The bread we eat is the purchase of His broken body. The water we drink is bought by His spilled blood. Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and the blood of Christ. The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf.” – Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 660.

Every breath we breathe is brought to us courtesy of the cross. People curse God with the very breath that He died to give them!

This idea of Jesus beginning our redemption even at creation runs all through the Bible. In the following references italics are supplied.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Ephesians 1:4

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

Yes! Jesus created the tree He knew would be used to make the old rugged cross. Even at creation He was beginning our redemption. He died to give us probationary time. Not a probationary time to see if God will accept us – He already has accepted us from the foundation of the world – but time to see if we will accept Jesus and His life-changing love.

If we choose to accept His love, Jesus tells us in John 11:26, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Sure, we may fall asleep like Lazarus did, but God will not abandon us in the grave. We will not experience the death and God abandonment that Jesus experienced for us on the cross when He cried out, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!”

The cross echoes throughout time and space from every corner of eternity, telling us God is love! The Gospel begins at creation.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Glimpses of Grace; Abraham

Reading through the book of Genesis, I found Abraham showing great faith in chapter 12 when he up and departed to a land God would later show him. But in chapter 13 Abraham shows a great lack of faith when he lies to Pharoah about Sarai. What I found out about God is that he rewarded Abraham when he exercised faith, and was merciful to him when he had a lack of faith. I have found in my own life, a God who is merciful when I am less than I should be.

 

Galatians; The Two Covenants

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Please notice in the inspired quotes below that the new covenant came before the old covenant. In Genesis 3 God offered His grace, but man chose to establish his own righteousness. When Paul refers to the old covenant, he calls it old because it is useless, not because it came first. The new covenant was God’s original covenant of trusting in His grace and power instead of our own promises and strength. Please notice too, that niether covenant does away with the ten commandments. Reconciliation to the law is the goal in both covenants. In the new covenant we trust Jesus to reconcile us by His grace and power, while in the old and useless covenant we try to reconcile ourselves by our own strength and effort.

 

                    God’s Plan to Ransom Man

     And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. Genesis 17:7.   As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall, there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon, and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.  This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it, and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 17:1; 26:5. . . .    The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant.    The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant.   There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today. . . . Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the author and the finisher of our faith.                                                                           

                       Man’s Inability to Save Himself

 

     Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16.        Another compact–called in Scripture the “old” covenant–was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. . . .         God . . . gave them [Israel] His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant, and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. . . .        The terms of the “old covenant” were, Obey and live: “If a man do, he shall even live in them;” but “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 27:26. The “new covenant” was established upon “better promises”–the promise of forgiveness of sins, and of the grace of God to renew the heart, and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. The only means of salvation is provided under the Abrahamic covenant. -The Faith I Live By, pages 77-78 by Ellen G. White.

Galatians; Old Testament Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts about this week’s SS lesson about Old Testament faith. You can also download the SS lessons to your cell phone.

In Genesis 15:6 God calls Abraham righteous, because He believed God’s promise. In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son Isaac, and thus tested and proved Abraham’s faith to be a real faith, and not just a pretend or fairy tale faith. Real faith leads to real obedience. Earlier in Genesis 12, Abraham showed lack of faith when he asked Sarai to lie about their relationship in Egypt.” God tested Abraham again, even more severely, to demonstrate before the universe, why He was able to call Abraham righteous.  “It is thus that God still tests His people. And if they fail to endure the trial, He brings them again to the same point, and the second time the trial will come closer, and be more severe than the preceding. This is continued until they bear the test, or, if they are rebellious, God withdraws His light from them and leaves them in darkness. “ {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 437

I had not been back home from college, too long, when I started working for a business forms company. I falling behind on some of my bills. I had been promised a raise which I had yet to receive, so I decided to “work out” my own salvation from these late bills. I was not going to stop paying tithe, but I decided to use my tithe to pay my bills. I recorded how much tithe I owed so I could pay it all back when I got my raise. Weeks later, what I owed on tithe was adding up and I still had no raise. Feeling guilty, I confessed to a friend that I owed tithe, but would pay it later when I got my raise. My friend told me what I already knew. I would not get my raise until I paid my tithe.

We got our pay checks every Friday, but this Friday I did not go into work or pick up check since I had the day off. Still, I went ahead and stepped out in faith and obedience and prepared my tithe check to turn in on Sabbath, which I did. Monday I went into work and picked up my paycheck that had been sitting there since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! I will never forget how God tested my faith and I proved Him to be faithful! When God tests our faith He is really asking us to test His faithfulness to us!

This same faith in the Old Testament is seen again in the New Testament, when Jesus tests Philip’s faith in feeding an entire multitude in John 6.

2 peter; The Divine Nature

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To me, 2 Peter 1:4 is the crux of the whole book of 2 Peter. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Peter makes it clear, that my salvation is not based upon the promises I make to Jesus, but rather on the promises that Jesus makes to me! Remember Titus 1:2? “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Remember too in Genesis 12, when God promised Abraham that He would be the father of a great nation, even though he had not even had his fist child yet, that God only required God to trust His promises. He did not ask Abraham to make promises. -Feeling the terrible power of temptation, the drawing of desire that leads to indulgence, many a man cries in despair, “I cannot resist evil.” Tell him that he can, that he must resist. He may have been overcome again and again, but it need not be always thus. He is weak in moral power, controlled by the habits of a life of sin. His promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. The knowledge of his broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens his confidence in his own sincerity, and causes him to feel that God cannot accept him or work with his efforts. But he need not despair. 

     Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.”  {Temperance, p. 111-12}

Christ can promise us what we cannot promise Him. All things are possible when we trust His promises instead of making our own.  We thus, partake of His divine nature. Many argue over which human nature Jesus took. Was it pre-fall or post fall human nature. We need not argue, because Peter is not telling us to partake of Jesus’ human nature at all. He is telling us to partake of His divine nature! How can that be? Trust His promises.