Atonement and the Divine Initiative

Atonement and the Divine Initiative

Scripture: Ephesians 1:4-10, Colossians 1:26-27, Mark 10:45
Date: 10/25/2008  Lesson: 4
The atonement is God's plan to rescue fallen humanity and restore us to our rightful place in the universe. This plan demonstrates the mystery of God's love.
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Good morning. Happy Sabbath. We're so glad that you're joining us, wherever you are, from across the country and around the world. Welcome, listening on the radio, watching on the various television networks, or joining us this morning at our website, saccentral.org. However you're joining us, welcome and Happy Sabbath.

We're gonna sing 462, "blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!" Is from truss in australia, dario in the barbados, hanz in columbia, Samson, joyce and bernard in germany, magalie in mauritius, raquel in new zealand, kemmif from st. Vincent and the grenadines, lorenzo in spain, sharon in trinidad and tobago, ernest in Alabama, barbara and raulie in California, yancho in Georgia, rusty in Hawaii, joanne in New York, rebecca in Ohio, grace in tennessee and wayne in Georgia. And The Song was requested for wayne who broke his hip, his arm and his back in a work accident. And they just want you to feel better, wayne. And "Pastor Doug is his pastor.

" That's what they said. So, Pastor Doug is here today and he's bringing us our lesson study. , "Blessed assurance," verses 1, 2, and 4. [Music] Father in Heaven, we thank you so much this morning that we do have that blessed assurance that you are ours. And we belong to you.

We pray that you would be with us this morning as we open up Your Word, that you would be with those that aren't here, whether they're sick, traveling, whatever the reason. Father, we pray that you'll be with them. Be with those who are joining us, our extended Sabbath school family, that you'll be with each one and that we will all receive a blessing as we open up Your Word together this morning. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, our lesson study is gonna be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Thank you, very much, jessica and debbie and our musicians and for you singing. I want to welcome our class here at Sacramento central. And I want to welcome those who are studying with us. It's always encouraging when we get the reports of people who are joining our study from all over the world and very exciting. And many of you have sort of become cyber members of central church.

And we're glad to have you part of the family. I know we have one lady who is joining sort of the cyber-central church from germany today. She is not able to attend where she is. And she says this is her church every week. And we're just so glad that we can connect in some way.

And pastor harold was telling me, in some ways he's becoming the cyber-pastor now, because he's e-mailing and trying to keep in touch with these people and minister to them all over the world. And that's really exciting. Also want to remind our friends that you can also watch these programs on the internet by going to, not only, saccentral.org, and if you want to know more about being part of that cyber-church family, just go to saccentral.org. But also at amazingfacts.tv, you can see this and archived Sabbath school programs, as well as a whole library of other evangelistic programming. That's amazingfacts.

tv. We give away a free offer that goes along with the lesson. Our lesson today is talking a little bit about grace. And so we have an offer. It's a classic book by Joe Crews.

If you've not read this before, you'll want to send for it. It's called, "riches of grace," offer number 152, "riches of grace." Or call the number: -788-3966. And we'll send it to you. That's actually 866-study-more, if you want to type in that acronym instead. Our lesson today coming from our--oh, it's a relatively new quarterly we're studying, "atonement and the cross of Christ.

" And especially today we're talking about lesson 4 that's dealing with "atonement and the divine initiative," "atonement and the divine initiative." Now, do you have your lessons? We're gonna read a memory verse. If you don't have your lesson, you can turn in your Bibles. It's Ephesians 1:9-10. And in the quarterly it comes out of the new international version. And so we're gonna read that.

You ready? Ephesians 1:9-10, "and he made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times have reached the fulfillment, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." "When the times had reached their fulfillment." Now the key thought in this lesson, and I want to just state this right up front, is to show that the Godhead-- God The Father, God The Son, God the Spirit-- anticipated the fall, and a plan was created to solve the problem long before sin arose. A family packing for a camping trip, and they're gonna go camping in the Nevada wilderness and do a little rock climbing and exploring, probably have a campfire at night. And as they're camping, of course, pack some food, they've got the bedding and the tent. And mom picks up a first-aid kit and brings it along. Now nobody has skinned their knee or cut their finger or burned their leg yet.

Why is she bringing that first-aid kit? Well, you take a bunch of kids camping and--you know, I've done it before, been out camping. Actually, this happened. We were at the house. And we had a brush pile up in hills. And, you know, just burning brush.

It was wonderful back in the days when you didn't need an act of congress to burn brush in your yard. And the kids are watching. But kids do not watch a fire burn. They see it as an interactive experience. There's something just enchanting about a fire.

And so they all get their sticks. And we still do--we still burn leaves, you know, in the fall up there. And the kids, I ask them to rake the leaves, but they have a lot more fun just, you know, trying to migrate the fire. Or to set a stick on fire and, you know, they love to just wave it around, smoke billowing off the end of the stick. And I'd say, "mom, you better get some mycitracin.

" "Why?" I said, "someone's about to get burned." They weren't burned yet, but if you get three or four boys around a fire with sticks--and you're probably thinking, "well, just tell 'em not to do that." Well, they gotta grow up eventually. This morning, nathan was cuttin' a peach. And I wanted to say, "I'll do it for you," but I thought, "he's 12 years old." And there he's got this big peach in his hand. He's got a sharp knife, and he's pushing the knife towards his hand. And I just said, "now you want to be careful not to cut towards yourself.

" And that's why we got band-aids, because you know that one of these days--i mean, you gotta learn some day. I'm not gonna be there when he's cutting his peaches for him. Right? How many of you men know what I'm talking about? They gotta some time. I mean, you know, well, that's a very crude illustration to demonstrate what God was faced with. God, when he made his creatures, his intelligent creatures, he made them free.

He gave them a free will. He wants our love. Now why do parents have children? You've asked yourself that many times, right? But I mean, before you knew better, when you chose to have children, why did you decide to have children? What came over you, assuming you planned it? I mean, you think, "they're cute," you know, "and I want to love 'em. And I want them to love me." Right? And you're hoping they'll love you. Now, does the doctor when you have your first visit tell you, or deliver to you, any kind of written guarantee, "you're expecting in 5 months, and this child's gonna love you.

" Is there any kind of guarantee? Are you hoping they will? In most cases, they do. But do they in all cases? So because there's that risk, do we say, "nobody's gonna have kids anymore?" Or do we take the risk? Right? God wants the love of his creatures, but when he began to create creatures way back in the remote recesses of eternity, starting with maybe the angels--i mean we don't know what creatures he created first. Lucifer may have been one of the first ones. He was one of the highest of the ministering spirits, right? And so what guarantee did God have that they would all love? God took a risk--well, God knew what would happen. But in order to have love, there must be freedom.

And so God allowed his creatures to be free. And long before man fell, God had the first-aid kit. He knew that somewhere along the way, one or many of his creatures would question his love and choose not to love him. See love goes one of two ways. Love can go from the inside out, or it can go from the outside in.

You can choose to direct your love away from yourself, or you can choose to direct your love towards yourself. And whenever I say that, it reminds me of all the bees that drown in their own honey. And that's what happens. Love for self, you will self-destruct. Judas chose not to love Christ first; he chose to love himself first.

He hung himself. Saul, the King, after many appeals, chose to put himself first because of his pride. He fell on his own sword. Love for self, you ultimately self-destruct. But God devised a plan long ago where man could have a way out.

And this is the wonderful atonement we're talking about. "The atonement and the divine initiative." By the way, atonement means at--you just divide the word, put little hyphens in there. At-one-ment. We are separated from God by sin. We studied the fall last week.

And the purpose of the plan of salvation is to make us at one with God. And so that's what we're dealing with. We have the first heading, "mystery of God's love." Now I've got a Scripture. And I'm assuming some of these have been distributed, so you are able to act in advance. Romans 5:6-8.

Did we find somebody? Gene over here has that verse. "For when we were still without strength, in due time God died for the unGodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Not only does God have eternal knowledge in the past, and he saw what would happen, Jesus died for a world in rebellion while it was still in rebellion, in anticipation that his love would work a miracle. Now did he owe us that? You know, Paul is sort of marveling in this verse.

"For scarcely for a righteous man one will die." Do humans sometimes lay down their lives for other humans? Of course, you've got even in the animal kingdom; it is amazing to me that we call chickens, chickens. If someone's afraid, you call 'em a chicken. But have you ever seen what a mother chicken will do when someone threatens their chicks? They'll lay their lives down to save their chicks. And the chicks run underneath their wings. I remember reading this little very brief article in "reader's digest" that after this forest fire swept through some hillside--i think it was in California--that one of the rangers exploring the ashes after the fire, he saw the carcass of a hen, some wild grouse that had been caught out there in the fire.

And he just kicked it with his boot. And he was shocked to see three or four little chicks run out from under the wings. That the mother, when the fire came closer and she saw she couldn't escape--could have flown away, but she knew the chicks couldn't. So she spread out her wings and got herself down as low as she could. And the chicks scrambled underneath her wings and she took the fire and would not move to spare them.

And they survived. And so, you know, even in this life--of course, animals will lay down their lives to protect their young. You've seen it. People will sometimes offer to lay down their lives to save someone else. I remember the story that--ronald reagan referred to it after it happened when this aircraft in Washington d.

c. Lost power, probably had ice on the wings during takeoff and plowed into a bridge above the--i think it was the potomac river frozen. The plane crashed on through the ice. And because it had not built up very much speed, a number of people survived the crash, plane broke open, but here they are in this freezing water. And you don't last very long like that.

Soon helicopters were dispatched to try and pluck some of the survivors from the freezing water. They couldn't get to the shore, 'cause the concrete barriers. And they lowered this basket to lift some people up. And there was this man here, and they lowered the basket to him. And he took the basket and pulled it over to a woman.

And she got loaded up and they rescued her. They brought the basket back to the man; he grabbed someone else and handed it to them. Two or three times, and finally he was overcome and he slid beneath the ice. And time and time again, he had a chance to save himself. And he laid down his life.

And reagan quoted the words of Jesus: "no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for a friend." Well, this man was laying down his life for strangers. What makes you do that? There was an interesting article in "newsweek" magazine. Now I wished I had planned. I would have had it here and quoted it. I'm just gonna try and do this from memory.

And they were talking about the science of morality. And they said, even among atheists, when they test people and they put them in these life and death situations where there's not enough room in the life rafts, they find that, even atheists, feel some compulsion to sacrifice and save others. It's kind of an interesting dynamic. That doesn't make any sense at all if you believe in evolution's "survival of the fittest," right? If I can throw you out of the life raft, I'm meant to survive. But even atheists have this moral desire to lay down their lives and to sacrifice to save others.

They feel this compulsion. And they used this scenario, a true story. A bunch of people were touring this cave, doing some spelunking in south africa, about 20 tourists or something. And on the return visit, a woman who was larger than she should have been actually got stuck in the only exit. And they were running out of air, and they had to make a decision: "do we kill this lady to get her out of there so we survive?" And they had all agreed that even if they were lost, they were not prepared to take her life.

Ultimately they got some paraffin, somehow greased her up, popped her out and they survived. I don't remember what happened. That's pretty much what it said. But they were faced with this dilemma. And you would think, "well, if you believe in evolution, of course, you sacrifice one to save the others.

" But they weren't prepared to do that. Now I say all that because God's wired us naturally with part of him, in that you were made in God's image, that we realize life is sacred. And we will go as far as we possibly can to preserve life. But here Jesus laid down his life to save in essence his enemies. I mean here his enemies are driving the nails in his hands; he's saying, "father, forgive them.

" What is it about the love of God that, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us?" You know, there's another verse I want to read to you. And it's under the heading, "mystery of God's grace." I'll read this one. Corinthians 8:9, "for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich." It's the great exchange, the changing of places. You've all heard different stories, everything from some millionaire who becomes poor; he lives like a poor, common worker to the story of "the prince and the pauper." There's lots of different stories of people who have great exalted positions. They might be a king and they trade places with someone in poverty--or a queen.

And here you've got a story of this great exchange. He was rich, yet he became poor for our sakes. In the story of the good samaritan that you find--matter of fact, let's turn there real quick in our Bibles. This is what the plan of salvation is really dealing with. Luke 10.

Got your Bibles? And you read there in Luke 10-- well, I'm gonna go into verse 30. Jesus tells about, "a man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among thieves." Last week we talked about the fall of man. And this man who fell represents the human race. "And the devil stripped him--" the "thieves" is the devil. Jesus said, "the devil is a thief and a robber--" "stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, departed, leaving him half dead.

" So he's robbed and stripped and wounded and naked, half dead. "Now by chance a priest comes and he just passes by on the other side. Likewise a levite, when he arrives, he looks, but he passes by." Now catch this. "But a certain samaritan." Now what makes this story especially intriguing to the jews who were listening? Of the three who passed the man who fell among thieves, who was the most unlikely to stop and help? A samaritan. Why? Because they were basically enemies.

And when we join the devil, when we chose to listen to the devil, humanity, we joined the opposition to God. And yet, Jesus was willing to forgive us. I just thought of a story, but I'm not gonna tell you. That wasn't very nice, was it? I want to finish my sermon here, hang on--my illustration. "But a certain samaritan, when he came, he had compassion on him.

And he went to him and he bandaged him, and he poured on him oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, and he brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and he gave them to the innkeeper, and he said to him, 'take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come, I will repay you.'" Now, notice what's happening. This is the ultimate trading of places. That's Americans on a journey. He's made a provision for his journey.

He's got a beast of burden to give him strength for the journey. He's carrying his food. He's carrying his wine. He's carrying his oil. He's carrying his money for him.

And he finds this man who's really an enemy, who's fallen among thieves. And you could say, "good riddance. That proves that God's with us, and he's not with you. Serves you right." And--ha! You all pray for me. I just keep thinking these things I shouldn't say.

And so instead he says, "look, I'm gonna give you my oil. And I'm gonna give you my bandages." He probably tore up his own clothes like the righteousness of Christ, wrapped up his wounds, poured in the oil and the wine, puts him on his beast. And think about what's happening here. He's saying, "I'm thirsty, but I'm gonna give it to you to drink. I'm sick, but I'm gonna give you my medicine.

I'm tired, but I'm gonna walk, I'm gonna let you ride. I'm cold, but I'm gonna take off my clothes and wrap up your wounds." And then he gets to the end. He says, "I'm sleepy, but I'm gonna stay up and take care of you. And I'd like to pay for my room, but I'm gonna pay for you to have the bed. And I'm even gonna pay more because I can't stay, so someone else will take care of you.

" It's the ultimate trading of places. He's giving everything that really belongs to him by right to his enemy. And that's what Jesus did for us. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Well, I spent too much time on that one verse. Go with me now again to another verse here, Romans 3:19-22.

"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world might become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Now I want to pause right there. What is the purpose of the law in the atonement? Is the purpose of the law to save? If you're a diabetic, I won't ask for you to raise your hands, but there's an epidemic of diabetes, both childhood and on up in the country. And you've got to regularly check your insulin. Some people walk around-- my brother was a diabetic.

My uncle's a diabetic. You walk around and you've gotta check your insulin. My uncle's got this meter that he wears that's monitoring his insulin all the time. Does that insulin check or that insulin monitor help you with your blood level? No, not really. It tells you if your blood sugar or your blood levels are off, but it doesn't do anything to inject any sugar or insulin into your veins.

It's just letting you know there's a problem. Well, that's the purpose of the law. The law doesn't save us. But it saves us in the sense that it tells us we need medicine. So you look in the law; James compares it to the mirror.

And it tells you that your face is dirty, but it's not intended to wash your face. Someone's gonna be really smart and they're gonna invent a mirror that comes off the wall that's got soap in it. You gotta think about that one. I don't know how they're gonna do it. Or reflective soap, there you go.

Someone's gonna think of that. And you just, you know, you look in the soap and say, "oh." Then you can wash your face with it. But so far that's not the function of the mirror. It's there to show you. And then you go to the soap and water for the cleansing.

And so the law doesn't save. By the law is the knowledge of sin. It's there to condemn us. "But now the righteousness--" I'm still in the same verse there in Romans 3-- "but now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Christ, to all and on all who believe." Now, so what is it that makes the difference? God wants us to believe. Ephesians 1:7, let me have someone read that.

I've got a hand over here, irene. Let's get you a microphone. Ephesians 1:7. We're talking now about the mystery of God's grace. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

" Now what is grace? You can call out a definition here and I'll repeat it. I knew someone would say that. Unmerited favor is grace. And that's correct. You're getting favor; you're getting compassion that you don't deserve.

In the story of the good samaritan that we just read, did that man who fell among the thieves receive grace from the samaritan? He didn't owe it to him. They were, you know, national enemies. But he gave 'em--he did nothing to deserve it. He just saw 'em and he had compassion on him. This is what the Lord has done for us.

It's unmerited favor. But the grace of God is actually beyond unmerited favor. That is a correct definition. It's not only favor that you haven't earned; it's favor that you shouldn't receive. In other words, what we should receive for our sins is what? Death.

God is offering us--it's not just that he's saying, "I'm not gonna do anything about it. I'm offering you the opposite of what you should receive." See what I mean? It even goes further than that. I'm offering you life. I'm offering you blessing." Our sins--you read the Bible, it says it invites cursing. And God says, "instead of cursing, I'm not just gonna leave you neutral, I'm gonna bless you.

" That's real grace. I mean it's going beyond just not giving us what we deserve. It's giving us something better than what we deserve. I remember standing at the checkout line one time and a boy was there ahead of me, and he was trying to buy a matchbox car. And he was fumbling around in his pockets for the change.

And you could see the cash register had already rung things up, and the clerk was sort of tapping his foot. And the boy had turned his pockets inside out. And I came over and just kind of nudged him. I said, "what do you need?" He said, "I'm 10 cents short." He hadn't accounted for the tax. And so I gave him that 10 cents.

Now is that grace? Yeah, but I didn't pay for the whole car, did i? I just gave him 10 cents to help him with the car. The grace that the Lord is offering us, you don't pay part of it and he pays part of it. He pays all of it. That's the difference. D.

l. Moody said, "no man can no more take a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him the next 6 months. Nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come." And I might add, neither can your heart give one gigantic pump to supply your blood for the week. It's an ongoing process. So how often do we need God's grace? It's every day, constantly.

And you know, the longer I live, the more I know how dependent I am on fresh supplies of grace from God. And it's not just even every day praying for it. We're asking for his grace to keep us. We don't deserve that either. It's not just to forgive us.

You need grace to keep you. "God does not save us against our will, but he makes us willing by his grace. He does not tear up the door of our hearts with forcible entry, but rather with a key of grace." It's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. He softens our heart by his grace. Who does God show grace to? Does someone have James 4:6? James 4:6.

I think I gave that-- we gave out some Scriptures. You have that right now? Let's get you a microphone. Somebody's hiding the microphone. Right here. Oh, there we go.

James 4:6. Who's gonna get grace? "But he gives more grace. Therefore he says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" There's another verse just like that in 1 Peter 5:5. I'll read that. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

" Now grace is unmerited favor, correct? Are you with me? Come on, wake up, wake up! Okay. Some of you watching, you're sleeping too. Wake up. God gives unmerited grace; we don't deserve it. But is there something we can do to invite grace? What did I just read? "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

" You can shut the door of grace through pride. So grace is unmerited favor, but you can refuse grace through pride. I don't remember the man's name. But in the early days of our country, someone was accused of treason. They had been fraternizing with the enemy, which was britain at that time.

And he was gonna be hung as a traitor. But the president, it may have been jefferson, offered him a pardon. That's grace. Some people interceded in his behalf, and they secured a pardon. They took the pardon to him, and he said, "I don't want a pardon.

" And it created quite a stir among the legal minds in this young country. What do you do with grace that is refused? And after some debate, they said, "grace that is not received is withdrawn." You must humbly receive it. And so this man, who had been pardoned and given grace, because of his stubbornness, I don't even remember what the details were, said, "I don't want it." And so it was retracted. And he was hung, 'cause of his pride. So we've got to make sure that we humble ourselves before God and be gracious in receiving that grace.

God does not force his way into our heart. It's a key of grace that softens the heart, and he finds his way in. Now while it's true, there's nothing you can do to make God love you more. There's nothing you can do to make God love you less. While it's true that you, through obedience, do not earn salvation, you will not be saved if you deliberately disobey.

Now this is a puzzling truth. People fall in the ditch on both sides of this point and perish. Don't miss this, friends. The children of Israel were not saved by keeping the law. Let me prove it to you.

God came to them while they were slaves in Egypt, and he offered them grace. He said, "sacrifice the lamb, and we'll begin a journey to freedom, to the promised land. He did not come to them and say, "look, I've got these laws. You keep these laws, and I'll take you into the promised land." They were saved from their slavery by grace. So they sacrificed the lamb.

Who does the lamb represent? They crossed the red sea. That represents baptism, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10. He feeds them with food from heaven, the bread of life, Jesus the Word of God. Water from a rock, Jesus the living water. Jesus is the rock.

I mean, Jesus is the lamb. They're given Jesus. They're given grace. After they're saved, they're attacked from behind by the amalekites. Moses stands on the mountain while Joshua leads them into battle.

Joshua means Jesus in Hebrew, same word. Moses stretches out his hands. They looked at Moses with his hands stretched out. And as long as they can see him with his hands stretched out, interceding like the cross, they win. All this happens before Mount Sinai.

You with me? So God is just--he is telling them, "I want to save you. I've saved you. I'm delivering you. Trust me. Follow me.

Believe in me." Then after he does all that to provide for them, to save them, he then leads them to Mount Sinai. And what's the first commandment? I heard someone say it. "You'll have no other Gods." That's actually not completely correct. Have you read the Ten Commandments? What's written in Exodus 20 on the first commandment? The first words of the first commandment, it says, "God spake all these words, saying:" okay, begin chiseling right now. In the stone the chiseling begins after it says, "saying;" semi-colon.

"God spake all these words saying;" it says, "I am the Lord your God that brought you--" out of the house of bondage-- out of the house of Egypt-- "out of Egypt out of the house of bondage," thank you. Then it says, "thou shalt have no other Gods." Now that intro to the Ten Commandments is extremely important. Was that on the stones? Why? He's saying, "I am the one who saved you from slavery." You get that? And then it's implied, "if you love me, keep my commandments." And if you don't believe that, you read the second commandment. And it says, "showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments." "Love me and keep my commandments," is in the Ten Commandments. Isn't it? Yeah.

So that's part of the Ten Commandments. So, first he saves them; then he gives them the Ten Commandments. You still with me? This is an important point. A lot of churches, a lot of theologians get this scrambled. And I'm no theologian, but I got this right.

Trust me. I'm gonna give you more evidence. After he saved 'em, he gives 'em the Ten Commandments. Are they out of Egypt? When they get the Ten Commandments, are they out of Egypt? They're saved from slavery. They are saved.

He's delivered 'em. They're now a nation of Kings and priests. They're free. Are they free? Yeah, well, they're now serving the Lord. It's the only way you'll really be free is to yoke up with Jesus, right? Alright.

Then after he saves 'em, he gives 'em the Ten Commandments. Now, were they saved by the law? No. They were saved by grace, right? By the lamb. But once he gives 'em the law, does he leave 'em, or does he continue to lead them and give them fresh grace every day? If they refuse to obey, do they make it to the promised land? I want you to all say it together. There's a simple answer.

If after he saved them, those that refuse to obey, did they make it to the promised land? No. So, here's a conundrum for you; they're not saved by keeping the law, but they don't go to heaven deliberately breaking it. You don't go to the promised land deliberately breaking it. That's called rebellion. That's called a lack of faith, and you're saved by faith.

Whenever they broke God's law, they had lost faith. They stopped trusting him. When you're saved, and God is right there in your midst, and you've got his glory, then you can do all things through Christ. He never left 'em. And there's some people that have their ups and downs in the wilderness.

He's with them. But if you continue to persist in disobedience, you're not saved by grace, but you are not gonna be saved by deliberately disobeying. Now let me give you some more support for that. In the book, "steps to Christ," I want to read to you from page 60. "There are two errors--" these are the two I just addressed, the two ditches that people fall in.

"There are two errors against which the children of God, particularly those who have just come to trust in his grace especially need to guard." Here they are. "The first already dwelt upon is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do to bring themselves in harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works and keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.

" That's legalism. That's pharisaism. Those people are gonna be lost if you're trusting in obeying the law to be saved. "The opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God, that since by faith in Christ alone we're saved--" I misquoted that, sorry. "That since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption.

" When you are saved, you will want to obey, 'cause your heart's been changed. You don't want to hurt Jesus if you love him. So people who say, "I love the Lord," and yet they're walking in deliberate disobedience--the Bible says, "if any man says he loves him, and he continues in sin, he's a liar and the truth does not abide in him." There are those two extremes. Do we have legalists in the church, the pharisees? Do we have sadducees too? They think anything goes. They don't believe in angel or spirit or resurrection.

All kinds of liberal views in the church. And people who think that we're--some believe that we're saved by the law, salvation by works. Others believe we're saved by presumption. And they're both equally deadly. So God made a provision.

And he anticipated it eons in the past. We don't know exactly when. But since God knows all things, let me get you to think about something, the eternal nature of God here for just a minute. Since God knows all things, and since God is eternal, how far along in the scope of eternity did this experiment with sin happen in the universe? Ten percent into eternity? Are you with me? Halfway through eternity? Can you draw a line on eternity? My brother just about made me explode my brain when I was a kid. He had been in some high school class, and they told him that if an ant is walking between point a and point b, theoretically he never gets to point b.

I said, "what do you mean?" He said, "well at one point he's halfway." You know, let's say this is point a. And let's say the piano is point b. Alright cameras, just stay with me here. And so you say, "alright, when he gets to halfway point between point a and point b, he's halfway." But now he's gonna go halfway from where he is. He goes another halfway.

And then he goes another halfway. And if he continues to go a halfway, he will never get there. Another halfway, another halfway, another halfway, another halfway. And you just keep going halfway; do you ever get there? And he asked me that question, you know? And he was two grades ahead of me. And I'm just going, "uh, uh, uh.

" And it was too much for me. Steam started coming out of my ears. You gotta get there eventually. Well, eternity doesn't have a halfway point, does it? So is the majority of eternity behind us or in front of us? Probably in front of us. I mean let's assume that God started creation at some point.

But is there any end? No. So this lesson, painful lesson, with sin and selfishness in our world, is it gonna be a guard for the remaining creatures in God's infinite creation and other creatures and worlds he make through eternity? And I've often thought, "Lord, why couldn't I have been made one of them unfallen angels? Or why couldn't I have been made one of them creatures in some unfallen world? Why did I have to be--?" And then the Lord says, "well, doug, think about it. If you're saved, who are gonna be the most honored through the endless ages in the universe?" Those who shared in Christ's sufferings, those who lived in this world and they fell, but they overcame by God's grace. They are gonna be the ambassadors of the almighty, going all through the cosmos, through eternity. God's gonna move the capitol of the universe.

We're gonna live and reign with him. What an honor to be involved in this battle, that God would trust us to be soldiers in this Great Controversy. That's wonderful when you think about it. That we will be the object of his supreme regard, that he becomes a man, a human, because of his love for us. He knew it would happen, and he made a provision.

And we're experiencing the result. Ephesians 1:4. We're talking about the eternal preparation here. Ephesians 1:4, I think i-- oh, birdie's got that. "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in his sight in love.

" You know, I love these verses, like that one and Jeremiah, where it says, you know, "before you were born, I called you. I ordained you to be a prophet." Does God have a plan for your life? I love telling young people, "God's got a plan for your life." And sometimes I do these youth meetings. I'll be in montemorelos, Mexico in about a week doing a week of prayer down there. And I say, "not only does God have a plan for your life, but the devil's got a plan for your life." Isn't that right? And--well, we know what his plan is. It's to destroy us and to transform us into his image.

And the plan of Jesus is to transform us into his image. We get to chose every day what impression is gonna be on us. You know, even with digital cameras, it's still true, but it's not quite as easy to illustrate with a polaroid. But you know you can show someone real quick with a polaroid camera. You aim it at something.

You briefly expose this chemical plate to an image. Then you pull it out and you peel off--you remember doing that? You peel it off and you have to wave it, ya know. And you watch it, and slowly you see the image appear. From that brief exposure, it made an impression that will last for years. Our souls are something like photographic plates.

And what you focus on, you become like. And if we focus on God and Christ, we become like him and his will is filled in our lives. If we focus on self and the world, the image of the enemy becomes impressed upon us. We get to choose by our focus what we become. "You're changed by beholding," the Bible says.

Colossians 1:26-27, speaking again of the eternal nature of this mystery. "The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles: which is Christ in you." What is the mystery? "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It's like you pray that prayer, "live out thy life within me." What did Paul say? "It's not I that live, but Christ that lives in me." And your body's the temple of the Holy Spirit. That's what it means when Christ lives in you, that we invite God to live out his life in us. This is a mystery.

You know, conversion is the greatest miracle. It's also the greatest mystery. What is it that brings about a conversion, where a person's motivated by selfishness, and then something changes and now they're motivated by love? It says it's the love of God, "we love him because he first loved us." It melts our hearts. It transforms us. It's the grace and the love of God that recreates us.

Psalms 90:2, talking about the eternal plan. How long has God known this? Psalm 90:2, "before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth or the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God." Psalm 93:2, "your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting." Isaiah 57:15, "the high and the lofty one who inhabits eternity." Do you ever think about eternal life and what that means? Wouldn't it be nice--i mean, you know, people right now are nervous 'cause of the economy. And why are they nervous? Because, you know, we want financial security. Well, how long is your financial security gonna do you any good? 'Til you die. And you know the longer you live, the shorter that is.

Isn't that right? So what you're really looking for is some temporary security. Wouldn't it be nice to have eternal security? I've never seen a bank--you see all kinds of banks that have the word, security, in them. Right now, we're wondering how secure they are. I'll tell ya, I heard some scary stories this last week of people that went to the bank and it was gone. And they found out what it means to have fdic insurance and not to have it.

Scary. Wouldn't it be nice to have a bank that was called "eternal security," to wake up in eternity with a glorified body and know it'll never get old? How long is that? Never. Ponce de leon sailed around the world looking for this fountain of youth. And who was it? James hutton wrote that book about shangri-la called, "lost horizon." The people up in hunza, they live into their--over years of age. And people think, "oh, I'd like to live just a little longer.

" I heard of this family in New York city. They did an experiment with rats. Not the family, the family heard about this. They found out that rats that eat a lower calorie diet will live 10-15% longer. That it's not just disease that kills people.

Sometimes it's eating too much, too many calories. And actually, people that just eat less live longer. And so this family were trying to survive on the bare minimum of calories. And they measured out every day how many calories they would eat. And they looked pretty lean, little too lean.

But they said, "well, you know what? We may be adding another or 15 years to our lives because of this." And I thought, "well, that's nice, but they're not enjoying the life they're living very much." Now, I believe in taking care of myself. You can tell that, but I just thought, "man." But to have eternal life and to know you never need to worry about your body getting old. You never need to worry about being tempted again. You can go to sleep anywhere and not worry about getting run over. Or you can sleep in the car when your spouse is driving and not worry that you're not gonna make it.

I don't know why that popped into my mind. Kids dream they could find this land where Peter pan was, never-neverland, and never get old. Well, God is really offering us that. The very fact that he prepared this plan of salvation from eternity reminds us that he's an eternal God. You know, I've only got a couple minutes left for the section that talks about "the way of the cross.

" Mark 10:45. Matter of fact, I'll have somebody read that to me. I didn't give that out. But someone look up Mark 10:45. "For even The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

" So when we decide to accept this grace and this plan of salvation, the atonement that Jesus has offered, is there a change in direction and purpose? "As The Father sent The Son," Jesus said, "so send I you." Christ came to serve and he asks us to follow him and serve. He came to take up his cross, and he asks us to take up our cross, and to follow him. The way of the cross is different from the way of the world. The way of the world is to accumulate, to grasp, to grab all you can, to hoard. And the way of the cross is to give, to love, to sacrifice.

Galatians 1:4-5, "who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and father, to whom be glory forever and ever." Someone else read Galatians 2:20. I think maybe I had--andrew's got that one right here. "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not i, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." See this is the good news that we can have Jesus living in us. How safe are we if Christ lives in us? Who's gonna raise when Jesus comes? The dead in Christ. You know who they are? The ones who had Christ in them.

And that's our invitation for you. Oh, so much more to talk about. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze some of it in in a future lesson. Friends, thank you for studying with us. We're out of time for today's study.

Don't forget the free offer. It's "riches of grace." Ask for offer number 152, or call 866-788-3966. And we'll send that to you. God bless you. Thank you for joining us for this broadcast.

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