SALVATION UNLIMITED    by Edward Heppenstall


6
CHRIST'S 
GIFT  
IS LIFE

I have come that men may have life, and may have it in all its fullness (John 10:10, N.E.B.).

WITH THESE words Christ proclaimed His purpose in coming to the earthóto give life. It was His own life that He brought and that He was to give to men.

I am . . . the life (John 14:6).

I am that bread of life. . . . I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever (chap. 6:48, 51).

The witness is this: that God has given us eternal life, and that this life is found in his Son. He who possesses the Son has life indeed; he who does not possess the Son of God has not that life (1 John 5:11, 12, N.E.B.).

Christ, who is our life . . . (Cot. 3:4).

But God, rich in mercy, for the great love he bore us, brought us to life with Christ even when we were dead in our sins (Eph. 2:5, N.E.B.).

Man does not have life in himself. Only God has life: inherent, independent, inexhaustible, immortal. Manís life is derived, dependent, limited, mortal. When God first put man and woman on this planet He gave them life. Life flowed from God to man as long as man remained perfect. Manís life continued by virtue of his union with God.

When Adam and Eve sinned this relationship was broken. Life from God was withdrawn. Physically they began to die. Spiritually, they were cut off from God. By their own choice of a life independent of God, they were banished from His presence. They were now alive to sinning, but dead to the things of Godóspiritually dead. All of manís faculties now functioned on the natural, carnal level, outside of a right relationship with God. Everyone since then has experienced this wrong relationship. Nowhere is manís life in its natural state seen to be in a right state of dependence on God. So the Bible speaks of the natural man as being dead in sin.

Time was when you were dead in your sins, . ;when you followed the evil ways of this present age, when you obeyed the commander of the spiritual powers of the air, the spirit now at work among Godís rebel subjects. . . . But God, rich in mercy, for the great love he bore us, brought us to life with Christ even when we were dead in our sins. And in union with Christ Jesus he raised us up and enthroned us with him in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:1, 3-6, N.E.B.).

Men still believe Satanís lie that men can have life in themselves. Consequently, they feel selfsufficient and in no need of new life from God.

Good morality in man does not give man a title to anything more than being a good moral man. But this is not spirituality. Culture and education never in themselves enable a man to see more than the kingdom of man. Cultivation of the natural man usually ends in more self-exaltation and pride. There is no entrance as a natural man into Godís kingdom.

Manís spiritual and eternal destiny lies with God who alone has life. Most religions in the world express the same need and desire: to pass beyond this brief mortal life that man now has, into a life that is immortal. But only Christ makes this available to man. Apart from Christ, manís life is permeated by sin, self-seeking, and death. God did not make man to be that way. Christ came to change that, to give new life, spiritual life. Christís work alone radically transforms human nature. It involves the integration of the whole human personality with Jesus Christ. All the impulses, instincts, desires, and urges throb with the new life from Christ.

The Bible speaks of two Adams: the first Adam, God created; the second Adam is Jesus Christ incarnate. From the first and the second Adams, two kinds of life emerge: the natural and the spiritual. Together they represent the entire human race. In Romans 5 Paul compares the two kinds and the effects of each upon man. The first Adam was the head and father of the human race. By his sin he involved all his descendants in both physical and spiritual death. He lost life from God by his alienation from God. Jesus Christ is called the second Adam because to Him was entrusted the task of redeeming man from the first Adamís fall and separation from God. As men were originally one in Adam, now they are one in Christ.

The first Adam cannot give the life he no longer has. Jesus Christ came to give back eternal life to man, obedience instead of disobedience, justification in place of condemnation, righteousness in place of unrighteousness. Thus Christ belongs to the entire human family. He communicates spiritual life to all who receive Him by faith. "The last Adam was made a quickening spirit (1 Cor. 15:45).

In his sinful state, man does not exercise his faculties in accordance with the will of God. Self-will prevails. Manís sinfulness does not consist in the lack of capacities, but the perversion of them owing to his separation from God. The unconverted man is morally and spiritually unable to do what God requires of him.

"A natural Christian!" This deceptive idea has served many as a garment of self-righteousness, and has led many to a supposed hope in Christ, who had no experimental knowledge of Him, of His experience, His trials, His life of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Their righteousness which they count upon so much is only as filthy rags.

Life has met with a changeóa change so marked as to be represented by death. From living, active life, to death! What a striking figure! None need be deceived here. If this transformation has not been experienced by you, rest not. Seek the Lord with all your hearts. Make this the all-important business of your lives.óTestimonies, vol. 2, pp. 177-179.

The New Birth

"In truth, in very truth I tell you, unless a man has been born over again he cannot see the kingdom of God." "But how is it possible," said Nicodemus, "for a man to be born when he is old? Can he enter his motherís womb a second time and be born?" Jesus answered, "In truth I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born from water and spirit. Flesh can give birth only to flesh; it is spirit that gives birth to spirit. You ought not to be astonished, then, when I tell you that you must be born again" (John 3:3-6, N.E.B.).

This statement goes right to the heart of manís problem. To bring about the spiritual change from death to life is spoken of as being born again. Nicodemus understood the immense difficulty of spiritual regeneration. He knew that some real change was necessary, that his own Jewish religion, as popularly understood, had failed to restore all men to life with God.

What does the believer most need to receive from Jesus Christ? Christ answered this in His discussion with Nicodemus. First, He said, man is born of the flesh. That is, the sinner is tied to sin. He walks in the desires and under the power of his fallen nature. Second, this "fleshly" nature can produce only after its kind. Third, spiritual life in man can be created only by the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason Christ became incarnate. For this reason the Holy Spirit was sent to communicate spiritual life. The Scripture describes this experience as being born from above (see John 3:31), indicating supernatural life. "If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, R.S.V.).

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (Gal. 6:15, R.S.V.).

To arouse those spiritually dead, to create new tastes, new motives, requires as great an outlay of power as to raise one from physical death.óELLEN G. WHITE in Review and Herald, March 12, 1901.

The gift of eternal life is the Christianís starting point. Each manís natural life has a beginning. So has the spiritual life, which is not fallen human nature renovated, but a new life from heavenó"the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24).

Regeneration and conversion are other words used to describe the new birth. It has been argued that there is a difference between regeneration and conversion: the first being the divine side of the new birth; the second, the human side. From the human side conversion is manís turning from sin to God. "Repent . . . and be converted" (Acts 3:19). "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," Christ said to Peter (Luke 22:32).

The Greek word for conversion is strepho. It is used because the subject of conversion is always man. The word is also used of the believerís turning to God. "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thess. 1:9). For simplicity we shall use the terms the new birth, conversion, and regeneration synonymously.

Men need more than a perfect example; they need life, supernatural life. Therein lies the great secret of the Christian life. Life from God awakens and gives new spiritual capacity to every part of man. The whole man, body, soul, and spirit, is brought under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. There is a spiritual resurrection from the dead. The Christian is united with God.

God does not give us supernatural life to possess on our own. He does not make man immortal. Spiritual life is not given to us except as we remain in Christ. The gift of new life is communicated with the Son and never apart from Him.

I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:28).

Salvation is participation in the life of Christ. Perdition is exclusion from that life. The life of Christ and of the Holy Spirit is real and present in us as long as we maintain and cherish this life through faith. Always it is true that in ourselves we are nothing and have nothing.

Godís redemption in Christ stands in contrast with all human methods of improvement and self-development. Human theories, ideas, rules, and ethical principles are initiated and presented to the natural man. Man hopes that by a clear understanding and acceptance of these principles men may be motivated to live accordingly. But human "progress" leaves man himself as the center of life. He is still egotistic, regardless of his refinements and cultural developments.

Here lies the difference between secular and Christian education, between human progress and divine salvation. The one comes by natural methods, human. promotion and communication. The second comes by divine intervention. One of lifeís great problems is getting man to see the bankruptcy of all purely human systems and the urgent need of an entirely new life from God. The last thing man gives up is trust in himself.

The New Testament records five individual instances of conversion. The Ethiopian eunuch questioned Philip about the passage the eunuch had been reading in Isaiah 53 concerning the Messiah, and he was converted (see Acts 8:26-39). Cornelius, the Roman centurion, asked the angel for an explanation of the vision that God gave him. Peter came and led him, along with the members of his household, to accept Jesus Christ (see chap. 10:24-48).

Paul encountered the Lord directly on the Damascus road (see chap. 9). The Lord opened the heart of Lydia as Paul preached the gospel. She was a seller of purple cloth in the city of Thyatira (see chap. 16:13-15). The jailer in Philippi was confronted with the Lordís miraculous deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison. Paul told him of Christ. He believed, along with all his family, and was baptized (see verses 25-33). All of these individuals were directly or indirectly confronted with the truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Paulís conversion is the most spectacular, and pictures for us the nature of the change that takes place when one is born of the Holy Spirit. Up to this time Paul had opposed Jesus Christ. Paul was an orthodox Pharisee, committed entirely to the law and what it stood for. He had not the slightest leaning toward Christianity. He was diametrically opposed to Jesus Christ and His teachings. But the hand of God reached out and arrested him. A great miracle took place in his life. The veil dropped from his face when he met Christ. He surrendered to the risen Lord. Paul the rebel became the most earnest and devoted Christian in the Christian era. From that time on the living Christ became the center of all Paulís thinking, working, and living.

What Is the New Birth?

What is the new birth? What really happens? Can we know what actually takes place? The new birth is a miracle by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is not possible to analyze all that is involved and how it is brought about. We do not know just how the Spirit works or the degree of the Spiritís control of the Christian convert.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof; but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

Ellen White makes some keen observations relative to the new birth. She draws analogies from life in nature and compares it with the "germination of the good seed. . . . So from natural life, illustrations are drawn, to help us better to understand the mysterious truths of spiritual life."óSteps to Christ, p. 67.

The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual lifeóEducation, p. 105.

In dwelling upon the laws of matter and the laws of nature, many lose sight of, if they do not deny, the continual and direct agency of God. They convey the idea that nature acts independently of God, having in and of itself its own limits and its own powers wherewith to work. . . . This is false science.... It is not by an original power inherent in nature that year by year the earth yields its bounties and continues its march around the sun. The hand of infinite power is perpetually at work guiding this planet. It is Godís power momentarily exercised that keeps it in position in its rotation.óTestimonies, vol. 8, pp. 259, 260.

The same principle holds true in the spiritual life. Life in the physical world and in nature is dependent upon a direct connection with God, who continually exercises His power and energy. So it is in the spiritual life. However, we must not interpret this analogy to mean that God operates mechanically or that His action is impersonal. just the opposite is true.

What is significant is that not only physical life but spiritual life is dependent upon Godís continued action. A bond of union is created between the human and the divine. Man is restored to a vital relationship with God, which makes fellowship between God and man possible. The regenerative communication of the power of Christ occurs in a vital personal relationship with Christ. Jesus teaches this when He says:

"Dwell in me, as I in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, but only if it remains united with the vine; no more can you bear fruit, unless you remain united with me. I am the vine, and you the branches. He who dwells in me, as I dwell in him, bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing. He who does not dwell in me is thrown away like a withered branch" (John 15:4-6, N.E.B.).

The Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the only begotten Son of God, binds the human agent, body, soul, and spirit, to the perfect divine-human nature of Christ. This union is represented by the union of the vine and the branches. Finite man is united to the manhood of Christ. . . . We are made one with God in ChristóELLEN WHITE, in Review and Herald, April 5, 1906.

Your birth, your reputation, your wealth, your talents, your virtues, your piety, your philanthropy, or anything else in you or connected with you, will not form a bond of union between your soul and Christ.ó Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 48, 49.

These statements are significant in an understanding of the experience of conversion. When a man is born again, a personal union is formed, as it is in the marriage relationship. Christ unites the believer with Himself by the Holy Spirit. Goodspeed puts it this way in his translation: "We shall be saved through sharing in his life" (Rom. 5:10). This union begins at the new birth. There is a divine presence and power available for the believeróthe very life of Jesus Christ. The believer must be linked up with God.

This can be illustrated by the operation of electrical appliances. Plugged into the source of electricity, they function as they are intended to do. Unplugged, they are useless. So it is with the Christian. If we are detached or separated in any way from Christ, we are spiritually void and lifeless. United to Christ by the Spirit, we function as God intended us to do. Therefore we must abide in Christ. This miracle of regeneration reverses in part the original break with God brought about by sin. With the new birth we are once again united with God. We live within the life of the Holy Spirit. The agency and presence of the Holy Spirit are indispensable. Says the apostle Paul, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" (1 Cor. 12:3).

Oneness With Jesus Christ

And the glory which thou gayest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:22, 23).

The concern of our Lord just prior to His crucifixion was for the restoration of the believers to oneness and union with Himself and with His Father. The consciousness of personal oneness with God in Christ is the distinctive feature of the Christian religion. "In Christ Jesus" speaks of a living relation to a living Person, as opposed to the adoption of opinions and conformity to rules.

A man apart from Christ is not a Christianó he can do nothing. To be in Christ or in the Spirit means that the whole man is on the side of Christ, living under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. This oneness is as real and intimate as the union of husband and wife. We cannot live the Christian life. Only Christ can do that in us. We cannot bring forth the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. Only the Spiritís presence and control can do that. The supreme offense to Christ and to the Holy Spirit that leads to the unpardonable sin is to affirm in deed and word that we do not belong to God and that we find nothing in God that interests us.

Oneness with Christ means that in Him we have found lifeís true meaning. We really want Him to have us. We donít want more rules, more works, more self-concentrationóeven in our religion. It is not ecstasy we seek, or the sensational. We desire to be possessed by Christ. Under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit we relinquish ourselves to Christ. We have discovered that He is the kind of Being with whom we want to identify.

The Holy Spirit does not become incarnate in the believer. He ever remains personally distinct from ourselves. He is never fused or amalgamated with our spirit. He never takes over our human personality. Surrender to the Spiritís leading means control by the Spirit, but not replacement. He never supersedes human responsibility. He never weans the mind from the objective truth of the Bible and replaces the individual intelligent response of man with some form of mysticism or magic. He arouses the mind, inspires the desires and affections, until the Word of God lives and imparts life.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Ps. 1:1-3).

The Holy Spirit works in cooperation with the faculties, through the mind of man. He does not overwhelm the believer. He empowers and heightens every faculty and ability that man has so that life is filled with all the fruits of the Spirit. Never before was life so wonderful. The Spirit does not abrogate or absorb manís individuality, but strengthens, purifies, renews, frees, enlightens it. This is in direct contrast with evil spirits who throw their victims into ungovernable ecstasies, casting them to the floor, taking away their self-control.

The Holy Spirit leaves the Christian with a clear mind. He provides increased spiritual insight, vitality, and power. Man is allowed the full use of his normal faculties, but is free from the degrading, enslaving power of sin and egoism. The mind, heart, and life are all alive to Christ and to the truth of His Word. The born-again Christian bears witness to all that Christ is and to all that He taught.

The Spirit works upon human hearts through the Word of God. He does not inscribe upon our hearts and lives things not taught in Scripture. He writes the faithfulness, the love, the purity, the wisdom, and the mercy of God, until we are caught and captivated by the beauty of our Lord.

When we have done our best to capture the meaning of the new birth and the oneness we have with Christ, we sense that unless the Holy Spirit moves toward us through the Word of God, nothing really happens. Without the Holy Spirit truth is likely to appear only as definitions and cold ideas. The faculties of the unconverted man are spiritually lifeless and averse to the things of God. Nothing but the influence and power of the Spirit can change this. We should despair of eternal life and living truth, unless the power of the Spirit is exerted to this endóthe submission to Christ as man s rightful Sovereign and dearest Friend.

Henceforth through the Spirit, Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of His children. Their union with Him was closer than when He was personally with themóSteps to Christ, p. 75.

Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie,óto choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do thisóPage 72.

Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God, so that life from God flows into our life; and from our life, purity and holiness flow back to God.ó Page 98.

We may keep so near to God that in every unexpected trial our thoughts will turn to Him as naturally as the flower turns to the sunóPages 99, 100.

How Is a Man Born Again?

What is the response required of man in order to experience the new birth and new life in Christ? The characteristic of the natural man is his inclination to exercise self-will and stand independent against God. The great enemy, then, is self-will, with all its attendant forms: self-love, self-exaltation, self-sufficiency. With the gift of salvation offered from our Lord, we are confronted with the quality and nature of manís response and responsibility.

To receive this gift without working for it seems incredibly simple. But is it that simple? Surrender and commitment often involve a struggle. Furthermore, the way we understand this offer depends on how we interpret Christís invitation to follow Him.

In Mark 10:17-30 and Acts 16:27-34 are presented two men: one a Jew, the rich young ruler; and the other a Gentile, the jailer at Philippi. The young Jew apparently possesses great moral integrity. He has been educated in the Jewish faith to great purpose. He is no delinquent, no carouser, no prodigal son. He confidently affirms that he has kept the commandments from his youth up. The other man, older, no doubt, probably has little or no religious training. Both men ask the same question: What must I do to be saved? What must I do to inherit eternal life?

For the Gentile, Paul gives a very simple answer. He says that what you have to do to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That same night the jailer gives his heart to Christ and is baptized. It is as simple as that. For the young Jew, Christís answer appears more complicated and difficult. He said that you must keep the commandments. The Jew affirms he has met those requirements. Then Jesus said that you must sell all that you have and give to the poor. This seemed to the rich man an insurmountable obstacle to his being converted to Christ. It proved to be just that.

Why did not Jesus give the same answer that Paul gave: "Just believe in Me and you will be saved"? The instructions to the jailer seem extremely simple and easy. No extended questions or studies. The instructions to the Jew were incredibly difficult. Now suppose you choose to attend two different churches and ask this same question: What must I do to be saved? The one gives you a very simple answer: "Just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." The other church says: "You must keep the commandments, and you must sell all your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor." If you could be saved in either of these churches, which church would you join?

Why is the jailer so easily saved and the moral young Jew so easily lost? Is Paul making salvation easy, while Christ is making it difficult? Is not part of the good news of the gospel that Godís redemptive love and salvation can be had for the taking? Is salvation not a gift freely offered to all who will reach out and accept it? Is not regeneration as simple as accepting Jesus invitation, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)?

Do we not proclaim the clear, simple gospel to all the world in order to secure a verdict for Jesus Christ? Is it not as simple as that, especially in a world where most people have hardly learned to read? Strangely enough, it is not simple at all. To get people to make the right response and place themselves entirely on the side of Christ and be converted can be the most difficult thing imaginable.

Christ made it clear that if any man chose to become His disciple he must be prepared to make a total surrender. He must take the kingdom of God seriously, not casually. He must accept the unqualified rule of God over his life.

A certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead (Matt. 8:19-22).

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever... . Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him (John 6:57, 58, 60, 66).

We must be on guard against making easy decisions. The difference between the Jew and the Gentile jailer was not that God was laying down a different set of requirements. The jailer was prepared to make the kind of surrender and commitment that accepted the Lordship of Christ in his life. The Jew was not.

Satan does not want anyone to see the necessity of an entire surrender to God. When the soul fails to make this surrender, sin is not forsaken; the appetites and passions are striving for the mastery; temptations confuse the conscience, so that true conversion does not take place.óTestimonies~ vol. 6, p. 92. Emphasis supplied.

There is in reality no such thing as an incomplete surrender or partial conversion. We are either surrendered as completely as we know how, or we are not. The Christian life does not consist in only giving up a few bad habits. It is not only setting up a moral rule and keeping to it. It involves the dedication of our lives to Christ, say ing "Yes" to Him on everything.

Christians are sometimes more committed to a given moral standard than to Jesus. Here conformity to the law provides man with a measure of personal achievement. This gives man something to be proud of, something to stand on in the presence of God. Here man can still claim a measure of independence from God. This was the primal sin of Adam and Eve. To the degree that we depend upon ourselves and on our accomplishments, to that degree we have fallen away from Christ.

To have the religion of Christ means that you have absolutely surrendered your all to God, and consented to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. . . . The surrender of all our powers to God greatly simplifies the problem of life. It weakens and cuts short a thousand struggles with the passions of the natural heart.óMessages to Young People, p. 30.

Surrender requires the reign of Christ and not the reign of sin.

Conversion is not a half-and-half work, a serving God and Mammon, but an entire turning to God.ó ELLEN G. WHITE, in Review and Herald, Feb. 19, 1901.

Christ demands undivided heart-service, the entire use of mind, soul, heart, and strength.óELLEN G. WHITE, in Review and Herald, July 25, 1899.

The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we are to be restored to His likeness. . . . God desires to heal us, to set us free. But since this requires an entire transformation, a renewing of our whole nature, we must yield ourselves wholly to HimóSteps to Christ, p. 43.

To follow Christ requires wholehearted conversion at the start, and a repetition of this conversion every day.óThe SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Numbers 13:30, p. 1113.

The peril is that the dimension of Christian commitment may be lost in a demand for nothing more than moderate achievement on the purely ethical and moral level. The explicit concern of Christ was that He should rule in the Christianís life. This is where "straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life" (Matt. 7:14). Those who desire an easygoing Christianity should realize that a man cannot be a Christian by that kind of response. When Christ asks a man to follow Him, He is calling for nothing less than complete commitment. This can involve conflict and struggle with self-will. The self-willed life does not give up easily.

Self is the enemy we most need to fear. No form of vice has a more baleful effect upon the character than has human passion not under the control of the Holy Spirit. No other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory over self .óThe Ministry of Healing, p. 485.

This union costs us something. It is a relation of utter dependence, to be entered into by a proud being. All who form this union must feel their need of the atoning blood of Christ. They must have a change of heart. They must submit their own will to the will of God. There will be a struggle with outward and inward obstacles. There must be a painful work of detachment, as well as a work of attachment. Pride, selfishness, vanity, worldliness sin in all its forms, must be overcome, if we would enter into a union with Christ. The reason why many find the Christian life so deplorably hard, why they are so fickle, so variable, is, they try to attach themselves to Christ without first detaching themselves from their cherished idols.óELLEN G. WHITE, in Review and Herald, Dec. 13, 1887.

The less you cherish self, the more distinct and full will be your comprehension of the excellence of your Saviour.ó The Desire of Ages, p. 493.

Godís method of communicating life and spiritual health to the Christian is not like that of the physician. The latter seeks to effect such a cure that the patient does not need to return for further treatment. Godís method seeks permanently to bind the repentant believing sinner to Himself forever.

Jesus is our example. He Himself shows us the way. On earth He lived His life totally surrendered to the Father. He lived by faith. More than once He said of Himself:

I can of mine own self do nothing.., because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. ... The Son can do nothing of himself (John 5:30, 19).

Jesus Christ came to establish the kingdom of God, not upon human obedience to a moral code, human independence, or by the brilliance of menís wisdom and organization. The kingdom of God is rooted and grounded upon the truth that human nature must itself be radically changed, and its whole course of self-will and independence from God be reversed. The way Christ lived in submission to the Fatherís will and in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, shows the believer how to live in submission to Christ. Christ was the one life lived on earth in which the will of God alone was obeyed from the beginning to the end.

Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus. For the divine nature was his from the first; yet he did not think to snatch at equality with God, but made himself nothing, assuming the nature of a slave. Bearing the human likeness, revealed in human shape, he humbled himself, and in obedience accepted even deathódeath on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8, N.E.B.).

Dependence on His Father and the surrender of His own will to live by the will of the Father was the inner principle and motivation of Christís entire life on earth. "Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God" (Heb. 10:7). Here is human nature as God intended it. "For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38). This does not mean that Christ did not make His own choices. Every step He took was based on His own voluntary decision. But in the use of His will, He chose to make Godís will His own. When Christ healed the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, He was challenged by the Pharisees who sought to kill Him. In reply Jesus said:

The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise (John 5:19).

In Gethsemane we behold Him choosing only the Fatherís will and not His own.

My soul is exceeding sorrowtul, even unto death. ... 0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Matt. 26:38, 39).

Our living by Jesus Christ means the end of self-will, the end of life apart from God. The one plague spot in our lives, the one infection men have, is self-centeredness. At the new birth we shift our center to Christ.

There was this great consciousness of God in the life of Jesus. This intimate access to His Father was always marked by an attitude of dependence and submission to the will of God. Never by His own inherent power did Jesus perform any of His miracles. He denied Himself the use of His own divine power. He was perfect God and perfect man. Did not the Father give all power into His hands (see John 13:3; Matt. 28:18)? Of all men born into this world, is He not the one man who could truly have lived by His own power and depended on Himself? Yet He chose to live by faith alone.

Could He not have turned the stones into bread when tempted in the wilderness? Could He not have come down from the cross when challenged to do so? In the wilderness, Satan sought to get Christ to resort to the use of His own power and perform a miracle on His own behalf. In every case Jesus refused to have the question referred to Himself. On every point He depended upon the will and the power of God. He surrendered Himself completely to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit, even though this meant fasting for forty days and nights.

Christís temptations invariably were directed against trust in His Father. "If You are the Son of God," says Satan, "Your heavenly Father would provide for all Your physical needs. No earthly father would see his child go hungry for this length of time. If You are the Son of God, then exercise divine power on Your own behalf."

But the Spirit had led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (see Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus must not take Himself out of His Fatherís hands and from the control of the Spirit even though it means starving for physical sustenance. There can be no leading or action except by the Holy Spirit. The plan of salvation depended entirely upon Christís living by His Father and not by Himself, even though He was the Son of God and had the power of life within Himself. His whole life was organized around trust in the Father.

Men are often inclined to believe that for Christ to be tempted in all points like as we are (see Heb. 4:15), He must have had a sinful nature as we do. But this fails to understand the basic issue of temptation, to live by oneself rather than to live entirely by faith in God. Jesus Christ was sinless, free constitutionally from every taint of sin and defilement, and in that sense holy, harmless, undefiled, "separate from sinners" (chap. 7:26). This created for Him a far greater difficulty in living by His Father.

If we found ourselves starving in some desert place, it would be no temptation to depend on ourselves, to turn stones into bread, because we could not do it. It would be no temptation to come down from a cross, for we have no power to do it. But Christ could have done it. Temptations of this kind are in proportion to a manís power to change the situation. But to trust in His Father, to live by the guidance of the Spirit even though this meant going hungry, rejected and despised of men, nailed to a tree when He could Himself come downóthat is what it meant for Christ to live by faith and by His Father.

How does a man "make Himself of no reputation" and still retain his sense of personal significance and self-worth? Is not Jesus of equal significance with the Father in heaven and on earth? Yet He needed not to grasp at anything for personal status and significance. He could let all things go.

Most of us have a reputation to make and to keep. The great illness of man is his anxiety over himself, always trying to grasp after something that will give him a standing. Worldly speaking, the significant man is he who is able to acquire an abundance of things, education, position, prosperity, popularity, and power. Yet what he grasps after is quite meaningless. As Christians, how do we gain our sense of personal significance? How do we preserve our sense of self-worth? Are we motivated by self-concern? Are our lives marked by anxiety because other people are a threat to us? This anxiety and self-concern is the cause of much that is unredemptive in our lives.

The Christian is called to identify himself with Christ. Jesus Christ is the representative Man, the ideal Man, in order that death to self-will might be realized in those for whom He died. The cross for us requires our total surrender, a continued confession of our ability to save ourselves and other people. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20). This is a day of outward observation, of human things and methods. There is always the temptation to search for them and let them absorb our attention and divert our minds from God. "Cease ye from man," God says (Isa. 2:22).

Jesus is the supreme witness to what commitment to the will of God means. His relation to His heavenly Father in trust and daily surrender must be our example. Christ is an utter stranger to the modern spirit that grasps after self-esteem, status, reputation, and power. Our rejection of self-will and self-exaltation, our complete surrender to God, will lead us through the darkness and temptations of these final days to lifeís consummation and eternal life with Christ.

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