Sabbath, August 16, 2008
“And as many as walk according to this rule, Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:16.
Separation from Christ
1. What is the enormous consequence of sin in the relationship between God and man?
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2.
“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.” Jeremiah 5:25.
“The transgression of that law caused a fearful separation between God and man. To Adam in his innocency was granted communion, direct, free, and happy, with his Maker. After his transgression God would communicate to man through Christ and angels.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 51.
“I knew that the Lord had not forsaken His people, but that their sins and iniquities had separated them from God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 586.
2. Although created and kept in life by God, how far did man depart from Him?
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works…” Colossians 1:21.
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12.
“Restraint and moral control in the human family are destroyed. Restraint upon vice grows more and more feeble. The world loves not, fears not God. And those who do not love or fear God soon lose all sense of obligation to one another. They are without God and without hope in the world.” –Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 93.
“Many are without God and without hope in the world. They are guilty, corrupt, and degraded, enslaved by Satan’s devices. Yet these are the ones whom Christ came from heaven to redeem. They are subjects for tenderest pity, sympathy, and tireless effort; for they are on the verge of ruin. They suffer from ungratified desires, disordered passions, and the condemnation of their own consciences; they are miserable in every sense of the word, for they are losing their hold on this life and have no prospect for the life to come.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 568.
Peace with God
3. Have our separation, enmity, and sins changed God’s attitude toward men? What is His constant invitation to us?
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Colossians 2:13.
“Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5.
“‘He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Romans 8:32.
“It was a costly sacrifice that the Lord of heaven made. Divine benevolence was stirred to its unfathomable depths; it was impossible for God to give more. He ‘so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16. Why is our gratitude so limited? It is only as a ripple on the surface, compared with the great tide of love that flows to us from the Father.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 59, 60.
“I exalted before them the infinite sacrifice made by the Father in giving His beloved Son for fallen men, that they might through obedience be transformed and become the acknowledged sons of God. The church and the world are called upon to behold and admire a love which thus expressed is beyond human comprehension, and which amazed even the angels of heaven. This love is so deep, so broad, and so high that the inspired apostle, failing to find language in which to describe it, calls upon the church and the world to behold it–to make it a theme of contemplation and admiration.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 293.
4. Thanks to His peace and the gift of justification, what may men achieve in their relationship with God?
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Romans 5:1.
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Isaiah 32:17.
“The light of justification through faith, and that the righteousness of Christ must become our righteousness, else we cannot possibly keep the law of God, is the testimony of all who speak, and the fruit is peace, courage, joy, and harmony. There is danger of making even these subjects a theory, and not practicing the truth that is expressed. Those who bear this message must carry with them the pure character of Christ Jesus.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, pp. 332, 333.
“The sinner cannot depend upon his own good works as a means of justification. He must come to the point where he will renounce all his sin, and embrace one degree of light after another as it shines upon his pathway. He simply grasps by faith the free and ample provision made in the blood of Christ. He believes the promises of God, which through Christ are made unto him sanctification and righteousness and redemption. And if he follows Jesus, he will walk humbly in the light, rejoicing in the light and diffusing that light to others. Being justified by faith, he carries cheerfulness with him in his obedience in all his life. Peace with God is the result of what Christ is to him. The souls who are in subordination to God, who honor Him, and are doers of His Word, will receive divine enlightenment. In the precious Word of God there is purity and loftiness as well as beauty that, unless assisted by God, the highest powers of man cannot attain to.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1071.
“When the Spirit of God controls mind and heart, the converted soul breaks forth into a new song; for he realizes that in his experience the promise of God has been fulfilled, that his transgression has been forgiven, his sin covered. He has exercised repentance toward God for the violation of the divine law, and faith toward Christ, who died for man’s justification. ‘Being justified by faith,’ he has ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Romans 5:1.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 476.
The high price of our peace
5. Is it possible to appreciate fully the great price that God has paid to make peace with man?
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3.
“What a theme for meditation is the sacrifice that Jesus made for lost sinners! ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.’ How shall we estimate the blessings thus brought within our reach? Could Jesus have suffered more? Could He have purchased for us richer blessings? Should it not melt the hardest heart when we remember that for our sakes He left the happiness and glory of heaven and suffered poverty and shame, cruel affliction and a terrible death? Had He not by His death and resurrection opened for us the door of hope, we should have known nothing but the horrors of darkness and the miseries of despair. In our present state, favored and blessed as we are, we cannot realize from what depths we have been rescued. We cannot measure how much deeper our afflictions would have been, how much greater our woes, had not Jesus encircled us with His human arm of sympathy and love, and lifted us up.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 316.
Bearing precious fruit
6. What kind of fruit is peace? Therefore, whom should we invite into our hearts and minds to receive it?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” Galatians 5:22.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17.
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6.
“The peace of Christ, the peace of Christ–money cannot buy it, brilliant talent cannot command it, intellect cannot secure it; it is the gift of God. The religion of Christ–how shall I make all understand their great loss if they fail to carry its holy principles into the daily life? The meekness and lowliness of Christ is the Christian’s power. It is indeed more precious than all things which genius can create or wealth can buy. Of all things that are sought, cherished, and cultivated, there is nothing so valuable in the sight of God as a pure heart, a disposition imbued with thankfulness and peace.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 559.
“Mildness, gentleness, forbearance, longsuffering, being not easily provoked, bearing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things–these are the fruit growing upon the precious tree of love, which is of heavenly growth. This tree, if nourished, will prove to be an evergreen. Its branches will not decay, its leaves will not wither. It is immortal, eternal, watered continually by the dews of heaven.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 134, 135.
7. What assurance is given that we may receive this gift even in a world full of problems and sorrows?
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13.
“I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.” Psalm 85:8.
“… The religion of Jesus gives peace like a river. It does not quench the light of joy; it does not restrain cheerfulness nor cloud the sunny, smiling face.” –Steps to Christ, p. 121.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace. Discord and strife are the work of Satan and the fruit of sin. If we would as a people enjoy peace and love, we must put away our sins; we must come into harmony with God, and we shall be in harmony with one another. Let each ask himself: Do I possess the grace of love? Have I learned to suffer long and to be kind? Talents, learning, and eloquence, without this heavenly attribute, will be as meaningless as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Alas that this precious treasure is so lightly valued and so little sought by many who profess the faith!” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 169.
An object lesson
The value of the old violin
The auctioneer at the sale lifted up an old violin. It was scratched and splintered, and its strings were all loose. The auctioneer thought it had no value and did not want to waste much time with the old violin, but he lifted it with a smile: “How much will you offer, gentlemen?” he shouted. “We begin with … fifty dollars!”
“Fifty-five,” answered a voice. Then, “Sixty,” said another. “Sixty-five!” still another. “Seventy dollars,” offered a fourth.
Then from the corner of the room a white-haired man approached the auctioneer and picked up the little bow. With his handkerchief he dusted the old violin, tightened the loose strings, and began to play a melody as pure and sweet as an angel song.
As the music ceased, the auctioneer, in a calm and soft voice, asked: “How much for the old violin?” as he lifted it up together with the little bow.
“Five hundred, and who offers two-thousand dollars? Last offer: Who offers three thousand dollars? Only three thousand! Sold for three thousand dollars,” said the auctioneer.
People applauded, but some asked, “What increased the value of the violin?”
There was a quick reply: “It was the touch of the master’s hand.”
We also are like old musical instruments–dusty and broken, troubled and burdened with many problems and sins. But we are still valuable to our Lord; and if we will permit His hands to touch us, we may have peace with Him, our lives gaining precious value as He plays a lovely melody through us to His honor and for the blessing of others.