Boasting in the Cross
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 14th Sabbath Afternoon
Memory Text – Galatians 6: 14, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the work has been crucified to me, and I to the world….Galatians 6:15 adds, “…what counts is a new creation.”
Jeremiah 9:23, 24,”This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delights,’ declares the Lord.”
Does the cross help to give us the understanding to know God?
How do we understand the word Justice as quoted in Jeremiah? Is it delivering the oppressed or punishing the oppressor?
Would we boast about the doctor we had found who had:
- Kindness: The ability to show compassion
- Justice: The ability to correctly diagnose
- Righteousness: The ability to restore the terminally ill to health and life
But to some of us, the cross is great good news. Yes it is true that sinners Genesis 2:17 says “Dying they will die”, but we have no need to be afraid of God; and he died to prove it. And this message has great power to win to repentance and to trust. Paul was so proud of this good news.
Look at his understanding of it in 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel [what is the Gospel, the good news, about?]. And not with eloquent wisdom lest the cross of Christ [that’s the Gospel], be emptied of its power [this good news has great power]. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (RSV)
Now compare with that Romans 1:16, that very famous righteousness by faith verse:
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel [this good news]: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith . . . [wherein lies the power?] for in it the righteousness of God is revealed.” (RSV)
The good news is that God is not the unrighteous kind of person his enemies have made him out to be. And it’s so wonderful to see all through the Bible that even before the cross God had good friends who trusted him always to do the right thing, the merciful thing, and they were proud to know him and proud to speak about him to others.
Look at Jeremiah 9:24:
“Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.” (NIV)
Jeremiah was able to repeat those words with feeling long before the cross. But now such confidence in God has been confirmed by the way Jesus suffered and died. And among God’s friends, whether angels or men, this meaning of the cross will have power to hold God’s great family together in loyalty and in peace forever.
What i’m saying, is that Jesus died primarily to say something about God, to make the truth about God clear to us. But what about the appeal that I can remember from a little child, a very moving appeal, that Jesus died for you? Jesus died for me. And the songs that we sing; and that wonderful thought that if I had been the only one who had responded, Jesus would have come all the way and gone through it all just for me! How do we bring that together?
I still believe in that, and I think God would want us to rejoice in that. And I think it’s understandable that as beginners, perhaps, we tend to be preoccupied with our own salvation and what God has done for me, and you, and others. But as one learns to read the Bible as a whole and get this larger view of the whole great controversy, one realizes that the all important thing is the settling of these issues in the great controversy. It’s the establishing of the truth that would confirm the peace of the universe for all eternity.
Fortunately, what God says about himself is what makes it worthwhile being saved. Until God has established the fact that he is not the kind of person his enemies have made him out to be, there will be no security. We’ll be saved in a universe of conflict. So first this must be settled. But fortunately, it includes you and me. It’s not one or the other. It isn’t one or the other. It’s that the good news about what Jesus has done for me is in this larger setting. In fact, the way he has sought to win you and me is the way in which he has won the war. So we can’t leave one or the other out. It’s the same task, the same mission.
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