Sabbath School Lesson Review 2017 Quarter 4 Lesson 9
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 4 Lesson 9 Friday
But what about the “satisfying of justice,” and “the demands of the law?”
He died to satisfy the demands of the law. Now, what does the law demand? Well, the law seems to demand our love, which can’t be demanded anyway. There’s no way you can command love. And yet as Paul says, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Jesus said the same. Moses said the same. So does the law say, “You either love God, and love each other, or you will be executed in the most painful way known to our Heavenly Father?”
Some of our good Christian friends live under the awful weight of believing that God has said, “You either love and obey me, or you will be tortured in sulfurous flames for eternity.” That such good folk can still love God is a real tribute to them, not to God. This is an awesome burden to live under. And yet because they love Jesus, they still love and are still faithful. And they will be in the kingdom. And I think Jesus will love to introduce such people to the Father.
He’ll say, “Would you like to meet the Father?” And they’ll say, “Well, if you will go with us.” He says, “There’s no need, but I’ll go with you.” And what a marvelous surprise to millions of these people, to meet the Father in the kingdom, and discover that He is just as loving and gracious as the Son.
“There Is No Need to Be Afraid of God.” But “under the demands of law.” That belongs to a very legal conception of what has gone wrong in the universe, that what has gone wrong is that we have “broken the rules,” and the law demands that God execute us for breaking the rules. And Jesus died so that somehow God could justly forgive us even though we have broken the rules. I don’t think we have been able to make too much sense out of that.
But it goes along with the other one, “satisfying justice.” Whose justice? I have friends who say, “If God does not give Idi Amin several days in the fire, I will not regard him as a just God.” They have that feeling about the satisfaction of justice. And I think they really mean it, and I would respect them for that. I would love to relieve them of that burden. If I want to know why Jesus died, I should go right to the cross and watch him die and hear his cry and see how the Father is involved, and then fit that back into Scripture. I don’t see him fulfilling the requirements of a legal model.
It’s part of our problem, then, that we are taking models from our legal system here and trying to apply them to God. That’s a very good point, very much so. The “substitutionary,” that comes in, say more about that. The “vicarious.” That is, He died in our stead. He died as the substitution. In a way, it’s very true. I mean, either he dies or we die. However that’s where the comparison ends, because if God had let you and me and all other sinners die, all it would have done is prove the truthfulness of his warning, “If you sin, you will die.” And God could say to the universe, “Was I right? I said sinners would die, and look, they’re dead.”
But the universe would not have had answers to questions two and three. When Jesus died, there was no doubt in the minds of the universe that God was not killing his Son. They were clear about that. And the death of Christ answers the questions. So it’s not either us or him. His death was infinitely more significant than ours. But had he not died, then what else could God do but leave us to reap the consequences and we all would have died. So, in a sense, yes. He died in our stead, but beyond that there’s no comparison.
But not as a payoff. It’s not one or the other. It’s not his death is equal to all of ours. His death is infinitely more significant than the death of every sinful man or angel who has ever lived. The death of angels and men would not have answered the questions. If you say it’s just a simple satisfaction idea that doesn’t encompass what’s involved at all, does it? It makes it much too small. I think it puts God in a very bad light, and it doesn’t answer the questions of the great controversy. Many folk who prefer those understandings of the plan of salvation do not understand there has been a universe-wide great controversy over the character and government of God.
Even Luther, hero of the Christian world that he is, could not conceive of these larger issues because he couldn’t include the book of Revelation. Let alone Hebrews, James and Jude. And this has been the pattern through the years. Not many have seen the sixty-sixth book picture of a universe-wide controversy over the character and government of God. And so they have seen the death of Christ as primarily a plan just to save you and me, for which we are very grateful. It’s just that the larger view makes the cross much more significant.
There are many who have seen God’s law as a threat to our freedom. And many sincere individuals, Christians who have felt that somehow God’s law was something from which they wanted to be free. For example, I’ve heard the Romans 10:4 text mentioned so often: “Christ is the end of the law.” Doesn’t that mean real freedom from the law? Wouldn’t that be the answer to the problem of the law being a hindrance to our freedom? “Christ is the end of the law.”
We don’t have to love and behave anymore. We can be disorderly and live in chaos? Well, what does that text mean? Yes, that’s the thing. The text needs to be analyzed, first for the words and then for the context. First of all, the word “end.” Now, a rare meaning is the purpose of the law, but I doubt that’s the meaning in the context. I think it means termination, all right. Law does not have an article in front of it, meaning any particular law. Although, whether the article is there or not is not totally convincing in the context.
You’ve got to read the whole setting. In the setting, Paul all the way through the book of Romans is contrasting the obedience that springs from love and trust, and the obedience that springs from law. And the obedience that springs from law is often the obedience that comes from fear, and that even turns us into rebels as we obey. So he comes to 10:4. It’s interesting—10:4—doesn’t that mean the end of something in radio communications? “Ten-four,” “Christ is the ten-four.” The meaning is “Christ is the termination of law as a way of being saved.” It’s the end of legalism, is what that means. Phillips has a marvelous rendering of that. “Christ means the end of the struggle for righteousness by works of law, that everyone who has faith in God may be saved.” That’s beautifully done.
“When Christ came to the world and took on human flesh, did he take on sinful flesh in essence or vicariously?” The question of Jesus and his humanity, what was his humanity, I think ties in here in an important way. Well, I’ll cite Paul for that. He said, “Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin.” I think really what’s behind this is, can we really look to Jesus as an example of the perfection that we should have?
Yes, I think that’s right.
But was he exactly like us? There are some interesting differences. He was born of the Holy Spirit. And I might be sixty-five before I’m born of the Holy Spirit. So when I’m reborn, I’ve got sixty-five years of bad habits to fight with for the rest of my life. Jesus never acquired a bad habit. The only way you can get a bad habit is to do something bad, which he never did. And you say, “Well, then he’s not an example for me.”
How low do we want him go? Do we want him to wallow in the gutter as a wino, so that he can be an example as to how you can get out of the gutter? I don’t want Jesus to be more and more like me. I want to be more and more like him. So he came in human form in the likeness of sinful flesh using no power that is not available to us. And he showed that even little boys can be good. And you can grow up good like that. And you say, “Well, I had bad habits.” “Look,” he says, “I’m your Physician; I understand. I’ll be very patient. And I guarantee I’ll help you get over all of those things. Just trust me.”
So how many things do we want him to do more than he did? He’s enough of an example to show how we could have lived. Well, we didn’t. What will he do with us now? He’s the Physician, and he knows exactly what it’s like to go through what we are going through. And so you can count on him to be patient. You say, “Well, I guess that means the Father isn’t just as patient.” No, Jesus came to show how patient the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are. I think sometimes we run into problems when we raise the wrong questions about what he came to tell us, what he came to show us.
If interested to follow our Sabbath School Lesson 2017 commentary online at Facebook, you may do so here;
Sabbathschoolquarterly.com is an independent ministry and is not part of, affiliated with, or supported by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists®, or any affiliates known as the Seventh-day Adventist® Church. Thus, any content or opinions expressed, implied or included in or with the use of the Sabbath School Quarterly offered by sabbathschoolquarterly.com are solely those of sabbathschoolquarterly.com and not those of the Seventh-day Adventist® Church.