Commentary on "Confidence"
Day 6: Thursday, September 3, 2009
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:20-21 (NIV)
The confidence that the Son has come so that we may know God is emphasized in this lesson. The author acknowledges that it is more than head knowledge and includes "a close connection with God." He speaks of the interchangeability in understanding that what has been said of the Father can also be said of the Son. The characteristic of truth is pointed to as being an essential attribute of Father and Son.
The second section of today's lesson suggests John may have been equating false conceptions of Jesus with idolatry since the whole book addresses the problem of heretical views of Christ in the church. In this sense they were worshipping false gods and not the one true God.
One of the quotations cited from Ellen White is from The Ministry of Healing, p. 409. "Knowledge of God…alone can make us like God in character… Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God. This knowledge is the essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come."
Commentary on the Lesson
Having a true knowledge of God is one of the greatest privileges we have been given. It's nearly inconceivable that God has not only made it possible to know Him, but has called us friends, family and joint heirs. He has, through his Spirit, come closer even than that by dwelling in us in ways we can only guess at. He is closer to us than we can be to each other as human beings. Paul encouraged the church members in Ephesus to plumb the depths of unrestricted possibilities for intimacy as he prayed, "that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:19 (NIV) What could that be like? What could we experience if we surrendered fully to being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God? Our imaginations are too small. Our pursuits of desire are constricted in comparison with what God longs for in our relationships with Him. He holds out the invitation for us to be able to say, "The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back." Isaiah 50:4-5 (NIV) He says to us, "'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" Jer 33:3 (NIV) He takes joy in coming close enough to kiss us with the kisses of His lips. If only we will.
The knowledge of God that Ellen White described above was not about intimacy, but character. It was not about love, but performance. The results of a person's knowledge of God, in her mind, leads to: "transformed character, purity of life, efficiency in service an adherence to correct principles." It is these results of knowledge that she proposes are the "essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come." There is nothing objectionable about those traits, but they fall far short of God's true motivation in His saving relationship with us. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4 (NIV) "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation." Psalms 149:3-4 (NIV) When was the last time you danced for Him because He delights in you?
The equation: knowledge of God = transformed character is missing an important factor. We are not transformed by knowledge, but by the Holy Spirit. It is not an intellectual pursuit but a spiritual one. At rebirth we become a new creation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Cor 5:17 (NIV) That new creation is a completely changed relationship with Christ in which we are seen by Him as perfect. From that point on, it is not our "adherence to correct principles" that defines our interaction with Him, but our trust in the One who has saved us and transformed us by His grace. "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation." Gal 6:15 (NIV) Once we enter in to that relationship we are saved; we have eternal life. The side-effect is transformation thru His Spirit. "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13 (NIV) "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Cor 3:17-18 (NIV)
Contrary to Ellen White's conception of what prepares us for the life to come, it is faith in Jesus Christ. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24 (NIV)
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