Friday, December 8, 2017

God's Prerogative

God's Prerogative

In the late 1980's a young singer released a song called "My Prerogative."   Some the lyrics of the song, I believe summarized, the attitude of most in the world when it comes to how they make decisions about how they live their life.  Following are the lyrics I am referring to,

Everybody's talking all this stuff about me 
Now now why don't they just let me live 
Oh oh oh i don't need permission 
Make my own decisions oh 
That's my prerogative

It says, "How I choose to live my life is my decision.  I can do what I want to do, without having to answer to no one.  People should mind their own business."  That is what the word prerogative has come to mean.  The dictionary defines prerogative defined as a right or privilege exclusive to a particular individual or class; an exclusive or special right, power, or privilege.  Also, one belonging to an office or an official body, one belonging to a person, group, or class of individuals or one possessed by a nation as an attribute of sovereignty.  The word comes from the Latin praerogativa, which in turn comes from the word praerogare which meant to ask for an opinion before another or "to ask before others," (from præ-  "before" + rogare  "to ask").  So the word prerogative, used as a noun, originally referred to the one who was asked first.  It seemed that the ones asked first got used to it, felt important, and thought that this is the way it should always be.   You can see how if everyone is asking you for your opinion first, you can begin to feel as if you do not have to ask others for their opinion.  Therefore, they can do whatever they want without any repercussion.   However, they tend to do so irresponsibly, arbitrary and whimsically. 

In chapter 9 of Romans we see God stating that He acts according to His prerogative.  Let us read certain texts where God speaks of this,

Rom9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Rom9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
 
God not only tells us that He acts according to His prerogative but in the following verses asks those who dare to question Him,

Rom9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Rom9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
 
Is it that God does not like questions?  Or, is it that God does not like to be questioned?  Is there a difference?  God wants to be trusted as the true and only "praerogativa."  He wants us to go to Him first.  The issue is not asking questions, but not trusting Him.  The issue is not so much that God does not like to be questioned as much as that when we do not trust Him we harm ourselves and others more than what we think.  As it says in our teacher's comments for this lesson, "When humans try to frustrate God's purposes, God never loses; only disobedient humans lose out. Therefore, when He chose to save our world, the outcome was never in doubt. Those who try to frustrate that pur­pose are the only losers."  Ellen White elaborates on this,

"No finite mind can fully comprehend the character or the works of the Infinite One. We cannot by searching find out God. To minds the strongest and most highly cultured, as well as to the weakest and most ignorant, that holy Being must remain clothed in mystery. But though 'clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judg­ment are the foundation of His throne.' Psalm 97:2, R.V. We can so far comprehend His dealing with us as to discern boundless mercy united to infinite power. We can understand as much of His purposes as we are capable of comprehending; beyond this we may still trust the hand that is omnipotent, the heart that is full of love."—Ellen G. White, Education, p. 169.

Paul echoes Ellen White's sentiments in Romans chapter 8, after telling us that we are in Christ in verse 17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ…"  He then proceeds to tell us that, "if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8: 17 – 18).  Paul encourages us to trust God's purpose even if we do not understand it.  Paul reminds us that nothing will separate us from the Love of God.  We read in Romans 8:
 
Rom8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Rom8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Rom8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 
In Christ God cast the first vote for us.  Let us cast our first vote for Christ.  Let us trust Him to finish His work until the end.

Friday, December 1, 2017

What's filling you?

What's filling you?

How is your freedom related to whom fills you?  To answer that question the teacher's comments on this week's lesson recommended reviewing the following story from last quarter's teacher's comments: 

Wind: Wake up, puppet head. You look like a pile of rags.
Puppet: I am a pile of rags, and I can't get up. The only way I can stand up is if someone wears me on his or her hand. Otherwise, I'm just what you see right now—a flop.
Wind: So?
Puppet: Well, I really don't want that grubby brat's hand to wear me again. I feel violated. He's always dirty and germy—never washes his hands. I'm already so filthy inside that I can't stand it.
Wind: Can't stand up either?
Puppet: It's horrible, and you don't have to rub it in. No, I can't stand it, and I can't stand. The only way I ever get up is when he's in control. Some choice: Whenever I get up and get noticed, it means he's in charge of my every move. It's nice hearing kids laugh, but deep inside I know I'm just getting dirty. Otherwise, I live like this, a total flop.
Wind: You don't have to.
Puppet: Oh, I used to think so. I used to think there was a way out. I saw another puppet, and he was free as a bird. He didn't need the help of a hand to stand up, and he moved through the air with the greatest of ease. He looked He looked so happy and free.
Wind: And?
Puppet: It was all an illusion. When I got closer I could see it. There was no grubby hand helping him stand, but he was all tied up. There were strings attached everywhere—mouth, hands, feet. I had such high hopes. I just crumbled back to the ground—shattered. There was no freedom after all.
Wind: But there is!
Puppet: Lies!
Wind: No, I mean it. My family business is setting puppets free to soar.
Puppet: (skeptically) Really? I can't even see you.
Wind: A little faith, how about it? What do you expect from the wind?
Puppet: Make your pitch.
Wind: A family member paid the price for all puppets to live . . . even while you were still flops. Now you can go anywhere you want.
Puppet: And how much does this cost?
Wind: Oh, it cost a ton! More than you could ever afford . . .
Puppet: Figures!
Wind: . . . but it's free to you. A grant from the family foundation took care of it.
Puppet: No! Really?
Wind: Really. And all you have to do is let me live inside you, and I'll clean out all of Grubby's dirty germs. . . . Don't worry, we only use nonchlorine bleach, since it's gentler.
Puppet: Really? Oh, I'll try anything. Do it! . . . Now! . . . Oh . . . I don't believe it . . . I didn't mean that—I really do . . . I'm filling up . . . I'm soaring . . . I'm free!

The puppet never had control, really.  But, he did not like dirty hands controlling him.  He also did not want strings attached to him.  To be free from the grubby hands and be cleansed from the dirt the hands left inside he had to let the wind fill him up and let the wind help him fly; this meant that the puppet yielded its will to the wind.  The wind was in control now.  Thus the puppet served the wind. 

Clearly, the Puppet represents us.  The puppet handlers could be said to be either Sin or the Devil.  Thus, The Wind represents the Holy Spirit (John 3: 5 - 8).  The Family is the Godhead. The other family member is Christ.  The money of the family foundation is the blood of Jesus.  

Before the Holy Spirit comes along we are just as the puppet, controlled (enslaved) by Sin.  As the puppet, we can neither cleanse ourselves nor free ourselves from Sin.  Our lesson asks, what frees a person from slavery to sin? Then asks us to read, Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

The expression "The law of the Spirit of life" in this verse means Christ's plan for saving humanity.   This law stands in contrast with "the law of sin and death," which Paul described in chapter 7 as the law by which sin ruled, the end of which was death. Christ's law instead brings life and freedom. So what does Christ's fill us with so that this "law of the Spirit of Life" become effective in us?   It is evident that it is the Holy Spirit.  This is whom Christ sent to us to give a testimony of Him and convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 15:26; 16:8).  It is this Spirit, our Comforter, who dwells in us to cleanse us from Sin and free us from the serving the Law of Sin and death.  

Paul elaborates on this concept in Romans 8,

Romans 8: 4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8: 5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Romans 8: 6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 
Romans 8: 7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Romans 8: 8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8: 9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Romans 8: 10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Notice that in verses 9 and 10 Paul makes the indwelling of Christ and the Indwelling of the Spirit the same thing.  So, to be free from the slavery of Sin we must be filled with whom can free us from Sin, The Holy Spirit.  However, just as the puppet had to let the wind fill it, we must allow the Holy Spirit fill us.  Are you allowing Him?  Is He filling you?

Friday, November 24, 2017

She needs a Savior

She needs a Savior
 
After a shipwreck in the middle of the Ocean, a female survivor is stranded in the waters.  She has no food and no drinking water.  She also does not know where she is.  Imagine her in the vastness of the ocean how small and insignificant she must feel.  She can swim, but she would not know where.  No amount of swimming could save her.  The nearest land is who knows where.  The boat's staff sent a distress signal before the ship sank.  Her only hope is that someone hears the signal answers it and comes to her rescue.  She knows that without being rescued her only fate is death.  When she no longer has the energy to swim she will drown.  Of course, the fact that she is immersed in salt water and exposed to the sun does not help her chances of survival.  Staying in one place can be dangerous, but swimming away may lessen her opportunity to be discovered by the rescuers.  It is indeed a dilemma.  
 
Now, let us say that the rescuers do find her (before she dies) she still has to consent to be saved.  When the rescuers come, she must do as they say.  Ignoring them or fighting against them will not help them rescue her.  The mere presence of the rescuer will not save her.   
 
The woman at the beginning of Romans 7 is in a similar situation.  As long as she is married to her current husband, she will die.  Let us read this passage,
 
Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Romans 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
 
The woman may be willing to stay in her current situation until she meets a new man.  There is something about the new man that makes her see the reality of her present condition.  She realizes that if she remains in her current marriage, she will end up dying eternally.  She needs someone to be rescued.  The only way she can escape eternal death is to be the with the new man.  But, how can she do this without breaking the law?  That is her dilemma.
 
The woman is bound to her husband until he dies.  So, to be free and continue to live he must die.  So, now she wants to leave her current husband but cannot do it legally.   Divorce is out of the question because that would be adultery.  Killing the current husband is also not an option because that would be murder.  The new man gives her a third solution.  She goes into Him, He dies, and she dies with Him since she is inside Him.  He will be resurrected and since she is in Him, she will be resurrected with Him.  The  previous thought is what Paul is talking about in Romans 6: 3 – 7,
 
Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Romans 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
 
When the couple - who are now they are two in one - dies,  they are freed from Sin.  Therefore, when they are resurrected the Law can no longer bind them to the "old man" or "body of Sin."  They are now under grace, not under the law.  They can now be married legally.  How does this relate to us?  We are the woman in need of rescuing.  The issue is we cannot save ourselves.  It does not matter how much we try we cannot do it.  Jesus is our only rescuer.  Only He can save us.  He has already saved us in Himself.  But, for this salvation to become a reality in us we must consent to be saved by Him.  Ignoring Him or fighting against him will not help Him save you.  The mere presence of Christ will not save you. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Even Grace Has Limits

Even Grace Has Limits 

In Numbers 21, the people of Israel murmured against God, and God sent serpents to bite them. 

Num21:5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
Num21:6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Num21:7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
Num21:8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Num21:9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

God had given the people manna, a gift to them from heaven.  This gift they did not appreciate, but despised it.  So the Lord allowed serpents to come in the camp and bite the people.  Of course, the people were dying of the serpent bites.  Somehow they made a connection between the serpents and their Sin.  So, they asked Moses to pray to God for delivery.  Thus, God tells Moses to build a brazen serpent and put it on a pole, those who looked at the serpent on the pole would not die.  

God did not get rid of the serpents, or even stopped the serpents from biting.  God wanted the people to exercise faith.  The issue was: would they believe that in looking at the brazen serpent the poison would not be effective?   If they looked, they would live.  (There is no mention of what would happen with the bite marks.  It is possible that the bite marks would remain.) 

The brazen serpent was for all the people in the camp.  But, only those who looked when bitten would be delivered.  Did they deserve it?  No, not one person in the camp deserved to be delivered (Romans 3: 10 – 12).  God did this because He loved the people.  This gesture toward them displayed God's grace.  He gave all of them this gift of life, even when they did not deserve it.  But, just because God gave this gift to all, it did not mean that all would spare all of the effects of the poison in their bodies.  Those who chose not to believe would not look therefore they would die.  In this case, God's grace could not deliver those bitten from dying.   There was no cure for rejecting the remedy.  Suddenly grace has limits.  Those who refuse the grace that can save them will find that there is no grace for dismissing the grace.  

We may get the impression from Romans 5:20 to 6:2 that grace covers all sin.  But that is not the case.  Let us read it the passage,

 Rom5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Those who are of the belief that the more they sin, the more grace abounds - if they continue on that path - forget that at some point they will commit the Unpardonable Sin.  Jesus talks about this Matthew 12: 31 -32,

Matthew 12:31-32 (King James Version)
31Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

The Unpardonable Sin is the point where you have gone beyond repentance.  You no longer will respond the Holy Spirit's invitation for you to open the door to Him.   Christ did not die for that Sin.  And, while the law may expose that Sin, grace will not abound as far.  This Sin is rejecting the grace that can save you.  Put in different words: there is no remedy for rejecting the remedy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sewed from Jesus

Sewed from Jesus 
 
A woman went to buy a new dress.  She went first to a high-end store.  She saw a dress she liked.  She tried on the dress, and it fit her very well, but it cost more than what she wanted to pay.  So she went into a store with more affordable prices.  She saw what seemed to be the exact dress; in fact, it was the same brand.  But it was not quite as attractive as the first one nor did it fit as well.  "How can this be? She asked herself.   Was it all in her mind?

She was puzzled by this so she decided that before buying anything that she would investigate.  She contacted the company.  They told her that on the label, there is a number; the lower the number, the better the quality of the dress.  Some details went into the production of the lower number dresses that the manufacturer did not consider in the higher number dresses.  Sometimes it was the kind and color of thread used or the kind of stitch.  Other times it was how they cut the fabric, etc.  Two things that seem identical were not.

I find a similarity in our works. Works by faith and works from your effort may seem similar. But works of faith are different from works done in our strength. Let's consider Abraham as an example.  We know Paul opens Romans 5 with this declaration.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

The word "therefore" tells us that this statement is referring to what was said before in chapter 4.  Paul says of Abraham in chapter 4 verse 3,

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul used the Greek word episteusen, which comes from the word pistis for faith or belief. In essence, it is saying that Abraham had faith. We know that faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Abraham heard God's Word and believed it. When we replace "believe" with other definitions of faith, we get a better feel of what this means. Abraham heard God's word and felt appreciation in his heart. He heard God's word and trusted the word to do what it said it would; he waited and depended on the Word alone. God's word to Abraham was the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. As a result of his belief in God's Word, Abraham was one of the elders that obtained a good report, and he pleased God (Hebrews 11:1, 2, 6).

 The second part of Romans 4:3 says that His belief was counted unto him for righteousness. What is righteousness? Ellen White defines it as obedience to the law (1 Selected Messages, p. 367). We replace the word righteousness with the definition Ellen White provides and it reads, "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for obedience to the law."  In believing God's word, Abraham obeyed the law.  Abraham's righteousness (obedience to the law) came from exercising faith in God's word.

The previous thought gives context to Romans 5:1, where Paul reiterates what he explained in chapter 4.  Translators have interpreted it as "Therefore being justified by faith."  But, the transliterated Greek rendering of Romans 5: 1 seems to say, "Being-justified then out of-belief."  We know that the word justified means made righteous.  So we could interpret it as, "Being made righteous out of faith" -- thus there is a kind of faith that makes us righteous or obedient to the law.  Ellen White expresses the same thought in the following quote,

 Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinners account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of mans failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. (Ellen G. White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 367)

The prophet Isaiah tells us that, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Our righteousness falls short of the law's requirement.  We need a righteousness that is perfect since the law requires perfection.  Ellen White states that Christ's righteousness is what we are given to satisfy the laws demand of perfection. We have stated thus far that the only way to get this righteousness is by faith. Can our filthy faith produce a perfect righteousness?  The answer is obviously, "No, it cannot." Therefore we must obtain a faith that is perfect. That faith is the faith of Jesus. When we accept His faith, it produces in us His righteousness. This faith of Jesus is what characterized Abraham. It is the faith that those who overcome and endure until the end will have (Revelation 14:12).

Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul says that "…whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).  Only works wrought from faith are righteous.  So, just like the difference in the dresses, the works of those who have the faith of Jesus may look similar to those who do not, but there is a difference.  The former is built and sewed from Jesus, the latter from sinful flesh.  Furthermore, the character of those who have the faith of Jesus will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. The question is which dress do we want to be?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Commentary: Elusive Righteousness

Elusive Righteousness
 
The Word elusive means: difficult to find, catch, or achieve; difficult to remember or recall; to elude capture, perception, comprehension, or memory; difficult to define or describe; be difficult to detect or grasp by the mind.  We use this word to describe something that may seem within grasp, but yet we can never reach it.  It could be used for that promotion or raise you never get.  In some organizations, a specific landmark amount of members is never reached.  It can be used for a fugitive or criminal that is hard to catch.  It is also used for a particular animal that is hard to hunt or fish.
 
There is a metaphor used in an old Spanish love song that I think illustrates this point well.  To tell the lover his or her love will always be unrequited, the singer makes this statement,
 
"The sea and the sky look equally blue
and in the distance, they seem to meet and unite,
better remember that the sky is always sky
that never, never will the sea reach."
 
The point is obvious, "As the sky is elusive to the sea, so am I to you."
 
God's ways are higher than ours.  God says through Isaiah "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).  In the above metaphor, we are the sea, and the Lord is the sky.  We will never reach God.  That is why God sent His Son to reach us.  So anything from God is unattainable for us unless it is through Jesus.  That is why Paul says that "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).  The word justified means to be made righteous; this means that man is made righteous by faith and not by attempting to obey the law in his strength.  Paul is saying that your effort to obey the law on your own will be futile and therefore you will never be righteous.  Righteousness will be elusive in your strength.  The more you try, the harder it gets to reach it. 
 
But, Paul makes it clear that being justified by faith does not make the law void, on the contrary, it exalts the law (Romans 3:31).  Then He uses Abraham as an example of how justification by faith works.  Paul says of Abraham,
 
Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
 
Abraham was no exception in regards to how to become righteous.  It was not on his strength, but by faith.  He believed God's Word and this believing the Word was counted to Him as righteousness.  Ellen White says that Righteousness is obedience to the law (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 367); this means that when Abraham believed God's word, it was counted unto Him as obedience to the law.  It was faith that made Abraham a doer of the Law.  And, so it is with us. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Justification by Faith

Justification by Faith

Imagine with me: a man was suffering with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. Things seemed to progress as testing showed his tumor had decreased in size. Before the tumor had definitively disappeared, his oncologist ended his chemo treatments. Puzzled and bewildered, the man asked himself several questions, "Did I miss something?" "Why would my doctor do such a thing?" "Is this regular protocol?" "Did things get worse all of a sudden?" "If this is the case, how long do I have to live?"
 
Confused, the man asked to speak to his doctor for an explanation as to why he stopped the treatments. The man could not believe the doctor's response, "You do not require any more chemotherapy because I have declared your cancer (to be) in remission.  As far as I am concerned you have no more tumors. I declare you, 'healed.'"  As the doctor completed his explanation, the man, who was initially curious, turned disbelieving and then progressively angry. He yelled, "Are you insane? If the tumors aren't gone, how can you declare me anything?" I daresay, most of us would have a similar response. This scenario begs the question, would you rather be declared healed or would you prefer to actually be healed?
 
The popular interpretation of justification by faith is that we are declared righteous, not made righteous. How does God really work this -- is the thing really true because He declares it so, or does He declare it because it is true? Does God declare something without it being true? Unlike our Doctor from the story above, God is not insane. God does not declare things unless they already are. One example of this is in Genesis 1 (for another example cf father Abraham). At almost every stage of Creation God saw that what He did was good. At the end, in Genesis 1:31, He declared it again,
 
            God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
 
This concept of only declaring could be in part from the definition of righteous. According to a previous Sabbath School lesson, 
 
What is this idea of "justifying," as found in the text? The Greek word dikaioo, translated justify, may mean "make righteous," "declare righteous" or "consider righteous." The word is built on the same root as dikaiosune, "righteousness," and the word dikaioma, "righteous requirement." Hence, there is a close connection between "justification" and "righteousness," a connection that doesn't always come through in various translations. We are justified when we are "declared righteous" by God.
 
Before this justification, a person is unrighteous, and thus unacceptable to God; after justification, he or she is regarded as righteous, and thus acceptable to Him.
 
You will notice that the author(s) of the lesson chose "declare righteous" instead of "make righteous."  The question again is, would you rather be declared righteous or made righteous? (Which is more accurate?) Especially, since God is fully capable of making us righteous. Ellen White makes reference to this issue in the following quote,
 
"Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son."—Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 367. 
 
"...Everything was lost by sin; man forfeited his title to every blessing. It is only by divine grace, through the infinite sacrifice of Christ that we could be reinstated in the favor of God, and be permitted to enjoy His gifts. We are not our own. Christ has bought us with His precious blood, and we belong to Him."
RH Dec. 14, 1886 par. 8.
 
Being that God is able to make us righteous we can interpret the text from Romans chapter 3 as, "Therefore we conclude that a man is made righteous by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).  The question is will we let Him?
 
~Raul Diaz