Friday, April 19, 2019

Samson vis a vis Christ

Samson vis a vis Christ

Today we learn a new expression. Today's phrase is "vis a vis." It is a word that originates from the French language. It means face to face. But other uses include:  as opposed to, compared with or concerning. Let us apply it to this week's lesson. Let us put Samson face to face with Christ, to see how they compare and how they contrast or oppose each other. 

Let us look first at the similarities, or how they compare. 
1. In both cases, the parents were visited by angels before the baby's birth to prepare them for the parenting of their respective children.  Also, in both cases, the angel spoke first to the mother and afterward to the father. And, in both cases, the angel gave information as to what the babies' mission would be. (Judges 13: 3-14; Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18 – 25). 
2. Both Samson and Christ performed supernatural things because they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Judges 14:6, 19; Luke 4:1, 14). 
3. Both were persecuted by their enemies (Judges 16:2; Matthew 26:4; John 7:1).
4. Both were betrayed for money (Judges 16:5; Matthew 26:15).
5. Both were asked to perform for mockery (Judges 26:15; Luke 23:8).
6. Both died for the sake of others (Judges 13:5, 16: 28 -31; Romans 5:6, 8; 14:9; 1 Corinthians 15:3).

Now let us look at the contrasts or how they oppose each other.
1. Where Samson was indulgent, Christ was the epitome of temperance. Not that Christ was as strict as John the Baptist was in eating. However, Christ knew no woman. Samson fornicated or slept around.
2. Samson was presumptuous; Christ never dared to presume (Judges 16:20; Mat 4: 6, 7).
3. Samson gave himself the glory for his strength; Christ always gave the glory to the Father (Judges 16:16, 17; John 8: 28, 10: 25). 
4. Samson's good deeds including his death could not save humanity from Sin; Christ's death did save humanity, including Samson.

Yes, Samson left a lot to be desired. He was indulgent, presumptuous, and a seeker of pleasure. However, God never gave up on him. And, neither does God give up on us. After all, we are no better than Samson. It would be easy for us to look back at Samson and say "Samson should have known better." Samson knew, and it was not enough. We, too, can know also and it will be not enough. I remember the old expression, "There go I, but for the grace of God." And, yes maybe you will not sleep around, but the Devil has plenty of other temptations in his arsenal for us. The bottom line is that only Christ can deliver us. We have this promise "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). And another one, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God answered Samson's prayer to destroy the temple and kill everyone in it. Not once is God heard saying, "Why do you come to me now? Did I not warn you enough? You are on your own, buddy." No. God stayed true to His love for Samson. And, so He does with us, as Paul says in Hebrews 7: 25, 

Hebrews 7: 25 Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Samson repented and turned to God, and God was waiting. Will we repent and turn to Him? He is also waiting for us.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Jesus, Creator of Heaven and Earth

Jesus, Creator of Heaven and Earth

Memory text:  Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Text for this week has implications worth examining.  It says that there was a beginning and that God was there already.  So, God is before everything.  Moreover, everything that exists, except for Him,  He created it.  The phrase 'In the beginning" reminds me of John 1: 1 -3,

John 1:1-3
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

This text is expanding on Genesis 1.  We know that the term "the Word" refers to Jesus.  So, the verse specifically says that out of the three persons of the Godhead it was Christ who created; this is not to say that the other two were not capable.  They just had other roles.  In verse 3 we see that everything was made through Him.  By this, we mean that Christ created out of nothing.  Christ did not transform previously existing material.  Christ created matter; not energy.  Christ Himself is energy.  This concept is further is repeated in Heb 11:3 "…so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."   Colossians 1: 15 – 17 repeats what John 1 says,

Colossians 1: 15 – 17
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Christ holds all He created together.  He sustains His creation.  The same power used to create is the same power used to support.  So, while nature reveals the glory of God, it is still by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Heb 11:3).  We believe it because God says so.  Also, when we look at Nature, we see it reveals what God has said.  Thus, it increases our faith.  The latter part of the clause states that creation was by the Word of God; Psalms  33; 6, 9 confirms this,

Psalm 33:6, 9
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

Jeremiah 51:15  adds that God's word has power, " He has made the earth by His power."  Now, Paul makes a connection between Christ as creator and Christ as redeemer.  Let's go back to Colossians 1.  It says Christ is "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins ... For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1: 16, 16).  Paul seems to imply that the reason Christ can redeem is because He is the Creator.  Is there a relationship between the two?  Ellen White thinks so.  Remember the creator is also sustainer.  So she says,

The same power that upholds nature, is working also in man. The same great laws that guide alike the star and the atom control human life. The laws that govern the heart's action, regulating the flow of the current of life to the body, are the laws of the mighty Intelligence that has the jurisdiction of the soul. From Him all life proceeds. Only in harmony with Him can be found its true sphere of action. For
all the objects of His creation the condition is the same--a life sustained by receiving the life of God, a life exercised in harmony with the Creator's will. To transgress His law, physical, mental, or moral, is to place one's self out of harmony with the universe, to introduce discord, anarchy, ruin. {Ed 99.2}

Christ is Redeemer by virtue of His power as Creator.  If He were not Creator, He could not be Redeemer.  Several verses refer to redemption as an act of Creation.  The Psalmist prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10). The apostle says, that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17) or a new creation. We read, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: ... For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

The Bible joins Creation and redemption by an inseparable connectionn. It takes nothing less than creative energy to redeem us. The power by which Jesus saves us from sin is the power by which He created the worlds. In Rev 14:6, seven the everlasting gospel and creation are connected. The same is true in Col 1:14‑16 where forgiveness, redemption, and creation are linked. Likewise, verses 16 and 20 in Rom 1 teach that the power of God in the gospel is the power that creates. The gospel is Christ crucified, buried, and raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:1-4). The cross – Christ crucified – is the creative power of God applied to men for salvation (1 Cor 1:18, 23,24). The everlasting gospel, as the creative power of God, will be preached in all the world.  Any gospel that leaves out creation is "another gospel," which is no gospel at all. It is powerless. Any gospel that does not preach the creative power of God, as seen in the things that He has made to live, is no gospel at all. The gospel saves us, and comforts us, and sustains us by the power of creation.

Creation and redemption have the same purpose regarding man. In the beginning, God created man in His image (Gen 1:26, 27). Then sin entered. Was God caught off guard, when this occurred?  Was the plan of redemption an afterthought? Never. Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" and before that "was foreordained" to die for us (Rev 13:8; 1 Pet 1:18-20). As soon as there was sin, there was the cross of the crucified  Christ. Christ was made to be sin itself – the curse – in order to redeem us from it (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13).

The plan of redemption is carrying out of God's original plan of creation – that you and I should be made in the image of God (Rom 8:29). Redemption is brought about through God's creative power of the cross. Redemption is a new creation. Coming to Christ, uniting with Christ, being in Christ, by faith, makes you and me new creatures (2 Cor 5:17). How is this brought about?

Christ created the worlds through the power of His word (Psa 33:6, 9; Heb 11:3). He re-creates us anew by the power of that same word; This is the new birth (James 1:18; 1 Pet 1:23). His word is full of life and exceedingly powerful (Heb 4:12). David realized the close relationship between creation and redemption when he prayed "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psa 51:10). God promises to give us a new heart in answer to this kind of prayer (Eze 36:25‑28); This is the creation of righteousness and true holiness within us (Eph 4:23,24).