Tag Archives: Will

Jesus’ Unfair Advantage

It’s fascinating that Jesus was born with His will surrendered to God. He was born obedient. Hebrews 10:7 says that He said, “I have come to do your will, O God.” In other words, His only purpose for existence was to do God’s will, to be obedient to Him. He turned His will over to the Father before He left Heaven to come to Earth to be a human. (See the Thursday lesson from last week.)

Comparing Jesus Sinning to Crashing a Bike

We’re each born with a will that is turned away from God in rebellion, but Jesus was born with a will that was turned toward God. Of course, He still had a free will so He freely chose to obey God and could have chosen to turn away from God if He wanted.

But it would have taken a special effort for Jesus to turn toward sin, whereas each of us is born with a natural tendency to turn to sin. For Jesus, His life was like a man riding down the street on a bicycle who could choose to suddenly wrench the handlebars to the side and go flying off his bike, but he has his balance and has no desire to injure himself.

Jesus’ Unfair Advantage is Good News for Us

I think C.S. Lewis wrote that analogy. He also wrote that some people say Jesus had an unfair advantage, that He wasn’t on a level playing field with us. Well, Lewis writes that if you’re drowning, flailing around in some white water rapids and you can’t reach the shore under your own power and someone on the shore who is standing on a solid rock throws you a rope, you wouldn’t want to refuse their help because they have an advantage over you.

If everything were fair and equal they would be flailing in the water themselves and not be able to help you. If you’re going to be helped, you need someone who has a special advantage. It’s not about fairness.

Jesus’ Life Wasn’t a Test Run

Some people who don’t understand Christianity very well say that Jesus came to Earth to test if it were possible to live a good life. But Moses, Elijah, Joseph, and people in other cultures had already lived good lives.

The infinite, all-powerful God didn’t set aside all His powers and come to Earth and get tortured to death as an experiment! He wasn’t unsure about it; He didn’t think, “Well, this might not work out — oh, well, I’ll try it anyway.”

No. Philippians 2:8 says He only came to Earth to be obedient and to die on the Cross in order to do something new, to do more than just teach morality.

He was protected by angels. He had the Holy Spirit in His life at His conception, at the start of His ministry and throughout every single day. As we discussed before, He was perfectly obedient because He gave His will over to His Father before being born. But He was on a mission! He was doing all of it to redeem humans — you and me — not to give life a test drive.

The Danger of Treating Jesus Only as a Moral Example

If people think Jesus came to Earth just to try to live a good life, that encourages them to try to be good in their own strength without relying on God. But that’s impossible. Even just to repent of sins, we need a special act of Divine power — just to ask for forgiveness and for help! The prideful heart of a natural human doesn’t want to ask for help or to admit to being wrong.

Our repentance is not our own virtue shining through; no, it’s actually a miracle from God that is made possible through Jesus’ life. We also need His power to be born again, to be a new creation, as the Bible promises, and to keep growing every day.

So it doesn’t make sense to think that Jesus is just a guy who lived a good life and is a good example to us. No, through His blood and His grace, which are imparted to us through the Holy Spirit, we get the power to live a new type of life. His mission to Earth, His perfect obedience, was to accomplish that.

We don’t know exactly how it works — the Bible says even angels are interested in studying that mystery — but all Christians agree that it does work.

~Lemuel Bach
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)

 

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An Easy Way to See the Image of God

(This is a reaction to the February 10 bible study lesson at http://ssnet.org/lessons/13a/less07.html.)

Socialists have said that no one can meaningfully own modern products because they’re all made of materials mined in one country, sent by many people to some other country, combined with other materials from yet other countries, assembled by many other people, and then shipped to us. How can you really own something that has so much labor from so many other people in it? That’s what they say.

It’s interesting, but let’s not argue about whether it’s right or wrong right now. What’s more significant for Christians is that even if you build something yourself from wood you found in your own forest, it still belongs to God. And not in an abstract sense. It can’t be any other way. See, if you build a chair, you still didn’t create the atoms and molecules of it, and you can’t keep it in existence for even a moment. Without God’s attention, it would cease to exist.

Things can only continue existing if they are totally under God’s control, so He owns everything. No one else can hold their own possessions together; we have no absolute control over anything.

A radical, but Biblical, idea is that Nature is not an independent thing. The things we see happening in Nature are not, as we modern people normally think, some dead matter created millions of years ago that is traveling along lines dictated by natural laws. Instead, the Biblical model says that what we see in Nature is a direct action of God using Nature as a tool.

But that doesn’t mean that Nature is an independent tool that God likes to use just sometimes, on special occasions. No, Nature is a constant instrument of God that He plays without ceasing or it would not exist at all. Nature is practically an action of God that is continuously created by Him. (In a later post, I’m going to explain this radical picture of Nature found in the Bible more thoroughly.)

So then my point is that almost everything around us and in us, even our own deepest cells in our brains, are constantly being made and used and moved by God, in perfect obedience to Him.

Yet, somehow, there’s a part of the universe that doesn’t obey Him.

Everything else absolutely must be controlled by God every moment or it would do nothing at all. Everything in our reality moves only by God’s will. There’s no activity without Him. And yet the human will can choose contrary to God’s will.

That’s a real miracle. Sure, everything is a miracle all the time, but this on a different level. When a molecule of air bounces against another molecule, that’s because God’s infinite mind is telling those two molecules to do exactly that while also telling them to keep existing. They would not exist if He pulled back His command from them. So how do we have a part of us that can ignore His will while everything else in the universe can only exist at all in perfect obedience to His will?

It’s a mystery.

He has given us such a profound gift in that free will; it seems like it makes us more like Him, like it’s part of how we’re “made in the image of God.” Without it, we’d be the same as molecules of air in perfect obedience; with it, we can reject His love or return it freely.

~Lemuel Bach
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)