Three Angels' Messages Part 8

Welcome back to our study of the Three Angels’ Messages, God’s last appeal to Planet Earth. We’ve seen that the first angel is depicted as “having the everlasting gospel,” the evangelion, or “Good News,” and we’ve noted that God’s Good News can be viewed as an entire package, composed of three identifiable parts, which together form a comprehensive strategy for salvation. Last time we began to look at the first part of God’s plan for our redemption, how God announced in Eden that He would come to pay the price for our sins by dying on the cross.
The Old Testament is filled with confirmations of this wonderful Gift. God Himself covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve with garments He provided, made from skins of an animal, typifying the future atonement at Calvary to cover our inadequacies. God gave to His children the sanctuary service in the wilderness tabernacle and later the temple to foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
            This mercy has been extended to us in the life, death and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Sin-bearer of Calvary. His blood is sufficient to cover all our faults and defects. How do we receive it? How is it that His righteousness can be imputed to us? It is by exercising what the Bible calls faith, which is the capacity to believe. (In the Bible, “to have faith” is the same thing as “to believe.”) Faith itself is a gift from God: “He has given to all a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3. A “mustard seed” of faith is given to everyone, for Christ is “the true Light, which gives light to every man (and woman) who comes into the world.” John 1:9.
            But it is up to us to exercise that gift of faith: to choose to rest in the confidence of believing what He says and surrender our wills to Him. Faith is not “blind,” but takes its stand based on the evidence provided in the fulfilled prophecies of God’s Word, the testimony of God’s love and power seen in nature and the witness of God’s presence and providence operating in our lives. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.
            Bible faith is active and takes steps forward, though “proof” is not yet visible, for now we “see in a mirror dimly.” I Corinthians 13:12. Before entering Canaan, the command of the Lord through Joshua was that the vast company of Israel cross the Jordan River, which at that time was in flood stage. From all natural appearances, that seemed impossible and apart from the Word of the Lord, there was no physical reason to believe that they could cross over. Yet there was an abundance of evidence that the Word would be accompanied by His power that would somehow open a safe passage. Had not Israel walked through the Red Sea? Did they not breakfast that very morning on manna, the miracle bread which had sustained them during their wanderings? Had not the cloud, which had provided shade from the stifling desert heat, led them to this point? Had not God just given them remarkable victories over Sihon and Og, monarchs of mighty kingdoms east of Jordan?
            Yes, there was plenty of evidence, if you chose to focus on it. But it wasn’t until the priests, bearing the ark, entered by faith into the swirling waters that God “separated the waters from the waters and created dry land,” if you want to draw an analogy between this miracle and the Creation story of Genesis 1. That’s Bible faith.
            Exercising that gift, the measure of faith given to all, means putting obedience into action even when “proof” is absent, resting securely on the evidence that has been abundantly provided. By continuous growth in this faith experience, one becomes “full of faith,” which leads to becoming faithful. Obedience is returned to God for the right reason; not to earn salvation (that has already been given to us as His free gift); not to impress others (what does it matter what others think?); but to bring joy to the heart of the Creator God. Does He not deserve our loyalty and allegiance?
            Being full of faith (being faithful) leads one to obey all His commandments and keep holy His Sabbath day, though it might jeopardize job or livelihood. Bible faith leads one to return a faithful tithe and give generous offerings, though the budget numbers might not seem to add up. Bible faith leads to little acts of kindness, little deeds of generosity given in love and appreciation for God’s great gift of salvation. This faith leads to kind words in the home and gentle relationships within the family.
            A story is told about a climber who set out to scale a certain peak. While ascending the mountain, a sudden storm came up which caused visibility to shrink, temperatures to drop and rocky surfaces to become slippery with moisture. For safety, the climber was careful to fasten his rope, tied around his waist, securely to his trusty pitons which were hammered into the cracks of the rocks.
It happened, according to the story, that he lost his grip and began a precipitous fall, only to be suspended in mid-air as his rope reached its end. He could see nothing about him and prayed, “Lord, help me.” The Lord answered him and asked, “Do you trust Me?” “Oh, yes,” the suspended climber said, “I trust You!” God replied, “Cut the rope.”
            Two or three days later he was found by a search party, his frozen body dangling from his rope, two feet above the ground. Are you willing to “cut the rope” and trust God? Are you willing to place your confidence in Him completely and obey Him in all things, even if the future is not fully visible? That’s Bible faith!
            Through the grace of God He forgives our sins. The Bible uses several illustrations to help us understand His gracious act. Our sins are “cast  into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19. They are “cast behind His back.” Isaiah 38:17. They are “blotted out, like a thick cloud.” Isaiah 44:22. They are “sealed up in a bag,” and “plastered over.” Job 14:17, margin. What marvelous mercy is this! Though undeserved, we are treated as royalty! This is Good News!

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