W I N T E R • 2 0 1 5
VOLUME 16, ISSUE 4
D E P A R T M E N T S
One week ago today Richard and I struggled to work while watching the live news feeds covering the act of terrorism in San Bernardino that began with the shooting of 35 people, 14 of whom died, and ended with a police barricade and a search of the shooters’ house in our own Redlands, California. Several of our family and friends were on lock-down as the events of the day transpired because they worked so close to the place where the crime occurred.
The horror of terrorism being active so close to home eclipsed both the joy of approaching Christmas and the focussed energy we were spending on preparing Proclamation! for the printer. Our kitchen, torn apart because of a water leak that damaged the entire floor from the stove to the dining room, seemed almost a non-issue. The United States presidential campaign with Adventist Ben Carson gaining evangelical support faded to insignificance. Because of that single act of premeditated terror, reality shifted in the Inland Empire.
How are we to cope when reality seems permanently altered, when danger can lurk behind the eyes of coworkers we see every day?
As an Adventist I had no real hope to offset uncontrollable evil. I believed that because of the great controversy, God had to allow Satan to exercise his free will to carry out whatever nefarious plans he devised, just as He had to allow me and all humans to exercise our free will. Satan, I believed, was responsible for the pain, suffering, and evil that rocked the world. God had to limit Himself to allow evil to play out to its logical end in order to reveal to the watching universe that Satan really is devious, and God really is fair.
Now, however, I see that Scripture tells me God is utterly sovereign. On the one hand He asks us to believe and to make choices that have eternal consequences; on the other hand, however, neither we humans nor Satan and his minions can thwart God’s plans. What He decides, He will do, and He is not surprised by anything that happens. He is already in the future.
The great controversy is the paradigm that defines the Adventist worldview, but that paradigm is invented; it is not found in Scripture. We do not vindicate the law and God’s reputation by keeping the Ten Commandments. On the contrary, Jesus vindicated and fulfilled the law by becoming sin for us. Jesus, the Perfect Israel, kept every jot and tittle of the law in His sinless life. Jesus, the only human born spiritually alive, conceived by the Holy Spirit, was our perfect Substitute and Sacrifice. Jesus’ shed blood has settled the score between humanity and God, and when we trust Jesus alone for our eternal future, we are reconciled to God and made alive by His Spirit.
This miracle of new birth—this fruit of the gospel of God that Scripture reveals—this new reality reveals the hope that we all need when our world no longer makes sense.
Adventism presents itself as an evangelical denomination, but I know from experience that Adventism cannot calm my anxiety or give me peace and an immovable foundation in a crisis. Only the certainty that Jesus’ blood has opened a new, living way to the Father anchors me in hope (Heb. 10:20).
The blood of Jesus is not merely a portion of a necessary formula to guarantee my eternal safety in Christ Jesus; it is everything I need.
In this issue we examine the Adventist worldview, identifying its core assumptions and contrasting those with the gospel of the Lord Jesus as revealed in Scripture. You will read pieces contributed by Anthony Andreola, Stephen Pitcher, Dale Ratzlaff, Martin Carey, and me. You will hear also from our regular columnists Rick Barker, Chris Lee, and Carolyn Macomber.
As we celebrate Christmas in a world rocked by both global and personal torments, we can rejoice. God the Son has come to us. He has suffered in the flesh, has paid for our sin, has broken our curse of death. Because of Jesus we can stand firm in a terrified world.
Glory to God in the highest! †
Copyright 2015 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Camp Verde, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised May 25, 2016. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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