- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

The following is excerpted from a sermon delivered Saturday by Pastor Charlotte McClure of the Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church:

Let’s do some time travel back several thousand years, past the Big Dipper and way beyond the Milky Way to that place called “heaven.” (Some say it is somewhere beyond Orion.) It is a place of peace, perfect order and harmonious action — at the heart of the universe. Every day there is the delightful challenge to learn more. And every day, forever. Heaven is a forever place. God’s own throne in the center of glorious light dominates the scene as holy angels surround their Creator. God’s dear Son is seated on the throne with the Father.

Lucifer, created to be a high and exalted angel, is next in honor to God’s Son. The Father makes known to the heavenly throng that His Son is equal with Himself — wherever the presence of His Son, it is as His own presence. The word of the Son is the word of the Father. Lucifer is jealous of God’s Son and the special honor the Father bestows on Him. Lucifer believes that he deserves a higher position. “I will be like God!” he says.

The mighty angel fumes with anger as the Father and Son work in union in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. Lucifer does not understand, neither is he permitted to know, the purposes of God.

You know the sad, sad story. Lucifer coaxed a third of the angels — who had free choice — to side with him against Christ, the Son, and there was war in heaven. Personal pride became the root of evil, and here we see developing what heaven itself calls “the mystery of iniquity.” If it’s a mystery up there, it surely is not fully understood down here. What we do know is that God was confronted with options: He could wipe out His creation and start over with beings who lacked the power of choice. But He knew that love and devotion, and caring and all the tender emotions that make life worth living, were meaningful only when freely and lovingly given. Forsake the power of choice, and all of that is gone. …

The news of man’s fall spread through heaven. The Lord visited Adam and Eve, and made known to them the consequence of their disobedience. They were informed that they would have to lose their Eden home. They were filled with keenest anguish and remorse. They now realized that the penalty of sin was death.

God the Father and God the Son agreed on a plan to save the humans that they loved so much. The Son offered to give His life as ransom, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favor of God and be brought into the beautiful garden and eat of the fruit of the tree of life.

Back in the recesses of eternity, God, who sees the end from the beginning, had in this mysterious council decided there was only one eternally wise option: God could not meet insurrection in his universal empire from a position of strength. He would have to become one of His creations through a mystery called the “Incarnation.” …

God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, not because she was talented or wealthy or beautiful, but because she was totally surrendered to Him. When the angel explained God’s improbable plan, she calmly responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants.” Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God. Surrendered people are the ones God uses. …

Realizing that life on earth is just a temporary assignment should radically alter your values. Eternal values, not temporal ones, should become the deciding factors for your decisions. As C.S. Lewis observed, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.” …

God loves you infinitely more than you can imagine. The greatest expression of this is the sacrifice of His Son for you. “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at Jesus with his arms outstretched on the cross, saying, “I love you this much! I’d rather die than live without you.”

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