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Not Like Jesus

Tim Riesenberger

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Tim Riesenberger

Emergency room physician in the Seattle area

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  • February 10, 2012
    7:30 PM
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00:00 I have had an experience that has changed my life. July 9, 2007, I learned something about God that has totally changed how I see him, how I see other people, how I see myself.  Every sermon now that I come up with comes from that sermon and that’s going to be shared this Sabbath for the church at the 11:00 o'clock hour. So I’ll be sharing my testimony then. Now this is something that I've just recently come to understand. Many of us think, especially in the community of very committed Christians; well we want to be like Jesus, right? We need to be like Jesus before He comes. I’m going to share with you something perhaps you haven't thought of and maybe share some text and even passages from the SOP that you've never read before; but I hope that by the end of this you will have a deeper appreciation of who Jesus really is and that as you see yourself in comparison to Him you'll understand what grace really means because when I learned this I just couldn't thank Christ enough for what He's done on my behalf. So this is called Not Like Jesus. 

01:13 The common verse we go to is 1 John 3:2, if you have your Bibles feel free to follow along with me. 1 John 3:2 tells us “Beloved now we are the children of God and it is not yet been revealed what we shall be but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him. For we shall see him as He is.” So that is our key text: we become like Jesus as we do what? As we see Him as He truly is. The problem is that there are so many counterfeits and so many misrepresentations of Jesus that very few times do we really get to see who God is. I believe in the next two passages, you are going to see how God is in a way you’ve never seen him before. I know that I had never read these passages before and I was just weeping as I read how tremendously amazing and loving and kind and compassionate Jesus is because yes we will be like Jesus but Jesus is infinite love, right? And if you understand—anyone a math major here? Anyone like math or anything like that? What do you get when you take any number— no matter how big it is—and you divide it by infinity? When you divide by zero you get the nonsensical number but when you divide by infinity you always get the same number, zero. So, yes, people are like Jesus. You know the Angels in heaven are like Jesus; the unfallen worlds are like Jesus; God’s people on earth are like Jesus; the 144,000 are like Jesus; but I’m going to share with you in just the Bible and the SOP that yes, we are like Jesus; but Jesus would be like—a comparison, anyone use nightlights at home? Do you ever use those green screen nightlights that only use like 3 cents of what is it, like 3 cents a month or something like that? Anyone seen those green screen nightlights? We at our very best are like Jesus; like that green screen is compared to the sun. I’m going to show you that comparison; and I’m also going to show you why the angels worship Jesus, why the unfallen worlds serve God.

03:44 Let’s start with Matthew 23:34, 35 tells us about Zechariah. Jesus speaking here says, “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that on you may come all the”—what? What kind of blood?—“righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of”—what?—“righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” So what kind of man was Zechariah? He was a righteous man from the Old Testament, right? But take a look at when he died, okay? Let's take a look at 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 this is when Zechariah dies. “And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah”—and he basically rebukes Israel for their sins so “they conspired against him, and stoned him at the command of the king in the court of the house of the Lord.” Can you imagine that? They killed him in the temple! That was supposed to be sacred. They stone him with stones in the temple and as Zechariah died—does anyone know what he said? as he is getting pummeled and massive trauma is coming against him; he’s just barely conscious—his last words are what? “The Lord look upon it, and repay.” Do you know that Zechariah’s blood stained the Temple and the stones itself were stained and it could not be removed from the temple. So Zechariah’s last words, “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah so they conspired against him, and stoned him at the command of the king in the court of the house the Lord.”—And as Zechariah died—“he said, “The Lord look upon it, and repay.” That’s interesting when you understand the meaning of Zechariah’s name.

06:18 Now I’m going to take you to another scene. Somewhere else, someone else dies. Luke 23:33-34 “And when they had come to the place, called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Do you see the difference? Was Zechariah evil? No!  What did Jesus Himself say about Zachariah? What kind of man was he? He was a righteous man; but when facing death what does Zacharias say? The Lord look upon it, and repay. What did Jesus say? Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Jesus pled as they’re spiking him to the tree. He pled and prayed for His murderers. Do you realize that? Zechariah wasn’t a bad guy; but he's not like Jesus. There's a difference watch this: let’s go to the New Testament, Acts 23:2, 3.

07:40 We find perhaps the hero of the New Testament; the one who wrote more than half of the New Testament. Paul is standing on trial right now and very interestingly someone doesn't appreciate what Paul has to say. Acts 23:2, 3 “And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him (Paul) to smite him on the mouth. Then Paul said, God will strike you, you whited wall.” Do you see that? What does it say in your Bible? Is that what it says? “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall. For do you sit to judge me according to the law and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” Now interestingly enough, there was someone else who was struck on the mouth. John 18:22.

09:40 Someone else is on trial: Jesus Christ. John 18:22 “When Jesus had answered these things one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand saying, Do you answer the high priest like that? And Jesus answered—what did Jesus say? He said—if I have spoken evil bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike me? And Ellen White even comments on this that there was no anger in Jesus’ voice. It came from a heart that was sinless and a compassion that was infinite. Two different situations. Paul was a great man, right? Was he evil? No! Paul was probably a hero of the New Testament but although Paul was a hero of the New Testament, he's not like Jesus. Jesus is different. Jesus is fundamentally different. Now we’ll go to the unfallen worlds—never sinned, ever. They were all given the same choices we were. Did you know that? They were all given similar trees and they said we’re good. We don’t want that thank you. Now listen to this: the unfallen worlds are now watching the development of the great controversy and as sin becomes worse and worse on our planet this is their response, “Before Christ's first advent, the sin of refusing to conform to God’s law had become widespread. Apparently satan’s power was growing; his warfare against heaven was becoming more and more determined. A crisis had been reached. With intense interest God’s movements were watched by the heavenly angels. Would He come forth from His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity? Would He send fire or flood to destroy them? All heaven waited the bidding of their Commander to pour out the vials of wrath upon a rebellious world. One word from Him, one sign, and the world would have been destroyed.”—and if the world was destroyed—“The worlds unfallen would have said”— what do you think they would have said? They would've said—“Amen. Thou art righteous, O God, because Thou hast exterminated rebellion.” (Signs of the Times, Aug. 27, 1902, par. 4.) 

12:14 When we were at the crisis— this was right before the advent of Christ— had God obliterated the earth, the unfallen worlds would've proclaimed, “You are righteous, O God, because you have exterminated rebellion.” The unfallen worlds all voted unanimously against you and I. But watch this; what did Jesus do instead? —this is the rest of that quote—“But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God might have sent His Son to condemn, but He sent Him to save. Christ came as a Redeemer.” (ST Aug. 27, 1902, par. 5.) 

13:05 But watch this let's go now from the unfallen world to the unfallen angels, right? You remember the story: satan presents his version of the great controversy and at first he has the majority of the angels; but then when God comes and presents who His Son really is some of them come back and satan still has about a 1/3 but 2/3 are unfallen. Watch their response to us right after the fall. This is Spirit of Prophecy, volume 1, p. 48. “Angels were so interested for man’s salvation that there could be found among them those who would yield their glory and give their life for perishing man.” —so what were they offering to do? They were offering to die for you and I—“There could be found among them those who would yield their glory and give their life for perishing man. ‘But,’ said my accompanying angel, ‘that would avail nothing.’ The transgression was so great that an angel’s life would not pay the debt. Nothing but the death and intercession of God’s son would pay the debt and save lost man from hopeless sorrow and misery.” (1SP 4:48.1 or EW 31:127.1)—did you catch what I'm focusing on? How many? Some. There could be found among them those—not all—who would yield their glory and give their life for us. Is that because not all of them are good? No. They are all good; but they're not like Jesus because Jesus laid Himself down for us. There wasn't hesitation on His part. Now watch this. These are again the unfallen angels. Let's fast-forward from the fall of man to now you are just before the advent of Christ. Let's poll the unfallen angels and see what their thoughts are.

14:58 “The heavenly hosts look upon the world as ¬_____ of the sympathy and love of God.” Fill in the ¬_____ for me. What do you think might be there? objects, deserving, stuff like that. “Angels ¬_____ that Christ should undertake to save man in his lost, and as it seemed to them, _____ condition . . . They could _____ for love”—watch this— “The heavenly host looked upon the world as undeserving of the sympathy and love of God.”—These are the unfallen angels, okay? The ones who, some of them, would lay down their lives for us at the beginning. They looked upon “the world as undeserving of the sympathy and love of God. Angels marveled that Christ should undertake to save man in his los, and as it seemed to them,”—what?—“hopeless condition.”—They looked at our situation and they said why are you going, Lord? Why are you going? It goes further.—“They marveled that God could tolerate a race so foul with sin as to be a blot upon His creation. They could see”—what?—“no room for love, but Christ saw that souls must perish unless an arm strong to deliver was reached forth to save.”(RH, Nov.26, 1895)—so when you poll the unfallen worlds and the holy angels the vote goes everyone, unanimously, against you and I; but you know what? There’s one. There was one vote. It was one vote that went for you. And that vote has veto power. Watch this—I'm skipping through the place where Christ said yes, I’m going to go anyway. Even though it seems hopeless to you guys. And this is the reaction of the angels—“No words can describe the effect of this movement”—meaning Jesus saying, you know what? It seems hopeless but I’m going to go anyway.—“No words can describe the effect of this movement on the heavenly angels. With wonder and admiration they could only exclaim, Herein is love!” (ST Aug. 27, 1902)—I had a unanimous vote against me that I was a hopeless cause, that I was undeserving of the love and mercy of God except for one vote. And that vote came from Jesus.

17:430 You realize that these angels aren't dummies, right? Their intellects far surpass the greatest of us. They can reason from cause-and-effect. They spent 6,000 years watching this whole progress and they made an assessment based on that information. And they said, Jesus this is a hopeless cause. These are undeserving of your love. But that’s not what Jesus thought. It gets better. Who had the greatest knowledge of God? Who had the greatest knowledge of His goodness and His character, also? This comes from Desire of Ages, p. 761, 762. “To him as to know other created being was given a revelation of”—what?—“God’s love. Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness.”—Who is this talking about? —To lucifer as to—who?—no other created being (DA 78:761.5)—not Gabriel, right? Who had the greatest understanding of God’s love and character? lucifer; he knows how God will react most likely to different things and watch this, even though satan has more knowledge than any other created being he misses when he tries to guess God because God is infinite; satan may have more knowledge than all of us put together and every other created being but he is not like Jesus. Watch this Desire of Ages, p. 219, “If intellectual greatness, apart from any higher consideration, is worthy of honor, then our homage is due to satan, whose intellectual power no man has ever equaled.” (DA 21:219.) Not only does he know God better than anyone but his intellectual power’s unrivaled, right? So he’s playing the game of chess as far as how he thinks God will react but watch how God checkmates him each time.

19:43 From Signs of the Times, August 4, 1887, “When satan lead man into sin, he hoped that God’s abhorrence of sin would” —what?—“forever separate Him from man, and break the connecting link between Heaven and earth.” (ST Aug. 4, 1887)—here's what else he thought God would do—“satan had been working to make the gulf deep and impassable between earth and Heaven. By his falsehoods he had emboldened men in sin. It was his purpose to”—do what?—“wear out the forbearance of God,”—wear out His forbearance—“and to”—what? —“extinguish His love for man, so that He would abandon the world to satanic jurisdiction.” (DA 2:34.4)—satan knew of God’s abhorrence of sin; he felt that if he could just wear Him down that God would finally say, okay, they've chosen you. But watch this, “At the time when sin had become a science, when the hostility of man was most violent against heaven, when rebellion struck it roots deep into the human heart, when vice was consecrated as a part of religion, when satan exulted in the idea that he had led men to such a state of evil that God would destroy the world,” (ST Feb. 5, 1894)—what happened? Satan forgot about this—Romans 8:38, 39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from”—what?—“the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

21:40 satan didn't understand because he can't wear down God’s love because it's invincible. His love for us will never be extinguished. Those quotes I actually gave you just the first half of them now I’m going to finish those now with this, “And while the Savior works, satan also works, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, and with unflagging energy. But”—what?—“victory will never be his.” (RH March 12, 1901, par. 5) He cannot wear out God’s love; he cannot extinguish it; he cannot cause God to abandon us to satanic jurisdiction; he was wrong: “satan well knew the position which Christ had held in Heaven as the Son of God, the Beloved of the Father; and that Christ should leave the joy and honor of Heaven, and come to this world as a man, filled him with apprehension . . . satan could not comprehend the mystery of this great sacrifice for the benefit of fallen man.”—he could not comprehend it. But remember who had been given the greatest revelation?—he had; but he still couldn't comprehend it; “his selfish soul could not understand how there could exist benevolence and love for the deceived race, so great as to induce the Prince of Heaven to leave His home, and come to a world marred with sin and with the traces of the curse.” (ST Aug. 4, 1887, par. 7)

23:16 he in his vast intellect and understanding of how God operates; he’s like, I can’t understand this. How can there exist a love that great, that Jesus would leave His home? —for what seemed to even the holy angels a hopeless cause; he was wrong. “Jesus was sent into the world, not to condemn it, but amazing grace! to save the world. The unfallen worlds watched with intense interest to see Jehovah arise and sweep away the inhabitants of the earth,”—that’s what they were expecting—“and satan boasted that if God did do this, he would complete his plans and secure for himself the allegiance of unfallen worlds; he had arguments ready by which to cast blame upon God, and to spread his rebellion to the worlds above; but at this crisis, instead of destroying the world God sent His son to save it.” (ST Feb. 5, 1894, par. 8) 

24:17 How about the 144,000, God’s elite at the end of time?—surely they are like Jesus; like none, other watch this: Rev. 7:4 “And I heard the number of those which were sealed 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” This is from The Great Controversy , 1888, p. 608.2, chapter: The Final Warning. The 144,000 have just finished giving the last message to the world but watch what happens: “They have not consulted their temporal interests, or sought to preserve their reputation or their lives. Yet when the storm of opposition and reproach bursts upon them, some, overwhelmed with consternation, will be ready to exclaim”—praise the Lord? I was happy to do it! Bring it! Is that what they say?—“Had we foreseen the consequences of our words, we would have”—what?—“held our peace.”  (GC88 38:608.2)

25:32 Someone else saw the consequences, too. This is from Chapter 44, Desire of Ages the first two paragraphs, “The work of Christ on earth was hastening to a close. Before Him, in vivid outline, lay the scenes whither His feet were tending. Even before He took humanity upon Him, He saw the whole length of the path He must travel in order to save that which was lost. Every pang that rent His heart, every insult that was heaped upon His head, every privation that He was called to endure, was open to His view before He laid aside His crown and royal robe, and stepped down from the throne, to clothe His divinity with humanity. The path from the manger to Calvary was all before His eyes. He knew the anguish that would come upon Him. He knew it all, and yet He said, Lo I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” (Psalm 40:7, 8.) (DA 44:410.1) 

26:44 Jesus knew it all. He knew the permanent hit He would take for us. But He did it anyway.   And even we as 144,000, when we get hammered at the end we say, wow, if I knew this was going to happen I would have shut up because although we would be of the 144,000 we're not like Jesus. We’re not like Jesus. The reason why the angels worship Christ is not because He has all power; it’s not because He’s Almighty but because there is no love that equals Christ in all of Heaven and earth; not the 144,000, not the angels, not the unfallen worlds, even to the being that has the greatest revelation of God’s love, he cannot fathom His movements, he cannot go deep enough that His love transcends to us. That's why Isaiah 40:18, 25 tell us this, “To whom then will you liken God? or what likeness will you compare unto Him? To whom then will you liken Me, or shall I be equal? (saith the Holy One.)”  I’m going to close with a couple of quotes and this is why I worship God. This is The Desire of Ages, p. 57, “The gift of Christ reveals the Father’s heart. It testifies that the thoughts of God toward us are ‘thoughts of peace, and not evil.’ (Jer. 29:11.) It declares that while God’s hatred of sin is as strong as death, His love for the sinner is stronger than death. Having undertaken our redemption He will spare nothing, however dear, which is necessary to the completion of His work. No truth essential to our salvation is withheld, no miracle of mercy is neglected, no divine agency is left unemployed. Favor is heaped upon favor, gift upon gift. The whole treasury of heaven is open to those He seeks to save. Having collected the riches of the universe, and laid open the resources of infinite power, He gives them all into the hands of Christ, and says, All these are for man. Use these gifts to convince him that there is no love greater than Mine in earth or Heaven.” (DA 4:57.1)—God says, I’ll empty the storehouse. But then He does one more thing—“Before the coming of Christ to the world evidences abundant had been given that God loved the human race. But in the gift of Christ to a race so”—what?—“undeserving was demonstrated the love of God beyond all disputes. This gift outweighed all else, showed that His love could not be measured. We have no line to measure it, no plummet by which to sound its depths, no chain by which to encompass it, no standard with which to compare it. All we can say is that God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (ST Feb. 5, 1894, par. 9) As I understood this I realized what grace means. Grace is something that God gives to you; you don't deserve. If I were to be put to vote on the unfallen worlds they would all put me down. If I were to be put to vote from all the unfallen angels they would look at me as a hopeless cause. Do you realize that? We would have no chance at all. Logic, reason, fairness, wisdom all says, Don't save this person! But they’re not like Jesus. And Jesus— when everyone else voted against me— Jesus saw in me hope and a possibility to change and I'm glad that that one vote was cast on my side because had it not I would be lost; in fact, if I were on the other side, I'd probably vote against me. You know, like really? Riesenberger there is too big of a risk. But I'm glad that God didn't look at that. I'm glad that God went on a journey that was hopeless to the Angels, that He gave Himself for a race that was undeserving; and when I see that kind of love I realize I’m not like that. I'm not like Jesus. But as I look at him and I start to understand Him more it’s as we see Him as He really is Merciful and Gracious when you understand what grace means, when you understand that, when you see Him, then you will start to become like Jesus. Let’s pray.

32:50 O Father, as the song says there is none like You. There is no one in Heaven or earth that can equal or even fathom the depths of Your love. Lord, I want to thank you personally that when all votes were for death, for me that you cast the one vote to give me a chance, to give me grace, to give me salvation. And I thank you for casting that same vote for every son and daughter of Adam who's fallen, who is sinful, who is deserving of death. It’s true, we would've all been voted out but, Lord, thank You for seeing possibilities of good in us when no other eyes could see we had hope. Lord, I just pray that as we go through this Sabbath, as we listen to Your words in the message, may You truly help us to see Your goodness, Your grace, to see You as You are and in beholding may we become changed is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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