Monday: God’s Initiative
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A simple reading of the Gospels shows that we owe our salvation entirely to God. Jesus did not come to this world because we invited Him, but because the Father, out of love for us, sent Him. The Father’s initiative is confirmed by Christ’s frequent use of the phrase He who sent Me and the Father who sent Me (NKJV). (Read John 7:28, John 8:29, John 12:49.)

What else does the Father do for our salvation, according to John 6:44?

In spite of the fact that we were sinners and did not love God, He loved us and provided the means for our sins to be forgiven through His Son (1 John 4:10). This wondrous love is what draws us toward Him.

Image © Linda Lovett from GoodSalt.com

Image © Linda Lovett from GoodSalt.com

Not only is the Father involved, but the Son also has a very active role in our salvation. He came with a definite mission. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10, NKJV). Whenever we contemplate Him lifted up from the earth, He draws us to Himself (John 12:32).

How far is the Lord willing to go in His efforts to save us? See Luke 15:3-10.

These twin parables show that God is not waiting passively for us to come to Him but actively seeks us out. We have a seeking God. It does not matter if we are astray, far away in a dangerous place or even lost at home; the Lord will seek us untiringly until He finds us.

No sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock. When he is sure that one sheep is lost, he slumbers not. He leaves the ninety and nine within the fold, and goes in search of the straying sheep. The darker and more tempestuous the night and the more perilous the way, the greater is the shepherd’s anxiety and the more earnest his search. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep.

With what relief he hears in the distance its first faint cry. Following the sound, he climbs the steepest heights, he goes to the very edge of the precipice, at the risk of his own life. Thus he searches, while the cry, growing fainter, tells him that his sheep is ready to die. At last his effort is rewarded; the lost is found. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 188.

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Monday: God’s Initiative — 14 Comments

  1. What a comforting thought. Sheep aren't naturally inclined to stray from the flock, and money doesn't lose itself. In this context it speaks of consciously choosing to stray from what we instinctively know to be a place of safety and negligence when given stewardship over heavenly treasures, our children or others that The Lord have entrusted into our care to nurture and guide. Thank Goodness fir the Holy Spirit whom we can appeal to pursue those souls that have lost their way. He never gives up. Let's pray that they Hear his Voice and respond to His loving calls.

    Like(29)
  2. Salvation is a gift from God. What was His motivation - love and 1 John 4:8 states He is love. He loves all. He asks for our love in return ie total surrender, allegiance and service motivated by love of God .

    Like(17)
  3. Behold what manner of love... Jesus does not take a passive role and wait for us to come to Him... He actually comes out to SEEK us and brings us to His fold.... Indeed He has paid it all for my Salvation.. #Blessed

    Like(10)
  4. Indeed the love of God is beyond human understanding, we are so sinful and he still seeks us, that is more than one can believe, thank you God, thanks to those who continue to publish these lesson may God give you strength to continue, where I am there is no Adventist church and I get really discourage at times this is the only way I can study my lesson so thanks God bless you all

    Like(7)
  5. Blessings Sons, and Daughters of our living GOD. May he bless us all. Brothers and Sisters, when we look at the lengths and depths of what our loving Father has done for us, their is not enough words that matches up with his love, so I'm so greatfull that as humble as our Father is he gave us simple words to come to him with. Forinstance
    ance when he was asked how should pray, he simply said pray Our Father which art in heaven, so our simple word for showing appreciation, is Thank You! ThankYou! Thank You! GOD. As we give all the honor and glory to GOD the Father, GOD the Son, and GOD the Holy Gost. Amen. May God bless us all, and may we keep praising him, while we pray for our neighbor, and friends, Our Pastors, Our Goverment, and World in wich we dwell upon, this is his creation, and this the loving GOD we serve, so let's pray for all Gods creation, by thanking him three times as we thank the Father, Son, and Holy Gost, as we know they are one combined in three persons, what an awesome GOD we serve. For he also blesses the just and unjust. Amen, so let's Praise him daily, Blessings to all.

    Like(4)
    • Dear Dagmar Smith,

      I emphatically agree with the sentiments in your post. We owe everything to God, and it is right and appropriate that we thank him and show our appreciation. I believe, however, that your comment deviates from the points given in the lesson. I think that your comment, and indeed a phrase in yesterday's lesson (http://ssnet.org/blog/sunday-salvation-gift-god/), very aptly expresses a disjointed idea that has pervaded our understanding as Christians. In your comment you seem to put Jesus' words into the mouth of the Father. This is not so. It was Jesus who instructed us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2) not the Father as you seem to state.

      This is an example of what I see as a confusion in Christian understanding: the fact that there is a clear distinction between Jesus and the Father. This is a fact that we seem to ignore. Jesus is very clear that there is a distinction between himself and the Father, and this is an important point made within the lesson. I believe that Jesus expresses that distinction when he instructs us to pray not to him but to the Father. Today's lesson is entitled “God's initiative” and talks about the fact that Jesus was sent by the Father, and did not come because he himself chose to do so. The initiative is the Father's and it was executed by His son, Jesus.

      This lesson talks about a simple reading of the Gospels, and I believe that is how they should be read. The bible was written simply to be understood by all, even children. Later influences of complex philosophies try to suggest that scripture needs to be interpreted and is not simple. However, I believe that we employ such devices at our own peril, and in doing so also lead others into confusion.

      I think that Sunday's lesson is a fine example of the the sorts of complications that have been introduced into our understanding. That lesson is based on Jesus' summary of the Gospel messag: that the Father loved the world so much that He gave His son so that we can have everlasting life (John 3:16). This is a clear statement, totally in keeping with the idea of today's lesson that the initiative is the Father's, and is carried out by the obedience of the son. However, I believe that the phrase used in the lesson, “...God gave us all He Had, which is Himself” at best serves only to confuse our understanding, and at worst corrupts Jesus' words. I think that we are to understand that God did not give Himself, though it may be correct in saying that He gave of Himself. I think we are given a shadow picture of the Father's actions in the story of Abraham's testing; when he was instructed to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18).

      In summary, it was Jesus who was sent, not the Father. The Father did not die on the cross, that was Jesus. And it is Jesus who mediates for us to the Father (1 Timothy 2:5). We must hold these distinctions clearly in our minds, so that we do not confuse others when we tell them the good news that God loves us and wants to give us everlasting life.

      Like(9)
      • Acts 17:11 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
        11 The people in Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. They were so glad to hear the message Paul told them. They studied the Scriptures every day to make sure that what they heard was really true.

        Here are some verses to show that the father and Jesus were 1 and acted in one accord.

        John 10:30
        I and the Father are one."

        John 10:38
        But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

        John 17:21 NIV
        that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

        John 17:23
        I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

        John 14:8-11 (New International Version)
        8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

        Long before the event of the cross took place it was already known what would happen. Both the Father and Jesus knew what would happen at the cross.

        Psalm 22:1-8, 11-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

        My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
        Why are You so far from helping Me,
        And from the words of My groaning?
        2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
        And in the night season, and am not silent.

        3 But You are holy,
        Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
        4 Our fathers trusted in You;
        They trusted, and You delivered them.
        5 They cried to You, and were delivered;
        They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

        6 But I am a worm, and no man;
        A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
        7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
        They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
        8 “He trusted[b] in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
        11 Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
        Be not far from Me,
        For trouble is near;
        For there is none to help.

        12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
        Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
        13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
        Like a raging and roaring lion.

        14 I am poured out like water,
        And all My bones are out of joint;
        My heart is like wax;
        It has melted within Me.
        15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
        And My tongue clings to My jaws;
        You have brought Me to the dust of death.

        16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
        The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
        They pierced[c] My hands and My feet;
        17 I can count all My bones.
        They look and stare at Me.
        18 They divide My garments among them,
        And for My clothing they cast lots.

        19 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
        O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
        20 Deliver Me from the sword,
        My precious life from the power of the dog.
        21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
        And from the horns of the wild oxen!

        You have answered Me.

        It is our sins that separate us from God

        Isaiah 59:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
        2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
        And your sins have hidden His face from you,
        So that He will not hear.

        But the most beautiful lesson from today can be found in the story of the shepherd who never gives up on searching for his lost sheep. I love the way ellen White (Object lessons p188)puts it:

        Let him come back, and I will open the door of the sheepfold, and let him in.” No; no sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock. When he is sure that one sheep is lost, he slumbers not. He leaves the ninety and nine within the fold, and goes in search of the straying sheep. The darker and more tempestuous the night and the more perilous the way, the greater is the shepherd’s anxiety and the more earnest his search. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep.

        With what relief he hears in the distance its first faint cry. Following the sound, he climbs the steepest heights, he goes to the very edge of the precipice, at the risk of his own life. Thus he searches, while the cry, growing fainter, tells him that his sheep is ready to die. At last his effort is rewarded; the lost is found.

        Furthermore the message that hits home is the most touching of all words about this parable:

        Then he does not scold it because it has caused him so much trouble. He does not drive it with a whip. He does not even try to lead it home. In his joy he takes the trembling creature upon his shoulders; if it is bruised and wounded, he gathers it in his arms, pressing it close to his bosom, that the warmth of his own heart may give it life. With gratitude that his search has not been in vain, he bears it back to the fold.

        Here is the divine guarantee that not even one of the straying sheep of God’s fold is overlooked, not one is left unsuccored. Every one that will submit to be ransomed, Christ will rescue from the pit of corruption and from the briers of sin.

        From this beautiful illustration I know how to love my enemies - as Jesus did.

        This lesson is about Love. we are not left to sin. Jesus has promised to set the captives free - that is the slaves to sin. Let us rejoice in this wonderful lesson.

        Like(0)
      • Dear Mr.Lowel,

        I think that it was the understanding of Mr. Smith that JESUS is one with GOD, if we address HIM in one of them in our prayer is it not also be acceptable to HIM as JESUS told us that HE & the FATHER is one? Does the bible contradict itself when you say their is a distinction between the father & Jesus the son? I hope not, but please explain further, I might also be confuse, thank you & GOD Bless.

        Like(0)
      • Dear Jen and Edwin,

        The question that Edwin asks Lowel regarding the bible contradicting itself is an important one. I would, if I may, like to butt in and offer an answer to that. The common theme in both Jen's and Edwin's comments is the fact that Jesus says, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) Edwin, it would seem, has noticed that this statement appears to contradict the points from the lesson highlighted by Lowel, giving reference to where Jesus says that he is under orders from his Father and thereby seeming to distinguishing himself from the Father. (For brevity please allow me to refer you to Lowel's July 22 comment for further information).

        I think that it is the understanding of the phrase, “I and my Father are one” that seems to make the contradiction. Let us consider that this phrase means that Jesus and the Father are the “same being,” and that, as Edwin says, praying to one is the same as praying to the other. (I think that is the sense of what Edwin was saying.) Further reading of the scriptures is at odds with this understanding. For instance, what Jesus' words mean when he instructed us to address our prayers to the Father (Matthew 6:9), is confirmed and strengthened when he tells us to ask the Father for things in his (Jesus') name (John 15:16; 16:23). It is the Father to whom we should pray, not to Jesus – but we need to acknowledge that we reach the Father through Jesus (John 14:16): The Father is the destination and Jesus is the route to get there. There are also very many other places where Jesus clearly distinguishes himself from the Father - Matthew 7:21, 10:32, 11:25, 16:27, 20:23, 22:41-45, 23:9, 23:39, 26:64; Mark 8:38, 10:40, 12:24-27, 12:29, 14:62; Luke 4:17-19, 9:48, 10:16, 10:21, 20:42, 23:46, 24:49; John 3:16, 4:23, 4:34, 5:19, 5:30, 6:27, 6:29, 6:32, 6:38, 6:44, 6:57, 6:65, 7:16, 7:18, 7:28, 8:16, 8:18, 8:28, 8:29, 8:38 8:40, 8:42, 8:49, 8:54, 9:4, 10:29, 10:36, 11:41, 12:26, 12:28, 12:44, 12:49, 12:50, 13:20, 13:31, 14:16, 14:24, 14:28, 15:1, 15:9, 15:15, 15:16, 15:24, 15:26, 16:3, 16:10, 16:16, 16:23, 16:27, 16:28, 16:32, 17:1, 17:3, 20:17, 20:21.

        There is another possible meaning for the phrase, “I and my Father are one” and it is one that removes the contradiction. This alternative meaning is actually contained within Jen's comments, though it is a little obscured. The alternative meaning is given in John 17:20-22 which is missed out by Jen, though she quotes the verse before and the verse after. (I assume that “Jen” is a female name.) Here Jesus is asking that all Christians should be one as he and the Father are one (John 17:22). I think that Jesus is not asking that all the Christians should be “one being”, but of “one accord.” Jen actually does use this phrase in her sentence, “Here are some verses to show that the father and Jesus were 1 and acted in one accord.” The phrase, “the father and Jesus were 1” leads us to the contradiction outlined above, and also conflicts with the understanding provided in the verse that Jen missed out, John 17:22. This sentence could be given as, “Here are some verses to show that the father and Jesus acted in one accord.” This would then still be in keeping with all the verses that she quotes.

        So Edwin, I believe that if we take the meaning of the phrase that “I and my Father are one” as meaning that they are one and the same being, indistinguishable for the purpose of prayer, then the bible will contradict itself. If, however, we take the meaning of the phrase as “I and my Father are of one accord,” then it does not.

        Like(2)
  6. I am amazed at the extent of God's love to us as I pen down these moving words of this great hym writer, Frederick M Lehman:

    Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade;
    To write the love of God above,
    Would drain the ocean dry;
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.

    Like(4)
  7. I feel blessed today ...almost brought to tears as Ellen White shares the analogy of the lost sheep . I am amazed that God will go that distance for me. I look at myself everyday and recognize that I dont deserve this love ....NO WAY ..... but I can accept this gift once more and allow Shepherd Jesus to lead the way. I am surrendering today /....Lord take my and and lead me.

    Like(7)
  8. To me the two parables say one thing both the sheep and the coin are unable to get back on their own, in fact they don’t even know they are lost. They need someone to find them and bring them back. That is why God seeks out the lost.

    Like(10)
  9. Thanks God for this mission Of salvation otherwise we will lost forever you come to seek out the lost so let us allow you to lead us every step and to accept this gift of salvation.

    Like(0)

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