|LESSON 7||*August 9 - 15|
Read for This Week's Study:
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4, NIV).
|The apostle John is one of the most loved characters from the Bible.
What can we learn from him?
Achurch tradition describes the apostle John as an old man living in Ephesus. Because of his feeble condition, his followers had to carry him to church. As they met together, his only spoken words were, "Little children, love one another."
His followers tired of hearing John repeat the same thing all the time and asked, "Master, why do you always say this?"
"It is the Lord's command," he replied. "And if this alone be done, it is enough!"
Whether true or not, this story captures the essence of this "son of thunder" who was eventually transformed into a "son of love and grace."
In John's three Epistles, or letters, we see the heart of a man whose life is motivated by love; we see also some of the most encouraging verses in the Bible, one of the most famous is "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defenseJesus Christ, the Righteous One" (1 John 2:1, NIV).
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 16.
A Special Calling
When Jesus called John and his brother James to follow Him, they were working in their boat fishing. "And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him" (Mark 1:20).
Read carefully Mark 1:20 again. What important principles can we take from there about what it means to follow Jesus? See also Matt. 8:21, 22; Luke 14:26; Phil. 3:8.
John's decision to follow Jesus and leave his father's business would forever change his life. Luke gives the most detailed account of Jesus' call (Luke 5:1-11).
What verse in Luke 5:1-11 again conveys what it means to be a follower of Jesus? What, again, is the point that is being made?
No question, those who follow Jesus need to make a full and complete commitment. Jesus, as Lord of all, is owed all. Yet, He does not demand our hearts out of selfishness; no, not at all. Instead, He knows the reality of the battle that we are in, and if there is any opening, any area of self not surrendered, the evil one will take advantage and use it to try to destroy us. Thus, we need to surrender completely to the Lord.
Which John did. And thus, instead of catching fish, John spends the rest of his life catching people for the kingdom of heaven. From now on, John's mission field was the worldto carry hope and healing and the good news to those who desperately needed it. Though he would have some hard lessons to learn, because he was dedicated to Jesus, he was in a position to learn them, no matter the pain that would come.
|How committed are you to Jesus? Have you forsaken all for Him? How can you know where your heart truly is? What changes might you need to make?|
Son of Thunder
Jesus gave John and his brother James a special nickname"the sons of thunder" (or Boanerges in Aramaic). Evidence suggests that this name referred to their dispositiona disposition that Jesus gently corrects.
Read Mark 10:35-45. What request do James and John make? How does Jesus respond to their request? What does this tell us about the character of both these men?
John and his brother also showed an unhealthy pride. In response to their request, Jesus asked if they could share His fate. "We can," they boasted (Mark 10:39).
On another occasion Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem. As appears to have been His normal habit, Jesus went directly through Samaria rather than circumnavigating in order to avoid the hated Samaritans. He sent James and John ahead to find lodgings for the night. They approached one village, but when the people learned they were headed for Jerusalem, they showed no hospitality.
What does their response to this indignity also reveal about their character? How much does the beloved John have to learn? Luke 9:54.
What a contrast we can see in the John depicted here in these accounts and the one who writes the letters he does later. What a changed man; what a changed personality! No doubt, though, the change did not happen easily or overnight. John had some hard lessons to learn that enabled him to become the great missionary that he eventually became.
|Recount some of your most recent hard lessons. What did you learn? What other ways could you have learned what you did other than through suffering? What other lesson need you to learn? What changes do you need to make in your life now that, perhaps, could spare you from having to learn them the hard way?|
The Witness of John
As an eyewitness who had spent much time in Jesus' company, John had much to tell, more, in fact, than he could.
Read John 21:25. What message do you think John was seeking to convey by that statement? What hope can we find in that text?
Though not able to tell us everything, John, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, does teach us one of the most important of all truths, that Jesus Christ came in human flesh. That is something all the philosophy, science, and logic could never lead us to. Instead, God uses John to tell it to us.
In the first verse of his Gospel, John refers to the Word, or in Greek, the logos. To the Jewish reader, the Word referred to the Word of God that created the world, as well as to His teachings, or law, that guides the way we should live our lives (see Deut. 32:45-47).
For the Greek reader, logos had other meanings. The logos was a life force that kept the universe together. The symmetry of a leaf, the harmony of the seasons, the stars in the skyall were kept in balance by the logos. The philosophers Heracleitus, Plutarch, Philo, and Plato, as well as various stoic philosophers, wrote about the logos.
For both Jewish and Greek readers, John makes a startling claim: This logos is a person. The logos became flesh and broke into human history in a specific place at a specific time with a specific purposeto bring salvation to humanity.
Read John 1:1-3, 14. What does this mean? In your own words, write out your best understanding of what the Lord is revealing to us here.
Jesus, our Creator, entered into humanity and became a human being. That alone is amazing; add to it the reason He came, to die for our sins, and we are given a revelation of the character of God that should bring us to our knees in gratefulness, faith, and humble obedience.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31, NIV).
In these words John summarizes the reason he wrote his Gospel, and the entire purpose of his lifeto lead people to believe in Jesus in order that they might gain eternal life. A key theme, all through the New Testament, is that eternal life exists only in Jesus.
Look up the following verses to see some of the things John says about this key theme, that of "life." Also, as you read them, where can you see how the idea of "life" does not apply only to eternal life but has immediate implications for life now?
What makes these promises of eternal life so important is that, although all creatures on earth die, human beings alone are capable of contemplating the idea of eternity. We alone can grasp the vast gap between our short existence and the prospect of eternity, and the cold reality of that gap hangs over us every instant of our liveslives that are just a clogged artery, a drunken driver, or an AIDS virus away from ending.
What a wonderful hope we have, then, to know that death is not the end; on the contrary, it is just a sleep that to us will seem like a second, and the next thing we know we will be with Jesus, for eternity.
|How should the hope of eternal life impact how we live now? In what ways do you live this life differently, knowing that you have the promise of eternal life?|
Spending Time With Jesus
"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (3 John 11).
What does John mean about those who had not seen God? What is his point? How does one see God?
John had much to learn from Jesus. Even after spending time in His compassionate presence, John was still protective of his own turf and intolerant of others. On one occasion he stopped someone from casting out demons in Jesus' name because he was not an official disciple (Mark 9:38). Jesus gently taught him that " 'whoever is not against us is for us' " (vs. 40, NIV).
John grew in strength of character at the Master's side. At the time of Jesus' crucifixion, when other disciples had fled, John alone remained at the foot of the cross. The regard Jesus held for John is shown in the way He entrusted His mother into John's care (John 19:26, 27).
Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. What important principle is found there? What practical ways can we apply this principle to our own lives?
If you read the Epistles of John, you cannot help noting the kindness, the gentleness, the compassion found all through them. What a profound difference from the John presented in the Gospels. Truly something utterly remarkable happened to that man. We, of course, know what it was: He had been with Jesus, and his life and character had been radically altered from the experience.
Skim through the three Epistles of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. Look at the character revealed there. How did Jesus change John's life? What aspects of your own life could use change, as well? What practical steps are you taking in order to allow God to bring those changes?
|Read Ellen G. White,
"John the Beloved,"
pp. 539-545 in The Acts of the Apostles.
"In the terrible persecution that followed, the apostle John did much to confirm and strengthen the faith of the believers. He bore a testimony which his adversaries could not controvert and which helped his brethren to meet with courage and loyalty the trials that came upon them. When the faith of the Christians would seem to waver under the fierce opposition they were forced to meet, the old, tried servant of Jesus would repeat with power and eloquence the story of the crucified and risen Saviour."Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 568.
"John lived to be very old. He witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the ruin of the stately temple. The last survivor of the disciples who had been intimately connected with the Saviour, his message had great influence in setting forth the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, the Redeemer of the world. No one could doubt his sincerity, and through his teachings many were led to turn from unbelief."Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 569.
| Go through the three Epistles of John again. What other
elements of John's character can be found there? What strong words can you
find there for those who are not following truth? How does this help us
understand what love is all about?
What is your understanding of the idea of character development? How does it work? How does Jesus change our character? Though the Bible does relate many supernatural events, is there any event in which a person's character is changed immediately, supernaturally, in the same way the blind were given sight or the lepers cured? If not, why not? What does the answer tell us about the process of character development?
Having experienced firsthand the life-giving love of His Savior, the apostle John let that experience flow into all his words and actions. His life and writings remind us of the primacy of love in the Christian life and how it must be the basis of all our mission activity.
|I N S I D E Story|
|Midnight Cry in Malawi
by MIKE NYONDO
A group of lay men and women in northern Malawi have a passion for souls. Although they lack equipment and supplies, they are making an impact on unreached areas of Malawi.
In one prison where they serve, they held evangelistic meetings, baptizing 100 prisoners. Among those who responded was Samson, a robber. Some prisoners doubted his sincerity, for he had attended only a few of the meetings. But Samson testified, "Even though I did not attend the meetings, I listened from my cell. I heard God's voice calling me, and I have answered."
Several of the newly baptized prisoners have been released and live in northern Malawi, where they faithfully attend church. The lay evangelists continue to work in the prison and have held subsequent baptisms.
Few Adventists live along the shores of Lake Malawi, an area dominated by another Protestant denomination. When Midnight Cry held meetings there, opposition was strong, and few came the first week. But then attendance picked up.
When 16-year-old Viyezgo (vee-AY-joh) responded to the first altar call, his parents were angry and locked him out of the house. He was forced to sleep outside. But he kept coming to the meetings. His parents tried to send him to stay with his aunt in Lilongwe, but on his way to the bus station, he met his aunt, who was coming to visit the family. He walked home with her then hurried to Lake Malawi to be baptized. When he returned home that evening, his parents again locked him out of the house. They sent him to Lilongwe with his aunt, where he attends the Adventist church.
The group is energized as they see God working through them. God invites every believer to become a lay evangelist and share His love in their corner of the world.
GABRIEL ZANCHIOR is a lay evangelist in Benin, West Africa.
|Produced by the General Conference Office
of Mission Awareness.
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