SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Fourth Quarter, 1996

God's Family:

the Church

The Christian church is the communion of all Jesus' believing disciples, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit is reigning and who are committed to sharing the everlasting gospel with their fellow human beings. The church before the Cross was the communion of God's called-out, Spirit-directed people who believed in the saving work of the coming Messiah.

"His church is the court of holy life, filled with varied gifts, and endowed with the Holy Spirit. Appropriate duties are assigned by Heaven to each member of the church on earth, and all are to find their happiness in the happiness of those whom they help and bless."--Our High Calling, p. 164.

Throughout history Satan has struggled to destroy God's true church. And at times he seems to have come close to achieving his aim. But rising as a mighty shield between him and the church is the promise of Christ, "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Christ also promised, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35).

Going forth with these promises, the church conducts itself as the bride of Christ. It is a Rebekah, who hastens to draw water from the wells of salvation to refresh all thirsty stranagers. It is a Ruth, who presses close to the feet of her Lord, petitioning, "I am your servant. ... Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer" (Ruth 3:9 NIV)

The church is a Deborah, who proclaims, "May they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength" (Judg. 5:31, NIV). It is a Hannah, who declares, "I rejoice in Your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord ... nor is there any rock like our God" (1 Sam. 2:1,2, NKJV).

The church is an Abigail, who intercedes for the cause of God and with loving devotion accepts His call, urging, "Here is your maidservant, ready to serve you and wash the feet of my master's servants" (1 Sam. 25:41, NIV). It is a Mary, who in response to the humanly impossible promise of God states in faith, "I am the Lord's servant. ... May it be to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38, NIV). It is an Esther, pressing to the throne of grace and judgment, saying, "I will go to the king. ... And if I perish" (Esther 4:16, NIV). Once there, her royal husband extends His scepter. She touches it, and overcome by His love, she also overcomes to sit with Him on His throne forever.

We invite you to step forth in the light of these same promises and illustrations of faithfulness. Learn (1) why God established His family we call the church, (2) how He established it, (3) why the church will triumph, and (4) how you can participate in that triumph.

Last updated on 9/29/96.