SDA Sabbath School Lesson
Read For This Week's Study: 1 John 2:1-11.
Memory Text: He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:6,NKJV).
Key Thought: The true test of genuine Christianity is Christlikeness.
Fool's Gold? Sin Remedy True Obedience Living Like Jesus Old And New Commands Brotherly Love Further Study And don't miss The Inside Story
Fool's Gold? All too often gold prospectors have been bitterly disappointed to discover that the wonderful "mother lode" of bright-shining, glittering gold has turned out to be worthless fool's gold. To the untrained eye, this deceptive "gold" looks like the real thing. The test is to take it to the chemist and have it analyzed. The first test is a drop of "aqua regia"-a strong acid combination-that dissolves the fool's gold but leaves the true gold untouched.
What an image of true and false Christianity! Both can seem to sparkle in the sunlight and look equally valuable. But when the test of truth comes, the fool's gold is found wanting. And that truth has much to do with how we really live. Too frequently those who claim to have the truth do not demonstrate this in their lives and behavior.
In this week's lesson, we study John's inspired concept of what it means to be a true Christian, one through whom the untarnished love of Christ shines with sparkling beauty. "John insists that he who claims to abide in Christ should give daily evidence that he is emulating his Saviour." - SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 638.
Sunday April 13
Sin Remedy (1 John 2:1,2).
What is God's attitude toward acts of sin? In what way does Jesus plead with the Father? 1 John 2:1.
Commenting on the first clause of 1 John 2:1, Alfred Plummer writes that the Greek "is conclusive against the rendering 'that ye may not continue in sin.' He would help them to avoid every act of sin.... This is the moral effect of the death of Christ;-to unite men to the God who is Light, and to enable them to hate and avoid the darkness of sin." - Alfred Plummer, The Epistles of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1886, 1980), p. 33.
Some have the idea that, as our Advocate, Jesus is pleading for the Father to be nice to us. This is absolutely wrong, as both Scripture and Ellen White point out. Note the words of Jesus: "In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father" (John 16:26, 27, RSV).
"The atonement of Christ was not made in order to induce God to love those whom He otherwise hated; and it was not made to produce a love that was not in existence; but it was made as a manifestation of the love that was already in God's heart." - Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895.
What does it mean for Christ to be the propitiation for our sins? 1 John 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24.
The old word propitiation may convey the wrong meaning as to the relationship of God to humanity. In some contexts, it carries the connotation of appeasement of a hostile and angry deity, which is more related to pagan than true ideas of God.
The Greek word (hilasmos) that the King James Version translates propitiation means "expiation" (the act of making atonement, the means by which atonement is made), or sin-offering. John is referring to the fact that the guilt of the whole world was laid upon Christ (Isa. 53:6; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
"Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation." The Desire Ages, p. 753.
Monday April 14
True Obedience (1 John 2:3-5).
'What does disobedience to God show? 1 John 2:4.
John does not hesitate to use strong words because the issue is so important. He is dealing with people who say they know God but whose lives and Christian behavior are not consistent with their claim. They have great theories about God and His nature, but they do not allow God to come in and change their evil natures. Like many down through the ages, they have the theory but not the practice. We, too, need to see the contradiction between our claims of piety and the evidence of unspirituality in our lives.
How do we truly obey? 1 John 2-3, 5; 5-4, 5.
While disobedience may demonstrate that God is not truly known, obedience can also be from wrong motives. Note this:
"The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely-because he is required to do so-will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. . . . True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right-because right doing is pleasing to God." - Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 97, 98.
Can obedience be legalism? Gal. 3:1-5.
Much depends upon the motives of the heart. Obedience just because the law says so is not enough! There must be an appreciation of right for its own sake, a love to do right, and love for Christ that transcends all personal inclinations. If we have wrong attitudes and motives, we may attempt to keep the law, and yet still not obey. This is why John says, "But whoever obeys his word is the one whose love for God has really been made perfect" (1 John 2:5, TEV). Love for Christ and reception of His power enable us to obey, and successful obedience deepens our love for God.
For reflection: Can you think of a situation in which someone could be a commandment keeper and yet not know God? Are there any examples from the past?
Tuesday April 15
Living Like Jesus (1 John 2:6).
"We have only one perfect photograph of God, and this is Jesus Christ." - Ellen G. White, MS 70, 1899. What does this statement tell you?
Jesus came to show us God (John 1:18; 12:45; 14:9). And so through the visible presence of Jesus as God we can see His true nature and character in contrast to all the lies the devil has told. Jesus is the representation of all that is good and pure and true. So we should spend much time in contemplation of the life of Christ, since it is a living illustration of how God acts in all kinds of situations.
Often we hear of Jesus as our example. In so many ways this is true. He shows us what Christian ideals are in practice. He provides a practical example of godliness. He dei-demonstrates the way to live in a sinful world. But Jesus did not need to be saved! Dangers are there if we seek to copy Jesus as a way of earning salvation. This leads to works righteousness: trying to make our way to heaven by our own efforts. Jesus came to show us how to live (Rev. 3:21). And He came to be our salvation.
So let us look to Jesus as our example of how to live, but let us not think we can walk alone!
Exactly how did Jesus live? 1 Peter 2:21-23. Write down some examples from the Gospels that seem particularly relevant to you.
"How did Jesus walk? Certainly in the light with God, due to his perfect obedience to the heavenly Father's will, to which God himself testified (Matt. 3:17; 12:18: 17:5). But he also walked in love towards the crowds of needy, lost people whom he daily encountered (Matt. 9:36). Walking in the light is not only characterized by the absence of sin but equally importantly by the presence of love. Those who remain (abide) in Christ cannot fail to display the fruit of the Spirit, in a Christ-like character,"-David Jackman, The Message of John's Letters (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), p. 50.
"If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law. 'Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.' 1 John 3:7. Righteousness is defined by the standard of God's holy law, as expressed in the ten precepts given on Sinai." - Steps to Christ, p. 61.
Wednesday April 16
Old And New Commands (1 John 2:7, 8).
One frequent charge against the Bible is that the Old Testament and the New Testament are so different. A few have even suggested that different "Gods" were responsible for the two testaments! But the truth is that though circumstances and situations varied, the message of salvation that God has wanted to communicate has always been the same. It is truly the "everlasting gospel."
Assignment: Write out a few examples that seem to show a difference between the Old and New Testaments. What do these tell you about the way God works?
What is the difference between the "old" and "new" commands? 1 John 2:7, 8.
In the same way that Jesus used the "old" in expressing His message and mission, John reminds his hearers that what He is saying is nothing new. God is consistent: "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8, NIV). He may use different methods and have to operate in emergency situations, but what He wants is unchanging: the willingly given love and trust of His children so that He may save and heal them.
John emphasizes the historic nature of the good news-from Creation until now. But then he remembers that Jesus called it a "new command" (John 13:34). It is new because Jesus has come-not to remove the "old" but to "fulfil" it (Matt. 5:17). Jesus is the clearest representation of God and His character.
John is reminding his readers that the original gospel to which they responded is the only true one. Original and best! As Paul emphasized to the Galatians: "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned" (Gal. 1:8, NIV). Because the devil attempts to pervert the true gospel, every Christian must be on guard against accepting a "modification" of the truth. Ultimately "its truth is seen in Christ.... and the real light is already shining" (1 John 2:8, TEV).
"We must believe the words of God just as he has spoken them; we must take Christ at his word, Believe that he came to represent the Father, and that the Father, as is represented in Christ, is our friend, and that he desires not that we should perish, or he would never have given his Son to die our sacrifice." - Review and Herald, March 8, 1892.
Thursday April 17
Brotherly Love (1 John 2:9-11).
What does the need for loving one another say about the kind of God we worship? 1 John 2:9-11.
God is light-and God is love. Hating means darkness, loving means light. By loving one another as brothers and sisters, we demonstrate that we are following the way of God. Love is a reflection of our acceptance of God and His ways as right. "He who keeps on loving his brother despite circumstances that might produce hatred, must be living a life with God, and therefore dwelling in His light." - SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 639. The opposite is also true: if we hate, we show that the nature of God is not in us.
Why, then, are there so many arguments and divisions in the church? What is God's ideal for the church? 1 Cor. 1:10.
The devil also knows the spiritual truth that love unites! We can have all the theology we want, we can study our Bibles from morning to night, but if we do not have love for one another, we are still in the devil's camp. Like "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1 Cor. 13:1), we are just making a lot of noise but with no real result. So while we may not always agree on every issue, our methods and behavior must be consistently Christlike.
For your thinking: Once a group of members in the church thought a minister was in error and so decided not to speak to him or even shake his hand. How would you have reacted to such a situation?
"How do you really know you are in the dark?" a father asked his daughter. Quickly she replied, "When you bump into things!" Her reply illustrates a spiritual truth, for as Phillips translates this verse: "The man who hates his brother is shut off from the light and gropes his way in the dark without seeing where he is going. To move in the dark is to move blindfold" (1 John 2:11, Phillips). It is a painful experience and very foolish. And yet because hate can be so strong, sometimes people will put up with the agony of living in the dark for the futile satisfaction of maintaining their hatred for someone.
For reflection: Do you hate like this? If so, what should you do about it? Think of some practical answers.
Friday April 18
For Further Study: On the subject of the remedy for sin and living like Jesus, study Hebrews 9:11-14.
"There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, 'These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, 'The Father Himself loveth you.' John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance." - Steps to Christ, p. 64.
Summary: In the same way that Jesus hated no one, but loved all even the unlovable-so must we. Our objective is to refrain from sin. But if we do sin, God still accepts us back when we accept His gift of repentance. He provides the remedy for our sinfulness. We must not take God's graciousness lightly, but seek complete obedience. This obedience has its source in love for Christ and for His definition of what is right. Obedience cannot result from a mere sense of obligation. Day by day we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Taking God at His Word
Izaias Storch and Carlos Roberto Alvarenga
When 10-year-old Gilda Martins Pereira, of Brazil, was baptized last year, the pastor promised her that God would use her in wonderful ways if she placed her life in His hands. Gilda took the pastor-and God-at their word, and they both kept His promise.
Gilda and her parents were baptized following meetings held by lay members of the Central Adventist Church of Lins, Brazil. The church's 200 members divided into 13 teams and held evangelistic meetings in several surrounding towns during Holy Week. One of those towns was Guaiçara, where Gilda and her family live.
For eight months the team members held meetings, visited door to door, and prayed for those who showed an interest. Eight precious souls were baptized into the church, including Gilda and her parents. When the pastor visited with Gilda before her baptism, he noted her leadership potential, and invited her to become a leader in the newly established Sabbath School.
The new believers in Guaiçara continued the work of evangelism begun by the members from Lins. When they decided to hold another series of evangelistic meetings, Gilda took upon herself the task of finding a speaker. She called the leaders of the Lins church and convinced them to send a speaker. Then she continued to call the assigned speaker and remind him to bring a projector, slides, and a good program. Other church members did not think Gilda could get a speaker for their meetings, and they did not invite their friends to come. But when the speaker and his wife arrived at the appointed time, Gilda chided the adults. "Didn't I tell you he would come? But you did not believe." Then she turned to the speaker and urged him to come again the following Sunday, promising that the room would be full.
The following week the speaker arrived to find the room full and people standing in the aisles. He learned that Gilda had gone throughout the town placing posters in the bus depot, stores, and anywhere she could. As a result, 70 people came to the meetings.
The little group of believers was so encouraged by the success of the meetings that they plan to hold another series soon. They are looking for land on which to build a church. In the meantime, 11 year-old Gilda continues to take God at His word and lead out in Sabbath School. "If we do little for Jesus it is because we trust little," she says.
Izaias Storch and Carlos Roberto Alvarenga are members of Adventist Church in Brazil.
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