SDA Sabbath School Lesson
Read For This Week's Study: 1 John 5:13-21.
Memory Text: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1 John 5:13,14, NIV).
Key Thought: In a world that often shatters our confidence, we can always turn to God, the source of supreme confidence.
The Ring Of Confidence Confidence In The Presence of God God Always Hears Praying About The Sins Of Others Safe In The Lord Union With God Further Study And don't miss: The Inside Story
Sabbath Afternoon June 7
The Ring Of Confidence. Some years ago on British television, an advertisement portrayed the advantages of a particular brand of toothpaste. With the slogan, "The Ring of Confidence," a white halo appeared around the necks of the actors and actresses, accompanied by a musical "ping." It was supposed to convince you that by using that toothpaste you could have complete confidence.
But confidence, real and life-changing confidence, does not come from toothpaste. It comes only from knowing God, who gives us eternal life, the One whom we can approach with the assurance that He hears us (1 John 5:14). We do not worship an idol; we worship the great and glorious God, who in His compassion has come to bring salvation to His rebellious, ungrateful children.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb. 4:16, NIV).
Sunday - June 8
Confidence In the Presence of God (1 John 5:13,14).
What are John's grounds for confidence? 1 John 5:13,14.
John is confident that we have nothing to be afraid of in the presence of God. He knows the nature and character of God, and so all his doubts, fears, and insecurities about God and His intentions have been removed. (See also 1 John 3:21,22; 1 John 2:28.) We must continue in Him to have that confidence. We need to remain in Him in that close and intimate relationship of father and child, doing what pleases Him.
Why do we come confidently to God? Write down exactly what your reasons are. Heb. 10:19-25.
"In him [Jesus Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence" (Eph. 3:12, NIV). Some take this to mean that God is remote or hostile, so that we have to come through the intermediation of the Son. This is far from the truth. Because we understand the truth about God from Jesus, we wish to come to God. And what do we say about the divinity of Christ when we say we can approach Him, but not God
The reason for coming to God in confidence is that, by living a perfect life and dying for our sin, Jesus, who is God, has made the true character of God inescapably clear. Because of our trust in Jesus, we come to God in trusting confidence and freedom. We approach because we choose to.
What is the result of your confidence? 1 John 5:14.
People sometimes complain that they feel their prayers go no higher than the ceiling. This is the text to dispel that feeling. We are not to base our faith on feelings. God does not ignore us or refuse to listen, unless we cut ourselves off from Him by choosing to live in sin. Our problem is to make sure we ask according to His will. All too often our prayers are foolish shopping lists or arrogant demands. We need to learn the humility of Christ and approach God as a trusted friend rather than as some kind of impersonal vending machine that satisfies our wants.
If you are not sure "that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1 John 5:14, NIV), what should you do?
Monday June 9
God Always Hears (1 John 5:15).
How should we understand 1 John 5:15?
Does this mean that whatever we ask for we get? Harry Emerson Fosdick said: "God is not a cosmic bell-boy for whom we can press a button to get things." What kind of relationship is one that is simply a list of requests?
We need to set this verse in the context of all that has gone before. We must remember the concepts of following God's will, of demonstrating love to God and fellow human beings, of being primarily friends of God. As Jesus pointed out, the Father gives gifts for our best good, and if we ask for bread we will not receive a stone. So the answer to "whatever we ask" will be determined by our Christian experience and will be for our benefit, not our hurt.
So what is the real purpose of prayer? 2 Chron. 7:14; Jer. 29:13.
Is prayer telling God something He does not already know? Is it a way to persuade Him to do something He will not otherwise do? Is it to prove to Him that He really is God? No to all the above! We do not pray to win God over or to inform Him or to satisfy His vanity! God is trying to help us, not to please Himself.
"Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him."- Steps to Christ, p. 93.
How should you pray? James 1:6.
"There are two kinds of prayer-the prayer of form and the prayer of faith. The repetition of set, customary phrases when the heart feels no need of God is formal prayer. 'When ye pray,' says Christ, 'use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.' We should be extremely careful in all our prayers to speak the wants of the heart, and to say only what we mean. All the flowery words at our command are not equivalent to one holy desire. The most eloquent prayers are but vain repetitions, if they do not express the true sentiments of the heart."-Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, Aug. 14, 1884.
Tuesday June 10
Praying About The Sins Of Others (1 John 5:16,17).
When we hear of a fellow member's sin, what should be our response? (1 John 5:16,17).
Sadly, all too often the response is condemnatory and judgmental. Just as the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman taken in adultery to Jesus and condemned her, so we tend to expose and publicize the sins of our brothers and sisters. Perhaps as a way of making ourselves look better, we point the finger and adopt a holier-than-thou attitude toward our fallen friends.
Instead, the response should be one of grief and support, thinking of what we can do to help and restore. As John says, "you should pray to God, who will give him life" (1 John 5:16). God's nature is inclusive, "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, NIV). God is always there to save, revive, and reestablish the one who has fallen. While we do not believe in the doctrine of once- saved-always-saved, in our attitudes we can give the impression of once-lost-always-lost.
What is the difference between sin to death and that which is not? 1 John 5:16,17.
Some have developed curious doctrines from this verse-that there are mortal sins and venial sins, for example. But sin is sin, and the only sin that God cannot forgive is the sin for which forgiveness is not truly asked. As Jesus made clear, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable (Mark 3:29) because it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin (John 16:8-11). So to resist the conviction of sinfulness is denial of sin and rejection of God's desire to forgive and restore. God will not impose Himself on anyone who rejects Him.
So how should we pray - especially with and for others? Rom. 1:9; Col. 4:12.
"If we keep the Lord ever before us, allowing our hearts to go out in thanksgiving and praise to Him, we shall have a continual freshness in our religious life. Our prayers will take the form of a conversation with God as we would talk with a friend. He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Often there will come to us a sweet, joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. . . . Prayer turns aside the attacks of Satan." - The Faith I Live By, p. 225.
Wednesday June 11
Safe In The Lord (1 John 5:18,19).
How are we safe in the Lord? 1 John 5:18.
The text is specifically speaking about being kept safe from sin. This does not mean that God denies us choice - but as we pray "lead us not into temptation," we choose to stay safe in the hands of our loving Lord.
What does the experience of Job say to us? Job 1:1, 8-12.
As with Job and his troubles, God does not prevent problems and temptations from coming, not to convince Him of the kind of people we are, but to convince ourselves, others, and the whole onlooking universe. "We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men" (1 Cor. 4:9, NIV).
Our safety from sin is not in our being removed from temptation, but in the way we respond to it. God gives "grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb. 4:16, NIV). As we choose God, the evil one cannot harm us, despite the distress of the moment, for we are safe with God as long as we trust in Him. Jesus, "the one who was born of God keeps ... [us] safe" (1 John 5:18, NIV).
We remember Job's denial that he had done anything for which his present experience was a punishment. This was countered by his comforters who appealed to their understanding of God - that He would indeed act in this way to Job because Job needed to repent. There is the actual example, at the end of the story, of Job praying for the sins of his comforters (Job 42:8, 10).
To whom do we belong? 1 John 5:19; 1 Cor. 6:19.
"We know that we belong to God even though the whole world is under the rule of the Evil One" (1 John 5:19, TEV). The whole concept of belonging is critical. We have chosen to belong to God's family, despite the current situation, in which this world is under Satan's domination. Even though this makes us aliens and strangers here, we are part of God's kingdom already, a kingdom that is soon to be fully established with the return of the King. So let us always be absolutely sure where we belong!
For reflection: On what basis do you have the assurance that you really do belong with God?
Thursday June 12
Union With God (1 John 5:20,21).
How does John describe the closeness of our relationship with God? 1 John 5:20.
We are "in him" or as the Good News Bible puts it, "We live in union with the true God - in union with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 5:20, TEV). Identifying with Him, agreeing with Him, right with Him, we have harmony of will, purpose, and objective with God. Now truly we are "at one" with God.
What does Jesus say about this union, this being together and at one? John 17:20-26.
Notice these specific points: "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.... That they may be one as we are one: ... May they be brought to complete unity" (NIV).
Words can become familiar so that they lose their impact. So look again at what Jesus is saying here, that we should be one as He is with God. And this is how John chooses to close his Epistle, emphasizing the oneness all of us should exhibit as we share together in our trusting faith in God. There is no room for divisive and destructive behavior, such as John was writing against. We may not all agree on everything, but we can all be one.
"By faith, we enter into a relationship that will never end. We are in God, and he is in us, his people, so that in Christ we are as close as we possibly could be and God shares with us his own indestructible life, the life of the eternal. Here is reality, here is Truth, ultimate and absolute." -David Jackman, The Message of John's Letters (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), p. 171.
How should we live as true Christians? Eph. 4:12-16.
"Oh, how I wish that we would honor Christ by realizing what He wants to do for us, and taking Him at His word. If we would do this, we should be sunshiny Christians. By beholding Christ, we would be changed into His likeness."- The Upward Look, p. 359.
For reflections: Why does John end with the command to "keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21, NIV)? How does this relate to being one with God?
Friday June 13
For Further Study: What should our prayers be like? Ps. 51:17. "Prayer is not an expiation for sin; it has no virtue or merit of itself. All the flowery words at our command are not equivalent to one holy desire. The most eloquent prayers are but idle words if they do not express the true sentiments of the heart. But the prayer that comes from an earnest heart, when the simple wants of the soul are expressed, as we would ask an earthly friend for a favor, expecting it to be granted--this is the prayer of faith. God does not desire our ceremonial compliments, but the unspoken cry of the heart broken and subdued with a sense of its sin and utter weakness finds its way to the Father of all mercy."- Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 86.
"Home religion is greatly needed, and our words in the home should be of a right character, or our testimonies in church will amount to nothing. Unless you manifest meekness, kindness, courtesy, in your home, your religion will be in vain. If there was more genuine home religion, there would be more power in the church. We may have a great deal more faith than we now have, by living up to the light God has given. Says the apostle, 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' As you would believe in a friend, so you are to trust God. If your friend has never denied your requests, you will not doubt his promise to favor you in some new desire. You are to believe that Jesus knows just what you need, and will supply all your wants; so you can go on in faith, saying 'I have laid my burden upon the Lord, and I will not lay it upon any human being. God will hear and answer my prayers.' "-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, May 19, 1891.
Summary: Life with God, being in union with Him, is to be found through having total confidence in God's saving and healing salvation. Only by truly knowing God as He is can we trust in Him completely, be sure of the effectiveness of prayer, and come with complete assurance that He invites us into His presence eternally.
God's Spirit Moves Mountains, Part 1
Mamosi is an isolated village high in the mountains that form the backbone of New Britain Island, a part of Papua New Guinea. No roads lead to Mamosi. To get there one walks -a two-day journey - or flies in. The church's mission office designated Mamosi as a Global Mission target project. The mission plane would arrive soon and would fly two pastors in to a landing field near the village. Pastor Nick and Pastor Norman volunteered to go.
On a bright Sunday morning, the two pastors loaded their materials and food into the small mission plane and flew off into the clouds. In less than an hour the little plane was circling the tiny airstrip in the mountains. They could see the government school below, and a crowd of men and women standing in front of a building. Once the plane landed, the pastors quickly unloaded their cargo. The pilot shook their hands and wished them God's blessing, and the plane took off with plans to return on the following Thursday. The two pastors watched the plane disappear down the runway and into the sky, then turned to face the curious eyes of the watching crowd.
One man, a village leader, stepped forward and asked he pastors, "Who are you and why are you here?"
"We have come to bring you good news," replied Pastor Nick with a smile. "We would like to hold some meetings for you. We will tell you how to be healthier and happier."
"Are you from the government?" asked the village leader.
"Oh, no!" chorused the pastors. "We came to talk about God."
The villagers eyed them suspiciously. "What lotu [denomination] are you?" one man asked.
"We are Seventh-day Adventists," replied Pastor Norman, smiling his friendliest smile.
The village leader began shouting at the men. "You cannot stay here. We have our own lotu. We don't want 'Seven days' here!"
"Go! Go! Go!" the crowd began to shout at the two surprised pastors. "We do not want you in our village."
Pastor Nick and Pastor Norman looked at each other. This was serious. The people were clearly angry, but the mission plane would not come back for five days. Breathing a prayer for guidance, Pastor Nick motioned for the people to listen to him.
(Continued next week)
Maye Porter is associate child -ministries director in the Papua New Union Mission.
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