SDA Sabbath School Lesson
|Don't Lose Out!|
Read For This Week's Study: 2 John.
Memory Text: "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for" (2 John 8, NIV).
Key Thought: Having come so far in the Christian life, how foolish it would be to give up and lose out now! It is not that we are thinking of the reward; we want to continue through to the end so we can be forever with our God of truth and love.
Staying With The Truth! The Divine Harmony Of Truth and Love No New Command Don't Be Deceived New Light Talking Heart-To-Heart Further Study And don't miss: The Inside Story
Sabbath Afternoon June 8
Staying With The Truth! Hearing of the situation in the church, John dashes off this letter as a way of reflecting his love and concern, although he would far rather speak to them face to face.
His emphasis: Don't lose out! How foolish it would be to give up now, he reminds them. And the same applies to us today. How foolish to give up on the truth now. Despite all the problems surrounding us and the difficulties in the church, we need to remember who the Lord is we love. Deceivers are around; but we do not need to be fooled.
This inspired letter commands us to walk in love. We need to set our spiritual priorities.
A boy was running in a school cross-country race, and was in second place. Then he noticed that the boy behind had lost his shoe so he stopped to help him out. Then this boy dashed ahead and so his helper came in third. This illustrates the way we should be as Christians. While everybody else is concentrating on winning this world's race and gaining their own prizes, we are to have as our top priority our love and concern for others. Our lives are to reflect God's love.
Sunday - June 15
The Divine Harmony Of Truth And Love (2 John 1-3).
What are the two key words of this letter? 2 John 1..
These essential terms are both repeated six times in the space of this brief epistle. John emphasizes the primary concepts that dominate both his first letter and his Gospel. Truth without love is cold and formal, right without being winsome. Love without truth is misguided and dishonest, affectionate without being legitimate.
By identifying God as a Being of both truth and love, John captures the essence of the way God operates and the response He wishes from us. The principles of God and His government rest on these two great pillars, rightly understood. The divine harmony of truth and love will have definite results in the life of the Christian:
"If the divine harmony of truth and love exists in the heart, it will shine forth in words and actions.... The spirit of genuine benevolence must dwell in the heart. Love imparts to its possessor grace, propriety, and comeliness of deportment. Love illuminates the countenance and subdues the voice; it refines and elevates the entire man. It brings him into harmony with God, for it is a heavenly attribute." - The Adventist Home, p. 426.
How does John appeal to "the chosen lady" and her children? 2 John 2.
The truth "lives in us and will be with us forever" (2 John 2, NIV). Could we write a letter like that, with such assurance? Are we convinced that the truth lives in usand will be with us forever?
What is God's way of using truth and love? 2 John 3.
"God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan's government. The Lord's principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God's government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power."- The Desire of Ages, p. 759.
For reflections: Because God operates in this way, what are the implications for the way you live?
Monday June 16
No New Command (2 John 4-6).
What was new about the command John gave? 2 John 4, 5?
Jesus Himself identified a new command (John 13:34). But though it may have seemed new to His hearers at the time, this was not a new command. It reflected the will and character of God since the very beginning. As John wrote in the previous letter, "This command I am writing you is not new; it is the old command, the one you have had from the very beginning. The old command is the message you have already heard. But the command I now write you is new, because its truth is seen in Christ and also in you" (1 John 2:7, 8, TEV). God's command becomes new in the person of Jesus Christ - in Him it is most clearly revealed. This command was at the heart of Jesus' message.
Commands sometimes seem like trying to force people to do something against their will. Is this what God wants? John 7:17.
Only by walking in the truth can we find true obedience, which does not come through force or compulsion. We need to emphasize this point, for the devil has been very successful in suggesting that God does indeed operate this way. It can be said that ideas of divinely approved coercion are to be found in every example of human religion. But since Jesus stresses the love command, it becomes clear that God never compels or pressures any of His children to obey Him. Indeed, to operate from such principles of force and compulsion would be to negate the whole great controversy and its evidence, accumulated at such tremendous cost. For if God can achieve His intentions by force, why does He not do so? Why did He not do so in the very beginning?
"If a man is to be convinced, the truth as it is in Jesus must be presented to his mind, and must appeal to his heart. Christ refuses every other method-everything like compulsion, or restriction, or force. His only weapons are truth and love. 'I, if I be lifted up from the earth,' he says, 'will draw all men unto me.' Fallen humanity is drawn, not forced, into any position."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, June 28, 1898.
For reflection: How does Jesus' statement about being lifted up from the earth (on the cross) express God's ideals of truth, love, and freedom?
Tuesday June 17
Don't Be Deceived (2 John 7, 8).
Can you think of any modern-day examples of deceivers who refuse to acknowledge the truth about Jesus Christ as did the deceivers in John's day (2 John 7)?
The problem is still with us today. John had to deal with deceivers who taught that Christ was not actually human. Arguments over the exact nature of Christ continue to plague the church and can be very divisive in their consequences. John maintains the biblical position: that the nature of Christ was unique. He was fully God and fully man. Anything else leads us either to reduce His divinity or diminish His humanity.
A teacher once asked a class to gather together as many opinions of Christ as they could. The opinions were varied. But (apart from those from the church group) the majority were not willing even to allow for the actual existence of Christ. They considered Him to be a mythical figure. Of those who did say he was real, the majority saw him as a good teacher.
The incarnation-the belief that God was in human form in Jesus is absolutely essential to the Christian gospel. We must see God in the man Christ Jesus, for if we do not, His reason for coming is denied.
What are the dangers in listening to these deceivers? 2 John 8.
The tragedy is that you lose your way. Time and again this has happened, sometimes to dear friends in the church. Some intriguing person or idea comes along, and people become all worked up about the situation. Often this is linked to a denial of certain truths and almost invariably to criticism of leadership and ministry. While not wishing to suggest that leaders and ministers are without fault, any idea or system that makes repeated attacks on the current church leaders must be viewed with suspicion-for it is only by denying others' authority that such people can gain authority for themselves.
Sometimes the points of conflict may seem quite absurd. ne spokesman for a particular viewpoint preached on the evils of vinegar and the sin of wearing multicolored clothing. What we must preach is Christ and Him crucified. This is our highest priority.
For reflection: What can you do to protect others from deception?
Wednesday June 18
New Light? (2 John 9-11).
What should be our response to new ideas about Christian beliefs? 2 John 9. 2 John 9. List some principles that you think are important.
While being careful not to deny the gradual revelation of truth, we must also identify with this position:
"Anyone who does not stay with the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God" (2 John 9, TEV). Christ is not contradictory; anything someone has to say must be tested by what has already been revealed. Deception may seem impressive. A popular TV evangelist may say that he is communicating God's word directly, but this can be no substitute for the study of the Bible. There are no shortcuts here: for "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16, NIV).
So how should we treat those who demonstrate that they are not teaching truth? 2 John 10, 11.
These verses seem to be harsh, suggesting that hospitality is to be denied and that we should not even greet certain people. John has already said enough to make clear that love must be demonstrated, but he makes clear that love is not a question of imprudent toleration.
"The injunction not to receive any one who does not bring 'the teaching of Christ' means that no such person must be accepted as a Christian teacher or as one entitled to the fellowship of the church. It does not mean that (say) one of Jehovah's Witnesses should not be invited into the house.... Still less does it mean that disagreements on church order should be treated as deviations from 'the teaching of Christ' and used as a ground of exclusion.... But for a church, or its responsible leaders, knowingly to admit within its bound the propagation of teaching subversive of the gospel is to participate in what John describes as 'evil works.' "-F. F. Bruce, The Epistles of John (London: Pickering and Inglis, 1970), p. 142.
For reflection: How should we as a church investigate "new light," and how should we deal with disruptive teachers? Consider: "We should be careful how we receive evertying termed new light. We must beware lest, under cover of searching for new truth, Satan shall divert our minds from Christ and the special truths for this time." - Selected Messages, book 1, p. 159.
Thursday June 19
Talking Heart-To-Heart (2 John 12,13).
What do John's final words reveal about the attitudes Christians should have? 2 John 12.
"I have a lot that I could write to you, but somehow I find it hard to put down on paper. I hope to come and see you personally, and we will have a heart-to-heart talk together-and how we shall enjoy that!" (2 John 12, Phillips).
We can see John's great love that comes straight from the heart. Separated by distance, his heart goes out to his brothers and sisters in the truth, for whom he genuinely loves and cares. What a tremendous example to us. Christianity is shown for what it truly is when theological truth is played out in the lives of individual believers.
How is John's joy made complete? What are the implications for us? 2 John 12.
John's greatest happiness is to be with his extended Christian family. He writes from genuine "parental" concern for those he loves in the truth, and he wishes, more than anything else, to be with them. He expresses a real and deeply felt love for these members of the church. So why do some say that they would rather not be in church, that they prefer not to associate with other members, that whatever they feel for them, it is not love?
Whatever the situation, lack of love in the church is a result of sin and selfishness.
"The Saviour desires His Church to be governed by the principles of love and truth. Love for one another reveals that the love of God is abiding in the heart. But many who profess to be followers of Christ are so filled with a sense of their own importance that they have no room in the heart for the sweet peace of Christ. They do not practice His instruction. They do not manifest His forbearance and love. Their hearts, once full of love for God and their brethren, are frozen by selfishness....
"Love of self excludes the love of Christ. Those who live for self are ranged under the head of the Laodicean Church."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Aug. 6, 190 1.
For reflection: How can you know and love Jesus more fully, so that His love can be seen in you, and you can love others better?
Friday June 20
For Further Study:Reconsider the Laodicean message (Rev. 3:14-22) in the light of 2 John.
A Challenge to us all: "Take the question to your own hearts, and answer it as if before the Judge of all the earth. A reformation must take place in every family, in every institution, in every church... [passages from 1 John quoted]."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, April 3, 1900.
On making sure you don't lose out: "The thoughts must be upon heavenly things if you desire the Holy Spirit of God to impress truth upon the mind and soften and subdue the heart, inspiring ardent love of truth, of justice, of mercy, and of purity. The Spirit will bring to your remembrance the most precious jewels of thought. The whole heart will be warm with the contemplation of Jesus and His love, His teachings will be cherished, and you will love to speak to others the comforting things that have been opened to you by the Spirit of God. This is the privilege of every son and daughter of God. Oh, if those who believe the truth would love and fear the Lord always, if they would abide in Christ, they would treasure up the most precious experience; they would have moral and intellectual power; the grace of God would be in them 'like a well of water springing up into everlasting life,' and would flow forth from them as streams of living water. When persecution comes, the influence of such souls will be manifest; they will delight to magnify the truth."-Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, p. 345.
Summary: As we each one allow ourselves to be molded by the influence of God's healing grace, we will inevitably become more loving, caring people. If this is nothappening in our lives, it must lead us to question the validity of our experience with God. Our highest desire will be not to lose out on the wonderful experience of being with God now and for all eternity, and together with all other believers.
God's Spirit Moves Mountains, Part 2/FONT>
Pastor Nick and Pastor Norman had flown to Mamosi, a village high in the mountains of New Britain Island, to witness to the people there. But instead of a welcome, the villagers told the two pastors to leave. However the mission plane had already left and would not return for five days. After praying for God's guidance, Pastor Nick spoke to the shouting crowd. "I'm sorry that our coming has upset you," he said. "We don't know what to do. Our plane will not return until Thursday. Could you please let us stay until then? We will not preach if you don't want us to. It is cold up here in the highlands." Pastor Nick hugged himself and smiled his friendliest smile. "May we stay in a house until then?"
"We will discuss this matter," the leader replied grudgingly. While the villagers talked together, the two pastors prayed. Soon the village leaders returned. "You can stay," they said. "We will prepare a house for you. But you are not to preach."
Several village boys helped the pastors carry their cargo to a bush house. The people brought food for them to eat, according to their custom. Some of the villagers stopped to talk and "story" with the pastors. When darkness fell Pastor Nick said, "We are going to have our worship now, so you people should leave." But the people stayed and listened as the pastors had worship. They pretended to talk together, but their words were intended for their listeners. And when the two men bowed their heads to pray, those listening around the house bowed their heads, as well.
Early the next morning the church bell rang for worship. The village's religious teacher appeared at the pastors' house. "Please come," he begged. "The people want you to speak to them."
"But we are not allowed to talk about God to the people," Pastor Nick said. "We promised we would abide by the rule you gave us."
"We have changed our minds," the teacher said. "We know you have something good to tell us." The two pastors quickly dressed and hurried to the church, where they found a large congregation waiting. They conducted worship and thanked the people for allowing them to speak. When they finished speaking, the people asked the pastors to speak at the evening meeting, as well, and the pastors agreed, delighted at this change of heart.
(Continued next week)
Maye Porter is associate child -ministries director in the Papua New Union Mission.
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