Lesson 13 December 21-27
Read For This Week's Study: Isa. 65:8, 9, 17, 21-25; 66:22, 23; 1 John 5:11-13; Rev. 21:1-5; 22:17.
Memory Text: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Key Thought: Both Old and New Testament scriptures give us great comfort in their description of the restoration of this earth to its original perfection. Immortality and freedom from disease will give joy to all who inhabit the new earth. What hope to all who suffer in this present life!
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Sabbath Afternoon December 20
Through Christ's Promises We Have Unending Hope. It was the promise of Christ's return that sustained the disciples in the first century. It was the promise of Christ's return that sustained the Advent believers in the 1840s. They misunderstood the event that was to take place in 1844, but they loved Jesus and continued to believe His promises.
On William Miller's farm in New York state, a chapel still stands, and over the pulpit are the words from the book of Daniel, "At the time appointed the end shall be." While we do not know the day of Jesus' return, we have absolute confidence that He will return "at the time appointed," and then He will restore the perfection of the Garden of Eden in our re-created world.
Sunday December 21
The Promise of Eternal Restoration (Isa. 25: 8,9).
Promises of the restoration of righteousness and perfection to the earth are found in Old and New Testament alike. This chain of promises runs through the Bible like a golden thread. But the promise of a time when there will be no more pain or death has been a special comfort to all because in this world of sin there is no "permanent" family circle; inevitably it is a broken circle.
What hope did Jesus give Martha at the grave of her brother Lazarus? How did Martha respond? John 11:24-27.
"Had Christ been in the sickroom, Lazarus would not have died; for Satan would have had no power over him. Death could not have aimed his dart at Lazarus in the presence of the Life-giver. Therefore Christ remained away. He suffered the enemy to exercise his power, that He might drive him back, a conquered foe."--The Desire of Ages, p. 528.
Why cannot humanity in its present condition inherit God's kingdom of glory? By what change will Jesus make possible that inheritance? 1 Cor. 15:50-57.
Peter Marshall, an immigrant to America from Scotland, knew that God had called him to the ministry. His keen insights into life and spirituality made him a sought-after speaker, and the pews of his Washington, D.C., church were always filled. A selection of some of his memorable sermons was published under the title Mr. Jones Meet the Master, and the story of his life became a popular film. He became the chaplain to the U.S. Senate, and his poignant prayers were published in the Washington press.
Soon after this appointment to the Senate, Peter suffered a heart attack and later a second heart attack that ended his life. As he left his home by ambulance after the second attack, he whispered to his wife, Catherine, "I'll see you, darling, I'll see you in the morning."
Goodbyes are never easy, and the goodbyes at death are the most crushing of all. But when you know your Jesus has passed through the dark valley, and the resurrection on that soon-to-dawn morning is as certain as tomorrow's sunrise, even the pain of death can lose a little of its sting.
In what ways can the hope of the resurrection influence daily life at home and at work?
Monday December 22
The Source of Restoration (1 John 5:11-13).
Jesus is the source of all life on our planet because He was the active agent in Creation. The New Testament identifies Jesus as the One who spoke the words that brought all creation into existence. The Psalms record that "He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm" (Ps. 33:9, NIV), and the New Testament writers expanded on these words to identify Jesus as the One who spoke. For example, John wrote: "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him" (John 1:10, NIV, italics supplied).
And the One who created will re-create and restore this shattered world into a condition that we, in our sinful condition, cannot even imagine. Quoting from Isaiah 64:4, Paul exclaimed, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (I Cor. 2:9, KJV).
When does eternal life begin for the believer? I John 5:11, 12; John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24.
While the gift of immortality is given at the second coming of Christ (I Cor. 15:53), eternal life begins when we accept Christ into our hearts. When we are born again, the mind is renewed, and we become new creatures. We receive the gift the moment we receive Him, for He is eternal life. Thus, to have Jesus as Saviour is to have eternal life.
What did Jesus mean when He declared Himself to be the Bread of Life? John 6:48-51.
The Creator is also the Sustainer. John 6 has Jesus three times repeat the truth that He is the Bread of Life. These statements occurred in a sermon preached the day after Jesus fed 5,000 of His hungry listeners. The story of the previous day spotlights the lad whose mother probably had the forethought to provide for her son and the young man's readiness to give his nourishing lunch to Jesus (John 6:8, 9). That lunch became a banquet for a large crowd. But baskets of food remained after the crowd was filled and satisfied. "Filled and satisfied" are words that accurately describe our condition when we find Jesus as our Bread of Life.
What are the practical means by which we can experience Jesus as the One who fills and satisfies? How can we help others to partake of the Bread of Life?
Tuesday December 23
The Restoration of Humanity (Rev 21:1-4).
It is the descent of the city that sets the stage for the climax of God's plan to restore earth to Edenic perfection. "As the ransomed ones are welcomed to the City of God, there rings out upon the air an exultant cry of adoration. The two Adams are about to meet. The Son of God is standing with outstretched arms to receive the father of our race--the being whom He created, who sinned against his Maker, and for whose sin the marks of the crucifixion are home upon the Saviour's form. As Adam discerns the prints of the cruel nails, he does not fall upon the bosom of the Lord, but in humiliation casts himself at His feet, crying: 'Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain!' Tenderly the Saviour lifts him up and bids him look once more upon the Eden home from which he has so long been exiled.... Transported with joy, he beholds the trees that were once his delight--the very trees whose fruit he himself had gathered in the days of his innocence and joy. He sees the vines that his own hands have trained, the very flowers that he once loved to care for.... The Saviour leads him to the tree of life and plucks the glorious fruit and bids him eat."--The Great Controversy, pp. 647, 648.
In the picture of the New Jerusalem returning to earth after 1000 years in heaven, the followers of Christ are likened to a bride (Rev. 21:2). What is the most important feature of the bride? Rev.19: 7, 8.
Christ's justified, sanctified people, at the conclusion of the pre-Advent judgment (Rev. 19:2), are depicted as clothed in "fine linen, bright and clean" (Rev. 19:8, NIV). As spiritual overcomers through the power of Jesus Christ, they are clothed for eternity with His righteousness; their works demonstrate Christ's mastery of their lives, and their names are retained in the book of life (Rev. 3:5). The robe of righteousness they wear represents "the righteous deeds of the saints" (Rev. 19:8, RSV). Righteous deeds are performed only by those who have received the gift of Christ's righteousness (I John 2:29). Righteous deeds demonstrate that Christ's righteousness rules in their lives (I John 3:7).
Our ministry to others involves "the righteous acts of saints," but never to merit salvation, only as evidence of its accomplished fact. The Olivet sermon climaxes with Jesus' dividing the sheep and the goats on the evidence of a ministry of service to others or the lack of it (Matt. 25:31-46).
Wednesday December 24
The Restoration of the Earth (Isa. 65:17).
Our earth is in desperate need of renewal. The apostle Paul observed, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:22, KJV). Remarkably, there are still numberless areas of exquisite beauty in nature, despite the desolation of the earth by past natural disasters, including Noah's flood and contemporary desolation caused by such upheavals as earthquakes.
What should be the attitude of Christians toward the preservation of nature? Does the fact of its promised restoration have an influence on our relationship to its protection and preservation now? Why?
How complete will be the renewal of the earth? Isa. 65:17; 2 Peter 3:11-13.
Of what realities can we be certain in the new earth? Isa. 65:17, 21, 22; 66:22, 23; Rev. 21:4.
It is almost impossible to visualize a world in which there is no disease or death, no sorrow or crying, no pain or suffering. It is also difficult to comprehend a real earth with real people who will recognize one another, but with no suffering or handicapped person. The bloom of health will be seen on every cheek. The joy of living will be evident on every face. There will be real work, real homes, and real beauty to gladden all those who are there.
How can we best focus on a new earth and be good stewards of this earth?
"Human language is inadequate to describe the reward of the righteous. It will be known only to those who behold It. No finite mind can comprehend the glory of the Paradise of God. In the Bible the inheritance of the saved is called 'a country.' There the heavenly Shepherd leads His flock to fountains of living waters. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations. There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord.... God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home."--The Great Controversy, p. 675.
Thursday December 25
The Assurance of Restoration (Rev. 22:17).
The invitation to be part of God's eternal kingdom is extended to everyone. "Whosoever will" may come. Jesus invites everyone born into this world to come to Him and be saved and thus be prepared to enter the New Jerusalem and the New Earth.
How did Jesus express to Nicodemus the conditions for eternal restoration? John 3:5.
Experiencing the new birth comes when an individual kneels at the foot of the cross in repentance and receives forgiveness. This was what Peter referred to when he said to the people at the temple, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). This experience is sometimes described by the metaphor of washing our clothes in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14; 12:11; 19:7, 8). The "blood of the Lamb" refers to Christ's death on the cross, where He took our sins and died as our substitute.
"As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself is 'the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.' Rom. 3:26. And 'whom He justified, them he also glorified.' Rom. 8:30."--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 163.
What word of blessing is given to those who enter the New Jerusalem as their final home? Rev. 21:6, 7.
It is Christ who gives life and offers the power to help us choose not to sin. In relationship with Him, we maintain the assurance of eternal life. Each day we can grow closer to Jesus and become more and more like Him. The pearly gates of the New Jerusalem will open wide to those who walk daily with Jesus in such repentance and obedience.
How can we maintain this assurance on a daily basis? John 15:3-11. What part do prayer, Bible study, and witnessing have to play? Why? Try to be very specific.
"There, immortal minds will contemplate with never-failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mysteries of redeeming love"- -The Great Controversy, p. 677.
Friday December 12
Further Study: Read Isaiah, chapters 65 and 66; Revelation, chapters 19-22; "The Controversy Ended," The Great Controversy, chapter 42.
"This earth is the place of preparation for heaven. The time spent here is the Christian's winter. Here the chilly winds of affliction blow upon us, and the waves of trouble roll against us. But in the near future, when Christ comes, sorrow and sighing will be forever ended. Then will be the Christian's summer. All trials will be over, and there will be no more sickness or death."--Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 988.
"The controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love."--The Great Controversy, p. 678.
As the delegates at the 1995 General Conference session in Holland sang so enthusiastically:
"We have this hope that burns within our hearts.
Hope in the coming of the Lord.
We have this faith that Christ alone imparts,
Faith in the promise of His Word.
We believe the time is here,
When the nations far and near
Shall awake, and shout, and sing
Hallelujah! Christ is king!
We have this hope that burns within our hearts,
Hope in the coming of the Lord."-Wayne Hooper
Summary: The followers of Christ will show compassion and love for the afflicted, sorrowing, and ill whom they meet from day to day. They are ever motivated by "the blessed hope" of His soon return.
20-Something Youth Ministry Wins Teen
Beverly Herbrandson Koester
Priscilla O'Dala is a bright, outgoing 19-year-old from Blantyre, Malawi. Her love of people drew her into an Adventist youth ministry that has changed her life.
"I knew a little about Adventists because one person out of every 60 in Malawi is a baptized Seventh-day Adventist. But I was never really interested in what they believe. My family studies the Bible together, and when we found the Sabbath commandment, we agreed that the seventh day was the Sabbath. But our family worshiped on Sunday. I asked God to lead me into the right religion.
"One day an Adventist friend invited me to a 20-Something Youth-Club meeting. The club is not just social; it has all-day meetings one Sabbath a month. We worship, study the Bible, enjoy fellowship, and share outreach. It is a great chance for young people to make new friends in a comfortable, safe, Christian environment. We usually have around 50 young people at the gatherings, and always we have visitors.
"The 20-Something members made me feel so welcome, I was eager to go back. The youth sang as though they really meant what they were singing, and they prayed before doing nearly anything. That really impressed me. Now I pray about everything I do.
"The 20-Something Club drew me into regular church attendance. Then I began staying after church to watch a video Bible study. I took notes then studied the texts later. The presentation on the Sabbath really impressed me, since it reinforced everything I had been reading. The Bible-class teacher answered my questions and invited me to be baptized. I knew it was God's call to me. I was baptized on 20-Something Sabbath when all my new friends could be present.
"I'm thrilled that now my father and sister have joined the baptismal class. I thank God through His Son, Jesus Christ for giving me this wonderful life."
Beverly Herbrandson Koester is sponsorship coordinator for the Malawi Union.
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