The Christians of the last days live in a world that is more and more complex and corrupt. At the same time, despite increasing iniquity and the growing coldness of many Christians, God requires that His people "show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). It is fitting, then, to define the spiritual life that Jesus taught which characterizes the citizens of His kingdom. We expect the coming of Jesus in our day, and by grace we must be fit for it. Ellen White notes that "Enoch's life and character, which were so holy that he was translated to heaven without seeing death, represent what the lives and characters of all must be, if, like Enoch, they are to be translated when Christ shall come."--Our High Calling, p. 278.
The characteristics of the citizens of the kingdom are clearly outlined in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, usually called the Beatitudes. Here Jesus superbly portrays the spirit that, beginning here on earth, must imbue all those who hope, one day, to live in the kingdom of heaven.
"Here He [Jesus] specified who should be the subjects of His heavenly kingdom. He did not speak one word to flatter the men of the highest authority, the worldly dignitaries. But He presents before all the traits of character which must be possessed by the peculiar people who will compose the royal family in the kingdom of heaven. He specifies those who shall become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Himself. He proclaims publicly His choice of subjects, and assigns them their place in His service as united with Himself. Those who possess the character specified, will share with Him in the blessing and the glory and the honor that will ever come to Him." --Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1084.
For this reason the Beatitudes will serve as the basis of our study this quarter. The first lesson is introductory to the Beatitudes and is about the kingdom of heaven, of which we are called to be citizens. In the second lesson we begin a study of the Beatitudes of Jesus, which continues through lesson 12. These lessons (2 through 12) correspond to the Bible passages that Ellen White has included in the chapter "The Beatitudes" in the book Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing. Lesson 13 is drawn from Jesus' illustration of the two gates given near the close of the Sermon on the Mount. This lesson presents Jesus' appeal to enter "in at the strait gate" (Matt. 7:13), which represents in part the principles taught in the Beatitudes. May the careful study of these lessons awaken the desire of each one to grow more and more like Jesus, thus glorifying God and contributing to the hastening of Christ's kingdom of glory.
Dr. Jean Zurcher, now retired, is a scholar, teacher, and administrator. He holds two degrees: Diplome d'Evangeliste, Collonges, Licence es Sciences Morales, and Doctorate in Philosophy, University of Geneva. As a teacher and administrator, his career has spanned three continents. He served as a teacher of history in Collonges, France, returning later as the principal; as teacher and principal in Tananarive, Madagascar; as secretary of the Euro-Africa Division in Bern, Switzerland.
Being recognized as an international authority in education, theology, and philosophy, Dr. Zurcher has received many awards and distinctions from the University of Geneva, the Dutch, French and Malagasy governments, the General Conference Department of Education, and Andrews University. Dr. Zurcher also serves as chairman of the Biblical Research Committee of the Euro-Africa Division and as a member of the Ellen G. White Estate. As a result of his many years of experience and learning, Dr. Zurcher has published numerous books and articles in both French and English. His writings have been translated into more than ten languages.
Giardina Sabbath School Study Helps Jerry Giardina of Houston, Texas, prepares a series of helps to accompany the Sabbath School lesson. He includes all related scripture and EGW quotations. These are provided in three wordprocessing versions and Wordperfect 5.1; Wordperfect 6/7/8; Microsoft Word; HTML (Web Page); and RFT for our MAC friends. Download the preceding file names to your document directory. Then, "run" the program, using either the Win95 Start button or by double clicking on the file name from with Win95 Windows Explorer. The compressed file will automatically decompress, producing 13 weekly files of the format of your choice.
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The lesson organization provided here (with explanations) is quoted directly from the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (Copyright 1998 by the Sabbath School Department, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), and is used here by permission. The lessons are also available on-line in Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish language versions.
Last updated on April 1, 1998
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