October 9 - 15
A People With the Same Faith and Hope
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Rev. 14:6; 2 Tim. 1:12; 2 Pet. 1:16; 1 Cor. 9:16; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 9:28.
MEMORY TEXT: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: How can we build a united church whose members maintain a solid spiritual life in Christ and who share the same faith and hope?
SECURITY AMID CONFUSION. We live in a world of religious confusion. Many people are without any kind of faith or hope. Many others, while believing they are Christians and members of God's family, suffer from religious distortion owing to the neglect of God's word and believing Satan's lies (Matt. 22:29; Mark 12:24; John 8:44). "The truth of God is found in His word. Those who feel that they must seek elsewhere for present truth need to be converted anew. They have wrong habits to mend, evil ways to be abandoned. They need to seek anew the truth as it is in Jesus, that their character building may be in harmony with the lessons of Christ."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 192.
In last week's lesson, we studied how to become new persons in Christ. This week, we will learn how to validate our faith and hope and affirm our convictions in the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6).
In today's world, people suffer from drastic changes and instability. How crucial, then, is the everlasting and reliable gospel of Christ!
Based on what you read in Galatians 1:7-9, what one word best describes the nature of Christ's gospel? (This word does not necessarily have to come from the text given.)
The world is constantly changing. The newest computer software on the market today will be obsolete tomorrow. With or without a reason, people conclude that we must have change. Such a conclusion often means that people even desire to change God's teachings.
But what does Scripture say about this?
Heb. 13:8 ________________________________________________________
Heb. 9:22 ________________________________________________________
1 Pet. 1:25 _______________________________________________________
Think of at least two ways people have tried to change the Bible, God's method of salvation, and even God Himself:
God's Method of Salvation
"Let not erroneous theories receive countenance from the people who ought to be standing firm on the platform of eternal truth. God calls upon us to hold firmly to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. "Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 298. "[Satan] causes men and women to doubt God's love and seeks to deprive them of the power to choose the right. He occupies their minds with anything and everything that will crowd out time, and the desire, for Christ, for His righteousness, and for His kingdom (Luke 21:34-36)."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 909.
|What has been occupying your mind lately? How can you clean out the clutter to make room for Christ?|
What kind of gospel did Peter and Paul teach to their listeners? 2 Pet. 1:16; 1 Cor. 2:13.
There were some "Christians" at the time Peter wrote his second letter who no longer believed in the Second Coming. But Peter claims the right to preach this divine truth because of what he saw on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-5).
Both Peter and Paul were moved by the Spirit to preach God's truth. They taught and wrote about ideas that were not their own. "The gospel will be revealed as a living power and not as cunningly devised fables or idle speculations. It will be revealed as a reality, not the result of imagination or enthusiasm. This will be of more consequence than sermons or professions or creeds. "Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 264.
What two things should we do with the divine message? 1 Cor. 9:16; James 1:22-24.
"Christianity does not help people live their everyday lives." So said one woman who practices a Far Eastern form of religion. Yet according to James 1:22, this is exactly what Christianity was meant to do. It is not enough to read the Bible or sit in a pew on Sabbath and listen to a sermon. The essence of Christianity involves letting what we have studied and heard influence our lifestyles and habits. The powerful gospel transforms people and leads them to reflect the character of Christ.
"If Christians were to act in concert, moving forward as one, under the direction of one Power, for the accomplishment of one purpose, they would move the world."Christian Service, p. 75.
What is the most important contribution you believe the divine gospel has made to your daily life? Be ready to explain why to your Sabbath School class.
|How can you share with a friend, a neighbor, or a colleague this week the difference the gospel has made in your life?|
In what seven areas is the church to achieve a special unity? Eph. 4:3-6.
|1. ___________________________________||4. ____________________________________|
|2. ___________________________________||5. ____________________________________|
|3. ___________________________________||6. ____________________________________|
"The apostles and early Christians considered Christ's return 'the blessed hope.'. . . They expected all the prophecies and promises of Scripture to be fulfilled at the Second Advent ... for it is the very goal of the Christian pilgrimage. All who love Christ look forward eagerly to the day when they will be able to share face-to-face fellowship with Him-and with the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the angels. "Seventh-day Adventists Believe .... p. 334.
Explain what happens when people try to have more than one Lord. Matt. 6:24; Gal. 1:10. How is worrying similar to trying to serve two masters? Matt. 6:25-34.
Have you ever tried to think of several things at a time? Do several things at once? Or focus your eyes on two different objects at the same time? How much success did you have? Trying to serve God while clinging to a favored opinion or prejudice is just as big a failure. He cannot be just one influence among many. He must be our one regard in all aspects of life in order for us to live His life.
"I Mammon' is a Chaldean word for the money-god. It is a word which speaks of the systems of materialism which are so very dominant in human experience. The disciple is to give undivided loyalty to the Master; mammon is to take a very inferior place.
"Jesus is not teaching a withdrawal from the material world. Rather, He calls for a decision which is necessary for His disciples to live freely in the world."Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator's Commentary: Matthew, Lloyd J. Ogilvie, ed. (Word Books: Waco, Texas, 1982), pp. 92, 93.
|How can hope in Christ's return lead to a transformed life and a transformed church? Explain how focusing on the "blessed hope" can prevent us from serving two masters and help us to live freely.|
The secular person has worldly dreams and can develop some hope for a better future. But all these expectations often will end in bitter frustration. More and more the people of our generation recognize human impotence when it comes to building a better world.
But as we learned in yesterday's lesson, as God's children we have the "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) of Christ's return. We are not adrift. We know where we are going! When life is full of distress, the Second Coming gives us hope. "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken" (Ps. 62:5, 6, NIV).
"Feelings are not a safe criterion. We are not to look within for evidence of our acceptance with God. We shall find there nothing but that which will discourage us. Our only hope is in 'looking unto Jesus.'. . . There is everything in Him to inspire with hope, with faith, and with courage. He is our righteousness, our consolation and rejoicing. "Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 199, 200.
Explain the relationship between grace and hope. Rom. 5:2, KJV.
Grace and hope bring joy to our faith. We live both by faith and by hope. One secures the other. Ask yourself: Does the advent hope bring joy and certainty to my life? If not, why not? Decide that no matter what others may do or say, you shall not lose faith in the God who sustains your hope.
Explain how Christ in us is the "hope of glory." Col. 1:27.
When the Lord abides in us, His transforming power renews our inner life, and a new vision regarding the future enlightens all our being. Christ becomes the glorious hope that improves our present and secures our eternal future.
"All the way up the steep path leading to eternal life are wellsprings of joy to refresh the weary. The true, strong joy of the soul begins when Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. "Selected Messages, book 2, p. 169.
|How has the "blessed hope" sustained your courage and faith in the hour of trial? Be prepared to share one such experience with your Sabbath School class.|
Of what is Paul convinced? 2 Tim. 1:12.
Notice that Paul did not say in what he believed, but in whom he believed. His certainty came not from a creed or a theology, but from a personal experience with His Savior. That is why, after doing the work God had asked him to do, he could entrust the results to Him. Paul did not have any doubt about his faith and his Lord. Doubt can produce spiritual weakness and inconsistency. But faith in God brings power to the soul, conviction to the mind, and holiness to the Christian life.
"Faith is trusting in God-believing that He loves us, and knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. "Gospel Workers, p. 259.
One day, while visiting a well-known Christian author, a young man asked:
"Are all the books you've written the foundation of your faith?" The writer answered as he pointed to various books in his library: "These six volumes are my first work on faith. But after the death of my son, I wrote these four volumes on the subject. Then after yet another severe trial, I wrote these two."
Next the writer took down a small book and said: "This is my very last book. But when my wife passed away, I understood that faith is simply to trust in God."
"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (Ps. 112:7, NIV).
What counsel do we find in James 1:2-12 regarding stability, perseverance, and growth in faith and hope?
"Perplexities will increase; but let us, as believers in God, encourage one another. Let us not lower the standard, but keep it lifted high, looking to Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. "Selected Messages, book 2, p. 406.
|According to your observations, what things are most likely to weaken a person's Christian convictions? How often do you feed your faith and hope with the study of God's Word? What difference does this make?|
FURTHER STUDY: Use a concordance to look up the words faith and hope. After reading a few of the verses you find, analyze the relationship between the two.
Read The Great Controversy, pp. 608-612; Last Day Events, chap. 2; Selected Messages, book 2, chaps. 6, 50.
"God's people are not to be in confusion, lacking order and harmony, consistency and beauty. The Lord is greatly dishonored when disunion exists among His people. Truth is a unit. The unity that God requires must be cultivated day by day if we would answer the prayer of Christ. The disunion that is striving for existence among those who profess to believe the last message of mercy to be given to the world, must find no place; for it would be a fearful hindrance to the advancement of God's work. His servants are to be one, as Christ is one with the Father; their powers, illuminated, inspired, and sanctified, must be united to make a complete whole. Those who love God and keep His commandments are not to draw apart; they are to press together."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 174, 175.
SUMMARY: We are God's family with the same faith and hope. We are called to keep and preach only biblical truths free from any favored opinions and prejudices. This way, we can be "united in love and action," as we shall study in the next week's lesson.
As told to B. Wiafe
My name is Mtalimanja Njobvu. I am quite old, though I do not know when I was born. I live in a fanning village in the South Luangwa game reserve in Zambia. My wife died several years ago, and my 10 children have grown and moved into town.
One day I noticed that my eyesight was growing dim. Soon it became impossible to hunt and work on my farm. Without any family members nearby to help me, I lived by the mercy of kind neighbors.
During the dry season, some health workers from Kamoto Hospital came to my village. They examined my eyes and told me that if I did not get help, I would lose the little bit of sight I still had in my right eye. I did not take them seriously at the time, but a few months later I realized that the vision in my right eye was growing dimmer.
My only hope was to get to the hospital at Kamoto, a four-day walk from my village. But I was old and nearly blind. I did not know how long it would take me to get there. Maybe I could not even make it, but I decided to try.
I asked my neighbors to take care of my hut, in which were stored all my earthly belongings. I put on my best attire and started for Kamoto. My journey took me through the game reserve, where I heard the elephants, birds, and monkeys. But I could not see them.
Sometimes I missed the path and had to turn back to find it again. At night I slept in villages along the way. Some of the people I talked to encouraged me to go on, and others told me to go home. But I had made up my mind to press on.
On the ninth day I finally reached Kamoto only to learn that the doctor was away. I was so disappointed! But the people there were wonderful; they took me to Mwami Hospital in Chipata by ambulance! That was my first ride in a vehicle in 25 years.
The doctors in the hospital at Mwami operated on my eyes. Within 10 days I was given a pair of glasses to wear. Behold! Now I can see with the eyes of a young man! I can hunt and farm, and I do not have to rely on my neighbors to feed me. Thank you for helping me receive my sight again.
Dr. B. Wiafe Is the medical director and chief ophthalmologist of the Mwami Adventist Hospital in Chipata, Zambia. He performed the surgery on Mr. Njobvu's eyes.
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