December 11 - 17
Strong and Active for the Final Crisis
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: 2 Pet. 1:5-11; Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Cor. 10:12, 13; Heb. 2:18; John 5:39; Acts 2:1, 2.
MEMORY TEXT: "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: What is the final crisis? How does it involve God's church? And how can we come through it victoriously?
MISSION AND CRISIS. Israel was to represent God to the Gentiles in such an attractive way that the Gentiles would be drawn into their fold (Isa. 56:8). Sabbathkeeping would play an important role in the success of this mission (vs. 1, 2, 6, 7). To this end, the Lord became more specific in Isaiah 58:12-14. Take time to read these verses now.
The church's mission today is no different. God's law was breached when the Sabbath of His fourth commandment was changed by the little horn power (Dan. 7:23-25). But God will have a remnant people who will restore this breach, especially through the proclamation of the gospel as it is found in the three angels' messages (Rev. 14:6-12).
The proclamation of these messages will arouse a worldwide crisis over whether people should obey God's law or human tradition. This week's lesson will focus, not on the crisis, but on Christ and how He can help us be a successful part of the remnant.
What assurance do we have that the church is built on a solid foundation and therefore cannot be shaken, even during a crisis? Eph. 2:19-22.
In whom. "That is, in Jesus Christ. This expression, the key phrase of the epistle... expresses a mystic but real experience, as does the phrase 'in the Lord' at the end of the verse. Christian growth takes place by our being 'in him.' "SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1011.
How does Peter express the progressive experience of a true Christian? 2 Pet. 1:5-11. Why does he begin with faith and end with love?
Peter's marvelous ladder helps us climb toward a fruitful spiritual life. "There is no place in the school of Christ where we graduate. We are to work on the plan of addition, and the Lord will work on the plan of multiplication. "Selected Messages, book 1, p. 379.
Growing in faith equips us to work for God. In 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20, Paul states that this work involves being ambassadors for Christ, reconciling others to Him. Compare the following aspects of being an ambassador to a foreign country with Christians' being ambassadors for Christ: (1) Ambassadors live in a country foreign to them, among people who usually do not speak their language and who observe different customs, traditions, and laws. (2) Ambassadors speak for the country they represent. They are the voice of that country. (3) Countries are often judged by the behavior of their ambassadors. So they can bring either honor or disgrace to their country.
We grow in order to be useful instruments in God's hands. As His ambassadors, we become instruments of reconciliation. What a privilege to be God's representatives on this earth! To recognize that God has given us such a ministry of reconciliation should draw us together as a united front to bring the world to Him in these last days.
How does the work of reconciliation relate to the church's mission as outlined in Sabbath's lesson? How can the Sabbath assist in the reconciliation process?
|How can the Sabbath help us to maintain a growing Christian experience?|
We are at war against the evil one. And we want to triumph over him. Paul advises that we do so by putting on the whole armor of God. Read Ephesians 6:10-17. In the chart below, list each piece of God's armor and what it symbolizes. Then explain why it is a fitting symbol. (For example: The shield is a good symbol for faith, because faith protects us from the fiery darts of temptation.)
Piece of Armor
What It Symbolizes
Why Is It a Fitting Symbol?
"The whole armor of God" (v. 11). "The Christian is vulnerable at many spots, and often that characteristic he thinks is his strongest turns out, under temptation, to be his weakest. As a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, so the Christian is no stronger than his weakest element of character. In view of the variety of foes that must be met and the various weaknesses of the flesh, nothing less than the entire armor will suffice."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1044.
Along with the use of God's armor, what else should we do in these evil days? Eph. 5:15-17. What does Paul mean by "redeeming the time" in verse 16?
This is the time when we must be wise, because our adversary "the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8, NKJV). He is using these final hours to tempt, deceive, weaken, and destroy as many people as possible.
|In Ephesians 6:18, Paul adds that to our walking circumspectly and wearing God's armor, we should pray. What three things about prayer does he stress In this verse? Consider your own prayers carefully. Are they characterized by these three things? What steps can you take to improve?|
The tempter does not rest. He works everywhere and against everyone. We need to remember this fact in order to resist him through Christ, with the help of His holy angels. If we become self-confident and begin to neglect our relationship with God, we will fall victim to our enemy. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12, NKJV).
It is encouraging to know that God will not allow us "to be tempted beyond" our strength, "but with the temptation will also make the way of escape" (v. 13).
"We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken or rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."Steps to Christ, p. 64.
What is Jesus able to do for those who are tempted, and why? Heb. 2:18.
"As an overcomer He has given us the advantage of His victory, that in our efforts to resist the temptations of Satan we may unite our weakness to His strength, our worthlessness to His merits. "Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 480.
What beatitude (blessing) and promise does James express for those who endure temptation? James 1:12. What is significant about the promised gift God will give to those who love Him?
In this week's lesson we are exalting God's great blessings to His faithful children: (1) He helps us to grow and work for Him; (2) He gives us His whole armor to overcome the enemy; (3) He makes us victorious over temptation; and (4) He encourages us with this beatitude and promise. Through the Holy Spirit, God gives us our personal victories, as well as victory for His church (Zech. 4:6).
|How does the Lord promise to keep us "from the hour of trial" which shall come to the earth? Rev. 3:10. Put your name In the following part of the verse: "Because you, (your name), have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you, (your name), from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world" (NKJV).|
What concise counsel does Paul give us? 1 Thess. 5:17. How would you suggest a person follow this advice?
Prayer is the source of spiritual power. It is impossible to have a relationship with God without prayer. If we love Him, we shall feel a special pleasure in seeking His presence and talking with Him. He is our best Friend. How, then, can we even think of living without constant communion with Him?
When a Christian homemaker commented that she prayed all the time, a friend asked, "How can you get any work done if you're praying all the time?" The first women responded this way: "While I do the laundry, I ask God to wash my soul. While I iron the clothes, I pray that the Lord will take out the wrinkles of my character. And when I sweep the floors, I ask Jesus to clean the chambers of my heart."
Besides prayer, how else can we have communion with God? John 5:39.
We cannot feed our spiritual life without food from the Word. Through Bible study, we can learn how to triumph over the enemy. Read in Matthew 4:1-11 how Jesus overcame temptation. Our strength comes from knowing and practicing the Word of God. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22, NKJV).
"Temptations often appear irresistible because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, the tempted one cannot readily remember God's promises and meet Satan with the Scripture weapons."The Great Controversy, p. 600.
It is in the silence of the soul that we can often find the fountain of a powerful Christian experience. Read Isaiah 30:15; Mark 1:35; 6:31; Luke 5:15, 16; 6:12. In these verses, we find examples of how to fulfill the need for prayer and for creative spiritual meditation.
"While we are to labor earnestly for the salvation of the lost, we must also take time for meditation, for prayer, and for the study of the word of God. Only the work accomplished with much prayer, and sanctified by the merit of Christ, will in the end prove to have been efficient for good."The Desire of Ages, p. 362.
|Examine your daily Bible study habits. Make a list of ways to improve. Plan to put into practice at least one of those ways.|
Describe the early church's experience with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1, 2. What was the Holy Spirit able to do for them, and why?
Note that (1) Christ's followers were united, (2) they were praying, (3) the Spirit came upon them with a visible manifestation that included a mighty wind and tongues of fire, (4) they began to speak the languages of people from other nations who were dwelling in Jerusalem.
"For the outpouring of the Spirit every lover of the cause of truth should pray. And as far as lies in our power, we are to remove every hindrance to His working. The Spirit can never be poured out while variance and bitterness toward one another are cherished by the members of the church. Envy, jealousy, evil surmising, and evil-speaking are of Satan, and they effectually bar the way against the Holy Spirit's working. "Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 42.
Like the primitive church, how much we need the guidance and outpouring of the Holy Spirit! "A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit.... Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices."Selected Messages, book 1, p. 128.
What will the Holy Spirit enable us to do? Acts 1:8.
This verse gives us four outstanding items:
1. A promise: the coming of the Spirit.
2. A power: the divine power to do God's work.
3. A commission: to be witnesses to the Lord.
4. A territory: the whole world, from our community to the end of the earth.
The Spirit sanctifies our lives and gives us power to share the gospel and finish God's work. The day will come when the Lord will fulfill His promise to illuminate all the earth with His glory.
|Examine your own life carefully. What hindrances might there be that could prevent the Holy Spirit from doing His work? Ask God to help you remove whatever they might be.|
FURTHER STUDY: Read the following promises regarding God's help. Choose one or two of your favorites to memorize during the coming week. Ps. 9:9; 27:5; 37:39, 40; 56:3; 91:1, 2; Isa. 33:2.
Read Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 367-375.
We are not living in just any time. This is the time in which the Lord is calling us to be filled with His Spirit's fire and power.
"God calls upon us to awake, for the end is near. Every passing hour is one of activity in the heavenly courts to make ready a people upon the earth to act a part in the great scenes that are soon to open upon us. These passing moments, that seem of so little value to us, are weighty with eternal interests. They are molding the destiny of souls for everlasting life or eternal death. The words we utter today in the ears of the people, the works we are doing, the spirit of the message we are bearing, will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.
"My brethren, do you realize that your own salvation, as well as the destiny of other souls, depends upon the preparation you now make for the trial before us?"Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 716, 717.
SUMMARY: This is not a time for weak Christians. The Lord wants us to be anchored solidly in Him, strong in our faith, strong to repel temptations, and strong to testify for Christ. This is possible only if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and to empower us to reflect our Savior's character.
The young man studied the telephone number on the piece of paper, then looked at the young woman who had given it to him. "Are you Larisa?" he asked in disbelief. "I am Michael, the former Komsomol leader! I've been trying to call you for two months!"
Larisa Cholopova had first heard of Michael several months before when she was examining records at a factory. One of the workers there had told her that a former Komsomol leader had quit his job to become a Christian. The news had surprised Larisa. She wondered what could have made the man quit a steady job to become a Christian. The factory worker offered to introduce Larisa to the former Komsomol leader, so Larisa left her name and telephone number.
But before she could meet the man, Larisa became seriously ill and was hospitalized. A friend visited her in the hospital and told her about a study group she was attending. The study group sounded interesting, so when Larisa was strong enough, she went. It was at this meeting that she met Michael. At first Larisa had argued nearly every point the group discussed. But as she became better acquainted with the members of the group, she found that Christianity made sense.
Larisa's health problems persisted. When the doctors gave her a grim prognosis, she accepted it as God's punishment for her past deeds. But she asked her Christian friends to pray for her.
Some members of the study group invited Larisa to evangelistic meetings being held in nearby Tashkent. She went with them and felt the Holy Spirit touch her heart. She responded to the call to follow Christ. Later when she returned to the doctor, her blood tests came back negative. God had not only healed her soul, but her body as well.
Larisa accepted God's call to study theology, and today she serves as women's ministries director in a largely Muslim region of the former Soviet Union. Many of the church's converts in this area are young people who have been shunned by their families when they became Christians. Larisa understands their needs, and she can testify that "God shall provide," for He has proven that to her.
Barbara Huff is an administrative secretary of the Euro-Asia
*Komsomol was the young-adult organization of the Communist party.
Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.
Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver
Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributor: Enrique Chaij
Editor: Philip G. Samaan
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Editorial Assistant: Soraya Homayouni Parish
Art and Design: Lars Justinen
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey
Copyright © 1999 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.
This page is Netscape friendly.
SSNET Web Site Home page.
Directory of adult SS quarterly Bible Study guides.
Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET
Last updated October 22, 1999.