See our "How to Make Friends for God" lesson index plus extra resources on our 2020 Third Quarter Index
Lesson 4*July 19-25
Read for This Week’s Study: Luke 18:9-14; John 6:44; Luke 15:3-10; Matt. 20:28; John 8:34-36; John 6:35, 47-51.
For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish
but have everlasting life (John 3:16,
Death, we often say,
just part of life.
No, death is the negation of life, not part of it. Yet, so used to
death, we mislabel it, calling it the opposite of what it really is.
However we understand it, one point is certain: without divine help,
eternal death would be the fate of us all.
Fortunately, that help has come. God, in His infinite love,
offers us salvation through Christ. When the angel announced the birth
of the Messiah, he named Him
Jesus (from a Hebrew
word that means salvation),
for He will
save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21,
This week we will consider Jesus’ saving work. First, our attention will focus on the basis of our salvation and later on the results of it.
The Bible is clear. We have only two choices regarding our sins: either we pay for our sins in the lake of fire, or we accept Christ’s payment for them on the cross. As we review the generous gift of God’s grace through Christ, let us once again humbly renew our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 26.
Sunday July 20
In John 3:16 two verbs are used to describe what God did for our salvation. How do these verbs relate to each other? What do they reveal regarding the origin of our salvation?
The English verb to love, especially the
casual way it is often used today, is totally inadequate to express the
depth of solicitous interest expressed by the Greek verb agapao,
to love. In the New Testament, this term and its
related noun agape,
reveal God’s deep and constant love toward His creatures, who are
completely unworthy of this love. Love is the preeminent attribute of
God’s character. He not only loves us, but He is
love (1 John 4:8).
God’s love is not an impulse based on His feelings or preferences. His love is not selective, nor does it depend on what we do. God loves the world, that is, all human beings, including those who do not love Him.
True love is known by the actions it generates. Sometimes as human beings we may say we love someone, while our actions demonstrate the opposite (1 John 3:17-18). The same does not occur with God. His love is reflected in His actions. Out of love, He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation. In so doing, God gave us all He had, which is Himself.
Read Luke 18:9-14. What does this story teach us about what our attitude toward God and His grace should be?
We have probably read this parable so many times that we are
not surprised by Jesus’ verdict:
I tell you, this man [the
tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other
(Luke 18:14, NKJV). However, those who heard Jesus
when he pronounced the verdict must have been astonished. Wasn’t this
an unjust outcome?
Yes, it was completely undeserved. That is the way salvation is. It is a gift from God. Gifts are not earned; they are simply accepted. We cannot buy salvation; we can only receive it. Although Jesus never used the term grace, He clearly taught that salvation is by grace, and grace is being given that you don’t deserve.
If God gave you what you deserved, what would it be, and why?
Monday July 21
A simple reading of the Gospels shows that we owe our
salvation entirely to God. Jesus did not come to this world because we
invited Him, but because the Father, out of love for us, sent Him. The
Father’s initiative is confirmed by Christ’s frequent use of the phrase
He who sent Me and
the Father who sent Me
(NKJV). (Read John 7:28, 8:29, 12:49.)
What else does the Father do for our salvation, according to John 6:44?
In spite of the fact that we were sinners and did not love God, He loved us and provided the means for our sins to be forgiven through His Son (1 John 4:10). This wondrous love is what draws us toward Him.
Not only is the Father involved, but the Son also has a very
active role in our salvation. He came with a definite mission.
Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke
NKJV). Whenever we contemplate Him lifted up from the earth,
He draws us to Himself (John 12:32).
How far is the Lord willing to go in His efforts to save us? See Luke 15:3-10.
These twin parables show that God is not waiting passively for us to come to Him but actively seeks us out. We have a seeking God. It does not matter if we are astray, far away in a dangerous place or even lost at home; the Lord will seek us untiringly until He finds us.
No sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd
is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock.
When he is sure that one sheep is lost, he slumbers not. He leaves the
ninety and nine within the fold, and goes in search of the straying
sheep. The darker and more tempestuous the night and the more perilous
the way, the greater is the shepherd’s anxiety and the more earnest his
search. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep.
With what relief he hears in the distance its first
faint cry. Following the sound, he climbs the steepest heights, he goes
to the very edge of the precipice, at the risk of his own life. Thus he
searches, while the cry, growing fainter, tells him that his sheep is
ready to die. At last his effort is rewarded; the lost is found.
— Ellen G. White, Christ’s
Object Lessons, p. 188.
Tuesday July 22
John the Baptist described Jesus as
the Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29,
NKJV). This image was easy for any Israelite familiar with
the sacrifices offered in the temple and the sacred history recorded in
the Old Testament to understand. Abraham had revealed his faith that
will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering (NKJV);
and the Lord did provide the animal to be sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen.
In Egypt, a lamb was slain by the Israelites as a symbol of their
divine deliverance from the bondage of sin (Exod. 12:1-13).
Later, when the sanctuary service was established, two lambs were to be
sacrificed on the altar each day, continuously: one in the morning and
the other at twilight (Exod. 29:38-39). All
these sacrifices were symbols of the coming Messiah, who
led as a lamb to the slaughter because
the Lord has
laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6-7,
NKJV). Therefore, by introducing Jesus as
of God who takes away the sin of the world (John
NKJV), John the Baptist was revealing the vicarious nature of
Christ’s atoning death.
During His ministry, Jesus repeatedly announced His death, even though it was hard for the disciples to understand why He had to die (Matt. 16:22). Gradually, Jesus explained the great purpose of His death.
What illustrations did Jesus use to indicate that He was going to die as a Substitute for us? See Matt. 20:28, John 10:11.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down
one’s life for his friends (John 15:13,
NKJV); this holds true even if they do not understand nor
accept that sacrifice. On the cross, Jesus shed His blood
many for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:28,
It is important to notice that Jesus died voluntarily. As the
Father gave His one and only Son, so the Son gave His own life to
redeem the human race. Nobody forced Him to do so.
takes it [my life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself,
declared Jesus (John 10:18, NKJV).
Even Caiaphas, who openly rejected Jesus and led the plot to kill Him,
involuntarily recognized Jesus’ substitutionary death (John
Think of how much ingratitude humans have toward God and what He has given us in Christ. How can we make sure we don’t fall into that trap? Why is this so easy to do, especially when we are going through difficult times?
Wednesday July 23
Without Christ, we were slaves of sin, slaves to the evil impulses of our fallen human nature. We lived in a self-centered way, pleasing ourselves instead of living to the glory of God. The unavoidable result of this spiritual slavery was death, because the wages of sin is death.
But Jesus came
to proclaim liberty to the captives .
. . , to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke
NKJV). These aren’t literal captives but spiritual prisoners
of Satan (see Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:1-2).
Jesus did not release John the Baptist from Herod’s prison, but He did
release those who were bound by the chains of sinful lives and
delivered them from the heavy burden of guilt and eternal condemnation.
What great promise is found in the following verses? See John 8:34-36.
The use of the word indeed in verse 36 shows that there is also a false kind of freedom, a pseudo-freedom that actually shackles human beings to further disobedience to God. Jesus’ hearers trusted in their ancestry of Abraham as their hope for freedom. We run the same risk. The enemy wants us to rely upon anything-for instance, our doctrinal knowledge, our personal godliness, or our record of service for God-anything except Christ for our salvation. But none of these, however important they may be, has the power to free us from sin and its condemnation. The only true Liberator is the Son, who was never enslaved by sin.
Jesus delighted in forgiving sins. When four men brought a
paralyzed man to Him, He knew that this man was sick as a result of his
dissolute living, but He also knew that the man had repented. In the
pleading eyes of this man, the Lord saw the longing of his heart for
forgiveness and his faith in Jesus as his only Helper. Tenderly, Jesus
said to him:
Son, your sins are forgiven you (Mark
NKJV). Those were the sweetest words this man ever heard. The
load of despair disappeared from his mind, and the peace of forgiveness
filled his spirit. In Christ he found spiritual and physical healing.
At a Pharisee’s house, a sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with
her tears and anointed them with perfume (Luke 7:37-38).
Perceiving the Pharisee’s disapproval, Jesus explained to him that
sins, which are many, are forgiven (Luke 7:47,
NKJV). Then He said to her:
Your sins are forgiven
(Luke 7:48, NKJV).
Your sins are forgiven.
Why are these the best words any of us will ever hear?
Thursday July 24
Because of our sins, we deserve to die. But Christ took our
place on the cross and paid the death penalty that, otherwise, rested
on us. He, being innocent, took on our guilt and received our
punishment so that we, being sinful, could be declared innocent.
Through Him, instead of perishing we receive eternal life. John 3:15
makes this amazing promise to us. It says that
believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (NKJV),
a promise repeated at the end of John 3:16.
Some think that, even after accepting Christ as Savior, the
promise of everlasting life will be real only after
His second coming. However, the promise of salvation is expressed in
the present tense:
He who believes in the Son has everlasting
life (John 3:36, NKJV).
Whoever believes in Christ
has everlasting life
and shall not come into judgment in the final
but has passed from death into life (John
NKJV). Thus, even if we die and sleep in the grave, this
temporary rest doesn’t take away from the reality of eternal life.
When Jesus becomes our Savior, our life acquires a whole new
meaning, and we can enjoy a richer and a fuller existence.
have come, stated Jesus,
that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly (John
NKJV). Instead of transitory worldly pleasures, which fill us
up without really satisfying us, He offers us a life lived in a
completely different way, full of inexhaustible satisfaction in Him.
This new abundant life includes our whole being. Jesus performed
numerous miracles to restore the physical life of many people. But
above all, He wanted to give them a renewed spiritual life, clean from
sin, filled with faith in Him and the certainty of salvation.
What metaphor did Jesus use to express the results of accepting Him? What does that mean in our practical daily living? See John 6:35, 47-51.
Meditate on the concept of eternal life. It is not only an imperishable existence but above all a blessed, satisfying, and happy life in loving communion with God in the new earth. Although we are still living in this world, how can we start to enjoy, even partially, what it means to have eternal life?
Friday July 25Further Study: Ellen G. White,
The Sinner’s Need of Christ,pp. 17-22, in Steps to Christ;
The Subject Presented in 1883,pp. 350-354, in Selected Messages, book 1.
Looking upon the crucified Redeemer, we more fully
comprehend the magnitude and meaning of the sacrifice made by the
Majesty of heaven. The plan of salvation is glorified before us, and
the thought of Calvary awakens living and sacred emotions in our
hearts. Praise to God and the Lamb will be in our hearts and on our
lips; for pride and self-worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps
fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary.
He who beholds the Saviour’s matchless love will be
elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character. He
will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree
this mysterious love. The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the
more fully shall we adopt the language of the apostle when he said,
— Ellen G. White, The
Desire of Ages, p. 661.
forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Strive to enter through the narrow gate(Luke 13:24, NKJV) imply that we need to seek our salvation. How do we explain this?
God sent Allen and Kelley Fowler a dream to minister among the
Navajo people of northern Arizona, U.S.A. They went as volunteers,
praying that God would use them to reach the people they loved. They
ministered to the Navajos living on the reservation and in the nearby
town of Page in any way they could.
When we saw a need, we
prayed for a way to fill it, Kelley said.
The couple invited mission teams to help rebuild rundown hogans (houses) and supplied struggling families with coats, warm blankets, and baskets of food. They invited medical personnel to spend their vacations offering free medical care to those who couldn’t afford it, and they held health classes to teach people how to prevent diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
There was much to do on the reservation, but God called them to serve in the city as well. Page is the hub of a thriving tourist area. But half the population is Native American, many of them living in poverty.
The couple visited trailer parks and run-down homes, seeking to meet the needs of the people. And once the Navajo people realized that this couple really cared for them, they were willing to learn about God.
Soon the couple had 70 people who wanted Bible studies. They organized evangelistic meetings in Page. Twelve Navajos were baptized following the meetings.
But they had no church. The group met in the community center that volunteers had built outside town. And they prayed for a church, a dream that seemed impossible to fulfill short of a miracle. Land was expensive and hard to find, and a church would take years to build.
The North American Division offered to help the struggling work among the Navajo with part of a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering. Hope soared. Then an Adventist visitor to town discovered an unused church building. No sign had been posted, but the church was for sale. Members prayed, negotiations continued, and the church, a parsonage, and a vacant lot were purchased within the amount allocated to that project by the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering.
We saw the hand of God moving, the Fowlers
And people around the world helped make God’s dream a
reality. Thanks to your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering, the
little miracle church was dedicated to God on a clear, cold day in
December 2012. Thank you!
Please keep praying for volunteers to continue answering God’s call to work among the Navajo, so they can learn that God loves them and wants to spend forever with them.
For questions and concerns about the Study Guide,
please contact the editor of the Bible Study Guide, Clifford Goldstein
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