See our "How to Make Friends for God" lesson index plus extra resources on our 2020 Third Quarter Index
Lesson 5 *July 26-August 1
Read for This Week’s Study: Luke 5:27-32; 13:1-5; Matt. 22:2-14; Zech. 3:1-5; John 8:30-31; Luke 14:25-27.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever
believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John
As the Israelites were being bitten by snakes in the desert, God instructed Moses to make a bronze one and place it on a pole so that whoever was bitten could look at it and be saved.
What healing properties can a bronze snake have? None. Healing came only from God. By looking at the bronze statue, however, the Israelites demonstrated their faith in God as their only hope of life and salvation.
The Lord wanted to teach them a spiritual lesson. He transformed a symbol of death into a symbol of life. That bronze serpent was a symbol of Christ, who became the Bearer of our sins in order to save us. By faith, we can all look to Christ lifted up on the cross and find a cure from the deadly sting of the old serpent, Satan. Otherwise, we are fated to die in our sins. The Word of God expresses what should be painfully obvious: as human beings, we are sinners in need of grace. That grace has been offered to us in Christ Jesus.
This week we will look at Jesus’ teachings regarding the simple practical steps needed for salvation.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 2.
Sunday July 27
Read Luke 5:27-32. How can you know which group you are in?
Many people are physically healthy and
have no need
of a physician. Who, though, is truly spiritually healthy? Of
all human beings
there is none who does good, no, not one
(Ps. 14:3, NKJV); nobody is righteous by themselves (Rom.
3:10). We may do some morally good actions, but we cannot
make ourselves righteous before God. Hence, by saying that He had
come to call the righteous’ (Luke 5:32, NKJV),
Jesus was referring to the Pharisees, who thought
they were righteous although they were not. Unfortunately, though they
believed that they were in good standing before God, they were blind
spiritually (John 9:40-41).
The first step, then, to receive the cure from sin is to recognize our state of sinfulness and our utter inability to heal ourselves. But how can we see our real need if we are blind? How can we acknowledge that we are sinners if it is precisely our sins that are preventing us from recognizing our true condition?
How can our spiritual eyes be opened so that we may recognize our desperate need of a Savior? See John 16:8.
The only eye salve that can make us see our real spiritual status is the Holy Spirit. Before any other work He may do for us, He has to convict us of sin. Persistently He calls to our conscience in order to produce in us an inescapable awareness of our sins and a deep sense of guilt, which leads us to long for a Savior. When we hear that call, we must listen and obey it; otherwise, sooner or later, we will be so hardened against the Holy Spirit that nothing can be done for us. What a scary thought!
Though guilt is often a bad thing, in what ways has the Holy Spirit been able to use guilt to your own spiritual advantage?
Monday July 28
Recognizing our sins is not enough; it must be accompanied by repentance. The biblical meaning of repentance includes three aspects: acknowledgment of one’s sin, sorrow for having sinned, and the desire not to sin any more. If one is lacking, there is no true repentance. For example, Judas admitted his sin, but he lacked grief for having betrayed the Master (Matt. 27:3-4). He was overwhelmed with remorse, not with repentance. His confession was generated by fear of the consequences, not by his love of Christ.
We can see the importance of repentance by the fact that John
the Baptist and Jesus began their ministry by preaching,
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! (Matt. 3:2,
4:17, NKJV). Later, when Jesus sent the Twelve on their first
missionary trip, they went out, preaching
that people should
repent (Mark 6:12, NKJV). And after
Pentecost, Peter exhorted the crowd to do the same (Acts
Look at the strong words Jesus used to emphasize the universal need for repentance in order to be saved. What message is He giving us here? See Luke 13:1-5.
Jesus affirmed the sinfulness of all people. Therefore, He
urged His hearers:
unless you repent you will all likewise
perish (vs. 5, NKJV).
redemption is impossible, because the absence of repentance
demonstrates that people refuse to surrender to the Lord.
Now, we have been told:
the goodness of God leads
you to repentance (Rom. 2:4, NKJV). What
does that mean? A block of ice can be broken into small pieces, but the
resulting pieces will still be ice. That same block of ice can be
placed next to a heater, and it will melt away into water. The ice of
our pride can be thawed only if we are exposed to the warmth of God’s
goodness and love. Thus, how crucial for us to dwell, as much as we
can, on all the evidences we have been given of God’s love for us.
We do not repent in order that God may love us, but
He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent. —
Ellen G. White, Christ’s
Object Lessons, p. 189.
What are the evidences of God’s love? What have you seen and experienced and learned that gives you powerful reasons to trust in His goodness? Why is it so important always to dwell on those reasons, especially in bad times?
Tuesday July 29
True repentance goes hand in hand with faith in Jesus as our
only Savior. Jesus frequently talked about the need to believe in Him
in order to receive His blessings.
If you can believe, all
things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23,
NKJV). Faith is essential if we are to be saved. Satan knows
that, which is why He makes every effort to keep us from believing (Luke
According to Jesus, what does it mean
? It is more than a vague feeling that something will just happen. It
is more than a mental exercise. Saving faith is not devoid of content.
On the contrary, faith has a definite object: Jesus Christ. Faith is
believing not only in something but, especially, in Someone.
Faith is trusting in Jesus and His death for us. Believing in Jesus
means knowing Him, understanding who He is (John 6:69),
and receiving Him personally (John 1:12).
God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus, so that all who truly believe in Him will have eternal life. His death does not mean that everyone will be saved, however. We have to be covered by His righteousness. By believing in Him, we have righteousness, we have assurance, and we have the great promise that He will raise us up at the last day (John 6:40).
a woman who had lived a sinful life,
Jesus assured her:
Your sins are forgiven. . . . Your faith
has saved you (Luke 7:48,50, NKJV). What
does that mean? Does our faith save us?
According to the Gospels, when Jesus healed some people, He
said to them:
Your faith has made you well (Matt.
9:22, Mark 10:52, Luke 17:19, NKJV). By saying these words,
He was not assigning any healing power to their faith. Their faith was
just a complete trust in Jesus’ power to heal them. The power of faith
does not come from the person who believes but from the God in whom
that person believes.
Why must we be very careful in how we understand the role of faith in regard to prayer, especially about healing? Why is it wrong to conclude from the above verses that if healing doesn’t come as we pray, it’s because we don’t have enough faith?
Wednesday July 30
Jesus sat before the people and uttered what must have been
to them shocking words:
Unless your righteousness exceeds the
righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter
the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20, NKJV).
Few were more scrupulous in the observance of the letter of the law
than were the Pharisees. Nevertheless, they failed because their
behavior was intended to impress men more than to please God. Jesus
warns us not to do likewise (Matt. 6:1).
How, then, can we be righteous before God? The parable of the marriage feast gives us the clue in finding the source of true righteousness.
Read Matthew 22:2-14. Why did the king want to be sure that every guest had the wedding garment for the feast? What did that garment represent? See Isa. 61:10, Zech. 3:1-5.
The king provided the wedding robes free of charge. Those present were invited randomly while traveling on the highways, and probably did not have the appropriate attire for the wedding, nor money to buy it. Both the invitation and the garment were gifts from the king. The only requirement needed to attend the feast was to accept both presents.
Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, every human being is
spiritually naked. Adam and Eve felt naked after disobeying, and they
attempted to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves together, something
utterly uncomfortable and ineffective (Gen. 3:7).
The best righteousness that human effort can achieve is
filthy rags (Isa. 64:6, NKJV).
As in the parable, God provides the garment we need. He made
garments for Adam and Eve and clothed them (Rev. 19:8),
a symbol of His righteousness covering the sinner. The Lord also
provides the garment of Christ’s righteousness for His church, so that
be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright (Rev.
not having spot or wrinkle or any such
thing (Eph. 5:27, NKJV). This robe
the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that
through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal
Saviour. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object
Above and beyond anything else we believe, why must we understand that our salvation comes only from the covering that Christ gives us as a gift? Why must we always remember this?
Thursday July 31
When in faith we recognize our need, repent, confess our sins,
and claim Christ’s righteousness for ourselves, we become His
disciples. During His ministry, Jesus called different people, such as
Peter and James and John, to be His disciples, a call that implied
leaving everything in order to follow Him (Matt. 4:20, 22;
Mark 10:28; Luke 5:28). In fact, in the Gospels the verb to
follow practically became a synonym for
What two elements are essential in order to be a disciple of Jesus? See John 8:30-31.
Some people try to separate faith in Jesus from adherence to Jesus’ teachings, as if the first would be more important than the latter. But Jesus did not make such a distinction. For Him, both aspects are closely interrelated and fundamental for true discipleship. A disciple of Jesus is committed to His person, as well as to His words. Though there is always the danger of getting so caught up in doctrines and forms of faith that we lose sight of Jesus Himself, we must also be aware of the danger of thinking that all that matters in our walk with the Lord is to believe in Jesus.
What is the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus? See Luke 14:25-27.
Jesus used the verb to hate as a hyperbole
to love less. The parallel passage in
Matthew clarifies the meaning of Jesus’ words:
He who loves
father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son
or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Matt.
10:37, NKJV). Jesus must have the first place in our lives if
we want to be His disciples.
What has following Christ, being His disciple, cost you? What does your answer say about your walk with the Lord?
Friday August 1Further Study: Ellen G. White,
Repentance,pp. 23-32, in Steps to Christ.
We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to
awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.
— Ellen G. White, Steps
to Christ, p. 26.
As we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of
Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and
the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners,
Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner
beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and
inspires contrition in the soul. -Pages 26, 27.
The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine
repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost
of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the
truly penitent bring all his sins before God. And it is written, 1
John 1:9. -Page 41.
we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
fruits worthy of repentance.Why isn’t that true repentance? What is the value of these fruits? Are they good works done in order to gain God’s favor? Explain your answer.
extremeas the death of the Son of God Himself in order to save us from the consequences of sin.
Zho and his wife, Lai, are a young couple who serve as Global Mission pioneers in China. God sent them to serve in a city that had no Adventist believers. The couple rented a house that would work as a house church and began meeting their new neighbors.
One day Lai met an old man on the street. He was pushing a heavy tricycle loaded with goods to sell. Lai helped the man push the tricycle to his house as she told him about God. Later Zho visited the old man and invited him to attend their Bible discussions. The old man came.
Zho and Lai met some elderly people who live in a nearby group home. They noticed that the residents couldn’t afford haircuts and they offered to cut their hair without charge. The couple shared God’s love with their new friends, and 15 senior citizens agreed to study the Bible with them. None of these seniors had come from a Christian background, but they were hungry to know about God.
When Zho presented the Sabbath message to the seniors, they all decided to worship on the Sabbath. But then the manager of the home in which they lived decided that Zho and Lai couldn’t hold a worship service there. So Zho found a place nearby where they could worship. A number of these elderly people walk 15 minutes to their new house church several times a week. Zho continues to visit those who can’t walk that far to church.
The couple went to a nearby village to help farmers harvest their crops. They made friends in the village and invited the farmers to join them for worship. The farmers decided among themselves that Zho and Lai were good people and that their God must be good as well. They listened to Zho’s messages about Jesus, and today, long after the crops have been harvested, 30 villagers are studying the Bible with Zho. One day soon there will be a church in this village.
We seek to meet the needs of people who are old or
sick or discouraged, Zho said. The group who worship with
them is growing, and several are preparing for baptism.
The couple is training the local people to lead the congregations in the city and in the country so that when they leave, there will be people who can carry on the work.
Our mission offerings help support Global Mission pioneers in dozens of countries throughout the world. Thank you for giving so that others can learn that God loves them and is preparing a place for them in His kingdom. Pray that God will bless their efforts to reach many in China.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.adventistmission.org
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