January 2 - 8
That We May Know Him
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: 2 Kings 22; Ps. 107:31-43; John 14:8-11; 16:8-14; 17:1-5; Rom. 1:17-23; Col. 1:12-20.
MEMORY TEXT: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
KEY THOUGHT: Because eternal life comes through knowing God, He makes it possible for us to know as much about Him as He thinks is necessary. We will study the means God uses to reveal Himself to us.
WHAT WE CAN KNOW. The Bible makes no direct attempt to prove God's existence-it assumes it. The Bible claims to be God's message to us about Himself and His plan for us and our world. The first words of the Bible tell us that God is the Creator. Before the world was, He was. As our Creator, He naturally is Sovereign over all He has created. God can be seen in creation, but this form of revelation is limited. Because our sin-ruined planet barely reflects the original world, He must reveal Himself in other ways, as well. Among these is the greatest of all revelations-His revelation through Christ, the living Word. "Christ revealed all of God that sinful human beings could bear without being destroyed. He is the divine Teacher, the Enlightener."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 266.
TERM FOR THE WEEK: Theistic evolution. The speculation that God worked through the process of evolution to bring the universe and life on earth into being.
"Many are the ways in which God is seeking to make Himself known to us and bring us into communion with Him. Nature speaks to our senses without ceasing. The open heart will be impressed with the love and glory of God as revealed through the works of His hands. The listening ear can hear and understand the communications of God through the things of nature. The green fields, the lofty trees, the buds and flowers, the passing cloud, the falling rain, the babbling brook, the glories of the heavens, speak to our hearts, and invite us to become acquainted with Him who made them all."—Steps to Christ, p. 85.
Even though sin has so changed the natural world that much of it barely reflects the original creation, what basic lesson does nature still teach us? Ps. 19:1.
One of the frailties of being human is that we often hear only what we want to hear. "If we will but listen, God's created works will teach us precious lessons of obedience and trust. From the stars that in their trackless courses through space follow from age to age their appointed path, down to the minutest atom, the things of nature obey the Creator's will. And God cares for everything and sustains everything that He has created."—Steps to Christ, pp. 85, 86.
We learn to trust God more as we recognize His loving care all about us and are able to see through faulty human reasoning to recognize more clearly how nature testifies of its Creator. Our study of the Scriptures leads us to a proper understanding of God through nature.
Read the following Bible passages and consider their context in order to gain greater biblical insight into the way nature reveals its Creator:
Acts 14:15-17. Under what circumstances was this given? How were the listeners affected?
Rom. 1:19, 20. For what reason did Paul address this passage to the Roman believers?
|Think it through: What helpful answer can you offer to what some consider to be discrepancies between nature and the Bible? How does this answer help you to trust God more?
Humanity has gained much knowledge and has made many advancements through science as it seeks to observe and research the phenomena occurring in the natural world surrounding us. However, when science enters into the realm of the origin of matter and life, it has its limitations. Some scientists give the impression that the discussion that has raged for little more than one hundred years between those who accept the theory of evolution and those who accept the Bible record of special creation was settled long ago in favor of evolution. That is not so. There is not adequate evidence on either side to prove one position or the other scientifically and conclusively. Ultimately, the choice between which theory of origins we accept comes down to faith in God's Word or faith in man's word. Here creationists have the advantage.
The Bible record of the creation of life comes from the Creator Himself. See how He made it happen in the following texts as you complete this chart.
|Title of Creator
|What He did
When we accept the Bible as our guide to understanding the natural world, we find nature pointing to its Creator. For instance, the woodpecker is one of the Creator's marvelous productions in the natural world. Some of its special features are: a beak that can drive through wood hard enough to bend a nail; neck muscles strong enough to enable the head and beak to deliver jackhammer blows; a skull so thick that it sustains repeated shocks that would kill some other birds; and stiff tail feathers with sharp spines to brace the bird for hammering.
It is amazing how our Creator God equips such small creatures as the woodpecker with just the right intricate anatomy needed to carry out its necessary functions.
|In what ways has nature helped you to know, trust, and glorify God?
Study 2 Peter 1:19-21. List some characteristics of God's prophetic word and consider how they affirm your confidence in it.
The Bible writers lived and wrote in such widely scattered localities as Sinai, Babylon, Jerusalem, and Rome. God used princes and paupers, heroes and herdsmen to produce the Bible. It was written approximately between 1500 B.C. and A.D. 100. In spite of this great diversity in authorship, time, and place in which it was written, the Bible's wonderful harmony is one of the unmistakable evidences that it is what it claims to be-the Word of God.
"God speaks to us in His word. Here we have in clearer lines the revelation of His character, of His dealings with men, and the great work of redemption. Here is open before us the history of patriarchs and prophets and other holy men of old. They were men 'subject to like passions as we are.' We see how they struggled through discouragements like our own, how they fell under temptation as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God: and beholding, we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness. As we read of the precious experiences granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy, and of the work they wrought through the grace given them, the spirit that inspired them kindles a flame of holy emulation in our hearts and a desire to be like them in character-like them to walk with God."—Steps to Christ, pp. 87, 88.
Study 2 Kings 22 carefully to learn how God used the Written Word and the testimony of a prophetess to lead King Josiah to an understanding of His will.
|Just as God spoke directly through the words of the book of the Law and through a prophetess to King Josiah, He speaks to us today. What a privilege it is to be able to hold in our hands the Word of God and to study it carefully as it helps us to know God and apply His principles to our daily lives!
The revelation of God through Jesus Christ is the greatest and most complete of all revelations. The Written Word explains God's will, but the Living Word demonstrates how to live it.
According to the following texts, how fully did Jesus reveal the Father?
Matt. 11:27 __________________________________________________________
John 1:14, 18 _________________________________________________________
John 14:8-11 _________________________________________________________
2 Cor. 4:6 ____________________________________________________________
Heb. 1:1-3 ___________________________________________________________
"The revelation of God in the OT ... pointed beyond itself to a future consummation to which the men who received it looked forward-and already saw.... It is the revelation of God in Christ that discloses the meaning of the OT revelation. . . . Christ stands at the convergence of all the perspectives of the OT. In him all the diverse strands and fragments of revelation are gathered up into a single significant pattern."—"The Manner of Revelation," Theological WordBook of the Bible, Alan Richardson, ed. (New York: Macmillan Pub. Co., Inc., 1950), p. 197.
The heart and sum of all God's revelation to us in the Scriptures center in Christ. How is this fact made plain in John 5:39?
"Jesus said of the Old Testament Scriptures—and how much more it is true of the New—'They are they which testify of me,' the Redeemer, Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. Yes, the whole Bible tells of Christ. From the first record of Creation-for without him was not anything made that was made'-to the closing promise, 'Behold I come quickly,' we are reading of His works and listening to His voice. If you would become acquainted with the Saviour, study the Holy Scriptures. "—Steps to Christ, p. 88.
|For reflection: How do some of our ways of studying the Scriptures obstruct our view of Jesus? In what ways can we make our Bible study more Christ-centered to better reflect His character before our families, neighbors, and co-workers?
1. God speaks through Providence
Think of some incidents in your life where you have noted God's providence at work.
"In our circumstances and surroundings, in the changes daily taking place around us, we may find precious lessons if our hearts are but open to discern them."—Steps to Christ, p. 87.
2. God speaks through human relationships. The closest relationships of life, such as family relationships, can represent God's love and care for us. Identify the relationships in the following texts and how they may reveal the nature of God's love:
Isa. 49:14, 15 ______________________________________________________
Isa. 54:5, 6 ________________________________________________________
Prov. 18:24 (see 2T 271) _____________________________________________
3. God speaks through the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-14). God speaks through the Holy Spirit in various ways, but the focus here is on the Holy Spirit exposing Satan's subtle deceptions. He guides us into all truth by helping us separate truth from all the misinformation and counterfeits with which Satan floods our world. Because the devil does not want us to learn how kind God really is, he does everything possible to keep us from getting to know God and loving Him:
A. In the natural world, Satan fogs up the testimony of nature by introducing disease, pests, and the theory of evolution.
B. When it comes to Providence, Satan brings so many troubles into the world that people sometimes find it difficult to sense God's love.
C. To destroy the sure testimony of the Scriptures, Satan encour ages a critical approach that views the Bible as any other book by making the human mind the final arbiter of truth.
D. Satan not only misrepresents the character of Jesus but also tries to convince people that it is impossible for them to be like Him.
E. By his subtle deceptions, Satan has made evil seem good and good seem evil.
|For reflection: What has been your reaction this week as you reflected on becoming acquainted with God through His Word? What are three specific actions you could take this coming week to help others become better acquainted with God and desire to be like Him?
FURTHER STUDY: Knowing God, of course, means much more than intellectual understanding. It represents a continual, close rela tionship that leads us to so trust Him that we accept His revealed way as the best for us. Look up and study some texts in the Bible that go beyond mere intellectual understanding about God to experiencing an intimate relationship with Him. Consider such texts as "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. (Ps. 34:8, NKJV).
Note: We cannot expect either the Bible or our Christian experience to be meaningful unless we feed regularly on God's Word. Once we learn to feed consistently on the Bread of Life, we develop a taste for it and become hungry when we go without it. Why don't more people take Bible study seriously? Possibly no one taught them how to study or they feel no interest or they simply do not accept the Bible. Perhaps the major reason people do not like to study the Bible is because they find things there that cut across their way of living. The good news is that as we become better acquainted with God through His Word, our characters are transformed and our desires change.
SUMMARY: In the space below, briefly write down what you learned about how God is revealed through:
The Bible __________________________________________________________
Human relationships _________________________________________________
The Holy Spirit _____________________________________________________
As she searched for something to fill the aching emptiness in her heart, Biruthe Konciute turned to God. She began reading the Bible and found many references to the Sabbath. But which day was Sabbath? The Christians she knew celebrate Jesus' crucifixion on Friday, so the Sabbath should be on Saturday. But why then did they worship on Sunday instead of Sabbath? she wondered.
She knew that somewhere there must be people who live according to the principles of God's law. But how could she find them? She kept praying that God would show her His truth.
Her family greeted her questions with indifference and even animosity. "You should not be reading this book! Why can't you be satisfied with the church you grew up in?" they asked her. But their comments failed to deter her in her search for God.
Biruthe's search for truth continued several months. She learned that God expected His followers to return a tithe of their income to God. She thought, I want to pay tithe, but to whom shall I pay it?
When she heard of evangelistic meetings being held in her city, she decided to attend. Perhaps these people knew where to find the true church. She arrived at the lecture hall early the first night. She was impressed with the friendliness and humility of the women who greeted her. The preacher's words were warm, and his message was backed by texts from the Bible. She could almost hear God saying, "Here are the people whom I told you to look for!"
When the preacher presented the Sabbath, she nearly jumped from her seat, for she knew she had found God's true church. And when the pastor invited those who wanted to follow Jesus to stand, Birhute was the first to her feet. She eagerly joined the baptismal class.
Following her baptism her eyes began to bother her. The doctors told her the redness and itching she was experiencing could not be treated but would continue the rest of her life. She found it difficult to read her Bible and begged God to heal her so she could again read her Bible. That night she dreamed that a doctor put a certain oil on her eyes. The next day she bought the oil and applied it. Within a week her eyes were clear. She has not had any trouble since then.
Biruthe shares her faith with her family every chance she has. They no longer try to discourage her, for they see the differences in her life and admit that perhaps she is right.
Charlotte Ishkanian is editor of Mission.
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