SDA Sabbath School Lesson

April 20 - 26

What Knowing
God Means

Lesson 4

Read For This Week's Study: 1 John 2:12-17.

Memory Text.  "I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father" (1 John 2:13, NIV).

Key Thought:  Only by knowing God as He is and by accept-ing His gracious offer of salvation can we find hope and assurance in this evil world.

Sabbath On knowing God Sun Knowledge and Forgiveness Mon Knowledge and Victory Tue Knowing God Wed Loving the World Thur Living Forever Fri Further Study   Also see: Lesson Helps for study material used in this lesson. And don't miss: The Inside Story

Sabbath Afternoon April 19

On knowing God. The King James Version illustrates an old meaning of the word know. It is not just mental assent or factual content; it describes an intimate relationship. A few examples:

"Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived" (Gen. 4:1). "Cain knew his wife; and she conceived" (Gen. 4:17). "Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son" (Gen. 4:25). "Elkanah knew Hannah his wife.... She bare a son" (1 Sam. 1: 19, 20). "[Joseph] knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" (Matt. 1:25).

The word knew is used to describe the intimate physical relationship of marriage. This marital union illustrates the fellowship that God wants to have with us. He wants to become one with us, united in a permanent spiritual bond. (See John 17:21-26.)

The relationship of man and woman in self-giving love is used by God as a beautiful figure of the relationship He wants with each of us. It is based on total trust, it has no secrets, and it is very intimate. The church is the "bride" of Christ (Rev. 21:9), the object of His supreme love, and the church includes you and me. This is the kind of knowledge of God that is the subject of 1 John 2.

Inside Story

Sunday April 20

Knowledge and Forgiveness (1 John 2:12,13).

How sure are we of God's forgiveness? 1 John 2:12.

John writes with assurance.  He does not qualify his statement.   He simply says, "Your sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake."  There is an important lesson here.  While we may not feel forgiven, the truth is that, having genuinely repented and confessed, we are forgiven.

Perhaps you are like the woman who was still asking God for forgiveness 30 years after she had sinned, never able to believe she was forgiven.  This is a denial of what God has stated.  Thinking like this prevents us from moving on in our spiritual experience.

The truth is that "the moment we ask for forgiveness in contrition and sincerity, God forgives."  Signs of the Times, Sept. 4, 1893.   And even the desire to repent is God's work.  Christ is constantly drawing sinners by the exhibition of His love upon the cross.  This softens their hearts and inspires them to contrition and repentance.  (See Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, April 1, 1890.)

Why did John write (with implied approval) to the fathers?  1 John 2:13.

As we saw before, this knowledge of God is not mind knowledge, but a shorthand description of the total relationship between God and humankind.  John uses this term despite the fact that those whose influence he is writing to counteract use the term knowledge also.  These early Gnostics had the idea that secret knowledge was the key to salvation. Certain mystical ideas were supposed to be known only to the spiritually elite.  Interestingly, John refers to Christ as the One "who is from the beginning."  One of the ideas that became central to later Gnosticism was that Jesus was a kind of created being, one of the emanations of God.

What is wrong in not recognizing Jesus as equal with God in His divinity?  Give some specific reasons.  John 5:18; 8:58; Col. 2:9.

To deny the full divinity of Christ is arguably the worst heresy; it prevents our seeing in Jesus the complete picture of God's nature and character.  Only God Himself could atone for those who had broken His law, only He could suffer adequately for human sin. 

Inside Story

Monday April 21

Knowledge and Victory (1 John 2:13,14).

To what should the knowledge of God lead?  1 John 2:13, 14.

These verses parallel the previous ones.  We should remember the Hebrew mind's fondness for parallelism.  Much Old Testament poetry is of this form:  a thought is stated, and then the next line parallels the first thought.  It is probable that John is being poetic here.   John repeats what he writes to the fathers and the young men.  But there is a contrast in what he writes to "my children"; in verse 12 he writes of their forgiven sins, and in verse 13 he writes of their knowledge of the Father.

Which comes first?  Do we come to know the Father as forgiving, or, having been forgiven, do we come to know the Father?  Both are true!  That the forgiving nature of God is emphasized as being the central characteristic of the Father is surely significant.

"God in Christ gave Himself for our sins.   He suffered the cruel death of the cross, bore for us the burden of guilt, 'the just for the unjust,' that He might reveal to us His love and draw us to Himself ... Let Christ, the divine Life, dwell in you and through you reveal the heaven-born love that will inspire hope in the hopeless and bring heaven's peace to the sin-stricken heart.  As we come to God, this is the condition which meets us at the threshold, that, receiving mercy from Him, we yield ourselves to reveal His grace to others. -Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 114, 115.

What is the consequence of God's healing forgiveness?  Luke 1:77 (compare 4:18; Eph. 1:7, 8; Col. 1:13, 14).

The consequence is spiritual cleansing, victory over sin, and reception of Christ’s redeeming love.  Having come in repentance, having received forgiveness, having been spiritually healed, "you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:13, 14, NIV).  This is the hallmark of successful Christian living by the power of the indwelling Christ.

God's desire for all of us is that we should be one with Him and right with one another.  In order to have these experiences, we must come to the only One who can help us.  Taking care of guilt is only part of God's forgiveness.  When we are sick and go to the doctor, he doesn't say, "I forgive you." He attempts to provide a cure.  In a similar way, when we are spiritually sick, God doesn't merely say, "I wipe out the guilt of your past sins."  He enters into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and begins the process of change and healing.

Inside Story

Tuesday April 22

Knowing God (1 John 2:13,14).

How do we know God?  Where do our concepts of God come from?  Think of how you personally have gained an understanding of God.  1 John 2:13, 14; Jer 9:24; John 14:9; 16:30.

"When a person receives a crucial message, he usually checks several sources to make sure the news is authentic.  If a source is unreliable, the message may be treated with suspicion.  But sources tested and found reliable can be counted on to provide trustworthy information.

"Such is the case with information about God.  People sometimes accept facts about God without checking their sources.  Information about Him may be passed subtly through the media (which normally give the God of the Bible a bad press).  Other images of Him come from parents or ourselves.  As a result, the God we perceive may be a God of our own making.  Therefore, psychologists are partially correct in stating that God often is nothing more than a father figure or the projection of our own desires.

"A concept of God based on such perceptions will be erroneous.  Yet Christians have an authentic and reliable knowledge of God.  Why?  Because our source is 'God the only Son, who is at the Father's side, [who] has made Him known' (John 1:18)."-Roy Matheson, Loving God's Family (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985), p. 37.

"Our whole spiritual life will be molded by our conceptions of God's character."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, April 5, 1887.

How we understand God will affect the way we view all other doctrines.  We must not accept a picture of God's nature that is dis-torted or warped in any way.

How can you test your concept of God?  Who can be sure anyway?  1 John 2:14; John 14:21, 23.

Once again, the touchstone is the revelation of Jesus and that "the word of God lives in you" (1 John 2:14, NIV).  Anything that does not square with the thoughts and actions of Jesus must be rejected, as must any ideas that do not find scriptural support.  We must be careful not to bring our own preconceptions to Scripture and see there the kind of God we have already decided upon.

For reflection:  How can you rightly represent the truth about God to those around?

Inside Story

Wednesday April 23

Loving The World (1 John 2:15, 16).

What is involved in loving the world?  1 John 2:15, 16.

Some aspects are easy to identify.  Status symbols:  the big house, the smart car, the motor cruiser-all these are easy to condemn as loving the world, especially if you do not have any such possessions and are unlikely ever to have them.  It is easy to say, "Of course I don't love the world."  But we live in a world that is hard to ignore.  In some way or other, we all absorb ideas and beliefs from the world.  And not everything out there is wrong.

So what of those concepts that are not so clearly identified as wrong?  What about the idea of competition-beating the opposition?  Is that right or wrong?  How does this relate to Christian belief and lifestyle?   Can you be a true Christian in business?

What are your primary objectives?  What do you want most?  You may not want a massive fortune, but there are few people who would not say that they could do with more money.

Then what of the way we relate to others?  The world has affected our Relationships and distorted our ideas of love, affection, and morality.

If we think we are not distracted by what the world has to offer, one last thought from Jesus: "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).

What do you see as the real difference between the Christian and those who operate according to the ideas of this world?  Col. 3:2; Titus 2:12; Rom. 12:2.

"As we see Jesus dying upon the cross to save lost man, the heart echoes the words of John, 'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:  therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not' (1 John 3:1).  There is nothing that more decidedly distinguishes the Christian from the worldly man than the estimate he has of God."-Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 183, 184.

What are your lifes prioritirs?  Check those that apply to you:

   Getting Ahead                     Knowing God better
    Happy marriage    Fame
   Plenty of money    Eternal life
    Successful career    Prestigious home
   Helping others   Designer clothes

Inside Story

Thursday April 24

Living Forever (1 John 2:17).

According to 1 John 2:17, who will live forever?

"Who wants to live forever?" asks a popular song.  And if it is simply life in this world, who would want that?  This is where the Christian perspective is so very different.  Whatever you set your heart on in this world will eventually pass away.

"The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns ashes-or it prospers and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two-is gone."-Omar Khayyam

Like snow in the desert-that is the substance of worldly hope.  Temporary, transient, fleeting-it simply does not last.  There is a terrible futility if all we have is this world.  So many have understood this, all down the ages:

"We are things of the day.  What are we?  What are we not?
The shadow of a dream is man, no more."
-Pindar (Greek poet, ca. 5 B.C.).

"Life is but a day:
A fragile dew-drop on its way
From a tree's summit."-Keats (1816).

The Bible points to the passing nature of this world:  "As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more" (Ps. 103:15-17, RSV; compare Isa. 40:7).

So if everything is passing away, what is the point to life?  Ps. 1:1-3; 1 John 5:11-13.

The only way to find lasting satisfaction, meaning, and purpose is to come to the eternal God.  "The world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life, abides (remains) forever" (1 John 2:17, The Amplified Bible).

For reflection:  How do you do God’s will?  What have you set your heart upon?  Do you want to live forever?  If so, why?

Inside Story

Friday April 25

For Further Study:  On knowledge and forgiveness-the aim of knowing God, study Acts 5:31; 13:38, 39; Ps. 103:3; Matt. 6:14.

"Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul.  You may say, I am sinful, very sinful.  You may be; but the worse you are, the more you need Jesus.  He turns no weeping, contrite one away....He bids every trembling soul take courage.  Freely will He pardon all who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration."-God's Amazing Grace, p. 118.

"It is peace that you need-Heaven's forgiveness and peace and love in the soul.  Money cannot buy it, intellect cannot procure it, wisdom cannot attain to it; you can never hope, by your own efforts, to secure it. But God offers it to you as a gift, 'without money and without price.' Isa. 55:1....

"As you read the promises, remember they are the expression of unutterable love and pity. . . . Yes, only believe that God is your helper.  He wants to restore His moral image in man."-The Faith I Live By, p. 103.

"Let the sinner come just as he is, and contemplate the love that has been bestowed upon him, all unworthy as he is; and the first thing he knows, he will realize that Christ's love has broken every barrier down, and that he exercises repentance which is not to be repented of .  The sinner must go to Christ in order that he may be enabled to repent."-Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Sept. 3, 1901.

Discussion questions:
    1.  What else is involved in knowing God, apart from knowing about Him?
    2.  How would you define the Christian’s attitude to material possessions?
    3.  How do we help others to find meaning and purpose in this life that seems so temporary and uncertain?
    4.  What does the concept of eternal life mean to you?

Summary:  Knowing God means entering into a deep and personal relationship with Him as Saviour and Lord. The result is expressed in His forgiveness and in our victory over the devil's attempt to destroy us. As a consequence, Christians do not identify with the world and its value system; they seek friendship and fellowship with God and look to do His will. The result for them is eternal life.

Inside Story

God's Hand in Cambodia

M. Daniel Walker

Men Mara and his young son were returning home by train from a pastor's training seminar in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sud-denly the engine hit a large land mine planted by the Khmer Rouge. The engine was blown to pieces, and the train's cars thrown from the tracks, scattering passengers like an angry child's toys.

Waiting soldiers opened fire with rockets and machine guns, riddling the train cars with bullets and shrapnel. Men Mara and his son lay flattened against the car's floor, but shrapnel from an exploding rocket ripped across Pastor Mara's back, leaving him bleeding and in pain. His young son suffered crushed ribs and possible internal injuries.

For more than an hour the soldiers peppered the train as wounded and dying passengers lay all around. Suddenly the shooting stopped. Gunmen burst into the car and ordered the passengers to run for their lives. Bleeding and unable to walk, Men Mara and his son were forced from the train. They began picking their way carefully through a large mine field, where one misstep could cost them a limb or their lives. They stumbled on for 10 miles to the nearest village, where they received first aid for their wounds. The next day they were transported to a hospital in their home town of Battambang. There they learned that 29 had died and more than 100 had been injured in the siege. Every passenger lost his belongings.

Men Mara and his son have nearly completely recovered from their wounds. Their faith is strong, and Pastor Mara is again at work in his large district, He thanks God for saving his life and allowing him to continue to serve Him.

Such incidents remind us that Cambodia is still not a free country, and dangers still threaten the church's work. But God is blessing the work there, and Cambodia now has more than 1,000 Adventist believers, where just a few years ago there were none. Keep praying for our young be-lievers in Cambodia, and for the workers who faithfully nurture them.

M. Daniel Walker is director of the Cambodian Mission.

Inside Story

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Last updated on April 25, 1997

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