Lesson 26 | Sabbath, 25 December 2021
“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.
Blessings for eternity
1. How far will the blessings promised to Abraham extend? In view of that great reality, what was Abraham’s responsibility?
Genesis 12:3; 18:19. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed…. 18:19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
“In the renewal of the covenant shortly before the birth of Isaac, God’s purpose for mankind was again made plain. ‘All the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him,’ was the assurance of the Lord concerning the child of promise. Genesis 18:18. And later the heavenly visitant once more declared, ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ Genesis 22:18.
“The all-embracing terms of this covenant were familiar to Abraham’s children and to his children’s children. It was in order that the Israelites might be a blessing to the nations, and that God’s name might be made known ‘throughout all the earth’ (Exodus 9:16), that they were delivered from Egyptian bondage. If obedient to His requirements, they were to be placed far in advance of other peoples in wisdom and understanding; but this supremacy was to be reached and maintained only in order that through them the purpose of God for ‘all nations of the earth’ might be fulfilled.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 368, 369.
2. When Moses instructed the Israelites to observe the statutes that God had given them, what did he say such obedience would lead to?
Deuteronomy 4:5, 6. Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
“Their obedience to the laws of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 222.
Declaring God’s glory among the heathen
3. In God’s plans, what was Israel’s great mission for other people? What was necessary in their lives for them to be a light to others?
1 Chronicles 16:23, 24 Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; show forth from day to day his salvation. 24Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
Isaiah 58:7, 8. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 8Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.
“God never meant that the widespread misery in the world should exist. He never meant that one man should have an abundance of the luxuries of life, while the children of others should cry for bread. The means over and above the actual necessities of life are entrusted to man to do good, to bless humanity. The Lord says, ‘Sell that ye have, and give alms.’ Luke 12:33. Be ‘ready to distribute, willing to communicate.’ 1 Timothy 6:18. ‘When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.’ Luke 14:13. ‘Loose the bands of wickedness,’‘ undo the heavy burdens,’‘let the oppressed go free,’‘ break every yoke.’‘ Deal thy bread to the hungry,’‘ bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.’‘ When thou seest the naked,… cover him.’‘ Satisfy the afflicted soul.’ Isaiah 58:6, 7, 10. ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ Mark 16:15. These are the Lord’s commands. Are the great body of professed Christians doing this work?” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 370, 371.
4. What wonderful prophecy shows what God’s desire was for Israel in relation to those who did not know Him? What did the Lord shine upon His people to put them in a position to fulfill this wonderful mission?
Isaiah 60:1-3. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. 2For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
“It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth.
“This is the work outlined by the prophet Isaiah in the words, ‘O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.’ Isaiah 40:9, 10.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 415.
Go, preach the gospel
5. Similarly, after establishing His church, what beautiful mission did the Lord give to it? What promise to the preachers is connected with this wonderful responsibility?
Matthew 28:19, 20. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Mark 16:15, 16. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature..16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
“And at the close of His earthly ministry, when He charged His disciples with a solemn commission to go ‘into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ He declared that their ministry would receive confirmation through the restoration of the sick to health. Ye ‘shall lay hands on the sick,’ He said, ‘and they shall recover.’ Mark 16:15, 18. By healing in His name the diseases of the body, they would testify to His power for the healing of the soul.
“The Saviour’s commission to the disciples includes all believers to the end of time. All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the gospel. All who receive the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men. For this work the church was established, and all who take upon themselves its sacred vows are thereby pledged to be co-workers with Christ.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 466.
6. As spiritual ministers and holy people, what good news is God’s church commissioned to proclaim everywhere?
Exodus 19:6. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
1 Peter 2:9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
Matthew 24:14. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
“The Lord has made His church the repository of divine influence. The heavenly universe is waiting for the members to become channels through which the current of life shall flow to the world, that many may be converted, and in their turn become channels through which the grace of Christ shall flow to the desert portions of the Lord’s vineyard.
“Every one who is connected with God will impart light to others. If there are any who have no light to give, it is because they have no connection with the Source of light.
“God has appointed His children to give light to others, and if they fail to do it, and souls are left in the darkness of error because of their failure to do that which they might have done, had they been vitalized by the Holy Spirit, they will be accountable to God. We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light, in order that we may show forth the praises of Christ.” –Christian Service, p. 21.
The Holy Spirit promised for preaching
7. What supreme power did the Lord promise to all who preach and testify of eternal, saving truth?
Acts 1:8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
“The Holy Spirit was to descend on those who love Christ. By this they would be qualified, in and through the glorification of their Head, to receive every endowment necessary for the fulfilling of their mission. The Life-giver held in His hand not only the keys of death but a whole heaven of rich blessings. All power in heaven and earth was given to Him, and having taken His place in the heavenly courts, He could dispense these blessings to all who receive Him. The church was baptized with the Spirit’s power. The disciples were fitted to go forth and proclaim Christ, first in Jerusalem, where the shameful work of dishonoring the rightful King had been done, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. The evidence of the enthronement of Christ in His mediatorial kingdom was given.
“God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. Those whose course has been most offensive to Him He freely accepts; when they repent, He imparts to them His divine Spirit, places them in the highest positions of trust, and sends them forth into the camp of the disloyal to proclaim His boundless mercy.” –My Life Today, p. 47.
For additional study
“As the divine endowment–the power of the Holy Spirit–was given to the disciples, so it will today be given to all who seek aright. This power alone is able to make us wise unto salvation and to fit us for the courts above. Christ wants to give us a blessing that will make us holy. ‘These things have I spoken unto you,’ He says, ‘that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ John 15:11. Joy in the Holy Spirit is health-giving, life-giving joy. In giving us His Spirit, God gives us Himself, making Himself a fountain of divine influences, to give health and life to the world.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 273.
“All who are on the Lord’s side are to confess Christ. ‘Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord.’ The faith of the genuine believer will be made manifest in purity and holiness of character. Faith works by love and purifies the soul, and with faith there will be corresponding obedience, a faithful doing of the words of Christ. Christianity is always intensely practical, adapting itself to all the circumstances of actual life. ‘Ye are My witnesses.’ To whom?To the world; for you are to bear about with you a holy influence. Christ is to abide in your soul, and you are to talk of Him and make manifest the charms of His character.” –Messages to Young People, p. 200.
“Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!” Job 19:23, 24.
The urgent need to spread the last warning message throughout the world is a high priority for every child of God. The development of every gift, method, and modality for preaching the gospel of salvation to every person is the primary objective of the General Conference Publishing Department. It has a responsibility to develop, publish, and distribute written materials in print and online.
The great number of different languages in the various countries is an enormous challenge. There are approximately 7,000 different languages in the world, 90 percent of which are spoken by at least 100,000 people each (https://www.europapress.es/). There are 196 to 203 recognized countries (https://www.bbc.com/), and the “official” language is English in 59 countries, followed by French (29), Arabic (27), Spanish (20), and Portuguese (10) (https://www.europapress.es/). The publishing work is monumental, considering that the world population is now approximately 7.8 billion people (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/).
We thank God for the publishing work that is currently being done by the church around the world. Books, magazines, and printed and virtual brochures are placed at the disposal of members and interested people in four primary languages–English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Regular publications include the biannual Sabbath School Lessons, the quarterly Sabbath Watchman, and the annual Readings for the Week of Prayer, which are translated into approximately 75 additional languages for a total of 80 different ones.
The publications include a wide range of subjects, such as doctrine, prophecy, family, youth, children, music, health, and many more that are produced and offered worldwide on well-known broadcast platforms and at affordable prices. There are approximately 124 different titles (https: //www.amazon.com/IMS/e/B08CHM2MD7/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_2). To improve access to the church’s hymnal, it has been possible, by the grace of God, to prepare the audiovisual content in English and Spanish for the International Hymnal.
In a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power and who lightens the earth with his glory [Revelation 18:1].—Testimonies for the Church 7:140 (1902).
Other projects are being developed thanks to the efforts of writers, editors, translators, graphic designers, and multimedia specialists in the church. We request your continual spiritual assistance, prayer, and financial support for this work.
We are grateful to all in the divisions, unions, and fields who cooperate with the General Conference Publishing Department in the distribution of publications, as well as to everyone who will contribute generously for the special Sabbath School Offering next week.
–Raquel Orce Sotomayor
General Conference Publishing Department Leader