Lesson 26 | Sabbath, 27 June 2020
“There is a strife between the forces of good and evil, between the loyal and the disloyal angels. Christ and Satan are not at an agreement, and they never will be. In every age the true church of God has engaged in decided warfare against satanic agencies. Until the controversy is ended, the struggle will go on between wicked angels and wicked people on the one side, and holy angels and true believers on the other.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 28.
Enmity and conflict from the beginning to the end
- According to the divine verdict, what would exist throughout the centuries between the serpent and the woman and between the serpent’s seed and that of the woman? What does the history of this world show?
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Daniel 11:33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
John 16:2, last part … The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
“When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were innocent and sinless, in perfect harmony with God. Enmity had no natural existence in their hearts. But when they transgressed, their nature was no longer sinless. They be- came evil, for they had placed themselves on the side of the fallen foe, doing the very things that God specified they should not do. Had there been no interference on the part of God, fallen humans would have formed a firm alliance with Satan against heaven. But when the words were spoken, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel,’ Satan knew that although he had succeeded in making human beings sin,… some arrangement had been made whereby the beings who had fallen would be placed on vantage ground, their nature renewed in godliness. He saw that his actions in tempting them would react upon himself, and that he would be placed where he could not become conqueror….” –Christ Triumphant, p. 28.
- According to Bible prophecy, what escalation of the conflict between the forces of good and evil is expected in the near future? What will bring this about?
Revelation 12:17; 13:7 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ…. 13:7And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
“The remnant church will then be brought into great trial and distress. Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will feel the ire of the dragon and his hosts. Satan numbers the world as his subjects; he has gained control even of many professing Christians. But here is a little company who are resisting his supremacy.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 587.
“In the near future we shall see these words (Revelation 12:17) fulfilled as the Protestant churches unite with the world and with the papal power against commandment keepers….
“Church and state are now making preparations for the future conflict…. Throughout the land the papacy is piling up her lofty and massive structures, in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions are to be repeated. And the way is preparing for the manifestation, on a grand scale, of those lying wonders by which, if it were possible, Satan would deceive even the elect.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 449, 450.
Spiritual nature of the conflict
- Who is the Christian’s foe? How did the apostle Paul define the conflict in every age?
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
2 Timothy 4:7, 8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
“Terrible is the struggle that takes place between the forces of good and of evil in important centers where the messengers of truth are called upon to labor.
‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood,’ declares Paul, ‘but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.’ Ephesians 6:12. Till the close of time there will be a conflict between the church of God and those who are under the control of evil angels….
“The principalities and powers of heaven are watching the warfare which, un- der apparently discouraging circumstances, God’s servants are carrying on. New conquests are being achieved, new honors won, as the Christians, rallying round the banner of their Redeemer, go forth to fight the good fight of faith. All the heavenly angels are at the service of the humble, believing people of God; and as the Lord’s army of workers here below sing their songs of praise, the choir above join with them in ascribing praise to God and to His Son.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 219, 154.
- Of what are the spiritual soldiers in the Lord’s army assured? In whose name will the battle be fought and won?
Romans 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Revelation 12:10, last part, 11 … For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
God is the strength of His people today. We are not to trust in princes, or to set men in the place of God. We are to remember that human beings are fallible and erring, and that He who has all power is our strong tower of defense. In every emergency we are to feel that the battle is His. His resources are limitless, and apparent impossibilities will make the victory all the greater.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 202.
“This is not the case in the Christian warfare. All may run this race, and may be sure of victory and immortal honor if they submit to the conditions. Says Paul:
‘So run, that ye may obtain.’ He then explains the conditions which are necessary for them to observe in order to be successful: ‘And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 34.
“Christ has made it possible for every member of the human family to resist temptation. All who would live godly lives may overcome as Christ overcame, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” –Medical Ministry, p. 264.
Divine power for the final invitation to glory
- That will the Lord’s servants–those who have loved and followed Him and have given His message with power–soon receive?
Joel 2:28, 29 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Acts 1:8; 2:38, last part, 39 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…. 2:38And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
“If this prophecy of Joel met a partial fulfillment in the days of the apostles, we are living in a time when it is to be even more evidently manifest to the people of God. He will so bestow His Spirit upon His people that they will become a light amid the moral darkness; and great light will be reflected in all parts of the world. O that our faith might be increased, that the Lord might work mightily with His people.” –(Manuscript 49, 1908) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1175.
“The time has come when we must expect the Lord to do great things for us. Our efforts must not flag or weaken. We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. Before the work is closed up and the sealing of God’s people is finished, we shall receive the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Angels from heaven will be in our midst. The present is a fitting-up time for heaven when we must walk in full obedience to all the commands of God.” –(Letter 30, 1907) Selected Messages, book 1, p. 111.
- What has always been Jesus’ desire and earnest prayer for His followers? What is He preparing for those who love Him and follow Him in the severe conflict with evil powers?
John 17:24; 14:2, 3 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world…. 14:2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
“From garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains and deserts, from the caves of the earth and the caverns of the sea, Christ will gather His children to Himself. On earth they have been destitute, afflicted, and tormented. Millions have gone down to the grave loaded with infamy because they refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals the children of God have been adjudged the vilest criminals. But the day is near when ‘God is judge Himself.’ Psalm 50:6. Then the decisions of earth shall be reversed. ‘The rebuke of His people shall He take away.’ Isaiah 25:8. White robes will be given to every one of them. Revelation 6:11. And ‘they shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord.’ Isaiah 62:12.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 179, 180.
Victory–entrance into the kingdom of glory
- What final words will soon be spoken from the temple in heaven? What wonderful promises will the Lord fulfill to those who overcome the evil one through His divine power?
Revelation 16:17; 2:26; 3:21 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done…. 2:26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:… 3:21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
“The time is coming when it will be too late to seek God, and I have been thinking how we shall feel when probation is closed, and all our life-work ended…. Shall we then be accounted as faithful servants? What if at this moment we should hear the voice of Christ saying, ‘It is done’?…” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 343. “Those who would overcome must put to the tax every power of their being. They must agonize on their knees before God for divine power. Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine na- ture. How? By having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Satan did not gain the victory over Christ. He did not put his foot upon the soul of the Redeemer. He did not touch the head though he bruised the heel. Christ, by His own example, made it evident that man may stand in integrity. Men may have a power to resist evil–a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place them where they may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in them.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 409.
- Where will the victorious saints spend eternity, free from all conflict?
Revelation 21:4, 5 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
“Through trials and persecution, the glory–character–of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The church of God, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. They walk in narrow paths on earth; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial and experience bitter disappointments; but their painful experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they are destined to be partakers of His glory. In holy vision the prophet saw the triumph of the people of God. He says, ‘I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory … stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.’ Revelation 15:2, 3.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 31.
For additional study
“The crown and the throne are the tokens of a condition attained; they are the tokens of self-conquest through our Lord Jesus Christ.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 549. “Through trial and persecution the glory–the character–of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial, and experience bitter disappointments; but thus they learn the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be com- pared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Romans 8:18.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 280.
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Missionary Report from Portugal
To be read on Sabbath, June 27, 2020
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27.
Portugal is located in southwestern of Europe, in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula and near the islands of the North Atlantic. The country has a land area of 92,212 square kilometers (35,603 square miles) and shares a border with Spain on the north and east; the Atlantic Ocean is on the south and west, near the Azores and Madeira. The westernmost country of the European continent, Portugal’s official language is Portuguese, and it has a population of 10,374,822.
The territory that is now occupied by Portugal belonged to the Roman Empire for a very long time, and barbarian tribes began to invade and conquer the north- ern part of the country in A.D. 409. The Swabians and Alans settled in the south. In A.D. 415, the Visigoths overran the Peninsula at the request of the Romans to expel the invaders, resulting in the Vandals and Alans being driven toward North Africa. The Swabians and Visigoths founded the first Christian kingdom.
In A.D. 711, the country was conquered by the Muslims, who established the Al-Andalus. The Christians gathered in the north, establishing the Kingdom of As- turias. Since the Swabians who were in the country when Portugal was established were Christians, the country has a Christian majority.
Currently the Portuguese Constitution guarantees religious freedom and equality to all religions, although the Catholic Church is especially privileged in various areas of society.
According to the 2011 census, 81% of the Portuguese population is Catholic, 8.3% is undeclared, 6.8% has no religion, 3.3% is Protestant, and 0.6% belong to other religions.
The message of the Reform Movement was brought to Portugal in 1933 by Brothers Antonio of Spain and Eggarter of Germany. They started talking about the message of Reformation to brothers of the Adventist Church in Lisbon, and eight of them accepted the message. Brothers Antonio and Eggarter were eventually deported from Portugal, because the Adventist pastor of the complained to the authorities that these brethren were teaching against military service.
Brother Rieck was then sent to Portugal by the General Conference, and after some time the first souls were baptized by the former General Conference President, Wilhelm Maas, sometime in 1936-1938. In the following years, two churches were established and smaller groups were formed. Every year new souls accepted the message of Reform.
In 1976, Elder Raul Escobar, Elder Henry Andrade, and Brother Wilhelm Egerter worked together to secure the first official registration of the church in Portugal. Now the Portuguese Field has two churches and 28 members, more than 60% of them being over 65 years of age.
The latter fact is the reason for this request for assistance. Many of these brethren are in need of care. Some of them live alone, and their families are un- able to care for them, so the spiritual family needs to take up the responsibility to help these brethren, who gave so much for God’s cause. The Lord says in His word: “And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4.
When I became president of the Portuguese Field in 2016, I saw the need to initiate a project to meet the urgent needs of these older brethren. Our plan is to buy a piece of property with or without a house in a country setting in nature and remodel the building to comply with the country’s laws and to meet the needs of our elderly brethren. We already have professionals who can care for these believers and can give them the attention that they deserve. By the grace of God, this plan already has the support of the European Division and the believers in Portugal; but we also desire the assistance of those around the world who are able to pray for and support this project with their means.
“The light that the Lord has given me was repeated: Let every family take care of its own relatives, making suitable provision for them. If this is not possible, then the church should bear the burden. The Lord will bless His church in exercising benevolence. They are God’s poor, and are not to be left unhappy and destitute.
“If the church cannot do this, then the conference must take it up and make provision for the Lord’s needy ones. Provision should also be made for the or-phans. If these cannot be taken care of by their relatives, then the church or the conference must take the care of them, and place them in suitable homes.” – (Manuscript 151, 1898) Selected Messages, book 2, p. 331.
Thank you for your prayers and gifts.
–Adalicio Fontes de Souza
Portuguese Field President
“The text of 1 Samuel 18:10 and others related to Saul’s strange behavior reports that ‘the evil spirit from God came upon Saul.’ How is to be understood this sentence? A scholar notes that God only gave permission to the evil spirit to come upon him. ‘The Spirit of the Lord departed from him. If God and His grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us. The devil, by the Divine permission, troubled and terrified Saul, by the corrupt humors of his body, and passions of his mind.’” –Matthew Henry Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:14.
According the Sister Ellen G. White, writing in Patriarchs and Prophets, when the women sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” then “The demon of jealousy entered the heart of the king.’ She also wrote that “Saul gave himself up to the control of the wicked spirit that ruled over him” and that “the demon of passion … had been slumbering in Saul’s breast.”
“The ‘stone’ here announced represents Christ, who in the previous verse is called ‘My servant’ and ‘the Branch.’ Zechariah 3:8. In this Stone are ‘eyes,’ indicating that it is a ‘living stone.’ 1 Peter 2:4. When He is accepted as a personal Saviour in one day is removed the iniquity of individuals and of the people, because He is the one that takes ‘away the sin of the world.’ John 1:29. The justification that the law could not give because of the weakness of the flesh (Romans 8:3), through Him is possible (Acts 13:39); by Him we are free from the condemnation and from the dominion of sin. Romans 4:7; 5:1; 6:12, 14. “The ‘stone’ that the Lord laid before Joshua represents ‘Christ the Stone of Israel,’ whom the builders refused, the foundation and corner stone of the spiritu- al building, the church: and this was laid before Joshua to build his faith upon, to view his safety and security on it, and to take comfort from it for himself; and to lay it before others, and instruct them in the nature and use of it, for their comfort also. It was prophetically laid before him in the prophecies of Christ, that went before; and typically, when the foundation of the temple was laid (Ezra 3:9), the temple being a type of the church, and the foundation of it a type of Christ: and this being done by Jehovah, shows that He is the chief builder; that this stone must be an excellent one, that is of his laying; that that building must stand….” –Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, comments on Zechariah 3:9.