Lesson 8 | Sabbath, 25 August 2018
“God has provided abundant means for successful warfare against the evil that is in the world. The Bible is the armory where we may equip for the struggle. Our loins must be girt about with truth. Our breastplate must be righteousness. The shield of faith must be in our hand, the helmet of salvation on our brow; and with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, we are to cut our way through the obstructions and entanglements of sin.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 502.
“Especially important to the church in our time are the teachings of the apostle upon this point. To those living so near the great consummation, the words of Paul should come with telling force: ‘Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 260, 261.
Noble, exalted thoughts
1. How can a person’s thoughts be raised to a higher–a divine–level?
Ephesians 6:17, first part. And take the helmet of salvation,…
1 Thessalonians 5:8. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
“… Whenever he [man] has sought to fill his mind with any other object than God, he has been disappointed. There must be an altogether higher grade of thought, an altogether higher class of studies, and higher objects for you to seek to obtain than you have had in the past. The disorders and imperfections of human words and human characters can be restored only by the Lord Jesus Christ. He, then, should be the object of your contemplation, the theme of your conversation. You must have an altogether higher exercise of thought and action if you would understand the great plan of redemption.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 663.
“God bids us fill the mind with great thoughts, pure thoughts. He desires us to meditate upon His love and mercy, to study His wonderful work in the great plan of redemption. Then clearer and still clearer will be our perception of truth, higher, holier, our desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought will be transformed by communion with God through the study of the Scriptures.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 34.
2. What should be the subjects of our thoughts?
Colossians 3:1. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Psalm 105:2. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
John 5:39. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Hebrews 12:2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“We should meditate upon the Scriptures, thinking soberly and candidly upon the things that pertain to our eternal salvation. The infinite mercy and love of Jesus, the sacrifice made in our behalf, call for most serious and solemn reflection. We should dwell upon the character of our dear Redeemer and Intercessor. We should seek to comprehend the meaning of the plan of salvation. We should meditate upon the mission of Him who came to save His people from their sins. By constantly contemplating heavenly themes, our faith and love will grow stronger. Our prayers will be more and more acceptable to God, because they will be more and more mixed with faith and love. They will be more intelligent and fervent. There will be more constant confidence in Jesus, and you will have a daily, living experience in the willingness and power of Christ to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 34.
“Your last thought at night, your first thought in the morning, should be of Him in whom is centered your hope of eternal life.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 666.
3. What is the apostle Paul’s counsel concerning this?
Philippians 4:8, 9. 8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
“We have a work to do to resist temptation. Those who would not fall a prey to Satan’s devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts.
“The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every subject that the adversary of souls may suggest. ‘Girding up the loins of your mind,’ says the apostle Peter, ‘be sober,… not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in … your ignorance: but like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living.’ 1 Peter 1:13-15, R.V.
“This will require earnest prayer and unceasing watchfulness. We must be aided by the abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will attract the mind upward, and habituate it to dwell on pure and holy things. And we must give diligent study to the word of God.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 460; Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, pp. 107, 108.
The enemy’s tactics
4. How does the enemy attempt to steal one’s thoughts from Christ and the divine plan of redemption?
Psalm 13:2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Luke 21:34. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
“When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ. The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections–to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices. Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to gain the victory…. Talk and think of Jesus. Let self be lost in Him. Put away all doubt; dismiss your fears. Say with the apostle Paul, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ Galatians 2:20. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him. If you will leave yourself in His hands, He will bring you off more than conqueror through Him that has loved you.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 71, 72.
5. How are one’s intelligence and thoughts preserved when he wears the helmet of faith?
Ephesians 4:20-24. 20But ye have not so learned Christ; 21If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
“Let every weak, tempest-tossed soul find anchorage in Jesus Christ and not become so self-centered that he can think only of his little disappointments and the interruption of his plans and hopes. Is not the subject of the plan of salvation all-absorbing? If the infinite God justifies me, ‘who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.’ Verse 34. He has in His dying for man revealed how much He loves man–enough to die for Him! The law condemns the sinner and drives him to Christ. It is God that justifies and pardons….
“Then if God be for us, who can be against us? Oh, the bright glorious truth. Why do not men discern it? Why not walk in its bright beams? Why do not all who believe talk of Christ’s matchless love?…
“God lives and reigns. All who are saved must fight manfully as soldiers of Jesus Christ; then they will be registered in heaven’s books as true and faithful. They are to work the works of Jesus Christ, fight the good fight of faith.” –The Upward Look, p. 377.
Jesus saw souls who would be saved
6. What were Christ’s thoughts in the proclamation of the plan of salvation and all through its realization? Therefore, what will be the thoughts of those who have the faith of Jesus?
1 Peter 1:20. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
John 12:32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
1 Timothy 2:6. Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
“… Jesus comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He should redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and destroy him who had the power of death. And His Father would give Him the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, and He would possess it forever and ever…. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favor with God and enjoy heaven.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 44.
“It was the joy of Christ in His humiliation and pain that His disciples should be glorified with Him. They are the fruit of His self-sacrifice. The outworking in them of His own character and spirit is His reward, and will be His joy throughout eternity. This joy they share with Him as the fruit of their labor, and sacrifice is seen in other hearts and lives. They are workers together with Christ, and the Father will honor them as He honors His Son.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 624.
7. Knowing that Christ has already overcome the enemy, what should be foremost in our minds so we are strengthened for the battle?
Romans 8:31-35. 31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
James 1:12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18. 16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
“Holiness, dignity, honor, and felicity in the presence of God are things now unseen except by the eye of faith. But the things which are seen, worldly honor, worldly pleasure, riches, and glory, are eclipsed by the excellency, the beauty, and resplendent glory of the things now unseen. The things of this world are temporal, enduring only for a time, while the things which are not seen are eternal, enduring through endless ages. To secure this infinite treasure is to gain everything and lose nothing….
“Temporal things are not to engage our whole attention, or engross our minds until our thoughts are entirely of the earth and the earthly. We are to train, discipline, and educate the mind so that we may think in a heavenly channel, that we may dwell on things unseen and eternal, which will be discerned by spiritual vision. It is by seeing Him who is invisible that we may obtain strength of mind and vigor of spirit.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1100.
For additional study
“The mind must be kept meditating upon pure and holy subjects. An impure suggestion must be dismissed at once, and pure, elevating thoughts, holy contemplation, be entertained, thus obtaining more and more knowledge of God by training the mind in the contemplation of heavenly things. God has simple means open to every individual case, sufficient to secure the great end, the salvation of the soul.
“Resolve to reach a high and holy standard; make your mark high; act with earnest purpose, as did Daniel, steadily, perseveringly, and nothing that the enemy can do will hinder your improvement. Notwithstanding inconveniences, changes, perplexities, you may constantly advance in mental vigor and moral power.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, pp. 236, 237.
“Intellect ennobled, purified, heaven directed, is the universal power to build up the kingdom of God. Intellect perverted, has exactly the opposite influence; it is a corrupting of the human power given in trust to be multiplied in earnest labor for good. It deceives and destroys. God has given sufficient endowments to make men capable and wise to carry forward, and strongly and graciously to represent, the Lord’s wonderful works to all those who love Him and obey His commandments.
“Satan cannot touch the mind or intellect unless we yield it to him.” –(Manuscript 17, 1893) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1105.
Missionary Report from the Oceania Division
To be read on Sabbath, August 25, 2018
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, September 1, 2018
“Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.” “Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands.” Isaiah 42:10, 12.
My dear brethren, I am pleased to extend to you my warm greetings from the Oceania Division. The fulfillment of the prophetic signs that we witness nearly every day show that Christ’s coming is at hand. Now is not the time to wait but to prepare the way for our Saviour’s coming by surrendering entirely to His transforming power and spreading the last warning far and wide. Have good courage in our Lord and Saviour.
We are grateful to our heavenly Father for His wonderful work and for the progress made in His vineyard in the Oceania Division. Spreading the last message of salvation to the whole world is very important, but there is a special goal that our Lord requires us to reach–His children living in the area of the Oceania Division. This is expressed in the command for us to go “unto the ends of the earth.” Acts 13:47.
God wants us to “sing unto the Lord a new song.” What kind of new song do we need to sing, and how are we to praise Him? What do we have to do? We have to “go down to the sea, and all that is therein,” to deliver to the people in the Pacific islands the last message of God’s love and righteousness. What does God require from the inhabitants of the Islands after they receive the last message–“ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof”?
The entire Pacific region covers one third of the earth’s surface. You could fit all of the land in the world into the space that it occupies, with room left over for an extra Canada. Put another way, it is bigger than the surface of Mars. The largest country is Australia, and the smallest independent country is Nauru, which is so tiny that you need less than one hour to drive around it. There are fourteen independent countries and twelve dependent overseas territories within this area. Oceania is divided into several regions, and the areas where we are working right now are Australia, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Indonesia.
Countries where we have members include Australia, Polynesia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Indonesia (the Indonesian Field).
The Oceania Union was established in 2000, with 22 members in four countries and with its headquarters in New Zealand. In 2012, during the General Conference in South Africa, the Oceania Division was established, with eight countries. We were pleased that the Indonesian Field became a part of the Division at that time. Now the Oceania Division has increased to twelve countries with 333 members.
During the last two years, the Lord helped mightily. He performed miracles, helping us to enter three new countries–Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and the Cook Islands. His work has developed very well in these countries and in many islands in between. Sometimes the trips are very risky. Recently Brother Sanaila Ravia, the current Union leader, traveled by boat to some remote islands of Papua and was attacked by pirates on the way. By God’s miracle, he and the others who were traveling with him survived. Often such attacks end very badly for boat passengers; some are even killed by the pirates.
Our goal is to spread the last message of Reformation in the remaining fourteen countries in the Oceania Division that have not yet been entered. We are putting forth efforts to make this happen as quickly as possible, for we know that what we do not do in times of peace will have to be done in troublous times. We are doing our best, but we need your help as well.
We are increasing our missionary efforts in Australia, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Indonesia. Micronesia is the next goal for us to enter and develop the Lord’s work. We expect to enter this region very soon and are already in contact with individuals who are interested in the message.
I am pleased that the committees at all levels, the gospel workers, and the members in the Oceania Division understand and accept the mission the Lord has given us. We are doing our best and have been blessed with good results, even as Satan was and is still trying his best to create many obstacles and problems to complicate and negate the efforts made to open new places for worship and develop the existing churches and groups of believers in the Pacific.
Additional hurdles to overcome in include the high cost of flights and travel to and within the Islands (often to quite remote islands), support of the workers, building new churches (even very simple ones), and assisting the brethren with their needs. Visiting the islands where there is already a church presence and the people are waiting to be visited is also a financial challenge. After we begin the Lord’s work, we need to visit the believers regularly and then follow with necessary efforts to build and maintain the work.
The Lord needs our and your financial help to fulfill His order to “go down to the sea, and all that is therein,” to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 42:10. Let us all become singers in the amazing choir that will “sing unto the Lord a new song.” Psalm 96:1.
Oceania Division President
Special Sabbath School Offering for Oceania Division
God bless your loving sacrifice for Him!