Lesson 11 | Sabbath, 15 December 2018
“The disciples of Christ are to feel a noble, generous sympathy for every line of work carried on in the great harvest field. They are to be interested in everything that concerns the good of their fellow men. By their baptismal vows they are pledged to make persevering, self-denying efforts to promote, in the hardest parts of the field, the work of soul-saving. God has placed on every believer the responsibility of striving to rescue the helpless and the oppressed. They are to break every yoke, letting the oppressed go free from the power of vicious habits and sinful practices.” –Signs of the Times, November 28, 1906.
The most important matter
1. Can we imagine that in life things will always go the way we wish? What does the Lord advise, no matter what risks one faces?
John 21:18, 19 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
“Before His death, Jesus had said to him [Peter], ‘Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards.’… That he might be strengthened for the final test of his faith, the Saviour opened to him his future. He told him that after living a life of usefulness, when age was telling upon his strength, he would indeed follow his Lord. Jesus said, ‘When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God.’
“Jesus thus made known to Peter the very manner of his death; He even foretold the stretching forth of his hands upon the cross. Again He bade His disciple, ‘Follow Me.’ Peter was not disheartened by the revelation. He felt willing to suffer any death for his Lord.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 815.
2. What is the danger of allowing anything to distract one’s attention from his goal? According to the Lord’s instructions, what should be everyone’s first and only objective?
John 21:20-22 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
“As Peter walked beside Jesus, he saw that John was following. A desire came over him to know his future, and he ‘saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me.’ Peter should have considered that his Lord would reveal to him all that it was best for him to know. It is the duty of everyone to follow Christ, without undue anxiety as to the work assigned to others. In saying of John, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come,’ Jesus gave no assurance that this disciple should live until the Lord’s second coming. He merely asserted His own supreme power, and that even if He should will this to be so, it would in no way affect Peter’s work. The future of both John and Peter was in the hands of their Lord. Obedience in following Him was the duty required of each.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 816.
Obedience to His commandments
3. How do we reveal that we truly love the Lord? What is the sign of genuine discipleship?
John 14:15, 21 If ye love me, keep my commandments…. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
“Love is of God…. Love is the principle of action. It modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the life and sheds a refining influence on all around….
“But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love. The law of God is an expression of His very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled…. Obedience–the service and allegiance of love–is the true sign of discipleship.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 59, 60.
4. If we say that we are His disciples and do not respect His commandments, what are we doing?
1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
“Many are forfeiting the condition of acceptance with the Father. We need to examine closely the deed of trust wherewith we approach God. If we are disobedient, we bring to the Lord a note to be cashed when we have not fulfilled the conditions that would make it payable to us. We present to God His promises, and ask Him to fulfill them, when by so doing He would dishonor His own name….
“One of Christ’s last commands to His disciples was ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ John 13:34. Do we obey this command, or are we indulging sharp, unchristlike traits of character? If we have in any way grieved or wounded others, it is our duty to confess our fault and seek for reconciliation. This is an essential preparation that we may come before God in faith, to ask His blessing.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 143, 144.
Deep love for one another
5. What will distinguish Christ’s disciples? Since this is not natural to the human being, of what is it clear evidence?
John 13:34, 35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
“This love is the evidence of their discipleship. ‘By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples,’ said Jesus, ‘if ye have love one to another.’ When men are bound together, not by force or self-interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural agencies of evil, and that the grace of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 678.
6. If God’s love is missing, what is the reason? Then, who alone is able to change the deadly situation?
1 John 2:9-11; 3:14 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes…. 3:14We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
“No one can hate his brother, or even his enemy, without placing himself under condemnation.” –(The Youth’s Instructor, January 13, 1898) Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 529.
“I have been thinking how little we appreciate the decided declaration of the word of God to us in regard to our relation with each other. There is that selfishness in the human heart that centers our thoughts upon ourselves; and even those who seem to have a connection with God, we are pained sometimes to see how much of their thoughts are centered upon themselves, not seeing nor sensing the needs of others. We are connected together as in the great web of humanity, and in all our associations with one another we should seek to have the mind of Christ. To close the eyes to the needy and perishing, to leave sinners unwarned, and by indifference and selfishness tempt them to say, ‘No man careth for my soul,’ is to dishonor God and bring reproach upon the cause of God. Our work is to build up one another in the most holy faith.” –This Day with God, p. 274.
7. Despite all outward forces, what will make it possible for all who desire to be Jesus’ disciples really to be so?
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
Matthew 10:22; 24:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved…. 24:13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
“We are soldiers of Christ; and those who enlist in His army are expected to do difficult work, work which will tax their energies to the utmost. We must understand that a soldier’s life is one of aggressive warfare, of perseverance and endurance. For Christ’s sake we are to endure trials. We are not engaged in mimic battles. We have to meet most powerful adversaries; 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.’ Ephesians 6:12. We are to find our strength just where the early disciples found their strength: ‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.’ ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ Acts 1:14; 4:31, 32.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 140.
For additional study
“Daily beset by temptation, constantly opposed by the leaders of the people, Christ knew that He must strengthen His humanity by prayer. In order to be a blessing to men, He must commune with God, pleading for energy, perseverance, and steadfastness. Thus He showed His disciples where His strength lay. Without this daily communion with God, no human being can gain power for service. It is the privilege of every one to commit himself, with all his trials and temptations, his sorrows and disappointments, to the loving Heavenly Father. No one who does this, who makes God his confidant, will fall a prey to the enemy.” –(Review and Herald, November 10, 1910) In Heavenly Places, p. 85.