Promises for the Little Flock
Lesson 19 | Sabbath, 6 November 2021
“‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ These are the chosen of God; they are those to whom Christ addresses the words: ‘Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’” –Signs of the Times, June 11, 1894.
1. What illustration did Jesus use to represent the church and its members? To whom do the sheep and lambs belong? What attitude will faithful shepherds demonstrate?
Matthew 26:31. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
John 21:15-17. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
“Jesus says, ‘My sheep hear My voice,… and they follow Me.’ John 10:27. The Shepherd of Israel does not drive His flock, but He leads them. His attitude is wholly one of invitation. ‘My sheep hear My voice.’ If we are indeed sons and daughters of God, we not only hear, but recognize the voice above all others. We appreciate the words of Christ, we distinguish the truth as it is in Jesus from all error, and the truth refreshes the soul and fills it with gladness….” –That I May Know Him, p. 52.
2. What specific knowledge of and love for His flock does the great Shepherd have?
John 10:14, 11. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine…. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
“As an earthly shepherd knows his sheep, so does the divine Shepherd know His flock that are scattered throughout the world. ‘Ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.’” –Gospel Workers, p. 181.
“He had represented Himself as the light, the source of life and gladness to nature and to man. Now in a beautiful pastoral picture He represents His relation to those that believe on Him. No picture was more familiar to His hearers than this, and Christ’s words linked it forever with Himself. Never could the disciples look on the shepherds tending their flocks without recalling the Saviour’s lesson. They would see Christ in each faithful shepherd. They would see themselves in each helpless and dependent flock.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 476.
Trust and true discipleship
3. On the other hand, what does the true flock know, and how much do the faithful sheep trust Him?
John 10:3,4, 27. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice…. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
“Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died. The distress of every one touches His heart. The cry for aid reaches His ear. He came to draw all men unto Himself. He bids them, ‘Follow Me,’ and His Spirit moves upon their hearts to draw them to come to Him. Many refuse to be drawn. Jesus knows who they are. He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care. He says, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’ He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 479, 480.
“He will save them from every evil, shield them from all dangers, if they will heed His voice. He says, ‘My sheep hear My voice,… and they follow Me.’ In Christ they will find pasture, obtain strength and hope, and will not be troubled with restless longings for something to divert the mind and satisfy the heart. They have found the pearl of great price, and the mind is at peaceful rest. Their pleasures are of a pure, peaceful, elevated, heavenly character. They leave no painful reflections, no remorse. Such pleasures do not impair health or prostrate the mind, but are of a healthful nature.” –Child Guidance, p. 467.
4. Is genuine discipleship something temporary for good times? What do the Scriptures say about those who will be redeemed in glory?
Matthew 24:12, 13. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
1 Peter 2:21. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
Revelation 14:4. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
“Were the thousand channels of selfishness cut off that now exist, and the means directed in the right channel, there would be a large revenue flowing into the treasury. Many purchase idols with money that should go to the house of God. No one can practice real benevolence without practicing genuine self-denial. Self-denial and the cross lie directly in the path of every Christian who is truly following Christ. Jesus says: ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’ Will every soul consider the fact that Christian discipleship includes self-denial, self-sacrifice, even to the laying down of life itself, if need be, for the sake of Him who has given His life for the life of the world?” –Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 288, 289.
“As you give heed to the light you have, greater light will come.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 150.
The little flock and the eternal kingdom
5. How consistent are the faithful in the Lord’s flock? What wonderful promises has He given to them?
Matthew 7:13, 14. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Luke 12:32; 22:29. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 22:29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me.
“In comparison with the millions of the world, God’s people will be, as they have ever been, a little flock; but if they stand for the truth as revealed in His word, God will be their refuge. They stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. God is always a majority. When the sound of the last trump shall penetrate the prison house of the dead, and the righteous shall come forth with triumph, exclaiming, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’(1 Corinthians 15:55)–standing then with God, with Christ, with the angels, and with the loyal and true of all ages, the children of God will be far in the majority.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 590.
6. Who else are numbered with the Lord’s flock, and what will He do for them?
John 10:16. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.
Matthew 8:10, 11. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
“Among earth’s inhabitants, scattered in every land, there are those who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Like the stars of heaven, which appear only at night, these faithful ones will shine forth when darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people. In heathen Africa, in the Catholic lands of Europe and of South America, in China, in India, in the islands of the sea, and in all the dark corners of the earth, God has in reserve a firmament of chosen ones that will yet shine forth amidst the darkness revealing clearly to an apostate world the transforming power of obedience to His law. Even now they are appearing in every nation, among every tongue and people; and in the hour of deepest apostasy, when Satan’s supreme effort is made to cause ‘all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,’ to receive, under penalty of death, the sign of allegiance to a false rest day, these faithful ones, ‘blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,’ will ‘shine as lights in the world.’ The darker the night, the more brilliantly will they shine.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 188, 189.
7. What is the Lord’s desire and purpose for His flock that He has purchased with His own blood? What will happen when persecution breaks upon God’s people?
John 10:16, last part …And there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Ephesians 2:14; 4:3-6. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…. 4:3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
“… When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together, and present to the enemy a united front…. The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 401 (1900).