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Did you know that our first GC President was a political activist? For a foretaste of Brian Strayer's upcoming book see The Radical Politics of Our First GC President, John Byington
Most of us probably remember a great teacher who made an impact on our lives, whom we admired and appreciated. Some teachers transcend their own times and continue to influence subsequent generations. Outstanding teachers have decisively impacted life and thought and are often universally recognized. Jesus, of course, was the greatest Teacher of all.
His contemporaries acknowledged Him as a Teacher, for He exhibited the general characteristics of a first-century rabbi. As was the practice, He would sit down to teach. He often quoted the Scriptures and then commented on them. Finally, Jesus had a group of disciples who attentively listened to His words and followed and served Him. These were the basic attributes of teachers in His time and place.
Fundamental differences between Jesus and the other teachers,
however, did exist. While the latter concentrated mostly on the
intellectual aspects of a subject, Jesus addressed the whole being of
His audience and invited them to make a decision in favor of God.
Besides, those who heard Jesus
were astonished at His
teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the
1:22, NKJV). Christ’s authority gained
credibility by the fact that He practiced what He taught. But above
all, the source of His authority was His own Person. He taught the
truth, because He is
the Truth. As God incarnated,
Thus says the Lord, yet would then later
but I say to you.
This quarter we will study some of the main teachings of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels. Our Savior taught many things pertaining to our spiritual and practical lives. He presented His teachings to different audiences, being careful to adapt His method to each person. Sometimes He preached a sermon; other times He dialogued with individuals or with groups. Sometimes He spoke openly; other times He had to conceal the meaning of His words. In every case, however, He taught truth about God and salvation.
There could be many ways to organize and expound the teachings of Jesus. It would be possible, for example, to study His parables or to analyze His various sermons. Another approach would be to consider His dialogues with individuals or groups and His discussions with His opponents. Likewise, it would be interesting to focus on His deeds, His attitudes, and His miracles, which were ways He also used to teach important lessons. Each approach would be fruitful, but in order to grasp a comprehensive picture of Jesus’ teachings, this quarter’s lesson study will combine several approaches. It will come at His teachings more systematically, gathering how Jesus taught particular topics on different occasions and in different ways, which will give us a good understanding of most of His teachings.
When we open the Scriptures this quarter and read Jesus’
words, let us picture ourselves among His attentive listeners at the
mountainside, by the sea, or in the synagogue. Let us pray for
spiritual discernment to understand His message and to grasp His
unfathomable love manifested on the cross. And as we hear His tender
voice calling us to follow Him, let us renew our commitment to walk
daily with Him by faith and in obedience. The more we spend time at His
feet, the more we will say, as did the two disciples who were on their
way to Emmaus:
'Did not our heart burn within us while He
talked with us . . . and while He opened the Scriptures to us?
Read for This Week’s Study: Matt. 7:9-11, John 14:8-10, Luke 15:11-24, Matt. 6:25-34, Heb. 9:14.
Behold what manner of love the Father has
bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the
world does not know us, because it did not know Him (1
John 3:1, NKJV).
Jesus delighted to speak of God as the Father.
According to the Gospels, Jesus applied the name Father
to God more than one hundred thirty times. On various occasions, He
heavenly Father (Matt.
17:11, NKJV), and
17:25, NKJV). The name
describes the intimate bond that should unite us to our Lord.
father means love,
protection, security, sustenance, and identity for a family. A father
gives a name to the family and keeps its members together. We can enjoy
these and many other benefits when we accept God as our heavenly Father.
Though it is so essential for us to know the Father, our aim should not be just intellectual and theoretical knowledge. In the Bible, to know someone means to have a personal, intimate relationship with him or her. How much more so with our heavenly Father?
This week we will explore what Jesus taught about our Father and about His infinite love for us. We will look, too, at the close relationship of the Father with the Son and with the Holy Spirit.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 5.
Sunday June 29
Father was not a new name for God. The Old Testament sometimes presented Him as our Father (Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; Ps. 103:13). However, it was not the most used name for Him. For Israel, the personal name of God was YHWH (probably pronounced Yahweh), which appears more than six thousand eight hundred times in the Old Testament. Jesus did not come to reveal a different God than YHWH. Rather, His mission was to complete the revelation that God had made of Himself in the Old Testament. In doing so, He presented God as our heavenly Father.
Jesus made clear that the Father is
It is important to remember this truth in order to have the right
attitude toward God. We have a loving Father who is concerned with the
needs of His children. At the same time, we recognize that this caring
in heaven, where millions of angels
worship Him because He is the only Sovereign of the universe, holy and
omnipotent. The fact that He is our Father invites us to approach Him
with the confidence of a child. On the other hand, the truth that He is
in heaven reminds us of His transcendence and the need to worship Him
with reverence. To emphasize one of these aspects at the expense of the
other would lead us to a distorted concept of God, with far-reaching
consequences for our practical, daily lives.
Read Matthew 7:9-11. What does it tell us about how a human father can reflect the character of our heavenly One?
Not everyone has had a loving, caring father. For different
reasons, some may not even have known their father. Therefore, for them
to call God
my Father may have little, if any,
meaning. However, all of us have an idea of what a good earthly father
would be. Besides, we may have known some people who did portray the
characteristics of a good father.
We know that human fathers are far from perfect, but we also know that we love our children and, in spite of our shortcomings, we try to give them the best we can. Imagine, then, what our Father in heaven can do for us.
What does it mean for you, personally, to address God as your heavenly Father? What should it mean to you?
Monday June 30
No one has ever seen God(John 1:18, NIV). Since the Fall of Adam and Eve, sin has hindered us from knowing God. Moses wanted to see God, but the Lord explained to him:
You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live(Exod. 33:20, NKJV). Nevertheless, our priority should be to know God, because eternal life is to know the Father (John 17:3).
What do we especially need to know about God? See Jer. 9:23-24. Why are these things important for us to know?
In the great controversy, Satan’s main attack has been against
the character of God. The devil made every effort to convince everyone
that God is selfish, severe, and arbitrary. The best way to meet this
accusation was for Him to live on this earth in order to demonstrate
the falsehood of the charges. Jesus came to represent God’s nature and
character and to correct the distorted concept that many had developed
about the Godhead.
The only Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, he has made him known (John
Read John 14:8-10. Notice how little the disciples knew about the Father after being with Jesus for more than three years. What can we learn for ourselves from their lack of comprehension?
Jesus was sad and astonished to hear Philip’s question. His
gentle rebuke actually reveals His patient love toward His dull
disciples. Jesus’ response implied something like this: Is
possible that after walking with Me, hearing My words, seeing My
miracles of feeding the crowds, of healing the sick and of raising the
dead, you do not know Me? Is it possible that you do not recognize the
Father in the works that He does through Me? The disciples’
failure to know the Father through Jesus did not mean that Jesus had
misrepresented the Father. On the contrary, Jesus was sure that He had
fulfilled His mission of revealing the Father in a fuller way than had
ever been seen before. Therefore, He could say to
If you had known Me, you would have known My
Father also; . . . He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John
14:7, 9, NKJV).
Tuesday July 1
Jesus came to emphasize what the Old Testament had already affirmed: the Father looks at us with incomparable love (Jer. 31:3, Ps. 103:13).
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!(1 John 3:1, NKJV). It is amazing that the Almighty God, who rules the immense universe, would allow us insignificant and poor sinners living on a tiny planet in the midst of billions of galaxies to call Him Father. He does so because He loves us.
What supreme evidence did the Father give us to demonstrate His love? See John 3:16-17.
Christ was not nailed to the cross in order to create in the Father’s heart a love for humanity. Jesus’ atoning death was not the means to convince the Father to love us; it happened because the Father had already loved us, even before the foundation of the world. And what greater evidence do we have, could we have, of His love than the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?
The Father loves us, not because of the great
propitiation, but He provided the propitiation because He loves us.
— Ellen G. White, Steps
to Christ, p. 13.
Some tend to think that the Father is reluctant to love us.
Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus is our Mediator does not mean that He
has to persuade the Father to love us. Christ Himself dispelled this
wrong idea when He said:
the Father Himself loves you
Read Luke 15:11-24 and meditate on the love of the father of the prodigal son. Make a list of the many evidences the son had of his father’s love.
How are we, each of us in our own way, like the prodigal son? In what ways have you experienced something similar to what he did?
Wednesday July 2
It is important to know that we are cared for. Even though some people may be indifferent and neglectful toward us, Jesus taught that our heavenly Father cares for us in every possible way. His mercy and tenderness are not subject to the ups and downs so common in human temperaments; His love is steadfast and unchanging, regardless of the circumstances.
Read Matthew 6:25-34. What encouraging words are found here? How can we learn to better trust in God, as He is revealed in these verses?
There is no chapter in our experience too dark for
Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel.
No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the
soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our
heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate
interest. — Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ,
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up
their wounds. Psalm
147:3. The relations between God and each soul
are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the
earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His
Amid all the encouraging words here, we cannot ignore the fact
that tragedy and suffering do strike us. Even in the texts for today,
Jesus spoke of how
sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
6:34), implying that not everything is going to
go well for us. We do have to live with evil and its doleful
consequences. The point is, even amid all that, we are assured of the
Father’s love for us, a love revealed to us in so many ways, most of
all, by the Cross. How crucial, then, that we constantly keep the gifts
and blessings of our heavenly Father before us; otherwise, we can
easily become discouraged when evil strikes, which it inevitably does.
In what ways, during a time of crisis, were you able to see the reality of God’s love for you? What did you learn from that experience that you can share with someone else who might be struggling and, amid those struggles, questioning the reality of God’s love?
Thursday July 3
In different ways, Jesus taught and demonstrated that three
divine Persons constitute the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit. Although we cannot explain this truth rationally, we
accept it by faith (like many of the truths revealed in Scripture), and
together with Paul we strive to attain a full
the mystery of God (Col.
2:2, NKJV). That is, though there is
much we don’t understand, we can seek by faith, obedience, prayer, and
study to learn more and more.
The three Persons of the Godhead were active in the key moments of the life of Jesus. Summarize the role of each One in the following events:
When Jesus’ earthly ministry was about to finish, He promised
His distressed disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit. Here again
we see the three Persons working together.
I will pray the
Father, Jesus assured them,
and He will give you
another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, . . . the Spirit of
14:16-17, NKJV; see also John
Jesus explained that there is complete harmony and cooperation between the three Divine Persons in the plan of salvation. As the Son glorified the Father, demonstrating His love (John 17:4), so the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, revealing His grace (and love) to the world as well (John 16:14).
Think through some of the other revealed truths that are difficult to comprehend through rational thought alone. At the same time, think about many things in the natural world that are similarly difficult to comprehend. What should these mysteries tell us about the limits of our rational thought and the need to live by faith? Bring your answers to class on Sabbath.
Friday July 4Further Study: Ellen G. White,
A Personal God,pp. 263-278, in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8.
In order to strengthen our confidence in God, Christ
teaches us to address Him by a new name, a name entwined with the
dearest associations of the human heart. He gives us the privilege of
calling the infinite God our Father. This name, spoken to Him and of
Him, is a sign of our love and trust toward Him, and a pledge of His
regard and relationship to us. Spoken when asking His favor or
blessing, it is as music in His ears. That we might not think it
presumption to call Him by this name, He has repeated it again and
again. He desires us to become familiar with the appellation.
God regards us as His children. He has redeemed us
out of the careless world and has chosen us to become members of the
royal family, sons and daughters of the heavenly King. He invites us to
trust in Him with a trust deeper and stronger than that of a child in
his earthly father. Parents love their children, but the love of God is
larger, broader, deeper, than human love can possibly be. It is
immeasurable. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object
Lessons, pp. 141, 142.
Our heavenly Father has expressed his love for us
individually in the cross of Calvary. The Father loves us, he is full
of compassion and tender mercy. — Ellen G. White, The
Signs of the Times\AE, September 30, 1889.
I met the Savior while studying in a simple little Adventist school in my home village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. God gave me a burden to spread the message of the Adventist faith, and I began to share my faith in the neighborhood around my home church.
Then I learned about Global Mission and began working to plant a church in an impoverished suburb of Kinshasa. I found a few Adventists in the area and called them together to ask God for guidance to build up His church. These few Adventists brought their friends to study God’s word, and before long 17 more believers were baptized.
I was transferred to another area in Kinshasa, where I found three Adventist families who lived far from the nearest church. We began meeting in a member’s yard every morning at 5:00. The neighbors heard us singing and preaching, and some joined us. The members invited other friends as well. Soon 30 people worshipped together in that little yard.
We’ve continued to grow, and today we have more than 60 adults and children. We’ve outgrown the member’s yard, and we rent an unfinished building that has no roof. We’ve hung a tarp to protect us from the sun and the rain. In spite of the lack of shelter, we are not dismayed. People continue to come. We have begun a Bible study program, and we’re confident that we’ll continue to grow even more.
When the owner of the building in which we worship completes its construction, we will have to find another place to worship. Our members are poor; most don’t have money to feed and clothe their families and can’t help build a house of worship. But we have abundant faith, and we pray that God will provide a house of worship for us.
Recently we learned that Global Mission will help us find land and build a church. We rejoice that the world Church cares about us and will help us build a simple house of worship.
We don’t have Bibles to share with new believers, so it’s difficult to nurture them. Many members can’t afford to pay for public transportation to attend church every week. But our situation is not unique in Africa, and we don’t let our poor circumstances dismay us. We continue on our way rejoicing that the King of heaven is our Father, and He is preparing a heavenly mansion for us there. In the meantime, we thank God for His children everywhere who have not forgotten us and who faithfully give their mission offerings so that more of His children can be gathered in for the great harvest.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. email: email@example.com > website: www.adventistmission.org
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