Pick up the Ellen White notes on In the Crucible with Christ,
and the companion book for this quarter on
our index page for this quarter.
Also see some good reads on the Resource Page for these lessons.
Sabbath School Lesson Begins
The Book of Luke
Lesson 8 May 16-22
Read for This Week's Study: Luke 15:4-7,11-32; Luke 16:19-31; 18:35-43; 19:1-10.
The Son of Man has come to seek and to
save that which was lost (Luke
If we were to write a mission
statement for Jesus, we could not do any better than to repeat His own
To seek and to save that which was lost.
What was lost? It was humanity itself, which was alienated from God, subject to death, and filled with fear, disappointment, and despair. If nothing were done in our behalf, all would be lost.
Thanks to Jesus, though, we all have great reasons to be hopeful.
In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God;
earth was cut off from heaven. Across the gulf that lay between, there
could be no communion. But through Christ, earth is again linked with
heaven. With His own merits, Christ has bridged the gulf which sin had
made . . . Christ connects fallen man in his weakness and helplessness
with the Source of infinite power.-Ellen G. White, Steps to
Christ, p. 20.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a story of God seeking after lost humanity. Luke illustrates this truth by using three important parables: the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7), the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), and the lost son (Luke 15:11-32).
Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 23.
Sunday May 17
Read Luke 15:4-7. What does this tell us about God's love for us? Why is it so important to understand that it was the shepherd who went looking for the lost sheep?
In a world that can appear uncaring and indifferent to us, this parable reveals a startling truth: God loves us so much that He Himself will come after us, in order to bring us to Him. We often talk about people seeking God; in reality, God is seeking us.
The soul that has given himself to Christ is more
precious in His sight than the whole world. The Saviour would have
passed through the agony of Calvary that one might be saved in His
kingdom. He will never abandon one for whom He has died. Unless His
followers choose to leave Him, He will hold them fast.-Ellen
G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 483.
Read Luke 15:8-9. This parable is found only in Luke. The lost coin could have one of two meanings. First, Judea during the time of Jesus was full of poor people, and in most homes one coin (drachma) could have been more than a day's wage, barely enough to keep the family from starving. Second, as a mark of being married, some women wore a headdress made up of ten coins-a huge sum, saved over a long time in the case of poor families.
In either case, the loss was a serious matter. So, the woman, utterly broken and in deep grief, lights a lamp (the house perhaps had no windows or perhaps only a small window), picks up a broom, and turns the house upside down until she finds that coin. Her soul is filled with overflowing joy, and the overflow floods to all her friends.
The coin, though lying among dust and rubbish, is a
piece of silver or gold still. Its owner seeks it because it is of
value. So, every soul, however degraded by sin, is in God's sight
accounted precious. As the coin bears the image and superscription of
the reigning power, so man at his creation bore the image and
superscription of God; and though now marred and dim through the
influence of sin, the traces of this inscription remain upon every soul.-Ellen
G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 194.
So much modern science and philosophy tells us that we are nothing but chance creations in a meaningless universe that does not care at all about our fate or us. What completely different worldview is presented in these two parables?
Monday May 18
Hailed in history as the most beautiful short story ever told on the forgiving nature of love, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), narrated only by Luke, may well be called the parable of the loving father and two lost sons. One son chose the lawlessness of the distant land over the love of the father. The other son chose to stay in the home but did not fully know the love of the father or the meaning of a brother. The parable may be studied in seven parts, four dealing with the prodigal, two with the Father, and one with the elder brother.
Give me(Luke 15:12). The younger son's decision to demand of his father his portion of the property was no sudden, impulsive urge. Sin often results after a long time of brooding over misplaced priorities. The younger son must have heard from friends about the glitter and glamour of distant lands. Life at home was too rigid. Love was there, but it had its own boundaries; the distant land offered him life without restrictions. The father was too protective, his love too embracing. The son wanted freedom, and in the quest for unhindered freedom was the seed of rebellion.
Why me?(Luke 15:13-16). The son cashed in his entire share and set off to the
far country.The far country is a place far away from the father's home. Love's caring eyes, law's protective fence, grace's ever-present embrace are foreign to the far country. It is a distant land of
riotous living(Luke 15:13). The Greek word for
riotous(asotos) appears three other times as a noun in the New Testament: for drunkenness (Eph. 5:18), rebelliousness (Titus 1:6), and debauchery that includes
lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries(1 Pet. 4:3-4, NKJV). Such pleasures of godless living wasted away his health and wealth, and soon he became moneyless, friendless, and foodless. His glittering life wound up in a gutter. Starved to the point of being in perpetual want, he found employment in caring for the pigs, a harsh fate for a Jew.
Make me(Luke 15:17-19). But even the prodigal is still a son, with the power of choice to turn around. So, the son
came to his sensesand remembered a place called home, a person known as father, a relational bind called love. He walked back home, with a speech in his hand, to plead with the father:
Make me.That is, make me whatever you want, but let me be within your watchful eyes, within the care of your love. What better home is there but the Father's heart.
The world can appear very alluring.
What specific things of the world do you find yourself particularly
tempted by, that you find yourself thinking,
Oh, that's not
so bad, when deep down you know it is?
Tuesday May 19
when he came to himself.Recognition of where he was, in comparison with what his father's home was, drove him to
goto his father. The prodigal son returns home with a four-part speech that defines the true meaning of repentance.
First, there is an acknowledgment of the father as
father (vs. 18). The prodigal son now needs to lean upon and
trust his father's love and forgiveness, just as we must learn to trust
in our Heavenly Father's love and forgiveness.
Second, confession: what the prodigal did is not an error of judgment, but a sin against God and his father (vs. 18).
I am no longer worthy
(vs. 19). Recognition of one's unworthiness, in contrast to the
worthiness of God, is essential for true repentance to take place.
Make me (vs. 19).
Surrender to whatever God wills is the destination of repentance. The
son has come home.
a great way off,and then
had compassion and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him(vs. 20). No other image captures the character of God as that of the waiting father.
son of yours,a spendthrift without character (vs. 30, NKJV). The elder son's attitude toward the father is the same as that of the Pharisees who accused Jesus:
This Man receives sinners and eats with them(vs. 2, NKJV). The father's final word with his elder son reflects heaven's attitude to all repentant sinners:
(vs. 32, NKJV).It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found
Put yourself in the older brother's
shoes. However wrong his thinking, why does it make so much
that he would feel that way? How does this story reveal ways in which
the gospel goes beyond what
Wednesday May 20
Although Jesus came to seek and save those lost in sin, He never forces anyone to accept the salvation He offers. Salvation is free and available to all, but one must accept the free offer in faith, which results in a life in conformity with God's will. The only time we have for such an experience is while we live on earth; no other opportunity exists.
Read Luke 16:19-31. What's the main message of this parable?
The parable is recorded only in Luke, and it teaches two great
truths with respect to salvation: the importance of
in the process of salvation and the absence of another opportunity for
salvation after death.
Today is the day of salvation. The parable does not teach that
there is something inherently evil in riches or something inescapably
good in being poor. What it does teach is that the opportunity of being
saved and living saved must not be missed while we are on this earth.
Rich or poor, educated or illiterate, powerful or powerless, we have no
second chance. All are saved and judged by their attitude today, now,
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is
the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).
The parable also teaches that eternal reward has nothing to do
with material possessions. The rich man was
clothed in purple
and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day (Luke 16:19, NKJV) but missed the
essential of life: God. Where God is not recognized, fellow human
beings are not noticed. The rich man's sin was not in his richness but
in his failure to recognize that God's family is broader than he was
prepared to accept.
There is no second chance for salvation after death. The
second inescapable truth that Jesus teaches here is that there is no
second chance for salvation after death.
It is appointed for
men to die once, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27, NKJV). Another point
of this parable is to show people that we have been given enough
evidence now, in this life, to make a conscious choice for or against
God. Any theology that teaches some kind of
after death is a great deception.
We love to talk about how much God loves us and all that He has done and is doing to save us. What should this parable teach us, though, about the danger of taking God's love and offer of salvation for granted?
Thursday May 21
The mission statement of Jesus that He came to seek and save that which was lost is an affirmation of a holistic ministry. He came to make men and women whole, to transform them physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Luke gives us two instances that illustrate how Jesus restored two broken men into wholeness. One was blind physically, the other spiritually; both were outcasts-one a beggar and the other a tax collector. But both men were candidates for Christ's saving mission, and neither was beyond His heart or reach.
Luke 18:35-43. What does this teach about our utter dependence upon
God? Who among us at times has not cried out,
Have mercy on me?
Mark names the man as Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46). He was a beggar
outside of Jericho. Physically challenged, socially of no consequence,
and poverty stricken, he suddenly found himself in the sweep of
Jesus of Nazareth was passing by (Luke 18:37, NKJV), and his faith
surged upward to cry out,
Son of David, have mercy on me!
(vs. 39, NKJV). Faith requires neither eyes nor ears, neither feet nor
hands, but only a heart that connects to the Creator of the world.
Luke 19:1-10. Who was the
blind man in this story?
Only Luke records the story of Zacchaeus, the last of Jesus'
many encounters with outcasts. Christ's mission, to seek and save that
which was lost, was gloriously fulfilled in this encounter with
Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was Jericho's chief tax collector, a chief sinner
in the judgment of the city's Pharisees, but a chief sinner sought and
saved by the Savior. What strange places and methods Jesus used to
accomplish His mission. A sycamore tree, a curious man seeking to see
who Jesus was, and a loving Lord commanding the man to come down, for
He had a self-invited lunch appointment with him. But more important,
Jesus had a delivery to make:
Today salvation has come to
this house (Luke 19:9, NKJV)
but not before Zacchaeus made things right (vs. 8).
It's easy to see other people's faults and shortcomings, isn't it? But we can so often be blind to our own. What are some areas in your life that you need to face up to, confess, and get the victory over what you have been putting off for way too long?
Friday May 22
By the lost sheep Christ represents
not only the individual sinner but the one world that has apostatized
and has been ruined by sin.-Ellen G. White, Christ's Object
Lessons, p. 190.
On the value of one soul:
The value of a soul, who
can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there
watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it
were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross.
. . . At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ
would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.-Christ's
Object Lessons, page 196.
When I started pastoring the Seoul Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, office buildings surrounded the church and it was very difficult to meet people in the surrounding vicinity. As I was thinking about how to make contact with the people who work nearby, I thought that it could be very practical if we operated a restaurant because most of the people would want to eat lunch. I was thinking that if we provide very fresh food, friendly food-like a family, the people would like it.
When I first approached the church about starting a vegetarian restaurant, most members were against it because they had already tried to operate a restaurant several times but had failed. I assured them that I wouldn’t use the church budget, and that many times Ellen White had said that if we established this kind of restaurant in the middle of the city, it would be very successful. At last the members agreed.
Legally as a church, we were not permitted to own a restaurant because the church is a non-profit organization, so I decided to organize a health association, and invite those working in the surrounding offices to join so that they could eat very fresh vegetarian food in our restaurant. During the next three months I visited office by office in the surrounding buildings, and invited each person to become a member of our health association. I explained that we would provide the freshest vegetarian food and that by becoming a member of the association that could eat this delicious vegetarian food every day, Monday through Friday. The membership fee was the equivalent of US$100 per month. There was a lot of interest and many people signed up.
In addition to personal office visits, the church members and I distributed between 500 and 600 free meal tickets to the surrounding businesses. Each recipient was entitled to one free meal on a certain day at our newly opened vegetarian restaurant. Thinking that perhaps only 300-400 would come, we were happily surprised when nearly 500 guests arrived.
As they were enjoying their free meal, I announced that if they became members of the health association, they could eat this kind of food every day. Many joined.
To operate this kind of restaurant is not easy. It is important to have a good building. The church pastor should have a good relationship with the community. But while starting this restaurant may be difficult, once started, it will be successful.We also learned that the taste of the food is very important! If the taste is not so good, the guests will not continue coming. A few years after we started, we lost our cook, and her replacement wasn’t as skilled. As food quality went down, so did the number of guests. Once we replaced her, food quality improved and again membership in the health association rose.
We found that there are many benefits to the church for hosting a vegetarian restaurant. For example, in Korea, most of the other denominations believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is heretical-an unwanted sect, and because of this mindset, most were reluctant to visit the restaurant.
But as our vegetarian restaurant became more and more well-known, other Christian church pastors, monks, and priests decided to come too. After getting to know us, these people now have no prejudice for our church, and instead have only praise. Many of our guests have a high status in the community and they enjoy eating lunch here.
By God’s grace, our vegetarian restaurant at the Seoul Central church has been successfully operating for more than 12 years now. It is one of 117 centers of influence in South Korea.
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Sabbath School Lesson Ends
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