November 21 - 27
The Lamb of God
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Exod. 34:5-7; Isa. 53:5, 6; Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Thess. 5:23.
MEMORY TEXT: : "The next day John saw Jesus coming to-ward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"' (John 1:29, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: When confronted with Adam and Eve's rebellion, God provided a means of reconciliation that proves His love for each sinner even though He abhors sin
JESUS CAME TO EARTH AS A SINLESS LAMB to take on Himself the guilt of a sinful world. He came knowing that He would die but knowing also that we would live. Today heaven is ours be cause Jesus was willing to give up heaven. I am a child of God because Jesus became the Son of man.
"Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss. "The Desire of Ages, p. 49. To test the acoustics in Agricultural Hall, London, Charles Spurgeon shouted into the empty auditorium, "Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" A worker in the ceiling heard, knelt before God, and received salvation. Won't you kneel before God this week and receive salvation anew?
What does God want to do for us? John 1:29.
Leviticus 4 deals with the case of a person who had sinned "through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done" (verse 2). Four categories of sinners are mentioned: priest, congregation, ruler, and common person. Those who had a greater knowledge of the law were required to bring a more expensive sacrifice, but the poor man was not left out.
"A lamb was even less expensive than a goat, and for this reason it was expected that a poor man would bring a lamb. The lamb was therefore considered the poor man's offering. It is significant that Christ is repeatedly spoken of as the Lamb of God. He is the poor man's sacrifice."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 732.
A lamb also was significant in a Hebrew's mind as an animal slain for the Passover. This commemorated Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt and also pointed forward to their deliverance from the slavery of sin through the sacrificial death of the Messiah to come.
What thoughts must have raced through the minds of the congregation at the Jordan River when John the Baptist referred to Jesus as "the Lamb of God"! Although no one knew it, there before them stood the very Man who some three years later would perish as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Did any truly understand?
What thoughts must have raced through Jesus' mind as He heard those words! He knew that all those prophetic words implied a Gethsemane, a Calvary. He was to be the sin offering for a lost humanity.
Explain how God views sinners. Ps. 103:8-14; Jer. 29:11.
God looks on us, not as we are, but as we should be, might be, and will be, when redeemed from sin and rescued from its deadly grip.
"Can you believe that when the poor sinner longs to return, longs to forsake his sins, the Lord sternly withholds him from coming to His feet in repentance? Away with such thoughts! ... We must not think of God only as a judge ready to pronounce sentence against us. He hates sin; but from love to sinners He gave Himself, in the person of Christ, that all who would might be saved and have eternal blessedness in the kingdom of glory."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 633.
|What thoughts race through your mind as you hear the call "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"? Before you stands the Son of God!|
How did God reveal Himself to Moses? Exod. 34:6, 7.
God's justice demands that the transgressor pay the penalty of transgression. Death is that penalty. So if justice alone were to prevail, all of us would die, for all of us have sinned. God, however, is merciful. His mercy makes it possible for the condemned sinner to live. God, in Jesus, paid the penalty for all who repent of their sins and accept Jesus as their Substitute. God's mercy is great. But His justice is real. If we refuse to accept the provisions made for our salvation, then we will have to face full justice.
What truth points out the mercy of God? Rom. 5:8.
Let us suppose that the richest and most generous person on earth set up a trust fund with the simple provision that any person who wrote and asked could have $10,000. Would that multibillionnaire watch to see how many took advantage of the offer? Would that person be interested in knowing why some had not gotten the word and why, when they had heard, they did nothing about it?
God the Father and God the Son watch eagerly to see who will accept Their gift of mercy. Some have never gotten the word. Some who have heard pay little attention. As Satan tries to snatch the gift away from many, God lovingly, anxiously presses His gift upon those who will accept it. To coerce them to do what is right would be to play into the hands of Satan, who claims that God forces obedience. God's loving approach is to urge sinners to turn from their evil ways, allowing them to be attracted to Him and to respond in turn by love. This kind of love is hard for us to understand. We have never seen anything like it. So God has to reassure us that He is not out to destroy us. He said through Jeremiah: "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11, RSV).
"Theme for the most profound meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God."Steps to Christ, p. 15.
|Take a few moments to meditate on "the matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him!" As you do so, put yourself in the picture. You are part of that world. How much do you love Him? And how will you express that love?|
Through what twofold sacrifice did God reveal His love for us? Phil. 2:5-8.
"Now our whole souls are filled with one thought-the condescension of God.... As we assign no limit to the height of his glory, we shall assign none to the depths of his grace.... So far from taking offence at the inferiority of the position which he assumed, the very lowliness of his incarnation and the very degradation of the death he died, will kindle in us a brighter and more burning gratitude, when we remember that though rich it was for our sakes he became poor; and that for us, his wayward and wandering sheep, the chief Shepherd offered up himself as the Lamb of God, laying down his life of his own accord, and taking it up again to die no more.'Edward H. Bickersteth, The Trinity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1959), p. 92.
Why do you think God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son? Gen. 22:1-13. What did Jesus say about this experience that caused some people to be angry? John 8:56-58.
Some have been called upon to make the sacrifice of a son or daughter to die for their country. It is not an easy experience. Some parents would rather die and have their children live. But the supreme sacrifice becomes the measure of supreme love and devotion.
For the Son "this was a voluntary sacrifice. Jesus might have remained at the Father's side. He might have retained the glory of heaven and the homage of the angels. But He chose to give back the scepter into the Father's hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring light to the benighted, and life to the perishing.'The Desire of Ages, pp. 22, 23.
Before Jesus came to earth, He knew what suffering, humiliation, and shame it would bring. He knew that He would be despised and rejected; insulted, spat upon, treated as the vilest of criminals, and die upon the cross. But He was willing to pay the price.
The sacrifice made by Christ is likened to that of an innocent lamb placed upon an altar. Until Christ came in person to offer Himself upon the cross, the system of sacrifices kept ever before the repentant sinners the high price their salvation would cost. What a price it was: the very life of God!
|Are you willing to respond to God in the same way He responds to you? What are you willing to sacrifice for Him?|
How are we healed of the gaping wound caused by our sins? Isa. 53:5, 6.
"All that He endured-the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father's face-speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. He who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease flee, who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life-offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee. He, the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself."The Desire of Ages, pp. 755, 756.
List the results of Christ's sacrifice. 1 Pet. 2:24. Consider the relationship between dying to sin and living for righteousness in the context of Christ's great sacrifice for us.
While dying on the cross, Christ agonized "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46, NIV). The sins of the ages resting on Christ caused separation between Him and His Father, and He died for sin.
"The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father's acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father's wrath upon Him as man's substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God."The Desire of Ages, p. 753.
|At times, we all feel forsaken by God. How does the cry of Christ recorded in Matthew 27:46 help you to work through those times? Remember that He was forsaken for your sake that you may never be forsaken for His sake.|
What must we have to be justified? Rom. 3:28; 5:1.
Sinners are not at peace with God but at enmity. Sin fights against God, rebels against conformity to His law and His will. Death is the penalty for sin. Christ came into the world, however, to rescue us from that death penalty and to restore us to peace with God. He offers love for enmity, pardon for condemnation, reconciliation for alienation.
All this is what is meant by justification. God accepts us not because of what we have done for God but because of what God has done for us in Christ. Justification is accomplished the moment we accept salvation by faith in Christ. It changes our standing before the court of heaven. Our sins are pardoned. We are accepted as members of the heavenly family, in peaceful and happy relationship with God.
"God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17, KJV). Justification is the opposite of condemnation. Christ's purpose was to justify, not condemn.
We are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24), not "by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 2:16). Sinners are justified by Christ immediately when they accept Him by faith-there is no waiting until sainthood has been achieved.
"We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.
"More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him."Steps to Christ, p. 62.
Put your name in the blank that appears in the verse below:
"Being justified by faith, ______________________________ [has] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).
|What does "peace with God" mean to you? What experience can you share to describe it?|
FURTHER STUDY: Not only is our God a God who justifies; He sanctifies, as well. What do the following verses teach us about this process? Acts 26:18; John 17:17; 1 Cor. 1:30; 1 Thess. 5:23; Ezek. 11:18-20; Gal. 5:16-25. Also read Steps to Christ, "Growing Up Into Christ," pp. 67-75. Justified means I am cleansed from the guilt of sin, and I walk free from its penalty; sanctified means I am strengthened by the Holy Spirit to resist the power of sin.
The effect of sin is to destroy the image of God in us. The effect of the gospel is to restore us to God's image. The purposes of Christ in coming to the world were to reveal God's character to us, to die for our sins, and to make it possible by His grace that His character be reproduced in us. If we are to live eternally in a holy heaven with a holy God, we must accept and manifest His gift of holiness. (See Heb. 12:14.) The transformation from sinfulness to holiness flows from our Saviour's righteousness. It is the holy law of God being written on the hearts of the saved.
"One day alone is ours, and during this day we are to live for God, beautify our characters by faith in the righteousness of Christ. This one day we are to place in the hands of Christ in solemn service, in all our purposes and plans to be guided by Him. This one day we are to do unto others exactly as we wish them to do unto us. We are to be ready to speak kind words from hearts full of sympathy and love. We are to manifest patience, revealing to the world what it means to be a practical doer of the words of Christ, ever remembering that our life is bound up with the life of Him who died for us. Christ and the child of humanity become one, so that the Spirit and character of Christ are represented in His followers day by day and hour by hour. By faith Christ becomes unto the believer righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."Ellen G. White, "By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them," Signs of the Times, July 11, 1892; italics supplied.
SUMMARY: May this consecration
prayer be your heart's desire:
O Lamb of God, You freely chose to take away the sins of the world. I accept Your perfect sacrifice as a full atonement for all my sins. I plead Your abiding presence for power to obey. You are my strength, my everlasting helper. Our Father has made You my righteousness and wisdom, my sanctification and redemption. Amen.
God's Persistent Call, Part 2
While he was a member of a group that worshiped Satan, Josef was involved in two serious motorcycle accidents. His miraculous escape from death forced him to wonder if God was trying to tell him something. But the devil was not willing to let go and tried to frighten Josef into giving up his search for God. But the devil's plan only drove Josef to seek God more intensely.
Josef spent his free time reading his Bible and studying the Bible correspondence course he had sent for. One day he found the passage in Exodus that commanded God's people to remember the Sabbath day. He wondered, How is it that the Bible commands God 's people to keep the Sabbath, but Christians worship on Sunday?
When he found no one who had an answer, he asked God to send him the answer. A few days later he received the next lesson in the Bible study course. It was on the Sabbath. He recognized this lesson was God's answer to his prayer, and he decided he would keep the Sabbath holy-even if he had to keep it alone
Then he received the Bible lesson that spoke of Jesus' soon return. This was another surprise for him. Josef wanted to talk to someone who could help him understand these new teachings. He wrote a letter to the Bible correspondence school, asking if they knew someone in his area who could answer his questions.
A pastor telephoned Josef and arranged to meet him at the train station. Josef waited at the appointed spot, but no one came. Finally a man walked up to him and asked, "Are you Josef? Josef nodded. The pastor explained that Josef did not look the way the pastor had pictured him in his mind, so he did not recognize the young man. Josef smiled as he thought of his long hair, shaggy beard, and army pants.
Josef told the pastor of his experiences with Satan, the motor cycle accidents, and his subsequent search for God. The pastor arranged to begin personal Bible studies that would answer Josef's questions about God. Josef was an eager student and the pastor a patient teacher. Josef thanks God for saving him from death while riding his motorcycle; but even more, for saving him from eternal death at the hands of Satan and giving him a new life, new hope, and the promise of an eternity with Christ.
Mihalet Dogaborh is a pastor in Hungary. Josef now lives in Goreab, a small town in Hungary.
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