Bible Study Guide- December 30- January 5
General Introduction- First Quarter—2002
The Christian experience is embodied in the plan of salvation and is indeed to be the fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ to every believing child of God. Our experience is to be founded in and upon the Word of God. "In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience. ‘Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.’ 11 Timothy 3:16, 17, R.V." The Great Controversy, vii. God’s Spirit, through Soloman, has aptly illustrated what is to be the experience of all God’s children in this world with these words: "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18. "You have watched the rising sun, and the gradual break of day over earth and sky. Little by little the dawn increases, till the sun appears; then the light grows constantly stronger and clearer until the full glory of noontide is reached. This is a beautiful illustration of what God desires to do for His children in perfecting their Christian experience. As we walk day by day in the light He sends us, in willing obedience to all His requirements, our experience grows and broadens until we reach the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus." Messages to Young People, 15. That perfect day is not far away, and we are told that, "we shall need an experience which we do not now possess and which many are too indolent to obtain." The Great Controversy, 622. Will God have a people who arise and shine? Yes! If we are willing, He is able! "A deeper and wider experience in religious things is to come to God’s people. Christ is our example. If through living faith and sanctified obedience to God’s word we reveal the love and grace of Christ, if we show that we have a true conception of God’s guiding providences in the work, we shall carry to the world a convincing power." Testimonies, vol. 9, 274. It is the hope that this quarter’s studies will be one of the means God will use to revive and reform His people unto Himself, that they may indeed be a people who "fear God and give glory to Him." (See Revelation 14:17.)
December 30–January 5
The Love of God
MEMORY VERSE: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." 1 John 3:1.
STUDY HELP: Steps to Christ, 9-15.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: God has loved you with an "everlasting love." (See Jeremiah 31:3.)
INTRODUCTION: "Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of glory became one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’ (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts." The Desire of Ages, 641.
Creation Testifies of God’s Love
1 Identify one place where God declares His glory to all of humanity. Psalm 19:1-6.
NOTE: "Many are the ways in which God is seeking to make Himself known to us and bring us into communion with Him. Nature speaks to our senses without ceasing. The open heart will be impressed with the love and glory of God as revealed through the works of His hands. The listening ear can hear and understand the communications of God through the things of nature. The green fields, the lofty trees, the buds and flowers, the passing cloud, the falling rain, the babbling brook, the glories of the heavens, speak to our hearts, and invite us to become acquainted with Him who made them all." Steps to Christ, 85. See also The Ministry of Healing, 411.
2 Through the things of creation, what can the eye of faith clearly see? Romans 1:20.
NOTE: "‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. ‘The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,’ whose ‘ways are everlasting,’ changeth not. With Him ‘is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ Isaiah 57:15; Habakkuk 3:6; James 1:17. Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love. The sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing to all created beings." Patriarchs and Prophets, 33. See also Ministry of Healing, 413, "God’s handiwork in nature.…"
3 What has God said concerning the "thorns and thistles" (Genesis 3:17, 18) which are symbolic of the difficulties and trials we experience in this life? Romans 8:28.
NOTE: "All along our pathway God places the flowers of promise to brighten our journey. But many refuse to gather these flowers, choosing instead the thorns and thistles. At every step they weep and mourn, when they might rejoice in the Lord because He has made the road to heaven so pleasant. As we look at the promises of God we find comfort and hope and joy, for they speak to us the words of the Infinite One. Properly to appreciate these precious promises we should study them carefully, examining them in detail. How much joy we might bring into life, how much goodness into the character, if we would but make these promises our own! As we journey in the upward way, let us talk of the blessings strewn along the path. As we think of the mansions Christ is preparing for us, we forget the petty annoyances which we meet day by day. We seem to breathe the atmosphere of the heavenly country to which we are journeying, and we are soothed and comforted.…Let us honor God by weaving more of Jesus and heaven into our lives." My Life Today, 338. See also Steps to Christ, 116, 117.
The Word Testifies of God’s Love
4 What has God Himself declared His glory or character to be? Exodus 33:18–19; 34:6–7.
NOTE: "It was when Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock that he beheld the glory of God. It is when we hide in the riven Rock that Christ will cover us with His own pierced hand, and we shall hear what the Lord saith unto His servants. To us as to Moses, God will reveal Himself as ‘merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.’ Exodus 34:6, 7." Christ’s Object Lessons, 162.
"The Lord is full of compassion for His suffering ones. What sins are too great for His pardon? He is merciful, and as such is infinitely more ready and more pleased to pardon than to condemn. He is gracious, not looking for wrong in us; He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are but dust. In His boundless compassion and mercy He heals all our backslidings, loving us freely while we are yet sinners, withdrawing not His light, but shining on us for Christ’s sake." Selected Messages, Book 2, 231.
5 In what other way does God reveal His love to us in His Word? 11 Corinthians 1:20; 11 Peter 1:4.
NOTE: "As you read the promises, remember they are the expression of unutterable love and pity." Steps to Christ, 55.
"My brethren and sisters, plead for the Holy Spirit, God stands back of every promise He has made. With your Bibles in your hands, say: ‘I have done as Thou hast said. I present Thy promise, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."’ Christ declares: ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’ Matthew 7:7; Mark 11:24; John 14:13." Testimonies, vol. 8, 23. See also Testimonies to Ministers, 381, "The promises of God…" and Ibid., 490, "Even in the midst…".
6 God’s love is revealed in His character. Compare 1 John 1:5, Proverbs 6:23, and Romans 13:10 to see where else His love is revealed.
NOTE: "The law of God, from its very nature, is unchangeable. It is a revelation of the will and the character of its Author. God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and love to man. ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Romans 13:10. The character of God is righteousness and truth; such is the nature of His law. Says the psalmist: ‘Thy law is the truth;’ ‘all Thy commandments are righteousness.’ Psalm 119:142, 172. And the apostle Paul declares: ‘The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ Romans 7:12. Such a law, being an expression of the mind and will of God, must be as enduring as its Author." The Great Controversy, 467. See also Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, 97, "God’s law is the law of love…".
Christ Testifies of God’s Love
7 Whose character did Jesus reveal in His life? John 14:7–9. See also John 1:1–3.
NOTE: "Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He ever bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save. Such is the character of Christ as revealed in His life. This is the character of God. It is from the Father’s heart that the streams of divine compassion, manifest in Christ, flow out to the children of men. Jesus, the tender, pitying Saviour, was God ‘manifest in the flesh.’ 1Timothy 3:16." Steps to Christ, 12.
"Christ Himself is the pearl of great price. In Him is gathered all the glory of the Father, the fullness of the Godhead. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person. The glory of the attributes of God is expressed in His character. Every page of the Holy Scriptures shines with His light. The righteousness of Christ, as a pure, white pearl, has no defect, no stain. No work of man can improve the great and precious gift of God." Christ’s Object Lessons, 115. See also Ibid., 69, "Christ is waiting…".
8 What did Jesus say was the evidence of His oneness with the Father? John 10:25, 37, 38. See also John 14:10, 11; John 5:20, 21.
NOTE: "Every miracle that Christ performed was a sign of His divinity. He was doing the very work that had been foretold of the Messiah; but to the Pharisees these works of mercy were a positive offense. The Jewish leaders looked with heartless indifference on human suffering. In many cases their selfishness and oppression had caused the affliction that Christ relieved. Thus His miracles were to them a reproach.
"That which led the Jews to reject the Saviour’s work was the highest evidence of His divine character. The greatest significance of His miracles is seen in the fact that they were for the blessing of humanity. The highest evidence that He came from God is that His life revealed the character of God. He did the works and spoke the words of God. Such a life is the greatest of all miracles." The Desire of Ages, 406, 407. See also Sons and Daughters of God, 55, "As a Teacher…" and Testimonies, vol. 9, 31, "Christ’s work is to…".
9 We are to abide in Jesus’ love the same way Jesus abode in His Father’s love. How did Jesus abide in His Father’s love? John 15:10; 1 John 5:2, 3.
NOTE: "To man in Eden Christ made known the precepts of the law ‘when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ Job 38:7. The mission of Christ on earth was not to destroy the law, but by His grace to bring man back to obedience to its precepts." Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 48.
"Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience. We do not earn salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith. But obedience is the fruit of faith." Steps to Christ, 60, 61. See also Christ’s Object Lessons, 378, "Christ knew…".
Calvary Testifies of God’s Love
10 What is the Father’s greatest demonstration of His love for fallen man? John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16.
NOTE: "But this great sacrifice was not made in order to create in the Father’s heart a love for man, not to make Him willing to save. No, no! ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.’ John 3:16. The Father loves us, not because of the great propitiation, but He provided the propitiation because He loves us. Christ was the medium through which He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world. ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.’ 11 Corinthians 5:19." Steps to Christ, 13.
"I exalted before them the infinite sacrifice made by the Father in giving His beloved Son for fallen men, that they might through obedience be transformed and become the acknowledged sons of God. The church and the world are called upon to behold and admire a love which thus expressed is beyond human comprehension, and which amazed even the angels of heaven. This love is so deep, so broad, and so high that the inspired apostle, failing to find language in which to describe it, calls upon the church and the world to behold it—to make it a theme of contemplation and admiration." Testimonies, vol. 4, 293. See also Ibid., vol. 2, 200, "In order to fully realize…".
11 What did Jesus’ death at Calvary magnify? Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17, 18; Psalm 40:7, 8.
NOTE: "The cross of Christ testifies to the immutability of the law of God—testifies that God so loved us that He gave His Son to die for our sins; but Christ came not to destroy but to fulfill the law. Not one jot or tittle of God’s moral standard could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. Jesus died that He might ascribe unto the repenting sinner His own righteousness, and make it possible for man to keep the law." Selected Messages, Book 1, 312.
"There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God." The Great Controversy, 489. See also Patriarchs and Prophets, 63, "The broken law…".
12 What is required of us in order to follow Jesus who died for us? Luke 9:23; John 14:15.
NOTE: "Christ died that the life of man might be bound up with His life in the union of divinity and humanity. He came to our world and lived a divine-human life, in order that the lives of men and women might be as harmonious as God designs them to be. The Saviour calls upon you to deny self and take up the cross. Then nothing will prevent the development of the whole being. The daily experience will reveal healthy, harmonious action." Tesimonies, vol. 7, 49.
"Every soul that accepts Jesus as his personal Saviour will pant for the privilege of serving God and will eagerly seize the opportunity to signalize his gratitude by devoting his abilities to God’s service. He will long to show his love for Jesus and for His purchased possession. He will covet toil, hardship, sacrifice. He will think it a privilege to deny self, lift the cross, and follow in Christ’s footsteps, thus showing his loyalty and love. His holy and beneficent works will testify to his conversion, and will give to the world the evidence that he is not a spurious, but a true, devoted, Christian." Testimonies to Ministers, 394. See also Sons and Daughters of God, 69, "Wearing the yoke . . . ."
December 2001 Table of Contents