Lesson 1 For
July 4th 2015.
THE MISSIONARY NATURE OF GOD.
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First Quatter 2015
June 27-July 3
The Missionary Nature of God
Read for This Week’s
1 John 2:16;
2 Cor. 5:21;
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of
the peoples (Isaiah
Our world is a mess, and as humans we are the
big reason it is such a mess. And that’s because we are sinners, fallen
creatures whose nature, at the core, is evil. However much we like to
think of ourselves as advancing, as improving, the history of the past
century isn’t too encouraging. And here we are, not even a quarter of
the way into this century, and things don’t look that bright from here
either. If the past is precursor to the future, all we can expect, to
quote a former British politician, is
blood, toil, tears, and sweat.
All is not lost though. On the contrary, Jesus Christ has died for
our sins, and through His death we have the promise of salvation, of
restoration, of all things being made new.
Now I saw a new heaven and
a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away(Rev.
We have not been left alone, abandoned in the infinite
expanse of a cold and apparently uncaring cosmos to fend for ourselves.
We could never do it; the forces arrayed against us are so much greater
than we are. That’s why God had the plan of salvation in order to do for
us what we could never do for ourselves.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July
God Created Man and Woman
One of the perennial questions humans have asked is, Where do I
come from? In the first two chapters of the Bible (in fact, all
through the Bible) we have been given the answer to what many would
consider the most important question a person can ask. After all, only
by knowing where we came from are we off to a good start in knowing who
we are, why we exist, how we are to live, and where we are ultimately
Skim through Genesis 1
and 2, but focus especially on
Genesis 1:26-28. What great differences appear in the creation of
humanity as opposed to everything else seen in the texts? What is it
about humans that stands out from other parts of this creation?
- Man and woman were created last of all the creatures. They had
the whole visible creation in front of them to study and care for.
- God’s mode for creating man and woman differed from that of the
other creatures. Up to this point the divine command had been
Let there be (light, firmament, water, fish and birds,
animals, et cetera). Now the command was turned into consultation:
Let us make man. . . The three persons of the
Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-consulted about it. Though
these two chapters deal with the creation of the earth and the
creatures on it, there’s no question the main focus is on the
creation of humanity itself.
- Man and woman were created in God’s image and likeness,
something not said about anything else that was created at that
time. Though the text doesn’t say what it meant to be made in the
image and likeness of God, it must mean that humans in some way
reflected the character of their Creator. Because humans have a
moral capacity not seen in other creatures (butterflies might be
beautiful, but they don’t struggle with questions of right and
wrong), to be made in the likeness and image of God surely means
that to some degree humans must have reflected His moral character.
- Man and woman were to have dominion, to represent God on earth,
and rule over the rest of creation. This calling entails
Humans are introduced in the Bible in the first
chapter, but not in isolation. We exist, but in relationship to God.
What does this tell us about how central God should be to our lives and
why we are not really
complete without Him? See also
Embedded in the Creation account is the warning God gave about not
the tree of knowledge of good and evil
2:9). So, right from the start, we can see the moral element
granted humanity, something not seen in any of the other living
creatures. As we said yesterday, the capacity for moral judgment is one
way that humans reveal the image and likeness of God.
Genesis 2:15-17 say about the reality of free will in humanity?
God could have created humans so that they automatically did His
will. That is the way the other created things, such as light, sun,
moon, and stars were made. They obey God without any element of choice.
They fulfill the will of God automatically through the natural laws that
guide their actions.
But the creation of man and woman was special. God created them for
Himself. God wanted them to make their own choices, to choose to worship
Him voluntarily without being forced to. Otherwise they could not love
Him, because love, to be true love, must be freely given.
Because of its divine origin, human free will is protected and
respected by God. The Creator does not interfere with the deepest,
persistent choices of men and women. Wrong choices have consequences,
sometimes very terrible ones, too, but it is against the character of
our sovereign Lord to force compliance or obedience.
The principle of human free will has three important implications:
- For religion: an omnipotent God does not unilaterally
direct individual will and choices.
- For ethics: individuals will be held morally
accountable for their actions.
- For science: the actions of body and brain are not
wholly determined by cause and effect. Physical laws are involved in
our actions, but free will means that we do have a choice regarding
our actions, especially moral ones.
What are some of the free moral choices you have
to make in the next few hours, days, or weeks? How can you be sure you
are using this sacred gift in the right way? Think through the
consequences of the wrong use of it.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food
and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took
some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they
realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made
coverings for themselves (Gen.
Eating a little fruit was not a sinful act in itself. However, we
have to consider the circumstances in which it was carried out. Adam and
Eve were agents with a free will, made by God in His image. This
included the freedom-but also the duty-to comply with God’s expressed
will. They ate the fruit, not out of any stern necessity but rather by
choice. It was an act of Adam’s and Eve’s own free will in defiance of
God’s clear and specific instructions.
Likewise, we must choose for ourselves whether or not to follow God
and whether to cherish or to defy the Word of God. God will not force
anyone to believe His Word. He will never force us to obey Him, and He
can’t force us to love Him. God allows each of us to choose for
ourselves which path we will follow. But, in the end, we must be
prepared to live with the consequences of our choices.
By eating the fruit, Adam and Eve in effect told God that He was not
the perfect ruler. His sovereignty was challenged. They proved
disobedient, and as a result, they brought sin and death to the human
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the
ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he
placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming
sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life
Adam and Eve had to leave Paradise. It was a necessary yet merciful
consequence. The Lord would not allow rebellious humanity access to the
tree of life. With loving care He kept Adam and Eve away from the fruit
that would make them immortal and thus perpetuate the terrible condition
into which sin had brought them. (Imagine what eternal life would be
like in a world filled with such pain and suffering and evil as ours
is!) Adam and Eve were driven out from the lovely garden to work the
less friendly ground outside (Gen.
In the context of today’s lesson, read
1 John 2:16. How were the elements warned about in this text seen in
the Fall? In what ways do we have to deal with these same temptations in
our lives, as well?
Wednesday July 1
God’s Initiative to Save Us
The Bible shows that after the Fall of our first parents, it was God
who came looking for them, not vice versa. On the contrary, the man and
woman tried to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord. What a
powerful metaphor for so much of the fallen human race: they flee the
One who comes looking for them, the only One who could save them. Adam
and Eve did it in Eden, and unless surrendered to the wooing of the Holy
Spirit, people are still doing the same thing today.
Fortunately, God did not cast aside our first parents, nor does He
cast us aside either. From the time that God first called out
are you? to Adam and Eve in Eden (Gen.
3:9, NKJV) until today, He is still calling us.
In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole
world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates
around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere
will live and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.-Ellen
G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 68.
Of course, the greatest revelation of God’s missionary activity can
be seen in the incarnation and ministry of Jesus. Though Jesus came to
this earth to do many things-to destroy Satan, to reveal the true
character of the Father, to prove Satan’s accusations wrong, to show
that God’s law can be kept-the crucial reason was to die on the cross in
the place of humanity, in order to save us from the ultimate result of
sin, which is eternal death.
What do each of these texts teach us about the death of Jesus?
2 Cor. 5:21
made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us (NKJV). That is
what it took in order for us to be made
the righteousness of God in
Him (NKJV). This idea has been called the
Jesus taking on our sins and suffering as a sinner so that we, though
sinners, can be counted as righteous before God as Jesus Himself.
Metaphors of Mission
Mission is God’s initiative to save lost humanity. God’s saving
mission is motivated by His love for each one of us. There is no deeper
reason for it. God sent Christ on a mission to bring salvation for the
whole world. John’s Gospel alone contains more than forty declarations
of the cosmic dimension of Jesus’ mission. (See for example,
As Christ was sent by the Father to save the world, He in turn sends His
disciples with the words
as the Father has sent me, I am sending you
Matthew 5:13-14. What are the two metaphors used for mission in
these texts, and what do they stand for?
The metaphors of salt and light express core functions of Christian
influence on humanity. While salt operates internally, joining the mass
with which it comes in contact, light operates externally, illuminating
all that it reaches. The term earth in the salt metaphor refers
to men and women with whom Christians are expected to mix, while the
term light of the world refers to a world of people in darkness
that needs illumination.
The children of Israel were encouraged to live up to the moral
principles and health rules that God had given them. They were to be a
light, illuminating and attracting-you are
a light for the Gentiles
49:6 NIV). Their collective existence in a state of health,
prosperity, and loyalty to God’s Sabbath and other commandments would
proclaim to the surrounding nations God’s mighty acts of Creation and
Redemption. The nations, observing their prosperity, would approach them
and learn to be taught of the Lord. (That was the idea, anyway.)
When Christ came, He also talked about salt, another way to
witness. By their influence in the world, Christians are to curb the
world’s corruption. Unbelievers are often kept from evil deeds because
of a moral consciousness traceable to Christian influence. Christians
not only have a good influence on the corrupted world by virtue of their
presence in it, they also mingle with people in order to share the
Christian message of salvation.
Light and/or salt, how good a witness are you
and your church to the surrounding world? Is the light dimming? Is the
salt losing its punch? If so, how can you learn that revival and
reformation begins with you, personally?
Further Study: We have dealt with some aspects of the missionary
nature of God. Mission is an enterprise of the triune God. Mission is
predominantly related to Jesus Christ, whose Incarnation is central to
Christian faith and mission. By His life and death, Jesus has paved the
way for the salvation of all the human race. We as His followers, His
missionaries, have to let people know the good news of just what Jesus
has done for them.
The church of Christ on earth was organized for missionary
purposes, and the Lord desires to see the entire church devising ways
and means whereby high and low, rich and poor, may hear the message of
truth. Not all are called to personal labor in foreign fields, but all
can do something by their prayers and their gifts to aid the missionary
work.-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church,
vol. 6, p. 29.
- Think more about the question of origins. Why do origins
matter? How does a proper understanding of our origins help us
better to understand who we are and what the purpose of our
existence really is?
- How does the following quote help us to understand the
existence of free will, love, and evil in our world?
God wants to create loving creatures (in imitation of his
perfect love), God has to create free beings who can cause
suffering and evil in the world by their choices. The dynamics
of love and freedom require that God allow us the latitude to
grow in love through our human freedom. God’s only alternative
to allowing free beings to choose unloving acts is to completely
refrain from creating loving creatures.-Robert J. Spitzer,
New Proofs for the Existence of God:
Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy,
Kindle Edition (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), p. 233.
- The death of Jesus was a single act that occurred in a small
nation amid the vast Roman Empire almost two thousand years ago.
Yet, this act is of eternal significance for every human being.
What responsibility rests on us, who know about this act and
what it means, to tell those who don’t know about it? How else
will they learn of it if those who know about it don’t tell
Inside Story ~
The Philippines ~ By Max de los Reyes
The Gun Would Not Fire—Part 1
Fernando Lopez grew up in a town 60 miles south of Manila. Like
many in the Philippines, Fernando’s family didn’t have much money.
And like many young boys, Fernando quit school to help his parents
by selling small items and running errands.
Fernando was active in his church, which helped to ease the
boredom he often felt. More than anything Fernando longed for an
education so he could serve God better, but he knew that humanly
speaking, this wasn’t possible.
Then one day Fernando heard about the 1000 Missionary Movement, a
program to train volunteer missionaries who serve God for one year
in the Philippines or in one of several countries. Excited, Fernando
asked his parents’ permission to join. With their blessing he
applied and was accepted.
The training Fernando received helped fill his desire for
education and prepared him to serve God somewhere in the
Philippines. When the training phase ended, he eagerly awaited his
assignment to a territory, but had mixed emotions when he learned
that he was assigned to work in an area some 400 miles from his
Fernando arrived in his new field and began seeking out those who
were interested in learning more about God. Soon he was giving
several Bible studies a week. Some of the people taking Bible
studies lived in a small settlement in the mountains, a four-hour
ride by bicycle from where he stayed.
Despite the hardships, Fernando became so involved in his work
that he often spent most of his small monthly stipend to buy
materials to build an Adventist church, leaving him without money to
buy food. This tested his faith and prepared him for even greater
tests that would come to him. But throughout his experience, his
faith in God did not waver.
One of Fernando’s converts was Julie Taguinod. She and her
sister, Essie, had studied the Bible with Fernando, then attended
his evangelistic meetings. Julie and her sister had been baptized
recently in spite of the objections of Julie’s husband, Lem.
Fernando knew of Lem’s objections to his wife’s interest in
religion. Lem had forbidden Julie to attend church and had
threatened to harm her if she continued going. But Julie had stood
firm and continued to attend church. Fernando appreciated her
sincere desire to honor Christ. And lately Lem began to ignore
Julie’s church attendance. Perhaps he realized that his objections
would not stop his wife from following Christ.
To be continued