This We Believe (3)
September 25 – October 1, 2022
“[B]ut if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15
Study Help: Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 15–31
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church—He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.” Education, 268
1 GOD’S MOST PRECIOUS OBJECT ON EARTH
1.a. How does God depict His church? Deuteronomy 32:9, 10; Zechariah 2:8
Note: “The church is to be the Lord’s light bearer to shine amid the moral darkness of a corrupt and sinful generation. There can be nothing in the world that is so dear to God as His church. Nothing is guarded by Him with such jealous care.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 18, 208
“The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. … He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 15
1.b. What did Jesus say of His church built upon the Rock? Matthew 16:18
Note: “The word Peter signifies a stone—a rolling stone. Peter was not the rock upon which the church was founded. The gates of hell did prevail against him when he denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. The church was built upon One against whom the gates of hell could not prevail.” The Desire of Ages, 413
“The church … is built on faith in Christ, ‘and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18).” Sons and Daughters of God, 77
2 CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH—A CITY OF REFUGE
2.a. In the Old Testament, what provision was made to save a person who accidentally killed someone? Numbers 35:11–15
Note: “The cities of refuge appointed for God’s ancient people were a symbol of the refuge provided in Christ. The same merciful Saviour who appointed those temporal cities of refuge has by the shedding of His own blood provided for the transgressors of God’s law a sure retreat, into which they may flee for safety from the second death. No power can take out of His hands the souls that go to Him for pardon.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 516
“As the manslayer was in constant peril until within the city of refuge, so is the transgressor of God’s law exposed to divine wrath until he finds a hiding place in Christ.” The Signs of the Times, January 20, 1881
2.b. What are two purposes of the church in these last days? Acts 2:47; Ephesians 4:11–13; Mark 16:15
Note: “The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only begotten Son. From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people. …
“During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11, 12
3 THE CHURCH IS THE FOLD
3.a. To what are the believers compared in the Bible? Psalm 100:3, 4; John 10:16. Where should those who are baptized in Christ be? 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13
Note: “The church is organized for service; and in a life of service to Christ, connection with the church is one of the first steps. Loyalty to Christ demands the faithful performance of church duties. This is an important part of one’s training; and in a church imbued with the Master’s life, it will lead directly to effort for the world without.” Education, 268, 269
“All who believe are to be gathered into one church.” The Desire of Ages, 821
“The Lord could carry forward His work without our cooperation. He is not dependent on us for our money, our time, or our labor. But the church is very precious in His sight. It is the case which contains His jewels, the fold which encloses His flock, and He longs to see it without spot or blemish or any such things. He yearns after it with unspeakable love.” In Heavenly Places, 324
3.b. What is stated in the word of God about the good shepherd and His sheep? Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:10, 11; John 10:11–15. How does the undershepherd function? Luke 15:4–6
Note: “Jesus is the good Shepherd. His followers are the sheep of His pasture. A shepherd is always with his flock to defend them, to keep them from the wolves, to hunt up the lost sheep and carry them back to the fold.” Lift Him Up, 215
“When the lost sheep was found, it was borne home with joy, and much rejoicing followed. This illustrates the blessed, joyful work of laboring for the erring. The church that engages successfully in this work is a happy church.” Testimonies, Vol. 2, 22
“Many are starving for the bread of life, and there is no time for accusing the brethren; rather pray one for another that ye may be healed, and go forth to seek and to save the lost and wandering sheep. Find the erring, discouraged ones by careful, diligent search, and bring them back to the fold.” The Review and Herald, October 24, 1893
4 THE CHURCH IS A GARDEN
4.a. To what plants “planted in the house of God,” is the church compared? Psalms 1:3; 92:12, 13; Jeremiah 17:8
Note: “In all the Lord’s arrangements there is nothing more beautiful than His plan of giving to men and women a diversity of gifts. … Many have received but a limited religious and intellectual training, but God has a work for this class to do if they will labor in humility, trusting in Him.
“From the endless variety of plants and flowers, we may learn an important lesson. All blossoms are not the same in form or color. Some possess healing virtues. Some are always fragrant. There are professing Christians who think it their duty to make every Christian like themselves. This is man’s plan, not the plan of God. In the church of God there is room for characters as varied as are the flowers in a garden. In His spiritual garden there are many varieties of flowers.” Evangelism, 98, 99
“A garden demands constant labor. The weeds must be removed; new plants must be set out; branches that are making too rapid development must be pruned back. So the Lord works for His garden, so He tends His plants. He cannot take pleasure in any development that does not reveal the graces of the character of Christ. The blood of Christ has made men and women God’s precious charge. Then how careful should we be not to manifest too much freedom in pulling up the plants that God has placed in His garden! Some plants are so feeble that they have hardly any life, and for these the Lord has a special care.” God’s Amazing Grace, 65
4.b. What does the Lord expect from those who are planted in His church? John 15:4, 5, 8, 16; Matthew 7:16–20
Note: “Just as a good tree will bear good fruit, so will the tree that is actually planted in the Lord’s garden produce good fruit unto eternal life. Besetting sins are overcome; evil thoughts are not allowed in the mind; evil habits are purged from the soul temple. The tendencies which have been biased in a wrong direction are turned in a right direction. Wrong dispositions and feelings are changed, new principles of action supplied, and there is a new standard of character. Holy tempers and sanctified emotions are now the fruit borne upon the Christian tree.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, 1080
5 THE CHURCH IS A BODY
5.a. Why is the church compared to the human body? 1 Corinthians 12:12, 27, 28; Ephesians 4:11, 12, 15, 16; Colossians 1:17, 18, 24
Note: “By a comparison of the church with the human body, the apostle [Paul] aptly illustrated the close and harmonious relationship that should exist among all members of the church of Christ.” The Acts of the Apostles, 317
5.b. Who is the head of the church? Colossians 1:18
Note: “Christ is the head of the church. The members of His body follow the directions of the Head, just as the members of the human body obey the impulses of the mind.” The Review and Herald, July 18, 1882
“The great heart of the work is at _____; and, as the human heart throws its living current of blood into all parts of the body, so does the management at this place, the headquarters of our church, affect the whole body of believers. If the physical heart is healthy, the blood that is sent from it through the system is also healthy; but if this fountain is impure, the whole organism becomes diseased by the poison of the vital fluid. So it is with us. If the heart of the work becomes corrupt, the whole church, in its various branches and interests, scattered abroad over the face of the earth, suffers in consequence.” Testimonies, Vol. 4, 210
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 Who is the Rock on which the church is built?
2 Why does God want His servants to become members of His body?
3 In what sense is the church compared to a sheepfold?
4 Describe the variety of gifts in the church.
5 How does the condition of the spiritual heart affect the whole body, the church?
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