June 5, 2004 – June 11, 2004
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1.
Suggested Reading: Christ’s Object Lessons, 325–365; Testimonies, vol. 2, 282–285; Steps to Christ, 43–48.
“The Lord has given men and women capabilities and tact and skill, to be used to his name’s glory. When sincere, earnest efforts are put forth to win souls to God, we shall see of the salvation of God. Those who claim to be Christians should make an unreserved surrender of all they have to the Lord. Their time, their substance, and their influence are required of them by him who willingly gave himself to save to the uttermost all who come to him. Those who claim to be children of God should throw the whole weight of their influence on the side of Christ, for his sake practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice. There is need of close communion with God and entire conformity to his will. This is the secret of gaining the power that will convict and convert sinners.” The General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1900.
1 When David was preparing to build the temple, what question did he ask the people? 1 Chronicles 29:5.
note: “[1 Chronicles 29:5 quoted.] The response came not only in liberal offerings of treasures to meet the expense of the building, but also in willing service in the various lines of God’s work. Hearts were filled with a desire to return to the Lord His own, by consecrating to His service all the energies of mind and body. Those upon whom had been placed burdens of state, determined to labor heartily and unselfishly, using for God the skill and ability He had given them.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1129.
2 With what spirit did the leaders of the people respond? 1 Chronicles 29:6. Compare Exodus 35:21.
note: “The liberality of the Jews in the construction of the tabernacle and the erection of the temple illustrates a spirit of benevolence which has not been equaled by Christians of any later date. . . .
“[The children of Israel] had small possessions and no flattering prospect of adding to them; but an object was before them—to build a tabernacle for God. The Lord had spoken, and they must obey His voice. They withheld nothing. All gave with a willing hand, not a certain amount of their increase, but a large portion of their actual possessions. They devoted it gladly and heartily to the Lord, and pleased Him by so doing. . . .
“No urging was needed. The people brought even more than was required, and were told to desist, for there was already more than could be appropriated. Again, in building the temple, the call for means met with a hearty response. The people did not give reluctantly. They rejoiced in the prospect of a building being erected for the worship of God, and donated more than enough for the purpose.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 77, 78.
3 To whom did that which they gave really belong? 1 Chronicles 29:10–14; Romans 11:36.
note: “It was God who had provided the people with the riches of earth, and His Spirit had made them willing to bring their precious things for the temple. . . .
“All that men receive of God’s bounty still belongs to God. Whatever He has bestowed in the valuable and beautiful things of earth is placed in our hands to test us, to sound the depths of our love for Him and our appreciation of His favors. Whether it be the treasures of wealth or of intellect, they are to be laid, a willing offering, at the feet of Jesus.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 736.
4 What complete consecration is set before us by the apostle Paul? Romans 12:1, 2.
note: “There are many in the church who at heart belong to the world, but God calls upon those who claim to believe the advanced truth, to rise above the present attitude of the popular churches of today. Where is the self-denial, where is the cross-bearing that Christ has said should characterize His followers? The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world. Parents need to awake, and purify their souls by practicing the truth in their home life. When we reach the standard that the Lord would have us reach, worldlings will regard Seventh-day Adventists as odd, singular, strait-laced extremists. ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.’ ” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 289.
5 How complete was the consecration of the churches of Macedonia? 11 Corinthians 8:2-5.
note: “Nearly all the Macedonian believers were poor in this world’s goods, but their hearts were overflowing with love for God and His truth, and they gladly gave for the support of the gospel. When general collections were taken up in the Gentile churches for the relief of the Jewish believers, the liberality of the converts in Macedonia was held up as an example to other churches. . . .
“The willingness to sacrifice on the part of the Macedonian believers came as a result of wholehearted consecration. Moved by the Spirit of God, they ‘first gave their own selves to the Lord’ (11 Corinthians 8:5), then they were willing to give freely of their means for the support of the gospel. It was not necessary to urge them to give; rather, they rejoiced in the privilege of denying themselves even of necessary things in order to supply the needs of others.” The Acts of the Apostles, 343.
6 What is written of Caleb’s consecration to the Lord? Numbers 14:22–24.
note: “Caleb was faithful and steadfast. He was not boastful, he made no parade of his merits and good deeds; but his influence was always on the side of right. . . . While the cowards and murmurers perished in the wilderness, faithful Caleb had a home in the promised Canaan.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 303, 304.
7 In the parable of the talents, what did the Lord give to His servants? Matthew 25:14, 15.
note: “The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in Christ’s service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow men.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 328.
8 What increase was given to those who consecrated these talents to the Lord? What reward? Matthew 25:16, 17, 20–23.
note: “Do all church members realize that all they have is given them to be used and improved to God’s glory? God keeps a faithful account with every human being in our world. And when the day of reckoning comes, the faithful steward takes no credit to himself. He does not say, ‘My pound,’ but ‘Thy pound hath gained’ other pounds. He knows that without the entrusted gift no increase could have been made. He feels that in faithfully discharging his stewardship he has but done his duty. The capital was the Lord’s, and by His power he was enabled to trade upon it successfully. His name only should be glorified. Without the entrusted capital he knows that he would have been bankrupt for eternity.” Counsels on Stewardship, 111, 112.
“When the cases of all come in review before God, the question, What did they profess? is never asked, but, What have they done? Have they been doers of the word? Have they lived for themselves? or have they been exercised in works of benevolence, in deeds of kindness, in love, preferring others before themselves, and denying themselves that they might bless others?
“If the record shows that this has been their life, that their characters have been marked with tenderness, self-denial, and benevolence, they will receive the blessed assurance and benediction from Christ, ‘Well done,’ ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ ” Ibid., 129.
9 What did the servant do that had been given only one talent? Matthew 25:18. What was the result of neglecting to consecrate to God the talent given him? Verses 24–29.
note: “The man who received the one talent ‘went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.’ [Matthew 25:18.]
“It was the one with the smallest gift who left his talent unimproved. In this is given a warning to all who feel that the smallness of their endowments excuses them from service for Christ. If they could do some great thing, how gladly would they undertake it; but because they can serve only in little things, they think themselves justified in doing nothing. In this they err. The Lord in His distribution of gifts is testing character. The man who neglected to improve his talent proved himself an unfaithful servant. Had he received five talents, he would have buried them as he buried the one. His misuse of the one talent showed that he despised the gifts of heaven.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 355.
10 What consecration of earthly things does the Lord require? Luke 14:33.
note: “In giving ourselves to God, we must necessarily give up all that would separate us from Him. Hence the Saviour says, ‘Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.’ Luke 14:33. Whatever shall draw away the heart from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. The love of money, the desire for wealth, is the golden chain that binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. But these slavish bands must be broken. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely.” Steps to Christ, 44.
11 What besides earthly goods must we consecrate to God? What reward is promised to those who do this? Mark 10:28–30.
note: “We cannot serve God and the world at the same time. We must not center our affections on worldly relatives, who have no desire to learn the truth. We may seek in every way, while associated with them, to let our light shine; but our words, our deportment, our customs and practices, should not in any sense be molded by their ideas and customs. We are to show forth the truth in all our intercourse with them. If we cannot do this, the less association we have with them, the better it will be for our spirituality. If we place ourselves among associates whose influence has a tendency to make us forgetful of the high claims the Lord has upon us we invite temptation and become too weak in moral power to resist it. We come to partake of the spirit and cherish the ideas of our associates and to place sacred and eternal things lower than the ideas of our friends. We are, in short, leavened just as the enemy of all righteousness designed we should be.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 543.
“Every effort to overcome selfishness and sin, every effort to use the talents God has given, not to glorify self, but to honor God, will make us more meet to be among those who shall be blessed in the kingdom of God. Those who deny self become partakers of the divine nature, and are one with Christ and the Father. The daily experience of this life is preparing us to become members of the royal family. Jesus came to this earth to engage in a struggle with Satan and his angels in behalf of fallen men. Jesus knows the temptations and difficulties that man will have to meet in the battle, and he knows and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. While he takes his followers to an eminence, and shows to them the vast confederacy of evil that is arrayed against them, he also shows them the crown of life. He reminds them that there is much at stake, and shows them the plan of the battle, pointing out their dangers, and bidding them count the cost. He sets before them the fact that if they are victorious in the conflict, they gain everything. He tells them that heavenly angels will cooperate with them against the hosts of evil, and that they may become workers together with God, because they are children of light and not of darkness. Their warfare will consist in pressing back the powers of darkness, in taking the strongholds of the enemy, and he shows them that they have One mightier than the angels of heaven in their ranks. The Captain of the Lord’s host is with them, and gives them divine assistance. His voice is heard saying, ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ ” The Signs of the Times, April 4, 1895.
12 What answer did Jesus give to the lawyer when asked as to which is the greatest commandment in the law? Matthew 22:35–40.
note: “The law of God requires that man shall love God supremely, and his neighbor as himself. When through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is perfectly done, we shall be complete in Christ.” God’s Amazing Grace, 145.
These lessons are reprinted from Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1912.