December 18, 2016 – December 24, 2016
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).
Study Help: The Great Controversy, 674–678.
“Those whose lives have been hidden with Christ, those who on this earth have fought the good fight of faith, will shine forth with the Redeemer’s glory in the kingdom of God.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 287.
1 IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
- What did Jesus declare regarding His kingdom in this present world? Luke 17:20, 21; John 4:20–24.
Note: “Not by seeking a holy mountain or a sacred temple are men brought into communion with heaven. Religion is not to be confined to external forms and ceremonies. The religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship.” The Desire of Ages, 189.
- To whom is the kingdom given? Luke 12:32; Matthew 5:3; 7:21.
Note: “Wherever a soul reaches out after God, there the Spirit’s working is manifest, and God will reveal Himself to that soul. For such worshipers He is seeking. He waits to receive them and to make them His sons and daughters.” The Desire of Ages, 189.
2 A CONSTANT HOPE
- What is our hope as believers in Christ? Titus 2:13.
- What is to be given to those who enter heaven? 2 Timothy 4:8. How should this encourage us to steadfastness? Revelation 3:11.
Note: “To the overcomer is promised a crown of unfading glory, and a life that measures with the life of God. ‘To him that overcometh,’ Christ declares, ‘will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.’ ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’ (Revelation 2:7; I Corinthians 2:9). Let us strive to obtain an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord. Let us diligently study the Gospel that Christ came in person to present to John on the Isle of Patmos—the Gospel that is termed, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass.’ Let us remember always that ‘blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand’ (Revelation 1:1, 3).” The Signs of the Times, February 4, 1903.
- Though at times evil appears to triumph, what assurance do we have? Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 13:8.
Note: “Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11, 12.
3 HASTENING THE KINGDOM
- What should we pray regarding the kingdom of God? Matthew 6:10. How should this prayer influence our priorities? Verse 33.
Note: “My dear brethren and sisters, let the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ be in your minds continually and let them crowd out worldly thoughts and cares. When you lie down and when you rise up, let them be your meditation. Live and act wholly in reference to the coming of the Son of man. The sealing time is very short, and will soon be over. Now is the time, while the four angels are holding the four winds, to make our calling and election sure.” Early Writings, 58.
- What part do we have in the nearness of Christ’s coming? Matthew 24:14; 2 Peter 3:12.
Note: “It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:12, margin). Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 69.
“In the kingdoms of the world, position meant self-aggrandizement. … Influence, wealth, education, were so many means of gaining control of the masses for the use of the leaders. …
“Christ was establishing a kingdom on different principles. He called men, not to authority, but to service, the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Power, position, talent, education, placed their possessor under the greater obligation to serve his fellows. …
“Among His disciples Christ was in every sense a caretaker, a burden bearer. He shared their poverty, He practiced self-denial on their account, He went before them to smooth the more difficult places, and soon He would consummate His work on earth by laying down His life. The principle on which Christ acted is to actuate the members of the church which is His body. … In the kingdom of Christ those are greatest who follow the example He has given and act as shepherds of His flock.” The Desire of Ages, 550.
- What is the ceremony that reminds us of the coming kingdom? Luke 22:14–20; I Corinthians 11:26.
Note: “The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was given to commemorate the great deliverance wrought out as the result of the death of Christ. Till He shall come the second time in power and glory, this ordinance is to be celebrated. It is the means by which His great work for us is to be kept fresh in our minds.” The Desire of Ages, 652, 653.
“It is at these [ordinances], His own appointments, that Christ meets His people and energizes them by His presence.” Ibid., 656.
- Though we may face affliction and persecution, what should we bear in mind? Matthew 5:10; 2 Corinthians 4:16–18.
Note: “Many of your afflictions have been visited upon you, in the wisdom of God, to bring you closer to the throne of grace. He softens and subdues His children by sorrows and trials. This world is God’s workshop, where He fashions us for the courts of heaven. He uses the planing knife upon our quivering hearts until the roughness and irregularities are removed and we are fitted for our proper places in the heavenly building. Through tribulation and distress the Christian becomes purified and strengthened, and develops a character after the model that Christ has given. The influence of a true, godly life cannot be measured. It reaches beyond the immediate circle of home and friends, shedding a light that wins souls to Jesus.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 143.
“The bright and cheerful side of our religion will be represented by all who are daily consecrated to God. We should not dishonor God by the mournful relation of trials that appear grievous. All trials that are received as educators will produce joy. The whole religious life will be uplifting, elevating, ennobling, fragrant with good words and works. The enemy is well pleased to have souls depressed, downcast, mourning and groaning; he wants just such impressions made as to the effect of our faith. But God designs that the mind shall take no low level. He desires every soul to triumph in the keeping power of the Redeemer.” Ibid., vol. 6, 365, 366.
5 A KINGDOM WITHOUT END
- In view of the exhortations of the apostles, what should we do from today forward? I John 2:28; John 3:2, 3; 2 Peter 1:10, 11.
- How will we spend eternity in the everlasting kingdom? Revelation 5:13.
Note: “And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption, and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise. …
“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him Who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.” The Great Controversy, 678.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 How do we ensure our place in the spiritual kingdom of God?
2 What promises can encourage us in the midst of the battle between good and evil?
3 What can you do to hasten the coming of Jesus?
4 Explain some things that can help us keep eternity in view.
5 What are your plans for eternity?
Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.