April 17, 2004 – April 23, 2004
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Suggested Reading: Patriarchs and Prophets, 145–155; Christ’s Object Lessons, 272–283.
“Why cannot those who claim to understand the Scriptures, see that God’s requirement under grace is just the same He made in Eden—perfect obedience to His law. In the Judgment, God will ask those who profess to be Christians, Why did you claim to believe in My Son, and continue to transgress My law? Who required this at your hands—to trample upon My rules of righteousness? . . . The gospel of the New Testament is not the Old Testament standard lowered to meet the sinner and save him in his sins. God requires of all His subjects obedience, entire obedience to all His commandments. He demands now as ever perfect righteousness as the only title to heaven. Christ is our hope and our refuge. His righteousness only is imputed to the obedient. Let us accept it through faith, that the Father shall find in us no sin. But those who have trampled on the holy law will have no right to claim that righteousness. O that we might view the immensity of the plan of salvation as obedient children to all God’s requirements, believing that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice.” Review and Herald, September 21, 1886.
1 How is obedience regarded by the Lord? 1 Samuel 15:22.
note: “The sacrificial offerings were in themselves of no value in the sight of God. They were designed to express on the part of the offerer penitence for sin and faith in Christ and to pledge future obedience to the law of God. But without penitence, faith, and an obedient heart, the offerings were worthless. When, in direct violation of God’s command, Saul proposed to present a sacrifice of that which God had devoted to destruction, open contempt was shown for the divine authority. The service would have been an insult to Heaven. Yet with the sin of Saul and its result before us, how many are pursuing a similar course. While they refuse to believe and obey some requirement of the Lord, they persevere in offering up to God their formal services of religion. There is no response of the Spirit of God to such service. No matter how zealous men may be in their observance of religious ceremonies, the Lord cannot accept them if they persist in willful violation of one of His commands.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 634.
2 What encouraging promise is made to the obedient? Isaiah 1:19.
note: “We cannot overestimate the value of simple faith and unquestioning obedience. It is by following in the path of obedience in simple faith that the character obtains perfection.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1137.
3 What great promise was made by the Lord to ancient Israel if they would be an obedient people? Deuteronomy 11:22–28.
note: “Let it be made plain that the way of God’s commandments is the way of life. God has established the laws of nature, but His laws are not arbitrary exactions. Every ‘Thou shalt not,’ whether in physical or in moral law, implies a promise. If we obey it, blessing will attend our steps. God never forces us to do right, but He seeks to save us from the evil and lead us to the good.” The Ministry of Healing, 114.
4 To what does the Lord liken those who obey His words? Matthew 7:24, 25.
note: “Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words.” The Desire of Ages, 314.
5 What is said concerning the blessed results of the obedience of Jesus? Romans 5:19.
note: “Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of heaven to help him with His human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan, and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man, out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the Fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, He humbled Himself to take man’s nature, that, with His divine power combined with the human, He might reach man where he is. He obtains for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in His name they may overcome the temptations of Satan. . . .” Maranatha, 224.
6 What is the terrible result of man’s disobedience? Isaiah 24:4–6.
note: “God would have his people clearly understand that they will be visited according to their obedience or transgression. Wickedness and disease have increased with every successive generation. The land has labored under the curse which man has brought upon it because of continued disobedience.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 123.
7 In the parable of the two sons, which one did the will of his father? Matthew 21:28–31.
note: “In this parable the father represents God, the vineyard the church. By the two sons are represented two classes of people. The son who refused to obey the command, saying, ‘I will not,’ represented those who were living in open transgression, who made no profession of piety, who openly refused to come under the yoke of restraint and obedience which the law of God imposes. But many of these afterward repented and obeyed the call of God. When the gospel came to them in the message of John the Baptist, ‘Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ they repented, and confessed their sins. (Matthew 3:2.).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 275, 276.
8 What is the moral standard of obedience? James 2:8–12. Compare 1 John 3:4; Ecclesiastes 12:13.
note: “When one surrenders to Christ, the mind is brought under the control of the law; but it is the royal law, which proclaims liberty to every captive. By becoming one with Christ, man is made free. Subjection to the will of Christ means restoration to perfect manhood.” The Ministry of Healing, 131.
9 How only can we be found obedient to the requirements of the Lord? Romans 8:3, 4.
note: “The Lord saw our fallen condition; He saw our need of grace, and because He loved our souls, He has given us grace and peace. Grace means favor to one who is undeserving, to one who is lost. The fact that we are sinners, instead of shutting us away from the mercy and love of God, makes the exercise of His love to us a positive necessity in order that we may be saved.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 347.
10 To what extent is the indwelling presence of Christ, through the Spirit, able to bring us into obedience? 11 Corinthians 10:3–5.
note: “You should keep off from Satan’s enchanted ground and not allow your minds to be swayed from allegiance to God. Through Christ you may and should be happy and should acquire habits of self-control. Even your thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God and your feelings under the control of reason and religion. Your imagination was not given you to be allowed to run riot and have its own way without any effort at restraint or discipline. If the thoughts are wrong the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character. When you decide that as Christians you are not required to restrain your thoughts and feelings you are brought under the influence of evil angels and invite their presence and their control. If you yield to your impressions and allow your thoughts to run in a channel of suspicion, doubt, and repining you will be among the most unhappy of mortals, and your lives will prove a failure.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 310.
11 What great test came to Abraham concerning his son Isaac? Genesis 22:1, 2. Review this story of faith and obedience as recorded in Genesis 22:1–14.
note: “This act of faith in Abraham is recorded for our benefit. It teaches us the great lesson of confidence in the requirements of God, however close and cutting they may be; and it teaches children perfect submission to their parents and to God. By Abraham’s obedience we are taught that nothing is too precious for us to give to God.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 368.
12 Because of his obedience, what promise was made to Abraham? Genesis 22:15–18. Compare Genesis 26:2–5.
note: “Abraham’s great act of faith stands like a pillar of light, illuminating the pathway of God’s servants in all succeeding ages. Abraham did not seek to excuse himself from doing the will of God. During that three days’ journey he had sufficient time to reason, and to doubt God, if he was disposed to doubt. He might have reasoned that the slaying of his son would cause him to be looked upon as a murderer, a second Cain; that it would cause his teaching to be rejected and despised; and thus destroy his power to do good to his fellow men. He might have pleaded that age should excuse him from obedience. But the patriarch did not take refuge in any of these excuses. Abraham was human; his passions and attachments were like ours; but he did not stop to question how the promise could be fulfilled if Isaac should be slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart. He knew that God is just and righteous in all His requirements, and he obeyed the command to the very letter.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 153.
These lessons are adapted from the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, October, 1912.