Christian Character (3)
July 30 – August 5, 2023
(continued from July)
“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:14
Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 652–661
“The cross stands where two roads diverge. One is the path of obedience leading to heaven. The other leads into the broad road, where man can easily go with his burden of sin and corruption, but it leads to perdition.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1095, 1096
1 ABUNDANT SPIRITUAL LIFE
1.a. What basic principle for spiritual life was taught by Christ? John 6:54, 56, 57
Note: “It is by receiving the life for us poured out on Calvary’s cross, that we can live the life of holiness. And this life we receive by receiving His word, by doing those things which He has commanded.” The Desire of Ages, 660
1.b. What is the meaning of the expression “whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life”? John 6:63
Note: “To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him. It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. So Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Saviour. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace, must be assimilated.” The Desire of Ages, 389
2 SHARPER THAN A SURGEON’S SCALPEL
2.a. How does Paul describe God’s word? Hebrews 4:12
Note: “The truth is the truth. It is not to be wrapped up in beautiful adornings, that the outside appearance may be admired. The teacher is to make the truth clear and forcible to the understanding and to the conscience. The word is a two-edged sword, that cuts both ways. It does not tread as with soft, slippered feet.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1147
2.b. How does Christ identify Himself to the church of Pergamos? Revelation 2:12.
Note: “When Christ preached, His message was like a sharp, two-edged sword, piercing the consciences of men and revealing their inmost thoughts. The work that Christ did His faithful messengers will have to do. In simplicity, purity, and the strictest integrity they are to preach the Word.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 159
2.c. How is this powerful sword to operate in our own life? 2 Corinthians 13:5
Note: “You should humbly and carefully examine your own hearts, your own individual characters. You need to open your hearts that light may shine upon your darkness, that you may see and understand your motives. … What is the character of your thoughts, your spirit, your purposes, your words and actions? Compare them with the Scripture, and see whether you represent the character of Christ. Go to Jesus humbly, and break your hearts hardened by feelings of bitterness and hatred. Let the grace of Christ soften and melt you that you may put away everything that is destructive of your peace. If you do not see your hearts in the light of Jesus Christ, self love will prompt you to have a much better opinion of yourselves than you deserve; for the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, 87
3 THE BREAD OF LIFE
3.a. How does Jeremiah describe his relish for God’s word? Jeremiah 15:16
3.b. What must we likewise cultivate in order to obtain real spiritual strength from the Word? Matthew 5:6
Note: “All pampering of self must be at an end. There must be an earnest longing, a soul-hunger, for the presence of the Lord. ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.’ Matthew 5:6.
“It is a case of life or death with us. We have been stricken with spiritual paralysis, and everyone needs the help of the Great Physician. He alone can reach our case. He is only waiting to be invited by us with earnest heart, with sincere desire. Nothing is wanting but a preparation of heart, and earnest, believing prayer, to bring Jesus to our side as a mighty helper. He longs to come. If we will but listen to His voice and open the door, He will come in.” Gospel Workers (1892), 225, 226
3.c. What factors are important to consider when spiritually feeding our young? Proverbs 22:6
Note: “Do not encourage a superficial manner of investigating the truth. Make every point of truth clear and distinct to the minds of the children. Do not crowd upon their minds an accumulated amount of matter at one time. The precious word of God is to be a lamp to their path, and a light to their feet. Impress upon their minds that it is their privilege to walk in the light. It is the path of peace, of purity, of holiness, cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. Christ has led the way in this path; He is the true Shepherd; in following Him, they avoid the bypaths and dangerous pitfalls.
“In the word of God they are to learn that all who enter heaven must have a perfect character; for then they will meet their Lord in peace. Many children and youth have their characters imprinted on their countenances. Their life’s history they carry in the features of the face. The true workers should impress upon the minds of the children a beautiful, pure, Christlike character, which will transfigure the countenance.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 112, 113
4 GOD’S WORD, A LIGHTHOUSE
4.a. What are we to realize about the inspiration of Scripture, and how the Bible came into being? Habakkuk 2:2; 2 Peter 1:19–21
Note: “The Bible was designed to be a guide to all who wish to become acquainted with the will of their Maker. God gave to men the sure word of prophecy; angels and even Christ Himself came to make known to Daniel and John the things that must shortly come to pass. Those important matters that concern our salvation were not left involved in mystery. They were not revealed in such a way as to perplex and mislead the honest seeker after truth. … ‘Write the vision, and make it plain, … that he may run that readeth it.’ Habakkuk 2:2. The word of God is plain to all who study it with a prayerful heart.” The Great Controversy, 521
4.b. What admonition did Paul send to Timothy? 2 Timothy 3:15–17; 2:15
Note: “The law is a wall of protection to those who are obedient to God’s precepts. From what other source can we gather such strength, or learn such noble science? What other book will teach men to love, fear, and obey God as does the Bible? What other book presents to students more ennobling science, more wonderful history? It clearly portrays righteousness, and foretells the consequence of disloyalty to the law of Jehovah. No one is left in darkness as to that which God approves or disapproves. In studying the Scriptures we become acquainted with God, and are led to understand our relation to Christ, who is the sinbearer, the surety, the substitute, for our fallen race. These truths concern our present and eternal interests. The Bible stands the highest among books, and its study is valuable above the study of other literature in giving strength and expansion to the mind. …
“The word of God is the most perfect educational book in our world. Yet in our colleges and schools, books produced by human intellect have been presented for the study of our students, and the Book of books, which God has given to men to be an infallible guide, has been made a secondary matter. Human productions have been used as most essential and the word of God has been studied simply to give flavor to other studies. Isaiah describes the scenes of heaven’s glory that were presented to him, in most vivid language. All through this book he pictures glorious things that are to be revealed to others.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 394, 395
5 HOW TO STUDY GOD’S WORD
5.a. Since the Bible is a divine book, how should we approach it? Isaiah 28:10
Note: “Never should the Bible be studied without prayer. Before opening its pages we should ask for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and it will be given.” Steps to Christ, 91
“Observe system in the study of the Scriptures in your families. Neglect anything of a temporal nature, … but be sure that the soul is fed with the bread of life. It is impossible to estimate the good results of one hour or even half an hour each day devoted in a cheerful, social manner to the word of God. Make the Bible its own expositor, bringing together all that is said concerning a given subject at different times and under varied circumstances.” Child Guidance, 511
5.b. How could we be really benefited by studying God’s word? Matthew 4:4
Note: “We should carefully study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand His word. We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell upon the thought until it becomes our own, and we know ‘what saith the Lord.’
“In His promises and warnings, Jesus means me. … The experiences related in God’s word are to be my experiences. Prayer and promise, precept and warning, are mine. ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ Galatians 2:20. As faith thus receives and assimilates the principles of truth, they become a part of the being and the motive power of the life. The word of God, received into the soul, molds the thoughts, and enters into the development of character.” The Desire of Ages, 390, 391 [Author’s emphasis.]
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 How can we “eat” the flesh and “drink” the blood of Christ?
2 In what sense is God’s word a “two-edged sword”?
3 What is the difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible?
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