Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 5

February 16–February 22, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” Hebrews 5:5.

SUGGESTED READING: Selected Messages, Book 1, 261, 262.

INTRODUCTION: “Christ is the Minister of the true tabernacle, the High Priest of all who believe in Him as a personal Saviour: and His office no other can take. He is the High Priest of the church, and He has a work to do which no other can perform. By His grace He is able to keep every man from transgression. His ambassadors, those who receive Him, are born again, and are thus fitted to represent Him. ‘Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s; for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore.’ [Hebrews 7:26–28.]” The Signs of the Times, February 14, 1900.

1 For whom did the priests, from among men, serve? Hebrews 5:1, first part.

NOTE: “The people were drawn to the society of the priests and Levites, that they might receive instruction and encouragement in the service of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 530.

2 What did the priests offer? Hebrews 5:1, last part.

NOTE: “Important truths concerning the atonement are taught by the typical service. A substitute was accepted in the sinner’s stead; but the sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. A means was thus provided by which it was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come; but he was not yet entirely released from the condemnation of the law. On the Day of Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering from the congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood of this offering, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, directly over the law, to make satisfaction for its claims. Then, in his character of mediator, he took the sins upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people.” The Great Controversy, 420.

“When the high priest entered the holy place, representing the place where our High Priest is now pleading, and offered sacrifice on the altar, no propitiatory sacrifices were offered without. While the high priest was interceding within, every heart was to be bowed in contrition before God, pleading for the pardon of transgression. Type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb slain for the sins of the world. The great High Priest has made the only sacrifice that will be of any value. . . .” That I May Know Him, 73.

3 What qualified Jesus for the office of High Priest? Hebrews 5:1, first part.

NOTE: “[Hebrews 2:17, 18 quoted.] Christ came to this world, and clothed his divinity with humanity, taking upon Him the nature of man. He came to pass through the experiences of humanity, to pass over the ground on which Adam had fallen, to redeem his failure, to meet and conquer the adversary of God and man, that through his grace man might be an overcomer, and finally have a place with Him upon his throne.” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1892.

4 As high priest, what sacrifice did He make? Hebrews 5:1, last part.

NOTE: “Christ saw man’s fearful danger, and He determined to save him by the sacrifice of Himself. That He might accomplish His purpose of love for the fallen race, He became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.” Reflecting Christ, 17.

“As the high priest laid aside his pontifical dress, and officiated in the white linen dress of a common priest, so Christ emptied Himself, and took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim. As the high priest, after performing his service in the holy of holies, came forth to the waiting congregation in his pontifical robes, so Christ will come the second time clothed in glorious garments of the whitest white, ‘such as no fuller on earth can whiten them.’ [See Mark 9:3.] He will come in His own glory, and in the glory of His Father, as King of kings and Lord of lords, and all the angelic host will escort Him on His way (Manuscript 113, 1899).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1111, 1112.

5 For what purpose did He make this sacrifice? Matthew 18:11–13.

NOTE: “By the lost sheep Christ represents not only the individual sinner but the one world that has apostatized and has been ruined by sin. This world is but an atom in the vast dominions over which God presides, yet this little fallen world—the one lost sheep—is more precious in His sight than are the ninety and nine that went not astray from the fold. Christ, the loved Commander in the heavenly courts, stooped from His high estate, laid aside the glory that He had with the Father, in order to save the one lost world. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine that loved Him, and came to this earth, to be ‘wounded for our transgressions’ and ‘bruised for our iniquities.’ (Isaiah 53:5.) God gave Himself in His Son that He might have the joy of receiving back the sheep that was lost.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 190, 191.

6 What is sin? 1 John 3:4.

NOTE: “What is sin? The transgression of God’s law. God wants all connected with him to loathe sin, to hate anything that approaches to it.” Review and Herald, June 3, 1880.

“It is through the law that men are convicted of sin; and they must feel themselves sinners, exposed to the wrath of God, before they will realize their need of a Saviour. Satan is continually at work to lessen man’s estimate of the grievous character of sin. And those who trample the law of God under their feet are doing the work of the great deceiver; for they are rejecting the only rule by which they can define sin, and bring it home to the conscience of the transgressor.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 219.

7 Why was Christ’s sacrifice necessary? Romans 3:23.

NOTE: “The human family have all transgressed the law of God, and as transgressors of the law, man is hopelessly ruined; for he is the enemy of God, without strength to do any good thing. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Romans 8:7). Looking into the moral mirror—God’s holy law—man sees himself a sinner, and is convicted of his state of evil, his hopeless doom under the just penalty of the law. But he has not been left in a state of hopeless distress in which sin has plunged him; for it was to save the transgressor from ruin that He who was equal with God offered up His life on Calvary.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 321.

8 Why is compassion a necessary element in ministering to others? Hebrews 5:2.

NOTE: “The preaching of the gospel was committed to erring men rather than to the angels. It is manifest that the power which works through the weakness of humanity is the power of God; and thus we are encouraged to believe that the power which can help others as weak as ourselves can help us. . . . Having been in peril themselves, they are acquainted with the dangers and difficulties of the way, and for this reason are called to reach out for others in like peril. There are souls perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the Unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ’s stead, can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 297.

9 Are men to take the office of priest upon themselves? Did Aaron? Hebrews 5:4. See also Exodus 28:1.

NOTE: “God had called him [Aaron] to unite with Moses in his great and important mission. He had co-operated with his brother in leading the children of Israel from Egypt. He had held up the great leader’s hands when the Hebrew hosts gave battle to Amalek. He had been permitted to ascend Mount Sinai, to approach into the presence of God, and to behold the divine glory. The Lord had conferred upon the family of Aaron the office of the priesthood, and had honored him with the sacred consecration of high priest.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 425, 426.

10 How was Christ made our High Priest? Hebrews 5:5.

NOTE: “Christ glorified not Himself in being made High Priest. God gave Him His appointment to the priesthood. He was to be an example to all the human family. He qualified Himself to be, not only the representative of the race, but their Advocate, so that every soul if he will may say, I have a Friend at court. He is a High Priest that can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Manuscript 101, 1897).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, vol. 7, 930.

11 How long was His priesthood to endure? Hebrews 5:6.

NOTE: “The high priest was designed in an especial manner to represent Christ, who was to become a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. This order of priesthood was not to pass to another, or be superseded by another (Redemption: The First Advent of Christ, p. 14).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 930.

“Priest and victim combined, He [Christ] entered the Temple as a place of sacrifice. Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He is a true high priest, for after enduring humiliation, shame, and reproach, after being crucified and buried, He was raised from the grave, triumphing over death. He is a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 398.

12 What did He offer up in the “days of His flesh”? Hebrews 5:7, first part.

NOTE: “As a man He supplicated the throne of God, till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that connected humanity with divinity. Receiving life from God, He imparted life to men.” Education, 80, 81.

13 In what manner did He pray? Hebrews 5:7, middle part.

NOTE: “With strong crying and tears He sent His petitions to heaven, that His human nature might be strengthened, that He might be braced to meet the wily foe in all his deceptive workings, and fortified to fulfill His missions of uplifting humanity. To His workers He says, ‘I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done.’ John 13:15.” The Ministry of Healing, 500.

14 What example of prayer did Christ give us, and how was His prayer heard? Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16.

NOTE: “The Majesty of heaven, while engaged in His earthly ministry, prayed much to His Father. He was frequently bowed all night in prayer. His spirit was often sorrowful as He felt the powers of the darkness of this world, and He left the busy city and the noisy throng, to seek a retired place to make His intercessions. The Mount of Olives was the favorite resort of the Son of God for His devotions. Frequently after the multitude had left Him for the retirement of the night, He rested not, though weary with the labors of the day. In the Gospel of John we read: ‘And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives.’ [John 7:53; 8:1.] While the city was hushed in silence, and the disciples had returned to their homes to obtain refreshment in sleep, Jesus slept not. His divine pleadings were ascending to His Father from the Mount of Olives that His disciples might be kept from the evil influences which they would daily encounter in the world, and that His own soul might be strengthened and braced for the duties and trials of the coming day. All night, while His followers were sleeping, was their divine Teacher praying. The dew and frost of night fell upon His head bowed in prayer. His example is left for His followers.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 508.

“He prayed with strong crying and tears, and He was heard in that He feared. God strengthened Him, as He will strengthen all who will humble themselves, and throw themselves, soul, body, and spirit, into the hands of a covenant-keeping God.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 131.

Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 4

February 9–February 15, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession.” Hebrews 4:14.

SUGGESTED READING: Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 928, 929.

INTRODUCTION: “I have been shown that God has a work for you to do, and you can do it to His acceptance if you rely firmly upon the arm that is infinite. But you must not think that He would have you bear the whole burden of His work. The cause is the Lord’s; He will take care of His own. You could do much greater and more efficient work if you would cultivate calm trust in God, and not become anxious and worried, as though Jesus still lay in the sepulcher, and you had no Saviour. He has risen; He has ascended to the heavens, and is your advocate before the throne of God. You may prefer your requests to God, knowing that you have a faithful High Priest, who will be touched with the feeling of your infirmities; for He has been tempted in all points like as we are. Do not feel that God is unmindful of you, but always remember that He loves you, and is willing to give you rest and peace in Him.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 132.

1 Of the children of Israel, whom did God determine would enter into rest? Hebrews 4:6, first part; Numbers 14:29–32.

NOTE: “Moses was soon to die, and he was commanded to gather the children of Israel together before his death and relate to them all the journeyings of the Hebrew host since their departure from Egypt, and all the great transgressions of their fathers, which brought His judgments upon them, and compelled Him to say that they should not enter the Promised Land. Their fathers had died in the wilderness, according to the word of the Lord. Their children had grown up, and to them the promise was to be fulfilled of possessing the land of Canaan.” The Story of Redemption, 170.

2 Why had those who left Egypt been denied entrance to the Promised Land, and how does this apply to us today? Hebrews 4:6, last part.

NOTE: “The lesson of this record is for us. The Lord had prepared the way before His people. They were very near the promised land. A little while and they would have entered Canaan. They themselves delayed the entering. In the first place, it was they who requested that spies should be sent up to search the land. . . .

“The request that the spies be sent into Canaan showed a lack of faith . . . .

“Brethren and sisters, from the light given me, I know that if the people of God had preserved a living connection with Him, if they had obeyed His Word, they would today be in the heavenly Canaan.” The General Conference Bulletin, March 30, 1903.

“Many who, like ancient Israel, profess to keep God’s commandments have hearts of unbelief while outwardly observing the statutes of God. Although favored with great light and precious privileges, they will nevertheless lose the heavenly Canaan, even as the rebellious Israelites failed to enter the earthly Canaan that God had promised them as the reward of their obedience.

“As a people we lack faith.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 162.

3 What warning was given to David, long after the time of Moses? Hebrews 4:7.

NOTE: “There is a day that God hath appointed for the close of this world’s history. ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’ [Matthew 24:14.] . . . The day is at hand when the destiny of every soul will be fixed forever. This day of the Lord hastens on apace. The false watchmen are raising the cry, ‘All is well;’ but the day of God is rapidly approaching. Its footsteps are so muffled that it does not arouse the world from the deathlike slumber into which it has fallen. While the watchmen cry, ‘Peace and safety,’ ‘sudden destruction cometh upon them,’ ‘and they shall not escape;’ ‘for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.’ [1 Thessalonians 5:3; Luke 21:35.] It overtakes the pleasure-lover and the sinful man as a thief in the night. When all is apparently secure, and men retire to contented rest, then the prowling, stealthy, midnight thief steals upon his prey. When it is too late to prevent the evil, it is discovered that some door or window was not secured. ‘Be ye also ready: for in an such hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’ [Mathew 24:44.] People are now settling to rest, imagining themselves secure under the popular churches; but let all beware, lest there is a place left open for the enemy to gain an entrance. Great pains should be taken to keep this subject before the people. The solemn fact is to be kept not only before the people of the world, but before our own churches also, that the day of the Lord will come suddenly, unexpectedly. The fearful warning of the prophecy is addressed to every soul. Let no one feel that he is secure from the danger of being surprised. Let no one’s interpretation of prophecy rob you of the conviction of the knowledge of events which show that this great event is near at hand.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 335, 336.

4 What was the rest into which Joshua led the children of Israel? Joshua 21:43, 44; Deuteronomy 12:10.

NOTE: “The Hebrew reads, ‘rest from round about,’ that is, from the surrounding nations.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 284.

5 If this was not the true rest, when is the true rest to be given? Hebrews 4:8, 9.

NOTE: “More than fourteen centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the children of Israel gathered in the fair vale of Shechem, and from the mountains on either side the voices of the priests were heard proclaiming the blessings and the curses—‘a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God: . . . and a curse, if ye will not obey.’ Deuteronomy 11:27, 28. And thus the mountain from which the words of benediction were spoken came to be known as the mount of blessing. But it was not upon Gerizim that the words were spoken which have come as a benediction to a sinning and sorrowing world. Israel fell short of the high ideal which had been set before her. Another than Joshua must guide His people to the true rest of faith.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 1.

6 What are the conditions for entering this future rest? Hebrews 4:10, 11.

NOTE: “Here are the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life. Your obedience to God’s commandments will prove your right to an inheritance with the saints in light. God has elected a certain excellence of character; and every one who, through the grace of Christ, shall reach the standard of His requirement, will have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of glory. All who would reach this standard of character, will have to employ the means that God has provided to this end. If you would inherit the rest that remaineth for the children of God, you must become a co-laborer with God.” Christian Education, 118.

“If you are willing to learn meekness and lowliness of heart in Christ’s school, He will surely give you rest and peace. It is a terribly hard struggle to give up your own will and your own way. But this lesson learned, you will find rest and peace. . . .

“In being co-workers with Christ in the great work for which He gave His life, we shall find true rest.” Sons and Daughters of God, 76.

7 How is the Word of God described? Hebrews 4:12.

NOTE: “The Bible is the standard by which to test the claims of

all who profess sanctification. Jesus prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and He says, ‘Thy word is truth;’ while the psalmist declares, ‘Thy law is the truth.’ [John 17:17; Psalm 119:142.] All whom God is leading will manifest a high regard for the Scriptures in which his voice is heard. The Bible will be to them ‘profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’ ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.’ [2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Matthew 7:16.] We need no other evidence in order to judge of men’s sanctification; if they are fearful lest they shall not obey the whole will of God, if they are listening diligently to his voice, trusting in his wisdom, and making his word the man of their counsel, then, while they make no boasts of superior goodness, we may be sure that they are seeking to attain to perfection of Christian character. But if the claimants of holiness even intimate that they are no longer required to search the Scriptures, we need not hesitate to pronounce their sanctification spurious. They are leaning to their own understanding, instead of conforming to the will of God.” Review and Herald, October 5, 1886.

8 What is that Word of God that will discern every thought and intent of the heart? Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.

NOTE: “To those who love God it will be the highest delight to keep His commandments and to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. . . .” My Life Today, 163.

“Let those who feel inclined to make a high profession of holiness look into the mirror of God’s law. As they see its far-reaching claims, and understand its work as a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, they will not boast of sinlessness.” The Acts of the Apostles, 562.

9 Before whom are all things open? Hebrews 4:13.

NOTE: ” ‘A book of remembrance’ is written before God . . . . Malachi 3:16. . . . Every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded.” The Great Controversy, 481.

“God will bring to light every word and every action. He is in every place. . . . The hidden works of darkness will be brought to light. The thoughts, the intents and purposes of the heart, will stand revealed. All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Counsels on Health, 412.

10 What position has Jesus taken in the courts of Heaven? Hebrews 4:14.

NOTE: “The Son of God . . . has fulfilled His pledge, and has passed into the heavens, to take upon Himself the government of the heavenly host. He fulfilled one phase of His priesthood by dying on the cross for the fallen race. He is now fulfilling another phase by pleading before the Father the case of the repenting, believing sinner, presenting to God the offerings of His people. Having taken human nature and in this nature having overcome the temptations of the enemy, and having divine perfection, to Him has been committed the judgment of the world. The case of each one will be brought in review before Him. He will pronounce judgment, rendering to every man according to his works (Manuscript 42, 1901).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 929.

11 What assurance is given to us because of His position? Hebrews 4:15. Compare Hebrews 2:17, 18.

NOTE: “In Christ were united the human and the divine. His mission was to reconcile God and man, to unite the finite with the infinite. This was the only way in which fallen men could be exalted through the merits of the blood of Christ to be partakers of the divine nature. Taking human nature fitted Christ to understand man’s trials and sorrows, and all the temptations wherewith he is beset. Angels who were unacquainted with sin could not sympathize with man in his peculiar trials. Christ condescended to take man’s nature and was tempted in all points like as we, that He might know how to succor all who should be tempted.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 201.

12 How may we come to the throne of grace, and what will we find there? Hebrews 4:16.

NOTE: “Heaven is open to our petitions, and we are invited to come ‘boldly unto the throne of grace . . .’ (Hebrews 4:16). We are to come in faith, believing that we shall obtain the very things we ask of Him.” In Heavenly Places, 80.

“With the trusting faith of a little child, we are to come to our heavenly Father, telling Him of all our needs. He is always ready to pardon and help. The supply of divine wisdom is inexhaustible, and the Lord encourages us to draw largely from it. The longing that we should have for spiritual blessings is described in the words, ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.’ [Psalm 42:1.] We need a deeper soul-hunger for the rich gifts that heaven has to bestow.” Sons and Daughters of God, 121.

Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 3:12 – 4:3

February 2–February 8, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Hebrews 3:14.

SUGGESTED READING: The Great Controversy, 457–459; Selected Messages, Book 1, 68, 69.

INTRODUCTION: “We shall be saved eternally when we enter in through the gates into the [holy] city. Then we may rejoice that we are saved, eternally saved. But until then we need to heed the injunction of the apostle, and to ‘fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it’ (Hebrews 4:1). Having a knowledge of Canaan, singing the songs of Canaan, rejoicing in the prospect of entering into Canaan, did not bring the children of Israel into the vineyards and olive groves of the Promised Land. They could make it theirs in truth only by occupation, by complying with the conditions, by exercising living faith in God, by appropriating His promises to themselves. . . .” That I May Know Him, 162.

1 What warning did the apostle Paul give to his brethren in Hebrews 3:12? Compare Matthew 24:4.

NOTE: “It is right to study closely the teachings of the Bible and to search into ‘the deep things of God’ so far as they are revealed in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:10. While ‘the secret things belong unto the Lord our God,’ ‘those things which are revealed belong unto us.’ Deuteronomy 29:29. But it is Satan’s work to pervert the investigative powers of the mind. A certain pride is mingled with the consideration of Bible truth, so that men feel impatient and defeated if they cannot explain every portion of Scripture to their satisfaction. It is too humiliating to them to acknowledge that they do not understand the inspired words. They are unwilling to wait patiently until God shall see fit to reveal the truth to them. They feel that their unaided human wisdom is sufficient to enable them to comprehend the Scripture, and failing to do this, they virtually deny its authority. It is true that many theories and doctrines popularly supposed to be derived from the Bible have no foundation in its teaching, and indeed are contrary to the whole tenor of inspiration. These things have been a cause of doubt and perplexity to many minds. They are not, however, chargeable to God’s word, but to man’s perversion of it.” Steps to Christ, 108, 109.

2 What did Paul direct the Hebrews to do? Hebrews 3:13, first part.

NOTE: “Never entertain the thought that you can be Christians and yet withdraw within yourselves. Each one is a part of the great web of humanity, and the nature and quality of your experience will be largely determined by the experiences of those with whom you associate. Jesus says: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst.’ Matthew 18:20. Then let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhort one another; and so much the more, as we see the day approaching.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 190.

“As brethren of our Lord, we are called with a holy calling to a holy, happy life. Having entered the narrow path of obedience, let us refresh our minds by communion with one another and with God. As we see the day of God approaching, let us meet often to study His Word and to exhort one another to be faithful unto the end. These earthly assemblies are God’s appointed means by which we have opportunity to speak with one another and to gather all the help possible to prepare, in the right way, to receive in the heavenly assemblies the fulfillment of the pledges of our inheritance.” Our High Calling, 166.

3 What did the apostle say would befall them if they failed to exhort one another? Hebrews 3:13, last part.

NOTE: “Like the hard-beaten path, trodden down by the feet of men and beasts, is the heart that becomes a highway for the world’s traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in selfish aims and sinful indulgences, the soul is ‘hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.’ Hebrews 3:13. The spiritual faculties are paralyzed. Men hear the word, but understand it not. They do not discern that it applies to themselves. They do not realize their need or their danger. They do not perceive the love of Christ, and they pass by the message of His grace as something that does not concern them.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 44.

4 What is the nature of sin? Hebrews 3:13, last part; Jeremiah 17:9.

NOTE: “Here is a work for man to do. He must face the mirror, God’s law, discern the defects in his moral character, and put away his sins, washing his robe of character in the blood of the lamb. Envy, pride, malice, deceit, strife, and crime will be cleansed from the heart that is a recipient of the love of Christ and that cherishes the hope of being made like Him when we shall see Him as He is. The religion of Christ refines and dignifies its possessor, whatever his associations or station in life may be. Men who become enlightened Christians rise above the level of their former character into greater mental and moral strength. Those fallen and degraded by sin and crime may, through the merits of the Saviour, be exalted to a position but little lower than that of the angels.” God’s Amazing Grace, 232.

5 How was it that the first sin on earth was committed? 1 Timothy 2:14.

NOTE: “Adam was not deceived by the serpent, as was Eve, and it was inexcusable in Adam to rashly transgress God’s positive command. Adam was presumptuous because his wife had sinned. He could not see what would become of Eve. He was sad, troubled, and tempted. He listened to Eve’s recital of the words of the serpent, and his constancy and integrity began to waver. Doubts arose in his mind in regard to whether God did mean just as He said. He rashly ate the tempting fruit.” Review and Herald, April 1, 1875.

6 On what condition are we partakers of Christ? Hebrews 3:14.

NOTE: “It is difficult to hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end; and the difficulty increases when there are hidden influences constantly at work to bring in another spirit, a counterworking element, on Satan’s side of the question. In the absence of persecution, there have drifted into our ranks some who appear sound, and their Christianity unquestionable, but who, if persecution should arise, would go out from us. In the crisis, they would see force in specious reasoning that has had an influence on their minds. Satan has prepared various snares to meet varied minds. When the law of God is made void the church will be sifted by fiery trials, and a larger proportion than we now anticipate, will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Instead of being strengthened when brought into strait places, many prove that they are not living branches of the True Vine. . . .” Maranatha, 28.

7 How many of the children of Israel who came out of Egypt provoked the Lord? Hebrews 3:16.

NOTE: “God appointed Moses to lead out his people from their bondage in the land of Egypt, that they might consecrate themselves to serve him with perfect hearts, and be to him a peculiar treasure. Moses was their visible leader, while Christ stood at the head of the armies of Israel, their invisible leader. If they could have always realized this, they would not have rebelled and provoked God in the wilderness by their unreasonable murmurings. God said to Moses, ‘Behold I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him.’ ” Review and Herald, March 3, 1874.

8 How many of those who came out of Egypt were so faithful as to go into the promised land? Numbers 14:30.

NOTE: “Though they shared with their brethren the forty years’ wandering, Caleb and Joshua entered the Land of Promise. As courageous of heart as when with the hosts of the Lord he set out from Egypt, Caleb asked for and received as his portion the stronghold of the giants. In God’s strength he drove out the Canaanites. The vineyards and olive groves where his feet had trodden became his possession. Though the cowards and rebels perished in the wilderness, the men of faith ate of the grapes of Eschol.” Education, 149.

9 Why could not the other Israelites enter into this rest? Hebrews 3:18, 19.

NOTE: “God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there a holy, healthy, happy people. But those to whom it was first preached, went not in ‘because of unbelief.’ Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them.

“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.—Manuscript 4, 1883.” Evangelism, 696.

10 What fear is held before the brethren? Hebrews 4:1.

NOTE: “The exhortation of the apostle applies to us as well as to those to whom this epistle was directed. . . . Shall we who are living near the close of this world’s history ‘take heed’? Shall we heed the apostle’s warning, [Hebrews 4:1 quoted]? The Lord would have his people trust in him and abide in his love, but that does not mean that we shall have no fear or misgivings. Some seem to think that if a man has a wholesome fear of the judgments of God, it is a proof that he is destitute of faith; but this is not so. A proper fear of God, in believing his threatenings, works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, by causing the trembling soul to flee to Jesus. Many ought to have this spirit today, and turn to the Lord with humble contrition, for the Lord has not given so many terrible threatenings, pronounced so severe judgments in his word, simply to have them recorded, but he means what he says. One says, ‘Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.’ [Psalm 119:53.] Paul says, ‘Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.’ [2 Corinthians 5:11.]” Review and Herald, October 21, 1890.

11 Why did the gospel preached to the children of Israel not profit them, and why would it not profit us today? Hebrews 4:2.

NOTE: “The unbelief and murmurings of the children of Israel illustrate the people of God now upon the earth. Many look back to them, and marvel at their unbelief and continual murmurings, after the Lord had done so much for them, in giving them repeated evidences of his love and care for them. They think that they should not have proved thus ungrateful. But some who thus think, murmur and repine at things of less consequence. They do not know themselves. God frequently proves them, and tries their faith in small things, and they do not endure the trial any better than did ancient Israel.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 251.

“We need to realize the necessity of exercising that faith which is acceptable to God—the faith which works by love and purifies the soul. Without faith it is impossible to hear the Word in such a way as to profit by the hearing, even though it be presented in a most impressive manner. . . .

“Unless we mix faith with our hearing of the Word, unless we receive the truths we hear as a message from heaven, to be carefully studied, to be eaten by the soul and assimilated into the spiritual life, we lose the impression of the Spirit of God.” The Upward Look, 75.

12 What is said of those that believe? Hebrews 4:3. Compare Joshua 1:13.

NOTE: “As thru Jesus we enter into rest, heaven begins here. We respond to His invitation, ‘Come, learn of Me,’ and in thus coming, we begin the life eternal. Heaven is a ceaseless approaching to God thru Christ. The longer we are in the heaven of bliss, the more and still more of glory will be revealed to us; and the more we know of God the more intense will be our happiness. As we walk with Jesus in this life, we may be filled with His love, satisfied with His presence. All that human nature can bear, we may receive here. But what is this compared with the hereafter! There ‘are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ [Revelation 7:15–17].” The Signs of the Times, May 20, 1908.

Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 2:17-3:12

January 26- February 1, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12.

SUGGESTED READING: Patriarchs and Prophets, 293, 294.

INTRODUCTION: “Some have given a willing ear to the tempter and have talked out their unbelief and wounded the cause. Satan has claims upon them, for they have not recovered themselves from his snare. They have conducted themselves like children who were wholly unacquainted with the wiles of the tempter. They have had sufficient experience and should have understood his workings. He has suggested doubts to their minds, and, instead of repelling them at once, they have reasoned and parleyed with the archdeceiver, and listened to his reasonings, as though charmed by the old serpent. A few texts which were not perfectly explainable to the satisfaction of their own minds have been sufficient to shake the whole structure of truth and to obscure the plainest facts of the word of God. These men are erring mortals. They have not perfect wisdom and knowledge in all the Scriptures. Some passages are placed beyond the reach of human minds until such a time as God chooses, in His own wisdom, to open them. Satan has been leading some on a trail which ends in certain infidelity. They have suffered their unbelief to becloud the harmonious, glorious chain of truth, and have acted as though it was their business to solve every difficult passage of Scripture, and if our faith did not enable them to do this, it was faulty.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 377.

1 How does the priesthood of Christ relate to things pertaining to God? Hebrews 2:17; 9:15.

NOTE: “Christ is our Mediator and officiating High Priest in the presence of the Father. He was shown to John as a Lamb that had been slain, as in the very act of pouring out His blood in the sinner’s behalf. When the law of God is set before the sinner, showing him the depth of his sins, he should then be pointed to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. He should be taught repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus will the labor of Christ’s representative be in harmony with His work in the heavenly sanctuary.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 395.

2 What strong assurance have the tempted sufferers that Jesus can sympathize with them and help them? Hebrews 2:18.

NOTE: “Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, that He might know how to succor those who should be tempted. His life is our example. He shows by His willing obedience that man may keep the law of God and that transgression of the law, not obedience to it, brings him into bondage. The Saviour was full of compassion and love; He never spurned the truly penitent, however great their guilt; but He severely denounced hypocrisy of every sort. He is acquainted with the sins of men, He knows all their acts and reads their secret motives; yet He does not turn away from them in their iniquity. He pleads and reasons with the sinner, and in one sense—that of having Himself borne the weakness of humanity—He puts Himself on a level with him.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 294.

3 Because of Christ’s sufferings for us, what are we exhorted to do? Hebrews 3:1.

NOTE: “Study Christ. Study His character, feature by feature. He is our Pattern that we are required to copy in our lives and our characters, else we fail to represent Jesus, but present to the world a spurious copy. Do not imitate any man, for men are defective in habits, in speech, in manners, in character. I present before you the Man Christ Jesus. You must individually know Him as your Saviour before you can study Him as your pattern and your example.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 170.

4 Webster defines apostle as “one sent.” Why is Jesus called an apostle? John 17:3, 8.

NOTE: “[John 17:3 quoted.] These words mean much. It is only by knowing Christ that we can know God. The Sent of God calls upon all to listen to these words. They are the words of God, and all should give heed to them; for by them they will be judged.” The Signs of the Times, January 27, 1898.

5 Christ was counted worthy of more glory than Moses. Why? Hebrews 3:3.

NOTE: “[Heb. 3:1-3 quoted.] Because of the unbelief manifested toward Christ, the originator and foundation of the whole Jewish economy, a heavier retribution will come upon men than befell unbelieving Israel in the wilderness. Moses was the prophet by whom God communicated to the church in the wilderness; but great as was Moses, a greater than he is the Son of God, who builded the house.

“The presence of Jesus Christ, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, followed this people in their wilderness wandering. The Angel of the covenant came in the name of God, as the invisible leader of Israel. . . . (Letter 97, 1898).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 927, 928.

6 Who built all things, and what bearing has this fact on the glory of Christ? Hebrews 3:4. Compare Hebrews 1:2; John 1:1–3.

NOTE: “The King of the universe summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth the true position of His Son and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both. . . . Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this He would not seek power or exaltation for Himself contrary to God’s plan, but would exalt the Father’s glory and execute His purposes of beneficence and love.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 36.

7 In what capacity did Moses act over his house? Hebrews 3:5.

NOTE: “Moses was a type of Christ. He himself had declared to Israel, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken.’ Deuteronomy 18:15. God saw fit to discipline Moses in the school of affliction and poverty before he could be prepared to lead the hosts of Israel to the earthly Canaan. The Israel of God, journeying to the heavenly Canaan, have a Captain who needed no human teaching to prepare Him for His mission as a divine leader; yet He was made perfect through sufferings; and ‘in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.’ Hebrews 2:10, 18. Our Redeemer manifested no human weakness or imperfection; yet He died to obtain for us an entrance into the Promised Land.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 480.

8 Over whose house does the Son preside? Hebrews 3:6, first part.

NOTE: “The church of Christ is God’s agency for the proclamation of truth; she is empowered by Him to do a special work.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 11.

9 On what condition are we Christ’s house? Hebrews 3:6, last part.

NOTE: “If she [church of Christ] is loyal to God, obedient to His commandments, there will dwell within her the excellence of divine power. If she will honor the Lord God of Israel, there is no power that can stand against her. If she will be true to her allegiance, the forces of the enemy will be no more able to overpower her than is the chaff to resist the whirlwind.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 11.

10 Is not our faith, our conversation, sufficient evidence that we are the house of Christ? Hebrews 3:7–10. Compare Matthew 24:14; 2 Peter 1:10.

NOTE: “But faith is in no sense allied to presumption. Only he who has true faith is secure against presumption. For presumption is Satan’s counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God’s promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience. Presumption also claims the promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression. Faith would have led our first parents to trust the love of God, and to obey His commands. Presumption led them to transgress His law, believing that His great love would save them from the consequence of their sin. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions on which mercy is to be granted. Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.” The Desire of Ages, 126.

11 To whom does the apostle apply the warning given in Hebrews 3:7–11? Hebrews 3:7, 12.

NOTE: “The unbelief and murmurings of the children of Israel illustrate the people of God now upon the earth. Many look back to them, and marvel at their unbelief and continual murmurings, after the Lord had done so much for them, in giving them repeated evidences of his love and care for them. They think that they should not have proved thus ungrateful. But some who thus think, murmur and repine at things of less consequence. They do not know themselves. God frequently proves them, and tries their faith in small things, and they do not endure the trial any better than did ancient Israel.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 251.

12 What is the character of an unbelieving heart? Hebrews 3:12.

NOTE: “There is no encouragement given for unbelief. The Lord manifests His grace and His power over and over again, and this should teach us that it is always profitable under all circumstances to cherish faith, to talk faith, to act faith. We are not to have our hearts and hands weakened by allowing the suggestions of suspicious minds to plant in our hearts the seeds of doubt and distrust [Heb. 3:12 quoted] (Letter 97, 1898).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 928.

[The questions in this series are adapted from lessons written in 1889.]

Food for Life – Melty Cheese

“Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 68. “Cheese is still more objectionable [than butter]; it is wholly unfit for food.” The Ministry of Healing, 302.

“The question whether we shall eat butter, meat, or cheese, is not to be presented to anyone as a test, but we are to educate and to show the evils of the things that are objectionable. Those who gather up these things and drive them upon others, do not know what work they are doing. The Word of God has given tests to His people. The keeping of God’s holy law, the Sabbath, is a test, a sign between God and His people throughout their generations forever. Forever this is the burden of the third angel’s message—the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

“Tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol we must present as sinful indulgences. We cannot place on the same ground, meat, eggs, butter, cheese and such articles placed upon the table. These are not to be borne in front, as the burden of our work. The former—tea, coffee, tobacco, beer, wine, and all spirituous liquors—are not to be taken moderately, but discarded. The poisonous narcotics are not to be treated in the same way as the subject of eggs, butter, and cheese. In the beginning animal food was not designed to be the diet of man. We have every evidence that the flesh of dead animals is dangerous because of disease that is fast becoming universal, because of the curse resting more heavily in consequence of the habits and crimes of man. We are to present the truth. We are to be guarded how to use reason and select those articles of food that will make the very best blood and keep the blood in an unfevered condition.—Manuscript 5, 1881. . . .” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 107.

Recipe – Melty Cheese

2 cups water

1/4 cup raw cashews

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic

2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

dash of cayenne (optional)

1/4 cup Brewers yeast or nutritional yeast flakes

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 to 4 Tablespoons pimientos, canned (for coloring; adjust to your preference)

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend extremely well for at least 2 minutes. Pour into saucepan and cook on moderate heat, stirring until thickened. Yummy for nachos, enchiladas, macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes—anywhere you need a cheese sauce.

Children’s Story – Spare Moments

Alean, awkward boy cameone morning to the door of the principal of a celebrated school and asked to see him.

A servant eyed his thread-worn clothes, and thinking he looked more like a beggar than anything else, told him to go around to the kitchen.

The boy did as he was directed, and soon appeared at the back door.

“I should like to see Mr. Brown,” said he.

“You want a breakfast, more like,” said the servant girl, “and I can give you that without troubling him.”

“Thank you,” responded the boy, “I should have no objection to a bit of bread, but I should like to see Mr. Brown, if he can see me.”

“Some old clothes, may be what you want,” remarked the servant, again eyeing the boy’s patched trousers. “I guess he has none to spare; he gives away a lot,” and without minding the boy’s request, she set out some food upon the kitchen table and went about her work.

“Can I see Mr. Brown?” again asked the boy, after finishing his meal.

“Well, he’s in the library. If he must be disturbed, he must, but he does like to be alone sometimes,” replied the girl in a peevish tone. She seemed to think it very foolish to admit such an ill-looking fellow into her employer’s presence. However, she wiped her hands, and told him to follow her.

Opening the library door, she said: “Here’s somebody, sir, who is dreadfully anxious to see you, and so I let him in.”

I don’t know how the boy introduced himself, or how he opened his business, but I know that after talking awhile, the principal put aside the volume he was studying, took up some Greek books, and began to examine the new-comer. The examination lasted some time. Every question that the principal asked, the boy answered as readily as could be.

“Upon my word,” exclaimed the principal, “you certainly do well!” Looking at the boy from head to foot, over his glasses, he asked, “Why, my boy, where did you pick up so much?”

In my spare moments,” answered the boy.

Here he was, poor, hard-working, with but few opportunities for schooling, yet almost fitted for college, by simply improving his spare moments. Truly, are not spare moments the “gold dust of time”? How precious they should be! What account can you give of your spare moments? What can you show for them? Look and see.

This boy can tell you how very much can be laid up by improving them; and there are many other boys [and girls], I am afraid, in the jail, in the house of correction, in the bar or in the pool hall, who, if you should ask them when they began their sinful courses, might answer, “In my spare moments.”

“In my spare moments I played addictive games.”

“In my spare moments I began to smoke and drink.”

“It was in my spare moments that I began to steal candy from the corner store.”

“It was in my spare moments that I gathered with wicked associates.”

Oh, be very, very careful how you spend your spare moments! Temptation always hunts you out in small seasons like these when you are not busy; Satan gets into your hearts, if he possibly can, in just such gaps. There he hides himself, planning all sorts of mischief. Take care of your spare moments. “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 216.

Reprinted from Tiger and Tom and Other Stories for Boys, A. B. Publishing, Inc., Ithaca, MI., 1993.

Nature Nugget – Shorebirds Talents

Shorebirds are a diverse avian group consisting of four families: plovers, avocets and stilts, oystercatchers, and sandpipers. Most North American shorebirds migrate over incredible distances from the arctic, where they breed, to coastal and interior wetland areas in South America, where they winter. Shorebirds need to eat up to one-third their body weight a day. Some can store fat reserves of up to 30 percent of their body’s weight in preparation for migration. Most shorebirds are closely associated with wetland areas where they feed on various shoreline habitats, mudflats, and marshes, in both fresh and saltwater environments.

Shorebirds have an amazing variety of bill shapes and sizes allowing them to feed in various habitats from dry soil to shallow water. Differences in bill length and shape and in leg length allow various species to flock together for protection without seriously competing with each other for food. These differences allow each species to find food at a different depth or location in the substrate. Some pick prey off the surface of the ground; others probe various depths underground, while others prey on aquatic creatures in the water and others on the surface of the water. Some feed at tideline, while others follow the waterline, and others feed in shallow water.

Plovers feed by picking, and have large eyes by which they locate their food. They feed above the waterline on wet to dry ground. Plovers are also known to use a technique called “foot patting” where the bird patters its feet on loose sand or mud, causing its prey to come to the surface. A well-known plover species in North America is the Killdeer, which is commonly found in pastures and farmland.

Oystercatchers have a long, triangular bill that is a cross between a knife and a chisel. They use it to stab into open bivalves, such as mussels and clams, severing the muscles that close the shell, or they smash open the shell if it is closed.

Avocets and Stilts have long legs and can feed in deeper water than most other shorebirds. Avocets have long, thin, upcurved bills, which they use as a scythe, sweeping it back and forth in the water stirring the bottom, and snatching up insects and crustaceans thus exposed.

The Sandpiper family constitutes the largest group of shorebirds. Body size, leg length, and bill size and shape are highly variable from one species to another. Sandpipers vary in size from the tiny 6-inch Least Sandpiper, which probes shallowly with its short bill, to the 23-inch Long-billed Curlew, which uses its long, decurved, forceps-like bill to probe deep into the burrows of marine worms. Two very odd members of this family are the Turnstones and Phalaropes. The Turnstones use their short upturned bills to flip over rocks and debris in search of food. Phalaropes gather their food in an ingenious way. They spin in circles on the surface of the water creating a whirlpool beneath them, which sucks up bottom dwelling insect larvae to the surface, where the Phalarope pick them off with their needle-like beaks.

Just as the Creator has given shorebirds a diversity of bill shapes and sizes and leg lengths, to allow them to exploit a variety of habitats and food sources, so He has provided mankind with a diversity of talents for use in His work. “To every person is committed some peculiar gift or talent which is to be used to advance the Redeemer’s kingdom.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 618. “In the Lord’s plan there is a diversity in the distribution of talents. . . . These talents are not bestowed capriciously, but according to the ability of the recipient.” Counsels on Stewardship, 116. “We must be always on the watch for opportunities to use for God the talents He has given us.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 27.

David Arbour writes from DeQueen, Arkansas.

Restoring the Temple – The Integumentary System

“And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord.”

—Ezekiel 37:6.

What is the largest organ of the body? With an average area of about 22 square feet (2 square meters) and a weight of 10–11 pounds (4.5–5 kg), skin—called the integument—wins hands down. It is obvious that skin covers us and protects our internal organs from injury. But skin has several other very important functions, including protection against dehydration, body temperature regulation, sensory reception, metabolic function, blood reservoir, absorption, and excretion.

Surprised about that last one? Indeed, our skin is our body’s largest waste organ. You can see why cleanliness is so important. Recent research has shown that exposure to the dirt we come into contact with daily does not harm us. Yet Ellen White spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of cleanliness. Does this conflict with what scientists have now found? Absolutely not! Ellen White understood this concept long ago when she wrote: “Do not misunderstand me in this. I do not say that you must keep them [children] indoors, like dolls. There is nothing impure in clean sand and dry earth; it is the emanations from the body that defile, requiring the clothing to be changed and the body washed.” Child Guidance, 107. She further states, “Impurities are constantly and imperceptibly passing from the body, through the pores, and if the surface of the skin is not kept in a healthy condition, the system is burdened with impure matter.” Healthful Living, 188.

Skin is composed of two layers: the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of skin, made relatively waterproof by the protein keratin. The cells of the epidermis are constantly sloughing off and being replaced by new cells as they are pushed up from below. Not only do epidermal cells have a life span of only 35–45 days, but you are likely to shed some 40 pounds of skin in a lifetime! In fact, about 30,000–40,000 dead skin cells fall from your body every minute!

Some of the cells of the epidermis are called melanocytes, and they are where the skin color comes from. Melanocytes make a pigment called melanin. Melanin protects the DNA in our skin cells from harmful UV radiation. Your genes, or what you inherit from your parents, determine the amount of melanin, and its particular shade. Carotene is another pigment, giving a yellowish cast (which can be seen clearly if you eat a lot of carrots every day). The pink coloration of skin comes from the blood in your capillaries showing through.

The dermis is composed of connective tissue, thread-through with lots of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. The dermis is also where hair follicles, nerve endings, and sweat and sebaceous glands are found. The dermis consists of two layers, the papillary layer and the reticular layer. In the papillary layer, fingerlike projections called the dermal papillae extend up into the epidermis. The epidermis is very thin on your fingertips, making them more sensitive to stimuli. This thinness also makes those dermal papillae stand out. You know them as your fingerprints. When you lightly burn your fingertip, your fingerprints do not disappear forever, because it is the epidermis that is damaged, not the dermis from which the prints project.

The Lord made us with several skin appendages, including hair, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and nails. Have you ever wondered how your hair stands on end when you are cold? Tiny muscles, called arrector pili muscles are attached to each strand of hair. The nervous system causes them to involuntarily contract, pulling each strand of hair upright. This is the same way a cat’s hair stands on end when it is scared or angry. The reason why your hair does this is that erect hair traps more air, keeping a layer of warmth around you.

What about the differences we have in hair color? Pigments produced by melanocytes in the root of the hair cause these variations in color. Your own hair color is mostly predetermined genetically, but hormone and environmental conditions can play a part. So why do you grow gray as you age? It is because pigment production decreases with age. White hair is a combination of pigment loss and air bubbles within the medulla, or central core of the hair shaft.

Sweat glands are coiled tubes found in the dermis. Sweat generally does not have an odor. The bacterium on your skin that is attracted to this moisture causes the odor associated with sweat. Sweat is more than just water. It also contains salts, antibodies, and waste products. Sweating helps to regulate your body temperature. Depending on the circumstances, you lose 2–4 pints (1–2 liters) of water every 24 hours through the skin. You can see why drinking adequate amounts of water (8 8-ounce glasses) each day is so essential. When we are overheated, more blood is directed to the skin’s surface so that heat can be wicked away. This is why skin, especially lighter skin, turns red when hot.

Each day your skin is being constantly abused, attacked, and abraded. Radiation from sunlight beats down on it, germs are constantly attacking it, chemicals in the air and chemicals we use abuse it. Yet, for most of us, all we see is a freckle here or a pimple there. There is nothing remotely like the skin that can be made by man. The best-manufactured fabrics deteriorate quickly under the same conditions. Some materials are durable but are incapable of all the additional functions of skin. God made the wondrous fabric that is our skin. We must take care of it, follow the laws of health, and thank the Lord for His love and infinite science.

“Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.” “And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body], yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 10:11; 19:26.

Sheryle Beaudry, a certified teletriage nurse, writes from Estacada, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and twin daughters.

From the Pen of Inspiration – Think on These Things

Another year has almost passed into eternity. A few more days, and we shall enter a new year. My brethren and sisters, employ wisely the remaining hours of the old year. If you have in any wise neglected your duty, repent before God, and return to the path from which you have wandered. Remember how brief the period of life allotted you. You know not how soon your probation may close. Say not presumptuously, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.” [James 4:13.] God may have different plans for you. Life is but a vapor, “that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth.” [Verse 14.] You know not how soon your hand may lose its cunning, your step its firmness. There is peril in a moment’s delay. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” [Isaiah 55:6, 7.]

What is your stewardship? Have you during the past year robbed God in tithes and offerings? Look at your well-filled barns, at your cellars stored with the good things the Lord has given you, and ask yourselves whether you have returned to the Giver that which belongs to him. If you have robbed the Lord, make restitution. As far as possible, make the past right, and then ask the Saviour to pardon you. Will you not return to the Lord his own, before this year, with its burden of record, has passed into eternity? . . .

Let your prayers and your alms rise as a memorial before God. Remember that faith without works is dead. We are to pray, and we are to give all that we can, both of our labor and of our means, for the fulfillment of our prayers.

From age to age Jesus has been delivering his goods to men and women. Soon will come the day when he will call each to account for the use made of these goods. It is God who gives men power to get wealth. He waters the earth with the dews of heaven and with the showers of refreshing rain. He gives the sunlight, which warms the earth, awakening to life the things of nature, and causing them to flourish and bear fruit. And he asks for a return of his own.

Hoarded wealth is not merely useless; it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections away from the heavenly treasure. In the great day of God its witness to unused talents and neglected opportunities will condemn its possessor.

There are many who in their hearts charge God with being a hard master because he claims their possessions and their service. But we can bring to God nothing that is not already his. “All things come of thee,” said King David, “and of thine own have we given thee.” [1 Chronicles 29:14.] All things are God’s, not only by creation, but by redemption. All the blessings of this life and of the life to come are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary. Review and Herald, December 23, 1902

Thoughts for the New Year

In God’s plan for His ancient people, He gave the command, “On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle.” [Exodus 40:2.] We have no tabernacle to set up as had the children of Israel, but we have a work of building to do, the importance of which all need to understand. Let us remember that character is not the result of accident, but day by day it is forming for good or for evil. Great importance attaches to this work of character building; for it is far-reaching in its results. We are builders for time and for eternity. Few realize the power of habit. Examine your own heart and life in the light of God’s Word, and ask yourself, “What has my record been for the year that is just closing? What advancement have I made in the Christian life? What victories have I gained? And what have I done to help others, and to lead them to Christ?”

God has not placed you in the world to lead an aimless life. He designs that you should be useful, and reach a high standard of moral excellence. To each one some work is given. During the old year have you performed your appointed tasks with cheerfulness and fidelity, having an eye single to the glory of God? Opportunities and privileges have been granted you; what use have you made of these gifts entrusted to you by our Heavenly Father? Have you made yourself a blessing to those around you? Have you done what you could to make them happy and win them to Christ?

All this is a part of your appointed work. God also requires each of us to subdue self, not giving the rein to self-indulgence or appetite, and to form characters that will stand the test of the judgment and go with us into the future life.

Shall the close of the year find you further advanced than you are today? Will you put away evil habits? Will you be considerate of others, faithful to do the work of a Christian? If you will carry the principles of right-doing into all the affairs of life, you will find that it will promote health of body, peace of mind, and prosperity of soul. You will have a strength, dignity, and sweetness of character that will have a transforming influence upon others.

We are now entering upon a new year, and may it prove a beginning of years to us. If in the old year we have made failures, let us commence the new by rectifying these errors as far as we can. If the old year has borne into eternity a spotted record of opportunities neglected and privileges slighted, let us see that that of the new year is free from these blemishes. Its days are all before us; let us begin now to make the history of each as it passes, such as we shall not tremble to meet in the judgment. Let us fill each one full of loving, helpful work for others. Let us develop all our powers, and make of ourselves all that God designed that we should.

In the keeping of God’s commandments there is great reward. A reward awaits the overcomer in the great day, when he shall hear from the lips of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant;” [Matthew 25:23] and there is also a present reward in the peace and happiness that flow from the conscience at rest, from the sweet assurance that we enjoy the favour of God. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” [Psalm 25:10.] To all who walk in His ways the new year will be crowded with goodness and blessing. Australasian Union Conference Record, January 5, 1914.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.

Power, Righteousness, Certainty, and Eternity

We are living in a troubled world. Every time we listen to the news on the radio, pick up a newspaper, or look at the television, there is trouble somewhere, and the trouble seems to continually worsen, just as God said it would.

God tells us the reason we live in perilous times: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” 2 Timothy 3:1–4. That is quite a list! Living in the last days, we could expect that godless people, professing nothing of God, would be acting this way. But verse 5 tells us about whom God is talking: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Perilous times will come as a result of those professing to be God’s people acting like the world. These people have a form of godliness, a profession of godliness, but they are lacking the power of godliness in their lives.

Jesus tells us more about these people in Revelation. “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked . . . .” Revelation 3:17.

Jesus is saying that these people who have a form of godliness but deny the power, believe they have the power. They are totally deceived. They say that they are increased with goods and have need of nothing. Yet Jesus says, You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, without power. If they believe they have the power with the form of godliness, they must be sensing something that gives them an idea that they have the power.

What are some things that would make them believe that they have the power, when in reality they have no power? We hear about such things in Christianity today. Professed Christianity is boasting of its increased number of members, and when we see those numbers, and the increase of wealth, and the larger-sized church buildings being constructed, what might we think? We might think they have the power of God. What about their influence, the influence they seem to have on the world? Could this lead them to believe that their influence means they have the power of God? What about their good works? There are many good works being done by professed Christian institutions today. Can we rely upon works as evidence that they have the power of God? What about the unity that we see coming into the midst of professed Christendom, do they call that the power of God?

Power of the Word

All, or any one, of these things might lead them to believe that they have the power of God working in their lives. But God says, They have a form of godliness, but they deny the power. What is this power that God says is lacking among His professed people in the last days? Paul describes it: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3. The power that is lacking is the power of the Word of God in the lives of His professed people! Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God—God speaks and something happens! The things that we see are not made of things that appear.

“In the creation of the earth, God was not indebted to preexisting matter. ‘He spake, and it was; . . . He commanded, and it stood fast.’ Psalm 33:9. All things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, came into existence by the breath of His mouth.” The Ministry of Healing, 414, 415.

There are many things that we have seen that are very powerful, but there is nothing as powerful as the Word of the living God. God can take nothing and make something out of it! Nothing else that we can think of is that powerful. God says, I brought all things into existence by a word that I spoke. Even though you think you are nothing, God can make you something, if you are willing to receive His Word. God’s Word is the most powerful thing in the entire universe.

How powerful is it? Peter says God’s Word is so powerful it can separate a sinner from his sins: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Peter 1:23. Not only does God’s Word bring inanimate nature into being, it can change animate nature, your nature, my nature, back into the original intention of His mind for our creation.

How powerful does Paul say God’s Word is? “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. The Word of God makes things happen instantaneously. We do not have to wait and wonder, if we choose to receive God’s Word. We can believe that whatever He has promised is happening.

How is God able to separate a sinner from his sins? God says, through the apostle Paul, “All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. If the sinner receives God’s Word, it will correct him. Most of the time we do not like to be corrected, because we think that we are right. But we have been proven wrong. God’s Word is able to help us see the difference between what is right and what is wrong. If we are willing to receive God’s Word, He is able to correct us.

God’s Words are Righteous

Besides being the most powerful thing in the entire universe, there is another quality to God’s Word. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Isaiah 45:22, 23. All of God’s words are righteousness. He says they shall not return. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11.

God’s words are not empty words. God never speaks empty words—He speaks words of righteousness, and He said His words will accomplish what He intends for them to do. And they will accomplish what He wants today. God wants us to not only hear the words He has spoken but to receive them. He has something in mind to accomplish in us.

All of God’s words are righteousness. He does everything right; He says everything right, and when He says we need Him, He means what He says, and all we have to do is believe and respond in simple faith, taking Him at His Word. Remember, His Word is the most powerful thing in the whole universe. His Word brought this universe into existence. His Word can help separate you from sin and make you fully His. He wants to see His Word prosper in us!

What makes God’s words righteousness? “Thy righteousness also, O God, [is] very high, who hast done great things: O God, who [is] like unto Thee!” Psalm 71:19. Why does God speak words that are righteousness? Because He is righteous, so the words that He speaks are righteous. We have all at some time spoken words of unrighteousness, because our character is unrighteous, but He wants us to be like Him.

“The righteousness of God is absolute. [You can depend on it.] This righteousness characterizes all His works, all His Laws.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 198. Those ten brief commandments, by which God is going to judge the entire world, have been given in righteousness. It means that the Ten Commandment Laws which God has created are for our benefit. They are laws that are right for you and me, if we will receive them.

John says it well, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. They are not grievous, because they are right for us. His words are all powerful; His words are all righteous!

Words of Certainty

There is another quality, revealed in Proverbs 22:20 and 21, which God’s Word possesses. Solomon says, under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, “Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?” The only words of truth in this world today, the pure truth, are the words of the living God that come to us from His Holy Book.

There is certainty in God’s Word. We just saw that God’s righteousness is absolute; we see now that God’s Word is certain. We can trust what it says about us; we can trust what it promises to us, because the God of righteousness stands behind it. The reception of God’s Word is the most powerful thing that can happen to us in our lives. It can change us! That is the expected end that God has in mind for His Word. That is what He wants it to accomplish in us. It can do what God intended for it to do, if we are willing to receive it. It is certain! Its warnings are certain, and its promises are just as certain. We can rely fully upon God’s Word. It can correct us; it can reprove us; it can instruct us in righteousness; it can make us perfect in character, like Him.

God’s Word Eternal

There is one more quality to consider in regards to God’s Word: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isaiah 40:8. The Word of God is not only powerful, not only filled with righteousness, not only certain, but it will last through eternity!

Word Became Flesh

Man’s condition in this world, without God’s Word, is one of hopelessness. The Word of God is the only hope for man, but God saw that man was going to need more than the written Word, so He devised a plan: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1–3. Who is the Word? The Word is Jesus Christ. He proclaims Himself to be the Word. Now notice what the Word became: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Verse 14. The Word became flesh! God became man! Why? to reach man where he is with the Word, the most powerful thing in God’s entire universe.

“Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes with our griefs. Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. For in every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attraction presented in the Saviour’s life on earth, we see ‘God with us.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 24.

Jesus not only came into this world to be our substitute, to pay the penalty for our transgressing God’s Law, which penalty is death (see Romans 6:23), but He came to be something more. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21. Jesus is not only our substitute, but He is our example. This is where nominal Christianity parts ways with true Christianity. The majority of the professed Christian world wants nothing to do with following the steps of Jesus. They are satisfied with speaking His name; they are satisfied with singing His songs; they are satisfied with praying to Him, but they do not want to go further.

Christ our Example

“By His humanity, Christ touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man, He gave us an example of obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey.” The Desire of Ages, 24. How did Jesus, in the flesh, realize the power of His own Word? How did He recognize the righteousness of His own Word in His life? How did He recognize the certainty of His own Word? “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. Jesus met every temptation with the Word of God—the Words that He had spoken. His own Words were the power of His life. He not only listened to His Word, but He received it; He acted upon it; He met every temptation with “It is written.” (See Matthew 4:4.)

How is it with us? Are we following the example that He has left us? Do we believe that His Word has power in it to separate us from our sins, to make us like He was regarding every temptation? There is only one thing that can produce such an experience as that of Jesus, an experience that we have been called to receive. Only one thing can produce such a life. As Christians, we are called to be like Him. The secret to becoming like Jesus is found in Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

You see, God’s Word was hidden in the heart of Jesus. He met every temptation with a “Thus saith the Lord.” He recognized where temptation would lead, and He said, No! He did not go beyond the temptation, and He wants to give us that kind of power, that kind of righteousness, that kind of certainty in our lives. We can have it, if we are willing to receive His Word, not merely believe it.

His Law in our Hearts

The only thing that can produce such a life is having the Word of God in our hearts. What else is going to be in the heart of such a life? “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God [is] in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 37:30, 31.

God wants to help us make progress in the Christian life. We do not have to be backslidden, and if we recognize that we are, then God is calling us to the power of His Word, because God wants us to experience eternity with Him. If we are to receive God’s Word in our hearts, His Law will be in our hearts.

“The word of God must be interwoven with the living character of those who believe it. The only vital faith is that faith which receives and assimilates the truth till it is a part of the being and the motive power of the life and action.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 576.

Until the Word of God is received, we are left destitute of the very power of that Word.

Believing and Receiving

You may ask, How can I know if I am believing and receiving, or just believing? I would ask you, How did you meet the temptations of yesterday? Do you sense and see that you were defeated? Then you are merely a believer, not a receiver. If you sense victory, you are a believer and a receiver; you are allowing the Word of God to do what God intended it to do in your life. You are becoming like Him.

There are four essential areas in which we need to cooperate with God’s Spirit to allow Him to produce a believing, receiving experience. The first three are found in one text of Scripture: “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.

The motivating factor of a believing, receiving Christian is found in the last phrase of that text. Paul recognized that Jesus loved him enough to die for him, to become his substitute. This was the motivating factor in the apostle’s life. Our love to God can never be the motivating factor in our Christian experience. It must always be His love for us—never, our love for Him. We are not to estimate our experience by what we are doing for God. We are to estimate our experience by what God has done, and is doing, for us.

This realization led the apostle Paul to declare the second essential: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.” He further states: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14. When we recognize the tremendous love that God has for us personally, and that He was willing to demonstrate that love by becoming our substitute and dying in our place, we are going to be willing to die, to our sins, for Him.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.” Is that not a paradox? We die, but we live? The Word of God is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think. It may look like we are going to lose our lives if we give ourselves over to Him, but in fact, we gain everything—we have won.

Paul recognized the love God had for him, personally, and he was willing to, with the help of God’s Spirit and His Word, to separate from his sins. But then he makes plain the third essential: “the life which I now live in the flesh [this fallen, sinful flesh] I live by the faith of the Son of God.” He was living the faith; he was exercising the faith that Jesus exercised. What kind of faith did Jesus have that Paul said he was also exercising?

We can get a glimpse of Jesus’ faith: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1–3.

Jesus had the faith of a child—the faith of a child who knew that His parent loved Him, and He chose to love that parent. That is the kind of faith we must have.

The fourth and final essential that we need if we are going to have a believing, receiving experience is found in Luke 11:28: “He said, Yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Jesus said, the words that I speak unto you are Spirit and life. And to those who hear them and keep them, they will have the power of God, the righteousness of God, the certainty of God, and they will have an eternity with God.

Such an experience that we have studied is answered by the good ground hearer in Matthew 13; it is answered by the wise virgins in Matthew 25; it is answered by the man who built his house on a rock versus the man who built his house on the sand in Luke 6. What we have just studied from the Word of God, is the truth of God to our hearts if we are willing to receive it.

Are we allowing God’s Word to do its work? If we are, we shall have the power that we need; we will have the righteousness, the certainty, and we will have an eternity with God.

Craig Meeker directs the Bible correspondence school for Steps to Life Ministry.