Category Archives: Sabbath School Lesson Study Notes

Sabbath School Lesson Commentary for 14 January 2017

Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the topic of the Holy Spirit.

These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – a member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.


THE HOLY SPIRIT: WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES

 

“He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” John 16:14

 

The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself; He uplifts Christ. From the beginning of the Bible story we find Him actively working behind the scenes to fulfil the plans of the Godhead.

 

The Elusiveness of the Spirit

 

The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We do not see the wind; we are only aware of its effects and of its power. The power of the Holy Spirit is so great that He can resurrect the person dead in trespasses and sins to new life.

 

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.  Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”  Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.” Ezekiel 37:1-5

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. Desire of Ages: pp 173

 

The Holy Spirit at Creation

 

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 The word ‘hover’ in this verse means ‘to cherish, with tender love’.

 

We know that the 3 Persons of the Godhead were involved in Creation.

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God 1:1

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1-3

 

For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Colossians 1:16, 17

 

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1:1, 2

 

The Holy Spirit too was involved in Creation:

 

By His Spirit He adorned the heavens…Job 26:13

 

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:30

 

The Holy Spirit and the Sanctuary

 

“And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8

 

In Old Testament times God had His people build a visible sanctuary in the midst of the camp, and later, the Temple in Jerusalem. His purpose was to dwell among His people and His glory dwelt in the Most Holy place where no-one could enter except the High Priest once a year.

 

Since Jesus died and rose to Heaven, He has anointed the Heavenly sanctuary of which He is High Priest. Everyone who accepts Him becomes a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit and God dwells in the hearts of His people instead of just dwelling among them.

 

“…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17

 

The Spirit was active in the building of the sanctuary. The Bible makes it clear that those who are gifted in the arts if they will surrender their talents to God will be inspired by the Spirit.

 

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze,  in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. Exodus 31:1-5.

 

The Holy Spirit in Glorifying Jesus Christ

 

The Holy Spirit works to glorify Christ in many ways.

 

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26

 

He convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgement (John 16:8-11). He points mankind to Christ who is the answer for sin, righteousness and judgment.

 

He illuminates us when we read the Scriptures.

 

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13, 14

 

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:27

 

He baptises us into the unity of the body of Christ.

 

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13

 

He produces the character of Christ in us – the fruit of the Spirit, so that we are restored to the image of God and bring Him glory.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22, 23

 

By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit. John 15:8

 

He gives us gifts for service that the church may be built up, that we can reach out in mission and that God may be glorified.

 

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

 

The Holy Spirit and Christ

 

The Holy Spirit was active in the incarnation of Christ.

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”  And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:34, 35

The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus for His mission on earth.

When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21, 22

The Holy Spirit was with Jesus through His temptations.

Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Mark 1:12

 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

 

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke 4:1

 

Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. Luke 4:13, 14.

 

The Spirit enabled Jesus to fulfil His mission on earth.

 

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19

 

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power…Acts 10:38

 

Conclusion:

 

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ – Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11.

 

“It is expedient for you that I go away.” John 16:7

 

Jesus went away that the Comforter might come. “It is expedient that I go away. I will depart and send the

Comforter. There will be no summons of sorrow which He will not be able to answer. He will abide with men forever. Everywhere He will come and go. He will be like the noiseless invisible wind, blowing all over the world wherever He wishes.”

 

The doctrine of the Holy Ghost is very simple. Men stumble over it because they imagine it to be something very mysterious and unintelligible. But the whole matter lies here. Our text is the key to it. The Holy Spirit is just what Christ would have been had He been here. He ministers comfort just as Christ would have done—only without the inconveniences of circumstance, without the restriction of space, without the limitations of time. More: we need a

personal Christ, but we cannot get Him, at least we cannot each get Him. So the only alternative is a spiritual Christ,—a Holy Spirit, and then we can all get Him. He reproves the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Christ had to go away to make room for a Person of the Trinity who could deal with the world. He Himself could only reprove the individual of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. But work on a larger scale is done now that He is gone. This is what He refers to when He said, “Greater works than these shall ye do.” And yet Christ did not go away that the Spirit might take His place. Christ is with us Himself. He is with us and yet He is not with us, that is, He is with us by His Spirit. The Spirit does not reveal the Spirit. He speaks not of Himself, He reveals Christ. He is the nexus, the connection between the absent Christ and the world—a spiritual presence which can penetrate where the present Christ in His human body could not go.

 

Christ ought to be as near to us as if He were still here. Nothing so simplifies the whole religious life as this thought. A present, personal Christ solves every difficulty, and meets every requirement of Christian experience. Henry Drummond: Why Christ Must Depart.

 

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Immanence

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty, but I have set my feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod.
There do I dwell in weakness and in power;
Not broken or divided, saith our God!
Is your strait garden plot I come to flower:
About your porch my vine
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine;
Waits, at the threshold, Love’s appointed hour.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yes! on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confessed.
On every nest
Where feathery patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprise
Of motherhood—
There doth my Godhead rest.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
My starry wings
I do forsake,
Love’s highway of humility to take:
Meekly I fit my stature to your need.
In beggar’s part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead—
As man, to speak with man—
Till by such art
I shall achieve my immemorial plan,
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.

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SS Lesson Notes : 7 Jan 2017

Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the topic of the Holy Spirit.

These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – a member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.


THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SPIRITUALITY: INTRODUCTION

January –March 2017

This quarter we study the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter), that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18

 

The ‘parakletos’ – helper, succourer, aider, ‘one called to the side of… to one’s aid’; the Holy Spirit destined to take His place with believers after Christ had risen to the Father; to lead them to closer understanding of gospel truth as found in Jesus; to give them divine strength to enable to undergo suffering, trials and persecution which come to all believers in Christ; to give them power to proclaim the gospel and to produce the fruit of the gospel (the righteousness of God) in all believers.  From: Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.

 

The Holy Spirit is the name of the Third Person in the Trinity, sometimes called the Holy Ghost. Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit after His crucifixionresurrection and ascension.

 

Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21, 22

 

Henceforth the Holy Spirit would be Christ’s Representative on earth. He would carry on the work of Christ as Comforter, Teacher, Helper, Counsellor and Friend.

 

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”John 14:18. This promise of Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) and the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20). Because He has risen to the right hand of God the Father in a human body, Jesus cannot be universally present Himself. Therefore He has sent His Spirit to earth, to be universally present in His church and to in-dwell all who believe in His Name.

Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as having divine attributes and divine authority.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

The Helper…whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father…John 15:26

Other passages that refer to the divinity of the Holy Spirit are: At creation…And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters Genesis 1:1, 2. ‘The eternal Spirit…’ Hebrews 9:14. Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God…Acts 5:3, 4. The Omnipresent Spirit: Psalm 139:7.

 

The Holy Spirit is a Person… He Loves…Romans 15:30, He grieves…Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30, He has a mind…Romans 8:27, He speaks…2 Sam 23:2, Acts 8:29, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 3:7, 8; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 22:17…He is a Witness…Acts 5:32, He can be resisted…Acts 7:51.

 

‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.’

 

All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in our salvation.

 

‘The love of God is the source of all spiritual blessing; the grace of the Lord Jesus has made it possible for that spiritual wealth to become ours; and the communion of the Holy Ghost is the means whereby it is imparted to us. Love is something hidden in the heart of God; grace is that love expressed and made available in the Son; communion is the impartation of that grace by the Spirit.’

 

“God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He is as much a person as are the Father and the Son. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth.”

 

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07.01.2017 THE SPIRIT AND THE WORD

 “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

 Our God is an infinite God. In His infinity, He stands apart from mankind and the natural world, for they are finite.

But God is also a personal God. Between the 3 persons of the Godhead there is perfect love and communication.

God created man in love and gave him personhood and personality, so that man could reflect the Divine will and share in God’s glory.

In the area of personality and personhood, man stands apart from the rest of the creation (animal and plant life) on planet earth. He is able to communicate with other human beings in verbal language and he has free-will.

But more importantly (infinitely so), God communicates with mankind – the creatures He has made with personality and personhood. As many commentators state:  ‘God is not only the God who exists; He is the God who speaks’. And it is mankind’s privilege to communicate with the God who speaks.

How does God speak to man? He speaks by revelation. He reveals Himself to man. Man would have no knowledge of God, if God had not made Himself known. He speaks through nature (general revelation) and through His Word (special revelation) – the written Word, the Bible and the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

‘…the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven…’ 1 Peter 1:10-12

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1:1, 2 (see also John 1:1).

The Holy Spirit and Revelation

 

Revelation may be defined as that process by which God imparts to man truths which he otherwise could not know.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His… He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:19-23

Examples of this are:

  • Genesis chapters 1 and 2. We could not know the events occurring prior to the creation of man (on the 6th day) unless it was revealed to Moses.
  • Jesus is the Son of God. This comes to every man and woman as a revelation from God. Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:16, 17

 God communicates with man in many different ways. He spoke to the human authors of the Bible in their own language. He spoke through angels and He spoke through dreams and visions.

The special revelation of God is in His written Word, the holy Bible. The Bible and the Bible only, is God’s special revelation to mankind that He is our Creator, Redeemer and Re-Creator. It reveals to us the goodness of God which leads us to repentance and conversion. It reveals to us the purpose of our salvation, that we may be transformed into the image of Christ. It leads us to Christ, the Living Word.

The Holy Spirit and Inspiration

 

The word ‘inspiration’ is found only once in the New Testament…’all scripture is given by inspiration of God’ 2 Timothy 3:16. This literally means ‘God breathed’ (Greek: theopneustic).

In Old English it meant ‘the immediate influence of God’, particularly with regard to the writings of Scripture.

Divine inspiration logically follows divine revelation. In revelation God speaks to man’s ear, while by inspiration He guides the pen to ensure that the imparted message is correctly written down.

With regard to inspiration, we believe that the right concept of inspiration is that the Holy Spirit acted on the writers of the Bible by illuminating their minds, aiding their memory, guiding their thoughts and sometimes giving them the words to speak or write (e.g. Leviticus 4:1, Joshua 1:1, Jeremiah 1:4, 9, 1 Corinthians 2:13). Another important aspect is that the Spirit restrained the influence of sin in their words.

However, they could write in their own style and language, using their own witness and experience

The Bible authors understood that their writings were guided by the Spirit of God, even as they wrote them. Peter referred to this about his own and Paul’s writings and the writers of the Old Testament.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19- 21 (see also 1 Peter 1:10-12 above).

The Holy Spirit and Illumination (The Spirit as Teacher):

Illumination is the last of the 3 important steps God takes in communicating His word to us. This 3rd step is needed to provide understanding to men and women as they hear God’s revealed and inspired message. Illumination is the divine process whereby God causes the written revelation to be understood by the human heart.  This 3rd step is need because fallen man is blinded by his sinful nature and by Satan himself (1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).

The Person behind this illumination is the Holy Spirit.

‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.’ John 14:26 (see also John 16:13, 14).

God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13

 The Holy Spirit, the Word and Truthfulness of Scripture

If all Scripture is a revelation from God, has been inspired by God and is illuminated by God, it follows that all Scripture is true.

Jesus said ‘The scriptures testify of Me…’ John 5:39. He is the Word of God and all He speaks is the truth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became 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. John 1:1, 14

Jesus further said, ‘I am the Truth’ John 14:6. (Greek: alētheia) i.e. ‘I am He in whom truth is summed up; I am He who is the truth in Person; I am Reality’.

Jesus who is the Truth, who is the Word of God, speaks the truth of God. The Holy Spirit is therefore the Spirit of Truth, for He too is God and He testifies of Christ Jesus. He reveals, inspires, illuminates and teaches mankind the truth about God.

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160

Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Proverbs 30:5

 ‘…Your word is truth.’ John 17:17

 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16, 17

 ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.’ John 16:13, 14

 

The opening of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

The testimony of Jehovah is sure; making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7b

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

——————————————

 

Additional Note:

“The Bible points to God as its author; yet it was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several writers. The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’ (2 Timothy 3:16); yet they are expressed in the words of men. The Infinite One by His Holy Spirit has shed light into the minds and hearts of His servants. He has given dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whom the truth was thus revealed, have themselves embodied the thought in human language.

“The Ten Commandments were spoken by God Himself, and were written by His own hand. They are of divine, and not human composition. But the Bible, with its God-given truths expressed in the language of men, presents a union of the divine and the human. Such a union existed in the nature of Christ, who was the Son of God and the Son of man. Thus it is true of the Bible, as it was of Christ, that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14).

“Written in different ages, by men who differed widely in rank and occupation, and in mental and spiritual endowments, the books of the Bible present a wide contrast in style, as well as a diversity in the nature of the subjects unfolded. Different forms of expression are employed by different writers; often the same truth is more strikingly presented by one than by another. And as several writers present a subject under varied aspects and relations, there may appear, to the superficial, careless, or prejudiced reader, to be discrepancy or contradiction, where the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearer insight, discerns the underlying harmony.

“As presented through different individuals, the truth is brought out in its varied aspects. One writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject; he grasps those points that harmonize with his experience or with his power of perception and appreciation; another seizes upon a different phase; and each, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presents what is most forcibly impressed upon his own mind—a different aspect of the truth in each, but a perfect harmony through all. And the truths thus revealed unite to form a perfect whole, adapted to meet the wants of men in all the circumstances and experiences of life.

“God has been pleased to communicate His truth to the world by human agencies, and He Himself, by His Holy Spirit, qualified men and enabled them to do His work. He guided the mind in the selection of what to speak and what to write. The treasure was entrusted to earthen vessels, yet it is, none the less, from Heaven. The testimony is conveyed through the imperfect expression of human language, yet it is the testimony of God; and the obedient, believing child of God beholds in it the glory of a divine power, full of grace and truth.” Selected Messages. Book 1: p.p. 24-26

 

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SS Lesson Notes for 31 Dec 2016

Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the book of Job.

These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – a member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.


31 December: SOME LESSONS FROM JOB

 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

 We have come to the end of our study of the book of Job. However, as with the rest of the Bible, we will be able to bring forth treasures new and old from this book if we make it our life-long study,

 

Some lessons we have learnt along the way:

 

Job:

  1. Job was a blameless and upright man of great integrity. He was the priest, protector and provider for his family. In this he sets an example for all men. With regard to the community and society he lived in, he was generous, loving, treated everyone fairly and as equals.
  2. His relationship with God was so close that he was not afraid to ask God to answer his questions.
  3. God called him a perfect man; this perfection did not mean sinless perfection, but rather that he was whole-heartedly devoted and loyal to God.
  4. Nevertheless, this man whom God Himself called ‘perfect’ had human failings. He was perfect in that he was perfectly and whole-heartedly devoted to God. But as he sought to justify himself to his friends, he began to complain and then to become guilty of self-righteousness.
  5. To refine this righteous man and humble him, God allowed Satan to bring suffering to him.
  6. God ‘breaks’ His children through suffering. Through our brokenness, He diffuses the fragrance of His life to all we come in contact with (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
  7. God is often unable to break those who only have a form of godliness i.e. religious people who are not led by the Spirit. In contrast, spiritual people are both righteous and broken.
  8. Our righteousness which must exceed that of the Pharisees must be an inward righteousness, of a humble and broken spirit. It is this end God was seeking in Job’s life (James 5:11).
  9. God’s promise is that He will keep us in perfect peace, if we cast our anxieties upon Him and keep our minds focussed on Him continually.
  10. God’s people must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. They must learn to trust God to the uttermost. Even when He seems absent, they claim the promises of God by faith. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20
  11. Our merciful and compassionate God had an end in sight for Job; He makes all things work together for good to those who love Him. At the end of the story, we find that Job had enlarged his spiritual vision of God, he had repented and learnt to distrust his own righteousness and he made intercession for his friends who had not treated him well.
  12. God desired to teach Job that there were flaws and blemishes in his character which could only be seen by comparing it with the more perfect glory of his own Divine nature. His friends sought to prove him faulty, and failed; God revealed himself, and he cried, “Behold, I am vile, and abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

 

Job’s Three Friends

 

  1. Job’s friends were the only ones who did not desert him. At first, they gave him the comfort of presence and companionship in his sorrow.
  2. The trouble began when they began to speak. They had a flawed understanding of God and they claimed to know the mind of God and to speak for Him. In this, they revealed their pride, their self-righteousness and their judgmental attitude to Job.
  3. Instead of revealing to Job the God who abundantly pardons, they told Job that God was a God who punished sin and therefore Job was suffering the punishment of God.
  4. Their ‘doctrine’ seemed right, but they did not have the mind and heart of God. They were harsh and unforgiving.
  5. Religious people who prioritise doctrine above whole-hearted devotion to God often persecute godly people.
  6. In contrast, we are told in the Bible, ‘Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself’ Galatians 6:1-3
  7. They drove Job to despair and to sin with his mouth. Are we similar to them? Is our attitude to the sinner judgmental or redemptive? Jesus was always redemptive.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17

 

It is not Christ’s follower that, with averted eyes, turns from the erring, leaving them unhindered to pursue their downward course. Those who are forward in accusing others, and zealous in bringing them to justice, are often in their own lives more guilty than they. Men hate the sinner, while they love the sin. Christ hates the sin, but loves the sinner. This will be the spirit of all who follow Him. Christian love is slow to censure, quick to discern penitence, ready to forgive, to encourage, to set the wanderer in the path of holiness, and to stay his feet therein. DA. P. 462

 

The Reality of Evil

 

One of Satan’s great success stories today is the way he has made men and women believe there is no supernatural world and no supernatural beings. So not only does God not exist, there is no Devil. But there is ample evidence in the Word of God about the Devil e.g. Rev. 12:12; Matt. 4:10; Matt. 13:39; Luke 8:12; Luke 13:16; Luke 22:3, 31; Acts 5:3; 1 Pet. 5:8.

At the Fall, Man chose the rule of Satan, and Satan brings in his wake sin, sickness, suffering, death, disaster and desolation. While this was not in God’s original order or plan, He permits all this to occur in humanity because by their free-will men have chosen Satan as their ruler (this is His permissive will, not His sovereign will).

 

God has to allow sin to run its course; the universe must witness the cumulative effects of sin on mankind, animal life and nature.

The Certainty of Redemption – there will be no more curse

 

The dilemma of living in a sinful, tragic world gives rise to the three universal questions of mankind

 

  1. Why was I born? “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? “Job 3:11
  2. How can a man be right before God? But how can a man be righteous before God?’ Job 9:2
  3. Is there life after death? ‘If a man die shall he live again?’ Job 14:14

 

God’s answer to the problem of sin is found in the person of His Son, Christ Jesus. By His birth, life, death and resurrection, He has guaranteed for all mankind eternal life without the curse of sin. If we do not reject His gift, in Him we are re-created for God’s glory, we are given the gift of the righteousness of God and eternal life.

 

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. Revelation 22:3

 

Jesus and Job

 

Job knew of Jesus as his Creator, Redeemer and Re-Creator (Job 19:25-27).

 

Job and Jesus both had the testimony that they were righteous.

 

The righteousness of Job was an example of the righteousness that is manifested by all those who are devoted to God. It is not a righteousness that saves them; it is a righteousness that is a witness to the unbelieving world that they worship a God who is making them holy through the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

Hebrews 11 is a roll-call of the heroes of faith; men and women who by their faith and obedience were a witness to Him.

 

The righteousness of Jesus is a perfect righteousness that saves. It is offered to all mankind. Without the robe of Christ’s righteousness they will not be able to stand in the judgment and have a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is the righteousness purchased for us by the blood of the Lamb.

 

Both Job and Jesus were afflicted by ‘religious people’; people who were zealous for doctrinal purity rather than zealous to know God.

 

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. John 5:39, 40.

 

Job when afflicted began to protest his innocence. Jesus ‘opened not His mouth.’

 

Jesus the Perfect One, was made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8, 9).  God brings His people through the refining fire to produce in them the fruit of holiness and righteousness (Hebrews 12:10, 11; Malachi 3:2, 3).

 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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SS Lesson Notes for 24 Dec 2016

Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the book of Job.

These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – Lay member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.


THE CHARACTER OF JOB

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:22

This week we study the character of Job. We are introduced to Job’s character right at the first verse of the book.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Job 1:1 KJV

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1 NKJV

In the Hebrew language, this is what the description of Job means:

Perfect (tam) – whole, upright, morally and ethically pure

Upright (yashar) – straight, righteous

Fears God (yare’) – pious, religious, reverences (God).

Eschews (cuwr) – avoids (evil, badness)

God Himself gave the same testimony about Job to Satan.

Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Job 1:8

God adds more about Job’s character:

Job is a servant of God….’Have you considered My servant Job?

There was no-one on earth with a character that could be compared to Job… ‘that there is none like him upon the earth.’

What does the Bible mean when it calls men perfect?

‘Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.’ Genesis 6:9.

‘And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God and eschews evil?’ Job 1: 8.

‘The heart of David was perfect with the Lord his God.’ 1 Kings 11: 4; 15:3.

‘Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.’— 1 Kings 15:14.

We know that none of the above men were sinless, so the Bible is not speaking of sinless perfection. Noah became drunk, Job had to humble himself before God, David was a great sinner, and Asa did not remove the high places for false worship during his reign. The Bible says, ‘There is none righteous no, not one’ Romans 3:10.

Why did God call Job blameless? God Himself provides the answer: because Job was a servant of God. His loyalty was to God, not to Satan or the world.

Andrew Murray puts it well:

‘God looks at the heart. A heart that is perfect with Him is an object of complacency and approval. A wholehearted consecration to His will and fellowship, a life that takes as its motto, ‘Wholly for God’, has in all ages been accepted by Him as the mark of the perfect man. The lesson which these Scripture testimonies suggest to us is a very simple, but a very searching one. In God’s record of the lives of His servants there are some of whom it is written: “his heart was perfect with the Lord his God.”’ From: Be Perfect.

God calls the man or woman who is wholly (whole-heartedly) devoted to Him ‘perfect’.

This concept of wholehearted devotion being regarded as ‘perfect’ is also found in the following passages:

1 Chronicles 12:38 – the men who came to make David king were called ‘perfect’ – they were whole-hearted, of one heart.

1 Chronicles 28:9 – David tells Solomon to have a perfect heart toward God.

1 Kings 11:4 – When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not  perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. 1 Chronicles 29:19

Whole-hearted devotion to God results in:

Being Hated by Satan and the Unbelieving World

Practical Piety

A Good Conscience and Recognition of what Sin is.

Honesty with God

Being Hated by Satan and the Unbelieving World

Job – Hated, persecuted

The word Job means ‘hated, persecuted’. We see the hatred of Satan and his persecution of this upright man.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12

Practical Piety

Job’s religion was a practical religion; his devotion to God resulted in personal right-doing and compassion for his fellow-men.

I delivered the poor who cried out, the fatherless and the one who had no helper.
The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame.
I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know.
I broke the fangs of the wicked, and plucked the victim from his teeth. Job 29:12-17

A Good Conscience

It is worth reading the whole of Job chapter 31. Here we find a man whose conscience was clear. He had a good conscience before God. The chapter makes it clear that reverence for God and His ways kept Job from doing wickedness (Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps? Job 31:4) and indeed, resulted in behaviour that reflects the love of God and the mission of Christ (Isaiah 42:1-7, Isaiah 61:1-3). Centuries later, through the prophet Isaiah, God told His people that instead of being hypocrites (pretending to be righteous when they were transgressors), they should learn to love and serve their fellow-men (Isaiah 58).

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?                                                                 If I have walked with falsehood, or if my foot has hastened to deceit,                                                                                                  Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity.
If my step has turned from the way, or my heart walked after my eyes, or if any spot adheres to my hands,
Then let me sow, and another eat; yes, let my harvest be rooted out.
If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbour’s door,
Then let my wife grind for another, and let others bow down over her.

If I have despised the cause of my male or female servant when they complained against me,
What then shall I do when God rises up? When He punishes, how shall I answer Him?
Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?                                                                                                            If I have kept the poor from their desire, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
Or eaten my morsel by myself, so that the fatherless could not eat of it.                                                                                            If I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or any poor man without covering;
If his heart has not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
If I have raised my hand against the fatherless, when I saw I had help in the gate;
Then let my arm fall from my shoulder, let my arm be torn from the socket.
For destruction from God is a terror to me, and because of His magnificence I cannot endure.                                                If I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold, ‘You are my confidence’;
If I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gained much;
If I have observed the sun when it shines, or the moon moving in brightness,
So that my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand;
This also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I would have denied God who is above.                                            If I have rejoiced at the destruction of him who hated me, or lifted myself up when evil found him
(Indeed I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for a curse on his soul);                                                                                 If the men of my tent have not said, ‘Who is there that has not been satisfied with his meat?’
(But no sojourner had to lodge in the street, for I have opened my doors to the traveller)…Job 31:1, 4-32.

It is amazing to see the depths of Job’s understanding of sin. Job lived long before the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites. Not only did he keep the commandments as we know it, he did much more than what was required in the Ten Commandments. He was generous; he regarded all human beings as equal, including his servants. He refused to believe in the occult and to look to astrology for answers.

Do you have a good conscience before God?

Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” Acts 23:1

This is a crucial issue today. We are told that in the end-time, men will have ‘a profession of godliness, denying the power thereof’ 2 Timothy 3:5. They are hypocrites. Hypocrites do not have a good conscience for with their mouth they profess much, but it is not seen or evident in their life. Jesus has made it clear that in the judgment, God will look upon the evidence of our lives, the practical piety; the love that is the fulfilling of the law.

For Reflection:

How is it with us? We know that we are covered by the robe of Christ’s righteousness, which has in it not one thread of human devising. We know that Christ’s righteousness alone will avail in the judgment. Do we take God’s grace for granted? Do we live unholy and unloving lives thinking that His righteousness is a cloak to hide our sins? Are we wholly devoted to God or do we serve other gods as well – the god of self? The saved on Mount Zion will be a whole- hearted people, without guile, without hypocrisy and not double-tongued (Revelation 14:4, 5).

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (iniquity)” Matthew 7:22, 23

“Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:26, 27

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Honesty with God

Job is very forthright with God; some of us would hesitate to speak thus to God. But those who walk and talk with God daily are not afraid to ask Him about the hard questions of life. King David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) also spoke honestly with God.

Throughout the pages of the Bible we find many cases where God becomes angry with complainers and grumblers e.g. the children of Israel in Numbers 11:1; 14:26-29. Like the Israelites of old, many today believe that their lot in life is unfair – and focus on that rather than the mercy, hope and blessings of God.

In contrast, men of God like Job and David, expressed their needs as well as their confidence in Him and their willingness to be faithful whatever the circumstances. Psalm 77 is a good example:

I cried out to God with my voice— to God with my voice; and He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.  I remembered God, and was troubled;                                                                                           I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.  Psalm 77:1-3

But David goes on to praise the Lord:

And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?
You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. Psalm 77:10-15

We too can speak our minds and hearts to God. We can take everything to God in prayer. We can tell Him our needs and our sorrows; but we must always affirm our confidence in Him. If we know God well, we know that He will work out everything in our lives for our ultimate good.

Conclusion:

God calls us to be perfect.

You shall be blameless (perfect) before the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 18:13

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

In Matthew 5:43-48, we see that as we allow the Holy Spirit to live out His life within us, we will love as God loves and our Heavenly Father will call us perfect; perfect in our sphere of activity as He is in His.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

‘Again I say to everyone who wishes to join me in following through the Word of God its revelation of His will concerning perfection, Yield yourself to the searching question: “Can God say of me as of Noah and Job, of David and Asa, that my heart is perfect with the Lord my God? Have I given myself up to say that there must be nothing, nothing whatever, to share my heart with God and His will? Is a heart perfect with the Lord my God the object of my desire, my prayer, my faith, my hope?” Whether it has been so or not, let it be so to-day. Make the promise of God’s word your own: “The God of peace Himself perfect you.” The God, who is of power to do above all we ask or think, will open up to you the blessed prospect of a life of which He shall say: “His heart was perfect with the Lord his God.”’ From: Be Perfect. Andrew Murray

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.               1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24

 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 1 John 4:17

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

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SS Lesson Notes for 17 Dec 2016

Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the book of Job.

These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – Lay member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.


Week 12: Job’s Redeemer

 

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

This week we study Job’s understanding of salvation. Job’s Redeemer is our Redeemer too. He is the Redeemer of Mankind and the Savior of the world.

The Bible contains two stories – the story of Creation and the story of Redemption.

God our Creator is also our Redeemer. The responsibility to redeem is involved in the work of Creation (Ephesians 3:8-12, Colossians 1:15-27 emphasis verses 25-27, Romans 16:25-27). Redemption was not an afterthought of God, a remedy for the sin first demonstrated in Satan and the rebellious angels and then manifested on earth when man believed Satan rather than God. No, the Bible is very clear that our salvation was prepared from ‘the foundation of the world’ and our eternal life promised by God ‘before Time began’. (Ephesians 1:4, Titus 1:2).

For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. Isaiah 54:5

My Redeemer Liveth

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. Job 19:25-27

Many wonder how this man, who lived in patriarchal times, before the written Word, knew the story of salvation. He acknowledges God as Creator, as Redeemer and Re-Creator at the Second coming. But there is no need to wonder. Our salvation was in the mind of God before Time began and when Man fell, God revealed to Adam the plan of salvation. Adam taught it to his children and the generations after that until he died (he lived for 9 centuries and saw 9 generations). The story was passed down from generation to generation (see additional note at the end).

Creator:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own (His own domain), and His own (His own people) did not receive Him. John 1:1-3, 10-11.

 

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

 

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1:1, 2

 

Redeemer:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became 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. John 1:12-14

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.   Colossians 1:19, 20.

Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:3

 The Son of Man

The Son of God became the Son of Man to be our Redeemer.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…John 1:14

 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:4- 6

 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14, 15

 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:17, 18

 Of Christ it is said, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” We need to realize the truth of Christ’s manhood in order to appreciate the truth of the above words. It was not a make believe humanity that Christ took upon Himself. He took human nature and lived human nature. The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1124 citing Letter 106, 1896.

The Suffering and Death of Christ, the Son of Man

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way;   And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.                                                                                                                                            He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?

For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken (‘Yet who of His generation considered that He was cut for the transgression of my people to whom the blow was due? ‘NIV margin). Isaiah 53:3-8

 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16, 17

 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. Romans 5:18

 And He Himself is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2

 Christ died so that He could bring many sons to glory. The ultimate purpose of both creation and redemption is the glory of God. Redemption when accepted should not be purely selfish in motive – the desire to receive forgiveness and escape hell, rather than living for God’s glory. No, the death of Christ is the means by which we are restored to being sons and daughters of God, in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit and bringing forth the fruits thereof.

 

The Purpose of Redemption is to restore Man to what God the Creator intended him to be.

 We must never forget that God originally created man to reflect His character of love (Genesis 1:26, 27). This became impossible when sin entered the earth. By redeeming mankind, God has made it possible for man to once more reflect the character of God. This occurs when Man responds to God’s gift, recognises what he was created for, and allows the Holy Spirit to produce in him the character of God.  The story of Redemption can never be separated from Creation. God’s last day call to the world is to preach the everlasting gospel and call men to worship God as their Creator. To worship God as Creator is to acknowledge that we are willing to let Him fulfil His original plan for our lives – God-likeness.

 

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. Galatians 2:20, 21

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. Galatians 3:21

My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19

The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26, 27

 

He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

The Victory of Christ and the Unmasking of Satan

 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labour of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:10, 11

 

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32

 “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:31, 32

 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Revelation 12:10-12

 Job’s Redeemer: Job 19:25-27

 The passage just before Job’s declaration of faith in his Redeemer makes for pitiful reading. In Job 19:13-20, he describes how he has been wrongfully accused, how his relatives and friends have deserted him; his servants do not treat him with respect; he is repulsive to his wife; children despise him and he is ill.

Nevertheless, Job’s ultimate hope is in his Redeemer

How many of us, in the same circumstances would make this statement of faith?

I know…

 Job had not just heard about the Redeemer; he knew the Redeemer.

That my Redeemer liveth…

 He was a personal Redeemer to Job… ‘my Redeemer’.

He was a living Redeemer… ‘my Redeemer lives’.

 And that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth.

 The Redeemer will return to earth in the last Day.

And though worms destroy this body…

 Job knew the consequences of sin; the first death which will destroy this mortal body.

Yet in my flesh shall I see God!

 Nevertheless, when Christ returns to earth, there will be a resurrection of the body, raised in incorruption, raised to immortality (1 Corinthians 15: 53, 54).

Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…

 I myself shall see God.  Young’s literal translation states, ‘Whom I see – on my side’. I shall see the God who is for me (Romans 8:31)

 How my heart yearns within me!

 How is it with us? Surrounded by the tragedy of a fallen world and experiencing it in our lives, do we know our Redeemer? Do we yearn to see Him face to face and not through a glass darkly as we do now? Is our hope a living hope? Do we trust to the uttermost Him who is able to save us to the uttermost?

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

 

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Additional Note:

The Knowledge of Salvation before the written Word

 

For nearly a thousand years Adam lived among men, a witness to the results of sin. Faithfully he sought to stem the tide of evil. He had been commanded to instruct his posterity in the way of the Lord; and he carefully treasured what God had revealed to him, and repeated it to succeeding generations. To his children and children’s children, to the ninth generation, he described man’s holy and happy estate in Paradise, and repeated the history of his fall, telling them of the sufferings by which God had taught him the necessity of strict adherence to His law, and explaining to them the merciful provisions for their salvation. Yet there were but few who gave heed to his words. Often he was met with bitter reproaches for the sin that had brought such woe upon his posterity.

Notwithstanding the wickedness of the antediluvian world, that age was not, as has often been supposed, an era of ignorance and barbarism. The people were granted the opportunity of reaching a high standard of moral and intellectual attainment. They possessed great physical and mental strength, and their advantages for acquiring both religious and scientific knowledge were unrivalled…

It is true that the people of modern times have the benefit of the attainments of their predecessors. The men of masterly minds, who planned and studied and wrote, have left their work for those who follow. But even in this respect, and so far as merely human knowledge is concerned, how much greater the advantages of the men of that olden time! They had among them for hundreds of years him who was formed in God’s image, whom the Creator Himself pronounced “good”–the man whom God had instructed in all the wisdom pertaining to the material world. Adam had learned from the Creator the history of creation; he himself witnessed the events of nine centuries; and he imparted his knowledge to his descendants. The antediluvians were without books, they had no written records; but with their great physical and mental vigour, they had strong memories, able to grasp and to retain that which was communicated to them, and in turn to transmit it unimpaired to their posterity. And for hundreds of years there were seven generations living upon the earth contemporaneously, having the opportunity of consulting together and profiting each by the knowledge and experience of all.

The advantages enjoyed by men of that age to gain a knowledge of God through His works have never been equalled since. And so far from being an era of religious darkness, that was an age of great light. All the world had opportunity to receive instruction from Adam, and those who feared the Lord had also Christ and angels for their teachers. And they had a silent witness to the truth, in the garden of God, which for so many centuries remained among men. At the cherubim-guarded gate of Paradise the glory of God was revealed, and hither came the first worshipers. Here their altars were reared, and their offerings presented. It was here that Cain and Abel had brought their sacrifices, and God had condescended to communicate with them.

Scepticism could not deny the existence of Eden while it stood just in sight, its entrance barred by watching angels. The order of creation, the object of the garden, the history of its two trees so closely connected with man’s destiny, were undisputed facts. And the existence and supreme authority of God, the obligation of His law, were truths which men were slow to question while Adam was among them.

Notwithstanding the prevailing iniquity, there was a line of holy men who, elevated and ennobled by communion with God, lived as in the companionship of heaven. They were men of massive intellect, of wonderful attainments. They had a great and holy mission–to develop a character of righteousness, to teach a lesson of godliness, not only to the men of their time, but for future generations. Only a few of the most prominent are mentioned in the Scriptures; but all through the ages God had faithfully witnesses, truehearted worshipers.

The entire chapter is available at: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/pp/pp6.html

 

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SS Lesson Notes for 10 Dec 2016

 

 

Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the book of Job.

These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – a member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.


Week 11 – Out of the Whirlwind

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Job 38:4

Our study of Job has come to the end of the cycles of dialogue between Job and his three friends and to the end of Elihu’s speech.

Elihu had declared in his summing up in Job chapter 37:

From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind… Even now men cannot look at the light when it is bright in the skies, when the wind has passed and cleared them. He comes from the north as golden splendour; with God is awesome majesty. Job 37:9, 21- 22.

God now comes to Job in the whirlwind. Not as a still small voice, but in awe-inspiring splendour and glory and majesty. He has come in answer to Job’s complaints. Continue reading SS Lesson Notes for 10 Dec 2016

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