Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 2 Lesson 12 Wednesday
The lesson asks the question “So what does this have to do with me now?”
This is a great question—is the gospel merely next-life, life insurance? Or does it have application today, here and now?
Those with the legal view often fail to make the connection and end up saying things like in paragraph two, “our whole Christian faith would become meaningless without the return of Christ and all that is promises.”
Is this true? In other words, there is no meaning, no purpose, no benefit in living God’s way except for the future life; God’s way doesn’t benefit us today, except as it ensures our future eternal life. Is this thinking correct?
Consider, if there is no second coming of Christ does that suddenly mean that selfishness, lies, betrayal, coercion, intimidation, abuse, murder, adultery, hatred, etc. are healthier ways to live than love, truth, honesty, integrity, freedom, kindness, mercy, loyalty and forgiveness?
Even if no future life, which methods result in better living here and now?
So what difference does it make? The difference between sickness and health, pain and wellness, life and death—why? Because God’s laws are design laws and harmony brings health, here and now!
Now it is true that almost two thousand years have passed since God won his case on Calvary. Satan’s lies and accusations have long ago been met. The freedom of the universe has been eternally secured. Why do you think God still tolerates this one rebellious spot in his loyal universe? All the rest have been convinced. We know that he longs to recreate our world, as described in Isaiah, Revelation, and elsewhere, and give it to his trusting saints. Why then does God still wait?
We know that when Jesus returns, he will come to a generation of believers who will have experienced Satan’s final desperate attempt to deceive and destroy God’s loyal children on this planet. This generation of believers will have succeeded in accomplishing something that one third of the brilliant angels failed to do. They will have refused to be turned against God by Satan’s lies. They will have been able to say with Paul, “If anyone, if even an angel from heaven, should come with a different version of the everlasting good news, a different picture of God, he is wrong and we will not believe it.”
Lest we underestimate the seriousness of these final times of confusion and deception and lest we underestimate Satan’s cunning and persuasive power, there are vivid descriptions of this time to come, both in the Old Testament and New. Look, for example, at Daniel 12:1, 3, familiar words to many of us:
There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then [remember the book of Revelation 13? The whole world will worship the adversary except those whose names were written in this book]. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. . . . Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (NIV)
Notice in this passage as in many others, the saints who survive the time of deception and confusion not only survive themselves, but they are always described as leading others to righteousness. Our concern is not only to survive, but to bear an encouraging witness to the truth about our God.
Compare Paul’s picture in the next passage, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, as to what it will be like in these last final days as Satan seeks to deceive:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. [For example] They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. (NIV)
Now, I continued that passage to include “forbidding people to marry and ordering them to abstain from certain foods” to indicate the kind of thing that will be done in the last days to misrepresent our God. You recall Satan has accused our God of being arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. Look at such arbitrary things as forbidding people to marry, and to abstain from certain foods, evidently for ceremonial reasons. Wouldn’t the devil love to have us forget how and why God gave us marriage in the Garden of Eden?
What an eloquent representation of his willingness to share his creative power with us, enabling us to create little people in our own image. What an answer to Satan’s charge that God selfishly refused to share his creative power. Satan would have us forget that, and would forbid people, particularly those who want to be especially spiritual, to marry. He would forbid them to eat certain foods, for not health reasons, but for ceremonial reasons.
Compare also Paul’s very dramatic description of Satan’s purposes and methods in the next passage, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10. It’s just a shame to leave out anything in that whole chapter. But just the heart of it:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed. . . [remember how sin is defined as lawlessness in 1 John 3:4]. He opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped [we know who that is], and even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. . . [remember our earlier conversations when we talked about the conflict in God’s family, and what the devil really wants]. Now you know what is holding him back. . . . For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work [this was in the 50s AD]; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. . . The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (NIV)
You notice the contrast in all these passages between deceit on Satan’s side and the truth on God’s side. Because truth and evidence are not on the adversary’s side, Satan cannot use evidence. He cannot dare invite inquiry and investigation, as God can with perfect safety and freedom. In order to win his case, the devil always has to use things like counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders to persuade. Are you impressed with how much of this is going on at the present time?
Now people who survive this period of extreme deception and confusion are certainly not babes in the truth. Rather, they are grown-up, adult believers. They meet the Biblical description of perfection and Christian maturity. These are people who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. Though their faith be severely tried, they will never let God down. They have more than the faith of a little child. They still have that. But when one has the faith of a little child, he still needs much protection. These saints, like Job, can stand alone.
I understand that God is waiting for such firm believers. He waits in mercy because he loves his children. He is not willing that any of them should be lost. God knows that if these final, awesome, closing events should be allowed to come too soon, his children would be unready. They would be confused, and some deceived. You recall from an earlier conversation, he would never allow anyone to be tested more than he is able to bear. Of course he waits.
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Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 1 Lesson 12 Wednesday
- Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 6 Sabbath Afternoon
- Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 5 Friday
- Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 5 Thursday
- Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 5 Wednesday
- Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 5 Tuesday
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