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Wally

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Lesson 6 April 29-May 5





Suffering for Christ








So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 6--2nd Quarter 2017--Suffering for Christ
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2017, 06:14:51 AM »
Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon




Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: 1 Pet. 1:6, 3:13-22, 2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Pet. 4:12-14, Rev. 12:17, 1 Pet. 4:17-19

Memory Text: "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

The history of persecution in the first few centuries of Christianity is well known. The Bible itself, especially the book of Acts, gives glimpses into what awaited the church. Persecution, with the suffering it brings, is also clearly a present reality in the life of the Christians to whom Peter is writing.

Amen! God allows it for our good and His glory, as we abide in Christ and He in us.


In the first chapter, Peter comments that “now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” 1 Pet. 1:6, 7. Almost the last comment in the letter also deals with the same idea: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Pet. 5:10.

Within the short epistle, there are no less than three extended passages that deal with his readers’ suffering for Christ (1 Pet. 2:18-25, 3:13-21, 4:12-19). By any reckoning, then, the suffering caused by persecution is a major theme of 1 Peter, and to that we turn.

How much different this quarter's lesson is in regard to suffering than that which was taught when we studied the Book of Job. Now we are seeing from Scripture that the most weighty trust and the highest honor God can give to us, is to partake in the sufferings of Christ. It is to His glory we do so.




Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 6--2nd Quarter 2017--Suffering for Christ
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2017, 08:45:54 AM »
Sunday April 30

Persecution of Early Christians


Read 1 Peter  1:6, 5:10.

  1:6   Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 
  5:10   But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 


What is Peter talking about, and how did he tell his readers to respond to what they were facing?

If we recall the suffering that Job endured, and how we read of his response, we will better understand that God is polishing His stones to an ever brighter character. Job understood what God was doing, even misunderstanding that it was not God who brought the sufferings upon him. "But he knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10.


For the first few centuries, just being a Christian could result in a horrible death. A letter written to the Roman Emperor Trajan illustrates how precarious the safety of the early Christians was. The letter was from Pliny, who at the time of writing was governor of Pontus and Bithynia (AD 111-113), two of the regions mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1.

Pliny had written to Trajan asking for guidance regarding what to do about people who were accused of being Christians. He explained that those who insisted that they were Christians he had executed. Others said that although they had earlier been Christians, they no longer were. Pliny allowed them to prove their innocence by telling them to offer incense to statues of Trajan and other gods and to curse Jesus.

Worshiping a living emperor was rarely practiced in Rome, although in the eastern part of the Roman Empire to which 1 Peter is sent, the emperors allowed and sometimes encouraged the setting up of temples to themselves. Some of these temples had their own priests and altars on which sacrifices were made. When Pliny got Christians to show their loyalty to the Empire by offering incense and worship to a statue of the emperor, he was following a long-standing practice in Asia Minor.

There were times in the first century that Christians faced serious jeopardy for just being Christians. This was particularly true under Emperors Nero (AD 54-68) and Domitian (AD 81-96).

Yet, the persecution pictured in 1 Peter is of a more local kind. Specific examples of the persecution Peter speaks of are few in the letter, but perhaps they include false accusations (1 Pet. 2:12) and reviling and reproach (1 Pet. 3:9, 4:14). While the trials were severe, they do not appear to have resulted in widespread imprisonment or death, at least at that time. Even so, living as a Christian would put believers at odds with significant elements of wider first-century society, and they could suffer because of their beliefs. Thus, Peter was addressing a serious concern when he wrote this first epistle.

Christians were persecuted and put to death in the time of Peter. We read about what Saul was doing. It was so bad that when the Spirit directed a disciple to meet with Saul, he objected. "Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem." Acts 9:13. And, we all know what happened to Stephen at the hands of Saul of Tarsus. But, what happened then was nothing compared to what was soon to come upon the new church. And, what is coming is even worse. Are we preparing for what is soon to break upon God's church? Our characters will be tested that we might know of our dependence upon Jesus, and our weakness without Him.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

colporteur

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Re: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 6--2nd Quarter 2017--Suffering for Christ
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2017, 12:33:43 PM »
We have a friend that says that he wants to be a martyr...die for Christ. The last contact we had he was still addicted to video games that sometimes kept him up all night long. It might be that sometimes it is more difficult to live for Christ than to die for Him. A Christian could get shot and die in seconds. Living takes along time.
It's easier to slow a fast horse down than to get a dead one going.

Richard Myers

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Yes, cp, the greatest battle we shall ever have to fight is with self. It does not want to die. Our only hope is in behoding Jesus, His life and death. As we behold him daily, we shall be transformed continually into His image. If we are beholding something else all day, we will  be transformed more and more into that image. It is a hard lesson to learn. Our human nature is working against us. But, Christ is working for us.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Monday May 1

Suffering and the Example of Christ


Read through 1 Peter 3:13-22.

3:13   And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 
 3:14   But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 
 3:15   But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 
 3:16   Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 
 3:17   For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 
 3:18   For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 
 3:19   By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 
 3:20   Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 
 3:21   The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 
 3:22   Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. 


How should Christians respond to those who would bring them suffering because of their faith? What is the connection between the sufferings of Jesus and the sufferings experienced by the believers because of their faith?

When Peter says, “if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye” (1 Pet. 3:14), he is but echoing the words of Jesus: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake” (Matt. 5:10). He then says that Christians should not fear those who are attacking them, but they should sanctify (revere) Christ as Lord in their hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). This affirmation of Jesus in their own hearts will help to stanch the fear that they face from those opposing them.

Amen!

Christ’s followers are accused as troublers of the people. But it is fellowship with God that brings them the world’s enmity. They are bearing the reproach of Christ. They are treading the path that has been trodden by the noblest of the earth. Not with sorrow, but with rejoicing, should they meet persecution. Each fiery trial is God’s agent for their refining. Each is fitting them for their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has its place in the great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience will be cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided. Anxious to fulfill their obligation to the world, fixing their desire upon the approval of God, His servants are to fulfill every duty, irrespective of the fear or the favor of men.

“Ye are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. Do not withdraw yourselves from the world in order to escape persecution. You are to abide among men, that the savor of the divine love may be as salt to preserve the world from corruption.

Hearts that respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit are the channels through which God’s blessing flows. Were those who serve God removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan’s dominion. Though the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of this life to the presence, in the world, of God’s people whom they despise and oppress. But if Christians are such in name only, they are like the salt that has lost its savor. They have no influence for good in the world. Through their misrepresentation of God they are worse than unbelievers.  Desire of Ages, pg 306.


He then suggests that Christians always should be able to explain the hope that they have, but to do so in an appealing way-with meekness and fear (“fear” is sometimes translated “reverence”; see 1 Pet. 3:15, 16).

Peter insists that Christians should make sure that they do not provide others with a reason to accuse them. They must keep their consciences clear (1 Pet. 3:16). This is important, because then those who accuse a Christian will be put to shame by the blameless life of the Christian who is being accused.

Many have been taught that grace does not give power to live a "blameless life." Excuses are made for sin, thus, their sins bring reproach upon Christ and His church. Despite the false teachers, God tells us there is no excuse for sin. "The tempter’s agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God." Desire of Ages, pg 311.


Clearly, there is no merit in suffering for being a wrongdoer (1 Pet. 3:17). It is suffering for doing good, for doing the right thing, that makes the crucial difference. “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” (1 Pet. 3:17).

Peter then used the example of Jesus. Christ Himself suffered for His righteousness; the holiness and purity of His life stood as a constant rebuke to those who hated Him. If anyone suffered for doing right and not wrong, it was Jesus.

But His suffering also brought about the only means of salvation. He died in the place of sinners (“the just for the unjust,” 1 Pet. 3:18), so that those who believe in Him will have the promise of eternal life.

Have you ever suffered, not because you had done wrong, but because you had done right? What was the experience, and what did you learn about what it means to be a Christian and to reflect the character of Christ?

When we have put our trust in Jesus, and we have studied His Word, we then rejoice in our suffering. We are His witnesses when things go well, but when we suffer for Christ while abiding in Him, we are really His witnesses. The world then sees a difference between those who love God supremely and those who do not.

It helps when we understand God is glorified and we are strengthened by our suffering. "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Tuesday May 2

The Fiery Trial

Read 1 Peter 4:12-14.

4:12   Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 
 4:13   But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 
 4:14   If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 


Why does Peter say that they shouldn’t be surprised at their suffering? See also 2 Tim. 3:12, John 15:18.

Also, let us consider if we individually remain in a Laodicean condition. If so, Jesus tells us what we are to do to be converted. The first thing is to "buy gold tried in the fire."  What does Jesus mean by this? What is the gold He is speaking of and how do we get it after it has been "tried in the fire"?


Peter makes it clear that to suffer persecution for being a Christian is to partake of Christ’s suffering. It is not something to be unexpected. On the contrary, as Paul would write: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus Himself warned His followers about what they would face: “‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another’” (Matt. 24:9, 10, NKJV).

According to Ellen G. White: “So it will be with all who live godly in Christ Jesus. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle-the spirit that underlies it-is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of Abel.” - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 576.

Read Revelation 12:17.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 
What does it say about the reality of persecution for Christians in the last days?

It is a spiritual battle against both our own fallen flesh and the enemy of Truth. But, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4. 

No question, for a faithful Christian, persecution can be an ever-present reality, which is what Peter is dealing with here in warning his readers about the “fiery trial” they were facing.

Fire was a good metaphor. Fire can be destructive, but it also can clean away impurities. It depends on what is experiencing the fire. Houses are destroyed by fire; silver and gold are purified by it. Though one should never purposely bring on persecution, God can bring good out of it. Thus, Peter is telling his readers (and us): Yes, persecution is bad, but don’t be discouraged by it as if it were something unexpected. Press on ahead in faith.

Amen!  "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5. Yes, we glory in our great trials. It works for our good and God's glory if we be found abiding in Christ and He in us.

What can we do to uplift, encourage, and even help those who are suffering for their faith?

We can be an example when we are brought into great trial. We can point them to Jesus and to His Word. It helps to know the truth and the Author of Truth. We ought not be surprised when fiery trials come. And, we ought to have the grace to glory in them. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day contemplating the life of Christ. He is the Manna which came down from heaven. By beholding Him, we shall be converted each day.


Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Wednesday May 3

Judgment and the People of God


Compare 1 Peter 4:17-19 with Isaiah 10:11, 12 and Malachi 3:1-6.

 4:17   For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? 
 4:18   And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 
 4:19   Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 

 10:11   Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?
 10:12   Wherefore it shall come to pass, [that] when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 

 3:1   Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
 3:2   But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 
 3:3   And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. 
 3:4   Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. 
 3:5   And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in [his] wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger [from his right], and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 
 3:6   For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 


What are they saying in common?

In all these passages, the process of judgment is portrayed as starting with the people of God. Peter even links the sufferings of his readers to the judgment of God. For him, the sufferings that his Christian readers are experiencing might be nothing less than the judgment of God, which begins with the household of God. "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 1 Pet. 4:19.

Well....it could be, but I don't think so. The "judgment of God" being spoken of here is a warning against those who are doing evil, not good. And, when it begins with the house of God, it is also a warning in Peter, just as it is in Isaiah 10:11. "Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?" If we were not as Jerusalem, then we would not need the warning. But, are we not a back-slidden people? Listen to Jesus: "Because 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....As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Rev. 3:17,19.

My reading of these verses in today's lesson seems to me to be a warning that unless there is repentance, what we read will come upon the unconverted in the church of God today. And, we might add that judgment not only begins in the house of God, it begins with the ones who have stood on vantage ground, the ones who are in leadership positions in the church. "And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old [and] young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house." Ezekiel 9:4-6.

How then do we look at 1 Pet. 4:19 and the verses in Malachi? When we rightly understand the gospel and the law, we might be fearful since it is so very narrow: "Who may abide the day of his coming?" Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, those who walk in all of the light God has given. All who have died to self and live unto God will abide the day of His coming. This gives good reason why as a people we ought not be unconcerned about the judgment. Does our character reveal the character of our Lord? If not, then we are not giving glory to God, and ought to fear His soon coming and the judgment which has already begun at the house of God.


Read Luke 18:1-8.

18:1   And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 
 18:2   Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 
 18:3   And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 
 18:4   And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 
 18:5   Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 
 18:6   And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 
 18:7   And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 
 18:8   I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? 


How does this help us understand God’s judgment?

It is a two edged sword. It will reward the righteous and burn the wicked. No, not for eternity, but until all the sins of the unrepentant are punished. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." 2 Cor. 5:10. God is perfectly just and very merciful: "The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation]." Exodus 34:6,7.

In biblical times, judgment was usually something highly desired.

Highly desired by the righteous, not by the wicked.


The picture of the poor widow in Luke 18:1-8 captures the wider attitude toward judgment. The widow knows that she will prevail in her case if only she can find a judge who will take her case. She has insufficient money and status to get her case heard, but she finally persuades the judge to hear it and to give her what she deserves. As Jesus says, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7). Sin has brought evil into the world, and God’s people throughout the ages have long waited for God to make things right again.

Amen, "God's people" are walking in the light, not doing as those who were in Israel that served Satan rather than God. He cut off that wicked nation who served Him not. And, today it is the same. God changes not. Many who profess to love and serve God, do not. If God were to make things "right", then they would not be given more time to be converted. Justice demands the life of the sinner. But, God is also merciful and allows more time that the sinner might be converted and reveal all of the fruits of the Spirit. "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:5-9.

“Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev. 15:4.

Amen! But, we must put this verse in context. In fact, all nations will not worship God. It is in the future that this will happen. In context, just three verses before we read: "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." Every nation upon the Earth is about to feel the wrath of God. Sadly, many will not "fear" God, they will not glorify His name. What does it mean to glorify God? "The power of an ever-abiding Saviour is greater now than ever before, because the emergencies are greater; and yet we are weak in spiritual life and experience. Oh, how much we have lost as a people by our lack of faith! We have suffered loss to our own souls, and have failed to reveal to others, by our words and in our character, what Christ is and will be to everyone who comes to him believing. He is 'made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.' To give glory to God is to reveal his character in our own, and thus make him known." Signs of the Times, October 17, 1892.

Think of all the evil in the world that has gone, and still goes, unpunished. Why, then, is the concept of justice, and God’s righteous judgment, so crucial for us as Christians? What hope do you get from the promise that justice will be done?

Those who have hurt little children, who have caused them to be lost, it would be better a millstone were tied about their necks and they be thrown into the sea. Unless we repent of our evil deeds, we shall not seek justice, for it will come upon us. We can be encouraged the wicked will be punished, but we ought to consider our own souls first.

Justice is an important truth when rightly understood. No sin will go unpunished. Jesus took our sins upon Himself that we might be forgiven. But, unless we be changed, His suffering for us will be wasted. How very sad. Satan has deceived the world. Either God is not merciful or He is not just, is his charge against God. But, God is both. In the suffering and death of His innocent Son, man is given a period of time to learn of God and be transformed in character. This is mercy. If he does not repent, then justice will be had, even if there was a great profession of faith. God does not consider profession, he wants the heart, the whole heart. He has done all He can to save us. If we choose to continue in sin, then we will have decided our own fate.

"Judgment and the people of God" needs to be understood in the light of Rev. 3:14-22. It is he that overcometh that will avert the wrath of God, and will sit with Jesus on His throne. Jesus speaks to His church today "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock."

Where is Jesus standing in your life? Is He in your heart, or is He standing at the door?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Thursday May 4

Faith Amid Trials


As we have seen, Peter was writing to believers who were suffering for their faith. And as Christian history has shown, things only got worse, at least for a while. Surely many Christians in the ensuing years found solace and comfort in what Peter wrote. No doubt, many do today, too.

Why the suffering? That, of course, is an age-old question. The book of Job, one of the first books of the Bible to be written, has suffering as a key theme. Indeed, if there was anyone (besides Jesus) who suffered not as “a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters” (1 Pet. 4:15), it was Job. After all, even God said of Job: “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8. And yet, look at what poor Job had endured, not because he was evil, but because he was good!

Yes and no. None are "good" but God. "There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt. 19:17. Job was an example of one who was obedient to all God had revealed, yet being in fallen flesh, he needed to maintain his connection with God. If he took his eyes off of Jesus, then he would reveal his fallen nature, which he did. Why then did God allow Satan to persecute Job? Was it for Job's good? Is it part of the process of making those who love Jesus more like Him? Yes, it is. What does the Bible say about the good that comes when we suffer when abiding in Christ? "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5. Can we not see clearly how we benefit from suffering and how God is glorified when we are abiding in Him?

Job was not ready for translation. Therefore, he could become more patient, more loving, more faithful. It is through our trials that we learn to bear more trials. In Christ, we will never be tempted beyond what we can bear. Is this true? Then why do we sin? Why are we tempted beyond what we can bear? Does this promise have conditions to be met? If so, what must we do in order that the promise will fulfilled in the life?


How do these texts help answer the question of the origin of suffering? 1 Pet. 5:8, Rev. 12:9, Rev. 2:10.

5:8   Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 

 12:9   And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 

 2:10   Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 


The short answer is that we suffer because we are in the midst of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. This is not a mere metaphor, a mere symbol for the good and evil in our natures. There is a real devil and a real Jesus fighting a real battle for human beings.

Read 1 Peter 4:19.

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 

How can what Peter wrote here help us in whatever we are struggling with now?

All we suffer is the will of God if we are fully surrendered. But, we must understand that God does cause the suffering, but He allows it as we see with Job. He is "polishing" the precious stone. He wants us to be a shining light in a dark world soon to perish. He provides us with a wonderful opportunity to be His reward for all of the suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. We are His witnesses of the power of His love and grace. In order for this to work out, we must first commit the keeping of our souls to Christ. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Matt. 22:37.


When we suffer, especially when that suffering does not come directly as a result of our own evildoing, we naturally ask the question that Job had asked, again and again: Why? And, as is so often the case, we don’t have an answer. As Peter says, all we can do, even amid our suffering, is to commit our souls to God, trusting in Him, our “faithful Creator,” and continue in “well doing” (1 Pet. 4:19).

No, we always may understand why we suffer. It is not enough to just "commit our souls to God." We have been told why we suffer. The lesson on Job a few quarter's ago was an abomination. It led away from the truth. Job knew why is was suffering. He understood it would lead to making him more precious, more of a reflection of God. "But he knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10. What does Job mean "when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold"?

Why is knowing the character of God for yourself, knowing of His goodness and His love for you personally, such a crucial component for a Christian, especially one who is suffering? How can we all learn to come to know God and the reality of His love better?

Where do we find a revelation of the character of God? Man is saved by grace through faith. Where do we see God's grace? How can we obtain "saving faith"? Then, would it not be good to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ? What happens in the life when one does this?

God's character has been maligned. It is through a knowledge of His character that we can be saved from eternal death. By beholding His matchless love we shall be transformed into His image (character). "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor. 3:18.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Friday May 5


As we conclude this week's lesson "Suffering For Christ", let us stand on Bible truth. Is God all powerful? Yes. Does anything happen in this world that God does not allow? No. God can put and end to Satan, his angels, and all sinners right here and now. But, He does not. So, then when you suffer for Christ, Jesus knows it. He can stop the evil immediately but does not. If we do not understand why, then we have missed understanding the underlying battle between good and evil, between Christ and Satan.

Jesus suffered that we might live. We suffer that others may know God, and to put an end to sin for eternity. There is reason behind all of this suffering. The quarterly study of Job was an abomination because Satan used it to deceive God's people on the glory that is ours when we suffer for Christ. It is late in the day. We must become better students of Scripture. Great suffering is just in front of us. What we read in today's lesson is a warning that we must prepare for what is coming. Those who live through the time of trouble such as never was, are not yet prepared.

God has given us the light that will carry us through whatever God allows to come. If we are fully surrendered to Jesus, we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. It is a promise for all who are in a converted state. Our suffering in Christ will be for God's glory and our good. "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:3-5. Our suffering today is preparing us for suffering tomorrow. And, we are His witnesses that others may know the power of grace to keep from sin even in the midst of great trials. God will give grace to sing when being burned at the stake, or boiled in oil.

Further Thought: Sunday’s study talked about the persecution Christians faced. Here is a fuller excerpt from the letter written to the emperor about what Christians suffered in those early centuries: “... the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel no doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement.

“Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the Gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the Gods, and who finally cursed Christ-none of which acts, it is said, those who are really Christians can be forced into performing-these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christians, and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they had quitted it, some three years, other many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the Gods, and cursed Christ.”-Pliny Letters (London: William Heinemann, 1915), book 10:96 (vol. 2, pp. 401-403).

Discussion Questions:

    What was the main issue that Christians faced, as revealed in the Pliny letter quoted above? What parallels can we see here with what will come in the last days, as revealed in the third angel’s message of Revelation 14:9-12? What does this tell us about some of the underlying issues in the great controversy itself?

It is a spiritual battle. Satan has well laid plans to keep the professors of faith fearful of suffering and death. Remember the words of Satan to God about Job? "Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." Job 1:10,11.

And when Job did not curse God, Satan attacked him physically. Job was in great pain, but he never cursed God. And, Job understood the suffering would be for his good and God's glory. "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10. Do we have faith the believes God, no matter what comes?


    “Those who honor the law of God have been accused of bringing judgments upon the world, and they will be regarded as the cause of the fearful convulsions of nature and the strife and bloodshed among men that are filling the earth with woe. The power attending the last warning has enraged the wicked; their anger is kindled against all who have received the message, and Satan will excite to still greater intensity the spirit of hatred and persecution.” - Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 614, 615. Though we don’t know when all this will happen, how can we always be ready to face opposition for our faith, in whatever form that opposition comes? What is the key to be prepared?

We do not know the day nor the hour, but we can know it is soon. When the pope stands before the Congress of the United States of America, we know the end is near. We see Satan's work on every side. In accidents, in tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and disasters of every kind, he is at work hardening hearts that will turn on God's children. Prophecies have been fulfilled that point to the second coming. There are only a few left. We live in the day that prophets wrote about and looked forward to. Get ready. Jesus is coming soon. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." 1 Peter 4:12-14.

There is no greater sin than "unbelief". Do you believe what God has said about our suffering? Then glory in your trials. "God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him. Not Enoch, who was translated to heaven, not Elijah, who ascended in a chariot of fire, was greater or more honored than John the Baptist, who perished alone in the dungeon. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29. And of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor.  Desire of Ages, pg 224.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.