Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 4--3rd Quarter 2022--Seeing the Goldsmith’s Face  (Read 371 times)

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Richard Myers

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Lesson 4 July 13-22

Seeing the Goldsmith’s Face

Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Matt. 5:16, 1 Cor. 4:9, Eph. 3:10, Job 23:1-10, Matt. 25:1-12, Dan. 12:1-10, Eph. 4:11-16.

Memory Text: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).  But 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. 

I am leaving the NKJV translation here for all to see if there is a difference between that and the KJV. There is, and that is why I take time often to change the Bible quotes to the KJV which is rarely used anymore. Why? Yes, it is more difficult to understand old English. But, I would rather stay ignorant than be misled. The Holy Spirit does a wonderful job of revealing truth either way, but He does not keep one from being led astray all of the time when reading a poor translation. One needs to ask how it is that Babylonian translators can overlook their error in understanding the Sabbath, the state of the dead, and other significant truths when creating "new" bibles. I have never really studied the subject, but found that I was being misled by my new version and when I discovered this, I bought a KJV and never opened the erroneous bible again.

Yes, I can teach truth from the Jehovah Witness bible, but how much better for them to get the KJV which has very little error that I can find? So, what is wrong with the NKJV in today's memory verse?

What if I asked you if your are being converted, or are converted? What would you say? Is there a difference? There sure is. Then take another look at 2 Cor. 3:18.

"are being transformed into the same image," or "are changed into the same image"?  It gets to the very foundation of our faith. Are you being born again, or are you born again of the Spirit? Are you converted or are you being converted. It is true that sanctification is the work of a lifetime, but conversion is a point in time. You are either converted or not. Why the concern? Because many have been taught that conversion is a process in the manner that allows for known sin after conversion. We do not believe in once saved always saved,  but we do believe in baptism for those who have been changed by the power of the Spirit. None ought to be buried alive, as many are today and were even when the prophet was alive in the church. "The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ." 6BC 1075. It is also very rare to find this quote being quoted in the church either in writing  or from the pulpit. Why is that the case?  Because it is just as rare today. In a Laodicean Church we find most are unconverted.

Amy Carmichael took a group of children to a traditional goldsmith in India. In the middle of a charcoal fire was a curved roof tile. On the tile was a mixture of salt, tamarind fruit, and brick dust. Embedded in this mixture was gold. As the fire devoured the mixture, the gold became purer. The goldsmith took the gold out with tongs and, if it were not pure enough, he replaced it in the fire with a new mixture. But each time the gold was replaced, the heat was increased. The group asked, “How do you know when the gold is purified?” He replied, “When I can see my face in it.” — Amy Carmichael, Learning of God (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1989), p. 50.

God is seeking to purify us, to refine us like gold, to transform us into His image. That’s an astonishing goal, and it seems even more astonishing that a Christlike character is developed in us only as we pass through life’s crucibles.

Actually, if we want to know how we are changed into His image, we ought to accept Bible truth. Where can we find how to be transformed into His image (character)?  The very best verse I have found and quote all the time, is 2 Cor. 3:18. Let's take a look. But 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.  It is by beholding the character of Christ that we are transformed in character. It is an intellectual truth as well as a Spiritual truth that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to what we love and revere. Children that play video games most of the time are being changed into what they see and do. So it is the other way. Children that behold a godly mother and father are changed into their likeness in character. "It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence." GC 555.

It is true that when converted we have been cleansed from known sin. It is also true that as we continue to behold Jesus, we continue to be changed. But, when converted we obtain all of the fruits of the Spirit, none are missing. Then what happens as we grow in character? Each of the fruits become more abundant. So, we are tested at a higher level and become more patient. But, the fruit of "long-suffering" was obtained when we became a partaker of God's divine nature as the heart was fully surrendered and the Holy Spirit took possession.

The Week at a Glance: What role does suffering have in the purifying process? How do we understand all this in the context of the great controversy?

When we think of perfect, we think of having the highest score on the test. But, in Biblical language, being perfect happens at conversion and does not end there. Why? Because God looks upon the heart. It is the heart that is purified at the new birth, not the flesh. We do not believe in holy flesh until Jesus comes and gives us a glorified body. But, He does cleanse the heart as white as fresh fallen snow. This is the perfection that all have as long as they are fully surrendered to Christ and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Christ's representative. Then what is this purification that happens after probation closes? It is not a cleansing of the heart, but a strengthening of the power to resist sin. God measures our trials each day. He has promised He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, but He will allow us to be tempted, and at higher levels as we are able. Of course there is a condition to this promise applying to anyone. What is that condition? It is being in a converted state and filled with the Holy Spirit, the third person of the godhead.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 23.

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

Richard Myers

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Sunday          July 17
“In His Image”

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Rom. 8:29

In the beginning, God made us in His image (Gen. 1:27), but that image has been corrupted by sin.

In what ways do we see this defacing of God’s image in humanity?

Just take a look around us in the world today. How often do we see those reflecting the character of God? While many are called, we can see that very few are transformed into His image. But, when we see one who loves the Lord our God with all of the heart, it is clearly revealed there is a God in heaven who can change sinners into saints. There is no other explanation, for it is greatest miracle God can do. But, He cannot do it without our cooperation. Consider the truth revealed in Ezekiel 36:23. "And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I [am] the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes."

It’s obvious: we all have been corrupted by sin (Rom. 3:10-19). Yet, God’s desire is to restore us to what we should have been originally. This is where our verse today fits in. It reveals God’s plan that those who submit their lives to the Holy Spirit may be “conformed to the image of his Son” Rom. 8:29.

But there’s another dimension. “The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.” — Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 671.

How do you understand what Ellen G. White says to us in the quote cited above? See also Job 1, Matt. 5:16, 1 Cor. 4:9, Eph. 3:10.

When truly converted we manifest all of the fruits of the Spirit, not one will be missing.  "When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." The Desire of Ages, 676. But, that is not where the reflection of God stops. While the heart is pure and holy, there is room for growth. We are perfect in moral character at each step. Where then is growth? The fruit becomes more abundant. Notice this teaching seen in Romans 5:3-5.  "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." When truly converted we will be patient. But, that does not mean we cannot grow in patience. How so?  God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. He says to Satan, "this far and no more." But, God will allow us to be tempted at a higher level, thus when abiding in Christ we shall not sin, but rather develop a stronger character. Just as muscles grow stronger when pushed further, so it is with character, it grows stronger when overcoming the temptation through the power of an indwelling Savior.

As Christians, we must never forget that we are in the midst of a cosmic drama. The great controversy between Christ and Satan is unfolding all around us. The battle takes many shapes and is manifested in many ways. And though much is hidden, we can understand that, as followers of Christ, we have a part to play in this drama and can bring honor to Christ through our lives.

Amen! This is the motivation that drives all who will be in heaven.

Imagine being on the field of a huge stadium. Sitting on the bleachers on one side are heavenly beings loyal to the Lord; on the other side are beings who have fallen with Lucifer. If your life for the past 24 hours was played out on that field, which side would have more to cheer about? What does your answer tell you about yourself?

Since the church remains in a Laodicean condition, many will not answer correctly misunderstanding which side they are really on. How very sad. The Laodicean thinks he is all right not understanding he is in a lost condition. It is not hopeless by any means, but even though many are called, few will accept the free gift of salvation. The gospel message has been perverted today in His church in the same manner it was perverted in Israel of Old. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ. For, beholding His glory we will be transformed into His image (character). See 2 Cor. 3:18.

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

Richard Myers

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Monday          July 18
Faith Amid the Refining Fire

It’s one thing to be in a battle; it’s another not even to see the forces arrayed in that battle. In a sense, this is what we as Christians deal with. We know that the forces are out there, we can feel them in our lives, and yet, we have to press ahead in faith, trusting Him “who is invisible” Heb. 11:27.

Read Job 23:1-10.

 23:1   Then Job answered and said, 
 23:2   Even to day [is] my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. 
 23:3   Oh that I knew where I might find him! [that] I might come [even] to his seat! 
 23:4   I would order [my] cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. 
 23:5   I would know the words [which] he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me. 
 23:6   Will he plead against me with [his] great power? No; but he would put [strength] in me. 
 23:7   There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge. 
 23:8   Behold, I go forward, but he [is] not [there]; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: 
 23:9   On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold [him]: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see [him]:

What is the essence of Job’s struggle?

Job's struggle is holding on to Jesus.  It is so very hard to do when sick and tired. Of all the people on the Earth, God pointed to Job when declaring it is possible to keep His commandments. Job was perfect and hated evil. Satan began the attack on God long before Job. But, as we understand, God can empower repentant sinners to keep all He asks. Satan takes advantage of the situation when God allows him to do what ever he wants, except take the life of Job. We cannot fathom the pain Job was in. But, that is not an excuse to sin. If he had held on to Jesus, he would not have had to repent. Yes, Job sinned and that comes as a shock to many in the church for most have been taught wrongly about Job. "Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:6. If one is seeking truth, he will take time to study this out instead of rejecting truth. When doing so, he will find that God told Job he was self-righteous, and was speaking things he knew not and darkened God's counsel. "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who [is] this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding." Job 38:1-4.

What does he not see?

He does not see God, worse yet, he does not hear that still small voice calling him to repentance, not until God speaks to him out of the whirlwind.

At the same time, what does he take on faith, despite all his trials?

He does not think God would plead against him. No, God would not. In fact Jesus is holding up His hands to His Father pleading for Job, that he be given more time.

Even amid his terrible trials, Job trusted in the Lord. Despite everything, Job was determined to endure.

There were times when Job was pleading to die.

And one of the things that kept him persevering was gold. Not a gold medal; rather, he was looking into the future and realized that if he held on to God, he would come out the better for it — he would come out like gold. How much Job knew of what was happening behind the scenes, we aren’t told. Regardless of how much was hidden from him, he endured the refining fire anyway.

He did not curse God. That was the test Satan put forth to God. But, Job did not endure the refining. He did not die because God set a hedge about Him. Moses did not endure the refining when he also sinned by striking the Rock. But, both Job and Moses learned from their sins. Moses would never sin again. I don't know about Job, but I imagine he also was so distraught by having hurt his Savior that he too ceased sinning for good. We know that when he repented, God blessed him mightily.

Do you fear the fire? Do you worry about the heat that circumstances generate? Perhaps, as with Job, the heat of God seems unexplainable. It may be the difficulty of adjusting to a new job or a new home. It could be having to survive ill treatment at work, or even within your own family. It could be illness or financial loss. Hard as it is to understand, God can use these trials to refine you and purify you and bring out His image in your character.

Amen! He has promised He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. There is a condition. What is the condition. Have you ever been tempted beyond what you can bear? Then did the promise fail? "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]." 1 Cor. 10:13. God's promises do not fail. The condition was not met if we sin. Our only hope in not sinning is to be found abiding in Christ and He in us. That is the condition that we must meet in order to come forth the victor over the temptation. And, in so doing our character will more perfectly reflect our loving God. if we desire to give glory to God by going through a time of trouble such as never was, then we need to strengthening our character day by day as the trials come. As we are seeing in this quarter's lessons, we can glory  in our tribulation knowing it works for our good and God's glory (Romans 5:3-5).

Being proven to be gold seems to be an incentive for Job here, something to fix his eyes upon, and that helps pull him through his troubles. It’s a powerful testimony to his character already that, amid all the pain and suffering, he was able to sense the reality of the purifying process. Also, however much he didn’t understand, he knew that these trials would refine him.

Knowing and doing are two different matters. We quote from Job's remarks when he was suffering. While there was truth in some of his statements, there were also things that were not true (Job 38:1-3). And those things he knew, does not mean he was doing. He had lost sight of Jesus and thus, did not have power to resist the temptations. The first indication Job was in trouble was his comment to his three friends who were attacking his character. They were wrong in declaring the reason why all of this was happening was because Job had sinned. The Bible says that Job sinned not (at that point).  Job defended himself to them. He then declared "miserable comforters are ye."  Who was Job thinking about, them or him?  Of all the people on the Earth at that time, God pointed to Job as an example of faithfulness. Yet, here we see him, the strong one, not bearing with the infirmities of the weak ones. Job then goes on saying things that darkened God's counsel and spoke of his righteousness. By the way, God did send a faithful friend to reprove Job of being self righteous. Who was his fourth friend?

In your own experience, how do trials refine and purify? What other ways could you be refined, other than through suffering?

When Moses struck the Rock, the Holy Spirit spoke to him. What do you imagine the Spirit said? And what do you imagine Moses said in response to the Spirit's still small voice?  The Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Moses had lived a faithful life for a long time. If he had sinned the week before, God would have laid him to rest as He did because of striking the Rock. If he had sinned a month before, God would have laid him to rest also.

We are told that Moses' repentance was quick and deep. After laying him to rest, God raised him from the grave and took him to heaven. Did his sin teach him a lesson? I think that God's grace was so moving upon his heart that it was the last time he would ever sin. Is that not the condition of all who would be translated? So it can be with us. God's grace is the power that keeps us from sin. It is the power that transforms sinners into saints.

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

Richard Myers

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Tuesday         July 19
Jesus’ Last Words

Jesus was in Jerusalem, about to die. According to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ last teaching hour before Passover is spent telling His disciples parables, including the ones about the ten virgins and the sheep and the goats. These stories are related to the way we should live as we wait for Jesus to come. Thus their relevancy to today — with the signs of Jesus’ soon return all around us — has never been more significant.

In the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-12), many commentators point out that the oil is a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Ellen G. White agrees, but also says that this oil is a symbol for character and that it is something no one can acquire for us.

Read the parable. In what ways does the meaning of the story change, depending on whether you see oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit or for the possession of character? What are the implications of this story for you if the oil represents the Holy Spirit, or a Christlike character?

We need to read what Ellen White said about character in this context. Even when we have excellent character, we cannot obey God unless we are fully surrendered to God and filled with the Holy Spirit. Moses' sin in striking the Rock is a good example of that truth.

Holy Spirit:


Read the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46.

 25:31   When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 
 25:32   And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: 
 25:33   And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 
 25:34   Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 
 25:35   For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 
 25:36   Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 
 25:37   Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? 
 25:38   When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? 
 25:39   Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 
 25:40   And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. 
 25:41   Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 
 25:42   For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 
 25:43   I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 
 25:44   Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 
 25:45   Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. 
 25:46   And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 

What criteria are used in separating the sheep and the goats?

All who loved the Lord our God with the whole heart will be with Jesus in heaven. In this parable, it is revealed how God will reveal to us what it means to love Him with the whole heart. If we love and trust Him with the whole heart, then we will honor Him with all we have and all we are. We will live to bless others. And in doing so, we shall be greatly blessed in this world. For it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Notice that the king separates the sheep and the goats based on their works, their character. Though Jesus is not teaching salvation by works here, we can see how important character development is in the plan of salvation and how those who are truly saved by Christ will reflect that salvation through their lives and characters.


It has been said that “character is what a person is in the dark.” What sort of person are you when no one is looking? What does the answer tell you about changes that you need to make?

:)  Amen.  And, when we are in the dark, we are in the presence of God. How can one be so blind to think that God does not see? It is a fact that we have dull minds and unless we are filled with the Spirit, we can forget God can see all we do (and all we think). He also knows the motives of why we do what we do. God looks upon the heart. It is the heart that He wants and purifies. We will continue to live in fallen evil flesh, but that is not an excuse for sin. We may become partakers of His divine nature if we will surrender the whole heart to Him. Then the  third person of the godhead will take possession of the the heart and bring with Him everyone of the fruits of the Spirit, not one will be missing! Such a promise!!

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

Richard Myers

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  • Posts: 43481
  • Grace, more than a word, it is transforming power
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Wednesday          July 20
“The Wise”

Yesterday we looked at the importance of character for those waiting for the Second Coming. Today we will look more specifically at the importance of character for those who are alive at the second coming of Jesus.

This is very important that we might meet the error currently being taught about the character of the 144,000. Some teach that God is going to wave a wand and thus the character is prepared. It is what we do today that is going to determine if we do not pass into the grave. Jesus could not carry the sins of the world when He was 11 years old, nor when He discovered He was the Lamb that was being slain, nor when He was 20 years old. How was He strengthened to carry the sins of the whole world? "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8. So it is with us.

Read Daniel 12:1-10.

 12:1   And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 
 12:2   And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt. 
 12:3   And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 
 12:4   But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. 
 12:5   Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. 
 12:6   And [one] said to the man clothed in linen, which [was] upon the waters of the river, How long [shall it be to] the end of these wonders? 
 12:7   And I heard the man clothed in linen, which [was] upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that [it shall be] for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these [things] shall be finished. 
 12:8   And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what [shall be] the end of these [things]? 
 12:9   And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 
 12:10   Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 

What is the context? What time in earth’s history is being referred to? Most important, what can we tell from these verses about the character of God’s people during these times? What characteristics are given them, in contrast to the wicked? See also Rev. 22:11.

There are two times being spoken of. The close of probation is when Michael stands up. He has finished the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. Another time spoken of is the time of the end when the Book of Daniel will be unsealed, 1798. The wise will understand because they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Wisdom comes from God.

Daniel is told that just before Jesus comes, there will be a time of distress unequaled at any other time of history. In Daniel 12:3, 10, we’re given a depiction of the righteous and the wicked during this time. Notice how the wicked “shall do wickedly” (Dan. 12:10, NKJV) in contrast to the righteous, who in verse 3 shine brightly, perhaps because they have been “purified, made spotless and refined” (Dan. 12:10, NIV) during this “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time” (Dan. 12:1, NKJV). In contrast, too, the wicked do not understand, but the righteous are “wise” and do understand.

Understand what? Math, science, higher criticism? Proverbs says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7, NKJV). Perhaps, in this context, the “wise” are wise because they have an understanding of these final events, the time of trouble, as it unfolds. They are not taken by surprise; from their study of the Word, they know it’s coming. And most important, they know enough to allow this time of trouble to purify and refine them; the wicked, on the other hand, are just made more obstinate in their rebellion and thus continue in their wickedness.

The crucial point is that here we are given a depiction of a people who have been through a refining and purifying process.

Though we’ve looked at these verses in the context of the very last days, what principles do we see here that can help us now to understand better what the purifying and refining process is all about, even for us today?

"Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8. Through suffering, God's children who will go through a time of trouble such as never was, are prepared for the last test for humanity. The life of a converted Christian is one of suffering. Partaking in the suffering of Jesus is the higher honor and the most weighty trust that He gives to those who love the Lord our God with the whole heart.

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

Richard Myers

  • Servant
  • Posts: 43481
  • Grace, more than a word, it is transforming power
    • The Remnant Online
Thursday         July 21
Character and Community

A song goes like this: “I am a rock, I am an island.” Have you ever felt like that — wanting to stand alone? You may even have heard people say, “Well, my walk with God is a private affair. It’s not something I want to talk about.”

I said unto myself when in university after having left a hypocritical church at age 13, that Jesus was a rock unto Himself. This shows how little I had been taught in church. I thought that what God was calling me to do would end up in disaster since I was not like Jesus. How wrong I was. Jesus was not a rock unto Himself, His life was in the hands of His Father. So it is with us, we are in need of continual help from God to do any good thing, or even to have temporal life.

Read Ephesians 4:11-16.

 4:11   And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 
 4:12   For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 
 4:13   Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 
 4:14   That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 
 4:15   But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: 
 4:16   From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 

What’s the point Paul is making here? What role does he give here for community?

When Paul writes to the Ephesians, he describes the church as a body. Jesus is the head, and His people make up the rest. If you look at Ephesians 4:13, you will notice the ultimate purpose of living in such a community — it is to experience “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (NIV). And for that we need each other!

It certainly is possible to be a Christian all alone. Indeed, like for many people through the centuries who have been ridiculed or persecuted, standing alone is often unavoidable. It is a powerful witness to the power of God that men and women do not buckle under the pressures that surround them. However, while this is true, Paul is wanting to emphasize a critical truth: ultimately, we experience and reveal the fullness of Christ when we are working together in fellowship with each other.

In Ephesians 4:11-16, what does Paul say must happen before the fullness of Christ may be revealed in our Christian community?

In what way is the witness of a community that is revealing the fullness of Christ different from an individual that is revealing the fullness of Christ? What are the implications of this in the context of the great controversy? See Eph. 3:10.

It’s easy to be nice when you are by yourself or with strangers, but it is much harder being nice to people you either know really well or don’t like. This means that when we still show these people grace and kindness, we provide an irresistible witness to the truth about God.

And what truth is it about God that the world needs to see? Many things, but most importantly, His character. Also important besides His love and justice, it is good to know of His great power to create, and to re-create sinners into saints. When the world sees truly converted Christians loving those who hate them, then they will know there is a God, a God of great power and loves as revealed in the witness of the true Christian who reflects His character.  "And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I [am] the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes." Ezekiel 36:23. Amen! The greatest of all miracles!

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

Richard Myers

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Friday        July 22

Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “God Promises Us a New Heart of Flesh,” p. 100, in Sons and Daughters of God; “To Meet the Bridegroom,” pp. 405-421, in Christ’s Object Lessons; “The Time of Trouble,” pp. 613-634, in The Great Controversy.

“Character building is the most important work ever entrusted to human beings; and never before was its diligent study so important as now. Never was any previous generation called to meet issues so momentous; never before were young men and young women confronted by perils so great as confront them today.” — Ellen G. White, Education, p. 225.

Amen!!  By understanding this, we ought to appreciate the blessing God wants to give as we struggle against the evils that beset us daily. We are to understand that our habits (character) are being formed daily to more and more perfectly reflect the character of our God. We are evil by nature, but that does not mean we cannot through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit work the works of righteousness and develop a righteous character. Then our works are not as filthy rags. When we love the Lord our God with all of the heart, then it is Christ not I that empowers the good works. And in doing so, our character is being strengthened daily so that we develop the habit of doing good and clinging to Jesus moment by moment.

Many have not come to the point of understanding that the most weighty trust and the highest honor God can bestow upon us is that we partake in the sufferings of Jesus. "For 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.

“In the parable, the foolish virgins are represented as begging for oil, and failing to receive it at their request. This is symbolic of those who have not prepared themselves by developing a character to stand in a time of crisis. It is as if they should go to their neighbors and say, Give me your character, or I shall be lost. Those that were wise could not impart their oil to the flickering lamps of the foolish virgins. Character is not transferable. It is not to be bought or sold; it is to be acquired. The Lord has given to every individual an opportunity to obtain a righteous character through the hours of probation; but he has not provided a way by which one human agent may impart to another the character which he has developed by going through hard experiences, by learning lessons from the great Teacher, so that he can manifest patience under trial, and exercise faith so that he can remove mountains of impossibility.” — Ellen G. White, The Youth’s Instructor, Jan. 16, 1896.

Amen! This is so very important to understand today. In order to not be moved by false teachings on the subject of how the 144,000 are able to go through a time of trouble such as never was, we need to be grounded on how we develop such a strong character. God does not wave a wand at the close of probation. Neither does He keep alive those who have not developed a character which will be needed to go through such a terrible time. A time when Satan will be allowed to do whatever he wants except take the life of one of God's children who are alive after the sanctuary has been cleansed and there is no longer a Mediator.

 The Lord has given to every individual an opportunity to obtain a righteous character through the hours of probation
It is in the hours given to us during  probation that we are to form a "righteous character." It is the righteousness of Christ that is seen in humanity. It is His righteous character that He gives to us. It is not only imputed, but imparted also. It is indeed our character that we have formed through great trials that God has allowed to come to us. It is His power that enables sinners to become saints. There are many who when reading this will be tempted to rise up against the truth. Don't allow Satan to lead you away  from this. It will be to your detriment. If you are tempted, stop and pray and study. Read again the inspired truth just quoted, asking God to help you understand. It may take some praying and study to be able to overcome what has been wrongly taught in the church.

Discussion Questions:

    What does “character building” mean? How can you do this? How much of a visible priority is character building within your own life and your church community?

When we read Romans 5:3-5, what comes to mine? Do you understand why we are to glory in our great trials?  It explains it right there. It is true that when we love the Lord our God with all of the heart we are already patient, but God wants us to be more patient. He measures a test for us each day so that we shall grow in strength of character. When lifting weights there is a saying, "no pain, no gain." So it is with character. It is formed in the crucible with Christ. He will never allow one of His children who loves Him with all of the heart to be tempted beyond what he can bear. God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." 1 Cor. 10:13. But, He will allow us to be tempted at a higher level so that we become more and more like Him.

    Thursday’s study talked about the important role of community in the life of a Christian. How well does your local church function as the body of Christ? How well do you represent the Lord as a community? As a class, talk about what you can do to improve.

    As a class, talk about the question of why character building is important, even if we are saved by faith alone in Jesus. If His righteousness and His perfect character are what saves us, then why do we need to develop character?

The whole world will not be saved? Why  not? Is there a difference between those who love God and those who do not? Some who have been seen to be in the gutter are now seen to be of not only of good character, but excellent character. It takes more than the righteousness of Christ to save sinners. It was easy for God to make Adam, but it is not easy for God to save sinners, to transform into beings who can inhabit heaven. What saves man? Or in other words, what must I do to be saved? What says the first and greatest commandment? I must love the Lord our God with how much of the heart? All of it, holding nothing back. This is why many are called but few choose to follow Jesus. It takes time to know the character of our God. Conversion is a long protracted process of wooing by the Holy Spirit. When we love God supremely, more than  the things of this world, then we can be molded and shaped in His image (2 Cor. 3:18).

    Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind from an early age, wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” — Leadership, vol. 17, no. 4. Do you agree? Discuss the relationships between character, suffering, and the great controversy.

Here's a truth that may help us understand how character is developed, straight from Scripture. Many have read the verse who study their Bibles, for it comes from the Book of Hebrews. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." Hebrews 5:8,9. Hopefully we will see this verse quoted in our lessons before the quarter is over. While many have read the verse, very few understand what it means. Let one of our scholars explain how it pertains to our study today.

How often have you heard the verse quoted and explained from the pulpit or in our books or periodicals? I have never heard it quoted. But, if ever there was an explanation as to now we develop the character of Christ, it is in this verse. We will continue to share it as we move forward in our study of character.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.