1. A HIGHER PURPOSE
a. What do we have to look forward to in eternity? 1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 64:4.
“God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 311.
“The education begun here will not be completed in this life; it will be going forward throughout eternity, ever progressing, never completed. Day by day the wonderful works of God, the evidences of His miraculous power in creating and sustaining the universe, will open before the mind in new beauty. In the light that shines from the throne, mysteries will disappear, and the soul will be filled with astonishment at the simplicity of the things that were never before comprehended.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 328.
2. BUILDING IN YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE
a. What often accompanies us in our Christian life, and what should our attitude be as a result? Why? 1 Peter 4:12, 13.
“God’s children are always being tested in the furnace of affliction. If they endure the first trial, it is not necessary for them to pass through a similar ordeal the second time; but if they fail, the trial is brought to them again and again, each time being still more trying and severe. Thus opportunity after opportunity is placed before them of gaining the victory and proving themselves true to God. But if they continue to manifest rebellion, God is compelled at last to remove His Spirit and light from them.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1146.
b. What is tested by the fire of trial? 1 Corinthians 3:9, 10, 12.
“It makes every difference what material is used in the character building. The long-expected day of God will soon test every man’s work. ‘The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.’ As fire reveals the difference between gold, silver, and precious stones, and wood, hay, and stubble, so the day of judgment will test characters, showing the difference between characters formed after Christ’s likeness and characters formed after the likeness of the selfish heart. All selfishness, all false religion, will then appear as it is. The worthless material will be consumed; but the gold of true, simple, humble faith will never lose its value. It can never be consumed; for it is imperishable. One hour of transgression will be seen to be a great loss, while the fear of the Lord will be seen to be the beginning of wisdom. The pleasure of self-indulgence will perish as stubble, while the gold of steadfast principle, maintained at any cost, will endure forever.”—Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 1087, 1088.
“This character building is a most important work. It is not a work that ends in this life, but which tells in the future life. What you make of yourself here through the merits and grace of Christ will be retained through eternal ages, and I am most earnest that you should not meet a low standard. ‘Learn of me,’ says the Great Teacher, ‘I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your soul.’ The peace that Christ gives will never, never bring sorrow with it.”—This Day With God, p. 37.
3. HOW GOD USES FIRE
a. What is revealed by the fire? 1 Corinthians 3:13.
“The angels of God are walking up and down the streets of these cities, and marking the deeds of men. They record in the books of God’s remembrance the words of faith, the acts of love, the humility of spirit; and in that day when every man’s work shall be tried of what sort it is, the work of the humble follower of Christ will stand the test, and will receive the commendation of Heaven.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 987.
“Young men and women should regard a good character as a capital of more value than gold or silver or stocks. It will be unaffected by panics and failures, and will bring rich returns when earthly possessions shall be swept away. . . . Integrity, firmness, and perseverance are qualities which all should seek earnestly to cultivate; for they clothe the possessor with a power which is irresistible, a power which makes him strong to do good, strong to resist evil, strong to bear adversity.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 656.
b. How were Lot and Solomon saved “as by fire?” Genesis 19:16, 17; 1 Kings 11:4.
“Lot chose Sodom as a place of residence because he looked more to the temporal advantages he would gain than to the moral influences that would surround himself and his family. What did he gain so far as the things of this world are concerned? His possessions were destroyed, part of his children perished in the destruction of that wicked city, his wife was turned to a pillar of salt by the way, and he himself was saved ‘so as by fire.’ Nor did the evil results of his selfish choice end here; but the moral corruption of the place was so interwoven with the character of his children that they could not distinguish between good and evil, sin and righteousness.”—Messages to Young People, p. 419.
“Solomon may have been saved ‘as by fire,’ yet his repentance could not efface those high places, nor demolish those stones, which remained as evidences of his crimes. He dishonored God, choosing rather to be controlled by lust than to be a partaker of the divine nature.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 2, p. 1031.
4. ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES
a. How does the fire affect our learning and our future? 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15.
“Eternity is before us. All improvements we make here of our mental powers, all the high attainments we make in refining and elevating ourselves by connecting closely with heaven, will be translated with us, while if we dwarf our capabilities by inaction, if we deteriorate our talents, which are susceptible of the highest cultivation, we cannot in the better world redeem that past neglect of self-culture, that great loss.
“Some may be saved as by fire. Their useless life has brought to them infinite loss. We should make improvement in this life, all that we can by the help and grace of God, knowing we can take these improvements with us into heaven. We will glorify our Father in heaven in proportion as we purify and perfect our characters here.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 21.
“To go forth into the next, the future life, deprived of half the power which might be carried there is a terrible thought. The days of probation lost here in acquiring a fitness for heaven, is a loss which will never be recovered. The capacities of enjoyment will be less in the future life for the misdemeanors and abuse of moral powers in this life. However high we might attain in the future life, we might soar higher and still higher, if we had made the most of our God-given privileges and golden opportunities.”—This Day With God, p. 350.
b. How did Daniel and his companions show the results of building their education on the eternal Rock? Daniel 1:20.
“The youth should be learners for the next world. Perseverance in the acquisition of knowledge, controlled by the fear and love of God, will give them an increased power for good in this life, and those who have made the most of their privileges to reach the highest attainments here, will take these valuable acquisitions with them into the future life. They have sought and obtained that which is imperishable. The capability to appreciate the glories that ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,’ will be proportionate to the attainments reached in the cultivation of the faculties in this life.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 49.
5. REDEEMING THE TIME
a. How can we make up for lost opportunities? Ephesians 5:16.
“We are admonished to redeem the time. But time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains, by being coworkers with God in His great plan of redemption.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 342.
“The greatest possible good we can do to our fellow men is to overcome our own faults and improve our characters, making them as excellent and symmetrical as possible.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 21.
b. How much time are we given to make the right decision? Hebrews 3:12–15.
“We should watch and work and pray as though this were the last day that would be granted us. How intensely earnest, then, would be our life. How closely would we follow Jesus in all our words and deeds.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 200.
c. What should our prayer be? Psalm 139:23, 24.
“Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 159.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How does education throughout our lifetime constitute only a beginning?
2. What purpose does testing and trial serve in the work of education?
3. How do our choices affect our usefulness and even our eternal destiny?
4. What does it mean to be saved “as by fire”?
5. How can we ensure that we do the best work for eternity?