1. A SYMBOL OF GOD’S CHARACTER
a. What did God direct Moses to place in the ark of the covenant, even before the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod? Deuteronomy 10:1–5.
b. Where did the law come from, and what was its purpose? Isaiah 51:4.
“The words written by the finger of God on tables of stone so perfectly reveal His will concerning His people that none need make any mistake.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 225.
“The living God has given in His holy law a transcript of His character. The greatest Teacher the world has ever known is Jesus Christ. And what is the standard He has given for all who believe in Him to reach? ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). As God is perfect in His high sphere of action, so man may be perfect in his human sphere. The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. There is opened before us a path of continual advancement. We have an object to reach, a standard to gain which includes everything good and pure and noble and elevated. There should be continual striving and constant progress onward and upward toward perfection of character.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 141.
2. REFLECTING HIS CHARACTER
a. Besides on tables of stone and in heaven (Hebrews 9:3, 4; 8:1, 2), where are the Ten Commandments to be written? By whom? Hebrews 8:10; 2 Corinthians 3:3.
b. What will be the experience of those who have the law of God within their heart? Psalm 37:31; 40:8. How will their speech change?
“In mercy God seeks to lead the unrighteous to repentance. The obedient will delight in the law of the Lord. He puts His laws in their minds, and writes them in their hearts. Their speech will be such as is prompted by an indwelling Saviour. They have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul from all the defilement of Satan’s suggestions. Their heart yearns after God. In their conversion they love to dwell upon His mercy and goodness, for to them He is altogether lovely. They learn the language of heaven, the country of their adoption.”—The Upward Look, p. 297.
c. What does it mean to live under God’s grace? Romans 6:4, 10–18; 8:1.
“Those who will accept [Christ] as their personal Saviour will grow in grace, and in His strength will be enabled to obey the law of God.”—The Signs of the Times, February 11, 1897.
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 668.
“It is God who gives us power to overcome. Those who hear His voice and obey His commandments are enabled to form righteous characters.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 943.
3. FRUITS OF OUR CONNECTION
a. How do we receive divine strength from Christ? John 15:1–4.
“All who take their position on the Lord’s side will, as branches of the True Vine, receive nourishment, and will be stimulated by the vine to bear like fruit. They will be in cooperation with God, according to their ability exercising themselves unto godliness by walking in newness of life, which is daily repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”—The Review and Herald, February 23, 1897.
b. As we look to Jesus in the sanctuary above, what will our experience become? How does this also involve church relationships? Ephesians 2:4–6, 10; Hebrews 10:23–25.
“In a life of service to Christ, connection with the church is one of the first steps. Loyalty to Christ demands the faithful performance of church duties.”—Education, pp. 268, 269.
“Notwithstanding our varying types of character, we are brought into church capacity through the profession of our faith. Christ is the head of the church; and if those whose names are on the church record do not belong to Jesus, the invisible Head, they are like the fruitless branch of the vine, and are taken away. If one is really a fruitful branch, he will make it manifest by bearing fruit, giving evidence of his absolute allegiance to Christ. He will have a spiritual connection with God. Faith and love constitute the gold of character, and will be ever working on the Lord’s side to unite and harmonize the members of Christ’s body.
“Name, position, or wealth will not weigh one jot in the scale with God. Men and women are admitted to the church who do it no honor. But however poor, whatever the rank, tribe, or nationality, all are to be heartily received on their confession of faith, if you have evidence that the grace of God, which brings salvation, has wrought upon the heart. . . .
“This faith in Christ is demonstrated by works; it produces a transformation of character through the effectual working of God’s Holy Spirit. . . . Contrition of soul will mark the experience of every one who has received the grace of Christ.”—The Review and Herald, February 23, 1897.
4. COMING INTO LINE
a. Explain Christ’s goal for His church. Ephesians 5:1, 2, 27; Titus 2:13, 14.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 214.
b. What unites the members of the church? 1 Peter 4:8–11; 1 John 1:7.
“Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 175.
c. Describe some ways God purifies us. Proverbs 27:17; Isaiah 58:6–10.
“While the world needs sympathy, while it needs the prayers and assistance of God’s people, while it needs to see Christ in the lives of His followers, the people of God are equally in need of opportunities that draw out their sympathies, give efficiency to their prayers, and develop in them a character like that of the divine pattern.
“It is to provide these opportunities that God has placed among us the poor, the unfortunate, the sick, and the suffering. They are Christ’s legacy to His church, and they are to be cared for as He would care for them. In this way God takes away the dross and purifies the gold. . . .
“In placing among us the poor and the suffering, the Lord is testing us to reveal to us what is in our hearts.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 261.
“Good works cost us a sacrifice, but it is in this very sacrifice that they provide discipline. These obligations bring us into conflict with natural feelings and propensities, and in fulfilling them we gain victory after victory over the objectionable traits of our characters.”—Ibid., pp. 262, 263.
5. THE TEST OF OUR DEVOTION
a. What reveals whether we truly love God? 1 John 3:14, 15, 18; 4:20, 21.
“The sanctification of the soul by the working of the Holy Spirit is the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity. Gospel religion is Christ in the life—a living, active principle. It is the grace of Christ revealed in character and wrought out in good works. . . .
“Love is the basis of godliness. Whatever the profession, no man has pure love to God unless he has unselfish love for his brother. But we can never come into possession of this spirit by trying to love others. What is needed is the love of Christ in the heart. When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within—when the sunshine of heaven fills the heart and is revealed in the countenance.
It is not possible for the heart in which Christ abides to be destitute of love. If we love God because He first loved us, we shall love all for whom Christ died.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 384. [Author’s italics in the original.]
“A healthy Christian is one who has Christ formed within, the hope of glory. He loves truth, purity, and holiness, and will manifest spiritual vitality, having love for the word of God, and seeking communion with those who are acquainted with the word, in order that he may catch every ray of light that God has communicated to them, which reveals Christ and makes Him more precious to the soul. He who has sound faith finds that Christ is the life of the soul, that He is in him as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, and he delights to conform every power of the soul to the obedience of his Lord.”—The Review and Herald, December 11, 1894.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why were the Ten Commandments to be preserved in the ark?
2. Describe the type of obedience the Lord longs to see in us.
3. What are some of the ways that discipleship of Christ is revealed?
4. Why is purity important for us, both individually and collectively?
5. How can I develop a deeper love both for Christ and others?