1. GOD IS CALLING US
a. Describe God’s desire for us in His work of restoration. Luke 15:4.
“It is God’s design that His name shall be honored before the heavenly universe. The whole earth is to show forth His infinite glory. He is gathering from this earth a people for Himself. His will is the law of the universe. He calls upon every human being to cooperate with Him. But He forces no one. He has placed man’s destiny in His own hands, telling him that his future welfare depends on his choice. To be saved, he must cooperate with God in His work of restoration.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, p. 271.
“The strongest evidence of man’s fall from a higher state is the fact that it costs so much to return. The way of return can be gained only by hard fighting, inch by inch, every hour. By a momentary act of will, one may place himself in the power of evil; but it requires more than a momentary act of will to break these fetters and attain to a higher, holier life. The purpose may be formed, the work begun; but its accomplishment will require toil, time, and perseverance, patience and sacrifice.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 313.
2. A COMMITMENT TO SERVICE
a. What does the Lord invite His people to experience today? Job 22:21, 22; 1 Peter 1:21–25.
“A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character.
“This is the knowledge needed by all who are working for the uplifting of their fellow men. Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God. This knowledge is the essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 409.
“To practice the principles of love which Christ taught by precept and example will make the experience of everyone who follows him like the experience of Christ.”—The Review and Herald, January 15, 1895.
b. What should we learn from the disciples’ depth of commitment and determination in their desire to follow Christ? John 11:16; 13:37; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
“The soul that lives by faith on Christ desires no other nor greater good than to know and to do the will of God.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 644.
“Christians are bidden to present their bodies, ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God’ (Romans 12:1). In order to do this, all their powers must be preserved in the best possible condition. Every practice that weakens physical or mental strength unfits man for the service of his Creator.”—A New Life, p. 18.
“Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel. . . . This is our message, our argument, our doctrine, our warning to the impenitent, our encouragement for the sorrowing, the hope for every believer. If we can awaken an interest in men’s minds that will cause them to fix their eyes on Christ, we may step aside, and ask them only to continue to fix their eyes upon the Lamb of God. . . . He whose eyes are fixed on Jesus will leave all. He will die to selfishness. He will believe in all the Word of God, which is so gloriously and wonderfully exalted in Christ.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1113.
3. A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP
a. Describe the relationship the Lord wants to have with His children, even in life’s adversities and challenges. Luke 15:22–24; John 17:3, 16–20.
“If you confess your sins, believe they are pardoned, because the promise is positive. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). Why, then, dishonor God by doubting His pardoning love? Having confessed your sins, believe that the word of God will not fail, but that He is faithful that hath promised. It is just as much your duty to believe that God will fulfill His word and forgive your sins as it is your duty to confess your sins. Your faith must be exercised in God as one who will do just as He has said He would do—pardon all your transgressions.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 126.
“If we make an entire surrender to [Christ], leave our life of sin and passion and pride, and cling to Christ and His merits, He will fulfill to us all that He has promised. He says that He will give liberally to all who ask Him. Cannot we believe it? I have tested Him on this point, and know that He is faithful to fulfill all His promises.”—The Signs of the Times, September 29, 1887.
b. What degree of influence will the cross of Calvary have in establishing our relationship with God? John 12:32.
“The cross of Calvary challenges and will finally vanquish every earthly and hellish power. In the cross all influence centers, and from it all influence goes forth. It is the great center of attraction; for on it Christ gave up His life for the human race. This sacrifice was offered for the purpose of restoring man to his original perfection. Yea, more, it was offered to give him an entire transformation of character, making him more than a conqueror. . . .
“If the cross does not find an influence in its favor, it creates an influence. Through generation succeeding generation, the truth for this time is revealed as present truth. Christ on the cross was the medium whereby mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. This is the means that is to move the world.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1113.
4. TROUBLES AND TRIALS
a. When faced with trials and difficulties, and feeling that we are alone and in despair, what may we remember? Matthew 11:28; Psalm 36:9, 10.
“Christ’s words, so comforting and cheering to those that listened to them, are for us today. As a faithful shepherd knows and cares for his sheep, so Christ cares for His children. He knows the trials and difficulties surrounding each one. ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd,’ declares Isaiah; ‘he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom’ (40:11). Christ knows His sheep intimately, and the suffering and helpless are objects of His special care. He gave His life for them, and He knows their wants as no one else can.”—The Review and Herald, May 18, 1897.
“Jesus has not left you to be surprised and amazed at the trials and difficulties you meet. He has told you all about them, and He has also told you that you should not be cast down and oppressed when trials come. You are to look to Jesus, your Redeemer, and be cheerful and rejoice. . . . We have a living Saviour, who so loved us that He died for us, that through Him we might have hope, strength, and courage, and a seat with Him upon His throne.”—The Upward Look, p. 211.
“Satan suggests that you are helpless and cannot bless yourself. It is true; you are helpless. But lift up Jesus before him: ‘I have a risen Saviour. In Him I trust, and He will never suffer me to be confounded. In His name I triumph. He is my righteousness and my crown of rejoicing.’ Let no one here feel that his case is hopeless, for it is not. You may see that you are sinful and undone, but it is just on this account that you need a Saviour.”—Faith and Works, p. 37.
b. What is to characterize our experience? Psalm 16:11; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 2:6, 7.
“The seraphim around the throne [of Jehovah in the holy of holies] are so filled with reverential awe as they behold the glory of God, that they do not for an instant look upon themselves with admiration. . . . They are fully satisfied to glorify God; abiding in His presence, beneath His smile of approbation, they wish for nothing more.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 72.
5. CHRIST-CENTERED SERVICE
a. How is a real Christian walk revealed? 1 John 2:6; 4:19.
“Christ attaches a weight of importance to the obedience of His people to the commandments of God. They are to have an intelligent knowledge of them and bring them into their daily life. Man cannot keep the commandments of God, only as he is in Christ, and Christ in him. And it is not possible for him to be in Christ, having light on His commandments, while disregarding the least of them. By steadfast, willing obedience to His word, they evidence their love for the Sent of God. . . .
“In all their emergencies and perplexities they will have a helper in Jesus Christ.”—This Day With God, p. 142.
b. Ultimately our life’s destiny is determined by each right or wrong decision we make. What appeals echo down to every one of us? Deuteronomy 30:19; 1 Peter 1:13–16; Ephesians 4:1. Why? Revelation 5:12.
“There is one great central truth to be kept ever before the mind in the searching of the Scriptures—Christ and Him crucified. . . . It is only in the light of the cross that we can discern the exalted character of the law of God. The soul palsied by sin can be endowed with life only through the work wrought out upon the cross by the Author of our salvation.”—That I May Know Him, p. 208.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What is God’s desire for His children?
2. Describe what it means to have a right relationship with God.
3. How committed is God to our restoration?
4. When we are faced with difficulties, what should we remember?
5. What great central truth can lead us to purity of heart and life?