1. TWELVE APOSTLES
a. What kind of people did Christ train to proclaim the message of salvation to the world? What were their names? Matthew 10:2–4.
“Our Saviour . . . connected with Himself men who were faulty in character and granted them the benefits of His teachings and example, that they might have an opportunity to see their errors and correct them.”—The Great Controversy, p. 43.
b. What statement of Christ shows that He knew the character of those men? John 6:70.
“The Saviour knew the character of the men whom He had chosen; all their weaknesses and errors were open before Him.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 291.
“Among the twelve apostles was a traitor. Judas was accepted, not because of his defects of character, but notwithstanding them.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 43, 44.
a. How and why did Christ accept Judas? Matthew 8:19, 20.
“While Jesus was preparing the disciples for their ordination, one who had not been summoned urged his presence among them. It was Judas Iscariot, a man who professed to be a follower of Christ. He now came forward, soliciting a place in this inner circle of disciples. With great earnestness and apparent sincerity he declared, ‘Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.’ Jesus neither repulsed nor welcomed him, but uttered only the mournful words: ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head’ (Matthew 8:19, 20). . . .
“The disciples were anxious that Judas should become one of their number. He was of commanding appearance, a man of keen discernment and executive ability, and they commended him to Jesus as one who would greatly assist Him in His work. They were surprised that Jesus received him so coolly.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 293, 294.
b. What choice was open before Judas, as it is for all of us? Deuteronomy 30:19.
“If [Judas] would open his heart to Christ, divine grace would banish the demon of selfishness, and even Judas might become a subject of the kingdom of God. . . .
“Judas had the same opportunities as had the other disciples. He listened to the same precious lessons. But the practice of the truth, which Christ required, was at variance with the desires and purposes of Judas.”—Ibid., pp. 294, 295.
c. In what way alone could Judas have chosen life, and what would have such a choice involved on his part? John 1:12, 13; 1 Peter 1:22, 23.
“[Judas] was connected with the disciples, that, through the instruction and example of Christ, he might learn what constitutes Christian character, and thus be led to see his errors, to repent, and, by the aid of divine grace, to purify his soul ‘in obeying the truth’ (1 Peter 1:22).”—The Great Controversy, p. 44.
3. “LEARN OF ME”
a. How does the apostle Paul describe the simplicity of the men and women called to work for God? 1 Corinthians 1:26–28.
“God takes men as they are, with the human elements in their character, and trains them for His service, if they will be disciplined and learn of Him. They are not chosen because they are perfect, but notwithstanding their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practice of the truth, through the grace of Christ, they may become transformed into His image.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 294.
“In the common walks of life there is many a toiler patiently treading the round of his daily tasks, unconscious of latent powers that, roused to action, would place him among the world’s great leaders. The touch of a skillful hand is needed to arouse and develop those dormant faculties.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 511.
b. What did the call to service for Christ mean for those first disciples? Luke 14:27, 33; Ephesians 4:20–24.
“All the disciples had serious faults when Jesus called them to His service. Even John, who came into closest association with the meek and lowly One, was not himself naturally meek and yielding. He and his brother were called ‘the sons of thunder.’ . . . [But] by beholding Christ, they became transformed in character.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 295, 296.
c. Of whom did the disciples need to learn in order to fulfill their calling? Upon what principle was their education based? Matthew 11:29; John 17:26.
“A life devoted to God should not be a life of ignorance. Many speak against education because Jesus chose uneducated fishermen to preach the gospel. They assert that He showed preference for the uneducated. But there were many learned and honorable men who believed the teaching of Christ. Had these fearlessly obeyed the convictions of their consciences, they would have followed Him.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 511.
4. MAKING OUR CALLING SURE
a. What does the apostle Paul mean when he says that he was always praying for the believers in Thessalonica “that our God would count you worthy of this calling”? 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
b. How are the “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1) instructed to make their calling sure? 2 Peter 1:2–11.
“You are not to think that you must wait until you have perfected one grace before cultivating another. No; they are to grow up together, fed continually from the fountain of charity; every day that you live, you can be perfecting the blessed attributes fully revealed in the character of Christ; and when you do this, you will bring light, love, peace, and joy into your homes.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 943.
c. What instruction is especially given to those who feel that they have been called to be evangelists? 2 Timothy 2:15.
“If the worker has consecrated himself fully to God and is diligent in prayer for strength and heavenly wisdom, the grace of Christ will be his teacher, and he will overcome his defects and become more and more intelligent in the things of God. But let none take license from this to be indolent, to squander time and opportunities, and neglect the training that is essential in order to become efficient. The Lord is not pleased with those who, having had opportunities to obtain knowledge, neglect to improve the privileges placed within their reach. . . .
“Above all other people on earth the man whose mind is enlightened by the word of God will feel that he must give himself to greater diligence in the perusal of the Bible and to a diligent study of the sciences; for his hope and his calling are greater than any other. The more closely man is connected with the Source of all knowledge and wisdom, the more he can be helped intellectually as well as spiritually.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 510.
5. JESUS STILL CALLS MEN AND WOMEN
a. In this time of the end, what scriptures should we bear in mind with regard to the finishing of God’s work on earth? Matthew 24:14; 9:37, 38; 2 Corinthians 4:7.
“He who called the fishermen of Galilee is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God. . . .
“[2 Corinthians 4:7, RV quoted.] This is why the preaching of the gospel was committed to erring men rather than to the angels. It is manifest that the power which works through the weakness of humanity is the power of God. . . . Having been in peril themselves, they are acquainted with the dangers and difficulties of the way, and for this reason are called to reach out for others in like peril. There are souls perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the Unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ’s stead, can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ.
“We are to be laborers together with the heavenly angels in presenting Jesus to the world. With almost impatient eagerness the angels wait for our cooperation; for man must be the channel to communicate with man. And when we give ourselves to Christ in wholehearted devotion, angels rejoice that they may speak through our voices to reveal God’s love.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 297.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Although Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, why and how did He accept Judas?
2. How can we avoid the tragic mistakes of Judas?
3. Explain some key aims and requirements in colaboring with Christ.
4. What is the real secret of successful evangelism?
5. How are we instructed to make our calling sure?