1. LIGHT SHINES AMID THE DARKNESS
a. How does Scripture depict our hopeless state? Job 14:4; Romans 3:23; 8:7.
“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them.”—Steps to Christ, p. 18.
“Many are unhappy because they are unholy. Purity of heart, innocence of mind, only can be blessed of God. When sin is cherished, it can in the end produce nothing but unhappiness.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 53.
b. In His great love and mercy, what has God revealed to us in the last days, and how is it to affect our life in a practical way? Romans 3:24–26; 8:1–4.
“Our Lord and Saviour laid aside His dominion, His riches and glory, and sought after us, that He might save us from misery and make us like Himself. He humbled Himself and took our nature that we might be able to learn of Him and, imitating His life of benevolence and self-denial, follow Him step by step to heaven.”—Ibid., vol. 2, p. 170.
2. GOD’S LOVE FOR US
a. Explain the completeness of the plan of salvation. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:19–21.
“Christ gave Himself, an atoning sacrifice, for the saving of a lost world. He was treated as we deserve, in order that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5).
“Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, by the one who once stood in loyalty by His side in the heavenly courts. Behold the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, in the time of greatest weakness assailed by the fiercest temptation. See Him during the years of His ministry, attacked on every side by the forces of evil. See Him in His agony on the cross. All this He suffered for us.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 208, 209.
b. Who can experience the blessings of God’s love? Matthew 11:28; John 6:37.
“Coming to Christ does not require severe mental effort and agony; it is simply accepting the terms of salvation that God has made plain in His Word. The blessing is free to all. . . .
“In the name that is above every name, the only name given among men whereby men can be saved, claim the promise of God, saying, ‘Lord, forgive my sin; I put my hands into Thy hand for help, and I must have it, or perish. I now believe.’ ”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 333, 334.
“A deep sense of our need and a great desire for the things for which we ask must characterize our prayers, else they will not be heard. But we are not to become weary and cease our petitions because the answer is not immediately received. ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Matthew 11:12). The violence here meant is a holy earnestness, such as Jacob manifested. We need not try to work ourselves up into an intense feeling, but calmly, persistently, we are to press our petitions at the throne of grace.”—That I May Know Him, p. 272.
3. A NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
a. What new attitude and behavior become apparent as we trust in Jesus? 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:6; Philippians 2:12, 13.
“The faith which avails to bring us in vital contact with Christ expresses on our part supreme preference, perfect reliance, entire consecration. This faith works by love and purifies the soul. It works in the life of the follower of Christ true obedience to God’s commandments; for love to God and love to man will be the result of vital connection with Christ.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 334.
“Nothing but divine power can regenerate the human heart and imbue souls with the love of Christ, which will ever manifest itself with love for those for whom He died. . . . When a man is converted to God, a new moral taste is supplied, a new motive power is given, and he loves the things that God loves. . . .
“But those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters without determined effort on their part to overcome sin will be disappointed. We have no reason to fear while looking to Jesus, no reason to doubt but that He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto Him; but we may constantly fear lest our old nature will again obtain the supremacy, that the enemy shall devise some snare whereby we shall again become his captives.”—Ibid., pp. 336, 337.
b. What deep desire is to continually fill the heart of every believer, and how is this to affect us on a consistent basis? John 15:4, 5, 10; Romans 6:6, 10, 11.
“Union with Christ, once formed, must be maintained. . . . This is no casual touch, no off-and-on connection. . . .
“Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 676.
“Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith.”—Steps to Christ, p. 48.
4. GROWTH IN GRACE
a. When the heart is surrendered to Christ with prayer for His enlightenment, what change occurs in the character? Galatians 5:22, 23; Psalm 119:18.
“By beholding we are to become changed; and as we meditate upon the perfections of the divine Model, we shall desire to become wholly transformed and renewed in the image of His purity. It is by faith in the Son of God that transformation takes place in the character, and the child of wrath becomes the child of God. He passes from death unto life; he becomes spiritual and discerns spiritual things. The wisdom of God enlightens his mind, and he beholds wondrous things out of His law. As a man is converted by the truth, the work of transformation of character goes on. He has an increased measure of understanding. In becoming a man of obedience to God, he has the mind of Christ, and the will of God becomes his will.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 338.
b. Why is open-hearted study and meditation on the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy an important key in this process? Psalm 119:24–27.
“It is not alone those who openly reject the Testimonies, or who cherish doubt concerning them, that are on dangerous ground. To disregard light is to reject it.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 680.
“Says the psalmist, ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ (Psalm 119:105). But this is not the case when it is left unopened and unread.”—The Review and Herald, January 4, 1881.
“By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 391.
5. REFLECTING THE LIGHT
a. What is the most pressing need of this dark world? Matthew 5:14–16.
“It is the privilege of every soul to be a living channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace, the unsearchable riches of Christ. There is nothing that Christ desires so much as agents who will represent to the world His Spirit and character. There is nothing that the world needs so much as the manifestation through humanity of the Saviour’s love. All heaven is waiting for channels through which can be poured the holy oil to be a joy and blessing to human hearts.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 419.
b. What is to be the focus of our life, and what results will be achieved through this? Galatians 2:20; Isaiah 60:1–3.
“ ‘Abiding in Christ is choosing only the disposition of Christ, so that His interests are identified with yours. Abide in Him, to be and to do only what He wills. These are the conditions of discipleship, and unless they are complied with, you can never find rest.’ ”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 110.
“Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 414.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Explain the predicament of the human race, and what can be done about it.
2. Why is a casual connection with Christ insufficient?
3. What would you tell a person who is disappointed with the gospel?
4. What role do the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy have in our sanctification?
5. Explain how your influence can become a source of refreshment to others.