1. THE WONDERFUL PROMISE
a. Describe the precious promise Jesus gave the night before His crucifixion—and how only we can receive and be blessed by it. John 14:15–17, 23.
“Prayer can never take the place of duty. ‘If ye love Me,’ Christ says, ‘Keep My commandments.’ . . . Those who bring their petitions to God, claiming His promise while they do not comply with the conditions, insult Jehovah.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 143.
“We are to represent Christ in every phase of character.
“What is the Bible test of character? [John 14:23 quoted.]”—Medical Ministry, p. 46.
“[John 14:23 quoted.] The spell of a stronger, a perfect mind will be over us; for we have a living connection with the source of all-enduring strength. In our divine life we shall be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. We shall no longer live the common life of selfishness, but Christ will live in us. His character will be reproduced in our nature. Thus shall we bring forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 61.
2. A BOOK OF ACTION
a. How does Luke, the beloved physician, begin the book of Acts as a continuation from the book in the Bible bearing his name? Luke 24:50–53; Acts 1:1–3.
b. In their final questions for Jesus, with what were the disciples most concerned—and what similar concerns are common to us? Acts 1:6. Explain what we are to learn from His response. Acts 1:7; John 9:4.
“God has not revealed to us the time when this [third angel’s] message will close, or when probation will have an end. Those things that are revealed we shall accept for ourselves and for our children; but let us not seek to know that which has been kept secret in the councils of the Almighty. It is our duty to watch and work and wait, to labor every moment for the souls of men that are ready to perish. We are to keep walking continually in the footsteps of Jesus, working in His lines, dispensing His gifts as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Satan will be ready to give to any one who is not learning every day of Jesus, a special message of his own creating, in order to make of no effect the wonderful truth for this time.”—The Review and Herald, October 9, 1894.
“Again and again I have been warned in regard to time setting. There will never again be a message for the people of God that will be based on time. We are not to know the definite time either for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or for the coming of Christ.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 188.
“We are living in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The hours of probation are fast passing. We have no time—not a moment—to lose. Let us not be found sleeping on guard. Let no one say in his heart or by his works: ‘My Lord delayeth His coming.’ Let the message of Christ’s soon return sound forth in earnest words of warning. Let us persuade men and women everywhere to repent and flee from the wrath to come. Let us arouse them to immediate preparation, for we little know what is before us. Let ministers and lay members go forth into the ripening fields to tell the unconcerned and indifferent to seek the Lord while He may be found.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 252, 253.
3. THE ASCENSION AND ASSURANCE
a. In His final remarks just before His ascension, what did Jesus emphasize—and what does this mean for us? Acts 1:4, 5, 8, 9.
“The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 671.
b. With what blessed assurance can faithful believers in all generations rest in hope? Acts 1:10, 11; Titus 2:11–13.
“The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future. They knew that Jesus was in heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. They knew that they had a friend at the throne of God, and they were eager to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus.”—Ibid., p. 833.
“With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.’ Revelation 5:12. . . .
“From that scene of heavenly joy, there comes back to us on earth the echo of Christ’s own wonderful words, ‘I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.’ John 20:17. The family of heaven and the family of earth are one. For us our Lord ascended, and for us He lives. ‘Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.’ Hebrews 7:25.”—Ibid., pp. 834, 835.
4. MEETING WITH AN AIM
a. Where did the disciples gather, who were those present, and what did they do? Acts 1:12–14. What can we learn from this step?
“As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief. As they called to remembrance the words that Christ had spoken to them before His death they understood more fully their meaning. Truths which had passed from their memory were again brought to their minds, and these they repeated to one another. . . .
“These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 36, 37.
b. Name one decision made by the early church, composed of 120 believers. Acts 1:15–26. Why should the way the choice was made in the very young church not necessarily be viewed as the usual method? Acts 6:3.
“Every member of the church has a voice in choosing officers of the church.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 236.
“Let none be led from the sound, sensible principles that God has laid down for the guidance of His people, to depend for direction on any such device as the tossing up of a coin. Such a course is well pleasing to the enemy of souls; for he works to control the coin, and through its agency works out his plans. Let none be so easily deceived as to place confidence in any such tests. Let none belittle their experience by resorting to cheap devices for direction in important matters connected with the work of God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 326.
“ ‘Read your Bibles with much prayer. Do not try to humble others, but humble yourselves before God, and deal gently with one another. To cast lots for the officers of the church is not in God’s order. Let men of responsibility be called upon to select the officers of the church.’ ”—Ibid., p. 328.
5. OUR NEED TODAY
a. What is the greatest need of all of us right now? Isaiah 26:4, 8, 9.
“ ‘When you give up your own will, your own wisdom, and learn of Christ, you will find admittance into the kingdom of God. He requires entire, unreserved surrender. Give up your life for Him to order, mold, and fashion. Take upon your neck His yoke. Submit to be led and taught by Him. Learn that unless you become as a little child, you can never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“ ‘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. . . .
“ ‘You must have an inward, higher experience. You must obtain a growth in grace by abiding in Christ. When you are converted, you will not be a hindrance, but will strengthen your brethren.’ ”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 110, 111.
“We must be much in prayer if we would make progress in the divine life. When the message of truth was first proclaimed, how much we prayed. How often was the voice of intercession heard in the chamber, in the barn, in the orchard, or the grove. Frequently we spent hours in earnest prayer, two or three together claiming the promise; often the sound of weeping was heard and then the voice of thanksgiving and the song of praise. Now the day of God is nearer than when we first believed, and we should be more earnest, more zealous, and fervent than in those early days. Our perils are greater now than then. Souls are more hardened. We need now to be imbued with the spirit of Christ, and we should not rest until we receive it.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 161, 162.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Name the conditions for receiving the Holy Spirit, as shown in John 14.
2. Why are we told not to try to base our faith on the setting of time?
3. Why is the Holy Spirit essential to the Christian life?
4. What was the main focus of prayer in the first church gathering?
5. How can we be inspired by the focus of the early Advent believers?