1. BUILDING COURAGEOUSLY
a. How do we most effectively build up one another? Romans 14:19.
“Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls—the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He labored that man should be true to himself, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth. They are to ‘follow after the things which make for peace’ (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.’ Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ their eternal life is secure. Their only fear should be lest they surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honored them.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 356.
a. As members of the body of Christ, what responsibility does each one of us too often neglect? Galatians 6:1, 2; Romans 15:1, 2.
“I have been and am still fellowshiping as brethren and sisters those who have been guilty of grave sins and who even now do not see their sins as God sees them. But the Lord bears with these persons, and why should not I? He will yet cause His Spirit so to impress their hearts that sin will appear to them as it appeared to Paul, exceedingly sinful.
“We know but little of our own hearts and have but little sense of our own need of the mercy of God. This is why we cherish so little of that sweet compassion which Jesus manifests toward us and which we should manifest toward one another. We should remember that our brethren are weak, erring mortals like ourselves. Suppose that a brother has through unwatchfulness been overborne by temptation and contrary to his general conduct has committed some error, what course shall be pursued toward him? We learn from the Bible that men whom God had used to do a great and good work committed grave sins. The Lord did not pass these by unrebuked, neither did He cast off His servants. When they repented, He graciously forgave them and revealed to them His presence and wrought through them. Let poor, weak mortals consider how great is their own need of pity and forbearance from God and from their brethren. Let them beware how they judge and condemn others.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 246, 247.
b. Describe the example our Master has given us. Romans 15:3.
“While in the world, [Jesus] was not of the world. It was a continual pain to Him to be brought in contact with the enmity, depravity, and impurity which Satan had brought in; but He had a work to do to bring man into harmony with the divine plan, and earth in connection with heaven, and He counted no sacrifice too great for the accomplishment of the object. He ‘was in all points tempted like as we are.’ Satan stood ready to assail Him at every step, hurling at Him his fiercest temptations; yet He ‘did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.’ . . .
“While abhorring sin, He wept with compassion over the sinner. He pleased not Himself. The Majesty of heaven clothed Himself with the humility of a child. This is the character of Christ. Are we walking in His footsteps?”—Ibid., pp. 421, 422.
3. HOPE TO SHINE FORTH
a. When plagued with darkness, where is our hope? Romans 15:4, 13.
“Poor, trembling soul, rest in the promises of God. In so doing, the enemy’s fetters will be broken, his suggestions will be powerless. Heed not the whisperings of the enemy. Go free, oppressed soul. Be of good courage. Say to your poor, desponding heart: ‘Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.’ I know that God loves you. Put your trust in Him. Think not of those things which bring sadness and distress; turn from every disagreeable thought and think of precious Jesus. Dwell upon His power to save, His undying, matchless love for you, even you.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 319.
b. What is to be the aim of our fellowship in Christ? Romans 15:5–7.
“When Christ made so great a sacrifice to save men and bring them into unity with one another, even as He was united with the Father, what sacrifice is too great for His followers to make in order to preserve that unity?
“If the world sees a perfect harmony existing in the church of God, it will be a powerful evidence to them in favor of the Christian religion.”—Ibid., vol. 4, p. 19.
c. How is this blessed experience to expand? Romans 15:8–12, 16.
“The Lord has declared that the Gentiles shall be gathered in, and not the Gentiles only, but the Jews. . . . There are Jews everywhere, and to them the light of present truth is to be brought. There are among them many who will come to the light, and who will proclaim the immutability of the law of God with wonderful power. The Lord God will work. He will do wonderful things in righteousness.”—Evangelism, p. 578.
“Paul teaches that believers are to be ‘sanctified by the Holy Ghost’ Romans 15:16. What is the work of the Holy Spirit? Jesus told His disciples: ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13).”—The Great Controversy, p. 469.
4. SPREADING TRUTH, NOT LIES
a. Toward the end of his epistle, of what did Paul warn the believers in Rome? Romans 16:17–19. How does this problem occur today?
“Brother J is deceived, and is deceiving others. His theme has been consecration, when his heart was not right. His mind has been divided. He has had no anchor to hold him, and has been floating about without a settled faith. Much of his time has been occupied in relating to one and another reports and stories calculated to distract and unsettle minds. He has had much to say in regard to my husband and myself, and against the visions. He has stood in a position, ‘Report, . . . and we will report it.’ God sent him not on such a mission. He has not known whom he has been serving. Satan has been using him to throw minds into confusion. What little influence he had he has used to prejudice minds against the third angel’s message. . . . God will open the eyes of honest souls to understand the cruel work of those who scatter and divide. He will mark those who cause divisions, that every honest one may escape from Satan’s snare.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 334.
b. Why can we press forward, looking onward in hope? Romans 16:20.
“Until Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, men will become perverse in spirit and turn from the truth to fables. The church will yet see troublous times. She will prophesy in sackcloth. But although she must meet heresies and persecutions, although she must battle with the infidel and the apostate, yet by the help of God she is bruising the head of Satan. The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock. They are to be His witnesses in the world, His instrumentalities to do a special, a glorious work in the day of His preparation.
“The gospel message does not win a single soul to Christ, or make its way to a single heart, without wounding the head of Satan. Whenever a captive is wrenched from his grasp, delivered from his oppression, the tyrant is defeated. The publishing houses, the presses, are instrumentalities in God’s hand to send out to every tongue and nation the precious light of truth. This light is reaching even to heathen lands, and is constantly making inroads upon superstition and every conceivable error. ”—Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 594, 595.
5. THE ETERNALLY MARVELOUS MYSTERY
a. How are we to cherish more wholeheartedly the unfolding of the mystery of redemption? Romans 16:25–27.
“From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, ‘They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads’ (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme—man’s uplifting—the power of God, ‘which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
“He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word.
“The science of redemption is the science of all sciences; the science that is the study of the angels and of all the intelligences of the unfallen worlds; the science that engages the attention of our Lord and Saviour; the science that enters into the purpose brooded in the mind of the Infinite—‘kept in silence through times eternal’ (Romans 16:25, R.V.); the science that will be the study of God’s redeemed throughout endless ages. This is the highest study in which it is possible for man to engage. As no other study can, it will quicken the mind and uplift the soul.”—Education, p. 126.
“In our life here, earthly, sin-restricted though it is, the greatest joy and the highest education are in service. And in the future state, untrammeled by the limitations of sinful humanity, it is in service that our greatest joy and our highest education will be found—witnessing, and ever as we witness learning anew ‘the riches of the glory of this mystery;’ ‘which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ Colossians 1:27.”—Ibid., p. 309.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can I build up others more effectively with my conversation?
2. When noticing defects in others, what should be my prayer?
3. What can we do for our fellowship in Christ to thrive and expand?
4. Why are backbiting and gossiping so harmful to the church?
5. Name some of the greatest joys of the hereafter.