1. CHRIST’S PRIESTHOOD
a. What makes the Melchisedec priesthood better than the Levitical? Hebrews 6:19, 20; 7:7, 11, 19, 22, 27.
b. How does that relate to the laws for the priesthood? Hebrews 7:12, 28.
c. What prophecy shows that this change was planned and how do we know this is speaking of Jesus alone? Psalm 110:1, 4; Acts 2:34–36; Hebrews 6:20.
“The high priest was designed in an especial manner to represent Christ, who was to become a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. This order of priesthood was not to pass to another, or be superseded by another.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 930.
“When Christ expired on the cross, crying with a loud voice, ‘It is finished,’ His work was completed. The way was laid open, the vail was rent in twain. Man could approach God without sacrificial offerings, without the service of earthly priests. Christ Himself was a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Heaven was His home. He came to this world to reveal the Father. His work on the field of His humiliation and conflict was now done. He ascended up into the heavens.”—The Signs of the Times, August 16, 1899.
2. THE FOUNDATION OF THE MELCHISEDEC MINISTRY
a. What is the foundation of the Christian faith? Matthew 16:16–18; 1 Corinthians 10:4; 3:11.
“The truth which Peter had confessed is the foundation of the believer’s faith. It is that which Christ Himself has declared to be eternal life. But the possession of this knowledge was no ground for self-glorification. Through no wisdom or goodness of his own had it been revealed to Peter. Never can humanity, of itself, attain to a knowledge of the divine.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 412.
b. How do we know the foundation is not Peter? Matthew 16:21–23; Jeremiah 17:5.
“Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, ‘All ye are brethren.’ All are exposed to temptation, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency.”—Ibid., p. 414.
c. How important is pure doctrine in this foundation? 1 John 2:21; 2 John 1:10, 11; Proverbs 4:18.
d. What kind of church will be ready when Jesus comes and why? Ephesians 5:26, 27; 1 Timothy 3:15.
“God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.”—The Great Controversy, p. 595.
3. THE FOUNDATION . . . (CONTINUED)
a. What will a personal understanding of truth do for us and where can we find a concise understanding of it? John 8:32; Psalm 119:142.
“Our Lord designed that His church should reflect to the world the fullness and sufficiency that we find in Him. We are constantly receiving of God’s bounty, and by imparting of the same we are to represent to the world the love and beneficence of Christ. While all heaven is astir, dispatching messengers to every part of the earth to carry forward the work of redemption, the church of the living God are also to be colaborers with Christ. We are members of His mystical body. He is the head, controlling all the members of the body. Jesus Himself, in His infinite mercy, is working on human hearts, effecting spiritual transformations so amazing that angels look on with astonishment and joy. The same unselfish love that characterizes the Master is seen in the character and life of His true followers. Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world, thus not only reflecting His glory to the praise of God, but illumining the darkness of the world with the radiance of heaven. Thus will be fulfilled the words of Christ: ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ ”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 731.
b. Where does the Holy Spirit ultimately guide an individual and what else is it called in Scripture? John 16:13; Hebrews 12:23.
“Those who keep God’s commandments, those who live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, compose the church of the living God.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 949.
“Oh, how many hurt the heart of Christ because they want their own way, and their own will. Let the warfare be turned against these unenviable traits of character, and then they will not be against one another in the church of the living God. If there were only such elements existing in the church as characterized the life of Jesus Christ, there would be a firm union. The world is against the church to weaken and destroy it, but let the church of God press together, press together, press together. Let not Satan thrust himself between the members of the church. Do not give one stroke on the enemy’s side of the question. Put away egotism. Do not think that one or two men in the church are all the men who are conscientious in the church. You are far too narrow in your thoughts and in your actions.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, pp. 147, 148.
4. PARTAKERS IN THE FOUNDATION
a. Who else forms a part of the Christian foundation and why are they there? Ephesians 2:19, 20; 4:11, 12.
b. Why do we need to be a part of this structure and how does fellowship help us? Ephesians 4:13–16.
c. How important is our relationship with the church and how do we know it is not speaking about individuals but members making a collective body? Matthew 16:18, 19; 18:17–20.
“There is altogether too little respect paid to the opinion of members of the same church. It is the want of deference for the opinions of the church that causes so much trouble among brethren. The eyes of the church may be able to discern in its individual members that which the erring may not see. A few persons may be as blind as the one in error, but the majority of the church is a power which should control its individual members.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 107.
d. What authority does the church have? John 20:21–23.
“ ‘Whosesoever sins ye remit,’ said Christ, ‘they are remitted; . . . and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.’ Christ here gives no liberty for any man to pass judgment upon others. In the Sermon on the Mount He forbade this. It is the prerogative of God. But on the church in its organized capacity He places a responsibility for the individual members. Toward those who fall into sin, the church has a duty, to warn, to instruct, and if possible to restore. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort,’ the Lord says, ‘with all long-suffering and doctrine.’ 2 Timothy 4:2. Deal faithfully with wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other evil. ‘They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’ Galatians 5:21. If they persist in sin, the judgment you have declared from God’s word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven. He who despises the authority of the church despises the authority of Christ Himself.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 805, 806.
5. THE NATION OF ISRAEL
a. How is this church the true nation of Israel? Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 5.
“The Pharisees had declared themselves the children of Abraham. Jesus told them that this claim could be established only by doing the works of Abraham. The true children of Abraham would live, as he did, a life of obedience to God. They would not try to kill One who was speaking the truth that was given Him from God. In plotting against Christ, the rabbis were not doing the works of Abraham. A mere lineal descent from Abraham was of no value. Without a spiritual connection with him, which would be manifested in possessing the same spirit, and doing the same works, they were not his children.
“This principle bears with equal weight upon a question that has long agitated the Christian world—the question of apostolic succession. Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles’ spirit, the belief and teaching of the truth they taught, this is the true evidence of apostolic succession. This is what constitutes men the successors of the first teachers of the gospel.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 466, 467.
b. How do we become part of this nation? Matthew 7:24–27; Acts 2:37–41, 47; Galatians 3:26–29.
“Joining the church is one thing, and connecting with Christ is quite another. Not all the names registered in the church books are registered in the Lamb’s book of life. Many, though apparently sincere believers, do not keep up a living connection with Christ. They have enlisted, they have entered their names on the register; but the inner work of grace is not wrought in the heart. As the result they are not happy, and they make hard work of serving God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 278.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why was there a need to change the priesthood?
2. What is the only foundation that we can trust?
3. How does knowing all the truth lead us to the church of the living God?
4. How does the church have a responsibility for its membership?
5. What comprises the true nation of Israel today?