Sabbath, January 3, 2004
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
• To understand what are the reasons for the pain and death that affect a very human being.
• To make known to others the goodness of God and His great love for man.
• To accept the most perfect and loving revelation of the love of God and His wonderful sacrifice.
THE REASON FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING
1. How were death and suffering introduced into this world?
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
“God made man perfectly holy and happy; and the fair earth, as it came from the Creator’s hand, bore no blight of decay or shadow of the curse. It is transgression of God’s law–the law of love–that has brought woe and death. Yet even amid the suffering that results from sin, God’s love is revealed. It is written that God cursed the ground for man’s sake. Genesis 3:17.” – Steps to Christ, p. 9.
2. According to God, what instruments did He find necessary for the good of fallen man?
Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
“The thorn and the thistle–the difficulties and trials that make his life one of toil and care–were appointed for his good as a part of the training needful in God’s plan for his uplifting from the ruin and degradation that sin has wrought.” – Steps to Christ, p. 9.
EVIDENCE OF GOD’S GOODNESS
3. How can I see that God is love in this dying world?
Psalm 145:14-16 The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
“The world, though fallen, is not all sorrow and misery. In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses. “ ‘God is love’ is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green–all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 9, 10.
4. In what manner does the Lord constantly reveal Himself to man and how does He unite our hearts to His?
Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun.
Romans 1:19, 20 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
“God has bound our hearts to Him by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent His love.” – Steps to Christ, p.10.
5. How do those who do not understand God’s love consider Him, although there is so much evidence? Do men acknowledge God’s love and appreciate Him as they should?
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Isaiah 6:9, 10 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
“Though all these evidences have been given, the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that they looked upon God with fear; they thought of Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice,–one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 10, 11.
THE MOST PERFECT REVELATION OF THE LOVE OF GOD
6. Who was the only being who was able to truly reveal the character of God and erase the shadow with which Satan tried to distort things?
John 17:4-6 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.
Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
“It was to remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus came to live among men. “The Son of God came from heaven to make manifest the Father. ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.’ John 1:18. ‘Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.’ Matthew 11:27. When one of the disciples made the request, Show us the Father,’ Jesus answered, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?’ John 14:8, 9.”– Steps to Christ, p. 11.
7. What was the main purpose for the ministry of Jesus in favour of man?
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
“In describing His earthly mission, Jesus said, The Lord ‘hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.’ Luke 4:18.” – Steps to Christ, p. 11.
• What answer can be given to the questions about why injustice, pain, suffering and death exist?
• Notwithstanding all the evil man has done, is there evidence in the world of the love and goodness of God? Besides what has already been mentioned in the lesson, what other proofs may be given?
• Personally speaking, where do you find the clearest and most touching manifestation of God?