Sabbath, March 6, 2004
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Ephesians 4:15.
• To understand the spiritual application of the development of the seed into a plant.
• To understand the development process of the Christian life.
1. Just as the planting of a seed in the ground, what does the Lord expect from the believer after his rebirth? What does God call this change of heart?
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
“The change of heart by which we become children of God is in the Bible spoken of as birth. Again, it is compared to the germination of the good seed sown by the husbandman. In like manner those who are just converted to Christ are, ‘as new-born babes,’ to ‘grow up’ to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15. Or like the good seed sown in the field, they are to grow up and bring forth fruit. Isaiah says that they shall ‘be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.’ Isaiah 61:3. So from natural life, illustrations are drawn, to help us better to understand the mysterious truths of spiritual life.
“Not all the wisdom and skill of man can produce life in the smallest object in nature. It is only through the life which God Himself has imparted, that either plant or animal can live. So it is only through the life from God that spiritual life is begotten in the hearts of men. Unless a man is ‘born from above,’ he cannot become a partaker of the life which Christ came to give. John 3:3, margin.” – Steps to Christ, p. 67.
BLADE, EAR, CORN
2. What example does Jesus use to describe growth? With what does God compare the growth of a Christian?
Mark 4:28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
“As with life, so it is with growth. It is God who brings the bud to bloom and the flower to fruit. It is by His power that the seed develops, ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.’ Mark 4:28. And the prophet Hosea says of Israel, that ‘he shall grow as the lily.’ ‘They shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine.’ Hosea 14:5, 7. And Jesus bids us ‘consider the lilies how they grow.’ Luke 12:27.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 67, 68.
3. How can I abide and walk in Christ?
Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.
“Do you ask, ‘How am I to abide in Christ?’ In the same way as you received Him at first. ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.’ ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Colossians 2:6; Hebrews 10:38. You gave yourself to God, to be His wholly, to serve and obey Him, and you took Christ as your Saviour. You could not yourself atone for your sins or change your heart; but having given yourself to God, you believe that He for Christ’s sake did all this for you. By faith you became Christ’s, and by faith you are to grow up in Him–by giving and taking. You are to give all,–your heart, your will, your service,–give yourself to Him to obey all His requirements; and you must take all,–Christ, the fullness of all blessing, to abide in your heart, to be your strength, your righteousness, your everlasting helper,–to give you power to obey.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 69, 70.
4. What should be my primary goal every morning at the beginning of the day?
Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
“Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be rought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.” –Steps to Christ, p. 70.
5. Why is life with Christ a life of trust and peace for the soul?
Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
“A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there should be an abiding, peaceful trust. Your hope is not in yourself; it is in Christ. Your weakness is united to His strength, your ignorance to His wisdom, your frailty to His enduring might. So you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ. Let the mind dwell upon His love, upon the beauty, the perfection, of His character. Christ in His self-denial, Christ in His humiliation, Christ in His purity and holiness, Christ in His matchless love–this is the subject for the soul’s contemplation. It is by loving Him, copying Him, depending wholly upon Him, that you are to be transformed into His likeness. “Jesus says, ‘Abide in Me.’ These words convey the idea of rest, stability, confidence. Again He invites, ‘Come unto Me,… and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28. The words of the psalmist express the same thought: ‘Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.’ And Isaiah gives the assurance, ‘In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.’ Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 30:15.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 70, 71.
6. What can I learn from the disciples in order to become like Jesus? What change shall I experience if I abide in Christ as did the apostle John?
Acts 4:13, …and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
“It was thus that the early disciples gained their likeness to the dear Saviour. When those disciples heard the words of Jesus, they felt their need of Him. They sought, they found, they followed Him. They were with Him in the house, at the table, in the closet, in the field. They were with Him as pupils with a teacher, daily receiving from His lips lessons of holy truth. They looked to Him, as servants to their master, to learn their duty. Those disciples were men ‘subject to like passions as we are.’ James 5:17. They had the same battle with sin to fight. They needed the same grace, in order to live a holy life. “Even John, the beloved disciple, the one who most fully reflected the likeness of the Saviour, did not naturally possess that loveliness of character. He was not only self-assertive and ambitious for honor, but impetuous, and resentful under injuries. But as the character of the Divine One was manifested to him, he saw his own deficiency and was humbled by the knowledge. The strength and patience, the power and tenderness, the majesty and meekness, that he beheld in the daily life of the Son of God, filled his soul with admiration and love. Day by day his heart was drawn out toward Christ, until he lost sight of self in love for his Master. His resentful, ambitious temper was yielded to the molding power of Christ. The regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit renewed his heart. The power of the love of Christ wrought a transformation of character. This is the sure result of union with Jesus. When Christ abides in the heart, the whole nature is transformed. Christ’s Spirit, His love, softens the heart, subdues the soul, and raises the thoughts and desires toward God and heaven.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 72, 73.
7. On what does the success of the Christian depend in this life full of sin?
Philippians 2:13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
“Jesus prayed for us, and He asked that we might be one with Him, even as He is one with the Father. What a union is this! The Saviour has said of Himself, ‘The Son can do nothing of Himself;’ ‘the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.’ John 5:19; 14:10. Then if Christ is dwelling in our hearts, He will work in us ‘both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ Philippians 2:13. We shall work as He worked; we shall manifest the same spirit. And thus, loving Him and abiding in Him, we shall ‘grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.’ Ephesians 4:15.” – Steps to Christ, p. 75.