Sabbath, July 2, 2005
The Plan of Salvation and the Church
“ ‘God is love.’ (1 John 4:16). His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33.
All the creatures of God, and the plan of salvation, testify that God is love. By giving His only begotten Son to save the world that is in enmity with God, He has demonstrated what love is. In order to reveal this mysterious love, God established the church, through which He will display His ultimate and bountiful love in the future.
“God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.
The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory.” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 356.
“From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the fi nal and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.
Satan, therefore, reveals his enmity against God on His church so that His plan of salvation wouldn’t be fulfi lled. The church has been the target of Satan’s attack throughout the ages. But God always had His own faithful people, through whom He has been fulfilling His purpose.
Satan’s works in the last days are increasing. The Laodicean church, that represents this period, has progressively lost its strength to perform God’s purpose and is drifting without the compass. As a consequence, at the present time, numerous churches and independent organizations are coming into existence, claiming to represent the work of the remnant.
Considering these circumstances, these Sabbath School Lessons were prepared to reassure our faith, to reconfirm our mission, and to help carry out our purpose as a remnant people. In this quarter, for thirteen Sabbaths, we shall study the important theme “The Plan of Salvation and the Church”.
A faithful student of this subject will understand and realize who God’s remnant people are, and will cooperate with firm understanding in the fulfillment of the mission entrusted to the church.
Every lesson of this quarter will present its objectives and is composed of eight questions, two questions under each subtitle, so that we can study on a regular time and content basis.
A section “For Our Thoughts” is located at the end of each lesson, to review the most essential points in a limited time. Each point comes from a subtitle, and the answer can be found in the two questions under a subtitle.
Dear students, a glorious victory is promised for the future of the church. The mission and privilege of the Sabbath School are going to be great. We must remember that Christ died for the church as surely as He died to save us. It is my prayer that each one of us will be glorified and victorious with the church.
“Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” Ephesians 5:25.
“In holy vision the prophet saw the ultimate triumph of God’s remnant church. …
‘These are they which follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.’ (Revelation 14:4).” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 590, 591.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” Ephesians 1:9, 10.
• To understand that, from the beginning, God has planned to reveal His character of love through His church.
• To consider that it is our privilege to understand God’s purpose in establishing a church on earth, so that we will be inspired to have affection and cherish our duty toward the church.
ESTABLISHING THE CHURCH
1. On which foundation was the church built, and by whose power?
Matthew 16:16, 18 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
“The word ‘Peter’ signifies a loose stone. Christ did not refer to Peter as being the rock upon which He would found His church. His expression ‘this rock,’ applied to Himself as the foundation of the Christian church.” –Seventh- day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1095.
“Human power and human might did not establish the church of God, and neither can they destroy it. Not on the rock of human strength, but on Christ Jesus, the Rock of Ages, was the church founded, ‘and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:18).” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 595, 596.
2. Who is the Chief Cornerstone of the church of the living God? What kind of stones are we expected to be?
1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Ephesians 2:20-22 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
“To be sons and daughters of God, growing into an holy temple to the Lord, ‘no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;’ ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone’ this is our privilege.
“How amazed is heaven at the present condition of the church that could be so much to the world if every stone were in its proper place, a living stone to emit light! A stone that does not shine is worthless. That which constitutes the value of our churches is not dead, lusterless stones, but living stones, stones that catch the bright beams from the Chief Cornerstone, even the Sun of Righteousness- the bright glory in which are combined the beams of mercy and truth that have met together, of righteousness and peace that have kissed each other.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1116.
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR BUILDING THE CHURCH
3. What is God’s purpose for establishing His church on earth? How should the believers meet this purpose?
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places,” the final and full display of the love of God (Ephesians 3:10).” – The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.
“God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 50.
4. Tell another purpose of God for the church. What advantages did God provide the church for this purpose?
Ezekiel 47: 8, 9 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
“Christ designs that heaven’s order, heaven’s plan of government, heaven’s divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth. Thus in His people He is glorified. Through them the Sun of Righteousness will shine in undimmed luster to the world. Christ has given to His church ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. He has bestowed upon His people capabilities and blessings that they may represent His own sufficiency. The church, endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depositary, in which the riches of His mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display. Christ looks upon His people in their purity and perfection, as the reward of His humiliation, and the supplement of His glory, Christ, the great Center, from whom radiates all glory.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 680.
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THIS AGE
5. What mission did God give to His church in this special time?
Revelation 14:6-12 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
“God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world. The three angels of Revelation 14 represent the people who accept the light of God’s messages and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth. Christ declares to His followers: ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 455, 456.
6. What other missions does the church of God have for this time? What does ‘building up old waste places’ mean?
Isaiah 51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
Isaiah 58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
“God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that His church may be one as He was one with His Father will finally be answered. The rich dowry of the Holy Spirit will be given, and through its constant supply to the people of God they will become witnesses in the world of the power of God unto salvation.
“There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 356.
PRIVILEGE OF THE CHURCH
7. Explain what final privilege and mission the church has. By what power will the Loud Cry be fulfilled?
Revelation 18:1-4 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
“As the members of the body of Christ approach the period of their last conflict, ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble,’ they will grow up into Christ, and will partake largely of His Spirit. As the third message swells to a loud cry, and as great power and glory attend the closing work, the faithful people of God will partake of that glory. It is the latter rain which revives and strengthens them to pass through the time of trouble. Their faces will shine with the glory of that light which attends the third angel.
“The prophecies in the eighteenth of Revelation will soon be fulfilled. During the proclamation of the third angel’s message, ‘another angel’ is to ‘come down from heaven, having great power,’ and the earth is to be ‘lightened with his glory.’ The Spirit of the Lord will so graciously bless consecrated human instrumentalities that men, women, and children will open their lips in praise and thanksgiving, filling the earth with the knowledge of God, and with His unsurpassed glory, as the waters cover the sea.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 984.
8. What preparation is required of the church for the last conflict? What does it mean for the church to be clothed with righteousness?
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
“Clad in the armor of Christ’s righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. ‘Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners’ (Song of Solomon 6:10), she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 725.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• Discuss what consists of the foundation and basis of the church.
• Apply God’s purpose for the church to yourself.
• Relate your feelings as you consider the mission of the church for this time.
• Discuss the importance of the mission of the church in proportion to its privilege.