Sabbath, September 22, 2007
“A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 332.
God’s Great Desire
1. What is God’s supreme desire for all of humanity?
1 John 2:25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 2:3, 4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
“I want you to be saved; your soul is precious. Jesus loves you. He has created you. You are in His possession, not only by creation, but by redemption. If those who loved you best would give their own life for you, it would not save your soul. Jesus has died that life and immortality might be brought to light, and be comprehended by every son and daughter of Adam.” –General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1897.
2. How many people will be saved when Christ returns?
Luke 13:23, 24 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
Romans 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
Matthew 7:13, 14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
“To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few–this will be our test.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 136.
“A few, yes, only a few, of the vast number who people the earth will be saved unto life eternal, while the masses who have not perfected their souls in obeying the truth will be appointed to the second death.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 213.
Striving For Christian Perfection
3. Before the saints are translated to heaven, what goal does God desire His people to reach?
Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
“God requires perfection of His children. His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character. This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to compose His kingdom. The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God’s law, and when those who claim to be children of God become Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God’s commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of the number who shall compose the family of heaven.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 315.
4. How is this lofty goal attainable?
Romans 8:3, 4 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Under the discipline of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, Christians must move onward and upward toward perfection. This is God’s command, and no one should say, I cannot do it. He should say instead, God requires me to be perfect, and He will give me strength to overcome all that stands in the way of perfection. He is the source of all wisdom, all power….” –Reflecting Christ, p 164.
“Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to obey God’s commandments; and in our own strength it is true that we cannot obey them. But Christ came in the form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of God’s precepts.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 314.
Characteristics Of Perfection
5. What are some characteristics of those who strive for perfection?
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 6:11, 12 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
6. What happens when Christians try to cover their faults or make excuses for character defects?
Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
“Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 311.
“If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess their sins and to put them away.” –The Great Controversy, p. 489.
7. What impression will be made on unbelievers who see Christians striving to develop Christlike characters?
2 Corinthians 2:15, 16 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
“Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment, even the expression of the countenance, has an influence. Upon the impression thus made there hang results for good or evil which no man can measure. Every impulse thus imparted is seed sown which will produce its harvest. It is a link in the long chain of human events, extending we know not whither. If by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same influence upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our unconscious influence thousands may be blessed.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 339, 340.
For God’s Glory
8. What is at stake in the perfection of Christian character?
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, honour, and glory, and blessing.
“The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 671.
“It is the purpose of God to glorify Himself in His people before the world. He expects those who bear the name of Christ to represent Him in thought, word, and deed. Their thoughts are to be pure and their words noble and uplifting, drawing those around them nearer the Saviour. The religion of Christ is to be interwoven with all that they do and say.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 21.
9. What glorious event takes place when Christian perfection has been embraced by God’s people?
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
“When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69.
“There will be no future probation in which to prepare for eternity. It is in this life that we are to put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is our only opportunity to form characters for the home which Christ has made ready for those who obey His commandments.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 319.