Sabbath, October 15, 2011
“There is work for you to do in the church and out of the church. ‘Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.’ The fruit we bear is the only test of the character of the tree before the world. This is the proof of our discipleship. If our works are of such a character that as branches of the living Vine we bear rich clusters of precious fruit, then we wear before the world God’s own badge as His sons and daughters. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 348.
1. In addition to His work of healing and preaching, what did Jesus try to explain to His disciples that He would face at the end of His mission on earth? Nevertheless, what did the disciples imagine about His future? What similar situation exists today?
Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
“Before His crucifixion the Saviour explained to His disciples that He was to be put to death and to rise again from the tomb, and angels were present to impress His words on minds and hearts. But the disciples were looking for temporal deliverance from the Roman yoke, and they could not tolerate the thought that He in whom all their hopes centered should suffer an ignominious death. The words which they needed to remember were banished from their minds; and when the time of trial came, it found them unprepared. The death of Jesus as fully destroyed their hopes as if He had not forewarned them. So in the prophecies the future is opened before us as plainly as it was opened to the disciples by the words of Christ. The events connected with the close of probation and the work of preparation for the time of trouble, are clearly presented. But multitudes have no more understanding of these important truths than if they had never been revealed. Satan watches to catch away every impression that would make them wise unto salvation, and the time of trouble will find them unready.” –The Great Controversy, p. 594.
2. With what was the privilege of being Jesus’ disciple connected? What two actions are part of discipleship? Who is naturally able to do this?
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
“… Jesus bade His followers take up the cross and bear it after Him. To the disciples His words, though dimly comprehended, pointed to their submission to the most bitter humiliation–submission even unto death for the sake of Christ. No more complete self-surrender could the Saviour’s words have pictured. But all this He had accepted for them. Jesus did not count heaven a place to be desired while we were lost. He left the heavenly courts for a life of reproach and insult, and a death of shame. He who was rich in heaven’s priceless treasure, became poor, that through His poverty we might be rich. We are to follow in the path He trod.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 416.
“Those who would gain the blessing of sanctification must first learn the meaning of self-sacrifice. The cross of Christ is the central pillar on which hangs the ‘far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ ‘If any man will come after Me,’ Christ says, ‘let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ 2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 16:24. It is the fragrance of our love for our fellow men that reveals our love for God. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul. It is through humble, diligent, faithful toil that the welfare of Israel is promoted. God upholds and strengthens the one who is willing to follow in Christ’s way.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 560.
3. What did Jesus teach concerning those who do not follow Him–who put themselves in first place (as if they would thus save themselves)? But what is assured to those who put Jesus and His glory first?
Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Mark 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
Luke 9:24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
“‘Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.’ Selfishness is death. No organ of the body could live should it confine its service to itself. The heart, failing to send its lifeblood to the hand and the head, would quickly lose its power. As our lifeblood, so is the love of Christ diffused through every part of His mystical body. We are members one of another, and the soul that refuses to impart will perish. And ‘what is a man profited,’ said Jesus, ‘if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 417.
4. What choice must every person on earth make? What are the costs and risks?
Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
“And today men are eagerly seeking for earthly treasure. Their minds are filled with selfish, ambitious thoughts. For the sake of gaining worldly riches, honor, or power, they place the maxims, traditions, and requirements of men above the requirements of God. From them the treasures of His word are hidden.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 106.
“In view of the glorious inheritance that may be his, ‘what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ Matthew 16:26. He may be poor, yet he possesses in himself a wealth and dignity that the world could never bestow. The soul redeemed and cleansed from sin, with all its noble powers dedicated to the service of God, is of surpassing worth; and there is joy in heaven in the presence of God and the holy angels over one soul redeemed, a joy that is expressed in songs of holy triumph.” –Steps to Christ, p. 126.
5. What in the world is worth more than eternal life?
Mark 8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
“There is danger of losing all in the pursuit of worldly gain; for in the feverish eagerness for earthly treasure, higher interests are forgotten. The care and perplexity that are involved in laying up treasures upon the earth, leave no time nor desire to estimate the value of eternal riches…. ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ Your thoughts, your plans, your motives, will have an earthly mold, and your soul will be defiled with covetousness and selfishness. ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’…” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 217.
“This is a question that demands consideration by every parent, every teacher, every student–by every human being, young or old. No scheme of business or plan of life can be sound or complete that embraces only the brief years of this present life and makes no provision for the unending future. Let the youth be taught to take eternity into their reckoning. Let them be taught to choose the principles and seek the possessions that are enduring–to lay up for themselves that ‘treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth;’ to make to themselves friends ‘by means of the mammon of unrighteousness,’ that when it shall fail, these may receive them ‘into the eternal tabernacles.’ Luke 12:33; 16:9, R.V.” –Education, p. 145.
Joy in service
6. Having chosen to be a disciple of Christ, what service gives one joy every day? What future glory will eclipse everything that happens on this earth?
Matthew 19:28, 29 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
“There are men and women who have left all for Christ’s sake. Their own temporal interests, their own enjoyment of society and of family and friends, are made of less importance than the interests of the kingdom of God. They have not made houses and lands, and relatives and friends however dear, first in their affections, and God’s cause second. And those who do this, who devote their lives to the advancement of the truth, to bringing many sons and daughters to God, have the promise that they shall have a hundredfold in this life and in the world to come life everlasting. Those who work from a noble standpoint and with unselfish motives will be consecrated to God, body, soul, and spirit. They will not exalt self; they will not feel competent to take responsibilities; but they will not refuse to bear burdens, for they will have a desire to do all that they are capable of doing. These will not study their own convenience; the question with them will be: What is duty?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 428.
7. By contrast, what result will there be for those who center in themselves and deny the Saviour? But to what may those who are not ashamed of Jesus look forward?
Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
“Jesus had told His disciples that there were some standing with Him who should not taste of death till they should see the kingdom of God come with power. At the transfiguration this promise was fulfilled. The countenance of Jesus was there changed and shone like the sun. His raiment was white and glistening…. The disciples beheld with astonishment and fear the excellent majesty of Jesus and the cloud that overshadowed them, and heard the voice of God in terrible majesty, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son; hear Him.’” –Early Writings, p. 164.
“Says Christ, the beloved Teacher: ‘Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ Yes, follow Him through evil as well as through good report. Follow Him in befriending the most needy and friendless. Follow Him in being forgetful of self, abundant in acts of self-denial and self-sacrifice to do others good; when reviled, reviling not again; manifesting love and compassion for the fallen race. He counted not His life dear, but gave it up for us all. Follow Him from the lowly manger to the cross. He was our example. He tells you that if you would be His disciple you must take the cross, the despised cross, and follow Him. Can ye drink of the cup? Can ye be baptized with the baptism?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 177.
For additional study
• Luke 22:28-30
• The Desire of Ages, pp. 416-418
• Our High Calling, p. 144
Discipleship and service
Relate an experience of blessing in the Lord’s service.