Sabbath, August 25, 2012
“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.” Matthew 16:18.
Establishing the church
1. What did Christ establish on earth as His representative?
Matthew 16:18 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.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.
“The first step was now to be taken in the organization of the church that after Christ’s departure was to be His representative on earth.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 291.
“ ‘In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’ Men need to understand that Deity suffered and sank under the agonies of Calvary. Yet Jesus Christ whom God gave for the ransom of the world purchased the church with His own blood.” –(MS 153, 1898) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 907.
“The Saviour has given His precious life in order to establish a church capable of caring for sorrowful, tempted souls.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 640.
2. After His ascension, what earnest appeal did Jesus make to God for the church that He had established on earth?
Ephesians 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Ephesians 5:25, 27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
“Jesus immediately ascended to heaven and presented Himself before the throne of God, showing the marks of shame and cruelty upon His brow, His hands and feet. But he refused to receive the coronet of glory, and the royal robe, and He also refused the adoration of the angels as He had refused the homage of Mary, until the Father signified that His offering was accepted.
“He also had a request to prefer concerning His chosen ones upon earth. He wished to have the relation clearly defined that His redeemed should hereafter sustain to heaven, and to His Father. His church must be justified and accepted before He could accept heavenly honor…. In the most explicit manner Christ pleaded for His church, identifying His interest with theirs, and advocating, with love and constancy stronger than death, their rights and titles gained through Him.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1150.
3. On whom was the fury of Satan focused after Christ’s ascension? Why?
Revelation 12:12, 13 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
“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.
“The history of the early church testified to the fulfillment of the Saviour’s words. The powers of earth and hell arrayed themselves against Christ in the person of His followers…. The fires of persecution were kindled. Christians were stripped of their possessions and driven from their homes. They ‘endured a great fight of afflictions.’ Hebrews 10:32. They ‘had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.’ Hebrews 11:36. Great numbers sealed their testimony with their blood. Noble and slave, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, were alike slain without mercy.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 39, 40.
4. Where and for how long did the church flee from Satan’s persecution? What provided help for the church?
Revelation 12:14-16 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
“It was through one who declared himself to be a ‘brother, and companion in tribulation’ (Revelation 1:9), that Christ revealed to His church the things that they must suffer for His sake. Looking down through long centuries of darkness and superstition, the aged exile saw multitudes suffering martyrdom because of their love for the truth. But he saw also that He who sustained His early witnesses would not forsake His faithful followers during the centuries of persecution that they must pass through before the close of time. ‘Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer,’ the Lord declared; ‘behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation…. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.’ Revelation 2:10.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 588.
“Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 54, 55.
City of refuge for salvation
5. What noble ministry did Christ give His church?
Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
“ ‘The keys of the kingdom of heaven’ are the words of Christ. All the words of Holy Scripture are His, and are here included. These words have power to open and to shut heaven. They declare the conditions upon which men are received or rejected. Thus the work of those who preach God’s word is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Theirs is a mission weighted with eternal results.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 413, 414.
“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.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 50.
“The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 11.
6. What part of the plan of salvation will Christ accomplish through His church? What wonderful work will it do at the very end?
Ephesians 3:9, 10 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
“During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 12.
“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.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 50.
“The church will yet see troublous times…. But although she must meet heresies and persecutions, although she must battle with the infidel and the apostate, yet by the help of God she is bruising the head of Satan. The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock. They are to be His witnesses in the world, His instrumentalities to do a special, a glorious work in the day of His preparation.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 594, 595.
Remnant of the seed of the woman
7. Whom is Satan preparing to battle against in the last attack? What preparation does every child of God need for this final confrontation?
Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:11, 12 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
“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.
“The Christian is ever to realize that he is bought with a price, to stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel, to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. He is to reveal Christ to the world. The self-denial, the self-sacrifice, the sympathy, the love that were manifested in the life of Christ are to reappear in the life of His followers. In order to do this, we must put on the whole armor of God.” –Bible Echo, January 1, 1893.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 214.
For review and meditation
• Meditate on the fact that Christ’s death established His kingdom and church.
• What is the church’s mission on earth?
• How does the church wound Satan’s head?
“The gospel message does not win a single soul to Christ, or make its way to a single heart, without wounding the head of Satan.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595.