Sabbath, January 21, 2017

“… In vain are men’s dreams of progress, in vain all efforts for the uplifting of humanity, if they neglect the one Source of hope and help for the fallen race. ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift’ (James 1:17) is from God. There is no true excellence of character apart from Him. And the only way to God is Christ. He says, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.’ John 14:6.” –Steps to Christ, p. 21.

A message of peace and hope

1. Considering the coming passion with all its pain and sorrow, how did Jesus encourage His disciples? Despite their uncertainty, what were they to do?

John 14:1, 27, 28 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me…. 27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 

“How precious is the knowledge that we have a faithful Friend, One who will impart to us a noble, elevated character that will fit us for the companionship of the heavenly angels in the courts above! His guardianship is over all His children. They have a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. The loss of earthly treasures does not make them hopeless or homeless…. 

“Many think to find security in earthly riches. But Christ seeks to remove from their eye the mote that obscures the vision, and thus enable them to behold the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. They are mistaking phantoms for realities, and have lost sight of the glories of the eternal world. Christ calls upon them to extend their view beyond the present and add eternity to their vision.” –The Upward Look, p. 355.

Invitation to the Father’s house

2. Instead of an earthly kingdom, to what home did He direct their minds? Although He made it clear that He would soon be leaving, what wonderful promises did He give to comfort them? 

John 14:2-4 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 

“For your sake I came into the world. I am working in your behalf. When I go away, I shall still work earnestly for you. I came into the world to reveal Myself to you, that you might believe. I go to the Father to cooperate with Him in your behalf. The object of Christ’s departure was the opposite of what the disciples feared. It did not mean a final separation. He was going to prepare a place for them, that He might come again, and receive them unto Himself. While He was building mansions for them, they were to build characters after the divine similitude.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 663.

“Thus will be fulfilled Christ’s promise to His disciples, ‘I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.’ John 14:3. Those who have loved Him and waited for Him, He will crown with glory and honor and immortality. The righteous dead will come forth from their graves, and those who are alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They will hear the voice of Jesus, sweeter than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, saying to them, Your warfare is accomplished. ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:34.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 34.

The only way to the Father

3. Had Thomas and the other disciples figured out where Jesus was going? Through whom alone can the Father be approached and reached? What shows that Jesus is the only way?

John 14:5-7 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

“There are not many ways to heaven. Each one may not choose his own way. Christ says, ‘I am the way:… no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.’ Since the first gospel sermon was preached, when in Eden it was declared that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, Christ had been uplifted as the way, the truth, and the life. He was the way when Adam lived, when Abel presented to God the blood of the slain lamb, representing the blood of the Redeemer. Christ was the way by which patriarchs and prophets were saved. He is the way by which alone we can have access to God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 663.

4. What personal desire did Philip express? How are we to understand Jesus’ words that one who has seen Him has seen the Father?

John 14:8, 9 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 

“Amazed at his dullness of comprehension, Christ asked with pained surprise, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?” Is it possible that you do not see the Father in the works He does through Me? Do you not believe that I came to testify of the Father? ‘How sayest thou then, Show us the Father?’ ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ Christ had not ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to humanity, the Godhead was still His own. Christ alone could represent the Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 663, 664.

Close communion between the Father and Son

5. How close is the relationship between the Father and His Son? Therefore, how should we consider Jesus’ words and works? What did He say to make His disciples aware that the Father was acting through His Son? 

John 14:10, 11 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. 

“If the disciples believed this vital connection between the Father and the Son, their faith would not forsake them when they saw Christ’s suffering and death to save a perishing world. Christ was seeking to lead them from their low condition of faith to the experience they might receive if they truly realized what He was–God in human flesh. He desired them to see that their faith must lead up to God, and be anchored there. How earnestly and perseveringly our compassionate Saviour sought to prepare His disciples for the storm of temptation that was soon to beat upon them. He would have them hid with Him in God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 664.

Results of faith and close communion

6. What makes it possible for one truly to believe in the Son? Who will reach that level of faith and consecration in which he does the same works that Jesus did, and even greater?

John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 

“The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 664.

7. What is possible when there is a right relationship between the Father and the disciple? At the same time, what will a disciple do if he truly loves his Lord?

John 14:13-15 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 15If ye love me, keep my commandments.

“… To pray in Christ’s name means much. It means that we are to accept His character, manifest His spirit, and work His works. The Saviour’s promise is given on condition. ‘If ye love Me,” He says, ‘keep My commandments.’ He saves men, not in sin, but from sin; and those who love Him will show their love by obedience…. 

“By this Christ did not mean that the disciples’ work would be of a more exalted character than His, but that it would have greater extent. He did not refer merely to miracle working, but to all that would take place under the working of the Holy Spirit…. 

“After the Lord’s ascension, the disciples realized the fulfillment of His promise…. The Saviour’s promise to His disciples is a promise to His church to the end of time. God did not design that His wonderful plan to redeem men should achieve only insignificant results. All who will go to work, trusting not in what they themselves can do, but in what God can do for and through them, will certainly realize the fulfillment of His promise. ‘Greater works than these shall ye do,’ He declares; ‘because I go unto My Father.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, pp. 668, 664, 667.

Thought questions

– Comparing the central message of this lesson, what light does it cast on the popular idea that all ways, or all religions, lead to the same place–to God?
– What is the reason why only one way leads to God and why this presents not a limitation but a great opportunity, which then facilitates finding it?
– What will a child who is taken by force from his father’s house do when his freedom is restored? How will he feel when someone like Jesus helps him to return home?

For additional study

In carrying out his enmity to Christ until He hung upon the cross of Calvary, with wounded, bruised body and broken heart, Satan completely uprooted himself from the affections of the universe. It was then seen that God had in His Son denied Himself, giving Himself for the sins of the world, because He loved mankind. The Creator was revealed in the Son of the infinite God. Here the question, ‘Can there be self-denial with God?’ was forever answered. Christ was God, and condescending to be made flesh, He assumed humanity and became obedient unto death, that He might undergo infinite sacrifice.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 342.

“Man must not only read the Word of God, supposing that a casual knowledge of this Word will bring about in him a reformation of character. This work only the One who is the way, the truth, and the life can accomplish. Firmly may certain doctrines of truth be held. Again and again they may be reiterated, till the holders come to think that they are indeed in possession of the great blessings which these doctrines represent. But the greatest, most powerful truths may be held, and yet kept in the outer court, exerting little influence to make the daily life wholesome and fragrant. The soul is not sanctified through the truth that is not practiced.” –Evangelism, p. 290.

“Jesus has done all in His power to give you a home in the mansions that are prepared for them that love and serve Him here. He left His heavenly home, and came to a world marred by sin–came to a people who did not appreciate Him, who did not love His purity and holiness, who slighted His teachings, and finally put Him to a most cruel death. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ “ –Messages to Young People, p. 346.