Sabbath, February 18, 2017

“We must not think that by walking in the path of obedience, we shall escape trials, for the enemy will do all in his power to hinder us from gaining heaven. But the Saviour has promised to help us. Have you trials? So had Jesus. Are you tempted? So was He–in all points like as we are. ‘He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.’ John 1:10-12.” –The Upward Look, p. 325.

What the world gives

1. Knowing what was awaiting them in the world, what did Jesus tell His disciples ahead of time? What should we expect, since Jesus was hated?

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 

“As we separate from the world and its customs, we shall meet with the displeasure of worldlings. The world hated the One who was the very embodiment of virtue, because He was better than they were. The servant is not greater than his Lord. If our ways please God, the world will hate us. If the Majesty of heaven came to this world, and endured a life of humiliation and a death of shame, why should we shrink back because obedience involves a cross? If He was persecuted, can we expect better treatment?… I point you to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He will comfort and sustain all who come to Him for help….” –The Upward Look, p. 325.

2. What is the reason for this hatred? Truthfully, can we say that we do not belong to the world and therefore are hated?

John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 

“You have entertained the opinion that the reason why the world is so much opposed to us as a people is that we are too unsocial, too plain in our dress, and too strict in regard to amusements, withdrawing ourselves from them too much in practice as well as in precept. You have thought that if we would be less exclusive and would mingle more with the world, their opinions and impressions of us would be greatly modified. But no greater mistake could affect the human mind.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 433.

Rejection and persecution

3. What will be the world’s attitude toward the gospel message as the coming of Jesus draws nearer? What is the real reason for such attitudes against the people of God?

John 15:20, 21 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 

“Like Israel, Christians too often yield to the influence of the world and conform to its principles and customs, in order to secure the friendship of the ungodly; but in the end it will be found that these professed friends are the most dangerous of foes. The Bible plainly teaches that there can be no harmony between the people of God and the world. ‘Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.’ 1 John 3:13. Our Saviour says, ‘Ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.’ John 15:18. Satan works through the ungodly, under cover of a pretended friendship, to allure God’s people into sin, that he may separate them from Him; and when their defense is removed, then he will lead his agents to turn against them and seek to accomplish their destruction.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 559.

“The friends of Christ’s truth will ever be persecuted by a time-serving generation. They will be termed enthusiasts and fanatics by the enemies of reform. The burning truths of God’s word, condemning sin, and admonishing to righteousness are not palatable to the wrong-doer. Every true follower of Christ should have the spirit of a martyr, being ready to sacrifice any and everything rather than forfeit the favor of God.” –Signs of the Times, February 7, 1878.

Knowledge and responsibility

4. Can we say that the generation of Jesus’ time just did not have enough evidence to believe in Him and His message? Could they give to the Lord some excuse for not believing Him?

John 1:5; 15:22, 24 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…. 15:22If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin…. 24If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 

“There are many at the present day thus clinging to the customs and traditions of their fathers. When the Lord sends them additional light, they refuse to accept it, because, not having been granted to their fathers, it was not received by them. We are not placed where our fathers were; consequently our duties and responsibilities are not the same as theirs. We shall not be approved of God in looking to the example of our fathers to determine our duty instead of searching the word of truth for ourselves. Our responsibility is greater than was that of our ancestors. We are accountable for the light which they received, and which was handed down as an inheritance for us, and we are accountable also for the additional light which is now shining upon us from the word of God.” –The Great Controversy, p. 164.

Why the message is rejected

5. If a person loves darkness, how can he, logically speaking, appreciate and accept light? What are the real reasons for denying the gospel message?

John 3:19, 20 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 

“Those who have an opportunity to hear the truth, and yet take no pains to hear or understand it, thinking that if they do not hear, they will not be accountable, will be judged guilty before God the same as if they had heard and rejected it. There will be no excuse for those who choose to go in error when they might understand what is truth. In His sufferings and death Jesus has made atonement for all sins of ignorance, but there is no provision made for willful blindness…. 

“We shall not be held accountable for the light that has not reached our perception, but for that which we have resisted and refused. A man could not apprehend the truth which had never been presented to him, and therefore could not be condemned for light he had never had. But if he had opportunity to hear the message, and to become acquainted with the truth, and yet refused to improve his opportunity, he will be among the number of whom Christ said, ‘Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.’ Those who deliberately place themselves where they will not have an opportunity of hearing the truth, will be reckoned among those who have heard the truth, and persistently resisted its evidences.” –(Review and Herald, April 25, 1893) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1145.

Love for the Father and acceptance of the Son

6. If someone rejects and hates Jesus, can he then love and obey the Father? What will those who truly believe and love the Father do?

John 15:23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 

1 John 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 

2 John 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 

John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 

“He who denies the personality of God and of His Son Jesus Christ, is denying God and Christ. ‘If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.’ If you continue to believe and obey the truths you first embraced regarding the personality of the Father and the Son, you will be joined together with Him in love. There will be seen that union for which Christ prayed just before His trial and crucifixion.” –Review and Herald, March 8, 1906.

Endurance and blessing

7. Is it possible to imagine that a person can hate someone without a real reason? Exactly what will God’s children experience when they suffer hatred and persecution? 

Psalm 35:19; 69:4 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause…. 69:4They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. 

John 15:25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

“While slander may blacken the reputation, it cannot stain the character. That is in God’s keeping. So long as we do not consent to sin, there is no power, whether human or satanic, that can bring a stain upon the soul. A man whose heart is stayed upon God is just the same in the hour of his most afflicting trials and most discouraging surroundings as when he was in prosperity, when the light and favor of God seemed to be upon him. His words, his motives, his actions, may be misrepresented and falsified, but he does not mind it, because he has greater interests at stake. Like Moses, he endures as ‘seeing Him who is invisible’ (Hebrews 11:27); looking ‘not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.’ 2 Corinthians 4:18.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 32.

Thought questions

  • Is opposition to the gospel message something that was present at the time of Jesus, or does it go very far back in history?
  • Since Jesus was the purest, holiest One who ever lived on earth, how can we explain the hatred and violence unleashed against Him?
  • Do you feel ready to face such spiritual opposition should it come against you at any moment?

For additional study 

Christ is acquainted with all that is misunderstood and misrepresented by men. His children can afford to wait in calm patience and trust, no matter how much maligned and despised; for nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, and those who honor God shall be honored by Him in the presence of men and angels….

“ ‘When men shall revile you, and persecute you,’ said Jesus, ‘rejoice, and be exceeding glad.’ And He pointed His hearers to the prophets who had spoken in the name of the Lord, as ‘an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.’ James 5:10. Abel, the very first Christian of Adam’s children, died a martyr. Enoch walked with God, and the world knew him not. Noah was mocked as a fanatic and an alarmist. ‘Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.’ ‘Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.’ Hebrews 11:36, 35.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 32, 33.