Special Sabbath School Offering for the
GENERAL CONFERENCE WORLD ASSEMBLY
Let us give generously and pray earnestly for the unity and blessing of God’s people!
Sabbath, March 4, 2017
“The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. In mind, in purpose, in character, they are one, but not in person. By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father. Through the working of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind, man is made complete in Christ Jesus. Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 286.
Pleading for the disciples
1. What did Jesus say about God’s word? What other request did He make, and what did He do for the sake of His followers?
John 17:17, 19 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth…. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
“Christ declared He sanctified Himself, that we also might be sanctified. He took upon Himself our nature, and became a faultless pattern for men. He made no mistake, that we also might become victors, and enter into His kingdom as overcomers. He prayed that we might be sanctified through the truth. What is truth? He declared, ‘Thy word is truth.’ His disciples were to be sanctified through obedience to the truth. He says, ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.’ That prayer was for us; we have believed in the testimony of the disciples of Christ. He prays that His disciples may be one, even as He and the Father are one; and this unity of believers is to be as testimony to the world that He has sent us, and that we bear the evidence of His grace.” –Review and Herald, July 2, 1889.
“God is the author of all truth; and truth practiced prepares the way for more advanced truth. When God’s delegated servants proclaim fresh truth, the Holy Spirit moves upon the mind which has been prepared by walking in the light, quickening the perceptive faculties to discern the beauty and majesty of truth.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (1923), p. 378.
A great mission
2. What great mission did He entrust to His disciples before His death? For whom else did He pray for help and guidance besides the twelve apostles?
John 17:18, 20 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world…. 20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.
“Christ’s followers are to be more than a light in the midst of men. They are the light of the world. Jesus says to all who have named His name, You have given yourselves to Me, and I have given you to the world as My representatives. As the Father had sent Him into the world, so, He declares, ‘have I also sent them into the world.’ John 17:18. As Christ is the channel for the revelation of the Father, so we are to be the channel for the revelation of Christ. While our Saviour is the great source of illumination, forget not, O Christian, that He is revealed through humanity. God’s blessings are bestowed through human instrumentality. Christ Himself came to the world as the Son of man. Humanity, united to the divine nature, must touch humanity. The church of Christ, every individual disciple of the Master, is heaven’s appointed channel for the revelation of God to men. Angels of glory wait to communicate through you heaven’s light and power to souls that are ready to perish. Shall the human agent fail of accomplishing his appointed work?” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 40.
The desire for unity
3. What other request did the Lord present to His Father for the disciples? What bond did there need to be among Jesus’ followers for them to give a correct representation of Him to the world?
John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
“The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite together in harmonious effort. It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God’s truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed; and as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of His followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are His disciples.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 145.
4. What did the Lord give the disciples to help them to be one? How deep and broad should be the unity of believers requested by the Saviour?
John 17:22, 23 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
“The powers of darkness stand a poor chance against believers who love one another as Christ has loved them, who refuse to create alienation and strife, who stand together, who are kind, courteous, and tender-hearted, cherishing the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. We must have the Spirit of Christ, or we are none of His.
“In unity there is strength; in division there is weakness.
“The closer our union with Christ, the closer will be our union with one another. Variance and disaffection, selfishness and conceit, are striving for supremacy. These are the fruits of a divided heart, open to the suggestions of the enemy of souls. Satan exults when he can sow seeds of dissension.
“In unity there is a life, a power, that can be obtained in no other way.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 286.
Seeing the Master’s glory
5. What deep desire did Jesus have for His disciples? Therefore, what is He doing now for His people?
John 17:24; 14:3 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world…. 14:3And 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.
“The prayer of Christ was answered. He was glorified with the glory which He had with His Father before the world was. But amid this glory, Christ does not lose sight of His toiling, struggling ones upon earth. He has a request to make of His Father. He waves back the heavenly host until He is in the direct presence of Jehovah, and then He presents His petition in behalf of His chosen ones.” –(Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899)….
“O, how the divine Head longed to have His church with Him! They had fellowship with Him in His suffering and humiliation, and it is His highest joy to have them with Him to be partakers of His glory. Christ claims the privilege of having His church with Him. ‘I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.’ To have them with Him is according to covenant promise and agreement with His Father.” –(Review and Herald, October 17, 1893) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, pp. 1146, 1148.
Receiving the best knowledge
6. While the world does not know the Father or the Son, what did the Master say about the disciples? Can we say that we know God as they did?
John 17:25; 16:27 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me…. 16:27For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
“The Son of God declared in positive terms that the world was destitute of the knowledge of God; but this knowledge was of the highest value, and it was His own peculiar gift, the inestimable treasure which He brought into the world. In the exercise of His sovereign prerogative He imparted to His disciples the knowledge of the character of God, in order that they might communicate it to the world.” –Lift Him Up, p. 36.
“But those who receive and believe the truth have that faith which works by love and purifies the soul from everything sensual. The world cannot know them, for they are keeping in view eternal realities. A motive power is working within to transform the character. A constraining influence received from heaven is working like the leaven hid in the meal. The love of Jesus has come into the heart with its redeeming power to conquer the entire being, soul, body, and spirit.” –(Manuscript 82, June 26, 1898, “The Leaven of Truth”) This Day with God, p. 186.
7. What did the Redeemer do to instill His love in His disciples? How does this apply to God’s children today?
John 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
“Christ came into the world to represent the Father to man; for Satan had presented Him before the world in a false light. Because God is a God of justice, of terrible majesty, who has power to destroy as well as to preserve man, Satan caused men to regard Him with fear, to look upon Him as a tyrant. Jesus had been with the Father from the everlasting ages, before the creation of man, and He came to reveal the Father, declaring, ‘God is love.’ Jesus represented God as a kind Father, who careth for the subjects of His kingdom. He declared that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of the Father, and that the children of men are of more value in His sight than many sparrows, that the very hairs of their head are all numbered.” –Lift Him Up, p. 36.
- What prayers in ancient times were intercessory prayers for individuals or groups of people?
- When was the prayer of Job accepted after he was healed and restored?
- How frequent are your intercessory prayers for others?
For additional study
“But the truth is no truth to the one who does not reveal, by his elevated spiritual character, a power beyond that which the world can give, an influence corresponding in its sacred, peculiar character to the truth itself. He who is sanctified by the truth will exert a saving, vital influence upon all with whom he comes in contact. This is Bible religion.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 378.
“What a wonderful statement! The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. In mind, in purpose, in character, they are one, but not in person. By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father. Through the working of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind, man is made complete in Christ Jesus. Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.” –(Manuscript 111, 1903) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1148.