Sabbath, July 14, 2018

Lesson 2 – Captain of the Army

“In earnest, determined exercise as faithful soldiers, obeying the orders of the Captain of our salvation, there is genuine enjoyment such as can be obtained in no other employment. The peace of Christ will be in the heart of the faithful soldier. There is rest for the soul in wearing Christ’s yoke, in lifting Christ’s burdens. It seems a contradiction to say that there is no rest for the soul except that which is found in continuous and devoted service. But this is true. Happiness comes in willing, obedient service, where all the powers of our being are moving in happy, healthy, harmonious action in obeying our Captain’s orders. The more responsible the task assigned to Christ’s soldiers, the more the soul exults in the Saviour’s love and approval. The soul realizes a freedom in the performance of the weightiest and most taxing duties.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 346.

The Captain gives the orders

1. Who leads the spiritual battle?
1 Samuel 17:47. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.
2 Chronicles 20:15. And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
Psalm 48:14. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

“The people whom God is leading must venture out upon His word. They must walk forward by faith. Truths have been committed to them which they must obey. The work of God is aggressive. No one can stand in a neutral position and yet be a soldier in the Lord’s army. God has commands for His people, and if they keep in close connection with Him, they will hear His voice, and will keep in step with their Captain. They will go forward in the conflict to fight the battles of the Lord. But those who place themselves in an indifferent, noncommittal position will gain no victories.” –The Upward Look, p. 339.

2. Who is the Representative of the Captain of the host?
John 16:7, 13, 14. 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you…. 13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.

“The children of God are cooperating with all the invisible host of light. And more than angels are in their ranks; the Holy Spirit, the representative of the Captain of the Lord’s host, comes down to direct the battle. Our infirmities may be many, our mistakes and sins numerous, but forgiveness is for all who, with contrition of heart, will confess and forsake their sins. Angels of light are sent to render them all the help that is required.” –The Upward Look, p. 82.

The Captain is always with His army

3. Having all power and knowing that the battle would not be easy, what promise did Jesus give His disciples?
Matthew 28:18-20. 18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
John 14:18. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

“Christ did not tell His disciples that their work would be easy. He showed them the vast confederacy of evil arrayed against them. They would have to fight ‘against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ Ephesians 6:12. But they would not be left to fight alone. He assured them that He would be with them; and that if they would go forth in faith, they should move under the shield of Omnipotence. He bade them be brave and strong; for One mightier than angels would be in their ranks–the General of the armies of heaven. He made full provision for the prosecution of their work and took upon Himself the responsibility of its success. So long as they obeyed His word, and worked in connection with Him, they could not fail. Go to all nations, He bade them. Go to the farthest part of the habitable globe and be assured that My presence will be with you even there. Labor in faith and confidence; for the time will never come when I will forsake you. I will be with you always, helping you to perform your duty, guiding, comforting, sanctifying, sustaining you, giving you success in speaking words that shall draw the attention of others to heaven.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 29.

4. How does the Lord intervene to save His disciples in response to faithful prayer?
Proverbs 16:7. When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Psalm 34:7. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
2 Kings 6:15-17. 15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

“The Captain of our salvation will strengthen His people for the conflict in which they must engage. How often when Satan has brought all his forces to bear against the followers of Christ, and death stares them in the face, have earnest prayers put up in faith brought the Captain of the Lord’s host upon the field of action and turned the tide of battle and delivered the oppressed.
“Now is the time when we should closely connect with God, that we may be hid when the fierceness of His wrath is poured upon the sons of men.” (Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, pp. 31, 32) –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 137.
“Could men see with heavenly vision, they would behold companies of angels that excel in strength stationed about those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience. With sympathizing tenderness, angels have witnessed their distress and have heard their prayers. They are waiting the word of their Commander to snatch them from their peril….
“The precious Saviour will send help just when we need it.” –The Great Controversy (1911), pp. 630, 633.

Spirit of service

5. With what spirit will His soldiers fight and labor for those who stand under Jesus’ banner?
1 Peter 4:10. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7. 4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

“And so it is in the army of Prince Emmanuel. Our General, who has never lost a battle, expects willing, faithful service from every one who has enlisted under His banner. In the closing controversy now waging between the forces for good and the hosts of evil, He expects all, laymen as well as ministers, to take part. All who have enlisted as His soldiers are to render faithful service as minutemen, with a keen sense of the responsibility resting upon them individually.” –Gospel Workers, p. 351.
“Those selected for the work of God should be men and women who are faithful and true, workers whom God can instruct, who will impart what they receive, proclaiming without reserve the will of God, pointing out the better way to all with whom they come in contact. New men and women in Christ are born to conflict, toil, and labor, born to engage in the good fight of faith. There is ever within their reach a power by which they may obtain the victory at every onset, power that will enable them to be more than conquerors over the difficulties they meet.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 309.

6. What characterizes the spirit of those who follow the heavenly Captain?
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.

“But this doing the duty of a soldier means work. It is not always just such work as we would choose. Outward inconveniences, difficulties, and trials have to be borne by the soldiers of Jesus. There is a constant warfare to be maintained against the evils and inclinations of our own natural hearts. We must not pick and choose the work most agreeable to us; for we are Christ’s soldiers, under His discipline, and we are not to study our own pleasure. We must fight the battles of the Lord manfully. We have enemies to conquer that would gain the control of all our powers.
“Self-will in us must die; Christ’s will alone must be obeyed. The soldier in Christ’s army must learn to endure hardness, deny self, take up the cross, and follow where his Captain leads the way. There are many things to do which are trying to human nature, and painful to flesh and blood. This work of self-subduing requires determined, continuous effort. In fighting the good fight of faith, obtaining precious victories, we are laying hold of eternal life.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 346.

The Captain has overcome the enemy

7. What is a great encouragement to those who fight the battle?
John 16:33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Revelation 17:14. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of Lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

“Christ did not yield up His life till He had accomplished the work which He came to do, and with His parting breath He exclaimed, ‘It is finished.’ John 19:30. The battle had been won. His right hand and His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. As a Conqueror He planted His banner on the eternal heights. Was there not joy among the angels? All heaven triumphed in the Saviour’s victory. Satan was defeated, and knew that his kingdom was lost.
“To the angels and the unfallen worlds the cry, ‘It is finished,’ had a deep significance. It was for them as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished. They with us share the fruits of Christ’s victory.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 758.

For additional study
“What is our path to heaven? Is it a road with every inviting convenience? No, it is a path that is narrow and apparently inconvenient; it is a path of conflict, of trial, of tribulation and suffering. Our Captain, Jesus Christ, has hid nothing from us in regard to the battles we are to fight. He opens the map before us and shows us the way.” –Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 243, 244.

“The principalities and powers of heaven are watching the warfare which, under apparently discouraging circumstances, God’s servants are carrying on. New conquests are being achieved, new honors won, as the Christians, rallying round the banner of their Redeemer, go forth to fight the good fight of faith. All the heavenly angels are at the service of the humble, believing people of God; and as the Lord’s army of workers here below sing their songs of praise, the choir above join with them in ascribing praise to God and to His Son.

“We need to understand better than we do the mission of the angels. It would be well to remember that every true child of God has the cooperation of heavenly beings. Invisible armies of light and power attend the meek and lowly ones who believe and claim the promises of God. Cherubim and seraphim, and angels that excel in strength, stand at God’s right hand, ‘all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.’ Hebrews 1:14.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 154.