Sabbath, October 27, 2018

Lesson 4 – True Discipleship

“Obedience is the test of discipleship. It is the keeping of the commandments that proves the sincerity of our professions of love. When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God. When benevolence, kindness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when the joy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order. ‘Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.’ 1 John 2:3.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 146, 147.

I will follow You
1. What expression of discipleship and apparently full dedication did a certain man give to Jesus? Was he a common person, as were the other disciples?
Luke 9:57. And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
Matthew 8:19. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

“While Jesus was preparing the disciples for their ordination, one who had not been summoned urged his presence among them. It was Judas Iscariot, a man who professed to be a follower of Christ. He now came forward, soliciting a place in this inner circle of disciples. With great earnestness and apparent sincerity he declared, ‘Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.’ Jesus neither repulsed nor welcomed him, but uttered only the mournful words: ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.’ Matthew 8:19, 20. Judas believed Jesus to be the Messiah; and by joining the apostles, he hoped to secure a high position in the new kingdom. This hope Jesus designed to cut off by the statement of His poverty.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 293, 294.

2. Considering Jesus’ response to this man, rather than immediately accepting him as a disciple and perhaps making some promise to him, why did He let him know that he could expect no material benefit from his association with Jesus?
Luke 9:58. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

“The Saviour lived not to please Himself…. He had no home in this world, only as the kindness of His friends provided Him one, yet it was heaven to be in His presence. Day by day He met trials and temptations, yet He did not fail or become discouraged. He was always patient and cheerful, and the afflicted hailed Him as a messenger of life and peace and health. His life held nothing that was not pure and noble….” –Reflecting Christ, p. 37.

“Jesus came to this world in humility. He was of lowly birth. The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, the Commander of all the angel host, He humbled Himself to accept humanity, and then He chose a life of poverty and humiliation. He had no opportunities that the poor do not have. Toil, hardship, and privation were a part of every day’s experience.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 197.

3. What appeal did Jesus address to another person? What did the man’s reply show? Was it even possible first to manage his father’s funeral service and then to follow the Master?
Luke 9:59. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Matthew 8:21. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

“Punctuality and decision in the work and cause of God are highly essential. Delays are virtually defeats. Minutes are golden, and should be improved to the very best account. Earthly relations and personal interests should ever be secondary. Never should the cause of God be left to suffer in a single particular, because of our earthly friends or dearest relatives….

“No earthly ties, no earthly considerations, should weigh one moment in the scale against duty to the cause and work of God. Jesus severed His connection from everything to save a lost world; and He requires of us a full and entire consecration. There are sacrifices to be made for the interests of God’s cause. The sacrifice of feeling is the most keen that is required of us; yet, after all, it is a small sacrifice.” –Gospel Workers (1892), pp. 247, 248.

First priority
4. What was more urgent? In our personal decisions, do we give priority to the preaching of God’s kingdom, as Jesus said, or to our own needs?
Matthew 8:22. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
Luke 9:60. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

“When souls are deciding for or against the truth, do not, I beseech you, allow yourselves to be drawn away from your field of labor. Do not abandon it to the enemy, I might say, even if one lay dead in your house. Christ said, ‘Follow Me; and let the dead bury their dead.’ If you could only see the importance of the work as it has been presented to me, the paralysis that is upon many would be shaken off, and there would be a rising from the dead and a coming to life through Jesus Christ….

“If we firmly take our stand as God’s workmen, saying, ‘The Lord has given us a message, and we cannot be faithful watchmen unless we stand at our post of duty; we will carry the work through at all hazards,’ then we shall find that angels of God will minister to our households at home, and will say to the enemy, ‘Stand back.’” –Evangelism, p. 655.

5. What appeal did the Lord address to another person? Since he accepted the Master’s invitation, what should one think about the man’s request for a brief postponement?
Luke 9:61. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

“You should realize the value of time. You are not excusable for leaving the most important, though unpleasant work, hoping to get rid of doing it altogether, or thinking that it will become less unpleasant, while you occupy your time upon pleasant matters not really taxing. You should first do the work which must be done and which involves the vital interests of the cause, and only take up the less important matters after the more essential are accomplished. Punctuality and decision in the work and cause of God are highly essential. Delays are virtually defeats. Minutes are golden and should be improved to the very best account. Earthly relations and personal interests should ever be secondary. Never should the cause of God be left to suffer, in a single particular, because of our earthly friends or dearest relatives.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 499, 500.

Do not take your hand off the plow
6. Since the man accepted the Master’s call, could He not accept the simple request? But how did Jesus consider this?
Luke 9:62; 16:13. 62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God…. 13No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

“The Lord requires a loyalty so supreme and undivided that the most sacred relationship is to be subordinate to it.
“Luke 14:20: And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” –Pamphlet 048–Living by Principle, pp. 26, 27.

“The pleadings of affection and love, the yearnings of friendship, will not move you to turn aside from truth and duty; you will not sacrifice duty to inclination….
“No earthly ties, no earthly considerations, should weigh one moment in the scale against duty to the cause and work of God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 44, 500.

Thought questions
• After reading the three answers Jesus gave to various ones who were called to be disciples, what clear difference is there between a human concept of discipleship and that of Jesus?
• Therefore, what do we need to do?
• According to Jesus, do we need simply to change our ideas, or to put our hand to the plow and dedicate ourselves to His work?

Striving for the mastery
7. What should have first priority–our interests or those of the kingdom of God? What does our choice show?
Philippians 3:13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
2 Timothy 2:3-5. 3Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

“Paul did many things. He was a wise teacher. His many letters are full of instructive lessons setting forth correct principles. He worked with his hands, for he was a tent-maker, and in this way earned his daily bread…. He carried a heavy burden for the churches. He strove most earnestly to present their errors before them, that they might correct them, and not be deceived and led away from God. He was always seeking to help them in their difficulties; and yet he declares, ‘One thing I do.’ … The responsibilities of his life were many, yet he kept always before him this ‘one thing.’ The constant sense of the presence of God constrained him to keep his eye ever looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith.” –Conflict and Courage, p. 353.

For additional study
“‘If any man will come after Me,’ Christ said, ‘let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ Matthew 16:24. Self-denial and sacrifice will mark the Christian’s life.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 523.
“The great purpose that constrained Paul to press forward in the face of hardship and difficulty should lead every Christian worker to consecrate himself wholly to God’s service. Worldly attractions will be presented to draw his attention from the Saviour, but he is to press on toward the goal, showing to the world, to angels, and to men that the hope of seeing the face of God is worth all the effort and sacrifice that the attainment of this hope demands.” –Conflict and Courage, p. 353.

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Missionary Report of the Philippine Union College

To be read on Sabbath, October 27, 2018

The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, November 3, 2018

“Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 31:12.

The Philippines is a sovereign island nation located in the western Pacific Ocean with an area of 343,448 square kilometers (132,606 square miles) composed of 7,100 islands. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east, and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south. The population is 102,068,400. As of January 2018, the Philippines was the eighth most populous country in Asia; and the twelfth, in the world. It is the top Christian country in Asia and the fifth in the world, with 86,790,000 Christians.

The International Missionary Society’s initial entrance into the Philippines was in 1964 under Elder Raul Escobar. Elders Carlos Kozel, Augusto Pizzaro, Henry Andrade, Siegmund Gutknecht, and Wilhelm Egerter, to name a few, also visited and supported the missionary efforts.

The Philippine Union was officially registered on March 14, 1978, under the name International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, Philippine Union Conference, with three Fields–Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The primary missionary methods used over the decades include medical missionary outreach; health fairs; seminars and training; house-to-house canvassing; distribution of books, pamphlets, and tracts; personal Bible studies; Bible expositions; radio evangelism; prison ministry; clothing and food distribution; disaster relief, and music ministry. These activities are carried out by the local churches with the assistance of the Philippine Union as necessary.

A large project was put in motion in 2016 to establish a College as another method for spreading the gospel. The Philippine Union owns a 300-square-meter (2,730 square feet) lot that was purchased in the Mindanao Field with the help of the General Conference Education Department in the Mindanao Field, in the southernmost part of the Philippines. The property is too small to meet the minimum requirements of the Philippines Department of Education for a school, however, once additional land is obtained, the foundation can be laid and a few buildings can be erected. The Philippine Union has several members who are credentialed teachers, and they are able to assist with this project.

One big challenge for members and interested souls is the requirement of both public and private schools that students attend classes on the Sabbath day. If this project can go forward by the grace of God, it will be an excellent encouragement for new souls and current interested individuals to accept the Reformation message and be a part of God’s family, since there will be no educational hindrance to keeping the Sabbath holy. In addition, the young people will be educated according to the Holy Scriptures, which will be a very great blessing in this secular age. It is planned for this project to generate funds to help the Philippine Union establish a health clinic in the Visayan Field, start a primary school in the Luzon Field, and support missionary outreach in neighboring countries.

With this in view, the Philippine Union requests your support for this special project to help the work in the Philippines and Asia. May the Lord continue to bless every generous heart. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9.

–Roland N. De La Paz
Asian Division President