Sabbath, November 3, 2018

Lesson 5 – Self-Denial

“There are some who seem to be always seeking for the heavenly pearl. But they do not make an entire surrender of their wrong habits. They do not die to self that Christ may live in them. Therefore they do not find the precious pearl. They have not overcome unholy ambition and their love for worldly attractions. They do not take up the cross and follow Christ in the path of self-denial and sacrifice. Almost Christians, yet not fully Christians, they seem near the kingdom of heaven, but they cannot enter there. Almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 118.

1. To be a follower of Jesus, what does every individual need to do? Why is self-denial so necessary? Was Jesus’ message only for a few people or for everyone?’
Matthew 16:24, first part. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,…
Mark 8:34, first part. And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself,…

“There are many in the church who at heart belong to the world, but God calls upon those who claim to believe the advanced truth, to rise above the present attitude of the popular churches of today. Where is the self-denial, where is the cross-bearing that Christ has said should characterize His followers? The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world. Parents need to awake, and purify their souls by practicing the truth in their home life…. ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.’” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 289.

2. How do we know that Jesus is speaking about the disciple’s life? What will the disciple be prepared to give up, if necessary? What will happen if he does not?
Matthew 16:25, first part. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it….

“Those who forsake God in order to save their lives will be forsaken by Him. In seeking to save their lives by yielding the truth, they will lose eternal life.” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 401.
“What can be compared with the loss of a human soul? It is a question which every soul must determine for himself–whether to gain the treasures of eternal life or to lose all because of his neglect to make God and His righteousness his first and only business. Jesus, the world’s Redeemer,… looks with grief upon the large number of those who profess to be Christians who are not serving Him but themselves. They scarcely think of eternal realities, notwithstanding He calls their attention to the rich reward awaiting the faithful who will serve Him with their undivided affections. He brings eternal realities within the range of their vision. He bids them to count the cost now of being an obedient and faithful follower of Christ, and says, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ Matthew 6:24.” –That I May Know Him, p. 321.

Loss that is gain
3. What will true disciples be willing to lose for Jesus? In such a case, does a person actually lose his life forever, or will he eventually receive it back?
Matthew 16:25, last part. … And whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Mark 8:35. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

“The efficiency that the Lord designs to see in His people has been sadly lacking in the church. How can we account for this? Have those who profess the name of Christ been truly converted? Have they consecrated to God their reason, their knowledge, their affections, their thoughts? Have they employed their talents of means and ability in the service of the Master? or have they devoted all their energies of mind and body to the building up of worldly enterprises?… He who is a child of God henceforth should look upon himself as a part of the cross of Christ, a link in the chain let down to save the world, one with Christ in His plan of mercy, going forth with Him to seek and to save the lost. He is ever to realize that he has consecrated himself to God, and that in character he is to reveal Christ to the world. The self-denial, the self-sacrifice, the sympathy, the love that was manifested in the life of Christ, is to reappear in the life of the worker for God…. They will manifest the most tender solicitude for the erring … and will be known as the disciples of Christ.” –Australian Union Gleaner, July 12, 1905.

4. In comparing eternal life with the whole world, what did Jesus say? Is it worth it to acquire this world’s wealth and then lose one’s life for all eternity?
Matthew 16:26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Luke 9:25. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

“The Saviour saw that men were absorbed in getting gain, and were losing sight of eternal realities. He undertook to correct this evil. He sought to break the infatuating spell that was paralyzing the soul. Lifting up His voice He cried, ‘What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ Matthew 16:26. He presents before fallen humanity the nobler world they have lost sight of, that they may behold eternal realities. He takes them to the threshold of the Infinite, flushed with the indescribable glory of God, and shows them the treasure there.
“The value of this treasure is above gold or silver. The riches of earth’s mines cannot compare with it.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 106, 107.

The reward in heaven
5. How will a person fare if instead of following the Master he dedicates himself to acquiring status in the world? Instead, how wonderful will it be to follow the Master and put all of one’s entrusted gifts into His service?
Matthew 16:27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

“‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.’ Isaiah 60:1. Christ is coming with power and great glory. He is coming with His own glory and with the glory of the Father. And the holy angels will attend Him on His way. While all the world is plunged in darkness, there will be light in every dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of His second appearing. The unsullied light will shine from His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all who have served Him. While the wicked flee, Christ’s followers will rejoice in His presence. Then it is that the redeemed from among men will receive their promised inheritance.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 720.

6. What can be expected in the future if we ignore His call and decide to walk in our own ways? What would then be expected at His coming?
Luke 9:26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
Mark 8:38. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

“Christ is truth, and those who hesitate to obey the truth, deny Christ. They show that they are ashamed to stand under His blood-stained banner, ashamed to own that they are doers of the word, ashamed to place themselves on the side of Christ as keepers of His law. They feel that it is dishonoring to them to love His commandments, to respect the memorial of God’s work of creation. Christ declares, ‘Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.’
“This is the sure result. Will you risk it? Will you become disloyal to God because your neighbors are disloyal? Will you be found among the transgressors because your neighbors are there? Are you content to be outside the city of God, to perish with the companions you have chosen in the world?” –Signs of the Times, July 28, 1898.

Future glory
7. To what glorious event did Jesus point in confirmation of His mission and promises? To what event was He referring in this wonderful prophecy?
Matthew 16:28. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Luke 9:27-31. 27But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. 28And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

“Jesus had told His disciples that there were some standing with Him who should not taste of death till they should see the kingdom of God come with power. At the transfiguration this promise was fulfilled. The countenance of Jesus was there changed and shone like the sun. His raiment was white and glistening. Moses was present to represent those who will be raised from the dead at the second appearing of Jesus. And Elijah, who was translated without seeing death, represented those who will be changed to immortality at Christ’s second coming and will be translated to heaven without seeing death. The disciples beheld with astonishment and fear the excellent majesty of Jesus and the cloud that overshadowed them, and heard the voice of God in terrible majesty, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son; hear Him.’” –Early Writings, p. 164.

For additional study
“‘If any man will come after Me,’ Christ said, ‘let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’ Luke 9:23. This is the proof of discipleship. If church members would be doers of the word, as they solemnly pledged themselves to be when they received baptism, they would love their brethren, and would be constantly seeking for unity and harmony….

“Those who believe in Christ and walk humbly with Him,… who watch to see what they can do to help and bless and strengthen the souls of others, cooperate with the angels who minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Jesus gives them grace, and wisdom, and righteousness, making them a blessing to all with whom they are brought in contact. The more humble they are in their own estimation, the more blessings they receive from God, because receiving does not exalt them. They make a right use of their blessings, for they receive to impart.” –This Day with God, p. 356.