Sabbath, April 13, 2019

Lesson 15 – Righteousness, Peace, and Joy

“From childhood to manhood, Christ taught that ‘the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ He was the Truth. The Spirit of God was upon Him. Why? Because He did not by one act of disobedience separate Himself from God. The grace of God was upon Him, and He grew in favor with God and man. He lived a life of unceasing humiliation, and through it all His character was lovely. The peace of God was with Him, and this peace was uninterrupted. In the sorrows of others He could always speak peace to the soul; for His peace was the result of supreme rectitude and loyalty, and was completely His own. None could give it; none could take it away.” –The Youth’s Instructor, September 8, 1898.

Essence of the divine kingdom
1. Explain some of the differences between the nature of human institutions and that of God’s kingdom. What makes it a very special reality?
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

“The Lord calls for minutemen, men who will be prepared to speak words in season and out of season that will arrest the attention and convict the heart. The kingdom of God consisteth not in outward show. Light will not be received by following selfish plans, but by looking unto Jesus, following Christ’s leading, not the suppositions of men. The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 497.

2. Therefore, what will occupy the first place in all of our interests? What is genuine and eternal about the righteousness of God’s kingdom?
Matthew 6:3; 5:6 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you…. 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 
1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

“The promises are, ‘A new heart will I give you’; ‘I will put My Spirit within you.’ This provision is made for us through the merit of Christ’s righteousness: ‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.’ Isaiah 32:17. Those who experience the change spoken of in these words will find that their restlessness and disquietude are all taken away, and they will find rest unto their souls in Christ. His merit, His righteousness, are imputed to the believing soul, and the believer has inward peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 121.

“The disciples of Christ must obtain righteousness of a different character from that of the Pharisees, if they would enter the kingdom of heaven. God offered them, in His Son, the perfect righteousness of the law. If they would open their hearts fully to receive Christ, then the very life of God, His love, would dwell in them, transforming them into His own likeness; and thus through God’s free gift they would possess the righteousness which the law requires.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 54, 55.74

3. How can we receive that righteousness which opens the door of the Lord’s kingdom?
Romans 3:21, 22; 5:17 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:… 5:17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God.

“The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken. If he can control minds so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall compose the experience of those who claim to be the children of God, he can overcome them with temptation. That simple faith that takes God at His word should be encouraged. God’s people must have that faith which will lay hold of divine power…. Those who believe that God for Christ’s sake has forgiven their sins should not, through temptation, fail to press on to fight the good fight of faith. Their faith should grow stronger until their Christian life, as well as their words, shall declare, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’” –Gospel Workers (1892), p. 103.

Peace after victory over sin
4. What is the origin of true, lasting peace? What destroys our own peace and that in our relationships with others?
2 Chronicles 20:30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.
Isaiah 66:12, first part For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,…

“Men and women are to watch themselves; they are to be constantly on guard, allowing no word or act that would cause their good to be evil spoken of. He who professes to be a follower of Christ is to watch himself, keeping himself pure and undefiled in thought, word, and deed. His influence upon others is to be uplifting. His life is to reflect the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness….
Eternal vigilance is the price of safety….

“Sin has destroyed our peace. While self is unsubdued, we can find no rest. The masterful passions of the heart no human power can control. We are as helpless here as were the disciples to quiet the raging storm. Matthew 8:23-27. But He who spoke peace to the billows of Galilee, has spoken the word of peace for every soul. However fierce the tempest, those who turn to Jesus … will find deliverance. His grace … quiets the strife of human passion, and in His love the heart is at rest.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 101.

5. To have peace in our hearts and with others, in what relationship must there first be harmony? If we desire to rejoice in God’s kingdom of peace, how important is it to strive for peace here and now?
Romans 5:1, 2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

“But even here Christians may have the joy of communion with Christ; they may have the light of His love, the perpetual comfort of His presence. Every step in life may bring us closer to Jesus, may give us a deeper experience of His love, and may bring us one step nearer to the blessed home of peace.

“There is peace in believing, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Believing brings peace, and trusting in God brings joy. Believe, believe! My soul says, Believe. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to His trust. He will bring you off more than conqueror through Him who hath loved you.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 121.

Joy in the Lord
6. What is the Lord’s desire for all of His followers always, including right now?
John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

“The Lord would have all His sons and daughters happy, peaceful, and obedient.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 121.

“We open to ourselves the floodgates of woe or joy. If we permit our thoughts to be engrossed with the troubles and trifles of earth, our hearts will be filled with unbelief, gloom, and foreboding. If we set our affections on things above, the voice of Jesus will speak to our hearts, murmuring will cease, and vexing thoughts will be lost in praise to our Redeemer. Those who dwell upon God’s great mercies and are not unmindful of His lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. Then they will enjoy their work. They will stand firm at their post of duty. They will have a placid temper, a trustful spirit.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 234.

7. When is one able to say that joy is part of God’s kingdom?
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.
Psalms 5:11; 51:12 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 51:12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

“Though he was a prisoner, Paul was not discouraged. Instead, a note of triumph rings through the letters that he wrote from Rome to the churches…. ‘Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ Philippians 4:6-8.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 484.

“Happiness that is sought from selfish motives, outside of the path of duty, is ill-balanced, fitful, and transitory; it passes away, and the soul is filled with loneliness and sorrow; but there is joy and satisfaction in the service of God; the Christian is not left to walk in uncertain paths; he is not left to vain regrets and disappointments. If we do not have the pleasures of this life, we may still be joyful in looking to the life beyond.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 121.

For additional study
“The great change that is seen in the life of a sinner after conversion is not brought about by any human goodness….
“He who is rich in mercy has imparted His grace to us. Then let praise and thanksgiving ascend to Him, because He has become our Saviour. Let His love, filling our hearts and minds, flow forth from our lives in rich currents of grace. When we were dead in trespasses and sins, He quickened us into spiritual life. He brought grace and pardon, filling the soul with new life. Thus the sinner passes from death to life. He now takes up his new duties in Christ’s service. His life becomes true and strong, filled with good works. ‘Because I live,’ Christ said, ‘ye shall live also.’” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 319.

“All who choose Christ’s kingdom of love and righteousness and peace, making its interest paramount to all other, are linked to the world above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the book of God’s providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God’s children are never absent from His mind.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 313.