Sabbath, May 18, 2019

Lesson 20 – Urgency in Advancing the Kingdom

“God’s people must receive the warning and work for souls right where they are, for people do not realize their great need and peril. Christ sought the people where they were, and placed before them the great truths in regard to His kingdom. As He went from place to place, He blessed and comforted the suffering and healed the sick. This is our work. God would have us relieve the necessities of the destitute. The reason that the Lord does not manifest His power more decidedly is because there is so little spirituality among those who claim to believe the truth.”
–Medical Ministry, p. 319; A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, p. 11.

Discipleship with heavenly goals
1. How did Jesus reply to a scribe who offered voluntarily to follow Him wherever He went? Was He happy about such a spontaneous offer? What can be seen in the Redeemer’s response?
Matthew 8:19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
Luke 9:57, 58 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. 58And 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.

“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. What did He say to a man who asked for time to take care of what he considered his most urgent duty?
Matthew 8:21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Luke 9:59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

“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. You have plenty of friends, and if the feelings are only sanctified, you need not feel that you are making a very great sacrifice. You do not leave your wife among heathen. You are not called to tread the burning African desert, or to face prisons, and encounter trial at every step. Be careful how you appeal to your sympathies, and let human feelings and personal  considerations mingle with your efforts and labors for the cause of God. He demands unselfish and willing service. You can render this, and yet do all your duties to your family; but hold this as a
secondary matter.” –Gospel Workers (1892), p. 248.

Urgency of God’s kingdom
3. What should have precedence–our commitments or the spiritual ministry? What great importance and urgency are there in becoming the Lord’s disciple and calling people to the heavenly kingdom? 
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….” –Evangelism, p. 655.

4. What instruction did the apostle Paul give Timothy as a minister in the spiritual vineyard? Was he to engage in the ministry only after his comforts were supplied and the obstacles were removed?
2 Timothy 4:2, 5; 2:3 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry…. 2:3Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

“Paul was about to finish his course, and he desired Timothy to take his place, guarding the church from the fables and heresies by which the enemy, in various ways, would endeavor to lead them from the simplicity of the gospel. He admonished him to shun all temporal pursuits and entanglements that would prevent him from giving himself wholly to his work for God; to endure with cheerfulness the opposition, reproach, and persecution to which his faithfulness would expose him; to make full proof of his ministry by employing every means within his reach of doing good to those for whom Christ died.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 506, 507.

First place
5. Is there logic in a request someone made to Jesus to be carried out before he would follow Him? Is it wise to put our own thinking or benefits in first place?
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.
1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
Matthew 6:33, first part But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;…

“There are no circumstances of sufficient importance to call a minister from an interest created by the presentation of truth. Even sickness and death are of less consequence than the salvation of souls for whom Christ made so immense a sacrifice. Those who feel the importance of the truth, and the value of souls for whom Christ died, will not leave an interest among the people for any consideration. They will say: Let the dead bury their dead. Home interests, lands and houses, should not have the least power to attract from the field of labor. If ministers allow these temporal things to divert them from the work, the only course for them to pursue is to leave all, possess no lands or temporal interests which will have an influence to draw them from the solemn work of these last days. One soul is of more value than the entire world. How can men who profess to have given themselves to the sacred work of saving souls, allow their small temporal possessions to engross their minds and hearts, and keep them from the high calling they profess to have received from God?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 540, 541.

6. Why did Jesus answer as He did? Is it possible to be active in the kingdom of God and carry out one’s own interests at the same time?
Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

“To everyone who becomes a partaker of His grace, the Lord appoints a work for others. Individually we are to stand in our lot, saying, ‘Here am I; send me.’ Whether a man be a minister of the Word or a physician, whether he be merchant or farmer, professional man or mechanic, the responsibility rests upon him. It is his work to reveal to others the gospel of their salvation. Every enterprise in which he engages should be a means to this end.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 222.

God’s kingdom and His people’s mission
7. How many times did the Lord repeat the command to Peter to go and take care of His lambs and sheep? Did this indicate that the preaching of the kingdom is merely an option or a full commission that the Lord has entrusted to each of His disciples?
John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Acts 20:24, last part, 25 … Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

“This was a work in which Peter had but little experience; but he could not be complete in Christian life unless he learned to feed the lambs, those who are young in the faith. It would require great care, much patience and perseverance, to give those who are ignorant the suitable teachings, opening up the Scriptures and educating them for usefulness and duty. This is the work that must be done in the church at this day, or the advocates of truth will have a dwarfed experience and will be exposed to temptation and deception. The charge given to Peter should come home to nearly every minister. Again and again the voice of Christ is heard repeating the charge to His undershepherds, ‘Feed My lambs,’ ‘Feed My sheep.’” –Evangelism, p. 346.

For additional study
“You are God’s employed servants, delegated to build up His kingdom in the earth, and you are to do your part in saving the souls for whom Christ has paid the price of His own blood. Is it then a slight matter to teach in the Sabbath school, without a preparation of heart for this momentous work? Many who undertake teaching a class feel little interest in it, and they mar the sacred work by their unconsecrated efforts.” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 121.