Part 1: The Knowledge of God
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:34)
In this verse we find a wonderful expression of the relationship which God desires to have with each human being. God promises that a day will come when the sins and iniquities of His people will be blotted out and entirely forgotten. In this day, men will not depend on others to come to God on their behalf. The priest and the pastor will not have a relationship with God which is unavailable to the common people. All God's people _ every single one of them _ will know Him. The emphasis of this verse is the idea that each person may, and ought to have a relationship with God in which there is personal intimacy and interaction. This is God's earnest desire and will for His people because He loves and saves us as individuals, not as groups or churches.
What is God's great desire for the entire world? Isa. 11:9; Num. 14:21
"The Saviour longs to manifest His grace and stamp His character on the whole world. It is His purchased possession, and He desires to make men free, and pure, and holy. Though Satan works to hinder this purpose, yet through the blood shed for the world there are triumphs to be achieved that will bring glory to God and the Lamb. Christ will not be satisfied till the victory is complete, and "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." Isa. 53:11. All the nations of the earth shall hear the gospel of His grace. Not all will receive His grace; but "a seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." Ps. 22:30. . . .and "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun." Isa. 11:9; 59:19." _ The Desire of Ages, p.827-8
What statement by the redeemed multitude in Revelation Chapter 7 reveals that they have a true knowledge of the identity of God? Rev. 7:9,10
This statement reveals that the redeemed know two things. Firstly, they know that salvation is the work of God and Christ and that they are both to be glorified and praised for what they have done. Secondly, they know that there is only one God and that He is the one who sits on the throne. Jesus is given proper recognition as "the Lamb" of God.
The knowledge of God will fill the earth because His people will reveal this knowledge to the world by their teachings as well as by their lives.
Part 2: The Message of God
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! (Isa 40:9)
" It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth." _ Christ's Object Lessons, p.415
What will be the main focus of the remnant as they proclaim the fall of Babylon and warn against receiving the Mark of the Beast? Rev. 14:7
Revelation 14:6_12 presents the great crisis of the last days. It shows us that the issues to be prepared for are (a) The hour of God's judgement (b) The fall of Babylon (c) The mark of the beast crisis. How are we to prepare to meet these tremendous issues? What should be our focus as we enter the last great conflict? Revelation 14:7 gives us the answer and it is interesting to note that this is the only place where we are given instructions as to what we are to do in light of the coming conflict. God's command to us is threefold: (1) Fear God (2) Give glory to Him (3) Worship Him. Notice that the focus is entirely upon God . This command can never be obeyed by people who have confused or false ideas as to who God really is.
In what critical respect must the work of God's people be similar to that of Christ? John 1:18
"Heaven, looking down, and seeing the delusions into which men were led, knew that a divine Instructor must come to earth. Men in ignorance and moral darkness must have light, spiritual light; for the world knew not God, and he must be revealed to their understanding. Truth looked down from heaven and saw not the reflection of her image; for dense clouds of moral darkness and gloom enveloped the world, and the Lord Jesus alone was able to roll back the clouds; for he was the light of the world. By his presence he could dissipate the gloomy shadow that Satan had cast between man and God. Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. Through the accumulated misrepresentations of the enemy, many were so deceived that they worshiped a false god, clothed with the attributes of the satanic character. " . . . . the Son of God, came to earth to reveal the character of the Father to men, that they might worship him in spirit and in truth." _ Christian Education, p. 73
The most vital message needed by the world today is the message of the love of God, revealed in the gift of His Son.
Part 3: The Character of God
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Pet 1:15-16)
". . . . Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man's physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed. He had become subject to death. Yet the race was not left without hope. By infinite love and mercy the plan of salvation had been devised, and a life of probation was granted. To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized--this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life." _ Education, p. 15
What fact may give us confidence as we contemplate the reality of a day of judgment? 1 John 4:17
The apostle Paul speaks in several places of the value of a "good conscience." There is nothing which gives peace of mind and confidence in our approach to God as much as the realization that we are becoming like God in character. John gives us insight into the reason why some will flee from Christ while some will greet His return with great joy. It is the awareness that we are like Him in character. We are able to walk together with God because we agree with Him. This relationship can never exist between God and those who are not becoming like Him in character. Will the people of God ever come to the place in this life where their characters are like His? Isa. 60:1,2 "By beholding the character of Christ you will become changed into His likeness. The grace of Christ alone can change your heart and then you will reflect the image of the Lord Jesus. God calls upon us to be like Him--pure, holy, and undefiled. We are to bear the divine image. . . . " _ God's Amazing Grace, p.299
God's people must be growing more like Him every day as they learn more of His character. "By beholding we are changed." As we learn more of God and our understanding of Him becomes more accurate we shall grow more and more into His likeness. The last generation of God's people upon this earth will reflect the image of Jesus perfectly simply because they will have the most complete understanding of God of any generation. This understanding of God will not be just a dry theory, but something which affects our lives because we believe it. Faith must be mixed with our understanding of truth.
Is my understanding of God helping me to be a better person? To be more like Him each day?
Part 4: The works of God
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
Jesus promised that His disciples would do "greater works" than even those which He performed when on this earth. This is a truly wonderful promise and one which we know to be absolutely true. However, we dare not forget the means by which these greater works will be accomplished. It would not be because the believer was in any way on a level with Jesus. It would be "because I go to my Father." Because Jesus would be our intercessor in the heavenly courts, the Father would do mighty works through the believers.
What is the first "work" required of Christians upon which every other good work depends? John 6:29
The first and greatest need of any person is to believe in Jesus Christ. To believe that He is God's Son, that He reveals the Father's character, that He is the wisdom and power of God, that He died to bring us back to God, in a nutshell, that God has given Him to us to be our all in all. As the song says, "He's everything to me." Without this primary faith in Christ, all attempts to live the life which pleases God will be an utter failure.
What must we always bear in mind as we seek to fulfill the commission of preaching the gospel? John 15:5
Every Christian must guard against the tendency to depend on self. In a world where the word, "self-reliance" and "independence" are regarded as descriptions of a complete person and where social programmes, psychology and education are being substituted for the gospel, the do-it-yourself religion has become the order of the day. Yet it is still true that men without Christ can do nothing and in the final day of reckoning it will be revealed that a great deal of what took place in the name of Christ was really an abundance of rubbish. Only the work performed under the influence of Christ, by His direction will bear the test of eternity.
How will God's people be enabled to finish the work when they are so few, in a world of so many people? Joel 2:28,29; Rev. 18:1-4
". . . . Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue. . . . Thousands of voices will be imbued with the power to speak forth the wonderful truths of God's word. The stammering tongue will be loosed, and the timid will be made strong to bear courageous testimony to the truth." _ Gospel Workers, p. 383
We must cleanse the soul-temple from every defilement, and maintain so close a connection with Christ that we may partake of the latter rain when it is poured out.
Part 5: The honour of God
Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. (Jer 14:21)
God's people often have a very limited understanding of the consequences which result from the way in which they live their lives. When a person claims to be a child of God, then every act which he performs reflects upon the government and character or God. What specific purpose does God have in perfecting His people in the last days? Isaiah 43:21
"Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him: . . . " _ Education, p. 263
"The Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of His love; so the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing His grace to the world. The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people." _ Desire of Ages, p.671
As we desire to be used by God in carrying out His purposes, what important principle must we always keep in mind? 1 Sam. 2:30 Those who desire to be used by the Lord in promoting His cause upon earth must always remember that God can only use those who are determined to seek only His glory and to honour Him by always obeying His instructions. He will bless the work only which is done in His way by those who acknowledge that they know nothing and depend wholly upon God to lead and direct them.
". . . . Like the disciples, we are in danger of losing sight of our dependence on God, and seeking to make a savior of our activity. We need to look constantly to Jesus, realizing that it is His power which does the work. While we are to labor earnestly for the salvation of the lost, we must also take time for meditation, for prayer, and for the study of the Word of God. Only the work accomplished with much prayer, and sanctified by the merit of Christ, will in the end prove to have been efficient for good."--The Desire of Ages, p. 362.
Do we mean what we say when we end our prayers with the words, "for Thy name's sake?"
Part 6: The fear of God
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Prov 9:10)
". . . . The life of Abraham, the friend of God, was signalized by a strict regard for the word of the Lord. He cultivated home religion. The fear of God pervaded his household. He was the priest of his home. He looked upon his family as a sacred trust. His household numbered more than a thousand souls, and he directed them all, parents and children, to the divine Sovereign. He suffered no parental oppression on the one hand or filial disobedience on the other. By the combined influence of love and justice, he ruled his household in the fear of God, and the Lord bore witness to his faithfulness." _ Conflict and Courage, p. 49
What will be the fruitage of a healthy fear of God? 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:21
"All the varied capabilities that men possess--of mind and soul and body--are given them by God, to be so employed as to reach the highest possible degree of excellence. But this cannot be a selfish and exclusive culture; for the character of God, whose likeness we are to receive, is benevolence and love. Every faculty, every attribute, with which the Creator has endowed us is to be employed for His glory and for the uplifting of our fellow men. And in this employment is found its purest, noblest, and happiest exercise." _ Reflecting Christ, p. 158
What must we be determined to do as we face the last great crisis? Rev. 14:7
The religious and the secular world today has many heroes who are admired, respected and greatly feared. These men are considered to be great in the world and their pronouncements are highly valued and respected. Whenever the Pope or the president of the United States, or even one of the sports heroes makes a comment on any issue, a great deal is made of his words in the public media and people will discuss these statements and comment on their implications for days afterwards. Those who are faithful to God during the last great crisis will have learned to fear God only. Not in the sense that they have no respect for human leaders and rulers, but in the sense that they recognize that God alone is wise and that His way alone must be obeyed supremely. The "fear" of those who are considered great and who are honored by the world is the key factor which will lead to almost the entire world receiving the Mark of the Beast. Men will refuse to believe that the Mark of the Beast can be an evil thing, because it will be instituted by their popular leaders, whom they have learned to trust and obey, even above the word of God.
Do I respect God so much that His word is what determines how I behave at all times?