Friday, August 26, 2016

Lesson 9. Jesus Ministered to Their Needs

 Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Role of the Church in the Community 

Lesson 9. Jesus Ministered to Their Needs


How Can I Help You? We read that Jesus had "compassion" on the multitudes and that He healed all who were sick, and sometimes left whole villages with no sick person in them (cf. Matt. 9:3614:14, for example). That was 2000 years ago. Now fast-forward to our time: we still have people sick and with all kinds of need.

Monday's lesson quotes Ellen White: "Christ took a personal interest in men and women ... Wherever He went He was a medical missionary." [1] We, too, have compassion for the sick; but what can we do now to help them? Doctors and nurses can do a wonderful work relieving suffering; but what about us ordinary folk?

When Jesus healed the paralytic who was carried to Him by four men who broke up the tiles on the roof and let him down, Jesus knew very well that this man had brought sickness upon himself by sinful living. But He didn't ask the poor man any questions or to make any promises. He didn't even ask him if he had repented; He said straight out, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee" (Mark 2:5).

So, what can we do? We can tell them New Covenant truth. In some cases simply doing that may bring physical healing to the sufferer; all the poor paralytic needed was to hear Jesus tell him, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matt. 9:2), and he was happy, willing to endure his sickness in peace.

There are seven grand promises that make up the healing New Covenant truth. They are in Genesis 12:2, 3: the Lord will make your life important, He will give you happiness, "I will make thy name great," you will be a blessing wherever you go throughout the world, the Lord will bless the people who help you, He "will curse him that curseth thee," you will be part of the blessing that will come upon "all families of the earth" in Christ because you proclaim His message. Therein is healing truth!

To say those words to someone flippantly or thoughtlessly of course does no good; but if by the grace of the Lord we are able to tell the message thoughtfully, meaningfully, the Holy Spirit will bless to the healing of the soul.

Amazing as it may seem, the good news is that the Holy Spirit does the "work." That "wind" is forever blowing seeds of heavenly truth into our minds and hearts. No one is wise enough to tell where they come from, for the grace of God has been working on human hearts in multitudinous ways ever since the world began. Parents, friends, songs of praise, Bible messages heard or read, sermons, expressions of true love, all can be ways that the Lord uses to plant "good news" ideas in the heart. What is important is to recognize that their ultimate Source is God Himself.

This is actually God's love in action. The wind blowing "wherever it pleases" is a picture of God's compassionate concern for every human soul. Not less surely is His love manifested for you than that the wind blows on you as well.

One of the misconceptions of the 1888 message is that it is "soft" on works. Christ taught this distinctive kind of faith "which works," and the 1888 "messengers" picked up on this idea. Genuine faith produces obedience to all the commandments of God. Such faith makes the believer "zealous of good works" so numerous they cannot be measured. This goes far beyond trying to preserve a balance between faith and works. It's far more than 50% faith and 50% works understanding. God has already done the loving, and the giving. Our part (believing) comes by responding to that Good News with the heart appreciation that's appropriate--yielding to a heavenly love. Good works follow such genuine faith as surely as fruit follows seed planting. And then all the obedience part of the familiar "third angel's message" comes into place, but far more so, for here was a message that would prepare a people for the coming of Jesus. Pure Day-of-Atonement righteousness by faith is the only message that can produce anything other than "dead works."

Dorcas in Joppa. Wednesday's lesson speaks to the story of the "disciple named Tabitha." Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," relates the real meaning of "good works":

"'Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas; this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did' (Acts 9:36). Good works are not something that one puts on, or which he acquires, but they come from within. 'A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh' (Luke 6:45). A man must be made good before he can do good; and this goodness comes from the Lord. 'Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men' (Psalm 31:19). 'For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them' (Eph. 2:10). Good works are extremely necessary, but none need worry about them. If a person is in Christ, the good works will follow as naturally as flowers follow spring rain and sunshine." [2]

Paul in Athens. Here at the very end of our lesson study we read of "the famous story" of Paul preaching in Athens. It's one exception to apostolic success. What our lesson doesn't tell us is that few of his hearers responded positively. But reading through the Acts 17 story of his sermon we find not a mention of the cross! Paul at Athens was much like we are, working for "the higher classes." But from Athens Paul went to Corinth, where he proclaimed to these people what he did not proclaim in Athens. He proclaimed the cross of Christ. He says, "When I came to you, ... I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2).

Paul explains to us how this mighty motivation works in our hearts: "He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15). In the original language the idea is clear that those who understand and believe this great truth of grace will "henceforth" find it impossible to live self-centered lives. No more gritting your teeth and clenching your fists and trying to force yourself to work hard for the Lord; it is automatic.

The key word is "love." You cannot truly live under grace unless you appreciate that love revealed at the cross. When the sinner sees that cross, and appreciates that kind of love poured out, all for him, the tears come in his eyes. His heart is melted.

That is true New Testament faith--a heart-appreciation of that tremendous love. That is why we shall keep on learning to glory in the cross of Christ. More and more that "under grace" motivation will crowd out the old self-centered hope-of-reward or fear-of-punishment motivation.

Let us come out of the shadows into the sunshine of living "under grace," and work for Christ because His love "constrains us."

--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] Ellen G. White, Welfare Ministry, p. 162.
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, "Full of Good Works," The Present Truth, Jan. 18, 1894.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz