Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 11, Qtr 1-06

Special Insights No. 11

First Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Families in the Family of God”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“What Have They Seen in Your House?”



This week’s lesson begins with the story of King Hezekiah, when Isaiah asked him the question that is the subject of the lesson: “What have they seen in your house?” (Isa. 39:4).


Ellen White tells us about a lady who had guests in her house for a few days. After they had left, the lady opened her Bible to this very question, and she wondered what it meant. As she studied she realized that she had missed an opportunity, and that her friends had “left [her], having seen nothing better than the visitors from Babylon saw in the house of Hezekiah.” And like the king, she had been “sick unto death,” and had “earnestly entreated God to give [her] back [her] health, that [she] might tell [her] friends of Christ’s love and righteousness, and of the wonderful riches of His grace.”* How soon we forget the mercies God heaps upon us!


It’s painful to reflect on the times when we have missed similar opportunities. In that same article Ellen White asks, “What have your friends and acquaintances seen in your house? Are you, instead of revealing the treasures of the grace of Christ, displaying those things that will perish with the using? Or do you, to those with whom you are brought in contact, communicate some new thought of Christ’s character and work? Have you always some fresh revelation of His pitying love to impart to those who know Him not?” (emphasis mine). New thoughts, fresh revelations? How do we acquire these? The obvious answer is through the study of His Word. But don’t we also have daily experiences that show how God works in our lives, in every detail? If we pay attention and are aware (“tuned in” so to speak), these are “fresh revelations,” personal testimonies that may be shared. These “revelations” will (dare I say 100 percent) be examples of how near our Savior is to us—that He experienced the same dilemmas and problems during His earthly journey in “flesh and blood,” therefore can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). But we must be careful not to become arrogant, that God has done such and such for me. We should share in a way that other people may see that God will do the same for them—if we, and they, will believe how good this Good News is. As Wednesday’s lesson says, “The idea is that individuals will grasp Christian faith as they see it demonstrated in the lives of others who are as human and fallible as they are.”


The lesson focus is on what goes on in our individual houses, but can we expand these thoughts to our houses of worship, our churches? Shouldn’t the same apply there? Thursday’s lesson distinguishes between “hospitality” and “entertaining.” Hospitality is defined as “a tangible expression of self-giving love..... [It] springs from the hearts of those who have been touched by God’s love and want to express their love in words and actions.” Love that “springs from the heart” can only mean a love [agape] that is a true heart-appreciation for what Christ has sacrificed for us on His cross. This is not a “works”-oriented, self-centered “love,” but our believing response that Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, and for the sins of the world. When members and guests walk through the doors of our churches what do they see and hear? Are our churches (as well as our homes) “centers of contagious friendliness”?


At the 1888 General Conference Session in Minneapolis, Minnesota, two young men, A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, presented to the delegates God’s message of righteousness by faith. Two years later (Feb. 6, 1890) Ellen White gave a morning talk at Battle Creek, Michigan. She said, “The Sabbath-school teacher needs to know it, and every Sabbath-school scholar ought to understand it. We are all under obligation to God to know what he sends to us. He has given directions by which we may test every doctrine,--‘To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’ But if it is according to this test, do not be so full of prejudice that you cannot acknowledge a point when it is proved to you, simply because it does not agree with your ideas. Do not catch at every objection, however small, and make it as large as possible, and preserve it for future use. No one has said that we shall find perfection in any man’s investigations, but this I do know, that our churches are dying for the want of teaching on the subject of righteousness by faith in Christ, and for kindred truths” (The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 25, 1890; The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 548; emphasis added).


A dying church cannot be a “center of contagious friendliness.” The solution has been clearly set forth in the words of the prophet.


I encourage you to read her article cited in the following footnote.


May our Sabbath School classes receive the Lord’s blessings as we continue our studies on “Families in the Family of God.”

Carol Kawamoto



* The Signs of the Times, Sept. 1, 1902, “What Have They Seen in Thine House?” You may find the complete article on the web site: www.1888msc.org, in the Sabbath School “Insights” section. If you would like the Microsoft Word file of the Ellen White article, please write to me at: sabbathschool@1888message.org

Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe. "Insights" on the Internet: http://www.1888msc.org

To subscribe send an e-mail message with subscribe in the body of the message to: <sabbathschool@1888message.org>

To un-subscribe send an e-mail message with un-subscribe in the body of the message to: <sabbathschool@1888message.org>