First Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Partnership With Jesus”
For the week of March 20-26, 2011
A young Christian, we’ll call him Bob, met a man of culture one day in Chicago. During the course of their conversation, Bob asked his new friend, “Do you know that you are the greatest sinner in the world?”
Astonished, the man replied, “How can that be? I’ve never murdered anybody, have never committed any great crime!”
“The greatest commandment is, ‘Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ Do you do that?” the boy asked.
“No I do not.” The man replied, “I cannot say that I do that at all.”
“Well,” Bob rejoined, “that is the greatest commandment. You are breaking the greatest commandment. Therefore you are the greatest sinner.” His friend admitted it and Bob led him to God and full salvation.*
The Apostle Paul exclaimed, “Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). In his letter to the church of Rome, he first summarized the good news, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
The good news is that God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ already, without our knowledge or consent. He has placed us on vantage ground (Romans 5:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). He now invites us to experience the good news through faith, and enter into partnership with Him in saving the lost. We can add nothing to His glorious work in saving us. He has fully provided the means by which He will accomplish this glorious task. But He will perform his work of writing His law in our hearts only with our knowledge, consent, and cooperation.
Hear the good news revealed in the life, death, resurrection, and intercession of Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures. Believe from the heart the good news. Nothing less will do. Then, as you behold Him in His glory, perfection, and agape love (2 Corinthians 3:17, 18), you will see yourself the greatest sinner on earth, as Paul did (1 Timothy 1:15). Fourth, like Paul on the Damascus road you will be compelled by His love to ask, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”
In answer to that question, Christ says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth, go therefore and make disciples…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Paul speaks of this twofold process, saying, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Again, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Jesus, living the life of faith as man, revealed in His own words and life the secret of success. “I can of myself do nothing…I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
We can interpose our will in hindering and frustrating this partnership with Jesus by
· rushing through prayer, meditation, and study of the word,
· neglecting worship and Christian fellowship,
· cherishing an unforgiving spirit of bitterness,
· refusing to serve the needy and seek the lost,
· failing to maintain our hope and trust in God,
· being obsessed with the cares and challenges of life.
Let us be inspired by the great men of in Hebrews 11 who, though failing at times, never gave up. “And all these, having received a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” And “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher (perfector) of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him (us) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
*Adapted from a sermon by A. T. Jones in the 1897 General Conference Bulletin, “The Greatest Sinner” (March 2, 1897 ATJ, GCDB D279).