Monday, June 25, 2012

Second Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
A Perpetual Ministry”
For the week of June 30, 2012

A Perpetual Ministry

Rivers are not typically the topic of thought, or conversation except perhaps by outdoor enthusiasts. Instead, many take rivers for granted, neither considering their origination nor end destination. But just where do rivers come from -- and how are they sustained?Simply put, science has taught us that water, heated by the sun, is evaporated from bodies of water, including rivers, which turn into vapor and rise into the cold atmosphere. The water vapor or steam is then condensed into liquid, forming clouds. As the air can no longer hold the condensed water, the clouds become heavy and precipitation falls back to the earth. This perpetual cycle helps sustain the rivers that seem never to dry up. The word perpetual has two meanings: never ending or changing, and occurring repeatedly; it is derived from a Latin word meaning: “continuing throughout.” God in His mercy has made this perpetual process to nurture all living things.

Wherever there is water, there is life, and wherever the Spirit is, there is eternal life. Thus, as long as we continue to drink of the Holy Spirit we have life eternal. The promise of living water is the same for every believer as it was for the Samarian woman at the well (John 4:10).

Christ’s use of the metaphor of Living Water as representative of the Holy Spirit is evident in John 7:37-39, which reads --
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Clearly then, the Holy Spirit was given to quench our thirst for Christ. But alleviating our thirst is not His only function; for upon our personal reception of Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit makes His abode in us, cleanses, transforms, and renews our minds. He gives us the mind of Christ, and endows us with Spiritual gifts, and the attributes of God. Thus the Holy Spirit’s power flows through us as spring waters flow into a river, refreshing others with whom we come into contact, like a constant and continuous cycle. Unlike our earthbound rivers, the Holy Spirit never runs dry and as long as we continue to receive Him, we are never depleted of His ‘living waters.’

Although we receive the mind of Christ (Romans 11:33, 34; 12:2, 3; I Cor. 2:10-16), and are still sinners by nature, we become the righteous heirs of God, part of His beautiful bride, and consequently the cherishers of the law –. Thus we constantly need the continuous ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit of Life which reigned in Christ Jesus which sets (and has set) us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8). By faith this becomes our personal experience when we abide and rest in Him. Thus although sin and Satan are constant and powerful forces, we are perpetually enabled to overcome, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through faith, we eagerly and willingly heed His continual convictions of sin, judgment and righteousness, and thus we receive the ongoing victorious life of Christ.

Growing up into Christ by the Holy Spirit produces maturity in us, and we are no longer tossed by every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of men (Ephesians 4:14, 15). Individuals thus ripened compose the body of mature believers, who, with the mind of Christ, love others as He has loved them. Only the Holy Spirit can give the love of God to us, for He is God and God is love (I John 4:16). When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, love dwells in us, and flowing out of us, we are enabled and empowered to love others (I John 4:12). Thus, just as the rivers continue to perpetuate life, so too the born again Christian will continue to perpetuate the ministering love of Christ.

How is this love demonstrated?The Apostle John is very clear:
I John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

I John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Let us rephrase the last statement: he, in whom the love of God dwells will see his brother in need, and let compassion drive him to help. It is by this love that others will know that we belong to Jesus (John 13:35).

Ellen White has said that we “are to be channels through which the Lord can send His light and grace into the world…Floods of Spiritual power are to be poured forth upon those prepared to receive it” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 46). Let us, then, allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us. Let us be channels and rivers that are filled with His perpetual flow of ‘living, everlasting water’ which will reach the oceans of people so in need of Christ’s Agape.
-Raul Diaz