First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Discipleship and Prayer”
For the week of January 18, 2014
“Discipleship and Prayer”
For the week of January 18, 2014
“Prayer is the breath of the soul.” This is evident from Christ’s words in Luke 18:1. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Most folk cannot hold their breath for more than three to five minutes without fainting. Likewise, if we cease to pray, it will not be long before we find ourselves fainting before the trials that inevitably come our way. It is through prayer that we are braced for difficulties and trials that require strength far beyond our natural human capacity.
When Christ “took upon his sinless nature our sinful nature,” (7ABC451), when He humbled Himself, taking humanity and “thus bringing himself to the level of man’s feeble faculties,” (RH Dec. 11, 1888), He had to pray. He came to earth to “live as a man among men” (DA515). And while living as a man, utilizing only the equipment that man has, He prayed fervently, daily, in deep earnestness, to find the strength that He needed to live a victorious life.
He was not a sinner, as we are. But He took the same equipment that we have and He was in the same circumstances as we, only worse because the enemy knew who He was. He had to seek the Father’s presence daily to find “fresh supplies of needed grace” (AA57). He is our example, in all things. Therefore, He is our example in prayer.
Daniel, who is a type of Christ, prayed earnestly for Israel, taking their sins as his own and confessing them as though they were his own. Verse 9 of Daniel 9 is so encouraging: “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him” (Dan. 9:9). If we understand where we stand as a church today, we cherish this thought, for we have rebelled and we continue to rebel as surely as Israel of old rebelled. But just as surely, there is mercy and forgiveness with God.
Jesus also prayed like Daniel. To realize this, we must realize that the Old Testament is about Christ. Jesus told us this in John 5:39. And in Luke 24:44, Jesus told us specifically that the Psalms are about Him. “Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).
Looking at Psalm 69, we find one of Christ’s prayers. It was a prayer like Daniel’s prayer in chapter nine of Daniel. “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, Where thereis no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God. . . . O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You” (Psalm 69:1-5).
Jesus confessing sin? Yes, Jesus confessing our sins as though they were His own. I believe this is a part of what the Lord is waiting for. He is waiting for His people to so identify with the sin of the people of the world, that we acknowledge the sin of world as our sin. It is, after all, actually our sin. We live in a world where the Son of God was murdered. And, “The whole world stands charged today with the deliberate rejection and murder of the Son of God” (TM39).
This reality is difficult to hold in parallel with the idea that it is our responsibility to “disciple” the people of the world. Yet, there is no real irony here. Christ was the ultimate example in making disciples. He was not one of us. Yet, He came to earth and became a member of the fallen race, to come close to us, to identify with us, so that He could find access to human hearts and become an effect discipleship leader.
Not until we are able to realize and embrace our position as a part of the whole, and confess the sin of the whole as our sin, and identify with humanity as Christ identifies with us, will we be used of God to give to the world the final message of warning.
We must also realize that the ultimate objective of this final witness is not the salvation of souls. Many souls will be saved. There is no question about that. But the ultimate objective is not to make the Seventh-day Adventist Church one of the largest “denominations” in the world. We are glad to realize there are now some 17 million names on the church roles, but we should be ever cognizant of the fact that the majority of God’s children are still in Babylon. There are still more than 1 billion souls in the Catholic Church, and approximately 1 billion souls in other Christian denominations. We are yet a very long way from becoming one of the largest Christian churches.
Yet, our mission is much higher than the salvation of human souls. Our mission is to play a part in the final victory of God in the great controversy. We should never become confused on this point. This is the objective of the final gospel presentation. Sometimes we are tempted to unwittingly sacrifice this objective in order to “make disciples.” The two objectives are not mutually exclusive and we betray a sacred trust when we behave as though they are.
When Jesus died on the cross, we are told, “Yet Satan was not then destroyed. The angels did not even then understand all that was involved in the great controversy. The principles at stake were to be more fully revealed” (DA761). Thus, the conflict has gone on.
The final proclamation of the gospel will clearly explain the issues of the great controversy. The principles at stake are to be more fully revealed. This will clearly show that God is just and that Satan is a liar. Then the great controversy will end. Then our God will come.
Let us pray earnestly, consistently, humbly, and confidently, to this end.
-K. Mark Duncan