Highlight the sentence that makes this statement: “He would teach them that His purpose in making them the subjects of His grace is that they may become agents in saving others.”
“’This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.’”
If anyone’s story has made a difference in the way others come to know God, it is John Newton’s. Born in the early 1700s, John was the son of a commander of a merchant ship; he grew up sailing the Mediterranean Sea with his father. After his father retired, John continued to sail on voyages as a midshipman until being demoted to seaman for desertion.
His life seemingly took a turn for the worse when John became the servant of a slave trader, working on a slave ship. However, John worked his way up the ranks until he became a commander of his own slave ship. John had completely given up on any religious notions he might have gleaned as a child from his mother. He grew to be a hateful, cynical man lacking in moral goodness.
This was his story, until it changed as fast as the weather on the open seas. John Newton was returning on a homeward voyage when he ran straight into a violent storm, causing him to squeeze out a cry for help: “Lord, have mercy on us!” Later that night, after the storm had subsided, John quietly reflected about his encounter with God. The seeds of grace that were planted in his heart that night, May 10,1748, grew, and he turned his life completely around. As a result of his experience he penned the words to the hymn “Amazing Grace.” This is the original version of the song. Read it and see if you can’t sneak a peek into this man’s story in a new way.
“Amazing grace! (How sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I was once lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and protection be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.”
1. What made God’s grace so amazing to John Newton?
2. Is each person’s story of accepting Jesus the same? Explain.
“When Enoch was 65 years old, Methuselah was born. Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him].”
“Enoch meditated and prayed, and put on the armor of watchfulness, and he came forth from his pleadings with God to plead with his fellow men. He did not mask the truth to find favor with unbelievers. His close connection with God gave him courage to work the works of God. He had the testimony that his ways pleased God. This is the privilege of every believer today. It is man dwelling with God, and God taking up his abode with man. ‘I in them, and thou in me,’ says Jesus. To walk with God and have the witness that their ways pleased him, is an experience not to be confined to Enoch, to Elijah, to patriarchs, to prophets, to apostles, to martyrs. It is the privilege of all the followers of Christ to have Jesus enshrined in their hearts, to carry him with them in their lives. This will make them fruit-bearing trees.
“It is our privilege today to stand with the light of heaven upon us. It was thus that Enoch walked with God. It was not easier for Enoch to live a righteous life in his day than it is for us at the present time. The world at that time was no more favorable to growth in grace and holiness than it is now, but Enoch devoted time to prayer and communion with God, and this enabled him to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. It was his devotion to God that fitted him for translation.
‘We are living amid the perils of the last days, and we must receive our strength from the same source as did Enoch. We must walk with God. A separation from the world is required of us. We can not remain free from its pollution unless we follow the example of faithful Enoch” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, April 15, 1909).
Was Enoch born into a godly family? Who was his father?
2. Does the Bible mention when Enoch accepted eternal life?
3. What in Enoch’s life can we apply to our lives today?
Fifteen-year-old Cynthia called the other day with a heavy heart. She doesn’t feel as if she has a close walk with God because she can’t remember a specific moment when she gave her life to Him. “I know I have asked God into my heart so many times, but that’s the way it has been all my life. I feel as if my commitment to God would be better if I had never been raised as a Christian.”
How do you know when you’ve really given your life to God? Cynthia is listening right now and waiting for encouragement, insight, or good advice.
Log on to http://www.guidemagazine.org/rtf to share your experience as well. Post your responses. Be up-front and honest. Say what you think. The lines below are provided as an alternative to posting. You may wish to record your thoughts and share them with your class later.
Highlight the paragraph that starts, “On the mount, Jesus was closely watched by spies. . . .”
Highlight the paragraph that contains the sentence, “But Israel had not perceived the spiritual nature of the law. . . .”
“Angels are listening to hear what kind of report you are bearing to the world about your heavenly Master. Let your conversation be of Him who liveth to make intercession for you before the Father. When you take the hand of a friend, let praise to God be on your lips and in your heart. This will attract his thoughts to Jesus.
“All have trials; griefs hard to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer. Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. You can do much to brighten the life of others and strengthen their efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer.
“There is many a brave soul sorely pressed by temptation, almost ready to faint in the conflict with self and with the powers of evil. Do not discourage such a one in his hard struggle. Cheer him with brave, hopeful words that shall urge him on his way. Thus the light of Christ may shine from you. ‘None of us liveth to himself.’ Romans 14:7. By our unconscious influence others may be encouraged and strengthened, or they may be discouraged, and repelled from Christ and the truth.
“There are many who have an erroneous idea of the life and character of Christ. They think that He was devoid of warmth and sunniness, that He was stern, severe, and joyless. In many cases the whole religious experience is colored by these gloomy views.
“It is often said that Jesus wept, but that He was never known to smile. Our Saviour was indeed a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief, for He opened His heart to all the woes of men. But though His life was self-denying and shadowed with pain and care, His spirit was not crushed. His countenance did not wear an expression of grief and repining, but ever one of peaceful serenity. His heart was a wellspring of life, and wherever He went He carried rest and peace, joy and gladness” (Steps to Christ, pp. 119, 120).
Does today’s reading mean to say to you that you should never tell another living soul when something is going wrong for you?
1. Does today’s reading mean to say to you that you should never tell another living soul when something is going wrong for you?
2. When you are sharing Jesus with others, what should you share?
3. Does everyone have a story to tell? Explain.
When the children of Israel were on the edge of the Promised Land, they received instruction from God on what to say when their teens went crazy and demanded to know the meaning of all this church stuff. You can read it in Deuteronomy 6:20-22 (NIV): “In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders—great and terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.’”
God was saying, “When the kids cry out for answers, give them your story. Give them the blow-by-blow story of the plagues. Tell them about walking through the Red Sea. Try to recount the way manna fell from the sky. Tell them your story.” God’s great answer to the questions teens ask is not a sermon or a lecture. It’s not a 10-step list for making good choices or some logical debate on truth. The answer is not a quiz or a test—but a story. Your story. Stories about what God has done for you are the most effective witnessing tool available.
1. Do you have any “manna stories”? Could you write them down to share later?
2. When you share your manna story, will it all be positive? Explain.
3. Can you think of a time when God’s law has been a blessing?
Match the text with the phrase. Place the number beside the letter. All texts have been taken from the NIV Bible.
1. 1 John 1:1-4
2. Isaiah 43:10-12
3. Mark 5:18-20
4. Psalm 66:16
5. John 20:30, 31
6. John 21:24, 25
A. “Come and listen, all you who fear God. . .
B. “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples. . . .”
C. “That which was from the beginning.”
D. “’You are my witnesses. . . .’”
E. “As Jesus was getting into the boat . . . .”
F. “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote. . . .”
Have you ever noticed that athletes can be superstitious? They commence with a variety of senseless rituals so as not to jinx their imminent good fortune. In the same way, some people who have mountaintop experiences or a spiritual awakening don’t want to do anything to ruin the moment. They cling to a feeling and hope it never goes away. The demon-possessed man, after being healed by Christ, jumped in the boat and was clinging to Jesus, begging the Lord to let him sat by His side. Clearly, he was afraid that as soon as Jesus left, the demons would return and he would go back to the horrible life from which he had been rescued. But the words of Christ are as sure today as they were for threat man long ago; “’Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed” (Mark 5:19,20, NIV).
Can you imagine how people would be changed by such a testimony? One of the ways we experience consistency and growth in our lives is by simply telling our story. Not only does it then live in another person’s mind, but it also awakens new life in our own. Try it. Tell someone about what God has done for you. Describe how you feel about God’s mercy and grace. Write your story in a letter if you feel you can’t share it in person, but do something. Your walk with God will change when you share what the Savior has done for you. No doubt about it!
“Have there not been some bright spots in your experience? Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart throbbed with joy in response to the Spirit of God? When you look back into the chapters of your life experience do you not find some pleasant pages? Are not God's promises, like the fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every hand? Will you not let their beauty and sweetness fill your heart with joy?” (Steps to Christ, p. 117).
If you had to choose five events of your life that have made a big difference in who you are today, what five stories would you tell?
The following is a simple outline to help you construct your own personal testimony—your story about you and God. It’s important to be as specific as possible with your stories.
My Life Before I Encountered God
My Encounter with God
My Life as a Result of an Encounter with God