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lesson four

APRIL 21–27

Salvation and the


End Time
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved
us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”
(1 John 4:10, NIV).

In a dead and dying world, salvation stands like a beautiful green


plant among dead weeds. As our world grows darker and darker, our
Savior shines brighter and brighter. His love for us can be proven and
is proven as He continues to love and save us.
sabbath
APRIL 21
Introduction John 10:28;
Love and Sacrifice Phil. 2:5–8

Imagine this: Your best friend is dying. As you sit by her hospital bed clutch-
ing her hand, you try to lift her spirits, but tears are streaming down both of
your faces.
During a moment of silence, she softly asks, “Will you take my babies? Will
you do this for me?”*

Jesus not only taught love and sacrifice, He embodied it.


Is the love you have for her deep enough that you would make that sacrifice
of raising her children as your own?
What if she needed a heart transplant instead and you were the perfect
match? Would you give her your heart so she could live and raise her own
children?
We live in a world filled with more violence, immorality, and suffering than
ever before. People are seeking comfort and hope from the perils and decep-
tions of the last days—comfort and hope that Christianity can provide. But to
an unbelieving world, what Christians can or cannot do often crowds out what
Jesus taught. And for those who pause long enough to consider what He actu-
ally taught, many forget the two most important lessons: love and sacrifice.
Jesus not only taught love and sacrifice, He embodied it. While other reli-
gions may have their wise men and women who taught great stuff, Christianity
has a God who was willing to degrade Himself to become human. Not only
that, He had the full knowledge that His life on earth would culminate with
being rejected and despised by the masses and that He would die the most
excruciating death known to humankind at that time.
And He did all that just so that we can spend all of eternity with God. He paid
the penalty for the disobedience of our first parents so that the human race
could be saved. It is through the ultimate sacrifice of His death on the cross
and His subsequent resurrection and ministry in heaven that we are saved
from condemnation.
Christianity is about seeking forgiveness from God and accepting that what
Jesus has done for us has earned us that forgiveness. It’s not about what we
can or cannot do.
And in essence, Jesus didn’t simply agree to raise His best friend’s children
as His own; He agreed to give up His own life so that His best friend can live.
___________
* Valerie Edwards, “ ‘ Will You Take My Babies?’ Dying Mother’s Heart-Breaking Plea for Her Best
Friend to Take in Her Six Children After Her Partner ‘ Left Her When She Was Diagnosed With Can-
cer,’ ” Daily Mail.com, June 5, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3626388/Dying-mother
-begs-friend-six-children-losing-battle-breast-cancer.html.

Rislyn Soo, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia


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sunday
APRIL 22

Exod. 34:6, 7
Evidence
The Miniseries of Salvation

One of the most interesting texts in the lesson this week is the description
of God’s love in Exodus 34:6, 7. The text is part of a larger story in which God
restores the tables of stone that were destroyed by Moses out of disappoint-
ment over the apostasy of the Israelites (Exodus 32).

The love that God had for the Israelites was not only
endless, it was reliable.
Descriptions of God’s love are abundant in all parts of the Bible. But the
description in Exodus 34 is given after one of the harshest circumstances ever
recorded in the Bible. The Israelites were openly worshiping another god while
God was meeting with Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod. 32:17–19). The Ten Com-
mandments, written in stone, the symbol of His authority, mercy, and power,
were given to Moses (Exod. 31:18; 20:1–21). However, just a moment later that
symbol was destroyed because the Israelites were worshiping another god.
Worse, the idol worship was sanctioned by Moses’ own brother, Aaron (Exod.
32:21, 22). The Israelites were openly rebelling against God while His pres-
ence was in one of the closest proximities ever recorded in the Old Testament.
Between the story of Israel’s rebellion (Exodus 32) and God’s renewed love
for them in Exodus 34, Exodus records the story of Moses standing before
God as a mediator on behalf of the people (Exod. 32:30–32) and receiving
God’s grace (Exod. 33:12, 13). Moses continually refers to himself as “ us.” The
expression of Moses as mediator closely resembles the role of Jesus for hu-
manity as well. Likewise, it is the merit of Jesus that makes us acceptable in
the presence of the Father.
This is the context in which God expresses His unfailing love as recorded in
Exodus 34:6, 7. It began with a severe rebellion against God. But then, medi-
ated by someone who found favor with God, God’s love to Israel was affirmed.
The love that God had for the Israelites was not only endless, it was reliable. He
not only loves but is willing to forgive the sins committed by His people.
The story in Exodus 32–34 is like a mini version of the whole plan of salva-
tion, which is the main theme of the Bible. A painful rebellion against a loving
God resulted in a broken relationship between the Creator and His creation.
However, through the presence of a Mediator who found favor with God, the
broken relationship is restored.

REACT
How do you see the role of Jesus as Mediator to be relevant to your own
personal relationship with God?
Lerie Paculanang, Singapore, Singapore
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monday
APRIL 23
Logos Ps. 143:8;
John 14:9; 16:8–13;
The Everlasting Eph. 1:4, 5;
Phil. 2:5–8

There is this tendency among some Christians to compartmental-


ize the meaning of the sacrifice on the cross and the message of the
last days. Somehow, it seems Jesus’ death on the cross has nothing
to do with what Jesus will do at His second coming. However, a more
careful examination of the Bible leads us to realize that the last days
are all about what happened on the cross and vice versa. In order for
us to understand the relationship between salvation and the last days,
however, we have to reconstruct a few other concepts in the Bible to
see how salvation and the last days are interconnected.

“When will humanity finally embrace ‘the limitless’?”

Reconstruction No. 1: God’s Love Is Everlasting


The God of the Old Testament is often described as a God whose
interest is more in inflicting as much punishment as possible on His
subjects. However, a closer look at Scripture reveals that the God of
the Old Testament is full of compassion and love toward His people
(Exod. 34:6, 7). Further, His love is unfailing (Ps. 143:8, NIV), and His
plan is to see us far away from harm (Jer. 29:11).
Such descriptions are what you would expect of a loving father.
Jesus mentioned that these characteristics of a loving father were pre-
cisely what He was trying to show His disciples that God is all about
(John 14:9). Therefore, the Father’s love remains the same in both the
Old and the New Testaments. This gives us our first construct: God’s
love is everlasting.

Reconstruction No. 2: Salvation in Christ Is Everlasting


John describes Jesus as the Word, who has been since the begin-
ning of time (John 1:1–3). While there may be many aspects to what
John means in this text, one thing that is apparent is that John recog-
nizes the existence of Jesus as going beyond the limits of our time.
Even more important is the fact that this infinite Being became flesh
(John 1:14).
Jesus came in the flesh to fulfill the plan of salvation for humanity
(Phil. 2:5–8). By becoming human, Jesus reconnected heaven and
earth, the Creator with His creation. Through His mission He elimi-
nated the sin that separated God from humanity. This reconnection

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established by a Being who is not limited by time forever guarantees
salvation to all who will receive it. In other words, salvation in Christ is
everlasting because nothing can ever separate us from the love that
God has given us sinful beings, not even death (Rom. 8:38, 39).

Reconstruction No. 3: The Presence of the Holy Spirit Is Universal


The everlasting love of the Father and the everlasting salvation that
Jesus has given us are then finalized in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus told His disciples that He would depart one day, He prom-
ised them that another Comforter would come (John 16:7–13). This
Comforter would not be limited by space and, as such, would facilitate
the spread of the God’s everlasting love to the whole world (Acts 1:8).

Assembling It All Together


We must now answer the question, “When will humanity finally
embrace ‘the limitless’?” The answer is in the Bible message of the
last days. The everlasting gospel carried by the angels of Revelation
14:6–11 is none other than the message of good news—that a God of
everlasting love has given us a chance at everlasting life (Eph. 1:4, 5).
This message is carried universally to all people so that the day will
come when there will be no more separation between God and His
creation. The message of the last days is necessary to proclaim God’s
everlasting love and salvation to all.

REACT
Imagining something everlasting is quite challenging with our hu-
man limitations. How best can we describe the everlasting love of God
to people who do not know Jesus, let alone His everlasting salvation?

Bayu Kaumpungan, Singapore, Singapore


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tuesday
APRIL 24
Testimony Ps. 143:8;

For the Love of God John 16:8–13;


Phil. 2:5–8

“In order to fully realize the value of salvation, it is necessary to understand


what it cost. In consequence of limited ideas of the sufferings of Christ, many
place a low estimate upon the great work of the atonement. The glorious
plan of man’s salvation was brought about through the infinite love of God
the Father.”1
“We are not our own. We do not belong to ourselves. But we have been
purchased with a dear price. We have cost an immense sum, even the suf-
fering and death of the Son of God.”2

“We are not our own.”


“There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because
they seek to reach the world’s standard. . . . The continual worry is wearing
out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. . . .
He bids them seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and His
promise is that all things needful to them for this life shall be added. Worry is
blind, and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the begin-
ning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Our heavenly
Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing.
Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God
supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.”3
“Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righ-
teousness obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and
thirsts to receive it.”4
“None are so sinful that they cannot find strength, purity, and righteous-
ness in Jesus, who died for them.”5
“God takes men as they are. . . . They are not chosen because they are
perfect, but notwithstanding their imperfections, that through the knowledge
and practice of the truth, through the grace of Christ, they may become trans-
formed into His image.”6

REACT
No matter how bad your day, month, or years have been, are you able to
see some glimmer of how God was always there for you? Elaborate.
____________
1. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 200.
2. Ellen G. White, “Christian Temperance,” Signs of the Times, September 18, 1879, par. 2.
3. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 330.
4. Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 18.
5. Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 53.
6. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 294.
Faith Toh, Singapore, Singapore
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wednesday APRIL 25
How-to
Ps. 103:10–12
How to Know God’s Love

Every Christian knows the love of God . . . don’t they? What about you? Do
you believe that God loves you? Jonathan Edwards said, “There is a difference
between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense
of its sweetness.”1 You can know that honey is sweet because someone told
you, but you will never really know its sweetness until you’ve tasted it for your-
self. Likewise, you can know that God loves you because someone told you,
but you won’t really know God’s love until you’ve tasted His love for yourself.

You will never really know its sweetness until you’ve


tasted it for yourself.

Here are two things you can do to begin to taste God’s love for yourself:
Be dissatisfi ed with your current spiritual involvement. As A. W. Tozer says,
“We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we
have found Him, we need no more seek Him. . . . In the midst of this great chill
there are some who will not be content with shallow logic. They want to taste, to
touch with their hearts the wonder that is God. I want deliberately to encourage
this mighty longing after God.” 2 Choose to continually pursue a deeper experi-
ence, a clearer glimpse of the love of God and the patience of Christ.
Pray to be pruned. Jesus said, “ ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the
gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch
that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful’ ” (John 15:1,
2, NIV). Ask God to search all of you: your thoughts, attitude, words, actions,
priorities, responsibilities, relationships, hobbies, job, and everything you do or
hold dear. Then ask Him to prune the areas that are not bearing fruit.
Pruning protects our hearts from independence and pride, allowing us to
refocus on abiding in the Vine. It removes the distractions that prevent us from
abiding in Christ. God becomes our wonderful obsession, and the first com-
mandment of loving God is repositioned in its proper, primary place.

REACT
What are you doing in your life right now? Why are you doing it? Are you
secure in your identity as one loved by God and as a lover of God?
____________
1. Jonathan Edwards, “ A Divine and Supernatural Light, Immediately Imparted to the Soul by
the Spirit of God, Shown to Be Both Scriptural and Rational Doctrine,” accessed March 21, 2017,
https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/edwards_light.html.
2. A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, quoted in Colin Smith, “To Experience God’s Love,” The
Gospel Coalition, April 21, 2014, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/to-experience-gods
-love.
Jimmy Quek, Singapore, Singapore
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thursday
APRIL 26
Opinion
Eph. 1:4, 5
Going to Hell?

“You are going to hell,” the girl told me matter-of-factly. “Unless, of course,
you start coming to church.”
I stared at her, incredulous and slightly offended. She had approached
me while I was waiting for my bus at the station. All smiles, she struck me
as warm and friendly—until she opened her mouth. She followed up her
statement with others that contained the words sin, love, sacrifice, Jesus,
and more; but by then, I had stopped listening to her. In fact, I just wanted
her to go away.

In fact, I just wanted her to go away.


When I met the girl, I had not yet been introduced to Christianity, but I led
what I thought was a “good” life. I was honest and kind, and while I knew I
wasn’t perfect, I also didn’t think I was heading for hell! If the Christian God
sent to hell everybody who didn’t go to church, I wasn’t interested in getting
to know Him!
Years later, I met a very different Christian God. His first interest was
not whether I went to church but that I knew He loved me. I was headed
toward certain death, but He had already provided an extremely simple
escape plan. In reality, it was the same message the random girl at the bus
station gave me—but delivered differently, very differently. In this message,
the focus was not on what I had to do, but on what God had done for me.
As a sinful human being, I was destined to be separated from God for-
ever, but I was not told that I was going to hell if I didn’t go to church but that
I had a God who loved me so much that He sent His only Son to die for my
sins. Jesus was God who volunteered to become human and chose to die
on the cross for the sins of all humans, past, present, and future.
Time is running out. Bible prophecy is proving that the world is fast
heade­d toward destruction, but Jesus has provided a means of escape—
and all because He loves and accepts me just as I am.

REACT
1. Why do you go to church, knowing you do not have to in order to
earn God’s grace?
2. How would you tell nonbelievers sensitively about their fate if they
choose not to accept Jesus’ forgiveness?
3. If the real focus of the end time is on Jesus, is it still important to
know about end-time events? Why?
Melody Tan, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia
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friday
APRIL 27
Ps. 143:8;
John 16:33;
Exploration
1 Cor. 13:8 Changing Focus
CONCLUDE
Christians know what to expect when it comes to the end of the
world: natural disasters, wars, famines . . . the list of terrible things
goes on. And sometimes, when faced with such knowledge, we can
be either overcome with fear or filled with an insatiable need to see
the fulfilment of prophecy in every event. But the focus on the end
of the world should not be on the occurrence itself; it should be on
the One who loved us so much that He made certain of our eternal
existence by dying for our sins.

CONSIDER
• Drawing an alternate to the “The End Is Nigh” posters street-
corner evangelists usually hold. How would you help unbeliev-
ers connect the end times with what Jesus did for humanity?
• Researching what the Bible says about the love of the Father,
Christ, and the Holy Spirit. How are they different? How are they
similar?
• Visiting the sick in the hospital and sharing with them the hope
of Jesus.
• Thinking about what you are most afraid of or worried about
when it comes to the end of the world and how you can focus on
Jesus to ease your fears or worries.
• Observing in nature the beauty of God’s creation and hope, de-
spite the impending doom.

CONNECT
Romans 8:38, 39; Philippians 2:5–8; Ephesians 1:4, 5.
Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, chapter 69, “On the Mount of
Olives”; chapter 79, “ ‘It Is Finished.’ ”
Max Lucado, Fearless, chapter 1; C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle.

Daniel Bell, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia


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