This sabbath School lesson is recorded at the Washington Spanish Church bilingual service. Publish and edited by PCJovenes.com
May 03. The Wonder of His Works
Friday April 18: Further Study
In the centuries-old controversy over the person of
Jesus, the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) marked a significant milepost.
Essentially, it agreed and proclaimed that Jesus Christ is fully
God and fully man: “. . . we all with one voice teach that . . . our Lord
Jesus Christ is one and the same God, the Same perfect in Godhead,
the Same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, . . . [one] with
the Father as to his Godhead, and . . . [one] with us as to his manhood;
in all things like unto us, sin only excepted.”—Cited in Justo L.
Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1 (Nashville:
Abingdon Press, 1970), p. 390. For an assessment of the implications
of the Chalcedon statement from an Adventist perspective, see Roy
Adams, The Nature of Christ (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald®
Publishing Association, 1994), pp. 57–72.
“In contemplating the incarnation of Christ in humanity, we stand
baffled before an unfathomable mystery. . . . The more we reflect upon
it, the more amazing does it appear. How wide is the contrast between
the divinity of Christ and the helpless infant in Bethlehem’s manger!
How can we span the distance between the mighty God and a helpless
child? And yet the Creator of worlds, He in whom was the fullness of
the Godhead bodily, was manifest in the helpless babe in the manger.
Far higher than any of the angels, equal with the Father in dignity and
glory, and yet wearing the garb of humanity! Divinity and humanity
were mysteriously combined, and man and God became one. It is in
this union that we find the hope of our fallen race.”—Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, July 30, 1896.
1. What for you are the big issues surrounding Christ’s humanity?
Why are they important for you? At the same time, why must
we be careful not to be too harsh or dogmatic about the finer
points of Christ’s humanity?
2. Ellen G. White says that Christ’s humanity is everything to us
(see Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 244). What did she mean? In
what practical ways does the idea of Christ’s humanity affect you
in your Christian walk?
3. How might we use what we have studied in this week’s lesson
in our personal witness? How does the reality of Christ’s humanity
touch people where they live today?
Thursday April 17: An Eternal Solidarity (1 Tim. 2:5)
When we imagine the huge difference between God and ourselves,
it is astounding to think that God would reach out to us by condescending
to take on human flesh. But after He was done, most of us
would have been content for Him to abandon His affinity with us and
return fully to what He was before. However—and this absolutely
astounds us—we learn that Jesus will forever remain in solidarity with
us by retaining our nature!
Consider the implications of the following passages in regard to
Jesus’ eternal solidarity with us:
Acts 1:10, 11
1 Tim. 2:5
“By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than
recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to
bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ
we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In
taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie
that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with
us. ‘God so loved the world . . .’ He gave Him not only to bear our sins,
and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure
us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten
Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human
nature. . . . God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son,
and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the ‘Son of man’
who shares the throne of the universe.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire
of Ages, p. 25. “Christ ascended to heaven, bearing a sanctified, holy
humanity. He took this humanity with Him into the heavenly courts,
and through the eternal ages He will bear it, as the One who has
redeemed every human being in the city of God.”—Ellen G. White,
The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1054.
A friend of yours, hearing about Jesus’ eternal solidarity with
us, says, “That is going too far. It is too much!” What would you
say to that person? And how do you feel about the fact He will
be like us for eternity? However incredible a concept, what does
it tell us about God’s love for humanity?
Wednesday April 16: To Feel Our Pain
Why did God need to come into the world in human flesh? The
question is important. But we should wean ourselves away from
purely rational answers to it. It is not as if we need to come up with an
answer that makes sense to us. There is no independent research we
can do in philosophy, science, sociology, or whatever, that would lead
us to an answer. Nor should we concoct our own answer. The safest
way is to listen carefully to what the Bible itself reveals on this point.
And in the book of Hebrews, we find some of the clearest, most intentional
statements on the issue. Nor is it without significance that
Hebrews also happens to be the book focusing most directly on Jesus’
present high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
Each of the following passages highlights one particular aspect of Jesus’
coming in human flesh, then proceeds to answer the implied question:
Why did He do that? And in each case a reason for that particular
aspect of His humiliation is given. What are those reasons?
Heb. 2:14, 15
Heb. 2:16, 17
Heb. 5:8, 9
Notice that in each case, the focus is on Jesus; and in each case, the
benefit is for us. These inspired reasons for Jesus’ humanity and suffering
should be taken with utter seriousness. They should bring us
immense joy to know that Jesus meets us in our need; His arms are open
wide for us; He knows our plight because He has been here; He has felt
our pain. Can we imagine a more merciful Savior, a more understanding
and compassionate High Priest? Immense joy and profound gratitude
wells up in the souls of those who know that He suffered all for us.
Thus encouraged, we “approach the throne of grace with confidence”
(Heb. 4:16, NIV), giving ourselves to Him in complete abandon.
What trials are you encountering at the moment? How does it
help you to know that Jesus feels and understands your pain?
Tuesday April 15: He Took Our Nature
Many of His contemporaries considered Jesus an unusual person,
yet they each knew Him to be a human being, a man. When the
Samaritan woman rushed to her village to spread the word about the
unusual Jew she just had met at the well, her announcement was
straightforward: “ ‘Come, see a man’ ” (John 4:29, NIV). Hers was the
universal testimony of Jesus’ contemporaries. Even after He had
calmed the storm, the exclamation of those closest to Him was,
“ ‘What kind of man is this?’ ” (Matt. 8:27, NIV).
Howdo the following texts help support the fact that Jesus was a genuine
human being of flesh and blood?
John 4:7, 19:28
While on earth, Jesus voluntarily surrendered the independent exercise
of the Divine attributes. He surrendered; He did not relinquish.
The attributes remained in Him. He could have used them at any time
for His own advantage, but He did not. The temptation to call on these
attributes to extricate Himself from difficulty (in ways not open to us)
was a major ingredient of His daily trials.
It is helpful to keep in mind that the Scriptures are not definitive on
every point that stirs our interest. They make no overt attempt, for
example, to spell out precisely how the human and Divine components
of Jesus’ nature are related. But they make it clear that Christ
was one unified person. They do not discuss the technicalities of this
union, limiting themselves, rather, to the clear confession that such a
union did occur, that the Son made of a woman was, indeed, the Son
of God (Gal. 4:4). “Christ did not make-believe take human nature;
He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature.”—Ellen
G. White, Lift Him Up, p. 74.
Why is Christ’s humanity so important to us? What does it mean
to us to know that Jesus became a human being? How does it
encourage you to know that Jesus shared our human limitations?
Monday April 14: Then There was Conflict
As Christianity spread through the Greco-Roman world and moved
into the second generation, people began to reflect on its basic message
about Jesus’ person, and to raise questions: How could Divinity
and humanity cohabit the same body? How could Deity become mortal?
What is Jesus’ relationship to the Father? And so forth . . .
Beginning in the first century, two conflicting emphases emerged. One
would stress Christ’s humanity at the expense of His divinity; the other
would do just the opposite. Among those denying Christ’s deity were the
Ebionites, early Jewish Christians who taught that Jesus became the Son
of God only at His baptism, at which time He became united with the
eternal Christ, a nondivine being who could not save humanity but came,
instead, to call humanity to obedience. The Arians later would take up the
struggle against Christ’s divinity, beginning around the late third century,
a position strongly condemned by the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.
The heavyweights on the other side of the spectrum were the
Gnostics, who taught that spirit was good and matter evil, particularly
the matter that forms our body. Therefore, the human body could not
serve as a vehicle for the revelation of the Supreme Being.
Study 1 John 4:1–3. In what way does John’s concern relate to the
Gnostic emphasis just described?
The controversy over who Jesus was raged for five solid centuries,
from the second century all the way down to the sixth. At first it was
over His deity. Was He God? And if so, how was He related to God
the Father? The questions then shifted to His humanity, and to how
Divinity and humanity were combined in a single person. There were
statements and counterstatements, pronouncements and counterpronouncements,
accusations and condemnations and excommunications,
with one “ism” after another claiming the day. Incredibly, amid
all the turmoil and controversy, biblical orthodoxy in respect to Jesus’
essential nature and person ultimately prevailed. (See the quotation
from the Creed of Chalcedon in Friday’s lesson.)
What are some of the questions in the church today about the
human nature of Christ? Why must we be careful not to let
these questions divide us, as they often did the early church?