Sabbath School Lesson for June 17-23, 2017
Peter sought heartily for his readers to understand what it was to be free from sin, how to live in righteousness, and how to wait patiently and productively for their reward. It was obvious that Christ was the key factor in achieving these accomplishments of…
- justification (being forgiven by Christ)
- sanctification (living for Christ)
- glorification (receiving our immortal bodies and spending an eternity with Christ)
Five themes stand out in his writings. They are…
- the suffering of Jesus and the part He played in our salvation
- our response to the reality of the Christ’s judgment of our actions, whether good or bad
- the joy we can experience, knowing that Jesus will return soon
- the order of God’s authority in this world, and how we should conduct ourselves in each of our relationships
- the importance of scripture in providing us with guidance and comfort as we try to know God
Scripture Gem: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” 1 Peter 2:24 NRSV
This portion of his letters, found in 1 Peter, chapter 2, drew heavily from the Messianic prophecies given to us by the prophet Isaiah. It properly sums up Peter’s main message, that of uplifting Christ, the Messiah, and accepting Him as our only means of salvation.
Although Peter didn’t leave us an account of Jesus’ life, as did three of the other disciples, we find Jesus throughout these humble letters Peter wrote to the early churches. We easily sense the close relationship he had with his Master, both before and after Christ’s resurrection.
He inspires us to grow in grace for many reasons:
- the freedom from sin and temptation that Jesus provides
- the lovely character of Jesus, given as our example
- the merciful and fair judgment that is sure to come in the future
- the wonderful reward Jesus is preparing for us, if we choose to follow Him
In spite of these guarantees though, Peter is conscious of growing persecution that threatens God’s church from without, and growing heresies that attack it internally. For these two realities, Peter seeks to forewarn and equip the church to stand up against the threats they represent to God’s flock.
He identifies the source of these threats, both external and internal, as being Satan himself.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
Sunday: Suffering, Jesus, and Salvation
Peter affirms the entire message in scripture of a Substitute for our sins being central to our salvation. The book of Leviticus presented this Substitute as the sacrificial lamb, slain in the tabernacle to symbolically represent the Messiah. Later, John the Baptist confirmed that Jesus was the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Here are some of the many verses that depict the part Jesus plays in our salvation:
Foreknowledge of God, sanctification of the Spirit, the blood of Jesus–all three persons of the godhead are involved (1 Peter 1:2).
Salvation is the whole purpose of our faith (1 Peter 1:8, 9).
Jesus’ precious blood was the price of salvation (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
He suffered that we might live (1 Peter 2:22-25).
Jesus died so we can be brought back to God (1 Peter 3:18).
Paul attests to the same theology with many of his statements:
Jesus took on our sin that we can be counted righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We are made righteous by our faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21, 22).
Salvation is not earned by our godly behavior, but by the price Jesus paid on the cross and our acceptance of Him as the Lord of our life. This being said, godly behavior is expected to occur as a result of our salvation. The new birth experience includes a desire to be like Him, to partake of His divine nature, which enables us to continue to grow in grace and faith.
Our suffering is understood best in the light of the immense love it took for Jesus to come to earth and redeem us. This love can bear us up under the harshest trials Satan can hurl at us. Jesus Himself was a target of persecution, and we can expect nothing better. With His love though, we can survive the worst this world has to offer (John 16:33).
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 2:22-25 and Isaiah 53:5, 6, 7, 9. Why do you think Peter borrowed so much from Isaiah’s writings? In the publishing world, would this be considered plagiarism by today’s standards, and why would God see it differently?
Read 1 Peter 3:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:21. How do both verses confirm the concept of a Substitute, dying for our sins? Why is this concept important to our understanding of salvation? Without it, how could legalism or cheap grace invade our belief system?
Read John 1:29 and Revelation 5:11-14. What made the Lamb so worthy of adoration by the throngs in heaven?
Monday: How Should We Live?
Christian behavior seems to be a topic Peter dwells on more than any other in his letters. He uses it, as he points out…
- the link to our actions and the judgment of God (1 Peter 1:17)
- we should be holy, because God is holy (1 Peter 1:15, 16)
Specifically, he calls us to…
- rid ourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander (1 Peter 2:1)
- fill ourselves with faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 2:1 and 2 Peter 2:18, and 3:2. Why is it harder to identify the trademarks of unholiness in 1 Peter, as opposed to those more obvious ones in 2 Peter? How does God view sin, and how can we come to see it more as He does?
Read 1 Peter 5:7. What kind of cares and anxieties might this include? Why are some people anxious about their salvation, and how and why should that anxiety be overcome?
Read 1 Peter 4:7-11 and 1 Corinthians 13:13. Why do Peter and Paul both consider love to be the most important trait to have? How does it impact how we live and serve God?
Tuesday: Hope in the Second Coming
We’ve looked at justification, as we saw how Jesus’ death provides for our forgiveness and acceptance into the family of God. Then, our sanctification was covered, as we reviewed how we are to live our lives in service for God.
Today’s lesson reaches the important, but often overlooked, idea of glorification. Since so little is really known about our future reward after our resurrection, we must reserve a big portion of our faith to get us to this end result of our salvation. When our mortal bodies take on immortality and never die again, we will experience the fullness of salvation, and live for eternity with Jesus.
Peter tries to keep the event of the Second Coming in the forefront of our minds. He mentions the judgment on three occasions:
- 1 Peter 1:17–He judges “without partiality”, in other words, with all fairness
- 1 Peter 4:5, 6–Jesus Himself stands ready to judge (see also John 5:22)
- 1 Peter 4:17–Judgment begins with the house of God; in other words, the righteous are judged first (The last few chapters of Revelation describe Jesus’ Coming in two parts: He comes the first time to bring the righteous, living and dead, with Him to heavenly mansions He’s preparing for them, and the second time after a thousand years, to resurrect and punish the wicked with fire.)
Judgment is also found in Peter’s second letter. We find that justice will be served for those persecuting the church, and for all the wicked:
“But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7 NKJV
This same chapter talks extensively about a seeming delay of the Coming. Peter wants his readers to be aware that scoffers will be especially prevalent in the last days. But they are to hold firm to their faith in the soon Coming of Jesus, knowing that their God has not forgotten them.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish…” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 1:3, 4, 9. Why it this called a “living hope”? When it says, this is the “end of your faith”, does this mean the goal or outcome, rather than the stopping point? Why will we still need faith when we get to heaven? Will it be a different kind of faith?
Read 1 Peter 4:17. Why do you think judgment begins with the house of God? What does this mean to you?
Read 2 Peter 3:1-10, Luke 12:39, 40, Revelation 3:3, and Matthew 24:43, 44. Why do you think it’s important that we not know when Jesus will come? Why do people constantly predict times for it to happen, or even speculate on outlandish signs, designed to scare us into believing, and how might this harm the cause of God?
Wednesday: Order in Society and in the Church
We see today a growing trend of distrust for those in authority in these last days. Government on all levels, both inside and outside the church, has caused many to view government as unfavorable and intolerable.
Scandals, misuse of power, and incompetence have certainly fueled these sentiments, but what does God’s Word tell us about our compliance or noncompliance with those in authority? How far and how long must we support those who govern us, even when their performance as public servants is less than acceptable?
In Peter and Paul’s writings, we discover that God sets up governments for good purposes–to help people in need and to protect us from evildoers. At times, He also dismantles governments when they fail to fulfill God’s purposes.
With this in mind, we should show our respect and offer our obedience to governing authorities, as long as they don’t call for our direct disobedience to God. Peter writes extensively on the importance of “submission”. Perhaps we can understand this concept more clearly in today’s language by calling it “respect”.
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13:1-7. What is the purpose of government in the eyes of God? Why is government necessary for society to function properly? How can it help or hinder the work of the church, and how far should we go in supporting it?
Read 1 Peter 5:1-5, Acts 6:2-4, and 1 Corinthians 14:40. Why is the church also in need of governance? How can these “shepherds”, or overseers, be in danger of not fulfilling their God-given duties? What cautions should they take to avoid this? What must be the response of the flock when mistakes are made by the shepherds?
Read 1 Peter 3:8, 9, 5:5, and Matthew 5:44. How is this counsel a reflection of what Jesus would do?
Thursday: The Primacy of Scripture
- In order to live righteously, Peter lays out plainly the part of submission and humility in our dealings with each other.
- In order to have a growing relationship with God, we must become familiar with his primary way of communicating with us, which is through Scripture.
Both relationships, to God and man, are important parts of the sanctification process, our preparation for heaven. Peter is intent on bringing to our attention the need for both areas to be strengthened. We now look at how Peter feels about the written Word, our holy Bible.
He brings out these four points:
- The Bible points to Jesus (1 Peter 1:10-12).
- Scripture comes from God (2 Peter 1:16-20).
- Prophets and apostles both contributed to the Word (2 Peter 3:2).
- The Word will be misinterpreted, or “twisted”, by false teachers (2 Peter 3:16).
It’s been suggested that we study our Bible with these things in mind…
- pray first
- consider the context within the chapter, book, and the entire Bible
- look at the historical setting in which it was written
- understand how it contributes to our understanding of salvation
- discover a way to apply it personally
Discussion Questions: Read 2 Peter 19-21 and 2 Timothy 3:16. Parts of the Bible are not seen favorably by some: the lists of genealogies, for instance, or some of the violent ways sinners have been dealt with at times, especially in the Old Testament. Why do you think some of these less palatable parts of the Bible are included and how may they still be profitable for our understanding of the gospel? In other words, how would you defend them?
Read 1 Peter 1:12 and Ephesians 3:8-10. What are heavenly angels desiring to know and why? How does the church help in their understanding of the gospel?
Why is prayer important before we read or study God’s Holy Word? What does this prayer do for us?
Five areas that Peter covers in his epistles are briefly:
- Jesus dying as our Substitute (Sunday)
- Christian behavior (Monday)
- the assurance of Jesus’ Second Coming (Tuesday)
- the importance of submission and humility (Wednesday)
- the benefits of Scripture (Thursday)
Embracing the Message
Consider this verse in Peter’s final call to be steadfast and also a comment from a Christian author on this subject:
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;” 2 Peter 3:14 NKJV
Ellen G. White writes about this verse:
“As your soul yearns after God, you will find more and still more of the unsearchable riches of His grace. As you contemplate these riches you will come into possession of them and will reveal the merits of the Saviour’s sacrifice, the protection of His righteousness, the fullness of His wisdom, and His power to present you before the Father “without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). Acts of the Apostles, p. 567
Ephesians 5:27 also says “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Remember that the lambs used in sacrificial offerings must also be without blemish.) Why do you think God is waiting till we reach this state of readiness before He returns?
Next Week: New quarter–The Gospel of Galatians, “Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles”
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/