Sabbath School Lesson for July 16-22, 2022

Overview of Lesson 4

We develop a Christlike character by going through crucibles. We are purified through them by learning how…

  • we are made and re-made in God’s image (Sunday)
  • Job’s suffering refined his character (Monday)
  • Jesus’ last parables focused on the importance of character as we get ready for His Second Coming (Tuesday)
  • Daniel explained who “the wise” were at the very end of time (Wednesday)
  • our character development/purification enables us to unite and build a community for Christ (Thursday)

We’ve seen how hardship and suffering can bring us spiritual maturity. Through our study, we will now see more clearly what our maturity looks like, feels like, and most importantly how it can be used to glorify the One in whose image we are made.

Through the refining process, our impurities are filtered out and our characters shine brighter than ever for Christ. At the end of the process, God’s image can shine through our characters, making us safe, purified candidates for our journey home with Him.

Memory Text: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

New Revised Standard Version: And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Sunday: “In His Image”

Genesis 1:27 tells us we are made in God’s image. As we look at the wickedness of humans in our world, however, we can’t help but question and lament the change that has come upon those who were so perfect in the beginning.

We can only come to an understanding of this unfortunate transformation by learning all we can about the great cosmic drama that drives our character change. We are all in the midst of a great controversy between heavenly powers, whether we know it or not. There is a battle for the heart and soul of every child born to Adam and Eve.

Only by placing ourselves on the winning side of Christ can we halt the negative change within ourselves and begin to return to the image God intended for us from the start.

Discussion Questions:

Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12

  • How do we let our “light shine”?
  • Why are we humans the ones who can glorify God through our honorable conduct?

1 Corinthians 4:9, 1 Peter 1:12, and Ephesians 3:10

  • Who is a “spectacle” in this heavenly conflict?
  • Why are angels in heaven curious about our salvation?
  • Why is it important for them to know how we are saved, when they haven’t done anything wrong?

Monday: Faith Amid the Refining Fire

Job seemed to have gotten a real sense of God’s presence through his sufferings. He admitted his inadequate ability to see God (Job 23:9), but knew that He was with him nonetheless, and that Job would come out as gold in the end of the refining process (Job 23:10). He knew, after much soul searching, that through his trials God was on his side, propelling him to a better place.

We, too, deal with “invisible” forces, much like those Moses endured from Pharaoh’s wrath when he left Egypt (Hebrews 11:27). Our faith also informs our hearts and gives us the strength to survive the most grueling experiences. We can rest assured that God’s method of purification will polish us, and His image will shine bright enough to guide us and others through our crucibles.

Discussion Questions:

Job 23:1-10 and James 1:12

  • How do these verses show that even while our crucible is raging, we can still grow in our spiritual knowledge and relationship with God?
  • How does receiving the “crown of life” make us shine our brightest?

Tuesday: Jesus’ Last Words

Jesus’ last recorded words to His disciples were in answer to their question about when the end of the age would come. They were concerned about when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, as Jesus had recently predicted (Matthew 24:3). Surely, when that happened, it would be the end of the world to them.

As they sat together on the Mount of Olives, Jesus outlined events that would happen before His Second Coming (Matthew 24). But He also told them, through parables, how important it was to prepare for that time (Matthew 25). Developing character by having enough oil in their lamps (referring to the Holy Spirit) was to be their goal. This character development would be evident in how they treated those in need.

It’s been suggested that the oil in the parable of the ten virgins could refer to their character. As they waited for the bridegroom, their time was spent actively using the talents given to them through the Holy Spirit. Which led to the next parable, the one about the talents. This was followed by pointing out explicitly the kinds of good deeds His people would be accomplishing–feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and so on. These are the kinds of activities that come from a character that’s been refined through the hardships they would endure in the last days. They would enable God’s people to identify with those in need and have the empathy to care for them in substantial ways.

Discussion Questions:

Matthew 25:11-13

  • Why were the “foolish virgins” denied access to the wedding?

Matthew 25:44-46

  • What kinds of things should we be doing during our “waiting time” for the Lord to come?
  • How do our good deeds lead to better characters? Or, are they just the result of our good character?

Wednesday: “The Wise”

Jesus described the purification process through the time of trouble that His people would experience during those crucial days before His Second Coming. Daniel details the same end-time crucibles, but finishes the story, referring to those saints who survive as “the wise” (Daniel 12:3).

The wicked do not understand what is happening to our world, but “the wise” do (Daniel 12:10). Daniel said these survivors will shine. They will have turned many to righteousness, because they have been purified.

In the end, there will only be two classes of people, the unrighteous and the righteous, the ones who have been made holy. The final crucibles will be harsh ones indeed, but they will make God’s people shine all the brighter for what they have endured.

Discussion Questions:

Daniel 12:1-10

  • What part does the “time of trouble” have in making God’s people “wise”?
  • How do our crucibles, whenever they happen, shape our characters and make us ready to meet Jesus?

Thursday: Character and Community

Even though it’s possible to be a Christian if we are all alone, God knows that our efforts are magnified when we work together. Nothing shows us the need for support from each other than when we are going through a crisis of some kind.

Although our initial instinct may be to be alone when trouble comes, it’s not long before we desire others to support us. Of course, the ultimate support comes from God, but He uses our human contacts as well.

Ephesians 4:11-16 explains how we can work together, causing us to grow in the knowledge of God and not be tossed about by cunning deceptions. We become “a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Like children who want to be as tall as their parents, we should desire the spiritual growth that makes us more like our heavenly Father.

This happens when we work together in love, “according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causing growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

Discussion Questions:

Ephesians 4:11-13

  • If we are all so different, how do we become united?

Ephesians 4:14-16

  • Why is our spiritual growth so important in the final days?

Ephesians 3:10

  • What can the rest of the universe learn from our crucibles?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Helen Keller, a woman who knew all too well what a crucible felt like, being deaf and blind from an early age, said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Ellen White, another wise woman, tells us how our crucibles work to purify us: “God brings His people near Him by close, testing trials, by showing them their own weakness and inability, and by teaching them to lean upon Him as their only help and safeguard.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 86

If our crucibles are to have the desired outcome, we must look at ourselves in the mirror, in addition to looking at God. We must see our helplessness and His strength…side by side, face to face with Christ our Savior.

Next Week: Extreme Heat

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