Sabbath School Lesson for December 23-29, 2023
Overview of Lesson 13, The End of God’s Mission
Memory Text: “Therefore, since all things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Lord…?” 2 Peter 3:11, 12 NKJV
What to expect from this week’s lesson:
- Sunday: Revelation, God’s Last-Day Mission–why does God make His followers priests and kings
- Monday: The Three Angels’ Messages and Mission–what are the themes of these last-day messages
- Tuesday: The Final Crisis–why are the three angels’ messages present truth for us now
- Wednesday: Success in Mission–how do we know our mission has been a success
- Thursday: Mission Complete–what happens after we are in the new earth
- Friday: Our Challenge–How we can join God’s mission
The highly symbolic, prophetic book of Revelation isn’t always considered a missionary book. It’s often not the first book in the Bible we might use to reach some populations, especially those with little to no knowledge of who God is. But for the missionary himself, especially those living at the end of time, it is a valuable resource for understanding what our core message to the world should be.
Revelation outlines the history of mankind, helping us to grasp the total picture of the great conflict between good and evil–between Christ and Satan. Every believer should become familiar with its themes in order to understand the role of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and our role of preaching present truth in these last days.
Furthermore, our study of Revelation encourages us to have hope in the most trying of times. In addition, it instills within us a desire to be a faithful witness, to live out our faith visibly and tangibly before a confused and needy generation. At all costs, we must represent our loving God and be ever vigilant in spreading His last messages of the gospel to the world.
Sunday: Revelation, God’s Last-Day Mission
John’s greeting to the churches in the first chapter of Revelation contains references to God the Father (the one who is, who was, and who is to come), the Holy Spirit (the seven Spirits before His throne, Revelation 1:4), and God’s Son, Jesus Christ (the faithful witness, Revelation 1:5). These three members of the godhead are prominent all through John’s recorded visions.
Jesus, the one who sacrificed His life to free us from sin and guilt, is especially noted by John in Revelation. It is our Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who calls us all to be priests and kings, both here and in the earth made new (Revelation 1:6). Peter, also, called us a “royal priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:9. We are, therefore, priests in what we preach, and kings in how we live.
Our sense of urgency in preaching the gospel is heightened for those living close to Christ’s return. It has become increasingly important that the whole world hear of the gospel of the kingdom, so as many as possible will be saved. God doesn’t want any of His children to be lost, but wants all to repent and come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). We are privileged to live during this last phase of God’s mission. Let’s not waste a minute by not devoting our life and remaining time to that mission.
- Who does John declare is addressing and greeting them in this letter?
- Why is it important to include all three members of the godhead in its messages?
Revelation 1:6, 7 and 1 Peter 2:9
- What does it mean to you to be part of a royal priesthood?
- What are the duties of those who are called to be priests and kings?
Monday: The Three Angels’ Messages and Mission
The three angels’ messages found in the heart of Revelation, specifically in Revelation 14:6-12, constitute God’s mission in the world today. They contains an urgent appeal for all to repent and choose to be on God’s side. The devil knows his time is short and we must constantly be watchful of his increased efforts to crush us. We must be faithful in the mission we have been given to preach the gospel message (Revelation 12:12).
Two themes stand out in these last-day messages: the worldwide invitation found in the “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6) and the dramatic appeal to make the choice to worship our Creator, and thus choose everlasting life over death. Every human on earth must choose their destiny. God will demonstrate perfectly His justice on His designated Judgment Day. The whole universe will be convicted of His love and fairness in dealing with sin.
- How would you best summarize from these verses what God’s message and mission is for the world today?
2 Peter 3:11, 12
- What can we do to hasten the day of the Lord?
- Will preaching alone make God’s remnant people effective witnesses?
Tuesday: The Final Crisis
God’s mission has several phases. Each phase makes clear that the entire world is to receive what Peter referred to as “present truth”(2 Peter 1:12).
- Abraham was given insight concerning the Messiah, one of his descendants, who would bless “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3).
- Before Jesus returned to heaven, He gave His disciples the commission to preach about His life, death, and resurrection, making disciples of “all the nations” (Matthew 28: 19).
- And finally, John, the Revelator, challenges us to warn others, so “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” can prepare for the coming Judgment (Revelation 14:6).
The gospel of salvation is for all of humanity. Saints and sinners both have the freedom to choose their destiny. Jesus died for all of us (2 Corinthians 5:15). Therefore, the world is the intended audience for hearing the gospel, regardless of race, ethnicity, or any other earthly barrier.
God does nothing without revealing it beforehand through His servants, so all may know the extent of His law of love (Amos 3:7). Spreading present truth of the three angels’ messages is now our mission.
1 John 4:8, 2 Peter 1:12, 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4, Genesis 12:3, Revelation 14:12
- What are the elements of present truth that matter most to God?
- What part do we have in delivering present truth to the world? How are we “established” in it?
Wednesday: Success in Mission
There are some worthy points about successful mission work that should be remembered. We are likely to focus on outward measurements of success, such as the number of baptisms, churches that are planted, and how much literature is distributed or offerings given. We’d, of course, also like to see every people group across the globe included in our efforts.
But God is the one who provides such growth. Paul stated that: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Instead of worrying about growth, we must keep our eyes on the process of making ourselves the kind of disciple that God expects us to be. One who has been washed and cleansed by His unfailing grace and mercy–who loves the truth and his fellow human beings–one who is pure and loyal to God–who is willing to follow Jesus anywhere he is led.
2 Corinthians 11:2
- What does it mean to be a “chaste [or pure] virgin to Christ”?
Isaiah 30:21, John 10:27, John 16:12, 13
- Why is it important to follow where God leads us?
2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, Hebrews 3:12, 13, and 1 John 1:8
- In what kind of ways can we be deceived?
1 John 1:9 and Revelation 7:14, 19:8
- How do we know we are washed and clothed by God? How and when does this happen?
Thursday: Mission Complete
God’s mission, our mission, will not be complete until the Holy City comes down from heaven and we are made citizens of a new heaven and a new earth. There we will reign with Him forever in peace and prosperity, learning more and more about the God we serve and praising Him for His glorious works in all the universe.
We are privileged even now though to participate in this future grand event by making disciples of all we can on this old, sinful planet. It’s been helpful for the church’s global mission to identify groups that have been reached with the three angels’ messages and those that have not. Those we consider “reached” have adequate numbers and resources locally to effectively serve and witness without major, outside assistance from the rest of the world church.
Revelation 21:1-4 and 21:22-22:5
- What does God’s completed mission look like?
- What are you and your church doing to make God’s mission a success?
Friday: Our Weekly Mission Challenge
“How are you hastening Christ’s return? Are you planting seeds of hope in the hearts of those who need to hear good news? Are you “watering” new believers by helping them learn what it means to live a life of loyal obedience to Christ? Pray for opportunities to communicate the promise of the earth made new with the people on your daily prayer list.
Some of your “disciples” may be ready to accept Christ. This includes joining a church or group of believers. Put yourself in his or her place and imagine attending your church for the first time. What kind of experience would he or she have? How prepared is your church to welcome and disciple new people? Are you open to starting new groups of believers, not just building up your own existing church? Create a strategy to address weak areas. Share your thoughts with your church leaders, and work with them to implement a plan to become a more intentional disciple-making church.”
For discussion: What are some improvements your church could make to improve the experience of new believers in your congregation? Why is the first visit to a church so critical in making visitors want to return?
Next Week: How to Read the Psalms
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