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A Step in Faith



SEPTEMBER 26, 2020



Memory text: “5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7

In the teacher’s edition of the lesson, the author of the lesson states this in the teacher’s comments, “Philippians 2:5–11 is one of the most magnificent passages in the entire Bible on the condescension of Christ. Some authors call this passage “The Song of Christ.” The entire book of Philippians focuses on three major themes—rejoicing, humility, and faith. Philippians 2 highlights the theme of humility. Jesus left the magnificent glories of His exalted state in heaven, divested Himself of the privileges and prerogatives as God’s equal, entered the realm of humanity as a servant, and died the lowliest of deaths on the cross. The apostle Paul uses this example of Jesus as a model for Christian living. Christ’s sacrificial life of unselfish ministry is the model for all Christian faith.” I would like to tweak that a bit and say that Paul uses the life and death of Christ as his motivation for the way he lived his life which was a life wholly devoted to the “Son of God Who loved him and gave Himself for him.” Hence our focus in this Sabbath School Insight will be our motivation for witnessing and sharing.

Most of us have sat through sermons in which we have been exhorted to go out and do more, witness more, and to share our faith more. Two types of responses can be elicited, enthusiasm or guilt. My mind goes back to a Sabbath morning, a few years ago, when I sat in a Sabbath School class in a church in the Northeast, where I was visiting because I was to give a presentation there. The Sabbath School teacher picked up a ledger type of notebook and went around the class which consisted of about 15-20 people and asked them to tell what they did for witnessing the past week. As I remember, only about two or three people shared and the information was carefully recorded in the “book.” Most, however wished they had worn an outfit that matched the pews as they tried to be invisible. Others hung their heads in guilty shame. It occurred to me that this happened every week and a thought flashed into my mind, “they know the question is coming and week after week they keep coming with nothing.” In case you think I am being judgmental, I am not. I was giving thanks that I was sitting behind a lady with a rather large hat and used this to my advantage, as I too had nothing specific nor earth shattering to share. Instead I gave thanks for the large hat and my choice of a seat.

On the other hand, some hear a wonderful gospel sermon and weep during the meetings, moved beyond measure and somewhere between their pew and the door, the fervor is gone and the fire extinguished. What happened on the way to the door?

Why is witnessing so hard? I am reminded of a quote by Ellen White in the Desire of Ages, “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit.” {DA 83.4} The author of our lesson does just that this week, giving us the reason and proper motivation for witnessing.

Our memory text, from Philippians, describes the “steps in faith” Jesus took, as He laid aside His rights. I always wonder why we begin in verse 5 because verses 2-4 describe His heart and mind as He was about to take His step of faith, and verses 5-8 describe the result. Philippians 2:2-4 says, “2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Jesus acted by faith because He loved us.

Ellen White says it this way, “The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured--the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father's face--speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. He Who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, Who made devils tremble and disease flee, Who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life--offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee.” {DA 755.1} Praise God that Jesus took that “step in faith.”

This is what will allow us to be like Peter and John in Acts 4:20, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Then when the brother at church gets out his ledger book and begins to record who shared, no one will seek a big hat to hide behind. We will be unable to stop talking.

EJ Waggoner’s experience is worth reproducing here: “Many years ago, the writer [EJ Waggoner] sat in a tent one dismal, rainy afternoon, where a servant of the Lord was presenting the Gospel of His grace; not a word of the text or texts used, nor of what was said by the speaker, has remained with me, and I have never been conscious of having heard a word; but, in the midst of the discourse an experience came to me that was the turning point in my life. Suddenly a light shone about me, and the tent seemed illumined, as though the sun were shining; I saw Christ crucified for me, and to me was revealed for the first time in my life the fact that God loved me, and that Christ gave Himself for me personally. It was all for me. If I could describe my feelings, they would not be understood by those who have not had a similar experience, and to such no explanation is necessary.”  {1900 EJW, EVCO 5.1}

“I believed that the Bible is the word of God, penned by holy men who wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and I knew that this light that came to me was a revelation direct from heaven; therefore I knew that in the Bible I should find the message of God's love for individual sinners, and I resolved that the rest of my life should be devoted to finding it there, and making it plain to others. The light that shone upon me that day from the cross of Christ, has been my guide in all my Bible study; wherever I have turned in the Sacred Book, I have found Christ set forth as the power of God, to the salvation of individuals and I have never found anything else.” {1900 EJW, EVCO 5.2}

The apostle Paul is one who “could not but speak.” His description of why he was all in for Christ is found in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” And again in 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” The love of Christ compelled Paul. He continues in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

I believe that for the Apostle Paul, “the faith of the Son of God Who loved him”, was ever before him, He considered himself the chief of sinners, the least of all the Apostles, yet, like the experience that EJ Waggoner had that rainy camp meeting day, he saw Christ crucified for him personally and resolved that the rest of his life should be devoted to “making it plain to others.

Paul also understood the loss that all Heaven endured not only for the world but for him personally which caused him to write the following, “7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3: 7,8

So, what about us? Revelation 14:12 describes a group of people with these words, “12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” This group not only keeps the commandments but have an added attribute, an appreciation for the “faith of Jesus” which is, in Paul’s writings, shorthand for the cross.

The book of 2 Timothy records Paul’s thoughts and testimony as he faced death at the hands of Nero. 2 Timothy 4:17 says “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear…” Paul is facing death and has one concern…that “all the Gentiles might hear.” My prayer is that we too will step out by the “faith of Jesus” as our motivation to share, because we have a message to tell to the nations that will turn their hearts to the Lord. May we see Christ crucified for us as Waggoner and the apostle Paul did. I pray that we will not hide behind a big hat but rather show forth the praises of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.



~Andi Hunsaker