Deep within our hearts is a longing for eternity. As we witness gruesome acts of terror and violence, and the endless suffering on our planet, we know that this world is not our home. Our hearts tell us that we were created for something better. We were not made for sorrow, suffering, and death. We were made to be happy, healthy, and holy. In this month’s Bible lesson we will explore God’s amazing plan for each of us, and discover that God’s plans are better than we can imagine.
1 Read Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:13. What words do both John and Peter use to describe God’s eternal future? What expression do they use to emphasize the reality of what God has in mind for us? The Bible writers pictured God’s eternal world as a real place. They describe it as “new heavens and a new earth.” God’s world of tomorrow is not pie in the sky; it is not some make-believe fairy tale. All that has been lost by sin will be restored. God will re-create this world more fantastic then we can imagine. Eden will return more glorious than before, in all its magnificent beauty.
2Will we have real bodies, or will we be some kind of spirits? Compare Philippians 3:20, 21 with 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. See also Isaiah 35:5, 6. The disciples recognized Jesus when He appeared to them after His resurrection by His physical features. Although He had a glorious, immortal body, He was still recognizable. An immortal body is not some kind of invisible spirit. If the new heavens and the new earth are real, we will have real bodies to live in this real place.
3Read Isaiah 65:17, 21, 22. What are just a few of the activities we will participate in throughout eternity? Eden restored will be a place of incredible joy. The image “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit” is rich with the symbolism of perfect peace, inner contentment, and eternal happiness. According to Isaiah’s prophecy we will actually build houses and inhabit them. We will plant gardens and enjoy the natural products they produce. But there is something more here than is on the surface: We will be eternally content, without fear, anxiety, and worry.
4How does the Bible describe our relationships in heaven? Read Matthew 8:11 and notice particularly the expression “sit down with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” What does this phrase imply? Rephrase it in your own words.
5Read Revelation 21:2, 3; 22:3, 4. What will be our greatest joy in the earth made new? Which relationship above all others will be most precious to us?
6Read Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:24, 25. What rock-solid promises does our Lord give regarding eternity?
7Compare Micah 4:8 with Acts 3:19-21. What concept is key in getting a glimpse of God’s new world? The prophet Micah speaks about the return of the “former dominion.” Peter used the expression “restoration of all things” in Acts. These expressions are key to understanding God’s magnificent plan for us throughout all eternity because they point us back to God’s original creation in the Garden of Eden.
Heaven is a real place for real people who will participate in real activities. The shame of a world lost in sin and the agony of a planet in rebellion will be restored through the sacrifice of Christ. In Eden made new we will worship the Christ who redeemed us forever. The entire universe will gather about God’s throne and sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).
This is the greatest joy of heaven, and a reason to praise God through all eternity.
What does Paul mean when he says “the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24)?
This is a question about the role of the law. I will provide a brief summary of the law in Galatians, then look at a couple illustrations used by Paul, including the one you mentioned, to clarify the role of the law.
1. The Law: False teachers in Galatia were requiring believers to be circumcised in order to be part of God’s people. According to Paul, such teaching went against the concept of salvation through Christ (Gal. 1:6-9). He interprets this imposition as an attempt to use the law as a contributing element in our search for divine acceptance. For Paul, divine acceptance is exclusively through Christ, not on the grounds of the works of the law (Gal. 2:16). His critical point seems to be quite clear: The law cannot give us what we desperately needed, namely, life (Gal. 3:20), which is accessible only through Christ. If the law can give life, then Christ’s death was unnecessary.
The apostle would even argue that far from giving life, the law sentences us to death! He states: “Through the law I died to the law” (Gal. 2:19). The law can only pronounce a curse against us because sinful human beings cannot obey it (Gal. 3:10; cf. Rom. 8:6-8). Christ gives life because He took upon Himself the curse of the law, dying in our place, and redeemed us from that deadly curse (Gal. 3:13): “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). When it comes to our justification, the law has nothing to contribute. In Christ the law’s death sentence against me was executed, and I now enjoy life through Him.
2. Law and the Prison of Sin:Using the illustration of a prison, Paul asks: “What purpose then does the law serve?” (Gal. 3:19). He then states that the law was given to Israel “because of transgressions.” Although the phrase could be interpreted in several ways, the best interpretation within this context is that the law reveals sin; it makes us aware of our sinfulness, our brokenness (Rom. 3:20), but it cannot resolve the problem.
To clarify, Paul indicates that according to the Scripture the whole world is a prisoner “under sin” (Gal. 3:22) and that the warden of that the prison was the law (verse 23; cf. Rom. 11:32). He restates the idea that we were under the curse of the law until the coming of Christ. The human race was imprisoned, waiting for the execution of the sentence. The only escape from this prison was faith in Christ. He came, was “born under the law” (Gal. 4:4), entered the prison of sin to redeem those who were “under the law,” and made them children of God (verse 5). The curse of the law makes salvation through Christ indispensable.
3. Law as a Tutor: The Greek word translated “tutor” (Gal. 3:24; paidago¯gos) has no English equivalent. It was commonly used to designate a slave or freeman hired to protect the child of the master from harm, to instruct him in moral matters and in the use of language and speech, and to apply discipline whenever needed. When the child reached adulthood the control of the paidago¯gos ended. The term combines the ideas of strict discipline, submission, and instruction.
Paul uses this illustration to indicate that before the coming of Christ we lacked freedom and were, like slaves, under submission to a power over which we had no control. The law instructed and disciplined us, but it did not have any redeeming power. Although the emphasis is not on the law as pointing toward or leading to Christ, the idea is not totally absent. The child looked forward to adulthood to enjoy freedom, and for Paul our childhood ended with the coming of Christ. Now obedience to the law is an expression of love and gratitude (see Gal. 5:6, 13, 14, 19-24; Rom. 8:3, 4). For those who are in Christ the condemnatory function of the law has ended.
Angel Manuel Rodríguez lives in active retirement after serving the church as a pastor, professor, and theologian.
When you join Maranatha Volunteers International on a church- or school-building mission project, you always find assistance from a team of local Maranatha employees. Some of the workers—like these “three men on a roof” at Valley View University, a large Seventh-day Adventist school in Ghana—are from the country where the construction is taking place. Other members of the Maranatha crew may include workers from Ecuador, Panama, Mozambique, India, and other countries.
WORKING TOGETHER: Teamwork is an essential part of this, and other, One-Day Church/School projects.Maranatha is in the business of people building. These “three men on a roof”—along with all the other workers from other countries—guarantee the accomplishment of Maranatha’s mission: “We build people through the construction of urgently needed buildings.” The workers usually start with little or no construction experience, and eventually become building project supervisors.
Most of the primary and secondary school buildings on the campus of Valley View University in Ghana are One-Day structures, fabricated in Dodge Center, Minnesota, loaded into containers, trucked to an East Coast port, then added to the cargo of a container ship headed for Accra, where local Maranatha and Adventist Church leaders negotiate the maze of customs requirements and deliver the containers to the construction site.
Valley View University has thousands of students. However, until March of 2013, it did not have local primary and secondary schools to care for staff children and to serve as a “feeder system” for the university.
That is rapidly changing. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors, the “three men on a roof” have worked with scores of international volunteers, and have completed the first 20 of more than 40 One-Day School buildings.
After all, “building people for the kingdom” is the only purpose of One-Day buildings.
Maranatha Volunteers International is coordinating another mission trip to Valley View University in January 2014. For more information or to register, visit www.maranatha.org.
The One-Day Church program is a collaborative effort between the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI), and Maranatha Volunteers International. These stories come from Maranatha storyteller Dick Duerksen.
Stay committed to God, Carson tells Adventist youth Renowned surgeon joins world church president at South Africa event
By Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Network, reporting from Atteridgeville, Gauteng, South Africa
Renowned brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson implored Seventh-day Adventist youth to exercise their willpower and remain committed to God in a series of three addresses to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world youth conference.
Carson served for more than two and a half decades as chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, and was a key presenter at Impact South Africa. The event attracted more than 3,100 Adventist youth and young adults from around the globe for two weeks of community service, workshops, and worship.
DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER: Seventh-day Adventist Church member Dr. Ben Carson speaks at Impact South Africa, the Adventist Church’s world youth conference in Pretoria on Friday, July 12, 2013. He invoked Romans 8:31—“If God is for us, who can be against us.”“God has given each one of us something that is extraordinarily special. It’s called willpower. You don’t have to give in,” Carson said of things than can divert young people from realizing their full potential.
During the July 13, 2013, Sabbath worship service Carson also recounted his experiences in becoming a neurosurgeon, as told in his book Gifted Hands. He credited God for allowing him to make an impact through his career, despite it turning out differently than his childhood ambition of becoming a missionary doctor.
“Never get too big for God, never deny God, no matter where He takes you, no matter what roles you’re in,” Carson said. “If you put Him first in your life, you will be extraordinarily successful.”
In the audience, Argentinian Ezequiel Durán, 26, said Carson’s speeches were some of the conference’s highlights for him. “He is a good leader and example for young people. He dedicated his whole life to God. I like that.”
Carson and other presenters spoke to an audience of more than 18,000—youth conference attendees and community members—at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in this Pretoria suburb.
In a sermon, Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, similarly affirmed youth and urged them to continue carrying out the church’s mission.
“We love you, and we’re counting on you for the future,” Wilson said. “Impact your city. Impact your country. My brothers and sisters, impact the world for Jesus Christ!”
SABBATH SERVICE: Moeketsi Toka, a resident of Pretoria, South Africa, watches a Sabbath worship service at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday, July 13, 2013. The large-scale service was held on the final day of Impact South Africa, the Adventist Church’s world youth congress.Indeed, Shereen Rodney, 24, from the United Kingdom, said she came to the conference for the community service work that some 1,000 attendees gave during the conference’s first week. In a stadium seat, she said, “We’re looking to replicate some of these things when we go back home. It’s going to be like a chain reaction.”
Gilbert Cangy, director of the Adventist Church’s Youth Ministries and organizer of the conference, said the event successfully integrated youth from around the world as a family of faith.
“We truly embraced diversity at this event,” Cangy said. “There was a place at this conference for everyone—from every country, from every culture.”
Celina Sunder Singh, 20, from India, said the conference offered her the chance to meet new people in a supportive environment. “It’s nice to know so many people who have the same faith as you, and learning a few words in every language was fun,” she said. “My favorite was Spanish.”
Following the morning service, dozens of attendees traveled throughout nearby neighborhoods to distribute 20,000 copies of the book The Great Hope. The book is an abbreviated version of Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White’s touchstone book, The Great Controversy.
That evening, back at the conference’s base at the Saint George Hotel and Convention Centre, a report was given from the final of the denomination’s 13 world divisions. Each regional administration presented throughout the week, with colorful national garb and video reports.
Cangy also thanked his team of organizers, who helped coordinate everything from service projects and workshops to producing evening worship services that featured music and preaching by evangelist David Asscherick.
“By God’s grace we’re finishing well,” Cangy said. “We give God all the glory, and we’re grateful for His gracious spirit.”
Adventist World associate editor Lael Caesar also attended the world youth congress in Pretoria. Read his blog dispatches online athttp://bit.ly/16Gx14u. —Editors
S DANIEL EXPLAINED: Home page of www.1844madesimple.org, a Web site sponsored by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists containing Clifford Goldstein’s lectures on a key element of Adventist teaching.tudents of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine have a new online resource aimed at increasing understanding of the investigative judgment. Called www.1844madesimple.org, the Web site presents video lectures and background material explaining the Adventist understanding of Daniel 8:14, explained by Clifford Goldstein, editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide and author of 1844 Made Simple, published 25 years ago. While the book is difficult to find in print, the online site contains the essence of Goldstein’s message.
“I show how the gospel is central to the judgment,” Goldstein explained in a recent Adventist Reviewcolumn. “I contend that the only way to fully appreciate the gospel is to understand it in light of judgment.”
He added, “At the site you can watch the video online or download it, either as a whole or in sections. Besides the video, we have podcasts and resources for those who want to go deeper. Because the site is brand new, the podcasts and resources are scant, but we’re going to add more.” —Reported by Adventist World staff
Brazilian Adventist Students Join Global Entrepreneurship Challenge
Students at the 5,000-student campus of the Northeast Brazil College (known by its Portuguese acronym, FADBA) in the city of Cachoeira, Bahia State, Brazil, recently gained access to a global entrepreneurship challenge program.
Faculty contacted the headquarters of the Brazilian Enactus, the world’s largest social entrepreneurship program. Since July 2013 the team Enactus-FADBA was assembled and able to participate in events sponsored by the organization.
BRAZILIAN STUDENT, PROFESSOR:Fabio Bergamo, FADBA faculty advisor to the Enactus-FADBA team, and business administration student Taís Angels at the 2013 Enactus Brazil finals in São Paulo. Present in more than 35 countries, and reaching over 120 other nations with their projects, Enactus promotes entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, following social projects related to university studies, conducted entirely by students and supervised by teachers.
Participating institutions create “teams” responsible for the projects. The teams are trained throughout the process, culminating in a national championship celebration where projects are presented.
The best project, judged by CEOs and executives of large national and multinational companies, represents the country at the World Cup Enactus, which this year will be held in Cancún, Mexico.
Brazil currently has 30 teams. The most recent is the FADBA team, who was present, along with major universities of the country in the most recently Enactus National Championship, held in São Paulo on July 3-4.
Professor Fabio Bergamo, faculty advisor to the Enactus-FADBA team, and business administration student Taís Angels were invited to be observers of the event. There they had the opportunity to experience the exciting spirit of Enactus, a community that has more than 700 students in the country and more than 65,000 worldwide.
The Enactus-FADBA team has approximately 30 students, and they are defining their initial projects aimed at helping underserved communities of the Reconcavo Baiano area around Salvador, the Bahia state capital. —Reported by Adventist World staff
Inter-America: Church Celebrates Champion Lay Evangelists and Long-active Members
Top Seventh-day Adventist leaders of the Inter-American Division (IAD) honored champion lay evangelists as well as the longest-active members from across the territory during a special ceremony at the IAD headquarters office in Miami, Florida. Many executive committee members were present.
MEMBER HONORED: Manuel Nuñez, champion layperson from west Venezuela, shows his awards after being honored at the Inter-American Division headquarters in Miami, Florida, May 25, 2013. Nuñez was among 22 outstanding laypersons recognized for their dedication and commitment in their respective church regions as Inter-America celebrates its Year of the Laity.“Inter-America would not be Inter-America without its laypeople,” said Pastor Israel Leito, president of the church in Inter-America. Leito expressed appreciation to the notable laypersons representing more than 1.5 million members across the territory watching the online streaming of the event.
“Your division appreciates you and the work that you do in the fulfillment of the mission of the church,” said Leito. “You’re an integral part of this church, and we thank you for partnering with our pastors together as teachers, professionals, nurses, doctors, and all who join to proclaim the gospel.”
Twenty-two outstanding laypersons from each of the IAD’s church regions, or unions, were honored with a medal, trophy, evangelistic books, and funds to use towards their evangelistic endeavors.
The special event sealed a two-day leadership training summit, and was part of a busy schedule of Year of the Laity festivities.
Sergio Moctezuma, a retired personal ministries and Sabbath school director for the church in the IAD, was also recognized for shaping scores of laypersons for decades.
“The laity in Inter-America was formed by Pastor Moctezuma,” said Leito. “Because of his work and his wife allowing us to benefit from this giant of a leader, today we have one the of the strongest lay forces around the world church.”
Marva Farquharson was among the laypersons honored. She represents the Atlantic Caribbean Union territory comprised of the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos.
For 36 years she has preached, trained, and shared Bible truths in New Providence and throughout dozens of islands in the Bahamas. When she’s not working as the human resources director for the Public Hospital Authority in the Bahamas, she uses her vacation time and own funds to work with leaders at the South Bahamas Conference in church planting, community outreach projects, youth training, and reaching out to those in correctional facilities.
YEARS OF SERVICE: Lay evangelist Marva Farquaharson smiles after being awarded a special medal for being an outstanding active member for 36 years in the Atlantic Caribbean Union region based in the Bahamas.“The Lord puts elastic to my ministry,” said Farquharson, when she refers to how her money stretches as she preaches. She has not kept record of all the individuals who have joined the church through her evangelistic efforts, but it is in the several hundreds she believes.
She was the first Bahaman woman to be ordained as an elder back in 1985 and has been one outstanding lay leader among the 19,500 active laypeople in the region, bringing hundreds of new believers into the church, according to Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of the church in the Atlantic Caribbean Union.
With only four years of being a Seventh-day Adventist, Jose Puentes is all about letting God lead him in his ministry. He was among thousands of active laypeople to be chosen as the champion to represent north Colombia.
A former policeman, Puentes, age 26, coordinates citywide ministry programs such as “Jesus the Great Hope,” where more than 100 young people travel on buses throughout the city of Medellin to pray for people, offer Bible studies, and distribute literature. Puentes also ministers to the indigenous people in the jungles of northern Colombia and was inspired to continue his service during the event.
“It was a great honor to be here, to witness the unity of our church leaders within the different cultures in Inter-America,” said Puentes.
In addition to the 22 outstanding laypeople in Inter-America, long-active Seventh-day Adventists throughout each church region were honored.
Hadassa Henry Johnson of Jamaica, age 101, was the longest-standing Seventh-day Adventist featured, with 91 years since she was baptized. Following was Consuelo Cummings of South Central America, age 102, with 90 years of being an active church members, and Eligio Rosado of Puerto Rico, age 105, with 89 years in the church. —Reported by Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
Aformer police officer in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan has been ordained as the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s first native pastor.
FIRST PASTOR: Talgat S. Kubegenov, on the platform with his wife, was ordained during a mission conference at the Tokmok Adventist Church in Chuy Province on June 14. He is the first Kyrgyzstani ordained as an Adventist pastor.Talgat S. Kubegenov was ordained during a mission conference at the Tokmok Adventist Church in Tokmok in Chuy Province on June 14.
Kubegenov, 39, has already been serving as a pastor of two churches and has worked as secretary-treasurer of the denomination’s Kyrgyzstan Mission since 2010.
Kubegenov is a graduate of the Academy of Home Affairs Ministry and joined the church in 2002. He was ordained a local church elder in 2005, and in 2008 the Adventist Church hired him as a Global Mission pioneer.
“It was heartwarming to see this small but successful step,” said Ben Schoun, an Adventist world church vice president, who attended the ceremony. “I’m aware that several countries in the region can be difficult for our church to work in, but God is helping us accomplish some very wonderful things.”
Kyrgyzstan, which shares a border with China, is a former Soviet republic. It became an independent country when the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991. Many citizens work in mining and agriculture. Its current population is roughly 5.5 million. A large majority of the population is Muslim, and many are also Russian Orthodox.
LONGTIME SERVANT: Kubegenov is a former police officer and has functioned as an Adventist pastor for many years.The Adventist message came to Central Asia through German missionary Philipp Trippel in 1906, said Denis Sand, director of Adventist Mission for the Southern Union Mission, based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In 1915 the construction of the Orlovka Adventist Church became the denomination’s first church in the region, then known as Turkestan. It had 50 members.
Adventists and other Christians faced heavy persecution during the reign of the Soviet Union, Sand said. Many members buried their Bibles each time after reading them.
Today the Adventist Church in Kyrgyzstan has nearly 800 members and operates the only elementary school in the Southern Union Mission.
The church in Kyrgyzstan employs Global Mission pioneers who work in the country. At this month’s mission conference about a dozen Global Mission pioneers
graduated from a training program, Schoun said. Earlier this month the church also opened a new Adventist
World Radio studio in Bishkek, home to the Adventist Church’s Kyrgyzstan Mission. —Reported by Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Network
Some call them “divine appointments”—these seemingly random intersections of our lives with others heaven intends for us to know. In the midst of our haste and busyness, Jesus so orders lives that two of His disciples meet, discover each other’s faith, and thus increase the gladness of the kingdom.
Such moments are impossible to plan, nor often to explain, even with years of hindsight. No coincidence of calendar or strategic calculation could ever yield in what these godly friendships bring us. We marvel in amazement at all the joy and richness we might have missed if we hadn’t allowed these unplanned graces to occur. What if, we ask in holy fear, we hadn’t paused by that staircase to tie a shoelace or ask a question? What if we hadn’t yielded to the Spirit’s promptings and approached that stranger after church?
Five years ago I didn’t know that John* existed—or how much his prayers and counsel would enrich my life. His journey with Jesus has been so well matched to the needs of my own that I have frequently poured out my gratitude to God for the friendship only He could have appointed.
Five months ago I stopped before entering an elevator, caught in the Spirit’s grip for an extra 15 seconds or so—just long enough to meet David* at a ministry convention. Within the hour I learned to my amazement that he had been praying that we might be given a chance to talk, to share, to pray together as brothers in Christ. Today, across many miles, we do that via Skype or phone at least every other week.
As you read this month’s cover story, “VIDA: That’s Life,” you too will marvel at the divine appointments that brought salvation to so many. And like me, you may also bow your head and praise the hand that still guides us toward that rich, abundant life He promised to all who follow Him.
The world of Adventism is bigger than we imagine . . .
In nearly 200 nations, in hundreds of languages and dialects, in huge metropolises and tiny rural communities, Seventh-day Adventists live out the faith of Jesus as they wait for His return.
Adventist World features unique and important voices from that great diversity—believers who are rolling up their sleeves to help a hurting world; planning for witness and evangelism; opening Scripture with each other; and building stronger Adventist families.
Each week of the month, a new column will appear on this website that helps you understand the power and the impact of Adventist faith around the globe. Come to this site often: share these special articles with friends and neighbors.