What motivation did the disciples initially have for following Jesus?

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:66-68).

Answer: At least initially, the disciples followed Jesus out of a desire to gain eternal life.

What is required in order to have a long, happy life?

“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:11-14).

Answer: Shunning evil on the one hand, and doing good on the other, are both necessary to living a long and happy life.

What is necessary to receive the fullness of God’s blessings?

“But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

Answer: Doing good is necessary for us to receive all the blessings God wants to give us.

Does God cut off His blessings from the wicked?

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

Answer: No. God continues to pour out His blessings even on those who reject Him.

Why, then, do the wicked not receive the richness of God’s blessings?

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1, 2).

Answer: Sin separates us from God, preventing Him from being able to bless us fully.

How do our sins cut us off from God?

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28, 29).

To sin, wherever found, “our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29. In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them. Jacob, after his night of wrestling with the Angel, exclaimed, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Genesis 32:30. Jacob had been guilty of a great sin in his conduct toward Esau; but he had repented. His transgression had been forgiven, and his sin purged; therefore he could endure the revelation of God’s presence. But wherever men came before God while willfully cherishing evil, they were destroyed. {DA 107.4}

What is required for God to hear our prayers?

“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

Answer: For the same reason living a righteous life is required for God to be able to fully bless us, it is also required for God to hear us.

See also: Psalm 34:15-22.

What does it mean to live a righteous life?

“Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Proverbs 24:15, 16).

Answer: The righteous man is not described as not making mistakes. Rather, he is described as consistently getting back up when he falls.

How does the Bible describe the heart of the righteous man?

“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:17, 18).

Answer: The Bible describes the righteous as having a broken and contrite heart.

How does God respond to the man who has a broken and contrite heart?

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

Answer: When we turn away from our sin in heart and turn towards God, He is eager to forgive us.

Why does God forgive the contrite sinner?

“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

“For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, And for My praise I will restrain it from you, So that I do not cut you off. … For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 48:9, 11).

Answer: God forgives us so that His name will not be profaned.

Why does God not want His name to be profaned?

“Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:5-8) .

Answer: God defends His name jealously so that He can more effectively reach the lost and turn them from idols which can’t do anything for them to the true God who longs to save them.

What two categories of good works does James point out?

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

Answer: Avoiding being contaminated by the world and seeking to bless those around us through acts of love.

How did Christ use these two categories to sum up the entirety of the Scriptures available in His day?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Answer: Jesus summed up the entire Bible as being about two ideas:

  • Loving God above all that is in the world.
  • Loving our fellow humans more than we love ourselves.

See also: Mark 12:28-34.

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, what motivation did He point to as being that which He desired His disciples to have for doing good things?

“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).

Answer: Jesus emphasized the importance of love being the motivating factor in His disciples ministry.

Note: In John 21 Jesus is speaking to Peter, the same disciple who at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry stated that he would not leave Jesus because Jesus had the words of eternal life (John 6:66-68). By comparing these two passages, we can see that Jesus was attempting to help the disciples to transition from being motivated only by external advantages such as eternal life to the ultimate internal motivator, love for God and man.

What did Jesus say was the main reason we should keep His commandments?

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Answer: Jesus pointed to love for Him as the primary motivator for obeying Him and keeping His commandments.

See also: Mark 12:28-34; HP 305.1-6

How does God view works without love?

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).

Answer: God views works without love as being worth nothing.

See also: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13

How does God view works combined with love?

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:37, 38).

Answer: God views acts of love done to others as really being done to Him, as expressions of our love for Christ in the person of His creatures.

See also: Matthew 25:34-46

Where can we get this love?

“We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Answer: We can only love Christ and those around us as we receive this love from Him.

How can we receive this love from Jesus?

“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1, 2).

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

Answer: We receive this love by dwelling on the things Christ has done for us; both in our lives today, and ultimately in the ultimate sacrifice made at the cross.

What hope did Jesus use to encourage His disciples before His death?

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Answer: In the time leading up to His death, Jesus emphasized the hope the believer has in having an eternal home with Jesus and the Father.

Oh, let us contemplate the amazing sacrifice that has been made for us! Let us try to appreciate the labor and energy that Heaven is expending to reclaim the lost, and bring them back to the Father’s house. Motives stronger, and agencies more powerful, could never be brought into operation; the exceeding rewards for right-doing, the enjoyment of heaven, the society of the angels, the communion and love of God and His Son, the elevation and extension of all our powers throughout eternal ages—are these not mighty incentives and encouragements to urge us to give the heart’s loving service to our Creator and Redeemer? {SC 21.3}

And, on the other hand, the judgments of God pronounced against sin, the inevitable retribution, the degradation of our character, and the final destruction, are presented in God’s word to warn us against the service of Satan. {SC 21.4}

Shall we not regard the mercy of God? What more could He do? Let us place ourselves in right relation to Him who has loved us with amazing love. Let us avail ourselves of the means provided for us that we may be transformed into His likeness, and be restored to fellowship with the ministering angels, to harmony and communion with the Father and the Son. {SC 22.1}