0 6 mins 2 mths

Series THE GREAT CONTROVERSY with Pastor Mark Finley  |
Lesson 2.The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?  |
The Heart of Christianity: Love, Resistance, and Community in the Early Church  |

In the second lesson, we delve deeply into the heart of the Christian faith, characterized by love, care, and selflessness. This lesson highlights significant moments in the lives of Jesus and the early Christians who, despite rejection, persecution, and tragedies, left a legacy of love. We will explore the transformative power of love in the lives of believers and its impact on the world around them.
Memory Text: Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
A Brokenhearted Savior

The Broken Heart of Jesus: Love, Warning, and the Tragedy of Jerusalem
The Savior Jesus Christ felt deep pain and sorrow at the rejection and rebellion of his own people, as described in Luke 19:41–44 and Matthew 23:37–38. His broken heart reveals God’s boundless love and mercy, which persist despite human disobedience. The destruction of Jerusalem was a tragic consequence of human decisions, not God’s direct will. Jesus even warned his people about the impending disaster and provided instructions for escape to save as many as possible. Satan uses such tragedies to sow confusion and blame, while God is always striving to offer salvation and rescue.
2.2 Christians Providentially Preserved
God’s Sovereign Guidance: Protection and Preservation of His Church
God’s providence and protection for His church are clearly visible in the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem. When the Roman troops unexpectedly withdrew from Jerusalem and the Jewish troops pursued them, the Christians seized the opportunity to flee to Pella. This “promised sign” testifies to God’s guidance and care for His followers. Psalm 46:2 and Isaiah 41:10 emphasize God’s unwavering presence and protection amidst uncertainty and threat. Although Christians often experience persecution and suffering, as described in Hebrews 11:35–38 and Revelation 2:10, God preserves His church and continues His work despite resistance.
2.3 Faithful Amid Persecution
Unwavering Faith and Rapid Growth: Early Christianity Amidst Persecution
Despite intense persecution and threats in the early centuries of Christianity, the church grew rapidly. The Acts of the Apostles shows that the disciples boldly proclaimed the Gospel filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This faithfulness and unwavering belief led to profound changes and numerous conversions. Even under the harshest conditions and despite resistance from paganism and Roman authorities, the Gospel spread relentlessly. Pliny the Younger’s letter to Emperor Trajan confirms that Christianity was widespread just a few decades after the crucifixion and was perceived as a threat, despite the persecutions and danger to believers.
2.4 Caring for the Community
Active Compassion and Holistic Healing: Authentic Christianity of the Early Church
The early Christian community was characterized not only by its proclamation of the Gospel but also by its active compassion. They lived out Jesus’ example by attending to the needs of people and striving for both physical and spiritual healing. The Acts of the Apostles shows that the community was caring and supportive, sharing with one another and caring for those in need. This authentic Christianity emphasized not only the spiritual but also the practical side of faith, restoring the image of God in humanity and contributing to healing in all areas of life. This holistic approach demonstrates the transformative power of the Gospel and its profound impact on the world.
2.5 A Legacy of Love
Love as the Hallmark of True Christianity: A Legacy of Compassion and Selflessness
The verses from John and the first letter of John emphasize the central importance of love in the Christian faith. They reveal that true Christians are distinguished by their love for one another, posing a direct challenge to Satan’s temptations in the Great Controversy. These verses teach us that genuine Christianity is lived not just in words but primarily in acts of love. Historical accounts of the Christian community in the early centuries confirm this impressively, especially during times of pandemics. Despite the dangers, Christians showed selfless care and served the sick and suffering, deeply impacting those around them and leading many to faith in Jesus. This legacy of love and selflessness remains an inspiring example of Christian action to this day.
2.6 Summary
The Heart of the Christian Faith: Love, Care, and Resistance Against Selfishness
Lesson 2 highlights the core of the Christian faith: unconditional love and care. Despite rejection and tragedy in Jerusalem, Jesus showed deep love and mercy towards people. This love and God’s providence preserved the early Christians in times of persecution and led to rapid growth of the church. Authentic Christianity was characterized by active compassion, both spiritually and physically. Finally, the verses from John emphasize the essential role of love in faith and demonstrate how the Christian community left a profound legacy through their selfless love and care.
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