Study: Why is the seventh-day Sabbath related to Creation? How does this connection impact how we keep the Sabbath?
Apply: How by resting on the Sabbath day are we experiencing the rest and salvation that we have in Jesus now and that will be fulfilled, ultimately, in the creation of the new heaven and new earth?
Share: Your friend says that Sunday observance is the New Testament memorial to creation. What do you share with your friend? Hint: Romans 6:3-6 gives us baptism as the memorial to creation instead of Sunday observance.
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 14:4-5 NKJV
Hebrews 13 is making Christian living practical. Verse 4 is teaching about practical living when it comes to sex. So how does this relate to single people? Some may think that it has nothing to do with single people. After all what do single people have to do with keeping the marriage bed undefiled? Well, sadly there are single church members who get propositioned by married church members. When this happens we keep the marriage bed undefiled by turning down those propositions and reminding the married party about Jesus and their commitment. Verses 4-5 also talk about being content with what you have. As single people, we can be content with meaningful relationships that don’t include sex. After all, even if you are married, life is not all about marriage and sex. The Christian church at large is learning it has made mistakes in the past by stressing sexual purity and purity rings, and talking about how great sex will be once you are married. Now teaching sexual purity is no mistake! it is right on with the Gospel. The problem is the church made such a big deal about sex and marriage that it caused two problems. 1. It built up so much unrealistic anticipation for sex, that once those with purity rings finally got married and had sex they found it disappointing. It just didn’t live up to all the hype. 2. Focusing on sex and marriage all the time encourages people to think that life is all about sex and marriage, while it clearly is not. Jesus, who was single, endorsed the gift (notice its a gift not a curse or burden) of celibacy in Matthew 19:11-12. Paul joins Jesus in lauding the blessings of single living in 1 Corinthians 7. By reading Scripture you would never get the idea that life is all about being married, as some have preached and taught in recent years.
I believe instead of teaching young people to keep themselves pure for marriage, I believe we should teach them to keep themselves pure for Jesus. Instead of encouraging young people to constantly occupy their minds with waiting for marriage, I believe we should encourage them to occupy their minds on waiting for Jesus to come.
Today there are more and more divorced Christians, and people who have other ambitions, who are putting off marriage until later in life. Being single, I find myself in single circles, where single Christians, both men and women voice their sexual frustration. They are not trying to be provocative or seductive. They are just being real. They want to be Christians, but they are still sexual. We are not made sexual at marriage. We are made sexual at birth.
Being made sexual at birth, how do Christians control sexual appetite until they are married? How do Christian divorced people control their sexual urges? How do Christian widows and widowers satisfy their sexual needs? After 60 years of marriage, I don’t imagine sexual urges die after your spouse dies. Does God meet the sexual needs of all these single people?
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT
If it says God will supply all our needs, we have to understand that includes sexual needs of single people. If we can trust God to provide for our financial needs, we can trust Him to provide for our sexual needs as well. We can go to Him and tell Him about all our needs. Then we can trust Him to provide in a way that is best for us. We are familiar with a phrase in Desire of Ages,
Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 330.
Was sex the context here? No. Am I taking things out of context if I say God has a thousand ways to provide for our sexual needs, when we serve and honor God? Maybe, but please hear me out. First, we need to understand that marriage does not guarantee sex. Sadly there are celibate marriages for various reasons we won’t get into here. Having said that, sex does not guarantee intimacy. I once read in a sexual purity book long ago, that some people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Instead of talking and being intimate with their hearts and emotions, they will just be physical to avoid being intimate. Now that’s not good either, because sex should involve intimacy. But here is my point: Many of us think we crave sex when we actually crave intimacy. All sex should be intimate, but not all intimacy has to be sex.
I think we crave healthy relationships more than we crave sex. I think Mary Magdalene found something in Jesus that satisfied her desire for sex, even though it wasn’t sex, and Jesus was the perfect Gentleman with her. I think she found something in Him greater than sex. She found true love and intimacy. She needed true love and intimacy more than she needed sex. So do we.
God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46.
I have to believe this passage includes sexual activity. If God has not given you a Christian sex life right now, it is only because He has something vastly better for you right now. He knows all your needs, not just the needs of your bank account. He knows your sexual needs too. He cares for you in all your ways. By the way, a while back I heard a married Christian say, “sex is not a need. It is a want.” That would apply to married as well as single people. I am in no way implying that married people should limit sexual activity. I’m just saying when dealing with temptations and urges it is important to know the difference between needs and wants.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalms 84:11 NLT
If sex was good for single people God would give it to them, but sex is not good for single people, which is the only reason He does not give it to them. But love and intimacy is good for single people, and He gives that to them, through church, family, and a personal relationship with Him.
Though I don’t have all the answers, I believe God can supply the sexual needs of His single people, with pure love and intimacy, and a thousand other ways we know nothing about. The solution is to trust God with your sexual needs just like any other need.
Please let me paraphrase a popular passage.
Keep your [sexual] wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the [sexual] wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our [sexual] sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything [including sex] that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our [sexual] peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No [Sexual] calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the [sexually] broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 100.
God loves single people just as much as He loves married people, and He makes single people just as happy as married people. God can appropriately meet the sexual needs of single people as easily as He can meet the sexual needs of married people. Believe in His love, and He will meet all your daily needs.
Study: What is the role of hospitality in the church?
Apply: What more can we do for those who are in prison, whether church members or not?
Share: Your friend opposes the church’s prison ministry because many of the prisoners are con artists and instead of being sincere are only looking to take advantage of people. How do your respond to your friend?
Study: What two evils are found in the passage, how could they be tied together?
Apply: What are the ways that contemporary society undermines sexual purity and, at the same time, feeds the human love of money? In what practical ways can we strengthen our defenses against these two dangerous vices?
Share: Your single friend confides how hard it is to stay sexually pure. He/she believes its easier to stay pure if you are married? How would you use this passage to help your single friend? See also Overcoming Sexual sin When you are Single.
Study: Where is grace obtained? How are our hearts strengthened?
Apply: Dwell on Christ’s complete sacrifice. Why, then, is the idea of anything that we do “adding” to this sacrifice contrary to the gospel and the grace that is found in Jesus?
Share: Can you think of someone who may be shut in or lonely who needs to be shown brotherly love? Can you reach out to them this week or even find a way to reach out to them every week?
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:34-40 NKJV
Study: What is the purpose of God’s shaking the heavens and the earth? What does this mean?
Apply: Why is the promise that one day justice will be done, and the evil that has been so prevalent in our world will one day be destroyed, such a hopeful promise for us all, especially those who have suffered directly at the hands of evil?
Share: Your friend has watched too many mystery shows, and laments to you how so many people have gotten away with such heinous crimes without ever being brought to justice. How do you respond to your friend?
Apply: How could our spiritual sacrifices to God be corrupted? Share your thoughts.
Share: Who can you invite to Sabbath School next week?
“During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. The apostle Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent. ‘Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.’ 1 Corinthians 4:5. Daniel declares that when the Ancient of Days came, ‘judgment was given to the saints of the Most High.’ Daniel 7:22. At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. John in the Revelation says: ‘I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.’ ‘They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.’ Revelation 20:4, 6. It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, ‘the saints shall judge the world.’ 1 Corinthians 6:2. In union with Christ they judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out, according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death.
Satan also and evil angels are judged by Christ and His people. Says Paul: ‘Know ye not that we shall judge angels?’ Verse 3. And Jude declares that ‘the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.’ Jude 6.” — Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 660, 661.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:28 NKJV
For quite a while now, I have been studying the Sabbath school lesson every morning, over the phone with my father, who lives 1,200 miles away. I always look forward to this special time we can spend together. The other day as we studied, I read the above passage. As I read, “a kingdom which cannot be shaken” my mind went to our dear brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. Their kingdom is being shaken. My father and I pray for them every morning now.
Meanwhile, with soaring gas prices, and grocery stores having bare shelves, and various other inconveniences that United States citizens are not used to, we are sensing the vulnerability of our nation. Its always good to have a healthy sense of pride in your nation, but perhaps we in the United States have been a little too arrogant over the years? Maybe we think as United States Citizens, (I say United States citizens because I realize everyone from the northern tip of Alaska to the southern tip of Chile are Americans) we are above suffering inconveniences that other countries suffer. If that is so, then that is not pride, that is arrogance.
If as a United States citizen I think of myself as too good to suffer the same things that my brothers and sisters around the world suffer, then I divorce myself “from whom the whole family in heaven and earth” (See Ephesians 3:15.) Several years ago I was on a mission trip to Peru. I and several others were holding reaping meetings, after our Peruvian brothers and sisters had been having small group Bible studies in their homes. The Peruvians were honored to have American Citizens come help them. They were surprised and pleased when I told them that they along with us were actually missionaries in Peru. Their citizenship, as well as mine is in heaven. We are equals as we serve God together. At the end of our mission trip our flight was delayed, and I ended up sleeping on the airport floor that night. I was perfectly comfortable on the floor that night, knowing that many of my Peruvian brothers and sisters, who were much more noble than I, also had no bed that night. After all, if they did not have a bed to sleep on that night then who was I to have a bed? Now when I get into my comfy bed at home I realize there is only one reason that God has granted me a bed for the night, so that I can get a good nights rest in order to share the Gospel the next day. God does not owe me a bed. I owe God for giving me a bed. I assure you God does not think more highly of me than He does the beggar sleeping on the street. I can assure you God thought more highly of John the Baptist while he was being beheaded in prison, than He thinks of me sleeping comfortably in my own bedroom. I remember while in Peru all the children especially seemed to be awe of us United States citizens. They would flock around us and talk to us regardless if we could understand each other or not. They just loved being around us. I also remember one girl, about 12 years old or so, who would stand at a distance and watch with what I perceived as disdain as the other kids made over us. She refused to join them as she kept her nose in the air. Over time I realized she was not so impressed with us United States Citizens. She did not think we were “all that.” I agreed with her! We weren’t “all that.”
Revelation 6:14 speaks of ‘every mountain and rock being moved out of place.” The entire world is being and will be shaken. The Ukraine is being shaken, but so is the United States. It is time for us to identify more with the sufferings of our brothers and sisters around the world more than we identify with our respective nations. It is time for us to identify more with our heavenly citizenship than our earthly citizenship. It is time to realize we are all citizens of heaven and each of us are here only as missionaries. Any advantage we have is only to be used to strengthen our brothers and sisters around the world. We are not too good to suffer anything our brothers and sisters around the world suffer. Hebrews 11:36-37 mentions those who,
had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— Hebrews 11:36-37 NKJV
How can I, as a missionary in the United States have any ambition any higher than that? Am I any more special than my brother and sister missionaries around the world? Do I deserve any special treatment, privileges or favors beyond what they endure? NO! NO! NO!
While we pray for our heavenly family in the Ukraine we must also suffer with them and share with them. They are our brothers and sisters in that family which spans heaven and earth. Regardless if we are missionaries in the United States or The Ukraine, or wherever you are reading this from, we must realize we are only here to share the Gospel. When our respective nations are being shaken we must realize, we are only missionaries here. We must make sure we are a part of that kingdom which cannot be shaken. The kingdom that Our High Priest has now made us citizens is the only kingdom that will never be shaken. Friend, wherever you are reading this from, I invite you to be a part of Christ’s kingdom, which will never be shaken. By faith you can endure the trials, hardships and persecutions missionaries before you have suffered. By faith we can give our lives for the sake of the Gospel, and be a part of that kingdom which will never be shaken.
Outpost Centers International networks and nurtures hundreds of Adventist supporting ministries around the world. I have trusted them with my personal mission offerings for years. I would like to invite you to join me in ministering to our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. If the Spirit leads you, you can go to the OCI Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund page.
In 2017 hurricane Irma came through Florida, and many of us evacuated. I went to Tennessee to stay with my sister. The morning the hurricane hit Tampa where I live, I received a text from a friend there who was unable to evacuate. She said she was afraid, but she knew God was with her and that she would not get hurt. I thought to myself that God was with my mother when she drew her last breath and died. Of course, I did not text my friend back and tell her that God has been with many people while they drew their last breath. In other words, just because God is with us does not mean we won’t die in a hurricane. By faith I know God is with me in a storm, but only presumption would tell me I won’t die in the storm. People a lot more righteous and godly than me have died in storms, while I am still alive.
Just because God is with us does not mean we won’t die. When a storm comes, having faith that God is with me is one thing, but having faith that I will not die is presumption. After all, millions of people have died in various storms throughout earth’s history. I would have to be a blatant fool to think I’m a better Christian than millions of other people or even that I have more faith than those who have died in storms.
It’s the same when I get in a car. I pray for safety, and I know God is with me. I also know I have heard testimonies from people who survived a car accident where a loved one died. They say they too prayed for protection before their trip. A pastor friend of mine was killed in a car accident just a few Christmases ago. He was in his forties. Am I still alive because I am a better Christian than he was or because I have more faith? Of course not! To think I have survived storms and car accidents because I am a faithful Christian is beyond presumption. It is absurd! Millions more worthy than me have perished in storms and car accidents. I know God is with me regardless of my fate. While Hebrews celebrates the victories of the faithful it also recognizes the deaths of the faithful.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:35-38 NKJV
Faith is knowing what God has promised. God has promised me eternal life. See Titus 1:2. Presumption is assuming what God has not promised. God never promised me I would never die in a storm or car accident.
So now let’s get to the title of our topic here. How do I know I have the assurance of salvation in Jesus and am not just being presumptuous that I am saved? Let’s take a look at some biblical examples of people in the Bible who were being faithful and those who were just being presumptuous.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:18-20 NKJV
In the book of James we are taught that true faith will bear the fruits of good works and obedience. “Faith” that does not bring forth good works and obedience is a presumption which will not make us any better off than the demons who believe and tremble.
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:11-16 NKJV
The sons of Sceva were presumptuous because they did not know Jesus for themselves. By the way, 1 John 2:4 says if we say we know Jesus but do not obey the commandments that just makes us liars. We know they did not know Jesus for themselves because they said. “The Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Paul knew Jesus. They did not. They were being presumptuous, thinking the name of Jesus was a magic word like abracadabra. Jesus and Paul are not magic. They both got their power from an obedient relationship with the Father.
In Numbers 10:33-35 Moses sent the ark out before their battles and victories. However when Israel was in apostasy their faith in the ark turned into presumption, and the ark itself was captured by the enemy in 1 Samuel 4:1-22. The ark was not magic. The ark was a symbol of their faith and obedience toward God. Without obedience the ark had no power for them – much like Samson’s hair. There was no magic in his hair. His long hair was a sign of his loyalty to God. When he was no longer loyal to God, the long hair was meaningless. See Judges 13:5.
Romans 1:5 talks about faith that leads to obedience, and Revelation 14:12 tells us God’s last-day saints will have faith and keep the commandments. True biblical faith produces obedience. A supposed “faith’ without obedience is mere presumption. In Matthew 4:5-7 Satan tells Jesus to jump off a tower and have faith that God would save Him. However there is no command from God to jump off a tower. Jesus knew that jumping off the tower would not be in accordance with God’s commands and would not be an obedient faith but mere presumption. By the way, today we wear seat belts in our cars because, while we have faith in God, we were given no command to be careless and presumptuous with our safety. Jesus gave us an example of using common sense and faith in God at the same time. One does not cancel out the other.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. Hebrews 11:30 NKJV
But a few days later the children of Israel were defeated when disobedience led to presumption. See Joshua 7:1-26.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Psalm 19:13 NKJV
Faith is when we claim a promise in the Bible, such as that God is with us. Presumption is when we claim assurance the Bible never gave us such as I will never die in a storm or car accident. Or even that I will never get COVID-19 therefore I do not need to take precautions. In the wilderness Jesus used faith and common sense, and so shall I.
Study: What did these men of faith do? How are their actions related to things not seen?
Apply: What are some of the struggles that you have faced because of your faith? What have you had to give up for it? Why, ultimately, is the reward worth it, even if you can’t see it now?
Share: Your relative says that one bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Should Moses have really given up a sure thing, like being prince of Egypt for something that could only be grasped by faith? Wasn’t that risky? How do you answer your relative?
Apply: How is your endurance? Do you endure against temptation or give up easily? How can we have the victory?
Share: Can you think of someone who may be discouraged and need their faith lifted? Can you reach out to them this week with words of encouragement?
“Often He met those who had drifted under Satan’s control, and who had no power to break from his snare. To such a one, discouraged, sick, tempted, and fallen, Jesus would speak words of tenderest pity, words that were needed and could be understood. Others He met who were fighting a hand-to-hand battle with the adversary of souls. These He encouraged to persevere, assuring them that they would win; for angels of God were on their side, and would give them the victory. Those whom He thus helped were convinced that here was One in whom they could trust with perfect confidence. He would not betray the secrets they poured into His sympathizing ear. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 91-92.