Study: What’s the message here, and what should this truth mean to us and how we relate to whatever we possess?
Apply: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this?” (1 Chron. 29:14, NKJV). What beautiful principles are expressed in these words, and how do they reflect what our attitude toward God should be and our attitude toward what we possess?
Share: Your friend tells you the story about a great swarm of locusts devouring several farmer’s crops. At the town square one farmer complains to another farmer. The other farmer responds, “If God wants His locusts eating His crops that’s His business.” What did the other farmer mean by that? Do you agree with the other farmer?
Study: What do these verses say about God’s provision for our daily needs?
Apply: How has God taken care of your daily needs? Do any examples stand out in your mind about how He has provided for you?
Share: Your friend tells you they never bring anything to fellowship lunch at church because they know God will provide. They also tell you they never give to the local church budget because the church will always be there with or without their offerings. What do you tell your friend?
Study: What is the ultimate message of these passages?
Apply: Many secular writers, without the hope of eternity as presented in Scripture, have lamented the meaninglessness of human existence. Though they are wrong about the future, why is it hard to argue with their point about the meaninglessness of life without a future hope?
Share: You friend asks, what we will be doing in heaven all eternity? Won’t it get boring? What things will be similar to our lives now? What will be different? What do you tell your friend?
Study: How can we harmonize the description of the great multitude of the redeemed serving God “day and night in His temple” (Rev. 7:15, NKJV) with the statement that John “saw no temple” in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22, NKJV)?
Apply: Revelation 21:3 reads: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (NKJV). These verses reflect numerous other passages (Jer. 32:38, Ezek. 37:27, Zech. 8:8, Heb. 8:10). What does it mean for us now, still here on earth, that God will be our God, and we will be His people? How do we live out this amazing truth now?
Share: Your friend asks, Isn’t God already with us now? In what ways is God already with us? How will it be different in the new earth? What do you tell your friend?
Study: What do these passages tell us about the supreme privilege of seeing God?
Apply: Read 1 Peter 1:22. How does this text reveal to us the link between obedience and purification? What is it about obedience that purifies us? How, specifically, does Peter say our obedience will be made manifest?
Share: Your friend’s child asks you, if God is real why can’t we see Him? What do you tell your friend’s child?
A few years ago I taught Naomi’s 5th and 6th grade Bible class how to chain reference their Bibles to give Bible studies. Naomi loved the Bible study on salvation so much, she immediately shared that Bible study with her family that evening. Naomi did not have an idle faith. She had a faith that worked, and it worked by love.
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:24 NKJV
Are we saved by our faith or by our works?
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 NKJV
We are not saved by works but by a faith that does work. This faith does not work by a hope of reward or fear of punishment. This faith works by love.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus gives us an illustration of the judgment. Notice what Jesus tells those who are saved.
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. Matthew 25:34-36 NKJV
Jesus does not tell those who are saved, “You only believed, come on in.” Remember James tells us even the demons believe and tremble. Jesus is telling those who are saved to enter His kingdom because they had works of love that came from a faith, but it was not an idle faith. They have a faith that works by love. Their works of love and compassion are the evidence and fruit of their faith.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 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. James 2:14-18 NKJV
In the illustration of the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not condone an idle faith. He condones a faith that works. Also notice He does not condone the righteous based on what they believed. He condones their behavior. They are judged by how they treated others and not on their profession and beliefs. Remember the Good Samaritan may have had his theology all muddled but he had a loving heart. Also the Good Samaritan was living up to the light that he had. A few years ago someone told me it did not matter if they kept the Sabbath or not because they helped the poor. They thought my church was being legalistic by keeping the Sabbath, but this person was being just as legalistic by helping the poor, because they were doing it with an attitude of keeping score and comparing themselves to my church instead of doing it out of love. Remember it’s a faith that works by love and not a hope of reward or fear of punishment, and certainly not working to compare ourselves with others.
We are not saved by an idle faith. We are not saved by idle beliefs. We also are not saved by works that produce faith. We are saved by a faith that produces works of love and obeys the commandments out of love.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. ….Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12,14.
We are saved by grace, through faith. In the judgment our works are the evidence of that grace and faith that saves us. In the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not separate the sheep from the goats based on what they believed. He separates them based on how they treated others. The saved will have a faith that works by love.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Study: How do these passages shed light on the notion of a pre-advent investigative judgment in the heavenly courtroom? What is the significance of such a judgment?
Apply: How should our knowledge of a judgment in heaven impact how we live here on earth?
Share: Your friend says there is no need for God to have an investigative judgment since He already knows everything. What is there for him to investigate? How do you answer your friend? Hint: in Genesis 3:9-11 God is performing an investigation and asking questions He already knows the answers to.
Study: Why should the saints participate in the millennial judgment? Is God offering transparency and accountability?
Apply: What does it teach us about the character of God that before any of the sleeping lost are resurrected to face the second death, the saved will be involved in the judging process, and no one will be punished until we, too, see the justice and fairness of God?
Study: How do these texts help us understand the nature of the final executive judgment? How do they imply the idea of the completion of judgment as opposed to its going on forever, which would be a perversion of justice and not an expression of it?
Apply: What does the Cross itself teach us about what God was willing to do in order to save everyone who would be saved?
Share: Your friend asks how we can hasten the coming of Jesus? What do you tell your friend?
I would like to begin this by saying I am surprised at the lies and deceptions the world is falling for today. The truth is so plain and clear. and it seems the enemy makes man fall with such little effort. Like all the serpent had to say was, “You shall not surely die,” and just like that, Eve was sold. The serpent’s lie had no foundation or evidence, but it was exactly what Eve wanted to hear, and that was all that mattered. I would like to say that I marvel at the world being so easily deceived today, but what about me? Have I told myself lies in order to make sin appear right in my own eyes? I am ashamed to say, “Yes, I have.” What makes me think other people rationalize away sin until it is right in their own eyes? What makes me think others know the truth but willfully try to fool themselves? It’s because that is exactly what I have done, and I am a part of the web of humanity.
You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. Romans 2:1 NLT
I just watched a video on Youtube, trying to tell me why the Sabbath is no longer important. The arguments were so weak, and yet most of the world falls for these arguments because that is exactly what they want to hear. The problem is not deception as much as it is a lack of love for the truth. When we don’t have a love for truth, not much deception is needed to get us to fall. Not much deception was needed for Eve to fall. All the serpent had to say was, “You won’t die.” He did not give any evidence. Lies don’t need evidence in order to deceive. They just need to be what we want to hear. That makes them compelling enough. The serpent told Eve she would be like God, which totally ignored the fact she was already created in God’s image. Eve failed such a simple test with such simple lies.
That’s what makes sin sting so hard when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. We knew better. We weren’t really deceived by the serpent as much as we were deceived by our own creative thinking, twisting things around in our mind until we deceived ourselves into thinking sin is right. After all, we are good Christians. We would never sin intentionally, right? That’s why it is so important to twist thing around in our mind so that we deceive ourselves into thinking wrong is right. Then we can sin ignorantly, right? Wrong! Paul just told us in Romans 2:1 we have no excuse. We can’t claim ignorance when we fool ourselves.
Well, Paul does concede that Eve was deceived, but Adam was not.
And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. 1 Timothy 2:14 NLT
So we have Eve deceived without much effort, while Adam was not deceived at all. When I read this passage yesterday, at first I thought I was going to have a real sermon here about Adam claiming to be deceived when he was not really deceived. But when I compared this passage with Genesis 3, I found Adam never even claimed to be deceived.
The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12 NLT
Adam suggests he was tempted, but he was never deceived. Adam, not being deceived, had to rationalize and twist his thinking to make eating the fruit seem logical, even though it was contrary to God’s Word. Eve was deceived, but her thinking was not far behind Adam’s. God never says, “It’s really my fault, I should have warned you better.” He never says, “I should not have allowed the serpent to lie to you. It was too great a deception.” No, the test was simple, and God’s Word was plain and simple. It only became complicated when Adam and Eve wanted to disobey. They had to rationalize and twist their own thinking around to make it complicated and confusing so they could now sin “ignorantly.” After all, no one wants to sin intentionally. That’s why it’s so important that we fool ourselves first.
If Adam was not deceived, why did he allow himself to sin? Why did he fool himself into thinking disobedience was a good idea? Paul, who told Timothy that Adam was not deceived, also gives Timothy the reason why Adam allowed himself to sin.
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT
Adam was not deceived by the serpent. He intentionally fooled himself, which when you intentionally fool yourself, you are not really fooled at all. We reason within ourselves until we hear exactly what we want to hear. Anti-Sabbath and Anti-Adventist Youtube videos are not deceiving or fooling anyone. People are deceiving and fooling themselves, because they want to be deceived. God’s Word is clear. The law is clear. It only gets complicated when we want to make it complicated so that sin appears “right.” We only fall for lies and deceptions after we reject the truth. “They follow their own desires and will look for teacher who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” We are not deceived and then reject the truth. We reject the truth and then are deceived. What the world needs is a love for truth, and then everyone will stop deceiving themselves. What I need is a love for truth and then I will stop deceiving myself.
Here is what is so amazing about God’s grace. Adam was not deceived, and God still gave him grace. Adam sinned willfully and intentionally, and God still forgave him! Grace is no license for sin, yet God’s grace can forgive and transform the most vile and blatant sinner. God did not forgive Adam because he had a good excuse. He had no excuse, and God still forgave him. Those who listen to blatant lies on Youtube videos have no excuse. I have no excuse. Paul tells us in Romans 2:1 that we are all without excuse. Romans 3:23 tells us we all have sinned. Romans 3:24 tells us we all are justified freely by God’s grace.
My prayer for 2023 is that we all will fall in love with the truth. Only a love for truth will keep us from being deceived. Only a love for the truth will keep us from fooling ourselves into sin and rebellion against God and His law.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Main Theme: As final events unfold we must hold fast to the Truth we have in Jesus and the hope that He gives us.
Read in Class: Luke 2;52 and Matthew 4:23. What common thread do we find in these passages?
Study: What four dimensions of growth do we find in Luke 2:52. What three dimensions of Jesus’ ministry do we find in Matthew 4:23?
Apply: In contrasting ourselves to Jesus, we could easily be discouraged by the difference. How, then, does focusing on the Cross and what it means protect us from being disheartened by what we see in ourselves compared to what we see in Jesus?
Share: Your friend says our church needs to stop having seminars on money management and divorce recovery and just focus on the three angels message? In light of Luke 2:52 and Matthew 4:23, how would you respond to your friend?
A while back I was having a group Bible study about the Sabbath. During the study I was surprised when an Adventist friend told the group and me, “It does not matter if we keep the Sabbath anymore. Romans 10:13 says if we call upon the name of the Lord we will be saved. We don’t have to worry about obedience anymore. All we have to do is call upon the name of the Lord and we will be saved.”
I shared with my friend and the group that being saved means being saved from disobedience.
Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience… Romans 1:5 NKJV
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Hebrews 5:9 NKJV
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV
After all, in order for Jesus to be called our Savior He has to actually save us from something. He saves us from disobedience.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:1-2 NKJV
I also shared with my friend that there is no mystical magic in just saying the name of the Lord. Calling Jesus Lord does no good unless you genuinely make Jesus the Lord of your life. Jesus talks about a group of people who called Him Lord, but never actually obeyed Him. Therefore He was not really their Lord. Saying, “Lord, Lord” is not a magic word or some mystical chant. Jesus describes the group who seemed to be using the name Lord as though it was some form of mysticism. I think the New Living Translation makes it clear.
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-27 NLT
Calling on the name of the Lord does no good unless we surrender our hearts in loving obedience to Jesus and actually make Him Lord of our lives. After talking about those who use the name Lord in vain, Jesus describes a group of people like the ones Paul later wrote about, when Paul wrote,
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV.
Here is how Jesus describes those who really call on His name out of a pure, genuine heart.
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 NLT
Those who call on the name of the Lord as if the name “Lord” was mystical will be lost. Those who call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart, and genuinely Make Him Lord will be saved from disobedience. They will make Jesus the Lord of their life and enjoy the fruits of obedience. They will enjoy full salvation.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Study: In light of Jesus’ own words, what does it mean to build our spiritual house “on the rock” and to build it “on the sand”?
Apply: How can we fight the very human tendency to let our emotions and desires cause us to do things contrary to the Word of God?
Share: Your friend says, “Romans 10:13 tells us all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. It does not matter if we keep the Sabbath or obey the Bible. All we have to do is call on the name of the Lord to be saved now.” How do you answer your friend?
Study: Do any of these passages mention the resurrected people being conscious while they were dead?
Apply: How fascinating that NDEs often now come with the imprimatur of “science.” What does this teach us about how careful we need to be even of things that science supposedly “proves”?
Share: Your friend says while he momentarily died on the operating table he was hovering over the doctors and nurses who were working on him. He says he experienced for himself consciousness while being dead. What do you tell your friend? For hints see Death in Light of the Cross and Every Word of God Proves True.
Study: What spiritual lessons against any supposed communication with the dead can be drawn from Saul’s experience with the woman medium at Endor?
Apply: How often, under stress, do we do things that we know are wrong? Why are faith, prayer, and obedience to the Word of God our only sure defense against our own selves?
Share: Your friend says that when he was a child he was lost in the woods and his dead grandfather miraculously appeared and led him safely home and then disappeared. What do you tell your friend? For hints see Did King Saul Talk to Samuel After he Died?
Years ago, I was having dinner with a friend from church, at the Olive Garden restaurant not far from the church. She was explaining some new and “wonderful” things she was learning about hell from a Christian website. She explained how God does not destroy people in hell, they actually destroy themselves. To an extent I believed much of what she said, but not everything. She said it was very important for me to agree totally with her because if God is love He cannot kill. After all that would be breaking one of the commandments based on love. Here is where she and I disagreed. In my opinion her claim that God does not kill was based on a false premise. To me, God killing does not conflict with Him being love. I believe in order for God to be love He has to kill. Please let me explain why I believe this.
Many years ago my late mother had a friend who I will call Jane, who had a very abusive husband. After years of abuse and threats on her life and even the lives of their children, Jane finally left her abusive husband. She then met a very mild-mannered, quiet, easy-going man we will call Joe. Joe was a Christian, and though he was not an Adventist like Jane, they fell in love and married. Joe moved in with Jane and her children.
Jane’s abusive ex-husband still continued his harassment. Joe, being a very meek and mild Christian took it all patiently until one night when, as a loving husband, he had no choice but to act. Jane’s abusive ex-husband drove by the house and fired gunshots into the home, including his own kids’ bedrooms! The police were called, of course, but that night something happened, and we all saw another side of meek and mild-mannered Joe. When the ex-husband called the house after his rampage, Jane answered the phone. But when Joe realized who was calling, Joe took the phone, and calmly, yet clearly and boldly, said what no one dreamed such a quiet, easy-going man would ever say. He told the abusive ex-husband, “If you ever come near my family again, I. WILL. KILL YOU.” The abusive ex knew Joe was a hunter and as meek, mild, quiet and easy-going as he was, the ex knew Joe was not making empty threats. Jane says that was the last time anything like that ever happened. The children felt secure with their new daddy in the home because they knew he loved them enough to kill in order to protect them.
Many years later, when the abusive ex-husband died, the doctor told his now grown daughter he was dead. The daughter broke into tears. When the doctor tried to console her, the mother explained to the doctor that those were not tears of grief. They were tears of joy! For the first time in her life the daughter no longer had to worry about threats being made on her life. Just a few years ago, Joe finally died at a ripe old age. This time the children cried tears of actual grief. Their “daddy,” their “protector” was now gone. It was a playful, mild-mannered loving daddy who proved his love when he told someone who was threatening their lives, “I. WILL. KILL. YOU.”
While the Adventist church supports those in the military who refuse to bear arms, like Desmond Doss, some Adventists are surprised to learn that the church does not condemn those who choose to bear arms. Exact policies may vary from country to country, but. while the Adventist church encourages members not to bear arms, the church does not condemn Adventists who choose to bear arms. After all, it would be illogical for Adventists in free countries to celebrate their freedom and then condemn those who have fought to protect it.
Some say that if God kills then He would be breaking the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” But that demonstrates a misunderstanding of the sixth commandment. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clarifies the spirit of the law. Concerning the sixth commandment Jesus says,
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV
While Jesus condemns murder, which is an act of hate, Jesus is not condemning killing in self-defense or in defense of others, which is love. After all, the Jews in the book of Esther were allowed to defend themselves. See Esther 8:13. In Nehemiah they worked next to their weapons. See Nehemiah 4:16. And while Jesus chastised Peter for defending Him with the sword, that was because Jesus was already on the path to sacrifice Himself in behalf of humanity, as foretold by Scripture. Jesus still encouraged the disciples to have swords for their own sake. See Luke 22:36-38.
I agreed with much of what my friend said at Olive Garden. The wicked pretty much hang themselves, and self-destruct. Yet, making the point that a God of love would never kill, appears to me to be both inaccurate and an unnecessary point to try to make. My friend’s premise was based on the “fact” that a God of love can’t kill. To me, that is a faulty premise not found anywhere in Scripture. I believe a God of love can kill, and furthermore I believe there are times God shows His love by killing. Just like a quiet, meek, easy-going, mild-mannered daddy proved his love by being willing to kill so his family would feel loved and secure. If my friend’s daddy had not been willing to kill to protect his family he would not have really loved them.
The Bible does not say there is a time to let the wicked self-destruct. The Bible says there is a time to kill. See Ecclesiastes 3:3. I see absolutely no contradiction between God being a God of love and God killing those who threaten the peace and safety of the universe.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.