8: The New Testament Hope-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, Sabbath November 19, 2022.

Main Theme: The New Testament hope, is a Christ-centered hope, and the only hope that this mortal existence will one day become an immortal one.

Read in Class: John 14:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Discuss the common thread of these two passages.

Study: How is Christ’s resurrection related to our own resurrection? Why did Jesus tell His disciples He would come again so they could be together, instead of just promising them they would be together as soon as they died? What does this tell us about the importance of the resurrection?

Apply: Isaiah 59:2 tells us sin has caused a separation between us and God. Exodus 25:8 tells us the Sanctuary service solves the sin problem so we God can dwell with us again. How does this help us understand why it is taking 2,000 for Jesus to prepare a place for us so we can be together again? Is His work so much with bricks and mortar or is it more with stony human hearts? How does John 14:1-3 help us understand what Jesus is doing for us in the sanctuary of our hearts right now?

Share: Your friend says that Jesus went to paradise with the repentant thief as soon as they both died. So we all go to heaven as soon as we die. What do you tell your friend? How would John 20:17 help you explain this?

Read in Class: John 6:26-51. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: How did Jesus associate the gift of everlasting life with the final resurrection of the righteous?

Apply: Dwell on the words of Jesus that, if you believe in Him, you have (as in right now) eternal life! How can this wonderful promise help you deal with the painful reality of our present, though only temporary, mortality?

Share: Your friend asks, “What did the loaves and fish have to do with the manna?” What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What hope did Paul give to those who thought their dead loved ones had forever perished?

Apply: Which is more comforting to you and why? The idea that the dead are all in heaven now? Or that the dead in Christ will be raised in the resurrection? Why does Paul say. “comfort each other with these words” instead of telling us to comfort each other with the hope that our dead ones have “gone to be with the Lord?”

Share: Your friend says that Paul promised that Jesus will bring with Him those who are dead when He returns. This must mean they are already in heaven and return with him. What do you tell your friend? Click here for a hint.

Read in Class: 1 Corinthians 15:51-55. What is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What mystery is Paul explaining here?

Apply: This is such an amazing promise, something so different from anything that we have experienced that it’s hard to grasp. But think about the vastness of the cosmos, as well as the incredible complexity of life here. Creation itself testifies to God’s amazing power. What does all this teach us about the power of God to translate the living and raise the dead at Jesus’ second coming?

Share: Can you think of someone this week who needs to hear about the hope of the resurrection? Can you share it with them this week?

7: Christ’s Victory Over Death-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on Sabbath, November 12, 2022.

Main Theme: We can be sure that Jesus rose from the grave and that He gives us victory over death.

Read in Class: Matthew 27:62-66. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: How did these actions only help provide the world later with more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?

Apply: Has God ever freed you from a situation where you thought there was no way out? Can you tell us about it?

Share: Your friend suggests that the disciples did steal the body of Jesus to make it look like He was resurrected. What do you share with your friend? Keep in mind that all but one disciple was martyred for preaching about the resurrection. What does that tell us? See also How do we Know the Disciples Didn’t Just Make Everything up?

Read in Class: Matthew 28:1-6, John 10:17-18 and Romans 8:11. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: Who was directly involved in the resurrection of Jesus?

Apply: Some scoff at the idea that the first people to see Christ resurrected were Romans. Why? In what ways is this truth symbolic of what was to come: the gospel going to the Gentiles, as well?

Share: Your friend says we are supposed to keep Sunday holy as a memorial to the resurrection. What do you tell your friend? What memorial to the resurrection do we find in Romans 6:3-6?

Read in Class: Luke 24:13-27 and Luke 24:44-49. What is the main idea of these passages?

Study: Why did Jesus take them to the Scriptures instead of just letting them recognize them?

Apply: Do you put more faith in what you see or what God’s Word says? When what you see seems to contradict God’s Word do you put faith in what you see or in what God’s Word says?

Share: Your friend asks you, exactly where in Scripture did Jesus take the disciples to show them what was to happen to the Messiah? What do you tell you friend? See The Messiah in Prophecy.

Read in Class: Matthew 27:51-53, 1 Corinthians 15:20 and Deuteronomy 26:1-11. What is the common thread of these passages?

Study:  In what sense did Paul refer to the risen Christ as “the first fruits of those who have died?”

Apply: No matter how bad things can get now, why can we trust in God’s ultimate victory for us as we still struggle in this fallen world?

Share: Who can you share the hope we have in the resurrection with this week?

3: Understanding Human Nature-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class on Sabbath, October 15, 2022.

Main Theme: The Bible does not teach the natural immortality of the soul. The soul is mortal until the resurrection, when those who are saved put on immortality. See 1 Timothy 6:15-16, and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

Read in Class: Genesis 1:24-27 and Genesis 2:7, 19. Discuss the main idea of these passages.

Study: What are the similarities and differences between how God created animals and humans?

Apply: How close and personal did God get in creating man? In what ways were mankind made in the image of God?

Share: Your friend says that the Bible appears to be sexist in the way it portrays male and female roles. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Ezekiel 18:4 and Matthew 10:28. Discuss the common thread of these texts.

Study: What do these verses teach us about human nature and the soul? Is the soul that sins immortal?

Apply: When threatened with death if we do not obey man over God, how do these passages help you choose who to remain loyal to?

Share: Your friend says she died for a while on the operating table and saw a bright light which she believes meant she went to heaven for a while while she was dead. How do you respond to your friend?

Read in Class: Ecclesiastes 12:5-7. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is the spirit that returns to God? See Job 27:3 KJV and Psalm 104:29 KJV.

Apply: We often say that death is just part of life. Why is that so wrong? Death is the opposite of life, the enemy of life. What great hope, then, is found in this verse: “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26, NKJV)?

Share: Your friend is reading Ecclesiastes 12:7 and says, “See, this verse says the body dies and the spirit returns to God who gave it. This says that we have two parts: the body and the spirit. So when we die, our spirit goes to heaven.” How do you respond to your friend?

Read in Class: Read in Class, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Job 14:12,19. Discuss the main idea of these passages.

Study: What can we learn from the passages about the condition of those who are dead? See also Death in Light of the Cross.

Apply: Are you afraid to die? Why or why not should we be afraid to die?

Share: Can you think of someone who would be encouraged about this week’s study and the hope we have in the resurrection? How can you share this hope with the this week?

Remember, It’s not Happening to you, it’s Happening in front of you

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I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

We live in a hurting world, and we all have been made aware that hurting people hurt people. It is easy to want to lash out at others when we have been hurt, but here are some things we need to keep in mind.

We are not the intended target-God is. In Acts 7:54-60 when Stephen was being stoned for his faith, he could see Jesus standing up for him in heaven. Stephen asked God not to charge this sin against them. Stephen did not take this stoning personal, as he realized it was not so much happening to him as much as it was happening in front of him. He realized Jesus was the intended target. Stephen knew it was “not I but Christ” who lived in him. He knew it was the Christ in him who was being persecuted. Stephen was not afraid to die, because as far as Stephen was concerned he had already been crucified with Christ. Dead people aren’t afraid to die. When we have been crucified with Christ we consider ourselves dead to self, and realize it is Christ who lives in us who is being persecuted. After all didn’t Jesus tell Saul who became Paul, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting?” Acts 9:5 NKJV. It was Jesus, not Stephen who was the intended target. Therefore Stephen could have considered that it was not him but Christ who was being persecuted. We are the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body, and whenever the smallest part of the body is hurt, the head of the body is first to feel the pain.  

By dying to self I can say “It is not I but Christ who is being offended.” As Isaiah 63:9 KJV says, “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” In Luke 9:23 NKJV Jesus tells us to take up our cross and die daily. In 1 Corinthians 15:31NKJV Paul says, “I die daily.” Years ago I held a “Cross of Christ” revival series in a small town in Southeast Oklahoma. I mentioned that if I die daily I cannot hold grudges anymore. After all, if I die daily and am born again every morning, I cannot hold a grudge over something that happened yesterday. How can you hold a grudge over something that happened before you were even born? You could not have hurt me yesterday if I was just born today. Dying to self and being born again on a daily basis not only frees me from my own sins from the day before, but it also frees me from the insults and slights that came flying my way from the day before. I am a new creature. You could not have hurt me yesterday if I was just born again today. After sharing that idea I came back to the same church a couple of years later. The pastor told me there was a cranky old lady in the church who was always holding grudges, but she changed after the seminar. He told me she had shared with him that it was this very illustration that turned her life around. She became a new creation indeed! 

When people are being mean and nasty we are not to take it personally. It’s their issue between them and God. It’s not happening to you. It’s happening in front of you. If we are crucified with Christ, it is not us but Christ who lives in us. Therefore it is not us but Christ who is being persecuted. Like Stephen, by faith we can look into heaven and see Jesus standing up for us. We can pray for their sin to not be charged against them. And like with Stephen and Saul who became Paul, Jesus will ask those aiming darts at us, “why are you persecuting me?” 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

12: Dying Like a Seed-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath September 17, 2022.

Main Theme: We serve God better when we surrender our will to His will.

Read in Class: Philippians 2:5-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What important message is there for us in these verses?

Apply: What rights might we be holding onto that keep us from sharing God’s love and serving others better?

Share: Your friend tells you that Jesus’ example and teaching about being a servant and going the extra mile for our enemies appears to be tone deaf to the social justice issues of today. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Romans 12:1-2. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What are some practical ways we can offer our bodies as a living sacrifice in our day to day life?

Apply: What things might you have to give up in order to become a living sacrifice?

Share: Your friend asks, how do we transform and renew our minds? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 3:1-18. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is the difference between those who listen to God and those who don’t?

Apply: Preacher Charles Stanley describes how essential it is to cultivate openness to God’s voice in what he calls “shifting into neutral.” He says: “The Holy Spirit … does not speak for the sake of passing along information. He speaks to get a response. And He knows when our agenda has such a large slice of our attention that it is a waste of time to suggest anything to the contrary. When that is the case, He is often silent. He waits for us to become neutral enough to hear and eventually obey.” — The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), pp. 179, 180.

What do you think Stanley means by becoming “neutral enough”? When you think about your openness to God, what things often prevent you from being “neutral enough to hear and eventually obey”? What do you need to do in your life to cultivate openness to God’s voice and a decisiveness to be obedient to His direction?

Share: Your friend asks you why God allowed Eli to be priest while not even being able to control his own sons? After all, doesn’t the New Testament teach that a leader should control his own household? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 13:1-14. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What did Saul do that led to his downfall?

Apply: Why do you think it was so easy for Saul to follow his own judgment, even though he had God’s clear instructions still ringing in his ears? If we know that we are so fragile and have such imperfect knowledge, why do we still try to rely on ourselves? What can we do to learn to trust in the Lord’s commands more than in ourselves?

Share: How can we encourage our leaders to rely on God instead of trusting in their themselves and their own wisdom? Is there a leader in your church family who you could call this week and pray with and for them?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24, NKJV).

5: Extreme Heat-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, July 30,2022.

The Main Idea: God will do whatever it takes, even being misunderstood in order to help us become like Jesus.

Read in Class: Hosea 2:1-12. Define what the main idea is in this passage.

Study: What methods does God say He will use to pull Israel back to Himself? What would these experiences have felt like?

Apply: Read Hosea 2:14-23. What does this passage reveal about God? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you have been running from God in any area of your life. If you are convicted that you have been, why wait to go through the crucible? What’s stopping you from surrendering all to the Lord now?

Share: Are you willing to share with the class, what you consider is the most sever means God has used to bring you back to love and obedience to Him?

Read in Class: Job 1:6-2:10. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What causes Job’s sufferings and how does Job respond to these trials?

Apply: How does Job’s trials help you with your own trials?

Share: Have you ever been tempted to just “curse God and die?” Why did you or why didn’t you? What was the final outcome of your crucible in this specific situation?

Read in Class: 2 Corinthians 1:4-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul states that the reason for receiving God’s compassion and comfort is “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (NIV). To what extent might suffering be a call to ministry? How could we become more alert to this possibility?

Apply: What can you learn from Paul that can help you keep from falling into self-pity amid your own struggles?

Share: Can you share how others have comforted you during a hard time? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

Read in Class: Isaiah 43:1-7. What is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What are the different ways in which God assures His people of comfort during the times of water and fire. What picture of God does this paint in your mind? Which promises can you claim for yourself?

Apply: What do these verses teach you about the actions and character of God? Ps. 103:13, 14; Matt. 28:20; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 1:7. How have you experienced the reality of these verses in your own life?

Share: Can you write a letter, text message or email this week offering encouragement to someone you know who is going through a crucible?

3: The Birdcage-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School Class July 16, 2022.

Main Theme: God leads His people into situations where He knows there will be suffering, for a greater good.

Read in Class: Exodus 14. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Why did God bring the Israelites to a place where He knew they would be terrified? In verse 31 what lesson did the Israelites learn from this experience? 

Apply: Why is trusting God sometimes so hard, even though we may know many of the wonderful promises He has for us? Recount some difficult situation you believe the Lord led you into in order to teach you to “believe” in and to “fear” Him.

Share: Your friend says, “In the Bible we read about faith moving mountains, and God opening up the sea, but we never see that today.” How do you reply to your friend?

Read in Class: Exodus 15:22-27 and Exodus 17:1-7. What common thread do we find in these passages?

Study: What did God reveal to Israel about Himself at Marah and at Rephidim? What lessons should they have learned?

Apply: In Rephidim, what question did the children of Israel ask? Exod. 17:7. Have you ever asked the same question? If so, why? How did you feel, and what lessons did you learn after you had it answered? How many times do we need to get it answered before we stop asking it altogether?

Share: Your friend says she wonders how a piece of wood made the water sweet. Any ideas? Here is one idea.

Read in Class: Luke 4:1-13. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What lessons can you learn from this account about how to overcome temptation and not give in to sin?

Apply: What resources did Jesus use to overcome temptation? Which of these resources have you used to overcome temptations?

Share: Your friend asks you why the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted? Does God lead us into temptation? What do you share with your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Peter 1:6-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What ultimate assurance does Peter seek to give these people amid their trials? What does this hope mean for us, too?

Apply: How have you benefited by your trials?

Share: Can you think of someone going through a particularly difficult trial? Can you reach out to them this week with a visit, phone call, or card, offering them encouragement and hope from the Bible?

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT

2: The Crucibles That Come- Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, July 9, 2022.

Main Theme: What are the causes of the difficult times that we experience through our lives?

Read Together: 1 Peter 4:12-19. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is Peter’s Message?

Apply: Peter was referring to trials that are the consequence of standing up for Christ. But there are also other reasons that trials come. How could 1 Peter 4:12-19 help you to explain tactfully to a friend why not to be surprised at the painful trials he or she might face?

Share: Your friend asks, “How can I be glad when I am suffering?” What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: 1 Peter 5:8-11. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How should we react to Satan’s prowling? How does God promise to help us?

Apply: Think about the other ways that Satan causes pain. How could reading 1 Peter 5:8-11 help us to deal with the anguish that we experience because of our fate in living in a sinful world in which Satan wreaks havoc?

Share: Your friend asks why God allows Satan to prowl us? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Jeremiah 9:7-16. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: God says that he will “refine and test” (NRSV), or “melt” (KJV), Judah and Jerusalem (Jer. 9:7, NIV). What two reasons does God give for this? (Jer. 9:13,14). How will the refining happen? (Jer. 9: 15,16).

Apply: Think about the sins that you struggle with. If God were going to refine and test you today, how might He do it? What action could you take now to deal with this before God would want to take drastic steps with you, as He did with Israel?

Share: Your friend asks what it means in verse 16 where God says he will destroy or consume us? After all doesn’t Jesus want to save us? What do you tell your friend? How could this quote help you explain? “If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you can be sure that there is something in you that He wants to hurt to the point of its death.” — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour & Company, Inc., 1963), p. 271.

Read Together: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How does Paul deal with his “thorn”? Do you think that Paul’s weakness had any other spiritual benefits to him? How can the way that Paul responds help you to deal with “thorns” that you may have to carry?

Apply: In what ways might God’s ideas for your spiritual development be very different from your own? Think about areas in your life in which you need to become more fruitful in righteousness. What spiritual qualities would you like to ask God to develop in you through His “pruning”?

Share: Can you think of someone who is going through a difficult time right now? This week can you reach out to them and share an encouraging passage, and pray with them, if even on the phone?

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Let’s Make Sabbath School a Bible Study

I actually thought I was the only one concerned about how little Bible study is actually done in Sabbath School. It seems we study the quarterly more than the Bible. Then I found this quote from 1991, and found out I am not alone, and have not been for years.

“Too often I find that what passes for Bible study in many Sabbath School classes is little more than a rehash of familiar sayings, personal opinion, and Ellen White quotations. It isn’t Bible study, but simply comments about the Bible…..Our “lesson study” has the guise of Bible study but isn’t. It is more a study of the Sabbath School lesson quarterly than the Bible.” –Myron Widmer, Adventist Review, September 12, 1991.

During the quarantine I would ask people what they have been finding in their personal Bible study time, only to get answers about what they heard a Television preacher say. I never got any direct answers to my question about personal Bible study time. This greatly concerned me. In Acts 17:11 they were not only listening to Paul preach, but they were searching (not just casually reading) the Scriptures (Not a quarterly or periodical) daily, (not just every now and then).

This is why I have recently been producing a Sabbath School Lesson plan ,which is actually a Bible study instead of just a quarterly study. I am thankful for the quarterly because it points us to the Bible, but after being pointed to the Bible we need to actually study it. Instead of studying the quarterly and then casually referring to Scripture, we need to study Scripture and casually refer to the lesson quarterly.

I don’t pretend to be a pioneer in developing Bible based lesson plans. Michael Fracker has been doing this long before me. I remember using his lesson twenty years ago. I found them on Sabbath School Net. Since then I have been writing and moderating for Sabbath School Net. During this time I have occasionally made lesson plans for Michael when he was unable to write, and helped edit his plans. In the process I began making my own lesson plans. Both Michael and my lesson plans can also be used for small group Bible studies. Several enjoy using our plans but many teachers like making their own, which is great. I am for whatever helps make Sabbath School time Bible study time, where we study Scripture and casually refer to the quarterly, instead of reading the quarterly and talking about what we heard a TV preacher say and then giving our own opinion, without ever really searching and studying Scripture. Lets make Sabbath School a Bible Study.

11: Joseph, Master of Dreams-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on June 11, 2022.

Main Theme: Joseph has his own dreams and helps others interpret their dreams also.

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Read Together: Genesis 37:1-11. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What family dynamic predisposed Joseph’s brothers to hate him so much?

Apply: Read Matthew 20:26, 27. What crucial principle is revealed here, and how can we learn to manifest in our own lives what it teaches?

Share: Your friend asks you if our dreams have any meaning? Does God still speak to us in dreams? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together Genesis 37:12-36. Summarize the passage.

Study: What does this teach us about how dangerous and evil unregenerate hearts can be and to what they can lead any one of us to do?

Apply: Why is it so important to seek God’s power in order to change bad traits of character before they can manifest themselves into some acts that, at one point in your life, you would never imagine yourself doing?

Share: Your friend says, Joseph’s brothers never would have treated Joseph so cruel if he had not boasted about his dreams, and Jacob did not make him the favorite. It’s not their fault. What would you say to your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 39. Summarize this chapter.

Study: What made Joseph so successful?

Apply:  How did Joseph resist the wife’s advances? Why did Joseph specifically say that to have done what she asked would have been a sin against God? What understanding does he show about the nature of sin and what it is?

Share: Your friend says, if you are going to get charged for a crime you might as well do it. What’s the point of being innocent if you are still treated like you are guilty? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 40:1-41:36. Summarize this passage.

Study: How are the dreams of Pharaoh related to the dreams of the officers? What is the significance of this parallel?

Apply: How can we learn to trust God and cling to His promises when events don’t appear providential at all, and indeed, God seems silent?

Share: Can you think of someone who may be experiencing something similar to what Joseph experienced in Genesis 39? How can you encourage them this week?