14: All Things New- Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, December 31, 2022.

Main Theme: One day our hope of eternal life on the new earth will become reality.

Read in Class: Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 66:22, 23; 2 Peter 3:13; and Revelation 21:1-5. What is the common thread of these passages?

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?

Read in Class:  Revelation 7:9-15 with Revelation 21:3, 22. What is the common thread of these passages?

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?

Read in Class:  Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2, 3; and Revelation 22:3, 4. What is the common thread of these passages?

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?

Read in Class:  Isaiah 25:8, Revelation 7:17, and Revelation 21:4. What is the common thread in these passages?

Study: What comfort and hope can these passages bring us amid the trials and suffering of this present world?

Apply: Who hasn’t felt the unfair ravages of human existence here? Especially in those bad times, how can we learn to trust, and to the degree possible, rejoice in God’s goodness and love?

Share: Can you think of someone who would be encouraged by some things found in this week’s lesson. How can you plan to share it with them this week?

13: The Judging Process-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, Sabbath, December 24, 2022.

Main Theme:  The pre-advent judgment, the millennial judgment, and the executive judgment ends with the vindication of the righteous.

Read in Class: Daniel 7:9-14, Matthew 22:1-14, Revelation 11:1, 18-19, Revelation 14:6-7. What is the common thread of these passages?

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.

Read in Class: 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 and Revelation 20:4-6, 11-13. What is the common thread of these passages?

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?

Share: Your friend says that everyone will be given a second change during the thousand years. What do you say to your friend? See also The Millennium in Light of the Cross.

Read in Class: 2 Peter 2:4-6 and 2 Peter 3:10-13. What is the common thread of these passages?

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?

Read in Class: Revelation 21:1-8 and Revelation 22:14. Define the main idea of these passages.

Study: What is the hope and reward of the righteous? What is the second death of the wicked?

Apply: What is your only hope in the judgment? How do you know you will be saved? See Salvation in Light of the Cross.

Share: What hope you gained from the lessons this quarter? What is your main takeaway?

Pray to Have a Love for the Truth

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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.

12: The Biblical World View-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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

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?

Read in Class: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 1 Corinthians 10:31. What is the common thread of these passages?

Study:  How can the understanding that our bodies are “the temple of God” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit” positively influence our lifestyle?

Apply: Read 3 John 1:1-2. How does this help you understand the relationship between your physical health and your spiritual health? Does one affect the other? If so, how?

Share: Your friend asks you what things contribute to our physical and spiritual health besides what we eat and drink? What do you tell your friend? See also Health in Light of the Cross.

Read in Class: 1 Corinthians 2:16, Psalm 24:3-4, Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8, and Colossians 3:2. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What does it mean to have the “mind of Christ”?

Apply: magine what your life would be like if you could stop even sinful thoughts. How different would your life be? What is the only potential way to have this be your experience?

Share: Your friend says that if we have the mind of Christ we will never be tempted? Do you agree or disagree with your friend? What do you tell your friend? See also Matthew 26:39 and Hebrews 4:15.

Read in Class: 2 Peter 3:14 and 1 John 3:1-3. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What difference do you see between preparing ourselves for the Second Coming and being ready for that glorious event?

Apply: How can we be ready today for the coming of Jesus?

Share: Your friend asks you how he can know if he is ready for Jesus to come? What do you tell your friend? See also The Gospel Presentation.

11: End-Time Deceptions Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School Class on Sabbath, December 10, 2022.

Main Theme: A proper understanding in Scripture will keep us safe from end-time deceptions.

Read in Class: Matthew 7:21-27. Define the main idea of this passage.

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?

Read in Class: Mark 5:41-43 and John 11:40-44. Define the main idea of this passage.

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.

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 28:3-25. Define the main idea of this passage.

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?

Read in Class: 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 and Ephesians 6:10-18. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What should be our safeguards against such demonic deceptions?

Apply: What does it mean to put on the “whole armor of God?” In a day-by-day practical sense, how do we do this in every area of our lives, not just in dealing with end-time deceptions?

Share: Can you think of a friend who would be edified by something in this week’s Bible study? How can you share it with them this week?

Why I Believe God Kills Because He is Love

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A time to kill, And a time to heal; Ecclesiastes 3:3 NKJV

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.

10: The Fire of Hell-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath December 3, 2022.

Main Theme: We will look at some un-Biblical theories about life after death as well as what the Bible teaches about life after death.

Read in Class: Mark 9::42-48 and Isaiah 66:24. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How do you understand the expression “their worm does not die?” Click here for a hint.

Apply: In the end, we are either totally saved or totally lost. There is no middle ground. We can have either eternal life or will face eternal destruction. What choices do you have to make today? How should this reality — eternal life or eternal destruction — impact those choices?

Share: Your friend says we all are going to spend eternity somewhere, either in heaven or hell. How do you answer your friend? Click here for hints.

Read in Class: Malachi 4:1 and Jude 7. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How can these passages help us better understand the notion of “eternal fire” or the idea, as Jesus had expressed it, that the lost will be in “everlasting fire” (Matt. 18:8) or in a “fire that shall never be quenched”? (Mark 9:43, NKJV). Remember a camp fire can disintegrate a marshmallow and keep on burning. Just because the fire continues to burn does not mean the marshmallow still exists.

Apply: As unfortunate as the fires of hell are, what does the truth about hell reveal to us about God’s love, especially in contrast to the idea of eternal torment?

Share: Your friend says that the Bible says the wicked will burn forever so that must mean that they will be alive and burning through all eternity. How would Exodus 21:6 help your friend understand the meaning of the word “forever, simply meanimg for the duration or until you die?

Read in Class: Ecclesiastes 9:10, Ezekiel 18:20-22,and Hebrews 9:27. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How do these passages refute the theory of purgatory?

Apply: What do errors like purgatory or eternal torment teach us about the importance of doctrine? Why is what we believe of importance, and not just in whom we believe?

Share: Your friend says that we may not be able to buy our way into heaven but if our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds our works can get us into heaven. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Acts 2:29, 34-35 and 1 Corinthians 15:16-18. What is the common thread of these passages?

Study:  How do these passages shed light on the state of the dead and those awaiting resurrection?

Apply: What are ways in which you could help people understand that the idea that the dead are asleep in the ground is really “good news,” in the sense that they truly are at rest and know no pain and suffering?

Share: Your friend who said we will all spend eternity in heaven or hell is still confused, thinking the soul is immortal, and we all have eternal life either in heaven or in hell. How could you use 1 John 5:3-12 and 1 Timothy 5:15-16 to show your friend that only those who accept the gift of salvation have eternal life?

Did King Saul Talk to Samuel After he Died?

While we are looking at apparent “contrary passages” in Scripture, let’s take a look at another one not included in this week’s lesson. In 1 Samuel 28:1-25, even though Saul has outlawed mediums he goes to consult one. He wants to talk to Samuel, who is dead. Ironically, he never wanted to talk to Samuel while he was living, but now he does. Saul’s visit with the medium goes like this.

Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”  When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!”  And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” So he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. 1 Samuel 28:11-14 NKJV

At a careless glance it sure looks like Saul is talking to Samuel after he has died. Right? However, the Bible never says it was Samuel. Verse 14 says, “Saul perceived that it was Samuel.” What we perceived that we saw is not always what we actually saw. One synonym for “perceive” is “think.” So, Saul thought it was Samuel, but it wasn’t Samuel. Samuel was dead. At a careless glance it may look like Samuel actually appeared to Saul, but there is a big difference between perception and fact! I saw a documentary a few years ago about the first trip to the moon. One thing the astronauts had to be careful about was depth perception. Since the entire moon all looks the same, without any scenery or landscape, there is no depth perception. An astronaut may look at what he thinks is a little chughole, but in reality it is a canyon! You may think, oh well, there is not much weight on the moon, so no big deal if they fall into a canyon. They won’t get hurt. True, but they would also be stuck in that canyon with no way to get back to the spaceship. So, an inaccurate perception could be a fatal mistake. We are warned in the last days that Satan, through spiritualism, will be deceiving people to make inaccurate, fatal misperceptions. 

The doctrine of man’s consciousness in death, especially the belief that spirits of the dead return to minister to the living, has prepared the way for modern spiritualism. If the dead are admitted to the presence of God and holy angels, and privileged with knowledge far exceeding what they before possessed, why should they not return to the earth to enlighten and instruct the living? If, as taught by popular theologians, spirits of the dead are hovering about their friends on earth, why should they not be permitted to communicate with them, to warn them against evil, or to comfort them in sorrow? How can those who believe in man’s consciousness in death reject what comes to them as divine light communicated by glorified spirits? Here is a channel regarded as sacred, through which Satan works for the accomplishment of his purposes. The fallen angels who do his bidding appear as messengers from the spirit world. While professing to bring the living into communication with the dead, the prince of evil exercises his bewitching influence upon their minds. He has power to bring before men the appearance of their departed friends. The counterfeit is perfect; the familiar look, the words, the tone, are reproduced with marvelous distinctness. Many are comforted with the assurance that their loved ones are enjoying the bliss of heaven, and without suspicion of danger, they give ear “to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” When they have been led to believe that the dead actually return to communicate with them, Satan causes those to appear who went into the grave unprepared. They claim to be happy in heaven and even to occupy exalted positions there, and thus the error is widely taught that no difference is made between the righteous and the wicked. The pretended visitants from the world of spirits sometimes utter cautions and warnings which prove to be correct. Then, as confidence is gained, they present doctrines that directly undermine faith in the Scriptures. With an appearance of deep interest in the well-being of their friends on earth, they insinuate the most dangerous errors. The fact that they state some truths, and are able at times to foretell future events, gives to their statements an appearance of reliability; and their false teachings are accepted by the multitudes as readily, and believed as implicitly, as if they were the most sacred truths of the Bible. -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Pages 551-552. 

I knew an elderly Adventist woman, who lived in a small Adventist community. Her husband died and was buried in a cemetery just a block or so form her house. About every day, she would visit his grave and “talk” to him. One day she looked out her front window and perceived to see him walking up the sidewalk. He stopped at the window and stared at her through the glass. Being an Adventist and knowing the state of the dead, she knew it was not her husband but a demon. This scared her into realizing she had been putting herself on the devil’s playground by her excessive visits, talking to her dead husband at his grave.  After this experience she never returned to his grave. After all, she did not need to talk to her dead husband. She needed to be talking to Jesus, who could hear what she was saying, just like Saul did not need to be talking to dead Samuel. He should have been talking to God. 

I don’t know if a demon really personified itself as this woman’s husband or if it was just her imagination. She claimed it was real and not just her imagination.  Either way, it was a direct result of spiritualism, acting like she was talking to the dead. 

Likewise, Saul put himself on the devil’s playground by talking to dead Samuel, and allowing demons to personify themselves, making Saul think he was seeing and communicating with a dead man. The Bible does not say it was Samuel. It says Saul perceived it was Samuel. It was a deception. The Bible is clear that the dead know nothing. Meanwhile, we are free to talk to God who is all-knowing. 

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

9: Contrary Passages?-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath, November 26, 2022.

Main Theme: When properly understood, seemingly contrary passages are not so contrary after all.

Read in Class: Luke 16:19-31. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: How do we know this story is not a literal description of the afterlife? For hints click here.

Apply: “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:31, NKJV). What message from Jesus’ powerful words should we take for ourselves regarding the authority of the Bible and how we respond to it?

Read in Class: Luke 23:43, John 20:17, and John 14:1-3. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How should the promise to the repentant thief on the cross be understood in light of Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene and His promise to His disciples? For hints click here.

Apply: Read the story of the repentant thief (Luke 23:39-43), who, despite his sin, despite the fact that he had nothing to offer God, was promised eternal life by Christ. How does this story powerfully reveal the great truth of salvation by faith alone? In what ways are we just like that thief? In what ways do we differ?

Read in Class: Philippians 1:21-24 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: When did Paul expect to be “with Christ” (Phil. 1:23) and “with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17)? For hints click here.

Apply: Particularly in hard times, who hasn’t thought about how nice it would be to close your eyes in death and, the next thing you know, “be with Christ”? How does this thought help us understand what Paul was saying in Philippians?

Read in Class: 1 Peter 3:13-20. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How did Christ preach “to the spirits in prison … in the days of Noah”? (See also Gen. 4:10.) For hints click here.

Apply: The flood was present truth in Noah’s day, what Bible truths especially apply to us today?

Read in Class: Revelation 6:9-11. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How can the “souls” of the dead martyrs cry “under the altar”?

From Difficult Texts Made Simple:

This is obviously a symbolic verse. In order to be taken literally not only would the souls be in heaven but they all would be under an altar. Also they would be pleading for vengeance for being in heaven. This simply is not realistic. We know from our reading of the entire scriptures that the dead are just that-dead. Even this passage says that they must rest a while yet, implying they are not literally in heaven now, but their cause has come before the altar and before God. This was the case when Abel was killed by Cain. God said, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10 

Abel’s blood did not literally grow lips and cry, but his cause came before God. So in the fifth seal of Revelation we see that God has not forgotten His faithful martyrs but has heard their cause even as He did Abel’s. After all, why would they be crying for God to avenge the ones who killed them and put them in the presence of God? What an insult to God this would be.

Apply: Who (especially of those who have been victims of injustice) hasn’t cried out for justice, which has not yet come? Why must we, by faith, trust that ultimately the justice so lacking in this world will nevertheless come? What comfort can you draw from this wonderful promise?

Share: Can you think of someone who could benefit from a proper understanding of the passages we studied this week? How can you share your understanding of these passages with someone in a way that will give them encouragement?

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?