1: Jesus Wins-Satan Loses- Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, April 1, 2023.

Main Theme: This study will give a good preparation for understanding Revelation 14 and the three angels’ messages.

Read in Class: Revelation 12:7-9, Isaiah 14:12-14, Ezekiel 28:15. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How could these things happen in heaven? What does this tell us about the reality of free will and free choice?

Apply: Think about how sacred free will and free choice must be to Jesus, who, though knowing that it would lead Him to the cross (see 2 Tim. 1:9), gave us free will anyway. What should this tell us about how carefully we should use this sacred, but costly, gift?

Share: Your friend asks you how this war was fought in heaven? Was it with machine guns and battle tanks or bows and arrows? What kind of weapons did Satan use? What weapons is Satan using in the war here on earth? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Revelation 12:4-6, 9. Ephesians 5:25-27, 32. And Psalm 2:7-9. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How do these passages help us define the dragon, the woman, the male child and the rod of iron?

Share: Why is the assurance of salvation, because of Christ’s victory over Satan, so crucial to us? How can what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:9 be our own experience?

Share: Your friend says that we never actually, literally overcome sin and temptation here on earth. It is just by faith. What do you tell your friend? See Justification: Just Declared Right or Made Right?

Read in Class: Revelation 12:10-11. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What encouragement should you get from the fact that your accuser “has been cast down” (NKJV) ? What assurance of victory does Christ give us in this passage?

Apply: How does the blood of the Lamb, the sacrifice of Christ help you to overcome and to love Jesus more than life itself?

Share: Your friend says that her pastor preached last week that those who gossip are the accusers of the brethren just like Satan. Is your friend’s pastor right? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Revelation 12:6, 14-17. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Notice carefully the time period, Satan’s attack on the “woman” (God’s church), and God’s provision for His people. What are these verses talking about? What characteristics of God’s remnant, His last-day church, are found in this verse?

Apply: How do you see the reality of Revelation 12:17 played out in your own life, in your own Christian experience? That is, in what ways do you find the great controversy being played out in your own life?

Share: Your friend asks why Seventh-day Adventists believe they are the remnant church of Bible prophecy? What do you tell your friend?

Saved by Faith, Rewarded for Being Faithful

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Galatians 2:16 NKJV

Fact: No created being unfallen or fallen has ever earned salvation. Life always has been and always will be a free gift we have never earned and never will earn. Life was a free gift to Adam and Eve before sin just as much as it was after sin. So when Paul said “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,” he was not saying anything new. He was simply stating an eternal fact. Even after I have lived a million years of perfect sinless living in the new earth, I will always sense my need of Jesus, and will depend on my relationship with him for all eternity. In heaven I will cast my crown at the feet of Jesus because I know even in heaven I will be nothing without Him. He is everything to me here on earth and He will be everything to me throughout all eternity. I sing “I need thee every hour” here on earth and I will still be singing “I need thee every hour” after a million years on the new earth. 

Fact: While Adam and Eve were given paradise as a free gift, they lost it because of disobedience. The Bible speaks of disobedience and unbelief as synonyms. 

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:18-19 NKJV 

Disobedience and unbelief go together just like faith and good works go together. Wherever you find faith you will also find good works.

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

Good works are the evidence of our faith. This is why James writes, 

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without our works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:18-26 NKJV 

Our works are evidence of our faith. So when God acknowledges our works He is acknowledging the evidence of our faith which we express by acts of love. 

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Revelation 22:12 NKJV

While Jesus and the Bible are clear that we are saved by grace and not by works, we still see Jesus acknowledging the works of the 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

Notice Jesus does not tell those on His right, “you only believed so come right on into my kingdom.” As James 2:19 says, even demons believe and tremble. Jesus welcomes those on His right into His kingdom because of the good works that gave evidence of their faith. In Genesis 15:6 Abraham was credited for righteousness by his faith. James 2:21-24 explains that Abraham’s good works of obedience were evidence of his faith. In other words Abraham’s good works justified God in calling Abraham righteous because of his belief. Likewise in the parable in Matthew 25:34-36 Jesus shows the good works of those on His right as evidence of their faith, thus welcoming them into His kingdom.

This is why Galatians 5:6 does not speak of faith or works, or even faith and works, but rather a faith that works, not motivated by reward or punishment, but by love. Just like Abraham, all who are saved by faith exhibit good works.

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

12: Rewards of Faithfulness-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, March 25, 2023.

Main Theme: While saved by grace, God rewards faithfulness.

Read in Class: Hebrews 11:6, Isaiah 40:10, Revelation 22:12. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What doe these texts mean to us? What do they teach us? How should we respond?

Apply: How do we understand the difference between salvation by grace and a reward according to works?

Share: Your friend asks, “Why is God rewarding us by our works when we are saved by grace?” What do you tell your friend? For a hint see Saved by Faith, Rewarded by Righteousness.

Read in Class: Revelation 21:1-4, 7-8. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What are some of the things that we are promised?

Apply: Read Revelation 21:8, about the fate of those who will face the second death. Which sin of those depicted there cannot have been forgiven by Jesus? Why, then, are these people lost when some who have done the same things are saved? What is the crucial difference between these two groups?

Share: Your friend asks why God does not save people who are cowardly or fearful? Why be so harsh with someone just for being fearful? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Matthew 25:14-23. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study:  What does God say to those who were faithful money managers in supporting His cause? What does it mean to “enter into the joy of your lord?”

Apply: How are you going to fare when God comes to “settle accounts” with you?

Share: Your friend asks why the master was so harsh on the man who only had one talent? What do you tell your friend.

Read in Class: Romans 8:16-18. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How was the knowledge that he was a child of God a factor in his faithfulness?

Apply: How have the things you have already suffered helped you become more faithful to God?

Share: Can you think of someone who is going through a hard time and struggling to be faithful? What word of encouragement can you share with them this week?

Does God Still Expect us to Give When we are Going Through Tough Times?

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While Israel was experiencing a spiritual drought due to their Baal worship, God allowed a literal drought to fall upon the land as well. This drought affected everyone, including God’s prophet, Elijah. 

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 1 Kings 17:6-9 NKJV

God has an interesting way of providing for His prophet during this time. First, ravens are scavengers. They are not known for sharing food, but in this story they become quite generous.

Then God sends Elijah to a widow. Widows can be very generous when it comes to giving to missions. Jesus noticed a widow in Luke 21:1-4 giving all she had. Still, most people in charge of fundraising look to the rich for provisions, and not to poor widows. 

I believe that in the last days, while many are trusting (even schmoozing up to?) rich people, God is going to provide for His people by using very unlikely and humble sources. I believe that the widow was not Plan B. God did not send Elijah to the widow because the brook dried up. The brook dried up so Elijah would go to the widow. Sometimes God has to close one door so he can get us to open a new door. 

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.”  And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ” So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:10-16.

Here we have another unlikely scenario. Who goes to a poor widow who is about to starve to death and says, “Feed me first?” But that is exactly what Elijah did. I have heard many people, even church members in good standing, tell people, “If you don’t have the money to tithe, God understands,” or “If you are going through a hard time right now, God does not expect you to give anything.” But the story of Elijah and the widow contradicts such notions. The widow was going through a very hard time, even about to starve to death, and God still expected her to give to His prophet first. Anything less would be a lack of faith, and the just shall live by faith. (see Romans 1:17). Without faith we cannot please God. (See Hebrews 11:6). So the widow had to give first in order to have the faith to live, as well as to please God. While tough times made it appear as though she could not give first and survive, the truth was she had to give first in order to survive. The poor widow was able to feed her household for many days, and the jar never ran dry during the tough times because she gave first. 

So today, even in tough times when it looks like you can’t afford to return your tithes and offerings, the fact is you can not afford to not return your tithes and offerings first. During the tough times in Elijah’s day, God used miracles and some very unlikely means to provide for His people. So today, even in tough times God is working miracles to provide for those who give first to Him.

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

Not Making a Will Won’t Make You Live Any Longer

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People have told me, if it came down to it, they would be afraid to die for Jesus. But you know what? They are going to die anyway, so we might was well be willing to die for Jesus, at least that way he have the hope of eternal life after dying. After all, either way we still die. 

At the same time some people don’t want to make a will because they don’t want to think about dying, but you know what? They are going to die anyway. And not making a will won’t make you live any longer. What making a will will do for you though, is making sure your assets go where you want. 

If you wish your local Adventist conference can assist you in making a legal will. This is a service local Adventist conferences do for their members, and while you can, you don’t have to leave anything to the church for them to perform this service. However I am all for leaving a legacy when I die. I hope when I die people will still read my blog posts, and remember my sermons and kind words. To me leaving such a legacy is just being a good steward of my life. Just like I want my writings and sermons to live well beyond me, I also want my resources to keep working for Jesus well beyond my days. 

When I was a child my mother would tell me all kinds of interesting stories about her life before I was born. Now that she is resting in Jesus, I am living my life making sure I will have all kinds of interesting stories to share with her after she awakes in the resurrection. If I fall asleep before Jesus comes I know I will love to hear in heaven all the wonderful stories about how my money kept working for Jesus while I was sleeping. Possibly you feel the same. If you would like your local Adventist conference to help you make your will, with or without giving anything to the conference, let me help you get started by sharing a link. Again, not making a will won’t make you live any longer. Making a will makes sure your money goes where you want it to. When you are ready just click on this link to find a local Adventist estate planning representative. The sooner you get this taken care of the sooner you can just go back to enjoying the rest of your life, with peace of mind. 

I Don’t Need Anything the World has, the World Needs What I Have

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 NLT

When Paul stood before Agrippa he showed us the attitude of someone who has truly experienced the unconditional love of Jesus and has a genuine relationship with Christ. When someone has a sincere conversion, the things of this world lose their appeal. The tenth commandment, “Thou Shalt not covet” is not a struggle to keep. When Christ abides in the heart, the Christian is not looking at the things everyone else has and wishing they could have those things too. Instead they look at the world and desire for the world to have what they have. This was Paul’s attitude as he stood before king Agrippa.

Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.” Acts 26:28-29 NLT

Paul is standing in chains and his prisoner uniform before king Agrippa in all of his royal splendor. Yet Paul does not desire what Agrippa has. He wants Agrippa to have what he has! Likewise those who have had a real experience with Jesus will not be looking at the world longing for what the world has. Instead we long for the world to have what we have.

Coveting becomes an impossibility when your heart is filled with God’s love. When your heart is filled with God’s love you do not envy the world. Instead you feel sorry for the world because it does not have the love and joy that you have. Instead of having worldly ambitions we have the ambition of Paul, when he said,

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 NLT

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

How Could I be Better Than Someone Jesus Died for?

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I think my parents did a pretty balanced job of raising me. I was taught that no one was better than me, and that I am no better than anyone else. A while back I was listening to a documentary on NPR , talking about how awkward it was for people who served as maids and butlers to become successful and turn around and have their own maids and butlers. To me it would not be awkward at all. I have actually had to hire a temporary housekeeper at times when I became so busy with multiple jobs. There were also times when I did some housekeeping or landscaping work myself to make extra money. When I was working for someone in their home I never thought of them as better than me, and when someone was working in my home I never thought I was better than them. I just thought we were all just helping each other out as we made our way through life. 

However some people are tempted to think they are better than others. Having worked with youth and families in churches and schools I have learned there are two types of parents. One type of parent teaches their kids not to act like they are better than anyone else. The other group teaches their kids they aren’t better than anyone else. Even with my professed balanced upbringing, I have had to tell myself, “If I shouldn’t say something condescending then I should not even think it.” 

Here are some ideas that keep me humble as if all my mistakes and failures were not enough.  

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20 NKJV

I understand the word “love” here is “agape.” Agape is the love God has for bad people. Of course God is good so he does not need our agape, since He actually earns our love. So what I understand John saying here is this, “If you say would agape God and love Him even if He was bad, prove it by loving your brother who really is bad. Speaking on this passage I once heard Wintley Phipps say, “Our love for God is no stronger than the love we have for the person we love the least.” 

How could I be too good to love someone who Jesus loves? 

Speaking of the least, Jesus says,

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:40 NKJV

Jesus gave His life for sinners. If the least of sinners needs my time and help, and I shrug them off as not worth my time or money then I have just put myself above Jesus. No matter how smart, rich or talented I think I am, if I think a sinner is not worth my time and effort after Jesus gave His life for them, then I must think I’m greater than Jesus!  

For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Hebrews 2:16 NKJV

How could I be too good to help someone who Jesus helps? 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NKJV

How could I be too good to die for someone who Jesus died for? 

Our attitude towards the least of these shows our attitude towards Jesus. 

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