10: Sabbath Rest-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath September 4, 2021.

Main Theme: The Sabbath is a sign that God created and redeemed by from sin by His own works. Therefore instead of being saved by works we rest our faith In God’s amazing grace.

Read Together Genesis 1:26-27, and Genesis 9:6. Identify the theme of these passages.

Study: What is different about the way people were created that sets us apart from the rest of creation? Why is this important?

Apply: What responsibility do we have to the rest of creation?

Share: A friend comments that while God created us in His image it seems that man has been trying to create God in man’s image. Is this true? If so how has man tried to create God in man’s image? What do you share with your friend?

Read Together Romans 6:1-7. Identify the main theme of this passage.

Study: What exactly are we saved from? The penalty of sin? The power of sin? Both?

Apply: How has God saved you from sin? How has your life changed after conversion?

Share: Your friend doesn’t think he will ever get complete victory over drugs in this lifetime. What words or more importantly Scripture can you share with your friend to encourage her? Hints: Ephesians 3:19-20, Titus 2:11-14.

Read Together Exodus 31:13. Identify the main theme of this passage.

Study: What is the Sabbath a sign of? We are no more capable of making ourselves holy than we are making a day holy? What does this passage tell us about Who it is who makes us holy and sanctified?

Apply: How does observing the Sabbath demonstrate your total faith in God’s redeeming power?

Share: Your friend says the Sabbath was only given to the Jews. What do you share with your friend? Hint: Mark 2:27, Isaiah 56:5-6.

Read Together Isaiah 58:12-14. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How is the Sabbath a delight?

Apply: How can we delight in the Sabbath without doing our own pleasures? Could it be possible that even in church on Sabbath we are just doing our own pleasures? Especially if we are just debating theology with our best friends and ignoring visitors and strangers? What does the whole chapter of Isaiah 58 say about this?

Share: How can we share true meaning of Sabbath rest with unbelievers?

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

02: “Restless and Rebellious” Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on July 10, 2021.

Main theme for this week’s lesson: When we rest in God’s love we are secure and have no need to fight and rebel or return to our old life of sin.

Read Together Numbers 11:1-33. Discuss what is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What are the Israelites complaining about and why? Do verses 5 and 6 seem to imply they forgot they were slaves in Egypt?

Apply: Do we remember the past as being better than it really was? Why?

Share: Your son asks you if you miss the good old days before you became a Christian. What do you answer him?

Read Together Numbers 12:1-13. Discuss what is the main idea of this passage?

Study: Why were Miriam and Aaron so angry? Did they have good reason to be? How did God respond?

Apply: When you are with your friends do you tend to speak well of your leaders or criticize them? Is it more natural for to be supportive or to be critical? Is there such a thing as constructive criticism? If so what would be an example?

Share: Is their a leader in your class right now you can pray for and encourage? Encourage, not flatter.

Read Together Numbers 13:27-33. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Were the spies who said they could not take the land showing lack of faith in themselves or in God?

Apply: If we say we cannot defeat giant temptations or obstacles in our lives are we saying we don’t trust Jesus and His love? See 1 Corinthians 10:13. Titus 2:11-14. Jude 1:24.

Share: Your friend says there is no way he can stop lusting after women. After all he is a man and only human. What do you share with your friend from God’s Word to encourage him, or even from your own battles with temptation?

Read Together 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What does the church of today (You and me) need to learn from this passage and the experience of ancient Israel?

Apply: How does resting in God’s love and promises effect our behavior and attitude towards others?

Share: What is your main take away of this study and how will you put it into practice this week?

 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

10: The New Covenant -Sabbath School Teaching Plan

10: The New Covenant – Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: The new covenant is a greater, more complete, and better revelation of the plan of redemption. It is based on a faith that manifests itself in obedience to a law written in our hearts.
June 5, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 31:31-34.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What parallels exist between the old and new covenants?
  3. Personal Application:: How was the second covenant better? Could there be a danger in taking grace for granted? Why or why not? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states, “What does it mean to have the law written within our hearts? Does that mean it is the law of love Jesus was talking about replacing the Ten Commandments?” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Hosea 2:18-20.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. What imagery is used here ny God about the nature of the covenant?
  3. Personal Application: Because we know more revealed through Jesus, shouldn’t we be even more faithful than Israel was? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “I want a new heart. I want the law written in my heart – but I don’t know how to get it.” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Isaiah 56:6,7.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What were the conditions Isaiah placed on those who wanted to serve the Lord?
  3. Personal Application: What is the advantage of having the law in our hearts rather than on tables of stone? Which one is easier to forget? Which one is easier to obey? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why does God keep entering into covenant relationships with mankind? We keep breaking them. We keep sinning and rebelling. Why doesn’t God just give up on us?“ How would you respond to your relative?

4. Have a volunteer read Hebrews 8:7,8 ; 10:4..

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What was wrong with the Old Covenant? Did God make a bad agreement?
  3. Personal Application: What relationship does the New Covenant have to do with the Heavenly Sanctuary?” Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

7: Covenant at Sinai – Teaching Plan

7: Covenant at Sinai – Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School lesson for May 15, 2021

Key Thought: God gave His people a covenant of grace. He promised to deliver them from bondage by His own power.

1. Have a volunteer read Exodus 6:6,7.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What did God redeem Israel from?
  3. Personal Application: How does God ransom us from slavery to sin? If we are saved by grace what role does the law play? Does grace save us from the law or does grace save us from sin? See Romans 1:5, Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 2:11-12. These verses show us grace gives us obedience, good works, and righteousness in this present world.
  4. Case Study: your boss tells you his pastor says that Jesus died to save us from the bondage of the law so we would not have to keep it anymore. How do you answer your boss? What verses do you share. For example, Romans 3:31, 1 peter 2:24.

2. Have a volunteer read Exodus 19:4Deuteronomy 1:29-31

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. How did God bring Israel from Egypt to Sinai?
  3. Personal Application: Do we care for each other the way God cares for us? See John 3:34-35. Do we love others the way God loves us? Are we patient and sympathetic towards sinners as Jesus is towards us?
  4. Case Study: Share a time that someone showed selfless interest in you.

3. Have a volunteer read Exodus 19:5,6.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What does God mean by “obey” and ‘keep” my covenant? Notice: the word for obey in the original manuscripts simply means to listen. The word “Keep” simply means to cherish and regard. It is the same word in the original manuscripts when God told Adam to “keep” the garden. He meant for him to cherish and care for it. Read here for more info.
  3. Personal Application: When we obey and keep or listen and cherish God’s promises what do we become?
  4. Case Study:  Your cousin tells you he is tired of promising God He will never smoke again because he never can keep his promises he makes to God. What can you share with your cousin about listening to and trusting God’s promises instead of making our own? See 2 Peter 1:4.

4. Have a volunteer read Exodus 19:8.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What was the problem with the first covenant? Was the problem with the law or with the people thinking they could promise God to keep the law on their own? Was the problem with the law or with the people trusting their own promises? See Hebrews 8:8. For more info read here.
  3. Personal Application: If we are saved by grace why keep the law?
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

Sabbath School Teaching Plan in Light of the Cross, for October 20, 2018

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption,–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.

 Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 315

 

 

Teaching Plan for this week’s Sabbath School lesson.

Goal: Share with your class how the cross makes us all one in Christ.

A. StudyJohn 17:1-26

Examine: What are the key words and thoughts in this passage?

Discuss: Why is it so important to a parent that their children get along? Why is it so important to Jesus that His disciples love each other?

Apply:  What did Jesus do to unify His disciples? Hint:  Mark 10:42-45 ,John 13:1-17John 15:13. How can we help answer Jesus’ prayer for unity? Can you share an example of how someone help unify a church or family?

B. StudyJohn 13:18-30

Examine: What are the key words and thoughts of this passage?

Discuss: Have you ever felt betrayed? How did it feel?

Apply: One day I was helping a friend weed her garden before a big party. Being careless I accidentally uprooted a beautiful flower as I was grabbing up all the weeds. How can we apply the same policy Jesus had towards Lucifer and Judas towards those we feel are our enemies? Why did Jesus allow Lucifer in heaven and Judas in his group of disciples? Why does Jesus allow people to betray us today?

C. StudyMark 9:38-41

Examine: What are the key words and thoughts of this passage?

Discuss: Why are there so many different Christian denominations? Do we need to start a new denomination every time we have a disagreement on doctrine? See “Do We Have to Agree About Everything to Have Unity.”

Apply: What example in Mark 9:38-41 did Jesus give us, that we can apply towards our relationship towards independent ministries and other denominations?

D. Study1 John 2:3-6

Examine: What are the key words of this passage?

Discuss:  How does the cross unify us? How do the commandments unify us? Can we have unity with just the cross? Can we have unity with just the commandments?

Apply: How can we live in God and live our lives the way Jesus did?

Reflection: How does the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross help you understand this week’s lesson and apply it to your daily life?

The God-Forsaken God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As millions study about the death and resurrection of Jesus this week, I feel impressed to share an article I wrote several years ago.

Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?

My mother knows that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knows the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother gets on an airplane she sure does not feel that it is safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”

It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I always do those things that please my Father.”
“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have died the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; What Stewardship Really Means

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. Proverbs 3:9-10 NLT 

When I was four years old, A family came by, who had lost everything in a fire. My parents gave them some of their own lamps and other things around the house. While the grownups were exploring the house, their little boy was watching me ride my tricycle up and down the driveway. When the grownups came out of the house, my dad walked over and told me, “the little boy does not have a tricycle or any toys.” I jumped off my tricycle and gave it to him.

Even after returning tithes and offerings, my family realized everything we had belonged to God. Some have the idea that stewardship is just about giving tithes and offering and then keeping what is left over for ourselves. Solomon says to honor God with our wealth and the best of everything we own. Stewardship is realizing everything we have belongs to God and should be used to His glory.

My car does not belong to me. It belongs to God. I use it to get to Bible studies, but also to give others a ride who need a ride. My neighbor calls me for a ride to work sometimes because she does not have a car. Actually she does have a car-mine! And she even has a chauffeur-me! I use my personal computer for blogging Bible studies and devotionals, and Bible study presentations. The food in my cupboard is not just for me. Its for whoever comes over and needs a meal, or if need be, I can bring it to them in my car. Sorry! I mean God’s car.

Honoring God with our wealth is not just about giving 10% plus an offering. Its about everything we have and are belonging to God. Stewards are managers, not owners. Stewardship is realizing everything we posses belongs to God, and we own nothing!

That is why I give thanks when I eat the food in my house, I mean God’s house. Because even the food in the house where I live belongs to God. That’s why I thank Him for letting me eat His food.

What does a Relationship With Jesus Look Like?

I am writing tonight from beautiful and historic St. Augustine Florida.

I am writing tonight from beautiful and historic St. Augustine Florida.

A member of my New Believer’s Sabbath School class, in the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, had been struggling with getting Sabbaths off at work so she could observe the Bible Sabbath. She told me she had to work on Sabbath, and I would gently tell her that she did not have to work. She had a choice and was choosing to work. Consequences be what they may, she had a choice.

Recently I was giving a Bible study to the 7th and 8th graders at our church school, on the second coming, when we came to this verse,

The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive? Revelation 6:14-17 NLT

I told my students how sad it would be, for us to be hiding from the One who died for us when He came! How can we make sure we aren’t the ones running from Jesus? The students answered wisely, we must have a relationship with Jesus. I asked them to describe what a relationship with Jesus looks like. They gave some good answers, like prayer and Bible study. “Is that all”, I asked? I shared 1 John 2:4 NLT,

If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.

While prayer and Bible study are crucial, that alone does not define a relationship with Jesus. John tells us, knowing God (having a relationship) involves obedience.

Jesus said,

If you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments. Matthew 19:17 NLT

The commandments are relational. The first four define our relationship with God and the last six define our relationship with family and friends. This is why John said if we say we have a relationship with God but do not obey the commandments we are lying.

My Sabbath School class member finally exercised faith, and told her boss she must have Sabbaths off. It was granted. A couple of weeks ago things were busy at the store where she works. Her boss offered her a store gift card and sales bonuses if she would come in to work on Sabbath. As much as she needed the money, she answered “No. I will be in church Sabbath.” She gave her testimony that Sabbath in class. It did my heart good to see faith growing her relationship beyond just reading the Bible to actually doing what it said.

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

Twice His

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:1-3 NLT

I can imagine God walking Adam and Eve through the garden that very first Sabbath. Having been created the day before, Adam and Eve didn’t have a long week where they needed a physical rest. As God showed them all His works, that first Sabbath, they rested in the fact that it was God who made them and not they themselves. See Psalms 100:3

“It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. John 19:30 NLT

When God had finished our creation He rested and gave us the Sabbath as a sign that He created us. We mark a year by the sun. We mark a month by the moon. We mark a day by the earth’s rotation. What do we have to mark a week? The Sabbath, which takes us to creation and reminds us that we have a Creator.

When Jesus finished the work of our redemption He again rested on the Sabbath, this time in a tomb. The Sabbath is not only a sign of God’s power to create, but also a sign of His power to redeem and make us holy.

Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Exodus 31:13 NLT

The story* goes of a little boy who had built a wooden sailboat and took it down to a creek by his home. He had tied a string to it so he could watch it float, and then reel it back in, but the string broke. His boat went sailing down the rapids and out of sight.
After doing several chores the boy earned the money to buy his boat back. He walked out of the story, clutching the boat to his heart, and was overheard saying, “Little boat you are twice mine. First I made you. Then I bought you.”A few days later the boy went window shopping with his father downtown, and he saw his boat in a toy store window. “That’s my boat!” The boy exclaimed. He went inside and told the store keeper, who informed him, that since he had no way to verify the boy’s story, if the boy wanted the boat back, he would have to buy it.

Today the Sabbath is a sign from God that we are twice His. Once, at creation He made us, then on the cross He bought us.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

You can study more about the Sabbath here.

If You Love Me…

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave.  So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said,  “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”  Luke 7:2-5 NLT

 

This story illustrates the difference between the gospel and legalism. Legalism tells us the officer has given so much that he deserves special treatment from Jesus. Meanwhile the gospel teaches us that Jesus helps those who need His help, regardless of who they are.

 

 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. Luke 7:6 NLT

 

While the Jewish elders thought the officer had earned special favors, the officer himself understood the gospel. The officer had no sense of entitlement because of his works. You may read on how Jesus heals his servant, but my point is that the officer was not giving for the sake of a reward or special treatment, but out of love.

Jesus says, 

 

 If you love me, obey my commandments.John 14:15

 

Notice Jesus does not say, “If you don’t want to go to hell, keep my commandments!” or “If you want to go to heaven, keep my commandments.” He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

 

Keeping God’s commandments to get a reward does not make you a good person. Many people disobey God’s commands to get rewards. They cheat on their income tax reports to get a larger refund. They lie about achievements they have never attained to get praise from man. People who obey God for the sake of a reward will also just as easily disobey God if they could achieve a greater reward. Being motivated by the hope of a reward does not make you a good person fitted for the unselfish society of heaven.

 

Keeping God’s commandments out of fear of punishment does not make you a good person either. Remember in Daniel 3 the three Hebrew children were threatened with punishment if they did obey God! While they told the king that God would protect them, they also made it clear that was not the point.

 

He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:17-18 NLT

 

The Hebrew children were obeying God out of love, no matter what. They were not motivated by hope of reward or fear of punishment. In the same way,

 

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NKJV

 

Love to God is the very foundation of religion. To engage in His service merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment would avail nothing. -Ellen White, Patriarch and Prophets, Page 523.

 

It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him. -Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, Page 480.

 

Once, I was in a literature evangelist meeting with our conference president. We were discussing which book to promote. The Great Controversy or the Desire of Ages? Some people said the Great Controversy because it warns us about last-day events. I suggested the Desire of Ages because it helps us fall in love with Jesus, so that when last-day events occur, we will make the right choices for the right reasons – because we love Jesus. Unless we are in love with Jesus, knowledge about last-day events will avail nothing.

 

Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12 NKJV

 

All those who have faith in Jesus’ love keep His commandments.