Saved by Grace, Lost by Disobedience

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A while back a former Adventist friend was telling me that the Adventist church deceived her. She said when she first came into the church the evangelist was preaching about grace. But once she joined they started preaching about Sabbath keeping and obedience. She found works and obedience to be contradictory to the gospel of grace. I shared with my friend that faith and works were preached long before Adventism. James preached faith and works.

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:24 NKJV

Fact is that it is only by grace and faith that we can be obedient and have good works.

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Romans 3:31 NKJV

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith… Romans 1:5 NKJV

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

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, Titus 2:11-12 NKJV

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 NKJV

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26 NKJV

There are some important things to keep in mind. While Lucifer was placed in heaven by grace alone and no works of his own, he still lost his heavenly home by rebellion and disobedience.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:7-9 NKJV

While Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden by grace alone and no works of their own, they still lost their paradise home due to disobedience.

therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:23-24 NKJV

While Israel was given its own land and nation by grace alone and no works of their own, they still lost it by disobedience.

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day?  Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” Nehemiah 13:17-18 NKJV

Likewise, spiritual Israel has been promised a land  – the New Jerusalem. While that land is given to us by grace alone and no works of our own, we can still lose it by disobedience.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV

After all, when we talk about Biblical salvation by grace, the salvation we receive by grace saves us from a life of sin.

…and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NKJV

And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18 NKJV 

The grace that my former Adventist friend found being preached in the Adventist church came straight from the Bible. The importance of works of love and loving obedience that she heard preached in the Adventist church is also straight from the Bible. 

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14;15 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14 NKJV 

I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4 NLT

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey HimHebrews 5:8-9 NKJV

My former Adventist friend was not deceived by the Adventist church regarding grace and faith and loving obedience. The idea of salvation without loving obedience is a deception.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 NKJV

Let’s pray that we along with all of our friends will understand and appreciate the Biblical teachings of grace, faith, and loving obedience. 

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

6: Abraham’s Seed-Teaching Plan

6: Abraham’s Seed – Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt

Key Thought: God’s true Israel is the people of faith: persons who live in a spiritual covenant relationship with Him.
May 8, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Ezekiel 16:8Deuteronomy 7:6

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What made Israel special to God?
  3. Personal Application: What message do Seventh-day Adventists have that is special? Why do we need to be careful not to think we are automatically saved just because we are Adventists? See Jeremiah 7:3-7 and Matthew 7:21-23.
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor asks you why you keep the Sabbath, saying it was only given to the Jews as a sign they were God’s people. What do you tell your neighbor?

2. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 11:8.

  1. Ask class members to share what the main idea of this text is?
  2. What are the blessings of the covenant? What are the curses?
  3. Personal Application: What role does obedience play concerning our entering the promised land? For example Israel lost some of their land to Babylon and Rome due to disobedience. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden by grace with no works of their own yet they lost it by disobedience. What lesson is there for us concerning entering the promised land and new earth?
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor tells you his pastor says once you are saved there is no way you can be lost. What do you say to your neighbor? What Bible passages do you share?

3. Have a volunteer read Galatians 3:26-29.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What promises are we heirs to? What happened to make us heirs to these promises?
  3. Personal Application: What does Paul mean by we are no longer Jew or gentile or male and female? Why is it important in light of today’s current issues to know exactly what Paul meant?
  4. Case Study: Your friend tells you that the literal nation of Israel is still God’s special nation. What do you tell your friend? What Bible passages do you use? For example was Peter talking to Jews only in 1 peter 2:9? Why or why not?

4. Have a volunteer read Deuteronomy 28:1,15

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What land was to be given and what were the obligations of the recipients?
  3. Personal Application: What promised land is given in the New Covenant? What conditions do we have in getting there?” 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).

5: Children of the Promise – Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: The Lord called Himself Abram’s Shield. All the families of the earth were to be blessed through Abraham. God promises to be with us always.
May 1, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Genesis 15:1-3.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. Why did God tell Abram not to fear?
  3. Personal Application: How is God our Shield? Does that mean no physical harm will come our way? How do we understand the image of a shield? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “A faithful and active number of our church got Covid and even though he was aged and had heart problems, we prayed that he would get well, but he died. Why didn’t God shield him?” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis Genesis 28:14Galatians 3:29..

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. How are all the families of earth blessed in Abraham?.
  3. Personal Application: In what ways are we blessed today? How often do we think about our blessings? Do we take them for granted? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why do we think people who don’t know God and are famous for some reason: music, movies, sports, or business, are blessed when they do not give God glory, but receive it to themselves?“ How would you respond to your relative?

3. Have a volunteer read Genesis 18:18.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. Why did the Lord want to make a special nation out of Abraham’s seed? What purpose was this nation to fulfill
  3. Personal Application: Why did God call a special church out of Christianity? What purpose was this church to fulfil? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “Why do you think your church is unique or special? There are many Christian churches who preach and teach the gospel. Your standoffishness is a hinder to the unity of the Christian church.” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read Genesis 12:2.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. Why would the Lord want us to make Abraham’s name great? Did He do it for Abraham’s personal benefit, or does it represent something more?
  3. Personal Application: Who deserves a great name? Would God bestow that on a church leader? For what reason?” 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).

Go Light Your World, Go Light Your Universe

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” Genesis 15:5 NLT 

Of course Abram’s most important descendant is Jesus, but each descendant has his or her own sphere of influence just like the stars. The other day I was reading a book about stars to a group of first graders when a thought came to me. While our sun gives us light by day and even by night via its reflection off the moon, the stars still contribute to lighten our nights. That means that while being  the sun in another solar system galaxies away, that sun in another solar system contributes its light to our solar system as well even though to us it is just another one of the billion stars. Likewise if you are a parent, to your family you are the sun, but to your children’s friends you are still a star as your influence goes beyond your own family or “solar system.” If you are a teacher or pastor or Sabbath School teacher you are the sun to your class or church, but often throughout the day a teacher and pastor will minister outside their own church or class. It may be as small as tying the shoe of child in the hallway from another classroom or just speaking a word of encouragement in an assembly. For a pastor it may be getting a random phone call from someone who has a problem they are too embarrassed to talk to their own pastor about. And of course a sphere of influence is not limited to parents, pastors and teachers. I think the universe teaches us a valuable lesson that just as the sun’s light is not limited to its own solar system so our light goes beyond our little sphere as well.  I am just using pastors and teachers as an easy example. A teacher may be the sun in her classroom (solar system) but she is still a star giving light to the rest of her school (Universe or if you are a college professor you can say university, pun intended.) A pastor may be the sun to his church but he is still a star in his conference and community. 

A sun of course is simply a star and even the closest star is still 5.88 trillion miles away, but amazingly we still benefit from its light. It should be a sobering thought to realize how far away our influence is felt. We may be thinking we are too small or far away to make a difference but we do make a difference often without even realizing it. Years ago I was working in a 5th and 6th grade Adventist classroom. One day I was walking to my car when I saw a group of fourth graders playing football. A girl was running with the ball while the boys were trying to catch her. I yelled our her name and said, “Run! Run!” I got in my car and drove away never giving it another thought. The next morning the girl’s mother came up to me and told me, “My daughter told me she was playing football with the boys yesterday and was running with the ball. She said she was about to give out and about to get caught when she heard you call out her name and yell run. She said that gave her an extra boost of energy and she ran for the touchdown!” 

While I was not the sun in her classroom, by speaking three simple encouraging words I was one of hopefully billions of stars speaking encouraging words into her life. While I got in my car and never gave it another thought I found out later those simple words made a difference. A big enough difference she had to share them with her mother. 

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16. NLT

My friend, go light your world. Go light your universe.  

"Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever." Daniel 12:3 NLT 

The Amazing Covenant Keeper

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I saw the title of this week’s lesson, “An Everlasting Covenant” I automatically thought of how faithful God has been to His covenant even when His people were not keeping their end of the bargain. For example, in Exodus 32 God’s people worship a golden calf. Then God acts as if He is going to destroy them when Moses intercedes: 

Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!  Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’”  So the Lord changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people. Exodus 32:12-14 NLT 

Now whether or not God actually intended to destroy His people or if He was merely testing Moses, when Moses reminded God of His covenant promise to Abraham, God did not destroy them and He took the remnant into the promised land just as He had well, promised! We could have reasoned, well Abraham is dead; He will never know. We could have reasoned that the children of Israel did not deserve God’s promises, but none of that kept God from keeping His covenant with His people. God is the Amazing Covenant Keeper. 

Later we see something that to me is even more amazing. In Joshua 9 and Joshua 10, the Gibeonites used deceit to trick Israel into letting them in on the covenant God had made with them. Even though Israel was not supposed to make a covenant with anyone living as close as the Gibeonites, they did because they were tricked into it. Later when the Gibeonites were under attack, they called upon Israel to save them, 

The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.” Joshua 10:6 NLT

Now Joshua very well could have told Gibeon, “You tricked us! We are not going to help you. What you did was dirty, and we don’t have to help you.” But instead, Joshua rushes to their aid. After all, a promise is a promise. 

So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. Joshua 10:7 NLT

Now God could have told Joshua, “I am not helping you and Gibeon! You never should have let them in on our covenant. I am under no obligation whatsoever to help you or Gibeon since you both went about making this covenant all wrong!” But God is not like that. Instead God encourages Joshua to fight against Gibeon’s attackers.

Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.” Joshua 10:8 NLT

It doesn’t stop there. God does something tremendously amazing to save these ornery rascals. He makes the sun stand still for them so they can defeat their enemies. 

On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day! Joshua 10:12-14 NLT

Did you catch what just happened? God, could have told Joshua the covenant was not legal since Joshua never should have made the covenant with a neighbor in the first place. God could have said Gibeon cheated in order to get in on the covenant and therefore it should not be honored. But instead of saying any of that God makes the sun stand still in order to fulfill His promise which neither Joshua nor Gibeon deserved! Talk about an Amazing Covenant Keeper! 

Friends I personally have read in the Bible about the conditions to receive God’s blessings, and I have to admit I have not met those conditions, and yet God’s blessings keep pouring in. What I have personally experienced is a God Who is more wonderful and merciful than He even claims to be. I have experienced a God who will make the sun stand still for me when I don’t deserve the time of day. He is an Amazing Covenant Keeper! It is because He is so merciful, forgiving and faithful that I choose to obey Him. David also experienced the amazing mercy of our Amazing Covenant Keeper when he said,

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8 NLT 

4: An Everlasting Covenant-Teaching Plan

This plan was provided by Michael Fracker.

Key Thought: God called Abraham into a special relationship with Him, one that would reveal the plan of salvation to the world.
April 24, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Genesis 17:1-6.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. Why would God present Himself to Abrah as El Shaddai – the Almighty God- at this time?
  3. Personal Application: How does believing in the Almighty God give us comfort and trust when we are weak and frail and old? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “Do you think God calls people today to leave position, wealth, plans and home to do a work for Him in spite of our human frailties? How does one know if it is God’s call?” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis 17:7..

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. Why did God change Abram’s name to Abraham?.
  3. Personal Application: What kind of “new name” do you think God is going to give you in heaven? What might that name reveal about you and your character? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why does God call His covenant an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendents forever? Wasn’t that the Old Covenant that has been replaced?“ How would you respond to your relative?

3. Have a volunteer read Genesis 18:19.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What important facts do we see about Abraham and why God chose him for the covenant promises?
  3. Personal Application: Is leadership and teaching important factors in the family life as well as church life? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “Obedience seems to be a big factor in Abraham’s walk with God, but obedience doesn’t save anyone; only faith does. So what is the relationship of obedience to faith since we are told we are not saved by faith and works, but by faith only?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read Revelation 14:6,7.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. How is the message of Revelation 14 similar to Abraham’s covenant?
  3. Personal Application: What specific responsibility do we have in living and giving the three angels messages to the world?” 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).