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?

True and False Revivals

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we study the Sabbath School lessons for this quarter, let’s consider what is meant by a revival.

We are told in the last days there will be false revivals as well as a true revival of “primitive Godliness.” So how do we know a false revival from the real? In my line of work I sometimes meet people who are choosing a church where they can feel like a Christian without having to live like one. They want to be called a Christian without living like Christ, and following His path of self denial and self sacrifice. Self remains a big part of their worship. Fact of the matter is, no matter what church or denomination you choose, there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus. Jesus says,

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT

Churches may over time swing the pendulum back and forth between strict or lenient standards, but the words of Jesus never change. His standards don’t swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Please consider the following from The Faith I Live By, page 326 by Ellen White.

Revivals True and Counterfeit

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Matthew 7:16-17

Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His Word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it, by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power, he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. . . .

Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God’s blessing is not bestowed. . . .

A wrong conception of the character, the perpetuity, and the obligation of the divine law, has led to errors in relation to conversion and sanctification, and has resulted in lowering the standard of piety in the church. Here is to be found the secret of the lack of the Spirit and power of God in the revivals of our time. . . .

It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16.

Click here to read more about modern revivals in the Great Controversy.

I want to see the church grow! But much more than this I want to see souls added to the kingdom of God!  While in my ministry, the churches I have served, have at times led the English speaking churches in baptisms for their conferences, I have always purposed to remember my true goal as a Christian Servant:

Our Goal–Truly Converted Members.–Ministers who labor in towns and cities to present the truth should not feel content, nor that their work is ended, until those who have accepted the theory of the truth realize indeed the effect of its sanctifying power, and are truly converted to God. God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. These ministers should devote less time to preaching sermons, and reserve a portion of their strength to visit and pray with those who are interested, giving them godly instruction, to the end that they may “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”  –Ellen White, Evangelism, p. 320

In the road to death the whole race may go, with all their worldliness, all their selfishness, all their pride, dishonesty, and moral debasement. There is room for every man’s opinions and doctrines, space to follow his inclinations, to do whatever his self-love may dictate. In order to go in the path that leads to destruction, there is no need of searching for the way; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad, and the feet naturally turn into the path that ends in death. Ellen White, Thoughts on the Mount of Blessing, p. 138

“If The President Does it, Then it is not Illegal.” Really?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson states, “In some cultures, there is a tendency to distrust and challenge leadership; in others, to blindly submit to it. How has your own culture’s attitude toward authority impacted the church in your area?”

In an interview with David Frost, Richard Nixon, a former United States President, forced to resign due to a scandal, defended himself by saying, “If the President does it, then it is not illegal.” This bold statement shocked David Frost, and every other competent thinker! I believe, in the United States, people really started to question their leaders after Nixon’s downfall.

I believe we keep a healthy balance of respect for leadership, without blind submission, when we ask for accountability and checks and balances. In the United States we have a constitution the President must hold to. The Constitution also declares who ultimately has the authority. It reads, “We the people.” Not “me the president” or “me Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison, or Ronald Regan or Barak Obama.” The power and authority of the constitution comes from ‘The People!” Therefore our president is not above the law.

In the church we have the Scriptures as our sole authority, and our leaders must be held accountable. Also the church as a body has authority,

”God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority.” –Last Day Events, page 56.

Just like in the United States, the President is not above the people, likewise church leaders are not above the church.

“The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. …. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” The Lord “is the Rock, His work is perfect.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 2:12.- Desire of Ages, Page 414.

Many years ago, I heard the testimony of a church leader, defending himself for some shady deals, saying his boss told him to do it, therefore he had no choice but to obey his boss who had “authority.” I am sure Joab was thinking the same thing when King David told him to put Uriah on the front lines of the war. Please read what God’s messenger has to say about Joab’s rationale.

“And Joab, whose allegiance had been given to the king rather than to God, transgressed God’s law because the king commanded it.  David’s power had been given him by God, but to be exercised only in harmony with the divine law. When he commanded that which was contrary to God’s law, it became sin to obey. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1), but we are not to obey them contrary to God’s law. The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, sets forth the principle by which we should be governed. He says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.  –Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 719.

We need to be respectful of authority, but remember where authority ultimately comes from. And while respecting those in leadership, and even being in leadership, we must remember we are accountable to the Scriptures and God’s church, of which Christ is the Head.

I would also like to share a parting thought. In my years of Gospel Work around the country, I have met people who are afraid to speak up in board meetings or Church business meetings, because they feel they are too young or poor, and their influence would not be felt. I have also observed people abusing their age or money to hurt others. So this is what I say to all. No matter how young, old, rich or poor you are, you need to speak your mind in these meetings. And, no matter how young, old rich or poor you are, you need to be nice when you do. Everyone has a right to speak, and everyone has a responsibility to be nice when they do so.