Galatians; The Unity in the Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson speaks about unity in the gospel, two quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy come to mind. (Download SS Lesson App to your cell phone.)

Jesus prayed that His followers might be one; but we are not to sacrifice the truth in order to secure this union, for we are to be sanctified through the truth. Here is the foundation of all true peace. Human wisdom would change all this, pronouncing this basis too narrow. Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people.  {Our High Calling 329.3} 

When seeking unity we must use Jesus as the compass and not popular opinion. As we all draw closer to Jesus we will be drawn closer to each other as well. And besides, what is the point of unity if it does not involve Jesus Who is the truth? The Jews were united in crucifying Jesus, but that unity did not profit them. Lets pray we never make the same mistake of denying or Crucifying Truth and Jesus in order to preserve unity. Such unity is self defeating.

In Wesley’s time, as in all ages of the church’s history, men of different gifts performed their appointed work. They did not harmonize upon every point of doctrine, but all were moved by the Spirit of God, and united in the absorbing aim to win souls to Christ. {The Great Controversy p. 257}

What this passage tells me is that unity comes, not from trying to win people to my point of view, but by pointing people to Christ. In the first district I ever worked in as a gospel evangelist, in northern Oklahoma, we had a lady who was very conservative and had strong views. One day she was telling me about a man in her church, and his liberal views, which she did not agree with. She was speaking very seriously about how wrong she thought he was. She told me she was very worried about the man. Then she paused and smiled, and told me, with a laugh in her voice, “And I know he is very worried about me!” This told me, that while she “knew” this man was wrong, she did understand that this man was just as sure of his opinions as she was of hers, and that her way was not the only way of looking at things.

When we hear different opinions, let’s not be afraid of being wrong or corrected. Let’s study it out in the Word of God. I once heard of a Sabbath School class, where a visitor expressed a different opinion about the Sabbath and he was quickly told by the teacher to be quiet. I have often wondered why the teacher did that. Was the teacher  afraid of being wrong? Was he afraid of being corrected if he was wrong? There is nothing wrong with expressing opposing views as long as we let God’s Word have the final say.

Worship: Rejoicing Before The Lord: The Sanctuary and Worship

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While studying this week’s SS lesson, I ran across some interesting articles from the Spirit of Prophecy.

Keep Silence Before Him

  The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. Habakkuk 2:20

From the sacredness which was attached to the earthly sanctuary, Christians may learn how they should regard the place where the Lord meets with His people. There has been a great change, not for the better, but for the worse, in the habits and customs of the people in reference to religious worship. The precious, the sacred, things which connect us with God are fast losing their hold upon our minds and hearts, and are being brought down to the level of common things. The reverence which the people had anciently for the sanctuary where they met with God in sacred service has largely passed away. Nevertheless, God Himself gave the order of His service, exalting it high above everything of a temporal nature.  {FLB 189.2} 

     The house is the sanctuary for the family, and the closet or the grove the most retired place for individual worship; but the church is the sanctuary for the congregation.  {FLB 189.3} 

     In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption, as though He were on a level with ourselves. There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience-chamber of an earthly ruler. These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore.  {FLB 189.4} 

     Those who assemble to worship Him should put away every evil thing. Unless they worship Him in spirit and truth and in the beauty of holiness, their coming together will be of no avail.  {FLB 189.5} 

     It is your privilege, dear young friends, to glorify God upon the earth. In order to do this, you must direct your minds away from things that are superficial, frivolous, and unimportant, to those that are of eternal worth. {FLB.189.6} 

  Reverence for the House of God

  Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:30 

God is high and holy; and to the humble, believing soul, His house on earth, the place where His people meet for worship, is as the gate of heaven. The song of praise, the words spoken by Christ’s ministers, are God’s appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above, for that loftier worship.  {ML 286.2} 

     When the worshipers enter the place of meeting, they should do so with decorum, passing quietly to their seats. . . . Common talking, whispering, and laughing should not be permitted in the house of worship, either before or after the service. Ardent, active piety should characterize the worshipers.  {ML 286.3} 

     If some have to wait a few minutes before the meeting begins, let them maintain a true spirit of devotion by silent meditation, keeping the heart uplifted to God in prayer that the service may be of special benefit to their own hearts and lead to the conviction and conversion of other souls. They should remember that heavenly messengers are in the house. We all lose much sweet communion with God by our restlessness, by not encouraging moments of reflection and prayer. . . .  {ML 286.4} 

     Elevate the standard of Christianity in the minds of your children; help them to weave Jesus into their experience; teach them to have the highest reverence for the house of God and to understand that when they enter the Lord’s house it should be with hearts that are softened and subdued by such thoughts as these: “God is here; this is His house. I must have pure thoughts and holiest motives. . . . This is the place where God meets with and blesses His people.” . . .  {ML 286.5} 

     Parents should not only teach, but command, their children to enter the sanctuary with sobriety and reverence.  {ML 286.6} 

     Practice reverence until it becomes a part of yourself. {ML 286.7}

Matthew 19; Single People Are Kind of Like Real People

 
 
 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”   Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:10-12 

 

  I don’t usually make a big deal either way about being single. I don’t think of myself as a “single person”, I just think of myself as a “person”.  While I have heard other single people complain about married people treating them differently, I can only count on one hand the number of married people who have treated me differently because of my single status.  98% of the people I come in contact with treat me no differently than if I was married.    I don’t believe in discriminating between marital or single statuses any more than race or anything else. I simply think of myself as a person regardless of single staus or race or religion and I simply think of other people as people regardless of their statuses.

 

 

 Okay, I agree that celibacy is not the norm. I also totally agree that being single does not make you more holy. (Of course being married does not make you more holy either.) Yes, the Scriptures tell us that Peter was married. However the scriptures also tell us Paul was not married at the time of his ministry and even more so Jesus was never married. So- are Paul and Jesus unnatural misfits?  While Jesus and the scriptures never forbade marriage, Jesus and Paul both have given us enough counsel to see that celibacy has many spiritual advantages. (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7)Satan always takes things God says to extremes. For example Satan suggested to Eve that God told her she could not eat of “any” of the trees when in reality He only told her not to eat from one. While the Bible clearly suggests that it is good for some people not to marry, the Bible never forbade marriage and even warns us in 1 Timothy 4 that the antichrist would be the one who forbids marriage. Clearly extremism is to be avoided. No one has to get married and no one has to remain single. I will gladly admit that being married can and should lead one to be a better Christian, and also admit that being single is a very convenient way to be selfish. There is no one as free as a single adult. You answer to neither spouse nor parent. You just do whatever you want whenever you want. (Now in my case add to this that even my job is really not a job but rather my passion. So I have no one in my world telling me what to do other than my boss who just tells me to do what I want to do anyway! I can not begin to describe what a wonderful feeling that is!). While marriage calls for self sacrifice there are many wonderful single Christians who crucify self every day while there are many married people who never think of their spouse or children. While many people say that you have to be married to understand what it takes to make a marriage work, I somewhat disagree. I do know exactly what it takes to make a marriage work and maybe that is why I have chosen to remain single to this point in my life. On the other hand you have married people who are married only because they did not know what it took, or they found their wedding vows to be too inconvenient. I know of many single people who have sacrificed to care for the needs of neglected children who are not their own, even though they never made a vow to. There are many single aunts and uncles, “big brothers” and “big sisters” out there who will never get a Father’s Day or Mother’s Day card though they are quite deserving of one.There are those who believe an elder must be married to give counsel to families. While I have never been a husband or father, I have been a son, brother, uncle, nephew and grandson. So I have been in a family and I do know how families work. Also please don’t slaughter Paul’s counsel to Timothy to mean that you have to be married to be an elder. As 98% of Bible scholars clearly understand, Paul simply meant no more than one wife. Not that you must have one wife. Is ones ability to be a spiritual leader dependant upon being married or being anointed by the Lord? I had someone tell me once that I could not be an elder because Paul says that an elder must rule well his own home. Well I do rule my own home well, by not marrying anyone who would corrupt my home. I heard someone say once that I could not be an elder because I can’t counsel with married people because I don’t know what it is like to be married. So if married elders are the only ones who can help married people then wouldn’t single elders be the only ones who could help single people? But single people don’t need or deserve elders who understand them? Only married people deserve elders who can relate to them? See what happens when we slaughter Paul’s teachings? The logic just gets more and more absurd. 
 
 
 
  Okay now I am going to talk about an obvious issue here- sex. Single people long for intimacy just like everyone else. However not all sex is intimacy and not all intimacy has to be sex. As a matter of fact I read a book once about sexual purity that stated that many people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Intimacy takes place in the mind and heart, not the sex organs. Getting naked together does not make you intimate until you have shared your heart and mind.  I know married people who are still very lonely and some even celibate. In the 5th volume of the Testimonies Ellen White writes of a man who had sexual issues that not even marriage could cure. Marriage is not the sole solution for intimacy.  Neither is marriage necessarily the solution for sexual desires.  What I long for is a woman that I can sit and talk with for hours while it only seems like a few moments. A few years ago, I lost a friend to breast cancer, who had a double mastectomy. When I started visiting her in the hospital, we quickly became friends and could talk and laugh together easily. I really enjoyed her company and while I don’t know what was going on in her mind, the day she died, she told me that she really wished we could have known each other longer here on earth. I’m not sure, but it seemed she was implying that she may have liked me for more than just a friend. If she had lived, the fact that she didn’t have a perfect body would not have gotten in the way of our relationship. She and I could talk together forever, and I loved every moment with her. Please understand that marriage does not guarantee intimacy and being celibate does not prevent it.  The Bible condones marriage or celibacy. Married people can be beautiful Christians, and their marriages can be a living example of what a true self sacrificing Christian ought to be. On the other hand single people can be very devoted to their families, church families and most of all to Jesus.

 

 

 

 

  

I really appreciated a recent men’s ministry convention I attended. For years our church’s preaching and teaching has centered around married people and the message to single people has been, “Listen to this message – it will help you when you get married.” But this time, while they talked about married men and their ministry to their family, instead of telling us single guys that we could apply these teachings later when we get married, they taught us how to apply them now to our church family and our friends who are all around us. They emphasized that even though we are single, we make a significant impact on the lives around us today. They treated us like we were real people!

 

  

What a contrast to the Valentine’s banquet I attended in another state around ten years ago. Several of us singles sat at a table while the emcee spent the evening recognizing married couples and their accomplishments. That is all well and fine, after all it was a Valentine’s banquet, what do you expect? The problem came at the end when the emcee tried to “console” us single people by telling us even though we were single, we were still “kind of like real people.”

Thank you to the 98% who treat me like a real person even though I have chosen to remain single up to this point in my life. Thank you for letting me live my life as a “person” instead of a “single person.” To all I pray these thoughts will be enlightening and a blesssing in your christian walk and fellowship. 

 

In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides

You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here

Newly Revised In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides

Prepared by William Earnhardt, 2005, Revised 2009

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.–Gospel Workers, p. 315. 

Introduction

Why “In Light of the Cross” Bible study guides? Our salvation is found in the love of God alone (Ephesians 2:1-9). Since Satan realizes this fact, he only has one purpose in spreading lies and false doctrine-to make us misunderstand God’s love so that we do not appreciate or accept God’s love that brings salvation. Every false doctrine is more than just an attack on truth. It is an attack on the very character of God. False doctrines skew and misrepresent the character of God. Jesus tells us in John Chapter 8 that He more than just has the truth, He is the truth. If truth equals Jesus and Jesus equals God and God equals love then truth must equal love. The purpose of these study guides is to help us find God’s love in His truth. Doctrine is only helpful as it aids us in understanding the love of God which saves us. We are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by God’s love. Hence, the In Light of The Cross Study Guides which are prayerfully designed to help us understand and appreciate the love of God which saves us.

How to use the In Light of the Cross Study Guides

These study guides are designed as supplements with references following for deeper study. You may use the supplied references for your study or just use the supplements with your own favorite study guides. Power Point presentations are also available.

Table of Contents 

Salvation  

Scriptures

Death  

Punishment of the Wicked 

Health and Temperance 

The Sabbath 

Stewardship 

The Sanctuary

The Gift of Prophecy 

The Second Coming 

Christian Living 

Baptism 

Click here to find simple solutions for hard to understand Bible texts.

Click here to find more studies and devotionals on my website “In Light of The Cross”.