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Salvation – Lesson 4

Doubt (300x232)When did we stop believing? When did we begin to take pride in declaring our doubts about our salvation?

I was in a Sabbath school class recently when, during a discussion about salvation, a long-time member raised a hand for comment. “We should never say that we’re saved!” A partial but oft-quoted Ellen White statement was the basis of the admonition to the class. Thus began a lively exchange about the assurance of salvation.

Rebuttal texts like the following were then quoted:

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9

So when did we become hearers of the Word but not doers of the Word when it comes to our belief in our own salvation?

Unconsciously we base our feelings of being saved on our actions of the moment. We know, rightly so, that we are sinners in need of a complete and total transformation. We see the example before us of the spotless Son of God. We are told that He must be our example in all things, and we look at ourselves and cannot imagine that it is possible for God to ever bring that kind of change into our lives. Our feelings are driving our experience instead of the abundant promises of God’s love and powerful workings in the lives of surrendered individuals.

The net result of our unbelief is a spasmodic Christian experience. We are up one day and down the next. One day we believe God will fight our battles and next we bemoan our defeats when we feel He does not. One day we believe that He is guiding our lives and opening doors that no man can shut. The next day we are feeling lost and asking God why He has brought us into a wilderness to die.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

Our doubts about our ultimate salvation bleed into doubts about the keeping power of God over our lives. We are figuratively crossing our fingers, hoping to be saved. Our confidence in the promises of salvation must be more than that.

This week’s lesson on Salvation is a perfect time for us to reexamine the gift of salvation and the immutability of God’s promises to us who are the objects of His affection.

Believe in Jesus, trust in Jesus with living, constant faith, and rely without doubt upon Jesus to keep and save you. One mighty to save has hold upon you; and as long as you will submit to be led by Him, to learn of Him, to confide in Him, He will keep you from falling; and when God engages to keep you, He is a sure defense. He is a strong fortress, and as you confide in Him, you are perfectly secure. His word is pledged in your defense, if you will believe in Him. Simply trust in God, and obey His commandments, and you are saved by the merits and intercession of Jesus Christ. Ellen White, 14 Manuscript Release 72

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does Salvation mean to you?
  • When does a person become saved?
  • What part, if any, do we play in salvation?
  • Is it true that we should never declare that we are saved? Explain your answer.
  • Is it true that we will not know if we are saved until Jesus comes? Why do you say yes or no?
  • Describe the difference, if any, between a person who is saved and one who is not.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: If you sin knowingly you no longer have salvation. Explain your answer.
  • How can one tell if they are saved?

We close this week with words from the Apostle John, full of inspiration and encouragement:

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. I John 5:11-13

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

The Holy Spirit – Lesson 3

Fiery DoveTheir mission was simple – find Jesus and ask him a very direct question. The expected answer would either be yes or no. The reason for this simple question was more complex. The imprisoned John the Baptist was a believer in Christ. Yet, through the insinuations of others and his own misconceptions of the role of the Messiah, doubts began to arise in John’s mind. He needed an answer from Jesus confirming who He was and to this end he sent his disciples to inquire. Luke 7 records this event.

When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. Luke 7:20-23

The evidence spoke for itself. Jesus’ character, works and words all revealed His divinity. There was no greater answer than what Jesus demonstrated as He walked this earth as a man.

This week as we look at The Holy Spirit much will be discussed about who He is. Speculation outside of what is written consumes many. His existence is a mystery to man, but the evidence of His presence is ample for those willing to see.

The Son – Lesson 2

Jesus & ApostlesI never really thought about this until this week’s lesson on The Son. Hyperbole in speech is so common that unconsciously I took for granted some of the words Jesus spoke to His disciples. But this week, examining who Jesus is, gave me an opportunity to look deeper into my beliefs and convictions.

Jesus had been intensely preparing His disciples for the climatic events that would soon follow. Who He was to them would determine their futures. The nation was stirred and on everyone’s lips was the subject of who Jesus was. Jesus asked His disciples what was being said about who He was.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Matthew 16:13-14

Our Loving Heavenly Father – Lesson 1

 

heaven I don’t know where heaven is. Those who study space constantly find that what they understood to be the limits of space in reality are only gateways to more expansive space. Using man’s fastest conception of speed it would take millions of light years just to reach parts of what our most powerful telescopes reveal. It is mind boggling to consider the size of the known universe and just how tiny our little planet is compared to the countless galaxies that surround us.

And beyond what we can see or even imagine, is a place called heaven. Is was there that Daniel was taken in vision.

As I was watching all this, “Thrones were set in place and The Old One sat down. His robes were white as snow, his hair was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, its wheels blazing. A river of fire poured out of the throne. Thousands upon thousands served him, tens of thousands attended him. Daniel 7:9-10 The Message

God is so big and powerful that human expression is unable to define Him nor can mortal man ever hope to explain Him. He speaks and life begins. Before there was time He was. He is God and God alone.

Yet man, with all of his frailties and steeped in a life of sin, is the object of God’s love and compassion. It is humanly illogical that God would concern Himself with our little world, let alone give Himself to save us. It is an outworking of a love that defies logic and is as unexplainable as the galaxies that surround our little planet.

Christ’s Kingdom and the Law – Lesson 13

Entrance to KingdomBound, beaten and bruised he stands as a Royal King. He is in the clutches of the most powerful kingdom on Earth. He has no advocates and a chorus of voices are crying out for a sentence of death. There standing before Him, holding the scales of life or death, is the powerful governor of Rome.

With wonder Pilot examines the Accused and notes the peace that He has while all around a storm of anger and hate is raging. He is hesitant to pronounce Jesus guilty. There’s something profound about His kingly bearing – something Pilate has never seen in any man, let alone a prisoner.

Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” John 18:33-35

It is the answer that Jesus gave next that we will examine for this week’s lesson on Christ’s Kingdom and the Law. This exchange is filled with vital insight into Christ’s kingdom.

Christ’s Church and the Law – Lesson 12

Baton HandoffConstantly on the go, they are best known by the attributes of teamwork, planning and perseverance. From one generation to the next they focus on their primary goal. Although often challenged with huge obstacles they find a way to overcome.

Theirs is not a life of inactivity. Theirs no stopping and basking in the accomplishments of yesterday. Theirs no static mission, but one that goes from one victory to the next.

Many seem to serve only rudimentary purposes and appear far removed from the center of influence. Their wide-ranging excursions for the cause often appear fruitless yet they are never discouraged and begin each day with the same intensity as the previous.

Many pay the ultimate price and give their lives for the cause. It’s a serious undertaking and not one for the faint of heart. It’s in their DNA to be givers. All for one and one for all. They are family.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Proverbs 6:6

The Apostles and the Law – Lesson 11

EvidenceI am taking the liberty to subtitle this week’s topic to “Evidence is Not Enough.”

This week’s lesson on The Apostles and the Law gives additional insight into the validity of the law. From those who knew Jesus best we see a consistency in their understanding of the ongoing role of the Law in the lives of God’s people. This adds to our arsenal of evidence to defend the Law – but evidence is not enough.

It is true that we should carefully weigh the evidences of the Word of God. Not allowing others to do our thinking or interpreting of the scriptures is paramount to our spiritual safety. God gave us reasoning minds to rightly divide the word of truth. However, understanding and accepting doctrinal evidence depends less upon reason alone and more upon the openness of the heart.  Jesus taught this principle to His listeners.

Christ, the Law and the Covenants – Lesson 10

Rainbow prom•ise: an express assurance on which expectation is to be based.

It has always been about the promise. From the moment man found himself in trouble, God has come beside humanity with a promise of remediation. No crime has been too large, no offence to great.

To Adam who had unleashed the curse of death on mankind God lovingly provided a remedy through a promise of a sin bearer. That covenant has yet to cease and still provides hope for you and I so far removed from the Garden of Eden.

To Abram we find God pledging the greatest gift anyone could receive — Himself.

I’m establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants. Genesis 17:7 The Message Bible

The Law of God and the Law of Christ – Lesson 8

Truth This has gone down in history as one of the greatest spiritual and moral failures of all time. It was a seemingly unforgivable offense. With fear overtaking his faith and trust, Peter denied knowing the Man he had spent his last years following as a faithful, trusted disciple.

Peter had seen it all, from entire villages being healed from disease to the raising of the dead. He had witnessed miracles that were beyond the imagination. He was a first-hand witness as those freed from a lifetime of bondage shouted the praises of Jesus. He saw the look of relief and joy in the eyes as multitudes heard truths that would change the course of their lives forever. Peter saw it all.

Now a short time had passed since Peter’s complete collapse. He was sitting on the shore with the resurrected Christ. John 21 records their conversation. With undiminished love Jesus looks at Peter and asks, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

That was it. No questioning of his level of faith. No testing of his commitment to the mission nor gauging of the size of his courage. Not even requesting a pledge that he would never do something like that again. The question was simply, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

This week as we look at The Law of God and the Law of Christ we examine the key element of commandment keeping and true discipleship – love.

Christ and the Sabbath – Lesson 5

?????????????????“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27

To my fellow Seventh-day Adventists, defenders and champions of the Ten Commandments. Something seems to be wrong with our observance of the Sabbath. I know I am speaking to only a segment of our church family so I ask your indulgence if this does not apply to you.

I’ve grown up in this faith, and many of my family members are loyal Seventh-day Adventists. I’ve attended churches of all sizes from a congregation of a handful to the thousands. I’ve lived in rural locations where life is slower and more relaxed. I also have years of urban living coupled with the bustle of church ministry, which is more likely related to what follows.

As I prepared for the discussion this Sabbath I was confronted anew with the purpose of the Sabbath. I reviewed how Christ had to push past the Sabbath traditions that had made the Sabbath a burden to the common people. In their zeal to “protect” the sanctity of the Sabbath, the religious leaders had created an atmosphere that did the exact opposite.