03: Christ and Religious Tradition – Thought Starters
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[Thought questions for Christ and Religious Tradition April 16, 2014]

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

1. Intro. We like to think that “other” churches teach the doctrines of men while “our” church believes in doctrines that are 100% from God. Is it possible for “our” church members today to prefer hand-me-down beliefs to the clear Word of God? Is it wrong to have religious traditions in our homes? If not, what sort of religious traditions do you believe would be most helpful to God’s people today?

2. Sitting in Moses’ seat. Did the scribes and Pharisees have good reason to monitor the teachings of the people to be sure they conformed to the law? Does it matter if we recognize the mistakes of others before we overcome the underlying problems first? Why or why not? The story is told of a minister long ago who would ease his way to the TV set in a home he was visiting on Sabbath and feel to see if it was warm. Is it wrong to search for errors by fellow Christians in order to make it right?

3. Human commandments. Logic was that if the Jewish people would follow minor requirements, they would automatically follow the major ones. What is the natural result of this belief? What is wrong with that logic? Sometimes students at our boarding schools begin thinking that the faculty enforces rules of living as if they were God’s law. Where do such thoughts lead? Are “human commandments” necessary in our programs for our children? If so, why? and to what extent?

5. Majoring in minors. Have you ever had a great idea for your church or Sabbath school class only to be spurned when you tried to present it? Why did people gradually come to regard the rabbinical teachings as equal to Scriptures? Did our friend and prophet Ellen White think of her words as equal or superior to the Bible? Should we? Interpret the following from Lesson 5: “(Jesus) was well aware that the Pharisees were majoring in minors.” What does that mean? Do we ever have a similar problem?

6. Precepts of men. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition”? (Matthew 3:6) Did He mean that hand washing, tithe paying, and other rituals were unholy? sinful? Should we ignore religious rules and traditions that seem illogical? What was the Pharisees’ underlying motive in promoting human-made standards? What was the final effect of such action?

7. Excessive righteousness. If a righteous person is more like God than the rest of us, how can we have “too much” righteousness? What about self-righteousness? Or, in some cases at least, righteous indignation? Have you ever been a hypocrite? How easy was it? How can you and I make sure that our hearts are so close to Christ’s that our faith in Him guides us in all the we do?

8. Discussion questions. The discussion questions at the end of the lesson are especially appealing this week. Consider the following based on these questions as you prepare for the Sabbath.

  • While visiting other Seventh-day Adventist churches, what traditions do you find that aren’t evident in your home church?
  • How can you and I wander from righteousness without knowing it? How can we stay out of the “self-righteous rut”?
  • Would you be upset if items such as the opening hymn, special music, and the offering were placed in an entirely different order–maybe with the offering being first and the special music immediately following the opening hymn? Should you be? What should you do if you don’t like these changes?
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03: Christ and Religious Tradition – Thought Starters — 3 Comments

  1. My brethren I received this about the Sabbath and cannot wait to pass it on. I have never seen it explained so simple yet powerful.
    Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop. We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages or get out this report. We stop because it is time to stop. Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop—because our work is never completely done."
    -- Wayne Muller in "Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest"
    Sabbath is important to certain religious traditions because it reminds us that the Creator also took Sabbath. For some, Sabbath is the act of worship. Sabbath is a time to stop, regroup and tend to the spiritual part of our lives. Yet, if we are truly living out Sabbath and our connection to the Holy, Sabbath becomes a way of life, rather than a day of the week.
    Dictionary.com also defines “Sabbath” as “a period of rest.”
    We risk burnout when we are constantly on the go. When we surrender to the rhythm of the day and take even small moments of rest, we can more easily find the energy to continue through the stresses of work and life for the following week.

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  2. One of the biggest problems we face is to elevate one aspect of the law above other laws. As Adventists, we know that the fourth commandment to keep the Sabbath holy is very important, but so are the rest of the commandments. Any one of us who keeps the Sabbath holy but dishonors parents or steals is not obeying God's commands. What Christ wanted the religious leaders of His day to do was to take the law in its totality and observe it, bearing in mind that the law giver did not give the commandments as a burden to the people. Even something as good as our health message which is needed in these last days could be presented as a burden to the people instead of a way of life that will improve health and our relationship with God. Finally as Jesus Himself pointed out to the religious leaders, the best way to teach scripture is to live it. Unless we are willing to live what we teach, our ministry is not going to be effective.

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