- Protestant Christians. Do you remember the first time someone told you that the Seventh-day Adventist church is Protestant? And when you learned there was a link between “protesting” and your church, did you gasp just a bit to realize you belonged to a church known along with others such as Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Baptists for clinging to views that differed from the Catholic (“whole”) church? Are you glad you’re a Protestant? If you are, why?
- Christ, the head of the church. Our lesson begins this week with the statement, “the church is the body of Christ.” This means–doesn’t it?–that as a church we depend for our very existence on Jesus Christ. Does that belief move us along to a conviction about who commands the ultimate authority for our church? Do church members who hold a position of trust in our church have the authority to tell others in the church what they are required to believe and do? What do you think Ellen White meant when she said, “It (the church) is not to depend upon man, or to be controlled by any man”? and “upon no finite being can we depend for guidance.” Where, then, must be the source of our beliefs?
- Servant leadership. Jesus didn’t lack for volunteers to maintain power and authority of the church. Even the apostles (Luke 22:24) craved for dominion and supremacy at first. How different from the Roman idea of authority was Jesus’ method? Our lesson this week emphasizes what Jesus taught about church leaders, that they must (choose the best answer)—(A) rule and teach all members; or (B) be servants and slaves of God’s people. Ellen White said, “Christ called men, not to authority, but to service.”
- Preserving church unity. “(O)ur teachings are what unify our church,” our lesson guide states for Tuesday’s lesson. How strong is your support of this statement? Adventists are rich and poor, come from hundreds of different backgrounds, speak widely different languages. Can we have the same beliefs? Was it easier for Timothy and Paul to keep God’s church pure in doctrine than it is for us today? Why or why not? God commanded Timothy to lean on the Holy Spirit as his primary guide in following the teachings of Paul. How could Timothy follow that advice?
- Church discipline. Suppose you emerge as a leader in your local church. Two administrative openings lie before you: to work to preserve doctrinal unity, or to guard against activities that undermine the moral purity of the church community. Which opening would you choose? Why? From the lesson guide this week is the spiritual teaching that the church must be holy, or separate from the world. Without church discipline, do you think it is possible to maintain moral and spiritual purity in the church? How can we maintain a spirit of humility when we are called to participate in some way in spiritual discipline?
- Organizing for Mission. Rather than a church organized for mission, wouldn’t it be better for your church to have as the highest priority to provide a place for like-minded people just to have a good time together? What four suggestions that have become commands has God commissioned all of His disciples to follow? Discuss the relative importance of each one. To go? To preach the gospel? To baptize? To teach? If we pray for guidance from God, will these tasks will be easy? How will our failure in carrying out these responsibilities be seen by God? by fellow members? by neighbors and friends? Can we prevent failure in carrying out God’s commands? How?