The theology is understandable. The call to practicality is clear. What then do we need to “live” the faith?
[Thought questions for Exhortations from the Sanctuary December 25, 2013]
1. The Golden Chain. The earthly sanctuary had a High Priest who entered the presence of God as represented in the Most Holy Place. How does the physical entrance into His presence as described and carried out in the earthly sanctuary help us to understand the spiritual access for us as believers? Having a more effective High Priest in Jesus, we can share this hope with many Bible characters. See Job 19:26; Psalm 63:1 Can you think of others? Why is prayer an indispensable part of the ‘golden chain’ of intercession? What does it mean to have a Representative who has access to the presence of God? How does our Representative help us to come ‘boldly’?
2. Sincerely clean. Hebrews 9:14 refers to the purging of the conscience. Why is this necessary and what are the positive results of being purged? Why does James 1:8; 4:7,8 give clear warnings about being double-minded, or unstable? Do we Adventist Christians today ever waver in our standing with Jesus? How does our double-mindedness affect our sincerity? Our assurance? Our faith? Contrast the benefits of single-mindedness with instability. Which one is more dependable? Why?
3. Confident faith. The road to confidence and assurance has two lanes: faith itself and service for others. Describe some practical ways in which you have used faith and/or service and the blessings that you’ve enjoyed as a result. How does faith in the blood of Jesus give us confidence today, despite the reality of our guilt and shortcomings? How do humility and faith provide antidotes for the presumption that we have a right to approach God? How do humility and faith provide antidotes for timidity, fear, and discouragement? Why is this confidence and assurance available to believers only?
4. Steadfastness. What are the greatest challenges to hope? Can you pinpoint the times you have felt like ‘giving up’? What kept you from giving up? What advice is available for the spiritually depressed and discouraged? How does one ‘cling’ to a promise ? When driving, swerving can be deadly. How does being washed in the Word help keep us unswerving?
5. Encouragement. A positive attitude toward salvation goes a long way in the privilege of encouraging others. How can we use our love for one another as a daily encouragement to those around us? How can positive attitudes of love and encouragement be contagious? What effect does spending our time in warnings and negative conversations have on our own spiritual well-being? Is there ever a time for warnings? How does meeting with those who also love the day of Christ’s return help our own spiritual well-being? How does fellowship in Christian gatherings such as church differ from mere attendance? What does fellowship include? How does planning to be of service to others affect the benefits of our own fellowship?
6. Friendships. Thinking about both old and new friendships, how does planning to have a spiritual friendship affect how we communicate one with another? How would you go about making and maintaining a spiritual friendship?