Stan: Can you believe it? We have fourteen Sabbaths this quarter!1
Pam: And one of the shortest books in the Bible.
Stan: You’re right. I think that’s made a big difference in our study this quarter, don’t you?
Pam: Sure. I think most of us have been blessed by studying the book of Galatians so intensely.
Stan: Then why don’t we do that for the whole Bible?
Pam: There’s too much in the Bible for us to cover. Maybe in heaven we’ll have time.
Stan: We’re going to be reading the Bible in heaven?
Pam: Sure. Why not? It’s the story of our world and the way God has treated us.
Stan: Hmm. I don’t know about that. When I look up and see Jesus coming it’s going to be the end of sin. I won’t want to hear about sin any more after that.
Pam: But we’ll watch the final destruction of the wicked, don’t you think?
Stan: Maybe. But I don’t think we’ll be giving Bible studies in heaven, and I don’t think we’ll have Bible lesson study guides to follow every week.
Pam: You’re right, Stan. We’ll have Jesus to get to know better than we’ve ever known Him before. That will be far more to learn than in the sixty-six books of the Bible.
Stan: It can’t happen too soon.
[Thought Questions for Boasting in the Cross December 28, 2011]
1. May we all be wealthy. At this time of year do you see a sharp difference between those who are wealthy and those who are poor? Describe that difference. Do you remember as a child how proud you were of some special treasure you were given? Even if you only had a handful of nickels and quarters, didn’t it feel good to have “spare change” you could save or spend? What does Jesus think of the wealth you and I have managed to obtain? Does he value wealth and well-being as much as you and I do?
2. Big letters. Do you think Paul wrote in “big letters” because he couldn’t see very well? Or because he couldn’t form the letters precisely? Sometimes when we make a point we say, “I’ll give it to you in big letters.” Is that closer to what Paul was saying here? Did God choose Paul to explain things to future Christians in “big letters?” Why is it necessary for us to have every word from God delivered so forcefully to us? Should we ever shrink from sharing a message from God or a messenger of God in “big letters?”
3. Circumcision again. Today we know that the surgical procedure known as circumcision has healthful benefits. Paul didn’t know that. Why was he fed up with the way early Christians boasted about the rite of circumcision in their spiritual life? Was Paul circumcised? Was he anti-circumcision? Do we ever get the cart ahead of the horse when we build up opinions about how holy and right something is that we do? Is there anything we can do or say or think that is evidence of how righteous we are?
4. The cross—boast or shame? Why was the cross in Paul’s time a symbol of shame? Imagine you’re of Jewish blood but have not accepted the Christ as God, and you see Jesus’ body fastened to the cross. Or you see a rough cartoon of the crucifixion posted for display. How do you feel? How can we, living so many hundreds of years after the cross, appreciate the shame and degredation symbolized by the cross? Do you display a cross in your church at Easter time? Do you know anyone who wears a cross as an ornament or displays a piece of art focusing on the cross? What possible dangers could there be to over-emphasizing the cross in a spiritual setting? Or are there any?
5. Justification by faith. Our lesson states that true religion is not rooted in external behavior but in the condition of the heart. Do you agree? Then why does religion seem to involve so much emphasis on what we do or refrain from doing? Does the Adventist church sometimes give the impression that we believe we are saved by our works? How can we counteract that impression? Do you think some people had the idea that Paul’s beliefs were based on works? Were they?
6. Follow the rule. Remember the song from kindergarten: “We’ll mind the rule of the Sabbath school?” Have you ever made anything from pieces of wood or metal? Did you cut or saw by memory or by the way you felt would be right? Or did you follow a plan, and measure your cuts accurately? Do you know how the rules of the Seventh-day Adventist church are determined and even challenged or changed? How rare is it that such changes are contemplated? Is it important for all of us to follow the rules we have determined through study, prayer, and vote to be the standards for our church?
7. The scars of service. Paul had a few scars on his body, maybe more than a few. How did he regard those reminders of bad treatment? Do Christians today suffer because of their faith in certain parts of the world? Do you and I get scars on our minds and our bodies from the life we live in a sinful world? How should we regard the scars of sin that persist even though we give our hearts totally to Jesus?