A S T O R Y
“Is being a Christian easy or hard?” Mike asked.
“Easy,” said Ted. “If you love Jesus, then following Him is the easiest thing in the world to do.”
“But what if people poke fun at you or ignore you because you’re a Seventh-day Adventist Christian? Is that easy?”
“No, it isn’t. It hurts when people are mean to me because of my religion.”
“But you said that following Jesus is the easiest thing in the world to do.”
“Well, yes. Following Jesus is easy. Putting up with the mean people, that isn’t.”
“What about having fun on Sabbath? Is it easy staying home from games being played in the stadium at the college?”
“Well, the best games are usually on Saturday night. I wait until the sun gets close to setting and change my clothes. When that last sliver of sunlight slips below the horizon, I’m out the door. Sometimes it’s past halftime and I get in free. Other times I just get standing room near the front gate and watch from there. Sometimes I get kicked out.”
“You’re lucky to live so close to the stadium. Tell me something, Ted. If your pastor told you it was okay to go to games of football or basketball or other sports on Sabbath, what would you do?”
“I’d tell him he was wrong.”
“Aw, sure. You wouldn’t do that in a million days of moonlight.”
“Yes, I would. Plus I’d tell him he’s a false prophet.”
“You would not. A false what?”
“A false prophet. Like the ones of the Bible who pretended to represent God but didn’t.”
“And then what would happen?”
Ted shrugged. “I don’t know. But going against the false prophet would be easier than saying he was right when he was wrong.”
“And that’s why being a Christian is easy. Ted, you amaze me.”
1. Salvation by grace alone. How does the Old Testament teach salvation by grace alone? Who are some of the characters you know from reading the Bible who demonstrate this point? Do you think there was more emphasis on works in Old Testament times than there is today? Why do you think God put up with his disobedient people for so many years? Is He doing the same thing today? Are our sins of the twenty-first century easier to tolerate than they were 3,000 or so years ago?
2. Isaiah the man. Have you ever thought of Isaiah as a young man? A teenager? A youngster? How was attendance at religious services going when Isaiah came into prominence? What about prosperity for God’s people? Would it be appropriate to say, “Everything was coming up roses?” If not, why not? Why did God refuse to lavish praise on His people’s achievements instead of preparing to issue warnings? Did God choose Isaiah because of his sinless life? If not, why did God choose this young man to deliver stern warnings and conditional promises to His people? How did Isaiah feel about being called by God for this task? Even so, he said “Yes, I will go.” Why? Would you go if you received a direct call from God? Anywhere?
3. Worship with God. How often do you sense the presence of God in the church service? Do you wave your hands slowly from side to side or bow your body to the floor to acknowledge this presence? Would it be wrong for you to do so? Why or why not? Are there less visible ways to show your reverence to God in His sanctuary? How can we teach our young children how to be reverent? Can they also sense God in the church where you worship?
4. Pleasing God. What pleases God most—Our generous offerings? Our faithful attendance? Our study of the details of being a twenty-first century Christian? Our attention to the vital truths we hold dear? Or the love we show to our brothers and sisters within our families, the church and outside? Think about what it must have been like in Old Testament times. As an Old Testament believer, would you want to do the right thing? Would you be generous in your financial support? How would you feel if God were to speak to you and say, “Your offerings are worthless! I’ve had it up to here with your sacrificial giving”? Does God ever feel that way about us modern-day Christians? Does He ever get sick and tired of the way we pretend to worship Him?
5. For nothing? Have you learned recently that someone close to you is dying? How long will that person be remembered after his or her death? What difference did that person make in the world? The church? The school? The family? What about you? What great accomplishment have you achieved during your years on earth? Suppose you live in a lovely five-bedroom home with spacious and well-kept gardens. What will happen to your home when Jesus comes? Did you build or purchase that home for nothing? Is there anything you can build and develop that is worth something in eternity? Describe and discuss.
6. The temple of the Lord. Would you say that the Children of Israel were proud of their temple? Why did Jesus [cause Jeremiah to] chant the words, “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” in a manner that could be seen as sarcastic? The lesson author says these were “deceptive words” but not in a negative way. Do you agree? What might an angel say in your church if he heard a member say, “I have accepted the truth. I’ve been in the truth for seventy years. We must spread the truth.” Can you imagine Jesus chanting with tears in His voice, “The truth, the truth, the truth.”
7. What is truth?