Friday: Further Study: Living Like Christ
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Further Study: Ellen G. White, The Good Samaritan, p. 497-505; and The Least of These My Brethren, p. 637-641, in The Desire of Ages.

studymoreAll around us are poor, tried souls that need sympathizing words and helpful deeds. There are widows who need sympathy and assistance. There are orphans whom Christ has bidden His followers receive as a trust from God. . . . They are members of God’s great household, and Christians as His stewards are responsible for them. Their souls, He says, will I require at thine hand. — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 386, 387.

It is not the greatness of the work which we do, but the love and fidelity with which we do it, that wins the approval of the Saviour. — Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places, p. 325.

Discussion Questions:

  1. At first sight, the parable of the sheep and the goats seems to teach that salvation is by works; that is, the more good works we do, the better our chances of getting into the kingdom of God. But the surprise of the saved ones shows that they did not demonstrate love in order to gain merits. Jesus clearly taught that eternal life is the result of believing in Him (John 3:15; John 6:40, John 6:47; John 11:25, 26). True loving deeds come from faith and love to God (Gal. 5:6). These deeds are the evidence, not the cause, of salvation. How can we endeavor to act in a loving manner while, at the same time, avoiding the trap of thinking that we are doing these things in order to earn our right to heaven? Why must we always distinguish between the fruit of salvation and the means?
  2. It’s one thing to love your enemies when they are nothing but annoying, unfriendly creatures; such as difficult coworkers, rude acquaintances, or ungrateful neighbors. That’s hard enough. But what about true enemies, people who have done you harm or who intended to do you or your family harm? How are we to love them? What consolation is there, if any, in the fact that we are not commanded to love them as thyself ?
  3. People can argue with us over our theology, doctrine, lifestyle, pretty much everything. But who can argue against unselfish, disinterested love? Unselfish love reveals a power that transcends rational or logical argument. How can we learn to express this love, no matter the cost to ourselves?

 

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Friday: Further Study: Living Like Christ — 6 Comments

  1. The three questions asked in this lesson are perhaps the three most important questions that can be asked of a Seventh-day Adventist and in my view the most important ones ever asked in a Sabbath School lesson.

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  2. After thinking about it for a while I think #1 needs some clarity and I am going to be brutally blunt about it. “You can have all the faith in the world concerning Jesus’ promises of salvation but if you choose to practice lawlessness there is no way you will be in Heaven.”

    On that James asks a very good question. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14 NKJV) to which he answers, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18 NKJV). He says that because Jesus basically said the same thing, “Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Mat 7:21-23 NKJV).

    Furthermore, Paul after listing the works of the flesh in Galatians ended by saying, “I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21 NKJV). John also says something similar, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 Jn 3:10 NKJV).

    The operative word in all of these verses is “practice.” It is the direction we consistently choose to go in that matters. We may fail and stumble on a daily basis but if we choose to do righteousness then God will honor that choice by saving us but if we consistently choose to rebel against the principles of His kingdom then we will have placed ourselves into outer darkness and end up being lost. It is that simple! So as others have said many times before “we cannot be saved by our works but we can be lost by them.”

    Like(3)
    • Brother Tyler. This continues to be an area that many Christians, even Seventh Day Adventists are confused about and baffled by. If our works do not save us, they do not condemn us either. In either case, our works simply reflect where our heart is, who/what we worship and who we surrender our will and our lives to (Christ or Satan). Rephrasing “righteousness by works” a thousand different ways doesn’t make it a reality. It is a falsehood espoused by many Jews and Christians alike. We are all condemned and if we refuse to accept Jesus by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we will continue to be condemned. It is only by believing in Him that we are spared from what we all deserve. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) only when we reject “the gift of God [which is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

      Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26) only because genuine faith in Jesus is manifested by good works (“fruits”), not as a means of salvation but as a result of salvation. So, as mentioned in question one, “These (loving) deeds are the evidence, not the cause of salvation.” In contrast, purposeful evil living (“works”) is the evidence of rejecting the salvation offered by Jesus, not the cause of doing so.

      A clean x-ray shows a person may be cancer-free and good works shows a person may be saved (through faith). In both cases the former is evidence for the latter but in neither case did the former cause the latter.

      Jesus is our only means to salvation. There is nothing we can do to improve on what He did for us. Our “fruits” and outward behaviors are simply the evidence of our faith in Jesus (or lack thereof) and our acceptance (or rejection) of Him as our Savior. It is this acceptance of Jesus (or rejection of Him) that will determine our final destiny.

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  3. The third and last question of item #2 under discussion questions might give the impression that not all enemies are equal as far as love is concerned. It may be a misprint. However we are commanded to love all enemies of every description as ourselves. There is no consolation to be found in categorizing enemies.

    This was precisely Jesus' point in the true story (not just a parable) of the Good Samaritan. There was a narrow view of who was to be considered neighbor. Jesus made it clear enemies are included. So "love thy neighbor as thy self."

    Like(4)
    • Good works are not the means of our salvation but just a measure of our relationship with the One we believe in.

      Like(0)
      • Nelson I understand what you are saying, but perhaps we need to be clear about who is measuring and why. :-)

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