Further Study: Preserving Relationships
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“If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful(emphasis supplied), there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one. But, though professing to be converted, we carry around with us a bundle of self that we regard as altogether too precious to be given up. It is our privilege to lay this burden at the feet of Christ and in its place take the character and similitude of Christ. The Saviour is waiting for us to do this.”-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 189, 190.

“During His ministry, Jesus had kept constantly before the disciples the fact that they were to be one with Him in His work for the recovery of the world from the slavery of sin. . . . In all His work He was training them for individual labor, to be extended as their numbers increased, and eventually to reach to the uttermost parts of the earth.”-Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 32.

Discussion Questions:

 Discuss your answer to Monday’s final question. How can we avoid making the same kind of mistakes? Or are we in some cases making them even now?

  1. In Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 189 (see above) Ellen White identifies “self” as the barrier to both a more powerful outreach and more conversions among the lost. In what ways does “self” manifest itself in our lives? How can we learn to die to self? What is the only true way to be able to do that?
  2. The central focus of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:1920, NIV) is “make disciples.” Share some of your own experiences of being or making a disciple. To what degree is your own church discipleship oriented? How can it become more so?
  3. How can you explain to someone the “foolishness” of the cross? Why do you think Paul used that terminology? What should that tell us about how limited our understanding of reality can be when the most important of all truths is deemed “foolishness” by many?

Summary: In a mere three weeks, Paul had become intensely bonded to the new believers in Thessalonica. Not being able to return to them, he first sent Timothy. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, he also put his heart in two letters. Meaningful evangelism must not settle for mere acceptance of Christian beliefs. The whole life-physical, mental, and emotional-is involved in Christian faith.

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Further Study: Preserving Relationships — 1 Comment

  1. I would like to address the last two sentences under Question 1. "How can we learn to die to self? What is the only true way to be able to do that?" There are several texts that I believe answer this question. The main one that I am going to use is this:

    Therefore say to the house of Israel,`Thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.
    23 "And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.
    24 "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
    25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
    26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
    28 "Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. (Eze 36:22-28 NKJV)

    The first thing we need to see here is that it is essentially saying what Jesus said, "without Me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5 NKJV; see Eze 37). That is because of this question, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil" (Jer 13:23 NKJV). And this statement "we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isa 64:6 NKJV). Even Paul recognized this problem (Rom 2:1 consider the context; Rom 7:14-18). The problem is we can't do it ourselves!

    BUT the good news is that God can and is more than willing to do for us what we can't do for ourselves providing we comply with a few conditions. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6 NKJV). That means that we must have faith in Him and the new covenant that He desires us to accept, "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jer 31:33 NKJV) which is what the main text I use speaks of almost word for word especially Eze 36:28 that quotes the last part of this new covenant.

    Secondly, we must be willing to be molded; He is the potter and we are the clay (Isa 64:8; Jer 18:6; Lam 4:2). But if we refuse that work all the promises in the world are useless because He will not force the will for He is a God of freedom.

    Actually, much more could be said but if we would only keep these two main points in mind then, "with God all things are possible" (Mat 19:26 NKJV). First we must believe in the promises (2 Pet 1:4). Second, we must be willing to unlock the door to our hearts and let God in to do His good work in us (Rev 3:20). That means that we must choose to do His will and to follow His guidance for our's leads to death (Pro 16:25).

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