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Monday: Our Excuses: False Views — 16 Comments

  1. The author states:

    One common misunderstanding is that God’s desire for us is to focus on our own salvation and to remove ourselves from the wickedness of the world around us.

    When I was a child I went to a state school - there was no church school within 150km of where we lived. On Sabbath we went to church and I remember being scared spitless that I might run into one of my school friends on Sabbath and get contaminated with worldly things. We were different and separate from the rest of the world.

    I did not really think about this separateness until I was studying sociology at university. Our lecturer had spent some time teaching in a Hasidic Jewish school. He told of the mental anguish the students went through every time they joined another school for a combined sport or debating event. They were particularly concerned about how they would be able to perform their ceremonial hand-washing. Their ceremonial cleanliness was very important to them. The Hasidic Jews were quite separatist in their views and found interacting with others quite distressing.

    During this study, it occurred to me that the parallels between the Hasidic Jews and Seventh-day Adventists were a bit too close for my comfort and I embarked on a bit of soul-searching about how we as Seventh-day Adventists interact with others. The really important thing is that we need to understand that salvation is not about us; it's about them and if we are harbouring isolationist ideas about keeping ourselves clean so we can be saved, perhaps we need to rethink what salvation is. We should remind ourselves that Jesus came to us while we were yet sinners. He was not an isolationist.

    • I do believe that if we are to mingle with the world, we had better have a good relationship with the Lord on a daily basis. We had better have faith that God can keep us with an invisible hedge of protection from temptation, keeping us from falling. Yes of course we also need a good relation with God, ⁰0if we are in a temporary mode of separatism.
      1Corinthians 10:13.
      Psalms 125:1-2.
      Revelation 3:18.

      And our prayer daily will be:
      And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
      Matthew 6:13 NKJV

      Absolutly, He will grant our request if we believe.

      I do believe you are not advocating purposely going into situations of temptation, that would annul the Lord's prayer. Though in our pursuit of being in the world and not of the world, we may encounter temptations. Then we quickly send up a prayer quoting, 1Corinthians 10:13.

      Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.
      Luke 9:1 NKJV
      Don't you think He also gave them personal protection from the evil one?

      Let me add the author has it too. Winning souls is done by focusing on bringing blessings and hope to people we come in contact with. That is not so hard. Especially if we have the attitude of being used by the Holy Spirit rather than the opposite. Thanks Brendan and Sandra for your insight.

  2. I like the way that the author put an emphasis on the two misunderstandings that we seem to have. First, " even though we are to be unspotted from the world, we should still bring God's blessings to those who are truly in need." Secondly, the author is correct to state that " we need to cooperate with God in His work of saving souls. "

    • The idea of bringing (or taking) the message is the puzzle I have. The scripture states that we must be in the world, but not of the world. This to me means no seperation, just different. This is how the salt has its effect. So the light does not go under the bushell and comes out occasionally. Yes, but that is why we must claim Jesus' prayer in John 17:15,16. "I prayer not for you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil that is in the world".

  3. Winning souls is hard, too hard for humans to do on their own. How can we learn, instead, to let God win souls, but through us and our life and witness?

    I heed King Jesus' words in Matthew 4:19 KJV:
    "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

    Follow the way of King Jesus: "...learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart..." (Matthew 11:29 KJV).

    Authentic humility (as opposed to the charade of modesty that this world displays) is only possible through repentance and receiving The Holy Spirit (King Jesus in Matthew 4:17 KJV).

    He then makes us useful for productive work in His kingdom (Matthew 13:8 KJV).

    • Did anyone else find Jonah 1:12 strange or odd behavior for a prophet? At first he's asleep in the boat during a wild storm just like Jesus was. Then he was awakened and was made aware of the peril they all were in. Jonah knew he was the cause of the threat of death for the crew and yet he was not willing to do what he knew needed to be done to save them, not even when he seen their efforts to avoid doing the unthinkable to them. I immediately thought of Jesus and his great love for us even when he was faced with unspeakable fear. As always, He puts others before Himself.

        • Pastor William 🙂

          Your statement brings to mind King Jesus' words in Matthew 12:41 KJV :
          "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here."

          King Jesus' faith is perfect.

          WOW ! The people of Nineveh repented at Jonah's preaching; but the people in the time of Herod/Caesar refused to repent at King Jesus' preaching. That, to me, is absolutely amazing ! God, Himself, was in front of them & yet they refused to repent.

          King Jesus in Matthew 5:39 KJV : He did not resist their evil & they smote Him on His right cheek (meaning they most likely used their weaker left hand), He turned and gave them the left cheek & instead of repenting, they used their more powerful right hand & killed Him. They have no cloak for their sin.

          He is risen. Long live our King Jesus 🙏

  4. Indeed, we should not rely on our own strength and power to bring lost souls back to Jesus. Our role is to plant seeds of truth and not to save them. It is God's work!

    • So true Rodrigo. To often we believe that when God uses our time and talents in the process of winning souls for His kingdom, that somehow we are the ones who changed the person/s mind and converted them. Then we get puffed up and expect that we should receive honor and praise from others for the wonderful work we have done. Getting for ourselves bronnie points in heaven, so to speak. As a result there are times when we are used by God to reach out to others and they do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, that we have failed and we shy away from further calls upon us to make disciples for Jesus.

      We must understand that we are called upon by God to introduce others to Jesus, not convert them which is the express work of the Holy Spirit. When we understand this we will truly know the incredible privilege we are given by God to be involved in the great work of salvation, and will be motivated, by love, to point them to the one who can save them. This is our highest duty, and God blesses us in abundant ways(much more meaningful, than earthly applause) when we submit to His will for us.

  5. Have you been in a situation where it seems you were engulfed by it, with no possibility of finding the way out, and to be even more accurate, you realize that you are there because of your choices? I have, not only once. This was the case with Jonah inside the big fish.

    Am I feeling like inside of a big problem, and I can't get out? I need to claim to the Lord and I'm certain that He'll give me the best saving-life solution ever for this matter.

  6. Wow, this lesson has so many important points, too. Two in particular speak to me....

    (1) The Savior complex. This is an easy one for me to fall into. Pride is always trying to sneak into the picture and into my heart and thoughts. Yesterday. God called me to help my homeless friend. Washed her laundry at the laundromat, shampooed her hair with a jug of water, bought her some clean supplies, etc. Where she often shelters is on the step of a local "for sale" Methodist church, in front of a lit window of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was very moving to be His Hands scrubbing my "sister's" head with suds, the soapy water running out into the street, in front of this reminder of His presence. But Satan wants to creep in with thoughts of "What you're doing is so nice. Look at the people watching you, they're thinking you're so kind" etc. Towards the end of our time together she kept saying "why are you doing all this?" and I kept saying "because I love you and because you're my sister". I did say a short prayer with her before I left and have shared about Jesus before with her, but was thinking this morning that I wished I had said, like a Pastor friend has so often said to me, "You are precious to Jesus." Our love is really God's love and I want to keep pointing whatever is love coming from me to Him. Maybe Jesus sent His disciples out 2x2 in part for this reason too, ....to constantly remember that they are not Jesus, the one and only Savior, but that they are...that we are...cells in His Body. We are not alone in service. God is infilling people everywhere to spread His kingdom.

    2) The other important point, to me in this lesson, is the danger of removing ourselves too completely or vehemently from what we perceive as tainted with evil, or heresy. We know that sister Protestant churches are falling under the sway of uniting with Catholicism. In fact, many don't refer to themselves as "Protestant" anymore, but as "evangelical". We know that in the end times, the Papacy will rise up to more power and that Satan wants allegiances to flee to false doctrine about God, and then to a false Sabbath. Satan is prepping people to be lulled into a false unity under a false peace in troubled times.

    I say all this in background to what else happened for me yesterday. When I was done with my friend on the street, I walked up the hill to the Catholic church where a HUGE interfaith vigil was taking place in response to this past week'shooting massacre. This church is a Basilica, a multi-million dollar, recently restored, historic stone "fortress" with multiple steeples soaring above the city. (According to a website, “Basilica” is a status bestowed by Rome on a church, establishing a particular bond with the "Holy Father". Therefore, Basilicas have the responsibility to promote the study of the documents of the "Holy Father" and the "Holy See".)

    It was a beautiful service. People spilled out onto the streets which were all blocked, Red Cross was there, dozens of support dogs. It was an unprecedented event. I stood outside in a throng. I felt like I was back in OT Israel days. A rabbi spoke and sang the 23 Psalm in Hebrew, multiple area churches were represented and read from the Bible and acknowledged God and true hope in Him and offered their trauma services....I read in the paper they are raising money for the victims' funerals, buying Christmas gifts for their families, have their churches open round the clock for those who want to enter and pray.

    Here's my connection...If we are too afraid of "ecumenicalism" we will miss opportunities of how God is working through all true believers in all faith-communities. I see that Jesus would be, and is, where all true hearts are seeking Him, and line upon line, here a little there a little, He leads us into all truth. As Seventh-day Adventists, we should not join in doctrine with Catholicism and her daughter churches, but I don't think we need to isolate - or condemn the Spirit's working to soften hearts and minds to the gospel in an interfaith gathering - to keep the Truth pure. Jesus is the Truth, and He tells us He is where 2-3 are honestly gathered in His name. I believe that we can work side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in faith from other denominations and share Jesus, the Truth, and true understandings of Him from Scripture, as the Holy Spirit directs us to open hearts.

  7. Has not our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ demonstrated to all who follow Him that: ”there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus?” Gal.3:28. This could be expanded to include those who worship the same God but have different religious observances, rituals, peculiar attire, etc. Exclusivity breeds contempt, inclusivity establishes fellowship!

    When reading the study lesson texts, I notice that the word ‘we’ is used mostly in the context of the affiliation to the 7th Day Adventist church organization. The Word of God does not have a name ascribed to it to designate to whom it was given. It is given to all who believe in the Son of God to represent the Father’s Will.

    My Faith is simple - I use the word ‘we’ to refer to all Christians and have no apprehensions to break bread with those who might otherwise be shunned because they are ‘different’. The more ritualistic/behavioral ‘markers’ are established, the more barriers are erected to protect one’s ‘identity’ in this world. This makes it more difficult to interact with those not of the same ‘religious’ affiliation, but guided by the same spirit.

    Jesus did not have any identity-markers other then His inclusiveness to welcome all who came to Him. He did not find it necessary to promote Himself to establish that He is the Son of God; His love for all did the talking. Whenever He encountered ‘barriers’ toward allowing anyone to hear the Word of the Father to benefit from it, He broke them down to assure that everyone felt welcome to enter God’s Kingdom here on earth.

    • And yet, the same Christ said to all who follow Him that "“If you love me, keep my commands." While some markers that differentiate us from them ARE ritualistic/behavioral (perhaps veganism might be one of them or the adulation of Mrs. White) others are literally commanded (7th day Sabbath). Something differentiates the wheat from the chaff, those who enter the small gate from those who don't.

      While I don't believe these markers make us better than others, the desire for inclusion and references to inclusion have been troublesome to other communities in the past. Specifically, they allow for the 'world' to come in and change them. To allow 'the salt to lose its flavor'. While inclusion must be used when choosing to interact with the world, I think it *may* be a mistake to look at it as a reason to break down our identity as SDA believers.

      We should cooperate with God in doing His work, in planting His seeds. To do that with with those not of the same religious affiliation, I think we should simply treat this like we would when we have friends who are on the opposite end of any disagreement. This is simply an area where we disagree. Neither one of us is God. Neither one of is omniscient. Neither one of us is perfect. We are both struggling through this world and have our different outlooks on different things. The eye has a very different outlook than the hand. Perhaps I am wrong somehow. I am certainly not perfect and am very definitely struggling with my faith and my own walk. But some of the markers that I have that mark me as different are important in that they keep me from losing my savor to the world.

    • You are so so so right Brigitte 🙏

      I love your words: it is like listening to words directly out of the mouth of our King Jesus.

      May King Jesus' strengthen you further 🙏 🙂

    • Amen, Sis Brigitte, thank you for this comment! So important! The religious leaders of Jesus' day rejected His divinity and work among men (what a missed opportunity for shared mission work!) because they were so focused upon their superiority of doctrine and Scriptural understanding. Jesus said that they searched the Scriptures because they thought eternal life was there .... in correct theological interpretations and debates of an "us vs. them" nature...but that eternal life was in people coming to Jesus Himself in close relationship (He will lead into all truth Jn. 16:13), walking closely with Him in service, and loving in HIS name (Christ-ian), not in their own name. (John 5:39-44). Jesus says to seek the honor that comes only from God.


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