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Thursday: Crossing a Line — 11 Comments

  1. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. Acts 17:34 KJV

    The end of the Areogopous meeting mentioned two groups; those who wanted to hear more at a later date and those who thought Paul was a babbler. But there is a postscript where two people are named as believers. The seed was sown and the Gospel would grow as men and women interacted together in the name of Jesus.

    I know that some of us would like to be like Paul, delivering an erudite Bible study that convinces people of the truthfulness of a risen saviour. But, after nearly two millennia where the Christian church has lived hypocritically, preaching love but delivering persecution and condemnation, the only way we are going to convince others of the risen saviour is to live with Jesus alive in us.

    We do not know what happened to Dionysius and Damarius after Paul left Athens. There are of course some traditions held by the Greek Orthodox Church. But we do know that After Paul had preached the resurrection of Jesus, these folk were charged with living a live that reflected the risen saviour. Their task is the same as ours.

    Paul puts it this way:

    You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s sheer genius, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. 1 Cor 2:1,2 MSG

    Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20 MSG

  2. To minister to others and for it to be beneficial to them, we need to do it in Jesus name. We need to be saved and have received the Holy Spirit.
    Jesus said: I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no man commeth to the Father but by Me.

  3. Our mission is to go and preach, teach, baptize, and make deciples. While doing this we are promised that Jesus will be with us, we will receive the Holy Spirit, and we will receive power.

    Paul himself had a personal encounter with Jesus, plus he received the Holy Ghost power because he brought back to life the boy who fell from the window and died.

    As Seventh-day Adventist, if we are to take the gospel to Muslims or to others from different religious beliefs, how do we demonstrate that our beliefs transcends human limitations? Are we to demonstrate that we have that power that Jesus promised? On the day of Pentecost when non-believers saw the demonstration of that power, thousands joined the church and accepted Jesus. Does God have the same expectations of us today? I believe he does!

    As a sabbath school class, we are allowed and encouraged to freely express our opinions on the lessons we have been studying. I enjoy it, and I have been truly blessed by it. However, I want more. I want to move beyond human limitations to the supernatural. Is there someone who has experienced this and willing to share it with me, and to use your spiritual gift for the edification of the church. I want this experience, I need it. Thank you.

    • I appreciate what you are saying Melvin, and I would like some of that too. But what I would like is tempered by the idea that God is the God of the natural as well as the supernatural.

      There is an interesting conclusion to the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus that is pertinent here:

      “But Abraham said, ‘The Scriptures have warned them again and again. Your brothers can read them any time they want to.’
      “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham, they won’t bother to read them. But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.’
      “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even though someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:29-31 TLB

      The key thought is that supernatural events do not necessarily do a lot of convincing.

      I have just written my comment on Friday's lesson and one of the ideas that I put forward is the notion that for some of us, the best supernatural event is for the risen Christ to be alive and well in our own lives in our day-to-day interaction with others.

  4. Here is a social media platform for open communication. Here is The (democratically and contemporary) Aeropagus, where anyone can read what is published! Although most don't want to spend time in this philosophical practice, this helps me organize myself and reflect on life's meaning and purpose. To achieve and improve a character may take some effort.

  5. Christians believe Jesus’ answer - “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” - John 14:5-7.
    This is what Paul attempted to explain to the Hebrews, the Athenians, and those of other religious persuasions as they came to hear him talk about the New Way - and this is what we can attempt to do as well.

    I have always been curious about different faiths and have personally experienced four settings of organized religion before joining the 7th Day Adventist family of believers.

    The world's 'marketplace of religions' offers a multitude of religions. After doing a bit of looking around the internet, I located a list describing ‘how’ their faith is expressed.
    I found that, except one, accept that there is a god; the one that is 'apathetic' toward religion does not care whether there is a god or a spirit at all.
    How many people of this persuasion live among us today - do you know one personally?

    Because I have met so many people of different backgrounds and religious persuasions, I consider it important to be prepared to address the 'why' and 'how' of our different believes.
    It is important to me to understand why the person decided to believe the way they do because I searched for the right one; potentially, our differences become a 'talking point/focus' in a sincere conversation comparing the one with the other for the purpose of persuasion.

    Following is a list for those interested to familiarize themselves with what is important to those not part of the 7th Day Adventist's persuasion:
    The atheist who believes that there is/are no god(s).
    The Nihilist who believes life has no meaning.
    The Secularist who believes that religion has no place in life.
    The agnostic who considers that there may or may not be a god, but is open to know more.
    The gnostic who believes that the God (or gods) we worship are in fact evil tricksters and that a secret knowledge is preventing us from the true God.
    The animistic who believes that all things contain spirits.
    The deist believes that there is a God who created life, but just watches and does not intervene.
    The theist believes in a higher power and at least one god.
    The polytheist believes in more than one god.
    The monotheist believes in a single God – i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
    An apostate is a person who left his/her religion.
    A miso-theist is a person who hates God or the gods.
    A person who believes that God or the gods are not totally good believes in Dustheism.
    - Macioism is the believe of a person who considers that God is a Demiurge and a wrathful, malicious evil creator [similar to Gnostic].
    - Eutheism is the believe in a totally good God.
    - Apatheism is a belief in God or spirits to be a non-issue; whether they exist or not makes no difference to their life or it’s never been considered.
    - Letsism is an unspecified belief in an undetermined transcended reality.
    - Dianetics – is a set of ideals and practices regarding the relationship between mind and body.
    The ‘Cult of the Supreme Being’ – was a form of deism established in France by Maximilien Robespierre during the French Revolution.
    The ‘Cult of Reason’ – was France’s first established state-sponsored atheistic religion, intended as a replacement for Roman Catholicism during the French Revolution.

    • That's a big long list of "isms" and "ists", Brigitte and I think that many of them are overlapping. The big "ism" that is affecting us all in secularism - religion just does not matter any more. The issue that I find most confronting is that some of us think that its not worth bothering to understand how to interact with secularists in a meaningful way. In that respect, some of what you have written in the first part of your comment is very pertinent to this discussion.

      • Maurice – thank you for your comment. Yes, I found most people not considering the need for the Christian religion are 'satisfied' with their secular world view because they do not understand the spiritual fundamentals of our faith. Their focus has been captured by the horrific past of the organized religion in the name of Jesus Christ and the abuses within the church or the immoral or unethical conduct of their leaders.

        It is very difficult for them to let this disposition go, as it provides a 'good' excuse for their 'independence' from religious thought. But if there is just a small flicker of 'interest/curiosity' left, if the person still quietely contemplates the purpose of life, the Holy Spirit will be able to fan the flame using our dedication ‘to help set the record straight’.
        Understanding and non-judgmental kindness, preparedness to educate/inform through sharing the basic Truth about our Lord and Savior and His mission will open the heart and change the mind of those still seeking after God.

    • Since this quarter's theme is accepting God's mission as our mission, a selected list of "isms" (there are many more!) is probably irrelevant, except as a reminder that there are many belief systems "out there."

      I don't think we have to be acquainted with these "isms" in order to engage with people with different beliefs. Paul spoke from his background of acquaintance with the beliefs of the people he spoke to. We can do the same... but ....

      I believe the most important action for us to open heart doors is to learn to listen better. If we listen and ask thoughtful, non-threatening questions, we will learn what people believe. And when we understand what people believe, we can focus on points of mutual understanding, which will provide a door to their souls. (In my experience, people subscribing to a particular "ism" often don't know much of what that "ism" teaches. Rather I have found much common ground.)

      Another consideration is that when a person feels listened to, they generally feel loved. And loving others is the basis of our mission.

      Interestingly enough, even a totally secular journal like Psychology Today sees "Listening as an Act of Love." Check out the article. I think most of us can learn from it to enable us to partake in God's mission as our mission.

      P.S. This is a reminder to myself. I know I need to listen better. How about you?

  6. Maurice, the concern that I have is Christian growth. In our discussions, the point has been made repeatedly, that a knowledge of the bible and all that God can do for us, is good, but it does nothing if we are not growing closer and closer to Christ each day. This Christian growth is beyond our ability. Only the Holy Ghost can do it for us. This is the power that Jesus spoke about. We could only get it if we hunger and thirst for it. When the Holy Ghost fills us, he will then use us as he chooses and when he chooses. We can only talk about this if we have experienced it.

    I have seen the Holy Spirit at work in casting out devils and healing the sick. I also acknowledge that it would be hard for some people to believe this even if they see it. However, my personal burning need is for more of what I read and experience for myself in the bible. I believe that when people see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in us, the Spirit will use it to draw other to him. I have seen it in individuals who are not from my church. For example, there was a lady from another religion who placed an X on the street and said that someone will die on that X later that day. Hours after she did it, a bus and a truck collided and a man who was in the bus was killed. Why can't we see such manifestations of spiritual gifts in our church? Is it because we know about it, but we don't believe it?


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