Fear and Trembling

Troubled times have come upon the Earth.

Far more than we do, we need to understand the issues at stake in the conflict in which we are engaged. We need to understand more fully the value of the truths that God has given for this time and the danger of allowing our minds to be diverted from them by the great deceiver.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 312.

During the COVID 19 pandemic of the past few months, different voices from even the most unlikely individuals have been heard predicting that a spiritual awakening would come out of this experience. It is quite common for humanity to cry out to God in times of trial. However, too often when the trial is over, those who cried to God in their despair easily forget the experience and soon return to life as usual.

As believers and students of the word of God, we know that prophecy is fulfilling. We believe and proclaim the messages of the three angels of Revelation 14 and that we need to prepare ourselves for that blessed hope of the glorious appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. We must not forget what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day [the day of His return] many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ did we not prophecy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me… .”

Do you not agree that those would be the most startling and tragic words spoken to anyone thinking that they were going to be taken to heaven with Jesus? The apostle Paul admonished in his epistles that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, that we must continue to cultivate and press to complete the goal, not trusting to self or shrinking back from whatever might discredit our profession of faith. “

You have to talk faith, you have to live faith, you have to act faith, that you may have an increase of faith; and thus exercising that living faith you will grow to strong men and women in Christ Jesus. SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1121 Jesus said “Abide in Me.” We must strive to keep our lamps filled with the oil of the Spirit. Are we indeed acting like the wise virgins that have awakened at the message (sounds) that the Bridegroom is coming? How well are you “working out” your salvation, friend? The Lord expects every believer to exercise the gift of faith.

The worldwide scale of this pandemic most certainly captured the attention of many with thoughts of whether some prophetic occurrence was taking place and asking questions like “Are we on the verge of more troubled times?” Others are just happy thinking it will soon be a thing of the past.

“You have to talk faith, you have to live faith, you have to act faith, that you may have an increase of faith; and thus exercising that living faith you will grow to strong men and women in Christ Jesus (MS 1, 1889).” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1121.

There are too many who are striving to obey all of God’s commandments who have little peace and joy. Why should this lack even exist in the Christian’s experience? This lack is the result of a failure to exercise true faith, to maintain regular communion with the Father, and of not fortifying the mind with God’s word and not meditating on the words of life. Although the enemy works tirelessly to discourage us, we must keep our eyes on Him who is true and faithful, remembering that grace and peace are multiplied through knowing the lovely Jesus, as it is our privilege to know Him. Too many habitually dial their earthly acquaintances or a “prayer partner” and pour into human ears their woes. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“It is the real, vital essence of Christianity to grasp the unseen by faith, reaching out constantly to lay hold of the spiritual efficiency found in Christ.” Christ Triumphant, 53.

“When in trouble, when assailed by fierce temptations, [Christians] have the privilege of prayer. What an exalted privilege! Finite beings, of dust and ashes, admitted through the mediation of Christ, into the audience-chamber of the Most High. In such exercises the soul is brought into a sacred nearness with God, and is renewed in knowledge, and true holiness, and fortified against the assaults of the enemy.” An Appeal to Mothers, 24.

The Lord is coming. Through the agitations in the physical world, in the strivings of men and nations, we hear the footsteps of an approaching God. He comes to punish the world for its iniquity. That is why the Lord said “Watch and pray.” We are to prepare the way for Him by acting our part in preparing a people for that great day.

“A storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it?” Testimonies, vol. 8, 315.

As the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12).

The choices we make today in this life to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live righteously in this present world, are what will determine if we receive either eternal life or eternal death. How many who know the truth for this time are working in harmony with the principles of the gospel?

“If today we would take time to go to Jesus and tell Him our needs, we should not be disappointed.” The Desire of Ages, 363.

“Day by day, God instructs His children. … It is the issue of the daily test that determines their victory or defeat in life’s great crisis.

“Those who fail to realize their constant dependence upon God will be overcome by temptation.” Ibid., 382.

In His Steps In His Steps July – August 2020 Article

by John Grosboll Director of Steps to Life

Co-authored by Hilde Nunez Contributing Editor

Bible Study Guides – The Church and Its Youth

August 23 – 29, 2020

Key Text

“It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27).

Study Help: Messages to Young People, 173–175.

Introduction

“The Lord calls for young men and women to enter His service. The youth are receptive, fresh, ardent, hopeful. When once they have tasted the spirit of self-sacrifice, they will not be satisfied unless they are learning constantly of the great Teacher.” Our High Calling, 306.

Sunday

OUR FIRST DUTY

  • Whom did Jesus commend as examples of humble faith? Matthew 18:1–6.
  • What did Jesus ask of one of His most ardent disciples? John 21:15–17.

Note: “The first work that Christ entrusted to Peter on restoring him to the ministry was to feed the lambs. This was a work in which Peter had little experience. It would require great care and tenderness, much patience and perseverance. It called him to minister to those who were young in the faith, to teach the ignorant, to open the Scriptures to them, and to educate them for usefulness in Christ’s service.” The Desire of Ages, 812.

“Although Peter had denied his Lord, the love which Jesus bore him never faltered. Just such love should the undershepherd feel for the sheep and lambs committed to his care. Remembering his own weakness and failure, Peter was to deal with his flock as tenderly as Christ had dealt with him.” Ibid., 815.

  • What searching question will parents, educators, and church leaders of today face? Jeremiah 13:20.

Monday

THE HIGHEST WORK

  • What is the highest missionary work that can be done? Mark 10:13, 14, 16.

Note: “Very much has been lost to the cause of truth by a lack of attention to the spiritual needs of the young. Ministers of the gospel should form a happy acquaintance with the youth of their congregations. …

“Why should not labor for the youth in our borders be regarded as missionary work of the highest kind? It requires the most delicate tact, the most watchful consideration, the most earnest prayer for heavenly wisdom. The youth are the objects of Satan’s special attacks; but kindness, courtesy, and the sympathy which flows from a heart filled with love to Jesus, will gain their confidence, and save them from many a snare of the enemy.” Gospel Workers, 207.

“The work that lies next to our church members is to become interested in our youth; for they need kindness, patience, tenderness, line upon line, precept upon precept. Oh, where are the fathers and mothers in Israel? There ought to be a large number who would be stewards of the grace of Christ, who would feel not merely a casual but a special interest in the young. There ought to be those whose hearts are touched by the pitiable situation in which our youth are placed, and who realize that Satan is working by every conceivable device to draw them into his net.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 41, 42.

“Nothing is of greater importance than the education of our children and young people. The church should arouse and manifest a deep interest in this work; for now as never before, Satan and his host are determined to enlist the youth under the black banner that leads to ruin and death.” Ibid., 165.

  • How did Jesus show the value of children? Matthew 18:2–4.

Note: “Calling a little child to Him, Jesus set him in the midst of them; then tenderly folding the little one in His arms He said, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3). The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values. These are the characteristics of real greatness.” The Desire of Ages, 437.

Tuesday

HOW TO FEED LAMBS

  • What should children be taught? Psalm 34:11. How should this be done?

Note: “Special talent should be given to the education of the little ones. Many can put the crib high and give food to the sheep, but it is a more difficult matter to put the crib low and feed the lambs.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 205.

“Let me say here that those who have never had children of their own are not usually the best qualified to manage wisely the varied minds of children and youth. They are apt to make one law, from which there can be no appeal. Teachers must remember that they themselves were once children. They should adapt their teaching to the minds of the children, placing themselves in sympathy with them.” Ibid., vol. 5, 653, 654.

  • What spiritual experience should teachers have, and how should they then instruct the children? Deuteronomy 11:18–21.

Note: “When Jesus admonished His disciples not to despise the little ones, He addressed all disciples in all ages. His own love and care for children is a precious example for His followers. If teachers in the Sabbath school felt the love which they should feel for these lambs of the flock, many more would be won to the fold of Christ. At every suitable opportunity, let the story of Jesus’ love be repeated to the children. In every sermon let a little corner be left for their benefit. The servant of Christ may have lasting friends in these little ones, and his words may be to them as apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 76.

“The management and instruction of children is the noblest missionary work that any man or woman can undertake. By the proper use of objects the lessons should be made very plain, that their minds may be led from nature up to nature’s God. We must have in our schools those who possess the tact and skill to carry forward this line of work, thus sowing seeds of truth.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 205.

  • What will be the results of faithfulness in educating? Proverbs 22:6; Joel 1:3.

Wednesday

MAKING CHRISTIAN EDUCATION A PRIORITY

  • What was the work of Christ? How is this also the work of the church? Isaiah 40:11.

Note: “The youth need more than a casual notice, more than an occasional word of encouragement. They need painstaking, prayerful, careful labor. He only whose heart is filled with love and sympathy will be able to reach those youth who are apparently careless and indifferent. Not all can be helped in the same way. God deals with each according to his temperament and character, and we must cooperate with Him. Often those whom we pass by with indifference, because we judge them from outward appearance, have in them the best material for workers, and will repay all the efforts bestowed on them. There must be more study given to the problem of how to deal with the youth, more earnest prayer for the wisdom that is needing in dealing with minds.” Gospel Workers, 208.

  • What should guide education for the youth? Proverbs 9:10.

Note: “It is high time for Sabbath-keepers to separate their children from worldly associations and place them under the very best teachers, who will make the Bible the foundation of all study.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 109.

“Employ a Christian teacher, who, as a consecrated missionary, shall educate the children in such a way as to lead them to become missionaries.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 174.

“Many families who, for the purpose of educating their children, move to places where our large schools are established, would do better service for the Master by remaining where they are. They should encourage the church of which they are members to establish a church school where the children within their borders could receive an all-round, practical Christian education. It would be vastly better for their children, for themselves, and for the cause of God if they would remain in the smaller churches, where their help is needed, instead of going to the larger churches, where, because they are not needed, there is a constant temptation to fall into spiritual inactivity.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 198.

“The Lord would use the church school as an aid to the parents in educating and preparing their children for this time before us. Then let the church take hold of the school work in earnest and make it what the Lord desires it to be.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 167.

Thursday

YOUTH IN SERVICE

  • What goal must our church schools have for each of our youth? Isaiah 54:13; 3 John 3, 4.

 Note: “Our church schools are ordained by God to prepare the children for this great work. Here children are to be instructed in the special truths for this time and in practical missionary work. … By them God’s message will be made known and His saving health to all nations. Then let the church carry a burden for the lambs of the flock. Let the children be educated and trained to do service for God, for they are the Lord’s heritage.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 203.

  • Why should we involve them in service early? Ecclesiastes 12:1; Lamentations 3:27.

Note: “We need young men and women, who, having high intellectual culture, are fitted to do the best work for the Lord. We have done something toward reaching this standard, but still we are far behind that which the Lord has designed. As a church, as individuals, if we would stand clear in the judgment we must make more liberal efforts for the training of our young people, that they may be better fitted for the various branches of the great work committed to our hands. …

“Some would be content with the thorough education of a few of the most promising of our youth; but they all need an education that they may be fitted for usefulness in this life, qualified for places of responsibility in both private and public life.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 206, 207.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    What does it mean to feed the lambs of the flock?

2    Why is the most important missionary work often overlooked?

3    How can we improve in the care of our children and youth?

4    What role does the church school have in the church’s work of education?

5    What opportunities can I help provide for training youth in my local church?

© 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – Guidance for Home Educators

August 16 – 22, 2020

Key Text

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).

Study Help: Child Guidance, 17–25, 119–136.

Introduction

“What the parents are, that, to a great extent, the children will be. The physical conditions of the parents, their dispositions and appetites, their mental and moral tendencies, are, to a greater or less degree, reproduced in their children.” The Ministry of Healing, 371.

Sunday

TEACHING THEM DILIGENTLY

  • What responsibility rests on parents as the first educators of children? Deuteronomy 6:6–9.

Note: “As a preparation for teaching His precepts, God commands that they be hidden in the hearts of the parents. ‘These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart,’ He says; ‘and thou shalt teach them diligently’ (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). In order to interest our children in the Bible, we ourselves must be interested in it. To awaken in them a love for its study, we must love it.” Education, 187.

  • Who was instrumental in establishing the faith of Timothy? 2 Timothy 1:5. What vital role do mothers play in every facet of education?

Note: “Especially does responsibility rest upon the mother. She, by whose lifeblood the child is nourished and its physical frame built up, imparts to it also mental and spiritual influences that tend to the shaping of mind and character.” The Ministry of Healing, 372.

Monday

LOCATION OF THE HOME

  • With the examples of Abraham and Lot before us, what considerations should take precedence in the choice of a home? Genesis 13:11, 12.

Note: “In choosing a home, God would have us consider, first of all, the moral and religious influences that will surround us and our families. …

“Instead of dwelling where only the works of men can be seen, where the sights and sounds frequently suggest thoughts of evil, where turmoil and confusion bring weariness and disquietude, go where you can look upon the works of God. Find rest of spirit in the beauty and quietude and peace of nature. …

“The home of our first parents was to be a pattern for other homes as their children should go forth to occupy the earth. … The blue heavens were its dome; the earth, with its delicate flowers and carpet of living green, was its floor; and the leafy branches of the goodly trees were its canopy. Its walls were hung with the most magnificent adornings—the handiwork of the great Master Artist. In the surroundings of the holy pair was a lesson for all time—that true happiness is found, not in the indulgence of pride and luxury, but in communion with God through His created works.” The Adventist Home, 131, 132.

  • What choice of location did John the Baptist make in view of his mission? Matthew 3:1.

Note: “John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, received his early training from his parents. The greater portion of his life was spent in the wilderness. … It was John’s choice to forego the enjoyments and luxuries of city life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial.” The Adventist Home, 133.

“There is not one family in a hundred who will be improved physically, mentally, or spiritually, by residing in the city.” Country Living, 13.

“Parents can secure small homes in the country, with land for cultivation where they can have orchards and where they can raise vegetables and small fruits. … God will help His people to find such homes outside of the cities.” Medical Ministry, 310.

Tuesday

THE CHILD’S FIRST SCHOOL

  • Whom has God ordained to be the child’s first teachers? Proverbs 1:8.

Note: “Parents should be the only teachers of their children until they have reached eight or ten years of age. As fast as their minds can comprehend it, the parents should open before them God’s great book of nature. The mother should have less love for the artificial in her house and in the preparation of her dress for display, and should find time to cultivate, in herself and in her children, a love for the beautiful buds and opening flowers. By calling the attention of her children to their different colors and variety of forms, she can make them acquainted with God, who made all the beautiful things which attract and delight them. She can lead their minds up to their Creator and awaken in their young hearts a love for their heavenly Father, who has manifested so great love for them. Parents can associate God with all His created works. The only schoolroom for children from eight to ten years of age should be in the open air amid the opening flowers and nature’s beautiful scenery. And their only textbook should be the treasures of nature. These lessons, imprinted upon the minds of young children amid the pleasant, attractive scenes of nature, will not be soon forgotten.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 137.

“In His wisdom the Lord has decreed that the family shall be the greatest of all educational agencies. It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school.” The Adventist Home, 182.

  • What counsel should encourage parents to educate their own children as long as possible? Psalm 34:13, 14.

Note: “Some fathers and mothers are so indifferent, so careless, that they think it makes no difference whether their children attend a church school or a public school. ‘We are in the world,’ they say, ‘and we cannot get out of it.’ But, parents, we can get a good way out of the world, if we choose to do so. We can avoid seeing many of the evils that are multiplying so fast in these last days. We can avoid hearing about much of the wickedness and crime that exist.” The Adventist Home, 406.

“Neither the church school nor the college affords the opportunities for establishing a child’s character building upon the right foundation that are afforded in the home.” Child Guidance, 170.

Wednesday

LESSONS OF RESPONSIBILITY AND INDUSTRY

  • How are parents to educate their children in order to best prepare them to be responsible adults? Proverbs 22:6.

Note: “Children as well as parents have important duties in the home. They should be taught that they are a part of the home firm. They are fed and clothed and loved and cared for; and they should respond to these many mercies by bearing their share of the home burdens and bringing all the happiness possible into the family of which they are members.

“Let every mother teach her children that they are members of the family firm and must bear their share of the responsibilities of this firm. Every member of the family should bear these responsibilities as faithfully as church members bear the responsibilities of church relationships.

“Let the children know that they are helping father and mother by doing little errands. Give them some work to do for you, and tell them that afterward they can have a time to play.

“Children have active minds, and they need to be employed in lifting the burdens of practical life. … They should never be left to pick up their own employment. Parents should control this matter themselves.” The Adventist Home, 282.

“Allow them to help you in every way they can, and show them that you appreciate their help. Let them feel that they are a part of the family firm. Teach them to use their minds as much as possible, so to plan their work that they may do it quickly and thoroughly.” Child Guidance, 126.

  • What character trait is essential for usefulness? Proverbs 22:29.

Note: “One of the surest safeguards of the young is useful occupation. Children who are trained to industrious habits, so that all their hours are usefully and pleasantly employed … are in little danger of forming vicious habits or associations. …

“Habits of industry and thoroughness will be an untold blessing to the youth in the larger school of life, upon which they must enter as they grow older.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 122, 123.

Thursday

A SACRED WORK

  • How does the Bible describe the sacred work of heads of families? Psalm 128; Isaiah 8:18.

Note: “Parents, you carry responsibilities that no one can bear for you. As long as you live, you are accountable to God to keep His way. … Parents who make the word of God their guide, and who realize how much their children depend upon them for the characters they form, will set an example that it will be safe for their children to follow.” The Adventist Home, 187.

“After the minister has done all he can do for the church by faithful, affectionate admonition, patient discipline, and fervent prayer to reclaim and save the soul, yet is not successful, the fathers and mothers often blame him because their children are not converted, when it may be because of their own neglect. The burden rests with the parents; and will they take up the work that God has entrusted to them, and with fidelity perform it?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 495.

“Do not depend upon the teachers of the Sabbath school to do your work of training your children in the way they should go. The Sabbath school is a great blessing; it may help you in your work, but it can never take your place. God has given to all fathers and mothers the responsibility of bringing their children to Jesus, teaching them how to pray and believe in the word of God.” The Adventist Home, 189.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    Why are parents considered the primary educators of children?

2    How is the environment of the home related to the work of education?

3    What are the potential results of young children spending every day away from home?

4    How is the home education central to usefulness for the rest of your life?

5    Why are some parents tempted to blame the church for their own failures?

© 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – To Be a Teacher

August 9 – 15, 2020

Key Text

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Study Help: Education, 275–282.

Introduction

“Teachers are to watch over their students as the shepherd watches over the flock entrusted to his charge. They should care for souls as they that must give an account.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 65.

Sunday

QUALITIES OF A TEACHER

  • To what should the teacher direct the students? 1 Corinthians 11:1.

 Note: “Teachers are to do more for students than to impart a knowledge of books. Their position as guide and instructor of youth is most responsible; for to them is given the work of moulding mind and character. Those who undertake this work should possess well-balanced, symmetrical characters. They should be refined in manner, neat in dress, careful in all their habits; and they should have that true Christian courtesy that wins confidence and respect. The teacher should be himself what he wishes his students to become.” The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1900.

  • What spiritual experience is needed? Deuteronomy 10:12.

Note: “Every educator should daily receive instructions from the Great Teacher, and should labor constantly under His guidance. It is impossible for him rightly to understand or to perform his work, unless he shall be much with God in prayer. Only by divine aid, combined with earnest, self-denying effort, can he hope to fill his position wisely and well.” The Review and Herald, September 22, 1885.

Monday

BEING EQUIPPED TO TEACH

  • What should be the attitude of a teacher toward the Word? For what purpose? 1 Peter 2:2.
  •  What should the leaders in God’s church seek from God? Psalm 145:15. What should they do with this?

 Note: “Because they [those who are watching for the Lord] know that the Lord is at the door, their zeal is quickened to co-operate with the divine intelligences in working for the salvation of souls. These are the faithful and wise servants who give to the Lord’s household ‘their portion of meat in due season’ (Luke 12:42). They are declaring the truth that is now specially applicable.” The Desire of Ages, 634.

“Our standing before God depends, not upon the amount of light we have received, but upon the use we make of what we have. Thus even the heathen who choose the right as far as they can distinguish it are in a more favorable condition than are those who have had great light, and profess to serve God, but who disregard the light, and by their daily life contradict their profession.” Ibid., 239.

  • What was the example of the Bereans in searching the Scriptures? Acts 17:11.

Note: “Oh, that those who minister in holy things would awake, and, like the noble Bereans, search the Scriptures daily! Brethren in the ministry, I entreat of you to study the Scriptures with humble prayer for an understanding heart, that you may teach the way of life more perfectly. Your counsel, prayers, and example must be a savor of life unto life, or you are unqualified to point out the way of life to others.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 343.

“Men, women, and youth, God requires you to possess moral courage, steadiness of purpose, fortitude and perseverance, minds that cannot take the assertions of another, but which will investigate for themselves before receiving or rejecting, that will study and weigh evidence, and take it to the Lord in prayer.” Ibid., 130.

Tuesday

MENTAL PREPARATION FOR TEACHING

  • What should we ask God to grant us in preparation for sharing truth with others? Colossians 1:9, James 1:5.

Note: “Set aside a portion of each day for a study of the Scriptures and communion with God. Thus you will obtain spiritual strength, and will grow in favor with God. He alone can give you noble aspirations; He alone can fashion the character after the divine similitude. Draw near to Him in earnest prayer, and He will fill your hearts with high and holy purposes, and with deep, earnest longings for purity and clearness of thought.” Gospel Workers, 100.

“Ministers who would labor effectively for the salvation of souls must be Bible students and men of prayer. It is a sin to be neglectful of the study of the Word while attempting to teach it to others. Those who feel the worth of souls realize that too much is at stake for them to dare to be careless in regard to their advancement in divine knowledge, and they flee to the stronghold of truth, whence they may obtain wisdom, knowledge, and strength to work the works of God. They will not rest without an unction from on high.” Ibid., 99.

  • What danger do those face who do not make appropriate preparation and who are spiritually unstable? 2 Peter 3:16.

 Note: “Some who enter the ministry do not feel the burden of the work. They have false ideas of the qualifications of a minister. They think that it requires little close study of the sciences or of the word of God in order to gain a fitness for the ministry. Some who are teaching present truth are so deficient in Bible knowledge that it is difficult for them to quote a text of Scripture correctly from memory. By blundering along in the awkward manner that they do, they sin against God. They wrest the Scriptures, and make the Bible say things that are not written therein.

“Some think that an education or a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures is of little consequence if only a man has the Spirit. But God never sends His Spirit to sanction ignorance. He may and does pity and bless those who are so situated that it is impossible for them to obtain an education; and sometimes He condescends to make His strength perfect in their weakness. But it is the duty of such to study His word.” Gospel Workers, 105, 106.

Wednesday

MEETING OPPOSITION

  • By what symbols does Jeremiah tell us that we need to be prepared for competitive and opposing forces in our work for the Lord? Jeremiah 12:5.

Note: “Those who do not love to study, are ever in great danger of becoming dwarfs in spiritual and mental growth. They consider that they have a moderate understanding of Scripture subjects, and they cease to investigate, cease to plow deep that they may obtain all the treasures of knowledge possible. Instead of cultivating studious habits, they yield to inclination, and are content to skim the surface, without going with energy to the bottom of the question under consideration. Those who have this superficial manner of study would not be prepared to meet an opponent in discussion should one oppose them. They penetrate only deep enough into a subject to meet the present emergency, and to conceal the real ignorance of their lazy minds.” The Review and Herald, April 6, 1886.

“The Holy Spirit’s work is to guide into all truth. When you depend on the word of the living God with heart and mind and soul, the channel of communication will be unobstructed. Deep, earnest study of the word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will give you fresh manna, and the same Spirit will make its use effectual. … Those who make persevering efforts in this direction, putting the mind to the task of comprehending God’s word, are prepared to be laborers together with God.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 163, 164.

  • What spiritual lesson can we learn from David’s refusal to use Saul’s armor to meet Goliath? 1 Samuel 17:39.

 Note: “Young men should search the Scriptures for themselves. They are not to feel that it is sufficient for those older in experience to find out the truth; that the younger ones can accept it from them as authority. …

“No man should be relied upon to think for us. No matter who he is, or in what position he may be placed, we are not to look upon any man as a criterion for us. We are to counsel together, and to be subject one to another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us, in order to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 109, 110.

Thursday

MAKE THEM YOUR OWN

  • What inspiring example was left by Ezra the scribe? Ezra 7:10.

Note: “In order to make full proof of their ministry, those who open the word of God to others should search the Scriptures diligently. They should not be content to use other men’s thoughts, but should dig for truth as for hid treasures. While it is perfectly right to gather ideas from other minds, they should not be satisfied to take those ideas and repeat them in a poll-parrot manner. Make these ideas your own, brethren; frame the arguments yourselves, from your own study and research. Do not borrow the productions of other men’s brains and pens, and recite them as a lesson; but make the most of the talents, the brain power, that God has given you.” The Review and Herald, April 6, 1886.

“By rising early and economizing their moments, ministers can find time for a close investigation of the Scriptures. They must have perseverance, and not be thwarted in their object, but persistently employ their time in a study of the word, bringing to their aid the truths which other minds, through wearing labor, have brought out for them, and with diligent, persevering effort, prepared to their hand. There are ministers who have been laboring for years, teaching the truth to others, while they themselves are not familiar with the strong points of our position. I beg of such to have done with their idleness. It is a continual curse to them. God requires them to make every moment fruitful of some good to themselves or to others. ‘Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord’ (Romans 2:11). ‘He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster’ (Proverbs 18:9).” Testimonies, vol. 2, 500.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    What should a teacher be in order to best fill his position? How does he achieve this?

2    How did the Bereans find “meat in due season”? How can we?

3    What habits must be cultivated by those who teach others?

4    Why must we study deeply for ourselves in order to be able to teach?

5    How can we improve the quality of our teaching in every department?

© 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – The Foundation of True Education

August 2 – 8, 2020

Key Text

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Study Help: Education, 123–127.

Introduction

“The Word of God presents the most potent means of education, as well as the most valuable source of knowledge, within the reach of man.” The Review and Herald, September 25, 1883.

Sunday

GOD’S WORD TO YOU

  • How does God communicate with humanity? Amos 3:7; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.

 Note: “As an educating power the Bible is without a rival. In the word of God the mind finds subject for the deepest thought, the loftiest aspiration. … It lights up the far-distant past, where human research seeks vainly to penetrate. … In the reverent contemplation of the truths presented in His word the mind of the student is brought into communion with the infinite mind.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 596.

  • What are some qualities of Scripture? 2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 12:6, 7.

 Note: “God did not leave His Word to be preserved in the memories of men and handed down from generation to generation by oral transmission and traditional unfolding. Had He done this, the Word would gradually have been added to by men. … Let us thank God for His written word.” The Upward Look, 52.

“The Bible is the most instructive history that men possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and a divine hand has preserved its purity through all the ages.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 596.

Monday

UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE

  • To what is the Bible likened? Psalm 119:105.

Note: “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.” The Great Controversy, 595.

  • How is the Word explained? Isaiah 28:10; Luke 24:27; Matthew 4:4.

Note: “No one with a spirit to appreciate its teaching can read a single passage from the Bible without gaining from it some helpful thought. But the most valuable teaching of the Bible is not to be gained by occasional or disconnected study. Its great system of truth is not so presented as to be discerned by the hasty or careless reader. Many of its treasures lie far beneath the surface, and can be obtained only by diligent research and continuous effort. The truths that go to make up the great whole must be searched out and gathered up, ‘here a little, and there a little’ (Isaiah 28:10).” Education, 123.

“Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he [William Miller] compared scripture with scripture by the aid of the marginal references and the concordance. He pursued his study in a regular and methodical manner; beginning with Genesis, and reading verse by verse, he proceeded no faster than the meaning of the several passages so unfolded as to leave him free from all embarrassment. When he found anything obscure, it was his custom to compare it with every other text which seemed to have any reference to the matter under consideration. Every word was permitted to have its proper bearing upon the subject of the text, and if his view of it harmonized with every collateral passage, it ceased to be a difficulty. Thus whenever he met with a passage hard to be understood he found an explanation in some other portion of the Scriptures.” The Great Controversy, 320.

Tuesday

SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES

  • What should we do constantly with the Bible? John 5:39.

Note: “In searching the Scriptures you are not to endeavor to interpret their utterances so as to agree with your preconceived ideas, but come as a learner to understand the foundation principles of the faith of Christ.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 25.

  • As workers for God, how are we to prepare ourselves to deeply understand His word? 1 Peter 3:15.

 Note: “Not alone in searching out truth and bringing it together does the mental value of Bible study consist. It consists also in the effort required to grasp the themes presented. The mind occupied with commonplace matters only, becomes dwarfed and enfeebled. If never tasked to comprehend grand and far-reaching truths, it after a time loses the power of growth. As a safeguard against this degeneracy, and a stimulus to development, nothing else can equal the study of God’s word. As a means of intellectual training, the Bible is more effective than any other book, or all other books combined.” Education, 124.

“The close application of those Hebrew students [Daniel and his companions] under the training of God was richly rewarded. While they made diligent effort to secure knowledge, the Lord gave them heavenly wisdom. The knowledge they gained was of great service to them when brought into strait places. The Lord God of heaven will not supply the deficiencies that result from mental and spiritual indolence. When the human agents shall exercise their faculties to acquire knowledge, to become deep-thinking men; when they, as the greatest witnesses for God and the truth, shall have won in the field of investigation of vital doctrines concerning the salvation of the soul, that glory may be given to the God of heaven as supreme, then even judges and kings will be brought to acknowledge, in the courts of justice, in parliaments and councils, that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the only true and living God, the author of Christianity, the author of all truth, who instituted the seventh-day Sabbath when the foundations of the world were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted together for joy.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 374, 375.

Wednesday

ADVANCING LIGHT

  • How does God continue to reveal new light to His people? Proverbs 4:18.

Note: “Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. … Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 34.

  • What are we to do with the light we have? 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

 Note: “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 196.

“Many know so little about their Bibles that they are unsettled in the faith. They remove the old landmarks, and fallacies and winds of doctrine blow them hither and thither.” Evangelism, 362.

“No line of truth that has made the Seventh-day Adventist people what they are is to be weakened. We have the old landmarks of truth, experience, and duty, and we are to stand firmly in defense of our principles, in full view of the world.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 17.

“When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No aftersuppositions, contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. … One will arise, and still another, with new light which contradicts the light that God has given under the demonstration of His Holy Spirit.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 31, 32.

  • What preparation do we need for the gospel work? Hebrews 5:11–14.

Note: “We must, through fervent prayer and deep and earnest research, become established and settled, rooted and grounded in the faith, and know, each for himself, that we have the truth. If we are thus established, we shall not depart from the faith when tested and tried, as some have done.” The Review and Herald, September 4, 1888.

Thursday

STUDYING TOGETHER

  • What kind of educational environment do we want to encourage in the Sabbath school? 2 Timothy 2:15.

 Note: “Our Sabbath schools are nothing less than Bible societies, and in the sacred work of teaching the truths of God’s word, they can accomplish far more than they have hitherto accomplished.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 9.

“If you are called to be a teacher in any branch of the work of God, you are called also to be a learner in the school of Christ. If you take upon you the sacred responsibility of teaching others, you take upon you the duty of going to the bottom of every subject you seek to teach. If you present a subject from the word of God to your pupils in the Sabbath school, you should make the reasons for your faith so plain that your scholars shall be convinced of its truth. You should diligently search and compare the evidences of the word of God on messages that He sends to the church, that you may know what is truth, and be able to direct those who look to you into the way of righteousness.” Ibid., 31.

“Those who have entered upon the work of teaching, or who have been called to any position of responsibility, should not be satisfied to take the product of the researches of other minds, but they should investigate truth for themselves. If they do not form the habit of investigating themes of truth for themselves, they will become superficial in their life and acquirements. … You should examine the truths you have been led to believe, until you know that they are without a flaw.” Ibid., 33.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    Why was it so important that the Word of God be written down?

2    How are we to study to arrive at an understanding of Bible truth?

3    What mental and spiritual benefits are to be derived from deep Bible study?

4    How does God continue to teach His people?

5    How can we improve our church educational environment?

© 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – The Great Educator

July 26 – August 1, 2020

Key Text

“And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as One that had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22).

Study Help: Education, 73–83.

Introduction

“He [Jesus] was a Teacher, such an educator as the world never saw or heard before. He spake as one having authority, and yet He invites the confidence of all.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 138.

Sunday

JESUS’ EARLY LIFE

  • How does the Bible describe Jesus’ early life? Luke 2:40, 52.

Note: “He who came from heaven to be our example and teacher spent thirty years as a member of the household at Nazareth. Concerning these years the Bible record is very brief. No mighty miracles attracted the attention of the multitude. No eager throngs followed His steps or listened to His words. Yet during all these years He was fulfilling His divine mission. He lived as one of us, sharing the home life, submitting to its discipline, performing its duties, bearing its burdens.” The Ministry of Healing, 349.

  • How is Jesus’ humble reputation as a carpenter an example to every young person? Matthew 13:54–56.

Note: “It is in His home life that He [Jesus] is the pattern for all children and youth. The Saviour condescended to poverty, that He might teach how closely we in a humble lot may walk with God. He lived to please, honor, and glorify His Father in the common things of life. His work began in consecrating the lowly trade of the craftsmen who toil for their daily bread.” The Desire of Ages, 74.

Monday

THE EDUCATION OF JESUS AND JOHN THE BAPTIST

  • What was meant in the question asked about Jesus’ education? John 7:15.

Note: “The question asked during the Saviour’s ministry, ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?’ does not indicate that Jesus was unable to read, but merely that He had not received a rabbinical education (John 7:15). Since He gained knowledge as we may do, His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures shows how diligently His early years were given to the study of God’s word.” The Desire of Ages, 70.

“His education was gained from Heaven-appointed sources, from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures, from nature, and from the experiences of life—God’s lesson books, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing hand, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart.” The Ministry of Healing, 400.

  • Why did Jesus and John the Baptist not attend the schools of their day? Matthew 15:9.

Note: “Our Saviour did not encourage any to attend the rabbinical schools of His day for the reason that their minds would be corrupted with the continually repeated, ‘They say,’ or, ‘It has been said.’ Why, then, should we accept the unstable words of men as exalted wisdom, when a greater, a certain wisdom is at our command?” Testimonies, vol. 8, 310.

“No one was regarded as qualified to be a religious teacher unless he had studied in the rabbinical schools, and both Jesus and John the Baptist had been represented as ignorant because they had not received this training.” The Desire of Ages, 453.

“Christ came to demonstrate the value of the divine principles by revealing their power for the regeneration of humanity. He came to teach how these principles are to be developed and applied.

“With the people of that age the value of all things was determined by outward show. As religion had declined in power, it had increased in pomp. The educators of the time sought to command respect by display and ostentation. To all this the life of Jesus presented a marked contrast. His life demonstrated the worthlessness of those things that men regarded as life’s great essentials. Born amidst surroundings the rudest, sharing a peasant’s home, a peasant’s fare, a craftsman’s occupation, living a life of obscurity, identifying Himself with the world’s unknown toilers—amidst these conditions and surroundings—Jesus followed the divine plan of education. The schools of His time, with their magnifying of things small and their belittling of things great, He did not seek. His education was gained directly from the Heaven-appointed sources; from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures and of nature, and from the experiences of life—God’s lesson books, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing hand, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart.” Education 77.

  • What example did John give in his preaching and lifestyle? Matthew 3:1–4.

Note: “It was his [John’s] choice to forgo the enjoyments and luxuries of life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial. Uninterrupted by the clamor of the world, he could here study the lessons of nature, of revelation, and of Providence.” The Desire of Ages, 101.

Tuesday

THE MASTER TEACHER

  • What was the effect on the people of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 7:28, 29.

Note: “Jesus had nothing to do with the various subjects of dissension among the Jews. It was His work to present the truth. His words shed a flood of light upon the teachings of patriarchs and prophets, and the Scriptures came to men as a new revelation. Never before had His hearers perceived such a depth of meaning in the word of God.” The Desire of Ages, 253.

“Christ sought to remove that which obscured the truth. The veil that sin has cast over the face of nature, He came to draw aside, bringing to view the spiritual glory that all things were created to reflect.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 18, 19.

  • What effect did Jesus’ method of education have on the disciples? Acts 4:13.

Note: “For three years and a half the disciples were under the instruction of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known. By personal contact and association, Christ trained them for His service. Day by day they walked and talked with Him, hearing His words of cheer to the weary and heavy-laden, and seeing the manifestation of His power in behalf of the sick and the afflicted. Sometimes He taught them, sitting among them on the mountainside; sometimes beside the sea or walking by the way, He revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Wherever hearts were open to receive the divine message, He unfolded the truths of the way of salvation. He did not command the disciples to do this or that, but said, ‘Follow Me.’ On His journeys through country and cities, He took them with Him, that they might see how He taught the people. … They saw Him in every phase of life.” The Acts of the Apostles, 17, 18.

“When He sent forth the Twelve and afterward the Seventy, to proclaim the kingdom of God, He was teaching them their duty to impart to others what He had made known to them. 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.” Ibid., 32.

Wednesday

JESUS’ METHODS OF TEACHING

  • In what surroundings did Jesus teach His hearers? Matthew 5:1, 2. How did He make use of familiar things?

Note: “Jesus sought an avenue to every heart. By using a variety of illustrations, He not only presented truth in its different phases, but appealed to the different hearers. Their interest was aroused by figures drawn from the surroundings of their daily life. …

“Divine wisdom, infinite grace, were made plain by the things of God’s creation. Through nature and the experiences of life, men were taught of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 21, 22.

“As Jesus taught the people, He made His lessons interesting and held the attention of His hearers by frequent illustrations from the scenes of nature about them.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 38.

“When the Lord was training Israel to be the special representatives of Himself, He gave them homes among the hills and valleys. In their home life and their religious service they were brought in constant contact with nature and with the word of God. So Christ taught His disciples by the lake, on the mountainside, in the fields and groves, where they could look upon the things of nature by which He illustrated His teachings. And as they learned of Christ, they put their knowledge to use by co-operating with Him in His work.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 24.

  • What special teaching technique did Jesus often use? Matthew 13:34, 35.

Note: “In Christ’s parable teaching the same principle is seen as in His own mission to the world. That we might become acquainted with His divine character and life, Christ took our nature and dwelt among us. Divinity was revealed in humanity; the invisible glory in the visible human form. Men could learn of the unknown through the known; heavenly things were revealed through the earthly; God was made manifest in the likeness of men. So it was in Christ’s teaching: the unknown was illustrated by the known; divine truths by earthly things with which the people were most familiar. …

“Natural things were the medium for the spiritual; the things of nature and the life-experience of His hearers were connected with the truths of the written word.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 17.

Thursday

JESUS’ USE OF THE SCRIPTURES

  • How did Jesus choose to enlighten the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? Luke 24:25–27.

Note: “Beginning at Moses, the very Alpha of Bible history, Christ expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Had He first made Himself known to them, their hearts would have been satisfied. In the fullness of their joy they would have hungered for nothing more. But it was necessary for them to understand the witness borne to Him by the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Upon these their faith must be established. Christ performed no miracle to convince them, but it was His first work to explain the Scriptures. They had looked upon His death as the destruction of all their hopes. Now He showed from the prophets that this was the very strongest evidence for their faith.” The Desire of Ages, 796–799.

  • How did Jesus constantly direct attention back to the Scriptures? John 5:39; 17:17; Luke 16:31.

Note: “Christ’s work as a teacher of truth was in marked contrast to that of the rabbis of His time. They dwelt upon traditions, upon human theories and speculations. Often that which man had taught and written about the word, they put in place of the word itself. Their teaching had no power to quicken the soul. The subject of Christ’s teaching and preaching was the word of God. He met questioners with a plain, ‘It is written.’ ‘What saith the Scriptures?’ ‘How readest thou?’ ” Christ’s Object Lessons, 38, 39.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    How did the world’s greatest Teacher spend His early life on earth?

2    Would Jesus or John the Baptist attend the schools of today? Explain.

3    How did Jesus’ teaching differ from the popular teachers of His day?

4    Describe some of Jesus’ methods of teaching and illustrating truth.

5    Why was it vital for Christ to establish the disciples’ faith in God’s Word?

© 2019, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Recipe – Creamy Cantaloupe Ice Cream

Cantaloupe!

What a yummy summer fruit! “Cantaloupe is truly a high-volume food. An entire large melon has only 277 calories, way less than most desserts, and more than most people can eat at one sitting. About 90 percent of the melon is water. But that water in the melon goes a long way toward filling you up. Water in foods seems to do this more than water that you drink alongside foods. Hence melons and soups do a better job of appetite control than solid food plus a glass of water. No one really knows why.

“But cantaloupe is not a great food just because it’s high-volume and low-calorie. It is also a potassium and vitamin A heavyweight. One cup of melon cubes gives you a whopping 427 mg of potassium (not to mention a little calcium and magnesium).

“Many studies show that people who eat potassium-rich foods have lower rates of heart disease and stroke. Potassium is also a key component in maintaining healthy blood pressure. … There is vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which are plentiful in cantaloupe. Though a lot of people know about the role of vitamin A in vision and growth and bone development, what is not as well known is how terrific it is for the immune system. I consider it one of the best immune-system boosters around.” Excerpts from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, 103, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Recipe – Creamy Cantaloupe Ice Cream

Ingredients

¼ of a whole cantaloupe

1 banana

Process

Cut the banana and the cantaloupe (remove the skin and seeds) in pieces and freeze overnight.

Pulse or blend frozen banana and cantaloupe pieces until completely smooth.

Enjoy the ice cream!

Life Sketches – Almost Persuaded

There are many people who have lost their lives because of religious prejudice and persecution. One of the reasons that the Puritans and Pilgrims came to America was to escape the religious persecution in Europe and other parts of the world.

After Paul had appealed to Caesar, Festus told him that he would go to Rome, but some time remained before arrangements could be made.  During this intervening time, King Agrippa, the last of the Herod kings visited Festus to learn about Paul’s case.

The Bible says, “After some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: ‘There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. To them I answered, “It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.”

“ ‘Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.’

“Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I also would like to hear the man myself.’ ‘Tomorrow,’ he said, ‘you shall hear him.’ So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. And Festus said: ‘King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving [worthy] of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him’ ” (Acts 25:13–27).

King Agrippa needed a compelling charge in order to send Paul to Rome to stand before Caesar, but he was at a loss because no crime had been committed. So, why is it that people have such hatred that they want innocent people convicted when no crime has been committed?

The Jews, denying Jesus’ claim that He was “the light of the world” (John 8:12) and it was He alone who bore witness of Himself, “… said to Him, ‘Where is Your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also’ ” (verse 19).

It is interesting that these were the religious leaders of God’s chosen people, yet Jesus said they did not know either Him or His Father. The Jews greatly protested against this, saying, “ ‘Abraham is our Father.’  Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father’ ” (verses 39–41, first part).

Though the Jews may have been physical descendants of Abraham, spiritually they were not his children. Vehemently, “Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it’ ” (verses 41, last part–44).

Jesus said they were being influenced by their spiritual father, doing the deeds of the devil, who is the one who stirs up religious persecution and prejudice. Later in private, Jesus gave the warning to His disciples. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (John 16:1–3).

Religious persecution comes from people who claim to be following God, but in fact are following an imposter—a different God. The Bible describes that imposter as the god of this world. Claiming to be followers of the Prince of Peace, they follow him who is an accuser of the brethren from the beginning.

No official could find any wrong in the conduct of the apostle Paul. In fact, as you read the account from beginning to end, you find that Lysias found nothing, Felix found nothing, Festus found nothing, and neither could Agrippa find anything in Paul’s conduct worthy of imprisonment. When Paul is sent to Caesar, Caesar himself could find no reason to charge him; so finally he was set free.

Intrigued by Paul, King Agrippa wanted to hear the apostle’s story. Agrippa was a transgressor of God’s law, corrupt in his heart and his life, but he wanted to hear Paul’s story and gave him an opportunity to speak.

You may wonder if during that time Agrippa ever thought about the history of his own family and of their fruitless efforts against the One of whom Paul preached. Did he think about his great-grandfather, Herod, and the massacre of the innocent children of Bethlehem? Did anything pass through his mind about his great uncle, Antipas, and the murder of John the Baptist? Did he think about his own father, Agrippa I, who was responsible for the martyrdom of the apostle James? Did he think of the disasters which speedily befell these kings, in evidence of God’s displeasure because of their crimes against His servants? Did he think about the time when his own father, a monarch who was more powerful than he, stood in that very same city, in glittering robes, giving a speech that was such powerful oratory that the people shouted, “This is a god, not a man” (Acts 12:22)?

Had he forgotten how, before the admiring shouts had even died away, that vengeance, swift and terrible, had befallen the vain-glorious king who died a miserable death under the justice and judgment of God? Did he think of any of these things? This was Agrippa’s one best chance to be saved.

The Bible says that Jesus is the true light that enlightens everyone that comes into the world. But many people ignore the opportunity that they have. “Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You are permitted to speak for yourself.’ So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee’ ” (Acts 26:1–5). Agrippa knew exactly what the apostle Paul was talking about because he also had been instructed in all the laws and customs of the Jews.

Paul said, “ ‘And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign [strange] cities’ ” (verses 6–11).

Paul had never seen Christ while He dwelt on earth as a man. He had heard about Him and did not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He could not believe that the Creator of all the worlds, the One who upheld the universe, the giver of all blessings, could appear on earth as a mere man. He had looked for the Messiah to come in robes of majesty just as the rest of the Jews had hoped. He expected the Deliverer to be attended with pomp and proclaimed to be the Messiah by a host of angels.

But later he discovered that he had misread the Scriptures and that the Old Testament prophecies predicted the Messiah would come as a humble man, preaching the word of life with gentleness and humility. Jesus came to awaken the noblest impulses in the soul of man, to satisfy man’s earnest spiritual longings, and to crown the work and warfare of life with infinite reward. Paul had looked for a Messiah to deliver the Jewish nation from the bondage of foreign kings, but he found that Christ came as a Saviour from the bondage of sin. As a Jewish Pharisee, his life had been to him a blind and baffling conflict, an unequal battle with a fever of unsatisfied desires. So it is with many people today. When he met Christ on the Damascus road his longings were satisfied, his fears were banished, and his burdens were lightened. He had found Him of whom Moses and the prophets had written. And he said to King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead” (verse 8)?

Not only has God proved that He could raise the dead, but there is the promise in Scripture that if you follow Jesus, even if you should die, at the last day you will be raised up. Paul then gave the most lengthy and detailed description of his conversion. This is one of the most exciting stories in the Bible. He said, “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (verses 12–23).

As he spoke, Festus, who was not versed in the prophecies of the Old Testament or the Jewish religion, had no concept of what Paul said and consequently thought Paul was insane. “Now as he … made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’ But Paul said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner’ ” (verses 24–26).

Paul then turned directly to Agrippa and asked if he believed the prophets (verse 27). For a moment the king lost his self-composure and almost involuntarily spoke the longing of his heart. He had listened to the truth and was convinced that it was so. “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’ ” (verse 28). Many wealthy, powerful people have been in this same position and made a similar reply.

It is a scary thing to be almost persuaded. The evidence Paul presented was so powerful and overwhelming that King Agrippa could not contradict the truth. But he also knew that to become a Christian would require him to confess and repent of all of his sins and make things right with his fellow men. Like so many today, he thought that would be too humiliating. How many millions of people will be lost in the final Day of Judgment who have known the truth but turned away from it.

Felix said he would wait for a more convenient time. Agrippa was almost persuaded to become a Christian. But consider this: if you are almost persuaded, in the end you will be totally lost.

So many on the Day of Judgment will be almost saved. They almost decided to become a Christian and a disciple of Jesus Christ but not quite, because it requires confession and repentance of sins that they find too humiliating to admit.

In heaven there will be people who are guilty of murder and all manner of terrible sins, but will be saved because they were willing to repent and confess their sins and to the greatest extent possible, make things right. The Bible says, “… when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live” (Ezekiel 33:14–16).

How it is with you? The question is not what you have done wrong in the past but are you willing to repent? Repentance means heart felt sorrow for sins you have committed. Confession means you are sorry enough that you confess those sins and make right every transgression that you can. That may mean restore what you have stolen, whether you risk going to jail or whatever the consequence may be, so that you can have eternal life. Agrippa was convicted and was almost, but sadly, not quite willing to take the next step.

Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:29).  Paul was not almost, but altogether a Christian. He had made his decision to follow the Lord all the way. The decision you make determines your destiny.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Almost Persuaded

“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.”

“Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are ling’ring near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wand’rer, come!

“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last!
“Almost” cannot avail;
“Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
“Almost”— but lost!

Philip P. Bliss, 1871.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Health Nugget – Short on Protein?

On becoming a vegan, I was convinced that processed foods and meats were not the best for the body. I was challenged by family members who consistently said I would die if I did not eat meat. But, after much research and realizing that the meat industry had convinced many that a meatless diet would be devastating to health, I was quite satisfied with my decision and have been much blessed ever since.

I share the following excerpt to help those who may still have fears of not getting enough protein. This answers the question: Where do I get protein?

Body’s Protein Needs

“In sickness and in health one of the most important functions of our body is to rid itself of poisons constantly building up from the breakdown of food being digested. There are four ways the body has to get rid of these poisons: the lungs, the skin, the bowels, and the kidneys. At each of these exit stations the body uses water as the doorman. Even the lungs use water to rid the body of the gaseous waste, carbon dioxide. You can tell that it is so by breathing on your glasses or mirror and you will see the drops of water. What does water and the body’s need for it have to do with protein?

“In the breakdown of protein the body produces urea, which is moved out of the blood by the kidneys. The more protein consumed the greater the need the body has for water to remove the urea produced as a result. Dr. Nathan Smith, professor of Athletic Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, likes to talk school athletes out of their protein habits. Energy can be more efficiently handled when it comes from complex carbohydrates like whole grains than from protein sources found in products of animal origin.

“A number of years ago in Haiti thousands of children were suffering from a protein deficiency disease called Kwashiorkor. After being weaned, the babies were given starchy diets poor in protein and the mortality rate for children under four years of age was 50%. To meet the crisis they initiated an instruction program of three handfuls of grain to one handful of beans. As a result the protein deficiency was halted and eradicated from the island. Thanks to the understanding of medical science, a crisis was halted and lives were saved. But now we are faced by another dangerous problem of too much protein.

“The fear of not having enough protein has led us to the opposite problem of too much protein. Even the false idea is presented that we need a certain kind of protein that can be obtained only from animal sources and that vegetable proteins are incomplete. There are populations around the world that eat 4% of their total calories as protein and these proteins are plant proteins.

“Science indicates that the 100-plus grams a day protein intake of the average non-vegetarian American puts a tax on the liver and kidneys, triggers a loss of calcium from the bones, and also leaves behind a toxic residue which before being eliminated often damages the body and thus makes it more susceptible to a variety of diseases, including cancer and arthritis.

“The question of how much protein the body needs varies from person to person, but the recommendation from the National Research Council is 46 grams for the ladies and 56 grams or 2 ounces for the men. These figures have been inflated by 30–50% because of allowing a margin of safety.

“Adequate protein is easily available from a vegetarian diet. Here is a list of a few foods and the amount of protein they contain:

1 cup pinto beans – 15 grams

1 baked potato – 5 grams

1 cup asparagus – 5 grams

2 slices of bread – 6 grams

1 cup broccoli – 6 grams

1 cup of green peas – 8 grams”

 Country Kitchen Collection, 44, 45, Family Health Publications, 1992.

By looking at the few items listed above, it would be very hard to have a protein deficiency.

Question – What is the “faith of Jesus” in Revelation 14:12?

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

“The third angel’s message is the proclamation of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ. The commandments of God have been proclaimed, but the faith of Jesus Christ has not been proclaimed by Seventh-day Adventists as of equal importance, the law and the gospel going hand in hand. I cannot find language to express this subject in its fullness.

“ ‘The faith of Jesus.’ It is talked of, but not understood. What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the third angel’s message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus.” Selected Messages, vol. 3, 172.

“There are clear, decided distinctions to be restored and exemplified to the world in holding aloft the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The beauty of holiness is to appear in its native luster in contrast with the deformity and darkness of the disloyal, those who have revolted from the law of God. Thus we acknowledge God, and recognize His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and throughout His earthly dominions. His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world; and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. … The loyal and true bear the credentials of heaven, not of earthly potentates. All men shall know who are the disciples of Christ, chosen and faithful, and shall know them when crowned and glorified as those who honored God and whom He has honored, bringing them into possession of an eternal weight of glory.” Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, 207.