Whether someone has shared a secret with you, or you have some unique knowledge or skill, you feel special when you know things others do not. Some secrets are not to be shared, but sharing knowledge or skills is one of the greatest blessings in life. You are able to improve the lives of others by teaching them important things they do not know. The gospel is like that. God entrusts His message to you. What a blessing it is to share eternal life! Some of the message is understood without your help, but other parts rely on your explanation. Let's wade into our study of the Bible and learn more about sharing the law and gospel!
"Christ, the Law, and the Gospel"
May 31, 2014
Texts: Romans 7:7-12; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Matthew 7:24-27; Acts 10:34, 35; John 15:10; Ephesians 2:1
Have you noticed how we have to sift through all the bad news to find snippets of good news today?
For example, last week Sonya Gardner filled the bathtub in her Dallas home and attempted to drown her two small children, four-year-old Wizion and six-year-old Willow. That is horrible news! She later admitted to smoking marijuana laced with PCP and confessed to trying to drown the girls because they wouldn't stop asking for snacks. Ms. Gardner was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder.
The good news is that when Gardner's 18-year old son, Jeydesmon, heard the children's screams, he fired a gun into the air as a warning to his mother, kicked down the locked bathroom door, snatched the children from the tub, then took both girls to a neighbor's home. The sisters are now safe in foster care.1, 2
In another recent example, baby Skyler's birth mother abandoned her in a cemetery when she was just hours old. That's bad news! The anonymous mother called 911 to tell the dispatcher that she had left the infant under a pine tree in a cemetery.
Charlie Heslin heard the call come over the fire house scanner and immediately went to search for the baby. The outside temperature was below freezing. Heslin discovered a baby girl under a pine tree covered only in leaves. He took off his sweat shirt, wrapped the infant in it, and then handed her over to the medics.
Skyler was eventually adopted by Bonnie and Greg James. For years the couple had tried to find Charlie. The good news is that Bonnie found the name of the fire station where Charlie worked on Facebook just in time to call and invite him to surprise Skyler at her high school graduation. At her graduation party Skyler met the man who saved her life.3
In our Bible study this week we compare and contrast the law with the gospel of unmerited grace poured out by Jesus Christ. The law is like a mirror that illuminates sin - sins like murder and abandonment. The bad news is that we are getting desensitized to such atrocities because we see, hear, or read about someone being murdered or abandoned almost every day.
The good news is that God doesn't force us to obey. God knew that humans would be tempted by evil and would sin. To resolve this dilemma God sent Jesus to be a "sin offering" for us. Because of Jesus' death on the cross, when we confess our sins we are given undeserved grace and forgiveness.
God's law, coupled with grace, gives us evidence of Jesus' love for us and Jesus' desire to save us into an eternal kingdom. Like Skyler, soon we will be able to meet the One who saved our life.
Key Thought : God’s law, together with His grace, provides the focus of the gospel: God’s love for humanity and His desire to save us into His eternal kingdom..gless09-2014b
[Lesson Plan for Christ, the Law and the Gospel May 26, 2014]
1. Have a volunteer read Romans 7:7-12.
a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. What did Paul mean when he said he was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, he died?
c. Personal Application: How earnest are you in searching out your own mind in its thoughts that are counter to God’s law of love in confessing and repenting of them? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why did Paul speak of the tenth commandment about coveting to illustrate his point about not knowing sin but by the law? What was he saying?” How would you respond to your relative?
2. Have a volunteer read Acts 10:31-35.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. Why were Peter and the Jews so much against the Gentiles? If it were just their religion. Then why wouldn’t they accept them as converts?
c. Personal Application: How does a person deal with their own personal prejudices and preconceived notions of others? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “I don’t think God can reach those fundamental Muslims. All they want to do is kill Christians and Americans in the name of their religion. They don’t want to hear the gospel, they have their own way of salvation.” How would you respond to your neighbor?
3. Have a volunteer read John 1:17.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What law was given by Moses? Who wrote and spoke the Ten Commandments?
c. Personal Application: How much of the Torah (the law of Moses) do you think is applicable to us today? How much of it do you read and study? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your friends states, “I thought all the Scripture, including the law of Moses, was truth. So what is different between the truth of Scripture and the truth Jesus brought?” How would you respond to your friend?
4. Have a volunteer read Romans 1:16,17.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What does it mean to live by faith and not by sight?
c. Personal Application: If someone were to ask you what the gospel was, how would you respond to them? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.
(Note : “Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.” MH p. 149.
In reply to this post by Noey
Christ, the Law and the Gospel
Commentary for the May 31, 2014 Sabbath School Lesson
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? ...while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” Job 38:4,7 NIV
Have you ever listened to music and had it speak to your heart in such a way that everything seemed to go better for the rest of the day? Or have you ever heard a song that lifted your heart so much that you could not keep from singing along? Some songs, once you hear them, you can never get them out of your head. Perhaps there is a reason music has such a powerful influence on us. Maybe our reaction to music goes deeper than simply appreciating a catchy tune.
Even with no musical training, we can sense the discordancy of two people playing music together but in two different keys. If someone plays a song in E Minor on the piano and someone joins in on the cello in D Major, our nerves become irritated, and we do not enjoy the music. But when they both play in the same key the irritation resolves, and we can enjoy the music again.
Composers and song writers will sometimes use that tension creatively. They know that a minor key or even a minor chord can create feelings of sorrow, so they will compose the entire song in a major key and then shift to a minor chord just before the end. This creates a momentary tension that is quickly resolved by returning to the major chord at the end, making for a more interesting piece overall.
Because of our strong, innate response to music, some spend a great deal of time worrying that someone might be tempted to manipulate them through music, and some have even advocated avoiding music entirely for fear of the harm that they might suffer spiritually through its influence. However, one might wonder why we were created with such a strong affinity for music if it were indeed no more than a tool for evil manipulators.
Perhaps, instead, music is the fabric of creation and the very framework of all that exists. Music is everywhere in the Old Testament, from Moses and Miriam’s songs by the sea,[i] to David’s dance before the Ark of the Covenant,[ii] and even during the Babylonian captivity.[iii] As our verse at the top suggests, music was a part of Creation, and in the Book of Revelation, when the final victory takes place, there is music.[iv] Classical operas have translated the triumphs and tragedies of the human story to music. Even in modern times, whether we are speaking of folk ballads, rock operas, or the musicals of Broadway and Hollywood, we continue to view the story of our lives through music.
Who has not stood for Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” and not been swept away by the moment? Yet, we go through life, sometimes, feeling like a discordant note, not quite fitting in despite our best efforts to do so. Perhaps it is because the note never creates the harmony. While it participates in that harmony, it is the Composer who produces the matrix where each note may find its place in the overall music of the universe. The note may know everything about what kind of note it is, but is unable to explain the music surrounding it beyond knowing what “feels right” when harmony occurs.
Perhaps David understood this feeling when he wrote:
“How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.” Psalm 133:1-3, NIV
Some would have us believe that such unity is based on a lock-step obedience to the dictatorial whims of a god who behaves more like a petty tyrant than a loving Father who cherishes each of His babies as though they were little pieces of Him, little reflections of His own character. True, there are some parents who expect their children to be miniature adults almost from the moment they leave the womb. Our Puritan forbears would have approved of such a notion. However, there are also parents who understand children and that their childish foibles are simply a part of what all must experience to properly mature.
We can believe that God is transcendent, spanning all of time and space and has the ability to set limits to all matter so that nothing may reach the speed of a photon. Do we honestly believe that such a God is concerned when a child goes wading on Sabbath and gets a pant cuff wet so that the child must be punished? This diminishes God by so many orders of magnitude. Maybe most no longer make such judgments, but we still encounter those who think that their relationship with the God of the universe is dependent on whether or not they wear an ankle-length jumper dress and a head covering. It makes me wonder if they think God prefers plaids or solid colors. Lest men think they are somehow above this, there are those who think that wearing a shirt buttoned all the way up and suspenders is somehow holier dress. Lest we be tempted to laugh at them, maybe we should examine our own reasons for wearing what we do in church. In view of the Creation account in Genesis, chapters one through three, maybe the whole idea of clothing is a rabbit trail away from God’s original plan for us anyway.
There are also those find obedience to be performing certain rituals and feasts according to a precise formula derived from arcane texts interpreted by privileged religious leaders, in much the same way one would consult a grimoire to conjure up favorable results based on magical incantations and ceremonies. This also diminishes God to little more than a trained monkey who responds if we say the right words. It also can reduce us to the level of sycophants who would say or do anything to curry favor with someone with more power than our own. While we certainly should not make God so small, we also should not demean ourselves in such a manner either, as we are His creation.
The sad element in all of this is we cannot obey anyway.[v] The best we can do is to recognize that simple fact. Once we recognize that the compassion of God is our only hope for achieving harmony with Creation, we can begin to find our place in His musical composition. It is not about meeting some standard in order to be “saved.” It is a gift.[vi] We are invited by God to assume our proper place in His magnum opus. Just as a skilled musician will craft quarter notes, half notes, rests, sharps, and many other elements to produce a composition, so God has created each of us before birth[vii] with a special place in mind that we should fill in His composition, His great masterpiece of Creation.
We can refuse to participate in that harmony. This perhaps is the greatest proof that God is not the tyrant some would portray Him to be. But just as some more mortal musicians have discovered, without the right notes in the right places, dissonance ensues. We may drift from mishap shoals to fair-weather harbor, never understanding the forces that brought us to our varied destinations and always feeling anxious as though something soothing was just out of reach. This is perhaps because when we are created for a purpose, we do not feel fulfilled in our potential until that purpose is realized.
While some would see us in a yoke of obedience, marching side-by-side with our fellow oxen into oblivion with nary a joy or glint of personal happiness, Jesus told us of a light yoke.[viii] Could it be that yoke is light because it is no yoke at all, but simply an invitation to join the music already playing? The journey to Dour Mountain may be taking many further from the music as they plunge deeper into manufactured obedience to a standard that has always been unobtainable.
Some might say that we must attain perfect obedience prior to the Parousia. But human perfection negates the need for a Savior. It also is something Paul, the Apostle, apparently did not believe could be accomplished prior to that “great expectation.” For he wrote that only then would “this corruptible put on incorruption.”[ix]
We should perhaps also understand that the note does not dictate the composition. The Composer does. If we are an eighth note in a lengthy symphony, this does not give us authority to use our experience as a guide for others. If we went around telling every other note that the standard they should reach is to become a perfect eighth note, we could destroy the entire composition as whole notes, quarter notes, and others sought to become perfect eighth notes. The judgment of what a person needs to be to fill their place in the heavenly symphony is best left to the Composer, who with compassion and grace will invite each to be all they can be in the place prepared for them.
[i] Exodus 15:1-21
[ii] 2 Samuel 6:1-19
[iii] Psalm 137:1-3
[iv] Revelation 15:2-4
[v] Jeremiah 13:23, Romans 3:10
[vi] Romans 6:23
[vii] Jeremiah 1:5
[viii] Matthew 11:30
[ix] 1 Corinthians 15:53
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