Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 1 Sabbath Afternoon
Read first paragraph,
“It’s not that hard to understand Saul of Tarsus (also known as the apostle Paul after his conversion), and why he did what he did. As a devout Jew who was taught all his life about the importance of the law and about the soon-coming political redemption of Israel, the idea of the long-awaited Messiah being ignominiously [deserving or causing public disgrace or shame] executed like the worst of criminals was just too much for him to tolerate.”
What would you say were the major doctrinal beliefs held by Saul of Tarsus?
- God as Creator?
- Mankind was in sin?
- A Messiah was Promised?
- The Jews were chosen by God as a special people to prepare for the Advent of the Messiah?
- The Sabbath was a special and holy day?
- Diet laws were to be obeyed?
- They were not to marry non-Jews?
- The Sanctuary was important in God’s plan to save humanity?
And what would Saul believe about law?
- That God imposed law and broken law required punishment?
- How would Saul then behave toward those who he saw breaking the law, if Saul wanted to act like the God he worshipped?
What group on earth today sounds like Saul—believes in and worships the Creator, that man is in sin, that a Messiah came, that God has a special end time people who are to prepare the world for the second advent, that the Sabbath is special, that diet is to be modified closer to God’s original design, that the sanctuary is important in God’s plan to save humanity? Would it not be the SDAs?
And what would you say most SDAs believe about God’s law? That it is imposed rules that require the rule giver to inflict punishment for breaking?
And what kind of theology is taught with that kind of law?
Was Saul able to do God’s work, fulfill God’s plan, as long as he operated on the imposed law concept?
What about the SDA church, or any Christian church, can we fulfill God’s plan for us at this time in human history if we are operating on the false law construct?
What method did Saul use in converting people? Coercion, force, intimidation—what method did Christians use in the Dark Ages?
What method do many evangelists use today? Your time is short, you could get hit by a bus and before long you will be tortured in hell if you haven’t accepted Jesus.
Remember I brought this evangelistic tool some use to class a few years back, it looks like a $1,000,000 dollar note and on the back it reads:
Here Is The Million Dollar Question: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test: have you ever lied, stolen, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If you have done these things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and the Bible warns that one day God will punish you in a terrible place called Hell. But God is not willing that any should perish. Sinners broke God’s Law and Jesus paid their fine. This means that God can legally dismiss their case: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death. Today, repent and trust Jesus, and God will give you eternal life as a free gift. Then read the Bible daily and obey it. God will never fail you.
What method is being employed? What law lens is being used? Can we as a church do God’s work when we present Satan’s view of God?
What method did Paul use after his conversion? Rom 14:5 “let every person be fully persuaded in their own mind.” Present the truth in love and leave others free!
What about God, what does God want from His intelligent creatures? Does God want our genuine love and trust? Can God get our love and trust by using threats of punishment?
Then what happens in the hearts and minds of people when church leaders teach that in the end God will use His power to torture and kill the wicked. That we need to repent or God will be required to kill us?
This idea is based on the false human law construct and undermines love and trust and prevents Christians from completing the mission of preparing the world for Christ’s return.
What we should be saying is, “We are dying of a terminal condition and if you don’t trust God, He will be unable to heal you—why? Because the healing is the transforming of your character, and the only way for your character to be transformed and you to remain you, is by your voluntary and willful participation.
Yes, God has the POWER to rewrite your mind and impose a perfect character in anyone, but to do so without that person choosing it, would erase that person’s identity and simply create a new individual.
You might ask, well why doesn’t God do that?
Parents, do any of you have children who have been disobedient, maybe even rebellious—if you had the power to erase their identity and put another person’s identity—another mind, a mind of a different person that would be obedient and loyal—into their body, would you do it? Why not? Because it wouldn’t be your child! And if your goal is to heal and save your child, such an act would destroy them anyway, so there is not point in doing such a thing.
Thus, God presents the truth in love and leaves us all free. But the false law construct has blinded billions into a legal religion with no power to save, and in fact, obstructs people from truly trusting God.
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