Persecutor of Christians
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 1 Sunday
The first paragraph points out that Saul was involved in the stoning of Stephen—holding the coats of those who stoned Stephen.
How did Stephen act during his stoning? “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Acts 7:60
What do you see manifested in Stephen’s response? Is this the character of a sinful human beings or the character of Jesus? Do you see in Stephen that the survival of the fittest principle has been removed and God’s design of love has been restored! Is this a demonstration of Bible perfection? Not perfect behavior, but perfect trust in God such that we love others more than self?
When perfection comes up, those in the legal model immediately get anxiety, focus on deeds, behavior, and teach theologies that no one is perfect and no one can be perfect that we live in sin, and keep on sinning, but under the umbrella of God’s grace, meaning Jesus paid for all our sins. But, in reality, Bible perfection is not primarily about behavior or deeds, it is about the heart, the heart attitude of trust in God and love for others. Thus even when the deeds are not great, the person is recognized as righteous, any examples?
Do you think Stephen’s death had significance beyond Stephen’s own life? How and why?
Hebrews 2:14,15 says:
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Do you think Saul had a fear of death? What did he see in Stephen?
If Stephen was consumed by guilt, out of harmony with God, etc. would he have been so kind, gracious and other-centered to his tormenters at his death?
The last paragraph states,
“Saul saw that the great prophetic promises of God’s kingdom had not yet been fulfilled (Daniel 2, Zech. 8:23, Isaiah 40-55), and he probably believed it was his task to help God bring that day about—which could be done by cleansing Israel of religious corruption, including the idea that this Jesus was the Messiah.”
What method did Saul and the Jewish leaders use to try and eliminate religious corruption?
Why did they use this method?
Every religion that uses force, coercion, threat, inflicted punishment, sanctions, intimidation, etc. to enforce religious dogma exposes itself as a false religion. When acting in such a way it becomes beastly, and thus the beast of revelation coerces—“no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:17
What is the mark of the beast? The imposed law method of coercion to force compliance!
How many Christians today would gladly take control of their government and pass laws to enforce what they believe are right moral behaviors? How many Christians will accept a god who comes performing miracles and speaking gentle words, begging sinners to repent and worship him, yet stating, “I only want your love. If you won’t worship me I will be forced by holiness and justice to punish and eventually kill you. So please worship me.” How many will say “This is our God we have waited for him”?
Jesus called His followers to love others—to covert NOT coerce people, why? Because love and trust cannot be obtained by legislation, or coercion.
What happens when people are forced to comply with religious laws that they don’t believe in?
Prohibition? which came about by Christian groups recognizing the destructive effect of alcohol; what happened in society—a better society, or did it lead to more corruption, more crime, more violence?
What about societies where Sharia laws area in force? What happens in places where such laws are passed? Do people become more loving, more kind, more generous, more enlightened, or do people become more fearful, less enlightened and more intolerant?
What about when abortion was illegal—did it result in no abortions being performed, or did people just get them in back alleys, with unsafe conditions with coat hangers and more people were hurt etc.?
Are some Christians today trying to pass laws to force others to comply with their belief system?
Does God work in this way to implement His plan of salvation?
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