Sabbath School Lesson Review 2017 Quarter 4 Lesson 12
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 4 Lesson 12 Friday
In this weeks lesson Paul says “I appeal to you therefore, brethren,” after all the theology, Paul comes down to the practical affairs of life; and if theology does not affect the way we live, it’s a waste of time. “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your …” What do you have? King James had “reasonable service,” and I remember hearing sermons on the fact that health reform is a “reasonable” thing to do.
I believe it is, but that’s not the message here at all. The Greek word for “service” is not the service of a slave, nor the service of a deacon. Those are different words. It is “worship”. It’s the service of a priest. It’s worship. And the word “reasonable” is not the opposite of “unreasonable”. It’s the word that means, well, Peter says, “As newborn babes, earnestly desire the ‘milk of the word’”, or spiritual milk, that you may grow thereby. He wasn’t saying goat’s milk, or cow’s milk, or soy milk. He meant milk that pertains to the mind, that you may grow thereby. This word means “intelligent, rational, spiritual” worship.
In other words, to present ourselves to God not half dead, but as living sacrifices, is an act of “intelligent worship.” And what Paul is saying is, “Think of all the dead pigeons we used to bring to God. And it was right if we read the right meaning into it.” But God is saying now, “Don’t bring me any more dead sheep or dead pigeons, but please bring yourselves. And bring yourselves in the best condition possible. This will be an act of intelligent worship. Because I have so much to tell you, if you could just listen. But some of you are in such miserable health, you find it very difficult to listen. So please, even this far from the tree of life, look after yourselves. Be living sacrifices, and listen.” “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind [so look after it, please], that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
What I like about this is, the kind of worship God desires is described as rational, intelligent, spiritual worship; not mechanical, not ritualistic, not ceremonial. But we worship an intelligent God. He wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, Jesus said. So to do something mechanical, learned by rote, is a terrible misrepresentation of the truth about God. Remember Isaiah? “Your worship of me is but the commandments of men learned by rote.” You come into the temple, but your hearts aren’t in it. Remember the Sabbath-keepers in Amos? All that kind of unthinking obedience suggests an unthinking God. So Romans 12: 1, 2 is a magnificent passage. The kind of worship God wants is worship that is appropriate to the kind of God that he is. And I think that really affects the way we worship.
How about when we go through an hour of worship—the things we all do in the right and proper order. We have a song service, and get the books out, and we sing, and have you ever sung a song through and hardly noticed the words? Have you ever repeated the Lord’s Prayer and come to the Amen, and you can’t remember saying anything in between? Well, you hope God enjoyed it, anyway. Or, you hold that last note long and high, which is fun at times, but why do we do it? Or if we repeat things over and over, and over and over and over, as some do, does God kind of like that? It may not make sense to us, he rather likes it? If you were God, how would you want to be worshipped? The way we worship God? If you were God, would you want people to meet for an hour and do the things we sometimes do for the hour? We sometimes worship God as if he were less intelligent than we are. I love Paul’s comment here. He wants intelligent, rational, spiritual worship. Or do you have “the worship of heart and mind” in your bible version? It’s intelligent worship, because he’s that kind of a God. I believe if God is the kind of a God we are convinced he is from going through the sixty-six, it will greatly affect the way we worship, the way we pray, certainly the way we treat each other.
We have something to do that requires our complete focus. In the SDA BIBLE Commentary I read this: Paul does not imply in these verses that God always approves the conduct of civil governments. Nor does Paul mean that it is the Christian’s duty always to submit to them. The requirements of government may at times be contrary to the law of God, and under such circumstances the Christian is “to obey God rather than men” [remember in Acts].
Paul’s point is that the ruling power of human governments is entrusted to men by God, according to His own purposes for man’s welfare. Their continuance in power, or their fall from authority, is in His hands. Therefore, the Christian will support the authority of the existing state. He will not presume to take it into his own hands to resist or to depose “the powers that be.” Such instruction was especially needful in Paul’s day, for at that time the Jews were in a turbulent mood and had already stirred up rebellion in various parts of the Roman Empire.
For Christians to reveal a similarly unsubmissive spirit would have been to incur the same displeasure that was beginning to fall upon the Jews. It would also have resulted in their forfeiting the protection of the Roman state, which had often been a blessing to the early Christians, as Paul could testify from his own experience. Furthermore, it would have brought reproach upon the Christian church and its message of peace and brotherly love.
Therefore, Paul elsewhere urges believers to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy) and to obey them (Titus). Likewise Peter commands Christians to submit “to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2). Isn’t this practical advice under the circumstances? There’ll be times, though, when one might have to say at risk of life, “I can’t do this” but isn’t it a desire to avoid unnecessary trouble for we have a work to do. These other matters can be settled at some other time. But at the same time if someone has a great burden to do something I think we should be very careful how we pass judgment on that individual.
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