Paul: Mission and Message

Paul: Mission and Message

Scripture: Philippians 3:13-14, 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, 1 Timothy 6:12
Date: 09/19/2015  Lesson: 12
"Think about your own faith. On what is it based? What good reasons do you have for it? How might your reasons differ from those of other people, and why is it important to recognize these differences?"

Fulfilling God's End-Time Mission by Mark and Ernestine Finley

Fulfilling God's End-Time Mission by Mark and Ernestine Finley
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Hello friends, welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. I'm delighted that you're joining us wherever you might be - across the country or around the world - to study the Bible together. Now, instead of having our regular lesson study right here at the Granite Bay church, we're actually going to be doing something different. We're going to be joining Pastor Doug Batchelor and the members of the Granite Bay church at the church retreat up at leoni meadows, the camp here in northern California conference. But before we join them, I'd like to let you know about our free offer for today.

It is a book entitled - actually a study guide entitled rescue from above and we'll be happy to send this to anybody who calls and asks here in North America. The number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #109. That number again is 866-788-3966. You can also read this for free online at amazingfacts.org. Well, our study for today is lesson #12 in the lesson quarterly entitled: Paul, mission and message.

And if you don't have a study quarterly, you can download today's lesson at amazingfacts.org. Well with that, friends, let's join Pastor Doug Batchelor and the members of the Granite Bay church as we study together today. (Birds chirping) well, friends, I want to welcome everybody to our Sabbath School Study Hour today and you'll notice right away that we have a little different environment than we normally have for our study time. That's because we've decided to take our Sabbath school study hour on the road and you are joining the Granite Bay church for our annual church retreat. We are up here in the beautiful mountains outside of Sacramento in the sierras.

It's a beautiful Christian resort called leoni meadows and we're just surrounded with some wonderful big trees and meadows and sort of at an outdoor amphitheater and we're going to do our Sabbath school time here. We're glad that you can join us in the woods for this time together and for our family retreat. Some things are going to be a little bit different because we don't have all of the electronic logistics we normally use in our church studio facilities, but we're going to press on with our lesson. We're continuing with our study on biblical missionaries and today we're on lesson #12. This is actually part 2 on Paul.

Last week we did part 1 on Paul and today we're doing Paul: mission and message and we have a memory verse and if you've got your Bibles - or your Sabbath school quarterlies with you, the memory verse is from Philippians 3, verses 13 and 14 - Philippians 3, verses 13 and 14 - and I'll give you just a second because I - I love to have you say the memory verse with me. Are you ready? "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." That's just a wonderful, wonderful memory verse I've often quoted. Sometimes you have to forget those things that are behind and press on to those things that are ahead. Now just as a little recap, for these last two weeks we're studying probably one of the greatest early missionaries in the Bible. It doesn't mean that the other apostles did not do great missionary things.

I remember when I was in india years ago, I went to the - the cave of thomas. Thomas was supposed to have gone to india and he died there as a martyr. And so they had the cave where they said he hid for a while. But he did a great mission work there. And, you know, we don't have all the Chronicles of what all the other apostles did because Luke wrote so profusely in the new testament - both the Gospel of Luke and the book of acts - we have a lot more information on what Paul did.

Paul certainly was one of the greatest missionaries - evangelists - apostles. Paul was born in tarsus, which is a city in asia minor on the northeastern shore of the mediterranean sea. His father, at least, was a jew and he also was a roman citizen. We assume that his mother was Jewish as well. He said, 'I am a pharisee, the son of a pharisee.

' His father was a pharisee. So while they were surrounded with the greco-roman culture, Paul still was very zealous about being loyal to the Jewish religion. And you've probably seen, even in North America, that we have some communities - any of you ever been to an amish community? I remember we took a school trip when I was in New York city and went to one of the amish communities and they showed us how they made soap the old-fashioned way and I'll never forget buying some lemon soap there. And they still, by hand, churned their butter and did a lot of things in a very primitive way. Or you may have seen some of the mennonite communities.

So these people are surrounded by a very modern, secular culture, but they reMained very loyal to their traditions and their religion. And this is what was happening - this was the mind set among the jews during the time of Paul, because they had been conquered by these outside armies. They saw what happened when they were conquered by the Babylonians and ruled by the persians, and then the Greeks and now the Romans. And they said, 'if we're going to survive, we must stay true to the Scriptures. We must meet together.

We must teach our children.' And they had very close communities. This is one of the reasons that even after 1900 years of being scattered around the world, the jews have reMained a distinct people. In fact, I may have mentioned this before, there is no nation that even comes close to accomplishing what's happened with the miracle of the Jewish nation in that three times, historically, they have been dispossessed from what was their land, yet they reMained a distinct people and they came back again. Once Abraham foretold they would be carried away and that's when they went to Egypt as slaves - but they came back. Then they were carried away to Babylon 70 years, but they came back.

And then they were scattered under the roman diaspora - scattered around europe at that point and then they came back after 1900 years in 1948. They have their own state again. It's just amazing when you think about it. So part of the reason they survived is there was a very loyal commitment. When I married Karen, you know, my mother was Jewish and when I married Karen, quite frankly, the family on that side was very disappointed.

They said, 'dougie, you married a goyim - a gentile - is what they told me. And I said, 'grandma, grandpa' - I said, 'she is more Jewish than you.' I said, 'she doesn't eat anything that isn't kosher and she keeps the Sabbath. You guys are very sloppy about that stuff.' (Laughter) and so that helped a little bit, but that's because they didn't care that they weren't practicing judaism but they said, 'you've got to marry a jew.' They were very loyal to the religion. And there are jews who don't even believe in God, but they are very loyal about being jews and the Jewish people. So this is something that was entrenched.

So Paul, while he grew up in a - a Greek city and he spoke Greek and he spoke some latin, at least, he spoke aramaic and he understood classic Hebrew - he was educated. We know he was probably the most educated among the apostles, that he was very zealous about the Jewish religion. We're not sure if he was ever married. We don't know. He doesn't comment on it.

We know he wasn't married at the time of his journeys. We don't know if he was married - his wife died or she left him when he was converted. Some have argued that, in order for him to be part of the sanhedrin, that you had to be married. We're not sure he was part of the sanhedrin. We are sure he was a pharisee.

So when he was about thirteen years old he went to Jerusalem and he studied under the feet of one of the great teachers by the name of gamaliel. That's an interesting man. He actually appears - even after the death of Jesus he was still part of the sanhedrin that judged the apostles. Remember when they were going to kill the apostles or imprison them and gamaliel said, 'see that you don't do anything to these men because if this is not of God, it will fizzle. If it's of God, you might be fighting against God.

' That was the one who had been the teacher. By his own words, Paul said, 'I have learned at the feet of gamaliel.' And so he was one of the great rabbis. From that time on he may have made a few trips home. He may have been given a post at a synagogue, you know, they do intern work. He also worked as an apprentice in tent making.

All of the Jewish children, even the pharisees, even if you were a full-time levite, you all had to be an expert in some practical trade, whether you were a tent maker or a smith or you worked with glass or - they all had these special trades. They thought that it was part of good religion to know a trade. And so, this is - this is what Paul was like. But you need that background to understand something about his mission and his message - where he's coming from. Well, first let's look at - and he probably wrote nearly half of the new testament, which makes it especially significant.

First, let's look at Greeks and jews. And if you look in Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 22 it says, "and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and grievous against Egypt, pharaoh, and all his household." If you're preaching to jews, one of the things they want to know - if your message is of God they'll say, 'what sign do you give us to prove it?' When God first called Moses and he said, 'I want you to go to pharaoh and say, 'let my people go' he said, 'what sign do I show them that they're going to believe me?' How many of you remember the two signs that God gave Moses? Leprosy. He put his hand in his breast and it came out leprous - that probably scared him - and then he threw the rod and he told him then to take it up and take it by the - the tail. By the way, there's a group of, kind of zealous - they call them snake handlers - in some small churches, if there's any still around, in Kentucky and some of the south, and they go out looking for snakes and they pick them up and they hold them while they're supposedly in the Spirit and they quote this verse where Moses was told to take up the serpent. They say, 'that's how you show your faith.

It's a sign.' And then they turn to that verse there in Mark where it says, 'and they shall take up serpents and no - if they drink anything deadly it won't hurt them.' And, of course, God is not telling us to do that. So then Moses even said, 'what sign?' And then when he went before pharaoh he did signs, but the pharaoh and his magicians counterfeited their signs. And so, for the jews, it's like whose signs are better? And if you were to prove that you were serving the real God, what signs do you do? What did they say to Jesus? 'What sign do you show us?' And he said - what did Jesus say? Who remembers? 'It is an evil and adulterous generation that seeks after' - a what? 'A sign.' That's Matthew chapter 12. But the jews were always interested in signs. Did God give them signs and wonders to prove that it was of the Lord? And so - let me give you another example of that - acts 7:36 - when stephen is preaching.

It says, "he brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the red sea, and in the wilderness forty years." Now I'm just going to quiz you a little bit. Name some of the signs that happened during the time of - from Moses being called until they entered the promised land that God gave the Israelites. What are some of them. Manna. Manna.

The cloud above. The shining cloud? The pillar of cloud? Pillar of fire. Yeah, it was pillar of - by day - fire - glowed with fire at night. Water out of a rock. Water out of a rock.

He spoke on Mount Sinai. They heard his voice - that's pretty good. Parting of the red sea. Parting of the red sea. Parting of the Jordan.

Marah. Turning the water that was bitter into pure water. (Inaudible) when the ground opens up and swallows korah, dathan and abiram. That would be a sign. (Inaudible) I've prayed for that sign before (laughter) in some churches, just not this church.

(Laughter) miriam is healed from leprosy. Yeah. Quail. Snakes. Oh, you're going to - what? The glowing face.

When Moses' face was glowing? Some of your faces are glowing right now. Which one? Aaron's rod that budded. Aaron's rod that budded and got - bore almonds and - yeah. The quail. The quail came several feet deep and all around the camp for a days' journey.

Egypt's army died in the sea. Well that was the red sea closing up after it opened up. They just were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The snakes. When he lifted up the serpent and they were healed.

So I'm - we - this isn't all of them. There were many, many signs that he gave them and, of course, entering the promised land, the sun standing still, walls of Jericho - I mean, you shout and the walls fall down. And so, this is their history - the Jewish history was filled with signs. And even when rahab said, 'I know that your God is a God because we heard of the signs and wonders.' So when Paul starts preaching to the jews, they want to know 'what are the signs?' And you know what one of the principle signs is that Paul talks about? He said, 'Jesus rose from the dead and we have a lot of witnesses of this.' And then he talked about how he went about doing good, healing all those that were sick and afflicted by the devil, and casting out devils, and - and so they talked about the signs and the wonders and the miracles of Jesus. So when Paul was preaching to the jews, it was about signs and wonders.

Let me give you another one here. Corinthians 1:22, "for jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach" - now, so you see the difference between when he's preaching to the jews and the Greeks? By the way, when Paul says, 'the Greeks,' he doesn't just mean Greek people. Greek was sort of an all-encompassing word that meant gentiles. They classified everybody as either a jew or a Greek - you'll see all through Paul's writings - that doesn't mean the Greeks - actually, the Romans were ruling everything, not the Greeks, but the Greek culture - it was called hEllenization - through alexander the great, had spread all through the roman empire. So people were either jews or gentiles.

Another way they said it was 'jews or Greeks.' So he says, "for the jews request a sign, and Greeks" - the philosophers - "seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." So when Paul was talking to the jews he would often reference the history of Israel. You can read in acts 13:16, "then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, 'men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: the God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm he brought them out of it.'" So he's saying, 'look at our history and how God worked in a marvelous way using signs and wonders to bring them out.' God often talks about, 'with an uplifted hand' or that 'the Lord's hand is not shortened.' And when it's talking about God's hand, in that respect, it's often talking about he did things that they could see - signs and wonders. You can also read in acts 17 - Paul is preaching here - and it says - this is verses 1 through 3 - "now when they had passed through amphipolis and apollonia, they came to thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'this Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.'" So what was Paul's custom when he would go to a new town? Well, there was a Jewish community in virtually every roman city. Every major roman city had a Jewish community.

Matter of fact, they looked for - the jews would look for cities that did not have a Jewish community and they would plant one there. And, you know, I was talking to a young lady yesterday, matter of fact, it's a friend that Danielle was telling me about, that she's interested in joining the church and being baptized and I said, 'where do you live?' And she said, 'well, you know, I live out in the middle of nowhere.' Well it turns out - I said, 'there's adventist churches out there.' Because I wanted to connect her with a church. I said, 'you've got one church seven miles from you here.' I was online and I looked. I said, 'and you've got another church ten miles the other direction.' I said, 'they're everywhere.' And that's the way it was with Jewish communities. And so, as he went from town to town, the first thing Paul would do - if you're going to spread Christianity, where do you want to start? You go to - if you're going to give a Bible study - you're Paul and you want to teach people about Jesus, what Bible study is going to take longer, a Bible study to a gentile who knows nothing about Jewish history and the God of Israel, or a Bible study to a jew that knows everything except about Jesus? Which Bible study is going to have quicker results? Studying with the jews.

Paul did not have to go to the jews and say, 'let me tell you about the one true God.' They knew about that. He didn't have to go to them and say, 'I want to tell you about what day the Sabbath is' or 'don't worship images' or 'don't commit adultery' or 'don't lie.' They all knew that. He didn't have to give them a study about clean or unclean foods, they all knew that. He had to give them a study about who Jesus was. Now for us as Christians, Seventh-day Adventists - who knows the second angel's message? The jews.

Come on, you guys ought to just - ought to know just like that. The jews. Ought to just fall - come out of Babylon. Babylon is fallen - who's Babylon? Rome. Babylon and her daughters - it's talking about apostate Christianity, whether it's roman or protestant, Babylon is the confusion that has come into Christianity.

Does God have true people in many of these other persuasions? Yes. So if you're going to do evangelism, where are you going to get the quickest results? Isn't it by going to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Yeah. So that's why you'll often see that evangelists will do a handbill that will say 'prophecy seminar.' Who do you think comes to a prophecy seminar? People who have already some background or interest in Bible prophecy and that - you do a survey and you'll find out that that - opening night of the seminar you've got a whole lot of people there from other churches and they are, sometimes, your best contacts. When we have - you know, when I go to china and I do evangelism it's got to be a little different there. Of course, they've got a big growing church in china now, too, but when you're talking to buddhists - when Karen and I made our first trip to china we had a tour guide and he was an atheist.

We started talking to him about Jesus. He didn't know - 'what? Jesus?' - He knew nothing. It was amazing to me there was someone in the world who was educated that knew nothing about Jesus. But in the communist schools they never talked about Jesus at all and he had no comprehension of who Jesus was or what he was and - your Bible studies have to be very elementary back there. You've got to start from the very beginning.

So Paul, he would naturally go to the synagogues first. And he would reach as many people - and what would he preach when he was in the synagogues? He'd talk about Jesus. He would talk - now if you're Paul and you're going to a Jewish synagogue, what are you going to say as your opening sermon? You know where I'd go? I'd go Isaiah 53 - prophecy about the suffering servant and he suffered for our sorrows. Because they all thought that the Messiah was going to come like a conquering king and overthrow the Romans. They got the first coming and the second coming of the Messiah mixed up and, you know, the first time he comes like a lamb, the second time he comes like a lion.

They thought he was coming like a lion next. And so when Jesus came to suffer - Paul would then take them to psalm 22, "they pierced my hands and my feet." And he would take them to psalm 69 and he would take them to these passages that talked about how the Messiah would come and suffer and - talked about Joseph being sold by his brothers and the one that - and, by the way, that's exactly what stephen did in his sermon. He talked about Moses, the one who they said, 'who made you a ruler and a prince over us?' Ended up being ruler and prince, which is what the jews said to Jesus. So they took these old testament stories and they would prove this is how the Messiah was supposed to come. And so those were his sermons.

But when Paul was talking to gentiles it would be different. Now let me give you an example of that. In acts 17, verse 20, "'for you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.' For all the athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing." In the Greek culture and in the greco-roman world it was all about philosophy and there were so many different Gods, Paul one time - they just - they had more Gods than people in rome back in the time of Paul. So they would - they saw all these different Gods and they had one pedestal that was dedicated to the unknown God and Paul was very smart.

He went into the theater and he said, 'brethren, I determined that you're very superstitious. You've got all these Gods dedicated' - he said, 'you've even got a dedication to an unknown God.' He says, 'well that's what I'm doing here. I'm going to tell you about that God that you don't know.' And so, what a clever way to start. And they said, 'yeah, we were always wondering about that.' You know, it's like we've got the tomb of the unknown soldier, they had the statue to the unknown God. They said, 'this is the God that made everything.

That's the one that you don't know. I'm going to declare him to you.' And so he - Paul knew how to reason with the Greeks because he had lived among them. And so they used logic and they used reason and, you know, when Paul preached to the jews did it always work or did they sometimes try to stone him? (Laughter) some believed. Some took him out of the city and stoned him. Once they thought they stoned him to death.

And a lot of the riots were actually started by the jews who would stir people up. And then - then he'd go and he'd talk to the bereans and it said they were more noble than those of thessalonica because 'they searched the Scriptures daily to determine whether those things were so.' They said, 'let's find out - it sounds like it could be true. Let's - if he's got biblical reasons let's find out.' And they'd go back and forth and that's what we need to do, right? Be like the bereans. And then he got into hot water with the Greeks because his preaching was so successful that the idol sales in ephesus went - the stock Market crashed. All the tourists that came to ephesus, they sold - their big thing was selling these little statues of the Goddess of - what's her name? Diana.

Diana, that came down from the heaven. They said 'the original' - and that 'these are all clones of the original God gave us.' Of course you know how true that probably is. And - but when Paul was preaching about Jesus, he also talked about idolatry and they stopped buying idols or they - they started selling their idols cheap to get rid of them and the value of idols really dropped and the silversmiths all became very threatened. They started a riot. Do you remember that story? That was a problem with the gentiles that he had.

Any of you ever heard of the evangelist billy Sunday? I remember having a member that actually heard him preach when he was a young man. And he was very - it would never go in the adventist church - billy Sunday was extremely dramatic, like when billy Sunday would talk about Nebuchadnezzar getting - going mad, he would get down on all fours on the stage and grovel around and he'd be shouting - no microphones back then - he'd be crawling back and forth on the stage - 'and he was out of his mind' and so he was - he used to be a baseball player and so when he became a preacher he was very demonstrative, but he had great crowds and he preached - the favorite thing billy Sunday preached against was alcohol. And he had something to do with prohibition because he'd get done doing a revival series in a town - all the bars would close and there would be these great battles between the saloon owners and billy Sunday and sometimes they threatened his life because it meant their livelihood - he'd come into a town and start preaching - they'd become so angry because their income just stopped there would be such a revival. Well that's what was happening when Paul went to some of these Greek cities, it was just totally messing up their idolatry and their religion. And, by the way, that's that verse in acts 17 - "Paul stood" - and this is verse 22 - "stood in the midst of the areopagus and said, 'men of athens, I perceive in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to the unknown God.

Therefore, the one whom you worship without knowing, him I proclaim to you.'" Acts 14:14, "but when the apostles barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, 'men, why are you doing these things?'" - Oh, I've got to give you the background of that. They healed a man and after working a miracle the gentiles thought they must be Gods, because all the gentiles, they worshiped Gods that were - they had, like, these human-like qualities and so, when Paul and barnabas healed this man, they wanted - they were preparing an oxen and, you know, offer sacrifice to them. Now, for a jew, that is blasphemy and one of the worse things that could happen is, if you're a jew, if someone's going to worship you as God, you're afraid a curse is going to come upon you and you, right away, rend your garments and say, 'no! Don't do this!' - You stop it. And that's what Paul did. How many of you remember someone in the Bible who did not take that approach when he was called a God? Herod.

Herod in acts chapter 12 - at the end they said, 'it's the voice of a God and not of a man.' And instead of rebuking them and saying that's blasphemy, he took a breath and said, 'that's right.' And it says the angel of the Lord struck him and he was eaten of worms. And Josephus says 'he died in great diseases.' So when they started telling Paul and barnabas, 'you're Gods', the jews say that's blasphemy - don't do that. So he goes on to say here - Paul also taught in the context of soldiers and athletes. Let's talk about that for a minute. In 1 Timothy 6:12, he says, "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

" And then 2 Timothy 2:3, "you therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." Did they see very many soldiers in Paul's day? Yes. Do you remember soldiers coming to John the baptist and they said, 'what should we do?' Were there centurions by the cross? Yes. Did Jesus commend the faith of a centurion? And there was a centurion that was the first gentile - a soldier - the first gentile? Was there a soldier named naaman that was healed of leprosy? Yes. So you've got these soldiers that appear all through Bible history.

Paul was especially acquainted with soldiers. Matter of fact, a lot more than most people would want to be. Paul spent time handcuffed to soldiers. He may have spent years handcuffed to soldiers. He was escorted by soldiers across the mediterranean.

He was in prison, fed daily by soldiers, in Jerusalem. He was imprisoned in rome, attended to by soldiers that guarded him. He had - some of them he mentions by name. How many of you remember julius? Julius - any of you ever had an orange julius before? (Laughter) gets its name from julius, the soldier - no, I don't know that, but - (laughter) - so Paul was surrounded by the - if you lived in rome back then, the reason that rome had what they called pax romana - the roman peace - was because they ruled with a heavy hand. The were called the iron monarchy.

They had - you think America had a big military - rome had a very big military and they weren't all italians. They knew how to press into service - whenever they conquered people they would press people into service and it was the roman soldiers that would compel you to carry their gear for a mile. And Jesus said, 'if you want to show Christianity, carry it two miles and that'll shock them.' And so there was a lot of military influence. So Paul, in his writings, references a lot about military fighting, because it was the context of their life. Corinthians 10, verse 3, "for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Have any of you ever felt like you're in a war? You know, you can wake up - you're a Christian - you can wake up in the morning and know breakfast is in the refrigerator. You can know there's money in the bank. You can feel no aches and pains in your body and know you have a job waiting for you. You can be with a family where you have no outstanding quarrel or strife. And if you're trying to be a Christian, you will feel a war that day, because every single day you want to be a Christian, you are going to feel a war between the Spirit and the flesh.

There is the Spiritual nature of what you know is right and there is the carnal nature. There is the love motive, which is God, and there is the selfish motive, which we all gravitate to very naturally. Don't we find it very easy to think of ourselves first? Maybe I'm the only one. That's very easy for me to think of myself first. It's the context of my life, you know, I'm the middle of my world and I just am always thinking about me.

And so you've got to war against that or that becomes the governing influence of all you do - me, myself, and I - how will this - and you can do nice things because you're thinking about yourself. And you can be very nice and sophisticated and kind and gracious to people and still just be thinking about yourself. You do it to be accepted. You do it to fit in, and you can still be a hundred percent motivated by self. And so the war you fight as a Christian is to evaluate yourself.

'Let every man examine himself whether he be in the faith.' Am I being motivated by love or selfishness? So that war doesn't mean a war against the trials of life. Yeah, there are trials, and how you respond to those, that's an issue. But it's really a war about 'do I have the mind of Christ?' Ephesians 6:10 - Paul, again, using these war concepts, "finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

" He says, 'we war.' And so, because you've got that war, you need to put on armor. I'm going to just go to that real quick. I didn't put that all in my notes here. And so, "therefore" - verse 13 - "take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." So you notice one thing he tells us? Do you know when you have armor on, you're protected, but it's harder getting up with armor if you fall down. Some of those old - any of you ever been to england or France and seen some of the medieval armor that they used to wear? Some of that stuff they wore - I know we've got - bob's on camera here.

He used to make some of that - that armor. And what did a full suit of armor weigh back then? How much could it weigh? Anywhere up to 50 to 60 pounds. 50 To 60 pounds. Yeah, fall down with that and try and jump up. And so what you'd try and do if you were fighting, like sir lancelot or one of those guys, you'd just kick them over - trip them - and then it was hard to get them back up again with all that armor on.

It's like being pregnant. It's kind of like being pregnant - but I wouldn't know! (Laughter) so - I've observed that. But that's why he says, 'stand, stand, stand.' Because you don't want to fall. You can get up, but it's harder. It says, "having done all to stand.

" But as a Christian, don't we need to stand for something? Amen. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. It says in verse 14, "stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having" - that's the belt of truth - puts - holds everything together - "having put on the breastplate of righteousness" - all the vital organs are protected in here - "and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace;" - you know, it says in Isaiah 52, 'how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring good news.' - "Above all, taking the shield of faith" - now the shield is interesting, it's a defensive weapon - well, several of these things are, actually - but what the shield is doing is it's deflecting the fiery darts of the enemy so they don't make contact. So as a Christian, you want to stay as far away from temptation and the asSaults and use this shield of faith to avoid a lot of trouble. ".

..the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation" - now, you can be in battle and get your arm cut or your leg cut - you can even get an abdominal wound and you can survive, but if you lose your head, you're in trouble. And so, the most important thing is protecting your noggin. And, you know, most of the trouble we have as Christians, because we don't have the helmet of salvation, what comes in through your senses - I always think of the helmet of salvation kind of like what an astronaut wears, because it just gives you a whole new atmosphere. And if you don't - you lose your helmet and you're an astronaut out in space - they say it isn't pretty.

But as a Christian, you want to have that atmosphere. You know where we get into trouble? You know, the Bible says if your right hand offends you, cut it off. Your right hand usually doesn't run off by itself without you knowing it. Have you noticed that? You ever wake up and say, 'where did that hand go?' Getting in trouble - 'I wouldn't have done it, but my hand did it.' No, when Jesus said 'if your right hands offends you' - it starts here, doesn't it? Or if your foot offends you, or your eye offends you. Your senses where you take in information through your ears, your mouth, your eyes, it's all where that helmet protects.

One of the important things we do as Christians is make decisions every day. Be careful, little eyes, what you see. Be careful little ears, what you hear. And, especially in our culture, there's so much to hear and to see and to listen to and to eat that can get us into trouble, that we need that helmet on. And he goes on and he talks about the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God.

This is the third place where he talks about the word being a sword, in the Bible. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints" - all prayer, all perseverance, all the saints - so there is a real spiritual armor that we put on in living the Christian life and it's something that should be done daily - and it's the only way to stand. It's not our armor, he said, 'put on the armor of God.' I used to wonder - when Saul knew David was going to fight Goliath he said, 'here, let me give you my armor.' David didn't want to be rude - he said, 'okay.' He never used the armor before. He put it on and he thought, 'I'm as good as dead if I go out there trying to use this.' And without wanting to insult the king he said, 'your majesty, I've not proved this. I've not tested - I'm not used to it.

I'm in trouble if I try and wear it.' Not only that, Saul was a head and shoulders taller than everybody else so David probably looked out the neck hole, like this, in Saul's armor. It just wasn't going to work. So it's not putting on Saul's armor, it's putting on God's armor. Put on therefore the armor of God. So Paul often wrote in this context.

And then he also talked about the sports. Now we've got a very famous international sports event in the world today - what do they call that? The olympics. The olympics. Do you know the olympics were already old when Paul lived, and he's living in a Greek world and they had olympics not just every four years - they had the big event - but they had sports meets leading up to the olympics many times a year in different cities. And they were very interesting.

The athletes - it didn't matter what your language was, what your nation was, in the roman culture - even gladiators were set free. They were slaves, but if they did well in their games, they were made heroes and they set them free. And so anybody could compete in the various sports events and you could often, if you were walking up and down the streets, not only in a roman city or a Greek city, but if you were in Jerusalem, they even had places where the Romans had gymnasiums. They weren't always the most modest places, if you've looked at any ancient Greek pottery. Didn't wear much when they practiced, but they often saw people running, people wrestling, people fighting.

And so Paul writes in the Christian life using the sports vernacular. That's not talking about the theme of competition there, he's talking about the theme of persistence - not giving up easy - that they often saw. After people were already exhausted, they kept going. And when people were wanting to succeed, they trained every day. Do we train with our Bibles getting ready for the final exam? Yeah, you know, if your taste is - if your faith is going to be tested, you can't wait to - til the devil tempts you like he did Jesus and then say, 'well, let me find my Bible.

' You want to be storing Scripture away so you're ready when that temptation comes. Jesus, right away, knew what to say to the devil, because he had the Scriptures at his command through all of the earlier study. Corinthians 9:24, "do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." Paul is saying, 'run like you've got your eye on the prize.' "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things." - If you're getting ready for a big race, even back in Bible times they understood you need to be eating carefully, you need to be resting carefully, you need to be taking care of yourself. Don't get an injury. They would manage their bodies very carefully so that they could win that race.

It says, 'he that is going to win that prize must be temperate in all things.' - Even good things you can do too much of - "now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." Paul's logic here is 'look at what the athletes do to win a race.' You know, I - I just - know that there are some athletes - they don't even believe in God, but the goal in their life is to win a race and they will train and they, you know, take all these vitamins, and they're very meticulous and they'll check their pulse and they eat very carefully at certain times and - let's just face it, some great athletes are downright eccentric in their lifestyle because they know their bodies and they know what they've got to do to win the race. And Paul is saying, 'they do all of those things - they have so much self-control, they have so much discipline - and they're going to do it for a perishable crown.' You know what they would give them? A wreath of leaves. Or even if they gave them more than that, they gave them a medal, that's perishable. Paul is saying, 'if the athletes in the world go through all the rigors of training for a perishable crown, then what should Christians be doing for an imperishable crown?' They get carried around on everyone's shoulders and they get their five minutes of fame, but what if you get eternal glory? Is it worth the discipline and the self-control that we might obtain that eternal crown? So he's using the sports illustrations. Let me give you another one here.

He says - oh, I'm still in 1 Corinthians 9:27 - oh, no, I'll go to verse 26, "therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight:" - and that word fight there is the word to beat with the hands or fists - it's boxing. Boxing goes back quite a ways and they didn't wear gloves either - "not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." So Paul said even for a Christian we need to maintain self-control. Galatians 5:7, "you ran well.

Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" What is Paul talking about, 'you ran well'? He's using the race. Timothy 2:5 - these are some of the final words of Paul before he died. He's in prison when he writes, "and also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer" - and then he jumps over to - and he talks about not only soldiers and sports, now he's talking about agriculture. "The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.

" And going to 2 Timothy 4:7 - these are some of his closing words - "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." So Paul, talking to the jews. He talked about signs and wonders to the Greeks. He talked about sports and soldiers. And then you've got Paul and the law: Romans 3:31, "do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." Now have you ever heard other Christians say that - Bible Christians - because of faith we don't need to keep the commandments? Any of you heard that before? Yes. Whose writings do they point to to make those arguments? Paul's.

A hundred percent Paul. You will never hear them point to James or Peter or John to make those arguments. They don't use Matthew, they don't use Mark, it's always going to be the writings of Paul that are being misunderstood. Matter of fact, if you look in 2 Peter - 2 Peter chapter 3, verse , 'and count the patience of our Lord as salvation - just as our beloved brother Paul, also wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, as he does in all his letters, when he speaks of these matters." - Notice - "there are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do other Scriptures.' This is very important. For one thing, Peter is calling Paul's writing Scripture.

It says they're twisting the writings of Paul as they do other Scripture. You notice that? And it - notice how they twist them. 'You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability.' The problems they were making with the writings of Paul had to do with lawlessness. And so, what does lawlessness mean? Well, law. So they would misapply the writings of Paul.

Now when Paul would say, 'we're not under the law, but we're under faith' what did he mean? Did he mean we're not under an obligation anymore to keep the law? No. Or did he mean because we were under the death penalty because we broke the law, through Christ we are not under the death penalty anymore, we are now covered by his grace. But do we then make void the law by faith? And these - this is - you know, Paul makes it very clear in Romans 3:31, "do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! God forbid. On the contrary, we establish the law." People don't like those verses when they're trying to get rid of the law. Romans 6:15, "what then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" - Go forbid! - "Certainly not!" And what is sin? Breaking of the law.

It says 'do we sin because we're not under the penalty of the law? Of course not! God forbid.' And you can read - and this, to me is, as they say, a slam-dunk verse - Romans 2:13 - Paul said, "(for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;" who's justified? Not the hearers of the law, but the doers of the law. I don't hear them quote that one very often. And then, of course, you read where John says if we say that we love him and we keep not his commandments we're a liar. 'Blessed are those that do his commandments that they might enter through the gates of the city and eat from the tree of life.' And 'the dragon is wroth with those that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.' And you can go just on and on down the line how much the Bible says about the commandments. Jesus said, 'not everyone that says 'Lord, Lord' but he that does the will of my father.

' 'Think not that I've come to destroy the law. I've not come to destroy but to fulfill' - and that means in his life he fulfilled it. Jesus wasn't saying, 'I didn't come to destroy it but to do away with it.' That wouldn't make any sense. And so, all through the new testament it tells us the law is intact. Paul is simply saying that we're not under the penalty of the law.

Then other statements Paul uses - keep in mind, the word law in the Hebrew is used like we would use the word code in english. You could have morse code, you could have a federal code, you could have a city code, you could have a state code, you could have a corporate code. There are all kinds of codes. They had the moral law, ceremonial law, they had civil law, there's a lot of different law. Sometimes Paul, like in Galatians, he's talking about we're no longer under the ceremonial laws - when it comes to the ceremonial Sabbaths - about - and the feast days - the annual feasts.

And so when he makes that statement he uses the word law sort of generically, but he doesn't say you don't have to keep the Ten Commandments. And everyone sort of knows that inherently. You notice the Christians that say 'you don't need to worry about the law', if you were to ask them 'is it okay to lie?' Of course not. 'Can you steal?' 'No.' 'Worship idols?' 'No.' 'Commit adultery?' 'No.' 'God's name in vain?' 'No.' Go through all nine commandments and they say, 'of course not.' 'Remember the Sabbath.' 'We're not under the law, we're under grace.' So the only reason you hear these very creative discourses about not being under the law is because one commandment that is an annoyance. Which one is that? It's the Sabbath.

Isn't it obvious? I heard one pastor put it this way - they got a finger that bothers them so they cut off ten of them and try and sew the other nine back on to just get rid of that one. And it doesn't work. And the one they try to get rid of - the one commandment that is an annoyance is the one in the middle of the law. It is the longest of the Ten Commandments. And it's the only commandment that begins with the word remember - and that's the one they want everyone to forget.

So it's just - that, of course, just doesn't make any sense. And then, finally, I think this'll have to be my last thought, is the cross and resurrection. These were the central themes of Paul's teaching. Corinthians 2:2, "for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Now this didn't matter whether you were a jew or gentile, the cross was the central theme to Paul. Why? When Jesus said - what were the first words of Jesus to Paul? 'I am Jesus who you persecute.

' Can I rephrase that? 'I am Jesus who you crucified.' In Paul's killing Christians, Jesus said, 'as much as you've done it to them, you've done it to me.' The cross was really central. That Jesus would - when Jesus, on the cross, said, 'father, forgive them' - Paul, that was very personal to him - that he was praying for that forgiveness. 'I am determined not to know anything but Jesus and him crucified.' 1 Corinthians 1:22, "for jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness" - (squirrels chattering loudly) will you guys cut it out? What are you doing? (Laughter) you got some babies - show offs. Karen and I used to have a pet squirrel. They're really cute.

And so he said, "for the jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified." We quoted this first. Jesus crucified was the central theme for Paul because it really was everything. And then, finally, the risen hope of the Christian is the resurrection - the risen - the resurrection of Christ is the hope for the Christian. Corinthians 15 - let me just read this to you in closing. "Now, if Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found to be false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he did not raise up - if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished." - There's no hope for a resurrection - "if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." - Most miserable - "but now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead.

For as in adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order:" - this is important - "Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's" - as soon as they die? No - "at his coming." When do the dead rise? At his coming. This is a very, very clear verse about when the resurrection takes place. So the cross and the resurrection of Jesus were central themes of Paul's teaching. Anyway, I think that we've run out of time.

I want to thank those who have joined us for this special session of our Sabbath School Study Hour. You've been joining the Granite Bay church up here at a Christian retreat called leoni meadows and we just thought we'd bring you along with us. God bless until we study his word together again next week. Amazing Facts changed lives. We were going to church every other week.

At about 19 years old things really start to make sense for me. I start to go to church for myself and the pastor wanted to study with me. When we came to the study about baptism, I kind of just shrugged and put my head down. I said, 'I'm not ready.' He looked me in the eye and said, 'jason, you'll never make yourself ready. This is something you have to do.

' I put a lot of things behind me - drinking and smoking and all that stuff stopped. All throughout the time I'd been learning about God, it was just me and God. It comes around up to about August and I meet this girl. About two years into the relationship we were talking about marriage and everything. We didn't pray.

We didn't study together. We were arguing a lot but we were engaged. I started drinking again and then it was a slow downward spiral into different things and my devotional life started really weaseling away. We broke up in 2008. It was heavy for me because, again, being with somebody for that long, it's almost like a divorce.

I started to fall back away even more. I remember looking in the mirror - just looking at myself and saying, 'what are you doing? How can you do this to God who's brought you so far?' And, you know, God really heard my cry. There was a testimony telling at my church and there was a call and kids started getting up. A bunch of high school kids started getting up for calls of baptism. I'm back doing the pa system at this time and I feel just like this urge - like my heart just started ripping out of my chest and I just had this feeling just to go up.

I get up to the front and I meet the pastor in open arms. I realized that there's so much more to life than just living life for myself and, you know, falling away - it's not a necessity, but God can work through anything in the bad to make it the good. That's a promise he makes. Together we have spread the Gospel much farther than ever before. Thank you for your support.

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