Families of Faith

Families of Faith

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2, Acts 10:1-28, 1 Corinthians 2:2
Date: 06/15/2019  Lesson: 11
"Being a Christian is more than belonging to an organization with a history and a dogma. True faith isn’t something genetic, isn’t something that is passed on naturally from one generation to another. Each one needs to know Christ for himself or herself."

Alone in the Crowd - Paper or PDF Download

Alone in the Crowd - Paper or PDF Download
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Jean Ross: Good morning, friends, welcome once again to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. I'd like to welcome our online members and our friends who are joining us across the country and literally around the world, part of our extended Sabbath school class. And I'd also like to welcome our regular church members and our visitors who are joining us here in person. It's always a joy to see you week after week coming to study the lesson. Well, our lesson for this quarter is dealing with the subject of the family, and we're on lesson number 11 today, it's entitled, "Families of Faith." Now, for our friends who are joining us, if you don't have access to the lesson quarterly and you'd like to study along with us, we do have a website that you can go to. It's just simply lesson.aftv.org, that's lesson.aftv.org. And you can download today's lesson, it's lesson number 11. And you can study along with us the theme of "Families of Faith." Well, before we get to our study, as we always do, we'd like to lift our voices in song. I'd like to invite our song leaders to please come forward.

Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let his praises sing. ♪ ♪ Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, ♪ ♪ standing on the promises of God. ♪ ♪ Standing, standing, ♪ ♪ standing on the promises of God my Savior. ♪ ♪ Standing, standing, ♪ ♪ I'm standing on the promises of God. ♪ ♪ Standing on the promises that cannot fail, ♪ ♪ when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail. ♪ ♪ By the living Word of God I shall prevail, ♪ ♪ standing on the promises of God. ♪ ♪ Standing, standing, ♪ ♪ standing on the promises of God my Savior. ♪ ♪ Standing, standing, ♪ ♪ I'm standing on the promises of God. ♪ ♪ Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord, ♪ ♪ bound to him eternally by love's strong cord. ♪ ♪ Overcoming daily with the Spirit's Sword, ♪ ♪ standing on the promises of God. ♪ ♪ Standing, standing, ♪ ♪ standing on the promises of God my Savior. ♪ ♪ Standing, standing, ♪ ♪ I'm standing on the promises of God. ♪♪

Thank you for singing with us.

Jean: For those who are joining us online, we'd like to let you know about our free offer for today, it's a book entitled "Alone in the Crowd." And we'll be happy to send this to anyone in North America, just a great study, the number to call is... and you can ask for the book "Alone in the Crowd." If you'd like to get a digital copy of this free offer, what you need to do there is text the number 40544, and you want to text the code SH004, and you'll be able to get a digital download of the book "Alone in the Crowd." In addition to that, we'd like to let you know about another book, it's a free offer we want you to hear about, it's "The Culture and the Christian," which goes along with our lesson as well. And you can read that for free by simply going to the Amazing Facts website. At this time, let's bow our heads as we start our time with prayer. Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that we're able to open up your Word and gather together and study a very important subject, talking about the family and families of faith. And I pray, Lord, that your Spirit would come and guide our hearts and our lives in Jesus's name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Doug Batchelor: We're continuing in our lesson dealing with the subject of family. And today's study is from lesson 11, and it's talking about, really, family and culture. And so, it's talking about families of faith, but it's really dealing with, how do you have a family of faith in the varying cultures of the world where you can be true to biblical principles? And we have a memory verse. Memory verse is Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1 and 2. If you've got your lesson, you want to say this with me, Hebrews 12, verse 1 and 2, and it's from the New King James version. Are you ready? It's got a little abbreviated section, "Therefore let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." That's one of my favorite verses here, Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1.

Now, the essence of the lesson we're going to talk about is, how can you have a faithful family where culture is often working at odds with Christian values? Says right here in the first page of your lesson Christian families confront cultural challenges all through time. Sometimes, the cultural influences can be good. Most times, though, the influence is negative or evil. Some examples of cultural things that are good, I'm just so thankful for the age we live in today, where things are a whole lot more hygienic than they used to be if you were living in New York City back in the 1870s, where there was still sewage in the streets. I am so thankful for those improvements in society. But now, instead of the sewage in the streets, it comes in through the computer screen. And they didn't have that problem back then.

And so, cultures, things change. Sometimes there are positive things that you might see in a culture, but oftentimes cultures, it's like it says in the book of Job, "Man is prone towards trouble as the sparks fly upward." It's just sort of a law of nature that cultural changes are often antithetical to Christian values. Now, you know, we've had the privilege, and it's been a blessing, to travel all over the world. And I enjoy some of the cultural differences and nuances as you go to different countries. I like the different kinds of food. Assuming it's vegetarian food, I like the different varieties that you find around the world. And you know, I really enjoy eating the food in India. It's not hard to find veggie food in India, but you better be okay with hot curry. And I really enjoy the veggie food in the Philippines. You go to a Filipino potluck, if you get that invitation, go. It's really great. And when we were in China, boy, they've got so many mushrooms there, it was just amazing. It's wonderful food in China.

I remember Karen and I, the boys, we went to Japan, and different places in the world where you take your shoes off before you go in, that's nice. You know, it talks about, you know, the reverence of the church and when you go into the church-- We were in India, oh, last year and went to a very large church there. Matter of fact, it's the largest Christian church in the world, and everybody takes off their shoes before they go in the church. And they got cubby holes, rows, it looks like the Library of Congress. They got rows and rows of cubby holes, where everyone puts their shoes and no one loses their shoes. They're all kind of grid-marked with, you know, letters and numbers. They come out, they get their shoes. And in this particular church we were in, the men and women do not sit together. Husbands do not even sit with their wives. The men all sat, and there were, you know, 20,000 of them when we were there. Men all sat on one side, women all sat on another side.

You know, and just different cultures have different traditions, and it's interesting, it's wonderful as long as those traditions do not violate some biblical truth or principle. Nothing wrong, you know? We say hello, we shake hands at the door. In America, we shake hands at the door. We just came from Paris. Everybody's kissing everybody when they go to the door. And you know, we had--I wasn't quite sure whether to go like this or lean forward. You're not sometimes sure what to do, but it's, you know, it's a cultural thing. And so, those things may be different. But as you're going to see in our lesson today, there are some cultural things that Christians must struggle against because, as it said in the lesson, most of the cultural shifts are like gravity that sort of pull people down.

So, let's, with that lengthy introduction, we'll go to our first section, it's talking about holding fast to that which is good. Now, someone is going to be reading for me Acts 10, verse 1 and 2. Do you have that, Brad? All right, in just a moment I'll have you read that. Before that, I'm going to read Philippians 2, verse 14 and 15, here's a great principle. "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you might become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world." God is calling for families to shine as lights in the world in the midst of a perverted generation. And so, how can we do that? Now, we're going to look at one family of faith here. Go ahead, read for us Acts 10:1 and 2.

Brad: "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always."

Doug: All right, we learn about Cornelius. Much of chapter 10 talks about this encounter. Cornelius is the first recipient of Peter taking the gospel to the Gentiles from the time Stephen was stoned in 34--I guess he was stoned in, yeah, 34 AD. It wasn't long after that before you see that the gospel now is officially going, and Peter's the one who brings it to them. Was Cornelius a Jew? Was he a Christian? In his heart, but they had--Peter had to go preach to him. But was he someone who feared God? Yes, he was. And does the Lord have people who fear him in every nation? Bible says he does. There are people who maybe haven't heard the name of Jesus, they're going to get to heaven and say, "What happened to your hands?" Because they didn't understand these things. And there are missionaries around the world that have gone to people who never officially heard the teachings of Jesus or even the Old Testament, but they have something of angels who talk to them, they are walking in the light that God has shed on their path, and they are faithful people.

But now Cornelius, he was Italian probably. It says he's of the Italian Regiment, a devout man, he fears God. He and all his household, his family was a God-fearing family, they're a generous family. They have the fruits of the Spirit, but they don't know about the plan of salvation. Peter goes and preaches to them, they're filled with the Holy Spirit even before they're baptized. So, now we see in the--from chapter 10 on, the gospel begins to go to the Gentiles, and this presents a problem. The Gentiles had a lot of cultural differences from the Jews. And the Jews, the early church was all Jewish, even after Pentecost. Says 3,000 were baptized, 3,000 what? Jews. Later, 5,000 are baptized, all Jews. It's not until you get to Acts 10--well, there was some people in Samaria that got baptized, but they still believed in the books of Moses, and so it's not--you're not going to the plain old Roman-Greco pagans until you get to Acts chapter 10. From then on, the revival among the pagans was so great, the non-Jews, that it wasn't very long before there were more Gentile Christians than Jewish Christians.

And so, they were faced with a dilemma. They had a lot of customs that were not Jewish customs, and they said, "How do we know what we require them to do and what we can sort of just, you know, say there are non-essentials?" And after much discussion, you get to Acts 15, verse 19. They came to this conclusion, it says it twice there in Acts 15, "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols." Now, idolatry's one of the Ten Commandments. In other words, they need to keep all of the Ten Commandments. "From sexual immorality," this was also part of the Ten Commandments as well as some of the civil law. "From things strangled and blood," that was part of the health laws, so they were to keep the health laws. "For Moses has throughout many generations those that preach him in every city being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." In other words, scattered throughout the Roman empire, there were synagogues.

These people who were turning to God, they have had some exposure to the truth, but these are the things they are to walk in. Now, one of the big areas you're going to find a dispute in the New Testament, once you understand this, it'll make it a lot easier. Whenever you bought meat in the Jewish marketplace, many of the butcher shops, whenever they slaughtered an animal, they did it in front of an idol. And so the Jews said, "We cannot eat things offered to idols." Paul disagreed with some of the other apostles. He said, "Look." You know, they're talking about clean meat. They're not even talking about the unclean meats, they're talking about chicken and the sheep and the goat and the ox or whatever it was. And whenever they killed them, it was in front of the idol, and then they'd sell it. And Paul said, "Look, you didn't offer it to the idol, the idol has no power. And so, if people buy things in the marketplace, don't ask, 'Was this offered to an idol?' because then you're, you know, maybe make your weaker brother stumble." Paul talks about those who are weak in faith eat only vegetables. Has nothing to do with physical weakness or vegetarianism. It has to do with people who are so--their consciences were so sensitive that they couldn't buy even the clean meat because it may have been offered to an idol and they thought, "We will be indirectly worshipping idols."

Let me bring this down to our day. How many of you like Thai food? Chinese food? Have you ever eaten Chinese or Thai food? Japanese food anybody? And you've gone in and you've seen the Buddha? Let me see your hands, come on, fess up. Did you say, "I can't eat here. They got incense burning to a Buddha"? Now, if you were a devout Jew, that could've been a moral dilemma. But you and I realize we're just eating their good food, we're not worshipping Buddha. And so, they had a big struggle about this back then, "What do we do?" And so, and you'll find this being addressed in Corinthians, in Romans, and several places in the Bible they talk about this. So, they were saying, "Look, tell them not to eat the unclean food or things that are strangled." You're not supposed to eat even the clean meat with the blood. That's why he said, "Don't eat blood."

Now, isn't it clear the idea about not eating blood is part of the Old Testament health laws, so why, in the New Testament, is it telling them to remember the health law? Why in Acts chapter 10 does Peter say, "Lord, not so." God said, "Arise, eat something from the sheet full of animals, unclean animals." Peter says, "Not so, Lord." How dare someone say, "Not so, Lord." He says, "Not so, Lord, I have never eaten anything common or unclean." Peter never eats anything from the sheet. That vision has nothing to do with clean and unclean food, it has to do with taking the gospel to the Gentiles. So, it's pretty clear they still were observing the health laws based on this. Isn't that right?

I see my friend David here, when we worked with the Navajo Indians years ago, these folks were having big problems with alcohol. Yeah, they ate prairie dog and blood sausage. That used to always just make me cringe, blood sausage. And then we brought a number of people to the Lord and we'd have potlucks, and there might be some cheese lasagna. Well, some of the saints from Farmington would come and say, "Haven't you told these people they shouldn't be eating cheese?" And we said, "Look, they've just given up alcohol, blood sausage, and prairie dog. Will you please give them a break?" And you know, and that's kind of what was happening is some of the Jews were telling the Gentiles, "Now, you got to keep the feast days and you got to make sure and grow your beard long." And they were telling them all these things that really were not commands, circumcision and other things. And so, they had to decide what are the biblical principles and what are the cultural things, or maybe the traditional things.

All right, got to move along though. This is going to get very interesting, as you see. The power of culture on family is our next section. Genesis 16:1 through 3, "Now Sarai, Abram's wife," this is before she's Sarah, "had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant," probably picked up during their brief detour through Egypt. "She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So, Sarai says to Abram, 'See, now the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go into my maid. Perhaps I shall obtain children by her.'"

All right, let's stop here. Anyone try--else done that before? Anyone here, maybe you're having problems having enough children or children, and so you tell your husband, "Look, let's just bring a surrogate in to live with us. And she can be your concubine." Is that a cultural thing that God would approve of? Was that part of God's plan? Were other people doing it back then? Yeah. There were a lot of things that were going on back then. Did Abraham have slaves? Is slavery okay? Wait a second, God has laws in the Bible about how to treat your slaves fairly. Doesn't that mean slavery's okay? God has laws in the Bible that say, "If you have more than one wife, you got to make sure treat the second wife, the less loved wife the same. They all got to get--" Does that mean it's okay for polygamy? Why did God make some of these laws? Because he approved of what those cultures were doing, or because he was protecting people? Jesus said because of the hardness of your hearts, he made laws about divorce, it was never his will. And because of the hardness of their hearts, he made laws to protect slave, protect people that were in multiple wife relationships. Those were never part of his will. Those things were adopted by the cultures around them.

David is a man after God's own heart, would we agree? How many of you have read Psalms and you recognize it's inspired? How many wives did David have? Was that 'cause it was God's will, or because he was following the culture around him? As we said, most cultural influences are not positive. A lot of these things, it's like sin is gravity in our natures, it goes down. Are there voices, are there trends in cultures today that are affecting families? The biblical distinctions between male and female, are they under attack? Does the Bible make it very clear that he made them man and woman? There's not all these other garbled letters in between where people sort of pick what their sexual gender or some nuance or some amalgamation of gender might be. But is it in the culture? Are we to have our values about what the distinctions of men and women are shaped by culture or Scripture? It's supposed to be--but how many of you know Christians that are beginning to second guess what our views should be on homosexuality because we're being bombarded by the culture to view it differently? You can see how that happens. That happens a number of ways.

This is what was happening to Abraham. "So, she took Hagar her maid, gave her to her husband after Abram dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan." When in Canaan, do like the Canaanites, right? How did that end for Abram and Sarai? Not good. And Hagar ended up getting sent away because of that. Romans 12, verse 2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed."

So, is there a constant influence of the world to conform us? What is a Christian supposed to do in response? It requires an ongoing effort to resist being conformed by the world. But you know, we're all under pressure all the time. How often do I need to fight that temptation to be conformed to the world, its values, its culture, its principles? It's constant. It's going on all the time. "Do not be conformed, but be transformed by the renewing, an ongoing new birth in your mind that you might prove," we got to test everything, "what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." How do we test, do we turn on the news? We go to social media? Or do we open the Scriptures to find out what is the good and perfect and acceptable will of God? 1 Timothy 5:14, "Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, giving no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully."

Now, today if a pastor preaches a sermon and says, "Okay, young ladies, make sure you're good wives, have children, take care of the house," aah, what kind of caveman are you? I mean, we live in a different world. The idea that women should have children and take care of the house, talk about antiquated. But where did I read that? Who said that, Doug? Is it possible? Now, that's not saying that women should not work. Karen's working part-time now and she's been a PT, you understand what I'm saying? But isn't it--isn't the messaging of our culture today that a woman is somehow a lesser woman if she says, "What do you do?" "Well, I'm a domestic engineer. I take care of things at home. I have children and I manage the house." And have you ever read Proverbs 31 about this super woman? She's the super wife and the super mother. She is not--she doesn't have a career outside the home, but she is spoken of in glowing terms. But boy, that is a very unpopular sermon to preach, why? 'Cause the culture is sending us different messages. And matter of fact, anything you say talking about distinctions, biblical distinctions between men and women, it's considered rude, insensitive because we're supposed to be acting like there's really no difference. But the Bible says there's big differences.

Let me read something to you from the book "Adventist Home." "There is a God above, and light and glory from his throne rests upon faithful mothers as they try to educate their children to resist the influence of evil. No other work can equal hers in importance. She has not like the artist to paint the form of beauty upon a canvass, nor like the sculptor to chisel it from marble. She is not like the author to embody a noble thought in word of power, nor like the musician to express a beautiful sentiment in melody. It is hers with the help of God to develop in a human soul the likeness of the divine." She says, "The work of the mom at home with her children is the most important work in the world."

More important than the CEO of a multibillion-dollar corporation is the work of a mother at home with the children. That's not a message that culture is giving. The message of the culture is you've got to break that glass ceiling, and keep getting that next promotion, and working your way away from the home on up through the corporate world. Isn't that right? And so, all right, someone's going to read for me Matthew 24, verse 12 and 13. All right, hold on Brian, I'm going to read a verse just before that. Matthew 7, verse 14, Jesus said, "Narrow is the way which leads to life and few there be that find it." We're surrounded by counterfeit doors and roads, and so it's hard to find the true one unless you use the Scriptures. Go ahead, read that verse for us.

Brian: "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."

Doug: The Lord tells us in the last days that the devil is going to have a deception that is so overwhelming that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. My predecessor in "Amazing Facts" who I have the greatest respect for, Joe Crews, he calls it the contaminating process of gradual compromise with a culture. He thinks the deception that is going to be so powerful that if it were possible, even the elect would be overtaken, it's not something where the devil pops up and he's got a mask, and he looks like Jesus, and he's going to just hypnotize the world. No, it's the gradual compromise with the world that we're going to get where we don't know where to draw the line between principle, and culture, and biblical truth, and what's popular. This is what's going on all the time around us.

All right, let me give you an example of that. Did they struggle, did families in the Old Testament struggle with compromising with the cultures around them? Genesis 35, verse 1 through 4, if you got your Bibles. "Then God said to Jacob, 'Arise and go up to Bethel, and dwell there.'" Now, what does the word "bethel" mean? House of God. How did Bethel get its name? It's where Jacob had a dream of the escalator of angels going up and down to heaven, right? God is saying, "Renew your covenant, come back to me. Go to Bethel, dwell there, make an altar there to God who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau, your brother." And Jacob said to his household he's going to meet with God. Jacob said to his household and all who are with him, his family and all the servants in his family.

Not only at this point does he have his servants, but if you know the Bible story, the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, annihilated all the men in Shechem, and then they took the women and the children as slaves. Do you remember that story? This is happening right after that. And so, he's got a great household now. He's got--like he's just basically plundered a town, taken all the people other than the men. And so, now what happens when you have all these Canaanites that flow into your family? Do they bring some of their habits and customs with them? And if you're looking at that day after day, does that begin to wear down your values and your principles? Does it get to just kind of--the lines get fuzzy and grey about what is the worship of the true God, and it was being all mixed up with the worship of the Canaanite gods. And so, he says, "Let's go renew the covenant." He could see the things were slipping. He says to his household, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you."

How did the foreign gods slip in? Well, he'd begun to develop relationships with these Canaanites, people from Shechem. "Put away the foreign gods who are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments." Now, I don't want to take this too far, but changing your garments might not only mean put on a clean set of clothes. Are there garments of the world? Does the world and the culture dress differently than what Christians should dress, how Christians should dress? So, maybe they'd started to dress like the Canaanites when he said, "Change your clothes." It could also mean clean your clothes 'cause you're going to appear before God, and that's probably a good argument as well. "Change your garments. Let us arise and go to Bethel, and there I will make an altar to the God who answered me in the day of my distress, who has been with me in the way that I have gone." Let's renew our covenant to God. We're not Canaanites, we're people of Jehovah. "So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their hands." You wonder how big the pile was. "And the earrings that were in their ears." Notice the connection between foreign gods and jewelry. And Jacob hid them, the word "hid" there is really he buried them under a tree. He didn't just say, "Let's hide them here so we can get our gods and our jewelry later." He said, "We're going to bury it." "And they hid them under the terebinth tree which lays by Shechem."

So, do we see that the culture is affecting the dress of Christians? Is that something that should be resisted? Does it creep into our families? And the young people, you know, especially when they're going through the teens and they see all their friends at school, not every Christian can afford Christian school. Some go to public school, or they may go to a Christian school that is not a denomination school, and they see the influences and what's happening to the kids, listening to the music of the world, and they're watching the videos, and they're on social media. And they don't always dress like saints in that world. Are you aware of that? And they start to try to dress like their favorite music stars, and they start to look like them and walk like--and the parents, if you're a Christian parent, you are under constant pressure to say, "Now son, daughter, is that how Jesus wants you to dress?" And they go, "Oh Mom, Dad, you're so stuck in the mud." And say, "All my friends think I'm weird." And if you try to live like a Christian in this world today, it is tough on parents to continually be raising the standard and drawing the lines, and you got to teach your kids principles as often--if they're old enough and they can understand, explain the principles. Sometimes you just have to say, "I'm your parent and I'm bigger than you are, and God made me that way, you got to listen to me," right? How many of you remember your parents saying, "Because I told you so," and you vowed you would never say that to your children because that's not a good answer? Just wait until time goes by.

So Jacob said, "Whole family is compromising." Remember the story of Rachel, when Jacob and his family fled from Laban, and Laban comes charging into Jacob's camp and he says, "You stole away my family and you stole my gods." And who had taken his gods? Rachel. And so, was that part of the Lord's plan that we--you know, first of all, we shouldn't steal. Secondly, don't steal idols. And some have said, "Well, that's because those idols were really deeds to the property," and I have not seen a lot that supports that. Anyway, so it started sneaking in. Look at 1 Kings 11, verse 1 and 2. "But Solomon loved many foreign women." Now, what did God say about do not intermarry with the pagans? He said, "Do not do this. They will draw--if your daughters marry pagan men and your sons marry pagan ladies, they will draw them away." And it's so often true, not always, but so often true that when a believer marries an unbeliever, the unbeliever also has an influence on the believer. It's the siphon effect. You know what the siphon effect means?

Let me tell you a story. Up in Covelo, we have two water tanks above our house. The water runs in one tank and it runs out of the bottom of the other tank, two tanks side by side. Both tanks always have the exact same amount of water, even though they're separate tanks. Because the two tanks are connected, they always even out at the siphon point. They're always going to level off because they're connected. If you disconnect the tank, one may drain, the other one stay full. But when they're connected, they sort of find a happy medium. If one was too full, once you connect them, it goes down, the other one goes up.

When you get one person who's a Christian and they say, "Ah, I've got--I'm in love with this person over here. They're tall, dark, and handsome, and they're just so nice, and I think I can convert him. It'll be easier to make them study the Bible with me after we're married." Even though the Bible says do not be unequally yoked. And so, they get married and they say, "Oh look, they're coming closer to the Lord. Praise the Lord, they're adopting my beliefs," but they don't realize in the process they're also making compromises. That's the way it often works. And sometimes, I've seen the believer just completely abandon their faith and level off with the unbeliever. This is what happened to Solomon.

You've gotten so quiet, I don't remember you ever being so quiet during a Bible study. But Solomon loved many foreign women. One more thing I got to tell you about this, this is a very interesting verse. How does this verse begin? But why does it start that way? 'Cause everything it said prior was in glowing terms of Solomon. The kingdom was going up, up, up, up, up, up. Palace was built, temple was built, people are flowing, money's flowing in, the people are all blessed, they got peace on every side. The queen of Sheba, she's coming saying, "Your God is the greatest God," and everything's looking great.

Little, little amazing fact, and it says in one year 666 talents came to Solomon. Immediately before this verse, it says 666. Isn't that interesting? And then it says, "But." And then the kingdom goes down. Why? Compromising with the culture around him, intermarrying with pagan religions. As well as the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites and the Ammonites and the Edomites and the Zidonians and the Hittites. Now, you notice what happens. First it mentions Moab, Ammon, Edom. Now, why were they different than some of the other ites? They were all sort of related. Moabites came from Lot, Edomites came from Esau, Ammonites came from Lot. They said, "Well, you know, they're not really Jews, but you know, they do practice some of the same things. In some ways they're monotheistic, and they practice circumcision, so if I marry their daughters even though they really have compromised, what's the big deal?" It's like a person saying, "Well, I would never marry someone who doesn't believe in God, but you know, I'm Christian, I'm going to marry someone who's a Muslim. At least they believe in God." And they start to--they say, "They're part way there."

See how compromise works? Little steps until he starts out marrying Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and then he just throws all restraint to the wind and he starts to intermarry with the Hittites and the Zidonians and you name it, the list of every pretty girl out there. And what happened? These turned his hearts away. Solomon clung to these in love, and eventually he sets up their idols in the temple. So, what happened to Solomon's family? Instead of his influencing, God wanted Solomon to be true to God so people like the queen of Sheba would come and learn about God. He would influence them. He wanted them to be a light in the world, but because of compromise, they influenced him. And what happened to the kingdom? [whistling] Went down that vortex of compromise.

Ezra 10, now after the people have been in Babylon for years because of their bad behavior, they come back, they get their nation back, they start to build the temple again, and what's the first thing they do? They start to intermarry again with the locals, who were pagans. And Ezra had a meltdown, that's the only way to put it. I think it's the story where he's, like, pulling out his beard, pulling out other people's beards, and he's just--he's all upset. "And Ezra rose and he made the leaders and the priests and the Levites and all Israel to swear an oath that they would do according to this word." They had to swear an oath to put away all of the pagan gods that were among them. They had been compromising so much that it was just destroying thing.

So, do we see these cultural influences in our church today? You're quiet. Say amen if you agree with me. Do we have to be aware of it? Sometimes, you know, you need to be specific and identify things. What are some of the areas where we're seeing compromise, where God's people, the remnant church, is being urged to sort of look the other way or not be so distinctive in our beliefs? I made a list of about ten things.

No longer believing in the inerrancy of the Word of God. You know, there's still, even within our church, there's some people that say, "Well, you know, some of the stories in the Bible may not be literal. Those first 11 chapters of Genesis could be figurative and for teaching purposes. Flood didn't really happen, Adam and Eve, eh." Doubting the six literal days of creation, yeah, I meet people in the church. Do we hear in our culture about evolution all the time? Isn't it being stated like fact? Do you know that that does have an impact on people? In spite of the Word of God, they start to say, "Well, maybe I'm misunderstanding these verses." And instead of letting the Bible define what is truth, they're starting to read the Bible through the glasses of culture. Until pretty soon they say, "Well, maybe those six days were 6 billion years or thousand years or something like that." And they begin to compromise their beliefs.

Believing that God saves us with our sin and not from our sin. More and more you hear in churches, not all, but many Protestant churches, it's basically that you just, you know, say a prayer, accept Jesus, and you pretty much live like everybody else, but you've got eternal life. It doesn't talk about turning from sin and living a life of godliness, purity of heart, holiness. That message, repentance from sin, confession of sin, turning from sin, you're hearing less and less about that. And I, you know, started out in the other Protestant churches and then became an Adventist, so I heard that a lot. One of the things that appealed to me about Adventism was I thought it was teaching the whole gospel about what real grace really is, is God gives you grace to be a new creature. It's not grace that's just always a coverup, it's grace is power to be transformed. Well, you're getting where you don't hear that so much. And those teachings and that theology, I see it becoming more pervasive even among God's people.

No longer having confidence in the inspiration and authority of the spirit of prophecy. God did something for our church he's not done for many, is he's raised up a special messenger to just help us to understand the Word of God more clearly in these last days, to magnify the Scriptures, and that's being challenged.

No longer preaching the truth of the sanctuary and rejecting the significance of 1844. A lot of churches you can go to, you'll never hear a message on that. And yet, that's part of the three angels message for the last days.

Rejecting the idea that the Seventh Day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy. Instead, that's played down, they say, "Oh, we're not really special. We're just one of many churches and all rivers lead to the ocean. It doesn't matter what denomination you're part of." Instead of believing this is a movement of prophecy that people are being called into in the last days with a special work, that's being downplayed. They say, "Oh, what arrogance for you to think that you have anything special." But you know, that's what we're founded on is a belief that we are unique and a movement of prophecy.

Rejecting biblical lines of distinction, talking about biblical lines of distinction in the roles of men and women. And even views about abortion are being influenced by the world instead of by Scripture. That's another one I threw in. Rejecting of reverence in worship in favor for some of the loud pagan worship styles that have been creeping into the churches. Downplaying the health messages, legalism. Laxness in keeping the Sabbath day as a holy day instead of a holiday. That's my little list of ten.

But you know, I think all this was foretold. These things that are happening now, let me read something to you from 1 Selected Messages. I'm looking at the clock and I want to read this to you. "The enemies of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was about to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and this reformation would consist of giving up the doctrines that have been pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization." That's that code for compromise. "Were this reformation to take place, what would be the result? The principles of truth that God and his wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles," we're talking about biblical principles here, "that has sustained the work for the last 50 years would be accounted as an error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of the system would go into the cities and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath, of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of this new movement. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and the storm and the tempest would sweep away the structure." I think that the compromise in our culture is leading us in that direction right now. That's a very dangerous concern.

All right, moving on here. So, you read now in the book of Esther, Esther is trying to maintain godly living surrounded by the Persian empire. And Mordecai, this is Esther 2, verse 7, "And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah," that is Esther, "his uncle's daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. And when her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So it was when the king's command was and the decree was heard and many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel under the custody of Haggai, that Esther was also taken to the king's palace into the care of Haggai, the custodian of the women. Now, the young woman--" wait a second now, let's just pause. You've been raised a faithful Jew. Mordecai believed in God, he would not bow down to Haman. He had scruples, amen? But all of the sudden, this daughter he's adopted, it's really, you know, a relative, she, after all of her godly upbringing, is thrust into the middle of the Persian pagan palace to be part of a harem for the king. How can you live out your Christian principles in a situation like that? Boy, she must've had a real struggle. And when they--all the other girls were fighting over the garments and the jewels of what they were going to wear, Esther said, "Look, I'm just going to let the eunuch decide, the chief of the eunuchs decide what I'm supposed to do." She was not clamoring and grasping, and she had such a different spirit about her that she became a light in the palace, and ultimately the king recognized that, right? "Now the young woman pleased him and obtained his favor, so he readily gave beauty preparations to her beside her allowance. Then seven choice maid servants were provided for her from the king's palace, and he moved her and her maid servants to the best place in the house of women."

So, Esther's trying to maintain her belief. And of course, you know what, Mordecai later sends a message, he says, "Do not think you'll escape any more than the other Jews in the kingdom. Perhaps you've come to the kingdom for such a time as this." And then don't miss this verse, Esther chapter 2, verse 20, "Now Esther had not revealed her family and her people just as Mordecai had charged her, for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by him." He's saying, "Look, there's going to be a time for you to reveal who you are and what you believe, but I believe that right away is not that time."

So, when you're living in a culture where you're surrounded just by a rank paganism, you need discretion and diplomacy to know how to share the distinctive things of your faith. Being a Christian in this world is a challenge. You know, there's a quote in Adventist Home, page 32, "The greatest evidence of the power of Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This will recommend the power of truth as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart." Now, I throw that there right after this verse in your lesson, Genesis 18:19, "For I have known him, Abraham, in order that he might command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord and do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring Abraham what he has spoken to him." Abraham came out from Ur of the Chaldees, pagan world. Because and then he--God says, "I'm going to give you this land," but he's still surrounded by paganism, the Canaanites. And what did Noah say? Didn't Noah curse the--Canaan, the son? These were a cursed people. Noah--or Abraham's living in the midst of them; and yet, he is commanding his family after him.

So, you know, God calls upon us to be faithful in our families. Now, how do you do that? It's a day by day. I'm going to have you read your verse. First, I want you to know Paul says in--where does Paul say that? Paul says, yeah, in 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I affirm by the boasting in you which I have in Christ our Lord Jesus that I die daily." How do you be a consistent witness? Go ahead, read your verse for us.

Luke 9:23, "Then he said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take of his cross daily and follow me.'"

Doug: If you're dying to self daily and taking up your cross daily, you must also be born again daily. That is the renewing of your mind. We read about Jesus said we must be born again, and whoever believes in Christ is born of God. We become new creatures every day. We need to be reborn and that happens through the power of the Word. The Word must be defining our values. Unless we're reading the Word every day, if you're surrounded by culture, culture is going to define your thinking and your worldview. Your worldview needs to be defined by the Word of God, amen?

And we have a special book, one that we'd like to make available, it's called "Alone in the Crowd." If you'd like the free offer, then you can simply call... ask for offer number 714. That's... and that of course is in North America and its territories. The book is "Alone in the Crowd," or you can even text SH004 to 40544, you can download the book there. Another good book I quoted here in the lesson is a book called "Culture and the Christian," it's at the Amazing Facts website, "Culture and the Christian." Has some really good principles, recommend that for everybody. Thank you very much for studying God's Word with us this week, friends. And until next week, God bless you.

Announcer: Don't forget to request today's life-changing free resource. Not only can you receive this free gift in the mail, you can download a digital copy straight to your computer or mobile device. To get your digital copy of today's free gift, simply text the keyword on your screen to 40544. Or visit the web address shown on your screen. And be sure to select the digital download option on the request page. It's now easier than ever for you to study God's Word with Amazing Facts wherever and whenever you want, and most important, to share it with others.

Doug: Hello, friends. We're here in the Philippines overlooking the Taal volcano and lake, which is one of the most interesting pieces of geography in the whole world. For one thing, this great caldera was once the biggest volcano in the world. And now, it holds a lake that holds another volcano, that has another little lake in it, that has another little island in it. This volcano has erupted six times in a major way since the 1500s. And even in 1911, there was an eruption where over 1,300 people died, killed by the smoke and the ash that covered the community. There were tsunamis that came from the lake and destroyed the villages that surrounded the borders of the lake. In fact, this is one of the most carefully monitored seismic places in the Philippines. This volcano is being watched all the time. And they've noticed as of 2006 that it appears that the water temperatures are going up. There's increased seismic activity. In other words, they know that this volcano is a ticking time bomb prepared to blow. And it's very interesting because this place is a place of great seismic activity. But in spite of the fact that volcanologists know this is going to blow again someday, it is a popular tourist destination. They're fighting for the real estate, they're building like mad, and sit on the edge of disaster. It makes us think about how God has given us so many warnings in his Word that the world is going to end, that Jesus is going to come, that the heavens will dissolve with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Seeing then that all these things will be dissolved, what kind of people should we be in all holy conversation and godliness? Friends, are you becoming distracted with the tranquil views of the world, or are you preparing for the next world? Are you getting ready for the big bang?

Announcer: Amazing Facts, changed lives.

Justin: Growing up as a kid, my mother was on drugs and alcohol, lots of fighting in the home. My mom would be abused mentally, verbally, physically. Went from California to Oregon, spent some time in Oregon, and it was just the same cycle of drugs, alcohol, violence. My mom's boyfriend would go to jail at times. She would wait until he would, you know, get out of jail and it was back to square one. The drugs and the alcohol escalated to a lot harder drugs, crystal meth, cocaine, and lots and lots of alcohol. So, I started using the alcohol to--as a medication. It was like it took the misery and the fear that I had, I wanted to drown all that misery. Times I would just grab, you know, a bottle of beer and go out into the desert and just drink until sometimes I'd just pass out in the desert somewhere and wake up the next morning. And you know, and I just couldn't find rest. My stepdad had got me a motorcycle, and so I started riding motorcycles. I'd drink a lot of beer, get on the motorcycle, ride into the desert, do donuts and just--you know, just ride on private property. People would chase me off and I was just causing, stirring up dust and rocks and just causing chaos. And the adrenaline rush that I had was so exciting and the feeling of it was so intense that I loved it, and I forgot about all my problems, you know, at the moment.

And I thought that material things would make me feel so good, you know? And so, I started working, started making money, had a responsibility. But as time went by, I had more money, so I would, you know, use my money that I made to buy drugs and alcohol. Got pulled over, drinking and driving, ended up going to jail for a couple days. I lost my job because I missed work for a few days. Lost my girlfriend, lost all the money that I had. So, once again I was empty, no money, no drugs, no alcohol, and that was a turning point in my life. At this time, I was living with my grandfather. And as I was flipping through the channels on the satellite system, I found "Amazing Facts." Pastor Doug Batchelor was telling his--sharing his testimony about how he was living in a cave. And he was--he struggled the same struggles of alcohol and drugs, and I continued to read the book "The Richest Caveman," and it really impacted my life, and really related to the things he was struggling with and all the events that took place in his life. And when I started reading the Bible, Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And I recognized that I had no strength. I was weak and I was wretched and I needed help. So, I just asked the Lord, I said, "Just help me, Lord." And the Holy Spirit convicted me, and I decided to be baptized and to give my life to Jesus Christ.

A few years after the Lord took the temptation of drinking and doing drugs, he gave me a beautiful wife I met at church. Now, I have a beautiful baby boy, two-year-old baby boy. It's just exciting to see, you know, what God is doing in my life and my family. I met with some friends from my local church that I was attending, and they had told me about Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism Training Seminar. The AFCOE to Go program really inspired me and motivated me to tell young people about, you know, the same struggles that I was struggling with, to help these kids give their life to Jesus Christ. And there's nothing else that you could ask for. I'm Justin, and God used you to change my life.

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