The Least of These

The Least of These

Scripture: Matthew 25:40, Romans 12:20-21, Matthew 25:31-46
Date: 08/24/2019  Lesson: 8
'Jesus’ teaching is practical, focused on what it means to live as a follower of God. As such, we can see that Jesus urges us toward acts of justice, kindness, and mercy, like those that Jesus Himself did while here on earth.'

Is My Christianity Real? Part 1 - DVD or Digital Download

Is My Christianity Real? Part 1 - DVD or Digital Download
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Shawn Brummund: Hello and welcome once again

to another edition of "The Sabbath School Study Hour."

It is always good to be able to have you join us here as we come

together in the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church

here in the Greater Sacramento area of California.

It is always good to be able to come together

and study the Word of God.

"The Sabbath School Study Hour," where the theme

in the beginning right to the end is the study of the

Word of God in all of its power.

We are thrilled to be able to welcome our local members here,

and guests and visitors that have joined us

so far in the Sabbath School lesson study,

as well as those who are watching online.

We are always glad to be able to have you.

We have different online members around the world,

we have friends and guests, and some of you are watching

for the very first time.

We know that your decision to watch this program

will be a blessing here today.

Now, today we're going to be continuing to study a theme that

we've been continued on since last month in July, and that

is from this Sabbath School's quarterly and the entitlement

of it is "The Least of These," "The Least of These."

Now, as it turns out, lesson number eight,

which is the lesson that we're looking at today,

is also entitled "The Least of These."

And so, if you have your Sabbath School quarterly,

we want to invite you to take that out with your Bible,

of course, as we look at that important study.

Now, if you don't have a copy of the Sabbath School quarterly,

you'd like to get a hold of a digital copy, of course you can

go to any Seventh Adventist church and ask them

on a Saturday or Sabbath morning and they'll be happy

to give you one.

Most of the time, they have spares to be able to give those

who are visiting and are interested.

But if you'd like a digital copy,

you can also go to lesson.aftv.org.

That's lesson.aftv.org and you can find there a free digital

download for you to take advantage of that as well.

Before we invite our singers out as we do most of the time when

we come together for the study hour, we always have a free gift

offer that we want to offer to you, and so this

is our opportunity to be able to offer you a DVD.

Now, this particular DVD is entitled,

"Is My Christianity Real?"

"Is My Christianity Real?" and that's part one.

And this is an important question for us to ask.

Now, you can just simply dial 1-866-788-3966, that's

1-866-788-3966, and we'll be happy to be able to send that to

you if you're in North America or any of the US territories.

Now, if you'd rather have a digital copy or you're not

in the US or Canada or the digital--or US territories,

then you can also download on your phone.

And this is one of the advantage we have in our digital age.

And so, you can text the code SH130.

And so, in the message box, you want to put SH130

and you want to text that to the number 40544, 40544.

So, please take advantage of that.

I know that that is a good study in addition to what

we will study in here today.

And so, now we want to invite our singers forward

as we also worship the Lord in song.

♪♪♪

Female: As always, we like to sing together

before we delve into God's Word.

The world seems to be falling apart, and it really is.

And as believers, we are fortunate and we are grateful

that we have a Lord that in Zion

reigneth, and we're going to sing about that today.

And we're going to lift our voices, hymn number seven,

"The Lord in Zion Reigneth," we're going

to sing all three verses.

♪ The Lord is Zion reigneth, ♪

♪ let all the world rejoice. ♪

♪ And come before His throne of grace ♪

♪ with tuneful heart and voice. ♪

♪ The Lord in Zion reigneth, ♪

♪ and there His praise shall ring. ♪

♪ To Him shall princes bend the knee ♪

♪ and kings their glory bring. ♪

♪ The Lord in Zion reigneth, ♪

♪ and who so great as He? ♪

♪ The depths of earth are in His hands, ♪

♪ He rules the mighty sea. ♪

♪ O crown His name with honor, ♪

♪ and let His standard wave ♪

♪ till distant isles beyond the deep ♪

♪ shall own His power to save. ♪

♪ The Lord in Zion reigneth, ♪

♪ these hours to Him belong. ♪

♪ O enter now His temple gates, ♪

♪ and fill His courts with song. ♪

♪ Beneath His royal banner let every creature fall. ♪

♪ Exalt the King of heaven and earth, ♪

♪ and crown Him Lord of all. ♪♪

Shawn: Father in heaven, as we stop, we want to ask for Your

Holy Spirit to be with us this morning.

We want to thank You for the opportunity to be able to study

Your Word so freely here today.

Want to pray that You'll be with our teacher, Pastor Lucas, as he

shares with us and as we go through this important theme of

"Remember the Least of These Amongst Those Who

Live Upon the Earth," Father.

You have called us to love our brother, and that You tell

us that our neighbor and our brother is

every single human being.

And so, Lord, please bless, teach us.

We claim the promise of Your Holy Spirit to

guide us and to teach us all truth.

And so, we pray it in Christ's name, amen.

This morning, we'll be blessed as our new youth or newer youth

pastor, Pastor Lucas, is going to be teaching

"The Sabbath School Study Hour."

God bless you.

Lucas: Pastor Shawn, he mentioned that our lesson this

week has the title of "The Least of These," which is interesting

because the quarterly is also the least of these, right?

This is a pretty broad study.

Honestly, each one of the days of the lesson this week could

be a series of sermons, right?

But we're called right now to have an overview of this, and

I'd like to begin just saying that I feel that the lesson

up to this point has been a build up to this moment.

The lesson has been a build up.

And what comes after this week's lesson is also an aftermath

of what it means to be a citizen of the kingdom.

We've seen that God created a perfect world,

and that was the first lesson.

He created a perfect world, a world of harmony, a world where

the relationship between humans and God, and humans with

one another, was a perfect balanced relationship.

We thought--we saw so that that relationship was broken, the

relationship with God and the relationship with each other,

that was broken by something called sin.

And we've been seeing how God has planned and has tried to

restore that, those two relationships with each other.

The memory verse this week comes from Matthew chapter 25, verse

40, and it says, "And the king will answer and say to them,

'Assuredly I say to you, in as much as you did it to one

of the least of these, my brethren, you did it unto Me.'"

This week, we find basically four main subjects,

three--four scopes of study, and they are the

Sermon on the Mount, and that includes the Beatitudes,

and overcoming evil with good.

We find the parable of the good Samaritan, we find the parable

of the rich man and Lazarus, and finally we find that courtroom

scene where Jesus describes the last day, the Judgement Day.

And that's what we're going to be talking about today.

Now, I love it that it begins, the author found it fit

to begin with the Sermon on the Mount.

And for a while, I was asking myself, "Well, why?"

He mentions the Sermon on the Mount, and

then he goes into some parables.

Why this order? Why this order of study?

And the reason for that is what we find in verse--Matthew

chapter 5, verse 1 and verse 2, where we read that Jesus, He

begins this sermon, He starts this sermon, and it says,

"And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain

and He was seated.

His disciples came to him, and when He was seated,

his disciples came to Him.

Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying--"

And so, Jesus goes into this sermon.

Now, what's interesting is that the book of Matthew,

Matthew was written for whom?

Do you remember?

Matthew was written for the Jewish nation.

Each one of the gospels has a specific target audience.

And the book of Matthew was for the Jewish nation.

That's why you find, for example, in the genealogy that

we have of Jesus in Matthew, who is--who does it go back to?

Who is the first one?

Not Adam, it goes back to Abraham, why?

Because it was interesting, it was important

for the Jewish nation to find a connection between

the Messiah and Abraham, their father.

You'll find that in the book of Luke, that

was written towards who?

The Greek nation, the Gentiles, that's where the genealogy goes

back to Adam because it was important for them

to understand that Jesus, the Messiah, is

the true Son of Man, and so he goes back to Adam.

But in Matthew, he goes back to Abraham, the father

of the Jews, the father of the Jewish nation.

Now, in that context, the first four chapters of Matthew, you'll

find that the main subject is the description of the

person of the king, the person of the Messiah.

You have a description of Jesus, you have the genealogy, you have

where He came from, you have the description of the king.

But from chapter 5 onwards, we have a shift in the subject.

You see, if up to chapter 4 you have the king, from chapter 5

all the way up to chapter 7, which is the Sermon on the

Mount, you have the description of what it means to follow

the king, the virtues of the kingdom of heaven.

What does it mean to be a citizen

of the--a citizen of this kingdom?

So, while in the beginning you have the king,

then there's a shift to what it is to follow the king.

Who is this king?

And the logic is clear, those who accept Him,

they must know Him.

Those who accept Jesus must know who Jesus is.

And here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus appears as a new

Moses, and this was important for the Jews to understand this.

Jesus appeared as a new Moses, He is

bringing a new exodus, freedom from sin.

Jesus is on a new mount, a new mountain,

not the same mountain where Moses got his law.

And Jesus is bringing a clear comprehension of the law.

So, you find that there is a great--there's a connection,

a relation between Moses and Jesus, the law, the

old law and Jesus's law that's not a new law, but

a better, a clearer understanding of the law.

He's on a new mount, and you have that relation

between Jesus and Moses here.

This chapter contains many known sections, and I'm sure that all

of you have probably read books about this, heard sermons

about this, studied lessons about the Sermon on the Mount.

And this goes far because there's just so much

packed into so few chapters.

So, in this chapter we find--in this sermon we find

the Beatitudes, we find the love for our enemies,

we find the Lord's Prayer.

We find the reference to the birds of the air

into the lilies of the fields.

We find the golden rule, we find the narrow path,

the parable of the builders.

It is such a beautiful, deep, profound section of the Bible.

And the point of the sermon, what Jesus is trying to get

across to His listeners, what He's trying to define here is

the Christian relationship between God and others.

The relationship between Christians and God, and

Christians with each other, that's the point of this sermon.

Jesus is trying to say is this is how you should hold your

relationship or have your relationship with God, and how

you should act or live upon your relationship with each other.

And that's why Jesus begins with these Beatitudes.

I'm saying that right, right, Beatitudes?

Okay, you guys have to help me with my pronunciation.

This is why Jesus begins with the Beatitudes.

Since the point is to define Christian relationship with God

and Christian relationship with each other, just like the Ten

Commandments, these Beatitudes are divided in two segments.

I didn't know if you know this, but the Beatitudes

are divided into two segments.

The first four, they have to do primarily with our relationship

with God, and the latter four have to do primarily

with our relationship with each other.

For example, those that have to do with God are blessed

are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall see God.

Sorry, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

And blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they shall be filled.

These are the Beatitudes that have to do with my relationship

with God primarily.

They have to do with me and God.

And the latter four, blessed are the merciful,

for they shall be--for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called

sons of God.

And blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness'

sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

These are the virtues, the Beatitudes that have to do

with my relationship with others around me,

my relationship with people around me.

So, you can see that.

Blessed are the peacemakers, who does that have to do with?

Me and the world around me that is in chaos.

So, the Christian who act as a peacemaker, who brings peace

to a hostile work environment, or a home filled with anger

and strife, someone who brings peace is promised

that theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

So, you see how these--just as the Ten Commandments have to

do with me and God, and me and my neighbor, these

Beatitudes have to do with me and God, and me and my neighbor.

These eight characteristics, they identify Christians.

Actually, they form up the profile of what it means

to be a Christian.

Now, differently from the spiritual gifts, and some people

compare them, you know, the Beatitudes with the spiritual

gifts, differently from the spiritual gifts, where the

spiritual gifts, they're given just a few to each person.

So, we find in the Bible in the New Testament where it says,

you know, "To some it was given the gift of," what?

Of evangelism.

To others it was given the gift of prophecy.

And others have the gift of healing.

And others have the gift of speaking in tongues.

So the Christians, us, we receive one or the other.

Some have two or three, but rarely you'll find

someone that has all the spiritual gifts.

I've never met one.

And that's good that it's like that, it's good that we

are--each one of us, we're good at something different.

But when it comes to these virtues, these eight

characteristics of what it means to be a Christian,

you can't have a Christian that is a peacemaker,

but a Christian who is not pure in heart.

You can't have a Christian who is poor in spirit, but

in the same Christian, he is not hungry for

righteousness or hungry--hunger and thirst for righteousness.

So, these characteristics, they make up what it means

to be a Christian, all of them.

In the same way as in the law, you can't honor one and

break the other, that can't happen, it's the same

with these Beatitudes, these virtues, these characteristics.

They define what it means to be a Christian.

And that's why Jesus mentions them here at the beginning

of this great sermon of His.

They define what it means to be a Christian.

And the key word, the key word here is the word "blessed."

This word "blessed" comes from the Greek "makarios,"

which means joyful, happy, and happy for a specific reason.

We're not just happy for anything, we're happy because

we pertain to the realm of God's government.

We are happy because we are citizens of the kingdom.

You see, what's interesting when it comes to the kingdom

of heaven--and you'll find that in the book of Matthew, Jesus

repeats over and over and over again the following phrase,

"And so the kingdom of heaven is likened unto,"

and then he tells a parable.

You see, in Jesus's words, the kingdom of heaven

isn't primarily a place, it isn't primarily a geography.

The kingdom of heaven to Jesus primarily

is a relationship with the king.

That's what it means to be a citizen

of the kingdom of heaven.

Primarily, the kingdom of heaven is not a place, but a

relationship with the king, with the person of the king.

When we get to the main part of chapter 5,

when we find overcoming evil with good, this is in chapter 5,

verse 38 through 45.

And we're going to read a few of these verses where it says here,

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye

and a tooth for a tooth,' but I tell you

not to resist an evil person.

But whoever slaps you on your right cheek,

turn the other also to him.

If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic,

let him have your cloak also.

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

Give to him who asks you, and from him who

wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor

and hate your enemy,' but I say to you, 'Love your enemies.

Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you.

And pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute

you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.'"

Jesus was always controversial at least, always

on the left hand side of what we would imagine the norm.

Who would preach, "Do good to those who do evil to you.

Love your enemies"?

Who could live by those standards naturally?

It's difficult.

We see this in the world around us.

When someone does evil, what do we want?

Revenge, right?

But Jesus, He sets the bar higher over here.

Jesus sets the bar higher.

This law, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,

this is quoting from the Old Testament,

and it's called the "lex talionis."

That's the name of this law, the lex talionis.

And it means it's a law of revenge.

In many people's mouth, "A tooth for a tooth

and an eye for an eye."

And I've heard it said that if we take that literally,

we'll have a world full of toothless people

and blind--toothless blind people.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

What we find in the Old Testament when we read this text

is that honestly what is being said, what God is teaching

the nation of Israel is that this is a measure of justice.

If you take an eye, I won't take your whole body.

I won't take an arm. What will be taken?

An eye, it's a measure of justice.

But Jesus, again He sets the bar higher.

Now, there's one thing that I really want us to understand.

Most of the Protestant world around us, the evangelical world

around us, they believe right here that Jesus is doing what?

He is giving a new law.

Have you heard someone say this before?

Here, this is the new law, this is Jesus's new law,

and that's what we are under today.

But that is not correct for a few reasons.

First of all, you find in verse 38, you find for example that

Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said."

Do you see that here?

"You have heard that it was said."

Also, you'll find this in verse 43,

"You have heard that it was said."

What is Jesus referencing here? What is Jesus referencing?

Most people will say that He's referencing the Old Testament,

and that's why He is laying down a new law.

"It was said to you this, but I tell you this."

And because of that, many Christians in the world

around us, they'll say that Jesus is giving us a new law.

Jesus is not quoting Scripture here.

When He says, "You have heard," He's not quoting Scripture.

You see, in Jesus's day and actually before that even,

there were two main schools of thought amongst the Jews.

You had the Shammai school and the Hillel school,

Shammai and Hillel.

Sorry, Shammai and Hillel.

Now, the Shammai school, the Shammai line of thought,

it was more traditional, more Bible-based.

While the Hillel train of thought,

the Hillel school was more liberal.

It was more liberal.

And most of the Pharisees, they were from the Hillel school.

Now, in the years, in the centuries proceeding Jesus, the

Jewish nation had established something called the Mishnah.

And the Mishnah were a series of laws, series of laws that

protected the main law, the main code of the Bible.

So, that's where we'll find many rabbinic teachings

that are not in the Bible.

So, for example, when Jesus says in verse 43, "You have heard

that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate

your enemy,'" where in the Bible do you find this?

Absolutely nowhere. It's not in the Bible.

This comes from the Mishnah, this comes from the rabbinic

traditional code, where they said, "You have heard--"

Where they said, "You shall love your neighbor

and hate your enemy."

Jesus isn't saying anything new.

When He answers this, when He says, "But I say to you

love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and

do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who

spitefully use you and persecute you," is Jesus saying

anything new or is He quoting from Scripture?

He's quoting from Scripture.

Jesus is quoting from the book of Deuteronomy.

Do you remember in the temptation of the desert,

when Jesus always answers with, "It is written"?

It is written, it is written.

You see, Jesus, He doesn't come to give a new teaching, He

gives--He comes to confirm that which was already taught.

So, you'll find that these two--you'll find these two

realities in the New Testament in Jesus's terms.

You'll find that when Jesus says, "You have heard," Jesus

isn't talking about the Bible, He's not quoting Scripture.

But when He says, "It was written," or, "Have you not

read," these are the two formulas that

you'll find in Jesus' mouth.

You'll find that He says, "It is written,"

or you'll find, "Have you not read?"

Jesus then is quoting Scripture.

And here He is quoting Scripture.

The characteristics of the kingdom of heaven

were revolutionary.

No one had ever taught anything like this,

at least no one recent.

No one had ever taught anything like this.

It was revolutionary.

Jesus was constantly bringing new--not necessarily new

teachings, but a fresh teaching, a fresh teaching.

When Jesus speaks of overcoming evil with good, compassion

and mercy were not a part of the norms of His time.

They weren't a part of the norms.

The Romans despised the ideas of mercy, they saw it as weakness.

The Jewish nation, the Jews, they dreamed of what?

Revenge against those who had wronged them.

The religious class, the Pharisees, they dressed

themselves up in their own rigid, severe,

rigorous self-righteousness.

Suffering, look at this, even suffering, which you know,

when human suffering, usually what does

human suffering evoke in us?

What is--what are the feelings? Empathy, pity.

In those days, human suffering was seen as--it was

seen as a deserved punishment.

Do you remember in John chapter 9, when Jesus and His disciples

are passing through that man that was born blind?

What question do the disciples ask Jesus?

"Who sinned?"

That was their--that was what they thought.

That was their mindset, "Who sinned?

Was it him or his parents that God should punish him so?"

So, you see that mercy and compassion, these weren't ideals

by which anyone lived by, be them Roman or Greek or Jew.

But here Jesus describes that the citizens of His kingdom

are those who defeat evil with kindness,

defeat evil with kindness.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this that we find in the

Bible comes in the parable of the good Samaritan.

And I'd like to shift to this story right now.

This is found in Luke chapter 10, verse 25 onwards.

I'm going to read the first two verses, 25, 26, and 27.

First three verses, 25, 26, and 27.

And this is what we read here, "And behold, a certain lawyer."

And the word "lawyer" here can be translated

as an expert in the law, okay?

A lawyer, expert in the law, "He stood up and tested Him, saying,

'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'

And he said to him, 'What is written in the law?

What is your reading of it?'

So, He answered and said, 'You shall love the Lord your God

with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your

strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.'"

This is one of the best examples of what Jesus was talking about.

This is a very interesting parable.

It's an exclusive parable to the book of Luke.

You only find this parable in the book of Luke.

What's interesting is that you also find that there are a few

connections between the character found in this parable

and the author of the book, both were Gentiles.

The Samaritan, he wasn't Jewish, Luke wasn't Jewish.

Luke has the distinction of being the only non-Jew author,

Jewish author of the New Testament.

And this story is told as an answer that this expert in the

law asked Jesus, where he says, "Well, then who is my neighbor?"

We covered this four weeks ago when I passed the lesson

last--when I taught the lesson last time.

This man, he asked this question as what?

As a justification because Jesus had called him out.

And so, as a justification, to justify himself, the Bible says

he asks this question, "Well, then who is my neighbor?"

Now, why do you imagine that he's asking this question,

"Who is my neighbor?"

This wasn't a new question.

This was a very controversial subject amongst the rabbis of

Jesus's day because they wanted to define who is the neighbor.

Because once you define who the neighbor is,

what can you then do?

You can exclude those who are not the neighbor.

If I can define who my neighbor is,

then I know who is not my neighbor.

And if I know who is not my neighbor, I know who

I have to treat well and who I can neglect,

who I don't have to care about.

So, Jesus tells this story.

He doesn't answer the question outright.

And this was Jesus's way, He wouldn't give the answer easy.

He made people think.

You see, Jesus was the master of removing people

from the audience and placing them on the stage.

Jesus was a master at that, at exposing people's wrong

thoughts and teaching them, helping them understand

what was the truth of the kingdom of heaven.

When we get to the parable, and we're not going to read

the whole parable here, you all know this parable,

heard it your whole life.

But when we arrive in this parable, one

thing that's fascinating is that Jesus doesn't

give a big description of the victim.

He says, "And a certain man was coming from Jericho

to--from Jerusalem to Jericho," and that's all you have.

We don't know if he was rich or poor.

We don't know whose father he was.

We don't know if he was well connected.

We don't know if he had a family.

We don't know what his profession was.

We don't know from the Bible if he was Jewish or not.

All we know is that there was a man coming

from Jerusalem going to Jericho.

That's all you find about this man.

Who was this man? Apparently, here he's anonymous.

Jesus deliberately does this, deliberately eliminates

any possibility of identification.

The fallen man is even incapable of asking for help.

He can't even help himself.

He's completely helpless, at the total mercy

of the others that pass him by.

And you find three others.

You find the priest, you find the Levite,

and you find a third man.

When the priest passes him by, what does he do?

He goes straight forward.

Perhaps this priest was scared of ceremony--ceremonial

uncleanliness, impurity.

You see, the rabbinical code of those days had come up

with this theory, this term,

or this belief of impurity by association.

This is not biblical.

It's impurity by association, which means that just

by being close to something impure,

I can then by association become impure.

Why do you think that, for example, Peter, he

is very reluctant to go to Cornelius's house?

Because it was taboo, it was impure, you would become

impure by even entering a Gentile's house.

Where is that in the Bible? Nowhere.

That's rabbinical teaching.

And so this priest, perhaps afraid of becoming impure.

And he who was holy, he had to do with the temple

and the sanctuary, he didn't want to become impure,

and so he passes by.

We find a second person here, who?

The Levite.

The Levites were a second class of clergy.

They had responsibilities also in the temple and

in the major cities, they were very religious.

They were a tribe of--a religious tribe.

This man, this Levite, he also passes by.

Perhaps this was one of those Christians that sees

suffering and he says a word of prayer,

"Oh dear Lord, please have mercy on his soul."

But he continues on.

"Oh Lord, please have mercy on his soul," but he continues on.

Maybe he's scared of the bandits,

this was a very dangerous area, right?

The path from Jericho to Jerusalem was a path of about 17

miles of distance, and it was full of ups and downs and caves

where many bandits--it was called the Bloody Path just

for you to see, the Bloody Path because it was so dangerous.

So, perhaps this Levite, afraid of the bandits,

afraid of anything that might happen to him, he walks on by.

Now, this third character that appears in the story,

Jesus's listeners, they were expecting that this character

was a late Jew, a late Israelite.

That's what they were expecting, that would make sense.

A laymen Israelite, someone who had no ties to the religious

establishment, nothing, but was a good man,

that's what they would expect.

But the text says, it tells us here, a certain what?

Samaritan.

And here, my friends, we lose

the strength of the illustration.

We lose notion or the idea of the illustration because we

can't--today, 2,000 years later, we have a hard time

truly understanding how great the hostility

between these two nations was.

And if you just want to see what I'm talking about, when I say

the word "Samaritan," what do you think of?

What's the word that comes to mind?

Good, good, that's what you hear.

"Oh, he was a Samaritan."

If someone said that today, "Oh, he was a Samaritan,"

what does that mean?"

He was good, he did something good because

he was a good Samaritan.

But in those days, good and Samaritan were the last thing

anyone would ever imagine about Samaritans.

The Samaritans, just for you to understand, the Samaritans, they

were a hybrid race, they were a mixture of the Jewish nation

that had been exiled and all the other pagan nations around them.

They were cursed publicly and in synagogues.

They could not be accepted as proselytes, they

could not be converted to Judaism.

They could not--they had no part in the resurrection

or in the eternal life.

They had no part in this.

Their witness was not acceptable in a court of law.

Their food, eating their food, to a Jewish--to an Israelite,

it was worse than eating pork.

Their women were considered impure.

They could not become responsible

for an Israelite orphan.

These were the Samaritans, hated, hated.

And he is who Jesus uses as a perfect example of love.

He's the only nonreligious of the story, the only one.

He had every reason to turn away, every reason.

But he decides to become involved.

And Jesus adds details to this story.

Jesus says that this man used his own

supplies to treat the victim.

Jesus says that he used his own animal to transport him.

The story tells us that when he arrives in the inn,

he pays from his own pocket.

He pays for this man's days in the inn.

And he says, he tells the owner of the inn, "Look, if he

wastes--if he uses anything more, if he spends--if there's

any other expense, I will pay from my own pocket."

My friends, this is not mere humanitarianism.

This is Christian love.

This is what Jesus was talking about.

This is not mere humanitarianism.

And Jesus ends the parable with that first question,

the question that was given to him, "Who is my neighbor?"

But Jesus twisted it, Jesus changes that question a

little bit because if that question, "Who is my neighbor?"

is an--is a question of exclusion, Jesus's answer

or Jesus's question back to the expert of the law

is a question of all inclusion.

Because Jesus, He changes the subject of the question.

Who was the neighbor of him who fell?

That is how Jesus gives the question back.

Who was the neighbor of him who fell?

Do you see how Jesus changes the question?

To Jesus, the neighbor is not the object of the deed.

Understand this.

To Jesus, to Jesus, the neighbor is not the object of the deed,

but the subject.

It is he who practices the deed.

The neighbor is not he who receives the good deed,

but he who practices it.

What does that tell you?

Is the question, "Who is my neighbor?"

the correct question?

No, the true question is, well, who am I the neighbor to?

Do you see the change in the question?

It's not someone else that is my neighbor,

I have to act as the neighbor.

I must be the neighbor.

That is what Jesus is teaching here,

how to overcome evil with good.

This man had everything to turn away.

But he becomes personally involved.

An example of how God treated us, this world, where he became

personally involved, personally responsible for all of us, amen?

The next story that we find, the next parable that we find

in this week's lesson in the least of these

is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

And this appears in Luke chapter 16.

I like that these different parables, they

appear in the book of Luke.

My name is Lucas, and my father gave me this name

because of the book of Luke.

He was studying the book of Luke for his thesis and

he was studying, you know, everything that was

happening here, and he became mesmerized with Luke.

And that's why my name is Lucas today.

So, I find interesting that these different parables, these

parables that you only find in Luke, well, these are the

parables that you only find--you only find in Luke.

If I could rename this parable, I would rename it

as the neighbors who never met.

The rich man and Lazarus, the neighbors who never met.

This is quite an exclusive parable because, well,

amongst other reasons, this is the only parable

where you find that Jesus gives a name

to one of the characters, did you know that?

This is the only parable that you will find in the Bible where

Jesus gives a name to one of the characters,

and the name was Lazarus, Lazarus.

Now, the Bible doesn't tell us the name of the rich man, but

Jewish tradition tells us--well, Jewish tradition calls this man

in the parable, Dives, all right?

It's not in the Bible, and that's probably not what his

name was, but the Jewish tradition called him Dives,

which literally means rich man.

The word "Dives" literally means rich man,

and that's what they called him.

So, for the sake of the parable, that's what we'll call them,

we'll call him Dives, which means rich man.

They probably passed each other many times, multiple times.

But Lazarus was invisible to Dives.

And Jesus, He spares no words describing the situation here.

Lazarus, surviving on meager charity, full of sores, probably

disabled, dogs would come to lick his wounds.

What does that tell you?

I mean, the easiest thing for anybody when a dog comes or,

you know, or something like that, or a fly

comes in and lands on you, what?

You swat it away, you push it away.

But this man was incapable of defending

himself, helpless, defenseless, hungry.

Scripture tells us that he wanted to

feed himself with what?

The crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.

Do you know what crumbs these were?

Bread in those days, in Jesus's days, they were used both as a

fork or a spoon and as a napkin, and would be tossed away.

This man desired, he longed to fill his stomach with what?

The napkins used by others at the table.

Now, many people have tried to use this parable

to defend their idea of the immortality of the soul.

You've probably heard this, right?

Many people use this parable to defend the

idea of immortality of the soul.

But there are a few serious problems with this that someone

would have to navigate through these problems to actually,

you know, use this parable for that reason.

For example, Romans 6:23, all of you know this,

the wages of sin is what?

Death.

Does the Bible tell us that the wages of sin is life in hell?

Is that what the Bible's saying?

The wages of sin is life in hell?

No, the wages of sin is death.

And the right--the right next sentence, the following sentence

is that the gift of God is what?

Eternal life.

The gift of God is eternal life.

So, here eternal life and eternal death

are placed in a contrast.

Otherwise, we would have both kinds of eternal life,

eternal life in heaven and eternal life in hell.

But does the Bible teach that? Of course not.

Of course not, that's not what the Bible is saying here.

Maybe another problem with this interpretation would be,

what kind of heaven is this?

Is it possible, would it be possible for me to arrive in

heaven and then just look over this chasm and then

on the other side see my loved ones suffering?

What kind of heaven would that be if I would get there

and I would see perhaps a brother or a sister or someone

that I love, they're suffering, burning for all eternity?

What kind of heaven would this be?

I don't know if I would want to go to this heaven.

Would it be possible, for example, for me to take

a piece of bread and throw it over the chasm

for someone that's in that--in hell?

Would it be possible for me to wet my finger

and, you know, let them lick it for water?

What kind of heaven would this be?

No, friends, Jesus here, He is speaking figuratively.

It's figurative language taken from the common notions

from--that had penetrated the Jewish--post-exile

Judaism under Greek philosophy.

That's where this story, this notion comes from.

And Jesus corrects it, but Jesus uses it.

We have--and basically what Jesus is saying here,

basically what Jesus is using this story for

is to teach us a very basic lesson.

We have one life to serve, only one life.

The chance that we have to serve is here and now.

Right here, right now, and that is while we are alive.

That is the story that Jesus is trying to convey.

The good we must do, we must do now while

the door of life is open.

The cynics might've laughed at Lazarus.

You know what Lazarus means, the name?

My God, my God is my help, or the Lord is my help.

God is my help, that's what the name Lazarus means.

And cynics might've laughed. Look at Lazarus here suffering.

And this is an emblem for another Lazarus, is it not?

Who also died.

The cynics might've laughed at Lazarus, God is my help.

Maybe not at Lazarus, but at his God.

Where's your God, oh Lazarus, that

apparently is helping no one?

There are millions in the world suffering, where is your God?

The problem here, my friends, is not with God.

The problem is with His so-called stewards, humans.

That's where the problem is at.

You see, God created a world with enough

sustenance for all, did he not?

But one thing that God did not create was a world

with enough sustenance for the greed of all.

While around 815 million people every year suffer from chronic

undernourishment, approximately 1.3 billion tons of food

go to waste every year, 1.3 billion tons.

About one-third of every--of all food produced for human

consumption, which amounts to about $1 trillion,

every year goes to waste.

The problem is not with God, the problem is

with His so-called stewards, humanity.

And that's why Jesus, when He's talking about the least

of these, after introducing the virtues, the characteristics of

the--of His citizens, of the citizens of His kingdom, after

exemplifying through these parables and many others what

it truly means to love your neighbor, to be a citizen

of the kingdom, Jesus then describes this courtroom scene.

This appears in Matthew 25, we're going to read verses 35,

and it says, "For I was hungry," 35 through 40,

"For I was hungry and you gave me food.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

I was a stranger and you took me in.

I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me.

I was in prison and you came to me.

I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me.

I was in prison and you came to me."

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we

see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

When, Lord, did we see You, a stranger,

and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

Or when did we see You sick or in prison and come to You?

And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say

to you, in as much as you did it to the least of these of my

brethren, you have done it unto Me."

What's interesting here, and please bear with me because this

becomes kind of tricky, what's interesting is that the final

test of religion, at least here, is not religiosity, but love.

You see, Matthew 25, Jesus brings us a judgment scene.

Jesus is sitting upon the throne.

The nations of the world are brought before him.

And on that day, the question will not be--we don't see this

here in this judgment scene described by Jesus.

The question will not be if we believed.

That's not what it's saying here.

But if we loved. And please again bear with me.

Don't believe that I'm teaching here a kind of,

you know, salvation by works.

There's no contradiction here with faith.

I'm not talking about salvation by works.

The heart of the matter is, did your belief lead to love?

Do you see? Did your belief lead to love?

In the end, it's not ultimately what I believed in that saves

me, but if what I believed in was capable of transforming me.

Do you see?

It's not ultimately what you believe, but did

what you believe--was what you believe capable

of changing you, of transforming you?

That is what Jesus is saying here.

Belief becomes faith at the point of action.

Belief becomes faith at the point of action.

It's not enough to believe. Satan believes.

Belief becomes faith at the point of action.

Do you understand in that last final day of judgment, Jesus

will not mention what we usually consider the big sins.

Sins that--sin is transgression of the law,

as we find in 1 John.

But as we find in 1 Timothy chapter 1, verse 5

the purpose of the law is what?

Love. The purpose of the law is love.

You see, denying love is denying the Spirit of Christ,

and that is the ultimate proof that we never knew him,

that he never lived in us.

Denying love means that He never inspired our deeds,

He never motivated our lives.

Despite our great religious pretensions and our great

religious speeches, denying the love that I have lived

in myself, for myself, and only thought of myself.

And so it will be in the end, in the presence of the Son of Man,

His humanity will judge our inhumanity.

That spectacle will be terrible.

When His burning eyes penetrate through all those false

pretenses, when those that lived as Jesus had never--as if Jesus

had never lived will feel naked under His gaze,

without any masks or hiding places.

And there we will meet once again with those who

either we loved or those who we neglected, who we ignored,

who we treated with contempt.

No witnesses will be necessary, no accusations.

The words that will be heard that day

will not come from theology, but from life.

Not from the church, not even from the Bible, not from

religion, but from those who crossed our path through life.

From those who we gave out cups of water, of--that we visited,

that we clothed all in the name of Christ.

I'd like to end with a text coming from Isaiah chapter 58,

verse 6 and 7, and this is what it says, "Is this not the

fast that I have chosen to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo

the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free,

and that you break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and that you

bring to your house the poor that are cast out?

When you see the naked that you cover him and not

hide yourself from your own flesh?"

You see, sometimes my friends, we become

so preoccupied with something called orthodoxy.

Do you know what orthodoxy means?

Correct belief.

The word "orthodoxy" means correct belief.

We become so preoccupied with orthodoxy

that we forget something called "orthopraxis,"

correct behavior, the correct praxis.

We forget orthopraxis.

Which is why this prophet here, he severely rebuked

the Israelites of Jesus--of the Old Testament times.

And these were people very similar to us.

These were people that were very interested, were very--they were

very--they found it very important to follow the correct

day of worship, the day of rest, the day of atonement,

the cleansing of the sanctuary.

They were very zealous about the health code.

But so much so that they forgot about orthopraxis, about

how to treat the poor, how to treat the widows.

And do you see that the terminology used in Isaiah

is the same that Jesus used?

Clothing the poor, giving them food, giving them water,

visiting them, harboring an orphan,

that's the terminology here that Isaiah uses.

The final exam will not be based primarily on our

orthodoxy, but our orthopraxis.

That is what the lesson taught this week when it comes

to the least of these, it exemplifies all these things.

That's the time that we have for today.

I would like to thank you for joining us here in the local

church, also thank you that joined us through the Internet.

And we'll be waiting for you again at next week's

"Sabbath School Study Hour."

May God bless you.

male announcer: Don't forget to request today's

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♪♪♪

Doug Batchelor: We're here on the beautiful coast

of the island of Puerto Rico.

And if you were to travel east about 2,000 miles,

of course you'd be out in the middle of the ocean.

But you'd also be in the middle of a mystical sea

called the Sargasso Sea.

It gets its name because of this common brown seaweed

that can be found floating in vast mass.

The area of the Sargasso Sea is about 700 miles wide

and 2,000 miles long.

Now, the seaweed itself is fascinating stuff.

It was first observed and called gulf weed

by Christopher Columbus.

It gets the name sargassum from the Portuguese.

Some people use it as herbal remedies, but out

in the middle of the Sargasso Sea, the water

is some of the bluest in the world.

It's there you can see 200 feet deep in places.

It also has a great biodiversity and ecosystem

that surrounds the Sargasso Sea.

For years, scientists wondered where the American

and Atlantic eels were breeding.

They knew the adult eel swam down the rivers

out into the Atlantic, but they never could find

the place where they reproduced.

Finally, they discovered it was out in the middle

of the Sargasso Sea.

So, it's a fascinating place, but if you're an ancient sailor,

you did not want to get stuck there.

Being caught in the doldrums was extremely difficult

for the ancient sailors.

Of course, their boats were driven by wind and sail,

and they'd be caught in the vast mass of the seaweed that would

wrap around their rudder, barnacles would begin to grow.

It's an area that is notorious for light and baffling winds,

and so they'd make no progress, they'd get stuck.

The men would become extremely dispirited.

Sometimes, violence and even insanity would break out

as people were trapped in the doldrums.

Well, friends, perhaps sometimes you felt that

you're trapped in the doldrums.

You've gone through episodes of depression, you feel

like you're going in circles, life seems stifling.

You know, the Bible offers good news, there is a way out.

The Bible talks about a famous character that was trapped

in a cycle of depression.

He was low as you could be.

Matter of fact, he even had seaweed wrapped around his head.

His name was Jonah, but God gave him a way of escape.

In Jonah chapter 2, verse 3 through 7, we read, "For You

cast me into the depths, into the heart of the seas,

and the floods surrounded me.

All of Your billows and Your waves passed over me.

Then I said, 'I have been cast out of Your sight.

Yet I will look again towards Your holy temple.'

The waters surrounded me, even to my soul.

The deep closed around me.

Weeds were wrapped around my head.

I went down to the moorings of the mountains.

The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.

Yet You've brought my life up from the pit.

O Lord, my God, when my soul fainted within me, I remember

the Lord, and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple."

You know, friends, the way that Jonah got out of his

discouraging circumstances, he turned to God and he prayed.

And if God could hear Jonah's prayer, just think about it,

he was as far away from God as anybody could be.

He was in the belly of a sea monster in the bottom of the

ocean in the dark, yet he turned to God and God heard his prayer.

You know, these ancient sailors, when they were trapped on the

deck of a ship for weeks stuck in the doldrums, discouraged,

sometimes they would have a prayer meeting and pray that God

would send a breeze that would set them free

and get their boats moving.

They turned to God in prayer and often miracles would happen,

and the wind would flutter in the sails

and bring them out of their seaweed prison.

Friends, maybe you have been stuck in the doldrums.

Maybe you've been caught in a cycle of depression.

If God can do it for Jonah, if hHe can do it

for the ancient sailors, He can do it for you.

Turn to the Lord in prayer, trust His Spirit to blow

through your soul and to set you free.

♪♪♪

Announcer: Amazing Facts, changed lives.

Kip Johnston: I was raised very spoiled,

very lucky, very blessed.

I was raised in the church actually.

As a child, God was presented to me as vindictive,

so it didn't interest me very much.

When I got much older, I was told by a friend of mine

that I wasn't even a Christian.

I said, "I'm a good person, I don't steal,

I don't cheat, I don't kill."

And it was told to me that, "No, in order to be a Christian,

you must be born again."

The next day, I went and appropriated a Bible,

I read the New Testament.

I just set the Bible down and said,

"God, if You're real, deal me in."

I went to a Christian college to study theology and about God.

But when I left college, I took a job selling Christian

literature and Bibles door to door, and I went flat broke.

I stopped in to play poker in a place in LA.

I was an instant success.

My life became poker, and I got books, and I read poker books.

I had my Bible in one hand and a poker book in the other.

I was a Christian poker player.

I thought that the Lord was blessing me.

The amount of money that I made playing poker was so big,

it would scare you.

I was very self-indulgent, I did not deny myself anything

that I thought would make me happy, but I was still empty.

I went to all the Christian churches,

gave them all a fair shot.

Some of them three months, some of them two years.

Unimpressed.

Saturday morning, I happened to be traveling from one

poker place to another, I just happened to have a little TV

in my truck, and Doug Batchelor came up on there.

And I was like, "This guy makes sense."

I knew Doug Batchelor was in Sacramento,

so I came to meet him.

I told him, I said, "I am a Christian doing God's work,

and I make a living playing poker.

And I am giving away great--to players,

I go to church and help the community, and

don't tell me that I'm not doing what's right."

And he said, "No, you got to get out of that casino, period."

I said, "I'm making good money."

And he says, "I know that you know what

I'm telling you is right."

And I did.

I recognized that through it all, I wasn't happy.

I said, "Lord, my life is a disaster.

I'm selfish, I'm empty.

I've tried to do what You wanted me to do so many times,

and I've always failed.

Why do I always fail? Why do I always lose my way?"

And the Lord spoke to me, says, "You got to be involved.

You got to be involved in My work."

And that's when I said, "I need to dedicate my life

fully to God's work."

I, by the grace of God and my wife, we went to India.

Until the Lord tells me otherwise, we're going to build

orphanages in India so that children can grow up

and hear about Jesus, and they can go tell

the 1.3 billion people in their country.

God had a plan for me, and now I just want to be

fully dedicated to the Lord's cause.

I am Kip Johnston, and God used Amazing Facts to change my life.

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

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