Sabbath School

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The biblical concept of stewardship, writes Charles E. Bradford, “is more than a narrow creedal statement. It is a dynamic principle under which the kingdom of God operates.”[1] The author for this week admonishes us not to be conformed to this world (Rom 12:2).

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10

Romans 12 and 13 contain different counsels on how to put into practice the gospel of justification by faith (1:17) which, I believe, is the main thesis of the book of Romans. The fact that the apostle Paul inserted the concluding word, “therefore” indicates that he wanted his audience to respond to the preceding content of his message (1:18-11:36).

I used to have a large collection of stationary—notecards, notepaper—in all colors and weights.  Most of my friends have received letters or cards from me at some point in time.  It makes me feel closer to someone far away when I can sit down and write them a letter.  And in my mind it conveys a lot more than just a quick email or text message.

The best way to understand Romans 8:1–17 is through a storyline. Many, many words have been written to explain this wonderful story, but I will simply give you the outline of the plot for you to think about in the context of this week’s Sabbath School lesson.

Romans 7:1–6

Freedom is one of the highest human virtues. People have fought and died to gain it. Freedom is also a dominant theme in the Bible. The word “free” occurs 98 times, “freed” 6 times, “freedom/liberty” 24 times (in the ESV). We all want to be free. Understanding the true nature of freedom from a Biblical perspective can offer peace of heart and an assurance of our standing before God. Paul tackles this topic in Romans 7:1–6, and to this passage we will focus our attention.

Romans 6, twittered, is: God sees in you someone you don’t, but should!

Paul wants us to shift perspective, to see ourselves as God sees us, to walk in heavenly moccasins. Let me illustrate:

It is not surprising that Paul longed to visit Rome and connect with the saints there.  There were many versions and visions of the Way that led to salvation and at-one-ment with God. Paul was eager that the believers in Rome heard from his very own lips the good news that he had experienced personally; the redemptive power of salvation visited upon humanity through Jesus the Christ, the provision of grace for all people.

This week we are celebrating the five-hundredth Anniversary of the nailing of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther on the door of the church. The “reformation” of the Church grew out of Luther’s own personal experience and study of the sacred Scriptures which clearly had taught him that, “the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17 NKJV) and not the earning of indulgences which many of the theses so roundly speak against.

Few things are more common among Seventh-day Adventists than laments that the denomination is too institutionalized in its many schools, medical centers, food factories, publishing houses, youth camps, and other such things all around the world. Quite a few conservatives want to sell them and put the money into evangelism.