Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Love Under Fire - Ch. 7
Luther, a Man for His Time
Love Under Fire - Ch. 8
A Champion of Truth
Even men such as Martin Luther, the great Reformer, struggled with their faith. No matter who we are, God has the ability to reform us into spiritual giants to accomplish His grand purposes.
Youth Sabbath School Ideas for July 23, 2022
Lesson Plan 1: Paul’s Bait and Switch
In this lesson we will be looking at the concept of salvation and faith through the lens of Romans 1-3. This text has proved to be foundational to Protestant Christianity’s idea of righteousness by faith and salvation by grace.
OPENING ACTIVITY: TUG OF SALVATION
Supplies needed: masking tape or a long piece of string/rope
Place a line of tape or the rope across the floor of your youth room to split the space in half. Move other objects out of the way and divide your group in two. Their job is to pull as many people as they can across the line to their side. Give teams a time limit to do so. (This game can get very physical so depending on your group make sure people know that you will stop the game if it gets too rough.) The goal is to get everyone to your side. (Leader Hint: To make sure that no one just sits back, make a rule that everyone must always be one step away from the line and that crossing the line means at least two points of contact on the other side. In other words, you can cross with just one foot and it doesn’t count.) Here are several different scenarios you can play:
(Leader: Here is a story you can tell. But it will be even better if you have a story of your own about fighting to save your friends.)
Have you ever played a game of King of the Hill? It is often played in the swimming pool. One person will get a floating raft and the rest of us will try to knock them off, then scramble on top ourselves to be King/Queen of the Hill.
A few weeks ago our youth group was at the lake and someone brought a large inflatable floating island. It was built for probably from six to eight people to enjoy, but pretty soon our youth group had about 20 people on this island, so I decided it was time for a giant game of King of the Hill/Sharks and Minnows. We all had life jackets on by the way, #safetyfirst. We had some of the upper classmen and adults in the water and they were trying to pull all of the underclassmen off of the raft. It was a lot of fun. As one upperclassman student would grab hold of someone on the raft, several other students would grab other parts of the student to keep them safe on their team, but while that was happening another upperclassman would sneak up from behind and grab one of the people helping their friends and chaos would ensue. In the end there was no winner, but everyone was exhausted.
In our text today the Apostle Paul has found that there is a King of the Hill scenario happening within the fledgling Christian church in Rome. Much of the controversy was between Jews who had become Christians and Gentiles/Romans who had come from their worldview to accept the Gospel message. As we look at these passages today, I hope you can see that the only real winner Paul hopes will emerge is the Gospel, not factions. So maybe this is a message that might apply to our lives today.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
The first 13 verses of Romans 1 begin with greetings and warm feelings toward the reader. Paul lets the readers know how much he wants to visit their church and spend time with them. Feel free to scan over that as we head to verse 14-17 where Paul sets the tone for his entire epistle.
Read Romans 1:14-17.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
116 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
(Leader: This might be a good time to talk about Reformers like Martin Luther and how key righteousness by faith was to the Reformation. Include that we as Adventists are children of the Reformation.)
Following this beautiful greeting and exposé on righteousness by faith, the next section might seem a little shocking! Paul gets real, really fast, with the Roman believers. There are a lot of interesting conflicting ideas at play here. Let’s look at just a few:
Read Romans 1:28-32.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Have you ever pointed at someone and laughed at them or accused them of doing something wrong? Go ahead, everyone point at me (the leader) and laugh at me. Here is the funny thing when you pointed at me: there are more fingers pointing back at you than at me! Paul does an amazing job of setting up the Jewish readers here. He sets up all the believers in Rome who think they have moral superiority over others and his real message about righteousness and grace starts in the next few verses. He does the most amazing literary bait and switch to his readers.
For those of you who have only read Romans 1:18-32 and felt as if you could never fit into the church, the next verses are for you. For those of you who have had people weaponize the end of chapter 1 against you, you need to continue reading because Paul is making an amazing point about grace and righteousness in the next verses we will read!
Read Romans 2:1-5.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
In the next section of his letter Paul reels the Jewish reader back in talking about how the law does serve a purpose, but it is God’s faithfulness and righteousness that supersedes the law and that is where focus should first be placed. We cannot leave this section of Romans and not look at the end of Romans 3. Again, this passage has changed the course of Christianity. When Martin Luther read these verses, he experienced a glorious freedom in Christ that brought about the Protestant reformation. You have probably memorized Romans 3:23; it is a foundational text, and one that is used at the beginning of most Bible studies with new believers. Too often, however, we don’t read the whole context of that verse. Let’s do it now!
Read Romans 3:21-31.
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
I know that was long, but it was all so good we couldn’t cut any of it out! I hope you heard some Gospel good news there!
Finally, I hope that this lesson gave you confidence. Yes, we are sinners, but God through Jesus has made things right! If you believe, you are in! That simple! There are no perfect people. We say that all the time, but do you believe that? I hope you do. It sounds very clichéd but there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more than He already does, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. God is crazy about you and the relationship He has with His creation! So lean into that Gospel message this week.
(Leader: If appropriate for the lesson, ask if there is anyone who would like a special prayer to recognize that God loves them, sin and all. Maybe this week someone wants to give their heart to Jesus or renew a relationship with Him! Don’t be afraid to ask your group!)
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
Studying Revelation is truly a unique experience, as we are given the duality of both historical and present-day warnings to a level of directness we have not experienced in the Bible before. The Cornerstone curriculum has followed the path of not only the Bible, but also the Conflict of the Ages series, and we have reached the last book of the series: The Great Controversy. Paired with Revelation, The Great Controversy tells the story of the church’s history, through the post-biblical era, through the Reformation and early Adventism, all the way up to the 2nd coming of Christ.
Reading the incredible stories of reformers such as Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, and many more, we see the tremendous faith and courage it took to stand up for their faith in an environment that pushed against them. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in a “safeguarded” community of believers and to hide there, and, while it is good to seek support among other brothers and sisters of the same faith, we must branch out. Being a pioneer or a lone voice in the crowd is never easy, and sometimes has uncomfortable repercussions such as jeering, isolation, and persecution.
As I read the stories of the early reformers and their experiences with courage, I was reminded of the story of the undeniable courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when faced with the prospect of capital punishment if they spoke against the requirements of the king. The stories are strikingly similar: a joined church and government threatening the lives of people if they dared to go against the established religion—courageous, God-fearing citizens who could not abide by the law, faced with death by burning (whether it is by a furnace or on a stake), choosing to not only disregard the ungodly laws but to also tell the authorities what they were doing wrong.
As we approach the end times, we know that harder times will come again, and we must have courage. As we pray for the youth in our lives today, say a special prayer for them to have the courage to stick up for what is right, just as our ancestors did.
Courage of Our Ancestors
When was a time you had to stand up for your faith?
Read Daniel 3:1-30.
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! 10 Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the early Protestants are so strikingly similar and have much to say about the courage we should strive to have as last day believers. Sometimes as youth, it can be difficult to step out of our shell and speak up for what is right, whether it be in school, outside activities, and even at church. In order to raise a strong group of youth that will rally until the end, we must strive to not only quietly disapprove, but tell everyone what we believe in. That way, we create a message that will spread far and wide, working to effectively expedite the second coming of Jesus.
The courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the early Reformers is so relatable to us as last day believers and evangelists. It is always a necessary part of studying to sit back and meditate how a story applies to us today as youth. Below you will find three applications that can benefit the youth in your group and help them meditate on the word shared today. These applications work both individually and in a group.
It takes courage to stand up for what’s right, just like we’ve seen in the stories of the three Jews in Babylon or the Reformers. It can also be scary and lonely to feel like the only one going against the crowd. Luckily, we are never alone, as we always have God on our side. We also are not the first to do this, and there are many stories of brave pioneers who stood up for their beliefs.
As Adventist youth, we experience many “gold statues,” or obstacles that we face in our lives that go against what we know to be true. It may be going out on a Sabbath, eating pork or other things that harm our bodies, or going against the Bible in general.
It can be easy to get caught up in the fear of persecution and mockery when standing up for what is right. In fact, this is probably a big reason a lot of youth remain silent conformers. As always, it is to our advantage to shift from a negative to a positive mindset.
The Beliefs and Practices of Adventist Adolescents
Created by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Do you want to know more about Adventist adolescents? So do we! It is so exciting to share the recent data from the 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) with you. This study encompassed 63,756 participants from 13 divisions; 7,490 of them (12% of the sample) were young people up to 20 years of age. Who are these Adventist adolescents? This book will tell us more about them. The data will shed light on key areas of their lives including where some improvements can help them continue to grow and thrive.
1. Food Care Kits For Homeless Shelters / Street Ministry
Help eliminate hunger. Purchase ready to eat and easy to open food items and assemble them in resealable plastic bags. Donate to shelters or use for street ministry.
Cost: Less than $10.00
2. Sleeping Mats For The Homeless
Re-use plastic bags for a great cause. Save plastic bags and convert them into a sleeping mat for the homeless.
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Early Learning Bean Bags
Help small children learn at home. This easy sew bean bag craft can help children learn alphabets, numbers, or shapes.
Cost: Less than $5.00