Sunday School Lesson – “Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith” 1 Timothy 6:11-21

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VERSE DISCOVERY: 1 Timothy 6:11-21 (KJV, Public Domain)

In case you didn’t know, we are in a competition like no other.  The world, as God originally designed it, was good.  But through the course of time, as evil entered the world, this place that we call our physical home has become a contentious place.  It has become a battleground where a spiritual war is being waged every day and the target of the main attacks is our faith.

If you have ever heard someone use phrases of exasperation over the struggles they are facing, you get the sense that what they are involved in at that moment or what they are dealing with is extremely hard.  The way they are trying to go or the thing they are trying to accomplish at that time is not easy; rather, it comes with the press of extra effort to get done what they need to get done to make it through.

No truer is this than in the adherence of and the push to maintain our Christian faith.  In a world bent on opposing us with its lack of values and moral character, and with spiritual enemies all around, we are in a fight to keep firm in what we believe.

But keep firm we must.  We are called to be proactive in protecting and walking in our faith.  We must be diligent in our obedience to God as we hold on to our confession and confidence in the One who “…hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son,” (Colossians 1:13). 

What God has given us through Jesus Christ is too good to let go of now and the reward up ahead is greater than one can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9) and it is eternal.  We must strive to not let the flow of this world influence us or make us waver in our faith.

This lesson is a bold message for us to hold on to what we believe.  To pursue after and fight the good fight of faith, and never let it go.  Pursuing the good fight of faith requires something from us.  In this lesson, I will cover six specific topics of personal accountability for the one who is pressing forth and pursuing the good fight of faith.

 1. Our Inward Commitment

1 Timothy 6:11 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”

In the verses leading up to the lesson text, Paul, in his letter to Timothy, encourages him in his role as pastor of the church of Ephesus.  In this role of leadership, Timothy would be responsible for how things are ordered or conducted in the church.  As one to whom others would look up to, spiritual discipline would be of the highest order because it not only testifies of the leader before the congregation, but it teaches the congregation how to act before the world.  All with the end purpose of drawing more people to believe in Jesus Christ through their living testimonies.

In chapter 6 particularly, some of the issues Paul points out for teaching edification revolves around the idea of contentment, erroneous teaching and beliefs, and the warning of the love of money and how it has already caused some to “err from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).  For these, Paul wants Timothy to be on guard from these practices while pursuing and protecting his faith.

“But thou, O man of God.”  Let us pause here for a moment and pay attention to that word “but.”  In contrast to what Paul has already described as the wrong way some are following, the word “but” serves as a sifting agent for the one whose identity is tied up in God.  In baking, sifting is used to separate, and as a “man of God,” Timothy particularly had to make sure his actions were separated from the things that would dim his testimony before the world instead of edifying the God he served.  In other words, he was saying, “Timothy, you are different, and I want you to act differently, talk differently and walk differently in the pursuit of your faith.  Don’t do what they are doing but let your testimony before God and the world be of truer stuff.”  For that to happen, Paul lays out some specifics for Timothy, and those in Christ, to follow.

“Flee these things.”  Disassociate yourself from the wrongdoings of others.  The word “flee” gives great urgency to get away from there.  High tail it out of there like never before!  Do not give opportunity for the seed of evil that comes from hanging around that stuff to have a chance to plant in you.  In other words, “RUN!”

The effects of hanging around these sinful behaviors or pondering them in one’s heart, if continually being exposed to it, can ravage the faith of a believer.  If you touch fire, you are going to get burned.  The best way to avoid getting burned is to not expose yourself to the fire in the first place. Many don’t realize it, but in pursuing the good fight of faith, it means one needs to take themselves away from things that can cripple their walk with the Lord.

While Timothy is to turn away from those things that can be damaging to one’s faith, Paul counterbalances his teachings for the things Timothy should be seeking because what one is turning to is just as important as what one is turning away from.

Timothy and every Christian’s life will be characterized by what they “follow after”; by the things they pursue.  Rather than going after the things others are going after like money and materialistic things that those in the world are looking for, Paul teaches Timothy and us what are the better things to seek in our lives.

With that, he makes this list of things to pursue: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,” all designed to govern our relationship with God and with each other.  They not only show the inner commitment we are to have toward God in the right things we pursue, keeping His ways as a priority in all that we do in our lives, to believe in them and adhere to them through it all, but they also show us how to respond to circumstances and people through the production of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Our Upward Focus

1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

So, Paul teaches, “Fight the good fight of faith.”  Fighting the good fight of faith is not about putting your dukes up.  It is all about putting your faith up.  It is more about taking a stand than taking a punch.  It’s ordering one’s life and steps according to the will of God for our lives (Psalms 119:133).  It is running the race of this Christian life and competing in this spiritual contest, pushing toward the finish line with every ounce of effort one possesses because there is a wonderful goal up ahead.

While we are pushing forth in the defense and protection and adherence to what we believe, we are doing so with the intent of laying hold of a prize.  Our prize is the “eternal life” we are living in hopes of.  At the end of any contest, at the end of the struggle, there is something wonderful we are looking forward to.  Our stand through all we are facing here is in light of the victory we are promised to gain in the end: “eternal life.”

Heaven belongs to the believers.  Life eternal is the ultimate prize for the one who refuses to give in or give up; to the one who does not get entangled by the things of this world others are chasing after (compare 2 Timothy 2:4).  That’s why Jesus once taught, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” (John 6:27).  We have something better than money; we have something better than the materialistic things and social status’ down here to lay hold of.

Our purpose in being “called” and of having this “profession” of faith, is to pursue the things of God.  To be God-focused and heaven-focused, not world-focused and getting caught up in the things we presently see.  It is pushing past every contention here while keeping an upward focus for our future.

3. Our Outward Responsibility

1 Timothy 6:13 “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;”

Our testimony before others matters and it is our responsibility to represent our Lord well. Therefore, in the strongest terms, Paul tells Timothy, “I give thee charge in the sight of God.”  If you have ever attended a graduation ceremony you may hear the word “charge” being used during the occasion when the higher-ups of the learning institution instruct the graduating class on how to apply their newfound knowledge with responsibility.  This is a word that Paul has chosen to use several times in his letter to Timothy to invoke the seriousness of all he is relaying to him.

And, to punctuate his statement even more with its importance, he is delivering this message before the same All-Mighty, Sovereign, and Supreme God of all the universe that breathes life into every being (“quickeneth”) and “Christ Jesus” who stood blameless with His “good confession” before “Pontius Pilate”, never wavering in what He spoke or knew was the truth.  Our Lord never raised the white flag of surrender, not even through the most difficult thing He would ever face.  Timothy, and all Christians alike, are to follow the example of our Lord with that same fierceness of our “good confession”. 

1 Timothy 6:14 “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

With that, Paul continues to encourage Timothy to “keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable.”  Continue forth in the press of your faith; continue to live a life above reproach and accusation.  When Jesus comes back at His “appearing” (second coming), He’s coming back for a church “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:27).

Yes, that might not meld well with the current culture of the world, but in Christ, we are not living to please the culture of this world; rather, we are living for a higher life and that requires the discipline of maintaining and keeping the faith without fail against all adversaries, including the flesh.  We who are called by His name are called to live like Him.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (1 John 2:6, see also 1 Peter 1:13-25; Matthew 5:48).  Our faith is on display as an example of the Christ we follow.  What people see being performed outwardly in our lives will speak volumes more than any message we could ever preach verbally.

4. Our Spiritual Readiness

1 Timothy 6:15-16 “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

For when He comes “in his times,” all will see Him as He truly is.  We do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), but Peter teaches us, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (2 Peter 3:10).

Once, I wrote:

“Preoccupation with this world has so many in its clutches and has lulled multitudes into a false sense of security.  How many of our waking hours are spent on the temporary trappings of now instead of the glory that awaits our future?  Our time on this earthly sojourn is not infinite.  Time will pass.  Days will turn to night and eventually, at our proper time, we will step into eternity or as the older folk used to say, when Jesus cracks the sky – it will all be over.

Will we be ready or caught unawares?” (I Come Quickly/Word for Life Says)

Paul wants Timothy, and every Christian, to be aware of not only the life they are living, but the times they are living in, and the time they are living for.  Be ready.

Know that is God the Father is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,” meaning He, as noted above in verse 13, is supremely Sovereign, with all authority over all (Revelation 19:6).  The Lord reigns, the Bible tells us (Psalms 93:1; 97:1; 99:1)!  He is “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple,” (Isaiah 66:1).  He is God alone!

Scripture shows us that the Lord Jesus Christ is also known and called by the same description/title (noted above) being attributed to Him (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), and the Bible also encourages us in His power and authority (compare Colossians 2:10) and that we can take heart because our faith is complete in Him!  We are told, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2:10-11).  He will be acknowledged as King forever.  The everlasting King will rule forever, and all will “bow the knee” in honor and recognition of who He really is!

God “hath immortality” meaning death and everything that comes with it can never be imposed on Him or appropriated to Him as to others.  Not that He simply just cannot die, but the very fact that His immortality is who He is, He is explicitly incapable of doing what is against the very nature and make up of Himself.    “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” (Psalm 90:2).  As God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16; see also John 1:14, 1 John 1:2), Jesus Christ is conqueror over death.  2 Timothy 1:10 tells us, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Life everlasting is found in Christ who lives forever (see Hebrews 7:24).  Hold on to your faith that you may live eternally with Him!

God is He who is that “light which no man can approach unto.”  The Bible reminds us of the story of Moses asking to see God’s face, His glory, just how impossible this was (read Exodus 33:18-20).  Christ is where God is in that glorious place and it is God’s glory that illuminates all of heaven (see Revelation 21:23).  It is a place too wonderful for man to obtain on his/her own; whom without Christ, we would not be admitted into the presence of God.  Keep pursuing and fighting the good fight of faith that you may be able to enter in to be with Him “whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

5. Our Quest for the Greater Gain

1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches.”  In light of all of this, teach people what is the greater gain, Timothy!  Wealth, notoriety, social status, and the things the world applauds are not what counts.  They are fleeting and will pass away.  “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” (Proverbs 27:24).  Nothing we accumulate here will last forever.  Therefore, don’t put your trust in things but put your trust in the God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” who gave you those things in the first place.

And, when He blesses, use those blessings, not just for yourself, but turn them into “good works” by sharing and positively impacting the lives of others.  Part of fighting the good fight of faith is using what we have to lift others and offer help and support when and where it is needed; not be self-focused, but others-focused.

This, in turn, benefits us spiritually as well in the long run.  For we are “laying up in store… a good foundation against the time to come.”  With “eternal life” ever-present in the mind of the believer, that one lives with not only their own life of faith in their hearts but with the concern of others there as well.  What we do in the here and now impacts our future to come.

6. Our Standing in the Truth

1 Timothy 6:20-21 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”

Therefore, Timothy, “Keep that which is committed to thy trust.”  All that Paul is teaching Timothy, all that entails this life of faith, Timothy is to pursue it, fight for it, and guard against anything contaminating it such as “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”  There was a lot of talk with a lot of false teaching that Timothy was to guard himself and guard the faith against.  Everything that sounds good is not good.  Timothy, hold on to the truth and fight to stand in it!

Even though some “professing have erred concerning the faith,” meaning having been drawn away into believing what is false, you Timothy, continue in the good fight of faith.

The world today is full of false teachings that may sound right, but if it does not match up with the Word of God in its entirety, it is false, and we would do good to stay away from it, too.

As Timothy is, so are we to be just as diligent in our press for our faith.  Our prize for a race well-run is set in the Heavenlies where it will neither tarnish nor fade with time but will last into all eternity.  May we pursue after and fight the good fight of faith that we too may gain that greater reward.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith

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Craft: Collage Craft: In the lesson, Paul described six practices for Timothy and all Christians to follow in verse 11. Find pictures from old magazine, books, comics, etc. and make a collage of examples of each of these practices being used.  For an alternate activity, use The Good Fight of Faith Comic Strip activity page for students to draw these examples instead.

The Good Fight of Faith Comic Strip-001

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Sunday School Lesson – “Faith Without Works is Dead” James 2:14-26

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 2:14-26 (KJV, Public Domain)

Remember the days of “Show and Tell” at school?  It was an opportunity for one to not just talk about what they do or have, but to display visible evidence before their classmates of a possession or skill.

Jesus was a “Show and Tell” Savior.  He drew many crowds to Himself through the many miracles that He performed: feeding 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead, and so on.  People would often marvel at what He could do.  He did more than just talk the talk or preach and lecture, He demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God through Himself.

While you and I may not be multiplying a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, we can through our actions and service toward one another, volunteer to feed some.  We may not be raising the dead or healing the sick (although, miracles really do still happen), we can volunteer to comfort and help those around us in need.  What this does is it shows that we are more than just talk; rather our faith is manifested in what we do.

James knew that people needed to see the church displaying tangible evidence of what they say they believe, especially when it comes down to how we treat one another.  Jesus, along with many others in the Bible, let their works speak for them.  And, how they worked showed what the real measure of their concern and faith was on the inside.

No Actions. No Proof.

 James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

This section of verses picks up right where James left off his teaching against having respect of persons and dealing with how we treat people.

In my opinion, right at the beginning of this lesson, James seems to be questioning the validity of someone’s faith without works, without evidence.  He said, “What doth it profit?”  What does it profit you?  What does it profit for others around you?

For a man or woman to say they have faith or are in the faith without evidence to back it up is like saying one is a doctor without a degree to prove it.  When I go into a doctor’s office, I am one of those people who will read the accreditations on the wall.  This is proof that they can take care of me.  What I see before me is speaking up on behalf of the individual to whom I am submitting myself for care.  Those papers hanging on the walls are little, personal testimonies.

Faith that is worked out operates in the same manner.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains.  If it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can help move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

Where is the profit if there is no proof?  What can you and I show to a hurting world that we have their best interest in mind; that we genuinely care about them as a person?

James 2:15-16 “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Is this one’s faith real or not?  Words without supplying to the physical, emotional, or spiritual comfort and support of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

All that talking becomes useless speech.  Unless we move past the act of just talking and show that we care through the act of doing; unless we put some backbone and muscle behind our mouths, the world will never see the true love of Jesus Christ in action.

That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  It is going beyond pulpits and church walls to work at meeting the needs of the communities that we are in, to put the love of Christ on display through our actions and not just our words.  Obviously, some people, churches, and communities can do more than others.  That is not what James is after here.  He just wants us to get up, move past complacency, and just do something.

James saw no positive effect for others in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

James 2:17-18 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

What you profess and what you do together should match up to display a well-rounded Christian.  People cannot claim they are heaven bound and yet show no heavenly fruit in their lives.  Such claims to faith are “dead,” meaning there is nothing in it to prove it is alive and real.

Don’t you know, you can start today to make a difference?  You can start where you are and with what you have.  You do not need a personal invitation to love and serve others.  What are you waiting for?  Show the world that God is alive in you!  Put some action behind those words you speak!

One may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  Our faith, which comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) should compel us to actively participate in the things that are written of or spoken through that Word; it should get us involved in the things that God is concerned about.  The faith that shows that the Word is working in us is the faith that can do more.  Therefore, faith and works do not go against each other, rather, they support one another in proving that Christ is alive and active on the inside of the believer (compare with James 2:22 notes below).

When that happens, this, in turn, shines a light to the world reflecting Him.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (emphasis mine).  This light shines by what it is doing; by “good works.”  This kind of faith can make a bigger impact in this world and draw more people to God.

James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

One’s claim to faith goes beyond just believing in the very real fact that there is a one and only true living God.  It is living out that belief in one’s daily life.  It’s working His works.  James opened our perspective this way by saying that’s good; that’s a start, that’s right, “thou doest well” to believe.  Everything in our faith walk begins with believing.  But, where does it go from there?    

He goes on to say, “The devils also believe, and tremble,” but they’re still “devils.”  They know there is a God.  They believe He exists, but they are not bowing their selves to working His works.  They are not obeying Him.  They are not working His will.  They are not in a relationship with God; rather, they work against everything God is, loves, and stands for.

But, what of those who claim they are in a relationship with God through faith?  Where is the fruit of their faith?

Faith without fruit is not an operational faith.  It is stale.  It’s stagnated.  It does no good.  Real faith must act out what it is experiencing on the inside.  Real, genuine faith will not just be content in a life of mediocrity – never accomplishing or making a difference for His kingdom.  Real faith wants to see better in and for people’s lives.  Real faith shows itself and overflows to those around him or her.

Therefore, if faith is meant to be alive and active and shown to the world through works, then “faith without works is dead.”  The one who claims they believe without any evidence to support that proclamation is “vain,” useless, hollow, in other words, no good.

Rather, when we come to that great and glorious day, Jesus wants to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matthew 25:23, emphasis mine).  Those who have put their faith into action and have “done” something with what He has given them can make a difference.  God can use people like this in the world.  But He cannot do that unless you work what He has given you.

If it is not working – it’s “dead.”  It’s lifeless with no functioning activities.  It is useless!

Much Action. Much Proof.

James 2:21-24 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Genesis 15:6 declares of Abram, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  This was after God told him to count the stars and see if he could number them.  God then told him, “So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).

At another point, Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God gave him this promise: “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Genesis 21:12).

Then there came the day when Abraham’s faith was tested to see if he still believed in the God of those promises that were spoken unto him; to see if the faith and righteousness that was attributed to him was true on the inside and not just an outward, surface claim to faith.  By taking action to obey God in going forth with the procedure to offer “Isaac his son upon the altar,” he manifested through his works the very realness of his faith.  His faith, in turn, became a testimony before the whole world.  Abraham’s story does not just talk about faith, it shows how his faith was worked out (compare Hebrews 11:17-19).

His actions demonstrated his heart.  “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”  Pay attention to that word “with” (compare this to the notes above in James 2:18) which speaks to the accompanying factor of each coming alongside one another as agents together to show what he was really made of; to show his true belief in God alone, regardless of the way things outwardly appeared.  Jointly, they showed his true faith nature, and jointly, “by works was faith made perfect,” or complete.

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.”  Referencing the above verse quote I noted earlier from Genesis 15:6, James saw a fulfilling of that verse through the actions of Abraham, through his obedience.  Abraham’s faith was real, and it was shown by what he did (compare Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).

“And he was called a friend of God.”  Abraham’s experiences with God drew his heart closer to God in obedience and in turn, he was considered a friend of God (compare 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8), in such a way that God was even able to reveal to Abraham what His plans were for the destruction of Sodom (see Genesis 18:17-18).

Jesus once taught, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” (John 15:14-15).  As His Father revealed to Abraham, His friend, of His plans, so too does Jesus reveal the will of God to those disciples, to those who obey Him, for they are His friends, too.

James put the two together as in a great summation: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  James was calling his readers to put their faith on display.  To show they had a lively faith.  To show the world that you are not just all talk, but the love of Christ is in you and manifesting through you to touch a world in need.  Put Him on display that when eyes see you, they might see Him.

The Apostle Paul put it like this, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  In the chapter before, he left off saying he was not seeking his own profit.  But in all that he did, he was seeking the “profit of many, that they might be saved,” (1 Corinthians 10:33).

While works cannot save us they show that we are saved, they are telling proof that we are “justified” and moving in the same direction as our Christ.  And, what we do, can, in fact, profit others (compare to Paul’s statement above from 1 Corinthians 10:33 regarding what he was doing was for the “profit of many” and James asking in the above verses (James 2:14-16), about what does it profit when the works are missing from the faith).

James 2:25 “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

Here is another example of WHAT YOU DO MATTERS!  I cannot overemphasize those words enough.  Rahab could have lost her life if she had been found helping the enemy of her people.  But she heard about all God had done in delivering His people against their enemies (Joshua 2:10) and it made the people of Jericho’s hearts melt (Joshua 2:11).  But Rahab believed for more. She said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us,” (Joshua 2:9). Not only did she express belief in all that God has done and was still doing, but she also went as far as to take these men in her home and personally sought for their care and safety.  That was a bold step for her.  Her faith was put into action.  To make a long story short, for those in her house, their lives were spared in the fall of Jericho because of her active, working faith which landed her in the hall of fame of faith (Hebrews 11:31).

James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The body is a physical shell, so to speak, that houses the spirit.  At the time of death, the spirit departs and goes back to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) leaving behind the lifeless shell that remains.  When we attend funerals and view our dearly departed all we see is what is left, the outer man, the shell.  “So faith without works is dead also.”  Faith, without the outward workings of tangible evidence, is just as dead as a body without a spirit.  Life is not represented there.

Our actions testify to the faith that we say we have in us.  What we do or how we live out our faith matters.  Jesus taught, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40; read Matthew 25:31-46 for further explanation).

Let us remember, we are not saved by works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Rather, works give proof to the faith living on the inside of you: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17).

No action.  No proof.  Much action.  Much proof.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Faith Without Works is Dead

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Draw the Scene: Faith Without Works is Dead Draw the Scene

In getting across the idea of “Faith Without Works is Dead” I used crafts incorporating the hands (as seen in previous lessons) since that’s what we use the most to show other’s love to and help them (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal).  Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Charades: To bring home the idea of “doing”, have students play a game of Charades.  But, for this game of charades, have ideas in the bucket that people can do to help others, make them feel loved, and show your faith (ex. Sweep the floor for someone, pick flowers to show love, wash the dishes to be helpful, visit the sick, welcome everyone, etc.)  Emphasize there are a lot of ways we can show our faith through our “doings”.  You can even have students come up with ideas to throw in the bucket and see if others can figure out what they wrote.

Card Match: Play any card matching game (or make your own using ideas from the lesson) to highlight the idea of how our actions should “match” the faith we say we have.  If you do not want to do a “Show and Tell” as a lesson opener (as listed in the PDF lesson packet), this activity would work well in its place as an object lesson.

Word Search: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search Answers

Crossword: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword Answers

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Patience of God” 2 Peter 3:9-15a

VERSE DISCOVERY: 2 Peter 3:9-15a (KJV, Public Domain)

Waiting for things and promises to come to pass can be extremely hard sometimes.  Especially if you have been hearing it for a while but have yet to see the fruition of it.  This is a matter that Peter addressed in this portion of his letter.  The gospel has been preached for some time by now.  Those that believed were hopefully waiting for the promises preached to come to pass.  They’ve heard the story of Jesus’ ascension and the urging to keep focused for His return.  Yet, the scoffers (unbelievers) were making it hard to hold onto their faith.  They ridiculed their beliefs and mocked their devotion.

Peter taught there’s a different end for us who are believers than for those who are unbelievers.  Those that believe should never let go of the promise that He is coming back again regardless of how long it seems to us.  Just look at this way, we are thanking God for His patience and longsuffering because it gives more people a chance to be saved.  I think that’s well worth the wait, don’t you?

Scoffers May Disbelieve

2 Peter 3:3 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,”

“Knowing this first.”  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.”  Yet, it still amazes us when we go through hardship.  We are still taken aback at any signs of adversity.  Here, Peter said the “first” thing you should know is there are going to be “scoffers.”  There are going to be people who don’t believe what you believe and because they don’t, they will mock, ridicule, and make fun of you for what you believe in.

If you have ever watched a clown perform you have probably laughed.  Why?  Because much of their performance is mocking the actions of another and the way they jokingly do it tickles our funny bone.  “Scoffers” work in much the same way except it’s not funny at all.   I think if we had the predetermined mindset to “know” these things will happen it will prepare us for when those times do come.  Especially in these “last days,” referring to the time between the first and second return of Christ.   

“Walking after their own lusts.”  The word “lusts” has an s on the end of it signifying that there are various pursuits of ungodliness that the unbeliever and scoffer delve into.  They scorn and mock that which is right with the end purpose of being able to do what they want to do.  If they convince themselves there is no return of Christ to look forward to, then what is there that would prohibit living a life of sin and dishonor.  If they believe there will be no repercussions to their current actions and lifestyle choices now, why would they stop pursuing those things and ideas they desire to pursue, even though they are wrong.

We see this attitude alive in the world now.  We see Christians are rallied against because they raise a standard in their life and take a stand for their beliefs, yet at the same time, the mindset of the world is the Christian better not say anything about the beliefs of others.  For if they do then they are considered intolerant of others for not supporting their lifestyles.  All so that the unbeliever/scoffer can continue “walking in their own lusts.”  “Lusts” are sinful desires that go against the plan and design that God has for humanity.

2 Peter 3:4 “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

A large part of gospel preaching and teaching is focusing on and preparing people for the return of Christ because their eternity hangs in the balance.  Since the scoffer is not looking toward the same heavenly treasure as the believer and does not believe themselves that this event will take place, their job is to try to tear down and even use human reasoning against those who are awaiting God’s promise through the return of Christ.

“Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”  Their reasoning, yesterday came and went, and nothing happened.  Last year came and went and nothing happened.  As a matter of fact, since the world was created, days and years came and went, and nothing happened.  You keep saying it, but “Where is the promise of his coming?”

Most people base everything they believe or don’t believe on what they see with their natural eyes and their short-sighted minds.  When the unbeliever looks down through history, they don’t see the chain of events that brought salvation to mankind.  They don’t see the promise of good that God has stored up for our futures.  They don’t see the fulfilling prophecies that brought God’s kingdom closer to man.  When they look down through history all they see is a normal course of events that has continued uninterrupted.  They don’t see this beautiful, epic love story where God tries to woo mankind back to Himself.  Therefore, they can’t fathom this incredible promise either.  To them, nothing has changed.  Since they don’t see it, they don’t mind letting their hatred for those of us who do see it show.  They ridicule and mock the one who believes in the return of Christ (compare Jude 1:18-19).  They trust that everything will remain as it has since the beginning of creation.

2 Peter 3:5-7 “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

“They willingly are ignorant.”  Here it states that this is one’s choice in the matter of whether they believe or not believe.  God is not going to arm wrestle someone into faith.  God has blessed every human being with a free will, and they are the ones who will choose whether or not they will follow Him.

“Willingly” implies truth or no truth, they will not comply.  Their minds are made up to purposely follow a life of sin and what they believe or disbelieve to be true and right, regardless of the evidence before them.  Here, their ignorance will not allow them to believe in the order of Creation as stated in the Bible or any other biblical truths that follow.  For too long man has opposed God’s truth to his own finite theories of evolution and reasoning on how the world came to be.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” (Genesis 1:1-2).  Before God stepped in there was just chaos.  Our lesson speaks of “the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”  This was God’s doing!   Nothing that we see in this world today existed nor did it evolve from some species.  But on the third day of creation, God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place, and let dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering of together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good,” (Genesis 1:9-10).

Though the order of creation is apparent and evident some still choose to disbelieve.  The apostle Paul said this doesn’t excuse them.  “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:20).

And, it is by those same waters that God stepped into history and judged mankind for his sin once before through the great Flood (see Genesis 6:6:5-7; 7:11-24; compare 2 Peter 3:6 of the lesson text), therefore Peter teaches, He will do it again!  Whether or not one is looking for it, the time of final judgment will come.

Scoffers laugh and jeer because God is taking so long for the time of His coming when they should be rejoicing that He is taking His time.  Instead, they use this time to indulge in evil.  “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

In God’s proper timing, when He is ready, He will, “by the same word” He spoke during those times speak again and everything that we see around us today will perish.  Jesus Himself stated that “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” (Matthew 24:35; emphasis mine).  Psalm 102:26 tells us, “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure…” (emphasis mine).  One day, their hope, which is not in God, will die.  Yet, they still ignore the one who will “endure.”  Go figure?

Still, God is patient today, but there will come a time for “judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  He is reserving everything for that fulfilling time.  For now, He is holding back His “word” for that “day of judgment.”  But then, everything that was spoken of for that day will happen and the ungodly will perish.  There is a different end for the wicked as opposed to those who believe.  “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup,” (Psalm 11:6).  It will happen!

…But God is Not Slack

2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

But we, as His children, are not to operate in “ignorance.”  We are to be fully aware of the ways of God.  One thing is, God is not on a timetable such as we are.  We mark our days by when the sun rises and sets at night.  We mark our seasons by the temperature in the air, the budding or non-budding of plants, and by the harvests we reap.  We mark our lives by age milestones.  When you are a child you can’t wait to hit the double-digit numbers and be 10.  After that, other milestones are marked such as when becoming a teenager (13), sweet sixteen, at 18 you are considered a legal adult and so forth.

God is infinite.  He cannot be marked by time.  “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty, (Revelation 1:8).  There never a time when He wasn’t because He always was!  With that being said, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

“For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.”  God is not an unreliable resource to depend upon like man.  Many get confused along the way because they attribute man’s faulty characteristics to the holy and perfect God.  When someone promises something but takes a long time fulfilling it, we tend to lose faith in that individual.  But God cannot be counted in the same category as man.  His not moving right now is not due to “slackness” or an inability to perform.  Habakkuk tells us, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” (2:3).  Shortly after that in the next verse, he says, “The just shall live by his faith,” (2:4b).  Every word of God for good or for bad, for happy or for sad, for those who believe or for those who don’t believe will come to pass!

For right now He is withholding His hand of final judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.  For everyone out there, there is hope for salvation if they will just turn to Him and repent and be saved.  They don’t have to go out like that when God is waiting for them right now, right this moment.

God’s waiting won’t add to the demise of people.  Rather, His “longsuffering” is because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  Will all come and get into this life He offers through Jesus Christ?  No.  But God loves mankind so much that He wants to get as many people as possible out of that life of sin and unbelief that is seeking to take them down for all eternity.  God wants as many people as possible to be saved and living in heaven with Him.  How beautiful is His love toward us!

But people must repent!  They must turn to Him.  They must turn away from their old life; change their mind from their sinful thinking and living and turn to Him. A true, repentant heart admits that it has fallen short of the glory of God and is seeking restoration and salvation that only God can give through Jesus Christ our Lord.  “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye,” (Ezekiel 18:32).

2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the earth shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”  There’s something to be said for preparing for the unknown.  In life, we put all kinds of securities in place such as home alarm systems to warn against intruders and we stock-up supplies in the event of some horrific storm.  Our future in Christ is not an unknown, yet, still knowing what will take place, some disregard all warnings.  Jesus said, “If the goodman had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up,” (Matthew 24:43).  Thieves are not known for announcing their arrival.  The element of surprise works in their favor.  It catches people off guard when they least expect it.  Here we are told that when we least expect it, it will happen.

“The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  Everything will be gone!  Nothing on this earth will last forever.  Yet, day by day, people put more stock in the things this world possesses and the “works” they can do with their own hands rather than God.  Therefore, Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” (Matthew 6:19) because the earth and all that is in it will vanish one day.  As stable and as strong as we think a mountain is, Revelation 16:20 tells us, “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”  All will “pass away!”  Peter’s emphasis for us is not what’s going to happen with the world for we should already be prepared for that.  His concern in dealing with the Christian is what’s happening with us personally.

Therefore, How We Live Matters

2 Peter 3:11 “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  Since Peter already focused on the times and seasons of the future, he now wanted to focus on his readers and their inner man, and how they are representing themselves to the waiting world.  How do we live our lives considering our eternity?  Knowing that “all these things shall be dissolved” how do we let that information guide us in our life decisions and choices?  Do we act as carefree and irresponsible as those who live with no hope of a better future?  Or, do we make sure the faith we profess on the inside is shining like a beacon on the outside to draw even more people to Christ?

How we live matters!  Talk is cheap!  Actions speak louder than words!  We’ve heard those sayings most of our lives but usually only apply it to someone we are in an argument with.  What Peter really wants us to do is mind our own steps in life.  It’s easy to pick away at the life of another and the choices they have made when we are not as careful to judge our own.  Jesus asked, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).  Our eternity is not bound up here, rather we are pressing toward the goal of heaven.  We are working toward the end of salvation.  With that being said, we must mind “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  We won’t have to answer for nobody but ourselves and how we lived.  And, how we will live matters!

2 Peter 3:12-14 “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

In these three verses, we see the word “look” three times.  At the time of this writing, Peter was nearing his end.  This would be the last letter he wrote so he knows something about waiting in expectation of a better future.  Hard times and trials tend to dash one’s hope.  But Peter expressed that “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.”  We are not to stop anticipating the better that God has for us.  The unbelievers and scoffers live the way they live because they don’t have this assurance.  But we have the “promise.”  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).  God is the author of the promise and God makes good on His promises; therefore, we should never stop looking! (see also Romans 8:31-39).

“Wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  Speaking of our eternal home, the Bible tells us, “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” (Revelation 21:27).  A lot of works carried out by men and woman today will not see the light of heaven tomorrow.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Not on this list?  It doesn’t matter.  If one is not born again then they will not walk the streets of glory (see John 3:5).  Only the righteous will be there.  (This would be a good point to make a call to salvation for your students urging them to prepare themselves for that coming day).

“Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace.”  When someone is diligent that means they are putting forth a conscientious effort to pay careful heed and give it their all.  Since that day is inevitable, and since we don’t know the day or the hour, we must be ready to “be found of him in peace.”  Romans tells us, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18).  In that day, those that are not “found of him in peace,” will surely wish they were.

“Without spot and blameless.”  Israel was initially supposed to be the nation that would show the whole world how to have a relationship with God.  They were to be examples of His righteousness but failed.  Nevertheless, God had a plan to bring a Savior into the world “without blemish and without spot,” (1 Peter 1:19).  Now, we are being called to live like Jesus.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (1 John 2:6, see also 1 Peter 1:13-25 and Matthew 5:48).

2 Peter 3:15a “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”

“The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”  Have you ever really had an off day and thought to yourself that you were glad today was not the day when He came back?  Yeah, me too.  There are others that don’t know Him, and it is during this waiting period of His “longsuffering” they have a chance to accept and experience salvation.  His love compels Him to wait a little longer.  He won’t hold off forever, as the lesson has proven.  Things will change despite what the scoffers believe.  Our job in the process is to thank Him for His patience, hope in His coming, and live like we are in anticipation of the return of Christ, because we should be.

His longsuffering, which is stated twice in this lesson, is God’s patience at work in the best possible way.  Believe today and turn to the Lord for salvation.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Patience of God

Suggested Activities:

For a cute coloring page, go to SandwichINK

Object Lesson from Ministry-To-Children

Games and Activities that teach patience from MeaningfulMama

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Patience of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Patience of God

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: The Patience of God Draw the Scene

Word Search: The Patience of God Word Search  Answers: The Patience of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Patience of God Crossword  Answers: The Patience of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Patience of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Patience of God Word Scramble Answers