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Sermon Outline

God’s Mission My Mission

Sharing God’s Mission

Lesson #4 for October 28, 2023

Scriptures:Genesis 12:1-9; 18; 19:1-29;James 5:16; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; John 13:34-35.

  1. Are the people of the world attracted to Christians because they see the love we have for each other? (SeeJohn 13:34-35.)
  2. This lesson will focus on the stories of Abraham as recorded from Genesis 14 to Genesis 19. Abraham was called from his home in Ur of the Chaldees to go to a land that he had never seen. It was full of heathen people, worshiping fertility-cult gods. They were known for their violence.
  3. We do not know exactly how God communicated with Abraham. Did Abraham see visions in the night and receive instructions? (Genesis 22) Did he get “guiding” messages during the day? (Genesis 18) Whatever the methodology was, it seems clear that Abraham was certain that these messages came from God.
  4. We believe that God knows every detail of our lives every day and even what we think! In our lead story, as recorded in Genesis 18, Jesus Christ along with two of His companion angels appeared on a road and approached Abraham who was resting near his tent in the heat of the day.

[From the writings of Ellen G. White=EGW:] Abraham had seen in his guests only three tired wayfarers, little thinking that among them was One whom he might worship without sin.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 138.4.

  1. In Genesis 18, we will focus on three great spiritual qualities of Abraham: Hospitality, love, and prayer. Do we have these qualities? Are we ready to exercise them on behalf of our neighbors and friends and those living in areas around us?

Genesis 18:1-15: 1 The LORD appeared to Abraham at the sacred trees of Mamre. As Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day, 2he looked up and saw three men standing there. As soon as he saw them, he ran out to meet them. Bowing down with his face touching the ground, 3he said, “Sirs, please do not pass by my home without stopping; I am here to serve you. 4Let me bring some water for you to wash your feet; you can rest here beneath this tree. 5I will also bring a bit of food; it will give you strength to continue your journey. You have honoured [sic-Br] me by coming to my home, so let me serve you.”

They replied, “Thank you; we accept.”

6 Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick, take a sack of your best flour, and bake some bread.” 7Then he ran to the herd and picked out a calf that was tender and fat, and gave it to a servant, who hurried to get it ready. 8He took some cream, some milk, and the meat, and set the food before the men. There under the tree he served them himself, and they ate. [What happened to rules for kosher food?]

9 Then they asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“She is there in the tent,” he answered.

10 One of them said, “Nine months from now I will come back, and your wife Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was behind him, at the door of the tent, listening. 11Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah had stopped having her monthly periods. 12So Sarah laughed to herself and said, “Now that I am old and worn out, can I still enjoy sex? And besides, my husband is old too.”

13 Then the LORD asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Can I really have a child when I am so old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the LORD? As I said, nine months from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Because Sarah was afraid, she denied it. “I didn’t laugh,” she said.

“Yes, you did,” he replied. “You laughed.”—American Bible Society. (1992). The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation* (2nd ed.,Genesis 18:1-15). New York: American Bible Society [abbreviated as Good News Bible].†‡

  1. However, Sarai/Sarah was not the first one to have laughed at this idea!
  2. ReadGenesis 17:15-18. Does it seem right to you for God to bless a couple that had laughed at His comments and then lied to Him?
  3. Why was Abraham sitting outside in the heat of the day at a time when almost everyone is looking for rest in the shade? It seems clear that Abraham was prepared to offer hospitality to virtually anyone who came along.
  4. In addition to his hospitality, Abraham was probably anxious to hear whatever news the strangers might have for him. He did not have a newspaper, television, radio, or Internet to help him keep up-to-date with news from other parts of the country or the rest of the world. He rushed out and implored his visitors to pause briefly while he provided them with water and some food.
  5. Does it seem possible that Abraham and Sarah were preparing or selecting food for these visitors by themselves? Where were all their helpers and “servants”?
  6. Would it be safe for us to do what Abraham did? Could we invite anyone walking down the street to come into our homes? Or, do we really need security systems to prevent strangers from getting into our homes? With all his herds and flocks, what kind of neighbor was Abraham?
  7. It is interesting to notice that this story seems to unfold as if Abraham lived in a solitary place with his wife, beside a trail somewhere. But, we know that:

[EGW:] God called Abraham to be a teacher of His word, He chose him to be the father of a great nation, because He saw that Abraham would instruct his children and his household in the principles of God’s law. And that which gave power to Abraham’s teaching was the influence of his own life. His great household consisted of more than a thousand souls, many of them heads of families, and not a few but newly converted from heathenism. Such a household required a firm hand at the helm. No weak, vacillating methods would suffice.... Abraham’s influence extended beyond his own household. Wherever he pitched his tent, he set up beside it the altar for sacrifice and worship. When the tent was removed, the altar remained; and many a roving Canaanite, whose knowledge of God had been gained from the life of Abraham His servant, tarried at that altar to offer sacrifice to Jehovah.—Ellen. G. White, Education* 187.2.†‡

  1. Abraham apparently recognized when he was called from Ur of the Chaldees to go to Palestine that God intended for him to be an evangelist. Look at all the people that attached themselves to his camp. Abraham was willing to do God’s will.
  2. Abraham loved even the wicked people that lived around him.

Genesis 18:16-33: 16 Then the men left and went to a place where they could look down at Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on their way. 17And the LORD said to himself, “I will not hide from Abraham what I am going to do. 18His descendants will become a great and mighty nation, and through him I will bless all the nations. 19I have chosen him in order that he may command his sons and his descendants to obey me and to do what is right and just. If they do, I will do everything for him that I have promised.”

20 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “There are terrible accusations against Sodom and Gomorrah, and their sin is very great. 21I must go down to find out whether or not the accusations which I have heard are true.”

22 Then the two men left and went on towards Sodom, but the LORD remained with Abraham. 23Abraham approached the LORD and asked, “Are you really going to destroy the innocent with the guilty? 24If there are fifty innocent people in the city, will you destroy the whole city? Won’t you spare it in order to save the fifty? 25Surely you won’t kill the innocent with the guilty. That’s impossible! You can’t do that. If you did, the innocent would be punished along with the guilty. That is impossible. The judge of all the earth has to act justly.” [Would those words qualify as prayer?]

26 The LORD answered, “If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the whole city for their sake.”

27 Abraham spoke again: “Please forgive my boldness in continuing to speak to you, Lord. I am only a man and have no right to say anything. 28But perhaps there will be only 45 innocent people instead of fifty. Will you destroy the whole city because there are five too few?”

The LORD answered, “I will not destroy the city if I find 45 innocent people.”… [Abraham continued to plead for smaller numbers of people.]

32 Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord, and I will speak just once more. What if only ten are found?”

He said, “I will not destroy it if there are ten.” 33After he had finished speaking with Abraham, the LORD went away, and Abraham returned home.—Good News Bible.*†‡

  1. Do you think that Abraham was pleading for all of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah? Or, was he pleading for the people that he hoped Lot had been able to evangelize in those cities? Think of how many people Abraham personally had won to the cause of God! (See above in the book, Education.)
  2. Would you describe the discussion between Abraham and God as prayer? Ellen White wrote these words about prayer.

[EGW:] Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.—Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ* 93.2.†‡

  1. Was that discussion intercessory prayer? Is intercessory prayer an important aspect of our lives?
  2. Years ago, I was in a small group of students at a Saturday night party. A young woman that I had never met before asked me if I knew anything about the Bible and about God. I was taken aback. She had a question. Her question was a challenging one. She had a cousin who had been involved in a serious automobile accident and was lying unconscious in the intensive care unit 500 miles away from her. She could not go to him, and she obviously could not talk to him to encourage him! She wanted to know if she prayed for that young man, would it do any good! I explained to her a little bit about the great controversy; and then, I told her that God can do things if we are praying that He otherwise could not do because of Satan’s opposition if we were not praying. Of course, the explanation went on for some time. Several weeks later, she told me that she had been asking that question to everyone she thought might be able to help her for seven years; she said that I was the first one who had given her a reasonable answer.
  3. What impact do you think your prayers have on the great controversy and its outcome? Is God really able to do things if you pray for them that He “could not do” in view of Satan’s opposition if you were not praying? Is that the essence of intercessory prayer? As we know, Abraham’s intercession did not really accomplish very much in the end. If we are praying for those we are trying to work for, does God take that into account?
  4. What would you say if you believed that God had told you that He was about to destroy two major cities near you? In Abraham’s case, he began to plead for the people living in Sodom and Gomorrah, whom he had rescued from enemies earlier.
  5. It is important to remember that Abraham already had rescued Lot and all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah from the marauding kings from the east. (See Genesis 14.)

[From the Bible study guide=BSG:] Abraham had learned to love the inhabitants of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities close by. This is why his prayer was honest and sincere. He already had fought against some kings who had defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. After Abraham’s victory, Bera, the king of Sodom, came to meet Abraham with Melchizedek. Bera asked to have his people returned to their homes: “ ‘Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself’ ” (Gen. 14:21, ESV). This is an indication of the love of this king for his people. Since one of the great characteristics of Abraham was love, he loved the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he prayed for them and their people.?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Tuesday, October 24.‡§

[EGW:] Love for perishing souls inspired Abraham’s prayer.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 140.1.

  1. As we have seen above, Abraham had been an effective evangelist, having won many heathen people to worship the true God. No doubt, he felt that his nephew, Lot, had done the same. Abraham must have had some idea about the kind of people who lived in those cities. But, Abraham was hoping that some of those people either would have already learned the truth from Lot or at least would be open to learning about the truth about God in the future.
  2. After looking atGenesis 18:23-32, readJames 5:16.

James 5:16: So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.—Good News Bible.* [This verse seems to be telling us to pray for other church members. What about praying for non-church members?]

  1. Do you think Abraham was fully aware that he was bargaining with God in that prayer? Does the Holy Spirit work with our prayers? (Romans 8:26)
  2. If you have friends or family members who do not accept or understand the truth about God, do you pray for them? Do you expect the Holy Spirit to touch their hearts in one way or another? Is that presumptuous?
  3. While Abraham was talking with Christ, the two angels who had accompanied Christ continued to Sodom. What do we know about the people who lived in Sodom?

Genesis 19:1-29: 1 When the two angels came to Sodom that evening, Lot was sitting at the city gate. As soon as he saw them, he got up and went to meet them. He bowed down before them 2and said, “Sirs, I am here to serve you. Please come to my house. You can wash your feet and stay the night. In the morning you can get up early and go on your way.”

But they answered, “No, we will spend the night here in the city square.”

3 He kept on urging them, and finally they went with him to his house. Lot ordered his servants to bake some bread and prepare a fine meal for the guests. When it was ready, they ate it.

4 Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. 5They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them.

6 Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. 7He said to them, “Friends, I beg you, don’t do such a wicked thing! 8Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. [Unthinkable to us!] But don’t do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.”

9 But they said, “Get out of our way, you foreigner! Who are you to tell us what to do? Out of our way, or we will treat you worse than them.” They pushed Lot back and moved up to break down the door. 10But the two men inside reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door. 11Then they struck all the men outside with blindness, so that they couldn’t find the door.12 The two men said to Lot, “If you have anyone else here—sons, daughters, sons-in-law, or any other relatives living in the city—get them out of here, 13because we are going to destroy this place. The LORD has heard the terrible accusations against these people and has sent us to destroy Sodom.”

14 Then Lot went to the men that his daughters were going to marry, and said, “Hurry up and get out of here; the LORD is going to destroy this place.” But they thought he was joking.

15 At dawn the angels tried to make Lot hurry. “Quick!” they said. “Take your wife and your two daughters and get out, so that you will not lose your lives when the city is destroyed.” 16Lot hesitated. The LORD, however, had pity on him; so the men took him, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city. 17Then one of the angels said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop in the valley. Run to the hills, so that you won’t be killed.”…

[The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah]

23 The sun was rising when Lot reached Zoar. 24Suddenly the LORD rained burning sulphur [sic-Br] on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah 25and destroyed them and the whole valley, along with all the people there and everything that grew on the land. 26But Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood in the presence of the LORD. 28He looked down at Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole valley and saw smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a huge furnace. 29But when God destroyed the cities of the valley where Lot was living, he kept Abraham in mind and allowed Lot to escape to safety.—Good News Bible.*

[BSG:] The text gives an interesting indication about the position of Lot in the city of Sodom: “Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom” (Gen. 19:1, NKJV). This means he was an important character in the city, certainly a public officer, because sitting in the gate is a privilege of officers, judges, and kings (2 Sam. 19:8,Jer. 38:7,Ruth 4:1).?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Wednesday, October 25.†‡§

  1. To help you understand what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, look at this link:


  1. Biblical archaeological exploration and research at the site of Sodom indicates that it was destroyed by what is called a cosmic airburst, a large meteorite exploding just above the earth and showering its pieces over the obliterated city. That cosmic airburst probably happened over the Dead Sea and then scattered its fragments (fire and brimstone) over the valley north and east of the Dead Sea, destroying not only Sodom and Gomorrah, but also several other small towns nearby including Admah and Zeboiim. (SeeHosea 11:8.)
  2. Unfortunately, as in the case of Noah and the flood, only a few people escaped this catastrophe. That might give us a clue about how many we can expect to respond to our efforts to evangelize. This does not mean that God and the Holy Spirit are ineffective in reaching men’s hearts/minds, but rather that people will always have free will and freedom to reject any efforts we may take to reach them.
  3. We should always remember that saving even one soul is worth all the effort that we could ever spend in this life.
  4. Think of the challenging experiences that Abraham went through, including his problems in Egypt, the famine that led him to go there, and this story about the destruction of the nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.

[BSG:] Challenge: In our cities, we face obstacles in preaching the gospel appropriately and effectively. We need to plead with God to intervene.

Challenge Up: Find a way to contact someone who is being directly affected by a difficult situation similar to your own. Tell that person you are praying for him or her, and ask God to show you what you can do to help.?Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Thursday, October 26.

[EGW:] Love for perishing souls inspired Abraham’s prayer. While he loathed the sins of that corrupt city, he desired that the sinners might be saved. His deep interest for Sodom shows the anxiety that we should feel for the impenitent. We should cherish hatred of sin, but pity and love for the sinner. All around us are souls going down to ruin as hopeless, as terrible, as that which befell Sodom. Every day the probation of some is closing. Every hour some are passing beyond the reach of mercy. And where are the voices of warning and entreaty to bid the sinner flee from this fearful doom? Where are the hands stretched out to draw him back from death? Where are those who with humility and persevering faith are pleading with God for him?

The spirit of Abraham was the spirit of Christ. The Son of God is Himself the great Intercessor in the sinner’s behalf. He who has paid the price for its redemption knows the worth of the human soul. With an antagonism to evil such as can exist only in a nature spotlessly pure, Christ manifested toward the sinner a love which infinite goodness alone could conceive. In the agonies of the crucifixion, Himself burdened with the awful weight of the sins of the whole world, He prayed for His revilers and murderers, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”Luke 23:34.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 140.1-2.†‡

  1. This is a challenging characteristic on which we all need to work. God asks us to hate the sin because of what it does to the sinner; but, we are to love the sinner. Our tendency is to love the sin and despise the sinner.

[EGW:] Abraham was honored by the surrounding nations as a mighty prince and a wise and able chief. He did not shut away his influence from his neighbors. His life and character, in their marked contrast with those of the worshipers of idols, exerted a telling influence in favor of the true faith. His allegiance to God was unswerving, while his affability and benevolence inspired confidence and friendship and his unaffected greatness commanded respect and honor.—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets* 133.3-134.0.

  1. So, what became of Lot and his daughters? ReadGenesis 19:30-36.
  2. Wouldn’t most of us, if we knew in advance what was going to happen to that family, have allowed them just to perish with the others in Sodom? Why didn’t they go to Uncle Abraham’s place? Why do you think this story is in the Bible? We know that the descendants of Lot caused a lot of problems for the children of Israel through the ages.

[BSG:] Think about this: Would you deem Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah successful or a failure??Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* for Friday, October 27.

  1. FirstJohn 4:8,16 tell us that God is love. How should a God of love deal with stories like these? And what happens when someone asks us about stories like this one? Can we give an adequate and reasonable answer to those who are listening?
  2. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are both described in the Bible as pleading our cases before the throne of God. How does that actually happen?
  3. Zechariah had also explained what kind of processes were going on in heaven in terms of judgment and exploring the cases of individuals.

Zechariah 3:1-5: In another vision the LORD showed me the High Priest Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD. And there beside Joshua stood Satan, ready to bring an accusation against him. 2The angel of the LORD said to Satan, “May the LORD condemn you, Satan! May the LORD, who loves Jerusalem, condemn you. This man is like a stick snatched from the fire.”

3 Joshua was standing there, wearing filthy clothes. 4The angel said to his heavenly attendants, “Take away the filthy clothes this man is wearing.” Then he said to Joshua, “I have taken away your sin and will give you new clothes to wear.”

5 He commanded the attendants to put a clean turban on Joshua’s head. They did so, and then they put the new clothes on him while the angel of the LORD stood there.—Good News Bible.*

  1. This Messenger (Angel) was none other than Christ Himself! He is the One who can give orders to angels and take away sins.
  2. Given what you know about the history of the Israelites from the days of Abraham to our day, would you say that God’s mission to the Middle East and the whole world has been successful?

[BSG:] Scholars have often debated whether or not Jesus’ primary concern was working among the Jews or with the wider world. Some argue that because Jesus spent most of His time with the Jews and told His disciples to do the same, at least while He was with them, the Jews were His central focus (Matt. 15:24). There is some truth to this idea, but there are numerous instances in which Jesus demonstrated that His love was for more than just the Jews. Several times He quoted Old Testament narratives that highlighted the faith of non-Jewish people, such as the stories of the widow of Zarephath, Naaman, and the Queen of Sheba (Luke 4:24–27,Matt. 12:42). Jesus spent time outside of Judea with non-Jews, including a few nights in a Samaritan town (John 4:40) and a visit to the region of Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24), not to mention the Decapolis, which Gentiles populated (Mark 7:31–36).?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 53.†‡§

  1. If you find yourself talking to someone with virtually no background in Scripture, it is best to start with the Gospels, especially the Gospel of John. Compassion and sharing are an important part of our work to reach out. Jesus was incredibly successful at doing these things.
  2. Is it reasonable for God to expect us who have experienced His love to share it with others? What are the best ways of doing that?

[BSG:] Another significant portion of Scripture that is helpful to read concerning sharing the God of love is the book of Acts. While our Bibles often title this book the “Acts of the Apostles,” [sic] it would be more accurate to title it “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” The book is full of partnering between the Holy Spirit and human agents. Much as in the Gospels, we find people who have had a wonderful experience with Jesus, who are unwilling to keep that experience to themselves and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to share this love far and wide.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 53.†‡

  1. Consider some of the early experiences of the disciples, especially Peter, when dealing with Gentiles.
  2. Do you think if you try to reach someone who, as far as you know, is not a Christian that the Holy Spirit will work with you? Might the Holy Spirit even precede you?
  3. We know that at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on a number of people in Jerusalem. What was the result?
  4. How did Peter and the other Christians know that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on Cornelius and his family and friends? When the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they received other spiritual gifts at the same time.

[EGW:] [In Jerusalem at Pentecost,] Every known tongue was represented by those assembled. This diversity of languages would have been a great hindrance to the proclamation of the gospel; God therefore in a miraculous manner supplied the deficiency of the apostles. The Holy Spirit did for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a lifetime. They could now proclaim the truths of the gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they were laboring. This miraculous gift was a strong evidence to the world that their commission bore the signet of Heaven. From this time forth the language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language.—Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles* 39.2-40.0.†‡

  1. Do you think Cornelius and his family received those additional gifts?
  2. Notice these words of Peter, reporting back to the church at Jerusalem about Cornelius:

Acts 11:15-18: 15 “And when I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them just as on us at the beginning. 16Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17It is clear that God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; who was I, then, to try to stop God!”

18 When they heard this, they stopped their criticism and praised God, saying, “Then God has given to the Gentiles also the opportunity to repent and live!”—Good News Bible.*

  1. Do we have personal stories that might be effective in convincing others to come to God? The best way to persuade others to become Christians is to love them into the church through a personal relationship.

[BSG:] Because healthy relationships are at the core of what God wants for us, He often waits, or limits His revelation until a follower of His is present to share the good news. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to recognize this privilege, prayerfully attuned to the ones with whom God is already working, looking to share the story of God with them at every opportunity.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 54.

  1. Would you describe yourself as a successful soul-winner? Think back over your efforts and results in the past.

[BSG:] We must periodically take the time to self-reflect. This act requires an immense amount of self-honesty, which we all struggle with regularly. We each must ask ourselves, “Have I experienced the love of God lately? If I have not, why not?” If you have, then ask yourself the following question: “Have I shared that love I am experiencing with the wider world?” These simple questions, when asked genuinely, can be very revealing.

Corporately, the church can ask the same questions.?Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide* 54.

©2023, Kenneth Hart, MD, MA, MPH. Permission is hereby granted for any noncommercial use of these materials. Free distribution of all or of a portion of this material such as to a Bible study class is encouraged. *Electronic version. Bold type is added. Brackets and content in brackets are added. §Italic type is in the source. [sic-Br]=This is correct as quoted; it is the British spelling.                                                                                                                                              Info@theox.org

Last Modified: October 15, 2023