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seekingTru
Re :   Revival and Reformation Qtr 3, 2013c

Lesson 8 - Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival


Introduction: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the discerning of spirits. 1 Corinthians 12:10. Why would God give this gift? Apparently, because not all spirits are good. Jesus warns in Matthew 24:24 that false Christs and false prophets will perform miracles with the goal of deceiving Christians. This means that we are to be alert to those who falsely claim the power of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, Jesus warns us of the extreme danger of attributing to Satan the works of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:32. Let's dive into our study of what the Bible teaches about how discernment can safeguard rival in the church!


  1. Caution Discerners!

    1. Read Matthew 12:22-23. Jesus performs a great miracle, what are the people asking? (Read John 7:41-42 and Isaiah 35:4-5. The people knew Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would perform this kind of miracle. They believed the Messiah would come from the line of King David, therefore they are asking, "Is this the promised Messiah?")

    2. Read Matthew 12:24. What is the opinion of the religious leaders about Jesus' miracle-working? (They say Jesus' miracles come from the wrong spirit, they come from Satan.)

    3. Read Matthew 12:25-26. What is Jesus' logical argument against the opinion of the religious leaders? (Satan cannot drive out Satan. If he did, Satan's kingdom would collapse.)

    4. Read Matthew 12:27-29. What logical argument is Jesus' making about tying up a strong man? (Jesus is driving out demons. How is it possible to drive out demons unless you first tie up the head of demons - Satan?)

    5. Read Matthew 12:30. What does this teach us about discerning spirits? (We look at the big picture. Is this person advancing the Kingdom of God?)

    6. Read Matthew 12:31-32. What terrible warning are we given about calling the work of the Holy Spirit Satanic? (It is the sin which cannot be forgiven!)

      1. Would you prefer to be given a less dangerous gift than the discerning of spirits?

      2. The Holy Spirit is just one part of the Trinity, why is blasphemy against the Spirit worse than blasphemy against Jesus? (John 16:7-8 tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. If we cannot discern the Holy Spirit from demonic power, we are in big trouble when it comes to understanding sin.)

    7. Read Matthew 12:9-13. Recall this occurred before the Pharisees alleged that Jesus performed miracles by the power of Satan. What role does the Sabbath play in the Pharisee's opinion of Jesus' miracle?(Likely the Pharisees thought Jesus' miracle came from Satan because of their theological differences on the Sabbath.)

      1. What lesson does that suggest to Sabbath-keepers? (This is another caution.)

  2. The Discernment Test

    1. Read Mark 9:38-40. By what spirit was this man driving out demons? (The Holy Spirit.)

      1. How do we know? (Jesus gave His stamp of approval to his work.)

      2. What test did Jesus use to discern spirits, and what test did John use to discern spirits? (John's test was "Is he one of us?" Jesus' test was "In whose name did he perform the miracle?")

        1. How would you state John's test in today's terms? (Is he a member of our church?)

      3. Look again at Mark 9:39-40. What should we conclude if someone does a miracle in Jesus' name? (Jesus' approval is very broad. This is the same logic as He used in saying that Satan cannot drive out Satan: miracle-workers are on one side or the other.)

    2. Read Isaiah 8:19-20. Mediums and spiritists are obviously the wrong spirits. What test is applied here to discern that? (Consulting the dead is an obvious clue. The broader test is whether the spirit speaks in accord with the Bible.)

      1. Read John 16:12-15. What does this say about how the Holy Spirit will speak? (He will only speak in accord with the other Members of the Trinity. We can test the spirit speaking to us by asking whether the message is in accord with the Bible generally.)

      2. Does this square with Jesus' statements that miracle workers are on one side or the other? (This is where the Pharisees and the Sabbath healing are important. The test is not whether a fellow Christian agrees with us on all points of doctrine. The test is whether the miracle-worker is promoting Jesus or not. If we make the test too narrow, we may find that we are blaspheming the Holy Spirit!)

    3. Assume you saw a man smoking a large cigar and he told you that he had been healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Would his smoking be relevant to the issue of what power healed him? (No! The relevant question is whether he is promoting Jesus, not the minor theological issue of smoking. How many people who fail to exercise, eat unhealthy food, are overweight, or fail to take their medicine pray for healing? The relevant question is whether the person promotes Jesus. A God who only healed those who perfectly followed the health laws would only forgive those who perfectly followed the moral laws.)

  3. Spiritual Discernment and Excitement

    1. Read Acts 2:1-3. Those of you who know this story, what was the purpose of this Pentecost experience to the early Christian Church? (It is the kick-off of the revival movement just after Jesus returned to heaven.)

      1. Why is the kick-off like this? (This gets the attention of the people.)

    2. Read Acts 2:5-8 and Acts 2:12. What actually happened because of the sound, fire and tongues? ("A crowd came together." A crowd who wanted to know more. A crowd who was asking questions.)

      1. What should we think about a revival that has exciting things happen? (It is consistent with the first great Christian revival.)

    3. Read Acts 2:13. What spirit did this group think was behind all of the sound, fire and tongues? (Wine! A spirit of drunkenness.)

    4. Read Acts 2:15-16. What test does Peter suggest should be applied to the issue of which spirit is behind this event? (He uses logic - it is too early to be drunk. More important, he turns to the Bible and cites the prophecy of Joel.)

    5. Read Acts 2:18-19. What does Joel predict will happen when the Spirit of God is poured out in the last days? (Signs and wonders. Smoke, fire and blood.)

      1. If we are living in the last days, and our revivals do not involve signs and wonders, what should we conclude?

    6. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. What will Satan orchestrate in the last days? (Counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.)

      1. What does this teach us about signs and wonders? (Signs and wonders are not the test. Both the true and the false use signs and wonders.)

      2. What test can we find in these verses? (The point of Satan's revival is to disbelieve the truth and to delight in wickedness.)

      3. Why does the Bible refer to "counterfeit" miracles, signs and wonders? (This shows the true work of God also has miracles, signs and wonders.)


    1. Look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11. How difficult is it to apply the proper discernment test? What does this say about the people who are deceived? (They want to be deceived. They delight in wickedness.)

    2. Read Matthew 24:23-24. How difficult is the test here? (Jesus says it is a powerful deception.)

    3. Read Matthew 24:26-27. How difficult does the test seem to be to you? (Comparing a world-wide event to local claims seems easy.)

      1. Notice something. Recall that earlier we concluded that a broad test - does the person promote Jesus - was the proper test. Here, we have a test that is much more narrow. What does this teach us? (We need to know our Bibles to really understand what promotes Jesus and what does not.)

    4. Friend, will you pray for the ability to discern spirits? Will you pray that the Holy Spirit will power your revival efforts?
  1. Caution Discerners!

    1. Read Matthew 12:22-23. Jesus performs a great miracle, what are the people asking? (Read John 7:41-42 and Isaiah 35:4-5. The people knew Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would perform this kind of miracle. They believed the Messiah would come from the line of King David, therefore they are asking, "Is this the promised Messiah?")

    2. Read Matthew 12:24. What is the opinion of the religious leaders about Jesus' miracle-working? (They say Jesus' miracles come from the wrong spirit, they come from Satan.)

    3. Read Matthew 12:25-26. What is Jesus' logical argument against the opinion of the religious leaders? (Satan cannot drive out Satan. If he did, Satan's kingdom would collapse.)

    4. Read Matthew 12:27-29. What logical argument is Jesus' making about tying up a strong man? (Jesus is driving out demons. How is it possible to drive out demons unless you first tie up the head of demons - Satan?)

    5. Read Matthew 12:30. What does this teach us about discerning spirits? (We look at the big picture. Is this person advancing the Kingdom of God?)

    6. Read Matthew 12:31-32. What terrible warning are we given about calling the work of the Holy Spirit Satanic? (It is the sin which cannot be forgiven!)

      1. Would you prefer to be given a less dangerous gift than the discerning of spirits?

      2. The Holy Spirit is just one part of the Trinity, why is blasphemy against the Spirit worse than blasphemy against Jesus? (John 16:7-8 tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. If we cannot discern the Holy Spirit from demonic power, we are in big trouble when it comes to understanding sin.)

    7. Read Matthew 12:9-13. Recall this occurred before the Pharisees alleged that Jesus performed miracles by the power of Satan. What role does the Sabbath play in the Pharisee's opinion of Jesus' miracle?(Likely the Pharisees thought Jesus' miracle came from Satan because of their theological differences on the Sabbath.)

      1. What lesson does that suggest to Sabbath-keepers? (This is another caution.)

  2. The Discernment Test

    1. Read Mark 9:38-40. By what spirit was this man driving out demons? (The Holy Spirit.)

      1. How do we know? (Jesus gave His stamp of approval to his work.)

      2. What test did Jesus use to discern spirits, and what test did John use to discern spirits? (John's test was "Is he one of us?" Jesus' test was "In whose name did he perform the miracle?")

        1. How would you state John's test in today's terms? (Is he a member of our church?)

      3. Look again at Mark 9:39-40. What should we conclude if someone does a miracle in Jesus' name? (Jesus' approval is very broad. This is the same logic as He used in saying that Satan cannot drive out Satan: miracle-workers are on one side or the other.)

    2. Read Isaiah 8:19-20. Mediums and spiritists are obviously the wrong spirits. What test is applied here to discern that? (Consulting the dead is an obvious clue. The broader test is whether the spirit speaks in accord with the Bible.)

      1. Read John 16:12-15. What does this say about how the Holy Spirit will speak? (He will only speak in accord with the other Members of the Trinity. We can test the spirit speaking to us by asking whether the message is in accord with the Bible generally.)

      2. Does this square with Jesus' statements that miracle workers are on one side or the other? (This is where the Pharisees and the Sabbath healing are important. The test is not whether a fellow Christian agrees with us on all points of doctrine. The test is whether the miracle-worker is promoting Jesus or not. If we make the test too narrow, we may find that we are blaspheming the Holy Spirit!)

    3. Assume you saw a man smoking a large cigar and he told you that he had been healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Would his smoking be relevant to the issue of what power healed him? (No! The relevant question is whether he is promoting Jesus, not the minor theological issue of smoking. How many people who fail to exercise, eat unhealthy food, are overweight, or fail to take their medicine pray for healing? The relevant question is whether the person promotes Jesus. A God who only healed those who perfectly followed the health laws would only forgive those who perfectly followed the moral laws.)

  3. Spiritual Discernment and Excitement

    1. Read Acts 2:1-3. Those of you who know this story, what was the purpose of this Pentecost experience to the early Christian Church? (It is the kick-off of the revival movement just after Jesus returned to heaven.)

      1. Why is the kick-off like this? (This gets the attention of the people.)

    2. Read Acts 2:5-8 and Acts 2:12. What actually happened because of the sound, fire and tongues? ("A crowd came together." A crowd who wanted to know more. A crowd who was asking questions.)

      1. What should we think about a revival that has exciting things happen? (It is consistent with the first great Christian revival.)

    3. Read Acts 2:13. What spirit did this group think was behind all of the sound, fire and tongues? (Wine! A spirit of drunkenness.)

    4. Read Acts 2:15-16. What test does Peter suggest should be applied to the issue of which spirit is behind this event? (He uses logic - it is too early to be drunk. More important, he turns to the Bible and cites the prophecy of Joel.)

    5. Read Acts 2:18-19. What does Joel predict will happen when the Spirit of God is poured out in the last days? (Signs and wonders. Smoke, fire and blood.)

      1. If we are living in the last days, and our revivals do not involve signs and wonders, what should we conclude?

    6. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. What will Satan orchestrate in the last days? (Counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.)

      1. What does this teach us about signs and wonders? (Signs and wonders are not the test. Both the true and the false use signs and wonders.)

      2. What test can we find in these verses? (The point of Satan's revival is to disbelieve the truth and to delight in wickedness.)

      3. Why does the Bible refer to "counterfeit" miracles, signs and wonders? (This shows the true work of God also has miracles, signs and wonders.)


    1. Look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11. How difficult is it to apply the proper discernment test? What does this say about the people who are deceived? (They want to be deceived. They delight in wickedness.)

    2. Read Matthew 24:23-24. How difficult is the test here? (Jesus says it is a powerful deception.)

    3. Read Matthew 24:26-27. How difficult does the test seem to be to you? (Comparing a world-wide event to local claims seems easy.)

      1. Notice something. Recall that earlier we concluded that a broad test - does the person promote Jesus - was the proper test. Here, we have a test that is much more narrow. What does this teach us? (We need to know our Bibles to really understand what promotes Jesus and what does not.)

    4. Friend, will you pray for the ability to discern spirits? Will you pray that the Holy Spirit will power your revival efforts?
  1. Next week: Reformation: The Outgrowth of Revival.

Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



08-20-2013 7:25 AM


seekingTru
Topic :   Revival and Reformation Qtr 3, 2013c

Revival and Reformation (Quarter 3, 2013c)

The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guides (once called Sabbath School Lessons) are prepared by the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.The 2013 third quarter’s Bible study is titledRevival and Reformation.” You may click on the links in the side bar to go to the current weekly lesson in HTML format. Or you may study your lesson daily on our blog and exchange ideas with others from around the world on the topic of the current lesson study.

You may order a print or Audio copy of this Bible Study Guide online at the Adventist Book Center. Related resources are also available at the publisher’s website, Pacific Press.

The lesson organization in English provided at this web site is quoted directly from that source (Copyright 1995 -2013 by the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), and is used here by permission. You may contact the editors of the Adult Bible study guide by going to this page.

Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guides Online



07-22-2013 4:28 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

Lesson 6 - Friends Forever

Introduction: Have you noticed that some people make decisions based on logic, and some based on emotion? I think I'm firmly in the "logic" camp, but history says otherwise. When my wife and I purchased our current home, we were considering three houses. I listed about ten important factors to consider (like how much it cost, how close it was to work), and then we ranked each home on each of these factors. When we got done with this very logical approach, we looked at the result, and decided we didn't like it. We purchased the house that ranked lowest on the logic list! Emotion prevailed for a decision we have lived with (and in) for thirty years! Last week, Paul explained to the Thessalonians the logical reasons why they should believe and trust him. This week he shares with them his emotions. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. God's Word Under Fire

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Is this an appeal to emotion? (I love it when people say, "I'm thankful for you!" It is an appeal to my emotions.)

      1. Many so-called Bible "scholars" claim that they can pick and choose which Bible texts are right and which are wrong. Others are not so blatant about it, but they reject certain texts because they conflict with their personal opinion. Others pick a certain text to follow and ignore everything else in the Bible on that subject. What does Paul say about the authority of the Bible? (It is the "word of God.")

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14. Who made up the "churches in Judea?" (Jewish believers.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Who does Paul say killed Jesus? (The Jews.)

      1. When I went to law school, I learned that Jews were not just characters in the Bible, but were real, live people today. When I acquired several close Jewish friends, they would tell about being taunting as a child about being a "Christ-killer." One friend said he was called this before he even knew about Christ. When I'm asked, I generally answer that the Romans killed Jesus. But, Paul clearly says that the Jews did it. What attitude is Paul suggesting towards Jews? (Paul just got through saying that the Thessalonians were doing a good thing by imitating their fellow Jewish believers. Paul is Jewish. Jesus is Jewish. Paul cannot be suggesting a bad attitude towards the Jewish people.)

      2. Who, then, are the "bad guys?" (Those who are the enemies of the gospel: those who opposed Christianity by killing Jesus, killing the prophets, driving out Christians, and trying to stop the spread of the gospel.)

      3. What emotional appeal is Paul making when he talks about all the Christians suffering at the hands of the bad guys? (We are in this together!)

  2. The Wrath of God

    1. Notice that 1 Thessalonians 2:16 suggests that we can identify the bad guys because they are the ones trying to keep others from speaking. What is God's reaction to this? (The "wrath of God" has come upon those who believe in physically stopping Christianity.)

    2. What does 1 Thessalonians 2:16 say about the timing of the wrath of God? (It came "at last.")

      1. Paul sounds like God's wrath is overdue! Why is wrath appropriate? How is it consistent with love?

      2. Recently, an agent of Satan killed a number of people at a movie theater. If you heard of this, what was your reaction? What would be your reaction if you knew someone who was killed? What would be your reaction if one of those killed was your child? (Do you see how the level of emotion increases as the level of your love increases? God's wrath is terrible because He love for us is infinite.)

    3. What does Paul mean when he says that God's wrath has actually begun? (The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary points out that in 48 AD a riot took place in Jerusalem during Passover in which about 30,000 were killed. Josephus claims that over a million Jews were killed later when Jerusalem was destroyed.)

    4. Read Luke 19:42-44. What does Jesus say is the reason for the destruction of Jerusalem? (They did not recognize that Jesus was God.)

      1. Is this an argument based on emotion? (This is the pivotal event in the history of the world. God died for His creation. His creation killed Him. God has an incredible emotional involvement with us. To reject God's love, to tread on what God has done, is trigger the most terrible emotion - wrath!)

  3. The Struggle

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-19. What prevented Paul and his friends from visiting the Thessalonians again? (Satan.)

      1. Consider this just a minute. God is on the move punishing those who trample on His love, while Satan is on the move to restrict the good news of His love. How should this knowledge affect our everyday life? (We need to be keenly aware of the role the supernatural plays in every day events.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:20. What gives Paul joy? What gives Paul glory?(Notice the emotions. Those who listen to Paul's presentation of the gospel and act on it give him joy. On the other hand, Paul is upset when Satan tries to undo his work.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. What is it that Paul could no longer stand? (The emotional strain of separation. He could not stand the Thessalonians suffering persecution without help. He was worried that they would not stand firm.)

      1. What did Paul do about it? (Sent Timothy to be with them to encourage, strengthen them and undo any damage done by Satan's agents.)

      2. How do you feel when someone says, "I miss you, I want to come and help you?" (It warms my heart. It lets me know that person cares.)

    4. We see a lot of emotion in Paul's writings. We discussed in the introduction the logical and emotional approach to life. What if Paul had used only logic in his appeal to the Thessalonians? (His appeal would have been seriously crippled. People not only need to know the truth, they need to know you care.)

  4. The Report

    1. 1 Thessalonians 3:6. What has changed? (We just went from Paul saying that he sent Timothy on his behalf to visit the Thessalonians, to Timothy returning with a report.)

      1. What report does Timothy make? (The Thessalonians have pleasant memories of Paul.)

      2. Read Acts 17:5-8. We discussed this in a previous lesson. Paul's visit stirred up opposition, with the result that Jason and some other new believers got dragged before the authorities and had to post a bond. Is this a pleasant memory?

      3. How can this "pleasant memories" be an honest report? (Under emotional strain, people form strong bonds. It is not as if Paul mislead them. He not only shared with them the good news of the gospel, but he also told them (1 Thessalonians 3:4) that persecution would follow.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9. How does the steadfastness of the Thessalonian believers affect Paul? (He is encouraged. He feels alive ("we really live"). He feels joy.)

      1. When Satan or his agents attack you, have you considered the impact that your faithfulness might have on others?

      2. Doesn't Paul's reaction seem a little excessive? (Do you remember the last time you won something? Earned a great grade. Won an athletic contest. Won a job promotion. You feel great. You feel "alive." Paul has just won a battle (through the Thessalonians) against Satan - and he feels great about it.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10. Wait a minute! Paul is rejoicing over their victory against Satan. How can he write about them "lacking" in faith? (We are all on the road towards a better and deeper relationship with our Lord. We all have room for improvement.)

    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. Paul asks that God will allow them to come, that the Thessalonians would show love to each other, and that God would strengthen their hearts. What does it mean for God to "strengthen your heart?" (This is a mental and emotional change that the Holy Spirit makes to help you become more loving and more obedient.)

    5. Friend, how are you on the emotional side of dealing with fellow church members? If you think this is a weak spot, why not ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your heart?

  5. Next week: Living Holy Lives.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



08-06-2012 6:40 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

Lesson 5 - The Apostolic Example

Introduction: Many years ago, I agreed to take over a case in Connecticut from another attorney who assured me that it would be "simple." When I met the judge for the first time, he was literally screaming at the lawyers. He told us that he did not have time to preside over our trial, and we were to come back next month. In the meantime, I had an ocean beach vacation. As I sat on the beach looking at the ocean, what do you think I was doing? Enjoying the sun, sand and water? No! I was thinking about how I would try the case before the screamer. Thinking about an unpleasant future kept me from thinking about the pleasure of the present. A current book I'm reading about the brain suggests that we should be more conscious about our thoughts, and notice the difference between a focus on the present and planning for the future. It suggests a deliberate consciousness about the present. Is this a Biblical concept? Let's jump into our study of the letters to the Thessalonians and find out!

  1. The Present

    1. Read Matthew 6:31-34. What does Jesus suggest should be the focus of our thoughts? (Today, rather than worrying about tomorrow.)

      1. There are a number of Bible texts that teach us to be diligent workers, use our common sense, and engage in planning. Why does Jesus say that we should not be worrying about tomorrow? (God knows our needs. We can "offload" future problems to Him.)

        1. Why is it an advantage to "offload" our worries? (Our minds can only focus on a few things at once. Removing worry from the stage of our mind, allows us to focus on other things.)

      2. What does God require of us, instead of worrying about the future? (Presently seeking to advance the Kingdom of God. We can substitute thinking about doing good for worrying about possible future problems.)

      3. In my story about the screaming judge, all of my worry time was a complete waste. When I showed up next month, a wonderfully kind and pleasant judge was in charge. Apparently, they rotate judges from county to county, and the screamer had been moved to another county.

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3. On what time frame is Paul's focus? (He reminds them of the past, to make a point about the present.)

    3. We previously discussed how they were beaten in Philippi, and then barely escaped another beating in Thessalonica. Paul denies that he is trying to trick them, has impure motives or is just wrong. What does the past suggest about the truth of those charges? (Paul argues that facing a beating would deter the dishonest. The dishonest would find an easier way to make a living.)

  2. The Example

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:4. What two reasons does Paul give as to why he should be believed? (He says "Look at how we speak." Second, he suggests that beatings are not a sign of failure, for they are not trying to please others - just God.)

      1. Paul's call for them to look at how they speak is a call to examine the present. What about their speech is important? (They speak as if they were given a God message. They speak as if they were "approved" and "entrusted.")

          1. What do you think this means? (There must have been a competency, honesty and assurance in the way they spoke.)

      2. Have you considered how you impact the Kingdom of God with your speech?

        1. Do you speak as one "approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel?"

        2. If not, why not? (Many years ago I asked myself this question - what is my influence upon others? Am I aiding God or Satan? I was embarrassed when I concluded that my influence was negative in many ways, and determined to change that.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:5. What was absent from their speech? (Flattery and greed.)

      1. I use compliments regularly in my dealings with others. What is wrong with it? (Praising people for a job well-done is the gift of encouragement. Paul tells the Thessalonians to encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11. On the other hand, dishonest flattery to get someone to do something is not a gospel tactic.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6. This is a continuation of Paul's statement in verse 4 that they are trying to please God and not men. Is this ("we are not looking for praise from men") a defensive attitude - because Paul was not just rejected, he was physically attacked - or is this an attitude we should seek?

      1. In sorting this out, can we agree that we should not try to please men instead of God?

      2. Paul approaches this as if pleasing God and humans were mutually exclusive. What about the idea of pleasing both God and humans?

      3. If you only had to worry about pleasing God, would your life be better or worse?

      4. If humans praise you, would that deter you from considering whether God is pleased with you? (This is probably the most important point to consider.)

      5. Think about the people in your life who have said, "I don't care what other people think." What kind of people are those? Are they people who you thought cared what God thought?

      6. Have you seen people do a lousy job in the church because they don't care what other people think? (In my experience, people who said that they did not care what other people thought were doing a lousy job. The Bible speaks positively about encouragement and advice. At a certain point, praise and encouragement are more important to me than money. Plus, honest praise improves performance. I think Paul is mostly being defensive here, but there is no question that we must put pleasing God first.)

  3. Hard Work

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9. Paul says, "We could have asked you to support us, but we did not. Instead we worked day and night to share the gospel with you and support ourselves." How is this relevant to Paul's gospel message? (It shows greed could not have motivated Paul and his friends. Instead, he was giving to the Thessalonians.)

      1. What other argument do you find in this? (Paul says this is proof of our love for you. We did not love ourselves as much as we loved you.)

      2. If you are wondering, the same is true of this ministry. I don't make any money from writing this lesson, it costs me money. The translators are all volunteers. On occasion, readers send small contributions and we have ad revenue. This all goes to my son who maintains the web site, the e-mail distribution, purchases ads to promote the lessons and pays the bills.

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Review what Paul has written so far. What are the elements that go into his conclusion that they have been "holy, righteous and blameless?" (They suffered physically, they did not demand money, they were not greedy. Their speech was consistent with the gospel and not modified to please humans. They treated church members as loving parents would treat their children. They encouraged right living.)

      1. Did you notice that Paul says that he was "encouraging" to them? This gets us back to the flattery discussion.

    3. Friend, have you examined your life? Have you taken a sharp and honest look at the present? Can you say that in your daily life you reflect the attitude and actions which Paul says show a person to be "holy, righteous and blameless?" If not, why not ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be conscious of this, and to change your attitude and your actions?

  4. Next week: Friends Forever.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



08-06-2012 6:38 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

Lesson 4 - Joyous and Thankful

Introduction: This week we get down to business in our study of the letters to the Thessalonians. While it is good to understand the background, and consider the challenges Paul and his friends faced in evangelizing the Thessalonians, nothing is better than studying the word of God in context. Topical studies have their place, but topical studies rely on the logic of humans. When we study a book of the Bible, we see God's logic in action. The Holy Spirit arranges the sequence of the presentation in the Bible. Let's see what we can learn about God's will for us, in the sequence He inspired, by examining what He has to say to the Thessalonians!

  1. Greetings

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3. This week I saw an old co-worker who immediately commented on a television show he had seen the night before in which I was interviewed. His first comment was that I had difficulty answering one question. (My biased opinion was that I had done great - even on the difficult question.) What could my friend learn from Paul? (Paul starts out positively. He wishes the Thessalonians grace and peace, and then says how thankful he is for their faith and work.)

      1. How do you greet people?

      2. How do you react to people who greet you with criticisms instead of compliments?

      3. Remember, the Holy Spirit is guiding Paul's words. What should we learn from Paul's opening here? (Be positive. Start out with encouraging, positive words to others if at all possible. You can leave the constructive criticism to later)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14. What alternative greeting could Paul have given? (Stop being lazy, timid, weak, impatient and vengeful!)

      1. What is the state of your marriage? How well do you get along with your children?

        1. How do you greet your spouse and your children?

  2. Chosen

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5. When I teach or preach, from time to time a person will come up to me afterwards who was strongly convicted by the Holy Spirit. Others seem to have the words just roll off their backs. Are the convicted people "chosen" by God and the rest not chosen by God?

    2. Read 1 Timothy 2:3-4. We know that Paul sent Timothy to be with the Thessalonians. What does Timothy write about being chosen by God? (That God wants all to be saved.)

    3. Read Revelation 3:20 and Revelation 14:6-7. To whom does God appeal to follow Him? (Everyone everywhere.)

    4. Re-read 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5. Many Christians believe in something called "election." Only if they are "elected" are they saved. As I understand it, "non-elected" people can never be saved. When Paul says in verse 4 that God "has chosen you" is he talking about "election?"

      1. What is the proof of being "chosen" (or "elected")? (The Holy Spirit brought conviction and power.)

    5. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10, Acts 10:44-47 and Acts 15:6-9. These texts bring to mind another context in which the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated that God had chosen a people. What is that context? (We are reminded of the history of God's work with humans. God chose a special people (the Jews) to be His workers to share the message about Him. When God's special people largely rejected Jesus, God turned to the Gentiles - those who were, as 1 Peter 2:10 says, "not a people" to be God's messengers. The context makes clear Paul's message that "You do not have to be Jewish to be chosen by God." The proof, as always, is the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul is not saying that God picks and chooses among humans who will be saved.)

  3. Imitation

    1. Re-read the last part of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and then read 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7. In what way is Paul saying the Thessalonians were "imitators" of Paul and his friends? (Look at the last sentence of verse 5: "we lived among you for your sake." Paul and his friends sacrificed to help the Thessalonians.)

      1. People often say that we should only imitate Jesus, but I've long thought that idea had serious flaws. It seems obvious that God withheld from Jesus many things so that humans would not say, "Jesus had an advantage over me because He was born rich, He was born to a royal family, He had a beautiful home, etc." Do you think we should imitate Jesus' disadvantages?

      2. Are the disadvantages of Jesus proof that He gave up His own interests for us?

        1. If you said, "yes," then isn't "giving up advantages to help others" exactly what Paul said he and his friends were doing for the Thessalonians? (This is making me re-think this subject. While I still do not think that we are called to imitate Jesus being homeless or His other specific disadvantages, the general idea of giving up ourselves for others should be the main principle of our life.)

    2. Look again at 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7. In what way were the Thessalonians models for other believers. (They welcomed the message with joy.)

      1. What about the "giving up yourself idea?" Were they also a model for that? (Notice that verse 6 says "in spite of severe suffering" they welcomed the message with joy. On the surface, no one would have joy about giving up something, as opposed to getting something. There are studies on this. A person offered one of two choices may not have a strong preference for one over the other. But, once the person selects one, that person does not want to give it up for the alternative. The fact that the Thessalonians could give up a normal life "with joy," is something to imitate.)

      2. We now have Paul and his friends as models and the Thessalonians as models. Should we encourage the imitation of other Christians?

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:8. In what other way did the Thessalonians become models for other new converts? (Their faith was noteworthy. They "rang out" the "Lord's message." The word picture that I see is of someone ringing a bell to get the attention of others. The Thessalonian's faith got attention!)

  4. Rescue

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. We've spoken about the "hard to accept" aspects of Christianity. That Paul promoted a Messiah who had been killed by the Romans rather than conquering the Romans. In what way is the former belief of the Thessalonians "hard to accept?" (They worshiped idols - something made by human hands.)

      1. How does Paul describe the contrast between the two belief systems? (Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we serve a living God. We do not serve something made by humans which was never alive - much less alive now.)

      2. What is our hope? (That Jesus will return from heaven and rescue us from the "coming wrath.")

    2. In the introduction we talked about God's sequence in the Bible. As you think about what we have studied in this lesson, from the nature of the greeting, to the choosing of the Thessalonians, to the model for others, to the nature of Jesus' rescue, what overall theme do you see? (Service for others. We are careful how we greet others. We are willing to accept others who are accepted by the Holy Spirit. We are willing to share our faith even if it makes life uncomfortable. We serve a living God who has given up His life for us and who will rescue us. Friend, are you willing to make this the theme of your life? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the power to do this?

  5. Next week: The Apostolic Example.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



08-06-2012 6:37 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

Lesson 3 - Thessalonica in Paul's Day

Introduction: Have you heard the question, "Does anything ever change?" In some sense, all sorts of things change all the time. One huge change in the last twenty years is the Internet. To publish and mail this Bible study in the "old days" would have taken a large amount of money. Even with enough money, it would not be practical to send it world-wide because of the delays in mailing. The Internet changed all of that. But, are the hearts of people different today? Have the hopes, dreams and worries of people changed? Has selfishness disappeared? Has the Bible's answers to problems changed? No. The people in Thessalonica were like you and me. Paul, Silas and Timothy faced struggles with sin, just as we do. Let's jump into our Bible study and see what we can learn about the solution to the problems that we all face!

  1. The Things of the World

    1. Read 1 John 2:15. Except for God, everything I love is in the world. Where are the things you love located?

      1. Do you think this text is speaking of location? Is it speaking of geography? Or, is it saying "Don't love the world" and everything "in" the world - in the sense of being included in the world?

    2. Read 1 John 2:16. How does this clarify the answers to the questions we just discussed? (The Bible is not talking about geography. It is using the word "world" as a symbol for things opposed to God.)

      1. What do you think is meant by the phrase, "the cravings of sinful man?" (You could say, "If I'm not a sinful person, then my cravings are fine." But, I suspect that having "cravings" is a clue to what the Bible means when it says "world.")

      2. What do you think is meant by the phrase, "the lust of the eyes?" (This seems to be another kind of craving - wanting something you see.)

      3. Do you know people who boast about what they possess and have done? (Now we get to something we can really understand, because likely this is us. If we are in denial and think this is not "us," then we know people who fit this description.)

        1. Why would a person boast about what they have or do? (To show that they are better than others. They have more money, more things and have accomplished more because they are smarter, harder working or more righteous.)

      4. If you look at these verses (1 John 2:15-16), do you think these phrases we have studied are related? (Yes!)

        1. If the final definition (in this group of phrases) of what it means to love the world is bragging about yourself, what does this suggest is meant by "the cravings of sinful man," and "the lust of his eyes?" (These are people who want to be on the road to bragging about what they have and what they do. They are not there yet, which is the reason why they "crave." They do not yet have it, which is the reason why they "lust." These are the "poor" and "unsuccessful" people who want to someday be able to brag about what they have and what they do.)

        2. With this understanding, does this just about include all of us? Do you think this human attitude has changed over thousands of years?

    3. Read 1 John 2:17. Why is being on the road (or at the end of the road, or trying and failing to get on the road) to a life worth bragging about a bad idea? (It is temporary. You get to the point of having and accomplishing and bragging about it all - and you die. Or, worse, you've been lusting and craving your whole life, and suddenly you realize your life is over, and you have nothing!)

      1. Why is having and doing and bragging inconsistent with having the love of the Father in us? (Someone with the love of the our Father in Heaven is not focused on himself, but has a desire to help others.)

      2. How does a desire to help others make more practical sense? ("The man who does the will of God lives forever.")

    4. Read Acts 17:1-3. What was the most difficult aspect of Paul's message to the Thessalonians? (That the people should worship a Messiah who died at the hands of the Romans - rather than conquering the Romans.)

      1. Is that the real challenge of the gospel for you - a message of giving up yourself for others, rather than conquering all who come your way?

      2. Was Paul's task the same as all who are sharing the gospel today - that the true gospel is a "hard sell" if self denial is truly understood?

        1. Is the gospel pure self-denial? (No. Not only do we get to live forever, but lasting joy comes from helping others.)

  2. Paul's Approach to the World

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 9:19. Is this consistent with what we just studied? (Yes!)

      1. Does this appeal to you? (The natural heart does not want to be a slave. Let's continue to see what Paul means by this.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 9:20-21. This is not slavery in the sense we normally think of it. In what way is Paul a slave here? (It seems to be a slavery to ideas, not a physical slavery. Paul could have gone to each of these groups and said, "You need more law," or "You need less law." Instead he refrained from asserting his own ideas.)

      1. How can we distinguish between being a slave - giving up our ideas for the ideas of others - and compromising the gospel? How can we tell what is being practical to win over others, and what is disobeying God?

    3. Read Acts 16:3. Is Timothy making himself a slave for others? (Yes, this is a painful example of giving in to the ideas of others. But, Paul thought they needed to compromise on this in order to win the Jews.)

    4. Read Galatians 5:2-3 and Galatians 5:11-12. Was circumcision an important point to Paul? (Yes. He fought against it.)

      1. Why, then, did he compromise with Timothy and not compromise with the Galatians? (The Galatians were not circumcised, and Paul tells them they do not need to be circumcised to be saved. Timothy, on the other hand, was going to teach the gospel to those who had been circumcised, and being circumcised helped him to be able to share the gospel with them. I have no doubt that Paul ultimately shared the full gospel to these circumcised Jews - but personal compromise to be able to share the gospel is part of giving up yourself to others.)

    5. When we started our discussion about bragging over what we do and what we have, it seemed that we were talking about rich, successful people (and those who were trying to be rich and successful). Are these people the only target of our study? (No. An important target is bragging about what you do and what you have with regard to the gospel! I have little doubt that bragging about money, power and position are part of being in the world. But, the slavery which Paul writes about is a slavery that is tied to religious opinion.)

    6. Let me ask you again, how can you distinguish between compromising your ideas and disobedience to God? (I do not fully understand this, but the first question to ask is, "Am I doing this to advance the gospel?" If the answer is, "yes," then likely you are on the right path.)

  3. Starting the Church

    1. Read Acts 18:1-3. Is it a waste of Paul's talents and time to be making tents instead of preaching? (We have just discussed the idea of being unselfish and being practical in order to reach people. Paul is strengthening his relationship with Acquila and Priscila. We see in Romans 16:3-4 that these two became great workers for the gospel.)

    2. Read Colossians 4:15. We read here (and in other texts) about home churches. How does the idea of opening your home to other church members fit into the topic of this study? (It is another example of practical unselfishness.)

    3. If you have ever been a part of a home church, what are its advantages? (You get to see how this group of believers can work together without investing a lot of money in a property. In a larger church, you might not know the people very well. In a home church you have close relationships.)

    4. Friend, next week we will start our study of 1 Thessalonians in earnest. As a result of this study, can you more clearly see the attitude that was necessary for Paul and is necessary for you to reach others with the gospel? Will you commit to carefully consider how an unselfish compromise of your religious opinions might advance the gospel?

  4. Next week: Joyous and Thankful.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



07-15-2012 9:15 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

Lesson 2 - Preserving Relationships

Posted: 14 Jul 2012 05:00 AM PDT

Introduction: Last week one of the members of my church died. The last time I saw her, she looked right into my eyes and said, "I'll see you again." She was headed into a major surgery, and she thought that she might die during the surgery. My wife and I had prayed for her, and I believed that I would see her again in church. I knew that she meant that she would see me again either in church or in heaven. Although I had not known this dear lady for very long, a strong relationship with her had developed in just a short period of time. When she died without me seeing her again, it not only made me sad, but it made me think again about her last words to me. We cannot be sure when we will see our family and friends again. Life is uncertain. As a result, relationships are one of the most important things in life. Paul's relationship with the members of the church in Thessalonica is our study this week. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to see what we can learn about strengthening relationships!

  1. The Parting

    1. Recall that last week Paul had a mixed reception in Thessalonica. Let's review by reading Acts 17:5. What would you do if you thought that a mob was heading your way?

      1. What if you were still recovering from the last time a mob caught you?

    2. Read Acts 17:6-7. Not finding Paul or Silas, they bring Jason before the city officials. What does this tell us about Jason and Paul? (Jason had given Paul a place to live. It was known that Jason was his host.)

    3. Read Acts 17:8-9. What does this suggest about Jason? (We learn that he had enough money to post a bond. This also suggests that he had enough influence with the officials to avoid rough treatment.)

    4. Read Acts 17:10. What have Paul and Silas been doing? (Hiding! You would hide too to avoid another beating like they received in Philippi!)

      1. Now that we review how Paul left Thessalonica, what kind of impression do you think was left in his mind about his visit?

      2. What kind of impression was left in the mind of Jason and the Thessalonians?

      3. How does this affect relationships - to have to leave under circumstances like this? Would it bring Paul and the Thessalonians closer together, or further apart? (People under extreme circumstances often form close relationships. On the other hand, no one likes to get in trouble, and Paul certainly got Jason and his friends in trouble.)

    5. Read Acts 17:11. How does this color Paul's thinking when it comes to the Thessalonians?

      1. Have you heard the expression, "This is more trouble than it is worth?"

        1. What is the "worth" in Thessalonica? Would Paul appreciate a greater challenge?

  2. Encouragement

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3. If someone tells you about a problem in their life, what is your immediate thought - about them or about a similar problem in your life?

      1. Years ago, a lady called my wife to see if she could drop her children off at our home. When my wife said this was not possible because her mother had just died, the lady responded, "Well, I'm sure glad my parents are fine." Perhaps you are not as thoughtless as this, but I know that when people tell me about some problem in their life, I often tell about a similar thing that happened to me! When you experience problems, do you want others to relate similar problems in their life or do you want them to focus on your problem?

      2. Recall that when Paul arrived in Thessalonica, he was still hurting from his beating in Philippi. If you left friends quickly because you did not want to be beaten again, would you start out your note to them about yourself or about them? (I would explain about my own concerns - how it was necessary to run for the sake of my own health!)

      3. As you look at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, on who is Paul's attention focused? (The Thessalonians.)

      4. Look carefully at Paul's words. How would you characterize them? (He is complimenting them.)

        1. Is Paul simply telling them they look good, he likes their clothes? (No, he is complimenting them about things that are central to the gospel.)

      5. When my father died, one of the most amazing notes came from Reed Larson, a man for whom my teaching position at Regent University is named. Instead of telling me about the time when his father died, he wrote that my father must have been a great man because he was sure my father was reflected in my life. My father died long ago, but I've not forgotten that note. When you speak or write to someone who faces difficulties, do you remember to say positive, encouraging things to them?

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17. On what is Paul focused, his manner of leaving, or on the church members? (He reminds them of how he left ("torn away"), but he says he never stopped thinking about them.)

      1. If someone wrote to you like this, would you think that they were your friend? (Yes. Paul sounds very interested ("intense longing") in them.)

      2. How would you put Paul's sentiments in today's terms? ("I am with you in spirit.")

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:18. How can Satan stop the work of God? (A conflict is going on between Jesus and Satan. Jesus has won the battle, but apparently Jesus allows Satan to "win" some of the conflicts.)

      1. As you think back to what happened to Paul and friends at Philippi and Thessalonica, did Satan have some victories? (Certainly, it was not God's plan to have His workers beaten or to drive them out of towns where they were working.)

      2. What does this say about setbacks in your life? (Sometimes we give Satan the advantage by bad decision-making, but at other times Satan "wins" the small fights when we are doing good.)

    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. What does this suggest about whether Paul is living a self-centered life? (He looks forward to heaven, in which his joy and glory will be those who he has brought to salvation.)

    5. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1. What could Paul no longer stand? (Being apart from the members in Thessalonica.)

      1. So what did Paul do when his feelings came to this point? (He decided to stay in Athens! "I couldn't stand missing you any longer, so I decided to stay in a different city.)

    6. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:2. What solution did they hit upon? (They sent Timothy!)

      1. What is your reaction when someone says that he misses you and wants to be with you, and his actions seem to be just the opposite?

      2. Or, is there a better, more positive explanation for this? (At least two commentaries that I read suggested that Paul was being left alone in Athens. Thus, Paul was giving up something every important in order to bless the Thessalonians.)

    7. Friend, have you considered how you react when someone tells you about some sad event? Do you focus on encouraging them, or do you immediately start talking about yourself? Why not determine today to strengthen relationships in the church, and among your friends and family, by focusing more on others and less on yourself?

  3. Next week: Thessalonica in Paul's Day.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



07-15-2012 9:13 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

Lesson 1 - The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica

Introduction: How do you react when someone brings a new idea to you? What about when someone suggests that you need to make changes in your life? What if someone warns you about something terrible in your future if you do not change? We begin our study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians: Paul's letters to the believers in Thessalonica. In these letters Paul brings a message that he is concerned they will not believe. When a lawyer wants to test the truth of what a witness says, the lawyer asks questions about perception and motivation. Paul, sounding like a lawyer, argues why the Thessalonians should believe him. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Motives

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Who is writing this letter to the church of the Thessalonians? (Paul, Silas and Timothy. In the rest of this lesson I'll refer to them collectively as "Paul.")

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4. What is Paul concerned about? (That the church members will doubt him.)

      1. What concerns does Paul raise? (That his message is wrong or his motives impure. He says that he is not trying to trick them.)

      2. Why would Paul write this kind of thing? (It must be that some were questioning Paul's motives and the accuracy of his theology. His defense shows us the nature of the attacks made against him.)

      3. Let's go back to the questions I asked in the introduction: when someone tries to convince you to agree with them, do you consider their motives? (I do - especially if I do not know the person very well. But, this might be the result of my legal training.)

        1. Think about this a minute. We all know people who are wrong because they are not very smart, their emotions overtake their logic, or they are uneducated about the issues. How do you compare those kinds of people with those who are trying to trick you? (We have the lowest opinion of tricksters! The other people are just wrong, but deceivers are evil.)

      4. What does Paul say about his motives? (His motive is to obey God.)

  2. Motives Clarified

    1. Re-read 1 Thessalonians 2:2. Paul refers to an event in Philippi. Why? (This is part of Paul's argument about his motives. Let's explore what happened in Philippi.)

    2. Read Acts 16:9-10. Whose direction is Paul following here? (He believes God is directing them to Macedeonia.)

    3. Read Acts 16:11-12. How does this fit into God's direction? (Philippi is the leading city in a district of Macedonia.)

    4. Read Acts 16:13-15. If you were Paul, would this confirm God's directions to you to go to Macedonia? (You meet the right people and they offer to let you stay with them. Everything is going great!

    5. Read Acts 16:16-18. How do you explain that a demon would give this message? Didn't we learn last quarter that we can discern spirits by their message?

      1. Why do you think Paul was troubled? Was it day after day of shouting? Was it that a demon was handling their publicity?

    6. Read Acts 16:19-23. What kind of justice do they have in Philippi?

      1. If you were Paul, would you begin to doubt your vision?

      2. Has Paul done anything wrong?

    7. Read Acts 16:24-28. Assume you are Paul, this is your story and you are writing in Facebook what happened to you in the last two days. What would be the tone of your note? (One disaster after another! First harassment, then unjust beatings, then imprisonment, and then an earthquake. If any of your friends clicked, "like," you would feel like kicking them.)

    8. Read Acts 16:29-34. Now, what do you say about the vision? How does this change your Facebook entry?

    9. Read Acts 16:37-40. Just a footnote here. What did Paul believe about Christians asserting their legal rights?

      1. Who is encouraging who? Who was beaten? (Paul was beaten and he is doing the encouraging.)

    10. Read Acts 17:1. This brings us back to Thessalonica. How do you think Paul felt? (He was probably still suffering from his beating!)

      1. If you knew this background, what would you say about Paul's motives? Is he a trickster? Is there any reason to say he is motivated by anything other than the will of God? (Paul knew that sharing the gospel was dangerous. He could lose his health or his freedom.)


    11. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:2. What is the reception to the gospel in Thessalonica? ("Strong opposition." In this new town, Paul knew he was facing danger.)

  3. The Message

    1. Since we have seen that Paul has only pure motives, let's look at his message. Read Acts 17:2-3. What is Paul's message to those in Thessalonica? (The gospel!)

      1. Why do you think Paul went first to the Jews? (The Old Testament predicts Jesus. If they believed the Torah, then they should believe in Jesus.)

      2. Was Paul going to church on Sabbath simply because that was when the synagogue was meeting? (No. The text says worshiping on Sabbath was Paul's "custom." It was his regular practice.)

    2. Notice that Acts 17:3 says that Paul explained to them why the Messiah would suffer. Read Jeremiah 23:5-8 and Isaiah 9:4-7. Do these verses refer to Jesus? (Yes.)

      1. What kind of Messiah do you think the people would prefer - One who suffered or One who triumphed?

      2. Can you see the obstacles which Paul had to overcome? He was preaching a Messiah who was murdered by Rome!

    3. Review Isaiah 53 and read Isaiah 53:5. How should Paul make his argument? How do you think he explained these apparently conflicting pictures of Jesus?

    4. Read Acts 17:4. Who are these "God-fearing Greeks?" (Read 1 Thessalonians 1:9. These are Gentiles who had "turned to God from idols." Some commentaries suggest that they had accepted the teachings of the Old Testament, met on Sabbath with the Jews, but were not full converts to Judaism.)

    5. Read Acts 17:5. This should be familiar to Paul. Why are the Jews jealous? (Two things. First, the Jews are probably hoping that these Greeks would fully convert to Judaism. Now, Paul has convinced them of something else. Second, Paul argues that the Old Testament predicted Jesus. Jesus is the fulfilment of the sanctuary service and the other prophecies. These Jews reject that and think Paul is starting another religion that is taking away from their religion. We can see why Paul is concerned about whether people believe his message.)

    6. Read Acts 17:6-8. Paul's opponents round up a mob of bad characters to start a riot, and then get the government involved on their side. What does this teach us about the strength of their religious arguments? (Resorting to violence and the strong arm of the government shows that your attempts to persuade through logic and reason have failed. They use terror and force to protect their religious views.)

    7. Look again at Acts 17:7. What do you think these Jews believed about the Messiah - suffering or triumphant? (They undoubtedly believed the Messiah would be triumphant.)

        1. What does that say about their argument here? (Purely disingenuous. They were accusing Paul of things they hoped would happen!)

    8. Friend, what about you? Do you believe in the books Paul wrote in the New Testament because they are "part of the Bible," or do you have an independent personal trust in them because of what Paul suffered to deliver his message from God? If you are not sure about the truth of the gospel, will you accept it right now?

  4. Next week: Preserving Relationships.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



07-15-2012 9:12 AM


seekingTru
Topic :   Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28

1 and 2 Thessalonians 2012 Q3

Contents | Email Discussion Lists | Ellen White and Bible References

When the Lord Descends from Heaven


Irish author Samuel Beckett wrote a drama, Waiting for Godot, about two homeless men waiting on the side of the road for someone named Godot who was supposed to come and save them from the meaninglessness of life.

Until he comes, life seems so miserable that they decide to hang themselves. But having no rope, one of the men takes off the cord that holds up his pants, which collapse around his ankles. Testing the cord’s strength, they pull; it breaks, and both men almost fall. They decide to find a better rope and try again later.

“We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow,” says Vladimir. “Unless Godot comes.”

“And if he comes?” asks Estragon.

“We’ll be saved.”

Godot never comes, which means they’re not saved. They weren’t, of course, supposed to be. Beckett’s whole point with the drama was to show the absurdity and hopelessness of life.

What a contrast to the view of life presented in the Bible. In particular, what a contrast to the view presented in this quarter’s lessons, which are on the apostle Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians.

Like Beckett’s two characters, the Thessalonians faced stresses, strains, struggles, even persecution. In other words, life for them, as for us, has its hard moments. How easy and understandable it would have been for them to have fallen into the pessimism Beckett expressed. Instead, the Thessalonians had a sure hope, a hope based on Jesus.

This quarter, through Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, we’ll get a glimpse into the life of an early Christian church—an urban church—really, and see some of the struggles and challenges that it faced, including the difficulties that arose from the fact that Christ had not yet returned! Fascinating, too, is that however different their circumstances from our own, so often the principles reflected in Paul’s words to the Thessalonians deal with the issues and challenges that we, too, confront as we await—not some mysterious Godot—but the Lord Jesus, whose death on the cross at the first coming guarantees His return in glory at the Second.

Jon Paulien is dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.

DateTopicMobileRefs
Jul 6The Gospel Comes to ThessalonicaMobileLess 1
Jul 13Preserving RelationshipsMobileLess 2
Jul 20Thessalonica in Paul’s DayMobileLess 3
Jul 27Joyous and ThankfulMobileLess 4
Aug 3The Apostolic ExampleMobileLess 5
Aug 10Friends ForeverMobileLess 6
Aug 17Living Holy LivesMobileLess 7
Aug 24The Dead in ChristMobileLess 8
Aug 31Final EventsMobileLess 9
Sep 7Church LifeMobileLess 10
Sep 14Promise to the PersecutedMobileLess 11
Sep 21The AntichristMobileLess 12
Sep 28Keeping the Church FaithfulMobileLess 13

Did you know that you can receive each day’s lesson via email? You may also discuss each day’s lesson with other Sabbath School lesson students on our blog.


Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.

Principal Contributors:
Jon Paulien
Editor:
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Editorial Assistant:
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Concept Design:
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Copyright © 2012 by the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.


The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is prepared by the Office
of the Adult Bible Study Guide of the General Conference of Seventh-day
Adventists. The preparation of the guides is under the general
direction of the Sabbath School Publications Board, a subcommittee of
the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM), publisher of
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the intent of the author(s).

Editorial Office:
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Sabbath School Study References

The Lesson References (formerly called Lesson Helps) for this quarter have been prepared by Freeman Senzani. They include all related Scripture and most EGW quotations. The “New King James Version” of the Bible is used with
permission. The related Study References are linked from each lesson and a link to the whole quarter’s Helps is provided on this page.



07-15-2012 9:09 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

 

Lesson 13 - A Perpetual Ministry

Introduction: Now that we have come to the last lesson in our study about witnessing and evangelism, we should be asking ourselves, "When do we start?" Instead, it looks like we are studying "When do we stop?" Does "perpetual ministry" mean that we never stop? My habit, every morning I'm in Virginia Beach, is to walk the beach. One fellow I often see on my walk is retired. He spends every nice afternoon with his wife sitting on the beach. Would you like that? I could not stand it. What does the Bible teach about retirement from ministry? What should we do about those who have retired from being a part of the ministry because they are unhappy? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Retirement

    1. Have you ever heard someone say that retirement is un-Biblical? We should not retire because the Bible does not speak of it? Read Numbers 8:23-26. What does the Bible suggest about retirement? (The Levites retired from "regular service" at age fifty!)

      1. Did they go home and watch television? (They were allowed to assist, but it does not seem to be required.)

      2. We hear that retirement age should go up because of increased longevity. Read Deuteronomy 34:7 and Joshua 24:29. What does this suggest about the longevity of the people during Moses' time? (It sounds like people lived to be 100 years old.)

      3. Let's assume people commonly lived to be 100 during the time of Moses. What conclusion should we reach from the 50 year retirement age for Levites? Today, should you be able to retire at 40 years of age?

    2. Read Luke 12:13-15. In the preceding verses in Luke chapter 12, Jesus taught about hypocrisy and fearing God. This man wanted to change the topic to something he thought was more practical for his life. How did Jesus react to this question? (He resisted it. Then He suggested the man should be more interested in the subject Jesus had been speaking about, rather than the topic of money.)

    3. Read Luke 12:16-17. Assume you are faced with this "problem." What would you do?

    4. Read Luke 12:18-19. Is this a reasonable solution to the problem?

      1. If you originally answered "I would sell my crops and invest the money for the future," is the farmer's solution any different than yours?


    5. Read Luke 12:20. Why is the man a fool? Because he invested for the future? Because he retired? Because he did not buy life insurance? Because he missed his annual physical?

      1. Read Luke 12:21. What does Jesus hint is the reason for calling the man foolish? (He built a future focused solely on his own pleasure.)

    6. Think a bit about the Levite retirement and the dead farmer. What is the Bible teaching us about a "perpetual ministry?" (On the one hand we are not expected to be working full-time in ministry (or anything else) our entire life. On the other hand, we must never come to the point where we focus only on our own pleasure. We need to remain "rich toward God" at every age.)

  2. Early Retirees

    1. We all know people who leave the church because they are unhappy with the church, bored with the church, or insulted by church members. Should we go after these "early retirees?"

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. What job is given to us? (The "message of reconciliation.")

      1. What is that message? (That God does not count our sins against us if we are in Jesus.)

    3. Read Matthew 10:5-6. When Jesus refers to the "lost sheep of Israel," is He referring to those who have heard the message of reconciliation? (While the temple sacrificial system was a message of reconciliation, they had not heard of Jesus, and how He fulfilled the temple service.)

    4. Read Matthew 10:11-15. What effort is to be made for those who reject the gospel? (If your presentation is rejected, you leave.)

      1. What does this teach us about going after "retirees" - those who have left the church for various reasons? (It teaches us that our efforts should be directed to those who have never heard the gospel, not those who have already heard it and rejected it.)

    5. That seems to be a harsh conclusion. Are there any exceptions to it?

      1. Let's go back to the "lost sheep of Israel" issue. Were they unaware of God? (No. They simply had not gotten the gospel message.)

        1. Are there former members of your church who did not really receive the gospel message? (Historically, there is a problem with a proper gospel presentation in some churches. Many of the people I knew as a young man are out of the church, and it seems they may be out because they did not get a clear message of reconciliation - God does not hold the sins against those who are in Christ.)

          1. What does the "lost sheep" instruction suggest to us about those former members? (If they were not given a clear presentation of the gospel of grace, we need to try to educate them about it, rather than shaking the dust off our shoes.)

      2. Read Matthew 5:23-24. What is our obligation to former members who "[have] something against [us]?" (To be reconciled to them.)

        1. Do we have to be at fault for this text to apply? (If we are at fault, we certainly need to try to be reconciled. But, this text also applies to those who think they are "innocent" of wrongdoing. Years ago, this text convicted me to try to reconcile with a former member who seemed to hate me, even though I thought I was innocent. My reconciliation efforts blunted her anger, but did not bring her back to the church. However, her children saw what I had done and it reconciled them to me.)

      3. Read Matthew 5:44. What are we required to do for our enemies? (Pray for them.)

        1. Should we do anything less for former members?

    6. Read 2 Timothy 2:1-4. Why does a soldier not get involved in civilian affairs? (That is not the purpose of the military. The people will fear or reject the military if it is involved in civilian matters.)

      1. Timothy is not in the military. Why is Paul writing this to him? (In part, Paul wants him to stick to his appropriate work and message.)

      2. How many times are people in the church offended over things that are not central to the work of the church?

      3. I have some strong political views. While I like to think they are all driven by my religious beliefs, I know Christians who do not share my political views. What is my obligation with regard to my political views and giving offense in church?

    7. We have recently read this, but let's read it again: 1 Corinthians 9:20-23. What does Paul teach us about the extent to which we should go to avoid giving offense on matters not central to the gospel?

    8. Friend, the Bible teaches us that we can slow down with age, but we should never turn inward and seek only to please our self. We should always be rich towards God by sharing His message of reconciliation. While we should not be routinely wasting our time chasing after former members, we need to be sure that we are not creating "former members" by giving offense. If people have left over being offended, or being taught improperly, we need to try to fix those errors. Will you commit, today, to intelligent "perpetual ministry?"

  3. Next week: We begin a new study of the letters to the Thessalonians.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



07-15-2012 5:07 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

 

Lesson 12 - Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism

Introduction: At work you have annual leave (vacation) and annual review (evaluation). Which do you prefer? Which is most important? Our world is filled with evaluations that start in the first five minutes after we are born (Apgar score)! How does this work with witnessing and evangelism? Should the approach and standards of the world apply to evaluating the work of the church? The work of God? What about your personal witnessing and evangelism, should that be evaluated? Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. The Nature of Evaluation

    1. Read 1 Timothy 3:1. Would you like to be promoted at work? Does the same kind of thinking apply to the church? (Paul writes positively about desiring promotion in the church.)

    2. Read 1 Timothy 3:2-3. Is this an evaluation? (Yes.)

      1. What kind of an evaluation is it? (Essentially, an evaluation of the person.)

    3. Read 1 Timothy 3:4-5. In some ways I find this an odd requirement. Are the two really the same? Is managing your family and your own money like managing a church and its money?

      1. Read 1 Samuel 8:1-5. Would Samuel have passed the test for overseer?

      2. If not, how do we explain that God chose Samuel to be one of the greatest overseers of Israel? (Perhaps the emphasis is on the word "children." When they are young their behavior is a test of leadership.)

    4. Read 1 Timothy 3:6-7. Are these qualifications or evaluations? (They seem more like qualifications.)

    5. As you consider the verses we have just read, does anything strike you as being unusual for job evaluations? If you are evaluated at work, does your boss evaluate you on this type of criteria? (No! I am evaluated on how well I did my job. I am not asked about how well I did with my family.)

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. How does Paul evaluate himself? (He calls himself an "expert builder.")

    7. Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. What kind of evaluation is done here? (Circumstances will test the quality of the work done by the teacher.)

    8. Why is there no mention for either the teacher or the overseer about a church committee to evaluate past performance?

      1. Did you notice the two evaluation points in our texts so far:

        1. Spiritual qualifications for the job; and,

        2. Stress?

      2. Why is there no on-the-job evaluation?

  2. Holy Spirit Test

    1. Read Acts 15:4-5. Peter and Barnabas give a report of their activities to the leaders in Jerusalem. Does everyone at headquarters give them a good evaluation? (No. Some think they are not giving the correct message.)

    2. Read Acts 15:6-8. How does Peter answer the performance criticism? (He says that proof of the propriety of their preaching is the approval of the Holy Spirit.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:3-6. No matter how we serve the church, no matter the nature of our job, what insures our success? (The Holy Spirit!)

    4. What does this teach us about performance evaluation in witnessing and evangelism? Does this explain the absence of evaluation during the job? (This is not like the kind of evaluation we go through (or give) at work. The church selects Godly people, people who show that the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives and in the life of their family. The church then lets them go into ministry.)

      1. What, then, is the basis for evaluation of witnessing and evangelism? (Logically, the only question we are competent to ask is whether we see the power of the Holy Spirit in the work of the person? If we see that power, who are we to second guess how the Holy Spirit leads?)

    5. Read 1 John 4:1-3. Would you use this as the test for whether the Holy Spirit was at work in a person?

    6. Are you comfortable with the conclusion that the evaluation approved by the Bible is merely whether a person is Spirit-filled?

      1. Should we also be concerned about whether the Holy Spirit is manifested in the person's work?

      2. Read Romans 12:6-8. What does this suggest about the Holy Spirit, our gospel work, and evaluation? (We should not look only at whether the person is Spirit-filled, but whether the person is working in the area in which they have gifts from the Holy Spirit. Just because a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, does not mean they are fitted for every kind of work. That is why we could have a Spirit-filled person, who did not manifest the power of the Holy Spirit in a particular type of work.)

  3. Historical Example

    1. Read Genesis 6:9. Is Noah a Spirit-filled guy? (Yes!)


    1. Read 2 Peter 2:5. What is Noah? ("A preacher of righteousness." New Unger's Bible Dictionary says, "Jehovah ... allowed a respite of 120 years, during which time Noah sought to bring the people to repentance.")

    2. Read Genesis 6:3. Who was Noah's partner in preaching? (The Holy Spirit! "My Spirit will not contend with man forever." The suggestion is that the Holy Spirit contended for 120 years through the work of preacher Noah.)

    3. Read Genesis 6:13-14 and Genesis 7:11-13. How would you evaluate Noah's witnessing and evangelism? How many people entered the ark? (Eight.)

      1. What does this suggest to us about evaluating the witnessing and evangelism of others? (Noah had a divine appointment. He was Spirit-filled. Any evaluation must center on whether God is in the work.)

    4. Read Exodus 31:1-3. Is Bezalel a Holy Spirit filled fellow? (Yes!)

    5. Read Exodus 31:3-5. What is Bezalel's Spirit-filled work? (He is a master craftsman.)

      1. What does this suggest about the work of the Holy Spirit in witnessing and evangelism? (It is not just preaching. The Holy Spirit gives us excellence in whatever gift we are given. Excellence gives us the opportunity to share our faith with great credibility.)

      2. What does this suggest about evaluation? (Noah taught us that it is not about numbers, but Bezalel teaches us that the Holy Spirit gives "skill, ability and knowledge." If our work is not excellent, then the Holy Spirit is not at work. The entire key to evaluation is to determine whether the Holy Spirit is in the work.)

    6. Friend, do you see that a proper evaluation of your gospel work is an evaluation of whether the Holy Spirit is in your life? The focus is on you, rather than on your "numbers." But, the Holy Spirit is the author of excellence. If we are not excellent in what we do, it might mean we are not working in the area of our Spirit-gifts. It might mean we are lacking the Holy Spirit. Will you ask, today, that the Holy Spirit fill you, and show you the gifts that He has given you?

  1. Next week: A Perpetual Ministry.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



07-15-2012 5:06 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 11 - Let the Church Know

Introduction: When I was a very young adult, the Sabbath School would start with reports. Reports on how many articles of clothing had been given away, how many Bible studies given, how many studied the Bible lesson each day, and how much money had been raised for various causes. Then someone read a "mission report" about a mission project. It was all deadly dull. The reporting never inspired much in me, except guilt, if I was unable to raise my hand that I had studied every day. Most members decided to skip the reporting and sleep in a little longer. When the church gave me authority in the matter, reports ended and the Sabbath School was devoted exclusively to study and discussion of the Bible. My experience as a youth gave me a bias against reports. What role did reports play in the early church? What role should they play today? Does the nature of the report matter? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. Reports and Praises

    1. Read Acts 4:1-4. How successful is the evangelism of Peter and John? ("Many believed!")

      1. Why do you think the text specifically mentions the Sadducees? (Read Acts 23:8. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. The disciples were not only teaching heresy, but they were saying specifically that Jesus had been resurrected!)

    2. Read Acts 4:5-7. Had Annas or Caiaphas gone to law school? (Apparently not! You ask only leading questions of hostile witnesses. A good leading question suggests the answer and is susceptible to a yes or no answer. If you want to get hurt in a trial, ask a question like they did of a hostile witness!)

      1. How would you have asked the question if you were a Sadducee? ("Have you been teaching the resurrection heresy?" Followed by, "Is Satan the author of heresy?")

      2. I enjoy poking fun at the incompetence of the religious leaders, but how serious a matter was this hearing? (Peter and John know that Jesus got killed in a very similar situation. I would have been sweating, not smirking had I been there.)

    3. Read Acts 4:8-10. Who is the best legal coach in the universe? (The Holy Spirit! This answer (which is really two leading questions followed by the answer) gives me great pleasure: "Are we on trial for being kind? Was our healing of a disabled person the reason for our arrest?)

      1. What evidence of Jesus' resurrection did the disciples give? (They reported that the power of the resurrected Jesus healed this fellow. This fellow is evidence of the healing, and the healing is evidence of the resurrection. Perfect.)

      2. Have Peter and John give a report to the Sanhedrin? (Yes!)

        1. What does this teach us about reports? (It is composed by the inspiration of God, it is a report about the activities of God, and it is very carefully crafted.)

    4. Read Acts 4:13-16. The Sadducees got "out-lawyered" by uneducated men! What does this teach about the power of the Holy Spirit in our life? (He changes the odds. Never feel that you are unable to witness (or report) to those more educated than you.)

    5. Read Acts 4:21-22. How can you tell who lost this encounter? (Those who lose an argument resort to threats. Violence is the result of an inability to persuade.)

    6. Read Acts 4:23. This is quite a report! On what were the disciples reporting?

      1. Other than the level of excitement, how does this differ from the Sabbath School reports of my youth? (Those were reports on what humans had done. This is a report of what God has done.)

      2. We have a praise and worship period in our church. You probably have one too. What kind of reports do you hear? Reports of what God has done or reports of what humans have done?

    7. Read Acts 4:24. How did the people respond to the report? (They praised God! Notice the link. When people report what they have done, they are looking for praise. I think this is inappropriate in church. But, when you report what God has done, then the people praise God.)

    8. Read Acts 4:25-26. What point are the people making in response to this report? (The Great God in Heaven will frustrate all of the evil and feeble efforts of humans. Reports of human activity is a waste of time because we "plot in vain." We need reports of what God is doing through His people.)

  2. Reports and Ministry

    1. Read Acts 21:17-18. What doe James and "all the elders present" represent? (This is the leadership of the Jerusalem church. These are the leaders at "headquarters.")

    2. Read Acts 21:19. Notice a variation here. Paul reports "what God had done," but he also included "his ministry." Is that acceptable? (Every report needs a context. Paul is still reporting on what God has done.)

    3. Read Acts 21:20. How do the leaders react? (They praised God. This gives us further proof of the focus of Paul's report.)

  3. Reporting Strategies

    1. Read Acts 21:20-21. Are these reports true? (Read Galatians 5:1-6. It is certainly true Paul taught Christians that they did not need to be circumcised! Whether he also taught the Jews this is not clear to me - although the breadth of his argument ("every man who lets himself be circumcised")makes me believe he did. Of course, Paul himself is a Jew.)

    2. Read Acts 21:22. How about saying, "Yes, Paul is here and, yes, he has been preaching against circumcision?"

    3. Read Acts 21:23-26. How can Paul create "report" that seems misleading? How can Paul suggest there is "no truth" to the reports about turning away from Moses?

      1. Why is Paul suggesting that anything connected with the temple (post Jesus' resurrection) can "purify" a person?

    4. Read Acts 16:1-3, Romans 14:19-22 and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. What does this suggest that Paul is doing? (Notice two things. First, Acts 21:25 acknowledges the limits on what is required of the Gentiles. So, there is no misrepresentation about that critical issue. As to what Paul does, his goal is to avoid offending others. He wants to minimize conflicts within the body of believers.)

      1. What additional lesson does this teach us about reports? (That we don't need to tell everything that we know.)

      2. Should we can "slant" a report if we know that some aspects of it will cause distress among some of the believers?

    5. Read Numbers 13:17-20. Moses and God's people are at the border of Canaan - the land promised to them by God. What do you think was Moses' intention in sending out the spies? (To get back an encouraging report! To excite the people about what lay ahead of them.)

    6. Read Numbers 13:26-29. If these guys were guided by Paul (or at least the leaders in Jerusalem), how would the report have been different? (They would have glossed over the "giants" part.)

    7. Read Numbers 13:30. How does Caleb approach reporting? (He gives the positive, faith-affirming report.)

    8. Read Numbers 13:31-33. What is missing from their prior report? (The positive aspects of what they saw!)

    9. Would Paul and Caleb have disagreed on how the report should be given? (Paul clearly believed in minimizing conflict. Thus, Caleb would have written the "Let's go get them, God is with us part of the report. Paul would have made sure that the report was crafted to maximize the number who would want to follow God.)

    10. Read Numbers 14:1-3. What is the result of the negative report? (A negative reaction of the people.)

      1. I'm reading a book entitled "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, and it discusses "priming." Something that we see or hear "primes" (meaning influences) our decision-making without us even consciously thinking about it. What does this suggest to report writers? (That we have a great ability to influence the decision-making of those who read our reports. That creates a very big responsibility to write positive, uplifting, God-centered reports.)

    11. Friend, you make formal and informal reports all the time. Will you commit today to give God the praise, to try to make a positive impact, and to avoid unnecessary conflict?

  4. Next week: Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



06-11-2012 7:44 PM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 10 - A Love Response

Introduction: After going through all of the lessons so far, you likely feel that you need to witness to others. You need to do something to advance the Kingdom of God. But after you come home from work (or school) and you fix a meal and eat and do some other chores, you feel like just sitting down and resting. Day after day is just like that. Finally, you feel guilty because you look back and see that you have done nothing! Is guilt bad? If we are to be motivated by love instead of guilt, how can we change guilt to love? Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about our motivation to witness!

  1. A Drive

    1. Read John 14:15. When you read the introduction, did you answer "That is me!" If so, how do you feel now? (The implication is that if you do not make time to advance the Kingdom of God, you don't really love Jesus. That makes us feel guilty.)

    2. Read Philippians 1:15-16. We looked at this text a couple of weeks ago. What does Paul say about having a motive other than love to share the gospel? (He acknowledges that you can be motivated by something other than love.)

    3. Read Philippians 1:17-18. Does our motive to share matter? We feel guilty, so we share. Is that bad? (No, not as far as sharing the gospel goes.)

      1. Read Matthew 6:5. What does this suggest about witnessing with the wrong motives? (Jesus suggests that the wrong motive harms us.)

  2. The Right Drive

    1. The problem for me (and I'll guess for many of my readers), is how to exchange guilt, ambition, or competition as witnessing motives for a love motive. Let's go back and re-read John 14:15 and then add John 14:16-18. What has this to do with Jesus' statement that if we love we will obey? (I think Jesus realizes that love obedience is not easy (to put it mildly)if we are just gritting our teeth and saying, "I love, therefore I must obey!" We end up admitting: "Okay, I don't love, so I have guilt, therefore I must obey!" Because of this practical problem Jesus sends someone who "lives with you and will be in you.")

      1. What do you think this "lives with you and will be in you" means, as a practical matter? (It has to be a reference to a new addition to our thinking and our attitude.)

    2. Read John 14:19-21. Just in case you thought the "love and obey" statement had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit living in us, this makes the connection obvious. What do you think Jesus means when He says that He will "show [Himself] to [us]?" (We will be aware of Jesus' presence in our life when others would not be aware.)

    3. Read John 14:22. What do you think is the answer to this?

    4. Read John 14:23-24. This is Jesus' answer to the question of Judas. What does Jesus teach us?(Those who have given their allegiance to God (love) stand on different ground than the world. God rewards this love by showing us love and sending the Holy Spirit to live in us.)

    5. Read John 14:25-26. What is the role of the Holy Spirit when it comes to our obedience? (The Spirit both teaches and reminds us.)

      1. How many times have you missed something when you were not paying sufficient attention?

        1. Think about the last time you were given a speeding ticket by the police. Did you know you were speeding and just got caught? Or, were you not paying attention, had no idea you were speeding, and got pulled over? (Most likely you were not paying attention. So many things in life escape our notice because we are not paying attention. The Holy Spirit helps us to notice.)

      2. Let's revisit our introduction. You get home, feed the family, do some chores and are too tired to do something else to advance the Kingdom of God. How does what we just learned about the Holy Spirit change the picture? (What about all of our relationships during the day and evening? If God reminds us ("pay attention") to the opportunities to advance the gospel, if the Holy Spirit teaches us how to be constantly nudging others towards the Kingdom of Heaven, then perhaps we will have already done a great deal of Kingdom work by the end of the day.)

  3. Understanding the Transformed Drive

    1. Perhaps you are concerned about the mystic nature of what we have been discussing. We know that gritting our teeth is not going to give us a love motive to witness. At the same time, you may want more detail than just waiting for the Holy Spirit to give us a love drive and make us more alert. Of special concern is that some of the texts we just read (John 14:23) make it appear that love comes before the Holy Spirit comes to live in us.

    2. Let's look at some practical lessons. Read James 2:8-11. James starts out talking about love, but ends talking about murder. What is James saying about love? (His point is that obedience is not easy. If we show favoritism, we sin. If we commit adultery, we sin. If we murder, we sin. It is not easy to avoid sin because a single, minor, stumble (favoritism) gets us in the same sort of sin trouble as murder.)

    3. Read James 2:12. Given what James just said, what law gives freedom? (Read Romans 8:1-3. James suggests that keeping the law perfectly is not possible. Paul tells us that Jesus kept the law on our behalf. This is what James means when he refers to "the law that gives freedom.")

    4. Read Romans 8:4-9. What is God looking for in us? (To have our minds set on what God desires. This is the practical work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.)

    5. Read James 2:12-17. What does James say that God has shown to us? (Mercy!) What should we show to others? (Mercy.)

      1. Let's get back to guilt. After reading what James and Paul say about the law, do we need to feel guilt? (No! No amount of witnessing will make us righteous. We cannot say, "I failed to earn my place in the Kingdom today because I failed to witness." Jesus makes us righteous. If we are motivated by guilt, we don't understand the gospel.)

      2. How then does James hook the work of mercy to faith? (He seems to say mercy is required.)

      3. Isn't that contrary to salvation by grace alone? (Yes, on the surface it seems to be a contradiction. Looking deeper removes the contradiction. Jesus saves me. I'm not compelled to witness to earn something Jesus has just given me. However, salvation by grace alone is a tremendous act of mercy. How can I neglect to show mercy to others?)

    6. Read James 2:18-20. Is James wrong when he writes that "faith without deeds is useless?" (Read Romans 6:12-14. The distinction here may seem small, but it is of infinite importance. James is not saying that our deeds create our faith. Rather, he is saying that when we truly understand God's mercy to us (we who cannot obey without stumbling), then a proper attitude, an attitude of mercy towards others, follows. Just like you can be downstream and test the purity of the water upstream, so you can look at the deeds of someone to judge the authenticity of their faith.)

    7. Read Romans 10:1-4. Can we be zealous for God without having a proper understanding of this? (Paul says, "Yes!")

      1. What is the key to salvation? (Jesus. Righteousness is available to all who believe. Keeping the law is not required for salvation.)

        1. How do you feel when you read this? (Liberated! I have been shown the ultimate mercy!)

        2. Do you want to share this? (This is the "mercy motivation." It is the love motivation. God showed mercy to us by saving us by His life, death and resurrection. If we truly believe and understand this, we have our motivation to witness! The Holy Spirit convicts us of this truth. The Holy Spirit reminds us of this truth. The Holy Spirit points out opportunities to share this truth. Romans 8:5: "those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.")

    8. Friend, you can be motivated by guilt to witness, but what a terrible thing that is for you. Jesus saved you from your sins. He gave you eternal life when you believed. He delivered you from guilt! If you believe this, no one has to urge you to witness. Will you confess your sins and accept Jesus' life, death and resurrection on your behalf? You can be liberated right now! And you can joyfully share your liberation with others.

  4. Next week: Let the Church Know.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



06-05-2012 7:41 PM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 9 - Releasing Into Ministry

Introduction: Last week, we discussed preparing for evangelism. This week we start moving our thinking forward into evangelism. I've noticed that when I take a journey it is helpful to have a destination in mind. When our family used to travel by motor home, I liked the destination to be a bit fuzzy - so that we could enjoy every day and not feel pressured by time. I'm not sure fuzzy thinking is helpful when it comes to evangelism goals. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see if we can sharpen our vision about God's directions for evangelism!

  1. Setting the Compass

    1. Read Luke 9:46. Is this how we should approach ministry? Is our destination greatness?

    2. Read Luke 9:47-48. The point Jesus is trying to make is not immediately obvious to me. Let's work through this. If you were a very important person, who would you want to meet? (Other very important people.)

      1. Who does Jesus say we should welcome? (Children. Meaning those who have no importance in society, politics or business. A child cannot help advance you in any of those areas.)

      2. Let's test our last conclusion. Is the child Jesus is pointing to of no help in society, politics or business? (This child is of great help.)

        1. How? (Because greeting the child is greeting Jesus. Greeting Jesus is greeting God, the most important Being in the universe.)

      3. What destination lesson is to be learned about evangelism? (No one is too insignificant. When we evangelize unimportant people, we help those who are friends of God.)

      4. Let's revisit our fighting disciples. Why would they want to be the greatest? (They would be given special honor and access.)

        1. How does Jesus answer that? (Special honor and access come from helping the friends of God.)

    3. Read Exodus 18:13-14. Why do you think Moses sat as the supreme judge? (Perhaps it was a touch of the spirit of the disciples. But, see Numbers 12:3 (Moses was the most humble man on earth).)

    4. Read Exodus 18:15-16. How important was Moses' work?

    5. Read Exodus 18:17-22. Probably Moses was not doing all of this work because of pride, but I suspect many of the current church leaders have pride as part of their motivation. What does this text teach us? (That we need to teach others to share the load. If we hold the position because of the "glory," we need to share it.)

      1. What does this suggest about organization in evangelism? (Part of the goal is to be organized.)

  2. Evaluating the Help.

    1. Read Luke 9:49. Is this fellow an evangelist? (He is advancing the Kingdom of God, because he does his miracles in the name of Jesus.)

      1. What is the concern of the disciples? (He was not chosen to be part of their group - the group that has been arguing about who is the greatest.)

    2. Read Luke 9:50. What does this teach us about actual evangelism? (Don't be critical of the work of others. Unless they are "against" the gospel, do not oppose them.)

    3. Read Matthew 7:15. What warning do we have here about some people who claim to be advancing the gospel? (Some are false. Some are ferocious wolves.)

    4. Read Matthew 7:16-20. How does this help us understand Jesus' statement about those who are "against" the gospel? (We can accurately evaluate those who are "against" the gospel by the fruit of their work.)

      1. What was the "fruit" of the fellow who was the target of the disciples? (Re-read Luke 9:49. He was driving out demons!)

    5. What destination theme do we find so far in these texts? (When we greet the least important, we greet Jesus. When we try to do all the work ourselves, we are not sharing opportunities. When we claim to have the only true ministry, we oppose the work of God. Many are producing good fruit. I think the overall goal is to not take ourselves too seriously. Instead, focus on the work of evangelism.)

  3. The Directive

    1. Read Luke 10:1-3. Is this being released into ministry?

      1. How did they decide on their destination? (These were towns Jesus planned to visit.)

        1. How would you follow this directive today? (First, I would ask the Holy Spirit to lead me to where God wanted. If I did not get a clear word from the Holy Spirit, I would look to see where God is working.)

      2. For what were they told to pray? (That God would send other workers.)

    2. Read Luke 10:4. Some commentaries taught me that greetings of this time were long and drawn out. Not the quick "Hi" we use in America. Thus, Jesus tells us that when we go on a specific mission we should focus on our evangelistic work, and not get distracted.

      1. What about the other part of the directive: why should we be completely unprepared? Isn't it prudent to take money, credit cards and an extra pair of shoes?

      2. If you could not take money or credit cards, what would be the alternative? (You would have to depend on God. You would have to depend on God influencing others to help you.)

    3. Read Luke 10:5-7. Is Jesus' instruction about not taking money clarified here? (The primary point is that you should not have to pay your own way. The people who benefit from your evangelism should pay.)

      1. Have you ever said that you would like to go into ministry, but you have to wait until you can afford it? (These people, seventy-two to be precise, were "appointed" by Jesus. Before you rush out to have others support you, be sure Jesus has appointed you for this.)

      2. Why does Jesus tell them to eat and drink whatever their host gives them? (This is a caution about moderation. Yes, your host is supposed to provide room and board, but you are not to have a demanding spirit.)

      3. Why not move from house to house? (No doubt that would waste time. The people who opened their homes to these evangelists were blessed: "peace to this house.")

    4. Read Luke 10:8-9. What is important about being welcomed? (If you are welcomed, you first help the people and then share the gospel with them.)

      1. Do you ever evangelize where you are not welcome? If so, why?

    5. Read Luke 10:10-12. What happens to those towns who reject you? (Bad things!)

    6. Right now I'm teaching a law school class called "Religion in the Workplace." We are reading court decisions about Christians harassing other employees. The Christians no doubt thought that they were doing God's will by evangelizing. But, the target of their witness did not enjoy it and brought suit. What lesson are these Christian witnesses missing? (We are not to beat people up to try to convert them. If they do not "welcome" our message, we need to stop. We have fulfilled our responsibility to God.)

    7. Read Luke 10:13-16. Why can we feel peace even when we are not welcomed? (Jesus tells us that the people are not rejecting us, they are rejecting God.)

    8. Read Luke 10:17-20. What kind of attitude should we have about our victories in witnessing? (We should not feel pride in beating the forces of darkness, but rather we should rejoice that we are doing God's will as citizens of His Kingdom!

    9. Friend, are you ready to go out there and share the gospel? Why not start right now?

  4. Next week: A Love Response.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



05-27-2012 2:08 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 8 - Equipping for Evangelism and Witnessing

Introduction: Have you ever made a spur of the moment decision to do something? How did that work out? Often, last-minute decisions are a bad idea because they give us little time to prepare. If we go for a hike, we need to consider what kind of clothes to wear, what kind of shoes we need, and whether we need something to repel bugs or the sun. We might even need a GPS! If we have a work project, we find the tools and supplies that we need to accomplish the task. If we decide on a certain career, we go to school to prepare for it. Is witnessing and evangelism any different? If we want to be effective, we need to prepare. Ephesians 6 is a great chapter about how to prepare. But, this week we will look at other ways to prepare. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Fishers of Men

    1. Read Mark 1:14-18. If you were Jesus, and the time had come to preach the good news that you had come, would you choose these two? Do they strike you as being "prepared?"

      1. What are the positive aspects of choosing fishermen? (In a general sense, they were in the "catching" business. They were also willing.)

      2. What are the negative aspects of choosing fisherman? (No theological training. They seemed to know nothing about the business of evangelizing.)

      3. What did Jesus promise to do for them? (If they will follow Him, He "will make [them] fishers of men.")

    2. What hope does this historical account give us? (We have previously discussed the issue of natural and spiritual gifts, but this shows us that Jesus can train us for witnessing and evangelism. Jesus will prepare us.)

  2. The Think Big Training

    1. Read Matthew 14:14-15. Would you make such a suggestion? This is being practical, right? This is a person who is paying attention to reality. A person who is not so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good (to paraphrase a popular saying). Right?

      1. Is there anything wrong with this suggestion? (No. It makes sense.)

    2. Read Matthew 14:16. Recall that Jesus told them that He would make them fishers of men. Is this fisher of men training - being asked to carry part of the load of helping others?

    3. Read Matthew 14:17. Is this fisher of men training - to be logical and reasonable?

      1. Look again at the response the disciples made to Jesus. Are they "following Jesus?" (Remember, Jesus said "follow Me" and I will make you fishers of men. They are not following Jesus, they are questioning Jesus.)

    4. Read Matthew 14:18-21. What lesson should the disciples have learned about becoming fishers of men? (Jesus' miracles extend to practical things. Jesus could have reasonably sent the crowd away to go eat. But, God encourages us to "think big" - even when it comes to practical things that are not strictly needed, but which help to advance the Kingdom of God.)

  3. Making the Main Thing the Main Thing

    1. Let's continue on with the training! Read Matthew 15:1-2. My hope is that the disciples washed their hands before they started handing out all that bread and fish! Do you agree with the religious leaders?

    2. Read Matthew 15:3-6. Have you ever done what Jesus appears to be doing? Someone criticizes you and in response you criticize them for something they do wrong?

      1. Have you ever heard that two wrongs do not make a right?

      2. Have you any defense for Jesus' defense? (The hand washing thing is a tradition of men. The failure to help your elderly parents is a violation of God's law - the Ten Commandments. Jesus is saying that you criticize my followers over small matters, while you teach people to violate the Ten Commandments.)

    3. Read Matthew 15:7-11. What lesson is Jesus teaching for those who want to be fishers of men? (That we should not get bogged down with the teachings of humans. We need to keep God's requirements front and center.)

      1. How do we do that? (Jesus teaches that this is a "heart" thing. A heart for others does not get bogged down in the petty religious requirements created by humans.)

    4. Read Matthew 15:12-14. Why did the disciples care about giving offense? (I don't like to offend people. Jesus was generally against giving offense (Matthew 17:27). But, when someone is leading others astray, you can (and should) leave them alone. Some fish get tossed back in the water because they are dangerous to others in the boat.)

    5. Read Matthew 15:15-20. Peter asks Jesus for an explanation of this, and Jesus says, "How dumb are you?" Is there a lesson in this for us? (The point we are about to study is not a close theological question. If you disagree about Jesus' conclusion, you are a dope.)

      1. In our evangelism, what should be the target of our efforts? (The mind.)

        1. Why? (It is the source of the evil in our lives.)

        2. Why do you think that the first thing Jesus lists is "evil thoughts?" (Our thoughts are the foundation for our evil deeds.)

        3. What would you do to target the mind? (We should work on changing opinions, not on changing the outward appearance. Our main goal is to change hearts, not change diets or clothes. A change in heart brings change in the externals.)

  4. The Faith Component

    1. Read Matthew 17:14-16. What report do we have on the evangelism efforts of Jesus' disciples? (Fail! The disciples tried to heal the boy, but they failed.)

    2. Read Matthew 17:17-18. Who is being addressed here? The father? The boy? The disciples? (I think the disciples.)

    3. Read Matthew 17:19. Why did the disciples come to Jesus privately? (This confirms they were the target of Jesus' words. They came privately because they did not understand why they failed. They did not understand how Jesus' words applied to them. They did not want to be publically humiliated again.)

    4. Read Matthew 17:20. What was wrong? (A lack of faith.)

      1. How can we relate this to our first story - the one about feeding the crowd? (Jesus asks us to have faith that nothing is impossible for us. Just a small amount of faith can do great things. The failure to have faith shows us to be an "unbelieving and perverse generation.)

      2. How do we reconcile this instruction with our desire to do God's will? Don't we normally say, when someone is not healed, "It was not God's will?" We don't say, "We are a wicked and perverse generation that lacks even a mustard seed of faith - that is why this person died." Which should we say?

        1. Could there be any doubt about God's will in the situation of this boy?

    5. Read John 15:5-7. Jesus again promises to give us what we ask, if we satisfy certain conditions. How does Jesus describe the condition? (Remaining in Jesus describes faith. We have to be connected to Jesus. This connection should give us an insight into His will.)

      1. I always get worried when we use terms like being "connected" to Jesus. What does that mean, as a practical matter? (Read John 15:26. This connection is the presence of the "Counselor" - the Holy Spirit.)

      2. Is your life filled with the Holy Spirit? Do you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit on who to heal?

    6. Friend, we need Jesus to make us fishers of men. Part of that training is to think big, to understand and be focused on what is important, and to keep a solid faith connection with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will give us the power and direction to do the great and important things to advance the Kingdom of God.

  5. Next week: Releasing Into Ministry.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



05-27-2012 2:06 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 7 - Corporate Evangelism and Witnessing

Introduction: Adam Smith was born about 200 years ago. He began his life as a minister, but ended up writing one of the most important books on modern economics: the Wealth of Nations. His thesis, bluntly put, is that your selfish desire to make more money improves the economic standards of those around you. Isn't envy, greed and covetousness sin? While I have no doubt that Adam Smith is correct, I've often wondered how his theory can be reconciled with faith. What complicates the issue is that God, who told us not to covet, continually puts rewards in front of us. He does it with our money(Malachi 3:10)and He does it with our actions (Matthew 25:34-36). Should envy, greed and covetousness be part of successful corporate evangelism? What place does pride of opinion about our own religious convictions play in evangelism? Let's dive into our Bibles and learn more!

  1. Motivation

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 4:4-6. What does Solomon say about Adam Smith's view of economics? (He agrees with Smith! "All labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor.")

    2. Read Philippians 1:15-18. How does Paul view those who are spreading the gospel out of envy and rivalry? (He says it does not matter!)

    3. Read Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:16. What is the reward for those who promote the gospel out of envy and rivalry? (They get what they seek - self promotion - and that is all.)

    4. Read Revelation 22:12-14. What reward do we seek? (Eternal life. To enter in through the gates of the holy city.)

    5. If we are all seeking a reward of some sort, does the difference in our motives matter?

    6. Let's revisit Philippians 1:15-16. What motivation should we have? (Love and goodwill.)

      1. What if our motives are mixed? (We are still promoting the gospel (a good thing), but we need to be alert to our motivation because of the vast difference in the reward.)

  2. Rules of Engagement: The Theology of Two and Three

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. I use this in weddings, and I think that is its primary application. However, how does this apply to evangelism? (Read Luke 10:1-3. Clearly, Jesus suggests working in pairs.)

    2. Read Matthew 18:19-20. Is there a "theology of two," and thus a problem with "one?" (There is certainly an advantage with two. Both in witnessing and in prayer.)

    3. Why is God "three" if such advantage lies with two? (Re-read Matthew 18:20. How many do you see here? You see at least two and God. That makes three. Two together need the Holy Spirit to make their effort complete.)

    4. Read Romans 12:4-5. What number comes to mind when you think of the design of the body? (Two. Two eyes, ears, arms, hands, legs, feet. Even our one nose has two nostrils.)

      1. Why do you think God designed us that way?

      2. Why do you think the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to describe the church as being like a body? (In the body there is a primacy of "two.")

      3. Have you seen "lone wolf" Christians? (In my religious liberty litigation, those who are not connected with a church (a body) are generally those who are off on some odd path, or are not really sincere in their religious beliefs.)

    5. Let's contemplate the "two by two" rule of engagement and the problem of being motivated by envy and rivalry. What impact does the two by two rule have on the motivation problem? (It helps to cure the problem. If two are working together, then it is hard to take personal glory. Your partner may be able to recognize and correct the selfish motivation that you might not see.)

  3. Evangelism and the Church

    1. Read Acts 15:1. Is this evangelism? Or, is this pride of opinion? (Certainly it is evangelism in the eyes of many Christians. My church has a teaching that you have not yet accepted, so I will witness to you and evangelize you on this point of greater knowledge.)

      1. How many protestant churches are named after a doctrine they think other Christians need to know or a religious leader that they think is superior to others?

    2. Read Acts 15:2. What did Paul and Barnabas think about the "brothers" witnessing? (They disagreed that this was the correct witness. It was a "sharp dispute.")

      1. How did the believers decide that this should be resolved? (They would consult with the "apostles and elders about this question.")

        1. What does this teach us about evangelism beyond the rule of two and three? (It shows that we should consult with the greater body of believers.)

    3. Read Acts 15:4-5. Was there agreement between Paul and some of the leaders at headquarters? (They were welcomed, but there was a debate at headquarters.)

    4. Read Acts 15:6-11. How would you describe the process of resolving this controversy over witnessing? (People get to say what they think. Peter invokes the actions of God to make his point.)

      1. Read Acts 1:8-9. Jesus' last instruction to His disciples was to evangelize the world. How could there be any doubt about going to the Gentiles?

      2. Is Peter missing the issue? Isn't the issue circumcision instead of evangelizing the Gentiles? (Peter is saying more than it is right to go to the Gentiles. He is saying that God accepted the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit and justifying them by faith - even though they were not circumcised.)

        1. Is there a lesson in this for us: that fellow Christians might not accept our unique views on what the Bible requires, but the acid test is whether God gives them the Holy Spirit and justifies them by grace?

    5. Read Acts 15:12. How did people of various viewpoints treat each other in this debate? (With respect.)

    6. Read Acts 15:13-21. What are the grounds for James's "judgment?" (The leading of God on this issue, both from the Bible and in the lives of people.)

      1. What reason does James give for the rules (see verse 20)that remain? (God, speaking through Moses, requires at least these things?)

        1. Moses and God actually required more of Gentiles. Read Exodus 12:48 and Ezekiel 44:9. What is James saying? (James' words will offend the Christians with Jewish backgrounds. My best guess is that he is trying to limit the offense.)

      2. What does this suggest about church authority? Do you understand James to be making the decision for the church on the evangelism message?

    7. Read 1 Corinthians 8:7-13. Two questions. If James is handing down a ruling for the Church, has Paul just overruled him in part? Or, are Paul and James in complete agreement, and the only reason why James prohibited the things listed in Acts 15:20 is to avoid offending the faith of "weak" Jewish converts? (The most logical answer seems to be that James and Paul agree, giving offense is actually the problem. However, that logic evaporates when you notice that Acts 15:20 includes "sexual immorality." I cannot imagine that adultery is fine for "strong" Christians.)

    8. Read Acts 15:22-29. What does this letter say about the authority of James? (The authority in the letter is "the apostles and elders." This shows that it was the group which was the authority behind the decision. The letter itself shows that it was intended to be a ruling.)

    9. We have (or at least I have) not completely understood all of Acts 15. What can we understand from our study? (That God suggests that our corporate evangelistic work be a group effort. The group may be as small as two, but we are strengthened by working together. Working together is an antidote to pride.)

    10. Friend, will you determine today to find a partner and a group for your evangelistic efforts? You should still nudge those around you towards the gospel in your day-to-day living. But, when you engage in formal outreach, you need at least a partner.

  4. Next week: Equipping for Evangelism and Witnessing.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



05-27-2012 2:05 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 6 - Personal Evangelism and Witnessing

Introduction: Of all of the people you would like to win to Christ, which one is most important to you? My bet is that your answer is a member of your family! Sometimes I observe that people are nicer to those outside their family then they are to their family. Does that make any sense? In this lesson we will look at how we can be a witness to our family, and then consider whether those principles are the same for personal witnessing to those around us. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Attitude Adjustment

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:18-21. Are you and I called to take a beating? (That is what the text says! Actually, it says we are called to "endure" when we take a beating for doing good.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:23-24. Why are we called to take a beating? (Because Jesus, as our example, took a beating for our sins! His wounds healed us.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 3:1-2. What does Peter mean when he says, "in the same way?" (Peter is referring to what he had just said; slaves should accept beatings because Jesus took a beating for us.)

      1. This hits a very open nerve for me (and many others). When I hear of a man who beats his wife or children, I feel like punching him. Men who beat or abuse their wives are despicable worms. If you attack someone who cannot fight back, like your wife, your children, your employees, your subordinates or the wait staff at the restaurant, you are a bully. How can Peter suggest that wives take a beating?

    4. Let's look more closely at Jesus, our example, to better understand this attitude. Re-read 1 Peter 2:24. Why was Jesus beaten? (He bore our sins. He was the Lamb of God.)

      1. Was Jesus regularly being beaten during His life? (No. He was only beaten at the end.)

      2. When Peter writes, "in the same way be submissive to your husbands," would this mean enduring regular beatings? (No. That is not what Jesus suffered. More importantly, Jesus had a very important goal in mind, saving us. If a wife took a beating to save her husband, then I would see a parallel. But, if a wife takes a beating just to be beaten, then this is not "in the same way!")

    5. If Peter is not talking about beatings, what is he talking about? (The heart of Jesus' mission was to give Himself up for us. I think that is the attitude which Peter is urging. Self-denial.)

    6. Read 1 Peter 3:3-6. With this background, what is Peter saying about beauty, jewelry, hairstyles and clothing? (I don't think he is saying very much about what a woman is wearing. He is saying true beauty comes from having the same attitude towards your husband that Jesus has towards us.)

      1. Notice that Abraham's wife, Sarah, is mentioned by name. What is this text saying about Sarah and jewelry? (Read Genesis 24:51-53. If Abraham is giving jewelry to his future daughter-in-law, it seems unlikely that his wife does not wear jewelry. Instead, this confirms that Peter is talking about the importance of beauty coming from attitude, rather than adornment.)

      2. What might our jewelry say about our attitude towards others? (Most of what is called "jewelry" in America today is not. It is cheap metal and plastic that anyone can afford. However, if you are wearing jewels for the purpose of saying that you are better than others, this is contrary to Jesus' attitude of self-sacrifice.)

  2. Personal Family Evangelism

    1. So far we have seen that a wife should witness to her husband by having a self-sacrificing attitude. Read 1 Peter 3:7. What kind of attitude is required from a husband who wants to witness to his wife?

      1. Notice that Peter starts out, "in the same way." What same way? (The same way that Jesus gave up His life for us. The same way that a wife is unselfish with her husband. Husbands have a "same way" obligation.)

    2. Read Colossians 3:19. What is required of husbands? (Peter tells husbands to be considerate and respectful. Paul tells them to love their wives. The direction against being "harsh," is clearly a prohibition against hitting the wife.)

    3. Read Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4. What attitude should parents have towards their children? (Nothing the parent does should make the child bitter or exasperated. I think the same kind of self-sacrificing attitude that Jesus has towards us is the best evangelism tool for members of our family, including our children.)

  3. Personal Community Evangelism

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:11-12. What is important to evangelizing the world? (Right living.)

      1. Does this mean that pagans will not charge us with wrong-doing? (No. They will make false accusations, but we prove them wrong by our deeds.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:13-17. What attitude are we to have towards the world? (We submit ourselves to authority. We show by our lives that God is to be praised.)


    1. As you consider what we have discussed, is there a common thread for evangelizing our family and evangelizing the world? (Yes! The common thread is self-denial. Your life should bless others.)

      1. How does this compare with the attitude of the world? (The world pursues self-aggrandizement. Christians get the attention of those around them by being the opposite of the world. An "opposite" that blesses those around you. That nudges them towards the reason for your attitude.)

  1. An Example

    1. Read John 1:32-34. John the Baptist is speaking about Jesus. What witness does John give about Jesus? (That Jesus is the Son of God.)

      1. Is there any self-denial in John's statement?

    2. Read John 1:35-37. What motivated these two disciples to seek to learn more about Jesus? (What John said.)

    3. Read John 1:38-42. What is Andrew's first priority? (To tell a family member about Jesus.)

      1. How does Andrew's action fit our self-denial discussion? (Instead of staying with Jesus longer, Andrew seeks out his brother to share the good news.)

    4. Read John 1:43-46. Assume that Nathanael said this about your important discovery. What is the self-important answer? (To argue with Nathanael to show him that you are right. Instead, Philip simply says, "Come and see.")

    5. Read John 1:47-48. We can assume that Jesus also knew what Nathanael said. How would you like it if someone said to you "Nothing good comes from your family, town, etc?" What kind of self-important response would you make?

      1. Instead of saying something positive about Himself or something negative about Nathanael, what does Jesus say? (He compliments Nathanael. Instead of thinking of the personal insult, Jesus lifts up Nathanael. This is self-denial.)

    6. Read John 1:49. How well does the self-denial approach to evangelism work? (Nathanael is immediately converted.)

    7. Read John 1:50-51. Wait a minute! Is Jesus telling us that "magic" converted Nathanael instead of self-denial? (Jesus approach to Nathanael was to focus on him. "Magic" (the power of God) followed and assisted in the conversion.)

    8. Friend, are you focused on others, or focused on yourself? When I perform marriages, I include a line from my own marriage ceremony: "Every day wake up and say, 'What can I do today for my spouse?'" Will you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the attitude of self-sacrifice, the attitude that will win your family, friends and the world to Jesus?

  2. Next week: Corporate Evangelism and Witnessing.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



05-27-2012 2:03 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 5 - Sequential Evangelism and Witnessing

Introduction: How complex is this witnessing stuff? Last week we learned that the demon-possessed, naked, crazy guy was sent to witness to his town after Jesus cast out his demons. That guy did not have an advanced education in witnessing, yet Jesus sent him out right away! The title to our lesson indicates there is an order (sequence) to evangelism. Let's jump into our Bible study and explore this idea that math and order have something to do with effective evangelism!

  1. Milk and Meat Loaf

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-2. Would you be insulted if Paul wrote this to you?

      1. What kind of teachings are "milk" and what kind of teachings are "solid food?" (Solid food, according to the Bible, is food the world is not ready to accept.)

      2. My wife tells me about one of her aunts who attended church, wanted to become a member, but would not because the church prohibited her from being baptized into membership unless she gave up her jewelry. She was not ready to give up jewelry. She never joined the church and ultimately lost interest in it. Was the local church guilty of a milk/solid food mistake?

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 3:3-4. What is the "milk problem" for these Corinthians? (Jealously and quarreling with regard to teachers. "I'm better than you because I follow a better teacher!")

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. What is Paul's answer to this problem? (To explain to the "milk" people that they do not have a proper understanding of the role of the teacher and the role of God.)

      1. Have you noticed this issue with new or immature believers - that they get caught up in controversies and disputes that reflect a type of pride based on a lack of knowledge?

      2. Here are two examples from my teaching past:

        1. Perfect strangers or new believers come to my class and rebuke me because I teach from the NIV instead of the KJV.

        2. A first-time visitor to the class points out that I was wearing jewelry. She thinks I need adult supervision.

      3. Do these examples reflect a superior attitude? (These new people are apparently thinking: "Whoever taught me is better than this teacher, so I will rebuke him!" None of the KJV people who talked with me later had even a rudimentary knowledge of the real issues at stake. My "jewelry" was a plastic Ten Commandments bracelet. See Deuteronomy 6:6-8.)

    4. We've discussed the problem. We have the example in the Bible and the two examples I gave. What "milk" response should be made? If you have to start with milk, something that the world can accept, then how do you deal with the excited pride of milk level Christians? (If we review 1 Corinthians 3:3-8 we see Paul doing two things. First, even though they are "milk" level Christians, he rebukes them. Second, he explains to them the proper view of things.)

    5. Read 1 Peter 2:1-3. Since our lesson is about order, is "milk drinking" the first level of evangelism? (Notice how the Holy Spirit and the student work together on this. The first order of business is the confession of sin. The second is a desire for good spiritual teaching. This requires a decision of the student. The prompting and conviction of the Holy Spirit are essential.)

    6. Let's look at another practical problem. If we are to start out with milk, what specific, practical approach to evangelism is suggested?

      1. Many years ago, my church was debating how it could best reach the community. One group in the church thought we should pass out a book on the life of Jesus. Another group thought we should pass out a book about the history of the conflict between good and evil and prophecy about the future. Which do you think should have been passed out and why? (The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is milk. The other book seems a lot more like meat loaf.)

    7. Read Matthew 25:34-36 and Luke 9:11. Is there another aspect to the "milk first" approach that we have not discussed? An approach suggested in these verses? (Yes! Going up to a disinterested stranger and trying to convert the stranger is difficult because you have no credibility. The first step is to make strangers into friends. Helping others is a way to turn strangers into friends. Once they become friends, we have the credibility to talk with them about the gospel.)

    8. Let's review. There is an order to evangelism. The first step is to be a helpful friend. The second is acceptance of Jesus and repentance of sin. The third is to teach things the new believer will accept, and hold the more difficult teachings for a later time. During this process, we need to be on the watch for pride and error, and not be afraid to gently rebuke error and explain the truth.

  2. Meat Loaf

    1. Let's return to 1 Corinthians. Read 1 Corinthians 3:10. How does Paul view his work? (He is an "expert" who is laying a "foundation.")

      1. What warning does he give to more mature Christians? (Just as milk Christians can be arrogant, so meat loaf Christians have to be careful about how they build.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 3:11. What is the solid food, the meat loaf, that must be kept central in all teaching? (Jesus! We just talked about how Jesus is milk, but He is also meat loaf. We cannot exhaust our study of what He has done for us. Teaching which focuses on other, minor, issues is not a proper foundation.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 3:12-13. Is there a difference in the quality of the work of Christian teachers?

      1. How can we tell gold-standard teachers from straw-standard teachers? (Examination (light) will reveal it. Fire (tests) will reveal it.)

      2. What if you are a teacher and (like me) some new person rebukes you? (You need to seriously consider the rebuke to determine whether it is uneducated pride or truth.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. If you are a teacher, and you read this, aren't you glad! Who loses with a straw-standard teacher? (The student! The teacher survives, but just barely.)

      1. Who gains with a gold-standard teacher? (The student and the teacher.)

    5. Read John 14:15-21. What foundational, meat loaf, truths do we find in these verses? (The Holy Spirit is essential to our Christian walk. Obedience is essential to our Christian walk. Obedience shows that we love God.)

  3. Meat Loaf Test

    1. Read John 6:35-37. We now have an example of solid food. (Jesus calls it bread instead of meat loaf.) Why does Jesus compare Himself to bread? (You need bread to live. There is a natural progression. We start out with milk, we progress to meat loaf.)

    2. Read John 6:41-42. Should Jesus have given them milk instead of this meat loaf?

    3. Read John 6:43-51. How would you characterize Jesus teaching here - milk or meat loaf? (Accepting that Jesus is God is foundational. It has to be "milk" teaching.)

    4. Read John 6:52-57. Is this milk or meat loaf? (I think this is more advanced teaching. This is meat loaf.)

    5. Read John 6:66. What does this teach us? That Jesus made a mistake by not sticking with milk messages? (No. This teaches us that even if we follow the correct progression of help, milk and meat loaf, we are going to have people who cannot accept the truth. More milk is not the answer. Instead, we must realize that God gives us free choice, and for most the Kingdom of Heaven is not a priority.)

    6. Friend, will you be conscious of the order for evangelism? First help, then milk, and then meat loaf. Why not start today?

  4. Next week: Personal Evangelism and Witnessing.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



05-27-2012 2:01 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 4 - Evangelism and Witnessing as a Lifestyle

Introduction: Anyone who looks honestly at the world and at God's standard knows that there is a huge gap between the two. As a witness, as an evangelist, you stand between those two. You are the connection between the world and Christianity. Between the world and eternal life. There is at least one substantial problem with where you are standing. Jesus tells us in John 17:14 that the world hates us. How are you going to be a proper connection when you are dealing with hate? How do we connect with hate? Let's race into our Bible study and see what we can learn!

  1. Jesus' Battle Plan

    1. Read John 17:1-4. Jesus gives this wonderful prayer that describes what He has done on earth and His plan for the future. What is Jesus' main mission? (To bring glory to God.)

      1. How does this text say Jesus brought glory to God? (By completing the work God gave Him to do.)

      2. What is that work? (It is the bridge. To bring those in the world over to eternal life.)

      3. How does a person cross this bridge? (Eternal life comes from knowing Jesus.)

      4. If we are Jesus' apprentices, what clue do we have as to our own work? (We need to bring glory to God by helping people to know God. Helping people to cross this bridge.)

    2. Read John 17:13-14. How did Jesus help us to know God? (By giving us God's word.)

      1. What do you think it means that Jesus gave us God's word? (John 1:1 comes to mind. Jesus is the expression of God. Jesus' life and teachings help us to know God.)

      2. What is the reaction of the world to the word of God? (The world hates them.)

      3. How do you feel about being hated? (Jesus says He wants to give us joy!)

      4. How does this work? They hate, you laugh? (If you understand that the reason for the hate is that you have the truth, you can feel good about life.)

    3. In John 17:14 Jesus is talking about His instruction, His word. What did we learn about our continuing education last week? (Read John 16:7-13. In our work as a connection between pagans and eternal life, in our work as apprentices to Jesus, He did not leave us an instruction book. He left us the Holy Spirit. Just as we would consult with Jesus, so we should consult with the Holy Spirit. Remember it was the Holy Spirit who worked out the book!)

    4. Read John 17:15-18. What else do we have to contend with, in addition to hate? (The evil one.)

      1. What does the "evil one" have in mind for us? (Whatever it is, Jesus has in mind protecting us from the evil one.)

      2. What is one of our main defenses? (Jesus prays that we will be sanctified (set apart) by the words of God. Again, this points to the Holy Spirit as critical to our defense.)

    5. Let's read three important texts: Ephesians 6:12, Matthew 9:36 and Luke 14:26.

      1. The word translated "hate" in Luke 14:26 is the same word Jesus used to describe the attitude of the world towards us. How does that shape our attitude towards the world? (The "hate" may merely be a preference for something else.)

      2. What characterizes most of the people we encounter? (They are helpless sheep. They may not prefer us, but we need to have compassion on them.)

      3. How does the existence of the evil one and his helpers help us to have a proper perspective on witnessing and pagan hatred? (While there are some truly evil people out there, our struggle is in general not against people, but against evil. This means the hatred is not personal between you and pagans. Rather, it is personal between God and Satan. You are just part of the bigger picture. You are mostly dealing with confused people who have other priorities.)

    6. Read John 13:34-35. As we stand as a connection between the pagan world and eternal life, what attitude are we to have?

      1. At least in this verse, the love command is directed towards fellow believers. How should we relate to fellow believers who are joining us as guides on the bridge to eternal life? (We will face hate from the world in our bridge work, but we should receive love (and give love) from our co-laborers.)

    7. Let's review. As witnesses and evangelists, we are guides to the bridge between the world and eternal life. Our work is to bring glory to God. We do this by helping people to know God. While our work is done in the middle of a battlefield, in which the evil forces on the other side hate us, our mission is for people who are not so much hostile as confused.

  2. Mission Story

    1. Read Mark 5:1-5. How do you think this fellow affected local property values? (Negatively. Would you want to live in an area where a crazy man was loose? Imagine hearing him cry out at night. Luke 8:27 adds that this fellow did not wear clothes.)

    2. Read Mark 5:6-7. How do you think the disciples reacted to this crazy, naked man who could rip chains in two, running towards them? (I suspect they were running the opposite direction. Their necks were probably not as tough as chains. Plus, how much could they take? In the previous chapter (Mark 4) they barely escaped drowning. This ministry stuff led to an action-packed life!)

      1. Have you seen the bumper sticker "Hate is not a family value?" What is really being said? (This is a product of the homosexual rights lobby. The suggestion is that if you believe homosexuality is wrong, you are a hater.)

      2. What false accusation did the crazy man hurl at Jesus? (That Jesus was a torturer. Jesus was cruel.)

    3. Read Mark 5:8. Why did the crazy man say this? (It was the demon inside him. Jesus told the evil spirit to leave. Jesus distinguished between the sinner and the sin. However, the evil spirit saw it all as one thing and falsely called Jesus someone who hated so much that He would torture a person. Don't be surprised if you are called names by evil spirits.)

    4. Read Mark 5:9-13. What do demons have in mind for your life? (They want to drown you.)

      1. Can they? (Not without permission.)

    5. Read Mark 5:14-17. What did the town people, those whose property values had just increased, ask Jesus to do? (Leave!)

      1. Why? (Their pig values had dropped.)

        1. What does this say about them and your ministry? (That people value their stuff over the salvation of other people.)

      2. Notice that these verses also say that people were afraid. Why? Jesus had just eliminated one obvious threat! (Think of the supernatural events that had just taken place. This was a huge battle between God and the forces of evil. The people were naturally afraid.)

  3. Nudge Evangelism - the Letter

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 3:2 and Mark 5:18-19. What is the formerly crazy man? (He is a "letter" from God.)

      1. Wasn't the crazy guy a little short on theological training? Could he have used a few laps around the lake in the boat with Jesus before being sent on this mission? (He was a witness. He was telling his own story. He did not need evangelistic training for this, because he knew his story better than anyone else. You know your story the best of anyone.)

    2. Read Mark 5:20. Was the man an effective witness? (The people were amazed.)

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 3:3. How often is our letter "mailed?" (Continuously. Our job is to continuously stand as a guide to the bridge between the pagan world and eternal life. Everything we do should be a "nudge" towards eternal life.)

      1. Who gives you daily instructions on how you nudge? Who is critical to the writing on your letter of life? ("The Spirit of the Living God." We cannot effectively minister without the Holy Spirit writing the letter of our life!)

    4. Friend, will you commit in everything to be a guide to the bridge, to be a letter, that connects and informs the pagan world about eternal life? It is for the glory of God!

  4. Next week: Sequential Evangelism and Witnessing.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



04-24-2012 1:51 AM


seekingTru
Re :   Evangelism and Witnessing ~ 2nd qtr ~ April 7 - June 30

Lesson 3 - Spiritual Gifts for Evangelism and Witnessing

Introduction: Is it true that we all have at least one spiritual gift? We said, "yes," last week. But, are we making an unwarranted assumption? To have a spiritual gift you would have to first receive the Holy Spirit, right? The more I consider this, the more I am troubled by this issue. This week our study is going to be a bit different. Instead of us reading the Bible, and me suggesting a conclusion I'm pretty certain I have right, this week we are going to be exploring the answers together. I have a great deal of uncertainty on this issue. Let's jump into our Bible study and see what we can learn about what it means to receive the Holy Spirit!

  1. The Holy Spirit and Jesus

    1. Read Acts 1:1-5. What do we learn about being baptized by the Holy Spirit? (Jesus promised it. We need it. It is not water baptism.)

      1. Why did the disciples need the Holy Spirit?

    2. Let's look at a little history here. Read Matthew 3:11. What is prophesied about Jesus and the Holy Spirit? (That faith in Jesus brings the Holy Spirit as a result.)

    3. Read John 16:5-11. How would you compare the Holy Spirit to Jesus? (Jesus says the Holy Spirit is an upgrade! Jesus says it "is good" that He is going, because the "Comforter" (Holy Spirit) will not come unless He goes. It would not be good for Jesus to go unless the Holy Spirit is "better.")

      1. It seems unthinkable that anything could be better than to have Jesus live with us. What does Jesus mean by this? (Jesus lists the things that the Holy Spirit will do. But, logic tells me that the Holy Spirit is "better" because it can be everywhere at once.)

      2. If the Holy Spirit is the replacement for Jesus living with you, how important is it to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? (We are sunk without the Holy Spirit. It is essential.

    4. Read John 16:13-15. What does this suggest about the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Jesus?

  2. Receiving the Gift

    1. Read Acts 1:12-14. How did the disciples prepare to receive the Holy Spirit? (Constant prayer.)

    2. Read Acts 2:1-4. How did the disciples know that they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? (How could you not know! Sound, fury, fire and a physical manifestation in the disciples.)

      1. Do you know that you have the Holy Spirit in your life?

      2. If you don't know, then the answer is "no," right? Or, is it?

      3. Have you ever experienced sound, fury, fire or a physical manifestation? (Friend, I have to tell you that my question troubles me. I believe the Holy Spirit guides me in writing these lessons, but I've not experienced sound, fury, fire or a physical manifestation.)

    3. Let's look at two other texts that you might not have noticed in the past. Read John 20:19-23. What did Jesus give the disciples? (He breathed on them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it gave them power.)

      1. Was there any physical manifestation in this? (None is recorded.)

      2. Re-read Acts 1:1-2. Who instructed the apostles? (Jesus used the Holy Spirit!)

      3. After Jesus' resurrection, the disciples are twice given help by the Holy Spirit. Why would Jesus later tell them to "wait" to "be baptized with the Holy Spirit?" Acts 1:4-5.

        1. How can they receive the power or gifts of the Holy Spirit without sound, fury or fire?

        2. Should sound, fury and fire be our desire?

  3. A Story of the Gift

    1. Read Acts 6:1-4. What qualification are they looking for in the seven? (Among other things, to be full of the Holy Spirit.)

    2. Read Acts 6:5-6. Notice that Philip is part of the group. It does not say that he was "full of... the Holy Spirit." Why? Isn't that part of the qualifications? (This suggests that there are levels of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and Philip is not at Stephen's level.)

    3. Read Acts 8:5-8. Here we see Philip again. Is he filled with the Holy Spirit?

    4. Read Acts 8:9-11. Philip is performing miracles and Simon is performing miracles. If you were observing Simon, how would you know whether the Holy Spirit was the source of his power?

      1. Read 1 Peter 4:10. What does this teach us about the use of spiritual gifts? (Spiritual gifts are to serve others. Since Simon was glorifying himself, this was a powerful clue that he was not using the power of the Holy Spirit.)

    5. Read Acts 8:12-13. What happened to the sorcerer? (He became a believer! He was baptized.)

    6. Read Acts 8:14-17. What is lacking in Philip's ministry? (The Holy Spirit has not come on the people.)

      1. How do you explain this? Philip is filled with the Holy Spirit. We saw that "hands" were placed on him and he did great miracles. How can those he baptizes not have the gift of the Holy Spirit?

        1. Read Matthew 28:19-20. Surely Philip must have baptized in accord with Jesus' baptismal instructions. Don't those instructions guarantee baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit?

      2. Look again at Acts 8:17. Could only Peter and John lay hands on the people to give them the Holy Spirit?

        1. Was Philip excluded? If so, why would someone who was filled with the Holy Spirit be excluded?

        2. If Philip was not excluded, why didn't he lay hands on the people he baptized?

    7. Read Acts 8:18-19. Simon sees other believers who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Simon has a great goal, right? He wants to share the Holy Spirit with others.

    8. Read Acts 8:20-23. One way we measure devotion to God is how we use our money. Simon wants to give up his money to get the Holy Spirit. What is wrong with that? (Can you buy God? The Holy Spirit is a gift, like salvation. We cannot demand the Holy Spirit, or "trade" anything for it.)

      1. Why does Peter say Simon is excluded from this gift? (He is bitter and captive to sin.)

        1. Can we be excluded from having the Holy Spirit in our life for these same kinds of reasons?

        2. Is Simon without any spiritual gifts?

    9. Let's review to see how the Holy Spirit comes to us. Re-read Acts 8:15-17. How do we receive what Simon so desperately wanted? (Again, we see that prayer is key. However, Peter and John are also somehow important to this.)

    10. If you read further down in this chapter, you will see the amazing story about how the Holy Spirit directs Philip to the Ethiopian State Treasurer. How can Philip have such direct leading by the Holy Spirit, yet those he baptizes have not received the Holy Spirit? (When we were first introduced to this Philip, we are informed (by inference) that he has less of the gift of the Holy Spirit than Stephen. Now, it seems that he has less of the gift (or somehow a different gift) than Peter and John.)

  4. Full Power Holy Spirit Now?

    1. Read Joel 2:28-29. Who is eligible to receive the Holy Spirit in power? (All of us.)

    2. Read Acts 2:14-17. How does Peter explain the sound, fury and fire of the Holy Spirit? (He says this is a fulfillment of Joel 2.)

      1. Some say that today we do not have the possibility of "full-power" Holy Spirit. Is that true? (If Acts 2 is "last days," we are living in the last days!)

    3. Friend, what about you? Has the Holy Spirit come upon you? Has it come in power? If not, why not pray that will happen?

  5. Next week: Evangelism and Witnessing as a Lifestyle.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.



04-24-2012 1:50 AM

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