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Sabbath School Lessons on Matthew
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: The Seen and the Unseen War *
Introduction: Many Christians have one of two opposing opinions. They
think that salvation turns on their good works, or they think that
salvation is merely accepting grace and then continuing on their
normal way. Our lesson this week reveals a third approach: relying on
God in everything. This not only includes salvation, it includes all
of the problems and victories of life. Let's dig into our study of
Matthew and learn more!
- John's Doubts
- Read Matthew 11:1-3 and read Matthew 3:11-14. What has
happened to John's faith in Jesus? (Read Matthew 14:3-4.
John is in prison when he sends his disciples to Jesus. If
you look again at Matthew 3:12 John predicts that Jesus
will "clear ... [the] floor ... with unquenchable fire."
Yet despite John's expectations of power, Jesus does
nothing to free him from prison. Matthew 14:10 tells us
that John died in prison.)
- What does this teach us about being arrogant about
the way we think prophecy will be fulfilled? (We need
to be alert and keep our minds open to the Holy
Spirit. The Jewish nation (apparently including John
the Baptist) expected that Jesus would exercise power
and overthrow His enemies at that time.)
- Read Matthew 11:4-6. How does this answer John's question
about why Jesus is not saving him? (Jesus' answer shows
that He is defeating Satan, not Satan's followers. We need
to remember that the real enemy is Satan and his demonic
forces, not the people with whom we work and live.)
- Read Matthew 11:7-11. Explain how Jesus can say no human
is greater than John the Baptist, yet the least important
person in heaven is greater than John?
- What is the issue John's disciples raised? (Who is
Jesus? This is the key issue in life. Will you
believe in Jesus and trust Him with all of your
problems and challenges? John was showing a lack of
trust. Those in heaven will be there because of their
trust in God - not because of their works.)
- What does this teach us about reliance on Jesus
rather than on yourself, other humans or money? (Even
John the Baptist wavered. We need to beware.)
- Read Matthew 11:12-14. Who are these forceful men?
(Consider the context. John the Baptist did powerful
things to prepare the way for Jesus. He was "Elijah." But,
Herod killed John. ( Matthew 14:6-11.) Satan brings human
power against the Church when it is advancing.)
- Read Matthew 11:16-19. What does this tell us about having
the wrong expectations? (We, like children, think God's
workers should conform to our ideas. We are self-centered.
God says look beyond yourself and see what God is doing
through that person. Consider how God is moving in the
world - even as the result of people who do not meet your
- How many Christians do you know who are fighting each
other, rather than fighting demonic forces?
- Read Matthew 11:20-24. We think of Sodom in connection
with sexual sin. What does Jesus say is worse than that?
(Ignoring the miracles that God has performed in our life.
Think again about Samson. This fellow had a sex problem.
Yet he is listed in the faith hall of fame ( Hebrews 11:32)
because even in his last few moments of life he trusted
God ( Judges 16:28-30).)
- Have you paid too little attention to the miracles
God has done in your life?
- Read Matthew 11:25-26. Jesus was just criticizing His
listeners by saying they were like "children sitting in
the marketplaces" ( Matthew 11:16) and now He says God
reveals to "little children" what is hidden from the "wise
and learned." Which is it, should we have an attitude like
children or not? What, exactly, is the child-like attitude
that Jesus commends? (In both places Jesus is calling
children "simple." They are simple in what they want and
they are simple in their understanding.)
- Why is that good? (Jesus' point seems to be that the
call of the gospel can be understood by anyone as
long as they are not too arrogant to be willing to
- Do you think God is hiding the gospel from anyone?
That hiding good news is for God's "good
pleasure?"(It would be hard to explain the great work
of the Apostle Paul if it were true that God kept the
gospel from the "wise and learned.")
- Read Matthew 19:23-24. Why is it hard for a rich man
to enter the kingdom of heaven? (This helps to
explain the problem of the "wise and learned"
understanding the gospel. Those who are rich, those
who are smart, those who are highly educated have in
common a tendency to rely on wealth, intelligence and
education instead of God. This is the same point as
Jesus made with John the Baptist. The central issue
for John was whether he would trust Jesus in the
midst of problems. The central issue for the rich,
wise and educated is whether they will trust God or
trust their money, intelligence or education.)
- Let's go back and read Matthew 11:15. Who is able to
understand Jesus' message? (Everyone with ears!)
- What does that tell us about Jesus' comments about
the gospel being hidden from certain people? (This
helps prove the point that we all can hear and
understand, unless we choose not to understand
because of our arrogance and self-reliance.)
- Read Matthew 11:27. To whom has God revealed the gospel?
(To Jesus! Jesus reveals God the Father to us. This
reinforces Jesus' point that we must trust Him, we must
put our confidence in Him.)
- Read Matthew 11:28-30. What practical advantage do we
enjoy by putting our trust in Jesus? (He carries our
burdens. He gives us rest. He is not arrogant and harsh
with us. Instead, He wants us to succeed in life and to
have eternal life.)
- Do you feel that life is a constant struggle? Why not
rely on Jesus in everything?
- What do you think relying on Jesus would look like,
as a practical matter? (It involves at least three
things. First, asking Jesus in prayer to work out our
challenges. Second, following the advice Jesus has
already given us in the Bible. Third, looking for the
Holy Spirit to guide us in the decisions we make.)
- Read Matthew 12:24. What is worse than relying on
yourself, instead of relying on Jesus? (Thinking that
Jesus relies on Satan.)
- Read Matthew 12:25-26. What do you think about this
answer? (This is a very practical answer. I think Jesus is
struggling against the problem He just identified, that
truth is hidden from people who trust themselves.)
- What answer would be appropriate for those who rely
on Jesus? (There is a war going on between Jesus and
Satan. Why would Satan help Jesus? His goal is to
- Read Matthew 12:27-28. Do you think that the Jewish
religious leaders thought other Jewish religious leaders
drove out demons by the power of Satan? (Of course not!
Jesus says "Why would you judge Me by a different
- Read Matthew 12:29. What does this tell us about the
reality of demons? (It tells us that Jesus not only
believes in them, but he calls Satan a "strong man.")
- What does this say about Jesus? (He is stronger than
Satan. He can bind Satan.)
- Read Matthew 12:30-32. What is the peril of saying that a
fellow Christian is performing healings through the power
of Satan? (This is very dangerous.)
- Friend, you have a choice. Will you live your life
trusting Jesus? Or, will you live your life trusting
yourself, or worse, trusting demonic powers? Jesus offers
to lift our burdens and give us rest. Why not accept His
offer right now?
- Next week: Resting in Christ.
* Copr. 2016, 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. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.