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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 41 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 12: Growing Through the Word *
Introduction: One very hard-fought religious liberty case I handled
involved a client who had steady and substantial changes in his life
after he gave his life to Jesus. The other side argued he was not
sincere in his religious beliefs (and therefore should not win)
because of the conflict between what he had been in the past and what
he said and did now. The main lawyer for the other side was a pagan
who had no understanding of the topic of our lesson this week:
Christian growth. I spent a great deal of time in my brief to the
court discussing this idea of Christian growth and how it worked in
the life of my client. Fortunately, the judge understood this idea
and ruled in our favor. Let's dive into our study about Christian
- Read John 3:1-2. What do we learn about Nicodemus and his
views of Jesus? (Nicodemus was a very important man. He
did not understand that Jesus was the Messiah - he
considered Jesus a Spirit-filled teacher and miracle
- What do you think Nicodemus wanted? (He met Jesus at
night. That suggests Nicodemus was sincerely
interested in finding out more about Jesus without
damaging his reputation or appearing to take the side
of this controversial "teacher.")
- If you were Jesus, what would your goal be for this
conversation? (Convert Nicodemus.)
- Read John 3:3. I know this is hard, but clear your mind of
everything you know about being "born again," and tell me
what you would conclude from what Jesus said?
- Is Jesus' response a natural reply to Nicodemus
question? (Nicodemus's statement was probably a slow
and diplomatic (he thought) beginning to a spiritual
discussion that would determine who Jesus was. Jesus
skips the diplomacy and gets straight to the point
that they both wanted to reach.)
- Would Nicodemus be offended by this response? (It
would be natural - given Nicodemus's exalted
political and religious background. He would think he
should build on what he had accomplished, not start
all over again.)
- Read John 3:4-6. What does Jesus mean when He says that
Nicodemus (and you) must be "born again?" (Baptism of
water and the Holy Spirit.)
- If you were to ponder Jesus' statement about the need to
be born again - what meaning would it have beyond baptism?
(Jesus' analogy to new life suggests that the new
Christian is to grow. Indeed, Jesus speaks a great deal
about the birth of the "spirit" in the "born again"
Christian. The whole idea of spiritual growth is central
to Jesus' point.)
- Did even Nicodemus, that Bible scholar, need to be
- What, then, about you?
- God's Expectation
- Read Hebrews 5:11-12. What is wrong with these Christians?
The text says they are slow learners. Do they lack
- Read Hebrews 5:13-14. What is Hebrew's teaching about
righteousness? (That righteousness is a matter of growth
in the knowledge of God's word. If you need to keep
relearning the elementary truths of the gospel, something
is wrong with your understanding of God's goal for your
- What does it mean for a Christian to be on "solid
food?" ("Solid food" allows you to distinguish good
from evil. This is a constant work and it is the
result of growing in righteousness.)
- Read Hebrews 6:1-2. When Hebrews calls on us not to "lay
again the foundation of repentance" is it telling us that
Christian growth should not involve having to repent
again? (No. Hebrews is describing the introductory
foundations (the "milk") of Christianity: repentance from
sin, faith in God, baptism, laying on of hands, the coming
resurrection and judgment.)
- Read Hebrews 6:4-6. Consider this warning about Christian
growth: does this mean we should not pursue those who have
left the church? What if we leave the church - can we not
- Read Hebrews 6:7-8. How can we tell if we have fallen
away? (Hebrews is comparing the productive Christian life
with the "fallen way" life. The fallen away person may
continue to sit in church, soaking in "rain" (the Holy
Spirit), but this person produces a life of "thorns and
thistles." I don't think this is the "prodigal son" who
runs away from church and later returns to the arms of a
loving father. See Luke 15:11-24.)
- What is the main point of Hebrews 5:11-6:8? (The whole
sense of this conversation is the failure of Christian
growth. We need to be moving forward in knowledge. We need
to be productive Christians.)
- Read James 5:19-20. How does this fit into the picture the
writer of Hebrews is painting? (We can fall into sin and
return. We can drift away and return. What we cannot do
is be fully aware and settled in the truth and then walk
away from God. A hardened heart like that is unlikely to
return. See also Hebrews 3:12-4:2)
- How are the texts in this section like driving a car? (You
are either in drive and moving forward toward the goal of
Christian maturity, or you are not. You might be stopped
or in reverse. Neither is any good. If you are moving in
reverse, you are moving backwards away from the goal and
towards an ever hardening heart.)
- Which direction is your spiritual "car" moving?
- Faith and Rest
- Does this command to keep growing in Christian maturity,
to keep driving forward seem tiring? Does it take more
energy than you have available? Are you out of gas? Let's
read Hebrews 4:1-3. How does adding faith to our knowledge
of God's message give us rest? (The parallel (see Hebrews
3) is the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan. If the people had
just keep moving forward with God, just trusted Him, they
would have entered the promised land - the land of rest.)
- Read Hebrews 4:4-7. To what does God compare the rest of
faith and trust in Him? (The Sabbath ends the week of
work, just as the original Sabbath ended the week of
Creation. Without entering into the spiritual rest arising
from faith, you have not finished the course of Christian
- Read Hebrews 4:8-11. What connection is there between
Sabbath-keeping and faith? (The Sabbath is the weekly
reminder of the rest given us by faith. "Anyone who enters
God's rest also rests from his own work." The Sabbath
reflects our faith and our understanding that God has a
heavenly rest in mind for us - not just here, but in
heaven's promised land.)
- Would you say that part of our Christian growth is our
desire to be on a journey to heaven?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. We just got through studying
the importance of faith to our Christian growth. We now
learn that faith is nothing without love. How can that be
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Is there room for growth in
your life in the area of love?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. Why is love so great? (I think
this text tells us that we may have imperfect doctrines,
prophecies and knowledge. That is, the teaching of the
church may not be exactly right. But a loving attitude is
as close to God's perfection as we can come right now.
Just like the advice to parents - love makes up for a
multitude of "sins." Love is necessary part of our
- The Result
- Read Ephesians 4:14-15. As we become mature in our
understanding of God's word, what benefit enters our life?
- When we find a member who has not yet reached
maturity, and is being tossed about by false
doctrine, how should we respond? (As we speak the
"truth in love" we continue to grow in our knowledge
- Friend, what about your life? Are you continuing to grow
in your understanding of God's will for you? Are your
faith and love growing? If not, will you commit to
studying God's word every day so that your life will move
towards that "Sabbath rest" God has promised?
- Next week: The Word of God Endures.
* Copr. 2007, 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.