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Sabbath School Lessons on Discipleship
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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 2: Discipleship Then and Now *
Introduction: You have probably heard more than one Christian say "I
want to follow Jesus." Likely, you have said that very thing. How
does that work today? In Jesus' time, the disciples literally
followed Him around. What are we to do today? We learned last week
that the disciples' original goal in following Jesus was self-interest. It made the disciples seem more like us! In what other ways
were they like us? What about rivalry among disciples? Did that exist
in the time of Jesus? Let's jump into the Bible and explore how we
can be a better disciple now!
- Marching Orders
- If you were to look in the Bible for instructions on how
to be Jesus' disciple, would you look at what Jesus
instructed the twelve disciples?
- The disciples were physically with Jesus. How would
you modify your search to make it more relevant? (I
would look for Jesus' instructions to them for a time
when He would be gone.)
- Let's look at such an instruction. Read Mark 16:15. What
are we called upon to do if we are Jesus' disciples? (To
tell the whole world the good news about Jesus.)
- Would you say this was the primary work of Jesus'
- We spoke about the problem of Jesus not being
physically present. What was the primary work of the
twelve disciples when Jesus was present with them?
(Jesus was teaching them about the good news.
Logically, they needed to learn the good news before
they could share it.)
- Does that mean that we need to learn the "good
news" before we start to preach it to the world?
- If so, is there some substitute today for
the presence of Jesus? (Read John 14:25-26. The Holy Spirit teaches us today about
the good news. The disciples also recorded
Jesus' words to them and we can and should
read and study the Bible - asking for the
Holy Spirit to help us to understand.)
- Read Revelation 14:6-7. Does this mean we are out of a
job? We failed to share the gospel, so angels are
required to do it in the end times? (No. Two things.
First, this angel is to preach the gospel "to every
nation, tribe language and people." That is not a new
task. That parallels the Mark 16:15 task to "preach the
good news to all creation." That job was given by Jesus to
His original disciples (and to us) and it is repeated in
Revelation. Second, Revelation is filled with symbols.
Whether the angel represents us or is a literal angel who
helps us is unclear. Bottom line: this message is the task
of disciples today.)
- Let's continue with Jesus' instructions recorded in Mark
16. Read Mark 16:16. After we share the good news with
others, what should we look for? (A reaction! People will
either believe and be baptized, or disbelieve and be
- What does this suggest about our work as disciples?
(Our role is to share. We leave the decision to the
- Is the listener alone in making this decision? (Read
John 16:7-11. Again we see the important team work of
the Holy Spirit when we share the good news. We
share, the Holy Spirit convicts, and the listener
- Read Revelation 14:7. How does this parallel Mark 16:16?
(This repeats the need for humans to make a decision
because judgment is upon us.)
- Does this make our role in proclaiming a judgment
clearer? ( Revelation 14:7 emphasizes the judgment
side of things more than Mark 16:16. As the time of
Jesus' Second Coming comes nearer, sharing the
outcome of this choice makes the message more
- What other issue is emphasized more fully in
Revelation 14:7 than in Mark 16:15-16? (That Jesus is
the Creator. Mark 16:15 refers to "all creation"
suggesting that there is a Creator. But, Revelation
14:7 pins the basis for our worship on God's
attribute as our Creator.)
- As you look around you, do you see that God's
role as Creator is a more important issue in our
(end) times? (Yes! The evolution/creation debate
rages as never before - even among supposed
Bible believers. Second, Sabbath worship is a
memorial to the Creation ( Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus
20:8-11). Weekly worship is now more closely
tied to the resurrection than to the Creation.
This is a shift in focus away from Revelation
- Marching Signs
- Read Mark 16:17-19. The last verse shows us that these
were, indeed, Jesus' final instructions. How does your
church score in the signs department? How do you score?
- We have assumed that Jesus' last instructions to His
disciples apply to us, too. Should we decide that
part of the instructions apply and not all?
- If you think they all apply, let's look at this more
closely. Is Jesus telling us to pick up deadly snakes
in our hands and drink poison?
- What logical relationship would that have to
sharing the gospel?
- As you consider what you have read in the Bible
about the early church, do you remember reading
about snake-handling and poison-drinking? (No.
The account of Paul being accidentally bitten by
a snake ( Acts 28:3-5) comes the closest.)
- If we do not see this in the early church,
what do you think that means? (If we
reason from the one example we see (Paul
being accidentally bitten and not dying)
it seems that Jesus is saying that as we
go out and share the gospel, we may find
ourselves in danger. He will protect us.)
- Should we handle dangerous snakes and
drink poison to verify this promise? (No.
Read Matthew 4:5-7. This seems to be an
identical situation. Satan reminds Jesus
of God's promises of protection, but Jesus
responds that we should not deliberately
put ourselves in the way of harm.)
- John and Rivalry
- Let's change gears and look at another aspect of
discipleship then and now. Read John 3:22-23, 26. What
complaint do the disciples of John the Baptist have about
Jesus? (That the "competition" is winning. People are
leaving John the Baptist and going over to Jesus.)
- Why should that worry John's disciples? (Apparently
not all the disciples of John got the message that he
was preparing the way for Jesus. It is natural in
life to be competitive with others. They wanted their
master to remain more popular than any competitors.)
- Why did John's disciples complain about Jesus
baptizing? (Jesus was even "stealing" their methods!
What could be more unfair?)
- Read John 3:27. Which man is John talking about? (He is
talking about himself and every other person. Everyone is
given gifts from God.)
- What is John's point? (There should be no competition
for two reasons. First, all human gifts of talent
come from God. Why would you claim credit for
something given to you by someone else? Second, the
amount of your gift is determined by God. If Jesus
has more "gifts" then that is fine. John's disciples
should not expect that he will have more gifts than
are given to him by God.)
- Let's think about this a minute. What does this say
about pride over our "status" in life?
- What does it say about envy? Covetousness?
- Before we go too far down this road. Does
everyone use all the gifts given to them by God?
- If the answer is "no," then is it wrong to
take pride in using more gifts than the
slugs who are our competitors?
- If the answer is "no," then should we not
feel envy when we are the slug and our
"competition" applied more faith and did
better work because he used more of his
gifts? (Envy and covetousness are wrong.
Whether we are where we are in life based
on being given limited gifts from God or
based our failure to take advantage of
God's gifts, we cannot change the past.
All we can do is take advantage of the
gifts and opportunities which God gives us
now and leave the outcome to God.)
- Friend, God has offered you the job of being His disciple.
Will you accept it? Will you share the good news of
salvation from judgment? Will you work without envy or
* Copr. 2008, 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.