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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 37 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 13: Patterns of Discipleship *
Introduction: We have come to the end of this series of lessons on
what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let's finish up this
series by looking at how we work together as disciples. What kind of
model for our work does the Bible present? Should we be selective
about our Christian "friends?" Should we "play well" with believers
that might not have exactly the right vision? Let's jump into our
study and find out!
- Discerning Disciples.
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. What kind of track record do
these disciples have in being able to tell the good guys
from the bad guys? (Not so good. In the past they have
been led astray.)
- Were their past errors understandable? (Paul says
they were led astray by "mute idols." These guys
could lose their way even without someone making a
- What would you guess are their odds of getting
it right in the future? How would you help them
get it right? (Their chances look bleak. So,
making the judgment as simple as possible would
- What simple test does God give them (and us)? (A
person operates through the Holy Spirit if they lead
people to Jesus.)
- Read Acts 20:28-30. Are these "wolves" easy to spot? (This
text is more worrisome than 1 Corinthians 12. These wolves
do not reject the truth, they distort the truth.)
- If a person just distorts the truth, how can you
apply the simple "Jesus be cursed," "Jesus is Lord"
test? (Look again at Acts 20:30. The goal for
"wolves" is to draw disciples "after them." The goal
for true disciples is to make Jesus Lord. It seems
that the true nature of the person (wolf or disciple)
may take a while to become clear.)
- What should we do in the meantime? (If they say
"Jesus is Lord" we give them the benefit of the
doubt and keep alert.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Why does this text stress the
differences in the work of various disciples?
- Look at the line of logic in the first verses of 1
Corinthians 12, what do you think is being said? (The
logic is about true and false disciples. Those
powered by the Holy Spirit and those powered by self-ambition. This is an argument that even if a disciple
is doing something much different than you are doing,
that does not mean that person is out of the Lord's
will. You have to look at where the work of the
person leads. If they are leading people to Jesus,
they are working with the Holy Spirit to do His
- Would this apply to differences in music
- Would this apply to differences in worship
- Would this apply to an emphasis on certain
spiritual gifts, for example speaking in tongues
- Working Together
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. We are not going to go into
the specific gifts. Instead, let's look at the overall
message. What is the point of giving different Christians
different gifts? (The first point is that we need to work
together. Christians who "worship in the woods,"
Christians who listen to tapes, or television or the radio
as their sole means of worship are missing a central theme
of the Bible. God's church depends on teamwork.)
- I recently heard a preacher say that out of 1.5 million
people who live in the area, only about 2,000 had the
gospel. Re-read 1 Corinthians 12:8. What do you think is
the "message of knowledge?" (I think it can mean
"knowledge of the Bible." What this preacher meant, and I
think he was pointing out truth, is that a limited number
have a good understanding of the gospel. This is a
spiritual gift that should be shared with those who have
other spiritual gifts. It does not mean that those with
that gift are somehow superior, or the only ones who are
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-16. What do you think is the
likely attitude of the foot and ear? Are they saying they
are too good to be part of the body? Do they feel
inadequate to be part of the body? (It seems they feel
inadequate because they want to be some other part.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:21. What kind of attitude do the eye
and head have? (They have a superiority complex.)
- I run into many more "eye and head" Christians than I do
"foot and ear" Christians. My church thinks it is superior
to all other Christian churches. I assume members of other
churches feel that way too. Is the message of 1
Corinthians 12 just for people within a specific
denomination? Or, is this a message for all of the
various denominations? (The "boundary lines" set by this
chapter separates those who are led by the Holy Spirit and
those who are not. My view is that this cuts across
denominational lines. If your church has a special
message, preach it. Don't arrogantly think you are better
because of it - because some other group will have its own
special gift and message that the world also needs.)
- Playing Well Together
- Read Luke 17:1-3. In working together with fellow
disciples, we are not to close our eyes to truth. Who does
Jesus say we should be watching? ("Watch yourselves.")
- Why not watch the other guy? Afer all, he is the one
leading people astray!
- What does Jesus mean by "yourselves?" (It seems that
I am not just watching me - although that is a full-time task! It seems the Christian community is
- How is this supposed to work? Historically, I
have been very upset when Christians attack
fellow Christians. Am I wrong? Are we only to
"attack" (watch) fellow Christians? (One of the
gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10 is
"distinguishing between spirits." We are not to
attack another Christian just because he has a
different approach. However, true sin needs to
be rebuked. It also needs to be forgiven.)
- Read Luke 17:7-9. How would you answer the question in
verse 9? (I would thank the servant, but I think we have a
time and culture issue here. The correct answer is "no,"
he would not thank the servant.)
- Read Luke 17:10. Why is a servant unworthy if he does his
duty? (He has done only what he was paid to do. The
"worth" was paid for. If the servant does more, he has
- You may protest that the servant (if he was a
slave)had not been paid anything. What about you?
Have you been paid to be a disciple of Jesus? (He
paid for you with His life.)
- What kind of attitude do you have towards your work
as a disciple?
- I hear others (and myself) saying three different
kinds of things:
- "I'm not being spiritually fed."
- "This church does not appreciate me."
- "What more can I do to help?"
According to Luke 17:10, which of these would a
disciple with the right attitude say?
- When Jesus recites this story, is He giving a lesson
for masters or servants? (I don't think Jesus is
teaching us as "masters" to work fellow believers and
not thank them. He is speaking to us as disciples who
serve. Don't think that you are entitled to praise
when you do your work. Don't think you are entitled
to have others do the work for you. God paid for you
with His life, you owe Him a great deal.)
- Friend, what kind of a disciple are you? Do you work with
others? Do you realize the importance of the gifts given
to others? Do you put away spiritual arrogance? Do you
have the attitude that you are just grateful to be part of
the work? If not, confess your sin and pray that the Holy
Spirit will change your heart to make you a better
- Next week we begin a new series of lessons on the ministry of
* 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.