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Sabbath School Lessons on Missionaries in the Bible
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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 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 7: The Apostle John *
Introduction: Is your heart at peace? At this moment I feel a very
heavy load of things to do. Burdens press me at work and at home. I
am always working to meet time deadlines. (Even to write this lesson
each week.) Our lesson this week is for those whose hearts are not at
peace. Jesus wants us, as His missionaries, to have peace in our
hearts. He wants us to understand how our timing is not His timing.
Let's plunge into the Bible and find the path to peace!
- Following Jesus
- Read Luke 5:1-3. How much of an inconvenience is Jesus to
these fishermen? (Very little. They were done fishing for
the day, and Jesus was simply borrowing their boat so the
people could see and hear Him teach.)
- Read Luke 5:4-5. What do you think motivates Jesus to give
this instruction? (On the surface, He is returning a
favor. You let me borrow your boat, I'll help you earn
- Does Simon want to do this? Put yourself in Simon's
place, what reasons would you have for not doing
this? (He worked all night and is tired. They had
cleaned up all the equipment and are ready to go
home. Jesus wants them to go out a way, He says
"deep water." This is a wild goose chase, what does
this preacher know about fishing?)
- Read Luke 5:6-7. Was it worth doing what they did not want
- What if they (the fishermen) had "just believed" and
had not done anything in response to Jesus' words?
- Would it have been a "sin" not to do what Jesus
said? Wasn't Jesus just offering a favor that
they could take or leave? (My first reaction is
that I don't think it would have been a sin to
say "We're too tired to do this. We'll do it
tomorrow." But, look at what a blessing they
would have missed.)
- Read Luke 5:8-11. Have you changed your mind about the
reason why Jesus told Simon to put out His nets? (Jesus is
demonstrating that they should trust and follow Him. It is
the build-up to the call to full-time discipleship with
- What would have happened if Simon had not put out his
- Isn't it sin to not trust Jesus?
- Not catching anything would be a financial loss.
Simon would have to work twice as hard the next
day to catch up. What promise do we see for
those who feel the pressure of earning money?
- Our study is about John, not Simon. How is John involved
in this? (He is Simon's business partner.)
- Is John as involved as Simon? (Simon is the
spokesperson, but John is just as involved.)
- Read Mark 1:19-20. What important fact does this add to
our story? (It tells us that this was not such an easy
thing for John. First, John is leaving a partnership with
his father. Second, this seems to be a prosperous
business. The business consists at least of Simon, Andrew,
John, James, Zebedee and a number of employees.)
- What if Jesus just called them without the large
catch of fish? Would they have followed Him?
(Simon's reaction in Luke 5:8 shows that He thought
this was a miracle. Jesus had power over nature. In
addition, fish were money to them. Jesus showed that
He could provide an income - even when it seemed
- What does this teach us about our missionary efforts?
(Jesus can provide for both our spiritual and
- Read Mark 10:35-37. How much of a business motivation did
John see in his decision to follow Jesus? (We now see that
the business angle is much stronger than we thought. John
left a prosperous fishing partnership, but he expected
that he had moved into an even greater "business." He was
going to be a ruler in Jesus' new kingdom on earth.)
- Read Mark 10:41-45. Was Jesus offering a "bait and
switch?" Or, would John believe that he still had a chance
to be a ruler? (I'll bet that John heard Jesus' words
"whoever wants to become great," but did not understand
the "first must be slave of all" part of the message.)
- Does this remind you of the Jairus's story that we
studied last week? Is timing an important point in
this issue? (To the extent that John understood that
Jesus was creating a kingdom on earth in which John
would be an important player, John was in for a
disappointment. The rest of John's life would be
hard, he would never rule. But, if you collapse time
(and the predictions of Isaiah 65:17-18 and
Revelation 21:1-3) you see that John will indeed be a
ruler here on earth. See Revelation 21:14.)
- The Transformation
- Read again Mark 10:45. What clear statement does Jesus
make about His future and the hope of the disciples to be
rulers? (Jesus came to serve and to give His life for
- What does this teach us about our life here?
- Read 1 John 3:11-15. Was John ever like Cain? (Yes, when
John was a rival to the rest of the disciples. He desired
to rule over them, and desired more favor from God than
for the others. At that point he was like Cain. Cain
compared God's favor to Abel with God's reaction to him,
and he determined to kill Abel.)
- At what point ( 1 John 3:14) did John pass over from
death to life? (When he understood the idea of loving
his fellow humans meant serving them.)
- Read 1 John 3:16-18. Have you made the transition from
loving only with your words to loving with your money and
- Read 1 John 3:19-20. Do you have peace in your life?
- What formula for achieving peace does John suggest?
(Our hearts will be at rest when our lives are
devoted to help others.)
- How does this relate back to Cain and John (during
his early years)? (When they wanted to rule, their
hearts were not at rest. God is not telling us to be
lazy or to lack ambition. Colossians 3:23 tells us to
work as if God is our employer. But, our goal is not
to have others serve us. Our goal is to do great
things for others, to do great things for the Kingdom
- Read 1 John 3:21-22. How many people read these verses and
conclude that God will give them anything they want?
- What important qualifier to this promise have we just
discussed? (If you are asking to help others, if you
are serving others, then God will give you what you
want. If we are asking to help ourselves, then this
is a different matter.)
- Friend, what is the direction of your life? Are you
struggling for personal glory? Or, do you seek to be a
blessing to others? God offers us peace. Peace in our
efforts to serve others here. Peace in the knowledge that
with time He will make all things right. Peace in the
knowledge that God is in charge. Will you take the road
- Next week: From Folly to Faith: the Apostle Peter.
* 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.