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Sabbath School Lessons on The Atonement and the Cross of Christ
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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 8: Born of a Woman - Atonement and the Incarnation *
Introduction: We learned the last two weeks that Christianity is the
"thinking person's religion." What we did not discuss was how hard
we have to think! In one sense it is easy and logical to line up the
Old Testament system for removing sin with the life, death,
resurrection and heavenly ministry of Jesus. They just logically
fit. On the other hand, it is not so easy to understand how the
Creator God could demean Himself to become a human. Even the
mechanics of the "God born of a woman" to create a God/human are very
difficult to grasp. Let's give it a try by plunging into our Bible
- Virgin Mary
- Read Luke 1:26-28. Do you remember when you were engaged
to be married? How did you feel? (It was exciting. Not
only is romantic life a great feeling, but the
opportunities of life lay before you.)
- How would you like this greeting from God given to
you by Gabriel?
- Read Luke 1:29. How did Mary react to this greeting? Why
should she react as she did? (This was an astonishing
greeting for a young woman. Why should she deserve this?)
- Do you think Mary might have thought this was undue
flattery and the angel wanted something from her?
- Was it flattery? (No! As we will see God the
Father is trusting Jesus to a human - and Mary
is the one He picked. This is no flattery.)
- Read Luke 1:30-34. Of all of the amazing things that
Gabriel says, which one catches the attention of Mary?
(She never got beyond his first point -the one about her
having a son even though she is not yet married.)
- Read Luke 1:35-37. Would this answer your question if you
- Do you understand the angel's explanation?
- What is the most important point made by Gabriel
which helps you to understand this? (Gabriel knows he
is saying something that is completely inconsistent
with human experience. He points out another miracle
(the pregnancy of Elizabeth) and says "Nothing is
impossible with God." You think this is unusual for
God? Imagine speaking the world into existence.)
- Let's go back and look more closely at the part of the
announcement that did not elicit questions from Mary
because she was still working on the first point. Re-read
Luke 1:31-33. What is being said about Jesus? Does it
clearly say that Jesus is God?
- Why does the text say "called the Son of God" instead
of "is the Son of God?" (Jesus' status will not
simply be declared by Gabriel, it will by
acknowledged by humans.)
- Read Romans 1:1-4. Why should humans call Jesus "the
Son of God?" (Not simply because of Old Testament
prophecies, not simply because of His usual
conception, His resurrection from the dead shows His
power. There are lots of reasons to call Jesus the
"Son of God.")
- Read Luke 1:38. How does Mary react to this astonishing
and unprecedented news? Bring yourself back to the memory
place where we started - how did you look at life when you
were engaged? How would this change your hopes, dreams and
plans? (Mary submits to God's will for her life. Any
wonder why God said such great things about her?)
- The God Man
- Based on this introduction, what would you call Jesus?
Half man, half God? (Read Colossians 2:9. The Bible tells
us that all of God lived in a human form. Jesus was fully
- Compare Hebrews 1:1-3 with Hebrews 5:7-10. Can you
reconcile these two descriptions of Jesus? One says Jesus
is the "radiance of God's glory and the exact
representation of His being" and the other says "He
learned obedience from what He suffered [and became]
perfect [and the source of our salvation]." (One sounds
completely like God and the other sounds completely like
humans. I think that is the right answer - Jesus was
fully God and fully human.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:45-47. Is there a logical link
between Adam and Jesus? (Read 1 Corinthians 15:48-49. The
Christian life demonstrates the link. We start out as
sinful humans (Adam)and we are resurrected to eternal life
- The Baptized Man
- Read Matthew 3:13-14. Who has the better argument here,
Jesus or John? (The obvious answer is "John." Why does
sinless Jesus need to be born again? How could you top
His first birth?)
- Read Matthew 3:15. Wait a minute. What argument is Jesus
making? It convinced John, does it convince you? (Do you
recall the "incorporation" concept we considered two weeks
ago? When Jesus died, we died in Him. Thus, we died for
our sins through Jesus. Jesus is talking about the "front
end" of this same idea. When Jesus was baptized, we were
baptized corporately. In that way this "fulfilled all
- Isn't there a flaw in this incorporation argument?
Following Jesus' instructions ( Matthew 28:19-20), His
disciples were later baptizing everyone they could
get their hands on. Why would new converts need to be
baptized if they were "corporately" baptized with
Jesus? (Instead of creating a logical hole, I think
this fills one. If everyone died for His sins through
Jesus, then all would be saved. That is not
consistent with the rest of the Bible. Jesus' command
to baptize shows that the corporate model has an
"opt-in" feature. You died with Jesus when you
affirmatively accept Him as your Lord. You are
corporately baptized with Jesus when you accept
- Read Matthew 3:16-17. Who is involved in Jesus' baptism
(and, corporately, ours)? (God the Father and God the Holy
- Do you now understand why Jesus gave the instructions
He did for our baptism? (See Matthew 28:19. His
baptism and ours match perfectly.)
- The Tested Man
- Read Matthew 4:1-2. This immediately follows Jesus'
baptism. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into
- When you think of "spiritual highs" in your life,
where would you place the day of your baptism?
- What is the point of the fasting? (Read Esther 4:15-16. Esther agreed to be the champion of her people to
try to defeat Haman, who wanted to kill the Jews. To
prepare for this pivotal meeting with the King, she
- If you were a battle commander, would you choose the
place of battle or would you let your opponent choose
it? (I think these questions lead us to the
explanation for the odd statement that the Spirit led
Jesus into temptation. Braced by baptism and
fasting, Jesus is led by the Spirit into combat with
Satan. The Spirit picks the time, place and
circumstances for the battle.)
- Is there a lesson in this for us? (We need to prepare
against sin by guarding our thoughts. We need to
prepare against sin by knowing God's word. We need
to be led by the Holy Spirit. If we know a battle is
coming, we should prepare by fasting.)
- Read Matthew 4:3-4. Assume you are Satan and you want to
cause Jesus to sin. How much time and thought would you
put into crafting your opening temptation?
- Do you think that Satan is caught unprepared for this
battle? (Yes. They are now on Jesus' ground. Satan
uses what is there - hunger - to test Jesus on pride
and trust in God. It is hard to believe turning
stones into bread would be Satan's best approach.)
- How does this compare to the temptation of Eve and
Adam? (It was pride (be like God knowing good and
evil) and it was trusting God (God has kept something
good from you).)
- What does this teach us about our weaknesses? (It
tells us to beware of our pride and failing to trust
God. These are prime weapons used by Satan. If Satan
would use them against Jesus, he would certainly use
them against you.)
- Read Matthew 4:5-6. Jesus' answer to the bread temptation
is to refer to the Bible. Satan's next temptation relies
on the Bible. Has this temptation any parallel to
temptations in your life? Has it any parallel to the
temptation of Adam and Eve? (This is the opposite problem
- presumption. We go from not trusting God to presuming
that God will intervene to save us no matter what we do.
Adam and Eve presumed God would not do what He said.)
- Read Matthew 4:8-10. How serious a temptation do you think
this was for Jesus?
- What parallel is there to temptations in your life?
(Satan is offering Jesus a short-cut. He can avoid
all sorts of trouble and pain if He will just take
Satan's route. Our lessons are about righteousness
through Jesus, but we must never forget Jesus'
instruction in Matthew 5:48 that we must strive for
holiness - to be perfect as our heavenly Father is
perfect. The "short-cut" to holiness is Satan's third
temptation to Jesus.)
- Friend, you are incorporated into Jesus' baptism and His
death and resurrection when you opt into faith in Him.
Will you determine today to opt into Jesus' life - to
accept the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life
pleasing to God?
- Next week: Metaphors of Salvation.
* 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.