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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 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 11: Benefits of Christ's Atoning Sacrifice *
Introduction: Last week we ended our study with Jesus' final words
"It is finished" ( John 19:30). What was finished? Was Jesus
completely through with humanity? Had He done all that was necessary
to reconcile us to the Father? There is some debate among Christians
about what Jesus is doing right now. Did all of the benefits of
Jesus' sacrifice come into place at the cross? Are the benefits
still coming? We have previously studied the idea that Jesus is now
acting as our High Priest in heaven, but there are certain technical
problems with that idea. Plus, there is the belief that when Jesus
was "finished," the Holy Spirit took over His work in an expanded
way. Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and find out what
Jesus is doing, if anything, for us right now!
- A Better High Priest
- Read Hebrews 7:11-14. Could any young man in Israel who
wanted to grow up to be a priest become a priest? (No.
Read Deuteronomy 10:8-9 and Numbers 3:10. Only the tribe
of Levi ministered in the temple. Aaron and his sons (who
were Levites) were the priests.)
- Hebrews 7:14 points out that Jesus came from the tribe of
Judah. If not everyone can just choose to be a priest,
they have to have the right lineage, how can we claim that
Jesus is now our High Priest? We have been studying how
the Old Testament sanctuary service was a prophecy which
was fulfilled in Jesus. Does this show we have a logical
- Since Jesus had such a miraculous birth, why didn't
God arrange for Him to be born of a descendant of
- Read Hebrews 7:1-3. What two positions were held by
Melchizedek? (He was both a priest and a king.)
- Read Hebrews 7:4-9. Why does the writer of Hebrews get
into this discussion of Melchizedek, Abraham and the
Levites? (Hebrews argues that there is precedent for Jesus
being both our High Priest and our King in Melchizedek.
Melchizedek can be argued to be greater than Abraham and
the Levites because they paid (directly or indirectly) a
tithe to Melchizedek.)
- If Jesus is supposed to be more like Melchizedek than like
Aaron, if he is the pattern, why do we know so little
about Melchizedek? Why wasn't the sanctuary system
modeled around Melchizedek? (Read again Hebrews 7:3. Aaron
is a person like we are. Melchizedek is a special,
mysterious king. He is without a known beginning or end.
He is a much better precedent for our Lord. Indeed, this
is the most powerful reason why Jesus was not born from
the line of the Levites and Aaron - He was much superior.)
- Who declared that Jesus was like Melchizedek? (Read
Hebrews 5:4-6. It says this authority came straight from
- Where did the writer of Hebrews get this statement?
This seems to be a quote. What is he quoting? (Read
Psalms 110:2-4. This is an Old Testament prophecy
- The Law Change
- Re-read Hebrews 7:11-12. I asked previously why Jesus did
not come from the line of Aaron. These verses add another
reason. They say a changed priest means a changed law.
How was the law changed? (Read Hebrews 7:17-19. The old
system was "weak and useless" - it did not allow us to
become perfect. We now have a better way to "draw near to
- Does this mean the old law was completely thrown out
the window? (No. We still have the "priest/sanctuary"
system, it is just much improved. Hebrews argues that
Jesus' authority has a precedent in Melchizedek and
His work has its precedents in the Levitical
- Read Hebrews 7:23-26. How has Jesus improved the old
- Read Hebrews 8:1-2. This gets to the heart of the question
about what, if anything, Jesus is doing for us right now.
What is He doing? (He is "serving" in the heavenly
sanctuary on our behalf. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus
"always lives to intercede [for us].")
- Read Hebrews 2:17-18 and Hebrews 4:14-16. What other
advantage do we have with Jesus as our High Priest in
heaven? (He understands our temptations and our
- Wouldn't Aaron be a better choice for understanding
us since he was a sinner like us? (One night this
week I was at a Bible study which examined the story
of Balaam (Numbers 22-24). In many ways this is a
very humorous story about a prophet who struggled
(unsuccessfully) with greed and pride. I'm sure that
every one of us in that group struggles with these
same issues, but we were shaking our heads about
dopey Balaam. Being a sinner does not always make us
- The Holy Spirit
- Read John 16:7-8. Jesus is speaking to His disciples.
Jesus says the "Counselor" will not come unless Jesus
goes, who is this Counselor? I get referred to as
"counselor" from time to time. Is Jesus referring to His
lawyer? (Read John 14:16-17. Jesus calls this "Counsellor"
"the Spirit of Truth." This is the Holy Spirit, the third
element of the Trinity.)
- Read John 16:8-11. What benefit do we get from having the
Holy Spirit with us? (The Spirit convicts us of sin and
guilt, He assures us of our righteousness through Jesus,
and He reminds us that Jesus defeated Satan, and thus the
world is headed towards judgment.)
- Some people argue that the law was done away with at
the cross. Some people say that guilt is bad. Some
people deny the judgment side of God. Are these
people filled with the Holy Spirit? (How can they be?
They deny the principal work of the Holy Spirit.)
- Read John 16:12-15. What link do we find between our
risen Lord and the Holy Spirit? (Jesus explains that the
Holy Spirit continues Jesus' work. The "baton" is passed
on to another element of the Trinity.)
- What other work does the Holy Spirit have? (He guides
us into truth, He brings glory to Jesus by making
Jesus' glory known to us.)
- Why is this something that the disciples could not
then "bear?" What is so burdensome about truth?
(Recall that this statement was made before the
cross. The whole new system was something that the
disciples did not foresee. They thought Jesus was
going to be Master of the current system - and the
King of Israel.)
- Read Romans 8:1-4. What is the "law of the Spirit of life"
and does it have anything to do with the Holy Spirit?
(Yes. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law. He
lived the perfect life so that the requirements of the law
might be "fully met in us." But this has the condition
that we live in accord with the Spirit.)
- Can you see now the link between the current High
Priest work of Jesus in heaven and the work of the
Holy Spirit on earth under the new system of law?
- How important is it to live with the Holy Spirit
guiding us? (Read Romans 8:5-8. If we live a life
controlled by our sinful nature, we cannot please
God. Read Romans 8:9. If we do not have the Holy
Spirit we do not belong to Jesus.)
- How do we know if we have the Holy Spirit? (Read Acts 1:4-5. We need baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is something
more than being baptized with water. Receiving the Holy
Spirit was critical for the mission of the disciples after
Jesus left for His ministry in heaven. It was the way in
which Jesus continued to work with them.)
- Read Acts 4:31. Has the Holy Spirit shaken you? Has it
shaken your church? If not, are you an outsider? Are you
outside Jesus' present work in heaven and earth?
- Friend, simply understanding what Jesus is doing in heaven
for us right now is not enough. We need to be in the
middle of what God is doing on earth right now through the
Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a benefit
of Jesus' atonement. What is going on now is the powerful
work of the Holy Spirit! If you have doubt that the
Spirit is working in you in power, please invite the
Spirit into your life right now.
- Next week: United to Christ.
* 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.