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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 13: Atonement and Universal Harmony *
Introduction: What does the Bible say about the last chapters of
human life on this sinful planet? Where does the earthly sanctuary
service point us for the future? What does the Bible say about the
conclusion of what Jesus has done for us as both the sacrificial Lamb
and the High Priest? What is the standard for our final judgment?
Let's dive into our last study on this topic and find out!
- The Sanctuary's End
- Read Hebrews 9:24-28. After Jesus finishes His work in the
heavenly sanctuary, what will He do? (He will "appear a
second time," i.e.,return to earth.)
- How does this second coming of Jesus differ from the
first? (This time He is not bearing our sin for us,
He is coming to rescue us. He is coming to bring our
- Is Jesus bringing salvation for everyone? (No. Just
those who are waiting for Him.)
- Read Revelation 20:11-14. What are we seeing here? Is this
the sanctuary in heaven? Is the sanctuary descending to
earth? (Read Matthew 25:31-33. Jesus' mediation in heaven
as our High Priest has ended. This is the return to earth
spoken of in Hebrews 9:28. Jesus, on the judgment seat
( John 5:22-23), returns to earth as our King and our
Judge. The sanctuary in heaven is on the move towards our
- Let's look again at Revelation 20:11-14. Hebrews told
us that Jesus was coming to bring salvation. This
does not sound like salvation to me. How do you
explain this apparent conflict in what Jesus is
- Notice that there seem to be several sets of books.
How many books are there, and how many books are
devoted to life? (There seem to be two groups of
books. One group has multiple books. The other has
only one. Recall last week that we ended our
discussion with the "wages of sin." People earn their
destruction. The deeds of the wicked are recorded in
the group of multiple books. We don't know how many.
However, for the righteous there is just one book -
not a book of deeds, but simply a book recording
- What is destroyed in this final judgment? (Death
and Hell. There is a final end to death, Hell
and the wicked.)
- Read Revelation 20:15. What type of judgment takes place
with regard to those whose names are written in the book
of life? (It appears that the "judgment" for them is
simply whether or not their name appears.)
- How can that be? Why do the righteous simply have
their names recorded? (The mediation of our High
Priest in heaven has resulted in our sins being
covered by Jesus' blood. His perfect life is our
perfect life. There is no need to record our deeds
because our deeds are not the basis for our judgment.
Only the name is needed for those who have already
passed from death to life ( 1 John 3:14-15).)
- Is it safe to be judged by our deeds? (No. Those
are the people who are lost!)
- The U.S. Supreme Court building is very impressive. In
pre-terrorist days, I walked up the many broad steps in
front, through the huge outside columns, and into the
grand entrance hall. There, I gave my name to a person
just outside the big, bronze courtroom doors. They would
confirm my name was on the list of members and I would be
ushered to sit up front in the presence of the justices.
No one asked me whether I was a "good enough" lawyer to
sit in the presence of the Supreme Court. All they looked
for was my name. This is the closest thing in my
experience to the Revelation 20:15 admission to heaven.)
- An alternate reading of Revelation 20:11-15 is that
everyone - the lost and the saved - are judged according
to what they have done. As they are being judged the names
of the righteous are written in the book of life. Can you
square that reading with the sanctuary system we have been
discussing all quarter? When the sinner appeared with the
lamb at the sanctuary, did the forgiveness of sins depend
on the relative merits of the person's deeds? If so, why
did the lamb get killed as opposed to the person being
killed or punished? (The question then and now is the
same: whether you have the Lamb.)
- If the "judgment" of the righteous is not based on their
deeds, but only on whether their names are in the book of
life, on what basis is your name written? Does that
involve some sort of judgment? Let's look at a few texts
- Read Revelation 3:5 and Revelation 21:27. Do these
texts suggest that a simple declaration gets our name
written in the book of life?
- Read the words of our Lord in Matthew 25:31-40. What
happened to just having our names written in the book
of life? Isn't this clearly a judgment based on
- Where, in the Ten Commandments, are we told
about anything like this?
- Read what Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23. How do you
explain this text? Jesus says words are not enough
to have your name written in the book of life, but
then Jesus says these great works accounted for
- Read Jesus' words in Matthew 5:21-22. Have we not
gone from bad to worse? Now we not only get judged on
our works we get judged on our mental process! Is it
so hard to get our names written in the book of life?
- Let's go back and revisit a point we have studied
repeatedly this quarter. Read Romans 6:1-4. When, in
baptism, we died for our sins through Jesus, our name was
written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
- Read Romans 6:5-7 and Romans 6:11-18. Friend, let's see if
the parts of the puzzle can now fall into place. In the
sanctuary service, there never was a judgment based on the
deeds of the sinner. Everything was based on the lamb.
But, seeing that lamb die must have moved the heart of the
sinner. How much more should seeing Jesus die for us move
our hearts! This new attitude is the new self, the old
self has died. This is why in Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus tells
us that anger (an attitude), not murder (a work) is the
new standard for judgment. This is why in Matthew 25:31-36
Jesus talks about a judgment of the righteous based on
acts of kindness, not violations of the Ten Commandments.
This is why in Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says that knowing
Him, not good deeds, is the key to heaven.
- Read Matthew 22:36-40. Does Jesus' explanation now make
sense? The wicked face a judgment based on their works
under the law - their violation of the Ten Commandments.
Our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life based on
our acceptance of what Jesus has done for us in His works
of unbelievable love and sacrifice. Our names remain in
the book of life (see Revelation 3:5 about the possibility
of having your name blotted out) when we live in this
attitude of gratitude and love for what Jesus has done for
us. That transforms our attitude towards others! 1 John
3:14 tells us this love marks our passage from death to
- Can you decide today to start being loving? (No! How could
you ever grit your teeth and love? This is an impossible
- If you think about Jesus, and the love is not
happening, are you just lost? (Carefully review
Romans 8:1-17. The Holy Spirit is the key to this
transformation of our hearts. It is the key to
keeping our names written in the book of life.)
- The New Earth
- Read Revelation 21:1-3. What is the final destination of
God's throne? (The New Jerusalem, the throne of God come
down to the earth made new. God and saved humans now live
- Read Revelation 21:4. What is part of the "old order" and
what is the new order of things? (Tears, crying and
mourning are our reaction to pain and death. Pain and
death, and all that flows from them is gone under the new
- How can everything be so perfect when some people
entered heaven not because they had perfect deeds,
but because they had their name written in the book
of life? Might these be dangerous neighbors? (No. An
attitude of love is the key to the book of life.
Imagine living in a place where everyone loved you -
everyone had your best interests in mind!)
- Read Revelation 21:5-7. What else is a part of the new
order for those whose names are written in the book of
life? (You can continually drink from the spring of the
water of life. You inherit all things new. You have a
father-son relationship with Jesus!)
- Read Revelation 21:8. What is the alternative destination?
Look at this list. Why would God mention being "cowardly"
as a sin - the first sin, even? Why would it be mentioned
before those who are "vile?") (Barnes Notes suggests these
are the people who were afraid to be known as friends of
God in a wicked world.)
- Friend, do you have the courage to be baptized and have
your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life? Do you have
the courage to confess your sins to God and ask the Holy
Spirit to lead your life? Do you have the courage to
desire a loving nature? Do you have the courage to follow
Jesus? If so, I invite you to take that step and
contemplate the reward which lies ahead of you! Praise God
for this great opportunity? Praise Him for His amazing
grace and love!
- Next week: We begin a new series entitled "The Prophetic Gift."
* 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.