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Lesson 13: Social Support: The Tie That Binds *

Introduction: More and more people in the United States these days are single. Most people find their entertainment in the Internet, television or video games. Right now you are using the Internet to study the Bible by yourself! Are we all loners? An uncle of mine, who died many years ago, was a minister in the Salvation Army. He used to tell me about the "old days" when the church was the social center of the community. Is this trend away from community, especially church community, a good or bad thing? Does it impact our health, spiritually or otherwise? Let's dive into the Bible and find out what it says about community!

  1. Helpers and Mates


    1. Read Genesis 2:18. Why is this true? Isn't God all the company that Adam would ever need?


      1. Knowing the end of the story, was this good advice from God? Wouldn't Adam have been saved a lot of grief if he had answered, "Lord, you are all I ever need?"


        1. Is there a lesson in this for us today? (An imperfect marriage is generally better than no marriage. Since we are all imperfect people, this is a real relief!)


          1. Or, are these two separate issues - the ideal for Adam and the facts that followed from poor decisions?


    2. Read Genesis 2:19-20. Talk about imperfect partners! Where were God and Adam first looking for a partner for Adam? (The text makes it appear that Adam was checking out all of the animals for a partner. "Elephant? No, hard to have eye to eye contact.")


      1. What kind of success did Adam have? (None. An animal was not a "suitable" partner for Adam.)


      2. Read Genesis 1:27. What does this suggest was the problem? (Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Animals were not.)


        1. Is there a lesson in this for community? (Television, Internet, video games and even pets do not provide the ideal community that God recommends.)


        2. Is there a lesson for us in this in terms of a spouse? (Imperfect is okay. Unsuitable is not.)


    3. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. What practical reason do we have for community?


      1. I don't need anyone to pick me up when I fall. I'll bet you can pick yourself up when you fall. How should we understand this text? (I think it means more than just stumbling. It suggests that when we "fall" in life, whenever we need help, a partner can help us out.)


    4. Read Ecclesiastes 4:11. If it is summer, or you live in a warm climate, is this what you want?


      1. Is this text limited to cold-weather advice? (It seems to have a deeper meaning. The individual energy of each person is multiplied so that the total is more than the sum of its parts.)


    5. Read Ecclesiastes 4:12. Wait a minute, three strands! Are we talking about marriage? (When we were discussing Adam and Eve, we were talking about marriage. See, Genesis 2:24. Ecclesiastes 4:12 is talking about a community greater than marriage.)


      1. Are friends like strands of a rope - the more you have the stronger the result? ( Ecclesiastes 4:12 refers to times of distress. "Overpowered" and "broken" suggest a struggle. In times of distress friends can help you through the difficulty. Going through a problem alone is difficult.)


        1. What about the saying "A friend in need is a pain in the neck?" (The original saying was "A friend in need is a friend indeed.")


    6. Read Galatians 6:1-2. What kind of burden are we to help carry? (This refers to burdens that arise from sin. This suggests that true friends not only help us in the unforeseen difficulties of life, but also help us when we have made a serious mistake.)


      1. What practical lesson does this teach us in choosing our friends? (You should chose friends who have a relationship with God.)


      2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18? What is the reason why Christian friends can give us better advice? (The "words" referred to here are the inspired words of God. There is a great deal of advice floating around. Most of it is bad advice that conflicts with the teachings of the Bible.)


    7. Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. Peter follows up his advice for marriage with this advice to the spiritual community. Is this your approach to dealing with fellow church members?


      1. What is at stake here? (Being blessed! This kind of attitude, these kind of practices, lead to being blessed.)


    8. Read 1 Peter 3:10-11. Is this advice for dealing with fellow church members? (The text starts out with "if you would like a good life." This is advice for living.)


      1. Would this advice help us with our social relationships? (This text suggests two things. First, that if we follow these practices our lives will be better. Second, it suggests a health benefit when it says "love life" and "see good days.")


        1. How many people do you know who have a terrible life because they seem to be constantly seeking to create trouble?


    9. Read 1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 and 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. After all of our discussion about the benefits of marriage, how should we understand this advice? (If you look at the entire chapter, the overall theme is that individual circumstances can change the advice that is it generally helpful to be married.)


      1. Read 1 Timothy 4:1-3. What does this teach us about the "bottom line" in marriage? (That it is wrong to teach individuals that they should never marry.)


  2. The Church


    1. Read Ephesians 4:11-13. Why do the members of the church have different jobs if they are supposed to be "reach unity?" (In 1 Corinthians 12, the Bible compares the church to a body. The church needs people to have different roles in order to have true unity - to make everything work smoothly.)


      1. What kind of unity is the goal of the church? ( Ephesians 4:13 tells us a unity of faith. A unity in understanding Jesus.)


    2. Read Ephesians 4:14. What is the danger of not being part of a spiritual community? (You may have strange ideas. You are open to being deceived. I can absolutely attest to that in my religious liberty cases. In any case where sincerity of religious belief is at issue, I have a rule of thumb to refuse to represent those who are not part of some local church community. This is based on my experiences with those who are not a part of a spiritual community.)


    3. Read Galatians 5:13-15. Do you want to serve? Or, do you want to be served? (Part of the Christian community is to serve one another. Some members of the church (just like some friends) think that the idea of service is that they should be served. If you are someone who serves others more than you are served, consider the blessings you have gotten from service.)


    4. Friend, have you made community a priority? If not, why not determine to do that today? It will improve your spiritual life and it is likely to improve your health.


  3. Next week: We begin a new study on Romans.
* Copr. 2010, 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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