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Sabbath School Lessons on The Forgiven
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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 39 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 1: God and Forgiveness *
Introduction: We are starting a new twelve-week study on the topic of
forgiveness. What does it mean to be forgiven? What are the steps to
forgiveness? How much will God forgive? Can we leave guilt behind?
How important is our obligation to forgive others? We have a great
deal to learn about forgiveness, so let's dive into the Bible this
week and see what we can learn!
- The Confession Key
- Read 1 John 1:8-10. Who needs to confess sin? (Everyone)
- To whom do we confess our sins?
- What is the reason for confessing?
- Are our sins a secret from God? Are they a
secret from us?
- If God knows our sins and we know our sins, what
is the point of confessing?
- Read Luke 13:1-5. Why did the Galileans, who were killed
while presenting sacrifices to God, die?
- Why did the 18 who died in the tower of Siloam
- Did these two groups die because they were sinning
and God withdrew His protection from them?
- What is Jesus' point in mentioning these two stories?
(That we will all die. The question is whether we
will perish eternally. Jesus is telling us that we
cannot look on those who are suffering or who die and
conclude that this happened to them (and not me,
thankfully) because I am a better person. The
question for all of us is whether we are ready to die
at any time.)
- What is the antidote to eternal death? (Repentance
- 1 John 1 told us to confess. Luke 13 tells us to repent.
What is the relationship, if any, between confessing our
sins and repentance? (I think they are pretty much the
- Remember, we started out asking why we should confess our
sins when both we and God know about our sins already?
What do these verses in Luke 13 suggest are the reasons to
confess sin? (To avoid eternal death.)
- Let's continue on in Luke 13. Read Luke 13:6-9. How does
this parable have anything to do with Jesus' statements
about repentance? Or, did this vineyard story just pop
into Jesus' head and it has nothing to do with repentance?
(I find that proximate sections of the gospels are almost
always related to each other.)
- If you agree that the vineyard story is related to
Jesus' statements about repentance, is Jesus saying
that repentance is a "fruit?"
- Read Galatians 5:22-24. Here is a list of the fruits
of the spirit. Would repentance fit in this
list?(Verse 24 is particularly instructive. It tells
us that "crucif[ying] the sinful nature" is the
result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our
lives. The first fruit of the Spirit, the first step
to crucifying our sinful nature, is to acknowledge
the sin in our life. This is confession, this is
repentance. I think the vineyard story teaches us
that repentance is a fruit that God expects.)
- Go back and read 1 John 1:9 again. What is the key to
being forgiven and purified from sin? (Repentance and
confession of sin.)
- Is it that simple?
- How to Confess
- Read Luke 5:17-20. This turns what we just learned on its
head! Where is the confession? Where is the repentance?
How can Jesus say "your sins are forgiven" when there is
no record the paralyzed guy said anything?
- What does the Bible tell us is the reason why Jesus
forgave this fellow's sins? (Verse 20 is the key:
"When Jesus saw their faith....")
- Are repentance and confession really a matter of
faith? (We started out saying repentance and
confession are a fruit of the spirit. Thus, they
would logically be the first steps of faith.)
- Why did Jesus forgive the paralyzed guy's sins when
what he came for was a healing? (Do we know the man
came for a healing? The context suggests this, but
the Bible never says the man came to be healed as
opposed to coming to be forgiven. Since Jesus'
response suggests the man was more concerned about
his sins than his disability, we should accept Jesus'
understanding of the man's needs.)
- Is there a link between sin and sickness? Sin and
disability? (Read John 5:14 and John 9:2-3. The
perception of the people was that illness was
connected with sin. Jesus' admonition in John 5 and
His comment in John 9:3 teach us that illness can be
caused by sin, but need not be caused by sin.)
- If you were to look at the story of the paralyzed guy to
learn a lesson about how to confess, what lesson would you
find? (We must come to Jesus in faith. Turning to Jesus
for help is the first step in repentance and confession.)
- Notice in this story that the paralyzed guy had helpers -
helpers who also had faith in Jesus. What role do helpers
play in the repentance and confession of sin?
- The Extent of Forgiveness
- Read Matthew 18:23-25. How much was this debt? (The bottom
line is that it was worth more than everything the man had
- including his family. Apparently, this debt was in the
millions of dollars.)
- Read Matthew 18:26. Do you think this was a realistic
offer? The debt was about 12 million dollars. (I doubt
this fellow had a realistic expectation that he could
raise the money.)
- Read Matthew 18:27. Why did the master cancel the debt and
let this man and his family go free?
- Read Matthew 18:28-31. The amount of the fellow servant's
debt was a few dollars. What was the reaction of the other
servants? What is your reaction?
- Read Matthew 18:32-35. What happened to the family of the
big-debt guy? (Interestingly, they are not mentioned. This
is a penalty against the unforgiving fellow alone.)
- Why do you think Jesus mentions "torture?"
- Let's go back to what started this parable. Read Matthew
18:21-22. Is Peter being generous to offer to forgive
seven times? How many times have you forgiven someone for
the same thing? (Wiersbe's Expository Outlines reveals
that the Rabbis taught that forgiving three times was
enough. Peter is being generous.)
- If you were making the rules on your own, how many
times would you forgive? Let's assume that someone
borrows your car and then puts a dent in it. If this
happened three times, would you still keep lending
the car to this person? What if it happened seven
- Go back to Matthew 18:31. You just told me that you
would not let someone repeatedly take your car and
dent it up. Why does Jesus add to His parable the
reaction of the fellow servants to what has happened?
(Jesus is teaching us that what He requires is fair.
You were thinking it was unfair to keep letting
someone dent up your car. If we fully understand
Jesus' teachings on forgiveness, it will seem fair to
- In the "denting up your car repeatedly
question," what addition to the facts would
cause you to say it was fair to let someone
repeatedly dent up your car? (If the additional
factual background was that you had repeatedly
dented up someone else's car. In that context
forgiving someone who repeatedly dented your car
would seem fair.)
- What, then, is fair about forgiving someone 77
times? (Whatever someone asks us to forgive of
them, Jesus has forgiven us more than that -
- What is the "good news" in that? (Jesus is
willing to forgive us beyond our imagination.
The difference between millions of dollars and a
few dollars is the proper characterization
between what we are asked to forgive of others
and what Jesus has forgiven us.)
- Read Romans 5:20-21. This tells us that grace increases to
cover whatever sins we need to have forgiven.
- Let's assume that you have led a good life. A terrible
person comes, kidnaps your only child from your home, and
then kills your child. You have never killed anyone in
your life. Are you required to forgive the killer of your
child according to the principles we have just learned?
- Are you being required to forgive more than you have
been forgiven, since you have never done anything
like this? (Actually, you have done something very
similar. Your sins are sufficient to kill the only
Son of God - Jesus. Jesus has it right when He says
that God has forgiven us beyond what we can imagine.
This is the reason why Jesus mentions in the parable
that the fellow servants thought it unfair that the
servant had not been forgiving. Our obligation to
forgive will seem fair when seen in the proper
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. What does "keeps no records of
wrongs" suggest about forgiving 77 times? (True
forgiveness is not counting. The number 77 just means you
- Friend, God offers you forgiveness and expects you to
forgive others in return. Is there someone that you need
to forgive? Why not go to that person today?
- Next Week: Forgiveness in the Hebrew Bible.
* Copr. 2003, 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.