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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 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 3: Forgiveness and Repentance *
Introduction: Last week, the students at the boarding school, where
my daughter attends, put on a play. Although the students were very
good, I went more out of a sense of obligation than desire.
Obligation was rewarded, however, when one of my daughter's teachers,
Harlen Miller, started talking to me about forgiveness. "Have you,"
he asked, "ever thought about the word itself?" Well, I had not. My
handy electronic dictionary tells me it means "from" and "to give."
Forgiveness is a gift that God gives to us and we, in turn, can give
to others! What really catches, my attention, however, is the "for."
For can also mean "before" or "ahead." We see this in words such as
foretaste and forgone. Jesus gave us the gift of His sacrifice on our
behalf before we needed it. Let's explore how this forgiveness leads
us to repentance!
- The Link
- Read Romans 2:4. What leads you to repentance? (God's
kindness towards you.)
- Which kindness of God is meant here? (When we
consider what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross
on our behalf, that is the most remarkable kindness
we can imagine. When we add the thought that Jesus
did this to forgive us of our sins before we were
even born, that draws us to repent of our sins.)
- Read Matthew 9:9. What was Matthew's job?
- Was this a respected position? (No. Read Matthew
9:10-11. Tax collectors were in the same boat as
sinners in the public's opinion.)
- Do you think that Matthew realized what people
thought of him? (Of course. That is why the friends
who came to his home were tax collectors and others
of less than sterling reputation.)
- Why do you think Jesus called Matthew to be a
disciple? (The calling of Matthew gives hope to
all those who are looked down upon by those
- Our lesson (Tuesday) has this glorious reminder that our
sins, whatever they are, however serious they are, have
already been punished -- if we repent. When Jesus died on
the cross, in our place, He was punished for our sins.
This is a gift that is beyond our full comprehension. The
key to this, however, is repentance. We just discussed one
reason why Jesus would choose Matthew to be a disciple.
Are there any other reasons? (Yes. Those who are forgiven
more are likely to love more. (See Luke 7:47.) Matthew,
because of the extent of his forgiveness, was an excellent
choice to share what God has done for the most detested
- Read Matthew 9:12-13. What does Jesus mean when He says,
"I desire mercy and not sacrifice?"
- Let's work through this problem. First, what does
Jesus mean by "sacrifice?" (Jesus is quoting Hosea
6:6 where sacrifice clearly means the sin offerings
given in the temple. ("I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt
- Second, what does Jesus mean by mercy? (In Hosea 6:6
this is lined up with "acknowledgment of God." I
think Jesus is saying that we need to know God and
accept who He is.)
- What role does Jesus play in helping us to know
God? (Jesus came, in part, to reveal God to us.)
- What does the context of eating with sinners and tax
collectors add to our understanding of the "mercy,
not sacrifice" statement? (Jesus is telling us that
He wants our primary focus on addressing the sin
problem in life (the sin in our life and in others)
rather than the removal of sin later. It is just
like us saying to our children, "I want you to
concentrate on doing what is right, rather than
concentrating on saying you're sorry later.)
- How does this illustrate what God did for us in
forgiveness? (Jesus showed us that He loved us. Jesus
showed us how to live. He did these things before He
died on our behalf. Thus, even in His life and death
on earth, Jesus illustrated the forgiveness idea -
that He gave us an advance gift. The first gift of
showing us how to live and love others, and the
second gift of the atonement for our sins.)
- Who is being addressed in Matthew 9:13? Who is
supposed to show mercy rather than making sacrifices?
(This is us. We show mercy in two ways. We
acknowledge God in our life and attempt to live a
life that is pleasing to Him. In addition, we realize
that our task is to bring the message of forgiveness
to those who have not repented.)
- How do these verses in Matthew 9 affect our view of
sinners? (Instead of condemning them, we view them as
an opportunity to reveal Jesus' attitude.)
- The Choice
- Read 2 Peter 3:9. What attitude does God have towards
sinners? (He is not only patient, He wants the right
- What choices do we have? (If we do not repent, we
- Read 2 Peter 3:10-11. When do we have to make the choice
about repenting or perishing? (Immediately! The Lord can
come at any time, and will come unexpectedly. We need to
make the choice now.)
- Read Revelation 21:8. When the Bible speaks of perishing,
what does it mean? What is the consequence of rejecting or
- Why would a loving God do this? (He paid the penalty
for our sins. All we have to do is choose and keep
choosing to repent and walk with God. Consider all
that God (and we) have suffered at the hands of sin.
God will not let the sin problem continue. Sin and
sinners will perish by fire.)
- Our Attitude Towards Sin
- Read 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. What is the difference between
"Godly sorrow" and "worldly sorrow?" (One brings life and
the other brings death.)
- What is "Godly sorrow?" (It seems to be a real regret
for our sins.)
- Why does Godly sorrow bring life? (The lesson
(Thursday) tells us the Greek word for repentance
literally means "a change of mind." Godly sorrow
works a change in our attitude. We change our mind
about a certain sin in our life.)
- Does this sorrow have anything to do with the
forgiveness that Jesus gives us? (When we consider
how our sins caused Jesus' suffering, and we see how
our sins hurt us and others, it helps us to have this
change of mind we call repentance.)
- Look at the list of things in verse 11 that Godly
sorrow produces. What relationship do you see, if
any, between these attitudes and repentance?
- Consider 2 Corinthians 7:10 again. Do you regret some
things you have done in the past?
- How does this regret feel?
- Notice that verse 10 says that Godly sorrow leads to
repentance, which in turn leads to salvation, which
leaves no regret. How can this be? Why would you be
without regret? (My guess is that you have no regret
because you have learned from the mistake and it has
formed the basis for your repentance. Worldly sorrow,
however, does not produce a change in your attitude
or your life. The result is eternal death.)
- Friend, God offers us the gift of forgiveness. Would you
like to have a change in your attitude? A change that can
leave regret behind? If so, accept God's gift today!
- Next week: How Jesus Forgave
* 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.