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Sabbath School Lessons on Evangelism and Witnessing
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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 11: Let the Church Know *
Introduction: When I was a very young adult, the Sabbath School
would start with reports. Reports on how many articles of clothing
had been given away, how many Bible studies given, how many studied
the Bible lesson each day, and how much money had been raised for
various causes. Then someone read a "mission report" about a mission
project. It was all deadly dull. The reporting never inspired much
in me, except guilt, if I was unable to raise my hand that I had
studied every day. Most members decided to skip the reporting and
sleep in a little longer. When the church gave me authority in the
matter, reports ended and the Sabbath School was devoted exclusively
to study and discussion of the Bible. My experience as a youth gave
me a bias against reports. What role did reports play in the early
church? What role should they play today? Does the nature of the
report matter? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!
- Reports and Praises
- Read Acts 4:1-4. How successful is the evangelism of
Peter and John? ("Many believed!")
- Why do you think the text specifically mentions the
Sadducees? (Read Acts 23:8. The Sadducees did not
believe in the resurrection. The disciples were not
only teaching heresy, but they were saying
specifically that Jesus had been resurrected!)
- Read Acts 4:5-7. Had Annas or Caiaphas gone to law
school? (Apparently not! You ask only leading questions
of hostile witnesses. A good leading question suggests
the answer and is susceptible to a yes or no answer. If
you want to get hurt in a trial, ask a question like they
did of a hostile witness!)
- How would you have asked the question if you were a
Sadducee? ("Have you been teaching the resurrection
heresy?" Followed by, "Is Satan the author of
- I enjoy poking fun at the incompetence of the
religious leaders, but how serious a matter was this
hearing? (Peter and John know that Jesus got killed
in a very similar situation. I would have been
sweating, not smirking had I been there.)
- Read Acts 4:8-10. Who is the best legal coach in the
universe? (The Holy Spirit! This answer (which is really
two leading questions followed by the answer) gives me
great pleasure: "Are we on trial for being kind? Was our
healing of a disabled person the reason for our arrest?)
- What evidence of Jesus' resurrection did the
disciples give? (They reported that the power of the
resurrected Jesus healed this fellow. This fellow is
evidence of the healing, and the healing is evidence
of the resurrection. Perfect.)
- Have Peter and John give a report to the Sanhedrin?
- What does this teach us about reports? (It is
composed by the inspiration of God, it is a
report about the activities of God, and it is
very carefully crafted.)
- Read Acts 4:13-16. The Sadducees got "out-lawyered" by
uneducated men! What does this teach about the power of
the Holy Spirit in our life? (He changes the odds. Never
feel that you are unable to witness (or report) to those
more educated than you.)
- Read Acts 4:21-22. How can you tell who lost this
encounter? (Those who lose an argument resort to threats.
Violence is the result of an inability to persuade.)
- Read Acts 4:23. This is quite a report! On what were the
- Other than the level of excitement, how does this
differ from the Sabbath School reports of my youth?
(Those were reports on what humans had done. This
is a report of what God has done.)
- We have a praise and worship period in our church.
You probably have one too. What kind of reports do
you hear? Reports of what God has done or reports
of what humans have done?
- Read Acts 4:24. How did the people respond to the report?
(They praised God! Notice the link. When people report
what they have done, they are looking for praise. I think
this is inappropriate in church. But, when you report
what God has done, then the people praise God.)
- Read Acts 4:25-26. What point are the people making in
response to this report? (The Great God in Heaven will
frustrate all of the evil and feeble efforts of humans.
Reports of human activity is a waste of time because we
"plot in vain." We need reports of what God is doing
through His people.)
- Reports and Ministry
- Read Acts 21:17-18. What doe James and "all the elders
present" represent? (This is the leadership of the
Jerusalem church. These are the leaders at
- Read Acts 21:19. Notice a variation here. Paul reports
"what God had done," but he also included "his ministry."
Is that acceptable? (Every report needs a context. Paul
is still reporting on what God has done.)
- Read Acts 21:20. How do the leaders react? (They praised
God. This gives us further proof of the focus of Paul's
- Reporting Strategies
- Read Acts 21:20-21. Are these reports true? (Read
Galatians 5:1-6. It is certainly true Paul taught
Christians that they did not need to be circumcised!
Whether he also taught the Jews this is not clear to me -
although the breadth of his argument ("every man who lets
himself be circumcised")makes me believe he did. Of
course, Paul himself is a Jew.)
- Read Acts 21:22. How about saying, "Yes, Paul is here
and, yes, he has been preaching against circumcision?"
- Read Acts 21:23-26. How can Paul create "report" that
seems misleading? How can Paul suggest there is "no
truth" to the reports about turning away from Moses?
- Why is Paul suggesting that anything connected with
the temple (post Jesus' resurrection) can "purify" a
- Read Acts 16:1-3, Romans 14:19-22 and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. What does this suggest that Paul is doing? (Notice
two things. First, Acts 21:25 acknowledges the limits on
what is required of the Gentiles. So, there is no
misrepresentation about that critical issue. As to what
Paul does, his goal is to avoid offending others. He
wants to minimize conflicts within the body of
- What additional lesson does this teach us about
reports? (That we don't need to tell everything that
- Should we can "slant" a report if we know that some
aspects of it will cause distress among some of the
- Read Numbers 13:17-20. Moses and God's people are at the
border of Canaan - the land promised to them by God. What
do you think was Moses' intention in sending out the
spies? (To get back an encouraging report! To excite the
people about what lay ahead of them.)
- Read Numbers 13:26-29. If these guys were guided by Paul
(or at least the leaders in Jerusalem), how would the
report have been different? (They would have glossed over
the "giants" part.)
- Read Numbers 13:30. How does Caleb approach reporting?
(He gives the positive, faith-affirming report.)
- Read Numbers 13:31-33. What is missing from their prior
report? (The positive aspects of what they saw!)
- Would Paul and Caleb have disagreed on how the report
should be given? (Paul clearly believed in minimizing
conflict. Thus, Caleb would have written the "Let's go
get them, God is with us part of the report. Paul would
have made sure that the report was crafted to maximize
the number who would want to follow God.)
- Read Numbers 14:1-3. What is the result of the negative
report? (A negative reaction of the people.)
- I'm reading a book entitled "Thinking, Fast and
Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, and it discusses
"priming." Something that we see or hear "primes"
(meaning influences) our decision-making without us
even consciously thinking about it. What does this
suggest to report writers? (That we have a great
ability to influence the decision-making of those
who read our reports. That creates a very big
responsibility to write positive, uplifting, God-centered reports.)
- Friend, you make formal and informal reports all the
time. Will you commit today to give God the praise, to
try to make a positive impact, and to avoid unnecessary
- Next week: Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism.
* Copr. 2012, 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.