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Sabbath School Lessons on Growing in 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 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 1: The Great Controversy: The Foundation *
Introduction: Welcome to a new series of studies that will give us a
better "big picture" understanding of our God. Often, Christians
intensely debate relatively unimportant things like what they should
eat or wear, or some small point of doctrine. If your life span is
shortened by twenty years because of your diet, that is terrible, but
not as terrible as missing out on eternal life. While I think we
should measure everything we do by the teachings of the Bible, having
a clear understanding on the big picture is our first order of
business. No one would begin studying how the body worked by
critically examining a finger nail. Let's start our examination of
the big picture by diving into our Bible and seeing what we can learn
about how sin entered our world!
- Read Genesis 2:15-16. The fruit of this tree was not
poison. Why would God create a tree that was off-limits to
Adam? What difference would it make what tree was the
source of Adam's food? (God was creating a test for
- Three questions: First, why create a test? Second, if
you are going to create a test, why make it about
trees and food? Why not structure a test about
loving God, doing some great deed, or rescuing an
- A large number of people disbelieve the Eden story.
If a human were making this up, is this the test a
human would create? (No. If you have ever read
fiction about humans being tested, it always involves
some grand challenge of human strength, intelligence
or skill. It is never about eating choices, unless
the fictional story is intended to parallel the
- Third question: When it comes to God's commands, is
it ever safe to say, "That doesn't make any sense?
Why would God care?"
- Read Genesis 3:1-3. How does the serpent (who is Satan,
see Revelation 12:9) know about the test?
- God set up the test, but Satan is participating in
the tree/fruit test. What does this tell us about
whether Satan thought the test was valid? (He seems
to have agreed that it is valid.)
- What do you think would have happened if Satan
disagreed with the validity of this test? (He would
not have used it. He would have argued that the test
did not give a fair opportunity for humans to choose
Satan over God.)
- What does Satan's knowledge of the test, the unusual
nature of this test, and the fact that Satan
apparently agreed that the test was valid suggest?
(It seems likely that if both agreed that this was
the way to test the loyalty of humans, that either
God set up a test that Satan thought was fair, or
Satan and God had extensive negotiations over the
nature of the test.)
- Read Genesis 3:4. What is the nature of Satan's
temptation? (This temptation is about trusting God.
Consider how a "what difference does it make?" test raises
the trust issue.)
- Look at this from Satan's point of view. What
disadvantages do you have with this test? (It is a
limited time, place, and subject test. Plus, the
humans have been specifically warned.)
- Why can't Satan approach the humans at any
time, in any place, and with any temptation?
- Notice that Satan both stated the command and asked
Eve to repeat what God said. Why would he do that if
he wanted Eve to eat the fruit? (Eating the fruit was
not the goal, showing that humans knowingly
distrusted and disobeyed God was the goal.)
- What does this test, and the way that Satan
approached this test, tell us about the nature of
temptation in our life? (God and Satan are in a
contest for our loyalty. They both care about the
outcome. God makes the final rules about the contest,
but they are subject to some sort of boundaries (see
Job 2:3-6). Satan is limited in the way that he can
bring temptation to us.)
- Read Revelation 12:7-8. Where did the dispute between God
and Satan begin? (In heaven.)
- In that dispute, did God have unfettered control over
Satan? (No. It was a contest. It was war, a pitched
- The creation account says in Genesis chapter 1
that God created the world and the heavens by
simply speaking. Since God has such
overwhelming power, how do you account for a
contested battle with Satan and his angels?
(Either Satan and his angels are that powerful,
or God limited the nature of the battle.)
- Let's imagine that China invaded the Republic
of Taiwan, because China takes the position
that Taiwan is part of China. The U.S.,
according to one web site I consulted, has
about 5,000 nuclear warheads and China has
about 240. Would the United States launch a
full-scale atomic weapons attack on China? Or,
would it more likely engage in a conventional
war to protect its ally? (The world would be
horrified if the U.S. destroyed China, killed
its people and made its land uninhabitable. In
addition, in such an exchange China might do
great damage to the U.S. This shows that even
humans would voluntarily limit the scope of a
battle. It seems logical that is what God did
in the heavenly battle against Satan and his
- Read Revelation 12:9. What penalty did God impose on Satan
and the rebelling angels? (Defeat and banishment.)
- The Aftermath
- Read Revelation 12:10-12. Both Satan, fallen angels and
humans have rebelled against God. How are the parties
aligned after this? (God and humans are aligned.)
- What is the bad news for humans? (Satan is in the
neighborhood, he is angry, on a deadline and he is
accusing and threatening us. We could lose our life
in the process.)
- What is the good news for humans? (We are not only
aligned with the winner of the battle, but we can
overcome Satan by the "blood of the Lamb" and the
word of our testimony.)
- Notice that Satan is described as "the accuser
of our brothers," and he does this constantly.
What accusation is he making? (I'll bet it has
to do with the fact that he and we have
- What is our defense against this accusation?
(The "blood of the Lamb!" This refers to Jesus'
life, death and resurrection on our behalf. It
refers to grace.)
- Notice that both the blood of the Lamb and the
"word of our testimony" are our weapons. What
does the "word of our testimony" mean?
(Remember that we are being accused and
threatened by Satan. The text reports that the
righteous did not make living their ultimate
goal. Our testimony must deal with these
issues: grace and self-denial.)
- Now that we have added important big picture information
from Revelation, let's go back to Genesis and look more
carefully at some of the details. Read Genesis 3:11-13. If
we are right about God negotiating with Satan the nature
of the test, how would you have reacted to the results if
you were God? (I would have been stunned that humans could
so easily be defeated by Satan. I would have been angry
with their pitiful defenses.)
- Was the test too hard? Are humans too stupid?
- God banished Satan and his angels. Did God treat Adam
and Eve differently?
- If so, why? (Adam and Eve did not attack God.
They failed God. They failed to trust Him.)
- Read Genesis 3:14-15. Now that humans have failed Him,
what is God's battle plan? Is it to give humans another
test? (It is more of a gift than a test. However, we do
have to choose.)
- Has God's battle plan anything to do with how easily
Satan defeated humans? (I think so. God says that in
the new conflict between humans and Satan, humans
will suffer, but Satan will die.)
- What does this teach us about God's attitude toward
us? (He has shown us great mercy! He places limits on
the attacks by Satan and his angels. Jesus did what
we could not do. He gives eternal life as a gift.)
- Friend, what is your testimony in light of this study
about how sin entered the world and what God did about it?
If you have not chosen a side in this controversy, will
you do it now? Will you be a winner or a loser?
- Next week: Revelation, and the God revealed in it.
* 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.