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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 9: The Church: Rites and Rituals *
Introduction: Confession time. Do you have fantasies about being
great, or beautiful or powerful? Over the decades that I've been
fighting in the courtrooms for religious liberty, I have this
recurrent fantasy of being some kind of modern day Roman warrior -
battling the bad guys. Of course, my muscles are small, I'm not wild
about blood, and if you came at me with a sword, I'd likely run the
other way. As I get older, the muscle situation is not improving.
Some of my ancestors actually had "Running" as their last name! One
of the customs of Roman warriors is to tap their chest over their
heart with a closed fist as a symbol of loyalty to Rome. More than
once I've done that as an act of loyalty to God. Instead of silly
fantasies, does God have real symbols of loyalty to Him? Do God's
symbols make sense? What does the Bible reveal about this? Bible
study warriors, let's charge forward and see what we can find in our
study of this topic!
- Read Mark 16:15-16. These are some of Jesus' last words to
His disciples. What is the path to salvation? (To believe
and be baptized.)
- What is the logic behind the act of baptism? Why
should it be a sign of loyalty and belief?
- Read 2 Kings 5:1. What relationship does Naaman have to
God? (God is working through him.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:2-3. Is Naaman the enemy of Israel? (Yes!
He is taking God's people as slaves.)
- What kind of attitude does the slave girl have
towards the man who holds her in slavery?
- Read 2 Kings 5:4-7. How did the King of Israel view
Naaman's medical condition? (It was a death sentence. "Can
I ... bring back to life?")
- Compare the King's attitude with the slave girl's
- Read 2 Kings 5:8-10. In what ways does this remind you of
baptism? (Baptism addresses a problem that is fatal.
Baptism is a kind of washing.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:11-12. What kind of objections does Naaman
raise? (Leprosy should be cured by magical power! If it is
cured by water, at least it should be clean water. This
makes no sense to Naaman.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:13. What counter logic do Naaman's servants
- Remember when we started out, I was talking about
Roman warriors and how they show allegiance? If
baptism is a symbol of our allegiance to God, should
we have the same kinds of objections as Naaman? (How
can water wash us of our sins? Sin is an "inside"
- Why would God use baptism, as opposed to some test of
loyalty, to be the gateway to salvation? (We see
grace everywhere if we just look. Naaman was a mighty
warrior. God told him to just wash. God didn't ask
for deeds. He didn't ask for money. He just asked
Naaman to put aside his logic and wash. Anyone who
trusted could wash. Washing was the cure for certain
- Read 2 Kings 5:14-15. What does God do for Naaman? (He
cleans him from leprosy - the rot of death.)
- Read 1 Peter 3:18-21. How is the flood like baptism? What
has this to do with Jesus' sacrifice?
- Peter tells us that baptism is not about "dirt," but
is a pledge. What does the flood teach us about this
"pledge?" (The pledge was a decision to enter the
ark. They chose to believe that destruction was
coming and God's plan was the only way to escape
- Read Colossians 2:9-14. Is the pledge in baptism one of
obedience, like that of a Roman warrior? (No. We take the
"pledge" in baptism, but it is God who makes us clean. He
nails our sins to the cross. He lives in us.)
- Read Romans 6:1-4. How does this pledge work? (We make a
decision to die to sin - to join in Jesus' death on the
cross. Jesus' death is our death for sin. We are to live a
- Read Romans 6:5-10. What other results follow from this
pledge? (Jesus' resurrection is our resurrection from
- Read Romans 6:11-14. Is this pledge something we continue
to make? (Yes. The New Testament does not speak of
multiple baptisms, but it tells us to "offer" our self to
God. Baptism is the pledge that we want to join in Jesus'
life, death and resurrection. Then we make a daily
decision to affirm that pledge by joining in the battle on
- Read 2 Kings 5:17. How does Naaman's pledge help us
to understand our baptismal pledge? (When we see what
God has done for us, the natural response is to say
"I will always serve You.")
- Read Matthew 28:18-20. Why is the Trinity at the heart of
baptism? (Because our pledge of fidelity is to the entire
Godhead. Because we want a relationship with all three.)
- Foot Washing
- Read John 13:3. Put yourself in Jesus' place. If you knew
this, how would you feel? (I would feel like celebrating!
Of course, knowing the cross was ahead would put a damper
on my emotions.)
- Read John 13:4-5. How is "so," the right transition word?
If you are the Master of the Universe, why is "therefore
He started washing feet" the logical conclusion? So, he
started cleaning toilets. So, he started raking leaves.
So, he carried out the trash.
- Read John 13:6-7. Are we in the same boat as Peter? This
does not make sense!
- Read John 13:12-16. Now, answer the "so" for me. How is
Jesus' understanding that He is the Master of the Universe
the logical foundation for "so He started washing feet?"
- How was Jesus about to become the Master of the
Universe? (By giving up His life for us. By dying in
our place. If Jesus' triumph was one of self-sacrifice, so our triumph must be the same.)
- Read John 13:14 and John 13:17. When most Christians
celebrate the Lord's Supper, they do not wash each others
feet. Should they? (Yes. Jesus tells us to do this. Just
as baptism is a symbol of our entry into the Kingdom of
Heaven, so foot-washing is a symbol of our commitment to
Christian service. We are blessed by this symbol of self-sacrifice.)
- Lord's Supper
- Read Matthew 26:19-20. Jesus directs His disciples to
prepare the Passover. What did the Passover celebrate?
(Read Exodus 12:5-7 and Exodus 12:12-14. Passover
celebrated an escape from a judgment of God.)
- What elements of grace do you find in Passover? (The
people had to follow the directions for preparing and
posting the blood, but escape from judgment had
nothing to do with whether the people in the house
were good or bad. God looked for the blood, God did
not evaluate the character of the people inside.)
- Why did Jesus direct His disciples to celebrate the
- Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. How are Passover and the
Lord's Supper linked? (Jesus used the Passover meal to
create a new ordinance. Instead of remembering that the
blood on the doorpost saved them from the judgment of God,
we now remember that the blood of Jesus shed for our sins
saves us from the judgment of God.)
- What common theme do you find in baptism, foot washing and
the Lord's supper? (They all celebrate God giving up
Himself for us.)
- Why does God want us to take the pledge of baptism,
wash feet and participate in the Lord's supper? (To
fix in our minds what Jesus has done for us and the
centrality of giving up ourselves for the benefit of
- Think about the sin that plagues you the most. What
part does selfishness play in it? (Lord, forgive me
for my selfishness! The pledge of the Roman warrior
was not so much about being strong and brave, it was
about something greater than the individual warrior.
The same is true for us.)
- Friend, will you take the pledge of loyalty to the Kingdom
of God? Will you confess the sin of selfishness and use
the reminders God has ordained to restrain your selfish
- Next week: The Law and the Gospel.
* 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.