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Lesson 10: Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change *

Introduction: We started this series of lessons with the warning that we are the church of the last days, the Laodicean church. Revelation 3:15-16 tells us that our church is "lukewarm," and God would rather it be hot or cold. If we are lukewarm, we are not willing to grow and change. What, exactly, does it mean to grow and change? What will motivate us to grow hot? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see if we can find the answers!

  1. The Sons

    1. Read 1 John 2:3-6. When we say that we need to grow, does it mean that we need to better obey God's commands?

    2. Read Luke 15:11-12. Why would a son ask for his portion of the estate before his father died? (He must have wanted to do something with the money that his father would not allow.)

      1. Did the son have a legal right to a portion while his father still lived? (No. His father owned the property.)

      2. What attitude does the son show towards the father?

      3. How do you think the father's friends viewed him after he had divided his property with his younger son?

    3. Read Luke 15:13. Now we know what the son had in mind with his share of the estate. Do you think the father knew what the son had in mind when he divided his property?

      1. If so, why did the father do it?

    4. Read Luke 15:14-16. How long did it take for the son to waste part of what it had taken his father a life-time to earn? ("Not long.")

      1. Why do you think the story tells us that the pigs were eating better than the son? (The son could not get much lower in life.)

    5. Read Luke 15:17-19. What caused the son to come to his senses? Common sense? Hunger? The Holy Spirit? Disaster?

      1. Thinking back to Laodicea, would you call the son "cold?" Thinking back to 1 John 2 would you call him disobedient?

      2. If the son had not faced disaster, would he have come to his senses?

      3. What part of the son's thinking shows that his change of heart was based on more than his stomach? (He acknowledges his sin.)

        1. What was the essential sin against the father? (The son did not trust the father to know what is best in life.)

    6. Read Luke 15:20. Why was the father filled with compassion? The son had greatly reduced his wealth and embarrassed him. The son no doubt looked terrible (pig ready), and might be coming back for more handouts. (The father loved him.)

    7. Read Luke 15:21-23. Was the son no longer worthy to be called "son?"

      1. What did the father think of the worthiness of his son? (He treated him as his son!)

    8. Read Luke 15:25-27. How would you have reacted if you were the older son?

    9. Read Luke 15:28-30. On what is the older son focused? (Himself.)

      1. Think back to Laodicea. Is this son cold or hot?

        1. Does he obey the commands as required by 1 John 2?

      2. Does the older son love the younger son?

      3. Does the older son know and trust the father? (He considers obedience to the father "slavery.")

      4. What is the father's attitude toward his older son? (Love. Just like for his younger son.)

    10. Think about the two sons. What is the same about both of them? (They were focused on self.)

      1. Did they know their father?

      2. How long had they been around their father?

      3. What did both sons fail to understand about their father? (That he wanted what was best for them. That he loved them.)

  2. Knowing God

    1. Let's revisit a challenging story that we have previously examined in this series of lessons. Read Matthew 7:21-23. We previously concluded that these miracles were done by the power of God, because Jesus tells us that Satan will not drive out demons ( Luke 11:17-19). What is the problem with these miracle-working Christians? (They never knew Jesus so that they failed to do His will.)

      1. How would you compare them to the older son in the story of the two sons? (They are precisely like him. They are followers of God. They work in the name of God. They do the deeds God requests.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 13:3. Would you say that this person is saved?

      1. Is there any possibility that this person who gave away everything, including his life, was doing it for selfish reasons? (That seems impossible. How can a selfish person give up his own life?)

      2. What is the ingredient missing from the 1 Corinthians 13:3 person, the older son and the younger son? (They all fail to understand the importance of love for others, and the fact that the Father loves them and has their best interests in mind.)

    3. Re-read 1 John 2:3-6. Didn't the older son completely obey the Father? If so, these verses say that he loved his Father, right?

      1. What two key words do we find here? (Knowing God and love. Where the older son failed to do was know his Father. What the miracle workers failed to do was to know God. What the self-sacrificing person failed to have was love.)

      2. If these obedient people did not know God and the disobedient people (the son who left) do not know God, what does it mean to know God?

        1. What role does obedience play in knowing God? (If we know God, it is reflected in our obedience. But, obedience does not mean we know God.)

      3. Re-read 1 John 2:5-6. Is this also true for love? That obedience does not mean that we love, but loving God is revealed in obedience.)

  3. The Father

    1. In the story of the two sons, are we looking at a story about salvation or a story about growing?

      1. Does the fact that the two boys were "sons" mean that they were saved?

      2. If you say, "no," they are not saved simply because they are sons, at the end of the story, do you think the younger son is saved? What about the older son?

    2. Re-read Luke 15:20 and Luke 15:28. What do we learn about the father? (He pursues his sons!)

      1. What does this teach us about salvation? (God wants to give it to us. God pursues us.)

  4. Miracle Grow

    1. What do you think it means to "grow?" When we talk about growing in our Christian experience, (I'll ask again) does it mean to better obey? (No. It means to know God better. Obedience flows from knowing and loving God.)

    2. Read Philippians 2:12-13. When we are told to "work out your salvation," what does this mean?

      1. What is our work?

      2. How do our works impact our salvation? (Verse 13 is the key. We must have the Holy Spirit living in us. For it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the will to obey and the attitude of love. It is all the gift of God. However, we have the "work" of choosing to have the Holy Spirit live in us.)

      3. How should the two sons have followed this advice? (Instead of being focused on self, they should have said "What will please my father? What would my father have me do?")

        1. Is that heavy lifting with a God who pursues you?

        2. Is that what righteousness by faith means?

    3. Friend, are you lukewarm? Why not today and every day invite the Holy Spirit to live in you to turn your focus on God?

  5. Next week: Reformation: Thinking New Thoughts.

* Copr. 2013, 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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