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Sabbath School Lessons on Discipleship
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 12: The Harvest and the Harvesters *
Introduction: In Matthew 9:37 Jesus said to His disciples, "The
harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Since Jesus is
talking about harvesting souls for the Kingdom of Heaven, I would
add, "and skilled workers are even fewer." I have the handle of an
old scythe in my garage. Scythes are hand tools for harvesting wheat.
They have a long, curved handle, and a long, narrow blade fastened at
a right angle to the end of the handle. I've got an idea about how it
works, but it would take on-the-job training for me to use it
properly. What about harvesting souls? How do we become a skilled
worker at that critical task? Let's plunge into our study of the
Bible and see what we can learn!
- Trial Run
- Read Mark 6:7. How many of you served an internship for
your current job? Is that what we are seeing here, on-the-job training? (Yes. Jesus decides that before He returns
to heaven, He will give the disciples a practice run, or
internship, for their ultimate harvesting mission.)
- Consider the first two things that Jesus does. Why do
you think Jesus sent them out in pairs?
- Why do you think that the second thing He did was
give them authority over evil spirits?
- Read Ephesians 6:12. In our evangelistic work today,
do we underestimate the importance of spiritual
- Read Mark 6:8-9. When the children were small, we would
take vacation trips in our motor home. I believed in
taking spare equipment and parts. I thought this was
prudent preparation. Are the disciples unprepared? Why
would they lack even the essentials - like food and money?
- Is the idea to teach them true faith and dependence?
(Read Matthew 10:10. Matthew's version of this event
gives Jesus' reason - and He does not mention
increasing faith. Instead, Jesus says that those who
benefit from ministry should support it.)
- In the past I've had ministries ask me to contribute
to a fund so that they could accrue enough money to
"launch" the missionary. More recently, a ministry
asked me to contribute to the work of close friends.
Is this a flawed approach? Should those who directly
benefit from missionary work pay for it? (Read 1
Corinthians 9:6, 12 and 15. The principle is that
those who benefit should pay, but it is not a moral
issue to make them pay.)
- Read Mark 6:10. Why not keep a look-out for better
accommodations? (If you consider all of Jesus' directions,
they seem to point to an uncomplicated approach - don't be
weighed down by extra stuff and don't be searching around
for different places to stay. Focus on the mission of
sharing the gospel.)
- Read Mark 6:11. What lesson should we learn here that will
help us with our current evangelistic efforts? (We should
focus on those who want to hear what we have to say.)
- Those of you who have read my lessons for many years
may recall the struggle I had about my elderly
neighbors. I did all sorts of "works" for them, but
he did not want to discuss salvation with me, and at
one point his wife seemed hostile. When they had
trouble, they would call me to pray, but I never
converted either of them. I thought it was my
failure. What does this text suggest? (If some resist
the gospel, move on to the next person.)
- The Message
- Read Mark 6:12. Consider the disciples' message. Should
that be our message today?
- Read Matthew 3:1-2. John preached repentance for
Jesus was coming. When Jesus came He sent out his
disciples and they preached repentance. How do you
combine the message of repentance with having a
welcoming attitude towards sinners?
- Read Luke 5:29-30. The Pharisees wanted sinners to change
before they ate with them, but Jesus is eating with
sinners. What would you guess was the first thing that
Jesus said to the sinners? (I doubt it was "repent." More
probably, "Why don't we eat?")
- Read Luke 5:31-32. What is Jesus' message? (Repent!)
- As a practical matter, what do you think this means?
Exactly what should we say to people who come to our
church seeking truth?
- When we see something that the new people are
doing or wearing or eating that is inconsistent
with our view of what is right, should we call
them to repent of the doing, wearing or eating?
- Read Matthew 21:23 and Matthew 21:32. Who is Jesus
addressing? (The chief religious leaders. These are people
who believe in God and seem to have the doing, wearing and
eating requirements exactly right.)
- In this context, what is Jesus asking them to do in
Matthew 21:32? (Repent of their failure to believe in
Jesus. John was also preaching faith in Jesus.)
- When they refused to "repent" and accept the "way of
righteousness," what had they refused? (Grace!
Righteousness through faith in Jesus.)
- Now, let me ask you again, what is it we should be
telling our visitors about repentance? (They should
repent of sin, they should repent of believing in
righteousness through their own works, they should
accept righteousness through faith in Jesus!)
- If we tell visitors looking for truth that they
should stop doing, wearing or eating something to be
saved, who needs to repent? (The person suggesting
that salvation comes through doing, wearing or
- Read Matthew 21:28-30. This is the story that lead up to
the verses we just discussed. Which son did the will of
the father? (Read Matthew 21:31. Not the son who merely
said the right things, but the son who did the right
- Let's discuss this. Based on the verses connected to
this story, I suggested that church people who tell
visitors that they must stop doing, wearing or eating
something need to repent. This story says the son who
does the right thing is the one who pleases the
father. Was my suggestion wrong? (I trust not.
Instead, I think this shows us the two sides of
error. One side of error falls in the ditch of works
- that you must do or not do something to be entitled
to salvation. The other side of error falls in the
ditch of saying sin is fine. You need change nothing.
The path of truth is that you agree to accept Jesus
as your only source of salvation and turn your life
and your will over to Him.)
- Read Luke 24:46-49. What does this tell us is our message
to the world? (Repent and seek forgiveness of sin, and you
will have righteousness through Jesus' life, death and
- They have the message. Why wait? (The power, the
skill is promised. We turn to that next.)
- The Power
- Read Acts 16:6. If our goal is to share the good news
about Jesus, why would the Holy Spirit keep us from doing
good work? (The Holy Spirit was not keeping them from
preaching, He was simply directing where they should not
- Read Acts 16:7-10. Have you ever wondered if you should
share the gospel with a certain person? What kind of aid
can we expect from the Holy Spirit? (This story teaches us
that the Holy Spirit will lead us to people who want to
hear the gospel.)
- Read Acts 2:1-3. Why the wind, noise and fire? (Read Acts
2:4-6. It attracted a crowd. Consider how your church
attempts to bring seekers into the church.)
- Read Acts 2:7-12. If you had a church meeting, and you
wanted to share the gospel with people who spoke 15
different languages, how would you do it? (Recall that I
was blaming myself for not having the best gospel "pitch"
for my elderly neighbors? The task facing the disciples
was impossible - 15 (count them) different languages. But
the Holy Spirit resolved it all.)
- What does that teach us about how we should present
the gospel message? (It tells me that getting the
right "help" is the most important thing.)
- Friend, if you are not sharing the gospel message, will
you start today? Will you share with those who want to
hear the message? Will you share repentance and salvation
by grace alone? Will you pray that the Holy Spirit will
empower you with the right opportunities, words and
- Next week: The Cost of Discipleship.
* Copr. 2014, 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.