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Sabbath School Lessons on Teachings of Jesus
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 6: Growing in Christ *
Introduction: Recently, I was in a Bible study where the teacher kept
stressing that Christians are saved "from their sins" and not "in
their sins." What, exactly, does that mean? If it means that we are
not saved if we have sin in our life, then the statement is false. If
it means that someone who is saved by grace partners with the Holy
Spirit to live a life in accord with God's will, then the statement
is true. Our lesson this week is about becoming more like Jesus -
who lived a sinless life. Let's explore the Biblical view of being
saved from our sins!
- Night Interview
- Read John 3:1. What do we learn about Nicodemus? (That he
was a religious and political leader. I've read that some
ancient manuscripts indicate that the House of Nicodemus
was one of the wealthiest families.)
- Read John 3:2. Put yourself in Jesus' place. Would you be
insulted by what is being said and done? (Nicodemus comes
at night, thus suggesting that he does not want to be seen
with Jesus. He calls Jesus a "teacher," but does not
acknowledge Him as the Messiah.)
- Put yourself in Nicodemus' place. What logic is there
to your actions? (You want to know more about this
new teacher, but you do not want to appear to endorse
His claims - or harm your reputation. You carefully
built your reputation and you continue to be
- Read John 3:3. We just reviewed the "relationship" aspect
of this interview. What does Jesus' reply suggest about
His relationship concerns? (Jesus does not seem to care
about the relationship aspect of the discussion at all. He
gets straight to business.)
- How should Nicodemus understand what Jesus just said?
What is Jesus saying about Nicodemus? (Jesus tells
Nicodemus that Jesus knows more about having a right
relationship with God. He suggests that Nicodemus
does not have a proper understanding of how to have
the right relationship with God.)
- What warning does this suggest to us? (We might know
a lot about the Bible, but can still misunderstand
- Read John 3:4. How is Nicodemus taking Jesus' words? (I
think he is at least mildly insulted. His response is
certainly insulting - "everyone knows, Jesus, that what
you are saying is physically impossible.")
- How We Grow
- Read John 3:5-6. Jesus explains that being "born again" is
essential to salvation. Being born again is being "born of
water and the Spirit." How do you understand this? (Being
born of water is baptism. Being born of the Spirit is
having the Holy Spirit live in us.)
- Jesus says something that seems very odd, "Spirit
gives birth to spirit." What does this mean? (It
means that the Holy Spirit is giving birth to
something spiritual in our life. God is reproducing
Himself in us.)
- Read Romans 6:4. When Jesus says that we must be born
of water, He is talking about grace. Through baptism
we participate in Jesus' sacrificial death on our
behalf. When we rise from the waters of baptism, we
rise to a new life. How does this fit with the idea
of being born of the Spirit? (Part of our new life is
the Holy Spirit imparting God's nature in us. Helping
us to live a life of love, just as Jesus did.)
- In the introduction I mentioned the Bible teacher who
kept saying that we are "saved from our sins, not in
our sins." The potential problem is thinking that our
salvation depends on our works, and therefore whether
we are saved changes hour by hour and day by day
depending on what we do. Look again at John 3:5.
Jesus tells us that we must be born of both water and
the Spirit to be saved. Does this indicate that
becoming more like Jesus is required for our
- Read Romans 6:4-7. What does this teach us
about good works? (Our works do not save us,
but the point of Jesus' death on our behalf was
"so that the body of sin might be done away
with." God does not want us to be slaves to
sin. He has freed us from the penalty of sin
(which is death) and we need to live a life
free from the harm that sin does to us.)
- Let's get back to the discussion with Nicodemus. Read John
3:7. Is this a mild rebuke? (Yes. Jesus is not trying to
flatter Nicodemus. He is not trying to talk sweetly to
someone who could be a big financial supporter.)
- Read John 3:8. Does this mean that after we are born of
the Spirit, we don't know where we are going or where we
have been? (No. But, it tells us that the working of the
Holy Spirit in our life is mysterious. We know the Holy
Spirit exists and is present, just like we know the wind
is present, but explaining it is more difficult.)
- I want the Holy Spirit to act in powerful ways in my
life. What does this verse teach me about that? (The
extent of the power of the Holy Spirit is up to God.
There is an unpredictable aspect to the Holy Spirit.)
- Read John 3:9-11. Do you think that Nicodemus does not
really understand Jesus, or is Nicodemus saying this
because he does not want to understand? ("You people do
not accept our testimony" sounds like Nicodemus does not
want to understand.)
- Read John 3:12-15. Jesus has challenged and insulted
Nicodemus. Is Jesus just making debater's points or does
He seek to convert Nicodemus? (Jesus clearly states that
He is from heaven. He clearly states that He is the key to
eternal life. The fact that Jesus tells Nicodemus how He
will die shows that Jesus wants to convert Nicodemus.)
- Read John 3:16-18. Do you think that Nicodemus is a good
man? (I think so.)
- If I'm right, why does Jesus make this statement?
(Good works do not save us. Rather, "whoever believes
in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." As
verse 18 teaches us, good people, like Nicodemus,
will stand condemned if they do not accept Jesus.)
- Read John 3:19-21. Is Jesus making a statement about their
night meeting? (Perhaps!)
- Who is the "Light [which] has come into the world?"
(Jesus is the light. But, note the close connection
between coming into the light of Jesus and our deeds.
We cannot love light and want to live in darkness.)
- Our Daily Cross
- Read Luke 9:22-23. The disciples did not know when Jesus
spoke these words that Jesus would be killed on the cross.
Does this mean that we must suffer every day? (Read
Galatians 5:22. Suffering every day is inconsistent with
living a life of joy and peace.)
- Read Luke 9:24-25. What does this suggest Jesus means
about us taking up our cross daily? Jesus is still talking
about life and death.(Jesus is talking about a mental
attitude. Either we put our life first or we put the
Kingdom of God first. Either we live to benefit ourselves,
or we live to benefit others.)
- What does this teach us about works? (Works are a
natural result of grace. Jesus gave Himself up so
that we might have eternal life. That example governs
how we should live.)
- Is this an easy choice to make? (Re-read Luke 9:24-25. Jesus says that even if we choose to live for
self it does no good. Even the most selfish will die.
Even if we become the richest person in the world,
how does that compare to eternal life?)
- When Jesus says a person "must deny himself," is Jesus
talking about money? (Notice Jesus compares it with saving
our life and gaining the whole world. This covers much
more than money.)
- What do you think Jesus means if He is talking about
much more than money?
- Think about your favorite sin. If you turn away from
it are you denying yourself?
- Friend, we are not saved by our works, but a person saved
by grace experiences a new life in the Spirit. The Holy
Spirit living in us changes us so that we want to live in
the light, we want to deny self to bless others. Will you
ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in living a righteous
- Next week: The Son.
* 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.