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Lesson 7: Jesus' Teaching and the Great Controversy *

Introduction: Have you given anything more than a superficial look at the "Great Controversy" idea? On the surface it is the battle between good and evil, between Jesus and Satan. Drill deeper. Isn't the great controversy about understanding the nature of God? Isn't that what the "controversy" is about? Our study this week suggests this. Let's jump into our Bible study and learn more!

  1. The Rock of Love

    1. Read Matthew 7:24-27. We all understand the problem with building a house near water on a foundation of sand. How does this point apply to our Christian life? (Jesus says a solid foundation for life is putting His words into practice.)

      1. Which words are those? (We need to explore the context because this seems very important.)

    2. Read Matthew 7:21-23. If I asked you, "Is it God's will that you prophesy, drive our demons and perform miracles," what would you say? (Yes!)

      1. If fact, doesn't your life fall short of those Christians who do these great things?

      2. If you could do just one of those things, would you think the Holy Spirit was with you in power?

      3. Let's contemplate this context a little bit. If the putting the words of Jesus into practice is not these powerful works, and putting the words of Jesus into practice is the key to a proper Christian foundation in life, what is "doing the will" of God? (Knowing God - or at least God knowing you.)

    3. I'm still having trouble sorting this out in my mind. Re-read Matthew 7:21 and Matthew 7:23. The first text speaks of doing God's will and the second text speaks of God knowing a person. What do you think "doing" God's will means as a practical matter? (It must be knowing God.)

      1. Is that what you are doing at this very moment when you study the Bible? (This is an important way to get to know God better.)

    4. We still need more context. Let's move further backward in this chapter. Read Matthew 7:7-8. Do you believe this promise?

    5. Read Matthew 7:9-12. Why does Jesus argue that we should believe that God will give us the good things for which we ask? (Jesus says even parents give their children good things. Think about your attitude toward your own children. That understates God's attitude toward you.)

      1. Remember that we started out learning that "doing" God's will was knowing God - or at least realizing that God knows us. How does the comparison of God to parents help us understand what it means to know God? (I think I get it! The solid foundation for a Christian life is knowing that God loves you and gives you good gifts. It is not performing great deeds. Jesus says those great acts do not show that a person knows God as a loving parent.)

    6. Read Matthew 7:15-20. Against what is Jesus warning us? (False prophets. People who appear to be servants of God but whose teaching and life do not reflect that fact.)

      1. Given what we just learned, what kind of teaching and life are "good fruit?" (A ministry that promotes the picture of a loving God whose attitude is the same toward us as loving parents have toward their children!)

    7. Since we are walking backwards through this chapter, lets read Matthew 7:1-5. Why should we avoid being judgmental? (We are judged by our own standard.)

      1. Why is this true? What does it have to do with knowing God? (If God's attitude toward us is the same as a loving parent, then a judgmental attitude misrepresents God. It is like the false teacher who produces bad fruit. If we know that God is like a loving parent, then we will not focus on the "speck of sawdust" in the eye of our fellow church member. How many loving parents focus on the positive aspects of their children rather than the negative? Loving parents are positive.)

  2. The Yoke of Love

    1. Read Matthew 11:27. We just decided that the solid foundation for our life in Christ is knowing God and understanding His loving concern about us. How hard is it to understand this? (This text says God's nature is only revealed to those "to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.")

      1. Should we be surprised that most people view God as being harsh, and misunderstand what is most important in the life of a Christian?

    2. Read Matthew 11:28. What is the nature of this burden? (The Bible does not say. But it seems to be the burdens of life. Perhaps it is also the burden of not understanding God's will for your life, not having a solid foundation.)

    3. Read Matthew 11:29. Would you like to wear a yoke? (A yoke combines the efforts of two oxen to make it easier to pull a cart.)

      1. Is any cart mentioned here? (We discussed having a "burden.")

      2. This yoke provides rest. How can that be? (I think Jesus is teaching us that He helps pull us along through our problems in life. This gives us "rest" from trying to do it alone. Jesus holds out a hand for us to grasp.)

    4. Read Matthew 11:30. Is this a different burden than the burden spoken about in Matthew 11:28? (It must be. The earlier burden makes us weary. We need rest from it. But, the later burden is "light.")

      1. Why is the second burden so much easier? (We are teamed with Jesus.)

      2. Let's go back to what we learned: God's attitude toward us is like our attitude toward our children. Would good parents do everything for their children? (No. The child will not learn if the parent does everything. The mental picture of a "yoke" is that Jesus works with us to deal with the problems of life.)

  3. Mercy

    1. Read Matthew 12:1-2. Why did the disciples pick and eat grain on the Sabbath? (Because they were hungry.)

      1. Are the Pharisees being judgmental? Re-read Matthew 7:1-3. (Yes.)

    2. Read Matthew 12:3-4. Why would Jesus use an example which He admits is "not lawful?" (Isn't this the perfect illustration of God's attitude as a loving parent lifting a burden from His children? David and his men are hungry. Jesus' disciples are hungry. Jesus says I'm putting the needs of my followers before the rules.)

      1. At this point you might be getting concerned about the rules. The rule in question was working on Sabbath ( Exodus 20:10). Why didn't Jesus say, "What my disciples are doing is not work?" Why did He seem to admit it was work and argue instead, "David did it!"

    3. Read Matthew 12:7-8. I don't think we should stop with "David did it." What is the real reason Jesus says this is appropriate? (Because it shows mercy. God's rules are for our benefit. Because the Pharisees did not know God, because they did not understand the love of God, they preferred the rule over mercy. Jesus says "I desire mercy, not sacrifice.")

      1. Does this mean that "love trumps rules?" If so, why did God give us the rules? (We begin to better understand God now. The purpose of the rules is to improve our lives. Normally, the following God's rule is the best way to enjoy a life free from unnecessary problems. But, there are times when the rule conflicts with the love a parent would show to a child.)

      2. Notice that Jesus says, I am "Lord of the Sabbath." What does that mean? (It means that Jesus gets to say how the rule should be applied.)

        1. Are we authorized to say, "Get rid of that rule because it conflicts with love?" (There is a fine, but important line here. God made the rules, we are not at liberty to nullify them. On the other hand, Jesus warns against being judgmental. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our minds when it comes to situations where the application of the rule does not reflect God's love.)

    4. Friend, do you understand God's attitude toward you? Do you know that in every situation He will do for you, if you let Him, what loving parents will do for their child? Will you decide today to trust and reflect God's love?

  4. Next week: Comrades in Arms.

* Copr. 2016, 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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