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Sabbath School Lessons on Rebellion and Redemption
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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 Great Controversy and the Early Church *
Introduction: Two weeks ago we learned that the central foundation
for our Christian life is understanding the nature of God. He cares
for us more than loving parents care about their children. Getting
that straight is fundamental. Another central truth is how to
understand and follow God's will. Our study this week turns to that
fundamental. Let's dig in and see what the Bible has to say to us!
- Bone Heads
- Read Acts 1:6. I love to talk about this text because it
is so remarkable. Jesus is literally rising into the air
to return to heaven, and this last question tells Him what
about the crew that is going to take His message to the
world? (It tells Him they do not understand! They thought
that Jesus was overthrowing the Romans, creating a kingdom
here, and installing them as rulers.)
- Could they have been more wrong?
- Let's read the context for this bonehead question. Read
Acts 1:1-5 and Acts 1:7-8. What is the cure for this
terrible misunderstanding? (The baptism of the Holy
- What is the great need for those who want to
understand and do God's will? (The baptism of the
- Read Acts 2:1-4. Contemplate what it would be like to be
in that room. Do you think the disciples had any doubt
that they had been filled with the Holy Spirit?
- Should we expect something like this or not?
- The understanding that our God lives in us is one of
the most distinctive doctrines of Christianity. If
God does not live in you, consider whether you have
"bonehead" beliefs that have not been corrected?
- Read Acts 2:5-11. Put aside the miracle of this, what do
you think is the goal of the Holy Spirit in this event?
(To bring understanding to those who may have difficulty
understanding the language spoken by Galileans. The Holy
Spirit grabs their attention, and then helps them
understand. Notice that this is precisely what the Holy
Spirit was doing for the disciples - helping them
- Read Acts 4:1-4. What is the problem with the preaching of
Peter and John? (If Jesus was resurrected, it conflicted
with the "no life after death" views of the Sadducees. It
also had a great deal to say about the merits of killing
- Read Acts 4:5-8. What role does the Holy Spirit play here?
(He guides Peter's message to the top leaders of the
- Will the Holy Spirit keep us out of controversy?
(Apparently, steering clear of controversy is not the
- Read Acts 4:9-14. Contemplate Peter's address. How is the
Holy Spirit aiding him? (First, the Holy Spirit healed the
"cripple" who makes Peter's argument "bullet-proof."
Second, the Holy Spirit gives Peter a bold, powerful and
logical speaking ability.)
- Have you ever experienced this - that the Holy Spirit
works with you to make your efforts surprisingly
- Notice what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing. He
straightens out in the minds of the disciples the
misunderstanding of Jesus' words. He brings attention
to the message of the disciples. He brings boldness
and clarity to the disciples' message. He helps the
people to understand the message. He brings
conviction to the hearers - which causes them to
either accept or be quiet.)
- One of the church leaders, Stephen, is arrested for
sharing the gospel. He recites the rebellious history of
God's people. Read Acts 7:54-60. What additional lesson do
we learn about being filled with the Holy Spirit? (Your
Spirit-filled message may make others so furious that they
are willing to kill you.)
- Let's examine one part of the back story for
Stephen's death. Read Acts 6:8-11 and Acts 6:13-15.
What kind of witnesses have we here? (False witnesses
who have been "persuaded" to lie.)
- Re-read Acts 7:57-59. Who is taking off their good
clothes so that they can do a better job stoning
Stephen? ( Deuteronomy 17:6-7 indicates that these
false witnesses were the ones who threw the first
stones to kill Stephen.)
- Will the Holy Spirit protect us against all
injustice? (The Holy Spirit gave Stephen a
forgiving attitude. Acts 7:60. But, He did not
keep Stephen from death here on earth at the
hands of wicked people.)
- Prejudice Correction
- Read Acts 10:1-2. What kind of religious beliefs does
Cornelius hold? Is he a convert to Judaism? Is he a
Christian? (He is not an idol worshiper. He worships the
true God. Acts 10:36 suggests that he was aware of the
life and teachings of Jesus.)
- What does it mean that he was "God-fearing?" (He
wanted to do God's will.)
- Read Acts 10: 3-6. What has God noticed about Cornelius?
(His good works!)
- Would God be able to notice these things about you?
- Read Acts 10:9-14. What forms the basis for Peter's
reluctance to have a good meal? (Leviticus 11 describes
which animals are acceptable for food and which are not
because they are "unclean." Peter tells the voice in the
vision that he would "surely not" eat the unclean
- Read Acts 10:15-16. Why do you think this happened three
- Is Peter resisting the direct command of God three
- Read Acts 10:17. Why is Peter wondering when the voice
from heaven is so clear? (He has a conflict between the
written word of God, and what this voice from heaven is
saying to him. Peter is wondering because he believes that
the Bible and the voice from heaven would not contradict
- Read Acts 10:18-20. We now have the Holy Spirit telling
Peter not to "hesitate to go" with the men from Cornelius.
Why would Peter hesitate?
- Peter goes with the men to visit Cornelius. Read Acts
10:25-29. What is the answer to the question of why Peter
would hesitate? (He says it is against "our law.")
- What law is that? (Robertson's New Testament Word
Pictures reveals that visiting Gentiles was not
contrary to anything in the Old Testament. This was
simply a rabbinical teaching which had become a
- What does Peter now understand about the meaning of
the unclean animals and the voice in the vision?
(That God is not talking about animals, he is talking
- Why would God not show a bag being lowered with
a bunch of Romans in it? Why complicate the
message? (He wanted Peter to puzzle over the
issue. That would help the lesson to stay with
- Read Acts 10:30-33. What does this teach us about new
understandings? (It shows that God will confirm His
instruction when we agree to follow God in a new way that
might be uncomfortable.)
- Read Acts 10:34-38. Notice that Peter says that they
already "know" about the life of Jesus and the gospel. If
they already know, why do they need Peter to speak to
them? (Two things. First, they need to know more. Second,
this is also for Peter's benefit. Peter now understands
that Christianity is not just a "Jewish" religion, it is a
faith to be embraced by the world.)
- Read Acts 10:39-40. What is the missing piece of the
education of these Gentiles? (They do not know about the
resurrection - the solution to sin and the hope of
- Friend, do you see the work of the supernatural in the
early church? The Holy Spirit clarifies, convicts of
truth and does miraculous things. God speaks to Peter to
help him understand the reach of the gospel. Are you
looking for the Holy Spirit to fill you and lead you? Are
you looking to partner with the supernatural to promote
God's word? Why not ask God, right now, to fill you with
- Next week: Paul and the Rebellion.
* 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.