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Sabbath School Lessons on The Role of the Church in the Community
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: Jesus Mingled With People *
Introduction: Jesus and the Pharisees had different approaches to
converting sinners. Jesus ate with them. The Pharisees thought
sinners should aspire to be like them. We know converting sinners is
an important business because conversions cause joy in heaven. How
should we relate to sinners without having them convert us? Let's
plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn on these
- God With Sinners
- Read Luke 15:1-2. What is the problem here? Why do the
Pharisees "mutter" about Jesus welcoming sinners and
eating with them?
- Do you know the saying "A man is known by the company
he keeps?" Is that the problem here?(I think so.
Perhaps the Pharisees thought Jesus was encouraging
sinners to remain sinful.)
- Read Luke 7:36. What larger picture does this give us
of Jesus' dining companions? (Jesus would eat with
anyone. He is not imposing character tests.)
- When I was young, I was taught (or at least I
understood) that if I was involved in sin, God would
avoid me. What do these verses suggest about that
idea? (God does not run away from sinners.)
- Read Luke 15:3-6. What does this teach about God's
relationship to sinners? (He not only runs after them, He
carries them home!)
- In this story, who had the closer relationship with
Jesus, the saved sheep or the lost sheep? (Jesus
spent more time finding the lost sheep. It was the
focus of His attention. The goal, however, was to
make the lost sheep like one of the righteous sheep.)
- Let's revisit a discussion we had last week about
evangelism. Recall that in Matthew 10:14-15 Jesus
tells His disciples that if a person will not listen
to the gospel message, "shake the dust off your feet"
and move on. No chasing and no pestering those who
reject the truth. How do you reconcile that
instruction with Jesus chasing the lost sheep? (I
don't think Jesus' parable of the sheep is about
evangelism. I think it is about revealing God's
attitude toward sinners.)
- Read Luke 15:7. What should be our attitude towards
sinners who repent? (We should be overjoyed.)
- Back on the issue of evangelism, re-read Luke 15:1. Is
Jesus chasing sinners? (No, they are chasing Him. The
Pharisees' problem is what should happen once the sinners
catch up with Jesus.)
- Read Luke 15:8-10. What is the focus of this woman? (Her
- As you know from recent lessons, I am fully behind a
focus on making the worship service excellent. What
does this parable suggest should be the focus of the
church? (Both this parable and the parable of the
lost sheep place the focus on finding the lost.)
- We concluded (or at least I concluded) that the lost
sheep story was not about evangelism, it was about
God's attitude towards sinners. Do you think that is
also true of the lost coin story?
- Even if the point of these two stories is to show
God's attitude towards sinners, don't these stories
say something about evangelism?
- Giving It All
- As you know, I believe that context in the Bible is
exceptionally important. Let's examine the teachings of
Jesus that immediately precede His discussion of God's
attitude towards sinners. Read Luke 14:28-30. What is the
lesson from this story?
- Read Luke 14:31-32. What is the lesson from this story?
(Both stories teach us to be good planners. We should not
enter into a project unless we have considered how best to
execute it and whether we have the resources to finish
- Read Luke 14:33. Is this a bit jarring? In fact, isn't
this conclusion just the opposite of the stories? The
tower and the war required the builder and the king to
have sufficient resources to finish the job. Jesus now
says you should be willing to have no resources! Or, does
- The very next chapter starts with lessons on our
attitude toward sinners. Why? (If we are preoccupied
with being "above" sinners so that we avoid them,
then we are not giving up our pride.)
- Let's move back even further to look at context. Read Luke
14:25-27. Does Jesus teach us to love everyone except our
family? (No. The idea of literally hating our family is
contrary to the rest of the Bible, including the Fifth
Commandment ( Exodus 20:12). I don't think Jesus is
telling us to give up our love for our family and replace
it with hate. And, I don't think Jesus is telling us to
sell everything and replace it with nothing.)
- Let's move back even further to look at context. Read Luke
14:16-20. You know this parable because it appears in more
than one of the gospels. What prevents these people from
coming to the wedding feast? (They are more concerned
about the affairs of life.)
- Now, tell me what you think Jesus means about
"hating" your family, giving up "everything" and
eating with sinners? What is the lesson Jesus is
trying to teach us? (We cannot let our jobs, hobbies,
families or dignity get in the way of advancing the
Kingdom of God. The Pharisees did not want to give up
their dignity to eat with sinners.)
- Read Luke 14:34-35. You have ears, what do you hear?
(Christians need to mix with the world. We cannot let our
dignity, our sense of superiority, our jobs, hobbies or
family get in the way of sharing with the sinners who want
to associate with us.)
- Read Genesis 13:8-13. Is this the choice that Jesus is
teaching us to make? Move into the wicked cities and set
up evangelism centers?
- Do you think Lot made this choice to evangelize?
- Read Genesis 14:11-12. Lot is literally captured by
sinners! Should danger cause us to turn away from city
- Read Genesis 14:15-16. What does this say about literally
fighting the bad guys? What does it say about God's
protection for Lot?
- Do you notice something different about Lot's
residence? (In Genesis 13:12 Lot pitches his tents
"near" Sodom. In Genesis 14:12 he is living "in
- Read Genesis 19:12-16. What is the real danger of a
righteous person (or couple) moving to a place filled with
sinners? (The danger is being co-opted by the surrounding
- Read Genesis 19:17 and Genesis 19:26. Why did Lot's wife
look back? (When I parked my new car and walked away, I
would turn around and look at it. Her heart, her life, and
her things were in Sodom. She could not resist a last look
at her old life.)
- John the Baptist
- Read Matthew 3:1-3. With the background of our lesson how
do you explain John the Baptist? Is he a mingler?
- Read Matthew 3:5. Was it a problem that John lived out in
the desert? (No. People came to him!)
- Think about the differences between Jesus, the Pharisees,
John the Baptist and Lot. Can you begin to formulate some
rules about reaching sinners? (The Pharisees teach us not
to look down on sinners. John teaches us that if we have
the right message, sinners will come to us. Lot teaches us
that it is dangerous to our property and our salvation to
move in with sinners. Jesus teaches us to be available to
sinners and be willing to interact with them.)
- What should you do differently than you are now to
- What are you doing now to reach sinners that seems to
be validated by the Bible?
- Friend, sharing God's word with sinners is an extremely
important work. When sinners come to their senses and turn
to God, it causes heaven to rejoice. Will you agree, right
now, to formulate a Biblical approach to sharing the
gospel and then put it into action?
- Next week: Jesus Desired Their Good.
* 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.