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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 12: Urban Ministry in the End Time *
Introduction: The Bible recounts how Peter and Paul worked in the
cities to share the gospel. The amazing thing is that each man used a
different approach to capture the attention of his audience. How
should we approach sharing the gospel in the cities in the end time?
How should we approach sharing the gospel where we live? Does it
require a high level of skill and cunning on our part? Or, is God in
charge of our approach and all we need to do is cooperate? Let's
plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!
- Paul in the City
- Read Acts 17:16-17. We have often seen that the center for
evangelism in the New Testament is the local synagogue
(the local church). What new approach do we see here?
(Paul went to the marketplace. Commentators explain that
this was not just a place to sell goods, but it was also a
place to discuss new ideas. )
- Is this an advertised event? (Paul simply spoke to
those "who happened to be there.")
- Notice that Paul goes to a place where people
assemble to hear new ideas. What is the modern
equivalent of that?
- Read Acts 17:18-19. What results from Paul going to the
marketplace to discuss the gospel? (He gets invited to the
Areopagus - which is a famous and high level public court
having authority to decide, among other things, religious
questions. Paul does not seem to be accused of a crime,
rather he is presenting new ideas.)
- What does this teach us about evangelism in urban
areas? (If we take steps to present the gospel, God
will open the right doors.)
- Read Acts 17:20-23. What strategy is Paul using to share
the gospel? (He starts with what they already know and
believe. He gets their attention by saying he will reveal
the mystery of the "Unknown God.")
- Read Acts 17:24-28. How would you describe the next step
of Paul's argument? (He turns next to nature. He says that
God created everything, therefore He does not need us to
create houses for Him.)
- Why does Paul quote their poets as opposed to the
- Read Acts 17:29-31. What does Paul say about idols? (He
calls it "ignorance" that humans can design and build a
- Why does Paul say this is an important concept to get
right? (A day of judgment is coming!)
- Read Acts 17:32-34. Did this approach work? (A "few"
believed. But note that Dionysius, a member of the
Areopagus, believed. This man must have been one of the
judges, and thus Paul leaves a convert in a very important
- The report is that not a lot of people were converted
by Paul. What lesson should we draw from this?
- Read Acts 18:1-4. We find Paul next preaching in the local
"church." Notice that Paul is working during the week and
preaching on the Sabbath. Is Paul wasting valuable time by
working, instead of preaching, during the week?
- Read Acts 18:5-6. Paul stops his work and turns full-time
to preaching. What made the difference? (Helpers arrived.)
- What lesson can we find in this? (I doubt Paul was
wasting time when he was making tents. Instead, the
lesson is that the Holy Spirit will lead us on how we
should best spend our time when it comes to a mix of
preaching and working.)
- Read Acts 18:6 and re-read Acts 17:33-18:1. What example
does Paul set for us in evangelism? (He shares the message
and if people believe, that is great. If they do not
believe, he moves on and does not pester them.)
- Read Acts 18:7-8. Paul moves on, but it turns out to be
only a few feet! Why move so little? (The problem was with
the Jews, not the Gentiles. Paul is not moving far as a
matter of geography, but he is moving with regard to his
- What lesson can we find in this? (We need to be alert
to the groups who are receptive to the gospel.)
- Read Acts 18:9-11. Who is directing Paul's evangelistic
- Peter in the City
- Read Acts 3:1-5. When beggars ask for money from you, do
you engage in conversation with them? Do you look them
straight in the eye?
- Why does Peter tell the man to "look at us?" (He
wants to engage his attention.)
- Read Acts 3:6-10 and skim Acts 3:11-26. God is clearly
with Peter and John in this miracle. Peter uses the
miracle as the springboard for explaining the gospel. In
many ways this parallels what Paul was doing in the
Areopagus and in Corinth. Which approach do you favor? (I
favor the approach where miracles get the attention of the
- Which approach seems more effective? (Paul did not do
very well in terms of numbers at the Areopagus, but
Acts 18:8 tells us that in Corinth "many of the
Corinthians who heard him believed and were
- Why does Peter get to use miracles to grab the
attention of the audience, while Paul has to use his
imagination and the idols in Athens to get attention?
(Since God is working with both, this shows us that
God uses different approaches to share the gospel.)
- Since I've never seen anything like the healing of
the beggar in any evangelistic effort I've attended,
should we pay closer attention to the details of
Paul's efforts? Or, should we pray that God will let
us work miracles in His name to advance the gospel?
- The Focus
- Paul discusses the focus of his ministry, so let's see
what he recommends. Read 1 Corinthians 1:17. Wait a
minute! I thought Paul's presentation at the Areopagus
was an example of human wisdom. How do you explain this?
(If you re-read Paul's presentation ( Acts 17:22-31), you
will see that he refers to the power of God and Jesus
being raised from the dead.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-20. Does this explain why Paul
converted so few people at the Areopagus?
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:21-25. Wait a minute, have we just
stumbled on the reason why Peter used miracles and Paul
used philosophical argument? Paul writes the "Jews demand
miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom." Is this the
answer? (Paul argues that Jews look for miracles and
Greeks look for wise argument, but the true power of the
gospel is Christ crucified.)
- Does this suggest that God will use the methods that
the people desire to focus attention on the heart of
the gospel - Christ crucified? (That seems to be
exactly what we have seen in this study.)
- If that is right, what do the people want to see in
our cities? What do the people want to see who live
in your area? What will focus their attention so
that they will be open to listening to "Christ
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. How complicated is it to
figure out how we should approach the world? (This study
helps us to consider how God uses His people to share the
gospel, but in the end it is God using us to do His will.
We do not have to be special in our own abilities, we can
all share the gospel.)
- I recall staying at a hotel because I had been
invited to visit a city to preach the next day. The
hotel clerk who checked me out of the hotel kept
talking with me about the gospel. I'm sure she did
that with everyone. It made me think that she might
be doing more evangelism in her humble work than I
was with my preaching!
- Friend, will you determine today to be willing to be used
by God to bring others the message of "Christ crucified?"
- Next week: How Shall We Wait?
* 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.