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Sabbath School Lessons on Holy Spirit
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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 11: Grieving and Resisting the Holy Spirit *
Introduction: Would you have liked to have met Jesus in person? I
would! Christians say that they wish they could have lived when Jesus
was here on earth. They wish that they could have been one of Jesus'
disciples and spoken to Him personally to get direction and answers
about how they should live. I'm doubtful that reality matches this
wishful thinking. Why? Because we often do not like to hear the
truth. When people don't like what the Bible says, they reject it.
When people don't like what prophets say, they reject them. What
about when people don't like what the Holy Spirit says? Let's plunge
into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about the
problem of resisting the Holy Spirit!
- Stephen's Warning
- Some words can get you killed! Read Acts 7:51 to see what
Stephen said to the Jewish leaders just before they killed
him. What is the historic problem of God's people? (They
"always resist the Holy Spirit.")
- Read Acts 7:52-53. What else have these people done? (They
persecuted and killed prophets, they murdered Jesus, and
they did not obey the law.)
- Why does Stephen put these four things together in
his argument? (Jesus, the prophets, the law, and the
Holy Spirit are all ways God uses to communicate with
- Why do these people get so angry about Stephen's
words? (We get angry when people tell us things that
we know are true and we don't want them to be true.)
- Read Acts 7:54-56. Who is prompting Stephen to say these
things? (The Holy Spirit!)
- Think about your life. Do you obey the Bible, the law, the
prophets, and the Holy Spirit?
- No doubt you are saying (and it is true), "I'm saved
by grace, so I'm not required to keep the law." Think
about the logic of this. If God gave us the Bible,
the prophets, the law, and the Holy Spirit to give us
direction on how we should live, why would we not
obey the law?
- What kind of attitude is appropriate toward the
law for those of us saved by grace alone?
- As I honestly consider my own attitude toward
instruction from God, I worry that I'm more like the
stone throwing Jews than I am like Stephen. How about
- I've been studying the Book of Acts with a small group. If
you are not familiar with Acts chapter 15, read it now.
Then read Acts 15:23-29 to determine the conclusion to
this debate. If you are a person determined to obey the
Bible, the prophets, and the law, on what side of this
debate would you be? (Read Genesis 17:9-11 and Genesis
9:14. If you are determined to obey God, you would be on
the mandatory circumcision side because it is a command
straight from God. Even more important, it is a command
about being in relationship with God.)
- Read Romans 14:1-4. (If you are not acquainted with this
message, read the entire chapter of Romans 14.) What does
Paul say here about those who are being very careful to
try to do all that is written in the law? (He calls them
weak. Especially, I believe Paul is saying that the Acts
15:29 instruction to "abstain from food sacrificed to
idols" is not binding. The vegetable eating issue was
about avoiding meat because it might have been offered to
- Let's contemplate these difficult issues for a little bit.
I started out confessing that I might have been a "stone
thrower" because sometimes I resist some of the law. But,
then we learned that the early Church tossed out the
application of some of the law to the Gentile converts.
Later, Paul calls those who are determined to follow every
part of the law "weak." Is it right to resist some of the
rules? Or, are we a generation like the people that
- If you regularly read my lessons, you know that I
teach that the laws exist to make our lives better!
How can people seeking a better life be called
"weak?" (Clearly, we are missing some very important
point that we need to discover!)
- A Check on Grieving the Holy Spirit
- Let's revisit the decision to toss out circumcision for
the Gentile converts. Read Acts 15:6-11. What is Peter's
argument against requiring circumcision? (That the Holy
Spirit approved those who were not circumcised. These
Gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit.)
- Read Acts 15:12. What argument is Barnabas and Paul making
through these stories? (This shows that the Holy Spirit
was part of the work done among the Gentiles.)
- Read Acts 15:28-29. Who does James cite in his letter to
the Gentiles? (James cites the Holy Spirit as the basis
for stating that a very clear instruction to Abraham and
his descendants did not apply to the Gentile converts.)
- Notice that in Acts 7:8 Stephen mentions circumcision
in a positive light.
- Notice that Genesis 17:12 applies the circumcision
rule those who are not Jewish.
- Read Colossians 2:9-12. Does circumcision survive? Has it
taken a new form? (Yes, that special relationship God
spoke of with Abraham, now continues in baptism!)
- How is baptism like circumcision? (It is the cutting
off of the sinful nature. In baptism we die with
Jesus for our sins. In coming out of the water we
enter a new life and relationship with Him.)
- What does this teach us about the law and listening
to the Holy Spirit? (Nothing has changed about the
goal of having a special relationship with God. The
ceremony used has changed with changed circumstances.
It teaches us that we need to keep a closer eye on
what the Holy Spirit is doing. God has "big picture"
principles that are unchanging. However, the Holy
Spirit may show us that what we thought was a proper
procedure or practice might change to better confirm
to the big picture principles.)
- Read Romans 14:16-18. What are the big picture
principles in this text? ("Righteousness, peace and
joy in the Holy Spirit.")
- Read Ephesians 4:30-32. What are the big picture
principles here? What reflects being out of step with the
Holy Spirit, and what reflects being in step with the Holy
Spirit? (Fighting, anger and ill-will reflect a life out
of step with the Holy Spirit. Kindness, compassion, and
forgiveness reflect a life led by the Holy Spirit.)
- A Check on Us
- Read Ephesians 5:1-2. What self-test can we apply to see
if we are in line with the Holy Spirit? (Our lives should
reflect love - a willingness to give up our self for the
benefit of others.)
- Let's circle back to Stephen. Read Acts 7:51-53. Were
these people acting with unselfish love? (No! They
were violently resisting God's messengers. When you
look at it this way, it is clear that you and I would
not have been one of the stone-throwing crowd.)
- Read Ephesians 5:3-5. Are these areas in which we push
back against the Holy Spirit? Are these big picture issues
that tell us if we are led by the Holy Spirit?
- Let's look specifically at Ephesians 5:5. Paul boils
all of these specific warnings down to being
"immoral, impure or greedy." Then he calls this
idolatry. Does this make any sense to you? How does
this involve idol worship? (Idol worship is
worshiping something you made with your own hands. It
is worshiping your own efforts, thus worshiping
yourself. Immorality, impurity and greed are all
about self. We engage in these things because we are
- Let's bring this back to circumcision. Was the
argument in favor of circumcision an argument about
self? (Because I can see arguments on both sides of
this question, this reinforces the importance of the
leading of the Holy Spirit.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22. What are we to test?
(Everything. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to test
all of your understandings of God's will. If you reject
the Holy Spirit, you will never be able to discern the
will of God.)
- Friend, are you testing everything? Are you looking for
the leading of the Holy Spirit on issues that are not
clear to you? Why not determine, right now, to ask the
Holy Spirit to lead your understanding.
- Next week: The Work of the Holy Spirit.
* Copr. 2017, 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.