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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 37 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: How to Relate to Non-Christians *
Introduction: "All roads lead to heaven." Is that true? The modern
culture rejects the idea of absolute truth. Instead, the idea is
that every person's opinion is equally valid and equally true.
Spirituality of any stripe is good. When the singer Madonna forms a
"prayer circle" before her performance, and then prays to herself,
popular culture notes that she is indeed a "spiritual" person. What
does the Bible say about the way to heaven? Let's dive into the Good
Book and find out what the official map says!
- How Many Roads?
- Read Acts 4:1-4. Which do you think was most disturbing to
the Sadducees: that Peter and John were preaching the
resurrection of the dead or that thousands believed them?
- Read Acts 4:5-7. Do you think that the Jewish rulers
really wanted to know the answer to their question?
- To fully understand the question, we need to go back
to Acts 3:1-7 and read the story of the healing. Read
Acts 3:1-7. This is what began the chain of events
which lead to the arrest of Peter and John.
- Read Acts 3:11-16. Had Peter explained to the crowd
in whose name this healing had been performed? (Yes.
Verses 6 and 16 make the matter very plain.)
- How would you rate Peter's statement on the
diplomacy scale? Is he avoiding hurt feelings?
- Let's go back to my prior question about whether the
question the Jewish leaders asked in Acts 4:7 was
genuine? (After looking at the context, it seems the
question is not sincere. It is simply an attempt to
intimidate the disciples from sticking with the story
they told the crowds.)
- Read Acts 4:8-12. We hear a lot about "tolerance" these
days. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to
( Matthew 5:43-44) "love our enemies." Is that the same as
tolerating them? (The "wisdom" of the world makes me shake
my head. Who wants to be merely "tolerated?" Yet, that is
the mantra of the day. What the world really means by
"tolerance" is to be willing to accept as true what the
other person believes.)
- When you consider Peter's statement in Acts 4:8-12,
does he sound tolerant to you?
- Does he sound loving? (Yes. Telling people the
truth when their eternal destiny is at stake is
an act of love.)
- How many legitimate paths to heaven does Peter
identify in verse 12? (One. "Salvation is found in no
one else [than Jesus.]")
- Last week we spent a lot of time studying John 10. Read
John 10:7-9. How many legitimate paths to heaven does
Jesus identify? (One. Jesus says that He is "the gate.")
- Read John 14:6. We see Jesus again describing the way to
truth and eternal life. How many ways does Jesus describe?
- Read Matthew 7:13-14. Here we find another discussion of
the "road system" of life. How many roads lead to eternal
- Are the vast majority of the people on the right
- How about you? Are you among "the few" on the one
road to life?
- How to Describe the One Road?
- As you think about what Peter said to the Jewish leaders
in Acts 4:8-12, can you tell me why he didn't say, "I
understand that we are all in the same business of saving
souls. I applaud your efforts and want you to know how I
appreciate what you have done in the past. We are helping
to sharpen some of your doctrines. While we realize that
this may cause some discomfort at the moment, I am sure we
can all work comfortably together towards our mutual goal
of helping the people." Anything wrong with saying that?
- Doesn't Peter have a reputation for being impulsive
- Is Peter's impulsiveness the problem here? (Notice
Acts 4:8. Peter's words are being driven by God. The
Holy Spirit chose those words!)
- Go back a minute and review what Peter said to the
ordinary people in Acts 3:13-15. Is the nature of
Peter's approach to getting people on the right road
- Is it the approach you use?
- I just returned from a vacation in the South. On a
prominent billboard along the freeway in (I believe)
Tennessee I recall seeing this: "Saturday is the True
Sabbath. Sunday is the Mark of the Beast." I thought,
"Wonder how many people are persuaded by that?" Would
Peter agree to a controversial billboard like that?
- Let's skip down a bit in our story and read Acts 4:23-26.
What kind of reaction does the world have towards the
gospel? (The world is hostile.)
- If the world is hostile anyway, should we reply with
hostility? Should we just speak plainly?
- A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the Temple Tax
dispute - whether Jesus, the Son of God, should have
to pay the taxes that went to support the Temple. The
real issue in the story was "Who is Jesus - mere
teacher or Son of God?" Read Matthew 17:27 to find
one of Jesus' goals in working out a difficult issue.
What is a high priority for Jesus? (Not to offend
those who did not believe in Him.)
- Based on what we have studied so far, how would you
describe the best way to approach non-believers? (Be plain
about the truth, but try to avoid offending them.)
- How should we approach competing, yet wrong, religions?
Should we compliment them? For example, our lesson
(Tuesday) says "we must have great respect for Muhammad,
who insisted [on monotheism]." Do you agree?
- Let's look at some facts about Muhammad. He was born
A.D. 570 - hundreds of years after all of the books
of the New Testament had been written. This means
that both the Old and New Testament were available to
him. Muhammad considered himself to be the latest in
the Biblical line of prophets. "Muhammad initially
took for granted the support of Jews and Christians
and saw no reason to go on the offensive against
them. With the passing of a few years, however, when
the discrepancies between his revelations and the
Judeo-Christian Scriptures became widely known, Jews
and Christians doubted that Muhammad was a true
prophet of God." (L. Spargamino, Religion of Peace or
Refuge of Terror?, p. 18) It was at that point that
Muhammad's relationship with Christians and Jews
began to deteriorate.
- Either Muhammad is a true prophet or he is not.
If he is not, then should we "have great
respect" for him?
- If Muhammad is not a true prophet, and he is
leading millions of people away from the one
road and the "one gate" which allow us to enter
eternal life, should we respect him?
- Is it possible that Muhammad is a true prophet?
(The Koran teaches, "Admonish those who say that
God has begotten a son." Surah 18:4-5. "God is
but one God, forbid that He should have a son."
Surah 4:172. Speaking of Jesus' crucifixion,
Muhammad writes "They did not kill him, nor did
they crucify him, but they thought they did."
Surah 4:156-58. Since Muhammad denies the "one
gate" this precludes him being a true prophet.)
- If we believe Muhammad is a false prophet, how do we
convey this to Muslims without offending them? How do
we get any Christians on the "one road?" Let's
discuss this next.
- How to Get Others on the Road?
- So far we have seen some pretty plain language in
describing the "one road." Jesus' adds that we should
avoid offending people. Let's Read Acts 16:1-5. Why did
Paul have Timothy circumcised? ("Because of the Jews.")
- What was the result of this decision and the joint
work of Paul and Timothy? (Jews were converted to
- Read Galatians 5:2-6. How can you reconcile Paul telling
Timothy to be circumcised when he told the Galatians that
Jesus was of "no value" to them if they let themselves be
- Does Paul have a double standard?
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Would Peter and Paul be able
to plan an evangelistic meeting together? Is Paul a wimp
compared to Peter? How does Paul teach we should approach
those whose beliefs we think are wrong? (We have to be
careful here because the Holy Spirit inspired both men.
Paul's explanation for his "double standard" is found
here. He has a moral standard and a pragmatic standard. He
does not compromise his moral beliefs, but he engages in
all sorts of "compromises" to win others to Christ.
Timothy gets circumcised even though Paul knows this is
not required by God. Paul did this so that the Jews would
be more receptive to Timothy.)
- How would you apply this advice today? How should we speak
plainly, yet seek not to offend? What "compromises"
should we make to reach unbelievers?
- Would those compromises have anything to do with
our worship service?
- What compromises would you suggest to win
Muslims to Christ? (Suggesting that you respect
their false prophet?)
- Friend, there is but one narrow road and one small gate
that leads to eternal life. We need to be plain in
describing this, yet avoid unnecessary insult. We need to
know what to compromise and what not to compromise. This
takes wisdom from above. Will you pray that the Holy
Spirit will guide you in knowing how to bring others to a
saving knowledge of Jesus?
- Next Week: Loving Our Enemies?
* Copr. 2004, 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.