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Lesson 13: Embracing the World *

Introduction: This is our last study in our series about religion and relationships. When Christians speak of "the world," aren't they referring to sin? Should we embrace sin? What kind of relationship, if any, should we have with the world? What is God's mission for us in the world? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. The Purpose

    1. Read Mark 2:15-16. Jesus is mingling with the "world" and the teachers of the law see it. What question do they have?

      1. Why do you think they asked this question?

      2. What answer do you think Jesus' disciples should give?

    2. Let's read Mark 2:17 to find the answer Jesus actually gave. What do you think about Jesus' answer?

      1. Would this answer also apply to the issue of whether you should "embrace the world?"

      2. Perhaps they never heard of "preventative medicine" back then. Should we only work with the "sick?" (I hope not. GoBible is aimed at people who already know something about God's word. I guess this is a study for the "recovering.")

      3. To what extent did Jesus "embrace" the world in this situation in Mark?

  2. In, But Not Of ....

    1. John 17 contains Jesus' prayer for His disciples just before He was arrested and crucified. What a wonderful insight into our God! In this difficult time of His life, Jesus is thinking of His disciples. Let's read John 17:12. Jesus protected the disciples and kept them safe from what?

      1. When Jesus says He kept them safe "by that name you gave me," what name is that? (The New Bible Commentary says that the "name" refers to God the Father and the "natural understanding" of the Greek is that being safe by the name means to act in accordance with the character of God.)

    2. Read John 17:13-14. Why does Jesus say the world hates His disciples? (They are not of the world.)

      1. What do you think it means to be "not of the world?" (Not a participant in its character.)

      2. According to verse 14 Jesus gave His disciples a special gift. It seems it is a new gift of protection. What is it? (The gift of God's word - God's directions for life.)

    3. Read John 17:15-16. Jesus seems to be saying that "the world" is a dangerous place. Why not take them out of the world? Why not remove them physically? (Jesus gave His disciples the word of God. It is now the mission of the disciples to pass this word unto the world. This is exactly like Jesus' mission to the "sick.")

    4. Read John 17:17-19. Sharing God's word with the world seems to have an effect on the disciples. What is it? (The truth that they have sanctifies them too. It seems sharing the truth of God's word with others has a sanctifying effect on us. The world is a dangerous place, but sharing God's word with the world makes us better people.)

    5. Read John 17:20-21. Is the goal for us to become one with the world? (No. The goal is for us to become one with those who are rescued from the world, those who believe God's word.)

    6. Read John 17:25-26. As we get to know God better, what happens to us? (God's love grows in our heart.)

      1. How can you explain the contrast between John 17:14 & 26? The world hates the followers of God even though the love of God is in the followers. How is that possible? (The world hates the followers of God because they are not part of the character of the world. On the other hand, as someone learns more about God, God's love fills their hearts. It appears to be a process in which those coming out of the world become more like God and are filled with more of His love.)

        1. What do you conclude from John 17 is the key to winning over the world? (Teach the world about God. Give them His word. Teach them about His character.)

  3. The Prod

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 5:10-11. What do these verses suggest is an important part of fearing God? (Realizing that God has a judgment and that we will be judged.)

      1. What is the result of knowing about God's judgment? (Verse 11 says that we "try to persuade men" about the fact of the judgment. This is a "prod" to bring us to action.)

      2. Is this how you like to relate to the world? "Let me tell you what awaits unless you make changes in your life!"

      3. In John 17 we learned that God fills us with His love. Is it love to tell people they are going to burn up? (If you warn a person driving a burning car that their car is on fire - that is love.)

    2. Recently, I was in a book store looking over a new book by Tony Campolo. Some of Tony's teachings are troubling to me, and so I was skimming over the chapters to see what he was up to. One section of the book discussed the final judgment and Seventh-day Adventists. It said that most Christians believe in a judgment of an eternally burning hell for those who are lost. Adventists, Campolo noted, believe that judgment for the wicked involves burning - but being burned up - eternal extinction. Campolo suggested people fear the total loss of identity, total extinction, more than an eternally unpleasant life. What do you think about presenting to the world the message of a judgment of personal extinction?

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 5:12. What is the attitude of the world? In what does the world take pride? (In what is seen. The world lives for self by accumulating those things that can be seen. This gives the world pride.)

      1. If the attitude of the world is to take pride in what they can show to others, how terrible a fate is total extinction? (The attitude of the world is "I am important. Look at me." Total extinction should be the worst thing for that kind of attitude. Christians have the way out of total extinction.)

  4. Our Tools

    1. If we have the opportunity (and obligation) to engage the world to persuade them to believe, what tools do we need? Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-2.

      1. What is not necessary? (Eloquence or superior wisdom.)

      2. Why is "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" such a powerful tool of persuasion? (Look back at the motivation for our message: a coming judgment. Jesus' life, death and resurrection on our behalf is the way out of being condemned in the coming judgment. This is the central "word" that Christians have for the world.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 2:3. Is this how you feel about public speaking? About sharing the gospel?

      1. Should fear and trembling deter us from sharing God's word? (Look at what a great witness Paul was - yet he confesses to weakness, fear and trembling. When I was first arguing a case before a court an older lawyer told me something I have never forgotten: "Being nervous is normal." In fact, having some nervousness makes me a sharper speaker.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. What is more important than wise and persuasive words? (The power of the Holy Spirit. The power of our message comes not from man, but from God's Spirit. I was reminded the other day of the inadequacy of my own powers of persuasion. I like to think that, as a lawyer, I have the power of persuasion. Each week the GoBible lesson goes to at least 15,000 people. Yet, I have trouble witnessing to my neighbors. I've lived by one neighbor for 20 years. He is getting old. Recently, I determined that I must make a specific effort to share the gospel with him. One night I went over to speak to him. He is my friend, but the conversation went terribly. How can I speak to thousands each week about the gospel but be unable to adequately speak to my neighbor? The answer must be that my "talents" are not what determines the outcome of this kind of conversation.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-7. If we don't need real sharp brains and real sharp tongues to share God's word, does that mean that we do not have an intelligent message? (Paul tells us that we are sharing the most important wisdom: the secret wisdom of God!)

    5. Friend, we have a secret to share with the world. A secret which will give the world true wisdom. Are you willing to be "of, but not in" the world to share God's word?

  5. Next week: We start our study of the book of Daniel.
* 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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