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Sabbath School Lessons on Biblical Missionaries
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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 39 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 1: The Missionary Nature of God *
Introduction: Put yourself in God's place. Assume you created humans
and they turned against you. Would you go to heroic efforts to save
them? Or, would you just scrap the current crop (God did warn them
that sin caused death - Genesis 2:17) and create a new crop of
humans? How many times have you scrapped a project and started anew?
For some reason God did not start anew with us. He determined to
rescue us from sin, and that provides a learning opportunity for us
with regard to missions. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and
- Read Genesis 1:20-23. What did God create on the fifth day
of creation? (Swimming and flying creatures.)
- What did He command them to do? (Create more.)
- Read Genesis 1:24-25. What did God create next? (Animals
who live on the land.)
- Read Genesis 1:26-27. God next created humans. How are we
different than the previous creatures God created? (We are
made in the "image" and the "likeness" of God. We are
created to rule over the all of the animals.)
- Read Genesis 1:28. What command does God give to humans?
(To create more and to rule.)
- Step back a moment and consider this. What would you
guess was going through God's mind when He said and
did these things? (Have you ever heard of the
character "Mini Me?" God appears to be creating
lesser gods. He is the Creator and Ruler. God gives
humans the ability to create and the authority to
- Two Trees
- Read Genesis 2:8-9. What trees did God place in the middle
of the garden where humans live? (The tree of life and the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil.)
- Read Genesis 3:22. What does this teach us about the
tree of life? (If you eat from the tree of life, you
will continue living.)
- Are Adam and Eve forced to come near the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil? (If they want to continue
living, they come to the tree of life to eat. That
would put them near the tree of the knowledge of good
- Read Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-3. What stands
between humans and eating from the forbidden tree? (Only
- Do you recall the story about the chauffeur
interview? The person hiring the chauffeur asks "How
close can you drive to the edge of the cliff? The
most skillful answers, "Three inches." But, the
person hired answers "I would not drive anywhere near
the edge of the cliff." Why did God put humans so
close to the edge of the cliff? Why make it so easy
to make the wrong choice?
- Some people say, "choosing God is not that easy. Some
Christians make it too easy." Is it fair to make it
easy to reject God, but not easy to choose to accept
- Next, let's more deeply explore the choice.
- The Choice
- Re-read Genesis 3:2-3. There are two trees in the middle
of the garden, but Eve doesn't mention the one by name. Do
you think that God gave it the name "tree of the knowledge
of good and evil?"
- Is the very name of the tree a temptation to find out
- Read Genesis 3:4-5. What is the temptation? (Selfishness.
To be like God.)
- We previously discussed that humans were made like
God. How is this different? (They would know about
- Look again at Genesis 3:3-4. What else does giving in
to this temptation require? (Disbelieving and
- Read Genesis 3:6-7. In one sense, the wrong choice is very
easy: just reach out, pick the fruit, and eat it. Is any
part of this choice hard? (Yes. You have to believe a
strange animal and disbelieve God. You have to be
dissatisfied with your current situation.)
- I just wrote a legal brief that involved "choice
architecture" and "channel factors." Choice architecture
is about structuring choice. Assume you start a new job
and your employer has a retirement plan to which you can
contribute. The employer can structure your choice to
automatically deduct retirement money from your paycheck
unless you opt out, or the employer can require you to opt
into the retirement payment program. Do you think the way
the choice is structured makes a difference? (It makes a
huge difference! When you have to take some action, only
20% sign up. When you are automatically enrolled, and have
to opt out, about 80% continue to make the payments.)
- "Channel factors" are events that help to direct your
decision. Building a fence around the forbidden tree
is a channel factor. Putting the tree of life next to
the forbidden tree is channel factor. How did God set
the channel factors?
- What do you think about the way God structured the
choice of Adam and Eve regarding sin? (Unlike you and
me, they had to opt into sin. However, God made it
easy to opt in by using channel factors: the
placement of the tree, easy to access to the fruit,
and allowing an advocate for sin to be present.)
- One of the arguments against God is that He is unfair
and coercive. What does this discussion about choice
architecture and channel factors teach us about God
and free will? (He does not coerce us to choose Him.
Instead, we wish God would have made it a little more
difficult for Adam and Eve to make the wrong choice!)
- I tried to shelter my children by sending them to
Christian schools all the way through to college. I think
that was exactly the right decision. What does God's
example with Adam and Eve say about my decision? (God
structured the default choice to be "no sin," but then
created channel factors to make it relatively easy to sin.
Our children are born into sin. To try to get as close to
a "no sin" default as possible, our children have to be
given a solid Christian education.)
- The Rescue
- Read Genesis 3:8-11. Does God know the answers to these
questions? Why ask them?(Notice that God pursues His new
sinners. He engages in a conversation with them about
- Read Genesis 3:12-13. Are these new sinners easy to
rescue? (They will not accept responsibility for their
sins. Adam blames God!)
- Read Genesis 3:21-24. Some say that God does not punish
sin. Instead, sin creates its own punishment. What do
these texts teach us?
- Read John 3:14-15. Eve was tempted by a snake. Moses
lifted up a snake in the desert to save those bitten by
snakes ( Numbers 21:9). Two questions:
- Why create a figure of a snake to save the people?
- Why is Jesus lifted up like the snake? (Moses lifted
up the snake so that the people would face their
sins. Remember this was the problem in Eden, not
accepting responsibility for sin? When Jesus was
lifted up on the cross for our sins, it showed
humanity the horrendous consequences of sin. It makes
us face our sins.)
- Read John 3:16-17. Why did God engage in heroic efforts to
save humans instead of just scrapping them and starting a
new crop? (He loves us. His goal is to save us and not
- Read John 3:18. What are our choices? (To believe or not
believe in God. Recall that Eve believed the serpent and
- Read John 3:19-21. What drives the choice that humans
make? (Whether they love darkness or whether they come
into the light.)
- How hard is it to come into the light? How is this
choice structured? What are the channel factors?
(Notice John 3:21 "it may be seen plainly that what
he has done has been done through God." God died for
us. God defeated sin for us and rescued us. God has
done the heavy lifting! However, we have to opt in
when it comes to salvation.)
- Friend, will you decide right now to believe God and not
Satan? Will you opt into living your life "in the light"
and turn away from loving the darkness?
- Next week: Abraham: The First Missionary.
* Copr. 2015, 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.