Inspiration for Today's World

Category: Studies (Page 2 of 7)

From Cocoon To Flight

Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God¾this is your spiritual act of worship.

~Romans 12:1

Lesson47-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: Do you know if your neighbor is a Christian? Better yet, does your neighbor know that you have placed your faith in Christ? Of course, we say, they see that each Sunday we leave for church and never miss. This study directly addresses what it means to accept the role and responsibilities claimed by the Christian faith. The study looks at the worship experience and provides a guideline for every Christian to use as a measuring stick.

Plan on leading a discussion beyond theology and into what a changed life looks like. Faith in Christ is not theoretical or historical. Faith in Christ is a changing life, a metamorphosis from the physical world to His world.


What is the goal of Christian faith?

  • Many may say that it is to achieve eternal life, to be in heaven. However, Paul is trying to tell us that it is about our very existence and our daily struggles to work, raise our families and survive here on earth.

What do Christians talk about?

  • It is rare to hear a conversation about heaven, what life will be like after death. Most conversation is focused on this world, the problems we have, the pain, the joy, the day-to-day existence of humanity.

If the goal of Christian faith is focused on the here and now and most Christians are, in turn, focused on the issues of daily living, What do you think our worship experience should be focused on?

  • Real life. While tradition and structure are often comforting, our worship experience must be focused on the relevant side of life. We are gathered to communicate to God about this world here and now, not necessarily the matters of next world we are to receive later.

What is God’s goals in all of this complexity we call life and existence?

  • “God intends to create a just, moral community, a people whose lives together will bear witness to His character as well as His grace.” (Richards, Background 251)

Section One: To Worship

What is the appropriate response to God’s love and mercy?

  • Worship. The New Testament uses three different Greek words for worship. One means “to show reverence,” another “to bow down to.” The third, the one Paul uses here is latreia. The emphasis on this word is “service.” Originally, it meant to “work for pay.” Over time it became to mean ” to serve” but as a special designation — it meant service to which a person gives their entire life.

Read Romans 12:1 to your group.

Why do you think Paul would connect the act of service and sacrifice to worship?

  • Paul used an adjective logoikos — “pertaining to the mind and soul.” Paul was describing the only thing that made sense in light of all God has done for us.
  • What kind of worship was Paul describing?
  • Our physical involvement through the making of our bodies as holy and pleasing to God.

What else can you conclude from this one verse of Romans about Paul’s instructions?

  • “I urge you brother” – Paul is handing out a loving invitation, not a command.
  • “in view of God’s mercy” – The reason to do this is because of God’s grace.
  • “this is your spiritual act of worship.” – The appropriateness of our being a living sacrifice.

What is the significance of Paul’s statement with regard to the Christian community today?

  • Many Christians believe that they can satisfy their requirements to worship through attending Sunday services, or being generous in the offering plate, or even volunteering for a few committees or church activities. Paul, however, sums it up. To satisfy our requirements, is to completely surrender to God, our bodies and the entirety of our beings.

How does the modern Christian separate their faith from their lives?

  • Acts of faith, reliance on prayer and worship (as Paul defines it) rarely reach beyond Sunday.

As you peer out into your workplace or your neighborhood, Can you spot the Christians?

  • This always represents one of the greatest arguments against the Christian faith. You find the world confused in that they cannot tell a Christian from an atheist except on Sunday morning.

How does Paul’s call for a sacrifice differ from the Levitical sacrifice of the Old Testament?

  • Most were ceremonial and done at public religious festivals. They involved the sacrifice of something other than the individual. Paul calls for no special place or ceremony. It is day by day, moment by moment, situation by situation, and
  • calls for the sacrifice of self.

Section Two: The Metamorphosis of Your Mind

Read Romans 12:2 to your group.

How does one begin to become a “Living Sacrifice?”

  • Don’t let the world press you into its mold.

What, exactly is “the world” to which we are no longer to conform?

  • The Greek word is kosmos. In ancient, classical Greek, the word implied two things:
    • a harmonious order to arrangement; and
    • an embellishment or adornment. In the Greek as it was used at the time of the New Testament, the word had come to convey three basic groups of meanings:
    • the material universe, the planet, the earth (example: Acts 17:24)
    • the inhabitants of the world (John 3:16) and accordingly, the whole race of human beings who are alienated from God and hostile to the cause of Christ (Heb. 11:38; John 14:17)
    • worldly affairs, goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, and values which stir human desires and seduce people away from God (1 John 2:15; Matt. 16:26; 1 Cor. 2:12; 3:19; 7:31; Titus 2:12)

God did not intend to keep us from the beauty of the physical world. It is not the mountains and trees, flowers, animals, etc. that are condemned. It the part of the world dominated by Satan that we are not to conform to.

How is it that we “do not conform?”

  • Our worldliness has to do with attitudes, loves and priorities.
  • If we as Christians are to be non-conformists, misfits and alien to this world, How is it we can resist the pressure and keep our attitudes, loves and priorities in line with those pleasing to God?
  • To “test and approve what God’s perfect will is.”

What does “test and approve” mean to you?

  • We are called to prove God’s will out by trying it and judging it worth, to know by experience. Experience with the will of God demonstrates that God’s will is “good” (profitable, generous), “pleasing” (acceptable), and “perfect” (fulfills the purpose for which it is designed). We each do this by choosing to do God’s will instead of conforming to the world. We do this every day, moment by moment, situation by situation.

What does metamorphosis mean?

  • To change form, structure, or substance.

How does this relate to Romans 12:2?

  • Paul uses the Greek word, metamorphoo, and calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Why is the analogy of a butterfly and a cocoon so perfect for this verse?

  • The worm, must begin the process by spinning a cocoon. Once it crawls inside, it waits while God’s mysteries take over, and Our Creator re-works the ugly worm into a beautiful butterfly.

How does spiritual metamorphosis occur?

  • It is more than the change of someone’s mind. It is a change of form and nature. It is a work of God. The Bible calls it Sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a process.

Note: Relating the act of Sanctification to the metamorphosis of a butterfly, match the following:

  • The worm — ourselves before fully turning ourselves over to God
  • The cocoon — God’s grace, a wonderful safe place to be comforted while the metamorphosis takes place
  • The butterfly — The Christian with attitudes, loves and priorities pleasing to God.

Bible Truth Being Taught

The grace of God and our justification by faith are not just for discussion or debate, but have practical implications for changing the lives of believers.

Our Response

To see the Christian life and worship as more than theology and religion, but as real life to be lived in conformity with the Word of God.

Last Chance To Say Goodbye

Teach us to number our days aright, that we gain a heart of wisdom.

~Psalms 90:12

Lesson44-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: Psalm 90 is one of the oldest pieces of poetry, written by Moses just before his death. The focus would lead us to believe that if someone was going away, they would spend their last moments giving those they love advice. Passing on those important learnings. Moses will pass on two very important points: Mankind’s sin and why we need God; and advice on how to pray to God.


If you knew that you were about to leave and not come back, what are the things you might tell your friends and family before you leave?

  • One typical response might be to tell the most important things you have learned and pass them on so others may benefit from your wisdom.

Section One: Our Eternal God

Have someone in your group read Psalm 90:1-2 and verse 4.

Moses is telling us that our true home is not a place but a person. Why does mankind struggle so with the concept of God?

  • Concepts like eternity, omnipresence, perfection, perfect justice, etc. are all beyond mankind’s ability to ever understand.
  • Mankind is not above nor equal to God.
  • Our intellect is insufficient to comprehend the full significance of our God.

There are two men in mountain figure. One views the mountain as a obstacle to overcome. The other man views the valley as his dominion.

How does this simple comparison relate to man’s perspective and God’s perspective?

  • Man sees the obstacles of the world as a mountain and encounters life as a barrier.
  • God views His world with full understanding since He was its creator and remains its sustainer.

Does the concept of time have any meaning to God? If God, therefore, is constant for ever, why does man worship the God that he wants rather than the God that is?

  • Man is imperfect and mortal. This weakness, caused by man’s separation from God, should be viewed as one more piece of evidence that man is here for God’s purpose, not God for man’s purpose.

Section Two: Man’s Mortality

Have someone in your group read Psalm 90:3 and 5-6

Do you think the world accepts its mortality?

  • Life is make cheap and expendable by Hollywood.
  • Beauty creams and health clubs flourish claiming to hold back the tides of time.
  • With age comes wisdom and it often seems that the only ones who think of their own mortality are the older people of our society.
  • Moses portrays our God as a knowing, feeling Being who does as he sees fit. Our trust in God is constructed upon how well we know Him. How do you get to know God?
  • Personal relationships are built over time. With each experience in life, each trusting lesson learned, the character of God is revealed to each of us in His own personal way. Through faith, hope, repentance, reliance on the Holy Spirit and a committed walk with Christ, we are promised that God’s loving parental nature will be revealed to us.

Section Three: The Sin of Mankind

Have someone in your group read Psalm 90:7-11.

What is the reason for man’s mortality?

(Read Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23) Man’s sin exposed him to death.

Some people refuse to believe that God will punish sin. What evidence do we have that this is a total misjudgment of God’s nature?

  • Biblical evidence – The Flood; the destruction of Sodom, the fall of Jerusalem.
  • Prophetic evidence – The last days of judgment as told in the Scriptures.
  • Just as paper and fire cannot coexist. God and His perfect holiness cannot mingle with the corruption of mankind without consuming it.

How is it then that God just doesn’t destroy mankind?

  • Because of the work of Christ on the cross. Our part is to acknowledge that we are lost sinners apart from divine grace, and to lay hold on salvation by faith. Through this, God becomes our Father rather than our Judge.

What happens when we reject the grace of God in Christ?

  • (Read Numbers 14:1-4) The children of Israel refused to enter Canaan and lived under the wrath of God. This is what Moses was referring to in verse 9 (Their average life span was 70 years). We live without hope, under the wrath of God and exposed to Satan’s domain without God’s protection.
  • Verse 11 was intended to inspire us to reverent fear of the intensity of God’s wrath and to holy living.

Section Four: Praying

While we all thank our God for His many blessings, Moses shows us it is also OK to pray for other things. There are five distinct petitions:

For Wisdom

Read Psalm 90:12 to your group.

What kind of wisdom should we pray for?

  • How to use our time wisely
  • Where do we come from?
  • Why are we here?
  • Where are we going?
  • Fear of the Lord
  • To shun evil
For Mercy

Read Psalm 90:13 to your group.

What kind of mercy should we pray for?

  • For our sin
  • For our impatience
  • For our failure to forgive others
For Joy

Read Psalm 90:14-15 to your group.

What is our joy?

  • Although sin deserves only judgment, God forgives and restores our fellowship with Him.
  • (Read Isaiah 61:3) Take comfort and gain joy in the knowledge that our God prefers mercy.
For Power

Read Psalm 90:16 to your group.

What kind of power are we to pray for?

  • Not so much power for us but a demonstration of power from God to build and strengthen our trust, hope and faith.
For Effectiveness

Read Psalm 90:17 to your group.

Can every Christian be effective for God?

  • Depends on who’s standards. If we trust in God and measure ourselves against His criteria, He assures us that we will be effective.
  • How do we transform ourselves to become effective workers?
  • (Read 2 Corinthians 3:18) Through the Word of God we must be transformed by a personal encounter with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith includes that the work we will be provided will be for God’s purpose, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to us.
  • Read Psalm 127:1 to your group.
  • Can we establish our own agenda and plan to please God?
  • He must establish it for our work to be effective.

Bible Truth Being Taught

Mankind’s mortality is due to our sin. We have a God that will listen to us and provide us ways to please Him so that our mortality is given purpose.

Our Response

To live a life of gratitude with an awareness of God’s eternal values, and to strive to have God’s perspectives as we face troubles and sorrows.

Choice Or Chance

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

~Luke 19:38

Lesson43-image001Materials Needed: Whiteboard or easel.

Notes to the Leader: This will never be a popular lesson. It focuses on the fact that each person is only given one choice with regard to their salvation. The hard part comes in that there are only two possible answers, either you are for Christ or against Him.

This lesson is also short and to the point. It is kept that way because that is the way this decision is not to be taken lightly. Each person is called not to complicate it with supposition, superstition, or wishful thinking. By studying and comparing how Jesus interacts with Zaccheus, the tax collector, we can begin to understand how Jesus will interact with us. Tax collectors in Christ’s time are the modern day example of the power hungry politician or the unethical corporate executive. In Biblical times, the tax collector made their money by stretching the rules of law in their financial favor. They were viewed by all as “sinners.”


Who would be the modern equivalent of tax collector’s in today’s society?

  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • Government groups in oversight roles that abuse their positions
  • Remember when you went to register your car or get a driver’s license
  • Some would add lawyers and politicians to that group although it is an unfair generalization

Christ chose the tax collector. Would you find Christ today choosing those mentioned above?

  • Yes. Just like in Jewish society, the tax collector was viewed by society as a sinful person, we find Christ going to those who need Him most.

Section One: Christ with the Sinner

Have someone in your group read Luke 19:1-10

While this may seem just like another story about a tax collector and Jesus, let’s look at the story and contrast the two people to see what we can learn about each. Use the whiteboard or easel.

Develop a list of the actions of both people.

Jesus is aware where sinners hide He acted on his desire to see who Jesus was (v.4)
Jesus takes the initiative (v.5) When Jesus asked to come into his home and life, he welcomed Him gladly (v.6)
Jesus attributes value to lost people He openly confessed his intention to live a new life (v.8)
Jesus is willing to ignore human improprieties and public opinion to reach a lost person (v.7)  He demonstrated his change of heart by a new attitude toward the use of his possessions (v.8)
Jesus accepts a sinner’s repentance as evidence of spiritual transformation (vv.8-9) He genuinely sought to make amends for wrongs he had done to others (v.8)
His actions were solid evidence of his salvation (vv.8-9)

Re-read Luke 19:10 to your group.

What meaning to you assign to the word “lost” in this story?

  • The New Testament does not mean damned or doomed. It means in the wrong place. Like anything lost, to objective is to return it to where it belongs. So it is the objective of Jesus to return those who are lost to the Kingdom of God.

Section Two: Christ and His People

Have someone in your group read Luke 19:11-27

This is the Parable of the Ten Minas (10 minas were worth three months wages). Like all parables, Jesus had a reason for telling this to His disciples. What was it?

  • His disciples still believed that the kingdom Jesus talked about was an earthly kingdom. This was to help them understand that their perception was wrong. Verse by verse, lets look at what Jesus was telling them.
  • Before the messianic kingdom can come, Christ would travel to be with His father. (v.12)
  • While they were to wait for Christ’s return as king, His loyal servants will each be entrusted with resources with which to work until His return. (v.13)
  • There would be bitter opposition. (v.14)
  • In spite of the opposition, Christ will be appointed king and return. (v.15)
  • Upon His return, Christ will call together His trusted servants to see what they have done with what He has given them. (vv.17,19)

What is the purpose for the evaluation?

  • The entrusted, but limited resources and opportunities are designed as a test to see if His servants are fit for more significant service.
  • The reward for faithful service is not rest, but promotion to greater service. (vv17,19)
  • Unprofitable servants were motivated not by faith but by fear.

What was their fear?

  • They had a distorted concept of God. (v.21)

What is the primary principle of the parable?

  • Even the smallest gift must be put to good use. (v.26)

Section Three: Christ Enters the City

Have someone in your group read Luke 19:28-44

Why were the people in the city lined up in celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem?

  • There were probably at least three motives:
    • His miracles had built Him a large following of curiosity seekers;
    • His message had won the hearts of people; and
    • Some hated Him and were planning His death.
  • Note: William Barkley ‘s commentary points out five things about Christ’s entry:
    • It was carefully planned. Can you point out one area of careful planning?
  • He made prior arrangements with the owners of the colt.
  • It was both an act of defiance and of courage.
  • It was a deliberate claim to be king.
  • It was one last appeal.

Why did Jesus weep over the city of Jerusalem?

  • He knew the outcome of their defiance and hatred of Himself.

Do you think that Christ weeps for those who are lost today?

  • The answer is easy, it is yes of course. However, the real question is do we weep for the lost with Christ?

Bible Truth Being Taught

People have a choice – To receive Christ as king or to reject Him. Each choice has serious implications (both short term and long term).

Our Response

To make Christ king of our lives and to be faithful with the opportunities that we have to serve Him.

Why The Gospel of John Is Different

 In Him was life and the life was the light of men

~John 1:4

Lesson42-image001Materials Needed: White board or easel. A candle for each person and a book of matches.

Notes to the Leader: The Gospel of John may be the perfect place for a beginning Bible student to start their amazing journey. John died around 100 AD placing him in his 90’s. His gospel was written very late in his life, around 85 AD or later. If we compare this to the other three gospels: Matthew 50 AD, Mark 60-70 AD, and Luke 59-63 AD, we can conclude that John wrote last, after some considerable time had passed between the other gospels.

You may want to consider ending this lesson with the following example. It requires that you are able to completely darken the room your group is in. Prior to darkening the room, give each person a candle. Darken the room. Strike the match. Emphasize that the huge room of darkness was overcome by just a little light. “Light wins, darkness looses.” Such is the message in Chapter 1 of John. Now light your candle. Then light someone next to you. Ask each person to light the candle next to them, to pass it on. The message is that only light can be shared and as it is, it grows in strength, to fully overcome the dark room.


The Gospel of John is quite different from the other three. Some of the differences are:

  • No account of the birth of Jesus, of His baptism, of His temptations.
  • Nothing about the Last Supper, nothing of Gethsemane, and nothing of the Ascension.
  • It has no word of healing people possessed by devils and evil spirits.
  • Most surprising is its complete lack of parables.
  • John’s account of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is different.
  • Most of John’s account of Jesus’ ministry takes place in Jerusalem, not Galilee as in the other gospels.
  • John’s account of the length of Jesus’ ministry is different. John states three years while the others imply only one year.
  • John places the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry while the other gospels place it at the end.
  • John also dates the crucifixion on the day before the Passover while the others date it as on the Passover.

Read John 1:4-5 to your group.

How is the word light used to describe Jesus?

  • The light of men, or someone who acts as a beacon.

Read John 1:7 to your group.

How does the phrase through Him add clarity to our relationship with Jesus?

  • As a gate or door, we find salvation by finding Christ.

Read John 1:14 to your group.

How does the use of the word Word help define the role of Jesus?

  • As the Bible was given to man as God’s own inspired words, we seek the Bible to know God. If Jesus is God’s own Word, Jesus is God, a human Bible, a Living Example of God so mankind can know God.

Why do you think that John’s gospel would be so different than that of the other disciples?

  • John wrote last, after some considerable time had passed between the other gospels. His perspective is one of adding clarity to existing gospels, not necessarily one of a historian. John had watched people respond to the words of Jesus but misunderstand their true meaning. John wanted to share his very important perspective. It is from John’s gospel that we can find the real meaning of Christian faith.

Section One: The Word

Have someone in your group read John 1:1-8.

The use of the “WORD” by John to describe Jesus was a masterful choice.

Would you consider a language that was powerful one with a lot of words or a few words?

  • Hebrew was a language with power. It was often given its own independent existence. However, it had only 10,000 words. In comparison, Greek had 200,000. A language with a few words is more likely to go to the heart of the matter. To the Jew, their language was charged with energy and power.

Can you think of some old testament examples of how words demonstrated power? Here is some help:

  • Read Genesis 1:3,6,11 The word of God had creating power.
  • Read Isaiah 55:11; Jeremiah 23:29; Psalm 33;6; Psalm 107:20; Genesis 27.
  • Note: Prior to the coming of Jesus, Hebrew had become a forgotten language. The language of the day was called Aramaic. In order to provide greater understanding to the Jews, the Old Testament was translated into Aramaic (called Targum). In order not to introduce an indifference to God, the translators typically replaced the Hebrew reference to God with the Word of God. They thought that this kept them from humanizing God.
  • The Greek word for word is Logos. However, Logos has two meanings: Word and Reason (as in wisdom)

Have someone in your group read Proverbs 8:22-30.

Who is speaking in these verses and what significance can be extrapolated with regard to Reason?

  • Reason (wisdom) is speaking. Reason (wisdom) has eternal existence. We define Logos today as the power which puts sense into the world, the power which makes the world an order instead of chaos, the power which set the world going and keeps it going in its perfect order.

Section Two: The World

Have someone in your group read John 1:1-2.

We can find at least three significant points about John’s use of the Word to describe Jesus in this verse. Can you list them?

  • Jesus was not created. He was there before creation.
  • Jesus was with God. Therefore, know one can know God as well as Jesus does.
  • Jesus is God. This is a difficult concept to understand. John did not say that Jesus was identical to God. John was saying that Jesus was so perfectly the same as in mind, in heart, in being that in Him we perfectly see what God is like.

Section Three: The Creator of All

Read John 1:3 to your group.

Note: Here we can find two basic points of Christianity. At this time, John was addressing the concerns and beliefs of a group called Gnostics. This group believed that in the beginning two things existed, matter and God. Matter was impure and God was pure. Therefore, God did not interact with matter.

What are the two points that John is telling us?

  • The world was created by God out of nothing. Therefore, there was no pre-existing matter. The world did not begin with an essential flaw. Our belief is that behind everything there is God and God alone.
  • This is God’s world. What is wrong with it is not the fault of God, but the fault of mankind. We are not to dislike the world. It is God’s. Each of us should have a sense of value and a sense of responsibility to the world. Always remember that God created each of us with “free will.” While that gave us true freedom, it also created a world filled with imperfections.

Section Four: Life and Light

Read John 1:4 and John 20:31 to your group.

John begins and ends with describing life as in Jesus. He uses the word life more than 35 times and the verb live, more than 15 times.

What then does John mean by life?

  • Life is the opposite of death and destruction. Therefore, God sent Jesus so that we may have eternal life rather than death and destruction.
  • While Jesus is the bringer of life, God is the giver of life.
  • If you lived here on earth as you are now forever, eternally, would this be the life that John is talking about?
  • I sure hope not. Life, as John is describing it is to have a quality about it. Life will be more than duration.

How then do we enter that life?

  • By believing in Jesus. We must be:
    • Convinced that Jesus is really and truly the Son of God; and
    • Our belief must be more than intellectual. We must be willing to accept His commandments as absolute and binding, to believe without question that what He says is true.

The next key word used is Light. What is John telling us about light?

  • The light Jesus brings is good. It puts an end to chaos.
  • The light Jesus brings is a revealing light.
  • The light Jesus brings is a guiding light.

Section Five: The Dark

Read John 1:5 to your group. Use your white board or easel to make a list of your group’s ideas.

Describe the elements of darkness as in night time or the dark? How does night time affect our world today?

  • Darkness hides. At night we have more crime. We are afraid. It is difficult to find our way. We are more easily injured. Evil hides.

What does John say about darkness and Jesus the light?

  • The darkness is hostile to the light. However, the darkness has no power over the light.
  • The darkness stands for the natural sphere of all those who hate the good. It is the evil that fears the light (John 3:19-20).
  • There will be future scriptural references where darkness will also stand for ignorance. Especially when it is a willful ignorance which refuses the light of Jesus. (John 8:12, 12:35, 12:46)

Have someone in your group read John 13:30.

Does this passage reflect the darkness of night time or ignorance?

  • To John, the Christless life was in the dark. The darkness stands for life without Christ, especially for those who willingly turned their backs. We can interpret three more key points from this passage:
  • The darkness never understood the light.
  • The darkness never overcame the light.
  • The darkness has tried to extinguish the light as in a fire or flame. This is the interpretation that best describes our Christian belief. Although generations of people have tried to obscure and extinguish the light of God in Christ, they have not succeeded. In every generation, Christ’s light still shines in spite of the effort of those who try to put out the flame.

Section Six: The Witness

Have someone in your group read John 1:6-8

John had been faced with people that placed John the Baptist in a role of greater importance than his role of prophet. What and who are Jesus’ witnesses?

  • God.
  • Jesus himself.
  • Jesus’ works. (John 5:36)
  • The Scriptures ( John 5:39).
  • The last of the prophets.
  • Those who Jesus came in contact with. (this should include each of us)
  • The disciples and especially John.
  • The Holy Spirit

In what way do you bear witness to Christ?

  • This is an open time to discuss the role of the Christian in the world and how others see our actions. You may want to make a list of the group’s comments on your whiteboard or easel.

Bible Truth Being Taught

Jesus is both deity and human. We can learn this through the study of God’s Word.

Our Response

To understand that every part of Scripture has been given to us so that we may come to have a personal relationship with Christ.

Leading the Flock

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.

~1 Timothy 1:15

Lesson41-image001Materials Needed: 3 by 5 inch index cards and pencils for your group.

Notes to the Leader: This lesson examines the risks associated with improper teaching. For all of us who lead bible study, these are the lessons that we respect the most. Paul, of the letter to Timothy, is critical of the teaching going on in the church at Ephesus. Through Paul’s examination of this early church, we can learn some of the expectations God sets for those who assume the role of Christian Leader. Anyone in this role must always be on guard for error introduced by their own interpretations, bias, or lack of knowledge.


What should the background or requirements be for church leaders, especially those who pass on through leading studies, the very essence of the Christian faith?

The following requirements are taken from 1 Timothy 3:1-7

  • Must be above reproach
  • The husband of but one wife
  • Temperate
  • Self-controlled
  • Respectable
  • Hospitable
  • Able to teach
  • Not given to drunkenness
  • Not violent but gentle
  • Not quarrelsome
  • Not a lover of money
  • Manage Their own family well and see that their children obey with proper respect
  • Not a recent convert
  • Must have a good reputation with outsiders

Section One: The Types of Errors

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 1:3-4

What is the caution given to us by the Apostle Paul?

  • Be wary of teaching that contains doctrinal errors.

What is the risk of pursuing doctrinal errors?

  • We are led off of the real message of the Gospel and lose track of its message.

How do these errors manifest themselves?

  • In mysticism. Claims that only the “special” people can understand the real message of the gospel
  • The prosperity gospel, the focus on the gains without regard to the costs
  • Superstitions or unfounded stories can easily lead us astray.

What are some of the modern day myths we are given concerning the Bible?

  • Endless Genealogies. Pride, driven by family heritage or lineage mean little to God.
  • Controversies. The early church focused on finding the answer to who was the greatest.

What are some of the current controversies affecting the Church?

  • The actions of some of the governing bodies
  • Fund raising
  • Worship style, including music, times, dress, etc.
  • Differing agendas with regard to outreach, mission, service, etc.

Note: These are but Satan’s distractions to dilute the power of the Gospel and the Church.

What is our responsibility in all of this?

  • To study and know the Scripture sufficiently, that we may recognize the errors of doctrine and lead our Church back to Christ’s mission.

How do we protect ourselves from false doctrine?

  • Accept that the responsibility for our knowledge of the Gospel rests with us, and no one else
  • Accountability
  • Fellowship
  • Prayer
  • Regular worship attendance

Read 1 Timothy 1:5 to your group.

How can we test our teachers to know whether the message they give is consistent with God’s will?

  • The results shown by the lives of the people that hear the message. If they are leading lives dependent upon the Holy Spirit, producing Christ-like characteristics in their lives, and living a life that is pure of heart, of good conscience, and with sincerely, then we should see the results, affection, caring and self-giving to each other.

Should those with false teaching be cast out of the Church?

  • Paul doesn’t say that they should be put out of the Church. He says that they should be won back to the truth.

What to you think causes someone to move into the ranks of being a False Teacher (Leader)?

  • Ambition
  • Desire to gain influence
  • Ego-satisfaction
  • Money

Final Point: False teaching becomes a problem when the subject matter focuses on legalism rather than the true meaning of the gospel “love.” Legalism is basically rules for rules sake.

Section Two: The Purpose of God’s Law

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 1:8-11

How do we know if the Law (as taught to us through Scriptures) is good?

  • The Law reveals God. We see the Ten Commandments in action.
  • The Law convicts us of sin.

Note: It sometimes helps to point out to your group that the word “law” is found in two forms in Scripture: (a) the lowercase “l” as in law; and (b) the uppercase “L” as in Law. In the first example, lower case “l,” the Bible is referring to the man-made parts of law. In the latter example, the uppercase “L,” Scripture is referring to God’s Law. When reading the Bible, it is important to always note these subtle differences or it can lead to misunderstanding.

If we can be perfect by just following the Ten Commandments, is this a reasonable goal to have a Christian?

  • The Law limits us as Christians. In essence we can be perfect by doing nothing. However, the New Testament calls each of us to a greater task, to love one another. This love and its caring, servanthood, and obedience to God go beyond the Law.

Section Three: The Rescue of a Sinner

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 1:13-16

The Apostle Paul considers himself to be one of the worst sinners. Why?

  • Because Paul’s actions against the Christian Church were done under the pretext that Paul was righteous and they were wrong. It was not that he did not believe, but that he believed but did not understand.

Why do you think that God would have chosen the “worst of sinner” to use as his messenger?

  • God has unlimited patience for all; and Paul was exactly the kind of person that Christ came into the world to save.

Section Four: The Power of Grace

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 1:18-20, instructing your group to look particularly at the words FIGHT, FAITH, and REJECTED.

In these two short verses, what do you think Paul is trying to bring to our attention?

  • To follow God is a fight, it is not easy.
  • To maintain one’s faith in the fight is the goal. It is the ultimate prize.
  • To be rejected and given to Satan is a frightening thing.

Do you know someone who will be spending eternity with Satan? What do you think Paul would tell us about our responsibilities with respect to that person?

The torments of Satan can do two things, win someone over to an eternal death or cause them to learn that their ways are wrong and that they must change. Our responsibilities are to pray for that person, to share the Gospel with them and to make every attempt to provide them the fellowship of God’s people.

Section Five: A Closing Thought

Pass out the pencils and have each member of your group take a 3 by 5 index card.

Do you have a person in your life that does not know Christ? Are they at risk of spending eternity separated from God?

  • Have them write the name anonymously on their card.
  • Take time in these closing minutes to pray for them. Ask God to provide the impetus in their lives to acknowledge that salvation begins with God, that sin is a barrier, that Christ is God’s provision for sin, and that they must personally invite Christ into their lives.

Bible Truth Being Taught

God watches the motives of all who step forward and lead His people.

Our Response

To become aware of the deceptiveness of faulty teaching, and to learn to deal graciously with the difficult people in our lives, through prayer and faith in Jesus Christ.

Tending The Fire Of Love

I opened my door for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.

~Song of Songs 5:6

Lesson39-image001Materials Needed: None

Notes to the Leader: This study topic is right to the point: premarital sex is wrong. Before you embark on this message, you should examine your own opinions and consider the people in your group. Many people try to defend worldly behavior but Scripture gives us examples of how God intended men and women to share love. The Song of Songs appears to be written by Solomon and Shulammith. It is speculated that when Solomon assumed the role of King, he received many wives. In addition, the leaders of many countries provided Solomon with many wives and concubines (about 700). All this, not for love but for influence. Shulammith is believed to be Solomon’s true love, the one woman he held above all others. While it is not filled with commands, it walks us through a godly relationship between a man and a woman.


How does absence interfere with a relationship?

  • People learn to become independent, to fend for themselves. There is a tendency to loose those things that bond people together, the dependencies.

Section One: The Rocky Road Of Love

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 5:2-4.

What can you learn about Solomon’s relationship with Shulammith through the names he calls her?

  • My Sister – Emphasizing the permanence and familiarity of their relationship.
  • My love – emphasizing his commitment to and delight in caring for her.
  • My dove – emphasizing her gentleness, softness, and the peace he finds with her.
  • My flawless one – emphasizing her moral purity and godly character.

How would you interpret Shulammith’s response to Solomon’s return?

  • Their time apart shows its stress. Her initial response was not quite what Solomon was expecting.

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 5:5-8.

What do you see in Shulammith’s response that tells you they had a strong relationship?

  • There was no pouting or getting even. Immediately, she worked for reconciliation.

Section Two: The Key to Making Up

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 5:9-6:3.

What is the key to reconciliation?

  • Remembering the good things about the relationship.

What did Shulammith remember about Solomon?

  • Solomon was radiant; ruddy; outstanding; head is purest gold; black, wavy hair; eyes like doves; handsome face; arms like rounded gold set with jewels; body like polished ivory; legs smooth like pillars of marble; appearance like a cedar tree; speech and kisses utterly desirable; and summarizing, everything about him is delightful.
  • She remembers his love and intimacy in their favorite place, the garden.

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 6:4-12.

What is it that Solomon and Shulammith are doing that seems to keep the spark of love alive for them?

  • Praise and confession of their love for one another. Both are accepting responsibility

What does praise and confession do for a relationship?

  • Cuts through insecurity – Chapter 1
  • Provides a setting for love to grow and problems to be dealt with – Chapter 2
  • Enhances physical love-making – Chapter 4
  • Overcomes indifference, hurt and resentment – Chapter 5 & 6

Read Song of Songs 6:11-12 to your group.

Using the illustration of a nut such as a walnut, How would you describe the effort of reconciliation that is being described here?

  • The hard shell is bitter but the inner fruit is sweet. Such is the difficulty of keeping relationships healthy. After such a difficult time, mature relationships return to something much sweeter.
  • Read Song of Songs 6:13 to your group. One interpretation of this verse is that the women of Jerusalem are calling for Shulammith to jump off of Solomon’s chariot and dance before all of them, “so that we may gaze on your beauty.”
  • From this, we can assume that much of the praise and reconciliation that has just taken place may have been in the public eye. The ladies want to see this “beauty” as described by their king.

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 7:1-10.

What is Solomon’s response to this?

  • Verse 10 states it plainly, these things are for him alone.

How would we translate this attitude of Solomon’s into a modern attitude for men today?

  • A woman’s body, sex, the entire relationship between man and woman is to be private. Every woman needs the encouragement to withhold such beauty and private things for the bonds of marriage. Somehow it is hard to imagine that Solomon would have encouraged Shulammith to walk with him down a sandy beach while she wore a string bikini or asked her to “sext him on her smartphone.”

Section Three: The Right Setting for Love

Read Song of Songs 7:11 to your group.

What is Shulammith asking Solomon for?

  • She is asking him for her ideal setting for romance.

Why is this important?

  • God has given each Godly union between a man and woman permission to enjoy each other completely. We are allowed, by God, to consider the atmosphere. There is nothing wrong in choosing a romantic place.

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 7:12-13.

What is Shulammith doing?

  • Picking her romantic place.

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 8:1-2.

What does Shulammith want in her relationship?

  • She wants to publicly display affection and, because the relationship is right and holy, have the community bless it.

What do you think that Shulammith’s mother taught her? (see verse 8:2)

  • It may represent something she learned concerning the importance of both partners being ready before love is consummated.

Where do children learn this today?

  • Nowhere except the home. The media, the entertainment industry, the kids at school, all destroy this concept of being ready. Love it typically displayed as a cheap thrill.

Section Five: Love’s Commitment

Read Song of Songs 8:5 to your group.

Imagine this the closing scene in a play called “Solomon’s True Love.” How would you describe it?

  • The happy return of a health couple, walking hand in hand into the city.

What does the apple tree represent?

  • The apple tree was sometimes used as a symbol of love and romance. Shulammith is reflecting back upon some special moment. She remembers the birthplace of their love.

For that special person in your life, Can you remember back to that moment?

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 8:5-7.

What does Shulammith ask Solomon to do?

  • To be a “seal” over his heart. This is like the king’s signet ring, that all would know she is his.
  • To apply this as an illustrative example of our relationship with Christ, How should Christ be viewed in your own life?
  • The king’s seal was visible. Others should see us as having Christ’s seal “over our hearts.” This cannot be done in silence. All the world must know, we are His.

Who does she see as the originator of their love?

  • God v. 6

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 8:8-10.

What is Shulammith’s advice concerning marriage?

  • That the sexual act that is appropriate in marriage is not consummated before its time. She will do this through constantly communicating its value.

Why does Shulammith state that her advice is good advice?

  • She says, look at me and my own relationship with Solomon. It is health, the way God intended it to be.

Have someone in your group read Song of Songs 8:11-14.

Note: Solomon is king with the right to administer his possessions as he sees fit. Shulammith has given herself, the vineyard, and all benefits that accrue to him from having her as his wife.

However, what is Solomon’s attitude in this relationship?

  • Solomon reinforces that man and wife belong to each other. She does not become a non-person in the arrangement. If she responds to him, it is done so freely, not because he “owns” her. Solomon and Shulammith are sharing a truly open marriage, blessed by God. It has a wonderful permanence to it.

Bible Truth Being Taught

God joins man and woman to serve each other with respect and honor. This is gained by viewing sex as part of God’s plan for a man and woman after they have committed their relationship to God.

Our Response

To go against the world’s view of sex and pleasure, teaching our young men and women to respect each other physically.

Tearing Down the Church’s Walls

However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.

~Acts 4:48

Lesson38-image001Materials Needed: A WhiteBoard or Easel.

Notes to the Leader: In this lesson, we will study the powerful message of one Christian, Stephen, and the angered response of the Sanhedrin. All of this ends in the stoning and death of Stephen. The way Stephen stood up for his beliefs offers us an opportunity to examine the responsibilities of each Christian and the consequences (sometimes) of standing up for one’s beliefs.

The lesson concludes with a survey that can be done either together as a group or individually. You may want to consider having the survey prepared as a hand out for the end of the lesson. There is a lot of Scripture to read so you might want to also consider assigning verses ahead of time to speed up the process.


When you hear a sermon, How do you determine its value to you?

  • There are many criteria that people apply. Some respond positively if:
    • They agree
    • Feel spiritually moved to do so
    • Believe that it is generally beneficial to others
    • Makes them feel good about themselves
    • Negative responses come from:
    • Message causes discomfort or change of lifestyle
    • Brings back painful memories

When you hear a message that is difficult to believe or goes against your own set of beliefs, what is the proper response?

  • God speaks to many of us through our pastoral messages, Bible studies, books, etc. While no man can represent himself as always interpreting Scriptures correctly, our first response should never be anger.
  • Examination of the message against God’s own Word should be considered a personal responsibility of each Christian. We are held accountable for our own beliefs. There may be times when we must stand up for our faith.

Section One: A Witness

Have someone in your group read Acts 6:1-10. Before you start, you may want to use this question to build a list on your white board or easel. Re-read the verses several times, asking your group to work through the question.

Can you find the attributes that describe who Stephen was and what type of person he must have been like?

  • He had a Greek name, therefore, Stephen was a foreign-born member of the Grecian Jews in Jerusalem.
  • His most effective ministry was among the Grecian Jews (v. 8-10).
  • He had a good reputation in the Christian community (v. 3).
  • He was full (living and working in the energy, under the influence) of the Holy Spirit (vv. 3, 5, 10).
  • He was full of wisdom (vv. 3, 10).
  • He was known for his faith (v. 5).
  • Both the apostles and the church affirmed him as Spirit-filled and gifted (vv. 5-6).
  • He was “full of grace,” indicating that God was pleased with him and his ministry was marked with a spirit of acceptance and gentleness (v. 8).
  • His ministry was effective (v. 8).
  • His ministry was accompanied by evidence of spiritual reality (v. 8).
  • He had an apostolic style ministry of preaching and healing among the people (v. 8).
  • He was a skillful apologist, able to frustrate the arguments of the Gospel’s detractors (6:10).

Section Two: The Indictment

Have someone in your group read Acts 6:9-10.

Note: The Freedmen were emancipated slaves or children of former slaves who had migrated to Jerusalem from far away places.

What evidence do you see that Stephen’s message was correct and effective?

  • Stephen’s message was frustrating to those who could not defend against it.
  • His enemies dug in their heels in angry resistance.

Have someone in your group read Acts 6:11-14.

What was Stephen talking about that got him in trouble?

  • Note: Blasphemy comes from the Greek word blasphemeo, meaning to slander or speak lightly of the sacred. To speak negatively against the Law which was given by Moses and by God was to blaspheme.
  • Stephen also was establishing Jesus as the messiah. Jesus had specific teachings about the temple and the Law. These were being used against Stephen.
  • Since Christ had come, the is obsolete as a place to worship God (John 4:23-24; Luke 21:6).
  • The Law and all its sacrifices and rituals have been fulfilled in Christ and the church (Matt. 5:17).
  • With the advent of the Holy Spirit, the Law was written on the minds and hearts of believers (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; 10:16).
  • The Gospel must be carried to the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Matt. 28:19).

What other reasons can you think of that would upset the leaders so much about Stephen’s comments regarding the temple?

  • The temple was the economic advantage for those in charge. Tithes were coming in from all over the region.

Read Acts 6:15 to your group. As with Moses (Ex. 34:29-35), Stephen had the physical evidence of being close to God. While Stephen was on trial, he was visibly in God’s presence (Matt. 28:20).

Why didn’t God protect him from the Sanhedrin?

  • It is always hard to understand God’s purpose and plan. In retrospect only, can we see that protection was not what God wanted for Stephen. His martyrdom forever altered the Christian church. That was a much more godly and noble purpose.

Section Three: The Defense

If you have time, read Acts 7:2-53. Stephen’s message establishes two key points:

  1. They accused him of slandering Moses and God. He argues it is the Jews who keep rejecting Moses and God (7:27, 35, 39-43, 51-53).
  2. They accused him of speaking against the temple by saying God will be worshiped in other places. He argues that God Himself demonstrates that He is not tied to a man made house of worship, by has always met men wherever they were (7:2, 9, 30-33, 39, 48-50).

This is the longest speech recorded in Acts. It is a complete summation of Stephen’s faith.

Have someone in your group read Acts 7:2-8.

What were the points of Stephen’s story up to his point?

  • God originally called a man out of paganism to be the father of Israel.
  • Men worshiped God long before the Law or temple or any designated “holy place” existed.
  • People who respond with faith to God’s revelation of Himself are not limited to a particular spot for worship.
  • Abraham ha no tangible object to trust — he believed and acted upon “the bare Word of God.”

Have someone in your group read Acts 7:9-16.

Can you continue and find the points Stephen is building for his defense?

  • Exile from the Promised Land does not mean separation from God.
  • Israel’s pattern of rejecting God’s intended rescuers began with the patriarchs (Joseph’s brothers).
  • Like Abraham, Joseph had no tangible object in which to place his trust — He believed and acted upon his faith and God’s revelation of Himself (Gen. 37:5-11; 39:2).

Have someone re-read Acts 7:17-41.

Again, can you find the points made about our God that are being made?

  • God did not forget Israel when the were far from the Promised Land.
  • God sent Israel a deliverer in Moses, but again, they rejected the one God sent.
  • Israel’s rejection could not alter the plan of God — the rejected deliverer became their ruler and judge.
  • God declared a spot in Gentile territory “holy ground.” The point, the presence of God makes a place holy.
  • Moses had no earthly object to trust — be believed and acted upon God’s words.
  • Israel’s pattern of rejection continued even after God delivered them from slavery.
  • While on “holy ground,” (Sinai), Israel rejected Moses and God.
  • Israel’s pattern of rejecting God persisted until the exile in Babylon.
  • Idolatry is defined as worshiping what our hands have made (v. 41).

Have someone in your group read Acts 7:44-50.

Can you find the blueprint that God gave Moses for the tabernacle?

  • Furnishings which were shadowy pictures of spiritual realities to be realized in personal relationship with God through Jesus (v. 44; Heb. 9,10).
  • Mobility, so Israel would have a reminder that God was dwelling among them as they moved from place to place (v. 45).
  • So many of the Jews believed that God dwelled in the temple. The temple was looked upon as the only place to find God and worship God. To do this was, in essence, limiting God. Stephen’s message was later summarized and taught by the apostles. The message is this:
  1. 1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
  2. Ephesians 2:22 – “In Him (Christ) you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”
  3. 1 Peter 2:5 – “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

If these three points are the framework for God’s dwelling place, what problems do you see in today’s society or even today’s Christian church with respect to these points?

  • We don’t treat each other like God is in the other person; we don’t treat ourselves like God is in us.

Have someone in your group read Acts 7:51-53.

What is Stephen’s indictment of the Sanhedrin based upon?

  • They never stop resisting the Holy Spirit (v. 51; Isaiah 63:10).
  • They are implicated, with their ancestors, in the persecution and martyrdom of the prophets (v. 52).
  • They are guilty of betrayal and murder of the Messiah (v. 52).
  • They are guilty of disobedience to the Law the claim to defend (v. 53).

Section Four: Our First Christian Martyr

Read Acts 7:55-56 to your group.

Stephen is given a rare glance at Jesus standing at God’s right side. This is a reminder that Jesus is to be the focus of our faith, and the guarantor of our salvation.

Have someone from your group read Acts 7:57-60.

Aside from the example of Stephen following Christ’s forgiving spirit at death, what is the significance of Stephen’s prayers?

  • Stephen committed his spirit to Jesus, thereby, showing that Jesus was on the same level as God.
  • We get a first glimpse of the apostle Paul here too.
  • Take a Stephen Survey. How would you respond in Stephen’s circumstances?
  • Issue Yes No Undecided

What are the questions to ask yourself?

  • Telling the truth in every circumstance?
  • Exposing idolatry when you find it in your life?
  • Exposing idolatry when you find it in your church?
  • The belief that people are more important than sacred buildings?
  • Confronting leaders with their sin?
  • Freedom to meet God anywhere?
  • Refusal to allow religious institutions to take the place of God?
  • Challenging Christian organizations to be true to God’s Word?
  • An opportunity to win someone to Jesus?
  • Freedom to do what you believe is right regardless of what others think?
  • Loyalty to your fellow Christians?

Bible Truth Being Taught

God meets His people anywhere. No human structure can contain Him. Yet people easily turn sacred places and experiences with God into idols they worship instead of God.

Our Response

To understand that no earthly place is intrinsically sacred. We need to worship God as Spirit in the context of a personal relationship with Him.

Gospel’s Message of Inclusion

Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.

~Acts 10:34-35

Lesson37-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: This lesson is to develop a sense of tolerance and acceptance for everyone. Diversity is not always an easy subject to talk about. Everyone has a bias toward something. It does not mean we must accept everyone’s beliefs or lifestyle. It does mean that everyone has the right to hear the Gospel’s message and personally choose to accept it or reject it. We do not make that decision.

In this part of Acts, we can find a model of evangelism that can help define what it means to “share the good news.”


What are the reasons that someone might feel superior to another person?

  • Intellect, moral, hygienic, financial, physical, ethnic.

Read Acts 10:28 to your group.

What point to you think Peter is trying to make here that is relevant to all of us today?

  • This was the moment of release for the Gospel. Peter comes to the conclusion that the Gospel is a message for everyone. No person has the right to exclude another person from their ability to hear the Gospel’s message and receive Christ’s salvation.

How do we exclude people from the Church today?

  • By policy
  • By status
  • By indifference
  • By location
  • By fellowship (internally focused)

Section One: The Power of Peter’s Message

Have someone in your group Read Acts 9:32-43.

Peter heals Aeneas. What was the subtle point that Peter was making about the healing?

  • Peter did not heal. Christ healed.

Do you think that Peter’s raising of Tabitha from the dead was showmanship to impress people? Peter could have done this privately and not been so public about it.

  • Peter did not raise Tabitha from the dead, Christ did.
  • The public display of the miracle was to draw attention to Christ’s power, not Peter’s.
  • Serving people, filling physical needs, and salvation all go together.
  • The grandstanding only starts when we take credit.

Section Two: Fearing God

Have someone in your group read Acts 10:1-8. Caesarea was primarily a Gentile city located on the Mediterranean 35 north of Joppa. It was the center of the Roman occupational government in Judea. Caesarea may have had as many as 10,000 freedmen (freed slaves) living there. Cornelius was a descendent of this group.

(Acts 10:1-4) God chose Cornelius to be a central figure in this revolutionary change in the Church. What can you tell about Cornelius?

  • He was a centurion.
  • He was assigned to the Italian Regiment.
  • He was a “God-fearer.”
  • He was generous to the poor.
  • He kept Jewish times of prayer.
  • He sought to live for God, but stopped short of full conversion by refusing circumcision (see Acts 11:3).
  • He brought his family with him on his journey of faith.

How can we tell that God does not necessarily require the “circumcision” or the Jewish conversion to accept one’s faith?

  • Cornelius’ prayers and offerings to the poor were accepted by God.

Was Cornelius saved?

  • No, he did not know Christ. This was to come later.

(Acts 10:5-8) What is significant about this seemingly insignificant biblical fact?

  • While God was at work in Cornelius’ heart, God also provided for the inclusion of other Christians to facilitate salvation. This is evangelism. God working in lives, people interacting in lives, all for the purpose of salvation.

Section Three: A vision of Acceptance and Freedom

Have someone in your group read Acts 10:9-12.

What can we discern about our God in these passages?

  • God speaks to people when they pray. It is one of the many purposes and benefits of prayer.
  • The Greek word for Peter’s experience is ekstasis, a displacement of the mind from its ordinary state, a trance.

Can you tell by Peter’s vision, the message God was giving him?

  • Jews were to be separated from all others. They were the “chosen people.” The rituals of eating certain foods, avoiding certain foods and cleansing were all part of the ritual of separation. Peter was being told by God that nothing God created is bad. This was to be directly applied to the Jew and Gentile.

Have someone in your group Read Acts 10:13-16.

Why do you think that God was so dramatic on His point to Peter?

  • Peter was about to be called to go to the home of Cornelius. Had Peter adhered to Jewish law, he would not have entered Cornelius’ home. This would have been a great hindrance to an evangelist.

Section Four: Obeying the Vision, Taking the Risk

Have someone in your group read Acts 10:23-35.

How did Peter respond and how does that same response set an example for us today?

  • While Peter still did not fully understand the vision, he did understand God’s calling.
  • Peter let outsiders, gentiles, into his home.
  • Peter then went to Caesarea.
  • Peter recognized he would need help so he took some along.
  • Peter admitted that even he was still learning.
  • Peter made a clear statement of inclusiveness. (vv. 34-35)

Have someone in your group read Acts 10:36-48.

Peter shares the Gospel. Exactly what did he say?

  • He told them about Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection, and future judgment.
  • His words emphasized that Christ was the Messiah, Lord, and Savior.
  • That the forgiveness of sins was available through Christ’s name.
  • Should this be the typical model for all evangelism that we do?
  • This is not necessarily a model for evangelism. Evangelism is comprised of at least three parts:
    • Preparation – In the case of Cornelius and his family, they were already prepared. God had been working in their lives preparing them for the moment when they commit themselves to Christ. Evangelism takes time in people’s lives.
    • Commitment – The act of understanding the elements of salvation: the separation of man from God, the belief that Christ is the only way to God, the repentive heart, and the turning over of one’s life to Christ’s direction.
    • Support – The follow up, support and the equipping that any new Christian needs. Something usually found in Christian fellowship and the Church.

Section Five: Shock Waves in Jerusalem

Have someone in your group read Acts 11:1-18.

How did Peter’s friends, the Church, respond to Peter’s success with Cornelius?

They were very critical.

What was Peter’s point to them?

  • It was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to baptize believers with the Holy Spirit (v. 16; Acts 1:5)
  • God had given the same gift to the Gentiles as to them (v.7 – about 120).
  • To refuse to accept these Gentiles as authentic Christians would be to oppose God (v. 17).

When your Church is challenged with a controversial group of people, what can you learn from Peter’s actions?

  • While no one is to be excluded, neither are we called to change the Gospel’s message or water down the Word of God. We are to be neither judge nor jury. However, we are to be the standard bearers of the Christian faith.

Read Acts 11:18 again to your group.

What do you think of the response of those disciples to Peter’s message?

  • How quickly they changed their minds. The difference between carnal and spiritual Christians is often seen in their willingness to accept what God is doing, even though it required a significant stretch of their old beliefs.

Bible Truth Being Taught

God accepts anyone and everyone who responds to Him, without regard to race, national origin, or culture.

Our Response

That God accepts anyone and everyone who responds to Him, without regard to race, national origin, or culture so we should also.


So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him.

~Ecclesiastes 9:1

Lesson36-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: We study Solomon because he is cast as God’s choice for the wisest man to ever live. His wisdom, however, was not sufficient to bring the answers Solomon searched for about life. If there is ever proof that we should not use Scripture literally, it is in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Here we find Solomon’s many mistakes.

For Solomon, the future seemed uncertain and filled with dreadful things. The only thing that seemed certain to him was man’s ultimate destiny, death. And while Solomon saw wisdom better than folly, neither one could guarantee a person a happy life, much less a meaningful one.

What Solomon didn’t know was God’s great love for each of us. This lesson provides us the assurance that our future is “certain” and we should not live in fear of “dreadful things.” God can guarantee true happiness and give life meaning.


Read Ecclesiastes 8:17 to your group.

From the tone of this verse, what can you determine about Solomon’s thoughts in Ecclesiastes?

  • This is a summary: No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. In chapters 9 and 10, Solomon changes to take a look back upon his work, and concludes that he has learned a few things after all.

Section One: The Invincible Evil

Read Ecclesiastes 9:1 to your group.

What was Solomon’s view of God?

  • He had a high view. Solomon would see God as invincible and all powerful.

Have someone in your group read Romans 1:20.

Why is this such bad news for mankind?

  • The Apostle Paul states that all excuses are worthless. God has given all mankind sufficient evidence of His existence.

What characteristics of God can we conclude from Paul’s statement?

  • God is sovereign. His will and His purposes rule the created universe.

How do these characteristics of God (as seen by Solomon and Paul) compare with those characteristics found in the beliefs of our society today?

  • Man has not relegated himself to the position of accepting the God who is but continues to define the God that serves man.

Why is Solomon so confused over the point that he does not even know whether God loves him or hates him?

  • Again, Solomon limits his view from one of observation or experience. Instead of seeing moral order ruling the universe, he sees chaos. The good suffer and the wicked are rewarded. Solomon cannot find any guidelines for deciphering what to expect from God.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:2-3. Solomon sees a great evil, the fact that none of us know God’s attitude toward us. Solomon is troubled by the fact that God has not enforced moral order on the earth.

What type of attitude (Solomon’s) toward leading a good or evil life would this type of thinking create in people?

  • When we measure the world by what we see, the inequitable treatment of the good and bad can create an attitude that being good doesn’t matter. Life’s short so enjoy it any way you can. Live for the gusto.
  • Just do it.
  • It doesn’t get any better than this.

Where in our society, do these attitudes come from today?

  • Media
  • Complacent parents
  • No sense of urgency on the part of the Christian community
  • Professional sports
  • Schools

What avenues are available to both adults and children to develop an attitude based upon Hope?

  • The Word of God, found in the Church, taken home to the Family, and placed permanently into our hearts.

If you were to choose a church, what should the most important criteria be?

  • Is the Word of God preached, taught, lived and passed on.

What is the criteria that is commonly used to choose a church?

  • Friendly people
  • Great music
  • Convenient location
  • Good parking (no kidding – listed in the top ten)
  • A powerful speaker as a pastor
  • Wonderful facilities
  • Etc.

If you accept the Word of God as the key criteria, then how do we find out whether a church is measuring up to the standards set forth in Scripture?

  • It is our personal responsibility to know the Word of God sufficiently that we can make that most important choice. If we do not know the Word of God, we are like the waves of the sea, tossed about by our emotions.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:4-6.

Given that lions were revered and dogs viewed as scavengers, What do you think Solomon was trying to tell us here?

  • Regardless of one’s position or the respect that we would hold, Solomon viewed it better to be a live contemptible person than a dead leader or king.

Why is it so important to have a broad-based knowledge of Scripture?

  • This is another good example of Solomon’s erroneous thinking. When we take Scripture literally, we can easily draw an incorrect conclusion. Remember that it is through the study of all of God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we avoid the trap that Solomon fell into.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:7-10.

What drives someone to have such a lack of hope and faith?

  • Limiting our view to wisdom, observation, and experience, leaves a hopeless view. It is only the hope brought to us through Christ that keeps man-kind from the despair of Solomon.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.

What are Solomon’s five examples of why he views life as one big gamble?

  1. We may be faster but still loose.
  2. We may have the most power but lose the battle.
  3. We may put our best efforts forward into earning a living, but still go hungry.
  4. We may be absolutely brilliant, but not become wealthy.
  5. We may be the most learned of men, but still not be respected by others.

Are these true for us?

  • No, we have the Hope of eternity.

Are these true for the world?

  • Yes, they have no hope beyond the grave without Christ.

Section Two: The Wisdom

Read Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:1.

What kind of practical advice can we find in these verses?

  • We are often attracted to position, wealth, power, etc. Solomon points out this human weakness. As our lesson, we should look more deeply for the wisdom and less to the surface items. While the world may be unfair, the Church should work to rise above.

Section Three: The Folly

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:2-4. Traditionally, the right was meant to be the path to prosperity and the left to disaster.

What is Solomon’s advice in verse 4?

  • To shout, or to lose one’s head may lead to making errors. Solomon’s observations are that a cool head and “quiet words” will make one able to survive.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:5-20.

Notes: Solomon points to the reciprocal. The world isn’t fair. Sometimes, the fool gets promoted.

Section Four: Life’s Uncertainties

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:8-9.

What is Solomon telling us about life?

  • It is unpredictable.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:10-15.

Can we overcome the unpredictable nature of the world?

  • Solomon sees that skill is good to an extent. It can, when applied to problems, sometime overcome them.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:16-20.

What are the “almost certain” things that Solomon sees in the world?

  • A well run kingdom is desirable. This can be applied to both a company, a household and a marriage.
  • Money buys pleasures. Having money makes a difference.
  • Loyalty to royalty is important. This again can be applied to a company, a household and a marriage.

Section Five: The Invincible Evil Is Defeated

How do we find out if God loves us?

  • Through revelation guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God brought to life in Christ.

Read Romans 8:28-29 to your group.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

  • The inevitable cycle of faith is supported by God’s desire to change each of us into the image of His Son, Jesus. Our faith is that, all things, both good and bad, are under God’s observation (predestined) and He allows them to happen so that we can accept His grace (justification), through faith, complete our maturing (sanctification), and become perfect (glorification) in Christ.

Have someone in your group read Romans 8:31-39.

Why should we believe that God loves us?

  • He gave His son in our defense.

Bible Truth Being Taught

We are in God’s hands, and can be confident He will work in every experience to do good.

Our Response

To trust God to do good in the pleasant and painful experiences of our lives.

Love’s Fragrance

Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you.

~Song of Songs 1:3

Lesson34-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: The Song of Songs is a sensual love poem that is believed to be written by Solomon to his Shulammite bride. With this Scripture we will be able to compare Solomon’s most human relationship with his new bride to the relationship we have with our God. This is also a study about sex. If your group is young or uncomfortable with the subject, review this study and adapt the message to your purposes. You should plan on reading all of the Bible verses so no one in your group feels uncomfortable.


What is it about the relationship between loving and caring people that makes each other’s flaws harder and harder to notice over time?

  • Love, caring relationships, and time draw people to notice the characteristics that were probably responsible for their initial attractions anyway. It is rarely one’s physical attributes that last over time. The joyful time spent together, the caring and tenderness shared together, the sacrifices made over time together create lasting relationships. These are the “Makeup” that covers the lines of time.

Read Genesis 1:26-28 to your group.

What was God’s first instruction to Adam and Eve after He created them of His own image?

  • To multiply, to have children. Hence, God created one of the most powerful natural appetites of mankind, the sex drive.

When is love and sex good and when is it bad?

  • When love and sexual relations happen within the boundaries (commands) created by God, it is good. However, with Adam’s and Eve’s fall into sin, shame, selfishness, lust, abuse, and the struggle for dominance entered the worldly picture. This opened the door for something good to be also something bad.

Section One: The Song of Solomon’Read Song of Songs 1:1 to your group.

The first two words in Hebrew are sir hassirim, an idiom meaning of all songs this is the best or most beautiful song. A sir song is a happy song and happy songs were often used for music at celebrations (Isaiah 30:29).

About the composer

It is generally believed that Solomon wrote this song. He wrote 1005 songs that are known (1 Kings 4:32). Psalms 72 and 127 are considered his great contributions along with the Song of Songs. It mentions that the composer lived in royal luxury (1:12, 3:6-11). The writing style also indicates that the had an extensive knowledge of botany and biology (he names 21 plants and 15 animals). The text was marked with both Persian and Greek words, indicative of someone with extensive international trade experiences. During the time of this songs writing, Solomon was believed to only have 60 wives and 80 concubines, those primarily inherited from his father. It is believed that this poem was written to his first and true love.

Understanding the Song

There are three possible methods for the interpretation of this song. They are:

  • The Allegorical Method: A story that explores one subject under the guise of another, usually unconnected, subject.
    • What might be an Allegorical approach to this song?
      • An allegory of God’s covenantal relationship with Israel. Possibly a parable of the relationship between Christ and His church. However, there is nothing in the Song of Songs to support this method. The song appears to be a factual presentation of a relationship.
  • The Typological Method: In this method, the story is real, the events happened, but they are the “types” or patterns revealing spiritual realities beyond the obvious.
  • Can you give an example of a Typological story?
    • Read Romans 5:14. Adam is a type or “pattern of the one to come (Christ).” The story could, therefore, represent Solomon as the “type” of love of God for His people. However, no where else in Scripture is Solomon represented in this manner, that is, as a type of “Christ.”
  • The Literal/Historical Method: This method takes it for what it appears to be, a poem celebrating the beauty of the emotional and sexual aspects of love between a husband and wife.

If we use the Literal/Historical Method to understand this song, what should our objectives be?

  • To seek to discover what the writer originally intended to say and the context in which he said it.

If we accept this method, what will be one of our most difficult problems with interpretation of this Scripture?

  • Many people have an unbiblical understanding of sex, seeing it as dirty or evil. Some may even believe that sex was the original sin, the apple that Adam and Eve ate of. This is not the correct view.

Why would it be wrong to ignore the parts of the Bible that place a strong emphasis on sex such as the Song of Songs?

  • God considered sex “very good.” See Genesis 1:31.

What does the Bible tell us the reason for sex is?

  • Procreation (Genesis 1:28)
  • Enjoyment and bonding within marriage (Proverbs 5:15-19)

If we are to read and study this song (poem) in both a literal sense as well as an illustrative sense, that is illustrating the relationship between Christ and His Bride, what would be the main attribute of a relationship that we should look for if it is healthy?

  • Passion, both in a marriage and in our walk with God.

Section Two: Thoughts on their Wedding Day

Read Song of Songs 1:2 to your group.

Imagine yourself in a room with these two people. What type of behavior would you expect to see?

  • Unashamed passion between two people.
  • Many people would find themselves most uncomfortable in a room watching two lovers embrace. How would we move this literal translation into a illustrative example of our own behavior with other Christians?
  • These two people are not ashamed or bashful about their love. They are willing to display it anywhere. This should be the model for every Christian with regard to their own love of Christ. We should be willing to embrace Christ anywhere, without hesitation or shame, openly joyful about our relationship with Him.

What are some of the key words and how would you use them to further develop an illustration of our Christian behavior?

  • Kiss: neshiqu in Hebrew, emphasizing a longing for physical affections. Repetition of the word indicates intensity, “smother me with kisses.” Christians should be physical about their faith.
  • Love: dodim in Hebrew, lays emphasis on physical expressions of love; love as action, not merely emotions. Christians should express their love in action, not just words.
  • Wine: yayin in Hebrew, stood for diluted wine. Two parts water and one part wine. “Strong drink” called sekar was dangerous (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35) This diluted wine was part of most celebrations, including weddings. Wine and joy are linked together as both gifts from God (Psalm 104:15). In the opinion of both the bride and groom, marital lovemaking will surpass wine as a source of joy.
  • Perfume: normally referring to a fragrant oil or ointment, it is his name that is so attractive.

Read Song of Songs 1:3 to your group.

With respect to one’s name, what is it that we have lost over the generations with regard to the name?

  • There was a time that one’s name reflected a person’s character, the whole person.

How does the character of a man impact the attractiveness of himself to a woman?

  • If a man demonstrates outwardly that he cannot be trusted, he is of low integrity, it is difficult to find how a woman could be relaxed about their own relationship. Is he telling the truth? Has he been faithful?

What did the name “Solomon” reflect?

  • Integrity, the purity and quality of high character, a man of God, someone who could be counted upon to keep his promises, someone who could be trusted to do the right thing.

Read Song of Songs 1:3-4 to your group. The bride is most attracted to the groom. Her reference to the “king” is not to the groom’s position but interpreted as to the esteem that she holds him in. The community’s approval of their lovemaking is important to a couple’s success and happiness in marriage.

What is missing when people elect to live together without the bonds of matrimony?

  • This same community approval. Solomon seems to define that to have it is important in a marriage. When people live together without marriage, they cut themselves short of this most important approval.

Section Three: Picturing Christ and His Bride

Read Song of Songs 1:2 to your group again.

If we were to use the term “kiss” to illustrate a point concerning relationships, what might that point or points be?

  • A kiss, as described here, is a symbol of genuine affections. It is part of a close and personal relationship (Read Luke 15:20).

How would you use this example to describe Christ’s relationship with us?

  • To have a relationship with Christ is not a mechanical, cold process that exists without emotion. It is characterized by eagerness to be together.

How would you use the point of lovemaking being better than wine to illustrate how our love with Christ should be conducted?

  • Our relationship with Christ is conducted on the most intimate basis possible. Christ places His Spirit in us. That is the ultimate in closeness (Romans 5:5).

It is also productive, that is, it produces spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Read Song of Songs 1:3 to your group again.

Using your imagination, how would you find an illustrative point comparing Christ to the fragrance of fine perfume?

  • As the fragrance of perfume is the essence of the flower, so is Christ the essence of God. Christ emits God’s fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Read Song of Songs 1:4 to your group.

Lastly, the bride longs for the chamber of her groom. What would your illustrative point be with regard to our own faith walk?

  • The Song of Songs encourages us to become less inhibited in the expression of our love for the person to whom we have committed ourselves in marriage. The Christian life, too, is a love affair. First Christ loved us. In love, He gave His life for us and now gives Himself to us. We respond by loving Him. If we love Him, we demonstrate this by keeping His commandments (John 14:15-24; 15:9-12).

Bible Truth Being Taught

Romance between a husband and wife is a beautiful and holy thing in God’s eyes; it pictures the passionate relationship that exists between Himself and His ransomed people.

Our Response

To purse the qualities of character that keep romance alive in marriage and stimulate holy passion in our relationship with the Lord.

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