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Sabbath School

The Sermon on the Mount

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Early in the Common Era, Jesus left his carpenter bench and walked east to the River Jordan, where John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing repentant sinners. Jesus asked to be baptized.

John, recognizing his cousin, remonstrated, saying: “It is I that should be baptized by you!”

Jesus replied, “Permit it to be so.” John complied.

Ethnicity and Discipleship

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The Antioch story of how we got our name marked a milestone in the growth of Christianity (Acts 11:19). Our spiritual forefathers believed they had been given the task to "tell the message only to the Jews" (v. 19), to people who shared the same sacred text, same history, same diet, and same culture. To do otherwise would threaten their group identity.

Gender and Discipleship

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The original disciples were male—mostly young, mostly without strong family responsibilities. Imagine how women in this culture of highly restricted gender roles would have been viewed had they tried to become members of this group of twelve. Christ’s ministry would have stirred even more suspicion and anger than it already did.

Ten Ways Following Jesus Will Mess Up Your Life

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Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.
— Alison Krause

Within a family of churches whose modern obsession has been adding new people to the church membership rolls, discipleship has taken a back seat to conversion.

Jesus was famously uninterested in adding converts. At the end of three and one-half years of ministry, he had a net gain of eleven disciples.

Called to Discipleship by Jesus

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Today we focus on being called by Jesus Christ. A few key elements will receive special attention.

Called by Jesus.

The call to Christian discipleship is not simply a call from someone who has hit upon a good idea and invites other people to learn about that idea, and who then decides to help promote it. When Jesus calls people to be his disciples, the call deals primarily with attachment to his person.

Relationships Then and Now

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Typical students enroll in a program, take a predetermined number of courses usually for a set amount of time, and graduate with a diploma or a certificate as proof that they have successfully completed their program of study. For all practical purposes, this approach to education has worked well. Pilots safely fly their planes to their destinations most of the time, doctors perform their medical duties without creating too many big complications, and teachers teach well enough to produce people of reasonable competence for society.

Ruminating on Discipleship

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Discipleship characterizes one element in a relationship. Normally, it establishes the intellectual dependence of a student on a teacher. The primary objective of the disciple is to learn. The teacher may teach by passing out information, or by dispensing wisdom. In other words, what is transmitted from one to the other in the relationship may be information: facts, formulas, and so forth, or habits of mind that make possible discriminations, evaluations, judgments. Dispensing wisdom, the teacher serves as an exemplar in the use of knowledge, rather than as a depository of it.

Why Jesus Died

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Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ took the world by storm, big time. I did not see it, preferring not to want a gory Hollywoodized spectacular to get imprinted on my mind. The response wherever shown, however, may have exceeded even Gibson’s expectations—the gripping focus on suffering, brutality, and human madness.

Christ in the Crucible

The Lesson Study Guide presents this statement for Wednesday December 26:

Clearly, something much more was happening here than just the death, however unfairly, of an innocent man. According to Scripture, God's wrath against sin, our sin, was poured out upon Jesus. Jesus on the cross suffered not sinful humanity's unjust wrath but a righteous God's righteous indignation against sin, the sins of the whole world. As such, Jesus suffered something deeper, darker, and more painful than any human being could ever know or experience.

Living Sacrifices

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Christians often spend much of their time wishing and trying to manipulate God. We do not always do this in the most obvious of ways, but sometimes the less visible is the more insidious. Perhaps we believe that if we could sacrifice something dear to us, God might grant us God’s favor. Instead of treating the blessings that God has given us as blessings, we think that God wishes us to give up something in order to prove just how far we are willing to go in God’s service.

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