Light Shines in the Darkness

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(John 14, Deuteronomy 4, Acts 20, Luke 9)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 3

Light Shines in the Darkness

(John 14, Deuteronomy 4, Acts 20, Luke 9)

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Do you remember hearing stories of Christian heroes who were told to deny Christ or die? Have you put yourself in the story? It would be terrible to be killed. But what a nice, clear, choice - right? No debate about the correct thing to do. Just the question of whether you have the commitment. While I recall tough choices I’ve made where the alternatives were clear, most of life comes at me in colors of gray. The question is whether something is really wrong? Is it sin? What we need is more light. What we need is the willingness to step into the light. That is our study this week. Let’s dive into our exploration of the Bible!

  1. The Way
    1. Read John 14:1-4. Do you see any conflict between what Jesus says in verses three and four? (In verse three Jesus tells the disciples that He “will take you to Myself.” But in verse four Jesus tells them that they “know the way.”)
    2. Read John 14:5. As a long-time teacher I know that the student who seems to ask “the dumb question” is simply showing courage. Many other students have the same question. Do you know the way to heaven?
    3. Read John 14:6. Put yourself in Thomas’s place. Would that answer your question? (Thomas is asking directions. He is asking about geography. Jesus is answering in terms of theology!)
    4. Now that we know we are not talking about walking directions, read John 14:7-10. What does Jesus want His disciples to understand? (The nature of God. Jesus tells them something absolutely astonishing: what they know about Jesus teaches them about the nature of God the Father.)
      1. Is any other understanding about the nature of God the Father correct? (Read again John 14:6. This is the only way to understand God.)
    5. Read John 14:11-13. Jesus now turns to the matter of works. Recall we started out looking for walking directions to heaven. Are these walking directions?
      1. Which of Jesus’ works did would you like to do?
      2. Which of Jesus’ works should you be doing?
      3. What was Jesus’ greatest work? (Living for us, dying for us, and rising victorious over sin.)
  2. The Works
    1. Read Deuteronomy 4:2. Is there a serious problem with telling others that they must perform some work that God does not require? (Yes. It is just as prohibited as telling others that they need not do things God requires.)
      1. We regularly discuss the central truth of righteousness by faith alone. We are not going to revisit those texts. How does this truth fit the instruction to refrain from telling others to do things that are not required? (The baseline for our discussion of works is the truth that they do not save us. Rather, they reflect the life of one who is saved.)
    2. Read Proverbs 23:23. What do you think it means to “sell” the truth? (Literally, it means do not give up truth for money. Don’t compromise to increase your wealth.)
      1. Can you put Deuteronomy 4:2 together with Proverbs 23:23 to reach an overall conclusion? (“Buy” truth. Study to understand God’s will. Then do not add what you think would be a fine idea. If you do have fine ideas, label them as such and not as God’s requirements.)
    3. Read Acts 20:27-28. What level of concern should we have about the condition of our life and those around us in the church? (If Jesus died for us, then we need to take to take this seriously.)
      1. To whom does this instruction apply? (Not to self-appointed critics in the church. Rather, it applies to those who have been selected by the Holy Spirit to be “overseers.”)
    4. Read Acts 20:29-30. What important work do we find here? (To refute those who are not teaching the truth.)
  3. The Truth
    1. Read Proverbs 16:25. Are all evil-doers bad people? (This tells us that well-intentioned people can be deadly wrong.)
    2. Read Isaiah 53:6. Are we included in those evil-doers? (Yes. We have turned to our “own way.” The great news is that Jesus died for our “own way” sins.)
    3. Read Exodus 20:3-5. In the law we refer to the “elements of a prima facie case.” These elements are what you must prove to win your case. What are the elements of idol worship? (1. You made something. 2. That you “bow down” to or “worship.”)
      1. Do you think the thing you made needs to be a “likeness” of anything else? (The commandment specifies that it is a likeness.)
      2. Could that be a book, an article, or anything that is reflected in the printed page? (That is included in “likeness.”)
      3. Based on this discussion, could modern cultures be involved in idol worship by promoting ideas that are not based on the Bible?
    4. Read John 17:14-17. What are the two clashing viewpoints that we need to identify? (The “world,” which hates us, and the “truth” found in the “word.” This truth sanctifies us!)
      1. Can you identify these two clashing viewpoints in your life today? Can you name names? (The Bible is the word. The world is the pagan viewpoint of life.)
    5. Read Ephesians 6:10-13. Who is our true enemy? (Satan and his allies.)
    6. Read Luke 9:49-50. Who are not our enemies? (Fellow Christians who might not see things exactly as we do, but who are not against us.)
      1. How does Jesus view those who are trying to advance the gospel in a way that is “not against” us? (Jesus says that they are “for us.” Notice how Jesus turns grey into black and white.)
    7. While I was writing this lesson an important thought leader in the United States called me to inquire why the main religious liberty journal of my church was repeatedly attacking “Christian Nationalists” or “White Christian Nationalists.” He is not a church member. I told him that little has changed except the terminology. Decades ago that same journal was attacking the “Religious Right.” A few years ago that term was retired in favor of “Christian Nationalists.” Now race has become part of the attack. From where do you think these ideas originate? (These are attacks on fellow Christians and they originate with the pagan world and its thought leader.)
      1. Can you think of a single reason why a Christian would become allied with pagans to attack fellow Christians?
      2. If the truth of the Bible is in opposition to the “truth” of the world, what does that suggest about this attack?
      3. Do you know any Bible texts that tell us to attack fellow Christians because they are Christians? (The Bible condemns many things, but being a follower of Jesus is not one of them. If a Christian is not following the truth of the Bible, then the wrong deeds, the wrong ideas, and not the decision to follow Christ should be the focus of the criticism.)
  4. The Mind
    1. Read Romans 1:21-23. What is the problem with the minds of these people who believe that God exists but do not honor Him?(Their thinking becomes “futile.”)
    2. Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. What is the problem with the people who do not believe in God? (Satan has blinded their minds.)
      1. What should we conclude about these two types of people - those who believe, but not honor, and those who do not believe? (Honoring God by turning to the Bible for light is the key to clear thinking. If we do not use the Bible as the basis for making all decisions on what is right and what is wrong, we will be deceived.)
    3. Friend, we end up in the same place we started - Jesus gives us the one and only path to eternal life. All the other voices on earth are only noise. Will you decide today to make the Bible, and only the Bible, your standard for judgment?
  5. Next week: Standing for the Truth.