August 22, 2010 - Matthew 7:12 - The Golden Rule
August 29, 2010 - Matthew 7:13-14 - Two Gates

August 29 - SS Study Guide

Focal Verses: Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

If you haven't done so - or done so recently- (re)read the Sermon on the Mount, located in Matthew, chapters 5 - 7, to get the context of theses verses. The sermon can roughly be divided into two parts. The first part presents information and regulations regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. The second, which begins with these verses, presents choices regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, Jesus presents two gates and two ways to live.

THE way
Isaiah prophesied about one who would prepare THE way (Is. 40:3. John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy (Mark 1:2-4) and ultimately Jesus declared, "I am THE way" (John 14:6). Note that Jesus did not say "I am A way" or I am ONE way". Unlike our study last Sunday where we considered versions of the Golden Rule by Confucius, Buddha, et al (See August 22 Review/Follow-UP below), Jesus declares that He is THE way. Perhaps this is why THE way that leads to life (v.14) is difficult. His teaching is often hard - who can accept it? (John 6:60)

Search a concordance for additional references on the way. See the Bible link to your right and type "way" in the quick search box. The very first hit, from Genesis 3:24, should get you to thinking about how strait - or difficult - THE way can be. By contrast, the way that leads to destruction is broad . . .
If you would like to do further reading, I would suggest this article by Brian Schwertly.

I hope to see you in class this Sunday @ 9:30 a.m.

August 22 - Sunday School Follow-Up/Review

Focal Verse -Therefore,whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NKJV

To all the visitors who attended Sunday School today - thanks for joining us and please consider yourself welcome @ Northlake any time. For those who are on the North Georgia campus, please feel free to come by my office (Nix 317) to visit any time. I love to talk with young adults!

As we discussed today, Jesus' teaching about The Golden Rule was not a new idea. It had been around for at least several hundred years. What was new was the authority with which he taught the concept and the fundamental truth that FIRST the relationship between man and God had to be appropriately established, THEN the appropriate relationship with fellow man would naturally follow. To understand the fullness of Christ's teaching, take 15 minutes now to read The Golden Rule in the context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7).

BE BEREAN (see Acts 17:10-11): Here are some of the scripture passages referenced in today's lesson on The Golden Rule plus a few that never made it into the lesson before time ran out. Check them out to verify my teaching. NOTE: Here's a good Bible link in case you don't have a paper copy handy.

Luke's version of the Golden Rule - Luke 6:27-31
Universality of the Golden Rule - Romans 2:15
Application of the Golden Rule - James 2:1-10
Paul's comment on the Golden Rule - Romans 13:8-10

References Linking the Law & the Prophets
Matthew 5:17-18
Matthew 22:34-40 (see Deut. 6:5 & Lev. 19:18 for sources)
John 1:45

Still want more? Check out this essay by Brian Schwertly on Matthew 7:12. I found it to be particularly enlightening and used some of the information as a basis for the lesson.

See you next Sunday @ 9:30 - Joe Chapman

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that's the book for me . . .

Many years ago, my sister walked into her living room and found my nephew - a toddler at the time - standing on top of their rather large family Bible, which he had somehow gotten off the end table and onto the floor. “What in the world are you doing?” she asked with surprise. He replied with confidence, “I’m standing alone on the Word of God!”

Perhaps you’re familiar the words he had memorized -- and taken literally. They came from one of the children’s songs he had sung in Sunday School, “The B - I - B - L - E, Yes, that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B - I - B - L - E.” I think many of us today could stand to learn from this childlike expression of faith. We could also stand to learn from the Bereans. When the Apostle Paul came a-preaching in Berea on one of his missionary journeys, they -- unlike the villagers in the previous town -- were “of more noble character ……., for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 NIV

Do you believe everything you hear? everything you see on TV? everything on the internet? Surely not! But do you automatically believe everything you hear from the pulpit, or from a televangelist, or from another religious leader -- for example, your Sunday School teacher. I hope not. Everything I teach in class, everything the pastor preaches in his sermon, everything you hear about God should be judges according to the Holy Scriptures.

The Bible itself is self-authenticating. Passages like 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” speak to the validity of God’s word. But even these verses must be proven true. The only way we can verify the Bible is to examine it in detail and determine if it is indeed true, if it is indeed correct, if it is indeed the holy, inspired word of God. And to accomplish that, one must read it . . . lots of it . . . ultimately, ALL of it.

So . . . I would suggest that you get started as soon as possible. If you have tried before to read the Bible and met with failure, here are some practical strategies for getting started: Who knows, if you make a genuine commitment to follow His leadership, the Holy Spirit might even guide you through the process!

#1 - If you can handle it, it’s great to read straight through the Bible. This is a great idea if you’re not the kind of person who might get bogged down in all the mildew regulations halfway through Leviticus. If you’re not sure about this approach, then perhaps you might . . .

#2 - Start in the New Testament - choose a gospel that appeals to your style. Matthew features content-specific teachings, Mark focuses on the facts, Luke follows a very thorough, organized approach, and John is filled with personal stories. You might even try Luke followed by Acts. They’re written by the same author and Acts takes up right where Luke leaves off. If starting with a longer book like one of the gospels still seems like a bit too much with your schedule, then perhaps you might . . .

#3 - Start with short books - Obadiah, II John, III John, and Jude are so short, they are not even divided into chapters. After reading some of these, then you could work your way outward by reading Haggai (2 chapters) and Zephaniah (3 chapters). Pretty soon, reading the Bible could become habit forming. However, if this still doesn’t work , you are likely going to need some inspiration to get started. Then perhaps you might . . .

#4 - Pick a theme that interests you. If you’re into adventure, read the books of Old Testament History, starting with Joshua, then moving through Judges, Samuel, and Kings. Talk about your “wars and rumors of wars” . . . well, these books have got plenty of ‘em. You can even skip the end of Joshua if you wish - the part where they are divvying up the promised land to the various tribes. Or how about romance? If this seems more appealing, then start with the book of Ruth, which is probably one of the greatest love stories ever penned. Follow that with Esther, the story of the peasant girl chosen by the king to be his bride. If you’re still not convinced, then perhaps you might . . .

#5 - Take an incremental approach. Some of the world’s greatest wisdom comes from the books of Psalms and Proverbs, and you can read them both in 6 months by reading basically only one chapter a day. Here is how it works: January 1-30 corresponds to Psalms 1-30. On January 31, you can take the day off. On February 1, you’ll start on the next set, Psalms 31-60. Since you only have 28 days, you’ll need to read Psalms 58-60 on the last day of the month. Then when March rolls around, you’ll be ready to continue with Psalm 61. This really is easy to keep up with (just add a multiple of 30 to today’s date) once you get started. In June, you’ll be ready for Proverbs, and in July you can start over with Psalm 1 and read up to the spot where you started in the cycle.

The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV Why not check it out today? There is a link to an on-line Bible near the top-right of this page. Or if you prefer a more old-fashioned approach, you can probably find a paper copy lying around somewhere. Why not curl up on the couch with a good Book and get started . . .

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Special Sunday School Speaker on 01/10/10

Please plan to join us this Sunday for a SPECIAL REPORT from one of our class members who had an adventurous Christmas break in a foreign land. Hopefully this person will be able to share at least a few details about this exciting experience. We will resume our expositional study of the Sermon on the Mount next Sunday. Breakfast should be great with contributions from several class members, along with my wife's signature muffins. These muffins are so fresh that on Saturday night they will still be wheat kernels in a bucket. We'll also have two versions of eggs - scrambled and gourmet. . . . . if you're not sure what gourmet eggs are, then come at 9:30 on Sunday to find out. I hope to see you then.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

As promised, here is the excerpt from today's Sunday School lesson on Matthew 5:8. Last night as I was preparing notes for this morning's lesson, I had been reading scripture, along with sermons by John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon referencing the 6th beatitude. As I began to type a short comment, for some reaason I just kept typing, without really thinking about what I was typing. I believe God was speaking to me. Perhpaps you can learn from my ramblings. I would appreciate your thoughts and comments. Thanks! JC


How profound is this recognition beyond the scope of initial belief in God? This purity of heart hearkens back to the 10th commandment - you can’t even want to. It goes beyond the abstention from outwardly visible sins and moves inward to the place where the soul resides. If our hearts are pure, we no longer have the desire to sin. But who can attain this - for the Apostle John teaches that if we profess to be without sin, we are liars and the truth is not in us. I don’t understand how this all fits together. God, please give me the wisdom to understand and be freed from the grasp of sin. Maybe this is why the Bible says we can not see God and live - because He is holy and we are not. Yet we are called to be holy - to be set apart - for the purpose for which God has created us . . . and that purpose is to bring praise, honor, and glory to Him. Why do I remain stuck in the paradox of Romans 7 - unable to free myself from the mire of sin? Could it be that I repress the holy Spirit that is within me while following the sinful nature that seems so omnipresent? I must RELINQUISH control to Him [the Holy Spirit] without any intention or will or desire or capability of regaining it for myself at some arbitrary time. How do I do that when I know that God does not intend to take away my free will? Somehow, I have no choice but to retain that capability - even if I do get rid of the intention, will, and desire - of regaining control through the sinful nature. This is God’s way of doing business with His creation. We saw that in Adam and it continues to this day. Perhaps I must reconcile myself to the reality that I have a role to play in this cosmic drama. Perhaps this role requires continual, constant, moment by moment restraint of the sinful nature in order to allow the Holy Spirit the full control He needs in order to effect God’s plan in my life. It is not good enough to give the Spirit control for 99% of the time, or even 99.99% of the time. He must be given continuous, conscious control. Only then can I be granted the purity of heart referenced here. Should I receive comfort in the failure of others to live in complete submission to the Holy Spirit? Certainly not! If I were to allow myself this luxury, I would not only be admitting defeat, I would also be denouncing the power of God to be victorious in my life. ------ I need Thy presence every passing hour [or better yet, moment]. What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power? Who like Thyself my Guide and Stay can be? Through clouds and sunshine [Lord] abide with me. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reading Assignment

This week wouuld be a great time for some PRIMARY research. Rather than trusting other sources to discover the meaning of Christmas, why not get out your Bible and review the real Christmas story? You'll find it in Matthew 2 and Luke 2. Better yet, why not gather some family and friends and read it out loud? Merry Christmas to all! . . . . . JC