NBC Sunday School Manual For November 5, 2023 :Topic – PREVIEW FOR NOVEMBER
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR YOUR PREPARATION
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL OUTLINE
Theme for the Month: “CHRIST FREES, LAW ENSLAVES.”
DATE: SUNDAY, 5TH NOVEMBER, 2023.
PREVIEW FOR NOVEMBER
The theme for this month is “Christ Frees, Law Enslaves.” The main texts are taken from the books of Acts, 1 Corinthians, Romans and Colossians. The lessons highlight how the Jewish and Gentile Christians wrestled with the Mosaic Law, in light of Christ’s teaching. Some of the key points we shall be discussing are:
● How salvation does not come through the law but by faith in Christ;
● The fulfilment of the Law that is in the commandment to love;
● How Paul contrasted the emptiness of human traditions with the fullness of God found in Christ;
● Paul’s warning that Christian liberty should not be a licence to sin.
BELOW ARE THE SUGGESTED TEACHING METHODS For the lessons. They can be used during the general opening or in the classes.
November 5 – Scripture Comparison and Verbalisation: Three (3) class members should write out Acts 15:8-9 from different versions of the Bible on different cardboards and display them as they stand in front of the class. Class members should read the three versions of the Scripture and discuss how it applies to the day’s lesson and to life.
November 12 – Testimony: Let a class member share the struggle he went through in a bid to show love to a wicked neighbour and how he was able to overcome.
November 19 – Recitation: Let the class members recite the golden text repeatedly until they memorise it.
November 26 – Soliloquy: Let a class member walk around soliloquising the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23b.
TOPIC: REQUIREMENT FOR SALVATION.
“God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as we did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8-9
By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
● Explain the dispute that arose in Antioch over the issue of circumcision as a requirement for salvation;
● Discuss what is actually needed for salvation according to the passage;
● Express their resolution to change some laws that are capable of causing discrimination in the church and home.
Deacon Zacchaeus Okon has just retired from active service. Having collected his gratuity, he decided to set up a fishery business, using the available space in his compound. Few weeks later, he was accosted by a group of people who accused him of jumping protocol: that he did not identify with the registered body of “Fishery Association” in the community. Deacon Zacchaeus was very much willing to comply; but then he discovered that one of the things that would qualify him as a member of the group was to take an oath to participate in an annual ritual to appease the river goddess. Deacon Zacchaeus declined because the condition was against his faith and he made his stand known to the chairman of the group. People often make laws that exclude others from belonging to a particular group.
Jewish legalism was a problem and a threat to the existence of the church in Antioch. When Paul and Barnabas were teaching newly converted Gentiles in Antioch, some hardline Jewish Christians confronted them and insisted that unless the Gentiles are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, they cannot be saved and accepted as real believers (Acts 15:1). These people forgot that God makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles because Christ has broken the barrier that once separated them. The argument became so strong that it led to dispute and debate between them until the matter was referred to the Jerusalem Council for a peaceful resolution. The issue became so serious that the council at Jerusalem had to address it. After much deliberation, Paul affirmed that God has shown His approval of the Gentiles by giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit just as He has given to the Jewish Christians. Therefore, what is required for salvation is faith alone and nothing else. As many that come to Jesus in faith irrespective of gender or tribe, He receives and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to them. This is the focal point of today’s lesson.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED…
A. THE LAW OF CIRCUMCISION REJECTED:
Paul and Barnabas have been involved in the preaching and teaching among the non-Jews since the Holy Spirit commanded that they should be set apart for the work of ministry (Acts 132). They had taught that Gentiles do not need to convert to Judaism and, thus, be circumcised in order to be saved. Contrary to this, certain Jews came from Judea to Antioch and insisted on circumcision (according to the Old Testament law) as a condition for the Gentiles to be saved (Galatians 3:1, 5:2). Because Paul believed strongly that salvation does not come through the keeping of the law, but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he stood up to affirm his belief. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul also made it known to them that Jews and Gentiles have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). Having argued with them extensively on the issue, he and Barnabas were sent to inquire from the apostles and elders in the church at Jerusalem about the matter.
As much as it may not be wrong to follow tradition in some matters as believers in Christ, it becomes wrong when we follow such tradition to the extent that we are enslaved by it and then we compromise our faith in Christ because of such tradition. Therefore, as Christians, we must stand firm in faith and not allow religious traditions to put us in bondage. We should understand what the Scripture says about a particular issue and act appropriately. We should also be reminded that Christians could have disagreement sometimes (different opinions about a matter). One of the practical steps to resolve the matter is to seek counsel and urgent solution through the help of the Holy Spirit. It has been proven to be the best method of conflict resolution whether in the church, home or the community. It is better to resolve matters amicably than to resort to going to court. God loves everyone no matter who they are and He is willing to accept anyone who sincerely seek Him through Jesus Christ. Therefore, cultural or class differences should not cause setback for people to benefit from the love of God in Christ.
1. Discuss how best we can resolve conflicts or discriminations emanating from doctrinal issues among believers today?
2. Identify some church traditions that affect our relationship with one another and suggest how to combat them.
B. PETER’S EXHORTATION:
From the preceding verses, we can deduce that there were two parties in the church: believers who belong to the party of the Pharisees who believed in circumcision as a condition for salvation and the other believers who believed in faith as a prerequisite for salvation. This was what brought Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, that they might have a meeting with the apostles and the elders. The meeting is often referred to as the “The Jerusalem Council”. It was an opportunity for Apostle Peter to enlighten the people. He said to them, “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles should hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.” (vv.7b 8). In other words, God did not discriminate between the Jews and the Gentiles in giving the Holy Spirit. Instead, He purified their hearts to receive the gift. In verse 10, Peter asserted that making circumcision a condition for salvation amounts to testing God and putting on the Gentiles the same yoke (of the law) that they and their forefathers could not bear. By this, Peter was saying that if they (the Jews) could not perfectly fulfil the law, why do they want to put the same burden on the Gentiles. He further said, “No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as we are.”
God does not discriminate between Gentiles and Jews, male and female when it comes to the matter of salvation (John 3:16). His plan of salvation is for all humankind and the only condition to receive it is through faith in Jesus Christ. Invariably, Peter meant that in Christ, all have been made free from the law of works because no one can be saved by fulfilling the law. Therefore, the demand for circumcision as means of salvation would mean an act of nullifying the grace of God. After all, it is by grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:1-9). The grace that was revealed through Jesus Christ has set both Jews and Gentiles free from the law of work. Believers in Christ must understand this and avoid laws that set one in bondage rather than enable one to enjoy the freedom which Christ Jesus has given to all (Galatians 5:1).
1. Why is the cleansing of believer’s hearts by faith and the infilling of the Holy Spirit the final sign of new birth and God’s approval? (vv.8-9).
2. Identify some traditions in your church and community that are hindrances to the salvation of people.
Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity:
● Compare and contrast the meeting in the Church in Jerusalem and our present churchcouncil meeting. If necessary, make some recommendations to your church, based today’s lesson.
Take Home: Write down some lessons you are taking home from today’s lesson?
● Based on today’s lesson, make a commitment toward your relationship with others not to discriminate against anyone; tribe, language, or gender notwithstanding.
Happy Sunday in Advance.
Remain Inspired & Be Lifted!