Sunday School Lessons

Explore the Bible Lesson for October 7: True Fruit

September 18 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: Galatians 5:13-26
 
The best way to identify what type of fruit tree you’re looking at is to identify its fruit. Apple trees grow apples. Pear trees grow pears. The tree is known by its fruit. Scripture tells us that Christians are identified by their fruit as well.
 
After carefully reminding the churches of Galatia of their freedom in Christ, Paul ensures that they know the purpose of that freedom. God has given us freedom through Jesus so we can use it to love one another. Paul notes that we accomplish this by the work of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us.
 
As we are led by the Spirit, our lives bear good fruit and show we have faith in Jesus.
 
Paul writes that it is easy to distinguish between those who are being led by the Spirit and those who are not. Those who are not led by the Spirit have habitual actions that only seek to satisfy their flesh.
 
The Galatians are warned that these are people who will not have a part in the Kingdom of God. Those who are led by the Spirit, however, will seek things that please God. An important truth for us to remember is that while our good works do not save us, they are indicators of our faith.
 
Our actions and attitudes reveal who or what is leading us.
 
We have a responsibility as believers to steward our freedom well. Jesus told His disciples that the world will know that we belong to Him by the love we have for each other (John 13:35).
 
But God has not left us to accomplish this all on our own. He has sent His Spirit to help us live lives characterized by the fruit of the spirit.
 
Because there is no law against doing what pleases God, we find that we are free to be loving, joyful and patient along with all the other fruit. Praise the Lord that, by the Holy Spirit, He helps us to do what pleases Him!

9/18/2018 1:55:43 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for October 7: Going Out

September 18 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: Acts 16:6-15
 
Every year, hundreds of people gather together in downtown Hendersonville, N.C., for the annual Apple Festival. Complete with attractions, gifts and tons of food, this weekend-long event becomes a hub for both locals and travelers.
 
Since the festival is all about apples, the farms that grow and sell their apples use this event as their Super Bowl. They realize what an opportunity they have as people flood the area with the intent on going home with bushels and pecks of apples.
 
If you’ve seen this, you realize a crucial and obvious fact about these various farm stands: they go where the people are. Their motives are not to simply wait for people to come to them, but to position themselves right in the middle of where the greatest concentrations of people are.
 
Like the apple farmers, the church must realize the same! Rather than the church building, believers can take the message of the gospel to others as they go about their lives.
 
In Acts 16, Paul is traveling the Greek world. His travels have brought him to various towns and cities, and he (along with his companions) have brought the gospel with them. Eventually they landed in Troas (v. 8) but received a vision to head to Macedonia – seeing this as God’s plan to give the gospel to this region (v. 10).
 
Eventually, the group arrives at Philippi, an opportune place for the gospel to spread. They then found a group of women – among whom was a wealthy lady named Lydia. Upon hearing the gospel, she was saved and baptized (vv. 14-15).
 
This story reminds us that the gospel works best when it is being shared where the people are. When messengers have a message, they must seek out those who need to hear.
 
Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction, may we, too, seek out those who need the gospel message – celebrating when they do receive the Good News of the gospel!

9/18/2018 1:55:35 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 30: True Freedom

September 18 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: Galatians 4:8-20
 
Escaped slave Harriet Tubman expressed, “Now I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is. I have seen hundreds of escaped slaves, but I never saw one who was willing to go back and be a slave.”
 
Continuing his plea to the Galatians, Paul warns against this exact danger. He notes that their trying to be justified by works of the flesh is the same as being enslaved all over again.
 
The Galatian believers had been swayed by those who seemed to want good for them. Paul, however, cautioned them that anyone who would seek to deter them from a life of freedom could not want good for them at all.
 
Paul was zealous for his beloved to remember how the gospel transformed them when they first believed. It was because of their faith that they had welcomed Paul in the first place. Paul feared for those whom he loved. He did not hesitate to communicate to the Galatian churches the exact state they were in. He referred to their former way of life as “weak and bankrupt” (Galatians 4:9).
 
What a tragedy it would be for them – those who had tasted real freedom – to return to a life of slavery.
 
As those who have become known by God, we renounce any claim of freedom other than that of faith in Christ alone. We also plea with others to do the same. Seeing other believers wander from the grace they received by faith in Jesus should move us to action. Paul’s words allow us to see just how important this is.
 
Though the conversations may be uncomfortable, the goal is to bring about renewed faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. We appeal to others in love that they may know true freedom and escape the trap of legalism.
 
Christ paid a high price for our freedom. As we continue to believe, we seek to love our brothers and sisters by spurring them on to believe as well.

9/18/2018 1:33:32 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 30: Authentic Joy

September 18 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
 
We’ve all done it. We give a passing smile and feign politeness as people walk in to church on a Sunday morning, all the while guzzling our coffee as we prepare ourselves to be “present” with our local assemblies.
 
Even as a leader, sometimes we can feel guilty or self-conscious by our lack of authenticity.
Is everyone this happy or are they faking it too?
 
Rather than faking, what if God is calling us to true joy and love for others. A love and a joy that lasts for the glory of God and good of others.
 
Jesus envisioned His disciples receiving from Him “full joy” (John 15:11), a joy that expresses itself in tangible ways to those around us.
 
In this session passage, Paul gives thanks to the fellow believers in Thessalonica and expresses how the gospel has impacted their lives.
 
The gospel has clearly gone to them first, but then it spread to the surrounding areas, creating a greater gospel presence “in every place your faith toward God has gone forth” (v. 8).
 
This group of believers then becomes the example for others as they serve God and eagerly await the return of Jesus (v. 10).
 
From this passage, we see two themes: the roots of true joy, and the fruits of true joy. In verses 1-5, the roots of joy are grounded in the Thessalonians’ work, labor and steadfastness in Jesus.
 
Specifically, in verse 5 Paul says the gospel didn’t simply come in word only – but in “power” and “full conviction” all accompanied by the Holy Spirit.
 
Once the gospel came, true Christian virtues like faith, hope and love inevitably became the catalyst for works of love toward others. It also must be with us!
 
Has the gospel impacted our communities with true power?
 
To round out the passage, the fruit of joy produces disciples that serve the true God and become examples for others to follow!

9/18/2018 1:33:21 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 23: True Heirs

September 4 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: Galatians 3:23-29, 4:1-7
 
When my friends adopted their baby girl from Korea, she became theirs. As soon as she was in their arms, they began to care for her and console her. Not only did they assume immediate responsibility as her parents, but she was immediately dependent on them. She became their child in every way. She bears their name and receives all the privileges, rights and inheritance that come with being their daughter. This is the nature of adoption.
 
In his letter to the Galatian churches, Paul explains the purpose of the law. He tells them that the law was never meant to fix our severed relationship with God. The law, however, was meant to reveal sin and our need for grace until the coming of Jesus.
 
By trying to be justified by the works of the law, the Galatian believers failed to realize their position in Christ. In fact, they were trying to acquire for themselves the position that had already been given to them.
 
When we come to Jesus in faith, we become God’s children. He gives us all the rights and privileges of an heir. We have all the access to God that Jesus has. Where the law ensured that we knew our sinfulness, faith in Christ produces in us the desire to be obedient children. Paul explains that neither ethnicity nor gender or social status prevent us from being children or from receiving the benefits of an heir. God sent Jesus so all would have the opportunity to be adopted into His family.
 
My friends’ daughter is in the fourth grade now. The way she boldly enters a room calling for ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ is a picture of what God has done for us in Christ. We are now His children, calling out ‘Abba, Father!’
 
When we approach the throne of God, we do so knowing that we have been adopted. Because we are His offspring, we have confidence before Him and the ability to obey Him.
9/4/2018 12:23:49 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 23: Intentional Love

September 4 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: Luke 10:25-37
 
Perhaps one of Jesus’ most famous stories, the “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” has become the primary example of how to love our neighbor.
 
But, in full context of the interchange between the lawyer and Jesus, the story becomes less about random acts of kindness and more about biblical compassion and hospitality to our neighbors around us.
 
In this famous exchange, we see Jesus exemplify biblical love and compassion, and we learn how to imitate our Savior.
 
Jesus had been teaching His disciples and sending them out on mission. Then, a lawyer desired to test Jesus and justify himself (vv. 25, 29) by asking two questions: how do I inherit eternal life and who is my neighbor?
 
To the first question, Jesus sums up the law by saying that it must include total love for God and neighbor. Rather than doing this, the lawyer decides to inquire about the specifics of neighbor love.
 
“Who is that specifically?” he wonders.
 
In the amazing way Jesus usually answers questions, He then told a story (vv. 30-36). Three characters (a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan) are introduced in succession.
 
Jesus chooses to highlight the true compassion that the Samaritan had on the stranger, the very person least expected! True neighbor love meets the needs of those around us. The Samaritan was the “true neighbor” because his love was defined by compassion and tangible action.
 
Like the Samaritan, our love for others becomes radical when it becomes unexpected and costly. Rather than self-justification, we seek the good of others and show compassion to those who have needs.
 
Genuine love replaces self-justification and thereby fulfills the law (Romans 13:10).
 
Do our churches and ministries love those that are different from us? When our love becomes costly, it becomes true compassion that glorifies God.
 
As D.A. Carson once preached, we must follow the “goodest” Samaritan (Jesus) and then imitate His love to those around us.
9/4/2018 12:23:38 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 16: True Life

September 4 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal Passage: Galatians 3:1-14
 
Think about your morning commute. You make a left out of the neighborhood, a right at the stoplight, then another left, then another right. Sure, you might take a side street to avoid traffic every now and then. But whether you are heading to work, school or the gym, you are going the same general direction each time. What if instead of making that first left, you made a right? What if after making that right you kept going? You likely wouldn’t end up at work.
 
Paul was clearly concerned about the direction the Galatian churches were taking, calling them “foolish” (3:1). He asked the Galatian believers to recall what they experienced when they first believed. He reminds them that when they first heard the gospel, the message was very clear that Christ was crucified on their behalf. There had been no mention of adding works of the flesh to what Jesus had already done.
 
Paul explains Abraham was made righteous centuries before the law was even given. This was because of his faith.
 
How, then, could the Galatians be justified by a law that did not even justify their spiritual father? In the same way that Abraham was made righteous, they were made righteous. They would be made complete in the same way that they believed and received the Holy Spirit – by faith. By placing themselves under the law for salvation, they were placing themselves under a curse. They had already been saved by faith, nothing they could do would add to what Jesus did.
 
The same is true for us. We don’t have to finish something we never started. Just as salvation is received by grace through faith, so is our sanctification. We continue to grow by continuing to believe. We will finish the same way we began, by believing that Jesus delivered us from the curse of sin by becoming the curse himself. Faith in Christ is what saves us, and that same faith is what allows us to live free, obedient lives for God.
 

9/4/2018 12:18:35 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 16: Gracious Hospitality

September 4 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: 1 Peter 4:7-11
 
Apple Inc., now a trillion-dollar company, has hundreds of stores in the United States and has become a catalyst for many trends we see today in the realm of technology. But they are also known for something else: their retail store experience.
 
When you walk in, the staff acknowledges you, shows genuine interest in helping you and seeks to get you connected with the many services they offer. They have assigned staff based on their gifting and seem to always work as a team, accomplishing one objective: exposing you to Apple.
 
Likewise, as Christians, we must be known by our hospitality and treatment of those we meet, welcoming them into the gospel we profess.
 
Peter, in his letter to the dispersed exile Christians, seeks to show how biblical love and service for our neighbor must be grounded in hospitality. As we have been welcomed into the family of God by the gospel, we must now invite others to experience the same love we’ve found. Therefore, Peter tells them to “keep loving one another” (v. 8) since it is the foundation of all hospitality and service.
 
As Christians, we must be the most loving and hospitable people. Our churches, then, must become environments for people to experience true love and true warmth. The good news is that, when we love and show hospitality, we must display our varied gifts. These gifts are then the conduit through which God receives glory (vv. 10-11). God is glorified when His people use their gifts to create welcoming environments that show tangible love toward each other and those outside of the church.
 
Rather than cold churches, God desires warm churches that overflow with love. Doctrine matters! But, Jesus said that others will know us “by how we love” (John 13:35) and we must show the world that hospitality matters.
 

9/4/2018 12:18:22 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



Explore the Bible Lesson for September 9: True Grace

August 23 2018 by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham

Focal passage: Galatians 2:11-21
 
Working in hospitality, part of my job is giving people directions. My responsibility is simple enough. I just have to guide the person from point A to point B. No one ever asks me to make their journey as difficult as possible, adding as many unnecessary steps as I can. In fact, I’m not doing my job very well if I do. Very rarely does anyone need the scenic route to dinner.
 
Continuing his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses a situation in which extra requirements were being added to salvation and Christian fellowship. Paul describes an encounter he had with another apostle, Peter. Peter had himself become influenced by false teachers, neglecting to eat with Gentiles when a certain group of Jews were around. He feared those who said salvation was obtained by obeying Jewish laws such as circumcision – laws that the Gentiles did not keep.
 
But the Jewish laws did not have the power to save the Jews, and Peter knew this. Paul wastes no time rebuking Peter, letting him know in front of everyone the hypocrisy in his actions. Not only was he being a hypocrite, he was causing others under his influence to do the same.
 
Paul reminds Peter that all are saved by faith.
 
The Gentiles had received the same gift of grace as the Jews even though they did not follow the same cultural practices.
 
We must be careful not to add extra steps to the gospel. Any way to salvation other that faith in Jesus is a false gospel. When offering salvation to us, God does not differentiate between culture, societal status, or even behavior. There is no scenic route to salvation.
 
As believers, we are called to share our faith with others, but we must avoid adding to the work that Jesus has already done.
 
Only by faith can anyone say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20).
 

8/23/2018 12:29:48 PM by Anteneshia Sanders, member, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham | with 0 comments



Bible Studies for Life Lesson for September 9: Open Arms

August 23 2018 by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden

Focal passage: James 2:1-10
 
Whether on the news, in our neighborhoods or within our families – people love to draw distinctions based on class or status. Our tendency, if we aren’t careful, is to marginalize those who cannot help us, and selfishly use those who can help us achieve our agenda.
 
Sadly, this can also be seen in the church. Too many times we give special attention to those that can elevate us or make our ministries look better.
 
Rather than celebrating unity in the gospel, we divide people based on worldly standards.

James wants his readers to be complete and whole Christians (1:4). By instructing them how to live with others, he is calling them to not only be those who hear the word, but also do what it says (1:22-23). In chapter two, James instructs believers to hold to the true faith and love their neighbor, not showing favoritism to certain people.
 
By doing this, the “royal law” is fulfilled (v. 8).
 
In this lesson, we learn to tangibly demonstrate the “royal law” by loving our neighbor and seeing them as God sees them, not how the world sees them. This is the very heart of the passage. Since we have been welcomed in by the gospel, we must turn to others and welcome them into the family of God.
 
We must have the eyes of Jesus, treating everyone with dignity.
 
In verses 1-4, James tells the readers they must not show partiality (favoritism) to others but rather hold to the true faith of Jesus.
 
He then gives a specific example: two men enter the assembly and the rich person is treated like a VIP while the poor man is treated with disrespect.
 
Faith, not favoritism, must be present among God’s people! Loving our neighbor well is the fruit of a heart that understands the example of our Savior.
 

8/23/2018 12:29:38 PM by Tyler Frank, young adult pastor, Biltmore Church, Arden | with 0 comments



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