About Our Study
Jesus' sermon on a mountain in Galilee has been the basis of countless lessons over the years. Still, even with all the teaching, there are many misconceptions about what Jesus taught. I'm convinced that most of them are due to the way we study Jesus' sermon. Too often we lift an interesting statement from the sermon and expound on it without considering the context from which the statement came.
Jesus lived in a time of change. At his death, the Law of Moses would cease to be in effect and a new law would come into being. Jesus' teaching explained the transition. He clarified what the Old Law really taught (as opposed to what the people had come to believe about the Law). He showed how the new law would change or not change various aspects of the law.
In these lessons, we will be studying both the Old Testament and the New Testament. By the time we complete the lessons, I hope you will come away with two concepts. The first is that the Old Law is not all that different from the New Law, especially in its moral instruction. Righteousness and sinfulness have remained the same over the years. Adultery was wrong before the Old Law, it was wrong during the Law, and it continues to be wrong today. "For until the law sin was in the world ...", Romans 5:13. God's law states that it is wrong and explains why it is wrong. "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound," Romans 5:20. The second concept that you should learn is that God hasn't changed.
"You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but You will remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail." (Hebrews 1:10-12)
"Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." (Hebrews 6:17).
There are thirteen lessons in this study. Each lesson begins with a reading assignment and is followed by a series of questions about what you just read. Answer the questions before reading the discussion section. I wish to encourage you to learn as much as you can directly from the scriptures. The questions are designed to help you meditate on the reading. You will not be able to answer the questions by skimming through your Bible. Unless otherwise indicated, all questions can be answered from the reading. After completing the questions, read over the discussion section. This section sets the tone for the discussion we will have in class. It also introduces related passages for your consideration. The discussion section is followed by another set of questions that will encourage you to connect what you learned to other passages in the Bible and to find an application of the lesson in your daily life.