Lesson 14

The Results of Witnessing

(Acts 24, Matthew 25)
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Introduction: This entire quarter we have studied witnessing. What should we expect as the outcome of our witnessing? What are the rewards for witnessing? Let's plunge into our lesson and find out!

  1. Uncertain Results

    1. Do you remember our recent lesson where Paul came to visit James and the people in the "home office" (Jerusalem)? They suggested ( Acts 21:21-24) that Paul go through the Jewish purification rituals so all the Jews would know he was "living in obedience to the law?" The result of caving in to peer pressure was that there was a riot, Paul was arrested (which was a good thing because it saved his life) and he ultimately came before Felix, the Governor of Caesarea. Let's read Acts 24:10-13.

      1. What kind of argument is Paul making when he says (v.10)he gladly defends before Felix because he has been the governor of Israel for many years? (This is a slap in the face of his accusers. Paul says to Felix, "We both know what kind of people we are dealing with here.")

      2. Who has the burden of proof in this hearing? (Paul says (v.13) his accusers have the burden of proof - which they cannot meet. This shows the Roman system was like the U.S. system in that regard.)

    2. Read Acts 24:14-16. Imagine this is a televised trial and you are a TV reporter. How would you describe to your audience the kind of argument Paul is making in these verses? (He is arguing two things. First, that this is a religious dispute. Second, that it turns on some fine theological issue because he agrees with his accusers on basic theological principles.)

      1. Is this a smart argument? (It is great! Probably the last thing Felix wants to get into is some theoretical theological argument.)

      2. Is it an honest argument? (Yes. While I don't think these are abstract distinctions, notice that Paul starts out (v.14) by admitting he is a follower of "the Way" which is a different religion.)

    3. Paul next covers the facts of what happened. Since we recently studied those, let's skip down to verses 22-23. Read. Is Felix hostile to Paul?

      1. This says that Felix was "well acquainted" with Paul's religion. Do you think Felix had heard good or bad things about it?

      1. How do you think he heard of it? (We will see in the next verse (v.24) that his wife is Jewish, that may have caused him to be more interested in religion.)

      2. Now that we know the wife of the judge is Jewish, what do you think about Paul's opening remark about how he is glad to be before Felix because he has been governing the Jews for so many years?

        1. Would devout Jews have looked favorably upon a Jew marrying a Gentile? (I think we can now see Paul's angle now.)

      3. Felix says he will wait until Lysias comes. Why does he need to wait for Lysias? (Lysias, the Roman commander, was the "arresting officer" ( Acts 21:30-33; Acts 23:26-27). He was an important witness.)

        1. Consider Acts 23:24-30. What kind of witness do you think Lysias will be, favorable or unfavorable to Paul?

    1. Let's read on: Acts 24:24-25. Is Lysias present? Is this Paul's hearing? (No. It seems Felix and his wife just want to hear from Paul.)

      1. What is Paul doing? Is he arguing his case? (It seems Paul is simply witnessing!)

    2. Let me give you a little background here. Josephus tells us that Drusilla was beautiful, that she had been married to the King of Emesa, and that Felix saw her and fell in love with her. To win her over, he had a friend, who pretended to be a magician, somehow persuade Drusilla to leave the King and marry Felix. (See Barnes' Notes on these verses.) Barnes comments, "She was therefore, living in adultery with [Felix].")

      1. With this background, how do you think Felix and Drusilla received his words (v.25) on "righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come?" (It says Felix was afraid.)

      2. As you consider vv. 24-25, is this the proper order for witnessing: "faith in Jesus," followed by "righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come?"

      3. Is this the result we want from witnessing? That those who hear become afraid?

      4. Felix says (v.25) he has heard enough for now. He will hear more about the gospel "when ... convenient." Is Paul's witnessing a success?

        1. What should be our reaction when those to whom we witness have this kind of response? (Our lesson (Monday) says that Paul succeeded in making the "gospel personal" because Felix made "an excuse and then an exit." Jesus does not force anyone to choose Him. When we have clearly presented the gospel, when the arrow has hit its mark, we have done all that we can. The matter is then in the hands of the Holy Spirit and the individual.)

        2. How do we know when we have "done all we can?" Is it possible to "waste time" on someone who already knows enough? Do we have an obligation to move on to someone who has not heard the gospel?

  1. Certain Results

    1. Read Matthew 25:14-18. Verse 14 starts out, "Again, it will be like..." Look at the context. What is "it?" (The previous story is the parable of the Ten Virgins and it starts out ( Matthew 25:1) "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ...." "It" is the kingdom of heaven.)

    2. Let's continue reading: Matthew 25:19-30. Is this a story about the stock market? Investment banking? Singing? Writing? Just what do these "talents" represent? (Verse 27 tells us that this literally refers to money.)

      1. Do you think investing your money is the point of the parable? (I think the main point of the parable is advancing the kingdom of heaven.)

      2. The master obviously discriminated among his servants at the beginning by giving one five times what he gave another. Why is that? Is that proper?

        1. Why did the "two talent return man" and the "five talent return man" get the same reward? (I think this makes a point about witnessing. We may not all have the same "talent" for witnessing or reap the same harvest. We may, like Paul with Felix, have people who will reject our witness. But the reward of God is sure: "Come and share your Master's happiness" (vv. 21 & 23).)

    3. Friend, our job is to use the talents God has given us to witness for Him. We may find that some put us off and some may reject our witness. That is their decision and their eternal responsibility. Our reward, however, is certain! Will you use your witnessing talents and share in the happiness of your Master forever?

  2. Next week we start our study of the book of Proverbs: "First Things First."

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Lessons on Witnessing

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