Lesson 4

The Recipients of Witnessing

(Acts 1 & 2, Luke 19:11)
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Introduction: Last week we learned you are ambassadors for Jesus to declare His praises and share the message of your reconciliation with God. Now that you have your message, where do you go? Who do you tell? Does it matter? Let's jump into our lesson and find out!

  1. Geography

    1. Read Acts 1:6-8. These words are the last recorded between Jesus and His disciples. What did the disciples want? (They wanted Jesus to make them rulers of Israel and take power away from the Romans.)

      1. Would this question be discouraging to you if you were Jesus?

      2. What was wrong with the disciples' question? (It showed they still had the wrong goal in mind.)

      3. Did Jesus answer the disciples' question? (Yes.)

        1. Did He say, "What kind of numbskull question is that? Haven't you been listening to a word I've said? And now I've got to go and you still haven't learned anything!

          1. What answer did Jesus give? (He told them about the Second Coming and that His Father had set the time for that.)

      4. Is there a lesson in this for us? (Yes. Our goal is not to take over the country. Political power is not our first goal.)

      5. Did Jesus tell the disciples a way to restore the kingdom to Israel? Did He directly answer their question? (Yes. It is in verse 8.)

        1. What kind of "restoration" do we find in verse 8? (Being a witness "restores" the Kingdom of God in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus.)

      6. Let's concentrate on verse 8 a bit. The disciples asked Jesus about power that had certain geographical limits. How did Jesus respond to that? Did He agree to geographical limits?

        1. Do you attach any significance to the way Jesus describes where the disciples will witness?

          1. Is this an instruction limited to them, or does this provide instruction to us? Should we start in our nation's capital, work our way to the boarders of the country, go next to neighboring countries and then go to the world?

          2. Are we just part of the "ends of the earth" - and thus left to our own plan?

          3. Is this a comment about starting small? Would you start smaller by beginning with your family? Your hometown? Would that be consistent with Jesus' command?

            1. Do you think Jesus meant for His disciples to start at the nation's capital, or did He just say the name of the capital because that was where they were at the moment?

  2. Eager Audience

    1. Let's say that you start witnessing. You start small, you start where you are. You have decided on the "where" for witnessing. Should you have a plan for "whom?" Or should you just talk to whomever you see first? Will the Holy Spirit give you a plan if you ask for one?

    2. Let's read some examples. Read Acts 2:4-11. Is there a plan at work here?

      1. What is it? (On the face of it the disciples were witnessing at a large religious gathering (the feast of Pentecost) of people from all nations. Pentecost was the last day of the grain harvest (also called the Feast of Weeks). ( Deuteronomy 16:9-10, Leviticus 23:15-16.)

        1. Should we pick large, international religious gatherings to witness?

      2. Notice that Acts 2:5 says Jews from every nation "were staying" in Jerusalem. This does not seem to be a short visit (the Greek means to have a fixed or permanent dwelling according to Barnes' Notes). Any idea why they would be staying?

        1. Read Luke 19:11. This is the tail end of the Zacchaeus story and it has a very interesting comment about Jerusalem and the Messiah. What does it suggest? (That the people thought it was time for the Messiah to come.)

        2. Do you remember all the talk and speculation about Y2K and the end of the world? Do you think it was like that in Jerusalem? (Matthew Henry's Commentary on Acts 2:5-11 tells us that the people had been studying Daniel's prophecy about the weeks "and it was then generally thought that the kingdom of God would immediately appear.")

          1. Is this a plan or is this a plan? The disciples start witnessing in a city that has a lot of international people in it who have come to find the Messiah!

          2. Do we have a similar opportunity now? Can we make that opportunity by teaching the Second Coming is near?

  3. Class Attack

    1. Our lesson (Sunday) directs our attention to Acts 6:7 (gospel to priests), Acts 8:26-39 (gospel to the Secretary of the Treasury of Ethiopia), and Acts 13:6-12 (gospel to the Roman Proconsul) and concludes that we are "passing by" the "intelligent" "refined" class in our witnessing because our "hook is not baited to catch this class." Do you agree?

      1. When was the last time your church converted (as oppose to a transfer of membership) a truly wealthy person?

    2. Read James 2:2-6. Would James agree with our lesson that we are not sufficiently "baiting the hook" for the rich?

      1. Is it James' position that we should expect that the poor would join our church instead of the rich?

      2. Do you think James would agree that we should "bait the hook" for the rich?

      3. As you look at these verses, what is James complaining about? Rich people? (I'm not sure he is wild about rich people, but his complaint is about discrimination.)

        1. Would it be discrimination to try to make sure the rich get the gospel message too?

    3. Read Acts 10:25-29. Do you recall Cornelius? Who was he? ( Acts 10:1 tells he was a centurion (leader of 100) in the Italian Regiment. This means he was not a Jew.)

      1. Was there a problem with Peter going to Cornelius' house?

      2. What does this story tell us about to whom we should witness? (Read Acts 10:34-35.)

    4. Let's read on. Read Acts 10:30-33. We have not read the entire chapter (Acts 10) because I think you already know it. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Peter's witnessing to Cornelius?

      1. The Bible has stories about rebels who hit bottom and turn to God. This is a story about a man who was seeking God. Should we target those people for the gospel?

        1. How would you do that?

      2. Are there strong "class issues" in the story of Cornelius? (Yes - and they go both ways! Cornelius is an important man in his culture. On the other hand, Jews would look down on him.)

        1. Is there a common thread between the statements of James that we read earlier and the point of the Cornelius story? (Yes, in spreading the gospel we should not show favoritism based on race, culture or cash.)

    5. Friend, God calls us to witness to others. I think He calls on us to start where we are, have an intelligent plan, ask for the Holy Spirit to lead and try to ensure that all classes hear the everlasting gospel. Will you join in that effort?

  4. Next Week: The Action Words of Witnessing.

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