Lesson 6

Models for Witnessing

(Acts 6 & 15)
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Introduction: So far this quarter we have discussed who should witness, how we should witness, and what we should witness. This week we turn our attention to real, live, Bible witnesses. Let's dive in and see what we can learn from their examples!

  1. Stephen

    1. Read Acts 6:1-4. What was the problem among the early disciples described here? (Two problems. First, certain widows were not getting their proper allotment of food. Second, and worse, this shows dissension among the group - perhaps malice among those who distributed the food and certainly a dispute among nationality lines.)

      1. Although this story shows us problems, does it also reveal something good? (It shows us the number of Christians was greatly growing and it shows the Christian community was daily feeding its widows.)

      2. Who do you think was distributing the food at the time? The Twelve, or others? (From the way verse 2 is written, it appears others. However, verse 3 reveals that the Twelve had ultimate administrative responsibility over this area.)

        1. Does this mean some people got fired from their food distribution jobs? Does it mean the Twelve were not doing an adequate administrative job? (It probably means both to some degree. However, the context makes clear any failure of the Twelve was due to overburden based on the growing membership.)

          1. What does this teach us about jobs in our church?

      3. Who solved the problem? (The Twelve came up with the overall idea. The members chose the men.)

        1. Does that teach us anything about organizing our witness today?

      4. These verses are commonly accepted as a description of the first deacons of the church. What criteria did the Twelve set up for these deacons? (Wise and full of the Holy Spirit.)

        1. Does that make sense - given the nature of the problem? Why?

    2. Let's read on. Acts 6:5-7. Did the proposal solve the problem?

      1. Does your church suffer from a lack of organization? Some are overburdened and others are not helping?

        1. Is this just an annoyance or is this a critical matter that affects the ability of your church to grow? Do you think the growth described in verse 7 is due to the improved organization of the early church for witnessing?

      2. Notice the way Stephen is described among the new deacons. Why does he get special mention and the others do not? (Stephen must have stood out among the new deacons.)

    3. Let's read on. Acts 6:8-10. I thought Stephen's job was food distribution. What is he doing here?

      1. Was Stephen doing a good job or a poor job? Is the fact that you create opposition a tribute to your effectiveness or a tribute to your lack of tact? (It could be a lack of tact in some cases, but not here. Look at the glowing description of Stephen. We were previously told (v.5) he was "full of faith and the Holy Spirit," we are now told (v.8) he is "full of God's grace and power" and "did great wonders and signs.")

        1. What do you think were Stephen's "great wonders and miraculous signs."

        2. Some tend to shy away from "faith healers" because of a concern about trickery. Is Stephen an example for us in this aspect of witnessing? Should we pray to do "great wonders and miraculous signs?"

        3. Should we pray for great argument skills, or are we already defeated if we argue?

          1. Does the merit of arguing vary depending on the audience?

      2. How important (v.10) was the involvement of the Holy Spirit in defeating the arguments of the "opposition?"

        1. How important is the Holy Spirit in your witnessing activities?

        2. Should you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to witness? Should this be a part of your prayer each morning?

    4. Read Acts 6:11-15. We just learned (v.10) that the "opposition" could not win the theological debates with Stephen. Are verses 11-14 the usual result of such failures? (Instead of better arguments, they turned to false charges.)

    5. What are the charges brought against Stephen? Do these sound familiar? (Read Matthew 26:59-61.)

    6. When people lie about you, when they treat you roughly, does your face ( Acts 6:15) look "like the face of an angel?"

      1. Do you think his judges missed Stephen's looks? (The text says they looked at him "intently." They obviously noticed.)

        1. What do you think was going through the minds of those judges looking at Stephen?

    7. If you have time, read the legal answer Stephen made to the charges in Acts 7:1-53. Let's read on after his argument in Acts 7:54-60. After this stirring, Spirit-led argument, the hearers all said, "You're right! We have resisted the Holy Spirit. We repent!" Right?

      1. Why did they (v.57) cover their ears? (Stephen has just said that he saw Jesus in heaven. This would be very bad news to someone who helped kill Jesus.)

      1. What does this teach us about witnessing? Results are a good measure of the strength of your witness?

      2. Why did the "opposition" resort to violence? (The last resort of a failed argument is violence.)

      3. Imagine being hit by stones. Would you feel like praying Stephen's prayer found in verse 60?

        1. Do you feel like you are "hit by stones" from time to time in your witnessing?

          1. Do you react as Stephen did?

        2. What will it take to get us to the verse 60 attitude in our witnessing?

  1. Mark

    1. Read Acts 12:25, Acts 13:13 and Acts 15:36-38. John Mark left Paul and Barnabas and returned home. Why, in a lesson about examples of witnesses, do we have someone who quit? Someone Paul calls a "deserter?"

      1. Stephen gave up his life in his witnessing, John Mark just quit his witnessing. Is there room somewhere between these two extremes for you? Do you feel you might fit in as a witness?

    2. Read Acts 15:39-40. Are witnesses allowed to disagree and argue?

      1. Why do you think Barnabas was willing to split up with Paul over this? (Read Colossians 4:10. Blood is thicker than water!)

        1. Was Barnabas right in standing up for his cousin? (We have Paul in Colossians 4 telling the church to welcome John Mark.)

    3. Read 2 Timothy 4:11. Paul is now asking for John Mark to help him! Do you think both Paul and John Mark had resentments to overcome before they could work together? (Paul had strong feelings about John Mark deserting him before. John Mark knew that Paul did not want him along. Good witnesses put away harsh feelings towards each other.)

    4. Friend, these texts show us the extreme example of Stephen and the more common problems of discouragement and arguing among those who witness. There is room here for you. Will you pray to be a witness?

  2. Next Week: The Tools for Witnessing.

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