Introduction: If you read the lessons regularly, you know
that I routinely remind you that salvation is by grace alone, our
works do not save us. However, that should not cloud the fact that
our works generally make a difference in the quality of our life.
God favors those who obey Him. At the same time, life is often not
fair. Our obligation is to bring glory to God, and not worry about
whether we are being treated fairly by the events of life. Our study
this week touches on this issue of why some Christians fare better
than others. Let’s dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Aeneas

    1. Read Acts 9:32-35. Why did Peter performed this miracle?

      1. Do you think there were other sick or paralyzed
        people in the area?

      2. What is the result of this miracle, other than
        healing Aeneas? (It was the cause for the conversion
        of “all” who lived in those two cities.)

    2. Read John 9:1-3. Why does Jesus say that this man was born
      blind? (“So that the work of God might be displayed in his
      life.” I think the healing of Aeneas was not so much about
      helping him as it was about converting others. This is
      difficult to understand for those who have yet to realize
      that living is about giving glory to God, rather than
      being about us.)

  2. Tabitha

    1. Read Acts 9:36-38. Aside from being dead, rather than
      paralyzed, what is the difference between Tabitha and
      Aeneas? (Tabitha is not merely someone who needs help, she
      is someone whose life has been about doing good.)

      1. Why are we told about her body being “washed?” (This
        tells us that she really was dead. Jewish custom is
        to bury the body as soon as possible, and washing the
        body is the preparation for burial.)

    2. Read Acts 9:39-42. Why do you think Peter performed this
      miracle? (Once again, we read that many are converted.
      But, the great emphasis on Tabitha’s good works makes it
      appear that her works are also a part of the reason for
      her healing.)

  3. Cornelius

    1. Read Acts 10:1-6. Why did Cornelius receive this vision
      and not other Gentiles? (The angel specifically mentions
      his “prayers and gifts to the poor.”)

      1. What is a “memorial offering?” (There are references
        in the Old Testament to a memorial offering, but I
        think this means that God is remembering Cornelius
        because of these acts of devotion and mercy.)

    2. When you consider these three stories, why do you think
      the Bible mentions the good acts of the person being
      helped in two of the three stories? (Life is about giving
      glory to God. But, God also blesses and gives glory to
      those who are faithful to Him. This is not righteousness
      by works, this is a display of the favor of God on those
      who seek to do His will.)

    3. Read Acts 10:9-14. This happened three times. What should
      you do when a vision contradicts the Bible? See, Leviticus
      11, on the issue of unclean meat.

    4. Read Acts 10:17. What is Peter doing about his vision
      contradicting the Bible? (He is wondering about how to
      reconcile the vision with his understanding of the Bible.)

    5. Read Acts 10:28-29. How is the conflict resolved? (Peter
      realizes that there is no conflict between the Bible and
      his vision, because the vision was about “unclean” people,
      not food. Peter would not normally enter the home of a
      Gentile like Cornelius, but the vision corrected this

    6. Read Acts 10:34-35, and Acts 10:44-48. What new thing has
      happened in the early church? (The Jewish converts now
      realize that Gentiles are welcome in the Christian church.
      Recall that Jesus and His disciples were Jewish. Recall
      that the Jews believed in a coming Messiah. Thus, they
      believed (rightly) that Jesus was the culmination of the
      Jewish faith. That caused them to be “astonished” that
      uncircumcised Gentiles could be part of their faith. They
      thought Jesus was merely the latest chapter in Judaism.)

    7. Read Ephesians 2:11-12. How did the Jews view the
      Gentiles? (They were without hope.)

    8. Read Acts 11:1-3. How did the Jewish Christians react when
      they heard the story of Cornelius?

    9. Read Ephesians 2:13-15 and Acts 11:18. What has Jesus done
      for Gentiles? (He has destroyed the dividing wall of
      hostility. Cornelius, a man who obeyed God, was the
      beginning of making this clear in the early church.)

  4. James and Peter

    1. Read Acts 12:1-3. Do you recall the story of James’ mother
      coming to Jesus to ask that her sons (James and John) sit
      at the right hand of Jesus in His kingdom? It is found at
      Matthew 20:20-23.

      1. Read Matthew 20:22-23. Has James drunk from Jesus’
        cup? Is this what James’ mother had in mind? (This
        is a perfect illustration of the contradiction of the
        gospel. Jesus wants us to be blessed. His
        commandments are intended to help us lead a better
        life. But, being a follower of Jesus sometimes means
        that we suffer. Hebrews 11 recounts this disparate
        treatment, but promises us that all will eventually
        have what God has promised.)

    2. Read Acts 12:4-5. Is this excessive? Sixteen soldiers to
      guard one preacher who is in chains in prison?

    3. Read Acts 12:6-10. Is Peter favored by God? (Absolutely!)

      1. Why did James die? Why was he not rescued? (We just
        have to leave these things in the hands of God
        knowing that James will receive his reward.)

    4. Let’s skip down a few verses and read Acts 12:18-19. Is
      this fair? Was there anything the guards could have done
      differently? (No, it is not fair because there was nothing
      the guards could have done. This is an example of the kind
      of thing that sometimes happens in life.)

    5. Read Acts 12:12-15. Have you had this happen? You were
      praying for something and then you could not believe it
      when God answered your prayers?

  5. Herod

    1. Read Acts 12:20-23. What is the cause of Herod’s death?
      (It is a divine judgment based on Herod accepting the
      praise due to God alone. But, it is also some sort of
      disease involving worms eating him.)

      1. Herod had been opposed to the gospel for some time.
        Recall that he had James killed, and Peter arrested.
        He undoubtedly intended to kill Peter. Why does Herod
        get struck down only now? What about the innocent
        guards who were killed?

      2. Read Genesis 15:12-16. What does it mean that the sin
        of the Amorites had not yet reached its “full
        measure?” (This gives us an insight into God’s
        thinking. God delays punishment until our sins, our
        cup of iniquity, reaches its “full measure.” Herod
        finally reached “full measure” and he died a painful

    2. Read Acts 12:24. Can evil stop the work of God? (No! James
      died. The jailing of Peter caused great anxiety and
      prayer. But, God’s work rolls on!)

    3. Friend, you do not know your future. You can increase the
      odds of having a positive future here on earth by being
      obedient. But, bad things happen for all sorts of reasons.
      God calls on us to be faithful regardless of what happens.
      Will you determine today, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
      to remain faithful?

  6. Next week: Paul’s First Missionary Journey.