A BOLD WITNESS
Scripture: Acts 4:29, 9:20–31
Memory verse: Acts 4:29
“Lord…enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
Begin the lesson with the following story:
Crash! Rebecca saw two cars collide at the intersection. She watched as the drivers got out of their cars in the middle of the road and began to argue loudly over whose fault it was.
Soon a policeman arrived. He asked the drivers to explain what had happened. Each man said it was the fault of the other person. Who should he believe?
As the policeman tried to fill out his report, he glanced up and saw Rebecca. “Did you see the accident, young lady?” he asked.
Rebecca was not sure she wanted to get involved. The two men seemed very angry. What would happen if she told the policeman what she had seen? Would the driver whose fault it was yell at her if she told the truth?
Rebecca knew it was her duty to tell what she had seen. The policeman needed the facts. So Rebecca explained that the driver of the blue car had run a red light and crashed into the other car.
The policeman thanked Rebecca for being a truthful witness. The driver of the blue car frowned and grumbled, but Rebecca did not care. She was glad she knew the truth.
Explain that in this week’s study the students will learn how Paul was faithful to speak boldly the truth about Jesus. Stress that God expects us to tell others what we know about Him. That is how the gospel is spread—through us.
Hearing God’s Word
(Remind the students that Saul’s name was changed to Paul after his conversion.) Paul’s life was completely turned around after Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. After Paul’s salvation, he changed sides and joined the people he had once hated. This change meant he would face the same kind of persecution he had once inflicted on others.
Paul Preaches About Jesus
Ask: “Do you remember from our last study what Paul did after he spent some time with the disciples in Damascus?” (Allow responses.)
Paul began to preach in the synagogues of Damascus. Paul created quite a stir because before this time he had been an enemy of Christians. Now he was agreeing with everything they believed, and he was preaching those beliefs quite convincingly.
The power mentioned in this verse is referring to Paul’s preaching. He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit when he preached. He confused the people who did not believe in Jesus; they had no arguments that could stand against Paul’s proofs that Jesus is the Son of God. When we become Christians, we like Paul, will want to tell others about Jesus. When we have met Jesus, what others think of us becomes less important. We feel strongly that we must share the truth.
The Plot Against Paul
(Read Acts 9:23 aloud.) Ask: “What was the result of Paul’s boldness in telling about Jesus?” (Allow responses.)
Some people decided life would be a lot easier for them if they could get rid of Paul. He was proving that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, but some of the Jewish leaders did not want to believe his message. The people were beginning to listen to Paul instead of to the Jewish leaders. They were not about to let that happen.
These leaders knew it would be easier to kill Paul outside the city. They decided to take turns watching the gates of the city day and night. They planned to kill Paul as soon as he left Damascus.
Someone heard of the plot against Paul and told him about it. Paul realized it was no longer safe for him to stay in Damascus. Sooner or later those who wanted to kill him would find a way to do so. But how could he leave the city safely?
Here we find an example of God’s care for those who obey Him and rely on Him completely. God used the Christians in Damascus to provide a way for Paul to escape. By this time the Christians in Damascus had grown to love Paul. If Paul were killed, they would lose a bold witness for Jesus and also lose a good friend. They were more than willing to try to save Paul’s life. It is important to support other Christians. Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by peer pressure, but it helps us to talk to others who are following Jesus.
One night the believers took Paul to the wall that surrounded the city. They had to be very quiet. They did not want anyone to notice them. They knew the Jews were watching the gates to be sure Paul would not escape. The Christians put Paul in a very large basket, fastened that basket to a long, strong rope, and lowered Paul down outside the city wall. He slipped away to safety.
Some Christians Distrust Paul
After Paul escaped from Damascus, he headed toward Jerusalem.
Ask: “How do you think the Christians in Jerusalem felt when they heard Paul was coming back?” (Allow discussion.)
When Paul arrived, he tried to be friends with the Christians there. However, the Christians in Jerusalem remembered how Paul had persecuted them only a short time earlier. They were afraid Paul was acting as a spy so he could catch them and put them in prison. They did not want anything to do with Paul.
Only one man in Jerusalem believed Paul’s testimony. This man’s name was Barnabas. The name Barnabas means “son of consolation” or “encouragement.” Barnabas was convinced Paul had indeed changed. He became Paul’s friend and went with Paul to introduce him to the apostles. Barnabas knew that the strong feelings some of the Jewish leaders had against Christians made it risky to speak so openly about Jesus. Yet Paul was doing just that. When Barnabas, a leader in the church, showed he had confidence in Paul, the rest of the believers accepted him too.
Paul Speaks Boldly
What did Paul do in Jerusalem? Let us read Acts 9:29 and see. Paul certainly was brave. He was back in the city that was famous for its persecution of Christians, but he spoke boldly about Jesus anyway. Acts 9:29 tells us the result of Paul’s boldness in Jerusalem, another plot against his life! The believers in Jerusalem learned of this plot and sent Paul safely away to another city.
Ask: “Why did not Paul keep quiet? Why did he not just preach to the Christians and help out in the church? Did he accomplish anything by boldly witnessing to unbelievers?” (Allow responses.)
Paul accomplished much more than just angering some leaders. If Paul had not preached boldly wherever he went, many people would not have heard the gospel. Paul preached wherever he could find people, and many of those who heard him became believers in Jesus.
Ask: “How can we have the kind of boldness Paul and the Early Church believers had?” (Allow responses.)
We can receive help and power from the Holy Spirit as we pray and seek God. The Early Church members knew the key to receiving boldness. Their prayer is our memory verse this week. They said, “Lord…enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29). This prayer is a good one for us to pray today. (Say the verse together several times.)
Paul was a good example to the Christians. He knew that what he was preaching was true. Paul was willing to speak boldly for Jesus, no matter what the cost. He wanted to do whatever God called him to do. He did not care what others thought. He knew that what God thinks is more important than what people think.
If Paul had kept quiet after he was saved, his life certainly would have been much easier. But how much would he have accomplished for God? The same is true today. Some Christians want to be “secret” Christians. It can be rough to take a stand for God. We may not lose our lives for speaking boldly for Jesus, as Paul faced, but it can cost us something else.
Ask: “Can you think of some things being bold for Jesus could cost us?” (Allow responses. Possible answers: losing friends or popularity, being made fun of.)
By being bold we can help people find Jesus as Saviour and make Him Lord of their lives.
Ask: “Can you think of some benefits of being bold for Jesus: (Allow responses. Possible answers: salvation of the lost, peace, happiness, God’s blessing.)
The benefits of serving God are far greater than the costs. We have good news to share and should not keep it to ourselves. The gospel is spread through Christians telling others how to receive salvation. God will give us the courage we need to tell others about Him, just as He gave Paul courage to speak out in his day. This power and boldness comes through the Holy Spirit.
Accepting God’s Word
The message Paul so boldly shared is the most wonderful message of all time: that the God who created everything loves us so much He gave His only Son to die so we could be forgiven of our sins. God’s Son is the Messiah the Jewish people were waiting for and our Saviour today. Only He can forgive our sins. Pray individually with anyone who wants to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
A Good Chief
The chief explained that his great-grandfather led this village under the colonial rule of the British. Then his grandfather, father and two older brothers succeeded to the chieftaincy. Following the death of his older brother, the villagers asked him to serve as their chief. When asked what makes a good chief, he quickly responded, "A faithful and honest man."
One particular comment by the chief caught our attention. He said, "No one has ever talked to me like this." He was pleased to have us enter his world without a complaint or a request for his assistance and with a genuine interest in him and his people. He called for his wives, changed into a nice robe and posed for pictures. He opened his heart and village to us.
It was a good visit, and a relational bridge was built. The name "Jola Fonyi" had come alive – the people’s faces would never to be forgotten. The first step had been taken in giving these villagers an adequate introduction to Jesus, the Saviour.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Jola Messengers to be Bold
1. A powerful anointing to rest upon every believer’s witness,
2. God's protection upon those who dare to proclaim the gospel,
3. Boldness to openly declare that they are baptized believers.
"For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods" (Psalm 95:3).
Remember: A BOLD WITNESS
Memory verse: Acts 4:29
“Lord…enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
1. I will witness to fellow students at school.
2. I will clearly and boldly present the gospel to them.
3. I will ask the Holy Spirit for His anointing when sharing the gospel.
Pray for Jola messengers to be bold.
Study 4 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach