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HOW THE CHURCH GREW 

Scripture: Book of Acts; Acts 1:1–9, 2:1–21

Memory verse: Acts 1:8
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses."

Lead—In

Hold up a torch (minus batteries). Ask what the purpose of a torch is. A torch can be useful when it is dark. Sometimes, however, during a late-night thunderstorm that has knocked out electrical power, we discover our torch is not much help after all. (Demonstrate by trying to turn on the empty torch.) Either the torch has no batteries or the batteries are dead. Without its power source, a torch is useless even though all its other parts work. A power source is essential. (Insert the batteries and turn on the torch.) When the power source is added, we have the light we need.

Let the students name various power sources. Discuss items that use each kind of power. (For example, windmills use wind power.)

Emphasise how much we rely on power for almost everything we do. Even our bodies must have food, water, and adequate rest to have the power to function properly. The entire planet is dependent on the sun’s energy for power—to make plants grow. Ask the students to describe what they think might happen if the sun suddenly stopped giving light.

In reference to the torch, remind the students of the touch’s dependency on the batteries to be able to fulfil its purpose. Explain that this may seem basic, but it is something we should apply to our lives as Christians. We need a power source to be able to fulfil our purpose.

Hearing God’s Word

(Draw a circle on the chalkboard. Divide it into three parts. As you speak, label the sections as follows: God the Father, God’s Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Refer to this drawing as you give the following points.)

God Speaks Directly

From the beginning of time, God has communicated with man in special ways. During Old Testament times, God often spoke directly to men, like Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Sometimes He spoke in an audible voice, sometimes in dreams, and sometimes through the prophets. God showed His power and might in many ways. During this time, God and His relationship to man was emphasized. Before Jesus came to earth, God’s will for people was given directly by God to a person or through the prophets.

Jesus Comes to Earth

Then God the Father sent His Son Jesus to earth. Jesus lived here among people, teaching and preaching truths about God until His return to heaven. During this period, Jesus came to earth in a physical body. He revealed himself to people as God. Through His actions and miracles He proved He is God. He came to earth to provide forgiveness for sin. We can choose salvation from eternal punishment because of His death on the cross.

The Holy Spirit Comes

The Book of Acts tells us about the beginning of a third period—the birth of the Church. Acts tells how the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost as Jesus had promised. All three members of the Holy Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—work together. The Holy Spirit’s part is to convict people of sin, give guidance, and give power to witness to others about Jesus through words and actions. The Holy Spirit still gives power to those who are baptized in Him.

The Book of Acts

What is the complete title of the Book of Acts? (Instruct the students to check in their Bibles. Most will read “The Acts of the Apostles.”) Although the Gospels are historical in that they tell about the time Jesus was on earth, Acts is considered the only book of history in the New Testament. Acts is historical since it outlines the beginning of the Early Church and its progress.

Luke is believed to be the author of the Book of Acts. He also wrote the Gospel of Luke. As Luke looked back on the beginnings of the Early Church, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record those events. (Refer again to the complete title of the Book of Acts.)

Ask: “Who is an apostle?” (Allow responses.)

The word apostle means “one sent on a mission.” Many followed Jesus when He was on earth. They had seen Jesus do mighty miracles and heard Him speak wonderful things about God. After Jesus went back to heaven, these apostles followed Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to all nations.

The Book of Acts tells of events in which the early Christians were involved. Many of the things they did had not been done before. For example, Acts tells of the first organized relief group to help widows. This was formed when the Christians shared their possessions one with another. Acts also tells of Stephen, the first Christian to die for his belief in Jesus, and of the first Christians sent on a missionary journey.

Seven Main Events

The Book of Acts records seven main events that relate to the Early Church; these events happened after Jesus returned to heaven. The first and most significant event is recorded in Acts 2. (Ask a volunteer to read Acts 2:1-4.) Not only had the prophet Joel predicted this Holy Spirit baptism, but also just prior to Jesus’ returning to heaven, Jesus had told His followers this gift would be given to them. Jesus’ followers needed the Holy Spirit for a reason. Find Acts 1:8 to see what it was. (Let a volunteer read the verse.)

Ask: “What were the disciples to receive after the Holy Spirit came upon them? What would this power help them do?” (Allow responses.)

Ask: “On what day was the Holy spirit outpoured?” (Allow responses.)

Pentecost is the name of a Jewish celebration that took place 50 days after the Passover celebration. Since the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, this has become known as the “Pentecostal” experience. People who have been filled with the Holy Spirit are called “Pentecostal.” They speak in a language they have not learned, just as the disciples did on that Day of Pentecost.

  1. The Holy Spirit came; the Church began. On the Day of Pentecost ordinary people were given power to do extraordinary works for God and to be witnesses to all nations. This means they would preach the gospel with such power that many people in all countries would believe in Jesus. With the Holy Spirit’s help, Peter preached such a powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost that 3,000 people repented of their sins! This was the beginning of the Church.

This new-found experience and power was not appreciated by everyone. Opposition soon came from both religious and political leaders.

  1. The believers were persecuted. Although persecution caused a lot of suffering, it also had a great advantage. Hundreds of believers who had been forced from their homes scattered into different countries.

Ask: “What do you suppose happened then?” (Allow responses.)

The gospel was spread everywhere the believers went. They were able to be bold and tell of Jesus because of the Holy Spirit’s power in their lives.

One of the best-known characters in the Early Church was introduced at this time. His name was Saul (later changed to Paul). At first Saul fiercely persecuted the early Christians. Then something happened.

  1. Saul was changed by Jesus. (Review the events of Saul’s conversion.) Saul, a fierce persecutor, became Paul, a great preacher. Paul became one of the most influential leaders of the Early Church. He wrote many of the New Testament books. What a change Jesus made in his life!
  2. The gospel was given to Gentiles.

Ask: “What is a Gentile?” (Allow responses.)

A Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. Jews despised Gentiles, believing they were unworthy of God’s love. Then God gave another great Church leader, Peter, a special vision that made him aware that the gospel is for everyone, not just for the Jews. (See Acts 10:1–35.)

This has special significance because if the gospel had not been given to Gentiles, millions of people would have no hope of eternal life with Jesus. But salvation is for everyone.

The Great Commission was given in Matthew 28:19–20. Jesus told His disciples to preach the gospel in all parts of the world and baptize the believers. Now the power of the Holy Spirit was available to help Christians preach the gospel.

  1. Missionary work began. Paul and Barnabas were the first to set out on a missionary journey. Paul himself went on three missionary journeys and took the gospel to many lands during his lifetime.
  2. The gospel was taken to Europe through the apostles’ missionary efforts. Paul had a vision of a man calling from Macedonia, which is in Europe.
  3. Paul’s trials and writing his epistles. God used Paul to spread the good news throughout the world through his missionary journeys and his letters to the churches. He was arrested, put on trial, and imprisoned for his missionary work.

Some have said the Book of Acts could also be called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” Without the Holy Spirit’s energizing power, most of what Acts records could never have happened. Because of His power working through ordinary people like you and me, these things were accomplished.

Accepting God’s Word

All believers can receive the power of the Holy Spirit through a special experience called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The evidence of this experience is speaking in a language we do not know. Some people call this their prayer language. This is a gift from God. It shows we have been baptized in the Spirit. He will give other gifts to Spirit-filled believers as the gifts are needed. When the Holy Spirit’s power is in our lives, we as Christians are given boldness to be witnesses to others around us. In this way, we continue the work of building the Church.

Village Life

Moving from yard to yard, we had the opportunity to watch life unfold in a Safi village. Several women had spread green leaves on a mat to dry. Later they would cook them into a sauce to eat with rice. Others were preparing meals on charcoal grills. Food preparation is a medium of good fellowship.

REMEMBER TO PRAY! 
Pray for Safi Youth

1. Young ladies at work in the village,
2. Youth in secondary schools as they are exposed to the outside world,
3. Youth accessing the Internet to read text and see videos explaining the plan of salvation.

Prayer Promise

"I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions" (Acts 2:17). 

 

 

 

Remember: HOW THE CHURCH GREW 

Memory verse: Acts 1:8
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses."

1. Jesus came to earth.
2. The Holy Spirit was given to believers.
3. Messengers preaching the gospel went throughout the known world.

Pray for Safi Youth.

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Study 13 | Preach Christ/Our Bible | africaatts.org/go-teach

 

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