Influencing for Christ - 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, 10:31-33, 11:1

   Over the last three Sundays we have seen the Bible provide ample wisdom and counsel about unity, sexual immorality and marriage. However, many Christians have fallen short in learning and using this knowledge to impact the lives of those around us. Many of the citizens of Corinth operated under the notion that “Everything is permissible for me.” Before we beat up and chastise the Corinthians for their thinking, we should look at our world today and realize that Paul’s messages are still right on target. First, as believers, we share the same salvation and therefore should be unified by that confession. Second, as believers, we can live holy lives by focusing on Christ’s Lordship and not temporal things. Then last Sunday, as believers, we honor God by keeping our marriage and purity vows. Basically, through these last three lessons, Paul has challenged us, as believers, to embrace God’s standard of holy, righteous living.


   Our lesson today is “Influencing for Christ” and we see Paul continue to answer questions posed by the Corinthians. Hopefully their questions today are not as challenging and sensitive as those of the last couple of Sundays. Today Paul will remind us that as believes we represent God by using our influence to bring others to Him. We are to live as examples of what it means to follow Christ.


   In our first group of verses, Paul explained why he did not insist on certain rights that he possessed as an apostle of Christ. We will see that he was motivated by a greater desire.

Read 1 Cor. 9:19-23 “Walking In Their Shoes”

   What was Paul willing to give up so he could share the gospel with others?

   What rights did Paul have?

   Paul had a passion to see lost people saved. He knew that his free status and gospel calling included having certain rights and benefits. He willingly put aside those rights and benefits for the sake of focusing people’s hearts on Christ as Savior and Lord.

   What was Paul’s concern about sharing the gospel?

   What are cultural concessions?

   Christ had called Paul to present the gospel to lost people and build up the church. He avoided all potential hindrances to that calling.

   What influenced Paul to sacrifice his own time and attention to himself so he could impact others for Christ?

   What method did Paul use to influence people?

   Why would Paul become weak?

   What do you think was the most important element in Paul’s life?

   When we apply these verses to our world today, we must understand that as believers we need to be motivated by Paul’s example. We will never win others to genuine faith in Christ by joining in sinful behavior. We can establish friendships through appropriate common interests that give us opportunities to share the gospel. However, it will be our transformed lives and true testimony that point others to the only One who can save them.

   In the next three verses Paul continued his emphasis on doing whatever was required to faithfully fulfill his gospel calling. He illustrated his point with an analogy of athletes.

Read 1 Cor. 9:24-27 “Running the Race”

   Lots of comparisons of the Christian life to running. With Corinth hosting the Isthmian Games (similar to the Olympics in Greece) Paul’s use of runners in a stadium would have been readily understood by the Corinthians.

   How did Paul associate his goal of winning people to Christ to the athlete’s goal of winning the race?

   What boundaries did Paul establish for himself?

   We need to understand what Paul was and was not implying with his analogy. He was not implying that Christians are somehow in competition with one another for salvation or that only one believer would win that prize. His point was that believers must strive with all our strength for God’s will in our lives, just as athletes strive for their prize.

   What did Paul think would disqualify him from sharing the gospel?

   When have we disqualified ourselves from sharing the gospel?

   Paul was not competing against other apostles. Just like us today, Paul was competing against the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Bring the lesson into today’s world, isn’t our main obstacle to success in the Christian life an undisciplined lifestyle that yields to sinful desires?


   As we studied the past few Sundays, the Corinthian’s were coming from pagan religions built around sexual immorality and idolatry. Just as we must be on guard for today, Paul knew that the new believers in Corinth would have many temptations to return to their sinful past. These next verses encourage us to keep our eyes on Jesus and our wills under the Spirit’s control. We are to use our influence to lead others to do the same.

Read 1 Cor. 10:31-33; 11:1 “Following Our Leader”

   What was Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian believers?

   What did the believer’s influence have to do with what they ate or drank?

   We have studied the issues of eating or not eating many times over the years. For believers who knew that all food was from God and idols were not really gods then eating food that had been used as a pagan sacrifice was acceptable. However, Paul did not want to eat sacrificed food if it would hinder the faith of a less mature Christian.

   Was Paul being proud or arrogant in 11:1 when he said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ”?

   Who was Paul’s model of influence?


Summary: How can we follow Paul’s example to influence people and win them for Christ?

·         Be willing to be flexible for winning others to Christ.

·         Restrict our flexibility so we do not disobey biblical principles and compromise our witness to the gospel.

·         Practice Bible reading and prayer disciplines so that we are strong.

·         Christian freedom does not mean we can force others to follow our practices.

Close in prayer, thanking God for His presence and power as we use our influence to represent Him.

Marriage and Purity Vows - 1 Corinthians 7:1-16

(Give each person in the class a postcard as they arrive. Ask each person to write on the card one piece of advice you would give a newly engaged couple about marriage! Collect them and read them or have individual members read what they wrote.)

Good marriages involve keeping God at the center, spending quality time together, effective communications and more. Cultural changes have weakened the institution of marriage, including changes that make it easy to obtain a divorce. Many couples marry, citing divorce as a backup plan if faced with problems in the marriage.

[Unfortunately, some preachers have misquoted research results done by George Barna. His research actually found that the divorce rate among professed believers to be not that much different from the non-churched. But the divorce rate for Christians who are involved in their church and attend 3 out of 4 Sundays is about half that of the non-churched. The top three reasons for divorce are money, sex and children—in that order.]

(The above information was provided by Bro. Curtis Owens.)

Relationship advice abounds, and it can be difficult to sort valid from invalid counsel. Today’s focal passage provides a scriptural basis for how believers can honor God by keeping their vows related to marriage and purity.

Paul wrote chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians in response to questions from the church at Corinth related to marriage after conversion and what place sexual intimacy had in marriage. This chapter is only a beginning point for the discussion on marriage, not a complete statement about marriage or its ethical implications. In other words, Paul gave a broad stroke of the brush on some marriage issues without a lot of detailed explanation.


The following is an overview of our verses today:

·         Principles of sex in marriage

·         A word to the unmarried

·         Advice about married people

Marriage and Intimacy! Read 1 Cor. 7:1-7


1.      Review these verses. What counsel did Paul give to husbands?

(Men should have one (implied) wife; fulfill the marital responsibility to his wife; husband does not have right over his own body; do not deprive his wife sexually unless it is a mutual agreement for a specified time and purpose)

2.      What counsel did Paul give to wives? (Wife should have one (implied) husband; fulfill the marital responsibility of her husband; wife does not have right over her own body; do not deprive her husband sexually unless it is a mutual agreement for a specified time and purpose. Note: Illness and other medical reasons may also prevent sexual relations.)

Sexual relations in Corinth were strongly tied to pagan worship. Corinthian Christians had been impacted by their culture. Sexual immorality in Corinth was unchecked, and sexual temptations were everywhere. For this reason, the Corinthian believers had questions and Paul provided answers.

3.       How does this teaching of duty and rights in marriage contrast with contemporary views about marital relationships?

4.      What corrections need to be made for a healthy view of sex within marriage? (The world we live in has so perverted sex as to make it something dirty and vulgar rather than a beautiful union of man and wife, as God intended!)

5.      What are some implications to be avoided? (The marriage relationship does not give them license to be controlling, vindictive, or abusive.)

God provided for the natural sexual urges of men and women through the institution of marriage—a God-ordained relationship.

6.      How do Paul’s directives strengthen a marriage? (God designed marriage so that the sexual relationship between a man and woman would be the one thing that would not be shared with any other person.)

7.      What should be some of the distinctives of the Christian view of sex?

Sexual relations within marriage are to be on mutually agreeable terms.


Marriage and Singleness! Read 1 Cor. 7:8-9


(Read these verses in several different translations.)

1.      How did the different translations add clarity to the meaning here?

2.      How would you summarize Paul’s counsel to the unmarried and widows?

3.      How can singleness as an alternative to marriage be satisfying? (Paul considered himself to be a successful single person, and he wanted to help other single people to be successful and satisfied in their status.)

The Scripture is silent on whether Paul was married at one time and whether he was a widower at the time of this writing. Paul recognized singleness to be a “good” thing, meaning not everyone would fulfill the requirements of singleness. He also emphasized that marriage was God’s way of meeting the sexual needs of people who are single. God has not gifted anyone for sexual immorality!

4.      “Believers are to be content regardless of marital status.” How does the statement summarize Paul’s point?

5.      What is the relationship between what Paul was teaching and God’s expectation of His people living in a God-honoring way?


Marriage and Divorce! Read 1 Cor. 7:10-13


1.      How does Paul address divorce in verses 10-11? (A wife or a husband is not to leave a marriage. But if they do, they are not to remarry.)

2.      How does Paul address divorce in the situation where one is a believer and the other is not a believer? (If the unbeliever wants to stay then remain together. If the unbeliever chooses to leave then divorce them.)

3.      Why should a believer stay married to an unbeliever? (See verse 16. That is exactly what happened with Sterling Eggleston! His wife was a Christian and continued to live a committed Christian life before him, including attending church week after week. He was finally marvelously saved!)

4.      How does this passage help us understand how to relate to people who were friends prior to our accepting Christ?

Paul’s directives to remain married affirm God’s design for all marriages. Not to divorce applied to all married couples to whom Paul was writing, even believers who had unbelieving spouses. Leaving a spouse because that person is an unbeliever is not a valid reason to divorce. God mandate is for couples to remain married!


Summarize and Challenge!


1.      Paul responded to specific questions about marriage for a specific group of people during a specific time, but how do Paul’s answers translate to today’s marriages? (If you are married, you have the responsibility to care for your spouse and to fulfill all his or her needs and desires. We should view being single and being married as gifts from God. To avoid frustration with one’s natural desire for sex, one should pursue marriage.)

2.      Regardless of your marital status, what are you doing to make sure your sexual expression honors God and His design for creation?

3.      How can you help others understand God’s expectations?


Our view of marriage and divorce should be the same as God’s view: marriage should be embraced as a permanent relationship between a man and a woman. Consider, too, that Christians who are divorced and remarried are not disqualified from receiving the mercy and grace of God. Determine to encourage others no matter what their marital status is!

Glorifying God - 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

1.      How would you characterize our culture’s view of sex?

2.      How would you characterize our culture’s view of immorality?

The Bible provides ample wisdom and counsel about immorality; however, Christians have fallen short in learning and using this knowledge to impact their lives and lives of people around us.

We have become so desensitized by our culture that what used to be completely unthinkable is common place.  There are few books in the Bible that does not deal with sexual immorality in some way!

Before Christ, the Corinthian believers may have been entangled in unrighteousness. After their conversion God demanded holiness in all areas of their lives. However, one believer had either continued to sin or returned to it, and the church had not dealt with the sin.

There is hardly a week that passes without a teacher, coach, high visibility political figure, pastor or church staff member being charged with some kind of sexual misconduct. It is destroying our lives and Satan is enjoying every minute of it!

3.      To what degree do you think it matters how a person uses his or her body?

4.      How would you describe the connection between your body and your spiritual life?

Through Paul, this session provides an understanding of what God expects of Christians regarding sexual morality. Paul challenged the believers in Corinth, and thereby all believers, to embrace God’s standard for holy, righteous living.

5.      Is this message needed for the church today? (I think one would be hard pressed to find a book in the New Testament that does not deal with sexual immorality in some way.)

Some people embrace the notion that what they do with their own body is their business. The first-century Christians thought similarly. They came out of lifestyles of physical indulgence and supposed that once they were followers of Jesus, everything bodily was still permitted.


Focused on Christ’s Lordship! Read 1 Cor. 6:12-14


We all have cultural habits or practices that are hard to overcome once we become Christians. Paul possibly quoted something he had said previously or slogans from the broader Corinthian culture. The verses fall within Paul’s larger discussion of Christian liberty and freedom in 1 Cor. 5-11. Either way, the Corinthian believers misapplied the quoted phrase, using them to pursue ungodly actions and selfish ends.

1.      Read John 8:36 and Gal. 5:1. What is the Scripture talking about in these verses about being free? (From the bondage of sin.)

Freedom in Christ is never meant as a license to sin. See Heb. 10:26. We cannot presume on God’s grace. If we choose to sin, saying God will forgive and all will be well, we are wrong! There may be confession but there is no repentance in this case!

2.      What other areas beyond food and sex might master a Christian’s life if left unchecked or unchallenged? (My mouth.)

3.      When we become a Christian do all temptations go away? (Absolutely not. But God doesn’t tempt us, it comes from Satan. See James 1:13-15.)

4.      What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

5.      What might be said to believers who think they are free to do as they please?

Paul stressed that believers can live holy lives by focusing on Christ’s Lordship and not being controlled by temporal things, such as food and sexual appetites.


Joined with Christ! Read 1 Cor. 6:15-17


1.      If Paul were saying these words instead of writing them, what inflection do you think he would use?

As we have already hinted at, there were those who believed that the physical body and the spirit were separated and one had nothing to do with the other. That is not the case!

2.      What did Corinthian believers misunderstand about the nature of sex? (Just as a husband and wife become one through sex, a believer becomes one with a person through a sexual encounter.)

I recently heard about one single adult asking another single adult, “How do you satisfy your sexual needs?” The reply was, “I give it up to God.”! Nothing satisfies more than our relationship with Christ, which unites us with God!

3.      In what way are we part of Christ’s body? (Believers are part of Christ’s body—the church. But we also have the Spirit of God living in us! The two are inseparable. So when we join ourselves with a prostitute God’s Spirit is right there too!)

As members of the church, there is accountability with one another for how we behave!

4.       Why might a person bristle at the thought of accountability with another person?

5.      How does being held accountable by others help a person use his or her freedom for good?

6.      How should being united with Christ impact how a person views what he or she does with his or her body?

Think of it this way. Wherever I go I visualize Jesus being right there with me! Would I go to a prostitute with Jesus right there in the room with me? I think not! The truth is He is right there with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit!


Bought with a Price! Read 1 Cor. 6:18-20


1.      How are we told to respond when we face sexual temptation? (RUN! Not walk but run as Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife!)

2.      What must the Corinthian believers do to strengthen their ability to flee sexual immorality? (Stay in the Word of God. Stay connected to the body of believers—the church! Hang out with fellow believers. Make wise choices when choosing friends.)

We cannot take chances when faced with sexual immorality. It is powerful, and one cannot reason with it. I’ve known strong Christians who were trapped in this sin. RUN!

3.      To whom did Paul say the Corinthian believers belonged? Why? (They were “slaves to Christ”. They had been bought at a high price!)

We too have been bought at a high price and we should seek to honor Christ with how we use our bodies! Hosea and Gomer.

4.      How does realizing you were bought for a high price encourage you to honor God with how you use your body?

5.      Read 1 Thess. 4:3-8. How does what Paul wrote in this passage compare to what he wrote to the Corinthian believers?

Sexual immorality has a deep spiritual impact on a person’s body, because of the nature of this sinful act. It physically and spiritually corrupts the inside of the body, while other sins corrupt the outside of the body.

Our bodies are sacred vessels that house the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our bodies should be treated with honor and respect!


Summarize and Challenge!


Unless one lives in a vacuum, no one can escape the widespread exposure of immorality in today’s culture.

1.      How can Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian believers strengthen our resolve to resist the practice of immorality and live holy before God?

Sexual temptation knows no limits. Some have the opinion that as you age your temptations become less and less. But, as I heard someone say just the other day, “My body may be 80 years old but in my mind I’m still 18!”

2.      Are you more focused on Christ or on temporal things?

3.      What evidence would you point to in support of your answer?

4.      What needs to change and how?

5.      Do you think we are responsible to holding each other accountable?

6.      How can we hold one another accountable without judging, condoning, or ignoring? (We become desensitized to sin.)

Some Christian groups form accountability partnerships, or pairs of believers who will help each other be mutually accountable for honoring God with their bodies. These would need to be prayed over and be very, very good friends and keep things confidential!

It is difficult in the world we live in, but we should resolve to guard our minds from the influence of immorality. This means filtering what we watch on TV and other media and what we read!

We must aggressively turn away from every temptation!

United in Christ - 1 Corinthians 1:1-25

1.      What is the purpose of a sports team? (Ultimately, the purpose is to win games.)

2.      What is important for a team to be successful? (Each team member must understand the purpose of the team; their part in contributing to the achievement of their purpose; and their willingness to do their assigned task.)

3.      What happens when there is a team member who doesn’t understand their part or wants to do someone else’s job?

The point: In order to be successful a team must be unified in purpose and be willing to do their part! I have seen team members get so focused on a nonessential that they lost focus on their main purpose!

4.      Have you ever been part of an organization or team driven by a common purpose?

5.      How did that purpose help you deal with differences within the group?


Our church is made up of people from many different walks of life, backgrounds and interests, who find their unity in the gospel, in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we let our preferences get in the way of our love and mission, and believers are unnecessarily divided. In this week’s study, Paul addressed divisions in the church at Corinth and called believers back to unity!


The gospel arrived in Corinth around AD 50. After Paul and his team had established churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea and proclaiming the gospel in Athens Paul went on to Corinth. There Silas and Timothy as well as the Jewish-Christian couple, Aquila and Priscilla joined him.

During Paul’s third missionary trip, near the end of his two years in Ephesus, Paul wrote the letter we know as 1 Corinthians around AD 55. Paul addresses at least five important themes: Christian unity, sexual morality, women’s roles, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection.  At least part of this letter may have been in direct response to questions that had been asked.

(Point out the location of Corinth on a map and note that it was a major crossroads for land and sea travel.)


Call for Unity! Read 1 Cor. 1:10


1.      How did Paul address the church in this verse? (“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”)

2.      What difference does it make how Paul addressed the church here? (Paul used the name of Jesus nine times in the first ten verses of this chapter. Paul wanted them to be certain of whom they were to follow!)

(Use the poster from the Pack Item 4, Poster: Problems in Corinth.)

3.      What three specific ways did Paul call the church to unity? (Paul was focusing on basic doctrinal convictions and goals as opposed to unity of opinion about everything-color of paint.)

4.      What factors could potentially threaten unity in a church?

5.      What steps might be taken to ensure that a local church remains unified?

(Consider a brief lecture on “Unity in the Church”. 

Unity is God’s idea from the very beginning. “The Lord your God is one Lord!”

Human’s history is a story of sins disruption of God’s ordained unity! Marriage where man and woman become as one but sinful lust enters; One Language but sinful pride enters; uniting the peoples of the world under one Lord [see Zech 14:19] but self-centeredness enters; Disciples to experience unity as the Son has with the Father; Jesus prayed for unity in the early church in Acts 2:1, 43 and 4:32 but sin enters.

Paul spoke repeatedly of believers as “one body in Christ.” For Paul their unity in the church reflects the unity of the Godhead: One God; One Lord; and One Spirit.)

6.      What are the aspects of Christian unity? (Christ is Lord; One baptism; One mission; Our shared concern for one another; Same love; Shared experience of suffering for Christ.)

When our focus is on the mission we were given by Jesus, Himself, the minor differences become meaningless! Where is our focus!

Contempt for Divisions! Read 1 Cor. 11-16


1.      How would you describe the divisions in the church in Corinth? (They each picked their favorite church leader and thought everyone else was wrong. The people who claimed Jesus felt they were more spiritual than others, perhaps.)

2.      What part does selfishness play in the Corinthian believers’ identification with different leaders? (Selfishness is at the heart of divisive spirits. Believers at the church in Corinth were boasting with pride about specific leaders they followed.)

3.      What purpose did Paul’s rhetorical questions serve? (Paul challenged the Corinthian believers to recognize the false doctrine that their divisiveness showed they believed.)

The truth is that Christ is not divided, Paul did not die for their sins, and they were not baptized in Paul’s name!

4.      Why was Paul glad he did not baptize many of the Corinthian believers? (Proof that Paul did not baptize any in his own name. Also, those baptized by Paul did not have any advantage over those baptized by other ministry leaders!)

5.      Where do you see this kind of division in the church today? (Some may choose a particular tele-evangelist; Some a favorite pastor; Some a favorite staff member; the list goes on.)

6.      How does rivalry get in the way of God’s work?

Even though these leaders helped the church in Corinth to grow, Paul’s contempt for this rivalry and division is clear in these verses. Basing allegiances on human personalities leads to prideful boasting and divisions within the church. Every member has his or her role in helping the church reach its mission! See 1 Cor. 3:6-7!


We will see that what unites Christians also separates us from the world!

The Cross That Divides!

As someone reads 1 Cor. 1:17-25 listen for references to the cross of Christ. (It’s mentioned 4 times.)


For Paul, the cross was a rallying point and unifier for the church. But the cross also divides: it divides those who are perishing from those who are being saved.

1.      According to Paul, what makes preaching ineffective? (Those who preach to impress others with flowery or eloquent speech lose the message of the cross. The listeners tend to be caught up in the antics of the preacher.)

It is through a genuine presentation of the gospel that people will either reject or accept salvation through Jesus Christ. It should go without saying that we should prepare to our very best but we depend upon the power of the gospel message and not the eloquence of our delivery.

The gospel isn’t something we can “talk” a person into accepting. It is through the power of the cross and the convicting activity of the Holy Spirit in that person’s heart! Sorry, but we get no credit!

2.      In what ways does the cross divide? (Paul revealed that those who were unsaved did not take the message seriously, but believers in Christ saw the gospel as powerful.)

3.      How is the cross of Christ divisive in our world today?

4.      In what way was the gospel message a “stumbling block” to the Jews? (The Jews, generally speaking, could not accept that the King of kings and their Messiah would come as a “Suffering Servant”, be nailed to a cross and die a shameful death!)

5.      In what way was the gospel message “foolishness?” (The gospel message that Jesus had died, was buried and arose from the grave three days later is simply foolishness!)

6.      All of us who believe the gospel have come to enjoy God’s wisdom and God’s power. Therefore, we are to exalt nothing above the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving death. What “power” or “wisdom” do nonbelievers today rely on to answer questions of eternal significance?

In all of our studying and seeking, whether in the universe or in God’s word there are no new truths discovered. The truth is already there, we simply discover what has already been placed there by God in the beginning!


Summarize and Challenge!


Review the summary statements on page 18 of the PSG:

·         Believers are to be unified by their confession of Christ

·         Basing allegiances on human personalities leads to prideful boasting and divisions in the church.

·         The only dividing line believers should recognize is the division between those who are saved and those who are not.


1.      Which of those do you feel is the biggest insight you gained during this session?

2.      What walls have you built between yourself and other people?

3.      Which of those walls get in the way of your building relationships with other believers?

4.      What actions do you need to take to begin to remove these walls?

5.      What is one action you can take to begin to remove these walls?


I thank God for the unity we experience in our church. There are small disagreements from time to time among our members but they are generally quickly resolved and the mission isn’t hard.

Always On Mission - Acts 28:17-31

(Prior to the session write the following phrases on the board or poster paper: “Guaranteed for life,” “Too good to be true,” “Guaranteed or your money back,” “I’ve heard that before,” “Lifetime warranty,” “$5,000 a week for life,” and “It’s life changing.”)

1.      When have you heard these phrases, or something similar?

2.      What do these phrases have in common? (Generally speaking, they are designed to get you to buy something, or put your trust in something.)

Paul knew that he had something that was life changing to share, and he used every opportunity to let people know how Christ had changed him. He knew it wasn’t too good to be true, and it guaranteed eternal life.

3.      What would people give to be assured they would live forever?

When most people think of living forever, they think of living in this life forever! What a miserable existence to be trapped in this mortal body for eternity.

But to live forever as the Scripture defines living is eternal joy! What must a person give to have this eternal life? Give your mortal life for Jesus! Sounds like a pretty good bargain to me!

            (Consider having a class member give a summary of the events that have occurred since last week’s study.)

Our focal passage today picks up after Paul had been in Rome three days! Paul was permitted to stay in a rented house with the soldier who guarded him. These events occurred four years after Paul wrote the letter to the churches in Rome—Romans!


The Journey! Read Acts 28:17-20


After all of these years of ministry Paul’s approach has not changed. He went first to the Jews in Rome. Inscriptions found in Rome that date back to this period contain the names of at least eleven synagogues in the city. We are not told how Paul got them to come; perhaps they had heard about him and were open to hearing what he had to say.


1.      How did Paul connect with his audience?

2.      Why would Paul say he was wearing chains for the “hope of Israel?” (The Christian message does not undermine the religion of Israel but is in truth its ultimate fulfillment!)

3.      What was Paul’s purpose in initiating the meeting with the Jewish leaders?

4.      What are some things God uses to prepare a person to hear the gospel?

5.      How does God use a variety of things to demonstrate His sovereignty in our world?

6.      How do you see God’s sovereignty working in Paul’s life here?

7.      Why is it important for us to recognize God’s direction in our lives? (Like Paul, it is important for us to acknowledge God’s hand in directing our paths when we meet people who do not know Christ.)

8.      Do you believe anytime you meet someone it is just chance and not God working in your life?

God can use a variety of means to bring believers into contact with those who need to know Christ. The main objective is to make sure we take advantage of opportunities to witness.


The Seekers! Read Acts 28:21-23


1.      How would you describe the Jewish leaders’ response to Paul?

No one in Jerusalem had asked the leaders in Rome to get involved, so in their own self-interest they were not going to join the conflict. They knew about or had heard about those who had become Christians, but they considered it to be a sect—in other words these people had turned away from Judaism. They were curious enough to come back to Paul. In verse 23, we note that the second meeting lasted a full day, and that Paul spent every moment presenting the gospel. (This was the first record of “All day preaching and dinner on the grounds.” LOL!)

2.      What makes the gospel message so intriguing and interesting? (It doesn’t talk about what we can do for God but what God has already done for us. It fulfills prophecies given thousands of years ago! It is so exact in its fulfillment of these prophecies.)

3.      How does that intrigue open the door to share the gospel with others? (It piques our interest in the mystery of God’s love for us.)

Any level of government should be elated to have Christians among their constituents because we are driven by a moral code and standards that promote peace, unity, and obedience to our rulers as long as the laws meet God’s moral code!

4.      Have you ever had a time when someone wanted to hear from you about the Christian faith?

When people express an interest in the things of God, we should engage them in further conversations. The key is to point them to the truth about Jesus. He is the One of whom the Scriptures speak!


The Response! Read Acts 28:24-28


1.      What was the response from Paul’s listeners to the gospel? (As will be the case most of the time, some will believe and some will reject the truths about Jesus.)

2.      What do you think caused the Jews to disagree among themselves, as they left? Was the disagreement about who Jesus is or about taking the message to the Gentiles?

3.      Why do you think Paul shared this passage out of Isaiah 6:9-10?

4.      How did this passage from Isaiah strike right to the heart of the issue involving Jesus?

Spiritual hardheartedness and spiritual blindness prevented the people from hearing Isaiah’s message, repenting and receiving God’s healing. (see 2 Chron. 7:14) In the same way some of the Jewish leaders were unable to comprehend Paul’s message and accept Jesus as the Messiah!


Notice verse 28. Paul let it be known that the gospel was for all, both Jews and Gentiles.

5.      How does the gospel divide and unite at the same time?

6.      Why does the gospel have this kind of effect on people? (Jesus’ holy character exposes our sinful humanity—the pride, lust, and hatred we have in our hearts. We can draw near to Him for His help and forgiveness, or we can run from Him because we don’t believe He is who He says He is or that we are worthy of His love.


Summarize and Challenge!


1.      If the gospel is for all and some will respond and some will not, how would you describe our responsibility as believers today? (We don’t know who will accept and who will reject. It is our mission to “go tell” it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to convict and the hearer’s responsibility to respond!)

2.      Our lesson title today is “Always on Mission.” Do you see yourself as always on mission?

3.      Do you follow Paul’s example and initiate conversations?


(Leader read Acts 28:28-31.)


Rather than using his “house arrest” as an excuse, Paul used it as an opportunity. As people came to see him, he shared the gospel and, I believe, discipled many Christians over the next two years!


We have had a very strong emphasis these last 13 weeks about sharing the gospel. I pray, first of all for myself, that I would keep my “spiritual radar” on and detect anyone needing to hear the gospel.

I pray the same for you.

May we all be Always on Mission spreading the gospel!


Answering Critics - Acts 26:19-29

Answering Critics

Acts 26:19-29


1.      What is required to make an intelligent decision about a particular issue? (We must have all of the information that is available on the issue. As an officer in the army serving on a staff there were numerous times I had to brief the commander on various issues that required him to make a decision. It was my responsibility to provide him with all available information on the issue to give a high probability that the right decision would be made.)

2.      What is important in witnessing to others about Jesus? (Present the facts as they are in the Word of God.)

Conversations that require decisions can be stressful, and when the other person is the one making the choice a certain amount of risk is involved. The outcome remains in the balance until someone makes a decision.

Paul shared his testimony as a prisoner with people in authority. While Paul did not know how they would respond, he extended an invitation to consider the claims of Christ. He wanted to give them an opportunity to respond to the gospel.

Last week we saw that Paul had been taken into the custody of the Roman officials and transported to Caesarea. I was shocked to learn that the time between the events we studied last week and this week’s focus passage is two years! The Jewish leaders were still looking for an opportunity to kill him. Paul finally appealed to Caesar so the Romans were getting ready to send Paul to Rome. Before that happened King Agrippa comes to visit Festus, the governor of the area were Paul was located. King Agrippa was the grandson of King Herod, who was in power when Jesus was born. Being a Jew, he was familiar with the Old Testament, so Paul used that to his advantage.


The Gospel Told! Read Acts 26:19-23


Paul had given testimony of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus in verses 12-18.

1.      What did Paul say he had done that caused the Jews to want to kill him? (Simply shared the gospel about Jesus with them.)

2.      Read Acts 1:8. How did Paul’s testimony line up with the commands of Jesus to share the gospel?

3.      To whom was Paul willing to share the gospel?

4.      Why did Paul appear to say that repentance and turning to God were one action?

5.      How did Paul use his own life as an example of repentance and a change in behavior?

6.      How would you define “repentance”? (Turn and go in the opposite direction.)

7.      What did Paul say true repentance would lead to in verse 20?

8.      Why does Paul talk about repentance connected with works?

9.      How are repentance and faith connected? (See James 2:17-18.)

No one secures his or her salvation through works, but works are a natural response to repentance. See Eph. 2:8-10

10.  In verse 22 Paul admitted his human need for God’s help. How does sharing our struggles help encourage and engage others in their walk with God? (The Christian life is not an easy one, but God has promised to be with us. He will redirect our steps to follow Him when we seek His guidance and repent from sin.)

Notice that Paul said he preached nothing other than what the prophets and Moses (The Law) proclaimed concerning the Messiah! This would resonate with King Agrippa, being a Jew.


Paul gets a response!

Objection Rebuffed! Read Acts 26:24-26


1.      How did Paul respond to objections from critics? (Paul deflected criticism from Festus by refuting him with the truth.)

Paul mentioned that the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus were “not done in a corner” because they had not escaped Agrippa’s notice. Paul also insisted that his message was reasonable because it was supported by Scripture.

2.      Why is appealing to Scripture so convincing? (The best way to respond to objections concerning the gospel is to appeal to the truth proclaimed in Scripture. The Bible has endured the test of time and scrutiny. See Hebrews 4:12.

The thought of a resurrection was too much for Festus. Paul remained respectful of Festus, but he did not change his message!


Invitation Given! Read Acts 26:27-29


1.      How did Paul appeal to Agrippa to make a decision about Jesus? (Paul began with Agrippa’s belief in the Old Testament prophecies. Once we have established belief in Scripture’s truthfulness we can consider Christ’s claims and invite unbelievers to make decisions.)

2.      How were Paul’s words demonstrated by his actions? (Paul expressed his desire for all people to hear the gospel and accept God’s offer of salvation through Christ.)

When we present the gospel to others, it is important for them to know we care about them and are not trying to win a persuasion contest!

3.      What roadblock might a person encounter when trying to give another person the opportunity to respond to the gospel? (Interruptions. Different standing in the community economically. Close friendship. Different backgrounds. Etc.)

4.      How do those roadblocks compare to what Paul faced?


Paul stayed firm in his convictions and ardently shared the gospel despite remaining in prison. Even Agrippa recognized that the charges against Paul were false and would have recommended his release had Paul not already appealed to Caesar!


Summarize and Challenge!


What have we learned from Paul’s example of sharing the gospel today?


Consider these truths from Paul’s example today:

·         Believers can and should point to the Scriptures when presenting the gospel. God’s Word can penetrate the heart!

·         Believers must be prepared to respond to objections with love and directness. Many times objections are voiced in a way that is not respectful, maybe even hateful. But we must respond in love! Sometimes that can be the difference that wins a person over to Christ.

·         Everyone who hears the gospel must be given the opportunity to make a decision about Jesus! We must be bold in asking people to make a decision when the gospel has been presented!

Sometimes we may share the gospel but stop before offering an invitation. Paul made sure that Agrippa heard the invitation that was open to him. Paul’s desire was for all to know Christ as he did. Our desire should be the same.


Prayer: Thank God for the privilege of sharing Christ. Pray for boldness in offering invitations to accept Christ!


The Testimony - Acts 21:1—22:29



Our study today is about a truly life-changing experience in the life of the Apostle Paul. “Life-changing” experiences occur in the life of every individual. Sometimes it is the sudden death of a loved one. Sometimes it is a carefully planned decision. Sometimes it is a decision we make without realizing the far reaching consequences it will have in our life. The decision the Apostle Paul made was after a supernatural encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Making a decision to accept or reject Jesus as our Lord always has far reaching consequences. They are not always as dramatic as they were in Paul’s life. In my case I accepted Jesus as a young boy so the difference I experienced was a gradual change. All Christians have a testimony to share and we should be ready and willing to share it when the opportunity presents itself.

Last week we left Paul as he was getting back on the ship at Miletus headed ultimately for Jerusalem. At every town they came to, the disciples warned Paul against going to Jerusalem. But Paul was determined to go. Read Acts 21:13.

When Paul arrived in Jerusalem he met with James and the elders in the church. They too were concerned about what would happen to Paul.

(Tell about the plan to have Paul purify himself so he could enter the Temple along with four other men. Then some Jews from Asia saw him and stirred up the people against Paul, accusing him of taking a Gentile into the Temple. Paul had to be rescued by the Roman guards but asked to address the mob and was granted permission to do so.) Read Acts 21:40-22:2.


Former Life! Read Acts 22:3-5


1.      How would you describe Paul’s background as a Jew?

2.      What was Paul’s response initially to the followers of the Way?

3.      Why was it important that Paul relate his background to his listeners? (Just as we have pointed out in the past, Paul started where his listeners were and tried to take them to understand his commitment to Christ!)

Paul’s background provided him with an entry point to share his story. Perhaps there were people in the crowd who knew him when he was persecuting Christians and wondered what led to the change in his life.

4.      Why would it be important to clearly contrast your life before and after your commitment to Christ as you tell your life story?

Paul boldly shared his experience in the hope that at least some would believe.


Life-Changing Encounter! Read Acts 22:6-8


1.      How would you contrast Paul’s experience here with that of others who were confronted with having to accept or reject Christ? (Each person’s encounter with the living Christ is unique to that person. Jesus meets us where we are!)

2.      How does Paul’s encounter with Christ inspire hope that the Lord can save anyone—even those who strongly oppose Him? (Despite Paul’s opposition to Christ and His followers, the Lord was willing to save Paul. Paul’s testimony includes how he came to know Christ and serve Him.)

3.      I have heard many theologians and preachers make the statement that Paul was perhaps the greatest Christian who has ever lived! Why do you think that may be true? (Paul was as fervent a Christian as he was a persecutor of Christians.)

Paul was led into the city and a man named Ananias, a devout man of God was led by the Holy Spirit to go to Paul and tell him what to do next.

Read Acts 22:14-16

4.      What was Paul’s first step of obedience? (To be baptized. Some have taken this one verse and built their entire theology around the wording here. Paul was not saved by baptism but by calling on the name of Jesus to save him!)

5.      How can your story encourage fellow believers? (Mine can help some believers understand that we do not have to have a supernatural experience like Paul to really encounter Jesus!)

Sharing the gospel with unbelievers and encouraging new believers to identify with Christ and His people in baptism are the first steps of the Christian journey.

“Baptism in Jesus’ name differed in meaning from the baptism practiced by John the Baptist. John’s baptism focused on repentance in anticipation of the coming Messiah. Baptism in Jesus’ name testifies to the Messiah’s completed work. Jesus’ death and resurrection had made possible the ultimate cleansing from unrighteousness. By faith, the believer’s sins are washed away. Baptism is the first step of obedience in confessing one’s faith in Christ.”—Explore the Bible Commentary Acts 13-28 pg 116.


New Purpose! Read Acts 22:17-21


Read Matthew 28:18-20

1.      How was Paul’s new life purpose tied to Jesus’ commission recorded in Matthew 28:18-20?

2.      How does salvation in Christ change one’s life purpose? (Paul had a new purpose but his vocation was tent maker.)

My vocation may be a soldier but my life purpose is to glorify God by sharing Him with everyone I encounter!

3.      Does the specific purpose given to each believer always relate to the commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28?

4.      How might a person’s past (the one sharing and the one being shared with) be perceived as an obstacle when it comes to accepting Christ?

5.      What are the strongest motivators for sharing the gospel with others? (When we receive new life in Christ, we begin a journey of being on mission with the Lord.  I would suggest that our strongest motivators would be love for Christ and people around us; then obedience to Christ’s commands.)

As we faithfully follow Him, the Lord will guide our steps to share the gospel with people who are receptive to the message.


Paul felt like the Jews in Jerusalem would see the change in his life and that he would be the perfect one to reach the Jews, but God had different plans.


Rejection! Read Acts 22:22

1.      Are you surprised at the response of the crowd?

2.      What caused the Jews to reject Paul’s testimony? (Their prejudice against the Gentiles was too strong!)

Their own personal bias blinded them from seeing the full extent of God’s grace!

After listening to Paul’s testimony, the crowd turned against him. When we share the gospel with others, it is possible that they may reject us because they are not willing to accept the message.

3.      What traits, skills, or experiences does our group have that they can use to reach people for Christ? (It is important to build trusting relationships with lost people so that we “earn” the right to share the gospel with them.)

We need to keep an open mind about the reach of the gospel, including the salvation of people we would not expect to come to Christ.

4.      Is there any person or group of persons that you view as unreachable by the gospel? (This calls for some real soul searching. On the surface we would all say “no”, but if we look deep enough we may discover there actually are some we think unreachable.)

The Jews of Jerusalem failed to see themselves in need of a change, but Paul continued to share that God’s salvation was for all people!


Summarize and Challenge!


Paul emphasized his life before he met Christ, his life-changing encounter, and his new purpose.

1.      What did Paul’s testimony reveal about the change that took place in his life? (There was a dramatic change!)

2.      Are all conversions as dramatic as Paul’s? (Paul’s conversion experience is very rare!)

(Have a volunteer prearranged and ready to share their testimony. Only about 3-5 minutes.)

Every Christian has a testimony! If you haven’t done it already, write your testimony out and be prepared to share it when the opportunity presents itself. If you get ready, God will give you opportunity to share it.


Delivered - Acts 20:22-35

1.      What was the most difficult goal you ever accomplished that was completely worth the effort and sacrifice? (The Winter Olympics will start next month. These athletes train for years for this one opportunity to be the best in the world at their specific event. It take more sacrifice than most of us can imagine. That is one reason we see tears on the victor’s stand and on the sidelines for those who didn’t quite make it.)

Goals can push us to achieve great things. A worthy goal is not accomplished unless we apply consistent effort and make sacrifices. We have to be diligent to meet our goals. Anyone we would call successful has sacrificed and achieved goals. It may be in education, the workplace, sports, marriage, or as we will see today, the Christian life.

2.      If you had to say what the Apostle Paul’s goal was in his life, what would it be? (See Phil. 3:12-14.)

The Apostle Paul considered sharing the gospel a primary goal for his life. He was willing to endure sacrifice, hardships, and imprisonment for the sake of telling others about Jesus.

Paul never did stay at one place very long for a variety of reasons. But Paul stayed at Ephesus three years.

3.      What happens to relationships when we stay at one location for an extended period of time? (Love and appreciation for each other grows! So there developed a strong relationship between Paul and the church at Ephesus.)

In our study today Paul will say, what he believes to be, his final goodbye to the elders in the church in Ephesus. He tells them that he won’t see them again in this life. His final message to the believers provides a warning and a challenge.

Paul is at the end of his third missionary journey as he heads toward Jerusalem and then on to Rome.





Paul’s Commitment! Read Acts 20:22-24


Paul was convinced that God’s plan for him was to go to Jerusalem and ultimately on to Rome.

1.      What did the Holy Spirit affirm to Paul in town after town? (That “chains and afflictions” were waiting for him.) Gal. 2:20

2.      What motivated Paul to endure the potential dangers? (Paul knew that sharing the gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ was the one thing he must do until God called him home.)

Believers face countless distractions and deterrents, but the one thing that matters most is how we represent Christ to those around us. Sharing the gospel with one more person should be the desire of a believer’s heart.

I found out how we, as believers, can without question have the desire of their heart. Read Psalm 37:4.

3.      What was Paul’s attitude about his call and commitment to follow Christ? (Paul had a steadfast trust in the Lord no matter what happened to him. He was willing to serve Christ regardless of the cost. He did whatever it took to be obedient to his calling in Christ Jesus!)

Paul compared his pursuit to follow Christ to a race to run and a task to complete. He was resolved to find contentment in being faithful to God despite his circumstances.

Our attitude to follow Christ must demonstrate a willingness to respond to whatever the Lord commands. We need to be resolved to follow Him faithfully in every assignment and at every opportunity. We have all seen movies or actual film clips of our troops storming the beaches at Normandy! That is what Christians sharing the gospel should look like! We should storm the gates of hell for Christ.

4.      How does understanding the value of the gospel give a person the strength to endure difficulties that result from the gospel?

5.      It seems that the more Paul was persecuted the more fervently he shared the gospel. Why do you think that was the case?

Paul’s race to share the gospel would continue, but first he had a message to share with the elders from Ephesus.


Paul’s Concern! Read Acts 20:25-31


1.      What was Paul’s specific message to the church in this passage? (Be on guard for those who would preach false doctrine. They become like wolves, scattering the flock. One lone wolf can’t do too much damage but when they run in packs they are very dangerous. When they attack the flock the goal is to get one of the sheep separated from the flock. Then it is easy for them to take that sheep by itself. Stay true to the doctrine you were taught, get rid of wolves early on and stay in the flock!)

Paul had spent three years in Ephesus, and the news that they would not see him again was very difficult for his fellow believers. Knowing his departure was at hand, Paul had a warning and a challenge for the leaders in the Ephesus church. This message is the only recorded talk of Paul’s in Acts directed specifically to believers.

2.       What was Paul’s challenge to the elders in verses 28-31?

3.      What responsibility do we have to warn others who already know the truth? (Here Paul was the mature missionary pointing out to the elders, who were not as spiritually mature as Paul, what was sure to happen as soon as he was gone.)

Knowing the truth and guarding against error are two different things. Paul wanted the Ephesian leaders to guard against the potential dangers of false teachings that would distort God’s truth. Leaders have an obligation to protect their congregations from divisive people!

4.      What is dangerous about false teachers that should concern us? (Unlike Paul, who taught the Ephesians the whole counsel of God, the false teachers distorted the truth. For this reason, the Ephesian believers needed to be on guard against any error. Teach the whole truth of God; don’t go to seed on just one aspect of the Scripture!)

The most destructive goal false teachers accomplish is the following they obtain. Paul warned the Ephesians about false teachers who would arise to draw away disciples after themselves. Beware of any teacher who distorts the truth and draws people away from God and toward themselves.

Paul closed his message by relating how he worked among the church and challenged them to follow his example. He let them know that he had shown them everything needed to continue the work of sharing the gospel.

Paul’s Commendation! Read Acts 20:32-35


1.      What kind of example did Paul set for these elders in the church? (Paul appealed to his work ethic and willingness to serve the needs of others as an example for them to follow.)

Paul did not covet others people’s possessions. On the contrary, he worked to meet his own needs. He also modeled giving to others and referred to the words of Jesus.

2.      How do the actions listed here by Paul relate to the motivation for service?

3.      Why would it have been important for these church leaders to be aware of their motives for ministry?

Paul shared his testimony, addressed what would happen when he was gone, and committed the ongoing ministry in Ephesus to the church leaders. He encouraged them to focus on others by being generous in both thought and action.


Summarize and Challenge!

What compelling reasons did Paul provide to make sharing the gospel worth the sacrifice and effort?

·         First, Paul felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to be a faithful witness and possessed a deep trust in the Lord regardless of the outcome.

·         Second, Paul considered his life’s calling to finish the race and share his gospel testimony.

·         Third, Paul was faithful to declare the gospel and the teaching of God’s Word to them over a period of three years.

This week ask God to give you His love for people. Ask Him also for opportunities to share the gospel and show His love to the people around you. Remember the words of Jesus as you go: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (v. 35).

Read Acts 20:36-38.

Incomplete Picture - Acts 18:24-19:7

1.      Who would you say is the most controversial person in the entire world? (Most likely it’s Jesus. Just to mention His name almost immediately polarizes people based on what they believe about Him.)

2.      What are some of the wrong understandings about who Jesus really is? (Some don’t believe He ever existed—just a made up story; some believe He was simply a good man. Some even believe He was another prophet from God. Some believe He was God’s Son sent to be the Sacrifice for our sin, was crucified, arose on the third day and ascended into Heaven triumphant over sin death and the grave forever to reign over His people.)

Some people have a partial understanding about who Jesus really is because they have never heard the complete story. In other words their understanding is not completely accurate because they have never heard the complete truth about Jesus.


As we study the Bible, we may recognize that there are gaps in our understanding that keep us from fully comprehending the whole picture. In today’s study, we discover that Apollos had only a partial understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.


Two weeks ago we concluded Acts 17 with Paul preaching in Athens and revealing to them the god they had worshiped as an “Unknown God” was Creator God. From there Paul traveled to Corinth. There he met Aquila and Priscilla, a very devout Christian couple who were tent makers—Paul’s trade as well.

When Silas and Timothy came to Corinth they found Paul preaching and teaching in the synagogue. The Jews resisted and blasphemed so Paul shook his robe and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

After many days there, Paul left to return to Antioch. Aquila and Pricilla went with him as far as Ephesus. Paul continued his journey to Caesarea, Jerusalem and back to Antioch. After spending some time there he left on his third missionary journey.

In the mean time in Ephesus, a believer named Apollos encountered Aquila and Pricilla.


A Partial Witness! Read Acts 18:24-26


We are not told exactly where the message Apollos was teaching fell short of the full truth, but evidently he lacked in some understanding in the area of baptism.

1.      What are the dangers of a person teaching a partial truth and teaching it well? (Without full disclosure, a bad decision can be made with limited information available. A proper understanding of something is necessary before we can draw reasonable conclusions.)

When Christians do not have a complete understanding of the gospel, they could potentially confuse other believers based upon their limited knowledge. That is why knowledgeable Christians should come alongside new believers to explain the truths about God! That is another reason Sunday School is so important for a new believer.

As teachers, we must be certain of our facts before we teach it to others. If we teach one false truth, what are they to believe about other things we may be teaching!

2.      How did the approach of this Christian couple strengthen Apollos as opposed to tearing him down?

3.      What principles for confronting a person did they follow? (Rather than publicly correcting him they invited him to their home where they explained the way of God more adequately.)

People are more receptive to new truth when we take the time to have a personal conversation with them.

After listening to Apollos, this couple realized that he taught correct doctrine but had limited understanding about baptism. So they spent time with Apollos to improve his understanding on that subject.

4.      Is there some area of Scripture I have limited understanding about and need to be certain of before I try to teach someone else?

5.      Am I teachable—willing to learn from others?

A Complete Witness! Read Acts 18:27-29


Apollos crossed over to Achaia—modern day Greece, where Athens and Corinth were located.

1.      How did the believers in Ephesus support and affirm Apollos’ ministry? (They sent a letter of recommendation with him. Apollos was not known by the people in Achaia.)

2.      How can we encourage and support ministers, missionaries and strong church members who relocate to another place of service?

3.      Apollos’ growth in spiritual understanding was extremely important to his preaching and debating in Corinth. What role did his background play in his effectiveness? (He obviously knew the Old Testament very well, and when coming to a full understanding about Jesus, he was able to demonstrate “through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.”)

The gospel was spread more effectively!


While Apollos was sharing in Corinth, Paul met some disciples in Ephesus and began to dialogue with them.

An Inadequate Understanding! Read Acts 19:1-7


There is a world of difference between an incomplete understanding and an inadequate understanding! One writer states: “This is a particularly relevant passage because we face similar issues in the church today.”

Paul seemed to indicate that the disciples he encountered were not believers in Jesus. They had a rudimentary, inadequate understanding that they had acquired through some direct or indirect contact with John the Baptist. They appeared to have missed John’s message that the one coming after him would be greater and would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

The focus of the understanding these 12 or so men had was on John the Baptist, not Jesus.

1.      What are the dangers of trusting in baptism rather than faith in Jesus for one’s salvation? (Our salvation becomes one about works. Trusting in baptism gives false hope!)

2.      If baptism is not essential to our salvation, why do we need to be baptized? (Baptism is our public testimony that we are committed followers of Jesus; Baptism is a visual picture of what happened in our heart—I have died to sin and been resurrected to walk in a new life in Christ Jesus; Baptism is our first act of obedience as a new believer in Christ Jesus.)

John baptized people for repentance in preparation of the Lord’s coming. While John baptized only with water, Jesus baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit as well.

Paul asked these men if they had received the Holy Spirit. He wanted to know if they were believers in Christ. Paul taught the Ephesian believers that they received the Holy Spirit once they placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

The New Testament teaches that our assurance of salvation is grounded in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit—Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 3:2; 1 John 4:13.


Summarize and Challenge!

While Apollos had a partial understanding, the men in Ephesus had an inadequate understanding of the truths of God’s Word.

1.      What doctrines or truths from the Bible does someone need to understand to be saved? (Jesus is the Messiah. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised on the third day. Repentance and faith are two steps we take to come to Jesus for salvation.)

The Holy Spirit indwells every believer as a witness of our salvation in Christ!

2.      Are there different approaches to sharing the gospel needed in various settings? Why?

3.      When divine appointments occur, what steps do we need to take?

Encourage new believers by sharing how you grew up in your salvation and learned more about the Christian life.  Share that our growth to be more like Jesus is a lifelong process and will only be complete when we are with Jesus in Heaven!

Pray, thanking God for our salvation. Pray that each person has already made that decision!

Value All - Acts 16:16-19; Psalm 139:13-16

This week, it was discovered that a couple in California had 13 children they were basically holding captive and starving them. Some were chained to furniture. They ranged in age from 2 to 29.

1.      What value did these parents seem to place on their children?

2.      What value do those (The parents as well as the medical personal) who abort a pregnancy seem to place on an unborn child?

I want to insert this fact early on: God forgives all sin except blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, including abortion. Many people, on both sides of this issue, demonstrate in an ungodly way at times, neither is justified by their actions.

Our lives are constantly bombarded with images of people. Imagine, for a moment, you have before you an image of Hitler and Mother Teresa.

3.      How do we respond to these images?

4.      Are certain images more difficult to accept than others?

5.      What do our responses to an image of a person reveal about who we value and why?

6.      Are there certain groups of individuals that seem harder to value than others?

7.      How does God view all people, including Hitler and Mother Teresa? (The same: they are all precious to Him and He sent Jesus to die for each one.)


As we focus on the value of human life, we will examine passages from the Old and New Testaments. First, we will examine Acts 16:16-19 and then Psalm 139:13-16. Both passages reveal that a person’s life, which is created in God’s image, is precious and to be valued. All people are to be treated with respect, and considered valuable in God’s sight.


Freedom Gained! Read Acts 16:16-18


1.      What was Paul’s view of the slave girl?

2.      Why was she becoming a problem for Paul? (Perhaps the people who would like to hear what Paul had to say were distracted by her or even failed to come hear Paul because of her constant, loud proclamations.)

3.      Why did Paul cast the demon out of the girl? (Was it because she was a distraction to what they were trying to accomplish among the people or because he had compassion for the girl?)

4.      Was the proclamation made by the girl true? (Yes, but your background would influence its interpretation. Here claims were ambiguous enough to be open to different interpretations. Salvation could have been physical deliverance. The Most High God, for those Greeks, was a reference to Zeus. So her proclamations were not necessarily understood to be about Yahweh!)

5.      How would you describe the difference between Paul’s view of the slave girl and the owners’ views of her?

6.      How would you define the motives of each in how they related to her? (Her owners were interested only in what they could gain from her as a “fortune teller”. Paul perhaps had in mind freeing the girl from this demon and keeping her quiet as he preached.)

7.      What kind of freedom did the slave girl receive? (Although the girl was a physical slave, she received spiritual freedom when Paul commanded the spirit to leave her.)

Only the name of Jesus has the power to deliver someone from demon possession! When we look at the physical hardships of other people, we need to remember the reality of spiritual bondage prompts us to share the good news that Jesus died to set us free from sin and death.


There are other places in the New Testament where evil spirits were cast out of an individual. Let’s look at two of them.

Read Mark 1:23-26—Demon possessed man in the synagogue.

Read Mark 5:13—The Gadarean  Demoniac!


The Complaint! Read Acts 16:19


When the owners realized their hope of profit from her was gone, they became angry at Paul and Silas. They were taken by force to the authorities and false charges were brought against them.

The young girl’s owners had little regard for what might be best for her, and thought only of the potential profit they had lost. They were blind to the power of Christ and the value of each person, seeing only their own self-interest.

1.      How might someone try to justify the response of the owners? (At least they kept her from having to survive by begging on the streets. At least she had a place to sleep and food to eat.)

2.      How do people use the same justification today for devaluing human life?

3.      What parallels would you make between the slave girl and modern day human trafficking? (In both instances, the captive person is considered personal property that serves the owner. While a slave girl was used as a fortune teller, human trafficking has a much darker purpose. The principle behind both activities involves seeing people as commodities rather than human beings who need help.)

The gospel compels us to reach out to people who are disregarded by society as well as those who devalue them!


In Psalm 139 David celebrated the wonder of creation and the value of each person. From the moment of conception God is at work in each person’s life!


Valued By God! Read Palm 139:13-16


1.      How does the analogy of the weaver and the “mother’s womb” illustrate to you God’s creation? (It is a “master piece” in the making. Particular attention is paid to every stitch to make sure it is exactly the way the weaver wants it!)

2.      Why is it so difficult to comprehend how remarkable all human life is? (Even with all of the scientific research that has been done on the human body, new discoveries are being made!)

David was light years ahead of his time in the statements he makes about the development in the womb. It had to be God’s revelation to him.

3.      Why is life considered valuable based upon the Bible? (Psalm 139 teaches us that we are created and made by God in our mother’s womb. He knows everything about us because He made us.)

We are made in God’s image, so we are valuable in His eyes. Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man has been under the curse of sin. Yet, Jesus came to die for our sins and redeem us from the curse.

Read Jeremiah 1:4-5.

4.      What does this passage teach about the value of human life?

Read Job 10:8-12

5.      How did Jeremiah, Job and David know how the body is made? (Only by God’s revelation.)

6.      How do the images shared in these verses support the analogy of the weaver’s creation of a one-of-a-kind masterpiece?

7.      What does it mean that God has numbered all of our days?

8.      How does that affect the way you view and value your time on earth? (God knew the amount of time each of us would spend on this earth before He created us. We are responsible for productive use of that time for His glory!)

These passages in the Old and New Testaments all reveal the value of all human life. Let’s consider how these passages relate to our lives today!


Summarize and Challenge!


1.      Do you think it is true that society will tolerate Christians until their actions impact their pocketbook? (When that happens, Christian views are seen as a threat and painted as a problem, regardless of the truth. Christian beliefs are then seen as archaic and irrelevant for today!

2.      How do the words of the psalmist relate to the slave girl freed from the demon by Paul?

3.      How does our understanding of both passages impact our treatment of all people from conception to death?

4.      How can we be active in our community to be an advocate for people who can’t help themselves?

God is the creator of life, therefore all life is sacred! Pray that we will be sensitive to those who are mistreated and be willing to take a stand to protect them from abuse. At the same time we need to be in prayer for those who kill unborn children or mistreat others in some way.

Pray for the workers and volunteers at our local crisis pregnancy center for the ministry they provide in our community!

The Unknown Known - Acts 17:16-34

1.      What kinds of questions about God do people face that causes them to search for answers?

·         Why do bad things happen to good people?

·         Does God really love me?

·         Can we really have a personal relationship with God?

·         Is there really a God?

·         Is there really only one God?

·         Does God really care about me?

·         What happens to me after death?

·         If God really cares about me why won’t He solve all my problems?

2.      Who is at the center of most of the questions we have concerning God, our relationship with God and the future? (ME!)

3.      What sources might someone consult to find answers to these questions? (Internet, experts, friends, mentors, counselors; ministers; trusted scholars; lastly—God, Himself; etc.)

Notice the title of today’s study: The Unknown Known. Paul encountered people who were honestly searching but somehow still missing the point!


At the close of last week’s study Paul and his traveling companions, left Philippi and went to Thessalonica. There they had some success sharing the gospel, but once again Jews became jealous and brought them before the local officials with this accusation: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (17:6).

From there they went to Berea where once again they were attacked by the Jews. To save him from the Jews, Paul was sent to Athens. He told Silas and Timothy to join him there as soon as possible. In Athens Paul went to the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews and witnessed daily in the marketplace. 

As Paul went around the city he saw many pagan idols. Athens was the home of Socrates and Plato, the adopted home of Aristotle, Epicurus, and Zeno. The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers took Paul to task on his teachings. 

Read Acts 17:16-21

The philosophizers interpreted what Paul was saying as introducing two foreign gods they had never heard of, Jesus and Anastasis—the Greek word for resurrection! So they invited Paul to come to their assembly and share his ideas/beliefs.

Note: The Areopagus was not only a place but the name for the group of philosophers who met there.


Unknown God! Read Acts 17:22-23


1.      What about these people enabled Paul to be able to speak to them about Jesus?

Paul showed quick thinking, agility, and wisdom in seizing this opportunity to share the truth about Jesus!

2.      How did Paul get their interest immediately?

3.      How does the idol “To an Unknown God” in Athens reflect man’s search for meaning? (To avoid overlooking any particular “god” they erected an altar to an unknown god in case they left one out.)

Idolatry, then and now, indicates that people are searching for something more in this life. The need to worship an unknown god proves that man is still searching for something more. Accepting anyone and everyone’s version of “god” is an oxymoron. To accept Yahweh is to exclude all others! And to say you are free to worship what or whomever you choose is to say, “I can create my own god” which makes you god and creator! Foolishness!

4.      What can we do to develop the kind of mind-set that led Paul to seize the unique opportunity to share Christ?

5.      What barriers might we have felt in Paul’s situation?

6.      What misconceptions do people have about life and deities?

7.      How could those misconceptions be used to initiate a conversation about the gospel?


The Known Creator!

As someone Reads Acts 17:24-29 as we all listen for claims Paul made about God.

1.      What claims did Paul make about God? (Creator of all that exists; Lord of heaven and earth; does not live in shrines; needs nothing we can give Him; all men came from one man; God established boundaries and times; we have a need to know Him and He isn’t far from us; we were made in His image.)

2.      What misconceptions about God does Paul address in this passage?

3.      How are those same misconceptions expressed today?

4.      How does a Creator God who wants to have a personal relationship with people compare to the idols the Athenians worshiped? (The idols were made of gold, silver, or stone. Notice they are man-made—man is the creator of his own god.)

5.      Which of the Ten Commandments does this passage bring to mind? (Exodus 20:4)

Paul told them that God is the Creator of all nations from one man. He made the world and everything in it. He provides everything people need. God does not need anything from humans, but Paul explained that God created us so we would seek out a relationship with Him. There is a God-shaped vacuum in every person’s heart.


Judgment by the Son! Read Acts 17:30-31


1.      What key word in verse 30 does Paul use that might have offended those listening? (Those listening considered everyone who did not believe in the idols as they did to be ignorant. But Paul declared God to them so they were no longer ignorant but in need of repentance.)

Repentance by the Athenians would require that they turn from their ignorance and idolatry and submit to the true knowledge of God made clear in the coming of Jesus! Paul extended here a direct invitation to receive Christ, the very reason he launched into a discussion of the unknown god.

For those who have heard the gospel and rejected it, the Day of Judgment would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for them (Matt. 10:15).

2.      How does an understanding of God’s righteous character help us understand His judgment? (Jesus is the standard!)

When we talk to unbelievers about the reality of the judgment day, we can point to Jesus’ resurrection as proof that He is alive and will one day judge every person who has ever lived.

3.      In what ways is God’s requirement for repentance fair to everyone?


Split Decision! Read Acts 17:32-34


1.      What reaction did the people have to Paul’s message? (There were skeptics, those interested and some receptive.)

People today have different views about the dead. One of Christianity’s distinctions is a living Lord who died for the sins of the world. Although He died, He arose from the dead and now lives forevermore.

2.      How might a person’s past understanding get in the way of them following Jesus?

As we seek out people in our circles of influence who do not yet know God, we should look for natural connecting points that allow us opportunities to share about who God is and what He has done in our lives.


Summarize and Challenge!

1.      What are some ways people might be religious without being Christian? (Mormonism; Jehovah’s Witnesses; Armstrongism; Unification Church; Christian Science; Unity School of Christianity; Spiritualism; Scientology; New Age; Judaism; Hinduism; Hare Krishna; Transcendental Meditation; Buddhism; Islam; Baha’I World Faith; etc.)

2.      Who do you know that may be religious but not Christian?

3.      How can you be used to share the gospel with them in a loving way?


People are searching for the truth about God and a meaningful life. Ask God to lead you to someone who needs to hear the gospel. Start a conversation with that person. You may want to suggest that the prevalence of idolatry reflects man’s search for meaning and the need for something or someone to worship. Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you and to speak to them as you share Christ!


A Changed Family Acts 16:22-34

1.      Who here has received some good news this past week?

2.      Some news is simply too good to keep to oneself and must be shared. What is the typical kind of news that people just can’t wait to share with each other? (New job. Engagement. Expecting a baby. Won the lottery!—Ha! Ha!)

3.      Can you think of a time when you have directly influenced someone for good or for bad? (Could be a fashion trend you set; a time you got someone else in trouble; a person you mentored. Etc.)

4.      While we are on the subject: Do you think a family or a culture has more influence on a person’s life? (A Christian family goes to church together, but there is so much more. A Christian family strives to live out the teachings of Jesus in their home as an everyday lifestyle. And yet, we all know of situations where a person was raised in a Christian family and went astray—the Prodigal Son. Some return and some don’t.)

When a person’s life is changed by the good news of Jesus Christ they are a new person. As a result, they desire to share with others, especially family members, the difference that Jesus has made in their lives!


The Situation!


Last week we left Paul and Silas in Derbe and Lystra where they had enlisted Timothy to go with them. They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and found themselves in Troy. There a Macedonian man appeared to Paul in a vision pleading with him to come over to Macedonia and help them. They went there and the first convert in Europe was a lady named Lydia at Philippi. They stayed there for some time and were harassed by a girl who had an evil spirit in her. Paul had finally had enough of her badgering and commanded the spirit to leave her, which it did. Because her owners had lost their source of income they incited a mob against Paul and Silas. They were arrested, beaten and thrown in prison. We will study verses 16-19 in greater detail two weeks from now.


Read Acts 16:19-24


1.      Who was responsible for what happened to Paul and Silas?

2.      What actions were taken against Paul and Silas?

3.      What was the charge against them? (They were seriously disturbing our city! See verse 21!)

4.      What was the number one job of the local authorities in Roman occupied cities? (Keep the peace! Any type of unrest was snuffed out promptly.)

Then the “mob” joined in and the magistrates acted quickly! As was the case most of the time, the charges were false!

5.      What are some concerns that keep people from accepting Jesus Christ as Lord today? (Some of the reasons people don’t accept Jesus include pride, doubt, shame, or feelings of unworthiness. Unbelievers can also be hostile to Christians when they perceive that the message of the gospel threatens their economic livelihood. Many also don’t want to give up their sinful lifestyle.)


The Opportunity! Read Acts 16:25-28


1.      How did Paul and Silas respond to their imprisonment? (They maintained a positive attitude. Although they were in a physical prison, they were spiritually free to worship God. Instead of wallowing in misery, they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God!)

2.      We are told only that the other prisoners were listening to them not their reaction to them. What do you think they were thinking at this point?

Paul and Silas’s worship of God became a witness to the other prisoners. When other people see believers praising God in spite of their difficult circumstances, our worship becomes a witness!

3.      Ask yourself: If I was in the same circumstances as Paul and Silas, how would I be responding?

4.      What can we learn from Paul’s example of peace and joy in the midst of hardship? (God is in control at all times!)

5.      How did Paul and Silas demonstrate confidence in God?

There is nothing quite like suffering to teach us what true joy is all about. While we don’t long to experience suffering, God will use our circumstances for His good (Rom. 8:28; Jas. 1:2-4).

6.      I imagine the earthquake woke the jailer. Why would he kill himself?

7.      Why weren’t all the prisoners gone? (They were most likely in shock at what had just happened.)


The Conversion! Read Acts 16:29-32


Note that Paul stopped the Jailer from killing himself.

1.      How do you think Paul and Silas’s response to being imprisoned and not leaving when the opportunity presented itself, opened the door to reach the Jailer with the Gospel? (A jailer’s life was at stake if his prisoners escaped. After a violent earthquake shook the prison’s doors open, the jailer took desperate measures.)

2.      Why do you think the Jailer came in before Paul and Silas trembling?

3.      What prompted the Jailer to ask about receiving salvation? (Because Paul and Silas demonstrated their faith in God through worship, the jailer wanted to know more about this God they served.)

As we live out our faith in Christ, life’s problems can create opportunities to witness to unbelievers.

4.      What is your answer to the question asked by the jailer? (Discuss how you would answer his questions in groups of 4 or 5 briefly.)


Notice Paul included the jailer’s entire family in the good news!

The Transformation! Read Acts 16:33-34


1.      What tangible difference can be seen in the jailer as a result of his belief in Jesus? (The jailer and his family washed the wounds of Paul and Silas. Also, they were all baptized, the jailer provided a meal for them in his own home. The jailer was filled with joy because he and his household believed in Jesus.)

2.      What evidence can be pointed to today that indicates a person is a follower of Jesus? (When people come to know Christ, there will be evidence of good works because of their belief in Jesus. The transformation in people’s lives because of their belief in Jesus produces evidence observable to others.)


Read Acts 16:35-40


Summarize and Challenge!


Conversion is the first step in a process of lifelong transformation.

1.      If transformation leads to observable demonstrations of faith, how do we explain the lack of ministry by such a large number of people who claim to be Christians? (There are two possibilities that present themselves immediately: 1—The individual never believed in the first place. 2—Those who are believers failed to disciple the new believer effectively!)

2.      With whom in your family can you share the gospel of Jesus?

3.      What kind of example are you setting before others who need to hear the gospel of Jesus?

4.      Does your life make others “thirsty” for Jesus?


Pray asking God to provide opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus and the boldness to do so!

Strengthened - Acts 15:36-16:5

1.      What are some ways God has used an ordinary person in your life to minister to you during a difficult time?

2.      How do you respond to the idea that God invites people to be part of His work?

3.      In what ways does this excite and scare you at the same time?

4.      Who did God use to help the church in Jerusalem accept Paul into their fellowship in Acts chapter 9? (Barnabas.)

As we study today about faithful servants in the church, keep in mind that while Paul, Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, and Timothy became legends for their faith, they were, in the context of their time, simply ordinary men!

After reading the Book of Acts through Acts 15:35 would you have ever imagined that Paul and Barnabas would have such a sharp disagreement that they would each go their own separate way!

5.      Is it okay for mature Christians to disagree so sharply that they go their separate ways? (Yes! There are times when Christians may disagree on negotiable issues. At times we just agree to disagree!)

We always want to know which party is in the wrong. We may never know until we get to Heaven and then it will not matter!

As we study today, look for how God worked His will, even in the midst of a sharp argument between two respected leaders in the early church!


Parting Ways! Read Acts 15:36-39


(Point out the locations where Barnabas and John Mark went.)

1.      How would you defend Paul’s position on not taking John Mark with them on this missionary trip? (Paul was called to be a leader, therefore, he wanted a faithful team to serve alongside him in the work of the ministry. Paul did not think John Mark was reliable because he had abandoned the team on their first missionary trip. Paul was more “black and white” on his outlook than Barnabas.)

2.      How would you defend Barnabas’ position on taking John Mark with them? (Barnabas was called to be a mentor to other believers. He had mentored Paul when no one else trusted him. Now, Barnabas was passionate about mentoring John Mark because no one had confidence in him. Barnabas thought John Mark needed to be mentored in order to overcome failure and fulfill God’s call upon his life.)

3.      Did both Paul and Barnabas have legitimate arguments for their views on inviting John Mark?

4.      How does God’s purposes for each of our lives take us in different directions and yet all within God’s will? (We are each assigned unique roles in God’s plan for mankind. God used Paul and Barnabas’ differing viewpoints for His good; instead of one ministry team going on a single mission trip, now there were two ministry teams going on two mission trips.)

5.      The fact is that despite their differences, neither Paul nor Barnabas abandoned their mission. What does this fact say to us when we have sharp disagreements with other believers? (When we disagree with other believers we don’t just quit altogether. Sometimes we just drop the issue and move on with our mission.)

6.      What did Paul and Barnabas understand about God’s call and purpose in their lives?

7.      How did that understanding impact their decision to part ways?


A New Team! Read Acts 15:40-16:3


(Identify the locations Paul’s team visited.)

1.      How did Paul build a ministry team after losing Barnabas as a partner? (Paul recruited Silas to serve alongside him on the next mission trip. Paul had gotten to know Silas during the Jerusalem Council and the subsequent delivery of the letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to the congregation in Antioch. During the trip, Paul met a young man named Timothy in Lystra. Because the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy, Paul sought to add him to the ministry team. Paul became the mentor and great encourager of Timothy!)

Paul was on the lookout for reliable leaders he could add to his ministry team. In the same way, we are to disciple people to join us in the work of ministry.

2.      It is important for us to find partners to assist us in ministry. How can we find people of like mind to join us in our ministry?

3.      Why would Paul have Timothy circumcised, especially after reading the letter from the church in Jerusalem? (It was well known that Timothy was half Jewish. So as to remove any stumbling block or hindrance in Timothy’s future ministry, especially among the Jews, Paul had him circumcised. Now there would be no barriers between the Jews and Timothy. However, note that Titus, a Greek, was not required to be circumcised [Gal. 2:3]. The Jewish believers would not be offended if he was not circumcised because Titus was a Gentile.)

In 1 Cor. 9:19-23 Paul says in verse 22: “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.”

4.      What are some ways we can incorporate the principle of “becoming all things in order to win some?” (Without compromising our commitment to Christ we should be willing to do whatever is necessary to reach people with the gospel message. It is important to be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in doing this!)


Growth Seen! Read Acts 16:4-5


1.      What phrases in these verses show the effectiveness of their mission?

2.      As the disciples grew spiritually what was the result seen in the community? (More people became believers!)

The delivering of the Jerusalem Council’s message was a form of discipleship, as it helped the believers grow in their doctrine, especially concerning salvation!

3.      What is God’s purpose in our ministries to unbelievers and believers? (Our ministry to unbelievers is to share the gospel. Only the good news that Jesus saves can change lives. We are called to share this life-changing hope. Our ministry to believers is to strengthen their faith. Believers are encouraged to grow and become spiritually mature. As a result, believers are strengthened and equipped to go out and share the gospel with unbelievers.)

We, as individual believers, are to be growing spiritually which spills over into our ministry. Linda Thompson thought of these two questions to challenge all of us to consider our spiritual growth:

4.      If every believer was as committed to giving financially to the church and missions as I am, how would God’s work be impacted?

5.      If every believer was as committed to serving in God’s kingdom as I am, how would God’s work be impacted?


6.      If every believer was as spiritually mature or as spiritually immature as I am, how would our world be impacted?

7.      Read Acts 16:5: What summary statement could be written about First Baptist Church, Ardmore, OK?

8.      Can we claim spiritual maturity that does not lead to greater evangelistic activity?

9.      What kind of balance should be struck between evangelism and discipleship in your life?


Summarize and Challenge!


1.      How can we begin to partner with others in our church to share the gospel with unbelievers and strengthen other believers? (“Love Ardmore”; Mission Ardmore; stay actively involved in S. S. class; enroll in discipleship classes; Pray for God’s leadership; seek out ministry opportunities; etc.)

2.      What actions will you take to be more involved in evangelism and discipleship?

This week invite one or more believers to join you in serving others. Encourage them to discover their spiritual gifts, and take the time to show them how they can be partners in the ministry with you.


Profile of John Mark

(In Members PSG, p. 49)


·         Writer of the Second Gospel

·         Son of Mary, in whose house the Jerusalem church met        (Acts 12:12)

·         Barnabas’s cousin (Col. 4:10)

·         Companion of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:38)

·         Cause of a split between Paul and Barnabas when he left them during the first missionary journey (Acts 15:39)

·         Was with Paul when the apostle wrote Colossians (Col. 4:10)

·         Referred to by Paul as “useful to me in the ministry”                   (2 Tim. 4:11)

·         Described by Paul as a coworker (Philemon 24)



Profile of Timothy

(In Members PSG, p. 51)


·         Friend and trusted coworker of Paul (Phil. 2:19-22)

·         Had a believing Jewish mother and Greek father (Acts 16:1)

·         A native of Lystra; well respected by believers there             (Acts 16:2)

·         Was taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother      (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15)

·         May have been converted on Paul’s first missionary journey  (Acts 14:6-23)

·         Paul required him to be circumcised (Acts 16:3)

·         Recipient of two of Paul’s letters (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2)

Available to All - Acts 15:1-35

(Show the group a gift wrapped package and identify the contents.)

1.      This is a gift of love offered completely free to someone in our group. Who would like to have this gift and would accept it absolutely free? (As for a show of hands.)

Before you can receive this gift, however, you must lift this bag of potatoes or (apples, etc or some other ludicrous act) over your head and walk around the room. (If the person complies, reward them with the gift.)

2.      How did it make you feel when I offered a free gift to anyone who would receive it?

3.      How did it make you feel when I added another ludicrous step to receiving this gift?

While God carefully planned, executed, and communicated the plan of salvation, humanity has a tendency to try to add on requirements to God’s free gift through Jesus Christ alone!


Introduction! Read Acts 15:1-5

1.      What is at issue here in the church at Antioch?

2.      What action did the church body take?

3.      On their way to Jerusalem what did Paul and Barnabas do as they passed through the towns and cities? (They shared what God had done through them among the Gentiles. Note that before Jesus’ death and resurrection when a Jewish person went from Galilee to Jerusalem they would cross over the Jordan River and go down the east side of the river and cross back over near Jericho to avoid going through Samaria.)

4.      What was the response of the believers in these places where Paul and Barnabas shared these testimonies? (Note that at this point they did not mention the issue above in Antioch!)

Note when they arrived in Jerusalem and gave their report, there were believers from the party of the Pharisees who wanted to put additional requirements on the Gentile converts—you have to be like us!

No Distinction! Read Acts 15:6-11


1.      What words in this passage describe the process of salvation? (“Hear the gospel message and believe”; God “gave the Holy Spirit”; “cleansing their hearts by faith.”; “we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.”)

2.      What was Peter’s experience in Acts chapter 10 about taking the gospel message to the Gentile Cornelius?

3.      How would you summarize Peter’s argument? (God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile. He saves both groups of people the same way. Peter emphasized this point of view by reminding the Jerusalem Council that the gentile believers received the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish believers did.)

Peter also reminded them that He had previously shared with the Gentiles and they had also received the Spirit.

4.      What significance did the gospel being inclusive of different people groups have for the Jews? (God created all people and He sent His Son to purchase salvation for anyone who repents and believes. Their attitude should have been such that they were excited that they were selected as the “messengers” to take the gospel to a lost and dying world!)

5.      What significance did the gospel being inclusive of different people groups have for the gentiles? (As the old hymn proclaims, “I am so happy in Christ today, as I go singing along the way. I am so happy to know and say Jesus included me too.”)

6.      What unbiblical stipulations are placed on people today before being accepted into a local church? (These may not deal so much with salvation as they do to be accepted into the church membership. Re-baptized; exercise of closed communion—only church member may participate; etc)

7.      How do those stipulations compare to what was being faced by the early church?

8.      What beliefs are non-negotiable? (We can deal with the communion issue and even the baptism issue but when someone wants to add on a requirement to salvation we must stand our ground!)

Read Acts 15:12-23 The whole church took action on this issue!

Clearly Peter had already come full circle in his understanding of how different people groups are saved: the same way he was. Now it was time to help the believers in Antioch come to full understanding, too.

Clear Expectations! Read Acts 15:24-29


1.      To whom did the church in Jerusalem send this letter?

2.      Why did they send representatives from the church to accompany Paul and Barnabas?

3.      From where do most misunderstandings about salvation come? (Certainly not the Bible. They come either from people’s ignorance or misinterpretations based upon incomplete reading of Scripture, traditions, or cultural expectations, which muddy understanding.)

4.      Where do we turn for clarification of biblical issues we may disagree about? (The Bible, prayer and leadership of the Holy Spirit. Noting that there are some negotiable issues that we will just agree to disagree on.)

5.      What expectations do believers face as recipients of salvation? (The gospel makes a clear difference in people’s lives. Knowing Christ begins a lifelong process of following Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. The transformation that takes place demonstrates to unbelievers that Christians are called to be lights in a dark world! But our lives are different because of what God has done not to earn what God has done in saving us.)

6.      What is the significance of the actions prohibited? (As believers, our testimonies are effective when we avoid idolatry and immorality. This is why the letter from the Jerusalem Council listed four things to avoid and mentioned that the Gentile believers would do well if they did indeed avoid those things. Read 1 Cor. 8:13)

Note these requirements were to help them maintain fellowship with the Jews and adapt God’s standards for Christian living!

7.      What standards should a church use when communicating appropriate ways of living out the Christian life today? (Scripture.)

8.      What does the passage say guided the Jerusalem Council? (The Holy Spirit!)

These are not the kinds of commands that the Judaizers were trying to burden the Gentiles with but encouragement to live up to a Christian life worthy of their calling!

Secure Encouragement! Read Acts 15:30-35


1.      How did the Christians in Antioch respond when they heard the letter?

2.      How can believers encourage new Christians in their faith? (The Jerusalem Council took the opportunity not only to write a letter to address certain concerns, but they also sent a delegation to confirm their decision verbally.)

The example they left for us is to follow up personally when we address the questions or concerns of new believers.

3.      What is our church’s relationship like with other churches in our area?

4.      What are some ways we can bridge racial, economic, or locational gaps to work together to reach more people in the community? (Our outreach through our Mission’s Committee is making a difference in our community. I’m not aware of all that is happening but FBC is involved in numerous mission projects right here in Ardmore.)

As we work in harmony with other churches in our area, we display God’s love more effectively to those around us than we can individually.


Summarize and Challenge!

We must:

·         Stand firm on non-negotiable issues with love and respect.

·         Present the gospel clearly to all people.

·         Help new believers understand how to live the Christian life.

·         Pray for those who try to add to the requirements for salvation. A salvation by works is no salvation at all!

Pray that FBC, Ardmore would be obedient to taking the gospel around the world, starting here at home!

Misguided Worship - Acts 14:8-20

1.      How would you define “worship” as a noun? (Worship: The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.)

We usually think of “worship” in terms of a verb: Show reverence and adoration for a deity, or honor with religious rites.

2.      What are some examples of ways to facilitate both public and private worship? (Setting; planning; solitude; focus attention on God; praise for who God is; attitude of thankfulness for what He has done; humility; expression of our heartfelt worship through music; etc. The music expression may vary based on culture and background. In Africa their expression of worship with drums may seem foreign and even inappropriate to us.)

Read Psalm 150.

3.      What do we learn from this beautiful psalm? (Worship is about the One being worshiped and the attitude of the heart, not the instrument used in worship!)

4.      What are some examples of how worship may be misguided? (When we are more interested in the form of worship than we are about the One who is the object of our worship.)

Many times we sing songs in our worship that is “about” God but not directed “to” God. Both have their place but, I think sometimes we are singing “about” God when we should be singing “to” God! After all, we come to a worship service to worship God not just to tell others “about” God! For example, the hymn “Worthy of Worship” is addressed “to” God while the beautiful hymn “Amazing Grace” is a testimony about what God “has done”. We need both!

5.      If you seriously evaluated your worship of God would it be about adoration toward Him or more focused on the style?


We saw last week that God had done a wonderful work in and around Antioch of Pisidia. But, the Jews incited the people against Paul and Barnabas and they stirred up persecution against them so “they shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium.” Acts 13:51. The Jews followed them and again stirred up the people against them. So they went to the Lycaoinian towns called Lystra and Derbe. We find in our focal passage today what happened in Lystra!

Healing! Read Acts 14:8-10


Verse 7 states that Paul and Barnabas “kept evangelizing”!

1.      What would most of us have decided after being run out of several towns where we had been preaching the gospel? (This must be a sign from God that we are not supposed to do this!)

2.      What acts of worship can be seen here? (The proclaiming of the gospel; jumping up and walking around.)

Paul’s sermon took a dramatic turn when a supernatural healing took place.

3.      How did Paul know this man had enough “faith” to be healed? (We must assume the Holy Spirit communicated this to Paul. When people demonstrate attentiveness to God’s Word, they display open minds to God’s work.)

4.      Are we so sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit that we are able to discern His leading?

5.      What purpose did the healing of the crippled man serve? (God uses His power to gain our attention and draw people to Himself.)

6.      Can you think of recent situations where God has used astounding events to draw attention to Himself? (Hurricanes; floods; fires; and even miraculous healings of people.)

Note some of these are “acts of nature” and while God may not have caused them He certainly uses them to get our attention and show His great love and mercy in astounding ways!

7.       What evidence do you look for to discern that God is at work around you? (When we become aware of God speaking to someone, we should encourage them to respond in obedience.)


Such a spectacular display of God’s power had an immediate dramatic effect not only on the crippled man but others who witnessed the healing.

Reaction! Read Acts 14:11-13


1.      What in these verses might be construed as worship? (People started talking in an excited tone; They started calling Paul and Barnabas by these special names; a sacrifice was being prepared.)

2.      Why didn’t Paul and Barnabas understand immediately that the people’s worship was misdirected? (The people were speaking in a local vernacular unfamiliar to them.)

3.      How can worship be misguided today? (We interpret what we see through the lens of our experience rather than God’s Word or the leadership of the Holy Spirit.)

4.      What are some ways people misunderstand or misinterpret God’s work today? (Medical miracles are attributed to a doctor or the science of medicine in general. Healed relationships are attributed to a counselor/pastor. Etc.)

5.      Why do some people incorrectly attribute God’s work to other people or circumstances? (Unbelief.)

Redirected! Read Acts 14:14-18


1.      How would you describe the actions of Barnabas and Paul? (They were horrified and urgently implored them not to do this terrible thing—give worship to them that was God’s.)

2.      What were the potential dangers if Paul and Barnabas had accepted the praise from the people?

3.      Are we ever tempted to take the praise of people which really belongs to God?

4.      What did Paul emphasize about God in his short speech? (God gives general revelation to everyone that He alone rules over creation.)

Understanding that God is our Creator teaches us He is the Author and Giver of life.

5.      Paul and Barnabas just barely managed to prevent the sacrifice. What attitudes did Paul and Barnabas display in pointing the people to Jesus?

6.      How can we present the gospel clearly to someone who has not heard about Him? (Just as Paul has demonstrated in all of his sermons, we start with what the people do know. Paul noted that God provided for their physical needs. And then He preached to them Jesus!)

As Christians, we should be careful to give credit to God for all the good things He brings into our lives and not take credit for them ourselves!

Rejected! Read Acts 14:19-20


1.      What were the contributing factors that led to Paul’s stoning? (In essence Paul had told them that the gods they worshiped were worthless. Then when the Jews from the other towns came and got the crowd all worked up the outcome was predictable.)

2.      What happened after Paul was left for dead outside the city?

3.      What do you find remarkable about this outcome?

4.      To what lengths might a person go to discredit or silence the gospel message today? (We see people taken to court and sued over their religious freedom of expression. Sometimes their homes, families, or businesses come under attack.)

5.      What can we learn from Paul’s response that might help us deal with efforts to discredit or quiet the gospel message today? (After the message has been shared and rejected, move on to places where the gospel has not been heard.)

6.      Would I have the courage to share the gospel in the face of persecution? How about without any persecution?

(In Romans chapter one Paul shows how we move to idolatry to depravity!)

Summarize and Challenge!


Our focus has been on worship and the Object of our worship.

Our challenge is to do our part to keep worship pure. Worship belongs to God, and we should be pointing people to Him and stay out of the way!

1.      What encourages you to continue sharing the gospel despite misunderstandings or rejection from others? (The difference I see in people who have heard and accepted the gospel.)

2.      Someone took the risk of sharing the gospel with you, are you willing to take the risk of rejection and share the gospel?

Pray: Father search our heart and reveal attitudes that may need to change. Also give each of us the courage to share the gospel!

The Gospel Message - Acts 13:26-39

1.      What is one of the most memorable sermons or speeches you’ve ever heard?

2.      What made that particular sermon or speech memorable? (Ask them to highlight the contents of the sermon or speech.)

Great speeches or sermons usually include a challenge that calls people to action. It may be that God used a sermon to call you to action for Him. Such was my case in July 1974 when God used a sermon at Ridgecrest, NC, during a Sunday School leaders retreat to speak to my heart. Isaiah 40 was the text and verse 31 was the focus—“but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”


Today we resume our study of Acts. We’ve already learned from our previous study that Luke was almost certainly the author of Acts and the Gospel bearing his name. Both were addressed to the same person and the first chapter of Acts overlaps with the last chapter of Luke. Together these two books comprise one fourth of the New Testament.


The first half of Acts records the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to the Gentiles at Antioch of Syria. After spending about a year there the Holy Spirit told them to commission Paul and Barnabus to take the Gospel message further west. The remainder of the book of Acts records the spread of the Gospel at least to Rome. And there is strong indication that Paul wanted to go on to Spain.

Paul and Barnabus set out on their missionary journey going to Seleucia, sailed to Cyprus and went to the towns of Salamis and Paphos. They then set sail again to Perga in Pamphylia. They continued on from there to Antioch of Pisidia. As was their custom, Paul and Barnabus went to worship at the synagogue on the Sabbath and Paul was asked to speak. Paul started with the Israelites in Egypt and brought them to Jesus’ crucifixion.

Crucified! Read Acts 13:26-29


1.      Who are the two groups that Paul addressed? (The Jews, as would be expected but there were also Gentiles who worshipped Yahweh—God fearers!)

2.      What was Paul’s message about?

3.      To whom did Paul refer? (Paul was addressing a group who had never heard the Gospel and certainly not the name of Jesus.)

He started with what they already knew and explained that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Scriptures they studied weekly.

4.      What specific Bible prophecies did Jesus fulfill in His coming and crucifixion on the cross? (Born of a virgin; rejected by His own; was to die on a tree; counted among the condemned.)

5.      What do the actions of the people of Jerusalem teach us about humanity and our need for a Savior?

6.      How does the message of the gospel speak to the needs of modern man today? (We seem to think we are too sophisticated to need a Savior! However, man is sinful and in great need of a Savior. The message of the gospel tells all of us how to receive salvation. But too often we lack the humility to admit our need!)

7.      How do people reject Jesus today despite knowing that He died for them?

The story of Jesus never ends at the cross and Paul’s sermon did not stop there either!


Resurrected! Read Acts 13:30-37


1.      How important would you say are eyewitness accounts of events that seem impossible? (The Holy Spirit draws people to believe but our testimony gives the Holy Spirit the starting point to help people believe.) Read 1 Cor. 15:1-8.

Read Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10

2.      Why did Paul use these references to add weight to his point? (These were people familiar with the Scripture and by pointing out how Jesus fulfilled these passages helped them believe.)

3.      How do these eyewitness accounts and Scripture work together to give us confidence in the resurrection today?

4.      The doctrine of eternal life is very clear in this passage. How did Paul make that point?

Have a member read the paragraph from page 16 of the PSG “Key Doctrine: Justification

“Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.”


5.      How does what Jesus has done for us motivate us to witness to others? (What are some ways we can embrace our responsibility as witnesses to speak about how Jesus has changed our lives? Encourage someone to share something God has done for them as they feel led.)


Merely explaining the death and resurrection of Jesus falls short of communicating the complete gospel message. Paul’s message did not end there!

Proclaimed! Read Acts 13:38-39


1.      What does the word “therefore” in verse 38 indicate? (The real point of the message is about to be delivered.)

2.      What would you say to a person who claims there are multiple ways to God and His heaven? (The gospel of Jesus Christ is distinctive in that it does not depend upon me or my good deeds. Forgiveness of sin is available only through the person and work of Jesus! Only a faith based relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ will put us in right standing with God and allow us to enter His heaven!)

3.      How does the news of the gospel exceed the Law of Moses? (The law is limited because it cannot justify us. The law can only show us what we have done wrong. The gospel of Jesus Christ provides justification from sin, which is something the law could never do.)

The law condemns, but the gospel saves!


Summarize and Challenge!


Few of us will have the opportunity to share the gospel from a church platform or in public meeting places. However, each of us may create opportunities to share with friends, family members, and acquaintances. The reason Paul got straight to the point and urgently shared the gospel of Christ, His death, and resurrection was to help others discover how to have eternal life. Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? If you have, are you sharing that message with others?


Paul gave us a great outline to use in sharing the gospel:

·         The Law reveals our sinfulness by showing us precisely what we have done wrong.

·         God sent His Son to provide salvation for anyone who believes in Him.

·         The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Therefore, our faith in the person and work of Jesus is grounded in actual historical events that confirmed the truth of Scripture.

·         Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we serve a living Lord who wants us to proclaim the good news of salvation so others may believe.


Thank our Heavenly Father for sending His Son for us.

Pray for opportunities to share the gospel and the boldness to share.

Ask God to lay a lost person you may know on your heart!

Set Futures - Leviticus 26:1-45

1.      What are some skills you have that requires practice? (Play the piano; cooking; carpentry; artist; athlete; teacher; etc.)

2.      What do you do that requires intentional practice?

3.      What benefits have you seen as a result of that intentional practice?

4.      What are the benefits to practicing a skill or a talent? (To become accomplished at the skill or talent. There are many people who have raw talent in a particular area but it requires focused, intentional practice to become the best you can be.)

An Apprentice is defined as: “A person who works for another to learn a trade.”

5.      In what since is the Christian life an “apprenticeship”? (God told the Children of Israel, “be holy for I am holy” in at least nine different places. Lev. 20:26 is one place. It takes focused attention and intentional effort to follow God’s command for us to be holy! That is the only standard we are to use for living!)

Holiness is the standard for living out our lives as Christians.  We are to give focused attention to living holy lives and there is no greater call to live for God than in the instructions God gives His people here in Leviticus.

God is fatherly in His attitude toward all men. He teaches us, disciplines us and sets the example for us to emulate, both here in the Old Testament and the New Testament in the person of Jesus!


Today, as we conclude our study in Leviticus, we will see how God promises to bless those who are faithful and obedient to Him and to discipline those who are not.

Promise! Read Leviticus 26:3-13 Everyone listen carefully for God’s promises to the Israelites.


(Write on the board: “If …,” “Then …”

1.      What are the “If” conditions God asked of the people of Israel? (List them on the board.)

2.      What are the “Then” promises God made to them? (List them on the board.)

3.      How does the future promised by God motivate a person to pursue obedience and holiness in this life here and now?

4.      How would you compare life in Egypt with a life filled with God’s faithfulness and blessings?

We can trust God to remove our heavy yokes and guide us, like the Israelites, into a life filled with His faithfulness. He knows how to bless and guide His children.

The Israelites’ actions did not determine their status as God’s people—that was settled! But their obedience or disobedience to God had implications on their fellowship with God, the fulfillment of His purposes for them, and their flourishing within the world.


God offered a bright future and a secure peace to those who faithfully obeyed His statutes and commands. Now let’s look for the warnings God issued.

Warning! Read Leviticus 26:14-16


(Finish the “If---Then” chart.)

1.      What do you think motivates a person more—a blessing or a warning?

2.      Can you have one without the other?

3.      How is facing a hardship as discipline an act of God’s mercy?

4.      How would you describe the relationship between love and discipline? (In parenting we want the best for the child more than we want what is easiest or most pleasant. In marriage personal discipline is required in order to care for and serve the spouse more than one’s own self.)

A relationship void of discipline is a relationship void of truth and true love!


            During the 400 years of the Judges God gave Israel opportunity after opportunity to repent and follow Him. They would turn back to God for a while then turn away again and God would bring judgment. The cycle repeated itself numerous times.  One particular Judge stands out in light of the consequences mentioned here, that is Gideon. Where was Gideon threshing wheat?—in a wine press! Why was he in the valley winnowing wheat instead of on a hilltop?—the enemy would take their wheat! You can find that account in Judges, chapters 6-8. Exactly what God said would happen if they didn’t follow His commands and statutes.

 After the monarch type of government was established nothing really changed. By the fourth king the nation was split into two nations—Israel and Judah. Judgment was brought on Israel (the northern kingdom) in 722 BC and it was never reconstituted as a nation. The Southern Kingdom lasted until 596 BC and was defeated by Babylon, but God brought them back 70 years later and is the modern nation of Israel today!

As parents sometimes we think, well I’ll give them one more warning and maybe they will do what I told them to do. I wonder if God thought about sending one more prophet like Isaiah or Jeremiah before bringing judgment on His people!


God’s warning against disobedience was clear: personal hardship and defeat at the hands of the Israelites’ enemies would be the result. Now let’s look for the grace and hope that God offers, even when His people choose disobedience.


Return! Read Leviticus 26:40-45


(Complete the “If…Then” chart.


God is faithful, even when His people are not. In this passage God clearly states that He remembered His promises to the forefathers of the faith. Ultimately, those promises would find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus.

1.      What are the necessary ingredients for a return to fellowship with God? (Confession of sin and repentance. God asked that the Israelites own their sin by confessing it personally and as a people. God has always been most interested in the heart of His people. Genuine repentance before God allows the fellowship between Him and the people to be restored! Remember, as Christians, our relationship is always secure!)

2.      How does the certain promise of restoration through Jesus give you hope for yourself and your people? (Restoration is God’s specialty! He restored the Israelites physically and restores all His people spiritually. No situation is too far gone for God to restore. His power to rebuild and redeem has no end! The only thing God takes more delight in than restoring a wayward child is that child never leaving.)

3.      Why is it important for Christians to view repentance as a constant pursuit in their daily lives? (We sin every day on some level. We need to stay “fessed” up!)

4.      Read the following verses: Ps. 94:12, Prov. 3:12, Judges 2:1-2, Heb. 12:5-7, 1 Pet. 1:15-16. What do these passages reveal about God and His desire for His children?

5.      How do these verses change your perspective on God’s discipline?


God’s grace and forgiveness are not a license for us to go on sinning because He will forgive. God’s best plan for our lives includes a lifelong, loving obedience to Him.


Summary and Challenge!


1.      What blessings have you experienced as a result of being obedient to God, remembering that some blessings are found in what you avoided rather than in what you gained?

2.      What have you learned throughout this journey in Exodus and Leviticus?

3.      How can we help each other in our daily walk with God?


Our challenge: Yield yourself to God to be used in whatever way He chooses. Ask God to direct your life and renew your commitment to follow Him—wherever and whenever He leads!


Close with a prayer of commitment.




Follow my statues

Faithfully observe my commands


You do not obey me and observe my commands

You reject my statues

Do not observe all My commandment


Confess their sin and the sin of their fathers—their unfaithfulness

Humble their hearts




Give you rain at the right time

The land will produce its produce

Trees of the field will bear their fruit.

Threshing will continue until grape harvest

Grape harvest will continue until sowing

You will have plenty of food to eat

Live securely in your land

Peace to the land

Not be frightened

Remove dangerous animals from the land

No sword will pass through the land

You will pursue your enemies; they’ll fall by the sword.

Make you prosperous

Confirm My covenant with you

You will eat the fruit of last year’s crop

I will place My residence among you

I’ll not reject you

I will walk among you and be your God

You will be my people


I will bring terror on you

I will bring wasting disease and fever

You will sow your seed in vain for your enemies will eat it.


I will remember my covenant with them through their ancestors and restore their land.

Set Free - Leviticus 16:1-30

(Bring a backpack to class loaded with books so that it is somewhat heavy. Ask for a volunteer to wear it during class but say nothing about it until the closing. The longer we carry our heavy weight of sin the more difficult it becomes. If the person should take it off during the class then make the point at that time.)


We have been studying about sin and the sacrificial system God instituted to help the people come to terms with their sinfulness and the cost to restore our fellowship with Him after we’ve sinned.

1.      Do you think people today have a more lax view of sin than people one hundred years ago?

2.      Why do many people have a difficult time coming to terms with their sinfulness?

3.      When someone does realize they have sinned against God and yearn for the fellowship to be restored how is that person’s feelings described? (Guilt becomes overwhelming. Guilt is defined as “feeling responsible or regret for a perceived offense, real or imaginary.”)

Sometimes we may feel guilt for something that happened for which we had nothing to do with and were not responsible. But when we feel guilt brought on by God’s conviction in our heart that we have sinned against Him, that guilt is real!

4.      What can we use or do to clean a sin-stained heart and lift the burden of guilt?

God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to “The” Sacrifice that would come in Jesus Christ. But in the mean time to cover their sin until it could we washed away by Jesus’ blood, God gave them the sacrificial system to teach them the heavy cost of sin and to point toward the perfect Sacrifice, the Messiah.


The function of the priests involved distinguishing “between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean” In chapters 11-15 of Leviticus God gave specific instructions regarding what is clean and what is unclean. The Lord set apart some animals as clean or acceptable to eat and designated others animals as unacceptable to eat. He then gave instructions to Moses and Aaron concerning uncleanness by contamination and the rites of purification. In chapter 16, God instituted the Day of Atonement. It was the 10th day of the 7th month on the Jewish calendar (Sept-Oct).


Preparing to Sacrifice! Read Leviticus 16:3-6


1.      How was Aaron to prepare himself according to God’s instructions? (Wash and put on linen garments, take a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering for himself and the priesthood, then take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering for the people.)

2.      Why so much preparation to enter the presence of God and make atonement for the people’s sin?

3.      What mind-set do you think Aaron had when Moses told him what he would need to do in order to be prepared to carry out the atonement sacrifices for the people? (In preparing to be high priest, Aaron undoubtedly felt the burden of his own sin, as well as the sins of the people.)

Like children who come in from playing outside and are unaware of how much dirt they have accumulated, we too have difficulty realizing our own sin stains. God’s Spirit lovingly, though not always gentle, makes us aware.

4.      How does realizing the need for purity before God cause you to think about Jesus’ extravagant provision for you?

5.      How do we rightly prepare ourselves to enter into God’s presence? (We discussed last week the issue about coming into our worship services flippantly. May we make a conscience effort to come to worship focused on God.)

6.      When we come to our worship service are we more interested in seeing friends or that we are about to have an encounter with the Living God?

7.      Is it more difficult to prepare the internal or the external when it comes to preparing to be in God’s presence?

8.      Is there a level of reverence our dress should project at church?

Just as Aaron prepared himself to enter God’s presence, God’s desire is that our hearts be ready and right with Him when we come to worship. Now let’s look at the sacrifice Aaron brought.

The Chosen Goat! Read Leviticus 16:7-10


The word “azazel” is the Hebrew word translated uninhabitable place.

1.      How does the picture of the two goats give us a visual reminder of God’s justice, grace and forgiveness? (One goat was slaughtered, the other had the sin of the people placed upon it and was let go in the wilderness to demonstrate God’s gracious removal of Israel’s guilt and sin.)

2.      In what way was the Day of Atonement a temporary fix to the guilt and sin of the people of Israel?

3.      In what way is Jesus’ death on the cross a permanent solution to our sin problem?

4.      How does Jesus’ death give a believer confidence and humility at the same time?

5.      How does one strike a proper balance between confidence and humility?


We can live confident that Jesus’ death on the cross means we no longer need to carry the guilt of sin. Now let’s read God’s words as He established the Day of Atonement for His people.


The Day of Atonement! Read Leviticus 16:29-30


1.      As we have talked about “atonement” these past few weeks what have you come to understand about atonement? Have you learned anything you were not aware of before? (God’s justice demands payment and the sacrifice for atonement was that payment time after time until Jesus came to be our final Sacrificial Lamb!)

2.      How did God require the Israelites to observe the Day of Atonement? (They were to practice Sabbath, withdrawing and resting from the daily occupations of mind and body. They were to practice reflection and self-denial, traditionally understood to mean refraining from doing anything to improve or please one’s self.

3.      What are the benefits of practicing regular reflection on God’s work in your life? (The Day of Atonement demonstrated God’s interest in the heart of people. Most important were the realizations and determinations brought about in the hearts of the people during this time.)

When our worship becomes rote, we can reset our gratitude and reverence for God when we spend time reflecting on the atonement Jesus accomplished for us. We have an opportunity every week to come together and celebrate with thankful hearts what God has done for us through the atoning sacrifice of His Son!


Summarize and Challenge!


(Turn to the person wearing the backpack and ask if they are ready to get rid of their burden.)

Ask them these questions:

1.      Did the backpack become more difficult over time?

2.      Did you look forward to the time it would come off?

This backpack represented the guilt of sin. The longer we carry it, the more uncomfortable it becomes.

3.      How can we get rid of our sin guilt? (Only through Jesus.)

4.      What could you say or do to help someone who is carrying the guilt of sin as a heavy burden?

Jesus paid for our sin one time for all with His blood. He is purifying His own as we walk with Him daily. He will do away with the presence of sin altogether in our future. What is present reality in heaven will be present on earth as well.

5.      In what ways are we too casual or too confident when it comes to approaching God?

6.      How might you prepare to humble yourself before God?


We will celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday! How about pausing to reflect on what God has done for you and your family!

Close in a prayer of thankfulness to God for providing everlasting atonement through His Son, Jesus!

Set Apart - Leviticus 8:1-10:7

(On a poster or white board write “Do’s” and “Don’ts” as headings.)


1.      Ask: What are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that people outside the church might think Christians should follow?

Sometimes people view religion as just a list of difficult rules that people attempt to follow.

2.      What expectations do non-Christians have about the way Christians should live?

3.      Do you think they expect Christians to act differently than they do?

4.      Do we as Christians fall into the same trap when we look at other Christians by expecting things of them we don’t expect of ourselves?

Today we will see how God’s people are called to live holy lives—not just to try to follow a list of do’s and don’ts. The Christians life is much more than a list of do’s and don’ts to follow. Our actions are to spring from a heart of gratitude for what God has done for us and what He wants to accomplish through us!

Having established a series of offerings in Leviticus chapters 1 through 6 and how those offerings were to be managed in chapters 6 & 7, chapter 8 establishes a priesthood to represent God’s people before Him and to represent Him before the people. Aaron and his sons were ordained into their priestly offices. Now in chapter 9 we have the first worship service in the tabernacle.

As we study Leviticus look for these key themes: The Holiness of God; The Need for Atonement; and The Need for Right Living.


Cleansed! Read Leviticus 9:15-21


1.      In the very act of making a “sin offering” what are we saying? (We are confessing we have sinned and we have a need for restoration of our fellowship with God.)

2.      Why is confession the first step for approaching God?

3.      What keeps people from being honest about their need for confession?

As we mentioned last week, the killing of an animal showed the cost of sin and by God accepting their offering, He was showing His people how their fellowship with Him is restored.

4.      As believers today, we do not need an earthly priest to help us approach God! Why is that the case? (See 1 Peter 2:9—We have direct access to the Father through Jesus. See Heb. 8:1—Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father. His work was finished. Aaron and his successors’ work was never finished. See Heb. 9:11-14 and 10:14.)

5.      Why was the priesthood set up by God? (To facilitate access to God for the people by way of God’s instructions through sacrifices, teaching the community about God, and worship—all pointing to Jesus as our ultimate High Priest.)

We are made right with God through the blood of Jesus.              Read Rom. 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5.

We have been saved out of the darkness of this world to be a bright light shining back into that darkness that others might come to the Light, which is Jesus! Our lives should be such that others are drawn to Jesus just a bugs are drawn to light on a dark night!


We know that recognizing and confessing our sin is the first step toward God. Next we will see the blessing that Aaron offered for the people!


Blessing! Read Leviticus 9:22-24


We don’t know what happened when Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meetings and speculation is futile, but surely they communicated with God in some way. The fire of God symbolized the holiness of God and His purifying, cleansing power!

1.      What effect did God’s nearness and response to the sacrifice have on the people? (Their instance response was to worship and praise God. There was responsibility for the specific sin of the individual but also a great sense of relating to God as a community.)

I enjoy worshiping God alone but I love coming together as a church family worshiping God together.

2.      When have you been so moved as to figuratively fall on your face in worship to God?

3.      How would you describe their relationship with God at this point? (Being in God’s presence in worship brings about blessing and proper perspective in our lives.)

4.      Is there any significance to the order of the offerings: sin offering, burnt offering and the fellowship offering? (The order of these offerings illustrates that atonement comes before true relationship. God makes relationship with Him possible after we first respond to His way of atonement. Adjusting our hearts toward gratitude to God in our lives enhances our worship.)

5.      If you were asked to describe the blessings of living a holy life how would you respond?


1.      What happens when we try to design our own way to come to God?


Holy! Read Leviticus 10:1-3


2.      What was the problem with what Nadab and Abihu did? (We are not given specifics but there was obviously sin in their hearts. Perhaps it was pride that led them to offer unauthorized fire to the Lord in an offering God did not tell them to offer. Although we are not told specifically what the Scripture mean, Holy fire is fire from God and there is strong evidence that fire from the altar would be considered Holy Fire because of the blood sprinkled on the Altar.)

3.      In what ways do we face the same temptations as Nadab and Abihu?

4.      What truths were pressed deeply into Israel as a result of what happened to Nadab and Abihu? (God’s holiness is uncompromising. The Lord deserves every reverence people are capable of offering, and more. The purity of the Levitical priesthood and the prescribed sacrifices was preserved.)

5.      How does disobedience reflect a lack of faith in God? (Had Nadab and Abihu’s disobedient offering been done in ignorance, a sin offering would have reestablished their right relationship with God. Instead, their deliberate disobedience revealed their disrespect for God. Pride is a terrible sin!)

6.      When people stray away from God’s demands of holiness, what effect does it have on their lives and relationships—both with
God and others?

In Acts 8:18 Simon offered Peter and John money in Samaria to have the power that he saw when they prayed over the new believers and the Holy Spirit came upon the people.

            Arrogance takes many forms; even lack of reverence can be a form of arrogance. People don’t, and can’t, have the authority to choose or create a way that God can successfully be approached. Understanding or agreeing with the strategy of what God asks us to do isn’t a release from the expectation of obedience.


Summarize and Challenge!


Read Hebrews 7:26-28!


1.      How would you summarize these three verses? (We can be thankful that Christ is the only holy, perfect priest we need and that through His sacrifice on the cross we have access to God.)

Confession of sin is the first step toward God. Believers can enjoy the blessing of being in God’s presence through worship of Him. God’s people are to live holy lives, reflecting Jesus’ character.

2.      How do you see Christians today minimize God’s expectation of their obedience?

3.      In what areas of your own life do you do this? (Isn’t it strange that we look at other people and call an act sin but excuse the same act in our own life!)

Read Psalm 139:23-24.


Ask God to show you where you need to get serious about obeying Him exactly.


Give God thanks for providing Christ as both a holy sacrifice and a High Priest so that you can have a relationship with Him!

Set Before God - Leviticus 1:1-3:17

1.      How would you describe the attitudes and actions of a person who is devoted to a particular entity, that is; a person, group or goal? (A person’s devotion is evident through their actions and level of commitment to the entity they worship. For example, I know people who are “committed” to sports and nothing gets in their way of attending or watching sporting events! Would that professing Christians were as committed to God!)

2.      Where is the focus of true worship of God? (True worship of God is not centered on the worshiper; it is focused on God, His holiness, His grace, His mercy, His provision, etc.)

God designed and put the tabernacle in place to create a space to be near His people and for them to be Him and sense His presence! Through their sacrificial offerings for their sin the people would be reconciled to God and have fellowship with Him.


Last week we saw the completion of the tabernacle. Now God gave Moses specifics about the sacrifices that were to be offered. While Exodus describes how God set His people free, Leviticus describes how His redeemed people are to live. Both books remind us that our great God is not only interested in our freedom (Exodus), but He is also interested in how we live once set free (Leviticus). What was true for the Israelites then is also true for us today. Once we are set free from the power of sin, God is interested in how we live!


Chapters 1-7 of Leviticus provided the manual of instructions for the five main offerings the Israelites were to bring to approach God, to have their sins covered, and to be at one with God and others.

They are: The Burnt Offering; The Grain Offering; The Fellowship Offering; The Sin Offering; and The Guilt Offering! We need to emphasize the fact that these sacrifices only “covered” their sin; only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin!


The Burnt Offering! Read Leviticus 1:1-9


Notice that God is speaking to Moses at the Tabernacle now not on the mountain!

1.      What does the quality of the offering reveal about the one offering it?

2.      Why must the person bringing the sacrifice place their hands on the head of the animal before making the sacrifice? (Their sins were symbolically laid on the animal therefore the animal would die in his place.)

3.      How would you define the word “atonement”? (In the Old Testament, atonement refers to the process God established whereby humans could make an offering to God to restore fellowship with God. When a person knowingly or unknowingly sinned they were required to bring a sacrifice to God to restore their fellowship. One day each year the High Priest sacrificed an animal for his sin and the sins of the people. This was on the Day of Atonement [see Lev. 16]. He entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood on the Ark of the Covenant!)

There are two other words closely associated with “atonement”. They are “expiation” and “propitiation”.

Propitiation is appeasing an angry God because we have sinned.  (1 John 2:1-2)

Expiation is removing the barrier that sin creates.

Atonement, propitiation and expiation are all related to reconciliation.

Jesus atoned for our sin! He is the propitiation for our sin! Through His sacrifice on the cross expiation for our sin was accomplished and those who believe in Jesus have been reconciled back to God!

4.      Read Leviticus 16:30. What words describe any emotions this verse brings to you?

5.       How was God’s provision for the burnt offering to atone for sin and its protocols merciful and protective? (God made provision to deal with the people’s sin and allow relationship with Him to happen.)

6.      In what ways did God show grace to the people? (In His kindness God took the guesswork out of the people’s efforts to worship Him. He is never cruel.  We don’t have to wonder what we must do to be right with God! It is only through Jesus.)

7.      How would having to regularly kill an animal to atone for your sins affect the way you view your sins? (Atonement required dealing with the sin of every person in Israel individually and corporately.)

8.      Would it change the way you understand or relate to Jesus’ death on the cross? (The unblemished lamb was the standard for a worthy sacrifice, the most costly and valuable offering possible.)

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as a payment for our sins, was once for all. Unlike the Old Testament sacrifices, His sacrifice would never need to be repeated.


With the burnt offering that atoned for the people’s sins, God showed that sin was a serious matter. An acceptable sacrifice was required to pay for the sin. Next we will look at a different offering—the grain offering

The Grain Offering! Read Leviticus 2:1-3


The Grain Offering could be brought any time to the Lord but the “First-fruits Offering” was a special kind of grain offering. This offering was, at least in part, how the priests were provided for!

1.      How is an offering an act of gratitude to God?

2.      How does offering our entire lives to God (Rom. 12:1-2) relate to our gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice for our sin?

3.      What are some things you are thankful to God for?

4.      How can we intentionally show gratitude to God through our words and actions?

5.      How does gratitude affect our worship? (In Psalm 100, thanksgiving and praise are woven together. A heart full of gratitude is sensitive to the Lord.)

Being grateful is an attractive quality. People want to be in community with someone who has a grateful spirit. Just as a complaining attitude can poison the atmosphere in the body of believers, gratitude can sweeten it. Gratitude to God affects our worship individually and corporately. After a leader has been in his or her position for a good amount of time the group begins to take on the outlook of their leader. Be a positive influence!

The grain offering was the people’s way of saying thanks to God for all of His provisions. The third and last offering we will explore today is the offering that represented peace with God—the fellowship offering.

The Fellowship Offering! Read Leviticus 3:1-5


After the portions that were to be offered to the Lord were burned the rest was roasted over the fire and the worshiper and the priests would eat it before the Lord to celebrate God’s blessings.

1.      How does the idea of the fellowship offering compliment the previous offerings for atonement and gratitude? (Through worship, God has taught His people multiple aspects of His character, including that we are all made in His image. True fellowship is possible when the relationship is on right terms and there is deep appreciation for the other.)

2.      How does the fellowship offering symbolize the relationship between the worshiper and God? (The fellowship offering demonstrated the intention of God dwelling with His people through the picture of a meal eaten together. Fellowship suggests safe company, time spent sharing, and joy in being together. This type of relationship with our Holy God is possible through Jesus!)

3.      This offering is sometime called the Peace Offering. How would you describe what it means to be at peace with God?

Today we enjoy the confidence and assurance of knowing that through our faith in Jesus, we can have peace and fellowship with God!

Summarize and Challenge!

1.      We don’t present burnt, grain, or fellowship offerings to God today, so how can we show Him our love and devotion?

2.      How do you remain mindful of Christ as the fulfillment of our atonement, devotion, and fellowship?

3.      How can we make Jesus the “Focal Point” in our lives so that everyone who looks at us will be drawn to Him?

Pray that we offer our best to God!