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!