testimony

Converted - Acts 9:1-25

1.      How would you define the word “convert”? (Cause to change in form, character or function.”)

2.      What is the difference between “reform” and “transform”? (Reform—Make changes in something or someone in order to improve it. Transform—make a through or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.)

When we come to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior our lives are transformed, our old nature dies and our new nature is a transformed nature to be like Jesus. Everything is changed! We aren’t simply reforming our old nature; we have a new nature brought about by the indwelling Holy Spirit!

3.      Who would you be most surprised to see accept Jesus as Lord?

In today’s Scripture passage we see Saul’s personal conversion from perhaps the most zealous opponent of Christianity to the most passionate follower of Jesus in the early church. The Christian community was shocked and a little leery of him, and for good reason.

4.      What other dramatic conversions can you recall from Scripture? (Matthew, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, blind Bartimaeus.)

The Confrontation! Read Acts 9:1-6

 

Note that Saul recognized the power of what was happening, but he was unsure about with whom he was speaking.

Damascus lays claim to being the oldest continuously occupied city in the world. Christians evidently had fled there when the persecution began in Jerusalem, just as they had to Samaria.

 

1.      How did Jesus literally stop Saul in his tracks? (Saul saw a brilliant light in the middle of the day, a light brighter than the sun. Acts 26:13 Paul testifies before Agrippa.)

2.      How did Saul respond? (With reverence and respect.)

3.      Twice Jesus indicated Saul was persecuting Him. Do you think this shocked Saul?

4.      What does Jesus telling Saul that He was the One he was persecuting indicate about Jesus’ relationship with His followers? (This shows the close personal connection Jesus has with His bride, the church. He takes any persecution as a personal attack against Himself. How do you feel when your children or grandchildren are hurting?)

5.      How would you characterize the confrontation between Jesus and Saul?

6.      Why do you think Jesus chose such a dramatic way to confront Saul? (Notice we don’t find any two encounters with Jesus being the same. He speaks to each of us individually and personally. Jesus knows exactly what we need individually.)

Reflect on your personal encounter with Jesus. Some people may feel that they have to be in a place like Saul, far away from God, before they truly “understand” grace. This can lessen the influence of those who have experienced a godly home built upon biblical principles. Any salvation experience is a testimony of the power of God; all lost people, regardless of circumstance, are in need of salvation. (Maddox Perkins, for example. It takes the same amount of grace for him as it did for Saul.)

 

The Companions! Read Acts 9:7-9

 

1.      Why do you think Jesus appeared to Saul when he was traveling with companions, rather than when he was alone? (Saul’s companions, aware of a sound but not of what was said, led him to Damascus since he was unable to see. It appears the audible voice was intended for Saul alone. Saul’s companions were eyewitnesses to an encounter of some type. The fact that they shared the experience helped to authenticate it historically.)

2.      How was Saul changed by his encounter with God? (There was a certain amount of humility now that didn’t exist before. He had to rely on others to get him to Damascus. In an instant, Saul had changed from a powerful man on his way to arrest others, to a helpless individual who had to be led by his companions.)

 

3.      How do you think his companions might have responded to the change?

Before meeting Jesus, Saul was spiritually blind but physically sighted. Now he was physically blind but spiritually sighted!

 

Read Acts 9:10-14

 

The Commission! Read Acts 9:15-20

 

1.      Do you think you might have been hesitant like Ananias?

2.      Jesus called Saul His “chosen instrument”, what does it mean to be chosen by God as His instrument? (God chose Saul to carry the gospel to gentiles, kings, and Israelites. His commissioning message included suffering. God uses all kinds of people in His kingdom work and does so in different ways. Notice how He used Saul’s traveling companions, Ananias and Saul, himself.)

3.      Is there anyone you know whom you would call a “chosen instrument” for God? (All Christians are God’s “chosen instruments”. Each of us has a specific Spiritual Gift and a mission to complete. Your calling is no less significant than that of Saul’s. His may be more visible to the world but as he was obedient so we are to be obedient to God’s call in our lives.)

4.      Saul’s conversion experience is recounted twice more in the book of Acts. If Saul were to share his testimony with our class, what points do you think he would include?

Not all testimonies are as dramatic as Saul’s, but a dramatic change occurs any time Jesus moves in a life!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      Could Saul still have chosen to stubbornly reject Jesus? (Yes! But God knew Saul’s heart and, I believe Saul was doing what he thought was God’s will as he persecuted Christians. When he realized Jesus was God’s Son and had died for the sins of the world Saul had no problem being totally committed to follow Jesus from then on.)

2.      Saul and his traveling companions experienced an unforgettable road trip on the way to Damascus. How can you make sure you’re being God’s messenger as you travel the road of life? (If you’ve accepted Christ as your personal Savior, the next step is to share Jesus with others. All believers can share Jesus with others based on their personal experiences with Him. All testimonies are based on personal experience and all are valid. Think about how your life was before Christ, how you came to Christ, and how you’re continuing to serve Him.)

 

We simply need to proclaim the truth of Acts 4:12—“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people and we must be saved by it.”

 

3.      How is your conversion different from Saul’s conversion?

4.      In what ways was your conversion similar to Saul’s?

 

We are all saved by grace through faith!

 

Pray for someone with whom you can share your own personal testimony this week!

 

 

Empowered - Acts 2:1-15

Memory Verse:

John 16:13  

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. NIV

 

In last week’s lesson we read about Jesus Great Commission in Acts 1: 8

 

 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  NIV

 

What caught my attention was YOU WILL!   WHEN

 

(Not you may be but you will receive power and you will be my witnesses, WHEN the Holy Spirit comes)

 

I liked what one teacher said last week about Jerusalem being right where you are.

 

What is a witness?

 

(Someone who has seen or heard or felt an event that he has witnessed)

 

Remember scripture interprets scripture!

 

John the Apostle was such a witness.  In (I John 1:1) John makes a declaration.

 

1 John 1:1-3

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, NIV

 

John gave an eyewitness account!

 

Your testimony is personal.  It is unique only to you.

  • What your life was before Christ.
  • What happened when Christ came into your live
  • How my life has been change since Christ came into your life.

 

YOU WILL WHEN and we see the disciples of Jesus waiting for 10 days after the ascension of Jesus in the upper room.  Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait.

 

 

 

Acts 1:9-11

 

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." NIV

 

 

 

 

1-    The Spirit Given

 

Read Acts 2:1-4

 

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV

 

1-      What does Pentecost mean?

 

a)      (Pentecost means 50. Fifty Days after the Sabbath of Passover.)

 

(When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples it had been 50 days since Jesus Resurrection and 10 days since His ascension in Acts 1:8)

 

b)      Pentecost is the fulfillment of two promises

 

Joel 2:28

            28'And afterward,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions. NIV

 

John 16:5-15

 

5 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

 

12 "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. NIV

 

c)      Some say that Pentecost was the birth of the church when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and 3000 souls were added to the church.

 

It is believed that 200,000 people Jewish people from Palestine and the Mediterranean world might have been present. God’s timing is always perfect.

 

Reread verse 2:

 

2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV

 

2-What were the disciples doing and how many of them where there in the upper room before the Holy Spirit came upon them?

 

(They were praying and there were 120 men and women present)

 

Acts 1:14-16

14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

 

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) NIV

 

Look at verse 4 of Acts 2: ALL OF THEM were filled and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them.

 

On page 25 of the personal study guide we find an insight on Fire.

 

1-      Fire indicated the purifying presence of God.

2-      The Lord had appeared to Moses in a bush that burned with fire yet was not consumed Ex 3:2

3-      The Lord guided the Israelites through the wilderness in the form of a pillar of fire at night. Ex. 13:21

4-      The Lord confirmed His covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai. He sent fire from Heaven Ex. 19:18

5-      The fire that rested with believers on the Day of Pentecost pointed to the ABIDING PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

 

For the first time in history, the Holy Spirit came to live in believers.  In the old testament we find records of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person for a specific purpose ( Judges 14:6; 1 Samuel 10:10), but these were only temporary visits.

 

3-What are the evidences of the Holy Spirit indwelling a believer?

 

(Changed lives-Provides the power to live righteous lives, the power and boldness to witness of Christ love and mercy; etc etc)

 

 

2-   The Questions Asked

 

Read Acts 2:5-13

 

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs — we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

 

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." NIV

 

On hearing the believers speaking in different languages, the people were amazed, causing some to ask or questions while a few others discredited the experience by saying “they have had too much wine.”

 

 I counted 14, maybe 15 different languages spoken that day in that one place.

 

The scriptures state that these men heard, each man in his own language.

 

Calvin Beach, a man I knew who was a part of “International Commission”. I have been with him several times on a mission trip.  He is a man of God, dedicated to sharing the gospel with others. Calvin once told the story of being on a mission trip to India, when at the last meeting they joined hands and  he prayed.  One of the men there said through the interpreter, “Oh Brother Calvin, you just prayed the most beautiful prayer in our language.”  Calvin said, “I just prayed in English as I usually pray, but they heard it in their language.  It was the Lord, not me.”

 

Peter filled with the Spirit began to preach boldly. Peter had been with Jesus and now he was filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

 

So when Peter preached and they all heard, does that perhaps mean that the Spirit gave each of them the understanding of what Peter was preaching.  However we must remember that 120 other men and women were filled with the Spirit and were testifying.

 

 

 

 

 

3-The Opportunity Seized

 

Acts 2:14-16

 

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: NIV

 

 

1-In the quick source the question was asked: How did Peter respond to the question; “What does this mean”?

 

·         (Peter spoke up. In fact Peter as we know had a reputation of being outspoken. (Matt. 16:22 17:4)

·         Peter explained what was happening. He took the initiative to give credit to God for the unusual work.

·         Peter used the opportunity to point people to Jesus.

·         When placed in situations where unbelievers are asking questions, believers must seize opportunities to share Jesus. We as believers must be ready to respond.

 

Think about the last time you had a opportunity to share the gospel or tell about God’s miraculous work.

 

2-Which best describes how you felt?

  •  I felt unqualified to speak, so I didn’t say anything.
  •  I downplayed God’s action, afraid of what people might think.
  •  I willingly seized the opportunity to share Jesus.
  •  Other response?

 

I and several others in this group are a part of the “Mission Task Force” that Aaron Lokey is heading up in our church.  We are divided up into 3 teams and the Jerusalem or “Love Ardmore” team is divided into 2 teams because there are so many missions available.

 

We have a Judea team.

 

I personally am a part of the “Uttermost Team”

 

 We have 6 members to each group and we have 4 groups or 24-25 people involved.

 

The Love Ardmore Team is looking at a ministry in the NE part of town.  It seems that a church that we owned, but was given to a group of people for a church, has fallen back into our hands.  We would like to establish a presence in that area so that when opportunity arises we may be able to witness.  There are signup sheets all around asking us to volunteer for a prayer walk.  Every believer can pray so there is one thing we should all be able to do.

 

The “Uttermost Team” of which I am a part has been given opportunity by the International Mission Board to possibly adopt an area in Mexico called the Tiacolula Valley Zapotec, which is a group of people of about 100,000 people.  We currently have no witness among these people.

We are praying and plans are being made for our first visit in October.  That was when our foreign mission spoke person can go and introduce our team.

 

Much is being done and we as a church can “go, pray or give” or perhaps all three.  You will be hearing of many opportunities.

 

 

 

Summary and Challenge

 

Thought questions:

 

    When you consider witnessing to other people, what concerns do you have?

    How has this study helped you to feel empowered to be a witness?

 

·         Believers are enabled by the Holy Spirit to fulfill their God-given mission.

·         We do not have to do it on our own.

·         God’s demonstration of Himself through believers can cause unbelievers to become curious about God and His power.

·         When placed in situations where unbelievers are asking questions, believers must seize opportunities to share Jesus.

·         Spend time in prayer, asking God to lead you to one person with whom you can witness through the Holy Spirit. Make sure we are ready to seize the opportunity.

·         Pray for the fellowship of believers around the world who are also studying ACTS.