I’m starting this week’s lesson by asking a riddle. What do Gideon, a lad, and widow have in common? Here are some clues:
Gideon lost over 99% of his army before a big battle. Judges 7:3-7
A young lad had a boy’s lunch of five small fishes and two small loaves of bread. Matthew 14:15-20
A widow with a handful of flour and oil in the midst of a famine. 1 Kings 17:7-15
Answer: Three examples of God doing the most with the least.
That’s the framework for this week’s lesson on You Will Be My Witnesses. How God could take a roomful of believers and empower them to transfer the world by preaching the gospel is the focus of our time together.
For the proclamation of the gospel, our natural reliance is on our numbers, facilities, and money. That tendency is in sharp contrast to stories of the early church as described in the book of Acts.
Let’s investigate by examining one verse from this week’s study.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8
From this one verse there are three topics we could tackle, although we will only have space today for one:
1) Why did they have to wait for the power?
2) What does it mean to be a witness unto Jesus?
3) Why start in Jerusalem?
One would think that after spending so much time with Jesus, the disciples and fellow believers would be ready to immediately go about proclaiming the gospel. That was not so. The disciples were given a promise of a future blessing in the form of the Holy Ghost. With all of their collective experience, they would need a divine aid to accomplish their mission.
Natural abilities alone have never been sufficient to work the works of God. No matter how skilled or talented an individual is, without the blessings of God on their efforts, it is just sounding brass and tinkling symbols.
For 10 days the disciples and others waited for the promise of the Holy Ghost power. Their waiting was not in idle expectation. The Bible sums up the result of their time together.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Acts 2:1
They were united. All differences between them had been put away and heart was united with heart. No strife for the supremacy. No second-class members. They were all recipients of the grace and mercy of God and the realization of that fact left no room for anything other than love for God which was revealed in love for each other.
Sadly, that is not our experience today. Anyone who would take an honest look at our churches would have to admit that unity eludes us. Being on one accord is reserved for our back-in-history glances and our future end-time dreams. But for today, we ignore this glaring omission and try our best to compensate for this loss by religious trappings. We need an upper-room experience of coming into one accord.
Not just within congregations but unity between different congregations is sorely lacking. In parts of our work churches compete against each other. And even those who don’t will seldom work with a sister church in the same town or city. For our churches in more remote areas, this may sound foreign. If this is not your church’s experience, praise God. However, there’s indisputable evidence that a lack of unity is more of the norm than the exception.
It took being on one accord before the early believers could receive the promised blessing of Holy Ghost power. Do we really believe that it will be different for us? Do we really believe that our witness for our Lord and Master Jesus Christ can be done without hearts full of love? Can we really claim to be abiding in our Savior’s love while at the same time not be in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:19-21
Perhaps this quarter as we study the early church and discuss how God took so little and did so much, we would pause and consider ourselves. Are we in a position to be used by God?
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does having Holy Ghost power look like?
- What does it mean to witness?
- Is witnessing a church congregation role, an individual role or both? Explain your answer.?
- What did the disciples see and experience about Jesus that they were to witness about?
- What does it mean to be on one accord?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The best-run church congregation (outreach/inreach/talents/resources/location) is the ideal way to witness to the world. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson with more evidence of the critical role that unity has in the church’s success for the gospel commission:
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:32-33
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons