- The first missionary. The resurrection of Jesus is still a recent memory, but early Christians of Jewish background were rapidly joining Gentile Christians to establish a worldwide mission. What is most amazing about the zeal of our early Christian ancestors? Imagine listening in on an early Christian who is excited about answering the call. What was it like to respond to the “Great Commission” in those days? Do we have less excitement to deal with today?
- A family event. Have you noticed how many relatives were involved in the early Christian church? Brothers and cousins and no doubt sisters and uncles, aunts, and others joined in establishing the Christian church as if it were a family activity. Was it? Does your family participate in church activities or sponsor programs to reach others? Could it? Should it?
- Cyprus. Imagine drawing a map on a table to decide where to go first in proclaiming the gospel. Does your church or church family ever draw maps–or pull them from the web–to help decide where to go and what to offer the people in the places so defined? What were some advantages of beginning the church’s early work in Cyprus. What work did Barnabas, Paul, and John Mark launch in Cyprus and other chosen cities? Suppose two churches are within driving distance, one of them in a hilly region with a low population level, and another just a couple of hours away in a bustling metropolitan area. How would you set your evangelism goals?
- A key sermon. Have you ever longed to hear a sermon that established the priorities for reaching people in your part of the world? A sermon of about 40 verses isn’t long, but was Paul’s first sermon long enough to cover what he needed to say to his congregation? What were his key points? What did he emphasize about the role of the law in our salvation? If the law can’t justify us, what can it do? And how can we be justified?
- Failure of the law to save. You no doubt believe in the importance of the law of God in our salvation. But does the law save us? Why or why not? The laws of Judaism weren’t always easy for members of the early congregation to accept. How did those laws affect their concept of salvation? Why was it such a huge relief for the early church to learn from the apostles that being Jewish was not a requirement for salvation? How do Christians today feel about laws of circumcision? What do you think?
- A remnant chosen by grace. Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, declared Paul. How did Paul suggest that believers relate to Jewish people who hadn’t yet accepted the Christian way?
- They just left, that’s all. In Antioch there was quite an uprising against the teachings of Paul and Barnabas. Why? Have you ever wondered how Paul and Barnabas found out about the plots against them? How did they respond? Why didn’t they sit down with the Jewish leaders and talk it out?
- Embarrassed and almost killed. What embarrassing situation almost ended Paul’s life? Why do you suppose the onlookers thought that Paul had been stoned to death? Before that, what opinion did many members of the local community have of Paul?
- Tribulation before salvation. How should we feel if we are misunderstood, scorned, criticized and even condemned for our beliefs we have accepted from the Scriptures? Will some (or most) of the faithful who will see Jesus come and go to heaven with Him, be persecuted or in other ways suffer for their beliefs? What can we do to prepare for such opposition?
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons