Lesson 9 August 19 - 25

Church Life and Witnessing

Memory Text: (Acts 9:31 NIV) Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

"Scripture from the NEW KINGS JAMES VERSION" Copyright © 1982: Used by permission


Sabbath Afternoon

(Acts 2:47 NKJV) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.



Characteristics Of Christian Groups

(Acts 2:42-47 NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. {43} Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. {44} Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, {45} and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. {46} So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, {47} praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

(Luke 24:53 NKJV) and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

(John 12:6 NKJV) This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

(John 13:29 NKJV) For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.


A Peculiar Lifestyle

(Acts 1:14 NKJV) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

(Acts 2:42 NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

(Acts 2:44 NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

The Acts of the Apostles, p. 90

To the early church had been entrusted a constantly enlarging work--that of establishing centers of light and blessing wherever there were honest souls willing to give themselves to the service of Christ. The proclamation of the gospel was to be world-wide in its extent, and the messengers of the cross could not hope to fulfill their important mission unless they should remain united in the bonds of Christian unity, and thus reveal to the world that they were one with Christ in God. Had not their divine Leader prayed to the Father, "Keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are"? And had He not declared of His disciples, "The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world"? Had He not pleaded with the Father that they might be "made perfect in one," "that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me"? John 17:11, 14, 23, 21. Their spiritual life and power was dependent on a close connection with the One by whom they had been commissioned to preach the gospel. {AA 90.1}

Only as they were united with Christ could the disciples hope to have the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit and (p. 91) the co-operation of angels of heaven. With the help of these divine agencies they would present before the world a united front and would be victorious in the conflict they were compelled to wage unceasingly against the powers of darkness. As they should continue to labor unitedly, heavenly messengers would go before them, opening the way; hearts would be prepared for the reception of truth, and many would be won to Christ. So long as they remained united, the church would go forth "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." Song of Solomon 6:10. Nothing could withstand her onward progress. The church would advance from victory to victory, gloriously fulfilling her divine mission of proclaiming the gospel to the world. {AA 90.2}

(Acts 11:26 NKJV) And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

(Acts 9:2 NKJV) and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

(Acts 19:23 NKJV) And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.

(Acts 24:14 NKJV) "But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.

The Acts of the Apostles, p. 158

The believers at Antioch realized that God was willing to work in their lives "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13. Living, as they were, in the midst of a people who seemed to care but little for the things of eternal value, they sought to arrest the attention of the honest in heart, and to bear positive testimony concerning Him whom they loved and served. In their humble ministry they learned to depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit to make effective the word of life. And so, in the various walks of life, they daily bore testimony of their faith in Christ. {AA 158.1}

The example of the followers of Christ at Antioch should be an inspiration to every believer living in the great cities of the world today. While it is in the order of God that chosen workers of consecration and talent should be stationed in important centers of population to lead out in public efforts, it is also His purpose that the church members living in these cities shall use their God-given talents in working for souls. There are rich blessings in store for those who surrender fully to the call of God.

The Acts of the Apostles, p. 158 (continued)

As such workers endeavor to win souls to Jesus, they will find that many who never could have been reached in any other way are ready to respond to intelligent personal effort. {AA 158.2}

The cause of God in the earth today is in need of living representatives of Bible truth. The ordained ministers alone are not equal to the task of warning the great cities. God is calling not only upon ministers, but also upon physicians, nurses, colporteurs, Bible workers, and other consecrated laymen of varied talent who have a knowledge of (p. 159) the word of God and who know the power of His grace, to consider the needs of the unwarned cities. Time is rapidly passing, and there is much to be done. Every agency must be set in operation, that present opportunities may be wisely improved. {AA 158.3}


Prayer Meeting

(Acts 12:5 NKJV) Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

(Luke 22:44 NKJV) And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

(1 Pet 4:8 NKJV) And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."

(Acts 12:13-17 NKJV) And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. {14} When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. {15} But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel." {16} Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. {17} But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.

Christian Service, pp. 211 - 214

Chap. 22 - The Prayer And Missionary Meeting Secret of Effectual Prayer The upbuilding of the kingdom of God is retarded or urged forward according to the unfaithfulness or fidelity of human agencies. The work is hindered by the failure of the human to co-operate with the divine. Men may pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven"; but if they fail of acting out this prayer in their lives, their petitions will be fruitless.--Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 437, 438. {ChS 211.1}

Devotional Exercises in the Balance All heaven is looking upon the inhabitants of the earth. The angels and the God of heaven are looking upon those who claim to be Christians, and weighing their devotional exercises.--Australasian Signs of the Times, June 22, 1903. {ChS 211.2}

Making the Meetings Interesting Let the missionary meeting be turned to account in teaching the people how to do missionary work.--Appeal to Our Churches, p. 11. {ChS 211.3}

Our prayer and social meetings should be seasons of special help and encouragement. Each one has a work to do to make these gatherings as interesting and profitable as possible. This can best be done by having a fresh experience daily in the things of God, and by not hesitating to speak of His love in the assemblies of His people. If you allow no darkness or unbelief to enter your hearts, they will not be manifest in your meetings.--Southern Watchman, March 7, 1905. {ChS 211.4}

Christian Service, pp. 211 - 214 (continued)

Our meetings should be made intensely interesting. They should be pervaded with the very atmosphere of heaven. Let there be no long, dry speeches and formal prayers, merely for the sake of occupying the time. All should be ready to act their part with promptness, and when their duty is done, the meeting should be closed. Thus the interest (p. 212) will be kept up to the last. This is offering to God acceptable worship. His service should be made interesting and attractive, and not be allowed to degenerate into a dry form. We must live for Christ minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day; then Christ will dwell in us, and when we meet together, His love will be in our hearts, welling up like a spring in the desert, refreshing all, and making those who are ready to perish, eager to drink of the waters of life. --Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 609. {ChS 211.5}

Do not imagine that you can arouse the interest of the young by going to the missionary meeting and preaching a long sermon. Plan ways whereby a live interest may be aroused. From week to week the young should bring in their reports, telling what they have tried to do for the Saviour, and what success has been theirs. If the missionary meeting were made an occasion for bringing in such reports, it would not be dull, tedious, and uninteresting. It would be full of interest, and there would be no lack of attendance.--Gospel Workers, pp. 210, 211. {ChS 212.1}

When faith lays hold upon Christ, the truth will bring delight to the soul, and the services of religion will not be dull and uninteresting. Your social meetings, now tame and spiritless, will be vitalized by the Holy Spirit; daily you will have a rich experience as you practice the Christianity you profess.--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 437. {ChS 212.2}

Testimony of Personal Experience As followers of Christ we should make our words such as to be a help and an encouragement to one another in the Christian life. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience.--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 338. {ChS 212.3}

The church needs the fresh, living experience of members who have habitual communion with God. Dry, stale testimonies and prayers, without the manifestation of Christ in them, are no help to the people. If every one who claims to be a child of God were filled with faith and light and life, what a wonderful witness would be given to those (p. 213) who come to hear the truth! And how many souls might be won to Christ!--Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 64. {ChS 212.4}

Our confession of His faithfulness is Heaven's chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge His grace as made known through the holy men of old; but that which will be most effectual is the testimony of our own experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked with our own individuality. These precious acknowledgments to the praise of the glory of His grace, when supported by a Christlike life, have an irresistible power, that works for the salvation of souls.--The Ministry of Healing, p. 100. {ChS 213.1}

Praise and Thanksgiving To praise God in fulness and sincerity of heart is as much a duty as is prayer. We are to show to the world and to all the heavenly intelligences that we appreciate the wonderful love of God for fallen humanity, and that we are expecting larger and yet larger blessings from His infinite fulness. . . . After a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, our joy in the Lord and our efficiency in His service would be greatly increased by recounting His goodness and His wonderful works in behalf of His children. These exercises drive back the power of Satan. They expel the spirit of murmuring and complaint, and the tempter loses ground. They cultivate those attributes of character which will fit the dwellers on earth for the heavenly mansions. Such a testimony will have an influence upon others. No more effective means can be employed for winning souls to Christ.--Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 299, 300. {ChS 213.2}

The Lord desires us to make mention of His goodness and tell of His power. He is honored by the expression of praise and thanksgiving. He says, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me." The people of Israel, as they journeyed through the wilderness, praised God in sacred song. The (p. 214) commandments and promises of the Lord were set to music, and all along the journey these were sung by the)pilgrim travelers. And in Canaan, as they met at their sacred feasts, God's wonderful works were to be recounted, and grateful thanksgiving offered to His name. God desired that the whole life of His people should be a life of praise.--Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 298, 299. {ChS 213.3}

Christian Service, pp. 211 - 214 (continued)

A Dangerous Policy Some, fearing they will suffer loss of earthly treasure, neglect prayer and the assembling of themselves together for the worship of God, that they may have more time to devote to their farms or their business. They show by their works which world they place the highest estimate upon. They sacrifice religious privileges, which are essential to their spiritual advancement, for the things of this life, and fail to obtain a knowledge of the divine will. They come short of perfecting Christian character, and do not meet the measurement of God. They make their temporal, worldly interests first, and rob God of the time which they should devote to His service. Such persons God marks, and they will receive a curse, rather than a blessing.-- Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 654. {ChS 214.1}

A Comforting Promise God will remember those who have met together and thought upon His name, and He will spare them from the great conflagration. They will be as precious jewels in His sight.--Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 107. {ChS 214.2}


Boldness In Witnessing

(Luke 24:50-53 NKJV) And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. {51} Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. {52} And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, {53} and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

(Acts 4:23-30 NKJV) And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. {24} So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, {25} "who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 'Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? {26} The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.' {27} "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together {28} "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. {29} "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, {30} "by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

(Acts 8:14-15 NKJV) Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, {15} who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 50 - 51

The lapse of time has wrought no change in Christ's parting promise to send the Holy Spirit as His representative. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If the fulfillment of the promise is not seen as it might be, it is because the promise is not appreciated as it should be. If all were willing, all would be filled with the Spirit. Wherever the need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Whenever minor matters occupy the attention, the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in infinite plenitude. {AA 50.1}

Since this is the means by which we are to receive power, why do we not hunger and thirst for the gift of the Spirit? Why do we not talk of it, pray for it, and preach concerning it?

The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 50 - 51 (continued)

The Lord is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who serve Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. For the daily baptism of the Spirit every worker should offer his petition to God. Companies of Christian workers should gather to ask for special help, for heavenly wisdom, that they may know how to plan and execute wisely. Especially should they pray that God will baptize (p. 51) His chosen ambassadors in mission fields with a rich measure of His Spirit. The presence of the Spirit with God's workers will give the proclamation of truth a power that not all the honor or glory of the world could give. {AA 50.2}

With the consecrated worker for God, in whatever place he may be, the Holy Spirit abides. The words spoken to the disciples are spoken also to us. The Comforter is ours as well as theirs. The Spirit furnishes the strength that sustains striving, wrestling souls in every emergency, amidst the hatred of the world, and the realization of their own failures and mistakes. In sorrow and affliction, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone,--these are the times when, in answer to the prayer of faith, the Holy Spirit brings comfort to the heart. {AA 51.1}

It is not a conclusive evidence that a man is a Christian because he manifests spiritual ecstasy under extraordinary circumstances. Holiness is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God; it is living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father; it is trusting God in trial, in darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting in His love. {AA 51.2}

It is not essential for us to be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Spirit is the Comforter, "the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father." It is plainly declared regarding the Holy Spirit that, in His work of guiding men into all truth, "He shall not speak of Himself." John 15:26; 16:13. (p.52) {AA 51.3}

Read Acts chapter 4


Christ-Centered Preaching

(Acts 2:22-24 NKJV) "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know; {23} "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; {24} "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

(Acts 2:32-33 NKJV) "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. {33} "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

(Acts 2:36 NKJV) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

(Acts 2:38 NKJV) Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 4:12 NKJV) "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

(Acts 16:31 NKJV) So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

(Acts 22:16 NKJV) 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

(Rom 1:13 NKJV) Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.

(1 John 1:7 NKJV) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

(2 Cor 5:17 NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

(John 14:15 NKJV) "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

(Gal 5:16-26 NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. {17} For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. {18} But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. {19} Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, {20} idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, {21} envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. {22} But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. {24} And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. {25} If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. {26} Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

(Rev 21:27 NKJV) But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.


(Mal 3:8-10 NKJV) "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. {9} You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

(Mark 12:41-44 NKJV) Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. {42} Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. {43} So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; {44} "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."

(2 Cor 8:1-7 NKJV) Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: {2} that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.

{2 Cor 8:3-7} For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, {4} imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. {5} And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. {6} So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. {7} But as you abound in everything; in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us; see that you abound in this grace also.

Testimonies to Ministers & Gospel Workers, pp. 15 - 32(not included with lesson help)

The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 335 - 345 (not included with lesson help)

Testimonies to Ministers, p. 50

God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that His church may be one as He was one with His Father will finally be answered. The rich dowry of the Holy Spirit will be given, and through its constant supply to the people of God they will become witnesses in the world of the power of God unto salvation. {TM 50.1}

There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places; and for any man to call the attention of the world and other churches to this church, denouncing her as Babylon, is to do a work in harmony with him who is the accuser of the brethren. Is it possible that men will arise from among us, who speak perverse things, and give voice to the very sentiments that Satan would have disseminated in the world in regard to those (p. 51) who keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus? Is there not work enough to satisfy your zeal in presenting the truth to those who are in the darkness of error? As those who have been made stewards of means and ability, you have been misapplying your Lord's goods in disseminating error. The whole world is filled with hatred of those who proclaim the binding claims of the law of God, and the church who are loyal to Jehovah must engage in no ordinary conflict. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Those who have any realization of what this warfare means will not turn their weapons against the church militant, but with all their powers will wrestle with the people of God against the confederacy of evil. {TM 50.2}