Lesson 4

July 15 - 21

The Recipients of Witnessing

Sabbath Afternoon   July 15

WHEN WE GIVE OUR HEARTS TO GOD. Notice our memory text for this week. Those of the Hebrew faith heard the first Christian sermon (Acts 2:5, 14). Why do you think this was so?

Then the gospel expanded to Samaria. As Jesus predicted (Matt. 16:17-19), Peter played a major role in opening the doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles. Following God's directions, he entered a Gentile's house, something unthinkable for a Jewish person (Acts 10:28). From there, the gospel was well on its way to "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NIV).

In St. Paul's Cathedral, General Gordon's epitaph reads as follows:  "He gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, his heart to God." When we give our hearts to God, we, too, will witness to many different types of people. As you study this week's lesson, pray that God will show you to which end of the earth He would like you to go, even if it is just around the corner or down the hail!


    I. Civil Authorities (Acts 4:1-7; 6:7; 13:6, 7).

  II. Receptive People (Acts 10).

III. Children (Mark 10:13-16; Prov. 22:6).

 IV. Intellectuals (Acts 17:16-34).

  V. Animists and Non-Christians (Acts 8:9-19; 19:18-20).

MEMORY TEXT: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NKJV). 

Sunday  July 16

CIVIL AUTHORITIES (Acts 4:1-7; 6:7; 13:6, 7).

Before whom were Peter and John asked to testify? Acts 4:1-7.  

The question, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" (v. 7) gave Peter a chance to testify to this group about the power of Jesus (4:8-12). Surely he remembered that Jesus had said, "You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony" (Luke 21:12, 13).

Read each of the following passages. Why would the main characters in them have been considered among the "hard to reach"?

Acts 6:7  _____________________________________________________

8:26-39  ______________________________________________________

13:6-12  ______________________________________________________  

People in "worldly" positions of authority and leadership also need the gospel. "It requires moral courage for them to take their position for Christ. Special efforts should be made for these souls, who are in so great danger, because of their responsibilities and associations."—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 139, 140.

"The intelligent, the refined, are altogether too much passed by. The hook is not baited to catch this class, and ways and methods are not prayerfully devised to reach them with truth that is able to make them wise unto salvation. Most generally the fashionable, the wealthy, the proud, understand by experience that happiness is not to be secured by the amount of money that they possess, or by costly edifices, and ornamental furniture and pictures. They want something they have not. . . They need Jesus, the light of righteousness."—Evangelism, p. 556.

Philippians 4:22 suggests that the people in Caesar's household who became Christians remained there to work. What harm might have occurred if they had tried to leave? What might they have been able to accomplish by staying?  

In Evangelism, page 255, Ellen G. White says that those in the upper socioeconomic classes "are attracted toward each other, and it is hard to find access to them." This being true, list certain methods of witnessing to these classes that would be more appropriate than others. Why would these methods be more effective? How can your church, and you personally, become involved in some of these methods?  

Monday  July 17


How did Luke characterize Cornelius in Acts 10:1-35?  

The story in Acts 10 is remarkable because it is a story of crumbling cultural barriers that kept the gospel from spreading.

As a centurion in the Roman military, Cornelius would have been in charge of 100 soldiers. Soldiers in the Italian Regiment were famous for their spirit and courage. He was what people called a God-fearer—a Gentile who was strongly attracted to the high moral and ethical standards of the Hebrew faith and its belief in one God. God-fearers worshiped Jehovah God and followed the Jewish law to the best of their abilities but had not taken the more radical step of becoming converts through circumcision. At that time, God-fearers were by far the most receptive Gentiles to the gospel.

According to Acts 10:30, Cornelius was fasting and praying.  What do you think Cornelius might have prayed?  

In following God's directions, Peter entered a Gentile's house, something unthinkable for a Hebrew (Acts 10:28). "The love of God, sanctifying the soul, breaks down the wall of partition between the customs and practices of different individuals and nations. The great principles of Bible truth bring all into perfect harmony."—Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, November 3, 1885, p. 559.

"God-fearers" were good prospects. People like Cornelius should be in our prospect files. All churches should have a prospect file. People who have already had some contact with the church are usually "Class A" prospects. "Class B" prospects are those related to members, interests discovered by literature evangelists, people who have already attended church services, evangelistic meetings, etc. "Class C" prospects are people who may respond to your approaches. According to the Church Manual, 1995 edition, page 80, each church should have an "Interest Coordinator," who is a member of the church board. (See Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual [Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1995])..

Why would God have chosen Cornelius to be among the first notable converts from the Gentiles? What cultural barriers in your part of the world need to come down for the gospel to spread? How is it possible to eliminate these barriers without making enemies and in such a way that people will still be attracted to the gospel?  Explain.  

Tuesday  July 18

CHILDREN (Mark 10:13-16; Prov. 22:6).

What does Jesus' reaction to the disciples in Mark 10:13-16 tell us about the importance of witnessing to children?  What was it about Jesus that made parents want to bring their children to Him?  

Based on the matters over which He displayed displeasure, we know what mattered to Jesus the most. He never became angry when people were personally abusing Him—not even when He was exposed to the cruelest of capital punishments. But when the flames of injustice licked around the feet of the most vulnerable members of society, He was swift to make His feelings known.

The disciples attempted to keep the children away from Jesus. How do we do so today? We may hinder the children when we fail to take positive action regarding any given situation they are in or by setting a bad example. Children need to feel important and loved. But when other interests concern us more than their welfare, we are keeping them from Jesus. We also hinder them from knowing Jesus when we neglect their religious training.

Why is it important to educate children in the ways of God?  Prov. 22:6.  

"In the way he should go. Literally . . . 'according to his [the child's] way.' The verse. . . counsels parents to learn the way in which their particular child can be expected to be of most service to himself and others, and in which he will find most happiness."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1020.

The family and the church have a great responsibility toward children. "The lessons that the child learns during the first seven years of life have more to do with forming character than all that it learns in future years."—Child Guidance, p. 193.

Many studies in the field of character and moral development have verified the above quote. Researchers Robert Peck and Robert Havighurst, along with their co-workers, collected data over a period of seven years. Two of their general findings maintain that the home is the most important influence on moral development and that character is largely developed by the age of 10, if not before.

What could be improved in your church regarding the evangelization of children?  List at least three children you know personally.  How can you help lead them to Christ?  

Wednesday  July 19

INTELLECTUALS (Acts 17:16-34).

During Paul's time, Athens was a great university town. In addition, it boasted many statues to false gods. While there, Paul, as always, witnessed to the Hebrew people. He also went daily to the marketplace seeking for an opportunity to testify (Acts 17:17). Among those who met and talked with Paul were the Epicureans and the Stoics (v. 18), representatives of two popular philosophies. The Epicureans believed that the highest "pleasure" in life was to obtain freedom from superstition and pain. The Stoics believed that thinking was more important than feeling. A very disciplined group of people, they attempted to restrict, in rather harsh ways, their desires for pleasure.

How did Paul address these intellectuals so they would appreciate and understand his message? What six points did his sermon make? Acts 17:22-31.

1. ___________________________  4. __________________________

2. ___________________________  5. __________________________

3. ___________________________  6. __________________________  

Witnessing to these trained thinkers was not easy. A basic assumption of Greek philosophy was that humans could find truth in themselves, so revelation from outside a person was unnecessary. Following a sound principle of witnessing, Paul preached to the Athenians in terms they could understand. That he showed an understanding of Stoic ideas (v. 28) is not to say that he accepted these ideas. He was communicating in a language meaningful in their culture.

What were the results of this sermon? Verses 32-34.  

"In their pride of intellect and human wisdom may be found the reason why the gospel message met with comparatively little success among the Athenians. The worldly-wise men who come to Christ as poor lost sinners, will become wise unto salvation; but those who come as distinguished men, extolling their own wisdom, will fail of receiving the light and knowledge that He alone can give."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 240.

How can you personally witness to an educated person you know? 

Thursday  July 20

ANIMISTS AND NON-CHRISTIANS (Acts 8:9-19; 19:18-20).

DEFINITION: Animism is the belief that life is produced by a spiritual force apart from matter. It promotes the role of ghosts, nature gods, and ancestral spirits. Animists do not deny God. But they see God permeating all natural phenomena.

How did Simon seek to manipulate God's power?  Acts 8:9-19  

A true Christian approaches God in an attitude of submission and worship. Christians demonstrate that a transformation has taken place by accepting the lordship of Jesus Christ, by being willing to obey the creator God, and by developing a personal relationship with Him.

The Bible recognizes the reality and power of Satan and demons (Acts 19:14-16). But those who trust in the Lord should not be afraid of their power (James 4:7; Rom. 8:38, 39; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 John 3:8).

The Bible clearly forbids such related practices as witchcraft, magic, divination, astrology, and communication with spirits (Lev. 19:31; 20:27; Deut. 4:19; 18:10-13; Isa. 8:19, 20; 47:13-15; Jer. 10:2).

Through what public act did the Ephesians demonstrate that they were cutting their ties with the forces of evil?  Acts 19:18-20.  

Proclaiming the gospel to non-Christians can be difficult, as the apostles discovered (Acts 14:11-18; 19:23-28). But Christians can confront non-Christian beliefs with the truth of the gospel by demonstrating in their own lives the transforming power of the true God.

List at least three people you know who are non-Christians. Then think of how you can witness on an individual basis to each one. Take into account each person's needs, desires, and interests.  






Friday July 21

FURTHER STUDY:  : Review Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 16:6-10, and Acts 10. Explain how these texts are related.

Read any or all of the following: The Acts of the Apostles, "A Seeker for Truth" pp. 131-142; "Berea and Athens" pp. 231-242; "Preaching Among the Heathen" pp. 177-187; Evangelism, "Laboring for Special Classes" pp. 552-588; Child Guidance, "Arousing the Spiritual Powers" pp. 471-502; "Laboring for Special Classes" pp. 552-554.  

"Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs."—Christian Service, p. 119.

1. Bar-Jesus was a sorcerer (Acts 13:6).  What modern terms could we use to describe him today?  How is such activity expressing itself in your part of the world?  
2. Paul and Silas suffered much as a result of the encounter with the spirit in Philippi (Acts 16:16-24).  Why?  What do you find most notable about Paul and Silas's reaction?  How can their reaction encourage you today?  
3. Paul generally preached first in the synagogue when he evangelized a new city such as Corinth.  Why was this a good strategy?  
4. In this week's lesson, we studied five different groups to whom we need to witness.  Name other groups that are especially prominent in your part of the world.  What are their special characteristics and needs? Based on these, think of ways to witness to them that would be most effective.  

SUMMARIZE how you would witness to the following types of people:  (1) civil authorities (Acts 4:1-7; 6:7; 13:6, 7); (2) receptive people (Acts 10); (3) children (Mark 10:13-16; Prov. 22:6); (4) intellectuals (Acts 17:16-34); (5) animists and non-Christians (Acts 8:9-11, 18, 19; 19:18-20). Consider your own range of influence. To which of these groups do you think you could be the most helpful? Why? Plan how you can start actively witnessing to someone.  

A Shepherd and a Hymnal

Chen Zhe Shen

The Miao people live as farmers and shepherds in the mountains of southwest China.

Pan often entertained himself by singing as he tended his sheep. One day as he walked the mountain path toward the city, he passed a building and heard singing. He stopped to listen, and someone invited him in. The building was an Adventist church.

Someone gave Pan a hymnal, and that gift changed his life. Pan taught himself to read so he could learn the hymns. When he found a word he didn't know he circled it and later asked someone what the word meant. Pan literally sang himself into the Adventist Church.

One day Pan was so engrossed in a gospel tract that he forgot about the sheep. When he looked up the sheep were gone! Pan began searching for the sheep. The sky grew dark with rain clouds, and still Pan had not found the sheep. How could I let my sheep wander away? he chastened himself.

Then Pan remembered that God knows everything. He knelt and prayed, "Lord, have mercy on me. Help me find my sheep." When he opened his eyes the dark clouds had gone and he was surrounded by his flock of sheep. Not one was missing! Pan returned to the village and eagerly told others what had happened.

Pan's faith in God grew, and he was baptized. He loved to share his faith with others, and the Adventist church encouraged him to study theology and become a pastor. But Pan ran into difficulties at the government-operated seminary. Students teased him about worshiping on the Sabbath and refusing to eat pork. Teachers often gave tests on Sabbath, and Pan's Sabbath absences from class eventually led to his dismissal. But God provided a way for him to continue attending classes. He never received a diploma for his work at the seminary, but Pan knew that Jesus' disciples had no diplomas either.

Pan returned to his mountain home and started preaching. He established many house churches among the Miao villages. Hundreds have been baptized because of his witness. Attendance at Adventist churches in his village has grown to more than 1,200. Some believers must leave their homes in neighboring villages at 4:00 a.m. to arrive at church by 8:00.

God has a million ways to reach the hearts of searching souls. For Pan it was a love for music and a church hymnal that led him to Christ.

Chen Zhe Shen Is a Regional Field Secretary of the Chinese Union Mission.

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