July 8 - 14
Participants in Witnessing
THE PENTEL PEN, made in Japan, hit the market with only a minimal amount of advertising. Within a year, sales in one country alone soared to over 1.8 million dollars. Why? Word-of-mouth advertising. Business people, office workers, doctors, housewives, and anyone who used it advertised the pen by telling others about it.
So it is with the gospel. Once it has made a difference in our lives, we will always be looking for ways to tell others about it. Regardless of who we are or what we do, if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we are all, in a sense, ministers. In New Testament times, believers accepted the privileges and responsibilities related to witnessing. But "by the time of the Reformation the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers had been eroded by a hierarchical and priest-centered church. Luther's reaffirmation of the principle was a protest against clerical power." Rex D. Edwards, Every Believer a Minister (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press, 1979), p. 82. As you study this week's lesson, ask yourself, Has the gospel prospered because of my desire to share it with others?
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Clergy and Lay People (Acts 26:2-16; 1 Pet. 2:9).
II. Qualifications for Ministry (Acts 19:1-6; 2 Cor. 5:15-20).
III. Training for Ministry (Acts 19:8-10, 23-27).
IV. Working as Members of the Body (Acts 16:6-10; 18:22, 23).
V. Spiritual Gifts(Acts 5:12; 9:36; 12:5; 13:1-3; 19:11, 12; 20:28; 21:8, 9).
MEMORY TEXT: "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32, NKJV).
Review Acts 26:2-16 to determine at what point in his life God called Paul to minister for Him.
The Greek word for "ministry" is diakonia, giving the concept of "service" (see Acts 20:24; 21:19). Such ministry, or service, is the responsibility of all believers while "pastors and teachers" are "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry [service]" (Eph. 4:11, 12, NKJV).
How does 1 Peter 2:9 describe this concept of service?
The phrase "lay person" comes from the Greek word laos, meaning "people." Unfortunately, the phrase has taken on some negative meanings. It refers to a person who is not skilled in a certain profession. In the church, the implication is that lay persons have secondary status.
But it is not always easy to avoid this term. In many cases, the phrase "church member" or "believer" could replace the phrase "lay person."
The word "clergy" comes from the Greek kleros, meaning "lot," "part," or "portion." Many consider ordained ministers as separate from the "ordinary church members." They are thought of as that part of the body of Christ ordained to function exclusively as ministers. The term "clergy" suggests that a person belongs to that special category, the kleros, to whom alone God has entrusted a special portion of wisdom, power, and work.
But the distinction between "lay people" and "clergy" is not biblical. The Protestant Reformation insisted on the "priesthood of all believers." However, within this general ministry to which all believers are called, we recognize the particular service of deacons, elders, and pastors, who assume their responsibilities by the laying on of hands.
"Ministers should not do the work which belongs to the church, thus wearying themselves, and preventing others from performing their duty. They should teach the members how to labor in the church and in the community."Christian Service, p. 69.
What is "the work which belongs to the church"? What is your part in this work? Use the lines below to record your answer. ____________________________________________________________________
Explain the relationship that exists between the Holy Spirit and our qualifications for service. Acts 19:1-6.
What happened to this group of 12 Ephesians is similar to what happened to the people gathered in the upper. room (Acts 2:1-13). Just as the people in Jerusalem were amazed by the power of God's Holy Spirit, so were the people in Ephesus, where the goddess Artemis (Diana) reigned supreme. This event planted some of the seed that would help Ephesus become a center of Christianity for several hundred years.
"All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the gospel. All who receive the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men. For this work the church was established, and all who take upon themselves its sacred vows are thereby pledged to be co-workers with Christ."The Desire of Ages, p. 822.
According to 2 Corinthians 5:15-20, what ministry is the responsibility of all Christians?
God's purpose for a congregation is not to have only one minister with one hundred members supporting the minister's work. Instead, God calls pastors and teachers "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12, 13, NIV). In this way, we all become ministers. The entire congregation, with their leader, should be active in worship and ministry.
Church members will not be motivated to share the gospel if they believe this is the responsibility of the "official ministry." God expects everyone to participate in the extension of His kingdom according to the gifts assigned by the Holy Spirit.
Recall the days immediately after you were baptized and "pledged to be a co-worker with Christ." On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest, 10 the highest), how would you rate your experience now in comparison to your "first love"? (Rev. 2:4). If you are lower on the scale than you would like to be, what steps can you take to improve?
Paul offered some form of organized training in the school of Tyrannus, at Ephesus. What was the impact of the training that took place during two years? Acts 19:8-10, 23-27.
In order to equip the believers for ministry, the Lord has appointed local churches to be training centers. "Many would be willing to work if they were taught how to begin. They need to be instructed and encouraged. Every church should be a training school for Christian workers."Christian Service, p. 59.
"Christian ministers . . . have a broader work than many have recognized. They are not only to minister to the people, but to teach them to minister. They should not only give instruction in right principles, but educate their hearers to impart these principles.... Every church member should be engaged in some line of service for the Master."The Ministry of Healing, pp. 148, 149.
God told Paul to begin working for Him right away. Paul told those with whom he worked to do likewise. However, the reality in many of our churches is that "the members of the church, trained to rely upon preaching, do little for Christ; They bear no fruit, but rather increase in selfishness and unfaithfulness. They put their hope in the preacher and depend upon his efforts to keep alive their weak faith."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 434.
"That the burden may be distributed, an education must be given to the church by those who can teach the workers to follow Christ and to work as He worked."p. 435.
|In the right column of the chart below, rearrange the forms of training
listed in the left column according to your personal priorities. What steps
can you take to begin training in one of the top three you chose?
What motivated Paul to enter a new territory? Acts 16:6-10.
The Greek word for "help" used in verse 9 means "to run to the cry of those in danger." How were the people in Macedonia in danger?
"From a more modem viewpoint the appeal may be given an even wider interpretation by realizing that the man stands in Europe, and is calling Paul to enter that great continent with the gospel message. This is one of the crucial moments in history. Much of Europe's future depends on Paul's response to the appeal."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 327.
Many people today around the world and across the street are longing to have someone teach them about Christ. They are waiting for help to come. "Instead of keeping the ministers at work for the churches that already know the truth, let the members of the churches say to these laborers: 'Go work for souls that are perishing in darkness. We ourselves will carry forward the services of the church. We will keep up the meetings, and, by abiding in Christ, will maintain spiritual life. We will work for souls that are about us."'Christian Service, p. 171.
"If the proper instruction were given, if the proper methods were followed, every church member would do his work as a member of the body. He would do Christian missionary work. But the churches are dying, and they want a minister to preach unto them.... They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptized anew."Evangelism, p. 381.
What did Paul do in Caesarea? In Antioch? In Galatia and Phrygia? Acts 18:22, 23.
In some parts of the world, the average pastor will have ten to fifteen churches. Statistics show that in those areas where the ratio of pastor to member is higher (for example, one pastor for 1,000 members, in contrast to one pastor for 50 members), the church tends to grow faster. This is not to suggest that churches should not have pastors. Neither is it to suggest that the number of pastors in the field should be reduced. It simply indicates that the more members are involved in the work of the church, the more the church grows.
|How valid is the following reasoning: "I am giving my money so that the pastor will do the soul-winning and other 'ministerial duties"'? Rewrite this to reflect the concepts we have been studying this week.|
|DEFINITION: Spiritual gifts are special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to church members to enable them to help the church fulfill its divine mission. We find the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28-30; and Ephesians 4:7-12.|
The fact that there are many gifts suggests that each believer has an individual ministry to perform, a specific witness to give. But even though we receive our spiritual gifts on an individual basis, we all should be skilled in witnessing about our faith, sharing our beliefs, and sharing with others what God has done for us.
What two spiritual gifts were especially manifested in Antioch? Acts 13:1-3. Why were these gifts so important at this time in the church's history?
The prophets were preachers who traveled, sharing the gospel wherever they went. The teachers remained in the local churches to instruct converts. The list of men in verses 1-3 symbolizes the universality of the gospel. Paul and Barnabas were Jewish. Lucius came from Cyrene in North Africa. Simeon, also Jewish, was called by a Roman name, thus indicating certain ties with the Romans. And finally there was Manaen, who having been "brought up with Herod the tetrarch" (NIV), had rather noble connections.
What other spiritual gifts do the following passages from the book of Acts suggest?
5:12 __________________________ 19:11 ________________________
9:36 __________________________ 20:28 ________________________
|What is the most obvious spiritual gift in your life, and how are you using it? Acts 13:2, 3 tells us that Saul and Barnabas were set aside for the work to which God had called them. What has God asked you to set aside for Him?|
FURTHER STUDY: How do the following reflect the concept that we are all in a sense ministers of the gospel? 2 Kings 5:1-3; Mark 6:1-15; Luke 7:36-47; 21:1, 2. What other principles about witnessing can you learn from these texts?
Read the chapters in Ellen G. White's, Christian Service, "The Church a Training Center" pp. 58-63; and "Co-operation of Ministers and Laymen" pp. 67-71.
"Every soul is to minister. He is to use every physical, moral and mental power, through sanctification of the Spirit, that he may be a laborer together with God. All are bound to devote themselves actively and unreservedly to God's service. They are to cooperate with Jesus Christ in the great work of helping others. Christ died for every man.
"Ministry means not only the study of books and preaching. It means service."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1159.
SUMMARIZE in your own words the following concepts from this week's lesson: (1) Explain the difference between clergy and lay people (Acts 26:16; 1 Pet. 2:9). (2) When do members become ministers? (Acts 19:1-6). (3) Who should train church members for service? (Acts 19:8-10). (4) How can we best work together as the body of Christ? (Acts 16:6-10, 18-23). (5) Define spiritual gifts. State what their purpose is and list specific ones. Having learned this week that each one of us is a minister, what will you change about your life and your relationships?
J. H. Zachary
"Many workers have not received their salary for months," Svetlana Mukrukova reported during a Global Mission pioneer training pro-gram in Russia. "Sometimes employers send some wood, a chicken, or a dozen eggs as a token payment," she added. "But God has been so good to us!"
Svetlana's missionary partner, Galena Markova, is a nurse. She testified that until recently she could arrange for a substitute to work her Sabbath shifts. But this changed, and the administration began demanding that she work her assigned shifts. Instead of compromising her beliefs for the sake of a paycheck, she resigned from her job at the hospital. When she learned about the Global Mission pioneer program, she volunteered. Galena had made many friends among the patients while she worked at the hospital. Therefore she and Svetlana will return to this city to raise up a congregation there, starting with Galena's former patients.
Gradislava is a veteran Global Mission volunteer. She reported how she and her husband had planted one church in 1997. "We went from home to home selling books. Even though few have the money to buy, I make friends with the people and tell them the wonderful messages our books contain." On market days she displays her books on a small table. Because of the economy, she does not sell many, but her table attracts browsers who listen as she shares the gospel with them.
Using these simple methods Gradislava has begun studying the Bible with 20 persons and is nurturing friendships with another 30. She reported that within six months she and her husband will see a second church planted in their area.
These volunteers do not enter the Global Mission pioneer program for the pay. Although Global Mission provides a small stipend for its pioneers, it barely covers the barest necessities. In the program in which these women are part, the North Pacific Union Conference and The Quiet Hour send evangelistic teams to conduct harvest meetings and organize the new congregations that the pioneers have planted. Currently more than 200 lay persons are church planting in formerly unentered cities in the countries that make up the Euro-Asia Division.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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