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Today we visit the Museum of Discipleship. We’ll take a stroll through the displays showcasing the legends of the gospel proclamation. Each room houses priceless treasures belonging to the heirs of salvation. Of particular interest today will be our visit to the Discipling the Nations gallery.
You’ll notice, as we make our way to our destination, the various hallways of honor. The Wall of Courage contains many of our Bible heroes. Joshua, David, Gideon, Moses, Joseph, Paul and Noah are just a few of those who served and witnessed for God with courage and honor during difficult times.
We’ll also pass by the Wall of Women of Valor. There we will see Mary the mother of Jesus as well as Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, Ruth, Abigail and, of course, Queen Esther and many more. Women have always played important roles in the spreading of the gospel and providing leadership when leadership was most desperately needed.
You’ll notice as we get further into the center of the museum an increase in the brightness of the lights. It’s the purest light found anywhere. To some it’s blinding, and to others it removes the scales that have blinded their eyes. The throbbing you feel as we enter this prized area we like to call the Heartbeat of the Gospel.
Here you’ll find the life of Christ on full display. His sinless life attesting to the power of faith and obedience to God is plain to see. A special section on His compassion showing how He has been touched with the feelings of our infirmity revealing His interactions with men to lighten their burdens. The Salvation area is breathtaking. It shows with great clarity the price it took to rescue man. Pay special attention to the eternal risk that was taken by the Son of God.
We could spend all of our time here but we want to cover the early church of Acts where members served as role models for the Discipling the Nations display. No other period in the existence of the church is so full of instructions for evangelizing the world.
This gallery is divided into two main sections; the life of the early church members, and their message. Notice the placard above this section that reads “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
Here you’ll find outlined the principles that shaped and influenced the early church which were key to its success.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. John 17:21-23
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:44-47
Note how the striving for greatness had been removed from their desires. Each only wanted what was best for the other, and this shift in their thinking allowed the Holy Spirit to do for them things they could have never done for themselves.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. Acts 2:14-17
The Scriptures was their foundation. No cunningly devised fables. Eloquence and learning stood subservient to the wisdom and power of the Word of God. It was a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their paths.
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. For the promise is, to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. Acts 2:38, 39
Side issues were just that – side issues. The prominence of their message was Jesus the Christ, the Saviour from sin. Paul said it best when he wrote these words to the church at Corinth, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. Every other truth found its center in Christ. The truth and power of Christ’s words “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” John12:32, was the focus of the early church’s message.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:5, 6
Theirs was no exclusionary gospel. To whomsoever would accept it the invitation was given. Christ had broken down the wall of caste, rank and race. He invited those that dwelt in the shadows of society as well as those that feasted on life’s best. There was no more Jew or Gentile, male or female. The early church got this.
The inspired gospel writer Ellen White sums up this experience beautifully. Speaking of the early church she writes,
“They could speak the name of Jesus with assurance; for was He not their Friend and Elder Brother? Brought into close communion with Christ, they sat with Him in heavenly places. With what burning language they clothed their ideas as they bore witness for Him! Their hearts were surcharged with a benevolence so full, so deep, so far-reaching, that it impelled them to go to the ends of the earth, testifying to the power of Christ. They were filled with an intense longing to carry forward the work He had begun. They realized the greatness of their debt to heaven and the responsibility of their work. Strengthened by the endowment of the Holy Spirit, they went forth filled with zeal to extend the triumphs of the cross. The Spirit animated them and spoke through them. The peace of Christ shone from their faces. They had consecrated their lives to Him for service, and their very features bore evidence to the surrender they had made.” Acts of the Apostles, pg 46
Well, our visit must come to a close now. You might like to know that they’re building a new wing for the church of 2014. Perhaps they’ll share your story there one day.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does “Discipling the Nations” mean to you?
- Is it true that the church’s financial resources will determine the success of its evangelistic efforts? Explain your answer.
- What does unity mean to you?
- Do you agree that the primary responsibility for evangelism falls with those who are paid to evangelize? Why or why not?
- What would a church be like/act like/interact like if its message was fully Christ-centered?
- Does the lack of personal piety of the members diminish the effectiveness of the witness?
We close this week with the gospel commission of Jesus Christ. It’s as relevant today as it was when given thousands of years ago:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
[Thought questions for Discipling the Nations March 5, 2014]
1. “My house…of prayer for all nations.” When you find a place in your church this Sabbath for the worship service, will you think of yourself being in a “house of all nations”? How do the intense efforts of the evil one to separate us from one another in every possible way give proof to God’s far-reaching plan to draw us together in love for Him? How could it be that God’s chosen people could be so sure the gospel was, first and foremost, for them? Are we tempted in these last centuries to have a similar attitude towards the Second Coming?
2. The prophets foretold the plan. Why didn’t the prophecies, stated so many times in so many ways, come true that the nations of the world would seek salvation from the Children of Israel? What was the key problem? (Hint: where should they have been looking? Where were they looking instead?) Do we have the same lack of focus today? Have we already suffered consequences as a result? Explain.
3. Asleep or awake? Our lesson author notes that Christ wanted His people to “wake up.” Wake up to what? How severe did God tell us that the penalty would be for not sharing the wonderful blessings of salvation with those of other cultures? See Matthew 11:20 to 24. What was the utmost desire of the Greek worshippers joining the Jewish people for Passover? What was Jesus’ response to their quest?
4. Breaking down barriers. Has God raised up a people who love Him supremely and do not permit barriers of race, culture, or language to separate them from any of His creation? If not, why not? Why do those barriers still persist in alienating us from those with whom God yearns to share eternity? Imagine walking down an empty street and coming across the writhing body of a person in agony. Nobody else is nearby. What would you do? What does God expect of us in circumstances like this? 05. The Great Commission.
5. The Great Commission. With the earth’s population growing so fast, is it feasible for ordinary people like you and me to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to everyone? Suppose you could calculate that it is a physical impossibility to do so. Would that stop you from dedicating your life to sharing the good news of the gospel to others? Have you ever been an overseas missionary? Or do you know someone who has left familiar culture comforts to help spread the gospel abroad? What can you and I do to encourage cross-cultural witnessing?
6. About money. Do you believe in the message our church proclaims to the extent that you give to support the worldwide missions programs of our church? How do you explain the fact that churches with a strong record of missions support are also more successful in reaching their church’s other goals? Should we be looking for opportunities to encourage more support of missions in our churches and schools?
Current lesson of the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of the Hope Sabbath School “Discipling the Sick” is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site.
Key Thought : We need to join Christ in overturning the racial, ethnic, and language barriers that hinder the gospel presentation..
[Lesson plan for Discipling the Nations March 3, 2014]
1. Have a volunteer read Luke 4:25-30.
a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. What was Jesus saying here that made the Jews in the synagogue so angry with Him?
c. Personal Application: Why is it easier to focus on our differences with others rather than our similarities? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why would God send Elijah to a Gentile rather than to a woman of Israel? Was this an outreach tactic, or wasn’t there any women of faith in Israel?” How would you respond to your relative?
2. Have a volunteer read John 12:23-26.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. Where does Jesus want His followers to be? What does He mean when He says that where He is, there will His servants be?
c. Personal Application: What do you love about your life? What do you hate about life in this world? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “I thought God wanted us to be happy in this life. Life is a gift from God to enjoy and savor. Why would He say that we should hate our life instead of love it?” How would you respond to your neighbor?
3. Have a volunteer read Luke 10:30-37.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Is there any person or group of people that you wouldn’t want to help under any circumstances? Why?.
c. Personal Application: Was there ever a time when you didn’t help someone in need? What reasons did you give for not helping? Looking back, would you have done anything differently? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your friends states, “There are a lot of people in this world that aren’t SDA or even Christians that seem to have a heart of gold when it come to helping other people. What do you make of that?” How would you respond to your friend?
4. Have a volunteer read Acts 1:7,8.
a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. How effective is your witness to those around you? To those of other races, countries, or cultures?
c. Personal Application: How can you help people in the uttermost parts of the world? Share your thoughts and be practical.
d. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.
(Note : “Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.” MH p. 149.
- *** Hope Sabbath School Interactive Study with Derek Morris is broadcast via Hope Satellite TV and available a week ahead of the date the lesson is scheduled for local churches. You download a weekly lesson outline with questions and a Scripture song or theme song, including sheet music, for each quarter. Pastor Morris provides a wonderful weekly example of how to effectively teach a Sabbath School class in a Christ-centered way.
- GoBible.org Weekly teaching outlines posted by Bruce Cameron. (Also found at SabbathSchoolLessons.com
- Sabbath School Teaching Outlines available from the GC Sabbath School Department. (Click on the correct year and lesson.)
- Dr Ken Hart’s Sabbath School Class Often lively lesson discussion in a small group, composed of persons from various backgrounds, several weeks ahead of the time the lesson is scheduled to be studied in church. You may watch the class online, listen to it and download a PDF handout with a list of discussion questions. Podcast available.
- Sabbath School App in the iPhone and Android Apps Store includes the Teacher’s Edition. Download the app, click on the app, go to “More” (top right), go to Settings (bottom) and enable Teachers’ Content.
- Weekly Teacher Helps via email are available three ways:
- Subscribe to our SSNET2 mailing list. On this list we distribute weekly helps from Michael Fracker and Joyce Griffith.
- Sabbath School Teacher Training Courses Online training for teachers of various age groups.