January 5 -
  January 11 

SDA Sabbath School Lessons

#2 The Holy Spirit
and Spiritual Gifts

Read for this
week's study: 

Acts 1:1-26; 2:1, 2; 13:2-4; Ps. 68:28-35; John 16.

Memory Text:  "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"   (Luke 11:13, NIV).

Key Thought:  The Holy Spirit is the effective agent in accomplishing the work of the church in the world.

The  Lessons: 

The  Discussion: 
We invite youi to join the  SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning (usually 9:30 AM) with your SSNETlocal Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

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 January 4 


The Holy Spirit is assigned by heaven as the active agent of Christ, the Head of the church on earth.  The Holy Spirit launched and energized the early church (Acts 1:8).  He gave people the instantaneous ability to speak in languages not their own (Acts 2:4), turned frightened disciples into bold preachers (Acts 4:1­3), directly indicated certain people for certain missions (Acts 13:2), solved doctrinal problems (Acts 15:28), prohibited missionaries from entering certain areas (Acts 16:6), directed them to other areas (Acts 16:10), and was the power behind all kinds of miracles (Acts 19).

Adventists tend to focus on the early and latter rains.  We sometimes neglect to consider the work of the Holy Spirit right now.  "Just prior to His leaving His disciples for the heavenly courts, Jesus encouraged them with the promise of the Holy Spirit.  This promise belongs as much to us as it did to them."­Testimonies to Ministers, p. 174.

This week's lesson reviews some of the Holy Spirit's roles as they relate to the topic of spiritual gifts.

Sunday -
 January 5 

(Acts 13:2-4).

Someone once remarked that the Holy Spirit has His home and office in the church.  Though Jesus was speaking primarily to individuals, He may also have had the church in mind when He said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23, NIV).

The book of Acts portrays the Holy Spirit as a presiding presence in the early church.  He was in command.  He directly indicated to the church what to do in many situations.  This is what Paul referred to when he told Timothy:  "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you" (1 Tim. 4:14, NIV).

Have you ever sincerely felt that the Holy Spirit was leading you or calling you to a particular ministry?  How did you respond?  What was your assurance that your conviction was truly from the Holy Spirit?

"The same power that sustained the patriarchs, that gave Caleb and Joshua faith and courage, and that made the work of the apostolic church effective, has upheld God's faithful children in every succeeding age.... And today God is still using His church to make known His purpose in the earth."­The Acts of the Apostles, p. 53.

How does the Holy Spirit's role as church administrator affect individual church members?  John 14:17, 23; Acts 19:1­7.

Luke mentions the Holy Spirit 57 times in the book of Acts and carefully notes that every major decision of the young church was made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The disciples waited for the Holy Spirit before beginning to preach.  He fell on each new group of believers:  on Jews (Acts 4:31), on Samaritans (8:17), on Gentiles (10:44), and on some of John the Baptist's disciples (19:6).   The Spirit personally directed each major advance of the church.  He sent Philip into the desert to meet the Ethiopian (8:29), to set apart missionaries (13:2), to guide the first major church council (15:1-8), and to help plan Paul's itineraries (13:4; 16:6).

How can church members make way for the Holy Spirit to be the administrator of the church today? What attitudes or actions might frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit?

Monday -
 January 6 


The Holy Spirit is the source of power for the church and its members.  He is the source of spiritual power for individual Christians and the source of successful ministry by the church as a collective enterprise.  The power that attended the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the same power we need today.  "The Spirit awaits our demand and reception. --Christ's Object Lessons, p. 121.

Read Acts 2:2.  What does the word suddenly communicate to you?  What evidence was given that this was the fulfillment of Acts 1:8?

Jesus promised the disciples power (Acts 1:8).  It arrived on the Day of Pentecost in the person of the Holy Spirit.  Only with this power could a small group of people preach the gospel throughout the world.  Paul wrote that the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16).  The gospel is not an undercover operation.  The gospel ought to be out on the streets, its message shouted from the housetops.  The Holy Spirit is the power behind the dynamic Christian activism of those who proclaim the gospel.

Read Psalm 68:28­35.  This psalm was often sung at Pentecost.  List some of the ways the power of God was identified in the ancient Israelite worship services.

There are a number of Greek words for power.  One is kratos, which may imply physical strength.  Another, exousia, implies a ruler's authority.  Jesus used this word when He said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18).  The word used in Acts 1:8, "You shall receive power" (NIV) is dunamis, a word that implies both explosive energy and the continual steady power of a dynamo.  The Greek translation of the. Hebrew Scriptures uses dunamis a number of times in Psalm 68:28­35.  The Old Testament Israelite worshipers pleaded for God to show His power.  On the Day of Pentecost it arrived in a new and dynamic way.  Suddenly, the disciples were "gifted" by the Holy Spirit to do what they could not do under normal circumstances.  The church today draws on that same power for personal Christian experience and to expand its mission of taking the gospel to whoever has not yet heard it.

Think back over your own life story.  Describe what happened when you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday -
 January 7 


Besides being church administrator and the source of power, the Holy Spirit is also the church's principal Teacher.  "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26, NIV).  Jesus has perpetuated His earthly teaching ministry through the Spirit.  (See Sons and Daughters of God, p. 282.)  This teaching office is as dynamic as was the experience of Pentecost.  "God can teach you more in one moment by His Holy Spirit than you could learn from the great men of the earth."­Testimonies to Ministers, p. 119.

How did Jesus outline the teaching role of the Holy Spirit?  John 16:12­15.  Notice the various facets of teaching and learning mentioned in these verses.

The Holy Spirit as teacher (1) brings out new insights, (2) instructs in "what is yet to come," (3) brings glory to God by helping us understand more completely, and (4) draws knowledge from God's fountain and shares it with us.  The Holy Spirit illuminates our minds in two principal ways: (1) as we study the Scriptures and (2) through the gift of effective teaching given to certain church members.

What kind of teaching system did Paul advocate for passing on religious knowledge?  Acts 19:9, 10 (compare 1 Tim. 4:11­13; 2 Tim. 2:1, 2).

It has been estimated that the people who regularly attended Paul's teaching sessions in Ephesus would have received the equivalent of two years of Bible­school education.

In Paul's case, how did his spiritual gifts become ministries?  Acts 9:15; 19:8 (compare 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11; Titus 1:3).

Paul says that he was "appointed" to these ministries and told to use them with a specific target audience in mind, non­Jews.  These ministries correspond to the spiritual gifts chosen for Paul by the Holy Spirit.

What has the Holy Spirit taught you?  What do you feel you would not have learned without the aid of the Holy Spirit?

Wednesday -
  January 8 


People have many ideas about how a person receives or is assigned his or her spiritual gifts.  Some believe that the church decides who gets which gifts.  Others feel that election to church office is the same as receiving a particular gift.  Some people believe that only their pastor has spiritual gifts and that church members are supposed to listen and do whatever the pastor says.  Others believe that anyone can do anything, and no one has any authority over another.

Who assigns spiritual gifts to people?  1 Cor. 12:11.

Spiritual gifts are the tools the Holy Spirit uses to do the work of the kingdom.  We are all responsible for turning our gifts into ministries that will advance the work of the kingdom.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:11 carefully "All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses" (NRSV).  Fill in the following blanks:

1. The gifts are promised "according to his ________________________________."

2. They are given for __________________________________________________.

The assignment of gifts by the Holy Spirit is designed to advance the Lord's work.  The church is set up as a corporate body to do the work of the kingdom by organizing the members' gifts into effective ministries.  In this sense, the church has the authority of the Holy Spirit to "administer" the collective gifts of the members.

What does Paul say about the attitude that should accompany the bestowal of spiritual gifts?  Rom. 12:3.

This is the key to the issue.  The effective use of spiritual gifts depends on a person's Christian character.  The possession of a particular gift or gifts is a measure of responsibility before God to do the work of the kingdom in a sweet, compassionate, and dynamic Christian spirit.

Think carefully about your attitude toward using your gifts in the church.  Does it reflect the servant attitude of Jesus as outlined in Philippians 2:5-11?  If not, how can His attitude become yours?

Thursday -
 January 9 


The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was no accident.  The Lord planned to unveil Him in a new way at that moment in history because the time was opportune.  (See The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 38, 39.)  A large number of people from all over the known world were in the city.

Without the right kind of people to witness for Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit could not have occurred.  The Holy Spirit enables and equips people to work for Christ; he doesn't usually do all the work Himself.  The Holy Spirit responds to the intercessory prayers of God's people for spiritual power.

What does James say about intercessory prayer?  James 1:5.

Intercessory prayer is a special kind of prayer.  It requests specific things from the Lord, based on what He has promised.  The Lord does not withhold what He has promised, but He does not always confer it unless we ask for it.

There are seven levels of prevailing intercessory prayer:
Level 1: Ask Matt. 7:7
Level 2: Seek Matt. 7:7
Level 3: Knock Matt. 7:7
Level 4: Fast Ps. 35:13; Mark 9:29  
Level 5: Present a specific burden   Neh. 2:2-5
Level 6: Wrestle in Prayer Luke 22:44; Col. 4:12; Gen. 32:22-30  
Level 7: Battle with Satan Matt. 4:1-11

Some or all levels may be involved when praying for a specific issue.  The Lord honors these prayers, and the Holy Spirit goes into action on our behalf.

What does Ecclesiastes 4:12 imply about the effectiveness of intercessory­prayer groups?

The experience of the disciples in the upper room before the Day of Pentecost is an example of intercessory prayer in action.  Ellen White outlines the disciples' experience in chapter 4, entitled "Pentecost," in The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 36, 37.

Why not begin an intercessory-prayer ministry in your church?  You will be amazed at the results.

Friday -
  January 10 


John 14 records that Jesus told His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Read the chapter for an understanding of the Holy Spirit's role as Jesus portrayed it.  Also read The Acts of the Apostles, chapters 1,2,3,4, and 5, to receive a more complete picture of the Holy Spirit's role in the life of the church after Jesus' ascension.

The Index to the Writings of Ellen White has 59 columns on the Holy Spirit.  The following list indicates some of the ways the Holy Spirit is active in the church and in the lives of individual members:

  1. Gives mental power (Testimonies, wol. 6, p. 306).
  2. Gives healing Power (Messages to Young People, p. 30).
  3. Renews motives and affections (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 284).
  4. Gives the ability to accomplish good works (Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p.80).
  5. Gives supernatural strength (Gospel Workers, p. 286).
  6. Brings unity to the church (Testimonies, vol. 5, pp.28,227).
  7. Gives us training that fits us for heaven (Testimonies, vol. 7, p.273).

  1. Notice that the decision recorded in Acts 15:28 was mede by "the Holy Spirit" and "us."  Now, think about the decision-making process and organizational plan used in your church.  It is easy to say that the Holy Spirit is indirectly involved, because we may sometimes ask Him in a more-or-less routine way to bless our endeavors.  On the other hand, under what circumstances will the Holy Spirit be directly involved as He was in Acts 15?
  2. Can your Sabbath School class lead out in organizing an intercessory-prayer ministry in your church? Discuss with the class how this ministry might be initiated and carried on in your church.

SUMMARY:  This week's lesson dealt with the role of the Holy Spirit as the active agent, assigned by God the Father, to be the administrator of the church on earth.  For both the church body and individual Christians, He is the source of power and the primary teacher, illuminating minds, leading them to truth.  He assigns spiritual gifts, both to individual members and to the church as a body.  Intercessory prayer, based on claiming the promises of God, is the effective instrument the church should employ to invite the Holy Spirit to work on its behalf.

Inside Story

True Freedom in Jesus

Akouta Sylvestre

I never heard about Jesus while I was growing up.  Our village in the tiny country of Benin in West Africa refused to allow Christians to enter.  One Christian church tried to establish a mission there once, but village leaders drove them out.

When I was 13 years old I went to visit my mother's relatives in another village.  To my great surprise, I found some of my uncles and aunts listening to a young man who was speaking about Jesus.  I sat down and listened with them.  This was the first time I had ever heard anything about Jesus, and I was profoundly impressed.

I returned home overjoyed with what I had learned.  In my zeal to share what I had learned, I went so far as to discredit voodoo, our country's major religion, saying it was powerless.  Immediately someone informed my grandfather, because I was staying with him.  My grandfather didn't say a word to me then, because he was preparing himself for a big voodoo ceremony, during which food was presented to our ancestors, who had supposedly been fasting for many years.  On the day of the ceremony I refused to go near or touch anything associated with the feast.  My grandfather ordered some men to grab me and beat me for my refusal to take part.  Three days later they beat me again.

I was put out of Grandfather's house, but because of my young age, I was taken back under the condition that I would not practice Christianity.  Then my aunt, my grandfather's youngest daughter, became seriously ill.  They tried all the various occult remedies and ceremonies, but my aunt remained desperately sick.

In desperation the family asked some Christians to pray for her, and she recovered.  Healing has great power in our minds, and my grandfather consented when my aunt wanted to become a Christian.  This opened wide the door for me, as well, praise God.

I visited several Christian churches in search of one that taught the truths of the Bible.  While I was searching, I discovered a Christian radio station that taught the whole Bible.  I wrote to the station, called Adventist World Radio, and they helped me find the Adventist Church.  At last I had found what I was looking for!  Now the burden of my heart is to reach the others in my village and in my country who still suffer under the influence of evil spirits and don't understand true freedom in Jesus.

Akouta Sylvestre is a church member in Cotonou, Benin.