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Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

~ Acts 4:12

Lesson19-image001Materials Needed: White board or easel.

Notes to the Leader: The original community of Christians came into being in a hostile world. In John 20:19, the disciples could be found hiding in locked rooms to avoid arrest. There were public accusations of drunkenness when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:13). The first message the disciples gave was of the execution of their leader, Jesus (Acts 2:23). And then two of them were arrested, Peter and John.

This lesson offers time to discuss the many benefits of gathering in the name of Jesus and being a true “community.”

Introduction

What difficulties have you found in “telling the truth?”

  • Truth can hurt someone we love
  • Others may not like what we have to say
  • People may try to remove our influence from the group
  • Telling the truth may have negative consequences on others such as our family.

Should we always tell the truth and stand up for what we believe?

  • Setting timing aside and assuming that we have thoroughly checked out our facts, there is no Scriptural evidence that lets us rationalize the truth.

Section One: Imprisoned for Truth

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:1-4.

Who were the groups of officials that found Peter’s message disturbing?

  • The Priests – These were the clergymen who had conducted the temple service that had just ended.
  • The Captain of the Temple Guard – Typically a member of the chief priest’s family, he was in charge of the temple police force.
  • The Sadducees – A religious party of considerable political power They were in charge of the Temple.

What were the reasons behind the priests and Sadducees dislike of the disciple’s message?

  • The priests and Sadducees were collaborationists. They viewed any spontaneous gathering as a threat to their positions of comfort. They did not want to stir up anything that would upset the Romans.
  • The priests and Sadducees opposed any teaching of the Resurrection. This was the main focus of the apostle’s witness (Acts 4:2).
  • The apostles were not ized to teach. Only those schooled as a rabbi had the credentials (Acts 4:13).
  • The numbers of people that were believing was exploding (Acts 4:4). On the day of Pentecost, it was 3,000 (Acts 2:41). Now it was at 5,000. The verse points out that only men were counted. The number was much larger if you consider women and children.
  • The people were beginning to believe Peter’s contention that the Jewish high council conspired with Pilate to kill Jesus (Acts 5:28).

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:5-11.

What can you find that indicates the importance of their message and the impact it was having on the people?

  • The entire Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council and supreme court, was convened (Acts 4:5). Many notable members were present: Annas, the high priest, who was deposed by the Romans but held silently to the power; Caiaphas, Annas’ son-in-law who was in office during Jesus’ death; John, Annas’ son, who later replaced Caiaphas as high priest; and Alexander, who we do not have any historical information on.

What lesson is there for us today in Peter’s actions before the Sanhedrin?

  • Peter held firm to the truth that Jesus was the reason for the healing and Jesus was the Savior. We are never given an option to hold any other position.
  • Peter relied upon the Holy Spirit to provide him both the wisdom and strength to defend the truth (see Luke 12:11-12; 21:14-15). We are never alone in our defense of the Gospel.
  • Peter presented them with their own sin, in essence, Peter was judgmental. But immediately, Peter became an evangelist, attempting to save those of the Sanhedrin. It is the blend of both judgment and compassion that produces productive evangelism.

Read Acts 4:12 to your group.

The Old Testament word for salvation was yasha, meaning roominess, in contrast to narrowness or oppression. Yasha signified freedom from bondage and restriction. To the Jews, this was thought of as deliverance or liberation of the nation; of being secure in their land.

It is frequently thought that the transition to the Lord and to faith is a New Testament concept. Let your group read each Scripture verse. Then look at what the Old Testament tells us about Salvation:

  • Isaiah 43:11-12. God is Salvation. There is no other way.
  • Isaiah 49:6. A prophesy of Christ’s coming.
  • Genesis 15:6. Abraham became righteous in God’s eyes through his faith.
  • Exodus 14:31. Faith, again, was the notable response of the Israelites to Moses and the Lord.
  • Numbers 20:12. The object of true faith is the true God who has revealed Himself in His Word.
  • Psalms 3:8. God is the only source of Salvation

Be prepared to make a list on a white board or easel.

  • The Greek word for salvation is sodzo (to save). What are the personal aspects of Salvation?
  • Peace. In Hebrew, sodzo translates to shalom.
  • Wholeness. This meaning suggests healing, recovery, remedy, rescue, redemption, welfare.
  • Preservation from danger, disease or death (Matthew 9:22; Acts 27:20; 31,34; Hebrews 5:7).
  • Rescue from the consequences of sin and deliverance to eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 5:9; Hebrews 7:25).
  • Regeneration and renewal (Ephesians 2:5).

What was Peter telling the Sanhedrin?

  • Salvation could be found only in Jesus and it was true for them also. Peter was giving an invitation more than he was defending his position.

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:13-22.

Do you think that Peter wasted his time trying to save the Sanhedrin?

Read Acts 6.7 to the group after the discussion.

  • The message of salvation is never wasted on anyone, no matter how hopeless the present situation may seem.

Why did the Sanhedrin let Peter and John go free?

  • They could not deny the evidence of the healing of the lame man.
  • The “Holy Spirit” had provided impressive evidence that Peter being helped by a greater power.
  • The Sanhedrin were afraid because of the others had believed in Jesus.

Section Two: The Family

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:23.

Where did Peter and John go immediately after their encounter?

  • They went back to families, the other disciples, the believers.

Why do you think they did?

  • To share their experience (Acts 4:23)
  • To pray together (Acts 4:24)

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:24-30.

What is the response of the Christian Family, the Church, to this ordeal/problem?

  • The first response is prayer.
  • Their prayer is an expression of their unity. (see Matthew 18:19)
  • Their prayer follows a biblical pattern. It is in the tradition of the prayer of Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:16-20).
  • They recognize and confess the sovereign working of God (Acts 4:22, 28).
  • They base their confidence in God on Scripture, not sentimentality or emotion (Acts 4: 25-26).
  • They adopt the viewpoint of Scripture to see their situation from God’s perspective (Acts 4:25-26).
  • They remember Jesus’ triumph through suffering and they confess their confidence that god has been and remains in complete control (Acts 4:27-28).
  • They lay their real situation before the Lord and ask for courage in the face of the threats of the Sanhedrin.
  • They ask the Lord to back their witness wit proof that Jesus is alive and active among them (Acts 4:30).

Read Acts 4:31 to your group.

How does God respond to their actions and prayers?

  • He renews their energy. They get a booster shot.

Here is another place you can build a list on a whiteboard or easel.

How did the early Christians respond to God?

Read Acts 11:27-30

1 Corinthians 16:1

2 Corinthians 8-9

A key point to end on: They continue to rely on the Holy Spirit and share their needs with each other and with the Lord.

Have someone in your group read Acts 4:32-35.

Do you think that God responds to the Christian church today in the same way?

  • It is the only way He responds. If there are things missing from either our life or our activities within the Church, then we must look within ourselves first. Are we responding to the dangers within our society in the same way as the early Christians responded to their danger?

What can a church in the face of problems, gain from responding to this lesson?

  • Oneness of heart and mind are ours to claim in Christ.
  • An end to possessiveness, hoarding and conspicuous consumption is a freeing gift we can experience in Christ.
  • Active concern for anyone in need, whatever the need, is one way we express the presence and the love of Christ.

Bible Truth Being Taught

In a world that is against every Christian, we can find salvation, refuge and support within any community that is gathered in Jesus’ name and shares with each other.

Our Response

To be a community of believers that, through our generosity, offers others safety, refuge and support.

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