Sabbath School Lesson for July 7-13, 2018
Outline of the Lesson
Highlights of the lesson this week were…
- what the outpouring of the Spirit felt like to the disciples (Sunday)
- what the gift of tongues did for the church (Monday)
- how Peter began his sermon, and what was its central theme (Tuesday)
- how Peter ended his sermon, and how was Jesus shown to be the Messiah (Wednesday)
- repentance and baptisms resulting from their preaching after Pentecost (Thursday)
God must truly enjoy birthday celebrations–think of the Sabbath, the birthday of our world. He even gave the Israelites a day of joyful and thankful feasting to celebrate the birth of their “wilderness” church back in Moses’ day. The Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), was also called the Feast of the Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26). This day of celebration known as Pentecost occurred fifty days after the Passover. (The name Pentecost means “fiftieth”.)
Later, after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit resulted in a great harvest of souls being baptized, about 3,000 in just one day! These new believers literally were the “firstfruits” of the Christian church, another cause for great celebration.
Unfortunately, some groups of Christians have put more emphasis on the gift than on what was to be celebrated. Jesus’ resurrection and return to the heavenly throne room in heaven were what the celebration was all about.
Even the firstfruits, those labored for by the disciples, the “party-goers”, were not the focus. It was, and still is, all to be centered on Christ and the sacrifice He made for our salvation. He is the “Birthday Boy”, as some would call Him. Let’s make sure He’s the one we lift up, in any religious celebration.
Memory Text: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.” Acts 2:32, 33 NRSV
Jesus is clearly the reason for our joy. We must exalt and praise Him, or all our efforts to carry out our mission will be for nothing.
The lavish outpouring of the Comforter, sent to console the heartbroken disciples, turned out to be the perfect medicine for their troubled hearts. Never had their future looked so grim as when their Master was laid in a tomb. But now they had every reason to hope for His return. No miracle was too hard for their Lord!
We, in the last days, will also go through dark, heavy times. But a similar prescription is waiting to be filled. Just when we need Him most, the Holy Spirit will again perform His comforting magic in an equally miraculous fashion, and we will be given the same hope as those first disciples.
Sunday: The Coming of the Spirit
Following instructions from the Master during the forty days He spent with them after His resurrection, the disciples waited patiently in Jerusalem as they were told. Here they…
- fervently prayed
- sought repentance
- and praised God
Luke records that they spent much time in the temple doing these things (Luke 24:52, 53). But while they were gathered in one place, the upper room where they had been residing, a strange thing happened:
- At first they heard what sounded like a rushing windstorm,
- and then they saw what was described as “tongues of fire”, which came down and settled on each of the disciples assembled there.
We all know the result of this strange phenomenon. They soon went out to public places to preach, and amazingly, displaced Jews from all over the Roman Empire heard them preach in their own language. What an awesome way to spread God’s truth of the coming of the Messiah to those outside Jerusalem!
Read Acts 2:1-4, John 3:8, and Matthew 3:11. Why are fire and wind appropriate symbols for the Holy Spirit? What other examples in the Old Testament use this metaphor?
Read John 14:16, 26 and 15:26. What seems to be the first intercessory work that Jesus performs when He arrives back in heaven? What does it accomplish for us?
Read Acts 13:9, 52 and Ephesians 5:18. How are we now filled with the Holy Spirit, and who is expected to have this spiritual infilling?
Monday: The Gift of Tongues
Think of the many Jews who had come to the Passover the year Jesus was crucified. It’s been estimated that of the eight to ten million of them, 60 percent of them lived outside Judea, in other parts of the Roman Empire. They consequently spoke many different languages, depending on their adopted land of residence.
What better way to spread the gospel than for a miraculous display that involved the disciples preaching in these other dialects, without having known them before. The Jews from foreign places were delighted. The story of Jesus was much better understood and remembered when heard in their primary language.
Many of the local Jews were astonished too, but in a different way. Some even insinuated that the disciples were drunk, causing their speech to become jumbled and confused. But when thousands of people joined the new Christian movement in such a short time, it must have become clear what was happening.
This was just the first of many miracles the disciples received from the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, they witnessed and participated in healings, visions, and declarations of prophecy. They were gifted with inspirational speaking abilities and received countless qualifications for service to God. All of which contributed to the phenomenal growth of the new Christian church.
Read Acts 19:6, 7:55, 2:8, 3:6, 8, Romans 12:6-8, and 1 Corinthians 12:11. Is the gift of tongues, or any other miraculous gift, more important than other gifts listed here? Why would the more spectacular gifts be more effective at the beginning and the end of church history?
Read Acts 2:6-8. How does this passage verify that the original gift of tongues consisted of actual, spoken languages, used by those listening?
Read Acts 2:13. What was the motive for claiming that the disciples’ speech was caused by drinking new wine? What do you think they were hoping to accomplish by this claim?
Tuesday: Peter’s Sermon
How could Peter not give a highly enthusiastic sermon after what just happened to them in the upper room? It was obvious that something special had been experienced by all of them as they assembled there.
He and the others were full of God’s Spirit; and not just filled this time, but filled and overflowing. This was no haphazard distribution of gifts either. Each disciples used their gift for the purpose of spreading the gospel, the good news that the Messiah had come.
- The first part of Peter’s sermon dwelt on the prophecy in Joel that the remnant would receive miraculous gifts from God. He and the other disciples must have felt impressed that Jesus would return very soon. The heavenly sign was to them a powerful indication that soon our salvation would be secured by His return.
- The second part of his sermon was a testimony of Peter’s life with Christ on earth, including the valuable time spent with Him after His resurrection. How hearts must have been stirred by such messages of hope that Peter and his friends were preaching everywhere they went.
Jesus’ resurrection and ascension comprised the evidence they needed to verify that Jesus was truly the Messiah they had all waited and prayed for. This vindication of who Jesus became the center of Peter’s message and was exactly the right topic for his sermons.
Read Acts 2:17-21. When was Joel’s prophecy to take place? How soon did Peter believe Christ’s Second Coming would be, and what event led him to that conclusion?
Read Joel 2:32. Who was this remnant that is referred to here? Has there always been a remnant of God’s people, and in what way are they “called”?
Read Psalms 16:8-11. For what purpose did Peter use this quote from David’s Psalm? What did he mean by “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption”?
Wednesday: The Exaltation of Jesus
- The third and last part of Peter’s sermon was an description of Jesus’ resurrection and His subsequent exaltation into the heavenly courts above. Being at the right hand of God showed that Christ held a position of authority there.
Christ’s first intercessory work in the heavenly sanctuary resulted in the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Peter and the disciples had witnessed firsthand. That outpouring was an indication of God’s approval of Jesus’ accomplishments.
The one who had usurped the rule of our world had received a sound defeat at Calvary’s cross. It was plain to see the vile result of Satan’s accusations against God. Through the cruel treatment and death of Jesus, Satan was clearly revealed as the fraud that he was.
Read Acts 2:32-36. What is now Christ’s position in heaven and what connection did He have with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit they had just experienced?
Read John 1:1-3, 17:4-5 and Philippians 2:5-9. How long has Christ held a position of power in heaven, and why did He lay aside His glory in order to redeem us? Why was this sacrifice necessary?
Read John 12:31, 32 and Luke 4:18-21. What did Jesus’ ministry accomplish, in addition to His death and resurrection?
Thursday: The Firstfruits
No amount of excellent preaching is worth a thing without the hearers responding with the question, “What shall we do?” This heartfelt plea went up around Jerusalem as hundreds of people stepped forward and were baptized, even that first day after Pentecost.
Their repentance meant a radical turn in their thinking and actions and was just an extension of the gifts the Holy Spirit was pouring out on God’s church. These repenting souls also received spiritual gifts, and thus the growth of the church was assured.
After all, the church exists for the purpose of the gospel being shared with the world. Surely, these converts were the firstfruits of all the sowing and cultivating Jesus did among the people during His ministry on earth.
How special that flock of believers must have been to the heart of Jesus. The first and the best were harvested for the Kingdom. God’s work on earth was just beginning to bear fruit. The many generations following the first century would see their fruitfulness spread far and near. Till at last the whole world will be reached with the good news of His salvation, and God can come and rescue us to be with Him forever and ever.
Read Acts 2:36, 37 and 9:5, 6. What message motivated the response from Paul, as well as the people baptized after Pentecost?
Read Acts 2:38, 39, 22:20, Acts 5:31, and Romans 2:4. What does it mean to repent? How could repentance be considered a gift from God?
Read 1 Peter 2:9. How does this verse show the main reason for God’s church to exist?
Last week we studied the mission that was given to those who were witnesses of Christ’s ministry, both here on earth and as they saw Him go back to heaven. This week we saw the beginning of their efforts to carry out that mission. The events after Pentecost provide us with a model for evangelism.
We can’t help but notice the pivotal role the Holy Spirit played in their endeavors. The question might come to our minds: Should we use the Holy Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit use us? Actually, the mutual relationship we have with God might indicate that both are true.
- We depend on the Holy Spirit for everything in life, but especially for the ability to approach and then serve God.
- God, through the Holy Spirit, depends on us, uses us, to carry out God’s will on earth, a process that will ultimately vindicate God’s name and character before the universe.
As we wait for the latter rain, another outpouring of God’s Spirit, let’s not forget that the Spirit is still working for us and through us. Every generation has challenges, as we struggle with Satanic forces here on earth.
Let’s not forget to invoke His help every day of our lives. As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us, “pray without ceasing”. Praying for the Holy Spirit to get us through all the bumps in life, no matter how big or small, will equip us to depend on God’s help in the hardest times right before the Second Coming.
Next Week’s Lesson: Life in the Early Church
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/