Sabbath School Lesson for July 25-31, 2020

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Covered in our lesson this week are these topics:

  • Jesus’ initial promise to send the Holy Spirit, or Comforter, to them (Sunday)
  • the church’s rapid growth after the Holy Spirit was first given in full measure at Pentecost (Monday)
  • the Holy Spirit’s involvement in enabling effective witnessing in the early church (Tuesday)
  • their dependence on the word of God, enhanced by the Holy Spirit, to preach and reach others with the gospel of salvation (Wednesday)
  • the Holy Spirit’s ability to transform lives of individuals from all classes of society (Thursday)


Many wonder how such a small group of disorganized, ordinary believers could experience such extraordinary growth in so short a time over so wide an area of the world, as happened with the first century Christians. The accomplishments of the early church have never ceased to amaze historians and Bible students in all generations since the resurrection of Christ.

It is without question that the early witnesses of the Messiah’s life and death were empowered by something other than their own abilities and strengths. That something is the Holy Spirit of God, promised to them from their Savior and delivered on time, when they were ready to receive Him.

Memory Text: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31 NKJV

Previously (in Acts 1:8), Jesus had instructed them to “be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” As we later find in the book of Acts, this goal was accomplished in a few short decades.

Colossians 1:23 says the gospel was “preached to every creature under heaven”. Acts 17:6 describes the impact they had as turning “the world upside down”. And, of course, thankfully, the world has never been the same since.

Sunday: Jesus and the Promise of the Holy Spirit

Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would later replace Him on earth, describing the Spirit as a “Helper”. The Greek word for “helper”, parakletos, reveals more than we may think of at first. It implies that He actually comes alongside us to do the work, an even more comforting way to think of this promised heavenly power.

Just as Jesus was beside them physically, as the disciples went about their ministry in and around Judea, the Holy Spirit would be with them spiritually as they expanded their work of spreading the gospel to an even wider field of labor.

This Helper would impact their work in every way. He would…

  • guide them to honest seekers of the truth
  • prepare the hearts of those seekers before they even met
  • give the disciples words and actions that would help them share God’s love
  • bring conviction to the hearts of those to whom they witnessed
  • strengthen the newly-won believers to become witnesses themselves.

We now see that witnessing must involve experiencing and cooperating with the Holy Spirit, and letting Him do the work, through us, of bringing someone to Jesus. He must be involved in every endeavor to share the gospel. We are powerless without the Spirit’s aid.

Bible Verses to Consider:

John 15:26, 27 and John 16:7, 8

  • What did they witness that should be shared with the world?
  • How can we know Jesus today and still be a witness to Him?
  • How important is the work of conviction and what exactly does it mean to be convicted?
  • What happens to a church when hearts have not been convicted?

Monday: An Empowered Church

Although we call Luke’s book “The Acts of the Apostles”, it might be equally correct to call it “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”. Both the Holy Spirit and the early Christian believers play major roles in the events and stories told in Luke’s record of what happened after Christ’s resurrection.

Luke, being a doctor and keen on statistics, did not fail to mention several times how many thousands were added to the church, as it spread its wings around the then-known world. But, besides mentioning those numbers, he also included names of individuals who were included in the ranks of those saved.

As we read of the missionary work of evangelists, such as Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and others, we notice that planting new churches was a common feature of the expanding influence of this new Jesus-believing movement.

As the days turned into years, the Holy Spirit continued to empower God’s flock of faithful followers. As long as they would depend on the Spirit, they would grow spiritually and reach more souls.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Acts 6:7 and John 12:42, 43

  • What made it difficult for the priests to accept Jesus as the Messiah?

Acts 16:5

  • What two kinds of growth was seen in the early church?
  • Why are they both important, and what happens when we see only one happen, but not the other, and can it be prevented?

Tuesday: The Holy Spirit and Witnessing

The Holy Spirit was vital for the witnessing done by the early church. Simple things, such as preparing and convicting the hearts of the people, for instance. But the Spirit also worked in more miraculous, supernatural ways for them when needed.

  1. Stephen declared that he saw a vision of God and Jesus in heaven, just before he was stoned.
  2. Philip was guided to an influential Ethiopian man, opening up the continent of Africa for receiving the gospel.
  3. After Peter’s vision, when he saw Gentile believers receive the Holy Spirit as the disciples had after Pentecost.
  4. Saul of Tarsus had a miraculous encounter with God on the road to Damascus, which quickly turned his life around and made him known as Paul, an evangelist to the Gentiles.
  5. Paul was given a vision of someone calling him to Macedonia.
  6. There were several healings that highlighted the power of God–even the raising up of Dorcas from the dead.

The Holy Spirit longs to provide the same encouraging signs of His presence to God’s followers today. He has and will guide us, strengthen us, and unite us, if we will just let Him.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Acts 7:54-60

  • For what reasons might Stephen have been given this vision of Jesus?
  • Why did it cause even more of an uproar from the mob and lead immediately to his stoning?

Acts 8:27, 28, 36-40

  • In what ways was the Holy Spirit manifested in this story?

Acts 16:6-10

  • How has the Lord guided you in your life?

Wednesday: The Holy Spirit, the Word, and Witnessing

No one can deny that the Scriptures were foremost in the preaching of the apostles, as they spread the gospel to the world. The writings of Moses and the prophets gave them authority and the evidence they needed to convince Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the Messiah.

The same Holy Spirit that inspired the writers of the Old Testament was readily available to inspire those who spoke and heard about it, following Christ’s resurrection. There is life in the word of God, because the life-giving Word, namely Jesus, inspired the men who wrote it (John 1:4, 14).

We must humbly proclaim God’s word above our own words. Our own human speculation must not replace Scripture, as we prayerfully deliver the Word of life to others.

Bible Verses to Consider:

2 Peter 1:21

  • Why is it important to understand that the prophets were inspired, not the actual words they wrote?

Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17

  • Why is the word of God compared to a sword?
  • How then is this sword useful in our witnessing?

Thursday: The Life-Transforming Power of the Holy Spirit

A look at some of the individuals who joined the early Christian church will reveal a diverse group that included both rich and poor, young and old, and both men and women. Some of them were:

  • Lydia, a prosperous Jewish businesswoman
  • the Philippian jailer, a middle-class Roman civil servant
  • Dionysius, a Greek lawyer and judge
  • Crispus, a ruler of a Jewish synagogue

All of them would have had fascinating stories of their conversions to the Christian faith.

These kind of transformations are happening all around us, even today, and are evidence that the Holy Spirit does have an active role in our witnessing endeavors. Only He could have such an influence in turning people’s lives around so fully.

Bible Verses to Consider:

Acts 16:11-15

  • How did Lydia prove valuable to Paul’s ministry?

Acts 16:25-34

  • What did the earthquake shake, besides the jail where Paul and Silas were imprisoned?

Acts 18:8

  • Why is it important to witness to those in leadership positions?

Friday: Conclusion

There are many ways to be a witness for God, and they all include the Holy Spirit in some capacity. He hears our prayers, speaks to hearts, transforms lives, guides us in ministry, and even blesses us with supernatural evidence when needed.

The promise of the Helper, parakletos, has proven to be one of the greatest promises of all given by the Messiah. The Spirit of Christ works right alongside God’s witnesses. His presence is essential to our being able to carry the gospel message to the world. The rapid, worldwide growth of the early church is a testament to what God can do when His followers work in close connection with the divine.

He has promised the Holy Spirit in great measure once again, as earth’s history closes. We must prepare our hearts continually for that wonderful outpouring in the end times. Steadfast prayer and faith will allow the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing when the world needs it most.

Next Week’s Lesson: Unlimited Possibilities

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