Lesson 2

The Power and Joy of Witnessing

(Acts 1 & 5, Matthew 3, John 14)
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Introduction: With the high price of gasoline these days you probably want to hear about an alternative source of power! How about a free source of energy? This week we turn our attention to the ingredient in our lives that will give us power in our witnessing. Let's take the power plunge into our study!

  1. THE GIFT


    1. Read Acts 1:3-5. Was John's baptism essential for a believer? Why?


      1. Is Jesus saying that baptism by the Holy Spirit is the equivalent, in importance, of a water baptism? Do you think it is more important?


        1. Read Matthew 3:1-2, 11. What does this text say is the reason for baptism with water? (Repentance)


          1. What does John mean when he says the "kingdom of heaven is near?" (I think he means Jesus.)


          2. Why do you think he links baptism to the closeness of the kingdom of heaven?


        2. John speaks (v.11) of a coming baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. Are the Holy Spirit and fire the same thing? What do you think John means? (The context is important, so let's read Matthew 3:10-12. John seems to say that Jesus will give the Holy Spirit (greater power) to His followers. Fire represents destruction. Perhaps this means we have a choice: God or destruction. However, consider whether it can also refer to the destruction of evil tendencies among the righteous.)


        3. What about today? Is the kingdom of heaven at hand? Do we face a Holy Spirit vs. fire decision? How about a Holy Spirit AND fire situation?


      2. In Acts 1:4 Jesus calls baptism with the Holy Spirit "a gift from the Father." Why is the Holy Spirit a gift? (Remember last week we learned the disciples were told in Matthew 28:19 to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like righteousness, it is not something that we earn. See also Luke 11:13)


      3. If you cannot earn the Holy Spirit, can just anybody get Him? (Read John 14:14-17. This text suggests we must ask for the Counselor (the Holy Spirit). If you add one view of Matthew 3:11, which tells us that we have a choice between the Holy Spirit and fire, we see how important it is to ask for the Holy Spirit.)


      4. Read Acts 5:32. Doesn't this text give us mixed signals? It tells us the Holy Spirit is a gift, but that only those who obey get it. How do you explain this text?


    2. Let's get back to our story of the disciples in Acts 1. Read Acts 1:12-14. Remember Jesus earlier told them they would get a gift from the Father and that they should remain in Jerusalem until they got it. What do you think they were constantly praying about? (I think they, in accord with John 14:14, were praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit.)


      1. Have you asked for the gift of the Holy Spirit?


      2. Have you earnestly prayed for the gift of the Holy Spirit?


    3. If you were to get the gift of the Holy Spirit in power, what would you do with it? Let's look at that next.


  2. HANDLING THE GIFT


    1. We have decided two things:


      1. That we must ask for the Holy Spirit; but,


      2. The Spirit is a gift, like salvation, that we cannot earn.


    2. Does this mean that there are no conditions for receiving the Holy Spirit?


      1. Can anybody who asks, get the Spirit, regardless of how they will handle the gift?


      2. What are the "user conditions" to the getting the gift?


    3. Read Philippians 2:12-15. When verse 13 refers to the "God who works in you," what is meant? Is this the Holy Spirit?


      1. Who is supposed to be running the show in our life: you or God?


      2. Whose purpose are we supposed to follow without complaining or arguing?


    4. If you want to use the Holy Spirit, as opposed to being USED BY the Holy Spirit, do you think He will come in power?


      1. Is this a "user condition" to getting the gift of the Holy Spirit - that you have to follow His lead?


      2. We were earlier troubled by Acts 5:32 (God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey). Is this the answer? Obedience is an attitude of following God as opposed to following our own desires?


    5. When we buy cleaning products they give handling and use instructions. ("Handle with care." "Do not take internally." "Do not get in contact with your eyes.") What handling instructions would you suggest for the Holy Spirit? (How about, "Do not handle, let it handle you?")


    6. We have already seen in Acts 1:14 that the disciples were in prayer while waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our lesson (Thursday) suggests a link between fasting and the action of the Holy Spirit. Read Acts 13:2-4. This text refers to fasting and praying and the resulting guidance of the Holy Spirit. What reason can you think of for fasting? What sense is there in fasting (other than to lose weight)?


      1. Why are fasting and prayer mentioned together?


      2. Are we more likely to receive the Holy Spirit in power if we have been fasting?


        1. Our lesson suggests (Thursday) digesting food drains energy from the brain - therefore the reason for fasting. Is that it? Fasting stops the "brain drain?"
          1. I'm feeling very tired at the moment that I am writing this. If God is concerned about the physiological, why don't we read in the Bible about "prayer and getting enough sleep?" "Prayer and exercise?"


          2. We spent the first part of this section discussing letting the Holy Spirit use us. Is the practice of fasting related to the idea of the Spirit using us? (I think the lesson is missing the mark on the "brain drain" idea. Fasting is self-denial. Fasting makes you feel weak. It is kind of a humility thing. Self-denial, dependence upon God, those are the conditions that are most conducive to receiving the Holy Spirit in power.


  3. JOY IN THE GIFT


    1. The title of our lesson refers to the "joy" of witnessing. Is there joy in being used by the Holy Spirit? If you say "yes," then describe it to me.


    2. Read Acts 2:4, 6, 12-21. Does it sound like the disciples were having fun? If you were part of the "Joel experience" would you be having fun?


      1. Not too many of us have a language barrier when it comes to witnessing to those we know. Can the Holy Spirit still give us a gift of tongues? (Knowing what to say (see Luke 12:11-12) is certainly a variation on this gift.)


      2. Would you have joy in knowing just the right thing to say to help an unbeliever?


    3. Friend, God wants to give us the gift of His Holy Spirit. He is looking for open hearts, those who are ready to be used by His power. Will you open your life to this gift?


  4. Next Week: Participants in Witnessing.

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