Lesson 13


(Acts 1 & 18, 1 Corinthians 1)
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Introduction: Do you know someone "on fire" for Jesus? Was that you at some point in your life? Next question: do you know someone who is on fire for Jesus their entire life? I've seen plenty of people who are "fired up" at first, but I do not recall anyone who maintains their initial level of fervor. Why is that? Is that a normal part of our Christian mission? Is that consistent with God's will? When we are called by Jesus to mission, what does He expect of us? Let's plunge again into the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Partners in Mission

    1. Read Acts 1:1-3. What did Jesus do after His resurrection? (He spent 40 days with His disciples convincing them He was, indeed, alive and He taught them about the Kingdom of God.)

    2. Read Acts 1:4-6. Who would work with the disciples in the future? (The Holy Spirit.)

      1. What do you think about the disciples' question in Acts 1:6?

        1. When do you think it was asked? (Notice that we just read in Acts 1:3 that over a forty-day period Jesus spoke to them about His kingdom. I hope this question was at the beginning of the forty days and not at the end.)

    3. Read Acts 1:7-8. Given this background, about what are the disciples to witness? (That Jesus has been resurrected and that He has a coming kingdom.)

      1. Is that our mission today? These words were spoken to the disciples then, if you think they are still applicable, explain why?

      2. Were they able to do the job on their own? (No. They were given explicit directions to wait until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.)

        1. Is that also a requirement today? Must we wait until the Holy Spirit comes to work with us on our mission?

          1. What about the people who say that the day of the Holy Spirit being present in power is past? What kind of mission do they have?

    4. Read Acts 1:12-14. What did they do to prepare for their mission? (Prayed together. I think the task remains the same. I think the means to do the task remains the same. We cannot properly engage in mission without the Holy Spirit. If we are not sure the Holy Spirit is part of our mission, we need to fervently pray to be equipped by the Holy Spirit for mission.)

  2. Mission and Bread-winning

    1. Does the "fire" cool when we realize that we have to go out and earn a living?

      1. Or, is earning a living part of the way in which we perform our mission?

    2. Read Acts 18:1-4. Was Paul engaged in full-time preaching? (Not in these verses. They paint a picture of tent-making during the week and preaching on Sabbath.)

    3. Read Acts 18:5. How is Paul occupied now? (He is now engaged in full-time preaching.)

    4. Was Paul less on fire when he was preaching on weekends then when he was preaching all the time? (I doubt it. Meeting his practical needs was a part of his total work.)

    5. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10. Is secular work a religious obligation? (Paul says that because he was engaged in ministry he had the right to "help" from fellow Christians. At the same time he says the Christian community has a religious obligation to work. Therefore, they could not all be engaging in ministry.)

      1. Let's look at the practical side of this. Do you know people at work who would never show up at any church?

      2. Do you have neighbors or acquaintances who would never show up at church? (If the answer is "yes," then ministry for you is reaching these people with a model life and a Spirit-led word. See John 14:26.)

    6. Read Titus 2:7-8. What aspect of our life is ministry? (Everything we do provides an influence for good or for evil. Our mission is to consider the nature of our influence, and through the power of the Holy Spirit seek to make our influence positive in every aspect.)

  3. Message in Mission

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18. What does the Bible say is our message? (The cross.)

      1. What is the problem with our message? (The world considers it foolishness.)

      2. We decided earlier that the disciples (and us) were to witness to Jesus' resurrection and His coming kingdom. Is that consistent with our message being the cross? (Yes. The cross and Jesus' resurrection shows our opportunity for forgiveness of sin and eternal life!)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 1:19-21. Is there good news in preaching "foolishness?" (You don't have to be a genius to share this news.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. Do we need miracles or logic to promote the message? (As you know, I like to use logic - because I think it promotes the gospel. But neither logic nor miracles are necessary to our message: Christ crucified.)

      1. Why is our message Christ crucified? Why not good works? Why not the Sabbath? Why not good eating habits? Why not exercise, not smoking, or seat-belt wearing? (Jesus crucified is the fulfillment of the sanctuary service. He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. John 1:29. Nothing else takes away our sins. Jesus' sacrifice is the centerpiece of our message. There are other good, logical and important ideas, but the core of our message is the cross.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. Why does God choose "weak" players? He wants the world to look bad? Why is that a goal? (Our message is Christ, not us. Can you see the consistent theme? The cross, not our works, is our focus. Why? Because the cross points to what God did, not what we did. Those who have power, intelligence, influence, good-looks have no advantage in the mission. Indeed, they may have a disadvantage because the focus is to be on God, not ourselves.)

      1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:28-31. Does that mean that smart, influential people are disqualified from mission? (Look who wrote these words - Paul, a highly trained, highly intelligent person. I think Paul's point is everyone is qualified for mission as long as they give glory to God and make Him the focus of mission. God does not need human glory to get His job done. He just needs willing partners who realize the power and glory go to God.)

    5. In the days when I had more influence over who preached in the pulpit of my church, I would say the worship service "was not amateur hour," meaning that the unprepared, the ill-equipped and the obviously inexperienced should not be allowed to preach. The members' time in church on Sabbath was limited and valuable and I did not want it wasted with terrible sermons. Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Was I wrong? (I'm disqualified from answering, but consider what kind of sermon would come from a "demonstration of the Spirit's power." The Holy Spirit is no amateur, and if the Spirit is in you, then you will be no amateur either.)

    6. Friend, will you take up the mission: in partnership with the Holy Spirit share the good news about the Lamb of God and His coming kingdom?

  4. Next week: We begin a new series on the epistles of John. I cannot wait!

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