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Bookmark and ShareLesson 12 – September 17Worship in the Early Church

Scripture Focus

Acts 1:1-11; 2:14-41; 17:15-34; 18:1-16; 1 Corinthians 13


As the gospel spread to the Gentiles, worship in the early Christian church began to change, providing lessons in how to share Christ in worship with the world.

Materials Needed

Gong or cymbal with mallet, a robe, sandals, beard, paper, pencils

Connecting with the Scripture Topic

  1. Have someone surprise your group by repeatedly hitting a gong or cymbal to the point of being annoying. Then consider that the Bible says if you don’t have love, your life is just a lot of noise with no meaning. Why did Paul say this in 1 Corinthians 13?
  2. Have someone come to class dressed as Peter, reading his sermon in Acts 2:14-40. Afterward, consider what it felt like to sit and hear Peter’s words in this way. What emotions did you experience?

Sharing and Receiving Scripture

  1. Draw a medium-sized circle in the middle of a piece of paper. Fill the circle with your favorite color and then draw many circles around it using different colors. Each color represents people’s diversity (gender, denomination, socio-economic status, culture, skin color, education, etc.). Do these differences raise worship challenges?
  2. Thought Questions

After the resurrection and before ascending to heaven, Jesus encouraged the disciples. Read Acts 1:1-11. Verse 3 describes infallible proof of Christ’s divinity. How might this guide our worship and witness today?

  1. People today are so skeptical. We are quite limited in sharing proof like Christ did, but we should try.
  2. We should boldly share proof of Jesus with others through powerful preaching and Bible studies.
  3. We should be careful in sharing logical proof with others. We can get too intellectual for some people.
  4. One of the greatest proofs of Christ is our love for one another.
  5. A Spirit-filled worship service can be a powerful proof of Christ among true seekers today.
  6. Other...

Preaching the Word has been a central part of worship since the apostles’ time in the early church. Read Peter’s preaching service and the results in Acts 2:14-41. What keeps us from having similar results today?

  1. A lack of the Spirit in the hearts of people in the pew.
  2. A lack of the Spirit in the hearts of preachers
  3. Many of us live in an affluent world where people do not sense their need for God.
  4. Many things compete for our attention.
  5. Nothing keeps us from having similar results, except our lack of faith in what Christ can do.
  6. Other...

Paul preached a powerful sermon on Mars Hill in Athens but had minimal results. Read about it in Acts 17:15-34. What lessons does Paul’s experience provide us in our worship and faith-sharing?

  1. Breaking through a pagan worldview is tough.
  2. Paul was too culturally sensitive in his sermon and should have been bolder in sharing Christ.
  3. It wasn’t a total failure; some people believed (see v. 34).
  4. Sometimes it is better to work one-on-one with people than to try to persuade a skeptical crowd.
  5. This sermon wasn’t a failure on Paul’s part. He did speak boldly of Creation and the Judgment.
  6. Other...

Corinth was a challenging place of ministry for Paul. Read Acts 18:1-16. Paul apparently got fed up with the Jews’ resistance and turned to the Gentiles. How did that work?

  1. It was terrible. The Jews were infuriated and went to the local city council to complain.
  2. It was great. As a result, many Jews and Gentiles turned to Jesus.
  3. It was painful. Sometimes good results cause collateral damage: Sosthenes was beaten.
  4. It was rejuvenating. This story teaches us that sometimes we need to use a fresh approach.
  5. It was affirming. God sometimes uses secular powers to protect churches from unwanted results.
  6. Other...

Applying the Message of Scripture

Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to the larger group when your facilitator says time is up.

  • Option 1: The disciples were promised in Acts 1:8 that that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit after Jesus returned to heaven. Does the Adventist Church have this power? Is so, what is the evidence? If not, why not?
  • Option 2: Read Acts 2:42-47. Most church members today are “in-and-out” once a week. The early church did more than just come together to worship—the members fellowshipped together, ate together, and sold possessions to earn money for those in need. How can your church follow their example? Make a list of your ideas and share them with your pastor and ministry board.
  • Option 3: Using the model of 1 Corinthians 13, write a description of what your church would be like if everyone lived by this chapter. What would board meetings be like? How would members who have publicly sinned be treated? How would you reach out to your community?

Valuing Scripture in Your Life

  1. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit “came to rest on each of them.” Jesus said the Holy Spirit was given so they would have power to be witnesses. If your witnessing seems unsuccessful, why not ask for the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?
  2. Ask Jesus to open your mind and heart and then read 1 Corinthians 13. Ask God to show ways in which you’re lacking in love. Commit to being more loving like Jesus.

Next Week’s Scripture Focus

Job 42:1-6; Revelation 1:13-18; 13; 14:6-12; 19:1-5

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