God's Eternal Plan - Lesson 13
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can recount the conversion story of the Samaritans.
- The student can recount the conversion story of the Ethiopian.
- The student can recount the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
- The student can tell what Paul taught as he spread the gospel.
- The student can apply the story of the spread to his/her own circumstances.
- Each student needs access to a Bible.
- Have ready the Written Review on Lesson 12 and Worksheets for Lesson 13
- Have the song sheet for "God's Family" and "Send the Light."
- Have verses on cards for those who will read various passages to speed up the class.
God's Eternal Plan requires a response on the part of human beings and, having made that response ourselves, we should be active in taking the message to others.
Lesson Plan for Teaching the Class
Introduction: (12 minutes)
- Welcome the visitors.
- Sing "God's Family" if you have time.
- Give the Written Review over Lesson 12 which includes writing down the first 12 lesson titles and drawing the 10 pictures.
Learning Experiences: (28 minutes)
- Read 1 Peter 1:10-12, and 19-20. Q: How do these verses link with our study? A: They tell of the "grace that was to come" and how prophets wanted to look into it and did not see the whole picture. They also speak of Christ as the "perfect lamb" who was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed "in these last times." Just another passage that tells of the mystery.
- Read Acts 6:42 and Acts 4:4. Q: What happened after Pentecost? A: The church kept growing as the disciples kept spreading the word. Read Colossians 1:6, 23. Q: How far did this spread go? A: Through the efforts of Paul and many others we do not even know about, the message went to the nations of the earth. Paul here undoubtedly uses some hyperbole in saying every creature, but some have estimated that by 350 AD there were 34 million Christians. The spread was truly remarkable (See Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity.)
- In this study we want to look at some specific conversions that took place as the early church carried out Christ's instructions to take the message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Read Acts 8:12-13. Q: Where was Samaria and what was its religious background? A: It lay just north of Jude and was inhabited by those who were of a mixed race and followed a form of Judaism which did not match the original. The Jews despised the Samaritans. But Philip goes there to teach, as Jesus had instructed in Acts 1:8. Q: How is Philip's message summarized and what was the response? A: Preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. Those who believed were baptized. Q: Who was Simon? A: A sorcerer. One who did tricks of some kind to fool the people. He "also believed and was baptized." Thus, the same message that Peter preached on Pentecost is the message others preached.
- An angel next appears to Philip and tells him to go to a road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza, a rather deserted area. There he encounters an Ethiopian government official who has come to Jerusalem to worship because he is a believer in the God of the Jews. He is reading from Isaiah the prophet and when Philip comes near, the Ethiopian invites him to come into the chariot. Read Acts 8:34_39. Q: How does Philip connect the passage from Isaiah to Jesus? A: Jesus is the one who was "led as a sheep to the slaughter," and so Philip could start there and tell about the death of Jesus and how the message about Him was being spread. Q: What was included in Philip's "preaching of Jesus?" A: Baptism because the Ethiopian asks to be baptized. Q: How is the baptism performed? A: Both Philip and the Ethiopian leave the chariot, go out into the water, and there Philip baptizes him. Then they both walk up out of the water.The baptism was clearly by immersion.
- Read Acts 8:1_3. Q: As Christianity is spreading, who is leading the opposition to it and what is he doing and why? A: Saul of Tarsus. He is present at Stephen's stoning and consents. He is going into the homes of Christians and is taking them off to prison. He believes that Christ is an imposter and that this spreading heresy must be stopped. Read Acts 9:1-9. Q: What is the meaning of the event that happens on the road to Damascus and what does Jesus intend to be the outcome? A: Jesus makes a personal appearance to Saul to convince him that he has been wrong? Saul accepts that Jesus was truly the Messiah and asks what he must do. Jesus tells him to go into the city and he will be told what to do. Q: What must Saul give up if he becomes a Christian? A: His standing among the Jews, his friends, breaking with his teacher, Gamaliel, his income, and he must admit that in all of his efforts to stop Christianity he has been wrong. Q: How long does he contemplate what is going on in his life? A: Three days during which he is blind. Read Acts 22:14-16. Q: As Paul later recites the events of his conversion, what did Ananias tell him? A: Jesus wants him to be one who will spread the word about Him and that he should arise and be baptized to wash his sins away. It is important to note that even after believing and repenting for three days, he still has sins to be washed away. Q: With what other passage we have studied does this correspond? A: Acts 2:38-be baptized for forgiveness of sins.
- Q: How well does Paul carry out to mission to preach Jesus? A: Working primarily among Gentiles, he goes on missionary journeys to Galatia, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece, and eventually to Rome. Everywhere he takes the same message that Peter, Philip, and others have taught. Read Galatians 3:26_27. Q: What does Paul say one does to be "in Christ" and what does that mean? A: Believers are to be baptized "into Christ," into His body or family. And when they do, it will be like putting on new clothing which will be like putting on Christ.
- Read 1 John 2:24-25. Q: What does John urge his readers to do and what does this mean? A: Remain in what they heard from the beginning. They had heard the message which in Acts 2:42 was called "the apostles' teaching," and they were to remain in that.
- There are three main points to remember from this entire study. (1) God planned from before He created the world to have a way to bring back to Him those who left Him through sin. He took centuries to let that plan fully develop, but it all came out as God had planned with the birth and life of Jesus, His death for the sins of others and His resurrection. Then the apostles and others spread this message throughout the world. (2) Each of us should respond to this plan in obedience, just like so many did in the first century and after. (3) We are to join the apostles and millions of others in sharing this message with others.
- Let this study have a strong impact on you to do what Christ wants you to do about this plan.
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