Sharing Your Faith - Lesson 1
How Early Christians Share Their Faith
- Jesus Gives the Great Commission. Jesus was in the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension and was giving His final instructions to the apostles. Mark 16:16 records His words this way: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” In this great commission, Jesus challenges his apostles to make the good news that He has brought salvation known to every person on earth. As people hear this good news, they are to believe in Jesus and to be baptized so they can be saved. Matthew 28:19-20 tells of the same occasion and Matthew gives even more of what Jesus said to the apostles: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This passage adds that we are to make disciples (learners) of everyone, to baptize them, and then we are to help them learn more of what Jesus has commanded. Luke 24:47 gives another account of the great commission: “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Since all of these passages describe the same occasion, we get the best picture of what Jesus said by combining all three accounts. Essentially He said: You apostles and those whom you reach, should go everywhere in the world teaching the good news that I came to die as the punishment for sins so through me all might be saved. But you must be the messengers of this word by taking the gospel to every person. Then they will know about me and will believe on me, repent of their sins, and be baptized to be saved.
- The Apostles Begin the Carry Out the Great Commission. In Acts 1:8, a passage which is also from the same 40 days, Jesus says the apostles are to be His “witnesses” to carry the message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all over the world. Witnesses are those who testify and declare. So these apostles, and all of us who follow them, are to tell people the story of Jesus in every way we can and where ever we can. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles in what to say so their message would be exactly right. And on that day, Peter preached the first sermon in carrying out what Jesus challenged His followers to do. He taught about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. At the end of his sermon, he said, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Peter’s sermon convinced thousands that Jesus was the Christ and that many Jews, even some that were there, had a hand in killing Him. When they realized this, they were “cut to the heart” and asked, “What shall we do?” These obviously now believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So have they done all they have to do to have their sins forgiven? Peter answers their question of what to do with these words, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Even though they already believed, they had to demonstrate that faith in obedience. How did the people respond? Three thousand of them, believers who accepted Jesus as the Son of God, repented of their sins and were immersed so they could be forgiven of sins. Thus the apostles and early Christians began carrying out the charge Jesus had given them to “preach the gospel to all creation.” Christ’s church, those saved by His blood, has now begun and is at work. Those who have been saved tell others the good news and people are being baptized every day.
- Opposition Arises Against the Church. Opposition to the work of the apostles, however, was not long in arising. Soon the Jewish leaders, the very ones who had opposed Jesus when He was alive and who had contributed to His death, were stirring opposition against those who teaching that He was the Son of God. Acts 4:1-4, 18- 21, and 29 tell us of this rising opposition. Apostles are being put into jail, peoples’ houses are being invaded to find Christians to be put into prison, and finally, Stephen, a Christian preacher, is stoned to death by an angry mob. But the Christians were not scared away from doing what Jesus said—sharing their faith and the number of Christians grew and grew until there were more than 10,000 Christians. Acts 8:4 tells us that as the opposition, led by a Jew named Saul, became so intense, that many of the disciples left Jerusalem to go to other places. While it was a very difficult for Christians to leave their homes and strike out for some other place, this persecution served as a way to spread the gospel message. It is very important to notice that as these Christians were driven from Jerusalem because they had been telling the story of Jesus, as they left they did not say “Let’s quit telling the story of Jesus because that is getting us into trouble.” Rather, they said, “Let’s keep sharing the faith and if that creates persecution, so be it.” Acts 11:19-21 tells how those scattered by this persecution continued to carry out the word Christ had given them. Now they are past Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and are going to the ends of the earth—to Cyprus and Antioch. And these places, in turn, become the launching pads for still further spread of the gospel.
As we look at these early Christians, we must be struck by the fact that they were very dedicated to taking the message about Jesus and salvation through Him to others. They shared their faith with friends because they were excited about the benefits Jesus can give. And when opposition arose, even putting some of them in prison and others to death, they did not stop. We need to have a similar commitment. Thankfully, few of us would have to face prison or death to share our faith. We might have to give up a little time or stick our necks out a little to take a stand in front of a friend. Let’s be like the early Christians and show great determination in sharing our faith with others.
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student will be able to quote the great commission according to Mark 16:16.
- The student will be able to cite stories from Acts that tell how early Christians readily shared their faith.
- The student will be able to tell about the growth pattern of the early church both numerically and geographically.
- Have a chalkboard, marker board, overhead, or PowerPoint ready. (You may download the PowerPoint to make overhead transparencies. When you do, click “Pure Black and White” on the print dialog box.)
- Have copies of the review sheet ready to hand out at the end of class.
- Be sure all students have Bibles.
- Have access to a map—on the wall, on a transparency, on the supplied PowerPoint.
Since the early church is our model for the church today, it is important to know the marching orders Jesus gave the early church and how they carried out those orders.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 15 minutes)
- Call the roll, welcome visitors, and make any necessary announcements.
- Tell the class the study for the new quarter is about how we can share our faith with others.
- Have one of the young men lead a song if that will work well for your group. The song should be about spreading the gospel such as Lead Me To Some Soul Today, Send the Light or a similar song. Ask someone to lead a prayer and ask him to keep in mind the theme for the new quarter: how we can reach out to others.
- Ask a few members of the class to tell how they came to know about Jesus. Most will probably say they grew up in the church. If someone didn’t, see if that person would share how another helped them to know the Lord.
- Let the students help you discuss the possible benefits of this study. Ask them such questions as,
- “How important is it for us to share our faith?”
- “What benefits come to us and others from sharing our faith?”
- “Have you ever talked with someone about coming to church or to class or to a Bible study?”
- “Should we be doing more of this?”
- “What would happen if we did?”
- “How important is this to the church today?” (From this point on, questions for you to ask the students are indicated by “Q” followed by the question) Be sure the students get a good feel for the good that can come from a study of how to do better in sharing our faith and how important this is to the church.
Learning Experiences: (about 24 minutes)
- Ask the students to open their Bibles to Mark 16:16. Explain the setting for this passage. Jesus was in that period between His resurrection and His ascension and was giving final instructions to his apostles.
- Q: What challenge does Jesus give here to the apostles? As students give the answers, write the words “into all the world” and “to every creature” on the board or on an overhead sheet or use the PowerPoint you have downloaded. (For future references to what to put on the board, on overhead, or in PowerPoint, the word “visual” will be used. Visual: Believe and be baptized to be saved.
- Now ask a student to read the parallel passage from Matthew 28:19-20. Q: “What additional information does this give us?” Visual: Make disciples (learners) of all nations, baptizing them.
- Now ask a student to read the parallel passage from Luke 24:47. Q: What additional information does this give about our challenge? Visual: repentance and remission of sins be preached—beginning at Jerusalem.
- Q: “What are the essential elements in these three passages that summarize Jesus’ message?”
- Q: “Why does Jesus wants us to share His message with everyone? Visual: remission of sins, be saved.
- Q: “What does Jesus ask us to tell people to do?” Visual: learn, believe, repent, be baptized, learn more
- Q: Where did Jesus say the apostles were to start this work? Visual: Jerusalem.
- Now ask someone to read Acts 1:8. Q: “What does it mean to be a witness? (testify, declare) Q: Where does this passage say they were to be witnesses?” Visual: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, ends of the earth. Point these out on a map.
- Now ask someone to read about the beginning of their witness in Jerusalem—the end of Peter’s sermon and the reaction to it—Acts 2:32-40. Q: Did Peter preach what Jesus had said? (Yes—believe in Jesus, repent, be baptized for remission of sins.) Q: What response did he receive? (3,000 were baptized.)
- Q: “Did the apostles and others have any opposition?” Have someone read Acts 4:1-4, 18-21, 29. Q: How did they respond to the opposition? Were they scared away? Q: Were they able to continue to reach others? Q: About how large is the church in Jerusalem now? (TEACHER: BE SURE TO SAVE TIME FOR THE APPLICATION EVEN IF IT MEANS NOT QUITE FINISHING ALL THESE POINTS.)
- Now have someone read Acts 6:7. Q: As they continue to spread the word, what happens?
- Now have someone read Acts 8:1b, 4-5,12. Q: Can you connect this with the great commission? (Point to visuals: Judea, Samaria, believe, baptized).
- Now have someone read Acts 11:19-21. Visual: Point out Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch on the map. Q: How are the disciples carrying out the words of Jesus?
Applications: (about 5 minutes)
- How important was it to early Christians that they share their faith? (So important that they would not be scared away by threats, by jail, even by death to their members. They were very determined.)
- Did they preach exactly what Jesus said? (Yes)
- What obstacles do we have to overcome to share our faith?
Assignment: (about 1 minute)
- Memorize Mark 16:16 and be able to write it on a piece of paper at the next class meeting.
- As we begin next class meeting, we’ll ask you a few questions about the start of the church. Here is a review sheet for you to study.
- Tell students that a written text of each lesson in this series is on the internet at http://www.ebiblestudy.org/lessons. They can use this for a review each week and when they miss a class, they can read this to catch up on what they missed and thus be ready for the quiz that will come at the first of the following class meeting. Encourage the students to use this statement. Sometimes this text includes more than there was time to cover in class.
Evaluation: (next class meeting)
- Ask students to take the quiz provided or make up your own.
Sharing Your Faith
- Memorize Mark 16:16
- Fill in the blanks below from what you remember from the class. Look up the verse given if you need it to complete the blanks.
- Jesus told His apostles to take the message about him to _______ _________. (Mark 16:16)
- The message, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is to include commands to do what three things?
- Where were the apostles to begin their work? ____________________ (Acts 1:8)
- To what other places were they to go next? (Acts 1:8)
- What came that caused them to move to other places? _________________ (Acts 8:4)
- What number would probably be the least to accurately describe the number of Christians in Jerusalem.
- What were the early Christians willing to endure in order to share their faith with others?
Sharing Your Faith
- Write below the words of Mark 16:16—
- Answer the following questions:
- Which of the following statements is correct about Jesus’ great commission?
- It appears in only one gospel.
- It challenges Christians in all ages to share their faith.
- Jesus spoke it just before His death
- Taking the complete record of Jesus’ great commission into account, what commands did He tell his disciples to proclaim?
- believe, confess, and repent
- repent and believe
- believe, repent, be baptized
- repent and pray
- The apostles were to move in what sequence geographically?
- Jerusalem, Samaria, Galilee, and Antioch
- Jerusalem, Judea, Galilee, and Samaria
- Jerusalem, Judea, Antioch, and Cyprus
- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, other places
- Which of the following was a major factor in causing the Jerusalem church to spread elsewhere?
- Which of the following statements is correct about Jesus’ great commission?
- a powerful sermon on missions
Back to Sharing Your Faith - Teen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.