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Book of Acts - Course A

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The First Converts at Work - Acts 2:42-3:26
Lesson 3


Introduction:

In Acts 2:14-36 Peter had preached the first gospel sermon after Jesus' resurrection and ascension. 3000 people obeyed and became the first converts to the gospel. Please review Lesson 2 before proceeding. Let us see what these people did as new converts to the gospel.


I. Worship - Acts 2:42


>>> Please read Acts 2:42. <<<

*1,2,3&4* In what four things did early converts "continue steadfastly"? Answer (list them in order): They continued in the apostles' ______, in ______, in ______, and in ______.

The apostles' doctrine

Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles in their preaching (John 16:13). Their message was the very will of Jesus Himself (Luke 10:16; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Matthew 10:19,20). We should study their message diligently today, just as these early Christians did. No commands should be taught that differ from what they taught (Matthew 15:9; Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17).

Fellowship

"Fellowship" means sharing. Early Christians shared many blessings (see vv 43-45). V42 refers to activities they shared together in worship. All Christians have spiritual fellowship with one another because of our fellowship with God (1 John 1:3-7). But we should never share or have fellowship in sin (Eph. 5:11; 2 John 9-11).

Breaking of bread

"Breaking bread" can refer to a common meal (as in v46). But v42 clearly refers to worship, so this must be the Lord's Supper.

>>> Please read Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 11:23-26. <<<

*5* What is the meaning of the unleavened bread in communion? Answer: The bread is a memorial to Jesus' ______.

*6* What is the meaning of the cup (fruit of the vine)? Answer: The cup is a memorial to His ______.

Old Testament feasts memorialized various important events. In the New Testament we remember Jesus' death in the Lord's Supper. We will later see that this should be done each first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

Prayer

Prayer refers to speaking to God (Acts 4:23-31), in which we praise and thank Him and make requests (Philippians 4:6,7; 1 Peter 5:7).

>>> Please read 1 Timothy 2:5,6. <<<

*7* How many mediators are there between men and God? Answer (give a number): There is ______ mediator between God and men.

*8* Who is this mediator? (a) Mary, (b) the priesthood, (c) Buddha, (d) Jesus, (e) dead saints, (f) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Comments: Jesus is the only Mediator between men and God, because His death makes it possible for us to approach God in prayer. Since only Jesus did this, no one else can mediate between men and God.

We will see that other acts of Scriptural worship include singing and giving. Like these early converts, we too should "continue steadfastly" in all these acts of worship (Heb. 10:25).


II. Caring for Needy Members - Acts 2:43-45


>>> Please read Acts 2:43-45. <<<

*9* What work is described here? (a) building a cathedral, (b) a pilgrimage to Mecca, (c) caring for needy members, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

*10* Who gave to help people who were in need (v44)? Answer: Those who gave were all who ______.

Comment: The purpose of this collection was to relieve individuals in need, not to distribute property equally (2:45; 4:35). Each disciple decided voluntarily how much to give (2 Cor. 9:7; Acts 5:4). Christians did not practice mandatory communal living. People continued to own houses to live in (Acts 2:46; 21:8; chap. 12). This special need likely arose because people had come to Jerusalem from all over the world (vv 5-11). After being converted, they stayed to be taught before going home. Other Christians went to great lengths to provide for them.

Many other verses show that local churches helped needy members (Acts 4:32-5:11; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:1,12). We will learn that churches received funds to do their work by taking collections on the first day of the week. All members gave generously according to their prosperity. See 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; 2 Corinthians 9:6,7.


III. Church Growth - Acts 2:46,47


>>> Please read Acts 2:46,47. <<<

*11* Who adds people to Jesus' church? (a) the Pope, (b) the Lord, (c) the priests, (d) the other members vote them in, (e) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

*12* Whom does the Lord add to the church? Answer: The Lord adds those who are ______.

Comments: To accommodate meetings of thousands of Christians, the Jerusalem church apparently met in a porch of the temple (cf. Acts 3:11; 5:12). However, they ate their meals at home.

We will see that the work of the early church involved worshiping God, studying and teaching God's word, and caring for needy members. As a church, they never became involved in modern Social Gospel activities, such as entertainment and recreation, etc. Even common meals were eaten apart from church meetings (see also 1 Cor. 11:22,34). The church is a spiritual body, dedicated to the salvation of souls. We need to imitate this spiritual emphasis in the church today.

From verse 47 on, Acts describes the church as a living, working group of people (Acts 5:11; 8:1-3; 11:22,26; etc.). The church is not a physical building or a denomination. It is the body of all people who have been saved by Jesus' blood and over whom He rules as Head (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22,23; 5:23,25; Acts 20:28). If, as some believe, the church is not essential to salvation, that would mean that Jesus' blood and Headship are also non-essential!

One cannot purchase membership or be voted into the church that Jesus' built. One must submit to the gospel, so Jesus' blood cleanses him. Then Jesus adds him to the church (v47).

The church promised by Jesus had begun. It is the kingdom of Christ, and all saved people are in it! Are you part of it?

(Note: If you would like to learn more about the importance of membership in Jesus' church, please see the links at the end of this lesson.)


IV. The Healing of the Lame Man - Acts 3:1-10


The Problem

>>> Please read Acts 3:1,2. <<

*13* What problem did the man at the temple gate have? Answer: The man was ______.

*14* What proves he really had this problem? (a) he was lame from birth, (b) he was 40 years old (Acts 4:22), (c) people carried him to the temple, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Comment: The Holy Spirit gave the apostles power to do miraculous signs (Acts 2:43). These miracles confirmed that God sent the men to act on His behalf. Satan sends false prophets, who claim to be from God (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Matt. 7:15). Today, we can recognize false prophets by comparing their teaching to the Bible, but when the church had just begun the Bible was not completed yet. People needed a way to distinguish true prophets from false prophets. Miracles accomplished that purpose (cf. Acts 1:3; 2:22; 14:3; Mark 16:20; John 20:30,31; Hebrews 2:3,4).

To do this, true miracles had to be signs that false prophets could not duplicate. They were always clearly impossible by natural law but could be accomplished only by God's supernatural power. They always possessed characteristics that marked them as true miracles. These characteristics also distinguish Bible signs from the so-called miracles of modern false healers. The healing of the lame man demonstrates the characteristics of true miraculous Bible signs.

The first characteristic was that miraculous healings solved obvious diseases that clearly existed. This man had been lame all his life (over 40 years). He had to be carried to the temple gate. Bible miracles never cured invisible or psychosomatic diseases, but always clear, obvious physical diseases. Modern "healers" often profess to heal problems that cannot be seen or that could result from a person's state of mind.

>>> Please read Acts 3:3-5. <<<

*15* What did the man ask Peter and John to give him? (a) healing (b) a miracle, (c) alms (a charitable gift), (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Comment: The man asked for money, not for a miracle. This shows that people who were healed in the Bible did not always have faith to be healed. This man was not even expecting to be healed. Modern "healers" often fail to accomplish a healing, so they blame the sick person for not having enough faith. When Jesus tried to heal, He never failed, nor did the apostles fail after the Spirit came on Pentecost. And they never excused a failure on other people's lack of faith.

The Healing

>>> Please read Acts 3:6-8. <<<

*16&17* Why didn't Peter give the man money? Answer: Peter said he had no ______ or ______.

*18* What did Peter do for the man? Answer: Instead of giving money, Peter told him to rise up and ______ in the name of Jesus .

*19* How do we know the man was healed? (a) he stood up, (b) he leaped and walked, (c) he reacted immediately, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Comment: This shows other characteristics of true Bible miracles.

Miracles were never done for the personal glory or financial gain of the teacher. Peter had no wealth and asked for none. He gave the glory to God ("in the name of Jesus"). Modern healers always ask for contributions, even from people in abject poverty. Often such men are very rich.

Also, the healing was instantaneous - the man "immediately" received strength. This is true of all Bible healings (cf. Luke 13:11-13; Mark 2:10-12; 5:25-29, 35-42; etc.). Modern "healers" often claim miracles if people gradually improve over a period of days, months, or years!

Further, the healing was complete and obvious. All symptoms of the disease were removed. The man stood up leaping and walking. Even if his strength had returned, he would naturally need to learn to walk. But this man could immediately leap and walk. Modern "healers" often claim miracles when improvement is only partial or not obvious at all.

>>> Please read Acts 3:9,10. <<<

*20* Who observed the man walking? (a) all the people, (b) only the apostles, (c) no one, (d) only the man himself saw it. Answer: ______.

*21* How did this affect the people? Answer: The people were filled with ______.

Comment: Again note that the people could observe for themselves the effect of the miracle. It occurred to a man they knew locally. They were not asked to believe on the basis of unconfirmed testimony about events that occurred to unknown people in faraway lands. They could observe the proof for themselves.

Finally note that the miracle caused wonder and amazement. This illustrates the purpose of miracles. They always occurred to confirm that men were sent by God (see references above).

Consider what we have learned about miraculous Bible healings:

Characteristics of Miraculous Healing

Bible Miracles

Modern "Healings"
* Impossible by natural law
* Obvious ailments
* No failures
* Not for the gain of the healer
* Instantaneous
* Complete, obvious healing
* Purpose: to confirm the word
*Explainable by natural law
* Often invisible or psychosomatic
* Often try but fail
* Healers become wealthy
* Gradual or progressive
* Improvement partial or no proof
* Confirms no new revelation

(Note: If you would like to learn more about the nature of Bible miracles compared to modern "miracles," see the links at the end of this page.)


V. The Second Gospel Sermon - Acts 3:11-26


>>> Please read Acts 3:11-15. <<<

*22* What happened as news of the healing spread? Answer: As news spread many people ran together and met on Solomon's ______.

*23* What did Peter accuse the people of doing to Jesus? Answer: Peter said they had ______ Jesus.

*24* What did God do? (a) killed the people, (b) forgave everyone, (c) raised Jesus from the dead, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

*25* How did Peter prove Jesus had been raised? Answer: The apostles were ______ that Jesus had been raised.

Comment: People gathered as they heard about the miracle, so Peter used the opportunity to preach to them. The message is similar to Acts 2.

Peter convicted the people of killing Jesus and again gave the apostles' testimony that Jesus had been raised (see Acts 1:8; 2:32). Sinners must come to believe in Jesus. Peter's first proof was the resurrection.

>>> Please read Acts 3:16-18. <<<

*26* Who had sent the power that healed the lame man? Answer: The power to heal came through faith in ______.

*27* Did the people kill the Christ: (a) knowingly, or (b) ignorantly? Answer (a or b): ______.

*28* Who had foretold the suffering of Jesus? Answer: God foretold Jesus' suffering through all His ______.

Comment: Peter said that the healing of the lame man was done by the power of Jesus. So his second proof of Jesus was miracles.

When the people killed Jesus, they had not known He was their Christ, God's Son. But they were still guilty. Ignorance of God's law is not an excuse (see Acts 17:30).

As in Acts 2:23, Jesus' death was not unexpected. God knew all along it would happen, and had predicted it by the prophets. So Peter's third proof of Jesus was fulfilled prophecy, just like in Acts 2:23-36.

>>> Please read Acts 3:19-21. <<<

*29* What did Peter say they should do about their sins? Answer: He told them to repent and ______.

*30* Heaven must receive Jesus until what happens? (a) the times of restoration, (b) He establishes an earthly kingdom, (c) the Rapture. Answer: ______.

Comments: "Conversion" refers to a change of life, so one ceases being alienated from God and enters into His fellowship (Matt. 18:3; 13:15).

Now compare Acts 3:19 to Acts 2:38:

2:38 - Repent and be baptized for remission of sins
3:19 - Repent and be converted so your sins may be blotted out

The parallel shows that baptism is the point at which one is converted. "For remission of sins" (2:38) means "that your sins may be blotted out" (3:19). So again, baptism is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins. Then one receives "times of refreshing" - he is born again so that all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17; John 3:5; Rom. 6:3,4).

What are the "times of restoration" (v21)? Man's sin brought spiritual consequences including alienation from God (Gen. 3:1-15). Jesus' death can "restore" sinners to God's favor. The gospel age is the time when this saving message is preached so all have the opportunity to be restored, as prophesied in the Old Testament. At the end of the gospel age Jesus will come to judge men for their lives.

>>>Please read Acts 3:22,23. <<<

*31* Who predicted the coming of a prophet like himself? (a) Isaiah, (b) Mohammed, (c) Joseph Smith, (d) Moses. Answer: ______.

*32* How much of that prophet's message must we listen to? Answer: We must hear ______ He teaches.

*33* What happens to those who do not give heed to Him? Answer: Those who don't give heed will be ______ from among the people.

Comments: Again, various cults claim that their leader was the prophet predicted to be like Moses. But the whole context describes the work of Christ. V26 clearly says great blessings came through Jesus. In Acts 7:37 Stephen again quotes this passage and applies it to Jesus. Jesus is the prophet who was like Moses. What could be more fitting?

People today must listen to all that Jesus teaches us. Some want to pick and choose, accepting what they like and rejecting the rest. The prophecy says that those who do so will be utterly destroyed.

>>> Please read Acts 3:24-26. <<<

*34* What prophets had foretold "these days" when Peter spoke (v24)? Answer: This was foretold by ______ the prophets.

*35* What covenant had been made with Abraham? Answer: God promised all families of the earth would be ______.

*36* What blessing fulfilled the covenant? Answer: We are blessed through Jesus if we turn away from our ______.

Comment: God's covenant with Abraham was known by every Jew. It was the basis of Israel's special position in God's plan. But the greatest hope it offered was a blessing for people of all nations, not just Jews. Peter here clearly identifies that blessing: It was forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal. 3:8,16). This great blessing had come! The covenant with Abraham had been fulfilled! Salvation was available to all! Have you received that forgiveness?

Personal application questions:

*37* How should worship in the church today compare to that of the early church? __________________

*38* Do you believe miracles like in Acts 3 really did occur? __________________

*39* Do you believe membership in Jesus' church is essential to eternal life? __________________

When you have carefully studied this lesson and written down answers to all the questions, click on this link to submit your answers.

(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 1999 (click for copyright information)

Topics for further Bible study

Does the Holy Spirit Guide Men Directly and Do Miracles Today?
The Purpose of Baptism
The Importance of Jesus' Church

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