TOPIC: CELEBRATING IN UNITY
Devotional Reading: Acts 2:32-33, 37-47
Background Scripture reading: Acts 2:32-33, 37-47
Lesson Scripture reading: Acts 2:32-33, 37-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. Acts 2:42
By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
i. Discuss the steps to gaining salvation.
ii. State some resulting effect of unity among believers in Christ.
iii. Encourage one another to be actively involved in all organs of the church that can aid unity.
Dr Clement Amadi, one time Assistant General Secretary of the Convention, in his book Stories that Preach gave an illustration of a man who called his children together at the point of death.
He brought a bunch of broom and gave to them to break one after the other. They all tried buy could not break the bunch of the broom after much struggle. Then he brought out a single broomstick and gave one to each of them with the same instruction to break it. The assignment became easier when each of them broke theirs with ease.
Then the man said, “Now that I am about to die, if you will all have one mind and be united like this bunch of broom, you will make progress in life. But if you quarrel among yourselves and work separately, there may be no progress and you will be destroyed easily.”
The importance of unity cannot be overemphazised, whether in the family, church or workplace. The resultant effect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was unity among the brethren.
Peter became emboldened and spoke under the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit. This was followed by the formation of a new and indivisible Christian community. They were no longer related only to the Lord; but also to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. They formed the body of Christ by celebrating in unity, sharing and fellowship.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED
A The Exaltation of Christ Acts 2:32-33
Peter’s message after the Pentecost experience was a clear fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, according to Prophet Joel (Joel 2). Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and began to speak to their fellow Jews about Joel’s prophecy of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the suffering of Jesus and His death.
In verse 32, Peter testified to the fact that God has raised Jesus from the dead and that they are all witnesses. Without doubt, this declaration is about Jesus’ ascension in Acts 1:9, when He was taken up to heaven before the apostles. Peter’s testimony about Jesus is that He has been raised to the right hand side of God, His Father (the place of honour and authority).
More so, He has received the Holy Spirit in accordance to His promise. Therefore, the gift of the Holy Spirit, which they have seen and heard about, is the manifestation of the gift that He had promised to pour out on them (v.33).
Peter’s testimony about Jesus is exceptional. It is similar to the messages he preached in chapters 3 and 10, after the healing of a lame man and in the home of Cornelius.
Jesus being exalted to the right hand of God means exercising the power, which belongs to God Himself and that has given believers direct access to the throne of God. Paul said, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”(Phil 2:9) No other name can save aside the name of Jesus Christ.
Christ had poured upon His disciples the miraculous gifts and divine influences, of which they witnessed the effects. Through the Saviour, the ways of life are made known; and we are encouraged to expect God’s presence and His favour forevermore. All these spring from assured belief that Jesus is the Lord, and the anointed Saviour.
Discussion Time 1
1. Discuss the appropriate ways Christians can exalt Jesus Christ in our lives and worship experience.
2. What was the theme of Peter’s message about Jesus?
B. Admonition to Repent A 2:37-41
The response of the people to Peter’s message indicates that he was truly and divinely inspired. They were deeply troubled and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter stated two basic points concerning salvation: repentance (the turning away from their sins) and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
The reason is that when their sins are forgiven, they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. After all, God’s promise has been made to them and their descendants, those who are far away (either the Jews or Gentiles) and as many God has called to Himself (v. 39).
Therefore, he encouraged them to save themselves from the impending doom on the wicked. The Scriptures says that many of them believed his message and were baptized and about three thousand were added to the church that same day. Peter’s message to the people was highly inspiring.
It can be likened to the message of repentance preached by John the Baptist, when he admonished the people to turn away from their sins and be baptized. Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem confessed their sins and were baptized in River Jordan (Mark 1:4-5).
Any message preached in the power of the Holy Spirit is expected to yield results in the lives of the hearers. The message Peter preached was Spirit-filled so much that his audience felt the guilt of their indifference and rejection of Christ.
Then they cried out saying, “What shall we do?” Interestingly, Peter made his hearers know the importance of open confession and baptism as steps to salvation. In his letter to the brethren in Rome, Paul also alluded to the fact that it is by confession we are saved (Romans 10:10).
Little wonder, during baptism, pastors always say, “Upon the confession of your faith…” It is also noteworthy in the passage that Peter was bold in presenting his message of salvation to his audience. He refused to be intimidated regarding any aspect of the truth concerning the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Discussion Time 2
1. What are the signs of true repentance?
2. If baptism is a necessary step to salvation why is it that some churches undermine it?
C. Believers Fellowshipped Together Acts 2:42-47
The result of Peter’s message was an impactful one. Apart from the fact that many who believed were baptized and joined the body of Christ, their new life was evidenced in three stages. They spent time learning from the apostles, took part in the fellowship of meals (which included the celebration of the Lord’s Supper) and prayers.
Because of the unity of purpose as a community of faith, many miracles were wrought by the apostles and everyone was filled with owe. They continued in this close fellowship and shared their possessions with one another.
Some, perhaps the wealthy among them, sold their property for distribution to everyone according to their needs. This implies that no one claimed ownership of their possession neither did any of them look anything.
They met in the temple daily and had fellowship meals together in their homes with gladness, humility of hearts and praises to God. Indeed, it was a true Christian community. The Lord added to the church daily those who were saved (v. 42), as a result of unity among them.
God desires that the universal church will be united in fellowship, the study of His Word, in sharing and the breaking of bread and the Lord’s Supper (the Communion) as basic requirements of Christian profession.
When the church of God is united, surely, there will be progress, love among the brethren and ultimately, more souls Will be won for the kingdom. Unfortunately, today, the spirit of individualism has crept into the church.
Instead of love and unity among the brethren, there is competition, the struggle for superiority division and condemnation. Today’s lesson is a reminder that our goal as Christians is to make heaven, notwithstanding our denomination. Therefore, we should emulate the early church that dwelt in unity, which eventually resulted in the growth of the church.
Discussion Time 3
1. What are some things you think the church can do today in order to win more souls for God’s kingdom?
2. What can Christians do to bridge the financial gap between the rich and poor in our churches today?
Fellowship and Ministry Building
-▪︎ Let the class members list some things they feel the church can begin to do in order to win more souls for the kingdom and submit it to the pastor.
-▪︎Set aside some time to praise God for His manifold blessings.
-•Every believer has direct access to our heavenly their through Jesus Christ.
-•The Word of God that we hear daily should move us to fellowship with other believers.
-• We should exercise no fear in sharing the gospel message to everyone.
-•Believers should continue to grow deeper in instruction, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer and praising God in all circumstances.
-•Christians should be ready to promote unity wherever they find themselves.
-•Confession and repentance are prerequisite to salvation