- To explain how thanksgiving through suffering produces assurance of salvation
- To list events from Acts 5:12-42
- To describe the attitude of the disciples after they suffered for Jesus
Materials: Inductive Bible Study Form
Geography: Israel; Jerusalem
Main Events of Acts 5:
The apostles experienced power like they had never known. The church was of one mind and one spirit and amazing things happened! More and more people came to know Jesus. The people were so amazed by what they saw, that they brought the sick out to the streets just so the shadow of Peter might fall upon them and they would be healed. Every day they would go to the temple, at Solomon’s Porch where the lame man had been healed, and preach about Jesus.
But the High Priest was not happy. In fact, he led the Sadducees, and they arrested the apostles and put them in prison. That night, an angel of the Lord came to the prison cell, opened the doors, and brought them out. The angel told them to go back into the temple and preach.
And so the apostles obeyed and went back to the temple in the morning to teach.
Meanwhile, the High Priest called for the apostles to be brought to him. The guards went to get the prisoners only to find that they were not there. The guards were outside the doors and no prisoners were inside!!
The captain of the guard brought the prisoners to the High Priest without any violence because they were scared of the people in the temple. The High Priest said, “Didn’t we tell you to stop teaching in this name?” Peter replied, “We ought to obey God rather than man. We are Jesus’ witnesses and we have also been given the Holy Spirit. Therefore we obey God.”
The Jewish Council was furious and they plotted the death of the apostles. Then a wise Pharisee name Gamaliel stood up and spoke to the group. He said, “If this movement is of man, it will fail and disappear. If it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, because you would be fighting against God.”
The Council agreed. They beat them, commanded them to stop teaching in Jesus’ name, and let them go.
The apostles rejoiced as they left the temple. They were thankful to suffer for Jesus. And the next day they returned to the temple to preach and teach in Jesus’ name.
Application of Acts 5:
Suffering with an attitude of Thanksgiving. That sounds a little crazy to us. These apostles were beaten, scolded, people were plotting their deaths, and yet they rejoiced because they were suffering in honor of Jesus. They were thankful to be used by God.
In our country we do not really know what it is like to suffer, or be persecuted, for Jesus. Yet there are people in other countries who are not allowed to have Bibles, or go to church. If they do, they could be arrested, put in jail, and even killed.
The Bible tells us that our salvation is perfected through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). We are also told to rejoice in our suffering because God uses it to strengthen our character, who we are (Romans 5:3-4). Christians are supposed to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 107:22 and 116:17)
What is sacrifice? It’s the giving up of something, the surrendering of ownership. So the apostles, through their beatings and afflictions, were not only sacrificing their physical bodies, but they were sacrificing who they were as people. They were telling the Jewish Council that Jesus and His message of salvation was more important than their lives. What was the worse thing the Jewish Counsel could do? Kill them? That would allow the apostles to enter heaven and eternal glory. And that is a Christian’s hope anyway. There is no sadness in that.
I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the Lord! ~ Jonah 2:9
Modification for Younger Children:
We celebrate a Thanksgiving Holiday every year. Many times teachers and parents will have you list all of the things you are thankful for. That’s great! God has indeed blessed us and we need to be thankful for those processions and people with which we have been blessed.
But what about the bad, or hard, things that happens in our lives? Should we be thankful for those as well? The Bible tells us we should because God uses hard times to teach us more about Who He is. He teaches us to rely upon Him and not ourselves. He teaches us how to pray during hard times as well.
What events are you thankful for in your life even if you are in the midst of the storm right now?
Other Resources for the Persecuted Church:
Thoughts? Questions? Please leave a comment below.
** Clip art used by permission from http://www.christiancliparts.net