Lesson 17 | Sabbath, 23 October 2021
“Thus it will ever be when the Spirit of God takes possession of the life. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ, will follow the example of Him who for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. Money, time, influence–all the gifts they have received from God’s hand, they will value only as a means of advancing the work of the gospel. Thus it was in the early church; and when in the church of today it is seen that by the power of the Spirit the members have taken their affections from the things of the world, and that they are willing to make sacrifices in order that their fellow men may hear the gospel, the truths proclaimed will have a powerful influence upon the hearers.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 71.
Prayer, unity, and the Holy Spirit
1. What is reported about what happened in the early church in the days after Jesus’ ascension? How many people participated in those blessed meetings?
Acts 1:12-15. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 15And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty.)
“Giving the disciples further directions, Christ said: ‘Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’‘But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.’ Acts 1:8; Luke 24:49.
“In obedience to the word of their Master the disciples assembled in Jerusalem to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Here they spent ten days, days of deep heart searching. They put away all differences and drew close together in Christian fellowship.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 15.
2. What wonderful condition did they come to after days of prayer and supplication? What will happen among God’s people today when we also pray and plead with God for His blessings?
Acts 2:1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
“Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out. They were of one accord. All differences had been put away. And the testimony borne of them after the Spirit had been given is the same. Mark the word: ‘The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ The Spirit of Him who died that sinners might live, animated the entire congregation of believers.” –Evangelism, pp. 698, 699.
3. What promise was then fulfilled? What did the believers experience when the Holy Spirit was poured out in great power?
Acts 1:4; 2:2-4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me…. 2:2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
“After Christ’s ascension, the disciples were gathered together in one place to make humble supplication to God. And after ten days of heart searching and self-examination, the way was prepared for the Holy Spirit to enter the cleansed, consecrated soul temples. Every heart was filled with the Spirit, as though God desired to show His people that it was His prerogative to bless them with the choicest of heaven’s blessings…. The sword of the Spirit flashed right and left. Newly edged with power, it pierced even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow.”–(Review and Herald, June 10, 1902)Evangelism, p. 698.
Great fulfillment of the promise
4. When the Holy Spirit took possession of the disciples, what resulted from their preaching to the multitudes who were present in Jerusalem for the Passover?
Acts 2:41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
“At the end of ten days the Lord fulfilled His promise by a wonderful outpouring of His Spirit. ‘Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.’‘And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.’ Acts 2:2-4, 41.
“‘And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.’ Mark 16:20. Notwithstanding the fierce opposition that the disciples met, in a short time the gospel of the kingdom had been sounded to all the inhabited parts of the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 15.
5. What happened in the daily life of the believers in the following weeks? What do you think will happen when the same humility of heart, unity under the Holy Spirit, and devotion to God and His kingdom are seen among His people right before Jesus’ coming?
Acts 2:42-47. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
“Every Christian saw in his brother the divine similitude of benevolence and love. One interest prevailed. One object swallowed up all others. All hearts beat in harmony. The only ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ’s character, and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom. ‘The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.… With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.’ Acts 4:32, 33. ‘And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.’ Acts 2:47. The Spirit of Christ animated the whole congregation; for they had found the pearl of great price.
“These scenes are to be repeated, and with greater power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the former rain, but the latter rain will be more abundant.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 120, 121.
6. When harmony, fellowship, generosity, and the living testimony characterized the early church’s life, what great blessing did the Lord bestow?
Acts 4:4. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
“God wants His witnesses to present the genuine in contrast to that which is false. There were many converted under Peter’s preaching…. Can you be surprised that… the number of those who believed was about five thousand? The seed that Christ had been sowing while He was on earth, sprang up. Many were waiting for this God-given testimony to come from the disciples in reference to Christ and His resurrection, and they believed when they heard it; for it revived the testimony they had heard from the lips of Jesus, and they took their stand in the ranks of those who believed the gospel of Christ.” –Review and Herald, April 22, 1890.
7. Even though the church grew to be a large multitude, what spirit reigned among them? What happened to the message that they preached?
Acts 4:31-35. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
“Of the apostolic church, in those bright days when the glory of the risen Christ shone upon them, it is written that no man said ‘that aught of the things which he possessed was his own.’‘ Neither was there any among them that lacked.’‘And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.’‘ And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.’ Acts 4:32, 34, 33; 2:46, 47.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 137.
For additional study
“To the early church had been entrusted a constantly enlarging work–that of establishing centers of light and blessing wherever there were honest souls willing to give themselves to the service of Christ. The proclamation of the gospel was to be worldwide in its extent, and the messengers of the cross could not hope to fulfill their important mission unless they should remain united in the bonds of Christian unity, and thus reveal to the world that they were one with Christ in God. Had not their divine Leader prayed to the Father, ‘Keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are’? And had He not declared of His disciples, ‘The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world’? Had He not pleaded with the Father that they might be ‘made perfect in one,’‘that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me’? John 17:11, 14, 23, 21. Their spiritual life and power was dependent on a close connection with the One by whom they had been commissioned to preach the gospel.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 90. (See also The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 35-56; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 16-29.)