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Sabbath School Lessons on Worship
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: Worship in the Early Church *
Introduction: How did the people who lived with Jesus worship? The
early church was filled with people who had the opportunity to hear
Jesus teach. Did they receive some special insight from our Lord?
Can we import into our worship what they used in their worship?
Let's dive into the Biblical account and see what we can learn!
- The Instruction
- Read Acts 1:1-3. What two subjects did Jesus discuss
with His followers after His resurrection? (That He was
truly resurrected from the grave, and the Kingdom of
- Was Jesus the only teacher involved? (No. The text
reveals that Jesus ascended to heaven "after giving
instructions through the Holy Spirit.")
- Read Acts 1:4-6. After His post-resurrection instruction
about the Kingdom of God, did Jesus' followers clearly
understand? (No! They still thought that the Kingdom of
God was to be brought about by a revival of the Kingdom
- How do you explain that the disciples still had this
wrong? (This shows that we can sometimes have great
difficulty understanding the truth - even with the
very best teachers.)
- Read Acts 1:7-9. Why didn't Jesus say, "You dopes! Why
have you not been paying attention?
- Is it possible that the disciples did not have it
wrong? (Read Revelation 21:1-3. A time is coming
when Jesus will make all things new on earth,
including bringing from heaven the New Jerusalem.)
- Notice in Acts 1:8 that Jesus refers to His
followers being His witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in
all Judea and Samaria." What should this tell His
followers about the kingdom? (That the Kingdom of
God is not just Israel, but Samaria and all the
- What does this teach us about worship in the early
church? (They were still resolving major gospel
- Let's look again at Acts 1:8. We learned that the Holy
Spirit was already working with Jesus to instruct His
followers. What is Jesus promising when He says "you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you?" (This
suggests degrees of power with the gift of the Holy
- Read again Acts 1:5. What does it mean to be
"baptized with the Holy Spirit?"
- Read Acts 1:12-14. For what do you think they were
praying? (The restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. The
power of the Holy Spirit.)
- What lessons do we find here about worship? (They were in
prayer. We need to pray for a correct understanding of
the gospel. We need to pray not just for the Holy Spirit,
but to be baptized in the Spirit, to receive great
- Read Acts 2:1-4. We saw that the Holy Spirit worked with
Jesus to give the last series of instructions to Jesus'
followers. What is different now? (The Holy Spirit has
come in power.)
- What were the signs of the Holy Spirit coming in
power? (The wind sounded like a hurricane. Fire
rested on each of them. They had the miraculous gift
of speaking in foreign languages.)
- This has never happened to me. Has this happened to
you? All sorts of churches have pictures of fire on
their signs and logos, but no actual fire in their
church. As far as I can tell, I have "regular" Holy
Spirit. I have never experienced "high power" Holy
Spirit. Why? (I have been in meetings where I
thought I distinctly felt the Holy Spirit, but I've
neither heard the wind nor seen the fire.)
- How did these disciples receive such power?
(Two things. They were promised it, and they
prayed fervently for it.)
- Have we been promised the Holy Spirit in power?
- The listeners said ( Acts 2:12) "What does this mean?
Let's read what Peter says that it means. Read Acts 2:14-18. Have we been promised the Holy Spirit, not just
regular power, but high power? (Yes! If two thousand
years ago qualified as "in the last days," what would we
call our time now? If Joel 2 says this promise applies to
those in the "last days," the only reasonable
understanding is that it applies to us.)
- Recall the two ingredients for the Holy Spirit
coming in power? Promise was one, and fervent prayer
was the other. Have you fervently prayed for the
Holy Spirit to come in power?
- Let's read on. Read Acts 2:22-24. What is this? (The
- What role did high power Holy Spirit play in this
worship/evangelistic service? (Read Acts 2:32-33.
The Holy Spirit was proof of the truth of the
message. It got the attention of the others, it
proved that Peter was not just drunk and making this
- Read Acts 2:37-39. What other role does the Holy Spirit
play? (The Holy Spirit helped to convict the listeners of
their sins. (See John 16:8-11.) The Holy Spirit was also
a promised gift.)
- Was Peter promising regular or high power Holy
Spirit as a gift in Acts 2:38? (Have you ever
purchased something and when you got it home it did
not begin to perform the way it did in the store?
What did you do when that happened? I cannot see how
Peter was doing anything other than promising what
they had just seen -- high power Holy Spirit.)
- Read Acts 2:40-43. What a wonderful response! Three
thousand were converted in one day! Notice the reference
to high power Holy Spirit in verse 43. What does this
suggest? (Everyone was in awe over the wonders and
miracles. But, it seems that only the apostles were doing
- Should we conclude that high power Holy Spirit is
(was) only available to the leaders?
- Read again Acts 2:17-18. Are leaders being described
here? (No. Just the opposite. The young and the old
have the gift. Women have the gift. "All people"
have the gift.)
- Friend, I do not know the answer as to why high
power Holy Spirit is not present today. I want to
hear the wind, see the fire and experience high
power Holy Spirit. I think we need to fervently pray
for this and see what God will do! In the meantime,
let's explore this issue further.
- Another Evangelistic Meeting
- Read Acts 17:16-21. What kind of reaction is Paul getting
to his preaching? (It seems to range from skeptical to
- Would things be different if Paul had high power
Holy Spirit working with him?
- If you skim over Acts 17:22-31, you will see that Paul
preaches the gospel to them based on the evidence of
nature. His message is similar to Peter's at Pentecost.
Peter cited the Bible and Paul cites nature. Read Acts
17:32-34. How many converts does Paul have? (Just a few.)
- Peter had high powered Holy Spirit and 3,000
conversions. Paul did not have it and had a few
conversions. Is something wrong with Paul? (Read
Acts 9:17. Paul (Saul) is "filled with the Holy
- Read Acts 18:4-5 and Acts 18:8-11. Who is with Paul
in his evangelistic preaching? (We fault Paul for
not having the power connected with Pentecost, but
God says that He is with Paul's preaching.)
- Since God says that He is with Paul in his
preaching, why is high power Holy Spirit not
- Advice on High Power Holy Spirit
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. What is the relationship
between spiritual gifts and love for others? (We are told
not to lose sight of the goal. The true goal is not high
powered Holy Spirit. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are
tools to advance the gospel. The heart of the gospel is
loving God and our fellow humans. Matthew 22:37-40.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:1. What attitude should we have
about high power Holy Spirit? (We should desire (and pray
for) all the power of the Holy Spirit that God is willing
to share. But, we need to recognize that the gifts of
the Holy Spirit are tools for us to bring others into the
Kingdom of God.)
- Friend, will you fervently pray not only that high power
Holy Spirit will be given to you and to your church, but
that the Spirit will give you a heart of love towards
- Next week: Worship in the Book of Revelation.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.