Explore the Bible Study: Extraordinary

6:30 AM

Source: Open Doors USA
How much resistance or persecution have you experienced from the government, community, workplace, or family, when talking about your faith ? If you have experienced relatively little resistance or persecution, why? Is it because you haven't talked about your faith, or is it because the environment is relatively friendly to faith discussions? The reality is, when we do share our faith and meet with some type of resistance, God is right there with us. He doesn't abandon us or His mission. This is the focus or our Explore the Bible study: Extraordinary.

The Apostle Peter didn't live in a place that was friendly to the gospel. When he was imprisoned for sharing his faith, God not only worked in his life but through the lives of the early church in extraordinary ways. We can learn from Peter's experience that we can share our faith, no matter what life throws at us. God will be with us, even if the results lead to persecution; God is still at work through us.

Teaching Ideas
LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
  • Display: Government; Community; Workplace; Family
  • Survey (Once most adults have arrived): On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the greatest, how would you rank the amount of resistance or persecution you have experienced in these situations (refer to displayed situations).
  • Discuss: How did you rank each situation? What kind of difficulties in each situation do you encounter as a believer?
Supplemental Option for Discussion: Display or share the information contained on the image in this blog post to begin discussion.

Video Option: Use the following video to supplement the discussion

LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.

Acts 12:7-10
  • What would be going through your mind if you were Peter?
  • If you were startled from a deep sleep, would you have thought the same thing Peter thought, that it was a vision or a dream?
  • What does it say about Peter’s faith that he was sleeping so soundly the night before his scheduled execution?
  • Read & Discuss: Acts 12:5 - What does this communicate to you regarding the importance of praying for those who are facing persecution? Do you personally know individuals who are facing persecution? Consider how many people for whom you are currently praying, who are facing or could potentially face persecution because of their faith; are there individuals you need to add to your prayer list?
  • While Peter was delivered, how do we reconcile the fact that some may not be delivered when we pray? (It is not always God’s will to miraculously deliver His faithful servants.)
Acts 12:11-12
  • Why do you suppose Peter went to John Mark's house instead of fleeing the city?
  • How would you feel if you knew people were gathered together praying for you?
Acts 12:13-17
  • What do you see in this account that is humorous?
  • While humorous, what does the people’s reaction indicate about their expectations from their prayers?
  • Why are we sometimes skeptical when God works in unexpected ways?
  • If they didn’t believe Peter had been released what do you suppose they were praying about?
  • Considering all Peter had just been through, why did he instruct the group to tell James and other brothers about this instead of keeping it quiet? What does this communicate to us regarding what we should do when God works through us or others to further the gospel?
Acts 12:18-19
  • How would you characterize the response to Peter’s escape?
  • Did any of them at this point consider Peter’s escape as a supernatural act?
  • How would you have liked to have been one of the guards in this story?!
  • Read: Acts 12:20-23 - God allowed Peter to escape from Herod’s prison because He had additional plans for Peter’s ministry. Jesus, however, predicted that when Peter was old he would be bound and die a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19). Tradition records that Peter was executed during the reign of Nero (perhaps A.D. 64 or 65). Tradition also claims he was crucified upside down because he did not consider himself to be worthy of crucifixion in the same position as Jesus.
LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
  • What can we learn from Peter’s experience of being jailed for sharing the gospel and his deliverance out of difficult circumstances?
  • What can we learn from those who were praying for Peter?
  • What can we learn about God’s will from those who tried to stop Peter?
Optional Videos:
Emphasize: Opposition to Christianity has never stopped. To this day, people’s faith is being challenged all around the world. When we share the Good News of the gospel with others, it is often frowned upon. But because of our mission to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), to be witnesses (Acts 1:8), and because we have been given the Holy Spirit to empower, guide, and teach us, we can’t stop. It is our mission.

While some believers may suffer martyrdom, others may experience miraculous deliverance. Peter’s story should encourage us to be bold in our witness, knowing that our efforts are always accompanied by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Reflect and Respond:
  • At the beginning I asked you to rank the amount of resistance or persecution you have experienced when talking about your faith in these situations (refer to displayed situations).
  • Now I want you to consider why you haven’t met any resistance. Is it because you aren’t openly sharing your belief in Jesus Christ and looking for opportunities to witness to others? Or, is it because you have an environment that allows you the freedom to share without opposition?
  • Based on your response, what do you need to do differently regarding sharing your faith with others?
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