Explore The Bible Study: Always on Mission

4:18 PM

How many of you have watched the Winter Olympics over the past couple of weeks? What was your favorite sport? Who were your favorite athletes? Did you listen to any of the background stories of some of the athletes who were persistent, despite facing so many injuries and failures in the past? These are some questions you could use to open your discussion of this week's Explore the Bible study: Always on Mission.

This week focuses on the persistence of Paul in Acts 28:17-28, to remain on mission to share the gospel, no matter the situation or the response of others. This is a great way to end the study of the book of Acts.

Opening Illustration
Consider using the following illustration as a part of the opening discussion related the persistence of the Olympic athletes:

Perhaps one of the most amazing examples of persistence was that of Alexa Knierim and her husband, Chris who are Olympic pair skaters.  In 2016, Alexa came down with a rare, life-threatening gastrointestinal illness right after she married her skating partner, Chris Knierim. Alexa describes her experience in a PEOPLE magazine interview,

"In April of 2016 I started feeling very sick at a competition. It was the last one of the year, and issues continued to develop all the way through August of 2016 when I was finally diagnosed and had immediate surgery in my abdomen. I ended up having three surgeries, and we had to withdraw from all of our events for the first half of the year. My life, our lives, changed drastically in that time period - life was on hold and we weren't really sure what life would be for the two of us."

"I'm 5-foot-2 and I was about just over 80 lbs. before and after surgery," Alexa said. "I lost all of my muscle, and my body mechanics when I started getting back into working out were like next to none … the very first time I stepped back on the ice after my surgeries, Chris had to hold me up because my body was not capable of standing on its own."

Amazingly, because of their persistence, they went on to skate in the 2018 Olympics helping USA win bronze in the team event.

Closing Illustration
Use the following interview from faithwire.com as a part of your closing challenge:

Speaking to reporters not long after their free skate, Chris and Alexa Knierim also discussed the key role their Christian faith has played in their lives, from Alexa's worsening condition, her diagnosis on through her recovery. Listen to what they said about their persistence, not only about ice-skating, but about being a witness for Christ.

"It's the reason I was able to get back on the ice," Alexa said, "because I stopped worrying and stopped trying to control life, because I couldn't. In the moment, you know, I was so sick and didn't really know where things were going to go for me, whether it was skating or life in general. So I finally just threw my hands up and said like, 'You lead the way,' and it's my testimony and I stay true to it."

Alexa and Chris could not imagine that this year they would finish fourth in the free skate portion of the Winter Olympics held at Gangneung, South Korea. For Alexa, their victory is to "glorify God."

"And even here at the Games, it's no longer about me," she added. "I have fans out there who know that I am a true believer in the Lord and I'm trying my best to shine His light and let people know that it's okay to promote Him and do things for Him, because in the Christian life that's kind of what we're supposed to do."

Closing Optional Illustration: Billy Graham
This week we lost one of the most persistent Christian leaders of our time. As you know Billy Graham passed away on Thursday, February 21.

Throughout his life, Billy Graham preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to some 215 million people who attended one of his more than 400 Crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies in more than 185 countries and territories. He reached millions more through TV, video, film, the internet and 34 books.

"I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins," said Graham at his final Crusade in June 2005 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York. (billygraham.org)

His persistence to share the gospel should be a model for all believers.

Additional Ideas
  • The teaching plan provides an explanation of Acts 28:28 based upon Paul's writings from Romans 11:1-25 regarding salvation for the people of Israel.
  • The personal evaluation question in the LOOK OUT portion of the outline could help your group evaluate their persistence in sharing the gospel: How would someone describe your persistence in sharing the gospel with others? Based on how they would describe your persistence, what needs to change regarding your view of the mission God has given us to "be witnesses" (Acts 1:8)?

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