“We Are Witnesses”

Lesson 28 – Acts 1

Introduction

 

Today’s lesson is about the early Apostles, who were witnesses of the resurrected Jesus Christ. When they testified of him, many people believed them and were baptized into the Church.  Now, we have a responsibility to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and allow the gift of the Holy Ghost to help us be effective witnesses.

The book of Acts is Luke’s account of important events in the Church during the 30 years or so following Jesus Christ’s mortal life. Luke tells of the resurrected Lord’s 40-day ministry and his Ascension. He then describes the great spiritual outpouring on the day of Pentecost, Peter’s leadership of the Church, the Apostles’ early missionary efforts, and Paul’s dramatic conversion. The second half of the book focuses on Paul’s missionary labors among the Gentiles.

 

The Lord ascended into heaven. Matthias was called to be an Apostle.

 

After Jesus was resurrected, he stayed with his disciples for 40 days, “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

Acts 1:4-5 (see also Luke 24:49) Just before he returned to his Father in Heaven, he promised his Apostles that they would soon receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Although the Apostles had experienced manifestations of the Holy Ghost, they had not yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:8 Jesus told the Apostles that they were to be witness of him after they received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This instruction compares with the responsibility given to Apostles today (See D&C 107:23, 35.) to be special witnesses and proclaim the gospel to the world.  The Apostles fulfilled this responsibility in the time just after Jesus’ Resurrection with some of the powerful testifying recorded in Acts 2.

John 15:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:3. The gift of the Holy Ghost helped the Apostles in their responsibility to be witnesses of Jesus Christ because no man can say Jesus is the Christ except by the Holy Ghost. 

2 Nephi 33:1; D&C 42:14 Here, we see the role of the Holy Ghost in our efforts to teach the gospel—he testifies to the hearts of others and if we do not have the Spirit, we should not teach.

Acts 1:10-11 records that as the Apostles watched Jesus ascend into heaven, two men in white stood nearby. These men told the Apostles that he would come again. The Second Coming of Christ will be a literal event. Christ will return to the earth to usher in the Millennium and rule over the earth.

Acts 1:21-26 After the Lord’s Ascension, a new Apostle was chosen to fill the vacancy in the Quorum left by Judas. Matthias was chosen as the new Apostle through revelation. Apostles and other Church leaders are chosen today by being called of God (See Articles of Faith 1:5.)

 

On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost.

 

The Feast of Pentecost was a harvest celebration held 50 days after the Feast of the Passover. Jews from many nations came to Jerusalem for this feast. (See Bible Dictionary, “Feasts,” 673.)

Acts 2:1-4 A significant event occurred on the day of Pentecost, one week after the Savior’s Ascension when the Spirit gave them power to speak to the various groups in their own language using the gift of tongues. This fulfilled the Lord’s promises in John 14:26, John 15:26, and John 16:7-14 and in Acts 1:5.

Acts 2:5-13 The people from every nation were confounded when they heard the Apostles speaking in various languages, while some accused the apostles of being drunken. The preaching of the gospel today is similar to the preaching on the day of Pentecost as the gospel is taught in many foreign tongues. (See D&C 90:11; D&C 100:5-8.)

Acts 2:14-24, 36 Peter responded to those who mocked the Apostles for speaking in tongues by reminding them of the prophecy of Joel and testifying of Christ’s divinity. Peter’s testimony was simple and sincere, motivated by the Spirit acting upon him. It is important to have a testimony of Jesus Christ and his divine mission for ourselves and to share with others.  The Holy Ghost helps us share our testimonies by prompting us with what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.

Acts 2:37 Peter’s testimony affected those who heard it so that they asked what they should do.

Acts 2:38 Peter taught the people who believed his testimony to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost. (Compare Acts 2:38 to Articles of Faith 1:4 and 3 Nephi 27:19-20. The basic principles and ordinances of the gospel are the same in all dispensations.)

Acts 2:41-47 About 3,000 people believed Peter’s words and were baptized.  These people demonstrated that they had been converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ by accepting the doctrine, fellowshipping with the saints in meals and prayers, living the law of consecration, attending the temple, giving gratitude to God, and doing good to their fellowmen.

 

Peter and John healed a lame man by the power of Jesus Christ.

 

Acts 3:6, 12-13, 16; Acts 4:10 Even though Peter and John had no money to give to the lame man at the gate of the temple, they had priesthood blessings to offer him. Faith in Jesus Christ provided the power that made the man whole.

Acts 3:12-26; Acts 4:5-12 Peter used this miracle as an opportunity to testify of Jesus Christ. Consider what opportunities you have to testify of Christ and think about how you have been blessed as you have been a witness (or have heard others be witnesses) of Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:1-3 The priests and Sadducees responded to Peter’s sermon by having Peter and John arrested.

Acts 4:4 Many of the multitude responded to the sermon with belief on those words. These two groups responded so differently to the same sermon—revealing something about the condition of their hearts. Our response to the words of Church leaders reveals much about the condition of our hearts, doesn’t it?

Acts 4:13-14, 16 With the healed man standing by, the priests and Sadducees could not deny that a miracle had occurred.

Acts 4:15-18 Since they had no reason to imprison Peter and John, they threatened them in an effort to get them to cease preaching of Christ. The Jewish religious leaders had hoped that Jesus and his teachings would be forgotten after the Crucifixion. When the Apostles continued to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Jewish leaders tried to stop them.

Acts 4:19-20 Peter and John responded to the priests’ and Sadducees’ demand that they stop teaching the gospel by testifying that it was right in the sight of God for them to continue testifying about what they had seen and heard.  There may arise circumstances in your life that might require similar courage in being a witness for Jesus Christ. If so, remember this example as you are challenged.

Acts 4:23-30 After Peter and John were released, they returned to the members of the Church and prayed with them.

Acts 4:29-30 In the prayer they asked for the Lord’s protection and further signs and wonders.

Acts 4:31-35; Acts 5:12-16 As a result of this prayer and the Apostles’ subsequent actions, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, bore powerful testimonies, received divine grace, and lived the law of consecration so that they had all things in common and received according to their needs.

 

The Apostles continued to preach and heal with great power.

 

Acts 5:17-18 When the Apostles continued to preach and work miracles, the priests and Sadducees cast them into prison.

Acts 5:19-20 They were released from prison by an angel of the Lord.

Acts 5:21, 25 After they were released, they went and taught in the temple.

Acts 5:29-32 The Apostles continued to preach the gospel even after being imprisoned because, as these verses teach, they were serving God rather than man.

Acts 5:33-39 Gamaliel gave counsel to the Jewish leaders who wanted to kill the Apostles that they should not harm these men, for it their work was the work of men, it would come to naught—but if their work was indeed of God, they surely should not fight against God.

Compare Matt. 26:47-56, 69-75 with Acts 4:5-21; Acts 5:17-18, Acts 5:26-42 Note the change the gift of the Holy Ghost brought about in the Apostles. Consider how the Apostles’ examples can inspire you to be a powerful witness of the truth.

 

Conclusion

 

After the Apostles received the gift of the Holy Ghost, they became powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ. While Apostles have a special calling to be witnesses of Christ, each member of the Church also has the responsibility to bear witness of him. The Holy Ghost can help us know when and how to testify of Christ. As we follow the Spirit’s promptings, our faith will increase, our sensitivity to the Spirit will grow, and we will become more effective witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ.