Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for October 11, 2015
Saul Earns Credibility Acts 9: 19b-31
Focal Outline: Acts 9: 19b-22 Proclaiming Jesus
Acts 9: 23-25 A plot to kill him
Acts 9: 26-31 An advocate
Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)
- Saul began to tell of his faith. Because of who he had been, when he proclaimed Christ people listened.
- It’s hard to know what to make of sudden, dramatic changes in someone’s personality or beliefs.
- While Saul is the main character in the text, the true heroes in Damascus may be his anonymous disciples.
- All Christians have a story to tell. But, few of us feel comfortable speaking boldly about Jesus.
Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)
- What from your life makes your faith story a compelling one?
- What of my own story or personality would make my faith confusing to others?
- Saul had people around who looked into him deeply. Who do you need to get to know more deeply?
- What holds you back from sharing more openly about your faith?
Points to Ponder
[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]
I tend to keep that aspect of my life private. But, I have never taken my faith more seriously than I do right now. It’s just that with my personality, in my bad moments I don’t represent the faith very well. A public figure gave that response as he turned down an opportunity to be interviewed by a religious publication. I know this, because I was there when he said it. He went on to sketch out his spiritual autobiography. In context, his was a very genuine and maturing story of faith. And, I appreciated his self-awareness at that point.
Saul was in many ways the least likely Christian of his day. And, he knew this! Fascinating to me is that the disciples in Jerusalem were leery of this former persecutor of Believers. They could not suspend their disbelief. Shouldn’t we understand why, too? I’m not sure how much credibility Saul would have had if I had been one of them. Fear is hard to conquer. So, too, is our experience of a person.
Our lesson writer, Lee Canipe, will point out something important in the text. That is, the true heroes of this story might just be the disciples back in Damascus. We love the story of them lifting Saul in a basket over the side of a wall—during the dark of night no less—and on to safety. They knew who Saul was, and still they believed in him. They literally entrusted him with their lives. In return, they had come to sense that his transition was real. They saw him for who he was now. Who needs you to see them in a new way? What parts of your story might challenge others to take your own faith seriously?
Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)
- Read the opening paragraph in today’s lesson Introduction. What is the biggest shift in belief or philosophy you have personally experienced? How did others around you react? Did you keep/lose friends? Family relationships? Why?
- When have you wondered about the sincerity of someone’s personality or beliefs? Our instinct is to be skeptical. And, we can’t forget what we have experienced? What is required in order for family/friends to turn a major corner with someone who experiences a dramatic spiritual transformation?
- Who has seen you most deeply and accurately? What draws them closer to you? What pushes them away?
- Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p42 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. Why do first impressions matter so much to us?
Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)
- Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…
Acts 9: 19b-22 Proclaiming Jesus
What has happened to Paul in ch9 prior to v19? Who are these disciples in v19b? In light of v20, how would you characterize the reaction in v21? What does v22 tell about Saul’s sincerity and intent?
Acts 9: 23-25 A plot to kill him
Why did the Jews plot to kill him in v23? What does v24-25 tell us about Saul’s disciples? How do you explain their allegiance to him?
Acts 9: 26-31 An advocate
Who did Saul want to be a part of in v26? What did Barnabas do for him in v27? How did Saul spend his time at Jerusalem in v28-29? What favor did the Christians do for him in v30? What do we learn about the church in v31?
- On p47 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Those who are sincere in their faith will act in ways that benefit God’s kingdom. Are there times when skepticism prevents us from waiting to see what kind of fruit a person produces?” Of course there are. What are we looking for in changed persons to show us something real?
- How does Mt 7: 16 relate to this passage? How about Ac 7: 58-60?
- On p51 our lesson writer says “Abrasive personalities can be hard to deal with, but God can use them as effective, fearless witnesses…The kingdom needs people like that.” What are you offering God to work with?
- In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour opens with a story on 2 ways people come to faith in Christ. Then on p29, how can we explain what happened to Saul on the Damascus road? On p30, what message did Saul preach at Damascus? See p32 for more on what Saul did in the first years after his conversion.
Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)
Discuss any of the following questions…
- Our culture teaches us to be cynical. Jesus advises us to wait and see what kind of fruit emerges.
- Ask God to help you cultivate patience and wisdom—but not naiveté’. The kingdom needs all kinds!
- As you think about the role of Paul’s disciples in this text, think about how you might play that role for someone else. Who might God be asking you to help?
- See “Applying the Lesson” on p46 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. What people in your life need you to be a Barnabas for them—and for God’s kingdom?
People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!