Bible Study for House Church – April 30, 2023

Our Manner of Death

Two Sundays ago, we looked at Acts 1:1-8, and Jesus’ instructions to wait in Jerusalem for the gift that the Father had promised.

Jesus had given His disciples many convincing proofs that He was alive, told them that it was not their business to know the dates or times set by the authority of His Father, and then instructed them that when the Holy Spirit came on them, they would receive power.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

About a half year ago, we had a message on this passage that highlighted the Greek word for the English word, ‘witnesses.’

  • The Greek word is: Martyres (pronounced mar-tier-ez)
  • The word where we get the English word ‘Martyrs’ from – We are to be martyrs for Christ.

Someone Read Mark 15:33-38

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Jesus walked among them. He taught not as the scribes but taught with authority. He walked on water and He raised the dead.

  • But according to Mark 15:39, it was not until the Centurion, “saw how he [Jesus] died,” that the Centurion recognized the Presence of God.

QUESTION: How is this significant for us as an example?

We can be the most gifted speaker we know; the hardest worker or the most faithful servant in our church… but it is the manner of how we daily lay down our life, that people will recognize the presence of God in us.

QUESTION: Do you attribute the title of a, “Godly Man or Godly Woman” more to a great preacher, or to those who love and serve unconditionally?

A dilemma in our churches today: is that there are Christians who are trying to show Christ to a world through giftings and programs without the inconvenience of having to lay down their lives.

  • Is it a wonder we seem to struggle so much in this area?

Back again to Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Ends of the Earth

Expanding circles of influence

  • Like a rock tossed in a pond

Some will be witnesses (martyrs) only in the first circle – Jerusalem (home)

Some see this geographically as your own hometown,

Or… you can see it as what you are familiar with, established friend and family groups.

QUESTION: If being a witness corresponds with the laying down of our life; How can we be a witness in ‘Jerusalem’?

Some folks influence extends further: A witness to Judea.

QUESTION: Is one called to be a witness in Judea (and beyond), and not be a witness in Jerusalem?

The influence of those witnessing to Judea extends to the community (or region).

Those who we are not in relation with but have shared interests and concern for community.

QUESTION: How can we be a witness there (in Judea)?

Interesting that sometimes our influence in Jerusalem extends into Judea and beyond without our direction.

In Tuesday’s Bible Study, we looked at Acts 11:19-21

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

QUESTION: What do we notice in there regarding the spread of the Gospel?

Some believers spread out from Jerusalem, but only spoke to the Jews in the regions that they fled to.

  • In turn however, the Jews they ministered to, went out and spoke to the Greeks, leading a great number of them to believe and turn to the Lord

QUESTION: what are some examples of that from your own life?

Samaria is the other side of the tracks.

Geographically, some people view ‘Samaria’ as the country that you live in.

But Samaria can also be views as people that may be near, but not ones in which you have much (or anything) in common with, or that you have a desire to.

Canada is a perfect example of both a geographic and relational ‘Samaria’

  • We are all Canada, but clearly, there is an East, and there is a West… and woe to the one who crosses the boundary.

QUESTION: How can we be a witness to Samaria (in our Country)?

Finally, ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ is pretty much self-explanatory.

Geographically, all the nations of the world

  • But this can be all the people that you have nothing in common with, AND there are real barriers in place that restrict or prohibit getting to them;
    • Language barriers, access barriers, customs and tradition barriers.

QUESTION: How can you be a witness to them?

Outside of the obvious geographical division, the four groups could be summarized like this;

  • Jerusalem is the people you know, you love, and you care about
  • Judea is the people that perhaps you don’t know but have shared or common interests.
  • Samaria is people that may be near you, but you have no shared or common interests,
  • And the ends of the earth are people either NOT near you, or barriers stand between you and them.

We are called, and we are commissioned, to reach ALL of them

Some people’s witness (the laying down of their life) may only be to their immediate group

  • But even that form of witness can take on a life of it’s own, spreading out from the ones that you ‘only speak to,’ to affect many more.

Some people will influence not just their family and friends, but their witness will extend to those beyond their immediate circle, even impacting the world stage.

QUESTION: Is any one of the four groups greater than the other?

What is important is how well you witness to the groups(s) you are called to.

  • Laying down your life to build up your spouse or children, in obedience to God’s call, is as important as laying down your life to reach a tribal village in the middle of a South American jungle.


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