October 30, 2022 – Acts 9

Lesson Date: October 30, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 9:1-43

AIM: To lead students to describe the dramatic changes Jesus made in the lives of Saul, Aeneas, and Dorcas, and to accept and act on the fact that no person is beyond the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Acts 9 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask: “Who do you think is the most unlikely person on earth to become a Christian?  In other words, who would you say seems almost hopeless in terms of coming to faith in Jesus Christ?” (students may name someone they know personally or some famous person, living or dead).

Ask: “Can you think of anyone who is actually hostile to Jesus and His church?  Do you know anyone who hates the Lord and  would be happy if the Christian church ceased to exist?” (again, students may name someone they know personally or some famous person, living or dead).

Ask: “Do you know anyone who is completely indifferent to the Lord Jesus Christ?  Who do you know that just doesn’t care anything about God?” (again, students may name someone they know personally or some famous person, living or dead).

Tell the class in our human thinking we may feel that some people are “hopeless,” “hostile,” or “indifferent” to the Gospel.  In today’s lesson from Acts 9, however, we will see that NO ONE is beyond the reach of Jesus Christ.  The title of today’s lesson is Jesus Changes Lives.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of Acts.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the difference between Simon, a worldly influencer, and the Ethiopian eunuch, an eager inquirer).
  2. Saul of Tarsus.
    • Read Acts 9:1-2.
    • Ask: “What did Saul want to do to those who followed Jesus?” (he wanted to kill or imprison them; he hated Christians).
    • Ask: “What else have we already learned about Saul?”
      • He held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:58).
      • He was happy about Stephen’s death (Acts 8:1).
      • He persecuted the church and imprisoned followers of Jesus (Acts 8:3).
    • Tell the students the Bible also reveals the following about Saul:
      • Acts 22:3a – He was a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia (locate Tarsus on the Map).
      • Acts 22:3b – He was trained at the feet of Gamaliel, the respected Pharisee who in Acts 5:34-39 urged the Sanhedrin not to trouble the apostles anymore.
      • Philippians 3:5 – He was himself a Pharisee, the strictest sect of the Jews.
      • He is better known to us as the Apostle Paul, who later wrote many of the letters in the New Testament.
    • Ask: “According to verse 2, where was Saul going, and why?” (he was going to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem; locate Damascus and Jerusalem on the Map).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 9:3-5.
    • Ask: “What happened as Saul was journeying to Damascus?” (he was struck down by a blinding light and heard the Lord Jesus asking why he was persecuting Him).
    • Read Acts 9:6-9.
    • Ask: “What did Saul ask Jesus in verse 6?” (Lord, what do you want me to do?).
    • Explain the following:
      • Saul yielded his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord; this was the moment of his salvation.
      • Saul was blinded, but the men who were with him led him into Damascus.
      • God directed a believer named Ananias to go to Saul and lay his hands on Saul, so that his sight would be restored.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 9:18-20.
    • Ask: “According to verse 18, what did Saul do when his sight was restored?” (he was baptized; baptism is the first act of obedience for a new believer).
    • Ask: “According to verse 20, what did Saul do?” (preached in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God; these were the very synagogues to which Saul had been sent to arrest Christians!).
    • Read Acts 9:21-25.
    • Ask: “How did people react to the dramatic change in Saul’s life?” (the believers who heard him were amazed, but the unsaved Jews plotted to kill him).
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus changed Saul from a persecutor of Christians into a preacher of Christ.
      • Saul faced persecution from his former friends.
      • Verses 26-30 reveal that Saul went to Jerusalem, and then to his hometown of Tarsus.
    • Summarize: Saul was hostile to Christianity and hopeless in terms of being saved, but the Lord Jesus dramatically changed his life.
  3. Aeneas of Lydda.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 9:31.
    • Ask: “What happened after Saul’s conversion?” (the churches had rest from persecution, and they grew and were edified).
    • Tell the class the narrative now shifts to the Apostle Peter.
    • Read Acts 9:32-33.
    • Ask: “Where did Peter go?” (he went to Lydda, a town about 23 miles northwest of Jerusalem, on the road to Joppa; locate Lydda on the Map).
    • Ask: “Who did he meet in Lydda?” (a man named Aeneas, who was crippled and had been bedridden for eight years).
    • Read Acts 9:34-35.
    • Ask: “What happened to Aeneas?” (the Lord healed him).
    • Ask: “How did people react to the dramatic change Jesus made in his life?” (they turned to the Lord Jesus for salvation).
    • Ask: “Do you think Aeneas told people about the healing and saving power of Jesus?” (certainly).
    • Summarize: Aeneas was a crippled man who was hopeless in terms of being saved, but the Lord Jesus dramatically changed his life.
  4. Dorcas of Joppa.
    • Read Acts 9:36-38.
    • Locate Joppa on the Map.
    • Ask: “What do verses 36-37 tell us about Dorcas?” (she was a Christian known for good works, but she got sick and died).
    • Ask: “According to verse 38, what did the believers in Joppa do?” (they heard that Peter was only 10 miles away in Lydda, so they sent two men to bring Peter to Joppa).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 9:39.
    • Tell the students when Peter arrived in Joppa, the believers showed him Dorcas’ body and all the wonderful things she had made for them.
    • Read Acts 9:40-41.
    • Ask: “What happened?” (the Lord raised Dorcas from the dead).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 9:42-43.
    • Ask: “How did people react to the dramatic change Jesus made in Dorcas?” (many people believed in Jesus for salvation).
    • Summarize: Dorcas was dead and utterly helpless in terms of being saved, but the Lord Jesus dramatically changed her life.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “How did Jesus change Saul’s life?” (He saved him and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to a great Christian preacher; Jesus turned Saul’s life completely around).

Ask: “How did Jesus change Aeneas’ life?” (He changed him from helpless cripple to a healthy Christian who told other people what Jesus had done for him).

Ask: “How did Jesus change Dorcas’ life?” (He restored her physical life so she could continue witnessing about Him and serving others).

Remind the students that at the beginning of the lesson they named people who, from a human perspective, seem to be hopeless, hostile, or indifferent to Jesus and the Gospel.

Ask: “What does Saul’s experience tell us about people who are hostile to Jesus and the Gospel?” (they are not beyond the reach of God; Jesus can still touch and transform them).

Ask: “What do the experiences of Aeneas and Dorcas tell us about people who are hopeless and helpless to come to Christ?” (they are not beyond the reach of God; Jesus can still touch and transform them).

Tell the students that many people today are not openly hostile toward Christianity, nor are they helpless to come to Christ; they just aren’t interested – they don’t care – they are indifferent.

Ask: “Do you believe Jesus can touch and transform indifferent people?” (absolutely, because no one is beyond the life-changing power of Jesus).

Ask: “How should the truth that God can save anyone impact our attitudes and actions?” (we should not give up on or quit praying for anyone, regardless of their indifference or hostility toward the Gospel).

Tell the students our class has a prospect list; some of those people seem to have no interest in the things of God.  We all probably have family members or friends who seem closed to the Gospel.  We should continue to try to reach those people with the Good News of Jesus, even if they seem hopeless, hostile, or indifferent.  God may still interrupt their lives and save their souls, just like He did with Saul of Tarsus.

Lead a closing prayer of commitment to try to take the Gospel to everyone we can.

 

CONCLUSION: Encourage the students to invite their “hopeless,” “hostile,” or “indifferent” friends to Sunday School next week.  Ask everyone to memorize Acts 9:4-5.

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