What We Want Students to Learn: That they would passionately embrace the call to share with others the message of Jesus’ redemptive, saving work.
Main Scripture: Acts 2:22-41
Session Snapshot: Peter’s message at Pentecost has been called the first Christian sermon. Whether or not this is entirely accurate, the truth remains: Peter’s evangelical presentation at Pentecost put the world on notice. This movement, these Christ-followers, weren’t going away. Peter’s sharing of the Gospel message resulted in thousands coming to faith in Christ. Your students can learn from Peter’s example. This lesson will challenge them to embrace Peter’s passion for sharing the Gospel, leading others to Christ as a result.
Who wrote Acts?
Acts has long been held to be a letter from Luke, a Gentile physician, to a man named Theophilus, possibly a benefactor of some sort.
When was Acts written?
There is some debate over when Acts was written. The suggested dates are between 70 AD and 80 AD.
What was the purpose for its writing?
The Book of Acts is a second letter to Theophilus that tells the story of the early Church following Jesus’ resurrection. The book begins with Jesus’ ascension and His command of His followers to proclaim the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The rest of the book traces this journey as the early church leaders proclaim the Gospel and plant churches.
The Main Point
Your goal is to cut to the heart of Peter’s Gospel-driven sermon at Pentecost. It’s pretty much that simple. You’re going to break the sermon down and really dig into it. But the idea is to simply highlight what it looks like to be so passionate about sharing the Gospel message.
We want students to embrace Peter’s passion for those who are separated from Christ. Peter’s sermon was in response to the ridicule he was experiencing from the gathered crowds. Peter could have slinked away. But he didn’t. He faced the crowd’s derision and delivered an amazing presentation of the Gospel. 3,000 people came to faith in Jesus. All because Peter delivered a bold, heartfelt communication of the Gospel. The goal is for your students to imitate Peter’s passion. You’ll help them do this by considering any hang-ups they may have to sharing their faith, and how they might overcome these.
The Lesson Plan contains three elements: an introductory activity called Getting Started; the Bible study section called Digging In; and an application-focused segment called Wrapping Up.
Student Book Pages
This lesson will utilize pages 13-17 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.
This activity will use pages 13 and 14.
To access the leader’s version of the Student Book, see the download section of your RELENTLESS lesson 2 web page.
FIRST, read or have a student read the Session 2 Small Group intro on page 13. Ask if students have any questions, then direct students’ attention to the activity on page 14, and instruct a student to read the instructions. Explain that you’re going to take turns sharing stories of some of your most awkward stories. The goal is to see who has the most cringe-worthy stories in the entire group.
THEN, start by going through the three categories listed on page 14. Starting with “Embarrassing.” Have students take turns telling stories of times they were super-embarrassed. When everyone who wants to share has had a chance to do so, come up with who had the best stories. Write their names in the space provided if you choose.
NEXT, do the same thing with a time when someone got really upset with them, and a time when they found themselves in a situation where something they said or did made them look extremely “not-smart.” Again, vote for “winners” in each round.
THEN, transition to the Bible study portion of your session by pitching what you’re going to study. Explain that you’re going to be talking about the second aspect of living out a RELENTLESS faith: personal evangelism. Explain that when it comes to sharing the Gospel with others, there are usually three main reasons we don’t share our faith. Say something like:
Sharing the Gospel with others is an amazing privilege. But it also comes with a variety of emotions. Many people get hesitant when it comes to sharing their faith. Why? They get embarrassed, worrying about how their message will be received. Or they worry it will make others angry. Or they’re concerned they’ll come across as un-informed because they don’t know all the answers.
FINALLY, explain to students that it’s not that these aren’t real emotions people feel. But it is kind of funny when you think about it. First of all, remind students that A) even if their message isn’t received well, they’ll still live to tell about it (it’s actually not so bad), and B) that the message of Christ is LIFE to those dying apart from God. Explain to students that part of sharing their faith is to realize that the stakes are too high to take lightly.
If there are no additional thoughts or questions, transition to the Digging In section of your lesson.
Student Book Pages
This activity will utilize pages 15 and 16 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.
You’ll want to make sure students have something to write with, and a Bible or Bible app.
FIRST, you may want to remind students that you’ll continue in focusing on Peter in your small group time together. Again, if you want remind them who Peter was, or quiz them on your review from Session 1, use the bullet points below:
Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen, and were the first disciples called by Jesus.
Peter, James, and John made up the “inner three,” Jesus’ closest disciples among the 12.
Peter was always listed first among the disciples. He was their unofficial leader.
Peter preached the first post-resurrection sermon we see in the Bible at Pentecost.
He was arrested and imprisoned for his faith over the years, but his faith never waivered.
Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter.
Church history has Peter dying a martyr in Rome, under Nero.
THEN, direct students’ attention to page 15. Have them look up Acts 2 in their Bibles. While they’re searching for it, you’re going to want to set the stage for what’s happening in this passage. Use the following paragraph to help you:
A lot of important stuff has happened by the time we pick up the story in Acts 2:22-41. Jesus has been crucified and buried. He has risen from the dead and appeared to many people, including the disciples, over a 40 day period. He has ascended back into heaven. Since His ascension, the disciples had been gathered together, teaching and praying, but they were kind of fearful. They did not know what was next. Then, on the day of Pentecost, one of the major Jewish feasts, something amazing happened. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. What looked like little flames of fire danced over their heads. And they began to speak about God in many different languages. People in the crowds were amazed! And confused. They accused the disciples of being drunk. Into this environment, Peter boldly stood up and shared what many call the first Christian sermon since Jesus’ death. Let’s look at some of what Peter said.
When you’ve finished, read or have a student read Acts 2:22-41. Then, direct their attention to page 15 and begin working through the questions there. Have students re-focus on verses 22-24. Challenge students to read the passage and make a few observations about what Peter is doing here. Do this in discussion, or allow them to work in groups or as individuals. Let them pull out what they will, engaging in discussion as you see fit. Some of the more interesting points to consider may include some of the following:
People knew who Jesus was. They had seen His miracles, witnessed Him healing people, and heard His teaching. They were no strangers to who Jesus was, and who He claimed to be.
Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion didn’t surprise or slip up on God. It was all part of God’s plan. God intended for it to happen.
Peter spoke to Jesus’ identity. Jesus overcame death and arose from the grave. Jesus is powerful, truly the Son of God.
Ask students what they think Peter’s tone was. Ask what clues the text gives them for their response. Explain that Peter was bold and decisive. He was beginning to make a case for Jesus as the promised Son of God, the Messiah whom the Jews had been expecting. Through Peter, God was building a sermon that would ultimately change many people’s lives.
NEXT, read Acts 2:25-28 as a group. Ask the following questions:
What was Peter’s strategy in these verses? What was he doing exactly?
Answer: Peter is making a cultural connection with His audience. He is connecting Jesus with David. Remember, David was seen as one of the greatest figures in Jewish history. Peter is speaking to a crowd of devout Jews, in Jerusalem for a feast. He is helping them see Jesus in light of their religious heritage.
Can you think of an example of what this might look like if you were explaining the Gospel to someone in your specific context?
Answers will vary. The point you want to make is that Peter was modeling an important process of sharing the Gospel. We should try to take the unchanging truth of the Gospel message and present it in the most culturally relevant way. We have to be thinking about the person or people we’re sharing our faith with, and how our message addresses their specific context.
THEN, move to page 16 and read Acts 2:29-35 as a group. When you’re finished, engage in a brief discussion. Ask:
Explain in your own words what Peter is doing in these verses.
Answers will vary. But help them see that this is the heart of Peter’s message. He is connecting all the dots. We can only imagine the “light bulbs” that must have been going off in his audience’s minds. Peter was making all the connections, driving home the truth of who Jesus was, and the work He was doing. As much as anything, highlight that Peter KNEW the Gospel message.
What keeps people from being this knowledgeable when they talk about the Gospel?
Answers will vary. But help your students feel the tension of how important it is to know how to share our faith. They don’t have to be experts. And they don’t have to have canned approaches (after all, Peter was just sharing what he had personally experienced with Jesus). But they have to know how to talk about their faith in a way that is both personal and grounded in truth.
If you’re honest, do you see yourself being able to make a case for Christ like Peter did here? Why or why not?
Answers will vary. Let students feel the tension a bit.
NEXT, read Acts 2:36-41 as a group, and answer the following questions:
What did Peter do in verse 36?
Answer: With the power of the Holy Spirit, he essentially called people to make a response. He put forth a profound truth in such a way that people had to respond to it. They could respond in the positive, or the negative. But Peter didn’t leave them any room to simply walk away unmoved. They were faced with a powerful message of Jesus’ identity and mission.
List three results of Peter’s sermon from verses 37-41.
Answers will vary. But you will definitely want to highlight that thousands came to Christ and were baptized. People repented of their sins, and came over from death to life.
FINALLY, explain to students that Peter’s sermon is a great example of what it means to live a faith that is relentless. Say something like:
In the face of opposition, Peter didn’t shrink away. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly stood up and un-flinchingly shared the Gospel message. Maybe he was nervous, maybe he wasn’t. We don’t know. What we do know is that his words had an amazing impact. God wants to use you just like He used Peter. If you’re willing, the Holy Spirit will work in and through you to bring people to faith in Christ. But you have to be bold in how you present the Gospel to the world.
Then, if there are no more questions, transition to the Wrapping Up section of the lesson.
Student Book Pages
This activity will utilize page 17 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.
FIRST, have your students turn over to page 17. This activity is fairly straightforward, and is meant to function as a very practical time of evaluating why they sometimes don’t share their faith. Direct their attention to the first question. Engage kids in a discussion on what keeps them from sharing their faith. You can choose to have them do this alone and then come back to the group and discuss, or you can simply start it as a group discussion. Make sure you allow time for students to share their thoughts, as it will be empowering for others to hear that their friends may struggle with the same things they struggle with.
THEN, as best you can, try to help students come up with some very real, very practical things they can do to overcome some of these obstacles. Try to lead them to identify actual steps they can take, not nebulous suggestions.
FINALLY, challenge them to prayerfully consider two or three people whom they know do not have a saving relationship with Jesus. Encourage them to write these people’s initials in the space provided. Then, have a time where you challenge your students to begin preparing to share the Gospel with these individuals. Have a time of prayer for them where you pray that God would give them the desire and the boldness to share the Gospel with others.
Ask students if they have any questions or additional comments. Inform students of the devotions located on pages 35-42 in their Relentless Student Books. Provide them with a schedule or some structure as to when you would like for them to work through them.
The second devotion is on page 37 and works in concert with this lesson.