1. IN LYDDA AND JOPPA
a. Relate the experience of Peter’s visit to Lydda. Acts 9:32–35.
b. Why can we all be encouraged by the miracle in Joppa—and why are church members like Dorcas such an asset to the body? Acts 9:36-43.
“In Joppa there was a Dorcas, whose skillful fingers were more active than her tongue. She knew who needed comfortable clothing and who needed sympathy, and she freely ministered to the wants of both classes. And when Dorcas died, the church in Joppa realized their loss. It is no wonder that they mourned and lamented, nor that warm teardrops fell upon the inanimate clay. She was of so great value that by the power of God she was brought back from the land of the enemy, that her skill and energy might still be a blessing to others.
“Such patient, prayerful, and persevering fidelity as was possessed by these saints of God is rare; yet the church cannot prosper without it. . . . There is always a call for steadfast, God-fearing workers, who will not faint in the day of adversity.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 304.
2. A SINCERE SEEKER
a. Who was Cornelius—and why did God speak to him? Acts 10:1–8.
“Cornelius was a Roman centurion. He was a man of wealth and noble birth, and his position was one of trust and honor. A heathen by birth, training, and education, through contact with the Jews he had gained a knowledge of God, and he worshiped Him with a true heart, showing the sincerity of his faith by compassion to the poor. He was known far and near for his beneficence, and his righteous life made him of good repute among both Jews and Gentiles. His influence was a blessing to all with whom he came in contact. . . .
“Believing in God as the Creator of heaven and earth, Cornelius revered Him, acknowledged His authority, and sought His counsel in all the affairs of life. He was faithful to Jehovah in his home life and in his official duties.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 132, 133.
b. Meanwhile, over in Joppa, using food as a symbol (but not actually referring to food), what vital lesson did God give Peter—to be upheld by Christians to the close of time? Acts 10:9–16, 28, 34, 35.
“Our neighbor does not mean merely one of the church or faith to which we belong. It has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. Our neighbor is every person who needs our help. Our neighbor is every soul who is wounded and bruised by the adversary. Our neighbor is every one who is the property of God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 376.
c. How did the Lord send Peter to give Cornelius and his group a home Bible study in Caesarea? Acts 10:19–22, 27.
d. What did Peter teach? Acts 10:36–43.
“From the promise given to Adam, down through the patriarchal line and the legal economy, heaven’s glorious light made plain the footsteps of the Redeemer.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 211.
3. RECOGNIZING THE CALL OF GOD
a. How did Cornelius and his group bear fruit, revealing evidence that they had indeed fully embraced the present truth for that time—hence qualifying them for baptism? Acts 10:44–48.
b. After his missionary work with Cornelius, what complaint did Peter have to face from his brethren in Judea? Acts 11:1–3.
“When the brethren in Judea heard that Peter had gone to the house of a Gentile and preached to those assembled, they were surprised and offended. They feared that such a course, which looked to them presumptuous, would have the effect of counteracting his own teaching. When they next saw Peter they met him with severe censure, saying, ‘Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them.’ ”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 141.
c. After relating his experience starting with the vision from God, what did Peter emphasize—and how did his brethren receive this logic? Acts 11:15–18. What does this say to us today?
“It ought to be a great encouragement to us in our work to think of the compassion and tender love of God for those who are seeking and praying for light.
“There are many who are represented to me as being like Cornelius, men whom God desires to connect with His church. Their sympathies are with the Lord’s commandment-keeping people. But the threads that bind them to the world hold them firmly. They have not the moral courage to take their position with the lowly ones. We are to make special efforts for these souls, who are in need of special labor because of their responsibilities and temptations.
“From the light given me I know that a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ should now be spoken to men who have influence and authority in the world. They are stewards to whom God has committed important trusts. If they will accept His call, God will use them in His cause.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 79, 80.
4. NURTURING AN OPPORTUNITY
a. As a result of the scattering from the persecution, how did the church expand to Mediterranean islands and north of Judea? Acts 11:19–21.
b. Which city was an especially fertile field for the gospel, what plan was made to develop it more fully—and why? Acts 11:22–26 (first part).
“Barnabas . . . was sent to Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, to help the church there. He labored there with great success. As the work increased, he solicited and obtained the help of Paul; and the two disciples labored together in that city for a year, teaching the people and adding to the numbers of the church of Christ.
“Antioch had both a large Jewish and Gentile population; it was a great resort for lovers of ease and pleasure, because of the healthfulness of its situation, its beautiful scenery, and the wealth, culture, and refinement that centered there. Its extensive commerce made it a place of great importance, where people of all nationalities were found. It was therefore a city of luxury and vice.”—The Story of Redemption, p. 301.
c. What distinguished the church at Antioch? Acts 11:26 (last part).
“It was here that the disciples were first called Christians. Their name was given them because Christ was the main theme of their preaching, teaching, and conversation. They were continually recounting the incidents of His life during the time in which His disciples were blessed with His personal company. They dwelt untiringly upon His teachings, His miracles of healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead to life. With quivering lips and tearful eyes they spoke of His agony in the garden, His betrayal, trial, and execution, the forbearance and humility with which He endured the contumely and torture imposed upon Him by His enemies, and the Godlike pity with which He prayed for those who persecuted Him. His resurrection and ascension and His work in heaven as a Mediator for fallen man were joyful topics with them. The heathen might well call them Christians.”—Ibid., p. 302.
5. COMPASSION FOR THE NEEDY
a. What benevolent action did the brethren of Antioch take when they heard the prophecy that famine would be coming around the world? Acts 11:27–30. How is this an example for Christians in all ages? Acts 20:35.
“Through circumstances some who love and obey God become poor. Some are not careful; they do not know how to manage. Others are poor through sickness and misfortune. Whatever the cause, they are in need, and to help them is an important line of missionary work.
“All our churches should have a care for their own poor. Our love for God is to be expressed in doing good to the needy and suffering of the household of faith whose necessities come to our knowledge and require our care. Every soul is under special obligation to God to notice His worthy poor with particular compassion. Under no consideration are these to be passed by. . . .
“There had been a famine at Jerusalem, and Paul knew that many of the Christians had been scattered abroad and that those who remained would be likely to be deprived of human sympathy and exposed to religious enmity. Therefore he exhorted the churches to send pecuniary assistance to their brethren in Jerusalem. The amount raised by the churches exceeded the expectation of the apostles. Constrained by the love of Christ, the believers gave liberally, and they were filled with joy because they should thus express their gratitude to the Redeemer and their love for the brethren. This is the true basis of charity according to God’s word.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 271, 272.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can I exert an influence in my church that would be like Tabitha’s?
2. What is outstanding about Cornelius?
3. What prominent person do I know who may actually be open to truth?
4. There may be a city like Antioch near me that needs truth. Where is it?
5. Why should I always consider the importance of Christian charity?