This Sunday School lesson is based on the events in Acts 4 where the early Christians show their devotion to Jesus. They continue in their faith even when hard times come. This lesson plan was first written for children’s Sunday School, but it could be adapted for other ministry settings. Be sure to check out the additional learning activities listed at the bottom of this page.
Bible Story: Devoted Believers Continue Despite Difficulties
Scripture: Acts 4:32-5:42
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, CD player, CD with instrumental music or praise music, butcher paper (or construction paper), make memory cards with different words or pictures from the previous lessons learned in Acts 1-4, memory verse review-have a few verses from previous lessons made into puzzles (example: put words on index cards and put in envelopes or zip-lock bags).
Learning Goal: Students will learn that a devoted follower of Christ is faithful to God’s commands despite difficulties.
Learning Indicator: Students will discover character traits of devoted believers by examining Scriptures together. They will be able to indicate their understanding of the lesson by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: As students arrive they can choose to play a memory game of words/or pictures from Acts 1-4.
Learning Activity #2: As students arrive they can choose to review previous Memory Verses. They can do individually or as a team timing themselves as they put the verse together.
Learning Activity #3: At the end of the lesson work with the class on the acrostic for the word devoted.
Test: Review Questions.
Memory Verse: Acts 5:42 (NIV) “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ.”
Memory Verse Activity: Write phrases on butcher paper and tape them to different walls in the classroom. After introducing the verse have the students walk around the room as you play music. When the music stops the students need to find a phrase to stand by. Have each group say the phrase they are standing by. Encourage them each time you start to try to go to a different phrase each time the music stops.
Bible Lesson: Devoted Believers Continue Despite Difficulties
(Give Bibles to any students who did not bring one. Encourage them if they have their own Bible to bring it to class each week.)
(This lesson is a continuation of our class’ study of Acts. This lesson is adaptable for younger students and can be used for Children’s Church. This is a guide to help teach this passage of Scripture. As you teach your students the Holy Spirit will give you insight to concepts or words that the students really don’t know the meaning. As you are teaching the lesson when you come to a phrase of concept we assume they would know, see if the students understand by asking what the word or phrase means in their own vocabulary. Example: What does it mean to be convicted of sin? Allow students to respond encouraging them for responding and as you draw out more answers you can use their correct responses to put in their language the phrase ‘convicted of sin’. When this question was asked in our class a student responded ‘to feel guilty’.)
As we have been studying the early church we are learning what a believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit looks like. As you think about the events that we have read about from Acts 1-4 what are some characteristics of a believer filled with the Holy Spirit? (We have seen the believers have courage and boldness to speak God’s Word.)
Let’s open our Bibles to Acts 4:32. Let’s read this verse. This verse shows us more of what a believer filled with the Holy Spirit looks like. The believers were one in heart and mind. That means they were in agreement with each other. They did not argue with each other and were not disagreeable with each other. They had the same purpose which was to share the Good News with others. By being agreeable they were working together. The last part of the verse shows us that these believers shared everything they had. (NASB- “not one of them claimed that anything belonging to them was his own, but all things were common property to them.”)
These two characteristics mentioned in this one verse are very convicting. As followers of Jesus are we agreeable with other believers? This doesn’t mean that we agree with someone who is not teaching the Truth from God’s Word. We are supposed to speak up when someone is not teaching the Truth. This is talking about getting along with each other and not arguing about unnecessary things. An example would be that your class has an opportunity to visit a nursing home and bring a gift to the patients living there. Your class has to decide whether you will make cookies or take a potted plant. If most of your class wanted to take cookies but you really thought a potted plant would last longer, you would choose to be agreeable and joyfully help make the cookies and prepare them for the trip.
Sharing everything they had is also convicting. As followers of Jesus are we willing to share everything we have with other believers? If you love soccer and have really nice equipment would you willingly share it with another believer? Suppose you have a team mate that goes to your Sunday School who needs to borrow your soccer equipment because they left theirs in their Dad’s car and he is out of town on a business trip? It’s easy to share things we don’t really care about but when it’s something we value we have a harder time sharing.
If we are feeling guilty or convicted about these 2 character traits that were seen in the believers in Acts 4 the good news is that God can help us! These believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and He was the One who enabled them to do these things. If you and I struggle to be agreeable, the Holy Spirit living inside of us can give us power to be agreeable. If we struggle sharing everything we have the Holy Spirit can help us remember that it doesn’t belong to us in the first place and He will help us to be generous with the things God has given us.
As we look at Act 4:33-37 we see that the believers took care of one another and helped anyone who had a need. If they needed to sell houses or lands to help another believer they did that. They brought the money to the apostles who gave the money to the believers who had a need. Let’s see the name of one of the believers who sold his field to share his money with others. Read Acts 4:36-37.
These believers were devoted to following Jesus. They had a sincere desire to live a life that pleased God. As we see a sincere desire for the believers to help each other and the apostles continuing to share the Good News about Jesus we are about to see some people who pretend to be devoted followers of Jesus.
Let’s read Acts 5:1-2. In your own words what do you see that Ananias and Sapphira did in these verses? (Sold a piece of property and kept some of the money back for themselves and took the rest to the apostles.)
A devoted follower of Christ is trustworthy. Ananias and Sapphira were dishonest when they brought their money to the apostles. They made it appear as they were giving all the money they received from selling their property. The Holy Spirit enabled Peter to know that they were being dishonest.
The work of spreading the Good News about Jesus is important. What Ananias and Sapphira did was sin. They wanted to appear as though they were generous by sharing the money from their property. God knew their heart and punished both of them for their sin. Read Acts 5:4-5 and 5:9-10. The consequences of their sin was an example to others that God knows when a person is pretending to be devoted or is a sincere follower of Christ.
A picture of what the power of the Holy Spirit looks like in the believer’s life is to think of a garden hose. The Holy Spirit is the water that flows through the hose (the believer’s life). When a believer allows sin in his/her life it is like a kink in the hose. The water can still get through but the strength of the water is not as strong. Satan, God’s enemy tries to allow sin to keep God from doing powerful things in the life of believers. It’s important to confess any sin that is in our life and turn from it so the Holy Spirit’s power can enable us to serve with His full power.
If Ananias’ and Sapphira’s sin was not disciplined the power of the Holy Spirit would be affected. When their sin was punished the power of the Holy Spirit continued to work in a mighty way through the apostles. Many people heard the Good News and believed in the Lord Jesus and were saved. The number of believers continued to grow.
Many sick people were brought to the apostles to be healed. Read Acts 5:16. Every sick person was healed. When Jesus was on the earth He healed people who were brought to Him. Now that He had returned to heaven the Holy Spirit living inside of the apostles was healing the sick that were brought to them.
While God is working and people are being saved, once again the religious leaders do not like it. It would seem that if you were a religious leader you would be happy to see people coming to God to be saved and sick people being healed. Not so with these leaders. Let’s read Acts 5:17 and see how they felt about what was happening. Why do you think they were jealous? These men claimed to know God and were the leaders of the people to teach them about God. Did they have the same kind of power that the apostles had? (No) They couldn’t have that power because they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Because they didn’t believe in Jesus they could not have the Holy Spirit living inside of them giving them the power to do things for God.
The religious leaders had the apostles arrested and thrown into jail. God’s enemy tries to stop God’s work by making life difficult for the followers of Jesus. That should not discourage followers of Jesus. Believers can have courage to follow Jesus because nothing can stop God’s Work. The Holy Spirit living in the hearts of believers gives them courage to trust God even when they are arrested and thrown in jail for sharing the Good News.
Let’s read Acts 5:19. The apostles were taken out of the jail leaving the prison guards standing at the locked doors. The angel told the apostles to go to the temple and continue to share the Good News. The apostles obeyed and went to the temple to preach.
Imagine the religious leaders’ shock when they wanted the apostles to be brought from jail to stand before them. Acts 5:22-23 tells us what message they received. This news puzzled the religious leaders.
Someone told the leaders that the apostles were teaching in the temple courts. A captain and his officers went and brought the apostles before the religious leaders.
The religious leaders were frustrated with the apostles because they had given them strict orders not to teach in the Name of Jesus. The leaders were getting tired of hearing that it was because of them that Jesus was put to death. “You are determined to make us guilty of this Man’s blood.” They wanted this message to stop.
The apostles were not afraid of these men because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They spoke boldly that they must obey God not men and shared the Good News about Jesus with them. This made the religious leaders so angry that they wanted to put the apostles to death.
A man named Gamaliel gave the religious leaders some advice. He told them that if the work that the apostles was just the work of men it wouldn’t amount to anything, but if it was truly the work of God no one could stop it and if they tried they would be fighting against God. He suggested that the leaders leave the apostles alone. They followed Gamaliel’s advice to leave them alone but they just couldn’t let the apostles go. Let’s read what they did to the apostles in verse Acts 5:40. (To be flogged is to be whipped 39 times.)
Did the apostles do anything wrong to deserve to be beaten? Does this remind you of Someone who was beaten and was completely innocent? Jesus suffered cruelty at the hands of the religious leaders and He is the innocent Son of God.
The apostles left there feeling privileged to suffer because they were followers of Jesus. They did not run off and hide because they were afraid to suffer. They faithfully continued to share the Good News about Jesus day after day.
Our study in the Book of Acts is teaching us how to live a life that pleases God. We can be encouraged that the Holy Spirit that lives inside of the believers we are reading about lives inside each one of us if we have been saved. If you are not saved and you know God is speaking to your heart you can talk to us and we will take the time to show you from the Bible how you can be saved.
Close in prayer.
This passage of Scripture is full of examples of what a devoted follower of Jesus looks like. We are going to end our lesson with an acrostic of the word devoted.
Depending on your students you can do this by asking them words that would fill in the acrostic. If time is limited you can have words on index cards (example: dishonest, dependable, dedicated, devoted, depressed) that they could choose for each letter.)
- D-dependable (How were the believers dependable in this passage of Scripture?)
- E-encouraging (What did the believers do that was encouraging in this passage?)
- V-valor (courage) -How did the believers show courage?
- O-obedient (What did the believers do that showed their obedience to God’s commands?)
- T-trustworthy (How did Ananias and Sapphira show they weren’t trustworthy?)
- E-endure (In what way did the apostles endure?)
- D-dedicated (What did the believers do that showed they were dedicated to following Jesus?)
- Who shared everything they had? (The believers)
- What does Barnabas’ name mean? (Son of Encouragement)
- Why did God punish Ananias and Sapphira? (They tried to deceive others by looking like they gave all the money from the sale of their property.)
- Why did the Religious Leaders become jealous? (Because many people were believing in Jesus and people were being healed.)
- How did the apostles get out of jail? (an angel let them out)
- Who told the Religious Leaders to leave the apostles alone? (Gamaliel)
- Why did the apostles rejoice after they were beaten?
- What new thing did you learn from this lesson?
- What changes do you need to ask God to make in your life so you can be a devoted follower of Jesus?
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