NBC Sunday School Manual For March 24, 2024 :Topic – WHEN THE WORLD IS AGAINST US.

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NBC Sunday School Manual For March 24, 2024 :Topic – WHEN THE WORLD IS AGAINST US.

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Theme for the Month: "FAITH-FULL VERSUS FAITH-LESS."



Devotional Reading: Deuteronomy 28:1-14.

Background Scripture: Acts 6.

Lesson Scripture: Acts 6:7-15.

“[These men] who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke." Acts 6:9b-10

By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
● Narrate Stephen's sufferings and steadfastness in the faith till the end;
● Identify the best ways Christians can respond to persecution in contemporary time;
● Take steps of faith and be determined to suffer for Christ, anywhere and at any time.

A careful study of the early church reveals that there has never been a time when God's people did not suffer persecution. According to history, many Christians have gone through a great deal of persecution by the Roman government, under Emperor Nero in 64 AD as the church increased. It occurred frequently with persistent cruel treatment like confiscation and destruction of properties, incitement of hatred, arrests, imprisonment, beatings, torture and execution in some cases. History has it that many early Christians became martyrs because they were willing to die rather than deny Jesus Christ and the gospel message. Some were stoned to death, beheaded, burnt at the stake, crucified, and so on. Among the martyrs are Stephen, who was stoned to death; St Lawrence was fastened to an iron grill, over a low fire that roasted him to death, John Wycliffe's corpse was exhumed and burnt, among others. Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, narrated several instances when he suffered for the sake of the Gospel. He was falsely accused, beaten, imprisoned, and nained on different occasions.

Even today, Christians are are being persecuted all over the world because of their beliefs, failure to compromise their faith, and renounce Christ. Many people have lost their jobs, are victimised, disowned, forsaken, and even killed. When Jesus commanded believers to spread the Gospel to every nation (Matthew 28:19ff), He acknowledged that their lives will be in danger. He said in Matthew 10:22, "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Jesus Himself suffered a great deal of persecution. He suffered public shame, humiliation and beating before He was finally crucified (Mark 14:43ff). Many of those who shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9) were the same who shouted crucify Him. The focus of today's lesson is the ministry of Stephen and how he was stoned to death. We will examine Stephen's life and ministry as a model of godly response to persecution.


[Acts 6:8-11]

Stephen was one of the seven deacons selected from among the Greek believers to help the apostles in serving tables. As the ministry work progressed, the Word of God spread, the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and many became obedient to the faith. Stephen is described in the passage as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit (v. 5) and richly blessed by God. He was full of power and did great wonders and signs among the people. Unfortunately, he was accused of speaking against the temple and the Law of Moses by some men who were members of the synagogue of the Freedmen (probably the Jewish slaves who had been given their freedom). Stephen was divinely inspired; his accusers could not contend with the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. According to verse 11, because of their inability to withstand him in argument, they secretly hired false witnesses and brought him before the council. They alleged him saying, "We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." The same council had also attempted to stop the apostles from speaking in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others were also there.

According to the Good News Bible Commentary, the accusations against Stephen were similar to that of Jesus. Unfortunately, they were designed to appeal both to the Sadducees who were only interested in the temple service, and the Pharisees whose concern was the interpretation of the Law of Moses. Even today, some people are in opposition to kingdom work, as it was in the days of Stephen. What is important, however, is that we must depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to inspire us to give the right response to false accusations against us without being confrontational. Certainly, their falsehood and manipulations will end in futility and the truth will prevail. Whether there is persecution or not, Christians should remain connected to God, be filled with the Holy Spirit, wisdom, power, faith and courage to answer our accusers correctly, like Stephen. These attributes are key to overcoming opposition.

DISCUSSION TIME: 1. How should believers respond to false accusations, based on today's lesson?

2. Identify the godly qualities in the life of Stephen that can be adapted when one is being persecuted.

[Acts 6:12-15]

The plan of the Jews to kill Stephen by accusing him of blaspheming against Moses and God was serious. When they failed to withstand him in argument because of his wisdom, they intentionally caused commotion and stirred the people (the elders and the teachers of the law). Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin (the high court of the Jews with about 71 members, with the high priest as the presiding officer). They bore false witnesses against him that he never stopped speaking against the holy temple and the law (v. 13). "For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us", they alleged. In like manner, Jesus was wrongly accused when He was brought before the Sanhedrin, after His arrest (Matthew 26:61) and His words were misinterpreted. Every member of the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen and saw that his face shone brightly like that of an angel (v. 15). In the long run, he died without resentment against his murderers. Instead, he prayed for them saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60). The meaning of the prayer is that the sin of the people should not be recorded against them.

The testimony of Stephen is that he was not discouraged neither did he deny Christ until he gave up the ghost. Instead, he focused on his final destination heaven, and received God's comfort. Suffering for the sake of our faith in Jesus Christ is not strange to the Church. If the apostles and even Jesus Christ, our Saviour were persecuted, we should be ready to face persecution with courage in our journey of faith, like Stephen. Many martyrs suffered and died for the sake of the Gospel before it was handed over to us. If the same Gospel must spread in our time, we must be ready to suffer persecution, in any form, because it could be an opportunity to advance the Gospel and win souls for the kingdom.

1. What should be the attitude of Christians towards malicious allegations?
2. Discuss how Stephen's unwavering faith could have influenced the faith of those who were with him before his death.

Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity:
● Ask each class member to choose a partner and pray for Christians all over the world who are being persecuted, for grace to stand firm to the end.

Take Home: Write down three lessons you are taking home from today's lesson?
● __________
● __________
● __________

● Based on today's lesson, make a commitment to remain steadfast to the end, despite persecution.

Happy Sunday in Advance.

🌨 Remain Inspired & Be Lifted!

NBC Sunday School Manual For March 24, 2024 :Topic – WHEN THE WORLD IS AGAINST US. NBC Sunday School Manual For March 24, 2024 :Topic – WHEN THE WORLD IS AGAINST US. Reviewed by Muyiwa Abodunrin (Muyilight) on March 23, 2024 Rating: 5

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