Acts 6:1-3 What service did these seven men provide?
What did this allow the apostles to do (Acts 6:4)?
Do you see the value/importance in the seven men’s service?
If you are a behind-the-scenes person, do you view your service as also important, and why?
If not, what will you do to change your attitude?
Acts 9:23-25 Who saved Saul’s life by lowering him in a basket through an opening in the wall by night?
Would you consider what they did important, and why?
[“his disciples” – Saul’s/Paul’s disciples/converts to Christianity as a result of his preaching; Acts 9:20, 22.].
How long had they been Christians (Acts 9:20, 23)?
Does it seem like you have to be a Christian for many years before you can be an important part of the body of Christ?
What are some things that hold people back from working wholeheartedly together in the body of Christ, the Church?
Whether you’re a new Christian or older, have you been doing your part as a member of the body of Christ, and why?
Have you even taken the time to think about what contributions you could/should make to the Christians with whom you fellowship?
If so, what ideas have you come up with?
If not, when will you start to think about this?
Acts 16:1-3 What did Paul require Timothy to do in order for him to follow Paul?
Did Paul require Timothy to be tall, dark, and handsome, athletic, well-educated in the finest schools, a great speaker, rich, popular, or endowed with musical talent?
[“circumcised him because of the Jews” – the Jews to whom Paul would be preaching the gospel would be offended if a man with a Jewish mother was uncircumcised, and the reception of the gospel could be unnecessarily hindered.].
Would you endure personal discomfort (e.g., use your lunch break, skip a meal, at work or school to share the gospel; interrupt your dinner to share the gospel with a cult member that comes to your door; go without certain luxuries in order to use more of your finances to share the gospel and build up believers into Christlikeness; stand out in the heat and/or humidity in order to reach people for Christ; wear or not wear certain clothing when around others who might be offended by it; etc.) for the sake of your spiritual leader’s ministry, and why?
Acts 19:22 What did Timothy and Erastus do to Paul?
[“ministered” (Gk. “diakoneō”) – to be a servant, attendant, to serve, wait upon, minister – Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 410].
Does this seem like a wasting of Timothy’s and Erastus’ talents, youthfulness, and/or energy to have them help out Paul instead of having their own ministry, and why?
What are some things that many Christians consider essential in making them deserving of being a spiritual leader?
Yet, in describing Timothy’s “proven worth”, how did Paul say Timothy did it (Phil. 2:22)?
[Timothy was Paul’s assistant. He was also Paul’s spiritual child. He (Paul) could have said, ‘as a son to a father, he has served me in the gospel.’ … The word ‘in’ is in the Greek text a preposition of motion. It was in the progress of the gospel that Timothy served with Paul – Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 2, “Philippians”, p. 80.].
Do you feel or have you ever felt that you must do something great, speak eloquently, be real smart, have a college degree, have hundreds of verses memorized, be able to debate every cult or world religion, etc. in order to prove your worth to your spiritual leader (or to the Christians with whom you fellowship), and why?
Are you serving your spiritual leader (i.e., in the every day tasks of life) for the furtherance of the gospel?
In what ways are you helping/serving or could you be helping/serving your spiritual leader?
Acts 21:8, 10, 15 What service did Philip, who was one of the seven (who served food to the believing widows in Jerusalem, Acts 6:2-5), provide for Paul and company?
Do you view this and other acts of service (e.g., washing dishes; taking out the trash; running errands; entertaining new people; being hospitable; making, printing, and/or editing Christian materials; providing supplies or food for Bible study; financially sponsoring obedient, Christian missionaries; translating Christian materials; listening to others when they’re going through trials; writing thoughtful letters of encouragement, reproof, or correction; doing the physical arrangements for meetings; helping others clean; preparing or buying food for others who are sick, busy, or financially unable to; buying, making, or stapling gospel tracts for others; providing Bibles for those who don’t have one; cutting someone’s hair; faithfully handling delegated tasks; fixing or repairing something that others can’t; etc.) as important to God and important to the healthy functioning of your fellowship of Christians, and why?
What work/service are you doing to honor God and build up the Christians with whom you fellowship?
Acts 21:16 What important service did the disciples from Caesarea provide Paul and company?
[As far as we can tell, there is no record of them being asked or told to join Paul’s travels or help him.].
Are you willing to serve your spiritual leader or other Christians by going out of your way to make sure their needs are met without being asked to do so, and why?
[E.g., volunteering to buy groceries for someone else and using the stack of coupons he/she gave you; volunteering to pick up someone for church/Bible study, even though you weren’t the one who personally invited the person; taking out the trash for someone else because he/she was very busy; volunteering to do some chore/task that needs to be done while others are playing games; volunteering to wash someone’s vehicle and specifically doing it how they like it, change someone’s oil, etc. on your day off; voluntarily leaving the room while your roommate or friend is having a private conversation with someone when you were already using the room before he/she showed up; voluntarily cutting out coupons for others though you could’ve given them uncut; voluntarily getting stamps and dropping letters in the mail for others; voluntarily typing out letters or Bible studies; etc.].
What can you do to become a better helper in your Christian fellowship group or to your spiritual leaders (Eph. 5:18; 1 Jn. 5:14-15; Phil. 2:12; Phil. 2:3-4)?
What are some of the benefits of being this kind of helper?
Do you see now how important/vital the work of the “man/men behind the man” (i.e., the behind-the-scenes person) is to a healthy, functioning and productive fellowship group?
Rom. 1:12 What did Paul expect as a result of seeing the Christians in Rome?
[“encouraged together with you” (Gk. “sumparakaleō”) – “to strengthen with others.” It is a mutual strengthening, brought about by Paul’s ministry among them and their association with him, that the apostle is speaking of – Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 1, “Romans”, p. 22.].
What did Paul say would encourage him?
If your spiritual leader/teacher-trainer spent time with you, would he be encouraged by your faith (in God, as expressed by your obedience to God’s Word and will), or would he be discouraged by your lack of faith?
The following are some ways you could encourage your spiritual leader/teacher-trainer:
- By sharing with him how you’ve been benefited by his teaching, training, or counseling, with specifics, not vague generalities.
- By thanking him for all the time and effort that he’s put into studying, researching, preparing, and carrying out the various Bible studies and articles that you get, and how you benefited from them.
- Little practical gifts or snacks shared with him (Gal. 6:5).
- By telling him that you are committed to and loyal to him, especially during the hard times he goes through, and showing it by your actions as well as by your words.
- By sharing what you like about his character or leadership, if done in sincerity and genuineness rather than in flattery.
- By sharing how you are changing in your character (specifically) and becoming more Christ-like.
- By talking about and showing your love for God as seen by your prayer life, Quiet Time, evangelism, etc.
- By being co-operative rather than stubborn, rebellious, and/or argumentative.
[There is a habit in the church to elevate spiritual leaders to a “super-human” status and to think that leaders are exempt from experiencing such “unspiritual” emotions as discouragement or that they don’t need those who are under their care. But this is not true. Leaders face many discouraging situations like the rest of us, and even more so because of the work they do. Spiritual, godly men like Moses (Ex. 5:19 – 6:1), Jeremiah (Jer. 15:15-18), Elijah (1 Ki. 19:4, 10, 14), Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:3-7), Nehemiah (Neh. 2:19-20), David (Psa. 13:1-2), and Paul (1 Cor. 4:11-13; 2 Cor. 1:8-9) faced many discouragements. Leaders are not self-sufficient and endowed with all the gifts of the Spirit, so they need us too.].
Rom. 12:4-8 The (human) body is composed of how many members (Rom. 12:4)?
Do all the members have the same function?
[“the same function” (Gk. “tēn autēn praxin”) – mode of acting or office – Dr. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4, “Romans”, p. 403.].
What are the seven functions/offices/spiritual gifts listed here (Rom. 12:6-8)?
“Prophecy” (Gk. “prophetia”/“prophetes”) was the gift of receiving a message directly from God and declaring it to the people. Since it was a foundational gift of the Church, like apostleship, Eph. 2:20, when the foundation of the Church was laid by the end of the first century and the Bible was complete, this gift ended, 1 Cor. 13:9, 10; no further revelation is needed now because the Bible is complete; a prophet, then, was one who was given direct revelation from God to pass on to people.
“Service” (Gk. “diakonia”) is the gift of ministry; any kind of service, but especially in the temporal affairs of the church, as in Acts 6:1-3. Almost any work/service, in the realm/sphere that God has placed him, other than inspired utterance or miracle-working. This was practical service of all kinds, like that done by deacons.
“Teaching” (Gk. “didaskalos”/“didasko”/“didaskalia”) is communicating the already revealed truths of God or doctrine; instruction/communication to others of the already revealed Word of God.
“Exhortation” (Gk. “parakaleo”/“paraklesis”) is the gift of ministering consolation to others, or to summon, ask, encourage (to strengthen others and call forth renewed commitment), or comfort. It means to urge one to pursue some course of conduct. The act of presenting such motives before a person as may excite him/her to the performance of duty; to rouse to duty by proposing suitable motives.
“Giving” (Gk. “metadidomi”) is the gift of sharing; to give a share of; contributing to believers’ needs and is done personally; exercising private/personal benevolence; imparting one’s earthly possessions.
“Leadership” (Gk. “proistemi”) is the gift of ruling, standing before, having charge over; managing, administering, or leading; overseers, elders, superintendents; those who exercise government and oversight in the church (as in 1 Cor. 12:28, “administrations”), elders.
“Mercy” (Gk. “eleeo”) is the gift of having pity on; a concern for the afflicted that prompts giving help; the imparting of genuine Christian sympathy and understanding; direct, personal service/care to those in need.
Is it now obvious to you that God intended/planned for Christians to be different in terms of their spiritual gifts and ministries (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:4-5), but in terms of their purpose in life (Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27) or their working together and serving each other as a body or team (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:20-25; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:11-13)?
Because we are “one body in Christ”, what does it say we are (Rom. 12:5)?
[This means we are parts, not the entirety, of a body.].
Are you aware of what your spiritual gift is?
If not, how could you find out?
Even if your spiritual gift never brings you into the limelight or gets you recognition, are you exercising or willing to exercise your gift in the way God would want you to (Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Thes. 5:11)?
How, and why?
[Though there are many different spiritual gifts, all Christians are commanded to evangelize (Matt. 28:19-20; Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27).].
Rom. 15:30-32 What two things did Paul want from the Christians/saints at Rome?
Could your spiritual leader count on you to pray for his personal safety and for his ministry’s acceptability?
Could your spiritual leader find refreshing rest in your company?
Rom. 16:19 What did these Christians’ obedience and faith (Rom. 1:8) cause Paul to do?
If your spiritual leader/teacher-trainer heard about your faith in God/Christ and your obedience to the Bible (i.e., in evangelism, building up believers into Christlikeness, living a Christ-like life, and obeying the Bible in general), would it cause him to rejoice, and why?
What might happen to your spiritual leader if he heard a report about your lack of faith and disobedience?
Do you see how your decisions/choices can affect your spiritual leader for good or for bad (see also Heb. 13:17)?
What good things can happen to you when you bring joy to your spiritual leader/teacher-trainer?
[E.g., your spiritual teacher-trainer will be more desirous of teaching you; more responsibilities and assignments will be given to you because you are trusted; there will be a better training environment all around; relationships between the spiritual teacher-trainer and you will be harmonious; greater opportunities will exist for experiencing and learning more; etc.].
Do you see how important bringing joy to your spiritual leader can be to your fellowship group as a whole?
1 Cor. 16:10 What did Paul tell the Corinthian Christians to make sure didn’t happen while Timothy was with them?
What did Paul say Timothy was doing?
Though Timothy was timid in disposition (2 Tim. 1:7) and young in age (1 Tim. 4:12), did this keep him from obeying God (in evangelism and building up believers into Christlikeness)?
Was Timothy the kind of person (fellow worker, Rom. 16:21) that Paul could count on?
Can your spiritual leader/teacher-trainer count on you to evangelize and build up believers into Christlikeness in spite of your real or perceived weaknesses (e.g., poor speaking ability; thinking you are too tall or short; overweight or pencil thin; uneducated or a slow learner; boring personality; clothes too old or out of style; skin, hair, teeth, or facial problems; racial or ethnic background; financial problems or being poor; inferiority feelings; fear/timidity; past bad experiences; etc.)?
If not, what can you do to help insure that you can be trusted to do the Lord’s work (Eph. 5:18; 1 Jn. 5:14-15; Phil. 2:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; Matt. 28:19-20)?
Will you? When?
1 Cor. 16:17-18 Why did the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus cause Paul to rejoice?
[“what was lacking on your part” – their fellowship; see also 1 Cor. 16:18].
What was the result of their coming (1 Cor. 16:18)?
[“refreshed my spirit” – encouraged Paul by their fellowship, or possibly by their bringing a good report about many of the Corinthians].
[“and yours” – by bringing Paul’s letter to them].
Though you may lack a college education, great speaking abilities, skills, talents, or popularity, could you refresh your spiritual leader’s/teacher-trainer’s spirit by fellowshipping with him and encouraging him?
Do you? If so, how?
If not, how could you?
Do you see now how even the most spiritual and godly leaders (and for that matter, all members of the church) need the other members of the fellowship group to do their part in order to help their leaders do their part?
Gal. 6:2 What service is every member of the body of Christ commanded to perform?
[“burdens” (Gk. “barē”) – heavy, crushing, oppressive burdens/difficulties/griefs/afflictions, and in context, it refers to trials or hard times.].
Specifically, are you aware of the burdens that those in leadership positions within your fellowship group have?
If so, are you helping to alleviate the burden(s) he/she/they face, and why?
If not, how could you be?
Though you probably won’t get public recognition for your service, how important is bearing another’s burdens (Heb. 3:12-13; 1 Cor. 12:26)?
Does it take a high IQ, good looks, great speaking abilities, or being multi-talented in order to play an important role in the life of your spiritual leader, and, therefore, the spiritual well-being/vitality of your fellowship group?
What does it take (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:14; Jn. 13:34; Phil. 2:3-4)?
Eph. 4:11-16 Why were spiritually-gifted people given to the church/body of Christ?
[God’s purpose for all Christians (the Church) is to equip Christians (in knowledge, skills, and godly character) for the work of service (evangelizing and teaching-training) to the building up of the body of Christ (both numerically and spiritually) until we all attain to the unity of the faith (doctrinally/beliefs) and of the knowledge of the Son of God (complete, correct, experiential knowledge of Christ as Lord), to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ (as Lord and Savior so we should be Christ-like in godly character and in the mission of seeking and saving the lost/unbelievers).].
Did God intend for everyone to have the same gift (Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:4, 11, 28-30), and why?
In what are we (Christians) to grow up (Eph. 4:15)?
[“in all aspects” – in every area of Christlikeness (i.e., in character and mission).].
How was that to be accomplished (Eph. 4:16)?
[Eph. 4:16 – “The joints are the points of union where the supply passes to the different members, furnishing the body with the materials of its growth” – Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 351.].
[“The assumption is that each part of the body functions properly in its own sphere. Modern knowledge of cell life in the human body greatly strengthens the force of Paul’s metaphor” – A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4, “Ephesians”, p. 539.].
[“Each believer is to function in Christ’s body by God’s enabling grace in accord with the measure of the gift Christ bestowed on him (Eph. 4:7). When each believer accomplishes that measure, then the church grows properly (Eph. 4:16), coming ultimately to the measure of Christlikeness (Eph. 4:13). Stunted growth comes when one does not allow his or others’ gifts to function” – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 636.].
Though the exercising of your spiritual gift may put you “behind the scenes” and not in the public’s view/attention, are you exercising your gift faithfully (or willing to) for the best welfare of the whole body/church (and not just a select few), and why?
What are some reasons why people don’t apply their spiritual gifts?
Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-9 What service did Tychicus and Onesimus provide for Paul?
Do you normally consider delivering someone else’s mail an important task, and why?
Why else might a job/task like this be important (Eph. 3:13; Phil. 1:12-14)?
Did Paul communicate that it was Tychicus’ and Onesimus’ super intelligence, public speaking abilities, popularity, or being multi-talented that qualified them to carry Paul’s mail, or was it their character (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7, 9)?
What character traits were emphasized (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7, 9)?
What are the qualities of a bond-servant (2 Tim. 2:24-25)?
Do you view growing and becoming more Christ-like in your character as a more important contribution to the spiritual health of your church fellowship than learning/gaining new skills and abilities, and why?
[If the main/chief goal of your church is the unbiblical goal of entertaining the church, then finding people with great gifts, talents/skills, and abilities will suffice. If the goal of your church is the biblical goal of evangelizing the world and building up the saints into Christlikeness, then you will want to find people who are teachable, faithful, eager to learn, available, and have a heart for God, whether they have great gifts, talents, abilities, skills or not. To be conformed to the image/character of Christ is the purpose for which we were predestined, Rom. 8:29.].
1 Thes. 1:6-9 Because the Thessalonians had received the gospel and became imitators of the Lord, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, what had they become (1 Thes. 1:7)?
[“example” (Gk. “tupon”) – referring to the church as a whole. It is a great compliment for the church in Thessalonica to be already a model for believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Our word “type” for printers is this same word as one of its meanings – A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, vol. 3, “First Thessalonians”, p. 12.].
Is your life an example (pattern) to follow for others Christians in the area of evangelism, and why?
As a result of the Thessalonians sharing the gospel with everyone they came into contact with, what did Paul and company not need to do (1 Thes. 1:8)?
Are you doing your part in sharing the gospel with everyone you come into contact with (e.g., at school, at work, in your family, at the store, gas station, etc.), or are you leaving your responsibility to evangelize on the shoulders of your spiritual leader, and why?
Did you realize that by doing your part in evangelizing the people you come into contact with you may not only bring people to salvation/forgiveness in Christ, but each person who becomes a Christian is then able to learn and then use his/her spiritual gift to help build up the body of believers?
Does it take a college degree, being multi-talented, or great speaking abilities to share the gospel with someone?
If not, why do you think most Christians don’t share the gospel?
[In order to evangelize, all you need to know is the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1, 3-4). If you’re a Christian, then you should know it. If you’re not sure what to say, then ask someone who is actively sharing the gospel as a way of life to help you.].
Are you helping your fellowship group to grow quantitatively and qualitatively by sharing the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1, 3-4; Rom. 1:16) as a way of life, and why?
1 Thes. 3:1-2, 6-7 What was Timothy sent to Thessalonica to do (1 Thes. 3:2-3 )?
Even though Paul told the Thessalonians in advance that he was going to suffer afflictions, why did Paul think it was necessary/important to send Timothy to them (1 Thes. 3:5)?
Do you consider strengthening and encouraging others as an important ministry to your spiritual leader and others, and why (1 Thes. 5:11, 14; Heb. 3:13)?
What brought Paul comfort in spite of his present distresses and afflictions (1 Thes. 3:6-7)?
Do you see how Timothy’s bringing of good news (about the Thessalonians’ faith and love, consistent kind thoughts, and longing to see Paul) was really important to his spiritual leader?
Does helping your spiritual leader or other Christians by encouraging and strengthening and/or bringing or delivering news about the welfare of others require us to be multi-talented, well-educated, have a high IQ, have great speaking abilities, or have an exciting personality?
2 Tim. 1:16-18 What three things did Onesiphorus do for Paul?
How often do you refresh your spiritual leader, and how?
Would you eagerly and painstakingly (and possibly at the risk of your own life) search for your spiritual leader if he was in jail/prison for being an obedient Christian, and why?
[Keep in mind, this was not similar to a jail/prison in the United States; and, it wasn’t popular to be a Christian or identify yourself with one (like Paul) who was considered guilty of crimes against the Roman Empire. So, let’s ask the question differently: Would you be willing/eager to help your spiritual leader if his face and deeds were broadcast nationwide on TV and in print and labeled as intolerant, narrow-minded, bigoted, a leader of a dangerous cult, and/or guilty of treason against America, especially if you knew visiting him might bring the public’s attention on you as a narrow-minded, fanatical, dangerous, brainwashed follower of your spiritual leader, and why?]
If your spiritual leader went to another place to live and share the gospel, would you willingly go with him, so you could serve him there, and why?
What inferred character qualities of Onesiphorus did Paul emphasize in order to encourage and strengthen Timothy?
Did you realize that even if you’re not a ministry leader, your godly character could be used as an example to encourage and strengthen ministry leaders to do the same?
Does it take a high social status, a high IQ, great speaking abilities, or being multi-talented to encourage and strengthen ministry leaders?
Do you think your present level of godliness would strengthen and encourage other ministry leaders if it was mentioned to them by your spiritual teacher-trainer, and why?
If not, what are you planning on doing about it?
2 Tim. 4:11-12 Who was with Paul while he was in prison?
Who did Paul want Timothy to bring with him when he came, and why?
What did Paul formerly think of Mark (Acts 15:37-38)?
Was Paul’s problem with Mark based upon Mark’s lack of education, great speaking abilities, or talents?
What was it?
Do you let past problems/mistakes or sins (e.g., a bad witnessing experience; choking up when sharing your testimony or giving a speech; being corrected or rebuked for sin or making a bad decision; failing to get your point across and, therefore, being misunderstood, quitting your training program, deserting someone when they counted on you being there, etc.) keep you from learning and becoming useful to your spiritual leader or fellowship group now, and why?
[Someone once said, “Failure in itself is not a villain. It becomes one only when we choose to ignore it, excuse it, or refuse to learn from it.”].
Are you learning from and using your past failures to become more productive/useful for service to your spiritual leader and fellowship group, or are you ignoring, excusing, and refusing to learn from your failures, and as a result, you are still dealing with the same unresolved problems you had a year (or more) ago, and why?
Philemon 1:10-13 What two things did Paul consider Onesimus to be?
What was Onesimus’ former status (Philemon 1:16)?
Did he let that keep him from helping and serving Paul?
Do you let your background or circumstances (e.g., your financial, educational, marital, or social status) keep you from helping and/or serving your spiritual leader, and why?