“July 29–August 4. Acts 22–28: ‘A Minister and a Witness’” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“July 29–August 4. Acts 22–28,” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: 2019
Record Your Impressions
Ask class members to write down a scripture reference from Acts 22–28 that impressed them this week. Gather their answers and read a few of the verses. Invite several class members to share why these verses are meaningful to them.
Paul’s testimony to Festus and King Agrippa can be an opportunity to discuss what it means to bear testimony. You might start by asking class members to review Acts 22:1–21 and 26:1–29. What do we learn from Paul’s example about bearing testimony? What additional principles about bearing testimony do we learn from the statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard in “Additional Resources”? Singing or playing the hymn “Testimony” (Hymns, no. 137) might help bring the Spirit into your discussion.
Class members may have gained personal insights as they studied Paul’s testimony to Festus and King Agrippa. Invite them to share. What warnings can King Agrippa’s response to Paul’s testimony have for us today? (see Acts 26:28). Class members might also be able to think of other testimonies from the scriptures that have inspired them. (Some examples include Job 19:25–27; 2 Nephi 33:10–15; Alma 5:45–48; and D&C 76:22–24.) Or perhaps they could share experiences when they were influenced by someone’s testimony.
The Prophet Joseph Smith compared his experiences with testifying of the First Vision to Paul’s experience before King Agrippa (see Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25). Perhaps class members could work in pairs to create a list of similarities between these two servants of God. How does this activity help us understand how to share our testimony even when doing so is hard?
Even though Paul wasn’t seeking the spiritual witness he received on the road to Damascus, he spent the rest of his life working to maintain and defend his testimony (see Acts 22:10, 14–16; 26:19). Paul’s example could help your class understand that a testimony requires work and sacrifice. To start a discussion about this, perhaps a class member could describe his or her effort to become a skilled musician, artist, or athlete. How is developing such a skill similar to gaining and strengthening a testimony? What efforts must we make to gain and strengthen a testimony? (see also Alma 5:46).
The Lord called Paul to be “a minister” (Acts 26:16), but what does this word mean? To help class members explore how they can minister to others, you could write on the board a question like What does it mean to minister? Invite class members to look for answers in the following resources: Matthew 20:25–28; Acts 26:16–18; 3 Nephi 18:29–32; Guide to the Scriptures, “Minister,” scriptures.lds.org. As they share what they find, encourage them to discuss ways we can all minister to others, including in our Church callings.
Brother David L. Beck spoke about priesthood holders’ responsibilities to minister to others, and many of his insights can apply to all those serving in the Church (see “Your Sacred Duty to Minister,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 55–57). For example, what does the story of Chy Johnson teach us about ministering to others? The video “The Miracle of the Roof” (LDS.org) is also a good example of ministering. What other examples can class members share? Give class members time to think of someone to whom they can minister this week and how they will do so.
Your class members may have had experiences when they followed the direction of prophets even when it differed from the advice of worldly experts or the opinions of people around them. Invite a few class members to come to class prepared to share such experiences. Then invite class members to share how the people on the ship responded when Paul prophesied that the ship would suffer “hurt and much damage” (Acts 27:10). How are some people’s responses to prophetic counsel similar in our day?
What do we learn from Acts 27 about following the Lord’s prophets? The quotation by Elder Ronald A. Rasband in “Additional Resources” contains questions to ponder and a list of dangers that modern prophets have warned us against. How have we been blessed by following the counsel of living prophets?
To help inspire class members to begin reading Paul’s epistles, ask them to imagine that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote a personal letter to your ward. How would we feel about that letter? What might he say to us? Invite class members to keep these thoughts in mind as they read Paul’s letter to the Roman Saints.
Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa and taught what it means for us to bear testimony:
“Our testimony meetings need to be more centered on the Savior, the doctrines of the gospel, the blessings of the Restoration, and the teachings of the scriptures. We need to replace stories, travelogues, and lectures with pure testimonies. Those who are entrusted to speak and teach in our meetings need to do so with doctrinal power that will be both heard and felt, lifting the spirits and edifying our people. …
“… While it is always good to express love and gratitude, such expressions do not constitute the kind of testimony that will ignite a fire of belief in the lives of others. To bear testimony is ‘to bear witness by the power of the Holy Ghost; to make a solemn declaration of truth based on personal knowledge or belief’ [Guide to the Scriptures, “Testify,” scriptures.lds.org]. Clear declaration of truth makes a difference in people’s lives. That is what changes hearts. That is what the Holy Ghost can confirm in the hearts of God’s children” (“Pure Testimony,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 41).
Elder Ronald A. Rasband taught:
“[Our leaders], by divine inspiration, have been called to teach and guide us and … are calling out to us to beware of the dangers we face each day—from casual Sabbath-day observance, to threats to the family, to assaults on religious freedom, and even to disputing latter-day revelation. Brothers and sisters, are we listening to their counsel? …
“As we press forward, choosing to follow the counsel and the warnings of our leaders, we choose to follow the Lord while the world is going in another direction. We choose to hold fast to the iron rod, to be Latter-day Saints, to be on the Lord’s errand, and to be filled ‘with exceedingly great joy’ [1 Nephi 8:12].
“The growing question of today is clear: are you standing with the leaders of the Church in a darkening world so that you might spread the Light of Christ?” (“Standing with the Leaders of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 47–48).