For a period of forty days, the resurrected Christ visited His disciples and spoke with them of “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). The first chapters of Acts help us understand the power that came into the lives of the early Church leaders as a result of Christ’s ministry and the operation of the Holy Spirit. These chapters begin to unfold the story of how the Apostles preached the gospel and organized the Church in Jerusalem while the Lord prepared messengers to preach to an ever-widening audience.
Prayerfully study Acts 1–2 and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 188–89, 226–44.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Acts 1–2.
Acts 1–10. By studying the life of the Apostle Peter, we can see how the Lord directed the affairs of the Church through him.
Some students remember Peter as the one who denied knowing the Savior three times, and they often forget the many great things he did. This teaching suggestion is designed to help overcome any negative impressions by highlighting Peter’s bold and remarkable devotion to the Lord as recorded in the book of Acts.
When you think of the Apostle Peter, what is the first event that comes to mind? (Write responses on the board.)
How do these events affect how you feel about Peter?
Testify of Peter’s greatness, and encourage the students to learn more about Peter during the lesson.
Tell students that because of the death of Judas Iscariot it was necessary to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve. Invite students to read Acts 1:13–16and look for who directed the selection of a new Apostle. Ask: What can we learn about Peter’s position from this account?
Have a student read the following quotation from Elder James E. Faust:
“A powerful precedent comes down through the ages to sustain the succession of authority. After the crucifixion of the Savior, Peter, as the senior apostle, became president of the Church. Since the restoration of priesthood keys to Joseph Smith, this practice has been followed in the successions to that office” (Reach Up for the Light , 22).
Give students a copy of the chart entitled “Events in the Life of Peter” from the appendix as a handout (p. 294). Have them fill it out, and then correct it as a class. (The answers are 1–G, 2–D, 3–I, 4–B, 5–E, 6–J, 7–A, 8–F, 9–H, 10–C.)
Invite students to summarize what they have learned about Peter that has increased their appreciation for him. Conclude by sharing the following statement by Neal A. Maxwell, later a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“Under the influence of Christ’s teachings, Peter developed from an obscure fisherman to be the president of the Church. Once uncertain and even somewhat fearful, he became virtually fearless” (“… A More Excellent Way”: Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints , 38).
Acts 1:1–3. Many people in the early Church were witnesses of the resurrected Lord.
Give the following chart to students as a handout or write it on the board, leaving the “Witnesses” column blank.
Ask students to imagine that they have a friend who has a hard time believing in the Resurrection of Jesus. Have students read Acts 1:1–3 looking for whom the Lord appeared to after His Resurrection. Ask: What might the “many infallible proofs” refer to?
Have students fill in the blanks on the chart. Explain that this evidence for the Resurrection is compelling because of the number and reputation of the witnesses. Ask:
How might you use these scriptures to help your friend begin to believe in the Resurrection?
What effect might it have on your own testimony?
Consider singing or reading “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” (Hymns, no. 200). Remind students that Jesus Christ’s Atonement allows each of us to be resurrected. Ask: What difference might it make in the way you live each day to know that you will be resurrected?
Acts 1:4–8; 2:1–21. The gospel will be preached “unto the uttermost part of the earth” through the power of the Spirit.
Hold up a lamp (or other source of light) and ask students to notice its appearance. Turn on the lamp. Ask:
How does the unlit lamp compare to people without the Holy Ghost?
How is the lighted lamp like people with the gift of the Holy Ghost?
Read Acts 1:4–8with your students and ask:
What were the Apostles to wait for before they began preaching the gospel?
Why would the Lord tell the Apostles to wait until they received the Holy Ghost?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:14. Why can’t we teach or minister properly without first receiving the Holy Ghost?
Read 2 Nephi 33:1and have a student explain what this verse says about preaching the gospel with power. Share President Ezra Taft Benson’s statement from the “Theme” section of the introduction to Acts (p. 135).
Remind students that the Savior instructed the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they were endowed with the Holy Ghost. Read Acts 2:1–13and ask:
What evidence can you find in these verses that the Apostles followed the Savior’s instructions?
How was the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost described by those unfamiliar with the Holy Ghost?
Why would the Holy Ghost inspire Peter to declare this message?
Why is there no message that is more important than this one?
Have students read Acts 2:37–47looking for key words and phrases that show that the power of the Holy Ghost assisted the Apostles in their ministry. List their findings on the board. Consider asking the following questions:
What can we learn from this important event in the early Church?
Whose lives were blessed by the influence of the Holy Ghost?
In what ways can we be blessed by the power of the Spirit today?
What can we do now to have the Holy Ghost as we talk to other people about the Church?
Acts 1:15–26. Apostles are ordained witnesses of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Vacancies are filled in the Quorum of the Twelve as directed by the Lord.
Play a videocassette from a recent general conference that shows the sustaining of the General Authorities (or display a picture of the current General Authorities). Ask students to share their understanding of how new Apostles are selected. Explain that the New Testament gives an example of how this was done anciently.
Have students read Acts 1:15–20, and ask:
What vacancy did the apostasy and death of Judas bring about?
Read verses 21–22. What qualifications did Peter set for the individual who was chosen to be the new Apostle? (He needed to have “companied” with the Apostles and also to have been a witness of the resurrected Lord).
Could a man living today fill both these requirements?
Explain that the modern Apostles might not have accompanied the ancient Apostles but that each of them has a special witness. Read the following quotation by Elder Harold B. Lee:
“Some years ago … two missionaries came to me with what seemed to be a very difficult question, to them. A young Methodist minister had laughed at them when they had said that apostles were necessary today in order for the true church to be upon the earth. And they said the minister said: ‘Do you realize that when they met to choose one to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judas, that they said it had to be one who companied with them and had been a witness of all things pertaining to the mission and resurrection of the Lord? How can you say you have apostles, if that be the measure of an apostle?’
“And so these young men said, ‘What shall we answer?’ I said to them: ‘Go back and ask your minister friend two questions. First, how did the Apostle Paul gain what was necessary to be called an apostle? He didn’t know the Lord; had no personal acquaintance. He hadn’t accompanied the apostles. He hadn’t been a witness of the ministry, nor the resurrection of the Lord. How did he gain his testimony sufficient to be an apostle? Now the second question you ask him: How does he know that all who are today apostles have not likewise received that witness?’
“I bear witness to you that those who hold the apostolic calling may, and do, know of the reality of the mission of the Lord” (“Born of the Spirit,” address to seminary and institute faculty at Brigham Young University, 26 June 1962, 13).
Invite students to read Acts 1:23–26and look for who was selected to be the new Apostle. Discuss the following questions:
How was Matthias chosen?
What key to the process is revealed in verse 24?
Why is that important?
Have a student read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Here again is set forth a significant and unique feature established by the Lord in the governance of His church. The right to nominate rests with the superior officer or officers at whatever the level. But that nomination must be sustained—that is, accepted and confirmed—by the membership of the Church. The procedure is peculiar to the Lord’s church. There is no seeking for office, no jockeying for position, no campaigning to promote one’s virtues. … Under the Lord’s plan, those who have responsibility to select officers are governed by one overriding question: ‘Whom would the Lord have?’ There is quiet and thoughtful deliberation. And there is much of prayer to receive the confirmation of the Holy Spirit that the choice is correct” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 73; or Ensign, May 1994, 53).
Ask: What is the most critical consideration in choosing and ordaining a new Apostle? Read Doctrine and Covenants 107:23and tell students that ancient and modern Apostles are special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Bring several conference editions of the Ensign to class. Divide your class into small groups and give each a copy of the Ensign. Ask students to scan the talks of the Brethren looking for testimonies of Jesus Christ. After a few minutes, have them share what they found. Ask: What is our role in sustaining the Apostles?
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