May 26, 2019 // By:Dave // No Comment
we first read Acts 7
Stephen was a Hellenistic Jew giving this sermon.
He was a “greekized” Jew and recaps a good portion of OT history
His sermon was essentially a “cliff-notes” version
He is accused of blasphemy against God, the law, and Moses.
It starts with dealing with the men from the Synagogue of the Freed Men
Now he is dragged in front of the Jerusalem council and asked a simple yes or no question: “are these things true?”
Why does Stephen respond the way he does ?
(Why not just say “no, these charges are not true?)
- He is recapping the very things he is accused of saying wrongly
- He establishes a pattern of Jews rejecting their prophets, and killing those whom God has sent to lead and judge you.
It’s as if he is saying” what are you smiling about with these stories? You men are just as stiff necked as your fathers were.”
He calls them:
- Stubborn, refusing to bow
- refusing to submit or follow.
- Uncircumcised in the heart
- (Means you bear no mark of being set apart for God
- Since a physical circumcision was a convenant to show that they were set apart physically for God
- Stephen is saying they do not belong to God
(Sounds just like Jesus’ comment to the same council saying their father was the devil not God)
- Your ears resist the Holy Spirit
- You refuse to hear from God and cover your ear
- You have become betrayers and murderers of Jesus Christ
Here they are, getting hit again , with being accused of killing the Messiah
(They should have known better, they had the prophecies, and still had him killed)
Every time they ask a disciple “by whose authority do you speak or do these things?” They get slammed in the face with killing the Christ. Yet they continue to deny their savior and get mad at those who keep answering the questions with truth.
- You claim to know the truth, yet deny it or receive it.
- Your sin remains, you are “doubly accountable”
He says he sees the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.
(There is no question that he is referring to Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father)
Now lets back up …
3 counts of blasphemy “is this true?”
Is his response in line with the charges ?
His response actually turns the charges of blasphemy back against the council.
The council is proud of being sons of Abraham but Jesus has said “God can make any of these stones a son of Abraham” but Stephen basically is telling them that they are the real blasphemers.
Why doesn’t Stephen defend himself against the charges ?
He provides a history lesson, to convict the council of their sin
(Another chance for conversion)
He tells them what they needed to hear
(There is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends)
Stephen laid his life down to witness to the council
Stephen preaching the truth was the most loving thing he could have done
(He sacrificed himself for their sake)
Nothing to lose and everything to gain.
We are told to lose our lives to find it
Give up what equals nothing to gain what equals everything
Empowered by Spirit, he is exemplifying 1 Pet 3:15
Humility is not having a poor opinion of ourself
It choosing to place ourself under another to serve.
After all Christ was humility but was God and he surely had a proper opinion of being the Creator of the Universe (but He was humble and served us)
He is led by the Spirit to give a sacrificial testimony.
Our first Martyr, which means witness unto death.
Saul makes a cameo appearance at the end (pulled into the story)
And becomes the greatest human character in the rest of the NT.
WE WOULD COMMEND STEPHEN FOR HIS COURAGE
But what would happen if the shoe was on our foot ?
Stephen is “filled with the Spirit” we are told this four times from Acts 6
Does Stephen wait till he is in trouble , then try to get filled for the moment?
“If you wait, it’s too late”. Sue said
Stephen was selected among six other men for having a track record of being always. Filled. (A life style of submission to God)
Stephen is always filled (to the best of his ability) to be ready in every season or situation to handle things God’s way.
He need to be submitted before the trial hits (before the temptation hits)
1 Pet 3:15 asked us the question: “Are we filled with the Spirit to do what Stephen did”?
Are we willing to die to prove that we have life?
One cannot truly life unless one has something or someone worth dying for.
Will we be able to finish strong (like a runner coming up to the finish line)?
Can we spiritually sprint the last moments in our life (giving all to cross the finish line)?
The more I submit to God moment by moment, the stronger my finish will become.
Let us train ourselves to finish strong.
“Well done, good and faithful servant”
What does faithful mean?
We, as the bride of Christ, commit adultery from God, far too often, abusing the grace and love of the bridegroom, Christ.
Adultery is not just physical , we can commit emotional adultery, intellectual adultery.
We must lean on God first, turn to Him first, or we are guilty of adultery in our relationship with God.
As the bride of Christ
Are we giving ourselves only to Him , or to others.
“Filled with the Spirit” looks like “only giving ourselves to God”. Submitted only to God. (“Staying set apart for Him”)
We cant do this without being “filled with the Spirit”. And we cant claim this title without submitting wholly to Him.
As long as we are afraid to die, we cannot truly live.
Only by surrendering everything, can we gain everything in Christ.