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136: The Life and Ministry of Stephen

May 15, 2009

Text: Acts 6:8-7:60

Outline:

  1. Stephen’s Ministry     Acts 6:8-15
  2. Stephen’s Defense       Acts 7:1-53
  3. Stephen’s Heart           Acts 7:54-60

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Stephen is an unusual man. He is said to be full of grace and power, having the face of an angel. He had Godly character. He evidently was a very good debater in that many of the learned Jews from Cyrene, Alexander, and other parts of Asia had great difficulty in refuting his testimony that Jesus is the Christ. It became so obvious that they went to the Sanhedrin with trumped up charges of blasphemy, complete with false witnesses. They were doing the same thing with Stephen as they had already done with Jesus.

Unlike Jesus, who remained silent, Stephen speaks out beginning with God calling Abraham, discusses the provision and promises God made to free Israel from Egypt, points to Israel’s rejection of God’s Word, their worship of idols, resisting the Holy Spirit, persecuting their prophets, and crucifying Jesus, their Messiah.

The Sanhedrin is angry but Stephen looks up and declares that he sees the glory of God and Jesus standing at His right hand. Stephen is quickly hauled out and stoned. While being stoned he asks forgiveness for those who stone him, similar to what Jesus said on the cross.

There are some principles we ought to remember:

  • One’s Text for Godly Character is God’s Word.
  • One’s Teacher for Godly Character is the Holy Spirit.
  • One’s Setting for Godly Character is at the feet of Jesus.
  • One’s Attitude for Godly Character is Humility.
  • One’s Aptitude for Godly Character is Submission.
  • One’s Apprenticeship for Godly Character is Service.
  • One’s Test for Godly Character is Persecution.
  • One’s Reward for Godly Character is Fellowship.
  • One’s Diploma for Godly Character is received in Heaven.

Lessons/Applications:

  1. Godly Character leads to Ministry leads to Persecution leads to Greater Godly Character.
  2. Defending the Faith always means we die to self and live for Christ.
  3. The manner in which we die is a profound Witness to others. In other words,
    Our death is different because Christ’s death was different.
  4. Sometimes we are called to fight; sometimes we are called to flee; but we are always called to Submit.

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