Acts 6 :8
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
1. What kind of man was Stephen?
2. What was he doing for the kingdom of God?
3. Which came first, the miracles or being full of faith?
And there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
1. Who was fighting with Stephen?
2. Why were they not able to resist or disagree with him?
3. By whose wisdom and spirit did Stephen speak?
Then they suborned men, which said, we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him , and brought him to the council. And set up false witnesses which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs that Moses delivered unto us. And all that sat in the council , looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
1.What was beginning to happen to Stephen here?
2.What is a false witness being used for? To bring charges to Stephen.
3.What were they afraid of Stephen doing? Changing their customs.
4.What did they see in Stephen ?
Then said the high priest, are these things so?
Now Stephen goes into a dialogue about how God has revealed Himself to His people for many generations now. Stephen gives a history of Israel from Abraham to Isaac and Jacob and the patriarchs. He recounts the story of Joseph in Egypt. He recalls Moses in Sinai speaking to the Lord God of Abraham. He does this to show them how God has been with the people of Israel from the beginning, to show how faithful God has been to them. He then recounts how the people went after other gods, and were not faithful in return to the God of Abraham. In verses 51-53 especially he expounds how they have resisted Gods prophets over the years, and therefore have resisted God himself. They resisted the Holy Ghost, and finally Jesus, the Messiah, Himself.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man STANDING on the right hand of God.
1.By whom did Stephen discern and see into glory by ?
2. Why was Jesus standing? The bible says He is seated at the right hand of God.?
3. Stephen was being persecuted and about to be killed by the people. They could not stand to hear there own history and how they resisted God. Stephen took a stand for JESUS and now would pay the price. Rather than repent and look at themselves they chose to kill Stephen. But he was not alone. He took a stand for Jesus and JESUS took a stand for him, and honored him from heaven by standing up. It is the same way for us today, Stephen was not the only one Jesus stands up for. If we are being persecuted, and driven by the enemy for our faith, to the point of any kind of breaking point and distress, you can be sure Jesus will honor us the same way.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young mans feet whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down,, and cried with a loud voice, Lord lay not this sin to their charge. And when he has said this, he fell asleep.
1. Stephen trusted God even with hate raging towards him, it may have been easier to say God why have you let this happen, or why have you left me, but he understood that hate and anger around him did not mean that God had left him. In this case , as in ours, it is moving us all the closer to Jesus, if the suffering is for him. Can we imagine for a moment how Stephen still loved God with stones being hurled at him, how easy it would be to feel forsaken, and yet he still hangs on to every bit of faith he had before. He does not confuse the love of God and the hurling accusation of the enemy, he holds his ground in the Lord. He continues to love God, and we see this clearly because he continues to love his neighbor. , and asks that God lay not this sin to their charge, and he says so in a loud voice, he must have meant every word, and forgave them their on the spot. All of acts chapter 7 speaks of Stephen being full of the Holy Ghost, wisdom and power from on high. Stephen was able to walk fully in the power of the Holy Spirit, and overcome and do many supernatural things thereby. Forgiving your enemies while they are killing you is one of them, and many other things he did were by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I picture Stephen so full of power that he looks like a knight from the middle ages., full of armor and steely determination. Some may think of his martyrdom as a weak thing, that he sucumbed easily, and gave up, but in reality Stephen was so powerful in God, that it defies imagination. He stood for God in the face of persecution, and most challenging of circumstances before the councils of the day, and the elders and scribes, with false accusation and hurling insults, and more. Yet he did not waver, or compromise, but rather was stoned to death for speaking the truth in love.