Stephen's Standing Ovation4
Stephen makes his entrance in Acts 6 and his exit in Acts 7. He is described as being “Full of grace and power.” Grace and power is an unusual, but awesome, combination. It's kind of like "sweetness and strength." You will need both to be an effective witness for Jesus.
These two chapters tell us that Stephen was “Full of grace and power,” “Full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” “Full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and “Full of the Spirit.” Do you notice a pattern?
Now, Stephen wasn't an Apostle. He was simply a follower of Christ. His official title was actually “waiter,” and his day job was serving meals to elderly widows. Yet, "whoever is faithful in the little things will be entrusted with much."
(Acts 6:15-7:1) And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. And the high priest said, “Are these things so?”
And Stephen said, “Brothers and fathers, hear me.” It is important to bear in mind the purpose of Stephen’s long speech. He is answering the question, “Are these things true?” Stephen doesn’t defend himself. He proclaims Christ. This isn't a personal defense designed to secure an acquittal by the Sanhedrin. The central character of his defense was Jesus, but he calls as his witnesses: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon and Isaiah. He tells the authorities...
God “is” wherever He chooses to be, and He chooses to be with His people.
- The blessings of God are not limited to the land of Israel and the Temple.
- He was with Abraham in Mesopotamia.
- He was with Joseph in Egypt.
- He was with Moses in the wilderness.
When Solomon dedicated the temple he prayed, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!”
Stephen moves from answering their question, to answering their need! He moves from being the accused to being the accuser. He declared them guilty of sin against the Holy Spirit, the Messiah and the Law.
- You always resist the Holy Spirit by rejecting His appeals.
- Your fathers have persecuted every prophet, and even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. But, you did them one better by actually betraying and murdering Him whom the prophets had foretold.
- Although you have been specially privileged to receive the law, you have not obeyed it.
The Result: (Acts 7:54-57) Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.
This passage makes me wonder: Does Jesus stand for every martyr?
The Psalmist writes: “Precious in the site of the Lord is the death of one of his holy ones.”
Jesus said, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”
If we do what Stephen did, we will see what Stephen saw.
Father, I want to be faithful to say ALL that you want me to say to EVERYONE you want me to say it. Your Son is worthy of whatever I will face in this life. Fill me with your Spirit. I want to be full of grace & power (sweetness & strength) like my brother Stephen.
BOBBY PRUITT | Lead Pastor