Introduction:

In one sense, this chapter does not end well – Steven is murdered for the sake of the gospel

In another sense, it has a glorious ending: It all depends where you are looking from – an earthly perspective or a heavenly one.

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The Blood of the Martyrs

The famous observation of Tertullian that, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, has a depth of insight which is all too often lost on believers today. We have no trouble thinking of persecution and martyrdom as a great obstacle to the spread of the gospel which will not, however, be successful in hindering Church growth. We would have no problem affirming that the blood of the martyrs is a hurdle which, by Gods grace, can be overcome. But to say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church is an altogether different concept. If martyrdom is a surmountable obstacle to the growth of the Church, then the Church might advance just as well, even better, without it. But if the blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church, then without it, the Church does not grow. Without martyrdom, the Church would never have taken root in the world of Tertullian. Without martyrdom, the Church would not have spread to the Auca Indians in South America, or to China or Burma or the islands of the South Seas. The blood of the martyrs is a necessary means for the worldwide application of Christ’s great redemptive accomplishment.

Let’s examine why Steven was willing to GO ALL THE WAY!

1.      Steven knew the word

·         Steven’s speech was not a Random historical account.

·         He chose outstanding heroes of the faith Abraham, Joseph and Moses

Act 7:2 NASB
(2)  And he said, "Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,

Act 7:9 NASB
(9)  "The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him,

Act 7:22 NASB
(22)  "Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.

Act 7:36 NASB
(36)  "This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.

  •  No Jew would doubt that God spoke to each one of them personally. YET….IT ALL HAPPENED OUTSIDE THE PROMISED LAND
  • Steven’s message was not random – it was carefully crafted and anointed by the Holy Spirit

We must know the word of God well!

Jos 1:8 NLT
(8)  Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Psa 1:1-2 NLT
(1)  Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
(2)  But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.

Psa 119:103-108 NASB
(103)  How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(104)  From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.
(105)  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
(106)  I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
(107)  I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.
(108)  O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your ordinances.
2.      Steven had FAITH – he believed God’s word and acted on it

Act 6:5 NASB
(5)  The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.

Act 6:8 NASB
(8)  And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.

Act 6:10 NASB
(10)  But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

  • What is Faith?
Heb 11:1 AMP
(1)  NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

  • We must have faith!
Heb 11:6 AMP
(6)  But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

  • How do we get faith?
Rom 10:17 NASB
(17)  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
3.       Steven was full of the Holy Spirit

Act 7:54-55 NASB
(54)  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.
(55)  But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

Act 13:52 NASB
(52)  And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Eph 5:18-19 NASB
(18)  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
(19)  speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

  • READ WAYNE GRUDEM P638-639 (Systematic Theology – what is “being filled with the Holy Spirit”)

Because of all this STEVEN HAD POWERFUL VISION – HE COULD SEE INTO THE STIRIT REALM

Act 7:54-56 NASB
(54)  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.
(55)  But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
(56)  and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
  • It didn’t matter what happened to him – he saw the GREATER REALITY
  • He was willing to die for it….it more valuable than life itself

 


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