Summary: We have good news to tell.
A GOOD DEATH,
A BLESSED CONFLICT
C: Purpose of the Community
Th: A People with Purpose
TS: The story of Stephen’s death demonstrates three comparisons between good and evil.
Pr: WE HAVE GOOD NEWS TO TELL.
I. REVELATION (54-56)
II. RESPONSES (57-60)
III. REPORTS (1-8)
PA: How is the change to be observed?
• We have good news to tell.
• We should demonstrate courage.
• Randall issue: We keep moving out by keeping our core healthy (financially invest here, speak good news here)
RMBC 26 March 06 AM
An 85-year-old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years mainly due to the wife’s interest in health food and exercise. When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion, which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed," the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.
"It’s free. This is Heaven."
Next they surveyed the championship golf course behind the home. They would have golfing privileges every day, and every week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth. The old man asked, "What are the green fees?"
Peter’s reply, "This is Heaven, you play for free."
Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch with cuisines of the world. "How much is it to eat?" asked the old man.
"Don’t you understand yet? This is Heaven, it’s free!," Peter replied with some exasperation.
"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly.
Peter explained, "That’s the best part – you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven!"
With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly. Peter and the man’s wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong.
The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault! If it weren’t for your blasted bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"
Well, we don’t get many descriptions about heaven, but we do know this…
1. Heaven is going to be great!
Without a doubt, it is a place of unending joy.
It is worth going to.
And, it is worth bringing our friends to.
When we come to our text today, we find Stephen is facing the very real prospect of experiencing heaven.
You see, as we have been following the story the past two weeks, we see that…
2. Stephen has courageously stood before his accusers and given them a history lesson.
Now in case you think history is boring, let me assure you that Stephen’s accusers did not.
The Jewish people loved to review their history.
They loved to review God’s blessings on them as a nation.
They enjoyed being God’s chosen people.
But when Stephen gives this history lesson, they are not so happy with what he is teaching.
Stephen has given them the facts, but they were facts that they were not interested in hearing.
You see, there had been a recurring theme in their history.
Whatever God sends, they resist it.
Whoever God sends, they reject them.
It happens over and over again.
This was not a conclusion they were interested in hearing, because Stephen was applying it to them.
He said that they had done the same thing with Jesus.
You will notice that…
3. In stating the truth, he has refused to make nice.
"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."
Now what is clear here is that Stephen did not take Dale Carnegie’s course on how to win friends and influence people.
He doesn’t butter them up.
He had given up on persuasion.
He just bluntly states the truth.
He holds nothing back, because…
4. The accusers were repeat offenders.
They had not learned their history lessons.
They were doing the same thing their fathers had done.
They were no better.
In fact, they were worse.
When God had sent them their deliverance…
In fact, when God had sent Himself to them…
They rejected Him and killed Him.
That brings us to today’s text, and it is a sad text, because these leaders are going to give the same end to Stephen as they did to Jesus.