Summary: Easter 4(A) - Believers are to be faithful even to the point of death. This means the believer need and wants to be faithful to God’s truth and God’s glory.
“BE FAITHFUL EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH” (Outline)
April 25, 2010 -
Easter 4 -
INTRO: Faithfulness and commitment are rare words in our society today. Too many break their com-mitments because of unfaithfulness. Divorce is rampant. Living together without marriage is the norm rather than the exception. Athletes break contracts (commitment) for more money. Faithfulness and commitment need to be the trademarks of today’s Christian church. Being faithfully committed to Christ does not mean a protected life of luxury or ease. In fact the opposite can be quite true. "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (REVELATION 2:10).
“BE FAITHFUL EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH”.
Believers who are faithful to the point of death will be
I. Faithful to God’s truth. II. Faithful to God’s glory.
I. FAITHFUL TO GOD’S TRUTH
A. The twelve apostles chose Stephen as an elder to help with the daily charities of the growing church.
1. God blessed Stephen. The synagogue leaders were jealous. They arrested him
2. Stephen reminds the leaders of their precious history. Once slaves in Egypt but now free.
3. Moses led them to freedom in the Promised Land. Pharaoh hardened his heart time and again.
B. Verse 51a. God was concerned with the hearts of these people not their outward, faithless obedience.
1. Verse 51b. Like their fathers these people resist God and his word. They finally reject.
2. Verse 52a. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc lived the majority of their lives under death threats.
C. Verses 52b, 53. “You” = they were the ones who killed Jesus even though they knew better.
1. Verse 54. With anger the people rejected God’s law. They were angry and upset at Stephen.
2. Last week the people responded with repentance: “Brothers, what shall we do?” (ACTS 2:37).
D. God’s law is harsh. God’s law simply and clearly points out our sins and shortcomings. God’s law reminds us that we fall short of the glory of God over and over and over again and again. Sadly, all too many would rather reject God’s truth than listen, believe, repent. At times, we too turn a deaf ear to what God says to us. Who really wants to hear how bad they are? Who really wants to hear that God is holy and we are not? Yet God does not give up. "Although the LORD sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen"(2 CHRON. 24:19).
E. God’s truth contains law and gospel. The law of God may at times be very unpleasant at times. God’s law is still the truth of God. To be faithful even to the point of death believers need to always be faithful to God’s truth. This is not always easy in our day and age. Every day brings us closer to the re-turn of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Last Day. That will be a great day. But, until then, things will get (and already are) much worse. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving" (2 TIMOTHY 3:1-3ff). There is more to this list. Looking at this list we quickly realize that each one of us fit into at least half of the evil things listed. Study it closer and a bit longer and we soon realize that none of us can claim any innocence from any of the evil things listed.
F. Such is the truth of God’s law. While many today would try to do away with the brutal impact of the law it is vital to our faith-life. God’s truth, yes, even God’s law teaches the believer about faithfulness. "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes" (PSALM 19:7,8). Law, statutes, precepts, and commands all mean the same thing. God’s law makes us wise to our sinful condition. God’s law opens our eyes to see that we cannot save ourselves. God’s law makes us look for the Savior who saves providing joy in our hearts.
“BE FAITHFUL EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH”.
Believers want to be faithful to God’s truth.
II. FAITHFUL TO GOD’S GLORY
A. Stephen had to remind the leaders in the synagogue they were the stubborn ones, murderers: anger.