Summary: 4th in a sereis on the book of Acts. The stories of Stephen and Phillip affirm there are times in our lives when we must make a stand. There is no room to give in to the urge to cut and run in cowardly retreat!
(Fourth in the series, What’s Next? The Adventures of Growing in Christ)
An early Christian leader named Tertullian (164-200AD) declared:
“Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust.
The more you mow us down, the more we grow,
for the seed of the church is the blood of the Christians.
Every single drop of our blood springs up, in some thirty,
in some sixty and in some and hundred-fold.”
There are times in our lives when we must make a stand.
There is no room to give in to the urge to cut and run in cowardly retreat!
1. Stephen the preacher (chapter 7)
Stephen honored God
a. His Walk Honored God
b. His Work Honored God
c. His Words Honored God (Acts 6:9-10)
Stephen proclaimed God
a. In this message, Stephen reviewed O.T. history.
1) God was with Abraham wherever he went.
2) God was with Joseph in Egypt.
3) God was with Moses in the desert.
4) God was with Joshua in the Promised Land.
5) God was with David in Palestine.
6) God was with Solomon in Jerusalem.
b. Solomon built the temple that his father David wanted to build. But Stephen made it clear that God did not ask for a building;
1) The Most High does not live in houses made by men.
2) God really wants our hearts and ears, not religious ceremonies.
3) Non-acceptance of these things equals quenching the Spirit.
Stephen remained faithful to God
When trouble came, Stephen remained faithful to the one he loved.
a. A Lingering Look (7:54-55a)
b. A Longing Look (55b-56)
c. A Loving Look (57-60)
We honor early church leaders who made that kind of stand. But God expects the same from us today!
"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliot wrote these now famous words in a journal while in college. These words compelled Jim to give his life to Christ and share Jesus with unreached people.
Nate Saint and fellow missionaries Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian had set up camp on a little sandbar in hopes of making contact with the primitive Aucas, known for their fierce infighting and hatred of outsiders. The five missionaries had a deep burden to share the gospel message with a South American people known only for hunting and killing. Their first friendly contact ended in death by spearing.
Why didn’t the missionaries defend themselves with their guns? Why did they leave five young women widowed, nine children fatherless?
Less than three years after the massacre, Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) and Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth, were living with the tribe. They practiced basic medicine and began to write out their language in hopes of someday translating the Bible. But why would they do it?
Even the Aucas did not understand what happened on that little beach in January of 1956. As they repeatedly discussed the raid, one question haunted them: why hadn’t the missionaries used their guns to defend themselves? Two of the Indians had been wounded. But the Aucas were certain that the superficial wounds were unintended, since one was hit only after his mother grabbed a missionary’s arms and the other knew no one saw where she was hiding.
These wounds, actual evidence that the missionaries were capable of defending themselves and chose not to, were a major factor in the Aucas agreeing to allow Rachel Saint and Elisabeth Elliot to live with them. The killers had to know why would the outsiders let themselves be killed rather than kill, as any normal Auca would have done?
Citation: Christianity Today International / Christianity Today Magazine Vol. 40, No. 10, Page 20 © 1996
2. Phillip the teacher (chapter 8)
Stephens’ death brought on wholesale persecution of the church. The believers scattered but did not keep quiet about Jesus.
Another one of the Seven, Phillip, went to the hated Samaritans and shared Jesus. After that, he converted a high Ethiopian official to Christianity. While Stephen was an effective preacher,
Phillip became an effective teacher.
An effective teacher:
He submitted himself to the teaching of God before trying to share it with others.
Ask the Lord to help you to learn how to be as skilled in the questions you ask as the answers you provide. Be a good listener.
C. Does not limit God
First to the Samaritans, now to an African. Don’t be afraid of surprises through which God can se you to win someone else to Christ.
D. Is not ashamed of the Gospel
The suffering Christ has a way of motivating, instructing and inspiring all to greatness.
E. Follows the Spirit’s lead
Never limit what the Spirit of God can do through your teaching of God’s love, power and truth