Summary: What does the conviction of the Holy Spirit look like? What are some of the responses, and how can we recognize rejection. And in the face fo rejection, what should we do?
Passage: Acts 6:8-15
Intro: Truth can have a broad impact, even when not specifically intended by the speaker.
1. it’s a fine thing when we are in line with the truth, and a painful thing when we are not.
Il) “The Problem of Pain”, by C.S. Lewsish “Someone has said, ‘Pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of a rebel heart.’ C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speak in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
2. because the Bible is full of truth, reading it or listening to it can be a painful experience.
3. these first few chapters of Acts are a continual saga of the various responses to the painful conviction
brought by the Holy Spirit of God.
4. and here in this passage, increasing conviction brings the increase of one of those responses, rejection of the message and the messenger.
5. we are going to see why the convicting truth is rejected, what indicates that conviction is being rejected, and the believers response to that rejection.
I. Conviction Forces a Response
1. there was a great deal of conviction taking place in Jerusalem in those days.
2. but this passage brings a new player; Stephen
3. full of grace, power, Spirit and wisdom (v3)
4. God using him powerfully, was preaching as well.
5. and that proclamation of truth aroused the opposition of this mysterious group.
6. Not from Jerusalem, Hellenistic Jews from other places
7. some think Paul belonged to this “synagogue”, because he was from Tarsus in Cicilia
8. these men argued with Stephen. What was the problem?
9. we will see next week the content of his message, but it cut at the heart of nationalistic Judaism and the physical focus that they had.
10. Stephen was saying the promises had all been fulfilled in Jesus, whom they had crucified. Can you see the problem?
11. they tried arguing, but there was no denying the truth of Stephens message.
12. it was the Holy Spirit speaking to them through him.
13. but two things kept them from accepting the rebuke and responding with faith to the conviction.
14. first, they had a nationalistic, racial focus.
15. they were Jews first, and being a Jew had come to mean allegiance to the Temple, physically following the Mosaic Law, and guarding the land.
16. and that meant their pride was involved
17. their focus was physical, and that’s how they had responded to Jesus as well.
PP John 6:14-15
18. and when Jesus disappointed their prideful dreams, they rejected Him.
19. Stephen was telling them that the truth was far superior to their shattered dreams, but the pain of that revelation was too sharp.
20. rejection isn’t the only response to conviction. Sometimes it is indifference.
21. but indifference is just another form of rejection.
Il) you call someone, email someone, and they don’t respond. Rejection by indifference.
II. How Rejection Manifests Itself.
1. they argued with Stephen in v9, but things quickly ramped up
2. truth-tellers have to expect this!
PP There will be deliberate confusion of the message.
3. v11, “secretly persuaded”, so these misstatements are going to be intentional
4. both Jesus and Stephen challenged the physical nature of the Jewish application of the Law, but words were twisted. Vv13-14
PP Highly emotive language will be used
5. purpose of “stirring up” the people, word , word means “to throw into a commotion”
6. “blasphemy”, “destroy”, “change”
7. the goal is not logic or persuasion, but appealing to negative emotions
8. focus on “my position” is typically destructive to the search for truth.
Il) “Peace Table” as a tool is marital conflict
PP Negativization of the Good News
8. “against Moses, against God, against this holy place, against the Law, destroy this place and change…”
Il) “You mean everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus is going to hell?!!!”
PP Quieting conviction by silencing the proclaimer
9. they dragged Stephen off to trial with these false charges.
10. remember, they could not defeat his logic so they had to shut him up!
PP Truth becomes whatever will advance my cause
11. false witnesses used, as in Jesus’ trial
12. serious breach of OT Law
PP Exodus 20:16, commandment #5
13. imagine breaking one of the 10 commandments to protect the Law!
Il) listening to an abortion doctor on the radio who was thrilled that he had been able to help so many distraught young women to be happy again. Death of babies a non-issue, since they were not humans yet.
14. this is an impasse; the conviction of the Holy Spirit being rejected.
15. what do we do?
III. The Believers Response to Rejection
1. in v15, notice the response of Stephen seen in his face.