Summary: Stephen did not fall for a different Gospel. He was a Christ follower. He lived and died for Christ.

This message is an edited version of a sermon given at Loving God Fellowship. Copyright © 2008 Loving God Fellowship, Inc. . Click to have messages emailed to you as they are made available. You are encouraged to share this message with those you know that are hungry for God’s Word.

Don’t Fall for a Different Gospel

By Rev. Greg Johnson

Acts 7:55-60

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to a church in His day. (Galatians 1:6-7 NIV) "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- {7} which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ."

There has been a different gospel preached in America for many years now. It has deceived many and goes something like this: If you repeat a prayer after someone and ask Jesus to come into your heart you will prosper in your finances, health and relationships. You will face no hardship and nothing bad will happen to you. If something bad does happen, there must be sin in your life or there is something wrong with you and it is hindering you receiving the blessings of God.

In the last days that we are living in, when everything is shaken prior to the return of Christ, many that have fallen for this different gospel will turn to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Refusing to believe a lie any longer, they will leave the false teachers, preachers and the hirelings posing as shepherds and turn to Jesus. They will leave the gods of militarism, nationalism, and materialism and begin to follow Christ. Jesus teaches followers to serve but not to master, to die but not to kill, to bring order but not to dominate. Followers of Christ choose to follow in the way of the crucified and risen Jesus.

Stephen was an early follower of the crucified and risen Jesus. He was not a pastor, teacher, apostle, prophet or evangelist. He was appointed as one of the first of six deacons in the church of Jesus Christ. Deacons in Christ’s church were not appointed to make business decisions. They were appointed to serve the people. It was not a position of power. It was a self giving position of servanthood. (Acts 6:1-6)

Check out how Stephen’s life ended. (Acts 7:55-60 NIV) "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. {56} "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." {57} At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, {58} dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. {59} While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." {60} Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep."

Stephen did not fall for a different Gospel. He was a Christ follower. He lived and died for Christ.

Followers of Christ pray and forgive. At the cross, as Jesus was suffering violence, He prayed and He forgave those that were killing Him. (Luke 23:34 NIV) "Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."” Stephen, a Christ follower, does the same. As he is being stoned by the religionists of his day for being a Christ follower, he prays. As a testimony to Jesus’ deity, Stephen gives his spirit to Jesus just as Jesus gave His to God the Father at the cross. Stephen prays for his attackers just as Jesus did at the cross. Powerful!

Beloved, so many today only pray “bless me” prayers and when tough times come, they believe God has forsaken and not answered their prayers. It’s not all about being blessed on this earth. It’s all about following Christ on this earth. We will enter into our blessings when our journey on earth is completed. In the meantime pray. Pray in the good times and pray in the bad times. Prayer is a privilege. Prayer is where we release it all to God. Prayer is where we forgive those that have done us wrong. Prayer is where we cast ALL of our cares upon God knowing that He cares for us. Prayer is where we draw close to God and allow Him to impart more of Himself to us. Pray. Pray always. Pray fervently. Let it be your release.

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