Summary: This message examines two lies that the world is telling about the church.
July 21, 2013
Opening words: This summer we are looking at the first eight chapters of the Book of Acts. I have called this sermon series, Church Planting. So much has happened to this point. The Holy Spirit was unleashed on the world and the church was created. Lives were being changed. The disciples were transformed into apostles, who began to flex their spiritual muscle. Under their leadership individuals were healed and thousands were experiencing the power of the resurrected Jesus. Last week we learned the church had grown beyond Palestine. This growth caused a tension within the church, which had to be dealt with wisely. This week the story continues.
Today, the spotlight is shining squarely on one of the early converts, Stephen. He is respected by the entire body and seems to have a bright future. The problem is he never had the opportunity to reach his full potential. The majority of his life is behind him. In the weeks to come we are told he would become the first Christian martyr. His problems begin today. The leaders of the orthodox faith singled him out. His witness was so powerful he was arrested and put on trial. It is his trial we look at today. May God give you ears to hear this morning’s scripture lesson, Acts 6:8-15. Let me call this message False Testimony.
Acts 6:8-15 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Unless you have been living in a cave the past few months you know the name George Zimmerman. You know his story and you have been overexposed to his trial. On February 26, 2012, Zimmerman noticed a seventeen year old, Trayvon Martin, in his gated community. Being the coordinator of his neighborhood block watch he kept an eye on the boy. Before the night was over, the two fought. The fight ended when a gun went off. Martin was dead and Zimmerman, in time, was charged with murder. Zimmerman said he was attacked; Martin’s supporters said he was a victim of racial profiling. Zimmerman’s trial began on June 10, 2013. It ended on July 13, when a jury of six women decided he was innocent. Our country is still wrestling with their decision. How do you feel about the George Zimmerman trial? Everyone seems to have an opinion. Do you think he is innocent? Or do you think they let a guilty man go free? Can I ask you a question?
Why do trials grab the attention of so many people? It is not just in America. It is true in every corner of the world. History is dotted his famous trails. Just think about it for a minute. There have been so many famous trials in history. Let me just mention a few.
1. The Trial of Socrates (399 BC)
2. The Trial of Galileo (1633)
3. The Salem Witch Trials (1692)
4. The Mutiny on the Bounty Trial (1792)
5. The Trial of John Brown (1859)
6. The Trial of Lizzy Borden (1893)
7. The Black Sox Trial (1921)
8. The Scopes Monkey Trial (1925)
9. The Trial of Al Capone (1931)
10. The Nuremberg Trials (1945-49)
11. The O.J. Simpson Trial (1995)
Do you remember where you were when the O.J. Simpson verdict was read? Why do trials grab the attention of so many people? There must not be enough real trials in the world so the entertainment industry has introduced us to other courtrooms. How many of you have watched one of these shows?
1. Judge Judy
2. Judge Roy Brown
3. Judge Mathis
4. The People’s Court
5. Divorce Court
6. Parry Mason
Why do trials grab the attention of so many people? If you will admit you find the world of law intriguing say, “Amen!”