Summary: Our word “MARTYR” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “WITNESS.” By their lives and by their deaths, the martyrs have borne witness for “JESUS CHRIST, THE FAITHFUL WITNESS.”
TITLE: HE STOOD UP FOR ME
SCRIPTURE: ACTS 7:54-60
Can I talk to you this morning from the subject – He Stood Up For Me. Stephen was the President of the Jerusalem Board of Deacons. He was a leader in the church. He seems to have been an eloquent and fiery proclaimer and defender of the faith. But he was also a man just like you and me. He had the same sorts of problems that we face and the same sorts of struggles. The fact that he was used by God is a matter of Grace.
We have a tendency to look for Christian Heroes. We find them and we place them up on pedestals.
• But there are no Super-Christians
• The closer you get to your Christian heroes, the more you will see that they are just like you
• They have the same Faults
• They have the same Struggles
• They have the same Flaws
• They have the same Addictions
• Therefore we can identify with Stephen
As I began praying and preparing for this message, I began to read in an effort to refresh my memory about those that had given their lives for the cause of Christ. I have concluded that GOD GIVES SPECIAL GRACE TO THEM IN THEIR DYING MOMENTS. The Czech martyr, Jan Hus, whose statue and church bare his name and located in the City of Prague, was promised safe passage to discuss his criticism against the Catholic Church.
• But they betrayed him and burned him at the stake
• He died, not cursing at his persecutors for their deception and brutality
• But singing praise to God as the flames consumed his flesh
• The story has been repeated thousands of times
• At the head of the list stands Deacon Stephen
• The first Christian martyr
Our word “MARTYR” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “WITNESS.” By their lives and by their deaths, the martyrs have borne witness for “JESUS CHRIST, THE FAITHFUL WITNESS.” It must be noted, Stephen’s death is the only death scene and martyrdom described in detail in the New Testament, except for that of Jesus Christ.
• Can I Footnote here, early on in this message?
• We run around talking about – I Will Die For the Lord
• God is not concerned about who will Die for Him
• God wants to know – Who Will Live For Him
• How you going to be willing to Die for Him and you are not even willing to Live for Him!
I want to extract a few points from this powerful text this morning and then take my seat. We were first introduced to Stephen in the first verses of Acts 6. He was one of the men chosen by the church to oversee the equitable distribution of food to the needy widows. His name is a Greek name meaning “Crown.” The church had seen a great deal of growth at this point in our text. It had begun with an explosion and it continued to see growing numbers.
• This is a problem that every church should have
• If the church is not growing, there is a spiritual problem
• The local church should constantly and consistently see growing numbers