FILLED TO THE UTTER MOST: AN EXAMPLE FOR THE BELIEVER
A. In Ephesians 5:18 Paul wrote, be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
1. This verse lets us know that it is possible to be a Christian and not be filled with the Spirit
2. But to be filled with the Spirit is to be the type of Christian God wants each of us to be.
3. And to be filled with the Spirit is to be full: from top to bottom with God: His will is supreme; His ways are most important; His desires paramount.
4. It is a life that does not quench the Spirit but allows the Spirit of God to be leader, teacher and facilitator.
5. In essence, it is a life that is about God!
B. In our scripture passage for this morning, Acts 6:8-7:60 we have a wonderful example of a life that was about God.
1. It is the story of Stephen.
a. We don’t know much about this man other than he was a Hellenistic Jew who converted to Christianity.
b. Evidentially, he was living in Jerusalem.
2. It is not a story of an apostle or bishop, but of a very ordinary man who had given his life to Christ, was filled with the Spirit, and did extraordinary things for God.
3. In essence, he fits the billing of our title: Filled to the Uttermost: An Example for the Believer!
C. In these words we will see that to be filled with the Spirit is to be full indeed! When you are filled with the Spirit you will be
1. Full of Faith
2. Full of the Word
3. Full of Courage
4. Full of Hope
D. The one who is full will have a life that is overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit and be a person who pleases God – that is what we want to be!
As we look at Stephen we find that he was Filled to the Uttermost: An Example for the Believer in that he was
I. FULL OF FAITH, Acts 6:8-15 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.  And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
A. Faith and Power go together.
1. It was Jesus who told the disciples, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:6
2. You see faith is seen or exhibited in works
3. James made this connection when he said: Faith without works is dead
4. God does mighty works through us as we live in and act on faith!
B. Stephen was just such a man – a man of faith & therefore power.
1. Sometimes that faith is expressed in simple humble service to those who have needs – his service to the widows
2. At other times it is seen in things much bigger: in Stephen’s life it was seen in great wonders and miracles
3. And again it can be seen in the proclamation of God’s word
4. And still yet it can be seen in the gracious actions when faced with false accusations and persecutions.
5. Faith, and the power that accompanies it, manifests itself in many ways.
C. How is your faith?
1. In what form does it manifest itself?
a. Service to others?
b. Proclaiming the gospel?
c. A meek spirit when demeaned or falsely accused
2. What are you doing that proclaims Jesus is the Lord of your life?
a. James tells us to be doers of the word and not just hearers. Jam 1:22
b. Paul said that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor 2:5
3. Are you Full of FAITH?
Stephen was a man who was full of faith, but that was not all, for he was also
II FULL OF THE WORD, Acts 7:1-50
A. Stephen was a man of the Word.
1. This is the longest sermon in Acts & the New Testament
2. He had been accused of speaking against the temple and the law – howbeit by false witness and the high priest asked him if it was true.
3. Stephen launches into a recital of Jewish history beginning with Abraham,
a. On through Isaac & Jacob to Joseph
b. He then moves on to Moses and David.
4. Through is all he answers the accusations
a. As for the temple: He was accused of defiling it
1) He showed them that the temple was a temporary edifice, that could not house God
2) He quoted Solomon who said that the purpose of the temple was for sacrifices – but that had now been done away with the sacrifice of the eternal Lamb of God!
b. As for the charge of doing away with the law
1) Stephen wanted them to know that the law was given to them by Moses, but they had not lived it
2) That was the reason God had taken them into captivity to begin with.
3) Besides, the law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ – whom they had crucified!
c. Oh how he knew the word of God – so well that it states in Acts 6:10
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
B. What about us – you?
1. Can you defend the faith that you say you live and love?
2. Jude writes in verse 3: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
3. Can you tell the difference between the gospel and a counterfeit?
4. Could you show a person why they need to be saved and how?
5. A good and faithful Christian is one that knows the word of God; one who studies the word of God; one who memorizes the word God!
6. Are you Full of the WORD?
Stephen was a Christian who was full of faith, full of the word, and
III. FULL OF COURAGE, Acts 7:51-54 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
A. When push came to shove – Stephen showed courage under fire! After showing the high priest and Sanhedrin that all they said they believed was a lie he
1. Made an assertion: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
2. One commentator said that when it comes to stiff necked people there are only two possibilities: either they bow their head of their own free will or it will be broken. This crew had no intention of bowing!
3. Those who were present were uncircumcised of heart and did not know the God of Israel
4. Both these terms would have been clearly understood by those present and they would not be taken in joyous manner
5. This amounted to a judgment of their spiritual condition which led Stephen to
B. Speak the Truth - Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
1. Talk about politically incorrect!
a. Not only did he lay the blood of Jesus before them, but of all the prophets that had come before Him!
b. As you will see later, this was not done in meanness – it was done to hopefully get them to see the seriousness of the matter
c. And serious it was – so much so that we see
2. The Conviction - When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart…
a. Stephen stood and proclaimed the truth – the word took aim, went straight for the heart and struck home
b. Conviction can be angel or devil, so to speak
1) It can move us toward God, or push us away
2) I can’t quote the saying I heard but it went something like this, Upon hearing the word, no man can stay the same: He will either be drawn closer to God or be moved further away, all depending on what he does with it.
3. Stephen could not say for sure how the people would react (though I think he had a pretty good idea) and so he took courage and proclaimed to naked truth to those who were present!
C. You and I cannot determine how people will react, but we need to have the courage to proclaim the word
1. Proverbs 29:25 states The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
2. And it was Jesus who said, Matthew 10:32-34 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
3. Are we willing to spread the gospel, with courage, without regard to how man will act or react? Are you Full of Courage?
Stephen was filled to the uttermost: an example for the believer in faith, Word, courage and finally, he was
IV. FULLOF HOPE, Acts 7:55-60 We see this hope manifested in two ways
A. Confidence in God, Acts 7:55-59 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,  And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
1. Stephen was not looking at men – but God; he was not looking for their affirmation but rather God’s glorification
2. His hope was not found in the frail things of this world, but rather in the eyes of His Savior who was standing on the right side of heavens throne!
3. He cared less about life in this world than life standing at the foot of his Savior in heaven! But that was not all, there was
B. Compassion for his murderers - Acts 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
1. Even at the point of death, Stephen prayed that God would be merciful to those who were at that moment, committing a terrible act.
2. I think, and this is my opinion, that Stephen did not see himself as better than they, but hoped they would come to see the Savior who came to die and live again for them.
C. This entity called hope is available to all
1. To those of you who know Christ there is no need to fear what this world can do to us because we have hope – eternal hope!
2. To those of you who may not know Christ as Savior there is still hope for you.
a. Humanly speaking, as long as you draw breath, your heart is beating, and you can still think, there is hope.
b. The hope is that you will see yourself as God sees you – a sinner, having broken His law; condemned and worthy of His wrath.
c. That this will lead you to repentance and acknowledgement of God’s righteous judgment
d. And then by believing that Christ died for your sins and rose again, you might place you faith in Christ for salvation thereby having your sin forgiven, death defeated and hell no more a worry.
e. Romans 10:9 & 13 state: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
A. What An Example For the Believer: Filled to the Uttermost
1. Stephen was a true believer
2. Filled with faith, the word, courage and hope
B. If you know Christ as Savior are you filled to the uttermost?
- If not, why not seek the Lord and ask him to fill you where you are lacking?
C. Are you here this morning without Christ, would you come to Him today?
BE FILLED TO THE UTTERMOST!