Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to teach believers that we can continue to stand under any kind of pressure as long as we stand in the grace and power of God.
Text: Acts 6:8-15
Title: Standing Under Pressure
Introduction: Some people don’t know how to handle pressure! They don’t’ know how to stand under pressure. “There are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.” (G.K. Chesterton) A person can stand under pressure. And the purpose of this sermon is to show and identify a believer who stood under pressure. We must understand that we don’t have to break under pressure.
I. The Faith of Stephen (8 Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.)
• Faith - a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.
• Grace - a special manifestation of the divine presence, activity, power, glory, and favor of God
• Power/Energy - äýíáìéò, åùò, ἡ
o (1) as able to produce a strong effect power, might, strength (AC 1.8);
o (2) as capacity for something ability, capability (2C 8.3);
o (3) as ability to communicate through language meaning, force (1C 14.11);
o (4) as supernatural manifestations of power miracle, wonder, powerful deed (HE 2.4);
o (5) as the value and usefulness of money wealth, resources, riches (RV 18.3)
• Power - (B) Generally (Matt. 25:15; Acts 6:8; 1 Cor. 15:56; 2 Tim. 1:7) a spirit of strength, meaning manly vigor in opposition to a spirit of cowardice
• (Illustration) In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. J.B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians l:19-20, "How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us. (Ernest B. Beevers)
II. The Foes of Stephen (9-14)
• Who (6:9) : A group of Jews from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves begins debating with Stephen.
• Why (6:10) : They hate Stephen because they are unable to stand against his Spirit-anointed wisdom.
• What (6:11–14): They charge Stephen with teaching a twofold blasphemy. (Framed Him by bribing men to lie for them)
o That Jesus will destroy the Temple of God (6:13a)
o That Jesus will destroy the law of God (6:11–12, 13b–14)
o They were more against the Jesus who was in Stephen!
III. The Face of Stephen (15) – looked like that of an angel! (compare Moses/Mt. Sinai & Jesus/ Transfiguration)
Conclusion - Think a moment about a water-saturated sponge. If we push down with our finger even slightly, water runs out onto the table. We immediately know what fills the interior pockets of the sponge. The same is true of ourselves. We can tell what fills us on the inside by what comes out under pressure. (Robert Schmidgall) (Pressure was nothing for Jesus!)