Summary: Appointed as one of the men to wait on the widows in the church Stephen quickly progressed to evangelistic work, and his preaching of Jesus Christ. It was this preaching that had him put to death.
Stephen --A Man Who Wore Many Hats(Deacon, Evangelist, Convict,Crown)
1.) Last week we were introduced to a number of men who served in the distribution of food in the church.
2.) One of these Greek men was Stephen.
3.) This morning, I want to look further at the man Stephen, and see how he continued to grow inn faith and service to God and the Church even to the point of death.
I. FROM A DEACON TO AN EVANGELIST.
1.) Stephen had already demonstrated himself a man of God as a deacon.
A.) He had shown himself to be a man full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
aa.) Acts 6:3
2.) Stephen continued to grow in and be used by God.
A.) One of the things we will find in life is that if we are open and surrendered to God, that he will use us for his glory.
aa.) God is willing to use us to whatever degree we are willing to give ourselves to Him.
B.) Certainly Stephen was a man with that kind of character.
ba.) Stephen had been appointed as one of the seven we had looked at last week who were chosen by the church for ministry to the Widows.
bb.) The ministry Stephen had in the church was certainly a very important and vital ministry within the Church of Jesus Christ.
2.) Stephen’s ministry did not stop with serving tables.
A.) As often is the case, God has more plans for one who is surrendered to him and His service.
B.) God knew Stephen had a heart dedicated to Jesus Christ, and a love for the people of God in the church.
ba.) With such character, and devotion, God worked on this man and was able to carry on great work and ministry through him for the Church.
3.) God was working powerfully through Stephen.
A.) Acts 6:8
B.) He was full of God’s grace.
ba.) When we speak of God’s grace we generally speak of God giving us something that we don’t deserve and could never be worthy of, and far greater than what we would ever come to expect.
baa.) Certainly we would most commonly refer to God’s grace in the connotation of our salvation.
bb.) There were also times in the early church when God would also extend his grace beyond salvation, and specially work through that person to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God.
bc.) As God looked at Stephen, he saw in this man one through whom he could work.
bca.) It seems that beyond the working of God for salvation, that God also chose to bless Stephen with an extra measure of Grace in some gifts from the Spirit of God.
C.) He was full of God’s power.
ca.) By the power of God he did great wonders.
caa.) This was at a time in the church when there were still spiritual gifts, and some of the church had received special power from the Spirit of God to perform works, signs and wonders.
cab.) I want to you to see something from this text. God’s Word does not just say he performed wonders, but that he performed “great wonders.”
.01) It is entirely possible by that designation that God was working through him to do miracles, signs, and wonders even more spectacular than what many others in the church had been doing.
.02) Perhaps I am reading more into this passage than I should by saying that, but it appears that God knew the heart of this man and was able to work greatly for the glory of Jesus Christ and the Church.
.021) Sometimes God can use such a person who is surrendered to Jesus Christ, and with a humble spirit to do great things for the kingdom of God.
D.) By the power of God He did miraculous signs.
da.) God’s Word does not elaborate further on the signs that Stephen was performing, other than to make it very clear that God was in that which he was doing.
4.) Somewhere along the way, Stephen’s ministry seems to have gone from being a deacon to working as an evangelist.
A.) Stephen had opened himself up to be used by God.
B.) The more his heart was tuned in to God, the more that God had blessed him with opportunities of service to the Kingdom of God.
D.) It is in his role serving as an evangelist, that he came to be in trouble with the Jewish leaders and religion.
da.) This brings me to my second point and a new phase of his life as he moves:
II. FROM AN EVANGELIST TO A CONVICT.
1.) The synagogue of freedmen opposed him.
A.) Acts 6:9a.
B.) Some have claimed that in and around Jerusalem there were around 480 different synagogues.