Summary: THIS SERMON DEALS WITH THE MESSAGE PREACHED BY STEPHEN.
AUGUST 16, 2009
Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 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. These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.
Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God."
So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us."
All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
INTRO; ALWAYS LOVE GOING ON VACATION, ALWAYS LOVE COMING HOME, AND ALWAYS THINK THAT I NEED A VACATION TO REST UP FROM VACATION. WE HAD A GREAT TIME, ENJOYED SOME TIME WITH MY MOM, AND ESPECIALLY MY GRANDSON. I WILL TELL YOU THAT WATCHING HIM GET IN THE CAR TO GO HOME WITH HIS MOTHER, WAS A DIFFICULT THING FOR ME. NOW, ITS TIME TO PUT OUR EFFORTS INTO KINGDOM WORK. I BELIEVE WE HAVE SOME EXCITING TIMES IN FRONT OF US. WE BEGIN A NEW SCHOOL YEAR THIS WEEK, AND ALONG WITH THAT COMES MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES.
AS WE CONSIDER HOW WE WILL IMPACT OUR COMMUNITY FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST, WE MUST KEEP TWO THINGS IN MIND. THE MESSAGE MUST NEVER CHANGE. WE MUST, ALWAYS PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL MESSAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. WE MUST NEVER WATER IT DOWN, WE MUST NEVER WAVER FROM THE SCRIPTURE. SECOND, WE MUST REMEMBER THAT WHILE THE MESSAGE NEVER CHANGES, THE METHODS OFTEN DO CHANGE. ON MY DESK THERE IS A SAYING ATTRIBUTED TO EINSTEIN, IT SAYS, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". IF, WHAT WE ARE DOING IS NOT PRODUCING THE RESULTS WE DESIRE, THEN WE MUST BE OPEN TO CHANGE. NOW, WHAT I KNOW IS THIS; THE ONLY PERSON THAT LIKES CHANGE IS A BABY WITH WET DIAPERS.
IF YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT THIS HAS TO DO WITH OUR TEXT, LET ME TRY AND SHED SOME LIGHT. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS A CHURCH IN TRANSITION. IT HAD BEEN JEWISH, WITH A JEWISH MESSAGE, NOW THE MESSAGE HAS CHANGED, IT WAS A MESSAGE OF SALVATION THRU THE PROMISED MESSIAH, JESUS. THE OLD MESSAGE HAD BEEN THAT OF KEEPING THE LAW. WHEN GOD CHANGED THE MESSAGE, HE WAS SIMPLY FULFILLING IN JESUS, WHAT HE HAD PROMISED FROM THE TIME OF ADAM.
THERE WAS ANOTHER CHANGE AS WELL. PRIOR TO
ACTS 6, THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH WAS IN THE HANDS OF THE APOSTLES ALONE. NOW, THEY HAD HANDED OFF SOME OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO THESE SEVEN MEN OF GOOD REPORT. THEY ARE OFTEN CALLED DEACONS. AS WE BEGIN TO READ ABOUT THESE MEN, WE FIND THAT TWO, STEPHEN AND PHILIP, BOTH BEGIN TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL MESSAGE. WE ARE GOING TO FOCUS OUR ATTENTION ON STEPHEN TODAY.
AS I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS, I WAS REMINDED OF SOMETHING I LEARNED IN COLLEGE OVER 30 YEARS AGO. I WAS A NEW TESTAMENT MAJOR. I BELONGED TO A NT CHURCH. AND THEN THE COLLEGE SAID I HAD TO TAKE CLASSES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. I SAID, I AM NT GUY, THEY SAID, TAKE THE OT CLASS. THE PROF BEGAN BY SHARING WITH US WHY WE NEEDED HIS CLASS. HIS FIRST POINT WAS THIS, THREE PLACES IN THE NT, WE ARE TOLD TO STUDY THE OT. THE THREE VERSES THAT HE CITED ARE;
ROMANS 15;4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
I CORINTHIANS 10; 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
AND, 2 TIMOTHY 3;16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
CATCH THIS, THE EARLY CHURCH ONLY HAD THE OT WRITINGS. THEY DID NOT HAVE THE NT, LIKE WE DO. THE SECOND THING THE OT PROF TOLD US WAS THIS; SUPPOSE THAT YOU HAD TO LEAD SOMEONE TO CHRIST, AND ALL YOU HAD WAS THE OT, COULD YOU DO IT? LOOK AT THE BOOK OF ACTS, LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CAME TO FAITH IN CHRIST, AND REMEMBER THE APOSTLES ONLY HAD THE OT. WHAT A CHALLENGE. BUT AS WE CONSIDER STEPHEN, WE CAN CLEARLY SEE EXACTLY WHAT HE PROCLAIMED. BTW, IF YOU WANT A REALLY GOOD READERS DIGEST VERSION OF THE OT, ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS LOOK AT STEPHENS SERMON.