Summary: Stephens character was shown by Dr Luke in Acts 6. In Acts 7 we see that character lived out as he lives for Christ and because of his witness becomes the first to die for Christ.
Intro: Last week we learned about the character of a Godly man. We learned about Stephen. Stephen was the first martyr for Christ and what an example to follow!
Stephen was not only the first martyr for Christ, but many Scholars and preachers also credit him with being the first Christian apologist.
No an Apologist is not one who apologizes for their faith.
Instead an apologist is one who defends the faith.
Listen to Peter’s words,
1 Peter 3.15 “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
Apologetics is the study of the defense of the faith.
The English word comes from the Greek word apologia, which means a speech in defense of something.
Stephen was ready to give a defense of himself and his faith because of his close relationship to God through Christ and his being full of, faith, God’s Holy Spirit, Grace and Power.
Jude 3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
So why did Stephen have to give a defense?
I. Council’s Accusation
A) Rejection of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ
1) They could not deal with Stephen’s Godly wisdom
Remember that they could not stand up to Stephen’s Godly wisdom. So instead of discussion they made accusation.
2) They would not deal with the Savior
a) Death b) Burial c) Resurrection d) Ascension
Too many today do not deal with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will not ask how can I Glorify Him in my life, How can I serve Him in my life, How can I give my life for Him?
Instead we have a generation of people looking to the God of heaven as a magical genie that will give us whatever we want whenever we want!!!
God is not to be at our beck and call we are to be at His.
And Stephen was!
B) Revealed in the response to Stephen
(Better than Judging Amy, Judge Judy or others)
1) How do you plead?
6.14 “for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
-- Here’s the skinny, Here’s (young people) the 411.
7.1 “The high priest said, “Are these things so?”
2) Stephen says I plead the blood.
II. Stephen’s Resolution (defense)
A) Respect for council members
Acts 7.2 “Hear me, brethren and fathers!”
If you want someone to hear your defense show him or her respect.
Could it be Stephen had heard Peters words, gentleness and reverence?
B) Reverence for God
1) God of Glory
2) God’s covenant work with Stephens ancestors
Stephen did not blaspheme God He saw God in control of his life and the life of Israel.
C) Regard for the patriarchs
2) Joseph a clear picture of Jesus
b) Placed in the ground
c) Sold into slavery
d) Lifted up by God to a place of favor and
3) Moses a type of messiah (respected Moses rejected Messiah)
7.35, 37 Moses predicted Messiah would come, 39
Joseph, Moses types of Christ rejected in some way.
What else can we learn from his Old Testament summary?
God cannot be contained by a temple built with human hands.
BBC “Isaiah had warned the people that buildings are not what really count with God but rather moral and spiritual condition of men’s lives” (Isaiah 66.1, 2)
Moses told to take of his shoes because he was walking on Holy ground. This was not in Jerusalem, not inside the temple. So we see that whenever you are in the presence of the Lord God Almighty you are on Holy ground.
Acts 7.48-50 Read
Their ancestors had rejected God’s Saviors and were sentenced to exile and punishment
When you reject Christ as the council of the Sanhedrin did you are sentenced not to 40 years of exile and punishment but to eternal punishment and exile from God forever.
7) Stephen resolved in their own history to show through the many clear pictures of Christ to come that Jesus was indeed Messiah.
Dr John MacArthur “ [Stephens] purpose was to show that Christ and the Christian faith which He preached were the perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament.”
Read Acts 7.51-53 We are to confront the world with their sin in love. To let someone die in their sin because you would not confront them is not love. Look at Stephen’s example!
8) Reaction of the council