Summary: 1. We need Stephen's courage (vs. 51-53). 2. We need Stephen's commitment (vs. 54-59). 3. We need Stephen's consciousness (vs. 55-56). 4. We need Stephen's character (vs. 59-60).
Stephen Shows Us the Right Way to Live and Die
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Oct. 27, 2013
*Over the past few weeks we have been looking at a great Christian hero. His name was Stephen, and the Bible tells us that he was one of the first deacons. What a life Stephen lived! He was full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, full of faith and power. What a life he lived, and what a death he died. Stephen shows us both the right way to live and the right way to die.
1. And as we study Stephen's life, we can see that we need his courage.
*Stephen had the courage to speak out for the Lord. We can see this in vs. 51-53, where Stephen called out those Christ-rejecting leaders. Stephen told them:
51. "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
52. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,
53. who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.''
*Stephen took a bold stand for the truth, a strong, uncompromising stand for the "Just One," Jesus Christ. Now, sometimes compromise is a good thing. That's true when it’s just a matter of opinion or personal taste. But there are some things that cannot be compromised. You cannot compromise the truth.
*Two plus two is never going to five. And here's another truth that will never change: Jesus is Lord! We must never compromise this vital truth: Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
*I love the way C.S. Lewis put it in his book, "Mere Christianity." There Lewis wrote: "I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him. (They say) 'I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.'
*That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
*You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool. You can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon. Or you can fall at His feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about Him being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (1)
*Christians: We choose to fall at Jesus' feet! We choose to call him Lord and God, because Jesus Christ is Lord of all! -- That’s the truth. People's eternal destiny will hinge on one question only: "What did you do regarding Jesus Christ?" That’s the truth.
*And we must have the courage to speak out about the truth. But where are we going to get this courage? We can get it from the same place where Stephen got it. Stephen wasn’t standing alone that day. The Lord stood with Stephen. He will stand with us too. And He will give us all the courage we need. So let's ask Him for the courage to speak out about Jesus Christ.
2. We need Stephen's courage. -- And we need his commitment.
*Stephen was so committed Jesus that he was willing to sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ. We see the full measure of Stephen's commitment in vs. 54-59:
54. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
55. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
56. and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!''
57. Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;
58. and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.''
*Those hateful, religious judges were so enraged at Stephen that they were literally gnashing or grinding their teeth at him. They were so filled with anger, malice and violence that they stood there snarling like a pack of wild dogs. But their intimidation could not break Stephen's commitment.