Summary: Stephen begins his message by talking about Abraham and Joseph
Stephen’s Message, Pt. 1 – Journeys of Faith
Acts 6:15 – 7:16
Jeff Hughes – May 4, 2003
Calvary Chapel Aggieland
a. Stephen’s faith in God and his walking it out placed him in harm’s way. Stephen boldly stood up for his faith in front of the Grecian Jews at the Freedman’s Synagogue, we saw this last week.
b. This week, we will see Stephen standing firm in front of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jewish nation, proclaiming that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the long awaited Savior.
c. Just like with the apostles, when they stood before the Sanhedrin to answer charges, Stephen would use this opportunity to try and evangelize this group, as the apostles had done.
d. Stephen didn’t hire an attorney, he didn’t try to make a plea bargain, he just kept trusting God, and proclaimed the gospel. God blessed Stephen for his faithfulness, which we will see both today and next week.
e. But, we notice that Stephen’s message to the Sanhedrin is very long. Now, if importance equated to length, this would be one of the most important sections of Acts. But, really, we don’t know what the purpose God had by including Stephen’s message in Acts, except to give us hope and inspiration when we fall into tribulation. It is important to us though, because God chose to put it here in His Word, and we will study it today.
f. There are two themes in Stephen’s message, and today we will look at the first of those themes. The first theme is that God, throughout history, has sent deliverers and leaders, by faith to lead and instruct the Jewish nation. But, time and time again, the nation rebelled and sinned against God.
g. It wasn’t that these men God raised up failed. On the contrary, these men did exactly what God had called them to do by faith in Him. Each of these men were called to make a Journey of Faith, and we will look at this in depth today, as we continue through Acts.
h. But, first, let’s have a short prayer, to ask the Lord to bless the study of His Word today.
a. When Hudson Taylor went to China, he made the voyage on a sailing vessel. As it neared the channel between the southern Malay Peninsula and the island of Sumatra, the missionary heard an urgent knock on his stateroom door. He opened it, and there stood the captain of the ship.
b. “Mr. Taylor,” he said, “we have no wind. We are drifting toward an island where the people are heathen, and I fear they are cannibals.”
c. “What can I do?” asked Taylor.
d. “I understand that you believe in God. I want you to pray for wind.”
e. “All right, Captain, I will, but you must set the sail.”
f. “Why that’s ridiculous! There’s not even the slightest breeze. Besides, the sailors will think I’m crazy.”
g. But finally, because of Taylor’s insistence, he agreed. Forty-five minutes later he returned and found the missionary still on his knees. “You can stop praying now,” said the captain. “We’ve got more wind than we know what to do with!”
h. Hudson Taylor was a man who was making a journey of faith himself. Many lives would be touched through the work of His China Inland Mission. Stephen made a journey of faith to stand in front of the Sanhedrin to proclaim the gospel.
i. God calls and raises up men to do His work on the earth. Alan Redpath once said that God could write the gospel in the stars if He chose to, but instead, He chose to use men, ordinary men, to carry His message to the ends of the earth.
j. Using Stephen’s narrative here toady we will look at two other men who made that journey of faith to carry God’s message.
k. Our study today starts in Acts chapter 6, verse 15, and we will continue through verse 16 of chapter 7, as we continue to study through Acts. There’s a place for you to take notes in your bulletin if you would like, and if you need a Bible, just raise your hand. Acts is right past John in the New Testament, and just before Romans.
l. Follow along with me as we read.
i. 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. 1 Then the high priest said, "Are these things so?" 2 And he said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ’Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. 5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. 6 But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. 7 ’And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ’and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’ 8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. 9 "And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to the Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. 16 And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.