Summary: There are several interesting similarities between the mob that Stephen preached to and those who will deny the same message today.
STOPPING YOUR EARS
Acts 7:51-60 (vs. 57)
INTRO. These are the final moments in the life of one of the first Christian martyrs. The men Stephen was speaking to were the great and mighty men of their day and nation. They knew the Scriptures and should have been among the first to recognize Jesus and come to Him. It was because they knew that Stephen was telling them the truth and that the truth did not agree with their own pet ideas and theories that they became so enraged that they committed murder. Let’s consider, not Stephen, but the men he was preaching to and we will try to understand why they did such a terrible thing.
I. THEY WERE WILFULLY DEAF. (vs. 57)
A. They liked to claim that they were the chosen people of God.
1. They were of the lineage of Abraham. (see John 8:33-40)
2. They bragged that they were children of the covenant made between Abraham and God. That covenant which was symbolized in the mark of circumcision.
3. They boasted that they were the keepers of the Law given by God to Moses.
4. They felt that the combination of their lineage, their covenant and circumcision, and their Law made them the most spiritual people alive.
B. But like so many who claim to be the people of God, they would accept God only when it suited their own selfish purposes.
C. They had used this religion that they supposedly loved so much as a means of falsely accusing Stephen (Acts 6:11-14). They were willing, not to hear the truth, but rather to hear their version of the truth.
D. Stephen not only answered their false accusations but then he began to make accusations against them -- this is when they began stopping their ears.
1. They had accused him of berating the Holy Place -- He accused them of resisting the Holy Ghost. (vs. 51)
a. First of all he denounced their claim of superiority by calling them uncircumcised in heart. In other words, they might be different from the heathen on the outside but they were just the same on the inside.
b. Secondly, we know that there are three ways the Holy Spirit can be opposed. He can be grieved. He can be quenched. He can be resisted.
(1) Only a Spirit-indwelt believer can grieve the Holy Spirit. The word "grieve" is a love-word. We can grieve only someone who loves us and who stands in a special relationship to us.
(2) A church can quench the Holy Spirit by allowing men to usurp His authority, by refusing to follow His leading, or by permitting false doctrine or moral wickedness to take root.
(3) Only lost sinners resist the Holy Spirit.
c. The word "resist" means -- "to fall against or rush upon in a hostile manner"; "to rage in battle against".
d. Their treatment of the prophets, the Scriptures, the temple, and the Son of God, constituted a persistent sin against the Holy Spirit.
2. They had accused him of insulting Moses -- He accused them of murdering Jesus Christ. (vs. 52)
a. Their fathers had murdered the prophets sent to them by God. Matt. 13:10-17
b. God had sent them prophets. He had sent them John the Baptist. He had sent them His only begotten Son. They had stopped their ears to them all.
c. Luke 20:9-18
d. It is strange that many times we will do something we know to be wrong and it does not bother us that others know we did it but it bothers us when we are accused of doing it.
3. They had accused him of blaspheming the Law -- He accused them of breaking the Law. (vs. 53)
a. From the first, at Mt. Sinai, Israel had been Law breakers. For the breaking of the law they had experienced, disease, drought, famine, snakes, locusts, wars, and finally captivity.
b. Their own proud history was a testimony against them...and there was nothing they could say to the contrary. SO THEY STOPPED THEIR EARS!!!
II. IT WAS AGAINST THE GOSPEL THEY STOPPED THEIR EARS.
A. When men find fault with the preaching of the Gospel, they are finding fault with God. Many will not make peace with God and they point to the faults of the preacher or the church when really it is the Son of God they reject.
1. Jesus warned that when people reject the man with the message they are rejecting the man in the message. John 15:18-25
2. Men hate the Gospel because it tells them what they are and they don’t want to know.
3. The Gospel also tells us what God has done to save us from our sins. (I Cor. 15:3-4) -- "For I delivered unto you first of all that which also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures;"