Summary: A message about how Stephen’s message to the Sanhedrin in the 1st century applies to Christians in the 21st century
SERIES: “LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH”
TEXT: ACTS 6:8-8:1
TITLE: “TAKING A GOOD LOOK”
INTRODUCTION: A. Throughout the course of life there are certain people who seem to stand out from the
pack. These are people like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Ben Franklin.
1. You might also think of Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther.
--These people made an impact through the lives they lived.
2. In the Bible there are a host of people whose stories stand as examples to us.
a. In the Old Testament there was Abraham, Joseph, David, and Elijah.
b. In the New Testament we think about James, John, Peter, Paul and Mary
3. A man who should also be on this list is the very first Christian martyr, a man by the
name of Stephen.
a. A martyr is a person who voluntarily dies for what they hold to be true.
--The word martyr actually comes from the Greek word for witness or testifier.
b. We first met Stephen in the first part of Acts 6.
--He was one of seven men chosen to minister to the widows and orphans in the
new and growing church. In this extended passage of Scripture we look at
today, we learn some of the story of Stephen.
c. He stands as an example of what it means to live and die for Jesus Christ.
B. There was a motorist with poor eyesight driving through a dense fog. Trying to
desperately stay within seeing-range of taillights of car ahead of him. As he squinted
and worried his way along, trying to stay on course with those taillights, the car in
front suddenly stopped and the two cars collided.
The driver of the rear car got out and demanded to know why the other driver
came to such an abrupt stop. The other driver said, “I had to! I’m in my own garage!”
1. I think that story is a good parable of our modern world
--We’re travelling around in a dense fog hoping that we’re following something that
will guide us safely where we want to go.
2. The bad news is three-fold:
a. Many don’t know where they’ve been
b. Others don’t know where they are
c. A great many don’t know where they’re going
C. Need to recap Acts 6:8-7:1 to remind us where we left off the last time and to lead us
to where we are tonight: Stephen’s address to the Sanhedrin and how it applies to us.
1. Stephen was not only serving as a deacon in ministry for the distribution of food to
the widows, we also find him preaching and performing miracles.
2. The message of Jesus Christ was upsetting to some of the Jews and so they decided
to have Stephen arrested by telling false stories and by stirring up the people and
the leadership with false accusations.
3. Acts 7:1 brings to where I want to start this evening: “1Then the high priest asked
him, "Are these charges true?"”
4. We’re going to look at Stephen’s response, his address, to the Sanhedrin
--Not going to read every verse but we will cover each part. Please utilize your
Bibles to follow along. If not, you will probably get lost.
5. As we look at this speech to the Sanhedrin, Stephen basically says:
a. Let’s look at where we’ve been
b. Let’s look at what we’ve become
c. Let’s look at where we’re going
I. Let’s look at where we’ve been: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HEBREWS
A. Abraham – vss. 1-8 (don’t read)
1. Called out of Mesopotamia not Palestine
--Ur of the Chaldees
2. Promises made to him concerning his ‘see”
a. That he and his descendants would possess the land the Lord would give them
b. Abraham had no descendants (no children) when the Lord gave His promise
3. That they would spend time in a foreign land (Egypt)
4. Gave covenant of circumcision
5. Abraham father of Isaac who became father of Jacob who became father of twelve sons
B. Joseph – vss. 9-18 (don’t read)
1. Treatment of Joseph by his brothers
2. How God strengthened and preserved Joseph
3. Gen. 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being
done, the saving of many lives.”
C. Moses – vss. 19-41 (don’t read)
--How God provided a leader to bring His people out of slavery
D. Other prophets vss. 42-44 (don’t read)
--Sent to show God’s call to relationship
E. Throughout Israel’s history there was rebellion against what God wanted done
--In this overview of history, Stephen points out:
II. A BRUSQUE RECOUNTING OF REBELLION
A. Abraham didn’t go directly to the land he was supposed to go
--He waited in Haran for his father to die before moving where the Lord wanted him to go