Summary: THIS SHORT PASSAGE IS REALLY ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY THAT WILL END WITH THE DEATH OF STEPHEN. STEPHEN WAS ONE OF THE FIRST DEACONS CHOSEN FOR THE EARLY CHURCH. FROM THAT MOMENT, IT SEEMS AS THOUGH HIS LIFE IS SHORT. THERE IS NOT MUCH TIME BETWE
THE DEMEANOR AND DISPOSITION OF A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST
Acts 6:8-15 Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)--Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God." 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us." 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
INTRODUCTION: THIS SHORT PASSAGE IS REALLY ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY THAT WILL END WITH THE DEATH OF STEPHEN. STEPHEN WAS ONE OF THE FIRST DEACONS CHOSEN FOR THE EARLY CHURCH. FROM THAT MOMENT, IT SEEMS AS THOUGH HIS LIFE IS SHORT. THERE IS NOT MUCH TIME BETWEEN HIS SERVICE IN THE CHURCH AND HIS DEATH FOR CHRIST. YET, EVEN IN THIS SHORT TIME, WE CAN SEE SOME TREMENDOUS TRUTH AS TO THE LIFE OF STEPHEN, AND ITS APPLICATION FOR US.
TRANSITION: SO, TAKING A FEW MOMENTS, LETS LOOK AT SOME OF THE QUALITIES REVEALED FOR OUR BENEFIT THROUGH THE LIFE OF STEPHEN.
I. THE DEMEANOR OF STEPHEN
a. THE CHARACTER OF STEPHENS DEMEANOR IS MARKED BY SEVERAL QUALITIES
Acts 6:3-8 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.
b. FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
i. FULLNESS IS A COMMAND
Ephesians 5:18-19 (NIV)
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
ii. FULLNESS IS A DECISION AS TO WHO IS IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE – WHO IS INFLUENCING YOU
iii. FULLNESS IS A CONDITION OF SPIRITUAL WORSHIP
iv. FULLNESS IS AN INTIMATE CONNECTION TO GOD
v. TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS TO BE INFLUENCED AND LED BY HIM, AS WELL AS TO BE IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM TO THE POINT THAT OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS – BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL REVOLVE AROUND OUR RELATIONSHIP AND CONNECTION TO GOD
c. FULL OF WISDOM
i. FIRST AND FOREMOST, WISDOM IS A GIFT OF GOD. IT IS A DIVINE GIFT.
ii. THE GIFT OF WISDOM IS NOT A LIMITED GIFT – IT IS A UNIVERSAL GIFT
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 3:15-17 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
1. SO IN REALITY, WE ALL LACK WISDOM (WHEN YOU SEE “IF”, THINK SINCE).
2. GOD HAS PROMISED THAT ALL WHO ASK FOR WISDOM WILL RECEIVE WISDOM, AND RECEIVE IT GENEROUSLY.
iii. SO, SINCE WE ALL LACK WISDOM APART FROM HAVING RECEIVING IT FROM GOD, AND SINCE WE ONLY RECEIVE IT IF WE ASK FOR IT, THEN HAVING THE QUALITY OF WISDOM IS IN ITSELF AN ACT OF SUBMISSION TO GOD.
iv. FOR A BELIEVER TO POSSES THE QUALITY OF WISDOM MEANS THAT THAT BELIEVER HAS COME TO THE POINT IN THEIR LIFE THAT: