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Summary: Stephen, the first Christian martyr, teaches us how we can be prepared to live and die for Christ.

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* Our culture’s love of records and stats (i.e., longest hitting streak; first to land on moon; etc.)

* Our culture’s love of “firsts” = they set the standard and give an example to everyone who will ever follow them

* Stephen’s role as one among those who did something first...the first Christian martyr

* Stephen was prepared to live for Christ because he was prepared to die for Christ (see 7:54-60)

* Stephen focused on the hereafter, enabling him to live in the here and now

* We are not fully prepared to live for Christ until we are prepared to die in Christ; when we are prepared to meet him we are then prepared to live for him

* How was Stephen prepared to both live and die for Christ? How can we be prepared?

1. Stephen was prepared to live and die for Christ because of what he believed

* This was a HEAD issue

* He had the right kind of knowledge and wisdom (6:10)

* Most of Acts 7 reveals what Stephen understood about God and believed: this enabled him to know Christ so that he would be prepared to live and die for him

A. Stephen believed in the promises of God (7:2-8) // Joshua 23:14

B. Stephen believed in the provision of God (7:9-16) // Philippians 4:19

C. Stephen believed in the protection of God (7:17-43) // John 17:15; 2 Thess. 3:3

D. Stephen believed in the presence of Christ (7:44-53) // Heb. 13:5; Ps. 139:7-8

2. Stephen was prepared to live and die for Christ because of who he belonged to

* This was a HEART issue

* We know his heart belonged to Christ because of the kind of person he was

* When you belong to Christ, certain qualities are seen in your life

A. When we belong to Christ, we possess faith (6:5) // Heb. 11:6

B. When we belong to Christ, we live by the Spirit (6:5)

C. When we belong to Christ, we experience grace (6:8) // 1 Cor. 15:10

D. When we belong to Christ, we experience God (6:15) // Ex. 34:29

E. When we belong to Christ, we understand forgiveness (7:59-8:2)

3. Stephen was prepared to live and die for Christ because of his behavior

* This was a HANDS issue = he went from HEAD (knowledge) to HEART (belief) to HANDS (action)

* If we know Christ, if we believe in Christ, we must live for Christ.

* Stephen’s behavior was Christ-like in at least two ways...

A. He was a servant (6:1-7)

- Philippians 2:5, 7

- Service for Christ results from us being prepared to meet Christ

B. He was an instrument of God’s power (6:8)

- The power he experienced is the same power God can and wants to use in our lives

- The world needs to experience the power of Christ that his people possess


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