Summary: We must not be set in opposition to God.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING HISTORY
C: Purpose of the Community
Th: A People with Purpose
Pr: WE MUST NOT BE SET IN OPPOSITION TO GOD.
We must not set ourselves in opposition to God.
TS: Since Stephen stands accused of blasphemy, we will find four pleas he makes in order to be found not guilty.
Type: Narrative (in a somewhat propositional form).
The ____ plea is regarding…
I. GOD (2-16)
II. MOSES (17-37)
III. LAW (38-43)
IV. TEMPLE (44-50)
PA: How is the change to be observed?
• We must not be set in opposition to God; we need to be on God’s side.
• We need Jesus.
RMBC 19 March 06 AM
Taking his seat in his chambers, the judge faced the opposing lawyers. "So," he said, "I have been presented, by both of you, with a bribe."
Both lawyers squirmed uncomfortably.
"You, attorney Leon, gave me $15,000. And you, attorney Campos, gave me $10,000."
The judge reached into his pocket and pulled out a check. Handing it to Leon the judge said, "Now then, I’m returning $5,000, and we’re going to decide this case solely on its merits.”
Well, I am sure you are like me, in that…
When we are being judged, we want fairness.
The issue of fairness is certainly one that pertains to our topic this morning.
When we studied Acts 6 last week, we discovered that…
1. Stephen has successfully debated his Jewish colleagues.
It was a formal debate.
The premises were agreed upon.
And as Stephen went point upon point, they were unable to refute him.
He was the clear winner.
There was a problem though.
His conclusions were unacceptable because they meant the destruction of their whole religious system.
2. Since they could not win the debate, they brought fraudulent charges against him (cf. John 2:19).
They deliberately misrepresented what Stephen had been saying about Moses and the law.
In so doing, they stirred up the people to the point of a frenzy.
3. Stephen is seized and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin was the Jewish court.
It was a combination of priests and theologians, including both Pharisees and Sadducees.
Stephen was brought forth before this court with the charges of committing blasphemy against Moses and the temple.
In our study today, then…
4. Standing accused of blasphemy, we will find four pleas Stephen makes in order to be found not guilty.
The message that Stephen is about to give in his own defense is perhaps not what we would expect.
We are more used to the Greek-like arguments of Paul.
But this is the proclamation of a Christian message in terms of Judaism, and he has a very distinct point he is about to make.
As our text begins, the high priest asks a question.
(1) And the high priest said, "Are these things so?"
This priest is likely to be Caiaphas, which is not a good sign.
This is the same high priest that presided over the trial of Jesus.
But Stephen is going to answer these charges with a “not guilty” and proving it with history.
He is going to show that he has history on his side because they are repeating the sin of their fathers of resisting the Holy Spirit and the plan of God.
Please note that this text is too large for me to cover point by point, but I will be highlighting the material that I consider the most helpful to our study today.
I. The first plea is regarding GOD (2-16).
(2) And Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, (3) and said to him, ’Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ (4) Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. (5) Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. (6) And God spoke to this effect — that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. (7) ’But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ’and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ (8) And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.