Summary: A message for Memorial Day

The Memorial of a Martyr

Selected Passages from Acts

Focus text Acts 7:54-8:1

May 28, 2000


I. The purpose of Memorial Day

A. The start of Memorial Day

1. Henry Welles – Waterloo, NY: Day to honor the patriotic dead of the Civil War. The first appeal was ignored.

2. Welles brings the suggestion to General John Murray, the county clerk, and he began to develop the idea

3. Waterloo celebrated the first Memorial Day with wreaths for every veteran’s grave and flags hung at half-mast on May 5, 1866.

B. The First national celebration

1. The celebration drew the attention of General John Logan who adopted the first national Decoration Day

2. The celebration was moved from May 5th to May 30th.

II. The salute to our fallen family in Christ

A. Brothers and sisters in foreign lands

1. Our debt to these brave brothers and sisters

2. Our responsibility to Christ

a.) Pray for fellow Christians daily

b.) Build the Kingdom of Christ

1.) Win those who are lost

2.) Develop strong disciples

3.) Train people for ministry

4.) Multiply servant leaders

B. Our first brother to fall – Stephen – Read Text


I. The character of a martyr

A. Who was Stephen?

1. The name Stephen: Greek – “crown” most likely his family belonged to the diaspora and returned to Jerusalem

2. Stephen was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit

B. What role did he play in the church?

1. Stephen was chosen as one of the seven deacons

2. Stephen was given the role of overseeing the compassionate ministries of the church

3. Stephen was a man of God’s grace and power

1.) He proclaimed the gospel with great boldness

2.) He did wonders and miraculous signs

C. Why was this important?

1. Stephen was now a key leader in the ministry of the church

2. Stephen extended the ministry of the Apostles

a.) He filled a vital role in the church ministry – Ministry that needed to be done but that the Apostles could no longer do

b.) His work allowed the Apostles to focus on the ministry of the Word and teaching – Stephen lightened the load on the Apostles

3. Stephen made himself a visible leader in the church

a.) His ministry was public – No secret service for God

b.) He made himself an open target

II. The conviction of a martyr

A. Stephen is seized by the Sanhedrin

1. History of the Sanhedrin

a.) Highest ruling body in Israel

b.) Composed of leaders from both the Pharisees and the Sadducees

c.) This council is the same one that tried Jesus

2. The Jewish leaders were trying to destroy the church

a.) They had seized Peter and John (Acts 3-4)

b.) They had seized the Apostles (Acts 5)

3. Stephen was an attractive target

a.) Stephen was very effective in ministry

b.) Stephen was lesser known – Less impact to kill him

c.) Stephen was a new threat

B. Stephen’s message

1. Stephen’s conviction brings courage

a.) The Sanhedrin attempts to charge Stephen with heresy

b.) Stephen responds with courage and deep conviction

2. Stephen stands his ground

a.) Stephen goes on the offensive

1.) Israel’s history – the mighty things that God has done in the past

2.) The worship of God

3.) The death of Jesus

b.) Stephen stands like the prophets of the OT

1.) Stephen will not give in to the pressure

2.) Stephen boldly brings the Truth to these men

III. The compassion of a martyr

A. Stephen was calling the leaders to repent

1. The central message of Stephen was to save the lost

2. Stephen gave his life to proclaim the gospel

B. Stephen has an eternal hope

1. Stephen sees heaven open and Jesus standing by the Father

2. This added to his hope and his boldness

C. Stephen asks God to forgive them for their act

1. Stephen had the goal of winning these men to Christ

2. Stephen had a deep compassion for them

3. He knew that this sin would keep them from heaven

4. Stephen asks God to forgive them


I. Who are you in Christ?

A. You are a child of the King!

1. Stop living like beggars

2. You have access to the power of the supreme God of the universe

B. You are a part of the Body of Christ

1. You are special to Christ and to this church

2. Now is the time to take the role you were created for - Ministry

II. What are you called to do?

A. You have been given a precious gift

1. Illu: Imagine that you gave your child a gift

a.) They open it and you see the joy that they have because of the gift

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