Summary: This is an exposition of the passage on Stephen who was the first martyr.
We all need heros - those who would embody and be incarnate examples of that which is true, good, and beautiful. Who are your heros? Athanasisus, Luther, Calvin, William Wallace, Theodore Roosevelt, Rambo? We need heros. Today we consider the hero, Stephen.
Remember that the Word of God spread: "6:7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."
Stephen is the "second" martyr because Christ is preeminent in all things - he is first-born, and he is first-dead. He was first martyred. The second Christian martyr, Stephen was a true hero of the faith because of his faith, commitment to the Word, and his heart of forgiveness.
We will consider Stephen in three aspects:
A hero in faith: He was characterized by faith and power
A hero in truth: He mastered the Word
A hero in heart: He forgave
1. A hero in faith: He was characterized by faith and power - FAITH IS THE VICTORY
a. He served
b. He spoke
1John 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes (NIKAO) the world. And this is the victory (NIKE) that has overcome the world -- our faith.
5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
11 Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God."
12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council.
13 They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;
14 "for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us."
15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
Their accusations: " 14 "for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us."
NKJ Acts 7:1 Then the high priest said, "Are these things so?"
2. A hero in truth: He mastered the Word
a. He knew his faith-history, his covenant history
b. He used the Word to cut people to the heart
This is very much a skill we need
Therefore: you are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart
APPLICATIONS: We must know the covenantal unfolding of the Word; we must master telling the story of the Story; the story of His-Story; incidently, we should tell how His-Story has shaped our story. (Illustration - Schlect telling Roy Atwood’s son that Roy studied under Cornelius Van Til and the son not knowing it).
2 And he said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,
3 "and said to him, ’Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’
4 "Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.
5 "And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.
6 "But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years.
7 ’And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,’ said God, ’and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’
8 "Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.
9 " And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him
10 "and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.