Summary: I would like to thank Pastor Jerry Shirley for sharing this series on Acts. It has been a blessing as well as a great help. I have used these for our church, as I spend my days caring for my dying father.
The Stoning of Stephen Acts 6:5-15
Today I want us to look at the first deacon, mentioned in chapter 6, Stephen.
Stephen’s ministry covered only part of chapter 6, all of chapter 7 and ended with the first two verses of chapter 8. His ministry was brief but extremely powerful!
Stephen was not a pastor nor was he one of the Apostles, he was simply a layman who served the body of Christ.
If you remember, last week we saw the word diakanos was the root word from which we get the word deacon. Each of us fit this word in one form or another but Stephen was, as we saw the week before; “one who served by example.”
I Tim. 3 says the first qualification for a deacon is that they are serious minded. This is necessary because we’re dealing with God’s business, and it is the most important business in the world and just like Stephen took God’s business seriously, so we all should.
I believe that because the qualities in Stephen’s life were worth recording in the Bible, these qualities are also worth cultivating in our own lives!
The Word of God tells us that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit.
The truth is, Stephen allowed the Holy Spirit to call the shots in his life or to be in full control!
There are 4 Words Which Describe Stephen’s spirituality and I want us to examine each one.
I have found that being spiritual is a lot easier to talk about than to walk out.
I often meet people who talk very spiritually, but scratch just a little beneath the surface and you find there’s not much there! There is no real devotion or real commitment. There’s no depth in their roots. In other words they are all talk and no walk.
Stephen’s spirituality, however, ran deep, and it showed in his life in some very noticeable ways…
Let’s examine the four words that describe Stephen and determine if they could be used to describe us as well.
The first of our four words, describing Stephen is:
1. Faith: Look at verse 5a:
How did Stephen get faith? The only way any of us can… [Rom 10:17 NKJV] “So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Faith comes from absorbing the Word of God into our lives.
The fact that he was a man of faith tells us that Stephen absorbed the Word of God.
We need to understand that he didn’t own a printed copy like we have, so readily available today, but the evidence shows in chapter 7 as he preaches an unrehearsed sermon, without any notes, Stephen was a man of the Word!
In chapter 7 and completely from memory, Stephen gives the entire history of Israel, from Abraham to Moses, Egypt and slavery, to the wilderness and the Promised Land. He knew where Abraham was buried, when he died, and even gave the names of the men he bought the burial plot from!
The only way he could have pulled that off was because he must’ve known the Scriptures! No wonder the Bible says he was full of faith!
May I say, this morning, there is nothing spiritual about you if your Bible sits on a shelf, collecting dust from Sunday to Sunday! We are to:
David said in, [Psalm 119:16] “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.” We are to:
[2 Tim. 2:15 KJV] “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We are to:
[Psalm 119:11] “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Stephen was a man of Faith…
2. Wisdom Look at verse10.
We know that he got his faith, from the Word, but where did he get his wisdom? College books? Seminary? No! He got it from the spirit of God through prayer! The Bible says in,
[Jas 1:5 NKJV] “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Because he was a man of wisdom, we can know that Stephen was a man of prayer!
A young preacher wanted to preach in a robe so the tailor took measurements. The tailor asked this young preacher how long he’d been in the ministry. “What does that have to do with making my robe?” the young preacher snorted. “Everything, I’ve made a lot of robes, and if you’re young in the ministry you think you know it all and you walk around with your head held high and your chest stuck out…so I need to make it longer in front and shorter in back. But if you’ve been in the ministry for some time, you know you don’t know it all, you’re pretty level headed and level hearted! Finally, once you’ve been serving God a long time, you realize you don’t know anything, you spend most of your time with your head bowed in prayer asking for wisdom, or on your knees looking to the only One who can help! You need it shorter in front and longer in back!