Summary: The HOPE of salvation provided through Christ is still available. Relinquish your IDOLS and rejoice in Him!
The Wrong Side Of History
Ill. Amy and I had the opportunity several years ago to travel to Switzerland with my dad. My dad was born and raised in Switzerland and came to this country when he was 19 years old. On that visit we went to his hometown of Burglen. As we drove around the town, many of the stories my dad had told me about his childhood began to come to life. I saw where he went to school, the river he fished in and also the house he grew up in. I snapped a picture of the house. As you can see, it’s 3 stories. My grandfather, Robert Walliser - whose name I carry (Troy Robert Walliser) and my son carries (Trent Robert Walliser) – my grandfather owned a trucking company. Kind of the Swiss Fed-Ex. He had several trucks and they parked in the garage bays you see on the first floor here.
As we were looking at my dad’s childhood home, my dad related a story to me that he had never told me before. You see, my dad was born in 1935, so he was 10 years old at the end of WW2. My dad had told me before that my grandfather was a Nazi sympathizer. He rooted for the Germans to beat the allies. Switzerland borders Germany, and the primary language is German, so there was a natural inclination for the Swiss to side with Germany – even though technically they declared themselves to be neutral.
The story my dad related to me was that my grandfather (or grossfater) would pull all of the trucks out of the garage which created a large open space on the ground floor. He then provided that space free of charge to the local Nazi party to come and show propaganda films. My grandfather’s thinking was that Germany would eventually win the war and Switzerland would then inevitably be swallowed up in the Third Reich – and in an attempt at self-preservation for himself and his family, he wanted to be known as a Nazi supporter when that happened.
As we all know, thankfully, Germany lost the war and the Nazis were defeated. My grossfater was on the wrong side of history.
My title of my sermon this morning is "The Wrong side of History" as we continue our expositional series through the book of Acts. The book of Acts is the account of all that Jesus continued to do on the earth through his church. Just because Jesus physically ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection does not mean he ceased to work on the earth. He continues to work on the earth to this day, and he does that work by the power of His Spirit through his body, the church.
The book of Acts is all about Christ's continuing work through his church. This morning we arrive at chapter 7. We are going to attempt to cover the entire chapter this morning – 60 verses. What we have in chapter 7 is the longest speech or sermon in the entire book of Acts. This speech to the Sanhedrin by Stephen is longer than any of Peter’s recorded speeches or sermons; longer than any of Paul’s speeches.
In case you missed last Sunday, and I know MANY of you did because of the torrential downpours we experienced, let me recap what we discovered last week. Luke introduces us to Stephen. Stephen was one of the seven men who were chosen to serve the church in Jerusalem in a capacity something like a prototype of the office of deacon. We discover Stephen was a man of tremendous character. He was described as being full of the Spirit, full of wisdom, full of faith, full of grace, and full of power. He was a remarkable follower of Jesus.
In addition to that, he was a powerful preacher. As we understand it, Stephen would enter Gentile synagogues in and around Jerusalem and would proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel. It’s likely that one Saul of Tarsus was present at some of those synagogue meetings and they may have even entered into a theological debate. But Luke describes Stephen’s acumen as such that: But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Acts 6:10
Because of Stephen’s powerful proclamation, he was dragged before the Sanhedrin – the high council of Israel – and charges of blasphemy were leveled against him. Namely, there were four areas of blasphemy he was charged with: “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” Acts 6:11
“This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law.” Acts 6:13
So the four areas of blasphemy he was accused of were: blasphemy against Moses, God, the temple, and the law. These are the charges that were leveled against him. And the key statement they used against Stephen, the linchpin of their entire case revolved around this one statement they say Stephen made: "For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” Acts 6:14