Welcome Home everyone
Today were going to start a 2 parter and if its ok with you were going to teach a little and preach a little as well.
My big idea for today is that there is much that we can learn by the spiritual examples that have gone before us. My prayer for us to day is that by hearing this message we might identify with the spiritual character of godly examples and that their influence may bring us closer to Christ. If you have your Bibles today you can join me in Acts chapter 6, verse 8.
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.Acts 6:8-10
In order to help me share with you today, I have separated my thoughts into 6 sections or points that stood out to me, regarding Stephen’s character & ministry.
Stephen Was Full of Faith.
“This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…”Acts 6:5
It wasn’t that Stephen’s faith was so much different than any other, but it marked by its intensity to trust in Christ to complete and fulfill in Stephen the promises of the New Covenant. He believed with certainty that he was willing to risk everything to for Christ’s sake. Stephen, a Hellenistic Jew was willing to forsake his status and become a servant to the poor. The quality of Stephen’s faith allowed him to become a trailblazer in the ministry.
The implications here were that many opposed him. Other Jews. Possibly even other Christians. Certainly, those with a Pagan worldview.
Here’s the reality, when you go hard after God there will be opposition. The world will reject you. Some in the church will reject you. The thing that I love about Stephen is that he understood that giving his life for Christ was the highest form of living.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.Matthew 16:24-25
My question for you today is do we have to follow after Jesus like this. Do we trust the Lord enough to risk our status, comforts, desires, or even our lives for the Gospel? If you left this earth today, would those close to you characterize you as full of faith? Many today are casual Christians. They are carnal in their thinking and their faith presents weak a result. They are only willing to go along so far.
The next element of Stephen’s character.
Stephen Was Full of the Holy Spirit
“He was full of the Faith and the Holy Spirit”Acts 6:5
Additionally, Verse 8 reaffirms this point.
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.Acts 6:8
Sometimes when God’s power rest heavily on someone it becomes very evident an often manifests in great signs and wonders. They exhibited the awesome power of the Spirit that those around were struck by it.
A reoccurring theme in Acts is a replicating of salvation and transformation as a result of one receiving the Holy Spirit. We still see this today. People coming to faith because of a dynamic influence of others carrying the Spirit of God. God using those who will choose Him to minister and become a catalyst for miracles. Mentors and Pastors, including the 5-fold ministry gifts to the church. Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, Pastors, and Teachers.
Many of us can recall someone we knew or met that was influential in your salvation/discipleship story. Who will you influence? Who will you disciple? Who will remember you as being full of the Holy Spirit?
The next element of Stephen’s character.
Stephen Was Full of God’s Grace
Being full of faith and the Holy Spirit should manifest internally and create certain fruit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
This is the spirit of God’s grace manifested through us.And its in perfect harmony with the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
– Matthew Chapter 5
If we skip ahead, we see the stoning of Stephen and his response to their brutality was to pray that God would forgive them. Stephens demeanor perfectly mimics Jesus’ response at the cross.