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Saul Proclaims Jesus (Acts 9:19b-31)

August 20, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon examines the affects that true conversion has on a person and those around them. Pastor Carter illustrates how the impact of the Gospel is both remarkable and unforgettable in the life of the Christian. The focus of this sermon is on Saul’s proclamation of Christ, the disbelief of the disciples in Jerusalem and Barnabas’ encouragement.

Sauls Proclamation of Christ

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket (Acts 9:19b-25;ESV).

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God, when He saves, takes those who were at enmity with Him, those who were His enemies by nature children of wrath, children of the devil, full of ungodly lust and desires, and then changes them into children of God, members of His household and heirs of glory (cf. John 1:1-18). He does this unprompted, unmoved and unasked. Jesus saved Paul, changed, called, and brought him into the fold of God. With the same passion and determination that he had going against Christ, Paul redirected his zeal to follow Christ. Undoubtedly, during this time he preached the uniqueness of Jesus, the sufficiency of Jesus and the necessity of Jesus. Saul’s conversion was evidenced through his irrefutable life of repentance from sin to the Christ he previously persecuted.

Disbelief: The Disciples in Jerusalem

And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple (Acts 9:26; ESV).”

Although Saul preached immediately and unashamedly, this was still unbelievable to some, especially the disciples in Jerusalem. The Jews ran Saul out of Damascus, seeking to kill him, and now the disciples in Jerusalem did not want him there either, why? These believers did not believe Saul. Moreover, the heart of their unbelief lies in the fact that some had a hard time forgiving the man who vehemently ravaged their church. However, Christ calls them along with all believers to pray for the salvation and enlightenment of their enemies rather than seeking vindication.

Barnabas Encouragement

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28; ESV).”

While the disciples were disbelieving, Barnabas was encouraging. When Saul gets to Jerusalem, he is practically homeless. His brothers and sisters according to the flesh, namely, the Jews do not want him, instead they want to kill him. His brothers and sisters according to the Spirit (i.e. fellow-Christians) do not want him either because they are afraid of him, supposing that he wants to kill them. Thankfully, Barnabas did not share the skepticism of those around him, rather just as he freely gave his money and resources to the furtherance of the Church, now he puts his reputation on the line to give Saul a fair hearing. Pastor Carter notices two things that Barnabas does by the enablement of Holy Spirit: 1) he comforts Saul by taking him and bringing him to the Apostles and 2) he assured the Apostles that Saul’s testimony and the reports that they heard about him were true, to which all of the skepticism dissipated.

Has Christ changed you?

Despite popular opinion, Paul did not ask the Lord Jesus to save him. The biblical truth is God determined to save Paul and all who are in Christ before the foundations of the earth (Galatians 1:15). God is not like us, He delights more in saving His enemies than He is in punishing them (Ezekiel 18:23). If God choses to be merciful to you, can you be merciful to others, even those who hurt you? The knowledge and experience of Christ makes the difference.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Conversion of Saul (Acts 9:1-19a)

August 13, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates that because Christ is all-powerful and sovereign, He always wins. Pastor Duncanson emphasizes the mercy of Christ in inviting those who were once His enemies into His family. The focus of this sermon is on the beauty of the Gospel, to which Jesus Christ saves the unlikely, such as Saul, and then sends the unlikely to glorify Him by proclaiming His faithfulness to others.

Jesus Christ Saves

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one (Acts 9:1-7;ESV).

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Saul was hostile against the Church. Meanwhile, while Saul was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, Christ continued to save men and women through gospel preaching (cf. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza). The gospel is not an account of two equally opposing forces (i.e. good and evil) fighting against one another. No, Christ always wins. He victoriously destroys the works of the devil (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8)!

On the road to Damascus, Saul recognized the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and realized that Christ identified Himself with His Church. Pastor Duncanson examined the nature of Saul’s encounter with Christ and found that this encounter was sudden, dramatic, and overwhelming. Perhaps God chose to reveal Himself to Saul in this manner for His glory, to confirm Saul’s apostleship, and show that salvation belongs only to Him. Saul prepared to meet the disciples of the Lord with great wrath, and instead of receiving the wrath that He intended to dish out, the mercy of Christ came suddenly, dramatically, and overwhelmingly to prevent him from his heart’s desire (Matthew 11:25-30).

Jesus Christ Sends

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Here I am, Lord. And the Lord said to him, Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened (Acts 9:10-19a; ESV).”

Jesus Christ saves! Likewise, He also sends those who have received His forgiveness and salvation to people who are His enemies (cf. Moses, Joshua, Jonah, Daniel). This call to service oftentimes is one of fear and apprehension. However, God in His mercy always follows His tough commands and assignments with comforting words, to which His people move forward in obedience.

The Lord in sending Ananias to Saul has two purposes in mind. First, He wants to welcome Saul into the family of God. Notice after Ananias received the Word of the Lord his attitude changed toward Saul. Instead of seeing Saul as an enemy, a murderer, or a persecutor of Christ’s Church, Ananias saw him as God saw him (v. 17). Secondly, the Lord sent Ananias to Saul to confirm His word. Ananias, like Saul, recognized the authority of Jesus Christ and submitted to His decision by welcoming Saul into the family of God (cf. Romans 8).

Why does God welcome sinful people into His Family?

Evil, sin, and persecution will only endure for a time, our God reigns! Jesus Christ saves sinners, those who are broken, unclean, and lost (1 Timothy 1:15-16). Why does Ananias welcome this murderer of the Church into the family of God? He had a clear understanding of what Christ had done for him (Romans 15). Ananias shows us how we are to respond to those He saves, those who have wronged us by forgiving, love, and welcoming them into the family of God.

Saul’s conversion was sudden, dramatic, and overwhelming to show us that Christ is sovereign and all-powerful. He is able to overcome evil with good. He delights in displaying His power in love sometimes by changing His would be enemies into friends. God’s holiness requires justice for sin. Yet, because He is full of compassion, mercy, and love, He provided a worthy sacrifice for sinful people by pouring His wrath upon His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him is counted righteous in His sight (John 3; Romans 4-5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)

August 6, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon vividly accounts the transformational power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Duncanson acknowledges that God’s plan is to redeem a people for His glory through gospel preaching. The focus of this sermon is on Philips call to service according to a divine appointment that the Lord foreordained, which resulted in the true conversion of an Ethiopian Eunuch.

Philips Call to Service

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert place. And he rose and went (Acts 8:26, 27;ESV).

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Philip understood that this call to arise and go to Gaza was from God, because he recognized that the messenger of God (i.e. an angel of the Lord) spoke the very Word of God. God spoke to Philip because He had chosen him for His plan. This meant Philip would have to leave his comforts for a time to attend to weightier matters, laboring for the Lord of the harvest (Matthew 9:35-38). Philip obeyed the Word of the Lord, and in doing so, he too served as God’s messenger to proclaim the Gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch (John 20:21).

Philips Divine Appointment

“…And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, Go over and join this chariot (Acts 8:27-29; ESV).”

The goal of the early Church was not to keep the Gospel in Jerusalem, instead the Lord’s redemptive plan extended beyond the borders of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria to the ends of the earth. Philip’s meeting with this Ethiopian Eunuch was not a coincidence. In fact, God was sending the means of the eunuch’s salvation. This account attested to God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises by choosing Philip to play a critical role in the salvation of another chosen vessel (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 56:1-8). Philip did exactly what he had learned from the apostles, to open up the Scriptures, ask questions, and point people to Jesus Christ.

The Ethiopian Eunuch: A True Conversion

So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, How can I, unless someone guides me? And he invited Philip to come up and sit with himAnd the eunuch said to Philip, About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:30-31, 34-35; ESV).”

The Ethiopian Eunuch was a religious man, who outwardly appears to be a worshipper of God. He traveled, spent money, and even gave careful attention to the reading of the Scriptures, yet he did not have Christ. Thus, after Philip thoroughly identified the eunuch’s problem, he expounded upon the Scripture by showing the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is the Lord Jesus Christ. Subsequently, the Lord used Philip’s gospel preaching to convert the Ethiopian Eunuch, to which this man displayed genuine obedience and joy after seeing Christ revealed to him (vv. 36-39; Matthew 11:25-30).

Has the Gospel of Jesus Christ converted you?

The Ethiopian Eunuch’s reading did not lead him to self-righteousness, but self-awareness. He understood something was missing, he saw his sin and needed someone to point him to Jesus Christ. We do not know the hearts of men or whom God has foreordained from the beginning, but those who know Christ are to serve their King by proclaiming His forgiveness and salvation wherever He sends them.

Are you surrounding yourself around Christianity (i.e. books, conferences, social reform), yet Christ has not penetrated your heart? We cannot understand the Bible correctly, until we see that all Scripture points to Jesus Christ. Christ is the focal point of God’s redemptive plan and by Him, forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God is available to all who believe (Romans 5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Simon the Magician (Acts 8:9-25)

July 30, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon soberly evaluates the mixed results of faithful Gospel preaching, namely, true and false conversions. Pastor Carter implores all who profess Christ to examine their heart to see whether they are following Christ for temporal or eternal gain. The focus of this sermon is on Simon the Magician, who gave the outward impression that he believed the Gospel, was amazed with power of God, yet exposed his heart’s lust for this world rather than eternity.

Simon Believed

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great…But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip (Acts 8:9, 12, 13; ESV)

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Magic is the art of deception, the sleight of hand, the skill of illusion and distraction. Simon the Magician was man who believed that he was someone great. The people followed him, worshipped him, and adored him unto the point that Simon deceived himself into believing that he was someone worthy of praise (cf. Galatians 6:3). However, when the people (i.e. the followers of Simon the Magician) believed Philip as he preached Christ, then Simon believed, was baptized and followed Philip. Was Simon the Magician saved?

Simon Amazed

And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed…Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:13, 14-17; ESV).”

Peter and John came to Samaria for two significant reasons. First, they had to see that God’s dealings with the Samaritans were not different from His dealings with the Jews. Second, the Samaritans needed to understand that that leadership in the church was invested to the Apostles, so that they would know that there was only one faith, one Lord, and one baptism, before they decided to start their own church (Ephesians 4:4-6). Meanwhile, Simon was amazed not by the Gospel, which is the power of God, but in Peter and John (Romans 1:16-17). Simon lusted after the power of God without acknowledging his need to submit under the Word of God, Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Simon Exposed

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles ‘hands, he offered them money, saying, Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said to him, May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God (Acts 8:18-21; ESV).”

Simon assumed that Peter and John wanted to be rich or wealthy, he had a price, so he thought everyone else did also. Simon’s request showed his heart (cf. Matthew 12:34-36; 1 John 2:15). He always wanted to be great, this was his agenda from the beginning, to prosper at the expense of the others. Peter quickly, publicly, and boldly rebuked Simon. If Peter had not done so, others would follow Simon and false teachers are dangerous (cf. Titus 1:9, 3:10-11).

Are you saved today?

Simon had all the outward markings of the followers of Jesus Christ, but people profess Him for various reasons – trials/hardships, emotions/feelings, going along with the crowd, looking for love, and a desire to be accepted (cf. Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, David & Saul, Peter & Judas, etc.). Simon was sorry that he offended Peter, but not that he offended God. False teachers, who seek to make themselves rich at the expense of others, shipwreck people’s faith and lives (cf. Balaam).

Do not be deceived into being a fan of celebrity or impressed with the outward showings of men and women. Only Christ is worthy of our adoration, anything less than Him leaves us unfulfilled and devastated. You cannot buy the power of God, you cannot buy the gift of God, God is not for sale, and His blessings and favor are not for sale. The only option we have is to submit under the power of God – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and trust in Christ to provide His gift as He wills (Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Confidence & Contentment in God (Daniel 3:16-18)

July 24, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week at East Point Church, we were delighted to welcome Pastor John Onwuchekwa from Blueprint Church. This week’s sermon debunked the false notion that we can barter with God, where we attempt to hold Him hostage to our predetermined outcome. Pastor Onwuchekwa showed how true faith in God rests in His faithfulness rather than in times of prosperity or adversity. The focus of this sermon is on the two ingredients necessary for one to have unwavering faith in God — confidence in God’s ability to deliver and contentment in His inactivity — modeled by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Confidence in God’s Ability to Deliver

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king (Daniel 3:16-17; ESV).

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Pastor Onwuchekwa described transactional faith as an attempt to manipulate God into giving into a person’s wants in exchange for his or her good deeds or offerings. However, trials and tribulations forced Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to rest in true faith in the God of their salvation. Others around them had abandoned their superficial faith in their foreign gods when Nebuchadnezzar threaten their lives. On the other hand, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego realized that God was more worthy than the preservation of their own lives. Essentially, they knew that God was fully capable to vindicate Himself.

Contentment in His Inactivity

But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:18; ESV).”

God is able to do the impossible, but sometimes He does not. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego acknowledged God’s ability to deliver them out of the fiery furnace, while also being content even if He chose not to deliver them. Pastor Onwuchekwa paralleled this account with Jesus Christ’s trust in both God’s ability to do the impossible and contentment in the Father’s wisdom in accomplishing His will (Mark 14:35). In fact, Satan’s last temptation in the wilderness with Christ was to try to persuade Him to receive the kingdom without the cross, but Christ entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

Where in your life do you doubt God is able to do the impossible?

Whenever we submit to an idol, we are saying that our God is not worthy of our worship. God’s inactivity is not the same as His inability (Psalm 13). The quickest way to discontentment is to hold God hostage to an outcome that we have predetermined.

Regardless of His love for you, your faith or obedience, sometimes His answer to your prayer is going to be no (cf. Paul; 2 Corinthians 12). Remember, who does God love more than His Son Jesus; who has more faith than Christ; or what had Christ done to deserve death (Romans 8:31-39)? Death is not final, so the preservation of our lives is not ultimate; rather we look to Jesus Christ as our hope and do not forsake the assembly of fellow-believers in Him, so that we do not lose heart in a hostile and ungodly world (John 14; Hebrews 10:25, 12:2).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Persecution and Preaching (Acts 8:1-8)

July 16, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon unveils the reality that God uses unconventional means to accomplish His plans and purposes. Pastor Carter stirs the heart with a healthy reminder that God is sovereign, not tribulations or persecutions. The focus of this sermon is on the great persecution of the Church by Saul and the greater proclamation of the Church.

The Great Persecution of the Church by Saul

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison (Acts 8:1-4; ESV)”.

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What comes first persecution or proclamation? Experientially, both persecution and preaching go hand-to-hand in a continual cycle. Stephen was a follower of the Way – the name derived from Christ’s teaching that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – and he realized that being a follower of Christ meant he had to be willing to deny himself or even literally lose his life for the sake of the Gospel (John 10:12; 14:6). On the other hand, Saul had zeal for the God he thought he knew and he wanted to be known for being zealous for God. In fact, Saul wanted see the execution of Stephen, because he was drawn away by lust, and enticed, so much so that he would be known as an instrument of pain and lost for these followers of Christ (cf. James 1:13-15). However, Saul was not sovereign, God is. Even though the persecution was fierce, God remained faithful!

The Greater Proclamation of the Church

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city (Acts 8:4-8; ESV).”

In God’s Kingdom, the death in one produces life in others (John 12:24-27).  Here, we see it is God’s design for all Christians to preach Christ. The more the early church got in trouble for proclaiming the sufficiency of Christ, the more they became stirred to preach Him. As they began to call others around to the repentance against sin and pointing them to the One who is mighty to save and forgive them (Zephaniah 3:17). Who is like the Lord?

Have you counted the cost to follow Jesus Christ?

If you are in Christ, wherever you are God put you there to point people to Christ (Philippians 1:12). We miss opportunities because we do not ask the right questions in our sufferings, such as what the Lord is leading us to do; who do we need minister to about Christ; and in the midst of my scattering what is my mission? Stephen was not executed for preaching the prosperity gospel (i.e. name it and claim it, health and wealth, or self-actualization), instead he believed Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and died for this reality (John 14:6).

Saul was fighting a losing battle. He did not realize that when one Christians gives his or her life, many more rise in their place. You cannot kill the Church, because you cannot kill Christ.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60)

July 10, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon reveals how Christ faithfully gives His Spirit to believers who desire to be faithful to Him. Pastor Carter explains that the goal of the Christian life is to live and die faithfully for Christ. The focus of this sermon is on Stephen’s faith-filled life, faith-filled vision, and faith-filled death.

Stephens Faith-Filled Life

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Although, every believer in Christ has received the Holy Spirit as a sure guarantee of their eternal inheritance, there is a distinction between the seal of the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit (John 14:16; Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30, 5:1-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Pastor Carter described three qualities of Spirit-filled life. First, the believer who is filled with the Spirit serves, seeking to be more like Christ, considering Christ came not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45). Second, the believer who is filled with the Spirit shares what they have; Stephen shared both his faith and his possessions (Acts 4:32-35). Lastly, the believer who is filled with the Spirit looks to Heaven, rather than seeking their own righteousness in the face of persecution and tribulation, he or she continues to entrust themselves to the who judges justly (Luke 6:35; 1 Peter 2:18-25).

Stephens Faith-Filled Vision

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56; ESV).”

Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8)”. Stephen could see Jesus because his heart was purified (cf. Isaiah 6:1-5).  Pastor Carter calls to attention the fact that the writer of Hebrews describes Christ being seated at the right hand of God after sacrificing His life for His sheep (Hebrews 10:12). On this occasion, as Stephen confessed Christ before men, Christ was pleased to stand for Stephen before His Father.

Stephens Faith-Filled Death

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at himBut they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:54, 57-60; ESV).

Stephen was delighted to see Christ and the stones of these enraged men would simply serve as the vehicle to transport Stephen to Christ. Stephen died trusting, forgiving, and witnessing. Stephen trusted in the One who was faithful and he understood that his life was in His hands. He not only lived a life preaching forgiveness, he died seeking the forgiveness of his persecutors. Above all, his faithful witness for Christ struck these men to the heart so much so that they put him to death as they did Christ. Although, Stephen’s witness for Christ lived even in his death as the soon to be Apostle Paul saw what it meant to live and die for the sake of the Gospel.

Is Your Soul Anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Sin is like cataracts. It blinds us to reality, because what we see is not reality. In fact, we need sanctified eyes, hearts and hands to behold the beauty of Jesus Christ, our Lord (Psalm 27:4).

Will you see Jesus in faith and comfort or fear and condemnation? There is nothing in this life or the next that compares to seeing Jesus Christ in all of His splendor, glory, majesty and power. If you desire to see Christ, it is a purifying vision, because He is Holy and impurity cannot behold Him or live in His presence. Repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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