Skip to content

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)

20140311-184658.jpg

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).

20140311-184658.jpg

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)”.

20140311-184658.jpg

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

20140311-184658.jpg

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.

God Redeems, Man Rebels (Acts 7:1-53)

July 2, 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 outlined God’s redemptive plan being accomplished despite man’s sin. Elder Woodard unveils the mystery of Christ’s fulfillment of God’s promise to the patriarchs. The focus of this sermon is on Stephen’s overview of God’s redemption revealed to the patriarchs (Abraham, Joseph, and Moses), his response to and accusation against the council.

Gods Redemption Revealed to the Patriarchs

20140311-184658.jpg

And Stephen said: Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in MesopotamiaAnd God spoke to this effectthat his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. But I will judge the nation that they serve, said God, and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place

And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household

But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand (Acts 7:2, 6, 9, 17-20, 25; ESV).

First, Stephen reminds the council that God revealed Himself to Abraham. Notice that the revelation of God begins and ends with God not by the will or striving of man (John 1:12-13). Abraham was not seeking after God, yet God chose him from among his kindred to establish His covenant among the nations (Genesis 12:2-3).  The promise that God gave Abraham was the Gospel promise. Abraham’s name would be great, his offspring and the families of the nations would be blessed through Jesus Christ, who was and is the ultimate fulfillment of the promise.

Next, Stephen continues his overview of God’s redemptive plan with Joseph in Egypt. Elder Woodard highlighted the fact that oftentimes not only does demonic forces seek to oppose God’s plan, but men (even godly men) are the greatest threat to the promise (cf. Abraham, Isaac, Israelites, Peter). However, Woodard fervently reminded us that God’s redemption trumps man’s rebellion. This was true in Joseph’s case. Even though his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt God was with him every step of the way, from his time in prison to his time of promotion. Above all, God was with Joseph not because Joseph was good, rather He preserved Joseph to show that He was quite capable of keeping His promise to Abraham even in the face of man’s rebellion (Genesis 50:15-21).

Lastly, Stephen ends his discourse of God’s redemptive plan with Moses. God works according to His time frame, not the whims and wishes of men (cf. Exodus 2:23-25).  Woodard illustrated how Moses was a type – a model – of Jesus Christ. For example, Moses was saved from Pharaoh’s abortive plan; Jesus Christ was saved from Herod’s abortive plan. God made a spectacle of the Egyptians in the Red Sea at the hand of Moses; God made a spectacle of sin and death through the blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary (cf. Colossians 2:14-17).

Stephens Response to the Council

Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wildernessOur fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands (Acts 7:44-51; ESV).”

The council charged Stephen with blaspheming against the temple and the Law of Moses (Acts 6:13). However, Stephen’s response to the council showed that he gave greater honor to the greater temple, namely, Jesus Christ. The council was giving honor to the wrong temple. In fact, Jesus Christ corrected the woman at the well, who too thought that the temple in Jerusalem had greater significance than the One who was right before her. Christ informed her that the true worshippers worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:1-26).

Stephens Accusation against the Council

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it (Acts 7:51-53; ESV).

The council, just as their fathers, had presumed upon the promise God made to Abraham. They kept the law of God externally, but their hearts were far from Him (cf. Ezekiel 33:31; Matthew 15:8; Mark 7:6). The prophets experienced persecution from men who had made idols in their heart, going about to establish their own righteousness, so much so they refused to submit unto the righteousness of God (cf. Romans 1). Jesus, the Apostles, and Stephen experienced it, as do all who desire to live a godly life. But just as the council stood before God, so shall those who persecute His people.

How will you stand before God?

Stephen shows these men that the God of Israel (Yahweh) is Jesus Christ. Israel was called to be a kingdom of priest and a holy nation, not because of any inherent greatness that it possessed, but simply because God chose Israel to display His steadfast love toward them (Deuteronomy 4:37, 7:6-8, 10:14-15, 14:2). Likewise, Jesus Christ is calling men and women from among every nation to display His steadfast love toward them, that the world may look to them and see the image of God (Matthew 5).

Are you worshipping God in the manner that He has prescribed? God rescued the Israelites from Egypt (grace), and then He gave them the Law (obedience), so that the Israelites would know how to faithfully live out their relationship with Him. The Israelites failed, yet Christ (fully God and fully man) stepped in at the appointed time to faithfully keep God’s covenant. Now God has bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2). Repent and believe in Jesus Christ, for only He can save.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Here, There, and Beyond (Acts 1:8)

June 25, 2014

Reflecting on East Point Churchs 1st Global Mission Conference:

Recently, here at East Point Church, we had the privilege of hosting our first global missions conference entitled “Here, There, and Beyond”. During this three-day conference, we examined missions from a biblical perspective, and we were reminded that the local church is at the heart of God’s redemptive plan for establishing His kingdom on earth.

We heard from three men – David Meade, Jim Whittle, and Byron Johnson – who have served on the mission field and sent others to do the same. Meade kicked off the first session of the conference by asking the question, “What do we mean by Missions?” The second session of the conference featured Whittle expounding on the “3 Motivations for Missions”. Lastly, Johnson challenged both the senders and goers of missions to understand their “Stewardship of Grace” in mission, whether here, there and/or beyond.

What Do We Mean By Missions?

He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:7-8; ESV).page49_picture0_1400265705

As the first speaker, David Meade set the tone for the global missions conference by helping us understand missions from a biblical perspective. Meade defined missions as the process of specially called, equipped, and sent-out people (called “missionaries”) crossing culture and language barriers to proclaim the gospel with the aim of growing indigenous Gospel & Christ-centered, reproducing churches in those contexts. Likewise, he went through the seven common fallacies that people believe about the Great Commission, such as the Great Commission is a New Testament phenomenon. However, Meade dispelled these fallacies with examples of how God’s redemptive plan included the nations, considering all are descendants of Adam (cf. Psalm 67).

Three Motivations for Missions

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…‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouthfor I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witnessdelivering you from your people and from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 9:15, 22:14, 26:16; ESV).”

In the second session of the conference, Jim Whittle explains the driving force of missions is the Glory of Christ, Gospel Partnership, and the Needs of the People. Whittle demonstrated how the first motivation of missions, namely God’s glory, comes from the promise God gave to Abraham of making his name great and blessing him, so that he would in turn be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:2-3). Also inherent in the promise God gave to Abraham was that He would use or partner with Abraham, a weak vessel, to promote God’s glory, which makes the preaching of the Gospel and prayer all the more necessary for the Christian in missions. Last of all, Whittle called us to pay attention to God’s heart and vision to send His people to all the nations to preach the Gospel and persuade some, considering everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (cf. Christ Sending Out His Disciples, Matthew 10).

The Stewardship of Gods Grace

“…assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelationThis mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:2, 3, 6; ESV).

Byron Johnson concluded East Point Church’s first global conference with a challenge “What kind of steward of God’s grace am I? Will I be found faithful?” Johnson reminded the Christian that the Gospel has been given to him or her for the lost and from the Lord. In other words, God delights in using those He redeems to accomplish His plan by equipping with the same Power that raised Jesus from the dead. Likewise, as the Christian understands the grace that they have received in Christ, this should compel him or her to proclaim Christ in spite of their circumstances (cf. Acts 5:40-42; Ephesians 3:7-13). Above all, Johnson’s underlining principle of the Christian life was that God does not need us to accomplish His plans, yet because He is kind, loving and merciful, He desires to use His children to advance His kingdom on earth. Do you see your trials and tribulations as ways of opportunity for advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Colossians 4:3-6)?

A Message from the Missions Team of East Point Church

The Missions Team of East Point Church (EPC) would like to say thank you to everyone who helped pull this conference together. We are thrilled that the Lord chose to bless EPC with it’s first global missions conference, and we pray that there will be many to follow.

Thank you to the leadership of Southwest Christian Church for allowing us to use your facilities.

Thank you to David Meade, Jim Whittle, and Byron Johnson for your preparation in teaching. For more information about David Meade, please visit www.propempo.com. For more information about Jim Whittle, please visit www.equippingleadersinternational.org. For more information about Byron Johnson, please visit www.vision938.org.

Thank you to all of the EPC men and women who gave up their time to prepare food, serve in the nursery, edit video, set up and much more. Thank you for your faithful service.

It is our prayer that this would give a fresh perspective concerning the Lord’s heart for all nations. Furthermore, we pray that the church would more so be characterized by obedience to the call of Christ to be His witnesses “here, there, and beyond!”

East Point Church Supported Missionaries

  • Mwamba and Nyema Johnson (Zuriel, Zoey, Zion, Zach, and Zuri)
  • Pascual and Sharon Thedford
  • Timothy and Niai Byrd (Thandi and Naledi)
  • Strong Tower Church

We will continue to support these missionaries and others through prayer and the giving of ourselves to meet their needs as they seek to advance the Gospel for Jesus Christ.

Listen to this full conference for free.

Stephen, Full of Grace and Power (Acts 6:8-15)

June 18, 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 rests upon the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in times of trial. Elder Duncanson illustrates how God delights in using His people to accomplish His plans. The focus of this sermon is on the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to provide His Spirit when His disciples needed Him, namely, among their persecutors.

Provision: Full of Grace and Power

20140311-184658.jpg

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8).”

Along with serving tables, Stephen participated in more tasks than those assigned to him, although, the emphasis was not on Stephen (Acts 6:1-7). The doing of these great wonders and signs were in response to the grace given him. Christ had told His disciples to give freely as they had received (Matthew 10:5-8). Thus, Stephen made himself readily available to the working of the Holy Spirit, in his doing so, others experienced the Spirit’s power.

Provision: Full of Wisdom and Spirit

Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking (Acts 6:9-10).”

Against whom were these men rising up and disputing? This was the same situation, the council faced when they brought accusations against Peter and John or even Jesus Christ, namely, in whose authority are they doing these things (Luke 20:1-8). The council was opposing Christ when they opposed the ones He sends. Stephen was not the message, nor did he come in his own authority, instead he was merely a representative; an ambassador to the Lord Jesus, and as such, he received help in his time of trouble (Psalm 31).

Among His Persecutors

Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 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 6:11-14; ESV).”

Therefore, in response to Stephen, they chose to secretly instigate. When they could not find any charge against him, they bear false witness. Rather than investigate Stephen’s claims, they devise a scheme against him in hopes of silencing him. Nevertheless, Stephen served the Risen Lord, who though He experienced this same conspiracy at the hand of men, overcame them and even death in His resurrection (Matthew 28:11-15; Colossians 1:14-15). Christ upheld His promise by providing His Spirit’s power and presence as Stephen witnessed for Him (v. 15).

Am I faithfully representing Christ?

Faithful service in a sinful world will bring opposition (cf. Hebrews 11). The miracles were not the issue. The world has no problem with the Church meeting needs. The problem is when the Church speaks for Christ.

Do you know what keeps us silent when opposition comes? Fear of incompetency. We do not believe that we know enough to give an answer, which really translates into not trusting Christ to keep His promise. Let us not shrink back, but open up our mouths for Christ.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: