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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


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.

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