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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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