We pick up the story of Stephen in Acts 7 as he had just been falsely accused and now he was about to reply to the accusations. Instead of defending himself, he defends the truth of God’s Word. He tells the history of Abraham, including the miraculous birth of Isaac. He reminded them of the story of Jacob and Joseph and then rehearsed the story of Moses being born and being protected from Pharaoh. He then proceeded to tell them about how God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and then used Moses to deliver them out of Egyptian bondage. He preached how they rebelled against Jehovah God in the wilderness.
Now we pick up the story in verse44: 44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things? Stephen began to preach about how the presence of the Lord once lived in a house made with hands (tabernacle of Solomon). In the wilderness, the presence of the Lord lived in a portable tabernacle but Stephen told them that now the Spirit of the Lord lived inside of us. One of the greatest benefits of the New Testament is the truth that the indwelling presence of the Lord lives in us. No longer do we wait for the Day of Atonement (once a year) where the high priest would enter into God’s Presence representing us but we can now come boldly before the throne of God made worthy by the blood of Jesus. Yes, we are now presence carriers, we carry the presence of the Lord inside us, we are in Christ and Christ is in us!
Now we read about the boldness of Stephen as he called out the religious: 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. This made the religious rulers fighting mad to the point we read this in verse 54: 54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Can you imagine grown religious leaders getting so mad that they actually began to bite Stephen? Talking about an ugly religious scene in front of everyone but once again God gets Glory out of the Story!
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, Notice the key once again to Stephen’s ability to walk out his faith, he was still full of the
Holy Ghost not self. Key 2: Stephen kept looking up because he knew that was where his help would come from. Friend, when you catch a glimpse of God’s glory and Jesus standing in your corner, then you are able to endure whatever you need to endure.
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Stephen began to testify to what he was seeing and it made them even angrier, even to the point of murder. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. Religious people never like hearing about the supernatural because only those in relationship with God see into the supernatural.
These next two verses are powerful: 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Picture the scene, an angry religious mob stoning a man of God. This is not a pleasant get together. They are killing him violently but he cries out, Jesus don’t hold this sin against them and falls asleep. Imagine them explaining their day to their spouse when they got home that night…oh we stoned a man who prayed for our salvation! Friends, that is real Christianity and being full of God’s Presence!
1. Father fill me so full of the Holy Spirit like Stephen that even when I’m being falsely accused and persecuted that only Christ is seen in me! Less of me, Jesus More of you!