10 October 2008

Stephen & Resistance – 10.10.08

This man stands out as one of the greatest characters in the NT. He is one of the 7 deacons chosen by the early church in Acts 6. Later in the same chapter, he is brought before the council on account of his preaching, and in chapter 7 he delivers a brilliant sermon, as he gives his defense. (Read the chapter sometime and watch how he used the history of the Hebrew nation to point out that they had rejected and crucified the One Who came to save and deliver them, just as their fathers had Joseph and Moses.)

Though there is much that could and should be said about the information given regarding this man's life in those 2 chapters of Acts, I'd like to direct our attention to what the Bible says about him in Acts 6:10…And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

Back in Luke 21:15 Jesus had said, For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. Now, jump ahead to Acts 7:51 and compare those statement with the charge Stephen makes against his audience…Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

So they could not resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake, but they always resist[ed] the Holy Ghost. How do we reconcile those two statements – they couldn't resist, but they always resisted? Doesn't seem to make sense. What we must recognize is that what they couldn't resist and what they always resisted were two different things.

The self-righteous Jews rejected was the message that Stephen preached – salvation through the One they had crucified. But they could not resist was Stephen's presentation of that message – the wisdom and spirit by which he spake.

Stephen preached what was right. AND he lived what was right. Stephen preached what was right. AND he did so in the right manner. No one could point a finger at him and use him as an excuse to reject the gospel message. It was because of this that they stoned him.

You see, they couldn't reject him, but they couldn't accept his message. The only solution was to do anything they could to silence him. And they did.

What about you? Do you have a witness to be silenced? Does your life back up that witness? When the world seeks to silence your witness is it because they can't resist your wisdom and your spirit? Or are you trying to be annoying?

God give us more Stephens.

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