Stephen: A Martyr for Christ
March 6, 2005
INTRODUCTION: Martyr – A Christian martyr is one who chooses death rather than renounce Christ and His finished work, who endures great suffering for the sake of Christ, or who makes great sacrifices for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
Stephen became the New Testament Church's first martyr. He was stoned to death in approximately 35 A.D. He was charged with blasphemy and given the chance to answer his charges. Ultimately, his speech was not a defense at all, but a witness.
In 1948, Auca martyr Jim Elliott wrote in his journal, "I seek not a long life, but a full one, like You, Lord Jesus." Two years later, he wrote, "I must not think it strange if God takes in youth those whom I would have kept on earth till they were older. God is peopling Eternity and I must not restrict Him to old men and women." Like Stephen, Jim Elliott and his four comrades were called on January 8, 1956, to 'people Eternity' as they were slain by the people they were seeking to reach.
More Christians were martyred in the 20th century alone than in all the past centuries combined. In Foxe's Book of Martyrs, the questions are posed: "Would you suffer and die for Christ?" "Would you suffer persecution, poverty, and prison for Christ?" "Would you endure cruel tortures that take your mind and body to the very brink of death and beyond?" "Would you persevere?" "Would you hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering?" (Heb 10:23) "Would you stand boldly and without shame confess Christ as Lord, to your own, or to your family's peril?"
I. HE TESTIFIED OF THE WORD WITH COURAGE.
Stephen turned the tables on the charges and made them out
to be the guilty.
A. IT CAUSED CONVICTION.
"cut to the heart" – the raw nerve had not only been touched, it had been cut to the core. The personal implication by the pronoun "you" was more than they w ...
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