BBC, 8-10-86, p.m.
"STEPHEN'S POWERFUL SERMON"
Introduction: We can read this account of the stoning and death of Stephen
and see in it the making of a martyr, the first clash forces of the world/church
ILL. G. Cambell Morgan, "Those who have died for the
truth were not made martyrs by their dying. They died
because they were already martyrs (witnesses). Persecution
never makes martyrs; it reveals them.
Stephen was the first Christian martyr to seal his testimony with his blood.
ILL. B. H. Carroll said, "Filled with the Spirit" is not an
expression of happiness, but an enduement of power for witnessing.
Notice that Stephen's defences begins with the God of glory (verse 2) and ends
with the glory of God (verse 55).
When the Church appointed these seven men it did something with consequences
which were far-reaching. In essence the great debate and the great struggle had
begun. The Jews always looked on themselves as the chosen people; but they had
interpreted that word "chosen" in the wrong way. They looked on themselves as
chosen for specialhonor and for special privilege; and they believed that God
had no use for any other people than themselves. At their worst they declared
that God had created the Gentiles to be fuel for the fires of hell. Even at
their mildest they believed that some day the Gentiles would become their
servants. They never dreamed that they were chosen for service to bring all men
into the same relationship with God as they believed that they themselves
enjoyed. Here was the thin end of the wedge. True, this is not yet a question of
bringing in the Gentiles. It is Greek-speaking Jews who are involved. But not
one of the seven has a Jewish name; all the names are Greek; and one of them,
Nicolaos, was a Gentile who had accepted the Jewish faith, for that is what the
word proselyte means.
Now Stephen saw far further than his comrades. Clear ly, Stephen had a vision of ...
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