by Charles H. Spurgeon

Stephen's Martyrdom
Charles H. Spurgeon
Acts 7:55-56

True Christian zeal will seek to do the highest work of which sanctified humanity is capable. Stephen is first heard of as a distributor of the alms of the church to needy widows. He exercised what was virtually, if not nominally, the deacon's office. Being grave, and not double-tongued, and holding the mystery of the faith in a good conscience, he was well fitted for his work. Doubtless he used the office of a deacon well, and so purchased to himself a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. Although the onerous duty of serving tables might well have excused him from other service, we soon find him, full of faith and power, doing wonders and miracles among the people; and not even content with that, we see him defending the faith against a synagogue of subtle philosophical deniers of the truth. These, with their allies, made the valiant deacon the object of their attack and he at once rose to be an irresistible witness for the gospel. Stephen the deacon became Stephen the preacher. This holy man not only used such gifts as he had in one department, but having abilities for a more spiritual form of service, he laid them at once upon the altar of Christ. Nor is this all, he had a higher promotion yet-when he had thus become Stephen the wise apologist and brave defender of the faith, he did not stop there, but he mounted the highest rank of the Christian army; he gained the peerless dignity, the foremost nobility, the brightest glory-I mean the martyr's name and honor. Stephen the deacon is first Stephen the preacher, and afterward Stephen God's faithful and true witness, laying down his life that he may seal his testimony with his blood. Put a man without zeal into the front place, and he will gradually recede into his native insignificance, or only linger in the front to be a impediment and a nuisance; but put a man into the rear of the army of God's elect, if his soul be full ...

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