Message: In Acts 7, Stephen had been brought
before the Sanhedrin council and was falsely accused of blasphemy. Specifically,
he was accused of saying that Jesus came to change the customs that Moses had
handed down to their ancestors. They brought false witnesses to support their
cause and then asked him “Is this true?” Then entire chapter is a history
lesson and a cliff’s notes condensed version of a large chunk of the old
testament beginning with Abraham. As I read this, I kept wondering what Stephen’s
point was but I also remembered that right before he began speaking they saw
his face shone like an angel. This was not Stephen speaking, this was the holy
Spirit speaking through Stephen. He highlighted through the generations of
respected prophets of old and described the rebellion of the people against
every single one of them. He called out their hypocrisy. They were accusing
Stephen of blaspheming the prophets of old when truly, none of their
generations had honored the prophets of old. They rejected them and often
killed them and now they were about to do the same to Stephen. Stephen boldly
told them that just as their ancestors rejected Moses, they rejected Jesus and
were continuing to do so. Since they were still in rebellion, they did not
receive this correction and instead they stoned Stephen to death.
Command: Let the gospel be observed in my life
by surrendering my heart to it, not just outwardly defending it.
Promise: God willbe made known by my surrendered
heart not my defensive/offensive words.
Warning: Those who are hardened in heart or in
rebellion will not respond in repentance. They will be offended by it.
Application: As I read this, I thought about
America overall. We describe ourselves as a Christian nation and many of our people
who describe themselves as God-fearing Christians are not even surrendered over
to Jesus and are actually living in a state of rebellion. They are blind to the
rebellion though, because they see their moral code and political stance as a
defense against those whom they see as offensive to God and in opposition to
our Christian roots as a country. Just like the Sanhedrin council, who saw
themselves as men of God defending their roots, this is what many American
Christians look like. They appear moral on the outside, but they are not inwardly
surrendered at all. God needs no defense. The gospel is strengthened when we
surrender our lives like Stephen did and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us
and through us. I challenge myself to pay attention to the moral code I
project, and ask God what areas I am defending traditions and roots in an
outward response, rather than surrendering my heart and allowing the Holy
Spirit to work in and through me.