Acts 7:39-60: Stephen’s Death
January 12, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Stephen’s sermon continues. As he preaches, he is drawing the conclusion—like a screw turning ever tighter—that his hearers are guilty of turning their back on the Christ. In the end they can take no more.
When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
But Stephen, “full of the Holy Spirit” (referring back to the description as men filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit), looked up to heaven and in a divine vision saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He sees Jesus in his authority and power and ascended position as King and ruler. Immediately he witnesses to this vision:
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’
Believing that he had now committed blasphemy, they drag him out of the city to stone him. And in more remarkable witness to the Jesus who saved him, Stephen’s last words are words of grace and love:
‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’
Let us learn these three lessons from Stephen:
First, to be faithful even unto death. In God’s graces, those who live in the West are unlikely to be killed for their faith. But in other parts of the world, the risk is real. Even in the West, you can be ostracized, marginalized, and increasingly be tarnished as extremist if you keep your faith in the biblical Jesus. Let us be brave when persecution comes.
Second, let us seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The power for Stephen’s extraordinary testimony comes from the power of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Would you ask God’s Spirit to fill you again? We need his power to serve God faithfully in this world. We need his power to bear fruit. Ask that God would fill you with his Holy Spirit.
Third, let us forgive our enemies. Jesus taught this. Jesus modeled it at his death. And Stephen does the same. It is amazing what forgiveness and love can do to win people over to the cause of Jesus. We have been forgiven so much, we should also forgive those who have sinned against us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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