A Church that Acts – The High Cost of Discipleship

 

We continue with our journey through the book of Acts. Remember, our objective here is to rediscover the origins, history, divine influences and governing principles which drove the first century church and followers of Jesus through the centuries to follow in order to discover some practical lessons which are relevant to our walk of faith today.

Central to what we hope to glean from the book of Acts is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. Apart from this event the early followers of Jesus would have been committed but powerless. The arrival of the Holy Spirit is THE defining catalyst for the success of these early believers.

Today we will look at Acts, chapter seven, where we are confronted with the consequence of bold adherence to the truth.

Let’s pick up with a brief reminder from the final verses of Acts, chapter 6.

Acts 6:13-14
13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.
14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

Acts 7:1
1 Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?”

Stephen’s defense – using Israel’s history:

God’s promise to Abraham
Isaac
Jacob
Joseph
Egyptian slavery
Moses
Deliverance from slavery
Joshua
The promised land
The tabernacle (no building can hold God – God sent Jesus)
Israel’s rejection of the Messiah

51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—
53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

Speaking the truth boldly will not always be admired.

Principle: There is a cost for following Christ

Luke 14:25-27
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Back to Acts 7:
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,

Hate often drowns out logic and reason.

58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Our first introduction to Saul/Paul who would later be the greatest New Testament advocate for Christ.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Principle: Forgiveness is always justified

Speak Your Mind

*

...