PART 6 FALSE BLASPHEMY
Intro • There comes a time in everyone’s life to choose a side… • Not usually under the time or circumstance of your choice! • Our tendency is to sit on the sidelines until the last possible moment.
No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. ACTS 5:13
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. ACTS 5:16
Benefit and Consequence • Like a moth flirting with a flame, our tendency is to draw near to benefit but hold back just enough to avoid harm. • UNTIL… • High Priest and rulers filled with jealousy (17) • Arrested the apostles…for what? (18)
“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” ACTS 5:20
Decision Time • The apostles have no choice. They will now commit an act of disobedience. • Against whom? • Verses 27 + 28… • The High Priest lays down the…law? • But what offense does he hang on them?
Gamaliel’s Counsel • Does God exist? • Is God powerful? • Is God active? • Is God mocked by man? • Let God extinguish the futility of man. • Let God advance His divine plan!
Gut Check • How do you know the difference between overcoming worldly obstacles and fighting against the very hand of God? • Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness Faithfulness, Gentleness + Self Control
Hollow Order • The apostles are flogged and ordered to stop all the Jesus talk. (40) • What is their response in verse 41?What is their response in verse 42?
Enter Stephen • Never get involved in a land war with Asia… • Advancing the front line is meaningless if you’re falling apart just behind it. • The advance of the Gospel was credibly threatened by the hunger of widows.
Enter Stephen • Stephen’s claim to fame? • Acts 6:2 • Note Stephen’s seamless obedience + versatility. • Note the lack of limitation of his impact. • What are your “lowly” tasks? • Are there none around to be had?
Enter Stephen • Yet, Stephen is still greatly endowed by God for signs and wonders (8). • The Spirit gave him wisdom as he spoke (10). • How do we take him down? Lie. (11) • Notice anything odd about the wording of their accusation? • What’s the rub? (13 + 14)
LISTEN to Stephen • Stephen’s speech (Acts 7) is often overlooked (or misinterpreted) as an incomplete and unsuccessful defense. • Why do we know differently? • Hint: Back up a few verses. • Stephen starts way back with Abraham (2).
LISTEN to Stephen • Steven gives a detailed and accurate account of Israel’s history, until… • What is up with the abrupt ending to the Bible story at verse 50? • Stephen did not fizzle out or run out of time. His timing and delivery were deliberate and God-inspired!
False Blasphemy • What were the charges Steven was responding to? • Insult 1: Moses. • Insult 2: The Holy Place • Insult 3: Law. (a.k.a. Customs) • Insult 4: God. • Against which does blasphemy apply?
Reverse Trial • Stephen was not defending himself. He was prosecuting a case on behalf of his Master. • Charge 1: You conveniently ignored that Moses foretold a great prophet “like him.” (37) • Charge 2: Then and now, your hearts have wandered from God. (42) • Charge 3: God is not a building. (49)
Execution • Their murderous fury was fueled entirely by personal insult. (51-53) • A true vision of God: (55) • A blessing and encouragement to Stephen. • Something to be violently blotted out by the lost. • Stephen’s last words: • “God, give them another chance…” (60)
Personal Application Like the High Priest, are you missing a signal from God when your circumstances are confounded despite the certainty of your “rightness?” What offenses rile you most? How does this stack up to what you know displeases God the most?
Personal Application • Carefully consider this story. We like to role play as Stephen. But, what role of the High Priest might bring conviction in your life? • Are your ears in any way covered? • Is there too much noise for you to hear?
Personal Application • What “forced disobedience” are you facing today? • What will be your objectives when it happens? • How do you view your adversaries? • Like Stephen did?