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The Stoning of Stephen

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  1. The Stoning of Stephen Acts: The Unfinished Story of the Church Series [17] Acts 7:54-8:3 July 1, 2012 Pastor Paul K. Kim

  2. PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON STEPHEN’S DEATH • It is the prototype of Christian martyrdom—the first example to follow. • It is a story of two contrasting reactions—Stephen’s vs. the crowd’s. • It is the trigger point of the early church being scattered beyond Jerusalem—the shift from the Jewish gospel to the universal gospel.

  3. WHAT VALUABLE LESSONS DOES STEPHEN’S DEATH SHOW US? 1) Stephen’s death shows us the PEACE AND FEARLESSNESS of a Spirit-filled life even when facing persecution. 54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. (vs. 54-57) • Stephen had peace & fearlessness while the crowd had rage & uncontrollable fury. Why was it so? • Stephen was full of the Spirit; the crowd was full of hatred. • The most remarkable thing about Stephen’s response is his trouble-free calm heart and love for his enemies.

  4. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Jim Elliot

  5. WHAT VALUABLE LESSONS DOES STEPHEN’S DEATH SHOW US? 2) Stephen’s death shows us the CHRISTLIKENESS of a transformed life even in how he dies. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (vs.58-60) • This execution by stoning was a brutal mob violence. • The strange phenomenon was that Stephen was not bitter in all this—his response was much similar to that of Jesus.

  6. Ten Parallels between the Passion of Jesus and of Stephen [by Ben Witherington] • Trial before high priest/Sanhedrin (Mark 14:53 and par./Acts 6:12; 7:1) • False witnesses (Mark 14:56–57; Matt. 26:60–61; not in Luke/Acts 6:13) • Testimony concerning the destruction of the temple (Mark 14:58; Matt. 26:61; not in Luke/Acts 6:14) • Temple “made with hands”(Mark 14:58; not in Luke/Acts 7:48) • Son of Man saying (Mark 14:62 and par./Acts 7:56) • Charge of blasphemy (Mark 14:64, Matt. 26:65; not in Luke/Acts 6:11) • High priest’s question (Mark 14:61; Matt. 26:63; not in Luke (cf. 22:67, “they”/Acts 7:1) • Committal of spirit (only in Luke 23:46/Acts 7:59) • Cry out with a loud voice (Mark 15:34=Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:37 and par./Acts 7:60) • Intercession for enemies forgiveness (only in Luke 23:34/Acts 7:60)

  7. WHAT VALUABLE LESSONS DOES STEPHEN’S DEATH SHOW US? 2) Stephen’s death shows us the CHRISTLIKENESS of a transformed life even in how he dies. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (vs.58-60) • This execution by stoning was a brutal mob violence. • The strange phenomenon was that Stephen was not bitter in all this—his response was much similar to that of Jesus. • Stephen’s Christlike reactions were a result NOT of a mere momentary decision BUT of a transformed life/character.

  8. WHAT VALUABLE LESSONS DOES STEPHEN’S DEATH SHOW US? 3) Stephen’s death shows us the LASTING IMPACT of a faithful life of witness unto death. 1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (8:1-3) • The sovereign plan of God was to use Stephen’s death as the way to create a bigger impact on the world.

  9. The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. Tertullian (Early Church Father, 160-225 AD)

  10. WHAT VALUABLE LESSONS DOES STEPHEN’S DEATH SHOW US? 3) Stephen’s death shows us the LASTING IMPACT of a faithful life of witness unto death. 1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (8:1-3) • The sovereign plan of God was to use Stephen’s death as the way to create a bigger impact on the world. • A lasting impact of this seed was on young Saul (aka Paul). • The other lasting impact was that this seed was used to expand the church and to spread the gospel beyond the Jews.

  11. The Badge of True Discipleship Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master… That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church… If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow Him. But if we lose our lives in His service and carry out cross, we shall find our lives again in the fellowship of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ and His cross and all the offense which the cross brings in its train. Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact, it is a joy and a token of His grace. - Dietrich Bonheoffer

  12. THREE PRACTICAL QUESTIONS FOR OUR EVERYDAY LIFE • What must I surrender to Christ so that I can be full of the Holy Spirit as a way of life? • In what ways am I living a transformed life? What first steps can I take to be more Christlike each day? • How can I follow Stephen’s example as a faithful witness even with suffering?