Not Held Against You

What does it mean to have your sins no longer held against you? The prayer of Stephen as he died (Acts 7:60) helps answer that. To hold a sin against someone means to have it unforgiven. Stephen’s prayer stands against the background of unforgiven sin.

A clear example of a request for sin to be held against someone is Zechariah’s prayer for justice, 2 Chronicles 24:22. This priest, son of Jehoiada who had saved the life of King Joash, by order of the king, was stoned to death after rebuking the people for their idolatry. Does this sound like what happened to Stephen? His dying prayer was that the Lord would see this and call the murderers to account. God heard that prayer, and the death of Joash (2 Chronicles 24:25) was a result, though, of course, the final judgment is in the life to come.

This incident is a specific working out of the principle that Continue reading “Not Held Against You”

Your Faithful Witness

Although you may never face the kind of persecution that Stephen did, God calls you to be a faithful witness to his glory, Acts 7:54-60.

How can you be a faithful witness? What was the source of Stephen’s boldness?As you follow your faithful Savior, recognize the glory of the Lord. Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. That is mysterious, but not magical. It grows out of solid grounding in the Word of God, growing trust, and a commitment to faithful obedience. Stephen had been willing to walk by faith, not by sight, and the Lord granted Continue reading “Your Faithful Witness”

The God of Glory

Stephen, one of the original seven, powerfully proclaimed the Word of God effectively. He saw more clearly than some the implications of the work of Christ. False accusations were brought against him, but his “defense” in Acts 7 was a proclamation of the glory of God.

God summons you to live in covenant fellowship with him. The God of glory appeared to his people. Stephen’s message is a significant element in Acts. It is the longest sermon or speech that Luke records, and it sets the stage, theologically as well as chronologically, for the dispersion of the church and the beginning of the Gentiles being brought in.

Stephen begins with the historical account of God’s dealing with his people, something that Continue reading “The God of Glory”

Full of Faith and the Holy Spirit

As our nation’s War on Poverty began decades ago, a bumper sticker appeared, “Poverty is Where the Money’s At.” Whether the government stepped in because the church was neglecting her work, or whether the church neglects her work because the government has taken it over, we have years of experience of underemphasizing the church’s ministry of mercy. Acts 6:1-7 is a corrective.

God calls you to serve. He expects you to be concerned about the practical affairs of life. Tensions arose in the church over perceptions of inequity between Grecian and Hebraic widows in the distribution of food. Yet the problem was an outgrowth of the church’s practical concerns for its members, and the solution points to a permanent way of dealing with the issue. God expects his people to be concerned about the poor, especially those of the household of faith (Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Acts 11:29; 2 Corinthians 8; 9; James 1:27. This contradicts a false notion of spirituality” in the church.

Recognize the gift of serving. Appropriately, this passage is seen as foundational to the office of deacon, Continue reading “Full of Faith and the Holy Spirit”