May 12, 2019

Persecution of a man of God

Passage: Acts 6:8-15
Service Type:


  • God does not look at the outward appearance
    • Yet our face shows our emotions
    • We have Stephen's face (v15)
      • His face was like an angel
      • Example of Moses - whose face who shone like an angel
      • His opposition sees something in this face
    • The faces of Stephen's opposition
      • Bitterness and hatred
      • They had murderous hearts
  • The bible says what we speak reveals our heart
    • To a certain extent our faces reveal what is in our heart
    • Example of Nehemiah
    • We can't often hide our emotions
  • Fruits of the Holy Spirit vs the works of evil
  • Overview:
    • Looking at Stephen: God's grace to a man

God's grace to a man

Consider Stephen:

  • Chosen by men (v5)
    • A man full of faith and the Holy Spirit
    • Evidently all had this qualification but Stephen was singled out
      • He had more faith and a greater measure of the Holy Spirit
      • This was by God's grace
  • Full of faith/the Holy Spirit
    • It means to trust God fully
      • Not to trust in our own devices
      • He probably wasn't perfect - but he trusted God in a great way
      • Example of Joshua and Caleb
    • It means to trust God in situations that seem impossible
  • His first task was to wait tables
    • So the apostles were not distracted from the ministry of the word
    • He had a relief task
      • He needed the wisdom of God in his service
    • He was faithful in this service
    • He had a servant heart
  • He was full of grace (faith)
    • To those who didn't deserve it
  • He was full of power
    • He was given the gift of preforming miracles
      • We are not like Stephen
    • He was not an apostle - yet worked miracles
    • Example of Philip (who also performed miracles) - Acts 8:6
  • These men were given greater gifts - of preaching and teaching, even of miracles (to authenticate the gospel)
    • Was he a deacon?
    • Surely it is the beginning of the division of elders and deacons
  • He was first a deacon, but then became a preacher
    • Just like Philip
    • He did not fit into a box - God called him to further ministry
    • We must be open to God giving us greater gifts
    • We must first be willing to be a servant
  • He comes into conflict with others as he is preaching the word of God - v9
    • People of the Synagogue of the Freedmen
      • Explanation
      • Not Jewish Jews
    • They were trying to stamp out the word of God
      • Yet they could not resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke
    • He had been studying under the apostles
      • God had instructed and gifted him tremendous wisdom
    • Isa 54:17, Jer 1:19
      • God is with His people
      • Example of Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego

The heart of the hostile

  • The Bible says the wicked are like the restless sea
    • We see that here – v11-14
    • These men are cowards
      • They induce others to do their dirty work for them
      • They cite false blasphemy
      • The work of the devil
    • These men think they are doing the will of God yet they are doing the works of the devil
      • What a contrast between Stephen and these men
    • They accuse Stephen of being against Moses
      • They have misinterpreted and twisted things
      • They accuse him of being against the law
      • They seek to malign Jesus' name also
  • Behind of all this is the devil
    • We know that our battle is not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers
  • Today we face must opposition
    • Example of politician
    • There is a stirring up of others against the church
    • We need not fear for God stands with His people

God's presence in the midst of persecution

  • Stephen's face was like an angel
    • He preached the gospel
      • The people were cut to the heart and gnashed their teeth
    • Stephen was able to see Jesus
      • This was something supernatural
  • Some people may say 'what was the point of that?'
    • Saul was present - this had an effect on him
    • Persecution and his death was used for the expansion of the gospel
    • This gives great comfort to the persecuted church
  • Example of David Brainard
  • God gave Stephen great grace when he needed it
    • We may not face the same trials, but we need grace
    • The Bible says the Lord is at hand
    • We are told to pray
  • May we know God's grace when the burdens grow greater