When they heard
It is one thing to hear when you’ve been encouraged to do so (as Stephen encouraged the religious leaders to do in last week’s message), but it is quite another thing to react appropriately to what you’ve heard. In this message from Acts 7:54-8:3, we’ll see those same religious leaders react to what they’ve heard. And, at first glance, it isn’t good.
The episode came about because the church was continuing to proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and many were converting and becoming Christians. For whatever reason, Stephen became the focus of attention and, as we’ll see, gave his life for the sake of the gospel, becoming the first martyr of the church. The whole thing would be so sad and tragic if it were not obvious that God was at work and if Stephen had not died so well.
As we look at the passage together we’ll see what the faithful proclamation of the Word of God brings about in our lives and in our world today as we examine each of the principal characters in the narrative: the religious council, Stephen himself, a young man named Saul who was present and evidently an organizer of the persecution, the Jerusalem church as a whole, and the Holy Spirit.
THE BOOK OF ACTS | CHAPTERS 1–7
When they heard
Pastor Todd Dugard
August 29, 2021
The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.
The faithful proclamation of the Word of God…
…provokes some to react unreasonably (7:54, 57-58a)
7 Provocative Statements of the Gospel:
(1) There is a God
(2) The Bible is God’s inspired Word
(3) Human beings are not inherently good but are, by nature, sinful
(4) Jesus is the only way to God
(5) There is a place of eternal torment called hell for unbelievers
(6) Religion cannot save
(7) Christians must seek to live by the ethical demands of the Bible
…compels Christians to die well (7:55-56, 59-60)
On that final day Stephen was living as Christ would, and that was all that mattered…He had lived like Christ. He had spoken like Christ, and now he would die like Christ. Stephen lived his last day of his life with remarkable Christlikeness, and he died the same way.
R. Kent Hughes
…shocks many as it works (7:58b, 8:1a, 3a)
1 Timothy 1:15b
…moves the church to mission (8:1b, 2, 3b)
…reveals God’s power and glory (7:55, 60)