Let me introduce you to Stephen, a friend of mine.
OCTOBER 18, 2021
Let me introduce you to Stephen, a friend of mine on Key Life.
Key Life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. Because life’s hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Our host is seminary professor and author, Steve Brown.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end and I hope your time of worship was a celebration. And I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you have your Bible open it to the sixth chapter of the book of Acts. And we’ll begin at the eighth verse. We just spent a couple of weeks talking about division and problems in the church. How God uses messy churches to do magnificent things. And now we’re turning to Stephen. I love Dr. Luke and his book, the book of Acts. If that hasn’t been obvious to you over the last few weeks than you haven’t been listening. I mean, I really think this is a wonderful book. You don’t create doctrine out of it. You do that some other place. But Acts is a report, an accurate report on our forefathers, how this thing got started and what happened because Luke was there. But can we talk? Sometimes he gives so much time to a particular story that it’s a problem for a Bible teacher on a radio broadcast. I mean, if I read this entire text to you, it’s the whole part of the last part of the sixth chapter of Acts, the seventh chapter of Acts and the eighth chapter of Acts still talking about it. And I want to say, Luke, you could have abbreviated that a little bit for my sake. But God inspired Luke and he did it right. So, we’ll do this a little bit different. I’m going to read you the beginning of that story and I’m going to be referring to that story as we go along. And it’s important that before you go to bed tonight, or at least tomorrow that you sit down and you read the rest of the sixth chapter of Acts and don’t stop there, read through the seventh and into eighth chapter of Acts. This is what we’re going to do, first, today I’m just going to introduce you to Stephen and show you some things about him and why he’s my hero. And then we’re going to look at his sermon. I have listened to more sermons than you could possibly imagine. And I’ve benefited by 99 and 99/ 100 percent of them because here in central Florida, I’ve taught in a seminary and taught preaching for so many years. Whenever I attend a church, a new church and am sitting in the pews. The pastor’s often intimidated because he thinks that I’m going to be sitting there criticizing in my heart, the sermon he’s preaching. That never happens. That’s not what I do. I love to listen to sermons and I don’t listen to be a critic. I listen, to be changed. And even the sermons that technically were not good sermons have sometimes been used by God in an incredible way in my life. And so, I rise up and gold preachers blessed, and I love to listen to sermons. But because we have so many pastors on our mailing list, I will often get a sermon and ask for a critique. I will often, listen to a sermon that somebody sent to me and they say, Steve, I want you to tell me exactly what you think about this and help me be a better preacher. And I do that, sometimes I’m helpful and sometimes not so much, but I’m honest when I do it. But not when I go to church. Church is for something different, it’s not a classroom. It’s not where I critique sermons. It’s where I listen. And once I introduce you to Stephen, we’re going to look at his sermon, one of the best sermons ever preached. In fact, it’s the longest one recorded in the book of Acts. If I had any criticism of Stephen’s sermon, I’d say, make it a little bit shorter. You know, you can go over and you’re preaching a sermon that’s not just a sermon but five sermons. And so, we’re going to spend some time and maybe one of the most effective, well, depending on how you define effectiveness, it got him killed. So, if you preach too good, you could die in the first century. And that’s what happened with Stephen, but we’re going to spend some time looking at Stephen’s sermon. And analyzing it and seeing what was happening in the hearts of the people when that happened. And then we’re going to spend finally, over this very long text, we’re going to spend some time looking at the results, death. Stephen was stoned to death, and that had an amazing impact we’re going to see later on the apostle Paul. In fact, if Stephen had not been stoned to death, the apostle Paul never would have happened. And so, Stephen in effect, had a death that changed the world. And we’re going to examine that and we’re going to talk about it some. And, it’s amazing what God did, in the life of Stephen. And when my parents decided to name me, they were looking at Biblical names and they picked Stephen. Frankly, I’ve always been kind of, I like my name, Stephen, because I like Stephen a lot in the sixth chapter of the book of Acts. This is how the story begins.
And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Gotta remember, he’s the first president of the board of deacons.
And then some of those who belong to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and the Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia, were disputing with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” Gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face there was the face of an angel.
If I’d been there. If this Stephen had been the one that they were lying about, my face wouldn’t look like an angel. I want you to know that. I’d have the face of a serial killer. I mean, I would have responded in a manner quite different than what he did. He preached a sermon. I would have proclaimed a curse. He preached a sermon. I would’ve made an obscene gesture. He preached a sermon and God used that sermon and an amazing way. And the text says he had the face of an angel. Oh my. I like that. And that’s one of the reasons I like Stephen. I don’t have the time today to go into it much, but we’re going to look at Stephen. And I’m going to show you why he had the face of an angel. Let me show you the first thing that you ought to note about Stephen. Well, the first thing you ought to note is that he did great signs and wonders. He was a man of great spiritual power. If he had been a wuss, if he hadn’t been used in such a great way, they would’ve left him alone. They really wouldn’t have. So, if you want to be left alone, just wine and go off in a corner and talk about, I’m just a servant waiting for him to call. Let me tell you, if you’re willing to stand up and be counted and speak truth, you’re going to get into trouble. In fact, when you’re talking about the promises of Jesus to his people, there were three. He said, I’ll never leave you, I’ll always love you, and three you’ll get into a lot of trouble. And that’s what happened with Stephen, he got into a lot of trouble. But aside from that, the first thing I would have you notice about Stephen is that all of the qualities which are attributed to him in this text were not natural. They weren’t his qualities. He didn’t have them from birth. It wasn’t just the way human nature is, they were all gifts and they were given by a God who prepared Stephen before God used Stephen. And he does that for you. And he does that for me. In the Acts 6:8, it says.
And Stephen, full of grace and power did great wonders and signs among the people.
He did. And listen, when a turtle is on a gate post, you know he didn’t get there by himself. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown, introducing us to his namesake, Stephen. Our text today was Acts 6:8-15, and we will begin digging further into the Scripture starting tomorrow. Do hope you’ll join us then, and for the rest of the week as well. By the way, are you enjoying the series on Acts? I know I am, and I’m just learning a lot. And if you’re reading and studying along with us, there’s a free resource that I think will be very useful to you. It’s a booklet called Through the Eyes of Grace: Acts & Romans. Early church leadership, the Pentecost, the fellowship of believers and persecution, the booklet touches on all of that. And at no extra charge there Steve’s overview of Romans. You’re going to love this booklet and it’s free, but you have to claim it to get it. So, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for that booklet. If you’d like to mail a request, send it to
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