My friend Stephen
OCTOBER 25, 2021
My friend Stephen. Let’s talk about him 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. I hope you guys had a great week-end and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, we’re studying the book of Acts and we’re taking our time. We’re up to, well, we’re going to spend time in the seventh, last part of the sixth chapter of Acts. And we’re going to look at my friend Stephen. Now, if you’re like our producer, Jeremy, who said, didn’t we just do that. Yes, we did. But we were talking about deacons and Stephen being the chairman of the board of deacons. And we did mention some things about him getting into trouble. Jesus promised when you became a Christian, that he would never leave you, that he would forgive you and that you would get into trouble. And Stephen got into trouble in spades, and we’re going to spend some time looking at that this week and probably next week too. I love the name, Stephen, do you know what it means? It means crown as an honor. That would be me and the angels just started laughing, but it certainly was the Stephen after whom I am named. And we’re going to look at him in some detail over the next few broadcasts. Before we start it’s our practice to pray before we study, let’s do that. Father, we come into your presence and we thank you for the heroes of the faith to remind us that they were sinners like us, but that you use them in such great ways. We thank you for Stephen and so many others. Father, you know the people who are listening to this broadcast and you know the hard places and the soft places, the laughter and the tears, the pain and the freedom, you know it all. And we are glad that in every bit of our lives, what we like and don’t like, you’re sovereign and we praise you in all things. Father, you are worthy of our praise because you’re so good. And you’re good all the time. We think of how you forgave us completely, how you accepted us completely and how you gave us a complete promise of the future forever. But if you had done none of that, you’re still the sovereign creator, ruler and sustainer of everything we see and perceive and experience and all that is. And that means that you are God, the only God, the only one worthy of our worship. And so, we worship you. Father, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. Forgive him his sins, because there are many, we would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Alright, Stephen, a man who was crowned with honor and died a young man and the kind of death that was like a lot of deaths. And yet this young man changed the world. Now, the text is way too long for me to read the entire thing to you. I’m going to be referring to it as we go along, but in the sixth chapter, and I’m going to began at the eighth verse, Luke writes this.
And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed 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 up on 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 the holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this. And we’ll change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
I love that, man. If I’d been there, my face wouldn’t have been the face of an angel. I mean, if I knew they were going to kill me, I would go out in a blaze of glory. I would say some, well he did say some appropriate words and they were not nice, but he had the face of an angel. Now, I’m going to be talking some about the sermon that he preached and that’s almost all of the seventh chapter of Acts. And it’s incredible. And you want to know a preacher, a preacher that doesn’t back off. A number of years ago, I wrote a book called No More Mr. Nice Guy. And, I’d written it for pastors, but the publisher, and I think it was Thomas Nelson said that wasn’t a big enough market and they wanted to make it to a general market. So, they ended up editing and asking me to edit, so that it would be a general book on the subject of boldness. And that’s what it turned out to be. But a lot of pastors have read it and used it. It started back a good many years before I wrote the book, I had a friend and he was serving a little church, I think in West Virginia. And I was in that town speaking and we had lunch and he said, Steve, I’ve got a problem. He said, the elders of my church want me to take my sermons because they say they’re so bad and submit them to my predecessor for a critique. And I said, tell them to go, well, I was a little profane and I said, tell him to go jump in the lake. And he said, I can’t do that, that’s the kind of thing you would do. I said, listen to me, if you don’t do that, if you’re not willing to stand up, then you’re not going to be in ministry very much longer. And that in fact is what happened. But a book came out of it and the book was No More Mr. Nice Guy. And it was a book on Christian boldness. You want an illustration of Christian boldness. You read this sermon by Stephen, man he starts out nice and then he turns scary. Starts out nice, but then you know as he gets close to the final end and we’re going to read that. He decides, I’m going to tell these people the truth and they will never forget it. And they never did. And then if you start at the 54th verse of the seventh chapter of Acts, this is what Luke writes.
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. And he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and they stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
How about that sports fans? But there’s more.
And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was consenting to his death.
Now we’re going to look at Stephen closely this week and probably into the week after. Actually next week, my friend, Matt Heard is going to be here. If you haven’t heard Matt, you’re going to love to listen to him. He’s a former student. He’s a tremendous Bible teacher. He’s pastored mega churches. He’s a consultant and he’s going to be doing some things for Key Life and you’re going to like him. But the week after Matt is here, we’re going to come back and talk about Stephen, for probably another week because after all I like his name Stephen and he becomes kind of a hero to me. So next week, Matt Heard will be here. The week after we’ll come back to Acts and look at Stephen. Right now, be glad for him. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown talking about his namesake Stephen. Today we read Acts chapter 6:8-15, and even skipped ahead to touch on Acts 7:54-60. This is powerful stuff. Sure hope you’ll join us tomorrow and all this week. So, it’s October and there’s a certain holiday in a few days. That’s all about scary stuff. And listen, if you don’t celebrate it, then I don’t celebrate it either. So, it’s cool. But you know what’s really scary. You could miss out on the 2021 edition of Key Life magazine. How do you like that Jeremy? That’s what we call a segue. It’s pretty good. Yeah. Alright so, Key Life magazine has some dynamite articles by Robin DeMurga, chris Wachter and of course, Steve. And it’s still available for a limited time, but we also now have a digital magazine with completely different content. This one features a very important article from Steve called Wolves in the Church, along with pieces from some of your favorite Key Life voices. Get your copy of our digital magazine at www.keylife.org/digitalmagazine and for our print magazine, just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for the magazine. And if you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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