You afraid? Me too.
OCTOBER 21, 2021
You afraid? Mean too. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re looking at my friend Stephen, the first chairman of the board of deacons in the early church. And we’re going to spend a long time because Luke spends a long time in talking about him. He starts toward the end of the sixth chapter of Acts. And then throughout the seventh chapter and even into the eighth chapter, Stephen is a significant individual, not because Stephen is significant, but because Jesus is, and we’ve looked at a number of things about Stephen. We’ve seen first that Stephen, I’m old, I’m doing the best I can. We’ve seen first that Stephen, all of the qualities he had were not his own. They were given to him as a gift from God. We saw that he left those to whom he spoke speechless. And then yesterday we saw that following Jesus shows, Galatians 2:20. He had the face of an angel, Luke says in 6:15. Those are the people who were his enemies, who saw in him something that was different and alive and real. And that was Jesus. And then we saw also yesterday that he was immersed in the Scripture that in his sermon. And we’re going to get to that eventually. There are at least 69 references to Scripture. What does that say about Stephen? It says that Stephen was thinking thoughts that God had thought and had revealed through Scripture. I said yesterday, I’m a Bible teacher and that is true. I’ve been teaching the Bible for more years than some of you have been alive. And, I get invited sometimes to speak at organizations that aren’t religious organizations. I tell good jokes sometimes. And I say wise things sometimes, but I can’t write that speech unless I get a text from Scripture. Then I write this speech and remove the references to Scripture. Can you believe that? Cause I can’t think of thought, without thinking a text. And I think most believers who are spending time in the word are that way too, I don’t memorize Scripture in the way the navigators say. I have trouble remembering the chapters and the verses. I don’t always speak it exactly from the original Greek and Hebrew, but I’ve been reading it and I’ve been studying it so many years that you don’t have to talk to me about having a Christian worldview. It’s natural to me. When I hear political speeches, I listen to those through the eyes of Scripture. I listen through the ears of Scripture because I have been so absorbed in Scripture that I think that way. I can’t help it. Sometimes, I wish I could think some other thoughts, but I can’t. That’s bad. No, that’s good. That’s called a Christian worldview and that’s important for every Christian. I don’t want you to read Scripture because Jesus will reject you if you don’t. I mean, if you’re really hung up in the legalism of it, let me tell you what to do tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, don’t read Scripture. Don’t do your devotions. Just go about your day and see at the end of the day, if Jesus still loves you. And of course he will. So, I’m not preaching on the sermon on do this, do this and do this. And you’ll be acceptable. You’re acceptable already. But you read Scripture in the same way, you read a love letter written by somebody who loves you a lot. That’s what Scripture is about. And the more you read, the more you get absorbed and the more you read, the more you see things, the way God sees them. I pray sometimes, God help me to cry where you cry, help me to love where you love, help me to go where you go, help me to say things you say, help me to think the way you think. And he does that. And the main way he does that is through Scripture. And in these 69 references to Scripture in Acts 7:1-50, that is very clear that that’s taking place with Stephen. Let me show you something else. Stephen had courage. Notice the tremendous transition between 7:50 and 7:51. From standing to dying. Oh man. He had, where did he get courage? He got it just before he stood before the council. That’s when he got it. Corrie ten Boom was the real deal. She was the Dutch evangelist who was used in such an amazing way. And she and her sister were in the death camps under Hitler. And she was invited to speak for a group of pastors in Idi Amin’s Africa. And they knew that their stand for Christ could cost them their lives. And many of them after she spoke there died. And she said that when she went to that conference, she knew they were scared and God gave her an illustration, which she used. And it’s an illustration I use and you can use too. She said sometimes I would go on a trip and my father would tell me about it. And we would go to the train station. And because I was so little and the train was so big, I was a little bit scared and wondered what was gonna happen. But just before I got on the train, my father would give me the ticket he just bought and hug me and put me on the train. She says, that’s the way God works. When it comes your time to stand and you’re afraid, God gives you the money for the ticket just before you get on the train. And that’s true with Stephen. He stood, there’s an old English proverb and I like it. It says this.
Fear knocked at the door and faith answered and nobody was there.
That’s true. Do you sometimes a cower when you think about speaking your truth with your friends, even though you know that they’re going to make fun of you, maybe even reject you, maybe even say bad things to you. I get that, I’m there sometimes, you know, I like to be accepted and loved, but do it anyway because if you do it anyway, God will give you the money for the ticket just before you get on the train. And so, Stephen is facing a council and they’ve got great power. He knows he could be headed for his own death. It would have been very easy for him to back off and not to speak the truth, but he didn’t. He stood with courage. Where did he get the courage? He got it when he stood behind the podium in front of the council because God gives you the money for the ticket just before you get on the brain. Finally, it’s important that you notice that Stephen was given the gift of dying grace. It’s not in the text that we’re teaching now, but we’ll get to it, Acts 7:55-56.
But Stephen, 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.”
That’s really cool. One of my late mentors, John DeBrine used to say that he believed in dying grace, that when he came your time to die, God would give you the grace to deal with it. He was in the hospital one time and I went to visit him. It was after midnight. And I stuck my head in, I said, how you doing John? John said, come in, I’m just scared to death. And he said, because I believe in dying grace, if I weren’t scared, I would be really scared. In other words, he was proclaiming a doctrine that is true. And Stephen experienced it, he stood up. He spoke his truth and he died. And when he died, if I had been there, I would have called all of my friends and I would have said, Hey, you come with me. I want you to see how a man of God dies. Hmm. That’s a gift. And, I pray for friends and I pray for me. Father, when it’s time will you fix it so the plane lands gently. And give me a witness, like my name sake. You can think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Another great week here in Acts 6. And how great were these insights into the life of Stephen? If you missed any episodes or if you’d just like to listen again and study further, be sure to swing by keylife.org where you can listen to our audio anytime you want, for free. Steve will be back tomorrow for Friday Q&A joined by our good friend, Pete Alwinson and together they will tangle with some extremely challenging and extremely interesting questions. Don’t miss that. Hey, back to Stephen for a moment, I think we would all agree that Stephen finished his race well, and that’s no small thing, but have you ever pondered that question? How do we finish well? Well recently on Steve Brown Etc we discussed that very question with Robert Wolgemuth the author of Gun Lap: Staying in the Race with Purpose. It’s one of my favorite episodes that we’ve done this year and we would love for you to hear it. And that’s why we put the whole thing on a CD. And if you’ll call us today, we’ll be happy to mail it to you for free. Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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