Acts 6:8-8:3 Faithfulness to the Point of Death

Meditation for Preparation

Stephen saw an opportunity to witness for Jesus Christ and he jumped on it! Even after being dragged away by the Jewish mob, Stephen continued his bold witness for Christ. You can notice in the text that his witness was filled with Scripture and that he was not in the least apologetic to confront his audience with their deep spiritual problem: “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” He was not interested in making ‘chums’ out of the crowd. He was a man with a message and he delivered it faithfully. His intention was to confront the stubbornness and complacency of the Jews who had rejected the Messiah that had come to redeem them.

“Ah,” you say, “but look at the response! They stoned him!” Indeed they did. If your concern in being a witness for Christ is in how everyone will treat you, then you have failed to have the same godly motivation as this man, Stephen. Your witness will not go very far. You must recognize that among that crowd was a man named Saul of Tarsus who heard every word of this sermon. How many came to Christ through this spirited message? We don’t know. For the moment, no one. The only response he saw was stones.

The end of Stephen’s life is perhaps one of the most glorious scenes in the New Testament. Stephen “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” In the gracious providence of God, Stephen’s sight was lifted to see another world and another realm which our physical eyes cannot naturally see. With that gaze into heaven, Stephen found himself comforted. Stephen’s focus was on the Lord God alone. He was satisfied with knowing God through Jesus Christ. He had no longing for fame and reputation. He did not desire the treasures of this world. He found his greatest happiness in his relationship to His Lord. Consequently, by God’s sovereign action, Stephen was able to see something in the realm of heaven which the others in the same room could not see.

Will the Lord give you such a heavenly glance when you face death? That is an area in which we are not given any specific promises. However, what arrests my own heart is that desire to be focused on the Lord when I come to the end of my life. May that be true of all of us. May we have no desire for the things of this world, but only God-ward desires.

Phil Newton

Heart Preparation
Read Acts 6:8-8:3. The people of Israel trusted in this world and suffered for it. Stephen trusted in Christ and knew him more deeply than we might be able to imagine. Where is your trust found most often? How can you through God’s grace redirect the object of those affections?

Posted on: July 25, 2013 - 9:01PM

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