Message 21: Stephen PART ONE
“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.” Acts 6:8 (ESV)
There is no doubt in my mind that, at times, there is a need to tell it like it is. Now in my own personal past I have let that need turn into catastrophe but I’m getting better at (I think). But there was one such fellow who’s “telling it like it is” mentality got him stoned to death (talk about a catastrophe) and that fellows name is Stephen. We meet Stephen in the 6th chapter of The Book of Acts. He is picked to serve as one of the early churches first deacons and within no time in the chapter (vv9) he was debating on behalf of the recently crucified Savior we all know as Jesus Christ.
Now we all remember Caiaphas, the high priest who prophetically condemned Jesus with his statement, “Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:50) Whether Caiaphas liked it or not, it wasn’t the end nor was it going to be the end of “The Way”…it was just getting started and it was building up enough steam to drive an engine of faith that scared the father of lies himself, Satan. So what’s an evil boy to do but to try and twist fate?
Witness Lee would write “that Judaism had fallen into the hands of God’s enemy, Satan, and was being used by him to frustrate God’s move in His New Testament economy for the carrying out of His eternal purpose.” Now before we get all outta sorts with this let’s examine this. Jesus was making it clear that with all the legalism Judaism was practicing, its leader had become rather white-washed in His eyes. Now I think the key word to bring up here is “vanity”. The religious leaders of that time thought themselves more highly then they ought to and when Jesus poked at it, it hurt (the next key word to bring up here) their “pride”. And an overwhelming sense of “How dare you say that to me” welled up inside of them…especially Caiaphas.
So now here’s Stephen, closer to being an Apostle more than a deacon, going around doing good stuff for people (as Jesus would instruct all of us to do) and gaining a reputation for it. He is confronted by a bunch of guys who are from the Synagogue of the Freedmen and they can’t crack Stephen’s wisdom or cope with the Spirit that he was able to speak in. So what’s an evil group of wanna-be’s to do but to drag Stephen off to face…Caiaphas. Then an interesting parallel occurs. People are brought before the “Council” to give false witness against Stephen, just like what was done to Jesus. I can almost see Caiaphas roll his eyes in disgust that he has to seemingly deal with this again.
So what was Caiaphas really dealing with then? Was it crazy people who wanted to rebel against The Temple? NO!! Was a small group of people who just wanted attention (like our celebrities do today)? NO!! Was it The Romans? Eh…that’s a stretch but NO!! Caiaphas was dealing with something that only the Old Testament servants were chosen to receive and that was The Holy Spirit. Had Caiaphas given the words of Jesus Christ the chance to pierce his heart he would have understand how to guide a hurting people back to YHVH but his undealt with vanity, pride and jealousy kept his eyes rolling in disgust as Stephen reminded him of Israel’s folly and falling away.
Watchmen Nee wrote, “When the Holy Spirit falls upon God’s people there will be some things which the world cannot account for. There will be supernatural accompaniments of some kind though it be no more than an overwhelming sense of the divine Presence. We cannot and we must not stipulate what particular form such outward expressions will take in any given case, but one thing is sure, that each one upon whom the Spirit of God falls will unfailingly knew it.” Stephen had it…Caiaphas didn’t.
I hope you take a moment to study through the Acts of the Apostles because I think it is time that the 21st century church take a look at its 1st century roots and see what normal Christian living was all about. “And what was it all about Chris?” you might be asking. It was about Holy Spirit living, something I feel that my own life, at times, fails in portraying. Does yours? I pray we all get on our knees and receive that which Jesus freely gives…The Spirit Outpoured. Amen? – Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and blogs weekly for Freedom Fighter. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 8-10; John 10:1-23
Think About This: “By the time the average Christian gets his temperature up to normal, everybody thinks he has a fever.”—Watchmen Nee
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19