Message 21: Stephen PART TWO
“So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.” Acts 6:11-12 (NLT)
I think it took all of 7 minutes for Stephen to give a historical background on the inception of Judaism and within about 31 seconds after that the High Council were dragging him off to stone him to death. He was bold throughout his whole discourse but when he spoke to their rejection of the Holy Spirit…“You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”…out came the rocks!!
So it is with us even to this day that we will hurl a thing or two at someone who will remind us that our position on the foundation is shaky. And I think the hurlers are more the religious type than the relationship type. Now whatever do I mean by that? We can find it layered in Stephen’s response to the question, “Are these accusations true?” In three ways Stephen pointed out things that didn’t kinda fit in the entirety of God’s bigger plan.
- That the Holy Land was the greatest gift given to the Jews and that YHVH only lived and worked there. The funny thing to note here is that after the Exodus God took His people where? The Desert!! (He took them out to the desert to be with His people…how do you get to the promise land without first meeting the Promiser?)
- That they may have reverence for Moses, the great giver of The Law, but even up to that time they constantly disobeyed him. Even with the simple things…Exodus 16:16-21
- That YHVH allowed Solomon to build the Temple even though He was quite content with the nomadic life that came with the Tabernacle. And it really was David’s idea in the first place…2Samuel 7:1-7
Now granted that is an Old Testament view-point but if we can give this a New Testament sprucing up and see if this is something that Stephen might say doesn’t quite fit in the entirety of Jesus’ bigger plan.
- That the Church Building is the greatest gift given to Christians and that we can only meet Jesus there. Very different from what we read in Acts 2:42-47
- That we may have a reverence for Jesus as the great fulfiller of The Law and The Prophets but we constantly disobey Him. We were given two commandments… Matthew 22:37-40
- That here in America we are allowed to build churches whenever we want but Jesus Christ desires that He lives in our hearts and goes wherever we go. That’s great Commission stuff right there and think about this, Jesus said He wouldn’t leave us orphaned…John 14:16-18
Basically if we were to boil down everything that Stephen preached before the stones were hurled is that God the Father wanted to make His spiritual habitation within His people…to live in their hearts. And in the very same way God the Son was sent to renew that same idea…to dwell within the hearts of those very same people but it seems that those of us who call ourselves God’s people want our spiritual ideas to prevail over what God the Holy Spirit was sent to do and that to fill the void left from The Fall.
Let’s face it God cannot be contained in a building and if you think differently you will be shown how wrong you are in some way. In Romans 1:20 we read, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” This pretty much says God is in EVERYTHING whether we like it or not. Even in Secularland they want you to see the hand of those who create things like cars or art. The trouble with us is, in both cases, a heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked says, “Oh no, that’s not good enough for me. I’ll change it to fit MY way and not the way it was intended to be.”
As I keep on with this Christian journey I keep finding out that to insure contentment along my way things I do must be Holy Spirit driven, from the simplest to the complex. I will acknowledge that there always seems to be a Stephen on the side of the road to remind me of how it once was however it is to me to change how it is. And does that get done? Yielding to the Holy Spirit and let Jesus take the wheel. Amen? – Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Think About This: “The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.”—A.W.Tozer
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29