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Stephen: The First Martyr of the Church. Acts: The Unfinished Story of the Church Series [15] Acts 6:8-15 June 10, 2012 Pastor Paul K. Kim. SECOND PHASE: LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR GLOBAL MISSION (ACTS 6:8-9:31). 7  And the word of God continued to increase,

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stephen the first martyr of the church
Stephen: The First Martyr of the Church

Acts: The Unfinished Story of the Church Series [15]

Acts 6:8-15

June 10, 2012

Pastor Paul K. Kim

second phase laying a foundation for global mission acts 6 8 9 31
SECOND PHASE: LAYING A FOUNDATION FOR GLOBAL MISSION (ACTS 6:8-9:31)

7 And the word of God continued to increase,

and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem,

and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)

  • Stephen (Acts 6:8-8:2): The first martyr of the church who became a seed for the gospel becoming universal.
  • Philip (Acts 8:4-40): The first evangelist who reached out beyond the Jews (i.e., Samaritans & the Ethiopian Eunuch).
  • Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-31): The first persecutor of the church who was converted, which was the beginning of his unique calling of apostleship for the Gentile mission.

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria

had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord

and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9:31)

importance of stephen in luke s narrative in the global mission of the church
IMPORTANCE OF STEPHEN IN LUKE’S NARRATIVEIN THE GLOBAL MISSION OF THE CHURCH

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come

upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and

in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

  • Stephen sharpens and intensifies the tension with the Jewish religious establishment of the day.
  • Stephen’s defense in front of Sanhedrin is the longest sermon in the book of Acts by far.
  • Stephen’s martyrdom brings a great persecution and scatters the Jerusalem church throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (except the apostles).
  • Stephen’s story creates a transition from the Jewish mission to the global mission of the church.
why was stephen used so powerfully by the holy spirit
WHY WAS STEPHEN USED SO POWERFULLY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT?

1) His Spirit-filled Life: Stephen was full of grace and power.

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing

great wonders and signs among the people. (v. 8)

55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw

the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (7:55)

  • Stephen was a real-life example of what spiritual maturity and the fullness of the Spirit look like.
  • “Full of grace and power” empowered Stephen to be an effective witness by deed and word.
  • We can also live out a life of effective witness with full of grace and power by the Spirit’s empowerment.
why was stephen used so powerfully by the holy spirit1
WHY WAS STEPHEN USED SO POWERFULLY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT?

2) His Wisdom & Insights: Stephen’s readiness was also in his spiritual maturity fully activating his spiritual gift of wisdom.

9Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen

(as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of

those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10But they

could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak

blasphemous words against Moses and God.”12 And they stirred up

the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him

and seized him and brought him before the council, (vs. 9-12)

  • Stephen’s knowledge and theological insights were advanced—in some sense, even more than the apostles.
  • Stephen’s teaching threatened the religious establishment.
  • We are also to pursue spiritual maturity that frees us to be an effective witness for Christ where ever we are.
why was stephen used so powerfully by the holy spirit2
WHY WAS STEPHEN USED SO POWERFULLY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT?

3) His His Christlikeness/Maturity: Stephen’s life and ministry revealed his Christlike character and countenance.

13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to

speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard

him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change 

the customs that Moses delivered to us.”15 And gazing at him, all who

sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (vs.13-15)

  • The false accusations concerning the temple and the Mosaic law were a result of distorting Stephen’s teaching.
  • Stephen’s readiness was not for winning the debate but for choosing to die for Christ’s sake in confidence and peace.
  • We are to emulate Stephen’s Christlike character as the most important goal of our spiritual maturity.
stephen a person full of the spirit
Stephen: A Person Full of the Spirit

What does a person "full of the Spirit" look like? By God's grace, can I be such a person? Stephen engages in an effective witness by deed and word . . . The defendant [Stephen] stands before the court in session, tier upon tier of dignified jurists of Israel's highest court. Stephen transfixes those who would be his judge. It's as though they cannot take their eyes off him. And no wonder: his face was like the face of an angel! Though this certainly reflects divine approval of his witness and parallels the effects of Moses' standing in God's presence, Jesus' transfiguration is a better immediate model for what is happening here (Luke 9:29). So full of the Spirit, so full of wisdom, faith, grace, and power is Stephen that the glory of God shines from his face. To a greater or lesser extent, that's the way it is with all those who are full of the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:18).

- William J Larkin, Jr.

three practical questions for our everyday life
THREE PRACTICAL QUESTIONS FOR OUR EVERYDAY LIFE
  • How do I take the responsibility for my own spiritual vitality [a Spirit-filled life] in this season of my life?
  • What first step can I take to grow in wisdom and insights from God’s Word?
  • What does it mean for me to pursue Christlikeness in my life and attitude this week?