Men of the Bible Series
Stephen (Acts 6:5, 8; 7:55)
Acts 6:5, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.” Acts 6:8, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” Acts 7:55, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”
1. Stephen Served.
Stephen had a godly testimony. He was one of the first deacons and the first martyr of the church. Stephen is a great example to each of us as to what we should be filled with. Stephen was a good man of “honest report”. He was a gifted man ‘full of...wisdom”. He was a godly man ‘full of the Holy Ghost”. The Bible makes it clear that the source of Stephen’s fearlessness was the Holy Spirit. Three times the Bible records that he was “full of the faith”, “God’s grace and power”, or “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5, 8; 7:55). He was filled with the Holy Spirit who allowed him to speak truth wisely, witness boldly, and to face death peacefully. Stephen’s character displayed the character of God through the Spirit of God, and that Spirit who gave him a servant’s heart and courage. Stephen became a preacher and died a martyr’s death. He was filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:5), fearless in witness (Acts 6:10), and faithful in service (Acts 6:14). We see the witness of his life (Acts 6:8), the witness of his labors (Acts 6:8), the Witness of his learning (Acts 6:10), the Witness of his looks (Acts 6:15). The Spirit who empowered Stephen is the same Spirit who fills Christ followers today. No matter the chaos or opponents to the Gospel you face today, you can have the same power, boldness, and humility as Stephen.
2. Stephen Suffered.
Stephen was a godly young man who followed the teachings of Jesus in a time when much uproar was found in the religious world. Stephen preached Jesus before the Sanhedrin (A supreme council of the Jewish people). Stephen was not filled with fear that day before his opponents. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he boldly shared the truth of God. Stephen preached a long sermon. He began with the “God of glory” (Acts 7:2) and ended with the “God of glory” (Acts 7:55). His purpose in preaching this sermon was to show how each leader of Israel had tried to bring them out of their tradition into a broader revelation of God’s will and purpose for Israel, and how in every instance they had rebelled against the truth. This was exactly what the Sanhedrin was doing as they tried Stephen for blasphemy. He would charge them with rejecting the Christ of Israel. He began with Scripture and used it to reveal their sinfulness. When Stephen mentioned their crime against the Just One it was then that they charged him like a rioted mob. Stephen suffered, and through that, we see that Saul (Paul) was a witness.
3. Stephen Shined.
His face shown with the brilliance and radiance of an angel of God! He reflected the glory of God because he spent time with the Son of God! Stephen shined at his death. He died calling upon God, asking forgiveness of his enemies. The religious leaders that looked intently upon Stephen saw that his face was “as it had been the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). Stephen’s death was not in vain. God honored his life and his death. Paul witnessed his death and, as a result, Paul would later accept Christ as his Saviour. Through His suffering he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”. “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:59-60). We know that those who exhibit godly character do not necessarily have literal shining faces. They do, however, glow with the countenance of the One who fills their heart. Sharing the Gospel of Christ is the greatest news you could ever spread. Everyday Christians are challenged to speak or remain silent concerning Christ. Although not everyone will receive it well, it always brings pleasure to the LORD.
Faith begins with knowing Christ as your Saviour, “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is what gives us victory over the world (I John 5:4-5) and helps us to quench all the fiery darts of Satan (Ephesians 6:16). The Bible mentions no faith, little faith, great faith, and being full of the faith. Stephen was full of faith because he was full of Scripture according to Romans 10:17. The amount of faith we have is in proportion to how close we are to God and His Word.
Points to Ponder:
May we reflect the love and glory of the Lord.
Your testimony will impact others, stand strong and glorify God whenever you get the chance.
When others look on us, I pray that they would see faithful men and women of God who shine the light of Jesus in this world!
Questions to Consider:
Are we letting Jesus shine through us?
What do you face today that brings fear into your heart?
Which of the character qualities that Stephen had do you most need to work on?
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I know You want to fill me but will not until I remove the barriers. Please bring to my mind my unconfessed sins and help me repent of them. Will You fill me with Your Holy Spirit? Live Your life through me today. Make me the person You want me to be that You would be glorified, in Jesus name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.