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Scripture Reading: Acts 7:48-53
Stephen's Defense of the Gospel
1. Stephen was seized and brought before the Sanhedrin, where he was falsely charged with blasphemy, 6:10-15; Acts 7:1 Ė 1 Pet. 3:15.
2. He set forth Jesus as the fulfillment of Godís promises to Israel:
a. Moses, to whom they claimed allegiance, was rejected by their fathers. Moses spoke of the Christ, saying to hear Him! 7:37
b. God, who delivered their fathers through great trials, was rejected by their fathers. Yet, He sent Jesus and raised Him up!
c. The temple, in which Israel gloried, is not Godís dwelling place, 7:48-50. The church of Christ is His temple! Eph. 2:21-22
d. The law, which they prided themselves in, was continually rejected by their fathers. The LOM brought them to Jesus! Gal. 3:24-25
3. Now, they were filling up the measure of their fathersí guilt by rejecting the Christ, Matt. 23:29-36.
I. STEPHENíS DEFENSE: THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL FORETOLD AND VALIDATED THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, Acts 7:1-50.
-Stephen gave a defense of Godís appointed way, the way which their ancestors resisted and they now reject.
A. Godís Promises to Israel, Acts 7:2-3, 5, 17.
1. Gen. 12:1-3, 5-7: Land (1, 5-7), Nation (2), Seed (3).
2. Covenant of circumcision, Acts 7:8; Gen. 17:1-11.
B. Godís Deliverance of His People.
1. Joseph from every trial, Acts 7:9-10; Gen. 39:1-2, 21-23.
2. Jacobís house from famine, Acts 7:11-16; Gen. 41:32-41; 50:17-21.
3. Israel from Egyptian bondage, Acts 7:17-19, 25, 35-36.
4. From the Gentiles in Canaan, Acts 7:45; Psa. 44:1-3.
C. Israel Resisted, Refused and Rejected Godís Plans and Godís Messengers. (Stephenís history lesson shows repeated rejection of God and His deliverers!)
1. Joseph: Was hated by his brothers, although God was with him to give them deliverance from famine.
2. Moses: Initially rejected as a deliverer, Acts 7:23-29 (Exo. 2:11-15).
3. Moses: At Mt. Sinai, even after Godís great power and mighty deliverance, Acts 7:36, 39-41; Exo. 32:1-10 (stiff-necked, 32:10).
4. God Himself, Acts 7:42-43; Amos 5:25-27.
5. The Holy Spirit:
a. Godís prophets, Acts 7:52; cf. 2 Chrn. 36:15-16.
b. The Law of Moses, Acts 7:53; cf. Matt. 23:1-3; 15:3-9.
6. The Messiah, Acts 7:52 (cf. 7:37); Acts 3:14-15.
-Shall we learn from history? Acts 7:51
1. Knowing history is not the same as learning from it, 7:51-52, 25.
2. God keeps His word even when men reject Him.
3. God delivers the faithful and punishes the wicked.
D. God is Not Restricted to Any One Land or Building, Acts 7:44-50.
1. Land of promise: Given to Israel, and the LOM regulated their lives there, Acts 7:45. For an appointed time, Acts 17:26.
2. God does not dwell in temples made with hands, Acts 7:48-50.
a. Tabernacle in the wilderness, Acts 7:44.
b. Temple of Solomon, Acts 7:46-47 (2 Sam. 7:11-14).
c. These structures never contained God. When they served Godís purposes for Israel, they were removed (Matt. 23:38-24:2).
3. Godís temple is the church of Christ! Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:5.
E. Godís Christ is for the Whole World, Gen. 12:3.
1. The ďfirst manifesto of Hellenistic ChristianityĒ (Commentary on Acts, F.F. Bruce, 143).
2. Godís promise: All nations blessed, Gal. 3:14.
3. The commission to preach salvation to the whole world was just beginning, Mk. 16:15.
II. SUMMARY: STEPHEN ACCUSES THE COUNCIL OF REJECTING THE MESSIAH, Acts 7:51-53.
A. Rejecting Christ is a Heart Problem, Acts 7:51.
1. God pleaded with Israel to circumcise their heart and acknowledge the power and blessings of Godís deliverance, Deut. 10:14-22.
2. Their fathers failed to do so, and now they join their fathers in their rebellion against God.
III. REACTION TO STEPHENíS SERMON, Acts 7:54-60.
A. Sanhedrin: Outraged, they Lose Control, Acts 7:54, 57-58 (5:33).
-Murder Stephen; Saul is present and consenting, Acts 8:1.
B. Stephen: In Control, Acts 7:55-56.
1. Stephenís vision:
a. Saw the glory of God: Splendor and majesty of God (Ezek. 1:28).
b. Saw Jesus at the right hand of God: His glorified, exalted place as Messiah (Psa. 110:1; Acts 2:33-36; 5:31).
2. Stephenís faith and forgiveness, Acts 7:59-60.
1. Stephen faced the hour of trial with firm faith as he gave a faithful rebuke of sin. It cost him his life, but he gained eternal life.
2. May our faith never waver, but rise to the same plane of courage, to speak the truth with all boldness and to sacrifice ourselves so that Christ is magnified in us.
By: Joe R. Price
Posted: June 21, 2013