1. Life of Stephen 2. Life of Abraham Archive

Acts Lesson 17: Stephen’s Ministry

May 26, 2020 @ 8:16 pm

This is the first of ten messages on one of the most influential men for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ who ever lived, Stephen.  There is a reason why more information is recorded in the eternal Word of God on the martyrdom of Stephen than any other man's death except the Lord Jesus - that reason is twofold.  First, Stephen's words and witness had an IRRESISTIBLE impact on the heart, soul, and mind of Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul, human author of about half of the New Testament).  Second, it was Stephen's martyrdom that resulted in the great First Century persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, which forced Christians into the next two regions of Christ's Great Commission, Judea and Samaria.

Stephen is my ultimate hero when it comes to understanding the importance of using the Old Testament to preach Jesus Christ!  He is my hero when it comes to boldness in proclaiming Christ to a very hostile audience!  He is my hero when it comes to giving his all for his Lord and Saviour and doing it with grace and forgiveness of those who killed him.  Stephen well deserved the STANDING OVATION he received from the Lord Jesus!  I cannot wait to meet him one day.

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Acts Lesson 18: Stephen’s Message I {Abraham of Mesopotamia}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:17 pm

Stephen had "an irresistible ministry"!  He was a Scripture-scholar, extremely skilled and astute in using the Old Testament to defend his faith in Jeus.  He was a Christian apologist ("apologia" is a Greek word that refers to "a speech in defense of something").

Stephen's POWERFUL message of Acts chapter 7 was basically a last major appeal to the leadership of Israel (the Sanhedrin Council) to accept Jesus as the long-promised Messiah.  Stephen was brought for trial before the Council, falsely accused of four things: speaking blasphemous words (1) against Moses, (2) against God, (3) against the Temple, and (4) against the Law.  While he stood before his opponents and their lying accusations, his face was glowing with the righteousness of truth and the glory of God!  Amazing.  By visibly putting His "glory stamp" on Stephen's face, the Lord Jesus was showing forth His approval of the message he had been proclaiming in the synagogues and which he was about to proclaim in Acts 7.

Stephen's message was his response to the evil high priest's question, "Are these things so?" - referring to the four accusations against him.  In verses 2 to 50, he managed to keep his hostile listeners' attention by talking about their favorite subject: themselves and their heritage!  Yet, as he reviewed the major periods of Jewish history, he indirectly was responding to the false and accusations against him and building his case against them!   His sermon is brilliant on so many levels!  It was completely irrefutible, and cost him his life.  

In this lesson, Stephen began his "history lesson" regarding Israel's period of the patriarchs by speaking about Abraham.  You have to listen to how absolutely clever Stephen was in using "father" Abraham to convict the Jews of their own sinful prejudices!

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Acts Lesson 19: Stephen’s Message II {Jet-Tour of Life of Joseph}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:18 pm

In his purposely selective account of Jewish history (which kept the attention of the Council members, for they loved their own story), Stephen was making his defense against the accusations that he had blasphemed Moses, God, the Temple, and the Law.  In doing so, he was also (unknown to them, at first) building his case of indictment against his Jewish audience!  He was exposing their unjustified physical obsession with the land (Israel), the Law, and the Temple.  Rather than humbly acknowledging these were great privileges to be used wisely for God's glory in their witness of Him to the rest of the world, they proudly turned them into their false triune "god"!  They had come to view them as pillars of proof for their heavenly security!

The most important thing Stephen was accomplishing (yet unknown) in his powerful sermon was presenting the High Council of Israel with evidence for faith in Jesus!  He did this by using several key figures from Israel's history: Joseph and Moses.  In this lesson, which is Stephen's jet-tour account of the life of Joseph, the Council members heard for the first time the Biblical account of Joseph used as a graphic illustration of their own evil, envious betrayal and murder of Jesus!

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Acts Lesson 20: Stephen’s Message III {Moses, the Deliverer Delivered}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:19 pm

In the first 16 verses of his amazingly brilliant sermon, Stephen covered Israel's history from Abraham in Mesopotamia to Joseph in Egypt (a fascinating way to attack the Jews' proud obsession with the land, as well as their arrogance toward Jews who lived outside the land).  In his second sermon "division," he dealt with the historical period of Moses and the Law.  In verses 17 to 43, he actually covered the circumstances prior to the birth of Moses all the way to the time of the Babylonian Captivity.

As Stephen did with Joseph (Lesson 19), Israel's first deliverer, he did likewise with Israel's next historical deliverer, Moses - he used them both as types of Christ (which they are).  He knew the Jews would not interrupt him as he spoke of Moses, for they thought of no one more highly than him (they elevated him far too much).

The whole idea of picture-types of the Messiah having been prophetically revealed in the lives of their most honored historical figures was a completely new concept to the Jews.  Stephen showed them, via his summary-narration of the life of Moses, that the similarities between Moses and Jesus are nothing short of having been divinely orchestrated.

Take out your Christ-colored glasses as we take a train-ride (not a jet-tour as with Joseph) through the life of Moses!

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Acts Lesson 21: Stephen’s Message IV {Moses; Two Deliverances}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:20 pm

As Stephen did with Joseph, he likewise did with Moses - he preached Christ (without mentioning His name) by his selective summation of Moses' life (his initial rejection and eventual acceptance as Israel's deliverer).  He wanted them to see that Jesus was very much the Fulfillment of Moses' words about the Messiah being "a Prophet . . . like unto me" (Deut. 18:15).

In this lesson, Stephen got into the second phase of Moses' life (his second 40-year life segment), when he made his first "visit" to his people as their deliverer and was rejected and then vanished from sight (presumed dead) as he lived with the Gentiles (Midianites).

Stephen's underlying message to the Jews of his day was that unless they wanted to continue to follow the pattern of their forefathers, who betrayed and rejected the ones (Joseph and Moses) who God providentially "raised from the dead" to be their deliverers, they should repent for having done exactly the same with Jesus!

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Acts Lesson 22: Stephen’s Message V {Moses; Divine Commission}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:21 pm

In Stephen's historical narrative regarding Moses, he came to his Divine Commission at the Burning Bush.  Learn how the thorny bush is a picture of Israel!

Stephen's message about Moses was powerfully applied to the Lord Jesus and Israel's rejection of Him when he got to verses 35 to 37.  Dr. John Phillips wrote that Stephen "skillfully dropped his brush and pallet and picked up his sword" as he brought home to the Council all he had been saying about Moses in light of Jesus!  With Moses, God honored the one Israel had rejected.  He sent them the very one they had rejected to be their ruler and deliverer.  His implication was that the Jews had done to Jesus what their forefathers did to Moses.

It is often said, by Jewish people today and others, as well, that if Jesus was their Messiah, the leaders of Israel would have known and recognized Him.  However, that would not be consistent with her spiritual leaders throughout her history.  This was the point Stephen was making in Acts 7.  It was their typical response NOT to accept the men God sent to deliver them, as exemplified with Joseph and Moses - and how God's prophets were treated.  What they did to Jesus was exceedingly more serious, for in having rejected Him, they rejected the Great I AM of the Burning Bush - they only One Who provides spiritual deliverance!

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Acts Lesson 23: Stephen’s Message VI {The Law}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:22 pm

In Acts 7:38 to 43, Stephen shifted from demonstrating his respect for Moses to demonstrating his respect for the Law.  He was again claiming "not guilty" to the charge brought against him that he blasphemed the Law.  He affirmed his absolute faith in the Law by declaring God was its Author and Moses its recipient.

In summarizing the final 40-year period of Moses' life, Stephen went on the offensive.  He reminded the Council how quickly Israel had turned her heart back to Egypt and her "gods" once Moses ascended Mount Sinai.  With him out of sight, they readily dismissed the very one who delivered them.  Stephen's point was that this was exactly what Israel's religious rulers did.  The One Who came and did the work of deliverance for them was now also "out of sight" - for He had ascended much higher than Mount Sinai!  They turned from the Prophet like unto Moses, their Messiah, and were, in effect, clinging to the works of Aaron's hands, pictured by their whole priestly system of Judaism.  With the completed atonement work of Christ, Judaism was a dead religion.  The reality had come, so the patterns and shadows were no longer needed.  But the hearts of Israel's leadership were focused on the world (Egypt) - and Stephen said, they "rejoiced in the works of their own hands" (Acts 7:41).  They did not worship God; they worshipped a "god" of their own making.

It was the members of Israel's High Court who broke the Law, just as their forefathers had done at Sinai and throughout their entire history!

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Acts Lesson 24: Stephen’s Message VII {The Temple}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:23 pm

Acts 7:44-50; Stephen's defense against the charge that he had blasphemed the Temple.  Tensions are beginning to rise in the Council members listening to his powerful message!  He is coming close to his conclusion.  Stephen had evidently spoken a lot (in his past debates in the Greek-speaking synagogues) about the One (Jesus) Who was greater than the Temple, which is why he was accused of blasphemying the Temple.  In his sermon, Stephen stressed how the Tabernacle (later the Temple) served as a witness of tha which was Greater!  It was a picture-type witness of the day when the Messiah would tabernacle with men and open the way for God to bring a redeemed people boldly into His holy Presence to tabernacle (dwell) with Him forever!

Stephen's point was that he was not blaspheming the current Temple by his understanding that its purpose was ended, and it would give place to the next stage: God dwelling in His people.

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Acts Lesson 25: Stephen’s Message VIII {Israel’s Indictment}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:24 pm

This is the conclusion of the longest sermon in the Book of Acts - and likely the most important.  Stephen had reviewed Israel's history and the great contributions of some of her most honored leaders (Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and Solomon).  The High Court of Israel had gotten a quick overview of her history, which the men permitted Stephen to present because they loved to hear about themselves.  However, slowly, his selective presentation started to get uncomfortable as they began to realize where his focus on their "rejection of deliverers" pattern of behavior was going.  Was he really going to indict them for having rejected (and killed) Jesus?!  Would he dare to go that far!?

Yes, he would, even though he knew it would likely cost him his life.  Realizing his listeners were reaching the end of their tolerance of him and were about to make him stop, Stephen catapulted into his application-rebuke - and it was BOLD and BLUNT!  After calling them "stiff-necked" and uncircumcised in heart and ears, He told them, ". . . ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51)!  He also accused them of the betrayal and murder of "the Just One" - and they knew he spoke of Jesus and used for Him a title only reserved for God!

Stephen's phenomenal use of his two-edged sword, the Word of God, hit its target.  The Sanhedrin Council members "were cut to the heart" (7:54).  Their hypocritically pious masks were torn off and they were exposed for the false shepherds they were.  Yet, rather than repent, they gnashed their teeth in seething anger.  THEY had been the ones on trial, and they were guilty of having blasphemed everything God had ever given them!  They could not defend themselves, so they decided they would silence the one who spoke the truth about their depraved hearts.  Saul of Tarsus was among them; little did they know he would soon pick-up where Stephen left off!  Truth cannot be silenced, much as men might try.

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Acts Lesson 26: Stephen’s Martyrdom {A Standing Ovation!}

May 26, 2020 @ 8:25 pm

Stephen's message of Acts 7 was the masterpiece of a skilled artist painting pictures of Jesus Christ from Old Testament characters; it was the discourse of a Scriptural scholar, the keenly selective historical dissertation of a Spirit-filled prophet, and the work of a lethaly skilled warrior using the two-edged sword of truth!  It was also Stephen's death warrent.  He had lived like Jesus, he had spoken like Jesus, and he was to die for Jesus.

Stephen, whose face glowed like that of an angel, was bound for Heaven.  There are causes worth dying for, and Stephen found the best.  He died for the sake of the only message on earth that saves the eternal souls of men, the Gospel of Christ.  Stephen was the first person to die for the truth of Jesus' atonement work.  When his spirit was about to depart from his body, he looked up to see the resurrected Lord standing on the right hand of God!  He was not in His seated "finished-work of redemption" position!  It was the body language of the Redeemer saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"!  Stephen finished his course; he ran the race to the finish line and was the first to cross - and the Lord gave him a standing ovation!

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Genesis Lesson 33: Introduction to Abram {Preserving the Promised Seed}

July 1, 2021 @ 8:00 am

Genesis 11:10-32

Generation after generation following the dispersion at Babel was given opportunity to repent and turn back to God, but unfortunately the degenerate condition of man soon came to resemble pre-Flood days.  Tragically, the spiritual decline even affected the Messianic line.  But God had made a promise, and He keeps His promises.  He would send the Promised Seed of the woman, the Messiah/Saviour into the world to crush Satan and pay the wages of sin so those who believe on Him could be forgiven and saved. 

Thus, because God is the God of love, mercy, and grace; the God Who keeps His promises, He reached down to call a man out of a Shemite family; a man whose family worshipped idols; a Gentile living in Ur of the Chaldees (area of modern-day Iran).  His name was Abram.

In this lesson, we begin studying the life of a Abram - whose name was later changed to Abraham by God (17:5).  It was from Abraham's seed that the Messiah would come.  God would indeed preserve the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ!

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