Stoning of Stephen
Act 7:51-52 "You
stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the
Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
(52) Which of the
prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who
foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the
betrayers and murderers,
Is this the Way to win Friends and Influence People?
Stephen had done wonders and signs among the people.
He spoke with wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit.
But he was in Jerusalem and there were Jewish teachers there that
did not like him or his message or his following.
They couldn't win a debate with him so they bullied him and
brought him to the "council".
This was likely the same ruling council that had condemned the
Lord so I don't suppose they would have liked the message that Stephen
was preaching either. So
Stephen defends himself against the accusations of false witnesses.
What can we learn from Stephen's approach to witnessing?
Stephen Knew His Stuff
Stephen goes through the national history of Israel and shows that the
nation has always been a rebellious nation.
He shows that they had rejected Joseph and Moses and the prophets
and now they had rejected the Lord Jesus.
He then calls them "stiff-necked” and
think he was saying that they were rebellious unbelievers.
He caps it off by saying that they had betrayed and murdered the
Lord Jesus. Now this was not
what we would call "friendship" evangelism.
Our courses in evangelism do not seem to include Stephen's
message as a model for our methods.
Don't misunderstand me, I try to get people to like me before I
preach to them, although I don't always succeed.
I try to avoid situations that I know are going to be
confrontational. But Stephen
did not do it the way we think it ought to be done.
He had done wonders and miracles before this confrontation, but
when it came time to be honest, he did not draw back.
What Did Stephen Accomplish?
First of all, he managed to accomplish his own martyrdom.
He was stoned. He was
not stoned by another culture and religion. He was stoned by Jews who
claimed to worship Jehovah. I
would compare this to being stoned by other Christians today who believe
that their church doctrine and traditions are more important than
Biblical doctrine. I would
liken this to be being stoned by those who call themselves Christians
who are more concerned with changing the world through the ballot box
than by the preaching of the Gospel.
Second of all, he made at least one convert.
Oh, this man wasn't converted immediately, but Stephen's praying
for those who stoned him caused one man by the name of Paul to
reconsider his persecution of those who were followers of the Lord.
He then met the Lord on the Damascus Road and the rest is
history. Stephen may have
made only one true convert (although likely there were others), but that
one turned into a multitude. Most
of us who are saved today have been greatly influenced by if not saved
through Paul's writings.
Third and most importantly, he managed to please the Lord.
The Lord gave him a vision of heaven and of Himself just before
he was stoned. I believe the
Lord was meeting Him to take him over to the "other side."
Stephen deserved the commendation, "Well done thou good and
What about Us?
Sometimes I wonder if we preach the gospel in situations and
environments where people realize the seriousness of the message.
Do they realize that following the Lord is likely to cost them
friends? They are not going
to be the most popular kids on the block.
Do we realize that we have the ONLY message that saves?
Do we realize that actually preaching a faithful message is going
to sting because we have to preach about sin and its consequences before
we can preach about salvation from the consequences of sin?
Sometimes, I think we preach today so we can save the saved. But
the Lord came to seek and to save the lost.
Sometimes the message has to be confrontational.
Do you suppose that Stephen (had he lived) would have been
commended for the loving way he preached or for would he have been
criticized for antagonizing his audience?
Times have not changed. Stephen
is still one of the great Gospel preachers of the New Testament.
He was full of faith and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
He did love his audience or he wouldn't have told them the truth.
Sometimes the truth hurts. We
should never forget that.
Meditation for the week
of March 4, 2018