ACTS CHAPTER SEVEN
A MAN SOLD OUT TO GOD
Suggested Teaching Objectives:
1. To inspire pupils to be like Stephen.
2. To teach the power of the Word of God. It brings conviction.
3. To show the value of knowing Jesus as Savior.
4. To show how to be saved.
5. To show that for the Christian "absence from the body is to be present with the Lord."
6. To show that the Bible-all points to Christ.
Introduction: In Chapter 6, we learned of the selection of seven men to become deacons in the church. We learned that Stephen, who was one of them, was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Vs. 8. He had sold out to God. Any such person will meet much opposition and Stephen was no exception. Review Chapter 6:8-15. In our lesson today, we notice that Stephen was and is a great example to us.
He knew the Bible.
He depended fully on God for guidance and help.
He was unafraid to boldly speak for God.
He showed the value of his religion in that at the point of death, he was praying for others instead of himself.
At death, he was seeing Jesus
What a man Stephen was! What a great person we would be if we would seek to be like him. Let=s notice his sermon and his death.
Stephen answered every charge made against him. However, instead of doing it as a matter of defense, he does it more as a matter of prosecution. The charges against him were:
Blasphemous words against God.
Against this Holy Place, the Temple
Vs. 1 -- Are these things so? B He answers the charges. He argues that throughout their history they and their fathers had resisted God. cf. Vs. 51.
Vs. 2 -- He begins his sermon by speaking of the God of Glory whom he is charged with blaspheming, but whom he exalts throughout his sermon. He was a man dedicated to exalting God.
Vs. 3-8 -- He points out that long before there was a Jewish nation or a temple or the Law, God in grace found Abraham in a heathen nation and called him forth to the land and made a covenant with him, to give him and his seed the land. Stephen reminds them that God had foreseen and foretold them about Abraham's descendants going into Egypt. cf. Genesis 15:13,14. In pointing to the covenant of circumcision, he alluded to how the Jews should have always been willing to be obedient to God's will at all times for this was a Covenant of grace. God made no demands upon it. cf. Genesis 17:19.
Vs. 9-19 -- The patriarchs (Jacob's sons) sold Joseph because of envy. They were disobedient to God. But God was with him in spite of their disobedience. In vs. 16 "Sychem" is "Shechom". Note that Joseph was first rejected and sold for "envy", even as the "Just One" was rejected and sold and suffered for "envy". Mark 15:10. God looked out for and protected the Jews in spite of their disobedience and they grew into a great nation.
Vs. 20-43 -- Next he brings to their minds some truths pertaining to Moses who he was charged with blaspheming. He shows how Moses was a man of God and had been sent to deliver the people, but they wouldn't listen to him. But later, God commissioned Moses to go back and deliver them and God used Moses to deliver the Jews from bondage. This same Moses (vs. 37) was foretold of Jesus' coming (Deuteronomy 18:15). This same Moses had been disobeyed by the Jews (vs. 39-43) then was being disobeyed by the Jews today in that they had rejected Jesus Christ.
Vs. 44-50 -- Next, he speaks to them of the Tabernacle and the Temples, which were pictures of Christ. He causes them to realize that these things were just symbolical and they couldn't fully contain the Great God of the Universe. In this Stephen defends their accusation that he had spoken against the temple.
Vs. 51 -- He boldly declares that they were rebellious and disobedient to God and that they did now (as their fathers had also done) resist the Holy Spirit in their rejection of Jesus and their accusation of Him.
Vs. 52-53 -- He further indicts them with their disobedience and asks them to name just one prophet that their fathers had not persecuted. He declares to them that all of these had prophesied of Jesus' coming.
Stephen had now answered every charge and in a masterful way had indited them on every charge they had made against him:
They had rejected God.
They had rejected Moses.
They had failed to understand the purpose and meaning of the temple.
They had not kept the Law. (Vs. 53)
The accused became the accuser. The defender had become a mighty prosecutor.
Vs. 54-60 -- There was no possible answer to such a conclusive presentation of facts. All reason fled and they became a raging mob, took things into their own hands and stoned to death this mighty witness of the risen Christ. cf. John 18:31.
Vs. 55 -- At the time of his death, he saw Jesus standing as if to receive this faithful servant personally into the glory world.
Vs. 56 -- In the midst of persecutions, he saw Jesus. Many only see the troubles, but Stephen saw Jesus. Jesus knows all that we are going through. Roman 8:28.
Vs. 58 -- This Saul later was saved and this episode no doubt had much to do with it. Who wouldn't be willing to die if a mighty preacher like Paul would result from it.
Vs. 59-60 -- Stephen "fell asleep" and awoke in the presence of Jesus. cf. Philippians 1:21-23; II Corinthians 5:8.
Conclusion: We never know what God will do with a person who will sell out to God. D.L. Moody once heard a man say, "The world has never seen what God would do with a man wholly yielded to Him." Moody said, "I'll be that man." God shook the world with him. Stephen was a man like that. It cost him his life but he died being a glorious example to believers and by his life and death, Saul of Tarsus was saved and he took the gospel throughout much of the known world.
What will you let God do with you? Are you sold out to God? Discuss what this means and how you can show that you are.