Stephen—A truly Faithful Witness.

Stephen—A truly Faithful Witness.

(Acts 6-7; Acts 22:20)

There are some people of whom “the world was not worthy” (Heb.11:37).Stephen was one of these!The apostle Paul would look back on the day that he gave hearty approval to the mob-murder of the first Christian martyr (Acts 22:20). The man that Paul and the others hated from the depth of their being was to be the kind of man that Paul would one day strive to be.The neglect of the Grecian widows was a potential church disaster. The apostles called for the selection of the highest calibre servant-leaders to ‘wait on tables.’ They were to be “known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3). Stephen was one of the seven chosen. Why seven men of such quality? Because people like Stephen were walking examples of Christlikeness. The widows would immediately see that the Holy Spirit could rely on, use, and bless the ministry of a man like this. And He did.This man was a miraculously gifted evangelist. His opponents couldn’t overcome the wisdom of his preaching. So, they sent in false accusers who distorted his words. They dragged him before the High priest and the Sanhedrin; the same people who handed his Lord to Pilate to be crucified. His face “was like that of an angel” as he stood before them.Stephen’s defense started with an historical outline of the Jewish race, beginning with Father Abraham. All was well until he spoke of man’s inability to confine God to a box—Even the Temple. He saw their hard hearts and told them so. Their fury grew and they ground their teeth as he put the death of the prophets, the betrayal and murder of Jesus, and their rejection of the very Law they claimed to uphold, squarely at their feet. Still in front of these enraged men—the great religious law court of Israel, Stephen full of the Holy Spirit told them what he was witnessing with his own eyes: “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). His enemies had heard enough ‘blaspheme.’ They dragged him out of town and began to stone him to death. When a man, through the eyes of faith, has a clear view of heaven, he has the courage to endure the worst of trials. Stephen’s clarity of vision was miraculously enhanced, but his final words showed that he wanted even his killers to be where he was going: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).(johnstaiger1@gmail.com)

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