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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium


Stephen's witness overpowered his opponents.

Acts (6)

Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 6 and 7 (Lesson 6) by clicking here.

Read and meditate on Acts 6.8-15.
Even during seasons of revival, when everyone can see the saving power of Christ’s love at work around them, there will be those determined to stamp out the faith and, if necessary, all who proclaim it. The Church is the sign of the Kingdom; it is also the Kingdom outpost. And it is this aspect of the Church’s presence that causes many people problems.

For reflection
1.  Stephen has been described as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (v. 5). God determined to use him beyond the believing community to flow His grace to people throughout Jerusalem by means of signs, wonders, and witness. Stephen was “full of faith and power”. How can you see that Stephen embodies both the sign and outpost dimension of the Church’s mission? How is his example instructive for us? For our churches?

2.  While the wonders and signs Stephen performed were miraculous in nature, it’s not necessary to think of signs and wonders in this way. Any extraordinary act of love or kindness would “sign” something significant and cause people to “wonder.” What would be some examples of “signs” that would cause people to “wonder” (1 Pet. 3.15) that you might demonstrate in your Personal Mission Field?

3.  The blinding power of sin is again in evidence here. Why else would anyone want to stop someone doing so much good, or refuse to hear the message which, Stephen would have explained, was the source of such goodness? What kinds of things keep people from receiving the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom in our day?

4.  We note the trumped-up charges as being the same hurled against Jesus – it worked then, so hey, why not here too? We note also that opposition to Stephen arose from Jews from various places. Luke mentions this to foreshadow the rest of his story: Opposition will arise wherever the Gospel goes. The great victory here in Jerusalem, followed by opposition and persecution, is typical of what the Gospel will meet all over the Empire, and down through the ages of Church history. Jesus had promised persecution (Jn. 15.18-20), so His first followers expected it and were neither surprised nor dismayed by it. Consequently, overwhelming and irresistible power continued to flow through them for the sake of the ongoing, restorative work of Christ. How can churches prepare their members to stand firm in the face of opposition or persecution in our day?

5.  Rembrandt portrays Stephen’s face as peaceable, calm, and shining – “the face of an angel.” With all due respect to the master, I think he might have missed it. Whenever angels appear in Scripture the response of those who see them isn’t, “Oh, how sweet, how cute.” Rather, they’re terrified. Stephen’s wisdom, grace, eloquence, personal piety, and power of witness struck fear in the hearts of those who opposed him. Was that because they’d seen that same face before? What can you learn from Stephen about being a conduit of grace to the people in your Personal Mission Field (Jn. 7.37-39)?

Christians are called to be witnesses for the Lord. But they will also do the work of evangelism as part of that witness. Thus they sign the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit by their love for God, one another, and their neighbors; and they serve as an outpost for the progress of the Kingdom by their spoken witness for the Lord. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest rating, how would you assess the state of your church as a Kingdom sign and outpost at this time? Why did you choose that number?

Closing Prayer
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Psalm 46

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. For more insight into His work in our here and now, order the book,
The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store by clicking here.

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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