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Stephen's witness was grounded in the Word.

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 7.1-16.
Stephen’s defense before the high priest deserves more space than we can give it here. I want to point out just the most important aspects. There is plenty for us to learn about being witnesses for the Lord in this brief and fatal sermon.

For reflection
1.  We note that, in defending himself Stephen turns to Scripture. Since his message was Scriptural, his defense should not have been of anything he was doing, but of the validity of his message and his actions in the light of that message. How does Scripture factor into your spoken witness for the Lord?

2.  Note the genius of this opening statement: He links himself to his accusers, and his accusers and himself to the same source – God’s promise to Abraham. Then he makes God’s initiating grace and Abraham’s obedience to God’s Word the keystone for his message. He will ultimately turn the tables on his accusers, assuming his own obedience of this covenantal call and charging them with failing to do as Abraham did. Is it important, when we’re sharing the Gospel with someone, that we broach the subject of sin and their need for salvation from it? Explain.

3.  Verses 1-16 cover, essentially, the entire book of Genesis, demonstrating the grace and faithfulness of God and the obedience of the patriarchs to His Word. Stephen is building a Biblical case for his actions and message, because he wants to make sure his accusers accept or reject that message, and not just him. Why is it important that we not allow our presentation of the Gospel to be about us? But is there a place for sharing our testimony when we share the Good News? How do we keep the focus on the Word of God and Christ as the means of salvation?

4.  In his book, Playing God, Andy Crouch explains that we miss something in presenting the Gospel if we don’t begin at the beginning, if we don’t “take it from the top.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of seeking and advancing His Kingdom are not just New Testament concerns. They are rooted in the very beginnings of divine revelation and the covenant of God. Stephen’s oration challenges us to make sure we are living and proclaiming the whole Gospel, as rooted in all of Scripture, and not just some version of “near Christianity.” How would you describe your church’s witness to the larger community at this time?

5.  How would you explain the “whole Gospel” to someone who asked a reason for the hope that is within you (1 Pet. 3.15)?

Stephen was preaching to Jews so it makes sense that he would have grounded his message in the Bible. But regardless of whom we’re sharing with, only the Word of God is living and powerful to convict and convert people to the Lord. We may not use as much Scripture as Stephen did, but we need to use enough to unleash the saving power of the Gospel toward those with whom we’re sharing. If you could “hang” your Gospel presentation on five passages of Scripture, what would they be?

Closing Prayer
Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishments on the peoples;
To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the written judgment—
This honor have all His saints.
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 149.5-9

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.

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

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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