Acts 7:44-60 (ESV)
“Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Why does Steven suddenly go off on his accusers? He seems to be doing so well – making a strong case for his defense – and then he just lights into them. He sounds like Nathan chewing out David.
That’s just the point. Stephen is functioning as a prophet and this is how prophets talk. Usually they’re chewing out Israel in general, but when the audience is specific it can get personal.
Notice that the text says Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t into sugar coating things.
He speaks truth to power, and lots of people don’t want to hear it.
Actually, “lots of people” means pretty much everyone. One of the clues to discerning whether something is of the Holy Spirit is whether it’s something you don’t want to hear.
Followers of Christ are perpetually challenged to learn to discern His will. When something pops into your head, how can you tell if it’s from God? Of course, it must be good and conform to scripture, but also pay attention to how it challenges you. If it doesn’t challenge you at all, it’s probably not important. If it challenges you to step out for a holy purpose in an intimidating way, don’t ignore it. Ask God to bless you with improved discernment of His will.
This is a lifelong prayer request.
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