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STEPHEN – A useful example to follow

Text: Acts 6:8-8:1

A man of notable character

He was chosen to be a servant-leader

Only seven chosen in a church of 3000 (6:5)

He was the first mentioned (6:5)

(chosen first?)

A man of Christ-like qualities

A man full of faith and the Holy Spirit (6:5)

A man full of grace and power (6:8)

A man with the courage to confront

Stephen debated the most knowledgeable Greek-speaking Jewish leaders (6:9)

They could not cope with his wisdom and his spirit (6:10)

He called them out for sins (7:51-53)

A man with a confident countenance

He had the face of an angel The appearance of angels typically inspired awe and fear

Moses face shone and the people were fearful to come near (Ex 34:29-30)

His opponents proclaimed that his face was like an angel (6:15)

Footnotes:

One huge problem here is the all-too-common confusion concerning angels. In the Bible, angels are not sweet, cherubic creatures, seeking to bring cuteness to a room. They are messengers of God. They inspired awe and fear. Their purpose was to bring a message from the one true God. This is the ministry of the Word of God -- the ministry we celebrate today. We dare to pray that when they preach, their faces look like the faces of angels -- not cute, not harmless, not ready to jump off of a greeting card, but fearless, faithful, forceful, to the end. Al Mohler

A man with clarity of vision

A man with a compelling vision of God (7:56)

I see the heavens opened

(A claim of spiritual insight)

I see the Son of Man standing

(A visionary proof of the resurrection)

I see Him at the right hand of God

(An evidence of the deity of Christ)

A man with compelling compassion

His final words were “Lord do not hold this sin against them.”

With his dying breath he seeks forgiveness for his murderers

Being a child of God, and a follower of Jesus

Possessing exceptional spiritual character

Being fully committed to faithful service

Demonstrating wisdom and a loving spirit toward your opponents

Passionately devoted to sharing Christ, no matter the cost

Personally trusting the sovereign plan of God

Showing compassion for the lost, even to the end

Comment:

In my preparation for this sermon I came across an old sermon by John MacArthur that was both enlightening and helpful. I have provided a link to the sermon from 1972 and encourage you to read it or listen to the audio version. He shares a unique perspective on Stephen as the bridge between the transition of the Old Covenant and the New, and the preaching of the Gospel to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. I am indebted to MacArthur’s scholarship and preaching.

~Kent Smith May, 2020

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1721/the-man-with-the-face-of-an-angel