Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Men Like Stephen

“…pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. …and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…”
-Acts 6:3,5

“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”
-Acts 6:8

“Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.”
-Acts 6:9

“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.”
-Acts 7:59, 60

“Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him.”
-Acts 8:2

“A moral and spiritual war is raging in our land that can be won only by men who know who they are and who are willing to confront the enemies of authentic manhood. A new era of righteous and manly men must, as the legendary phoenix, rise from the ashes.”
-Weldon Hardenbrook, Missing from Action, p. 136

He’s one of the bravest, godliest and manliest men I’ve read about. He was a converted Greek. His reputation was impeccable. He showed abundant evidence of the work of regeneration. He was wise beyond his years. He had faith for the tasks he was called to. The resurrected Christ changed him. He was a man in love with the gospel and he was eager to serve the church. He put his hand to the plow and never looked back. He was full of the Holy Spirit. The favor of God was on him such that he even performed a few signs and wonders. He was an able apologist for the newly-born Christian faith. He wasn’t afraid of controversy when the truth was at stake. He boldly preached an unpopular but Christ-exalting sermon. He paid the ultimate price for his proclamation with his own life. He was full of faith even in death. He forgave those who took his life. He was killed illegally, but never raised his voice against his murderers. He was the first Christian martyr. The resurrected Christ stood and welcomed him into heaven. And other godly men wept bitterly when he died.

Such was the work of the Spirit in the life and death of Stephen.

Hold up anyone else and they pale in comparison. In a day when vapid sports heroes and gossamer “American Idols” are exalted to superstar status, there is no one like Stephen. He was a godly man and full of the Spirit. Just think,…what would it have been like to have the work of God so evident in him that it’s obvious to others that he was full of the Spirit? What would it have been like to have heard him speak truth in such a way that it sparked a riot? What would it have been like to see the welcoming approval of the Savior at his death? What would it have been like to have seen godly men weep loudly at his funeral?

I find myself provoked and humbled by Stephen. I want to be like him; full of wisdom, full of the Holy Spirit, and full of faith. I’m praying that God would apprehend us by the gospel and give us the spirit of Stephen.

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