Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?” And Stephen declared: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and told him, ‘Leave your country and your kindred and go to the land I will show you.’ So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God brought him out of that place and into this land where you are now living. – Acts 7:1-4 BSB
The book of Acts is the book of the early church. How they did things, how they overcame things, how they moved people and how they took ONE MAN’S message of reconciliation and redemption, a message of forgiveness, grace, and mercy and started changing their world, and eventually changed THE WORLD-bringing the GOOD NEWS of salvation through Christ to the World. Whenever the early church leaders were accused, and stood before the magistrates they always used that situation to TESTIFY to their captors, about Jesus, the Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. Remember, Jesus, our Messiah came in the flesh (incarnate) and was crucified. Three days later He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures. This was a big deal, all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were talking about this Jesus- then HE WAS HUNG ON A CROSS! This information ROCKED their WORLD! That same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. And as they talked and deliberated, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along? “They stood still, with sadness on their faces. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, “Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in recent days?” “What things?” He asked. “The events involving Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet, powerful in speech and action before God and all the people. Our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to the sentence of death, and they crucified Him. But we were hoping He was the One who would redeem Israel. And besides all this, it is the third day since these things took place. (Luke 24:13-21) This was big news! All the “World” was talking about it!
Leader, the reason I mention that is because within 3 days, Jesus was to rise again, and be spotted by thousands of people: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS! “Now I’m making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you—unless, of course, your faith was worthless. For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive! — and he was seen by Cephas, and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles, and finally he was seen by me, as though I were born abnormally late. (1 Corinthians 15:1-7) We tend to read the BIBLE and not always connect the dots, to the OMNI-purposes of WHAT exactly we are reading and the implications. This was the MAIN TOPIC of conversation, of preaching, of conversion, of their message! CHRIST IS ALIVE, WE SAW HIM! This was the early church’s message, this was\is their SERMON, their GOOD NEWS! CHRIST IS RISEN, and we too will rise with CHRIST, if we will just believe ON HIM! Remember, HE was alive, and then HE DIED on the CROSS, in fulfillment of the scriptures. Three days later HE ROSE and IS RISEN and in that we have the HOPE THAT SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING! This was their message, and this is to be OUR MESSAGE! They took every opportunity when they were attacked, accused, lied about, mistreated, CANCELLED by their culture, driven out of town, off of SOCIAL MEDIA…. Everything was an opportunity to talk about the RISEN CHRIST! How many opportunities, daily, do you talk about the RISEN CHRIST?
Conduit, where has our LOVE FOR THE RISEN CHRIST gone? How often, outside of EASTER do we celebrate the RISEN KING and talk about HIS PURPOSE in coming, dying, and conquering the grave? Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) Stephen is full of the HOLY SPIRIT. This is not Stephen speaking, this is the HOLY SPIRIT speaking through Stephen! Stephen is a CONDUIT! Luke recounted what Jesus told the Apostles; And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11-12) I would encourage you to read Stephens entire defense, Acts 7:1-53, because God had Stephen identify a PATTERN with the JEWS and their Fathers. It is a pattern that applies to all men\women, it is a pattern of the flesh, played out in the flesh of our church Fathers\Mothers. What is that pattern? That they have a history of missing things the first time, but SEEING IT the second time. When going through the Jewish history he focused on 2 shadows of Christ, 2 forerunners of the Messiah, “types” of Christ: Joseph and Moses. Both Joseph and Moses were ‘types’ of Jesus. They were redeemers, they were Saviors of their people and both of them were denied by those that they came to help, the first time! When they appeared a second time, the people were then able to identify them as their Savior! “Do you intend to reign over us?” his brothers asked. “Will you actually rule us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream and his statements. (Genesis 37:8) When Joseph re-met his brothers 17 years after they left him for dead, they did not recognize him, even though he knew them. But later they then recognized him and bowed down to him. Moses at first was rejected by the Jews, the man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? (Exodus 2:14) But Later, and they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19) The Holy Spirit was showing the pattern, with the implication being; When Jesus comes back a SECOND TIME, they will bow down and worship Him for HE IS RISEN! “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).