Acts 6b and 7
Yesterday, we left off with the 7 qualified individuals being chosen to take a load off of the apostles. One is given more attention than the rest. We see that because the power that was once seen in Christ, started to be seen in the disciples and now has moved on to other believers. Stephen is said to be full of grace and power and he started performing wonders and signs among the people.
Again we see the religious leaders take offense and try to squash any threat to their power and authority. As they stood up to dispute Stephen they quickly realized they could not outsmart or outwit him. So, as with Jesus, when they were unable to come up with a way to take him out on merit they made something up. They lied – and created a plan with multiple witnesses aligned with a fictional story to take out their problem.
All of chapter 7 is Stephen giving a summary of a year’s worth of children’s Sunday school material. He gives the details of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. He shows how God was at work throughout time and the constant opposition that faced Him, and then Stephen throws these man into that group. Stephen calls them uncircumcised in the heart and ears. He then points out that again God has been at work and when the story is retold – they would be the bad guys that opposed God and further the ones that killed the promised righteous one!
And like Jesus – he was put to death. They raised up stones to kill him and also like Jesus he asks for their forgiveness. Wow – to stand in the face of opposition and talk with conviction. He didn’t back down when it got difficult.
Our Christian walk at times has become too easy. As Stephen’s speech indicated; all throughout history, whenever someone made a stand for God, they eventually faced opposition. If we are not facing opposition, maybe people do not know where we stand. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us we will face trials, trouble, opposition, suffering, sorrows, tribulations (depending on your translation). Not a maybe or some will – instead a certainty that we will all face. As we make a stand for what is right we prepare for opposition knowing we can have peace while dealing with it because the verse doesn’t end there. It continues to say “Take heart, for I have overcome the world”.
What I pull most from the first few chapters of Acts is this: God has given His spirit, His power, so that we will go out into the world with BOLDNESS proclaiming the truth with love.
“But the word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts 12:24
In this chapter we see a showdown between Herod and God. Not Herod the Great who was in power when Jesus was born, but Herod’s grandson who is also named Herod. I know, confusing.
Here is a summary of the showdown and the ways God showed His power time and time again:
- Herod kills James (v. 2) -> angel of the Lord kills Herod by having him eaten by worms. (v. 23)
- Herod throws Peter in jail (v. 4). -> angel of the Lord frees Peter (v. 7)
- Herod seeks Peter and orders him to be put to death (v. 19) -> God protects Peter (v. 16)
- Herod doesn’t give glory to God (v. 23) -> The word of God increases and multiplies (v.24)
So what’s the point? I think it’s pretty simple – if you oppose God, you lose. Even if you are part of the most powerful empire on earth, have all the resources and money in the world, nothing can come close to the power of God.