History 101 (Acts 7:9-16) *New Living Translation
– This is what I remember about my dad…. I don’t really remember all the stuff before age 50ish.
– Kisses, always say “I love you, babe”
– His favorite bible verses Romans 5:8, Eph 2:8-9. I remember his testimony!
– He would always say “Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”
– On his death bed he said, “My pain is nothing compared to Christ’s on the cross.”
– I know he wasn’t perfect, and he made lots of mistakes, but I don’t remember him by his mistakes. (He wasn’t saved until he was 39 years old.)
– I wonder how will my kids remember me? It’s not how you started, it’s how you finish!
– History will remember Most people for their mistakes because we naturally have a negative bias.
– Gengo burnt the toast, at least 15 years ago, 25 year career, probably saved dozens of lives.
– Rahab the prostitute. She should be known as Rahab the Rescuer!
– Chuck Berry, rock and roll pioneer, spent many early years in prison for armed robbery.
– George Washington, our first president and countries hero, owned slaves
– Don King, famous boxing promoter, once stomped a man to death.
– In Acts chapter 7 we have the history of Stephen, who is remembered for the good!
– Stephen, a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit”, had been performing miracles and preaching the good news about Jesus. He was known for his boldness.
– One of the seven selected by the apostles to distribute the food to the widows in Chapter 6. This way the apostles could focus on teaching and prayer, and because of that the church grew. (Sounds like our deacons.)
– He has been arrested, falsely accused of blasphemy, and brought before the High Council. And the high priest.
– Stephen begins by reviewing the history of God’s relationship with the people of Israel.
– He talks about Abraham and the Patriarchs, their slavery in Egypt, and Moses in the desert.
– He is building the case that they have rejected God time after time, and murdered God’s prophets, and now they have murdered the Messiah.
– Stephen knows he is about to be killed. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is not stupid.
– This is his last chance to address the hostile crowd and hopefully get them saved.
– We pick up here in the middle of Stephen’s history lesson to the people. Read Acts 7:9-16
Point #1: History 101
– History 101: Stephen is telling them this for a reason. He speaks of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David. These are faithful figures in our history. They all lead to Jesus.
– Romans 15:4, Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
– Genesis chapter 37, Josephs brothers sold him into slavery and left him for dead.
– He was faithful though, and God protected him and blessed him, and gave him amazing wisdom. When famine came upon the land, Joseph ends up saving his whole family from it.
– Psalm 105:19, Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
– Joseph had Gods favor and calling, and his wicked brothers persecuted him for it.
– Stephen makes the case that “God’s people” persecuted Joseph (they were the patriarchs, sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!),
– Then others disobeyed and rebelled against Moses, then others still killed all the prophets…
– Just as they are all still doing today by killing Jesus, stubborn, rebellious persecutors of God’s chosen, who are trying to bring God’s blessing to them.
– Joseph is worthy of being remembered.
– Josephs story is one of faith, prudence, and ultimately being one that God can use. He is mentioned in scripture as an example to others.
– Hebrews 11:22, It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.
– Joseph showed faithfulness and good character when sold into slavery, and falsely accused and thrown into prison, and eventually becomes the most powerful in the land of Egypt, and saves his family. All while trusting the Lord and displaying good character.
– Joseph saves his family from starvation after the sold him into slavery!
– This shows amazing character. Forgiveness, trust in God, patience, and self-control. Many fruits of the spirit displayed during immense trail and hardship.
– Gal. 5:22-23, But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
– His “character was tested”, and he passed with flying colors.
– Honor God with your attitude during the highs and the lows. When god has a plan for your life and you know it, you honor god by stating faithful and by staying with a good character and good choices in the midst of the downsides. Joseph did that.
Point #2: Don’t be a hypocrite
– Stephen is standing before the chief priest and the high council, remember that this is made up of Pharisees, strict adherence to the law. They are about to kill Stephen for preaching something that conflicts with the law, but their own actions conflict. The first commandment is “don’t kill” but they are going to break that to shut Stephen up. Hypocrites!
– The Jews are supposed to be God’s chosen people. Yet they killed Jesus and didn’t believe he was the prophesied messiah, even though many had spoke about his coming, he performed many signs and wonders, etc… after all they saw they still deny him.
– But Stephen points out that is goes deeper than that. They have also rejected all of gods messengers. They have a history of doing that.
– Do we do this today?
– Do we say we are Christians, and we are followers of Jesus, but we do not actually follow him? We say he is our Savior but wont give him the authority as our Lord?
– We disregard his messengers that say repent, this is sin, read the bible, etc… and favor what is more convenient, or feels good, or preachers that deliver a simpler less convicting sermon then what is written in the bible.
– How much different is murdering the prophets than simply ignoring them as if the never existed?
– If we are followers of Jesus we must do what he says.
– Luke 9:23, Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
– 1 John 5:3, Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
– John 14:15, “If you love me, obey[a] my commandments.
– We must do what our lord says, otherwise we are basically making the cross to no effect.
– Stephen is making the plea to the people that they must turn from their wicked ways and recognize that Jesus is the Messiah… as we also have heard the plea from bible preachers to do this also.
– Will we stone the messenger, or heed the correction?
Point #3: How will you be remembered?
– How will you be remembered? As one who was faithful?
– Joseph is remembered for even through trials and his family betraying him, he still was favored by god, and rescued his family from famine.
– Steven is remembered for, bold, faithful, trustworthy, and martyrdom!
– Stephen is part of OUR history. What Stephen did was recorded for our benefit, and is now an example of life with the Holy Spirit, and what it looks like to show faith and character in the face of persecution.
– Stephen shares his historical examples, and we share his life as OUR historical example.
– The audience’s ancestors rejected and killed the prophets, and have now killed the messiah. Stephen is highlighting their disobedience and rebellion, which of course they don’t like, and want to kill him too.
Acts 7:51, “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!
– WE should not be stubborn people, and reject the message of Christ!
– Learn from our history, repent, and trust Jesus as or Savior AND our Lord!