We are surprised to find in the history of the Jewish people an abundance of rejection against God, against his prophets.
This is what Stephen is going to bring out. And this is not an assault on the Jewish people because when you get to the Gentiles in the church, they've got their own problems. It is an assault on sin, what sin does to any people. Whether they're called by God or not, sin is constantly at work. We are in the book of Acts, chapter 7, and it's a long chapter.
Those of you familiar with it will know. Verses 1 through 50, that's the goal. Acts chapter 7, verse 35. This Moses, whom they rejected. Saying, who made you a ruler and a judge is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
I felt God leading me to say some things that need to be said and that's going to take up the first portion of this consideration. We are surprised to find in the history of the Jewish people an abundance of rejection against God, against his prophets. This is what Stephen is going to bring out. And this is not an assault on the Jewish people because when you get to the Gentiles in the church, you've got their own problems. It is an assault on sin, what sin does to any people. Whether they're called by God or not, sin is constantly at work.
Stephen exposes their error through their history. It's not a motivational speech that he's giving them. Christians are to point out the way of the Lord in the land of the lost. That is one of our directives from the Lord.
Go into the world and make disciples. You're going to have to point out that they're sinners and that God saves sinners. Pep talk sermons hinder the truth.
I mean, this is a time to encourage for sure. That is a part of preaching, is a part of Christianity. The Bible intends to shape our understanding of God, of mankind, of life, and of ourselves. See, we can get theological so it's God, it's life, it's mankind, and leave ourselves out.
But no, it goes right at us. What makes me stronger? Well, the Bible will tell me that. What makes me weaker?
It's included in there. What helps me to serve? What keeps me from serving? You may have a broken heart. You may have a broken heart right now. I'm not talking about a season of mourning or some great loss. We have those seasons in life and those do sit us down for a while until God does his work through time. There are times in life that we have a broken heart, a heavy heart.
We hurt. We have broken hearts without broken hands. The Bible teaches this.
Hosea the prophet was not excused from ministry because his married life was in shambles. As a matter of fact, God used his broken heart to write scripture with unbroken hands. These are hard lessons, but they're valuable.
They're vital. And I think we miss these through the pep talks from sermons. God used that broken man in a mighty way. A pastor can mean well but misuse the pulpit. Well, there's a lot of ways he can do that.
I don't know from experience, but I've heard. By losing opportunities. You can misuse the pulpit by missing opportunities that God has given. We have a proverb, not a biblical proverb.
It's a folk proverb and it's a good one. Don't preach to the choir. Oh, you're preaching to the choir. Which means you're telling us something we already know and we agree with.
You're not doing anything for us. We're just all sitting there nodding our heads yeah. And Sunday after Sunday, as I'm standing here, there are churches where the pastors are in the pulpit. They're preaching to congregations. They're already saved and they're preaching messages of salvation to the saved.
Hoping that maybe somebody will walk in off the street or something that's not saved. Then there are those sermons, and I'm not being too critical. I'm saying this goes on. All of us have to watch for it. There is a time to preach for the lost, but that cannot dominate what's coming from the pulpit, the message of God. There are those sermons that are bandage atop of bandage. Always preaching, oh life hurts, but you'll be better. It's going to be okay. Just put a bandage on this and a bandage on that.
If you put a bandage on someone, you end up with a mummy. And we don't want that. What the Bible teaches is to convince, including convict, to correct, and to cheer. Those three C's are found in the scripture. The words don't have to be identical. The meaning is there. The fact is there.
These are all covered. When the apostle Paul told Titus, hey, you need to get some pastors there. The whole fast the faithful word as he has been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort, that's cheering, and convict, that is of course correction, and convincing.
Those who contradict. To Timothy, he said preach the word in season and out of season. In other words, preach all the time.
But what? Well, he continues. Convince, rebuke, exhort. Strong suffering and teaching. These are our instructions from scripture on how to handle the pulpit with the assembly. It is for the flock to arm you, to send you out, broken hearted or not. We are supposed to be about our Father's business. What if pastors only went into the pulpit when things were going well in their lives? You wouldn't have many pastors in pulpits.
How many times have I been up here with things breaking my heart in my life? Bypass and do my duty. Stephen's sermon does all three. He is going to convict them and correct them and cheer them on. Now what they do with it is to know the story because they receive none of it.
Not immediately at least. And so we are going to summarize his summary of Israel's history of their abundant rejection of God's prophets and God's people. That helps me when I want to share my faith. He points out that they have a long history of getting it wrong and using their Bibles to do it.
It's powerful. He is using the scripture to correct them. That validates everything he is saying.
That makes it authentic. Bottom line, that Jesus is Messiah. And he'll talk about Abraham. He'll talk about Joseph and Moses, the wilderness experience and their beloved temple.
And then he will get them right between the eyes before they kill him. We won't get to that part. We'll look at what got him there at verse 1. Then the high priest said, are these things so? Well that goes back to verse 10 of chapter 6. And there they could not withstand Stephen. They could not refute him in discussing spiritual things from the scripture. He won all the arguments. And so they said we're going to sue him. That's what we'll do.
This is a practice to this day. With mean-spirited people. And they charged him with speaking against the temple and speaking against the law. Blasphemous charges that they were putting on him.
And so he's asked, how do you plea? They're going to hear him out. Because they want to bust him. They want to catch him.
Say the wrong thing. That's why they're letting him give us this long sermon. His association with Jesus had already agitated them to the point where their minds were closed. Because they had closed their minds to Jesus. Because they have a history of rejecting who God sends. In spite of the evidences. The signs, the wonders, the teachings, the righteousness. Rejection galore belongs to the human experience. Not just the Jewish people.
By any means does it belong to any single people. It is for mankind. And so they thought that they were there to judge him. And so they leaned up in front of Stephen like potted plants. He seized the opportunity. He's not going to let this slip through his fingers.
He's not going to miss this opportunity. Jesus said, they will lay hands on you. Persecute you. Delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an opportunity for testimony. You're heartbroken because you're stuck in jail. You're stuck in prison.
You can't get out and take care of your family. You will have a chance to preach. At no time is Stephen apologetic. At no point is he on defense. From the moment he opens his mouth, he is charging straight up the hill with truth. And they can't stop him. That's why they kill him. So masterful is his assault that they don't know they're being attacked until their position is completely overrun.
It is a magnificent approach. He just tells the truth. That's all he has to do. He doesn't have to sit down and create some clever poem or come up with a catchy story. He just tells the truth from the scripture. That's all he has to do.
It is a heroic assault. And it finishes with a gotcha on Israel. On those that are judging him. He in the end says to them, I got you.
God has got you. Exposing them for always resisting the Holy Spirit. That's what he says to them. Which of the prophets have you guys not killed? Oh man, Stephen is just, he's magnificent. And then he goes on to tell them you murdered the righteous one.
And there was nothing they could say. We learn to preach from these things. Saul of Tarsus is present listening to every word, staring at that angelic faith. Faith theologically being destroyed.
But unable to admit it. He can't even, Paul, he's not Paul yet. He still goes by the name Saul of Tarsus. He is part of the Sanhedrin more than likely. He certainly is a Pharisee.
He's a big shot. He will receive authority to prosecute the Christians. And he is there for this.
And he has no defense to everything he hears. And it still isn't enough to make him repent. Have you preached to somebody? Solid preaching?
Where they could not argue and yet they don't come to Christ still? Now we look at verse 2. And he said, brethren and fathers listen. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Haran and said to him, verse 3, get out of your country and from your relatives and come to a land that I will show you.
Then he came out of the land of the Calvary. And from there, when his father was dead, he moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it nor even enough to set foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, he promised to give it to him for a possession. And to his descendants after him. But God spoke in this way. At his descendants, he said, the descendants would dwell in a foreign land and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. That nation to whom they will be in bondage, I will judge said God.
And after that, they shall come out and serve me in this place. And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day and Isaac begot Jacob and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. Now he's going back to a time before they had this law of Moses that they're charging him with, of course, blaspheming. This is before the temple was built, the tabernacle was given, the Ark of the Covenant.
He goes way back. At the time that he's saying this, he says Judah has the temple. It has the rituals and the law and the priesthood, but they don't have the Lord. That is where this is going.
We turn to that original state. Without the temple, without the ritual, we have the Lord. He is the substance of things to hope for. He is it. We have Messiah.
And Stephen is saying this to them. Christianity functions well without rituals because it has Jesus. It has God the Son.
It has God the Holy Spirit and God the Father. How would you illustrate to a child or an adult the Trinity, that there are three, there's one person with three personalities? A triangle does well. Each triangle has three corners. Each one is distinct from the other, yet all belonging to the same, inseparable. You can't separate them.
You won't have a triangle anymore. Each has a role. It is God's way of showing himself and interacting with humanity. And if God has not done that, it would be so much we would not know about him, and it has been so useful to God for us to understand where he is going with things. So here, Stephen is side-stepping the plea. He's not entering a plea. He's not saying guilty.
He's not saying innocent. He said, I'm going to preach to you guys. I got you here.
You're going to get it. And so this is an expositional sermon beginning with Genesis 12 and then going through to Kings. And he makes it clear that his God is the same God as Abraham's, as Isaac, as Jacob, their God. He wants no confusion about this. Identity is critical. So often Christians don't know who they are.
So they keep looking to the world. How should we behave? What should we do next?
How should we live? Have an identity problem. These Jews knew their history as well as Stephen. They just didn't know how to apply it.
What good, what good is having an oar in the boat if you don't know how to row? He's trying to help them with this. They will hate his guts for it. They will kill him and go off smug and satisfied that they're serving God. Jesus warned about that. He said they're going to think they're doing God service by killing you because they're not listening. They have a history of not listening.
And because they don't listen, they reject. And so he begins with the father of their faith amongst the Jews, Abraham, to the separation that began it all. Israel's patriarch furthered his walk with God by ending his walk with those who had wrong gods and they happened to be his own family, his father, his relatives.
God points that out. Abraham, get out from your father's house and your relatives. And Abraham dragged his feet a little bit to do that, but he did do it. In fact, we have no mention of Abraham building altars to the Lord until he was separated and into the Promised Land where God had called him.
How many lessons are in that? God's word came to Abraham. He obeyed it. Worship was hindered by his ties to unbelievers. And we have, listen, we have to have contact with unbelievers, be kind and loving as best we can. As Tozier said, we have to have contact without merging. We don't have to get too close. We have to understand their identity versus ours.
Fraternizing with the enemy is a serious thing. We have to understand that influence. And again, not until we know who we are as Christians, as true evangelism, start to happen in our lives. Identity, obedience, worship, service, in that order. Because if you don't know who you are, how do you know who to obey? And if you don't obey, how can you worship?
And if you can't worship, how are you going to serve? Things mean something. You teens, you're expected to keep up. Don't be looking for us to slow it down. And start talking to you in baby talk so you can get it. Because we don't see you as babies. We see you as adults in the making.
Now is the time. Write things down. Look them up. Read the section before you get to church. Stay ahead of the game. Apply yourselves. Or do nothing and then sit there the whole time and wonder when the service is going to be over. Your choice. But I will add this.
There are teens who can follow, who can keep up and grow stronger and many of them are now men and women in this church with their own families serving in this church and they were sitting in the pew just like you. So it is doable. Men like Rivers are crooked because they follow the paths of least resistance. Well that's a true proverb.
That's a true parallel fact. Make the most out of it. Squeeze out of it as much as you can get. And then do something with it. Who wants to spend four or six years going to get a master's degree for example and then do nothing with it. You want to use it.
You want to say I didn't invest myself in this just to lose it. Now unfortunately you can get a master's degree in some silly things that are useless. I mean you take a course in I don't know making Cheerios or something. Well maybe that's a good one. Let's come up with something else.
Anyway, especially the honey nut ones right? Alright. Verse 9. And the patriarchs becoming envious sold Joseph into Egypt but God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Okay I have to stop there because that whole thing about Jacob, Joseph being sold as a slave. They were going to kill him.
That was plan B. He became a slave and it says God was with him. I would be like where's God? My own brothers sold me into sin. Not sin, slavery.
Where is God? Well anyway back to this verse 11. Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt he sent out our fathers first. Verse 13. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him 75 people. Verse 15. So Jacob went down to Egypt and he died. He and our fathers and they carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem. And so he's going over their history and what he's pointing out here, this is important, that Joseph came to his brothers the first time and they rejected him and where he's going with this Jesus came to you the first time and you rejected him.
The next time Jesus comes you won't be rejecting him. The second time that they get in front of Joseph they did not reject him. You know it started out Joseph said hey I had a dream.
And my sheaf, my collection of grain, it just was there and yours bowed down to mine. He was very naive. Joseph was not the sharpest knife in the draw when he came to dealing with people who might envy him and hate him for what he was saying. Because what he was saying is I'm going to rise over you, you're going to bow down to me. And of course the Bible says they hated him for that. Seventeen years later there they were, bowing down to Joseph.
And this is what Stephen is trying to say. They got it wrong. Joseph was the deliverer and they didn't see it coming because they don't listen to what God is doing. That's why God spoke to Joseph and not them. When Jesus came the first time, as I said, they rejected him too. Zechariah chapter 12 verse 10, I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication.
Then they will look on me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son and grieve for him as one grieves for his firstborn. And then Paul quoting Isaiah, every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that he is Lord. So Stephen, giving them their own history, telling them they get it wrong and now is the time to stop, telling them that they have a habit of excusing themselves because of religious ritual and religious zeal and are blind to their own scriptures in the process. You know, this is a proverb type mourning, not biblical proverbs. You know, they throw out the baby and keep the bath water.
It's kind of gross, but it makes the point. As to the patriarchs rejecting Joseph, the Sanhedrin rejecting Jesus. Same reason. Envy. We're told that in Matthew 27 18. They envied him. They envied the people who were coming out. They were listening to Jesus. They were attracted to Christ. What did Christ do when he starts early in his sermon and his public ministry, that Sermon on the Mount? He just cuts, he just cuts them open, points out all their things, tells the people, unless you do better than your pastors, you can't get to heaven because these pastors are so messed up. They're not going there.
Unless you're righteous and succeeds that of the Pharisees and scribes, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. That's how he told. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit CrossReferenceRadio.com. That's CrossReferenceRadio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at CrossReferenceRadio.com or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the Book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-18 16:49:27 / 2023-03-18 16:58:05 / 9