Read - Acts 7v1-50
Message - Scott Woodburn
Many lies had been told about Stephen. He had allegedly blasphemed both Moses and God and now the high priest wanted to know "are these things so?" (v1). How would you have answered? "Lies!" you might shout. "I'm an innocent man!" you might cry. Stephen offered no such defense. Instead this young man preached and took his listeners on a journey through the history of God's saving plan.
The Lord God had appeared to Abraham (v2) promising him a land and an offspring (v5). The sign of circumcision would be given as a visible mark in the flesh that God would keep His promises and not cut off His covenant people (v8). In later years Jospeh would be sold into slavery but still God's purposes would not fail (v9). Joseph would rise in Pharaoh's estimation and show great grace to his betrayers during a great famine (v11-16).
Eventually the Egyptians would forget Jospeh (v18) and the descendants of Abraham would be treated harshly in their adopted home (v19). But if Pharaoh had no memory of the past, the Lord still remembered. Moses was born and he was beautiful in God's sight (v20). He would grow up in Pharaoh's home and became mighty in word and deed (v22) yet would flee after killing an Egyptian (v24-29).
The Lord is King over Egyptian pyramids and even the empty wilderness, and it was there that the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire in a bush (v30). Moses would meet the God of his forefathers and be sent back to Egypt to be used by God to fee the people from slavery (v32-34). Moses would stand before Pharaoh performing wonders and signs in both Egypt and the Red Sea (v35-36) and soon the liberated people would begin their journey to the promised land.
God's moral law is written on our hearts but He would republish it at Sinai on stone tablets (v38). Tragically, the people refused to obey Him. They made a golden calf and worshipped it (v41) and their hearts were turned back to Egypt (v39). The Lord would give them over to their desires (v42-43) but still His promise did not fail. Moses was able to declare that another prophet would rise (v37). Moses would not enter the promised land nor would he be alive to see the coming of Christ, nevertheless he had proclaimed the coming of the Lord. Jesus was on His way.
Joshua would lead the people into the land (v45) and the other nations would flee before them and eventually David would take the throne with his son Solomon building the temple (v45-47). Yet our God does not dwell in buildings (v48). Heaven is His throne and He puts His mighty feet upon the earth (v49a). What house can contain Him (v49b)? He alone has made all things (v50).
Stephen's sermon in the face of his enemies is extraordinary. It speaks of the history of God's saving plans. It speaks of His providence. It speaks in the face of opposition and declares that nothing can stop or thwart the purposes of the Lord. Later this week we will consider the response of Stephen's accusers and Stephen's fate but today we rest in the providence of God. He is for His people and no scheme of the devil can pluck us from the Lord's hand. Just like Joseph, just like Stephen, so for us, the Lord is with us (v9).
Q94 What is Baptism? Baptism is a Sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.