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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Faith of an Apostle

 The faith of an apostle is often a 'given'... after all, they were chosen by Christ himself.  Yet, as I read Acts 7, the faith of an apostle has never before been more striking to me.

Brought in on charges of teaching about that.... [shhhh]  "Jesus" guy again, Stephen doesn't back down.  Instead he gives a chapter long testimony History lesson! 

{Ummm, I don't mean to bust your bubble Steve, but these guys teach this stuff... you're preaching to the choir here!}

Seriously though, there is a point.  Like all of scripture (and all of life really) repetition is for a purpose - it draws out a point.  Telling the High Priest and his entourage a story about history is for a purpose - he is drawing out a point.

And when this point comes, my muscles tense, my hair stands on end, and my heart races:

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in Heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do."  
- Acts 7:51 (NRSV)

Youch, Steve, thems some strong words!

But

he was bold and he didn't stop there...
Which of the prophets did your ancestors NOT persecute?  They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murders.  
- Acts 7:52 (EMPHASIS added)

Accusing... but it is the truth he speaks.  He is essentially saying WAKE UP!!  It happened before and it is happening again.  YOU, teachers of the law, YOU above all people should SEE the Truth here... yet you are blind... as blind and def as your ancestors.


You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.   
- Acts 7:53

My oldest walked in from youth group last night.  They had a student teacher and we asked about the Bible message.  He explained it had to do with Love and how we should just love everyone.  This child of mine, with the HUGE heart so easily seen on his sleeve, seemed to almost distastefully release those words.  So we asked, 'what do you think?'

He stepped slowly through his reply until he saw the warm reception of his audience then momentum built.  'If we just love everyone without telling them about Christ, how are they to know who is really loving them?  How are they to know He is in us?  After all, isn't that the great commission?'

Yes, son, Go and make disciples.  Not dive-bombing love hoping people 'get it'... no, it is TEACHING the Word and the Message of salvation.  It is TEACHING not just about our savior but how to walk with him.  Love isn't the goal, it is merely the vehicle with which our testimony should come.

Reading about Stephen this morning I don't see an irrational apostle shouting at a council of serious looking, bearded elders who should know this stuff.  No, I see a calm, love-filled man testifying boldly to the truth of their ancestors and how that truth leads to the ultimate Truth. 

He did not fear bold decelerations or simply roll over to a fuzzy lovey version... NO, he stood firm, spoke truth with love and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

He may have been stoned afterwards but he went strait to the arms of Jesus and from there, Christianity began to spread... the message was no longer bottled up in Israel.  It was roaming to the ends of the earth so that, today, I could sit here and share this message with you.

All because of one man's boldness - the faith of this apostle, speaking the Truth in love with no care for the consequences, only the obedience.

Yes, love, but don't hide the Truth behind your love... Love with the Truth... and watch that Truth spread!

Be blessed, be loved by Him, be bold
 







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