The spread of Christianity in the first century is an unprecedented movement as God’s mission and message spread through ordinary people. One these followers of Jesus became the first martyr in the Christian Church.
Stephen, who appointed to a servant-leadership role had a ‘priestly spirit,’ for he cared for the poor, embodied bold courage, prayed for people, and loved and forgave his enemies until the good end. May God raise up more servant leaders like Stephen, who trust in Jesus as their High Priest, and become like Him.
They were like a Kingdom of Priests sent by Jesus their High Priest. Because He made our cause His own, we make His cause our own.
Message title: A Kingdom of Priests
Week 5 of #Revival
Scriptures: Acts 6-7
Preacher: Jeff Patterson
Listen or download:
- A priest went in to God
- A priest went in to God for others
What is a ‘priestly spirit’?
- Priests care about the poor
- Priests are deeply sympathetic
- Priests are incredibly bold
- Priests pray for others
Scriptures: Acts 6:1-15; 7:51-60
6 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his facewas like the face of an angel.
7:51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus,receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Kids: “Taste & see that the Lord is good, blessed are those who trust in Him.” —Psalm 34:8
Full verse: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” —Psalm 34:8 (ESV)
We closed the worship time reading a poem written by John Newton on Stephen’s death:
So faithful Stephen, undismayed,
The malice of the Jews surveyed;
The holy joy which filled his breast
A lustre on his face impressed.
Behold! he said, the world of light
Is opened to my strengthened sight;
My glorious Lord appears in view,
That Jesus whom ye lately slew.
With such a friend and witness near,
No form of death could make him fear;
Calm, amidst show’rs of stones, he kneels,
And only for his murd’rers feels.
May we, by faith, perceive thee thus,
Dear Savior, ever near to us!
This fight our peace, through life, shall keep,
And death be feared no more than sleep.
Thus they, who in the Lord confide,
Though foes assault on every side;
Cannot he moved or overthrown,
For Jesus makes their cause His own.