Sermon Notes & Slides
Stephen, Full of Grace and Power
Tony Chute, Interim Pastor
Overview: The first martyr of the Christian faith was Stephen, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, who had been arrested on charges of setting aside the importance of the Law and diminishing the role of the Temple. In his defense, Stephen notes how God graciously chose Abraham as the founding patriarch of the Hebrews, setting into motion the fulfillment of his promises. Yet, the very patriarchs through whom the promises would be fulfilled, rejected the one God had sent to save them from certain death. God also raised up Moses to deliver them from Egyptian slavery; yet Moses’ role as deliverer was unwelcomed by the Israelites as they questioned his leadership and worshipped other gods. Stephen thus pointed out that neither the Law nor the Temple were sufficient in themselves; they always pointed to a greater deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ—a vital truth his accusers refused to believe and attempted to silence with his execution.
01. The methodology of Stephen informs us that the Old Testament is foundational to our faith.
02. The message of Stephen reminds us that spiritual privileges do not guarantee true conversion.
03. The martyrdom of Stephen encourages us to impact the world for Christ while we still live.
Questions For Discussion & Discovery
1. What qualities about Stephen’s life and death does Luke highlight in Acts 6:8-7:60? How can these qualities be incorporated into your life? For example, note how Stephen was wise and full of the Holy Spirit. How can you increase in wisdom and be more mindful of the work of the Spirit in your life? See Luke 11:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and Ephesians 4:30 for further insight.
2. What is a martyr? How many martyrs are you familiar with in church history and modern history? Will you begin praying for persecuted Christians throughout the world, namely that they will be bold in their witness for Christ and faithful even in death? See www.persecution.com for additional help in this regard.
3. Are you familiar with the storyline of the Old Testament? Outline the storyline of the Old Testament by considering God’s role as creator, covenant-maker, law-giver, and redeemer. What important truths about Christianity would we not know were it not for the Old Testament? In what ways do these foundational truths encourage you to read the Old Testament?
4. Take time to read carefully through Stephen’s speech and note each instance in which he highlights God speaking to his people outside of the Promised Land. How does this truth underscore the universality of God while maintaining the particularity of special revelation? In what ways does this truth set the stage for the church on mission?
5. Luke provides more detail regarding the death of Stephen than we find anywhere else in Scripture (apart from the death of Jesus). What encouragement can you find in Stephen’s death, according to Acts 7:55-60? Take time to thank the Lord for being the Good Shepherd who faithfully receives us home.
For Further Reading: Christopher Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (IVP Academic, 2006).