I Respond to Arguments with Christ’s Truth: 6.9-10
"Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke."
Stephen’s response was truth. His response was truth in the synagogue. We’ll see later that his response was truly about God’s working in Israel’s history. His response to arguments against him was truth on the cusp of his death.
In fact, truth is so critical for God’s people, that we can see it in Stephen’s life. Since some of his debate opponents in the synagogue were from Cilicia, and since the Apostle Paul was from Cilicia (Acts 21.39), and since Saul was the best Cilicia had (Galatians 1.13-14), one of Stephen’s defeated opponents in the synagogue was Saul.
Not only that, but since Saul gained his revenge against his opponent by having him arrested then executed (Acts 7.57-58 & 8.1,3), it was Stephen’s truth that helped launch the believers out of Jerusalem. In fact, Philip ran from Jerusalem and carried the Gospel to an Ethiopian Eunuch who then carried the Gospel to North Africa (Acts 8.26-40). This all was instigated by Stephen’s speaking of truth.
It could be said that Stephen’s speaking of truth was the original “rock in the pond” that set off the concentric circles that produced the greatest missions movement in the history of the church. It is critical, even when Christians are facing difficult times, to speak truth.
I Remind my Adversaries of Christ’s Love: 6.11-15
“Then they secretly induced men to say, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.’ And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.”
The angelic look on Stephen was not an angel at all, but it was Jesus Christ. This kind of glory is not produced by a man-made effort, but it emerges from inside out when Christ is living through a believer’s life.
I Return Attacks with Christ’s Forgiveness: 6.54-60
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen’s final moments on earth were violent and horrid. When the moments were the worst, Stephen looked like Jesus the most. When Christ is living His life through you, your life will begin to replicate His. And, when the moments are the worst, Christ will be most evident in you.
A Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit will live a life that Looks like Jesus.
Certain animals and organisms in nature can produce light. It is usually certain proteins, oxygens and other particular chemical agents that, when dispelled by energy, create light. Lightning bugs…or fireflies…do this.
Once my bride and I, in the Cayman Islands, took a bio luminescence kayaking tour. In a certain cove, just off of the Grand Cayman Island, there is a certain protein and bacterial mixture that causes the water to emit a bioluminescent glow. When the oar goes in the water, light flashes. If you swim in the water at night, light flashes around you. If you splash your hand in the water, light flashes.
This light is not something that is reflecting another light source. It is light being produced from the source within the water.
When I live in the power of Jesus Christ, I produce a light that is not a reflection from something else, but it is a light being produced from within by Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit in me. Does your life look like Jesus?