Stiff-Necked People Resisting God

Summary of Acts 7:1-60, with practical application

First of all, Stephen was a man of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. And, full of grace and power, he was doing great wonders and signs among the people. But then he faced opposition from some groups of people who disputed with him, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. So they spread lies about him in order to destroy his reputation, and in the hopes to stop him. And so they brought him before a council to accuse him with those lies they made up.

So, the high priest asked him if the things he was being accused of were so. And then Stephen gave a long history of the Jewish people, beginning with Abraham. And he told of how Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt. And then he told of how God had called Moses to rescue his people from slavery in Egypt many years later.

And Moses led the people for forty years in the wilderness where most of them were killed because of their rebellion and their disobedience to God. And after Moses died, God called Joshua to lead his remaining people into the Promised Land. And then Stephen told of how the temple of God was built under the leadership of Solomon, King David’s son. But then Stephen added that “the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands,” and then he quoted one of the prophets.

Then his words seemed to change course all of a sudden, for the next thing that he said was this:

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 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, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53)

As you can imagine, that didn’t go over so well, even though what Stephen said was absolutely the truth, and Jesus had spoken similar words to the Pharisees and to the teachers of the law and to the scribes, etc. (see Matthew 23:1-39) And Jesus had told the Jews that their father was the devil and that they were doing the works of their father. And he told them, too, that if God was their Father, that they would love Jesus, for he came from God, for God the Father sent him to the earth (see John 8:39-47).

So, Stephen was not out of line in what he said. He was telling them the same types of things Jesus had spoken to them when he was on the earth. And some situations do call for stronger words when stiff-necked people are claiming to know God, to know Jesus Christ, but by their actions they deny him; and when they refuse to listen to the truth, and they fight against the truth, and they choose to stubbornly hold on to their lies, instead; and then when they spread those lies to others in order to deceive them.

Yet, as expected, the people who were the recipients of these strong words were enraged at Stephen, and they ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, “full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:55-56)

But the people didn’t like that, either, and so they cried out with a loud voice and they stopped their ears and rushed together at him. And they stoned him to death. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul. But while they were still stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep (he died). And Saul approved of his execution.

And if we love the Lord Jesus like Stephen did, and if we are as dedicated to the Lord and to the truth, as he was, we are going to have people disputing with us and coming against us, too, and possibly even spreading lies about us, as well. For many people are enemies of Jesus Christ and of the cross of Christ, because they don’t like the true message of the cross. For the real message of the cross is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).

And Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we die with him to sin and we live to him and to his righteousness, then we have the hope of eternal life with God. For Jesus said that if we are ashamed of him and of his word, when he returns, he will be ashamed of us (he will deny us) (see Luke 9:23-26).

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: We’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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