August 15, 2013
READ: Acts 6:8-15, 7:51-60
Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting (7:57).
Last year, during a well publicised political debate, one man repeatedly shouted his responses, talked over the other candidate’s responses and laughed as his opponent stated his case. Why did he do it? He was striving to silence the other candidate with his noise.
Stephen could relate. As the fledgling New Testament church was just taking flight, the “man full of God’s grace and power” flew straight into harm’s way as he proclaimed God’s truth to a group of religious leaders (Acts 6:8-9). None of his opponents “could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke” (v.10).
So what did they do? Much like what the religious leaders did to Jesus, they falsely accused Stephen and had him arrested (vv.11-12; Matthew 26:3-4,59-66).
Stephen, instead of trying to defend himself, simply testified about God’s work of redemption through time—culminating in Jesus (Acts 7:52). What happened next is a sad but often repeated way that some people try to resist God’s truth. The religious leaders “put their hands over their ears and began shouting” (v.57). The truth Stephen declared cut to their hearts, and so, being “heathen at heart and deaf to the truth,” they chose to silence him by stoning him (vv.51,58).
Even as he was dying, Stephen once again imitated Jesus by praying, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” (v.60; Luke 23:34). He displayed with both words and actions the power of Jesus within him.
As you proclaim the gospel you might hear angry noises from those who want to muffle your message. But Jesus says, “Tell them about Me” and “I will give you the right words” (Luke 21:13,15). Truth will ultimately trump the shouts of disbelief. —Tom Felten
Read Acts 7:58 and 13:1-9. How does it encourage you to read of the transformation of Paul and his view of what’s true?
What can you do to proclaim God’s truth engagingly when people try to drown you out? Why is it important that we aren’t obnoxious as we witness for Jesus?