Responding to Opposition with a Courageous Witness – Acts 6:8 – 7:60

3 October, 2021

Book: Acts

Responding to Opposition with Courageous Witness –

Acts 6:11-7:50

  • Last week we began to look at how we respond to Opposition, in the life and witness of Stephen.

We said that a Godly Character is necessary to Respond to Opposition

1st) Godly-Christ-like Character requires Being Full of the Spirit

2nd) Godly-Christ-like Character requires an Increasing Faith in God

3rd) Godly-Christ-like Character requires Provision of Grace fr. God

In all of these points, prayer to God for their increase is key

4th) Godly Christ-like Character requires Wisdom from God

  • I included this Charact trait in today’s message becoz, it’s in Stephen’s speech that we see God’s Wisdom shining thru.
  • Stephens reputation was as a man, full of H. Spirit, who in the majority of occasions, utilised knowledge & experience, common sense & insight, cleverness & skill, prudence & intelligence to behave in a godly manner as He followed Christ.
  • This Wisdom fr God, is certainly a Christ-Like Character trait…


The Bible teaches that Christ is the Personification of God’s Wisdom

  • 1vss. 24 & 30 Paul said: “to those who’re called, both Jew & Gentile, Christ is bothWisdom of God” & “Wisdom fr God
  • 2:3, Paul said: In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge


So, Being filled w/Spirit, we’ll find Wisdom if we search 4 it, in Christ

  • 2:1-5 Solomon pleads w/ us: to Incline our ear to wisdom, to Cry out for discernment, to Lift up our voice 4 underst’ding, to Search 4 wisdom as 4 treasure; 2 Seek for it as Silver….
  • Wisdom from God, being a precious commodity requires our searching for it in Christ, who is the Personification of it.
  • We search for Wisdom In Christ Words, Teachings & Parables
  • We search for it in Christ’s Actions & Responses….


Is anything else required to grow in the Wisdom of God? Yes!

  • 1:7 tells us: Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom
  • 1st) Fear-of-Lord: Awe of God’s Person… – who?
    • In Christ, who is: Person of God in: flesh, (2:5-11).
  • 2nd) Fear-of-God: Amazem’t at God’s Works… – who did works?
    • 1:3, Christ is Creator, who Created all things
    • 1:19-23, Christ is Saviour, who Reconciled us to God
  • 3rd) Fear-o-God: Respect for God’s Authority… where is it?
    • In Mat.28:18, Christ has been given All Authority!
  • So Christ is the Personification of Wisdom, and…
  • Christ is the Object of Our Fear of the Lord


So, How do we Increase in Godly wisdom – ‘coz, I sure want to know!

  • Remember: Wisdom fr God comes in relation to Spirit’s Filling
  • We gain wisdom, as We Cry out in Prayer, for it from God
    • 1:7, Paul prayed: we would receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ…
    • 1:5, If any lacks wisdom, let him ask of God
  • We gain wisdom as We Search for it in Christ’s word/teachings
    • We Search for Wisdom in Script which Sp. of Christ
  • We gain wisdom as we Live in the Fear-of-Lord:
    • in Rev-Awe in Christ’s Person,
    • in Amazement at Christ’s Works &
    • in Respect, for & Christ’s Authority
  • Stephen was a Grt example of that, “he was full of wisdom”


  • Which brings us from last week, to this Week, to consider;

Stephen’s Response to Opposition w/ Courageous Witness 4 Christ

  • Notice Synagogue of Freedmen are unable to Defeat Stephen thru Dispute, so, they turn to Deception, just as they had in Christ’s arrest and trial, w/ false witnesses & false charges


Stephen’s speech displays the Spirit-given Wisdom of God

  • It is not simply a random, wander down history-lane, with a shockingly confrontational statement to finish it off. no!
  • It is exactly what Jesus said… Matthew 10:19–20 when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
  • The Sanhedrin laid four charges against Stephen, but Stephen, Under Inspiration of the Spirit, builds a Case against them
  • He carefully selects biblical stories to make his main point that
  • God Provides Deliverance for all who Trust, Obey & Repent
  • but the Sanhedrin has Rejected Moses, Murdered God’s Deliverer & always Resists the Spirit, just like their ancestors
  • And they’re still stubbornly refusing to repent & believe despite the witness of Christ, the Apostles, and even Stephen
  • From my study of the text of his sermon-speech, he seems to make 4 Main Points:

7:1-8, God’s Deliverance req. Faith & Obed. (Abraham)

7:9-16, God’s Deliverance req. a Suffering Saviour (Jospeh)

7:17-36, God’s Deliverance is from Slavery to Freedom (Moses)

7:35-53, But, God’s Deliverance is withheld fr Unrepent. & Unbelieving


1st) Stephen argues: God’s Deliverance requires Faith & Obedience

  • Vs.2, God of Glory, in marvellous Grace, Appeared to Abraham
  • Vs.3, God Spoke to Abraham, calling & delivering him fr. amongst Pagan Idolatry of the Moon-Worshipping city of Ur,
  • God calls & delivers Abram to trust, & obey & follow Him
  • 3, God Promised Abe. a land: he would show Him – Req. Faith
  • Heb.11:8 “by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
  • And in15:6 (Abraham) Believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
  • Abram, Repented of Idolatry Trusted God Obeyed & Followed

So, what is Stephen’s Point to the Sanhedrin:

  • Before there was the an ‘Israel’, Laws, Sinai Cov’t or Temple,
  • God Delivered Abraham thru Faith in God & Obed to God
  • It is always by Faith & Obedience to God’s Call-Command
  • Faith in God, Obedience to God Glorifies God above all!


2nd): Stephen argues: God’s Deliverance requires a Suffering Saviour

  • Vss9-16, God Delivered Jacob thru Joseph’s Suff’ring-Reject’n
  • Vs.9, Joseph Suffered His Bros Envy, for coat of many colours
    • They hated, plotted to kill & sold him into slavery
  • Vs.9, God Was With Joseph in His Troubles; His Suffering
    • Joseph Suffered Envy & Rejection of his brothers
    • Joseph Suffered a Woman’s Anger at being refused
    • Joseph Suffered an Unjust Imprisonment
    • Joseph Suffered Separation from his Beloved Father
    • But, thru it all God was with him, enabling Him to endure
  • Vs.10, God Delivered Joseph from His troubles
    • God Delivered him fr Murderous Plot of Bros,
    • God Delivered him from the Bottom of the Pit
    • God Delivered him fr. Temptations of Potiphar’s wife
    • God Delivered him from Prison, into the Palace & Power
    • And In Ev. Deliverance we see God’s Hand at Work.
  • Vs.10, God Gave Favour to Joseph
    • God gave him favour 1st in eyes of Potiphar, then 2nd the eyes of the Prison-keeper & lastly in Pharoah’s eyes
  • So, while Joseph’s bros meant his suffering for evil….
  • God meant Joseph’s Suff’ring 4 Good of His People
  • If anybody understood Rom.8:28, it was Joseph
  • Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
  • God used Joe’s Suffering to Deliver Jacob fr. Famine->Plenty
  • God Deliverers His People (Jacob-Fam.) thru a Suffring Saviour


And, Surely the descript. of Joseph’s Suffring at his Bros’ hands, Pointed Sanhedrin to Christs Suffring at their hands!

  • Just as Joseph Suffered his Brother’s Envy, & rejection
    • So, Christ Suffered His People’s, Hatred & Rejection
  • Just as Joseph Suffered Temptation without Conceding
    • So Christ suffered Great. Tempt’n w/o yielding
  • Just as Joseph Suffered the Murderous Plot and the Pit
    • So, Christ Suffered their Betrayal, the Cross & Grave
  • Just as Joseph Suffered Separation from Jacob his father,
    • So, Christ Suffered Separat’n fr His Father on Cross
  • Just as Joseph was delivered fr prison & Exalted: highest place
    • So also, in Infinitely Great. Sense, Christ was Raised fr Dead; He Ascended & was Exalted to Rt. hand of God
  • Just as God used Joseph’s Suff’ring to Deliver Jacob fr. Death
    • So, in infin. Great sense, God used Christ’s Suff’rings 2 Deliver All who Trust Him & Repent of sin!

Stephen’s Point:

  • Before there was Nation-Israel, the Law, Sinai Cov’t, or Temple
  • God Delivered Jacob’s Family thru the Suffering of their Older Bro, who became their Deliverer
  • And Jacob, by Faith in God’s words, Obeyed Joseph’s Call
  • He Came to Egypt & was He Delivered fr Starvation
  • Just as God’s Deliverance of Jacob required a Suffring Saviour
  • So our Deliverance fr God’s Wrath, Sin, Grave req. Suff. Savior


Three: 7:17-36, God’s Deliverance is From Slavery to Sin

  • Time has passed from Jacob’s days to Moses days,
  • God’s People have gone fr being Pharoah’s Guests to P’s Slaves
  • So, God raised up One of their own, to Deliver them fr Slavery
  • 20, God was Pleased w/ Moses at his birth
  • 21-29, God Preserved Moses from the River, to Palace,
    • to Desert, to Burning Bush, and during that time, he learnt both: Wisdom of Egypt & Wisdom of Shepherding
  • And, Just as God had done to Abraham:
  • God, in Grace Appeared to Moses at Burning Bush, 30 and…
  • God, in Grace Spoke to Moses fr the Bush, 30-31

But unlike with Abraham, God did in something new w/ Moses, ,

  • In32, God Revealed Himself to Moses as “the Lord”
    • The I am that I am, which is God’s Covenant Name
  • In34, we can see God’s Love for His People spelled out
    • He saw their oppression & He heard their groaning
  • And as a jealous Father, God acted to Deliver them
  • God had Love & Mercy & Pity on Israel’s desperate situation
  • In 34, God Sent Moses to His Enslaved People
  • In 35, God Sent him to be both Lord & Saviour to them
  • In36, God Brought His People Out of Slavery, thru Moses
  • God Delivered them fr. Slavery w/might. hand, outstretch Arm
  • But, God did not merely bring them out, He also brought them into His Sinai Cov’t, making them into a nation of kings-priests.
  • 38, God Mediated His Covenant with them thru Moses
    • Moses Spoke w/ God on Mt Sinai, interceding for Israel
    • Moses Received the Living Oracles, the 10 Commands
    • Moses Spoke w/ the People, communicating God’s Words
    • Moses Pleaded for God’s Mercy when Israel sinned
  • 37, Thru Moses, God Promised His People a Greater Deliverer to come: Christ, the Prophet of God, like Moses, fr among their brethren, mediating New Cov’t w/ His People
  • God Delivered His People, fr. Slavery in Egypt, to be His People
  • God Delivers us fr slavery to sin, into: New Coven’t in Christ


Surely, Stephen’s description of Moses surely pointed them to Christ!

  • Just as God Delighted in Moses & Preserved him in Obscurity
    • So, God Delighted in Christ & Preserved Him in Obscur.
  • Just as Moses was a Prophet of God, speaking 4 Him to People
    • So, Christ is the Prophet of God speaking 4 Him: People
  • Just as Moses was sent to Deliver His People fr. Slavery-Egypt
    • So, in an infinitely greater sense, Christ, was sent as Lamb of God to Deliver His People out of Slavery to Sin
  • Just as Moses: sent by God to be a Ruler & Deliverer of People
    • So, in an infinitely greater sense, Christ was sent by God to be Saviour and Lord – over all His People…
  • Did the Sanhedrin get his point? They understood Moses’ point all too well, yet their hardened hearts would not believe.
  • So, Stephen’s final point to them was that they, just like their fathers before them, had rejected God’s Witness and because they rejected resisted they did not know His Deliverence


4thly) God’s Deliverance is Not for the Unrepentant & Unbelieving

  • Im convinced: Stephen makes his point, hoping they will repent
  • 35, Stephen says that Israel Rejected Moses, and the books

of Exodus & Numbers give numerous examples of this

  • 38-39, Israel would not Obey: Liv. Oracles God gave them
  • 39, Stephen repeats his accusation: Israel rejected Moses…
  • And far worse, in their hearts, they turned back to Egypt, they had rejected God’s Love & Deliverance. How’d they do that?
  • Idolatry: they rejected God, by turning to Idols
  • 40-41, Israel Worshipped/Rejoiced in work: of their hands
    • They made a calf-idol to resemble the Egyptian Bull-god
  • 42-43, Israel Worshipped the gods-goddesses of Canaan
  • They also worshipp’d: Heavenly host, like those in Ur – Chaldees
  • Interesting: God called/delivered Abram fr. worship. moon, but Israel turned back to worship. Heavenly host (stars etc.)
  • So, by their rejection of Moses, and…
    • their disobedience to God’s Law, and…
    • their turning back, in heart, to Egypt & slavery, and…
    • their worship of pagan idols & the host of heaven…..
    • Israel broke God’s covenant that He’d made with them.
  • In 44, God Graciously Gave them theTab. So He could dwell among them – It Pict. Christ’s coming to dwell among His People
  • In Grace, God Went with them thru their wilderness journeys
  • In Grace, God Dwelt among ‘em, separat’d by blood, fire & veils
  • In47, God Graciously Allowed Solomon to build Temple, knowing even Heaven could not contain God, much less Temple
  • In Grace, God Continued amongst His People who rejected Him
  • until Christ Came……. and then they rejected Christ as well.


And here Stephen Abruptly breaks off any more historical recounting

  • Stephen’s witness is no longer a defence, but an accusation which he turns fully against the Sanhedrin
  • 51, They’re Stiff-neck’d, Uncircum.: Stubborn & Unrepent.
  • They’re always Resisting the Holy Spirit: as their fathers did
  • God’s Spirit spoke thru OT prophets, repeatedly calling Israel to return to their God, in Faith, Repentance & Obedience
    • But, they resisted and would not believe
  • God Spirit spoke thru Apostles (& Steph). Calling: Sanhedrin to Repent, Believe & Obey, and they still…, they always resisted.
  • 52, Your fathers killed: prophets, who promised Christ
  • And, You, yourselves have betrayed & murdered Christ, H-self
  • 53, You who’ve received the law, But, You have not kept it! Stephen is charging then with what James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
  • The Bible is absolutely clear on that point: without Faith & repentance there is no Deliverance from Slavery & God’s wrath


Stephen’s points to them are:

God’s Deliverance has, and always is: by Faith & Obedience

God’s Deliverance is always by a Rejected, Suffering, Saviour

God’s Deliverance of His People is fr Slavery to sin

God’s Deliverance came thru God’s Only Son, who is One of their own,

  • He is Truly God, Truly man, truly Jewish, and truly Israel
  • Christ obeyed the Law & fulfilled the Covenants
  • Christ is the Lamb of God to Deliver them fr Slavery to sin
  • But they resisted, rejected, betrayed and murdered him

But God raised Him from Dead & Exalted Him to be Saviour & Lord


So, For Theophilus & the Gentile Christians Reading Luke’s Account,

  • God’s Plan for salvation has Always Included: Gentile Peoples
  • The Growth of the Church fr Jerusalem to Gentile-Rome is simply part of God’s Continuing plan to save His People from every every nation, tribe & language.


For Us, today, who desire to be a courageous, Christ-exalting witness

  • Like Stephen, we must see/display God’s Glory in the Gospel
  • We must preach the necessity of Faith & Obedience
  • We must preach the reality of a Rejected Suffering Saviour
  • We must preach the reality of Salvation from Slavery to sin
  • Like Steph. We must warn of the danger of refusing to repent


For all of us today, who read & hear Stephen’s Sermon: Be warned!

  • If we Fail… Refuse to receive the glorious message of the Gospel by Faith in God & Repentance of Sin, We’re Not Saved
  • It does not matter how much you/I love the Old Hymns
  • It doesn’t matter how much you/I love the Church
  • Nor, how much you/I faithfully Give or faithfully serve…
  • If we have not submitted to Jesus Christ, Repented of Sin & begun to trust Christ to save us, we are not saved….

But the Glorious Truth of the Gospel is also this:

  • God’s Amazing Grace Is Available for you and me…
  • There is Mercy: from God, for you, at the foot of the Cross
  • There is still time, for you to come to Christ to believe in God

to repent, and turn away from your sin, to be saved from God’s wrath, from sin, from death.

And So, I Urge you to come and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and U will be saved!