A Cruel Death & A Heavenly Reception (Acts 7:54-8:1)

What is your approach to living as a Christian in these days, when it is an unpopular thing, an unusual thing for people to say that they belong to the Lord Jesus?

Do you try to fly under the radar? Can you be a Christian and not draw attention to it?

Jesus says that we cannot: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20a).

So, we cannot avoid suffering for Jesus’ sake.

How do you handle it when people make you suffer for Jesus’ sake? Do you put a wall up and cut them off? Can a Christian freeze out their enemies?

Jesus says that we cannot: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44.

We see both of these truths in Acts 7. And for us to be faithful Christians in a hostile world, we need to believe these two truths:

  1. You Will Have Enemies (7:54-59, 8:1)
  2. You Must Love Your Enemies (7:60)

And we must believe both at the same time. This requires the work of the Holy Spirit. We could think we can do one on our own:

You might be naturally prepared to have enemies. You can handle it when people don’t like you, so you’ll suffer for Christ. You’ll put up with having enemies (but you find it hard to love them). But a Christian’s boldness isn’t being a jerk (having all courage and no compassion).

Or, you might believe in love, and desperately want to get along, so you always want to find common ground. But love isn’t unconditional affirmation or refusing to challenge other’s faulty ideas or assumptions. You don’t ever want to upset anyone. That’s compassion without courage.

To be a disciple of Jesus in this fallen, sinful world, requires both courage and compassion. You will have enemies, and you must love your enemies.

Sunday 30th September 2018

Review questions:

  • How angry were Stephen’s enemies (v54)?
  • Why were they angry (v51)?
  • What did Stephen see & what did it mean (v55-56)?
  • The ‘Son of Man’ means (Daniel 7:13-14, Matthew 26:63-64):
  • What did Stephen pray (v60)?
  • How can we love our enemies (v55)?
  • What can motivate us to pray for our enemies to be forgiven (v60)?
  • I’m praying for:
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • Something to pray about:
  • How I should live:

Published by Stephen McDonald

Christian, preacher, broadcaster

%d bloggers like this: