Listening to the Holy Spirit
February 11, 2021
In Acts 7, the disciple Stephen was one of the 7 deacons chosen to care for the needs of church widows. He was chosen because he was seen to be full of faith in God’s grace and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom of God’s word and Jesus’ gospel.
Stephen’s faith and wisdom made him unafraid to debate with Jews who opposed the gospel of Jesus which they could not stand up to, which led them to falsely accuse Stephen of saying that Jesus said he would destroy the temple and change the customs of Moses. So, they seized him and brought him to face the court of the Sanhedrin which met in the temple.
The Sanhedrin were made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. These were learned men who studied the Books of Moses and the prophets and justified themselves to be the authority of knowing God’s will from Scripture far greater than anyone else. There they told Stephen to justify himself from his blasphemous claims.
Stephen addressed them from Scripture telling them of Abraham and Moses’ life with God. He reminded them that Moses told them there would come another prophet like him and that their forefather was sent to Babylon for not listening to his prophets and that God’s throne was in heaven and not something man made on earth. The Sanhedrin could not disagree with Stephen because they knew what he said was true. Then Stephen rebuked them.
Acts 7: 51"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
Stephen’s anger with the Sanhedrin was not personal it was the Holy Spirit of God who rebuked these men who said they knew Scripture but resisted what he clearly spoke to them from Scripture. They resisted to acknowledge and obey the Holy Spirit’s truth but instead listen to Scripture to please themselves. They would not repent to the leading of the Holy Spirit and be saved.
Stephen always heard the Holy Spirit teaching when studying Scripture and had complete faith in God’s grace through the gospel of Jesus giving him the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in the gospel power that saves, which Paul said in:
Romans 1: 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Stephen final word reveals the heart of someone whose faith full of God’s grace in the good news of Jesus.
Acts 7: 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen faith was built on wanting to be home with Jesus, just as Jesus wanted to go home to his Father while on earth. Stephen’s heart was like Jesus when he asked Jesus to receive his spirit the same way Jesus asked his Father to receive his spirit before dying on the cross. Stephen also asked Jesus not to hold the sin against those stoning him in the same way Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who were crucifying him.
Having the same faith as Stephen makes us want what he wanted and that is to be with God. The Holy Spirit will make every lover of Jesus have a heart that is convinced that nothing can separate them from the love of God because they have a heart like Jesus and assured, they will see heaven open for them and see Jesus standing next to his Father welcoming them home.
To be like Stephen is to be a disciple of God’s word seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit’s guidance to know the complete knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ who waits for us in heaven.
Be safe in Jesus,