The opening section of the book of Acts ends with a disturbing picture of discipleship. Stephen was one of the first leaders in the early church. He had all the characteristics and practiced all the habits of a fully devoted follower of Jesus and yet, he found himself the target of violent opposition from religious people. Join us for the final message in The Disciple’s Journey where we learn that true followers of Jesus must die to self to live for Him.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and is all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. – Acts 6:8-10 (ESV)
Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, – Acts 6:11-12
and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. – Acts 6:13-15
And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” – Acts 7:1
“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
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, 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 7:54-56
But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. – Acts 7:57-60
And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. – Acts 8:1-3
Five Habits of a Disciple
Habit 1: Disciples Wait on God.
Habit 2: Disciples Grow in Community
Habit 3: Disciples Pray with Boldness
Habit 4: Disciples Live Generously
Habit 5: Disciples MakeDisciples