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. 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, 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.
1. Grace and power can live in harmony together.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Grace and truth were equally present in Jesus. Steven, being a follower of Christ, displayed the same characteristics.
Steven was equally delightful and powerful.
The word for Grace in this passage literally denotes a childlike innocence and delightfulness. Steven had a spiritual charm or winsomeness. People liked being around him.
Combine an immensely likable man with great power, and we have an issue. He was performing great signs and wonders and no one could stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him.
2. Truth is sometimes offensive no matter how it’s packaged.
They killed Jesus, the perfect combination of grace and truth.
John 15 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 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.
There will be a time when the truth is more hated by people that all the benefits it offers.
10But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.11Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”12So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law.
3. Live your life in a way that Satan has to lie about you.
Satan had to make up stuff about Jesus and now he’s fabricating lies about Steven.
11Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”12So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law.
Character needs no defense. When Jesus was on trial, he was silent.
4. Remember who we are fighting.
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 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 coats 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.
Luke 23: 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
Steven didn’t lash out, but everyone there witnessed the same grace and truth that they had always seen in Steven. When they put the pressure on, they got the same thing.
The way you respond will have an impact on people you don’t realize are even watching.
1. What stood out to you most from this week’s message?
2. Why is the combination of grace and truth in a person so powerful? What does it look like?
3. Stephen did not start out as a leader with a lot of influence; his first assignment was a meal program for widows. Is there something God is asking you to do that might not include being noticed by others?
4. Even when we speak the truth gently and in love as the Bible tells us to, others might find it offensive. Why is that?
5. Sometimes others need to speak the truth to us. Is it hard to accept it? Why or why not?
6. Sometimes when we do what is right, we might be unfairly accused or our motives might be questioned. How can we follow Jesus’ example and remain silent instead of arguing or defending ourselves?
7. How can we remain focused on being full of grace and truth under pressure?
8. What is the potential impact on others who are watching how we respond to pressure?
9. What do you plan to do differently because of this week’s message?