Stephen was persecuted big time. But his responses were evenly filled with the Holy Spirit.
From Dan Carandang’s fasting prayer last night, these are the results of walking a life filled with the Holy Spirit as seen in Stephen’s response:
Extraordinarily Christlike Response
Stephen was described in Acts 6:3/5/8 as being full of the Spirit and wisdom, full of faith, and of God’s grace and power. These were manifested in his performing great wonders and signs (v8), those questioning him [the Sanhedrin who had authority] could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him (v9-10), his countenance was like that of an angel’s (v15)… perhaps he was filled with serenity, peace, love despite the strong opposition and false witnesses and false accusations against him.
Without time to prepare a rebuttal, Stephen responded by recounting Scripture which he knew by heart.
When Stephen came to the part that convicted the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:52-53), they were furious and gnashed their teeth at Stephen. They yelled at the top of their voices, rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him to death (Acts 7:54,57-60).
The reception people give God’s followers and messengers is a reflection of their reception of God.
The World Hates the Disciples
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
But Stephen was so aligned with the Holy Spirit that he had peace, surrender, forgiving (without being given any apology) his persecutors with God’s perspective… not a natural but a supernatural response.
Acts 7:59 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.
Dan Carandang pointed out that Stephen’s last words for God to forgive those who would kill him were spoken by another person in the bible, Jesus. Focused on God’s will until the end.
Lord, forgive us for all the times we quench Your voice and we went our own way. I pray that You reveal to us the areas of our lives that are still not under Your lordship. I pray that all of us will be totally consumed and led by Your Holy Spirit that we may become the people You are calling us to be. Thank You Lord in Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.