Monday, January 2, 2017
Acts -60 "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."
MY CHALLENGE TO YOU FOR 2017
As we begin this year of 2017, I want to propose to you that you make this the year that you find something that is both worth living for and dying for. Many of you reading this blog have made a "New Year's Resolution" in which you believe you have found something worth living for. Fewer people have ever found something worth dying for that is of eternal value. The Christian life cannot proceed on preference and opinion, since such things can never lead a person to live and die for something greater than them nor for the sake of others. True conviction identifies all at once that the thing worth living for and dying for is located in a Person (Jesus Christ) and the truth of the scriptures. Stephen was the first martyr recorded for the Christian faith. He modeled what it meant to live for and die by His convictions - The Entire Bible and the Entire Christ.
STEPHEN PREACHED TO THE DEATH
As he stood before his accusers, the charges leveled against him were those of blasphemy and attempting to replace the Jewish religion with Jesus Christ. The religious leaders who were accusing Stephen did not have anything eternal to live for or die for. They had tradition, ideas, self-righteousness and themselves.
When they actually ran across someone who was proclaiming what he believed was worth living and dying for, Stephen's words became as a stench in their ears. Mediocrity will always hate excellence. Religion will always detest true godliness. Self-righteousness will forever wage war against Christ.
STEPHEN LIVED AND DIED BY THE ENTIRE BIBLE
Stephen first of all believed that it was worth living for and dying by the entire Bible. His sermon in Acts 7 gives the entire history, in highlight form, of redemptive history from Abraham to Christ. Before it is all said and done, Stephen will had referenced over 60 Old Testament passages, mentioned eight major Old Testament figures, covered 2100 years of time and summarized 40 books of the Bible. Stephen burned with a white hot passion for the word of God. He knew that his sermon was going to end in death - yet he never felt more alive.
STEPHEN LIVED AND DIED BY THE ENTIRE CHRIST
Then Stephen secondly believed that it was worth living and dying for the entire Christ. In the lives of the people mentioned in Stephen's address, we find pictures of Christ. Abraham pictures the promised Christ. Isaac the Sacrifical Son. In Jacob's life we are reminded of Christ anticipated and in Joseph the picture of Christ's death and resurrection. In Moses we see Christ the intercessor for His people. Moses' successor, Joshua, portrays the victorious Christ. David reminds us that Christ was to be the King of Kings and Solomon foreshadows Christ our wisdom. Stephen also briefly mentions the prophets, reminding us that Christ alone could reveal the glory of God - since He is God. Is it no wonder that as stones bludgeoned Stephen to death that he echoed the prayer of forgiveness that Christ prayed when He was being crucified.
SO WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Will you this year make the entire Bible and the entire Christ your standard by which you determine what is worth living and dying for? There is an old saying that goes something like this: "whatever is done on this earth will pass; but whatever is done for Christ will last". Christianity's cornerstone is shaped by the Written Word and The Living Word - Jesus Christ. Make 2017 your year by which you make the Christ of the word and the word of Christ your core convictions worth living for and dying by.