SERIES: The Book of Acts

TEXT: Acts 7:1-8

Message: Jesus is Greater

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“…quasi-spiritual influencers are the latest iteration of an American institution that has been around since the second half of the 20th century: the televangelist…I have hardly prayed to God since I was a teenager, but the pandemic has cracked open inside me a profound yearning for reverence, humility and awe. I have an overdraft on my outrage account. I want moral authority from someone who isn’t shilling a memoir or calling out her enemies on social media for clout…The whole economy of Instagram is based on our thinking about our selves, posting about our selves, working on our selves…There is a chasm between the vast scope of our needs and what influencers can provide. We’re looking for guidance in the wrong places. Instead of helping us to engage with our most important questions, our screens might be distracting us from them. Maybe we actually need to go to something like church? Contrary to what you might have seen on Instagram, our purpose is not to optimize our one wild and precious life. It’s time to search for meaning beyond the electric church that keeps us addicted to our phones and alienated from our closest kin.” — Leigh Stein “The Empty Religions of Instagram — How did influencers become our moral authorities?”

Q: How does Stephen stand before the “influencers” of his day? With…(1. A God filled courage 2. A God-Directed History 3. A God-Centered Salvation)

  1. A God-Filled Courage (v. 1-2a)

And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. 

Deuteronomy 13:5 — “That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.”

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” — Acts 4:13

      2. A God-Directed History (v2b-4)

The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.”

     3. A God-Centered Salvation (v. 5-8)

Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.”

TAKEAWAYS: How can we live remembering that Jesus is greater in whatever situation we may face?

  • Courage comes by seeing our natural cowardice

“Christian courage is the willingness to say and do the right thing regardless of the earthly cost, because God promises to help you and save you on account of Christ. An act takes courage if it will likely be painful. The pain may be physical…Or the pain may be mental as in confrontation and controversy. Courage is indispensable for both spreading and preserving the truth of Christ.” — John Piper

  • Remembering God’s faithfulness builds our obedience
  • The gospel message exposes our self reliance

GOSPEL: 

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” — Galatians 3:8