Acts 6:8ff

A Firm Faithfulness

 

Introduction: Living for Christ is becoming increasingly difficult in the fallen world we live in today. In the US we may not be experiencing physical persecution, but there is intense pressure from every quarter to compromise our Christian values and just accept the sinful values of the world around us. There is pressure for Christians to neglect their spiritual growth and focus their time and efforts on stuff that appears to be more fun or gives quicker gratification, and finally there is pressure to keep our witness for Christ to ourselves and meekly just blend into our culture and essences become just like the culture all around us.

So with all the pressure being assert on Christians today to be quiet and just conform: How do we stand firm and be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ? Stephen provides us with a great example to follow of “Firm Faithfulness” even in times when the pressure is turned up on our faith, even if it is facing violent hostility and possible even death. Stephen has the great distinction of being the first Christian martyr and he faced death, in the words of Paul, with peace that surpasses all understanding. How is it possible to stand strong in your faith even in situations like Stephen faced and still be faithful to our Lord Jesus to the end?

 

A firm faithfulness can only be accomplished if a person has a solid theological foundation of faith in Jesus Christ! This does not mean that you know everything about Jesus theologically, it simply means that the personal trust you have placed in Christ Jesus is so rooted in Him that your faith cannot be swayed or shaken.

 

“We will not be Shaken” Brian Johnson – Music Bethel – Illustration: Peanuts Cartoon.

 

For we trust in our God
And through His unfailing love
We will not be shaken,
We will not be shaken,
We will not be shaken
[x2]

Though the battle rages
We will stand in the fight
Though the armies rise up against us on all sides
We will not be shaken
We will not be shaken
We will not be shaken

For in the hour of our darkest day
We will not tremble, we won’t be afraid
Hope is rising like the light of dawn
Our God is for us He has overcome

All those against Him will fall

For our God is stronger

He can do all things
No higher name we can call
For Jesus is greater
We can do all things

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A firm faithfulness results when a person:

 

  • Yields control of their entire life to Christ. We see this in the phrases used to describe Stephen in this chapter (V.5,8,59)
  • He knew that God was Sovereign and in control of all events. (That Christ has a plan and purpose, even if it was obvious or understood)
  • Willingly accepted God’s Plan

 

Not only filled with the Holy Spirit but also filled and overflowing with “Faith, Grace, Spiritual Power, and Wisdom from above.

 

A firm faithfulness yields spiritual results as it impacts others for Jesus Christ and it enables a person to  accomplish the ministry and mission the Lord has for that person to do while on this earth.

 

What a Tremendous impact Stephen’s life and death had on the early church and it is an impact/example that is still being experienced today.

  • JM – “He is proof that the impact of a man’s life and ministry has nothing necessarily to do with length. His ministry, though brief, was essential to God’s plan for world evangelism. He showed that the efforts of one courageous person, though of short duration, can have far-reaching effects.”
  • He was totally committed to giving God everything he had, including his life.
  • He accomplished the mission that God gave him to do. (Not based on numbers – though a rich harvest and the spread of the gospel cam about from his death and persecution that followed). It is safe to say that his death must have had some impact on young Saul of Tarsus/
  • Forerunner of Paul
  • He was completely successful in the eyes of Jesus Christ v.55

 

A firm faithfulness results in our being like Jesus (identifying with Him), speaking like Him, living a life as He did (grace and faithfulness), and even suffering like He did.