Sunday, 13 September 2015
Bible Reading: Acts 7v54-8v4
There are many other things that might strike us as we read those verses; the similarity between Stephen's words and Jesus words as they face death, the fact that Stephen prays to Jesus, his vision echoing Daniel 7v13, the amazing prayer he prays and it's answer, as yet unseen, in Saul's conversion, God's sovereign overruling of persecution to spread the very gospel it was designed to stop in its tracks. There are all those and more. But one other thing has particularly struck me, it's the little detail about "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned for him deeply." Who are those godly men? If all the church has been scattered throughout Judea and Samaria(v1) then it isn't his fellow church members. If it was the Apostles we would have been told. I wonder if it was those Jews who feared God were deeply impressed with the church and had heard about Jesus but as yet had not chosen to trust Jesus and join the church. Those people the Apostles, by God's sovereign will and plan, were in Jerusalem to reach with the gospel. Isn't that encouraging, it isn't that everyone in Jerusalem is against the church or even against Stephen, there are those outside the church who respect God's people and show subtle disapproval of the actions of others in killing him. It's a reminder that not everyone is opposed to the gospel, when we face opposition at work or in the family it may not be everyone who is opposed. There will be others who have watched us and to whom our life has given pause for thought. Those whom God has for us to reach and for whom the way we deal with persecution is in itself a witness that flavours the gospel we speak.
God gives us everything we need to stand for him as he pours out his Spirit on us, and the situation is often not as bad as it looks and God sovereignly puts his people where his gospel is needed.