Intro. Luke is now going to introduce us to the ministries of two of the men who were chosen to the office of deacons, to wait on tables in the early church. Remember the qualifications for these men were good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit, and full of wisdom.
I. THE MINISTRY OF THESE TWO MEN WILL TEACH US MUCH ABOUT CHRISTIAN SERVICE.
A. The importance of being faithful and diligent in the place that God has placed us.
1. Too many people want to start at the top.
a. It is interesting how many people are ready to take the mantle of Billy Graham.
b. Many of them are not involved in Christian service at all, but they see the blessings and the hand of God upon Billy's life, and feel that they are to take over his ministry.
2. God allows us to prove ourselves in the ministry.
a. Jesus said:
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true [riches]?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
b. Jesus spoke a parable to emphasize this point.
For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man traveling into a far country, [who] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and immediately took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made five more talents.
And likewise he that received two, he gained another two.
But he that had received one went and dug in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them.
And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou delivered unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five more talents.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of thy lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where thou have not sowed:
And I was afraid, and went and hid Your talent in the earth: here I am returning what is yours.
His lord answered and said unto him, you wicked and slothful servant, thou knew that I reap where I sowed not.
You should have at least put my money in the bank, and [then] at my coming I would have received mine own with interest.
Take the talent from him, and give [it] unto him which has ten talents.
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
B. Though we may be called to serve in an obscure place, it does not mean that we will remain in obscurity forever.
1. Many times God has us serving what might be termed an apprenticeship to find out how faithful we will be there.
C. Jesus said if you are invited to a dinner, take a lower seat, better that they come and say come up higher, than the other way around.
II. THE FIRST OF THE TWO IS STEPHEN WHO IS DESCRIBED AS A MAN FULL OF FAITH AND POWER THROUGH WHOM, GOD WAS DOING GREAT WONDERS AND MIRACLES AMONG THE PEOPLE.
A. Here is a man in the church, when they needed someone to administer the welfare program was selected as one of the men for the job.
1. He is a man of faith and power.
2. God cannot only use him for the task of waiting tables, but is also using him to work wonders and miracles among the people.
3. Waiting on the tables gave him an opportunity to get close to the people and become aware of their needs. He can minister to their spiritual needs as he is ministering to their physical needs.
4. I think that it is a mistake to try to divide our lives into the spiritual and the secular.
a. I think that every one of us should see ourselves as servants of Jesus Christ.
b. It may be that as I am serving the Lord, that the telephone company is providing the means for me to pay my bills.
c. The Bible tells us:
And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
III. Act 6:9
: Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called [the synagogue] of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
A. It is estimated that there were over 400 synagogues in Jerusalem at this time and that this synagogue served Jews from these various localities, when they came to Jerusalem. Libertines referring to a place in Libya.
B. They were disputing with Stephen. Probably over Stephen's claim that Jesus was the Messiah who had come to usher in the new age of the kingdom of God.
C. "And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke."
1. Remember the men that were chosen to wait tables were men who were filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.
2. These men with their natural learning are no match for Stephen who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
3. Today is still the same, I have heard men of great education say the most ridiculous things about the Bible.
a. The most brilliant natural mind cannot understand the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned.
b. Thus the most brilliant seminary professor skilled in the original languages is not to be relied upon for an understanding of God or the scriptures if he is not born again.
c. Here is where many young students are tripped up in their Christian faith.
d. They admire the brilliance of some Phd who teaches the Bible as literature, He seems to know so much about the Bible. The problem is he doesn't know the Author of the Bible, thus is totally unqualified to teach the book.
e. I was invited with Greg Laurie to participate in a call in program on one of the liberal stations in Los Angeles. Unbeknown to both Greg and me, they had also invited one of the professors from the religion department at USC to also participate. The subject was to be Bible prophecy.
D. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
1. Because they could not rationally respond to Stephen and the wisdom of the Spirit, they turned to dirty tactics.
a. How is it we seem always to be surprised when the world turns to dirty tactics?
b. When if they cannot answer the truth, they turn to lies. They will make up stories to confirm their false positions.
2. When they see that they are defeated by the truth, they will then attack the person.
a. I have observed this in debates on the subject of evolution.
b. When the evolutionist begins to see the absolute absurdity of his position, he then begins a character attack against the person who is debating him.
3. These men went to the authorities and made their false charges against Stephen.
E. Some of the charges they made against Stephen.
1. They accused him of speaking blasphemously against the temple and the law.
2. Under the Jewish law, if two or three witnesses would declare that they heard a person speaking against the law given by God to Moses, they were to be put to death.
3. They hired false witnesses to swear that Stephen was guilty of this very crime.
F. The things that he was accused of saying.
1. That Jesus was going to destroy this place, that is, the temple.
a. There may have been some basis to this accusation, but they twisted it.
b. Jesus had said concerning the temple, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it."
c. Jesus had also predicted the destruction of the temple to the extent that not one stone would be left standing upon another.
2. The second charge was that they were teaching that Jesus was going to change the customs that Moses had delivered to them.
a. It is possible that Stephen was teaching that true righteousness was not possible through the law, but is now attained by faith in Jesus Christ.
IV. ALL OF THEM SITTING IN THE COUNCIL AS THEY STARED AT HIM, HIS FACE WAS LIKE THAT OF AN ANGEL.
A. The High Priest then asked, "Are these things so?"
B. What an open door.