Stephen was not an apostle, but this ordinary brother was “full of the Spirit and wisdom…full of grace and power” (Acts 6:3, 8). A religious sect of the synagogue called the Freedmen “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (6:10). The power of the Spirit and the Word of God became even more apparent as their opposition caused “the high priest to ask, “Are these things so?”” (7:1).
This was an invitation for Stephen to draw from the powerful resource of God’s Word. Beginning with God calling Abraham, he paints a remarkable picture from Scripture of God’s dealing with His people. “Our fathers refused to obey Him, but thrust Him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt” (7:39). From this summary, Stephen brings the point of God’s Word in the prophets to bear on those he was speaking to. Israel had been “stiff-necked” and so were those listening to Stephen.
In this case, there was no conviction of heart. We cannot force conviction on those who hear the Word. That is the work of the Spirit. But we are responsible to present the Word in the power of the Spirit and as living witnesses to its power (1:8). Perhaps the most significant thing you and I can do at this moment is to humbly ask God to restore in us a love for His Word and its power and authority. This will immediately resolve resistance and disobedience.
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