Sunday School Material 10-7-12: Stephen Defends His Faith

(Acts 6:8-15; 7:1, 2a, 22, 44a, 45b-49; 10/7/12)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Stephen is called to defend his faith. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to develop the wisdom and courage to defend our faith.

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Applications –

- Character and competency. Notice in vs. 8 of the Sunday School material that Stephen was known for both character and competency. Being full of grace and power is to suggest that he was controlled by such. His performing wonders and signs are evidence of his competency.

As disciples of Christ, we should be known for a character of faithful obedience. And we should have competency in our area of service. There are too many who are known more for their age or seniority than for Christian character or competency in ministry. Let’s work on having the character and competency that God is calling us to have.

- When God blesses, the devil messes. Notice in vss. 9-15 of our Sunday School material that as God blessed through Stephen, the devil was striving to mess things up through a religious community. As God blesses, the devil messes.

First, don’t be surprised when opposition arises shortly after you give your all to God. The greater an asset you become in God’s program, the more attention the devil gives you. The need for spiritual muscles to endure the opposition should be obvious.

Second, don’t let the devil use you to oppose what God is doing. The fact that the devil uses so many religious people in the Bible should be a warning to us to make sure that the devil doesn’t recruit us into his satanic attacks.

A great way to stay off of the devil’s team is to prayerfully study and obey God’s word with the support of other disciples. At the core of God’s will is for us to accept Christ as savior by faith and to live lives of loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

This is as opposed to simply living by traditions and human preferences. Let’s work on developing the wherewithal to stand up to the devil’s opposition and to keep him from using us.

- To speak or not to speak. Notice in vss. 1-2a that Stephen begins to address the Sanhedrin. Students of the Bible must agree that there is no “one size fits all” response to dealing with opposition.

There are times to speak and times to be quiet. Let’s seek God’s wisdom and courage to respond as we should. Think about how Jesus was quiet sometimes, and He was vocal sometimes (see Ecc. 3:7b; Amos 5:13).

Read Acts 7:22, 44a, 45b-49

II. Truth About Moses and the Temple. In our Sunday School material Stephen describes Moses as one who had a number of things in his favor. Moses is said to have been well educated in Egyptian wisdom. He was also known for powerful speech and action.

Stephen talks about the tabernacle of old. He talks about David's desire to build a house for the Lord. And then there is mention of how God doesn't live in houses made by people. God is too big for such structures.

Applications –

- The value of history. Notice in vss. 22, 44a, 45b-49 that Stephen was familiar with his history and also ignorant of how God was involved in it. There are too many who are ignorant of their history and therefore how God has been moving in their history.Perhaps worse than the ignorance is the apathy about the ignorance.

The danger of such ignorance of history is that it may trigger history repeating itself, so we can learn in the remedial class what we should have learned in the normal class. Let’s work on studying our history and reflecting on God’s moving in such.

It is not enough to simply retain the unconnected facts. It is important to be inspired by previous successes and learn from the mistakes of the past. It is important to see how God was with previous generations during good times and bad, as well as see how He worked things out for the good of His people.

- Doing good according to God’s will. Notice in vss. 44a, 45b-47 of the Sunday School material that even though David’s heart was right, his timing was not in sync with God’s timing.In other words, God did not want David to build Him a Temple. God had plans for Solomon to do that.

First, it is a good thing to want to do good towards the Lord. So many have very little desire to do anything for the Lord. Second, it is important to yield to God’s will.

What seems right to us may end in death. Jesus teaches that to say, “not my will, but thine be done.” Let’s work on desiring to do a great work for God and yet yielding to His will.

- Honoring our great big God. Notice in vss. 48-49 of the Sunday School material that God is more concerned with His people living by His will than with buildings. On one hand, the people of God should do the best they can to make God’s house look becoming and to respect it as a way of respecting God.

But on the other hand, if we take care of the church house and show respect towards God, while hating or ignoring one another then God is still not pleased. Obeying God is more important than trying to honor Him with other expressions.

Looking good but living bad doesn’t please God. Singing about love but refraining from loving the less fortunate is not pleasing to God. Let’s work on honoring God first with obedience and second with the care of our church houses.

Conclusion: Let’s work on developing the wisdom and courage to defend our faith. God has much for those who obey His will.

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