Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Acts 6 & 7 - Stephen's History Lesson

LINK: Acts 6 & 7 (read over two days)

BACKGROUND

In Acts 6, Greek speaking Jews who had become followers of Jesus (probably at Pentecost) complained that the native Jewish Christians, who spoke Aramaic which is a Semitic language, were being favored over them in the treatment of their widows. It was probably not due to favoritism but the language barrier. 


Like every church, the early church had its problems, but "the Twelve" - the 11 original disciples plus Matthias (Acts 1:26) - handled it beautifully. They knew their gifting was not in the serving area and delegated it to people that had those kinds of gifts. This is the body of Christ in action, with each person functioning according to their gifts (1 Corinthians 12). An essential part of leadership is learning to delegate when things are out of your gifting. The ministry of the Word sometimes CAN get neglected and bogged down because of administration. It is important to seek out godly, gifted people for these important roles. As a result of the delegation of duties, the Word of God spread and even priests became obedient to it (6:7). 


The leader of this band of servants was Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, faith, and the Holy Spirit (1:5, 8). He is seized by the opposition, and his speech to the Sanhedrin is a Scarlet Thread of Redemption history lesson from Abraham to Jesus! Despite Israel's constant rebellion, God had a plan and purpose. The original charge against Stephen was speaking blasphemy against Moses and that Jesus would destroy the temple and their customs. This is partially true, but Moses prophesied about Jesus (7:37; Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). The Jews refused Moses' message, and they refused Jesus' also. Jesus said the Jews had done that throughout their history (Luke 20:9-19). They even killed both those prophets who predicted the coming of Jesus and Jesus Himself (7:52). They had received the Law but had not obeyed it (7:53). 


Stephen was stoned as a result of the speech, but Saul was watching. Stay tuned!


REFLECTION


Last Thursday, our Kingdom Community looked at Luke 24 and Jesus on the road to Emmaus with two of His sad and downcast followers who were trying to make sense of Jesus' death and the disappearance of His body. Along came Jesus saying:

"O foolish ones [sluggish in mind, dull of perception] and slow of heart to believe (adhere to and trust in and rely on) everything that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary and essentially fitting that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer all these things before entering into His glory (His majesty and splendor)?" Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself. (Luke 24:25–27, AMP)  
Later, Jesus thoroughly opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures. This resulted in world-wide impact.

On a surface level, it may seem that when Stephen employed Jesus' method of sharing from the whole of Scripture, it was a failure; but one important person was listening. It would take another encounter with Jesus along another road before Stephen's history lesson would bear fruit and lead to world-wide impact. Stay tuned for Acts 9. 


The overwhelming conclusion from our Kingdom Community last Thursday was that it is important to share Jesus from Creation to Christ regardless of the immediate reaction. Many of them admitted that even though they were raised in the church and knew most of the Bible stories, they did not understand the Old Testament enough to explain how it reveals Christ in The Scarlet Thread of Redemption. Many of them resolved to learn. 


APPLICATION 


You are in the Bible Book Club because you want to rectify this situation. GOOD FOR YOU! I believe the only way to GROW is to KNOW the Word!

How can you grow more? What is a good next step for you as we are finishing the Bible Book Club this year? If you did not start at the beginning, maybe you can be intentional about doing it in that future. 


Going through the Bible Book Club is a big commitment to do with someone else, but a baby step might be doing a beginning Scarlet Thread of Redemption study:


Discovery Bible Study with Lists


I like this one because it is APPLICATION-oriented, and you know how I love that! It alludes to this question at the end of the explanation of the process but do not forget this question at the end: Who will you tell about what you have just learned? 

The point is that Jesus modeled this type of sharing. Gone are the days of just sharing part of the story. This takes a little more effort, but it is a way to disciple people into the kingdom, making disciples rather than just having people who have made decisions. It is having effect all over the world! Read Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale. (I just met him this last weekend!) 

I know I have shown this before on the Bible Book Club, but I love how this kind of teaching impacted a whole tribe! It will be well-worth your time. The Old Testament part starts at 11:45:




I would do two things differently from the above video. I would coach local people to facilitate a Discovery Bible Study process rather than a Westerner teach. I would also encourage an "I WILL" statement and "Who are you going to tell" component to each lesson! Regardless, their reaction to the story is worth watching! 


Enjoy!


PRAYER


Thank You that You have always had a plan! Amen!
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