Stephen’s Foundation: Acts 7:1-5
“1) The high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2) And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3) and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ 4) Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. 5) But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him.” Acts‬ ‭7‬:‭1‬-‭5‬
At first glance, Stephen’s message looks long and rambling. But keep the charge against him in mind from Acts 6:13-14; “13) They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14) for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”” From his opening remarks, the defense of Stephen was Masterful. ‭‭
We quickly learn three things about Stephen from these opening verses. First, he was a man of the word. He knew the Old Testament well. This was an amazing accomplishment in his day since there were no printed Bibles. Scrolls were kept and read every week in the Synagogue. Ephesians 6:17 says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. If you want to be mighty in faith and Spirit you need to be a man or woman of the word of God.
Second, Stephen possessed a biblical view of history. His world view was based on the Bible. It was built on the backdrop of Supernaturalism. He saw God as the Creator and was keenly aware that He interacted in the affairs of mankind and guided the nation of Israel through the whole Old Testament. He saw God as active and not passive. He was far from being an atheist, naturalist, evolutionist or mystic. If you want to be mighty in faith and Spirit you need a biblical world view.
Third, Stephen pointed people to Jesus Christ. Keep in mind who Stephen was addressing. He was speaking to the Sanhedrin. What he did in these opening verses is profound. He went back and anchored his message in the Abrahamic Covenant.
According to Genesis 12:1-3, God promised Abraham three things. They were: 1) a land, 2) a seed of many offspring and 3) a blessing which would extend to all people on earth. This Covenant contains one of the earliest promises of the Messiah as a direct descendant of Abraham. From his opening remarks, Stephen pointed people to Jesus Christ. If you want to be mighty in faith and Spirit you need to point people to Jesus Christ.
I take the above three points seriously. They expose three tragic weaknesses in the modern church. Many Christians today are biblically illiterate, have no comprehensive biblical world view and fail to focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. We have “faith” but we don’t know what we believe… or why. We are building a house without a foundation. The collapse of modern Christianity is inevitable.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global