"the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands."
HOLY SPIRIT, WE WELCOME YOU
Isn’t the account in Acts 7 powerful and moving? There is so much packed into this chapter that we could spend a several days on the truths revealed.
In terms of memorable last words, Acts 7 has to rank near the top of some of the greatest. We are told that Stephen’s face glowed like an angel’s, and that his words had an anointing as well. He displays an knowledge of the God’s story, and he does not hold back from speaking the truth. “You deliberately disobeyed God!” They were so enraged they stoned him to death.
The vision Stephen had of his resurrected Lord waiting to receive him is profound and the example of Stephen provides a case to illustrate the point that the calling of Jesus followers is to serve God and have faith in Christ. At the same time, Stephen also provides an example of the main thesis in Acts: the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel is not the work of human beings, rather, both increase because the Holy Spirit is at work among His people. The Holy Spirit is leading the way, opening new avenues of spiritual understanding, thrusting the gospel into new geographical areas.
One of the aspects of Stephen’s speech that struck me was when he was talking about the Temple. There Stephen declared, what Jesus himself had taught, that He (Jesus) was the fulfillment of both the TEMPLE and the LAW. Stephen makes an important and interesting point as he asserts that even in Old Testament times, God was tied to his people wherever they were, and not to buildings or geographical location. I believe this speaks to the truth and reality that Jesus will be with his people wherever they go or are. We will soon see, as we continue in Acts, that as the Community of Jesus spreads and missionary journeys develop, the followers of Christ just like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, experience that God is with them always.
What a great and indispensable assurance to the mission, vision, and the work of God for any generation. We know that God has bound himself to the Community of Jesus (His people, his Church) promising that he will never leave it, and he has bound himself to his word promising that it will never pass away. I believe something we can draw out of Stephen’s speech is that God’s Church is people-focused, not Temple focused, and God’s Church is Scripture-focused (Bible Driven) not tradition focused. These are essential foundations to comprehending God’s calling and purposes, for his Body and indeed the world.
How could you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your situation today?
What courage, what boldness, what clarity of vision we see in this chapter about someone who was full of the Holy Spirit. Stephen inspires wisdom and hope into our “today”. I find this a heart encouraging, and a life-shaping summary of faith. What an amazing passage, and I am so thankful it has been written to empower and inspire us too!