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God’s Case against the Christ-Rejecting Court
Acts 7:37-54
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Oct. 6, 2013
*Here in Acts 7, Stephen has been on trial for his strong faith in Jesus Christ.
And this was no small matter.
This wasn’t a high school debate.
Stephen was on trial for his life.
The trial was a travesty of justice, because the charges against Stephen were all based on lies from false witnesses.
*Over the last three weeks, we have looked at some of the people Stephen mentioned in his defense: Abraham, Joseph, and Moses.
We looked at their lives, because each of these men has so much to tell us about our own relationship with God.
*But tonight, we will look at the case God had been building against the Supreme Court of Israel.
We know that God has been making the case, because the Holy Spirit led Stephen to say every word that came out of his mouth.
*Jesus made this truth clear to the Apostles in Matthew 10:17-20, when He said:
17. "But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.
And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.
For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;
20. for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
*Stephen was on trial before the Supreme Court of Israel.
But they were on trial before the highest court of all!
Let’s hear what happened in Acts 7:37-54.
*Stephen was on trial before the Supreme Court of Israel, but they were on trial before the highest court of all!
And Church: The Lord will never lose a legal case, so here’s what we should do:
1. First: Put your name on God’s witness list.
[1] We’ve already looked at three of God’s witnesses: Abraham, Joseph and Moses.
And we can learn a lot from these witnesses.
*Abraham shows us that we can be a friend of God.
He also shows us that we can have faith in God.
We can have faith in the Lord, even when He takes us to new places in life, and even when we have to wait a long time on the Lord.
*Joseph shows us that we must never give up on God, and we must never give up on God’s dreams for our life.
Joseph also shows us that we can see God's Hand at work even in the bad things of life.
Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery.
But in Genesis 50:20, Joseph told them: "As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
*Moses shows us that God can use us even when we don’t think so.
God called Moses when he was 80!
And God can use us long after we think our chance is gone.
God can use us far beyond our wildest dreams!
*David reminds us that God can forgive our worst sins.
David also reminds us that we can come back from terrible failure.
*Solomon reminds us that God will give us wisdom if we ask for it.
God can use us to build things for His glory, and God can use us to help other people worship.
[2] We can learn a lot from these witnesses.
-- And we can lead like these witnesses.
*We can be like Stephen in this trial.
We can take a bold stand for Jesus Christ.
And we should stand up for the Lord, no matter the cost.
Christians all around the world are doing that right now.
*A recent newsletter from our IMB included a story about recent persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka.
That's the island nation off the southern tip of India, and twenty million people live there.
*Susie Rain wrote: "It was just a normal Sunday.
Around 75 people gathered in the house rented as their church building for worship.
Praise music drifted out the door.
Prayers lifted to heaven.
The pastor stood behind the pulpit and asked the congregation to open their Bibles.
That’s when 'normal' came to a crashing end.
Local Sri Lankan authorities stormed in from every exit, demanding the church service stop.
*Church members sat in shock until a bald man in saffron robes appeared.
With the entrance of the village’s head Buddhist monk, people hid in back rooms, jumped out open windows or knocked chairs over to get out the door, only to meet up with an angry mob of nearly 1,000 people with sticks and stones.
'Leave or be killed,' the mob chanted.
*Four months later in August of this year, Sri Lanka's High Court ruled that churches could meet under the freedom of religion clause in that country's constitution.
But the Christians are holding their breath on whether the violence against churches by Buddhist extremists will stop.
*Persecution against Christians is on the rise around the world, and even here at home.
But we should stand up for Jesus, no matter the cost.
*Robert Dyson reminds us why with these words of praise: "We praise Jesus because He has been a doctor when we were sick.
We praise Him because has been a lawyer when we were in trouble.
We praise Him because He has been mother for the motherless and father for the fatherless.
We praise Him because He has been shelter from the rain, and medicine for our pain.
We praise Him because He has been a rope of hope when we were sinking in the seas of sadness and sorrow.
*We praise Him because when we had fallen and couldn’t get up.
He came where we were and put His loving arms around us, and lifted us from the muck and mire of sin." (2)
*We praise Jesus Christ most of all, because He died on the cross for our sins!
And God wants us to add our names to the long line of witnesses who have made a difference in our world.
2. The Lord will never lose a legal case, so put your name on God’s witness list.
-- And be persuaded of God's ultimate victory.
*We must be fully persuaded that no government can stand against God, so please listen again to the false charges against Stephen.
We find them in Acts 6:13-14.
And as we read, notice that there were basically two false charges against this man of God:
They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;
14. for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.''
*The two false charges against Stephen were that he was trying to destroy the Temple and the Old Testament Law.
[1] Now let's focus on God’s excellent defense against those false charges.
*In vs. 1-19, we saw the stories of Abraham and Joseph, and there, God reminds us that He was at work long before the customs of Moses.
Then in vs. 20-36, Stephen retold the story of Moses.
There, God reminds us that He was at work long before the temple was built.
And in vs. 44-50 God reminds us that He is bigger than any man-made building!
"Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,
45. which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,
46. who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.
But Solomon built Him a house.
However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
'Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest?
Has My hand not made all these things?'"
[2] All of that was God’s defense for the false charges against Stephen.
-- But in this trial, God also made extremely serious charges against the court.
*God charged those judges with resisting Him and rejecting Him.
How did God do that?
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