Mineral Wells Index
— Wednesday, March 26, hostess Mary Creighton opened the meeting with prayer:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for all your blessings. Thank you for our freedom to study your Word today. Thank you for all those who are here and touch those who are ill or not able to attend today. Bless Bata in her lesson today about Stephen, one of your brave followers. Help me to be stronger in my faith. Give me the courage, the confidence to speak your name, Lord God. Help me to be faithful in my service to you, wherever I am, whatever I do. Give me the wisdom to know when to remain silent, and help me overcome my fears of rejection. Use me, a broken vessel, just as you have used your servants throughout history to glorify and honor your name. Amen.”
Bata Boyd served as lesson leader in the study of the seventh chapter of Acts. She reminded us of how chapter six ended with Stephen before the Sanhedrin council facing accusations that he spoke blasphemy against the temple and the law. The objectives of this chapter are: 1) to review Stephen’s defense to the charge of blasphemy against the temple and the law; and 2) to note the remarkable manner in which the first martyr for Christ died.
Interesting observations concerning this chapter are that the speeches usually lasted several hours. Studies show that the speeches (speakers, audiences, circumstances, language and style of writing) give us reason to believe they are accurate accounts of what happened. In his defense to the council’s charges, Stephen reviews a complete history beginning with the call of Abraham and God’s promise. Stephen described how God used Moses to deliver Israel from bondage and led them for 40 years in the wilderness. They rebelled against Moses and Israel worshipped the golden calf and other false gods.
Continuing with his defense, Stephen acknowledged the role of the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon, but contended that God did not dwell in temples made by the hands of man. In verses 49 and 50, it states that “Heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool … Has not my hand built all these things, says the Lord.”
Stephen closed his defense by charging the council of resisting the Holy Spirit just like their ancestors. He accused the council of persecuting and killing prophets who predicted the coming of Christ, so they became his betrayers and murderers. They, the council, were the ones who did not keep the law.
The Sanhedrin council was extremely angry with Stephen. How dare he accuse the council of such things. Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and he looked into the heavens and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at His Right Hand. When Stephen related to the Council what he saw, they cast him out of the city. They began stoning him.
As Stephen was being stoned, he asked Jesus to receive his spirit and not to charge his murderers with his death. In this way, Stephen became the “first martyr for Christ.”
William Barclay writes: “To Stephen came the peace which comes to those who have done the right thing even if the right thing kills them.“
President Sarita Monroe conducted a brief business meeting in which she appointed the Nominating Committee to present a slate of officers for the 2014-2015 meeting year. The meeting adjourned with the Closing Prayer.