A Powerful Combination
Acts 6:10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.
Stephen had been called to testify before the synagogue of the Freedmen. They wanted to argue with him but they became frustrated with his response. He was far too eloquent for them and the combination was a one, two punch. His knowledge of the Scriptures overwhelmed them because he was skilled in Jewish wisdom. He was well acquainted with the sacred writings and opinions of scholars who had gone before. This was a man who had given sacrificially of his time and energy to become well educated and thus be able to articulate his faith.
At the same time Stephen had been filled with the Holy Spirit. This empowering of the Spirit made a radical difference in his life and he was filled with a boldness that came from God. Not only was he bold, but the Spirit working in and through his life resulted in signs and wonders being performed in his midst. Not only could Stephen argue the case for Christ, he was able to reflect Christ in the very way he interacted with the world around him and when they looked at him, even his appearance was “like that of angel.”
This powerful combination of a Spirit-filled, educated man of God was more than the religious leaders could bear. Because they were unable to argue against him they devised another plan, bringing in individuals to simply lie about what Stephen had said or done. He was far too powerful when everything that he had was given in full service to Christ.
We need some Stephens today, people who are willing to dedicate their time in thoughtful and in-depth study of the Scriptures which will result in an ability to articulate the gospel message in a way which is both compelling and provocative. At the same time, this study must be brought in humility before the Lord, with a genuine desire to know more of Christ and to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore we must commit ourselves to spiritual disciplines which include study and immersion in the presence of God himself.
And when we see this being lived out in others, we should not fear these individuals!
Unfortunately, too often we respond to this powerful combination in the way of the Freedmen. Surely this man (or woman) cannot be for real! How could he know the Scriptures and do so much good? The Spirit of Christ becomes intimidating to those who refuse to walk in the Light. Not only is it intimidating but it also begins to make one very uncomfortable because it digs at our own personal roots of complacency. Because people like this make us uncomfortable and we may begin to try and pick away at them — just like they did with Stephen. They brought in people to lie about him. In the case of the well-educated and Spirit-filled believer we may become overly critical, imagining that if they’ve studied they have been exposed to ideas that will lead people astray! Remember, the Freedmen were convinced that Stephen had been blasphemous. The result is that we throw metaphoric stones at those individuals who are needed to help lead us through this time of immense change within Christianity and culture. Isn’t that exactly what the enemy would want us to do?
May we support the upcoming Stephens of our day and nurture them to take us into a new future by the Spirit’s leading.
Lord, please help me to know you more today. Amen.