This Sunday we’ll be reading a fairly sizable chunk-o’-scripture, where Stephen presents the longest sermon found in the New Testament. We’ll be covering Acts 7:1-53, and I really feel like it’s important to cover the whole thing in one sitting so that we can retain the flow and grasp the point of his talk. It’s really less a sermon than it is a defense of the Gospel, and it ends with what sounds more like an utterance from an Old Testament prophet.
False accusations were made about Stephen that he spoke against God, Moses, the law, the Jewish customs and the temple in Jerusalem; so he goes back through the history of Israel to point out that he doesn’t disregard the story so far, but rather he insists on it. We’ll be looking at his point and considering what we can learn about how it is that God desires to interact with us and shape us. Hint: it’s not through mere religion.
In order to get a good overview and grasp of the story that Stephen covered, let me suggest you watch these videos from The Bible Project – an awesome organization that is developing these amazing and engaging animated videos about the larger narrative of Scripture. Check ’em out:
As you think about Abraham, where was he when God spoke to him? What does that tell us about requirements for interacting with God?
As you consider Joseph, what parallels can you see between he and Jesus? Why do you think his brothers were jealous of him? What was the normal order of sibling hierarchy? What can that tell us about God’s work in our lives? Does he seem to be limited to specific orders or hierarchies?
Moses received the law and brought it to Israel and it was being broken while he was delivering it. Stephen seems to highlight the fact that they never were able to keep the law. What do think Stephen’s point was, in light of the accusation that he and the early church were blaspheming the law? What do we discern about God’s intent for our lives when we contemplate the impossibility of keeping a code of conduct?
His strongest statements were about the temple. Considering what was said about the nature of the temple (or tabernacle) in the third video, what is our means of getting into God’s presence now?
I’m really looking forward to this study – hope to see you there!