Sunday, October 29, 2023
In Acts 6–8, we read about Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stephen preached in the streets and at the temple that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He performed signs and wonders and a great number of people came to faith through his ministry. But not everyone appreciated Stephen—the religious leaders of the day arrested him and falsely accused him of teaching against the law and the temple. At his trial, Stephen gave a passionate defense of how the Old Testament Scriptures pointed to Jesus. But when he got to the end and insisted that Jesus had ascended to heaven and was now seated at the right hand of the Father, the crowd couldn’t take it any longer. They rushed upon him and stoned him to death.
Stephen’s death for his Christian faith was the first on record. We call such people “martyrs,” after the Greek word martys, which literally means “witness.” A martyr is someone who dies “giving witness” to the truth of the gospel.
Now, most of us do not want to be martyrs. But could you imagine what the moment leading up to Stephen’s death must have been like? Stephen was given the floor in a public trial and took the opportunity to give glory to Jesus. When it mattered the most, Stephen was a witness.
Now, you might not know this, but like Stephen, you are part of a trial. In John 15:26–16:15, Jesus tells us that there is a cosmic trial going on: Jesus asserting that he is the Christ, the Son of God, and the world denying this truth. Jesus tells us that we have been called upon as witnesses. What an opportunity! Fortunately, we don’t have to take the stand alone. The Spirit of truth testifies alongside us.
Jesus promised us that we would experience hardship for our faith. Sometimes, this is part of the “pruning” process. But these hardships can also be opportunities: opportunities to witness for Jesus.
Join us this week as we talk about hardship and how to know God better through it.
See you on Sunday!
Service times are at 9:00 & 11:00. If you can’t make it in person, you can watch live at those times.