August 28, 2022 - Acts 7-12
Interesting. When brought before the authorities and asked if the charges of blasphemy against him were true, Stephen did not answer “Yes” or “No.” Rather, he told the biblical story, retracing the timeline of God's mighty works from Abraham to the Messiah. Of course, he also pointed out that his accusers had rejected God and spurned all his prophets. And though stoned by his accusers, he pleaded with God to forgive them. And all the while, standing close by and approving all this was Saul.
Philip preached and performed miracles. Those who were persecuted and scattered shared the good news as they went. The sorcerer Simon believed. The Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. The church was cleansed. The Ethiopian official believed. Even Saul was converted and baptized and began to proclaim the gospel. Healings, the dead raised, Cornelius’ vision and salvation, Peter’s attitude adjustment, Gentiles saved, and the church established in Antioch. Just an amazing story! Of course, there were sufferings and challenges: James killed, Peter imprisoned, etc. But Luke writes, after the death of Herod, “Then God's message flourished and multiplied” (12:24). It’s as if Luke wants to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Hail to the Lord's Anointed,
great David's greater Son! . . .
He comes with succor speedy
to those who suffer wrong;
to help the poor and needy,
and bid the weak be strong;
to give them songs for sighing,
their darkness turn to light,
whose souls, condemned and dying,
are precious in his sight. -- James Montgomery (1821)