Stephen – A Man of Courage

Sermon Notes & Group Questions

1. Who Is Stephen?

Acts 6:5-6 - “And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.”

2. Why Was Stephen Opposed By The Religious Leaders In Jerusalem?

Acts 6:8-10 - “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”

Acts 7:54-60 - “Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

3. How Did Stephen’s Death Impact The Advancement Of Christianity?

1. Tremendous persecution broke out against the early church.

2. Philip began an evangelistic tour

3. Paul became a follower of Jesus Christ

4. Peter set out on a missionary tour

5. A new church was planted in Antioch 

Acts 11:19 - “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.”

4. What Lessons Can We Learn From Stephen’s Story?

1. When our gifts, talents, and abilities are under the Holy Spirit’s power God can accomplish amazing things through our lives.

2. It is crucial that we learn God’s Word and how to defend our faith.

1 Peter 3:15 - “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...”

3. When your life is deeply rooted in your faith in Jesus you can handle anything that life throws against you.

4. Never underestimate the life of one person who is willing to go all the way for their faith.

Acts 7:59-60 - “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

"God's man (or woman) is indestructible until he has finished the work that God has called him (or her) to do." Jerry Falwell

Group Questions:

Read the story of Stephen, Acts 6:5-15, 7:54-60

Q1: Why do you think it is so common for people who have a sincere faith in God to be ridiculed or mistreated?

Q2: Those who led the assault on Stephen were religious people. Why do you think it’s so easy to get hurt or feel mistreated even in church?

Q3: Stephen was using his God given ability to preach the story of God’s redemption plan to the Jewish people (see Acts 6:5, 8, 10). Do you have a passion; an ability you think God has given you to grow or strengthen the church? If so, what would you say it is?

Read 1 Peter 3:15

Q4: If you read all of Acts 7 you would see that Stephen really knew the Old Testament. He effectively used it to show the Jewish people why Jesus was truly God’s son. What are some of the reasons you think it’s important to know what the bible teaches?

Re-read Acts 7:59-60

Q5: In times when you are very close in your relationship with God, would you say that you feel you can better handle the trials and even persecutions of life? If this is true for you, why do you think that is?

God has always seemed to use the ordinary to do the extraordinary! This is truly the story of West Ridge! Pray as a group asking God to use you as ordinary people to do extraordinary things where we work, where we live, and where we play!

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    Stephen – A Man of Courage

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