Why They Stoned Stephen
Acts 7:47 – But Solomon built him an house.
Acts 7:48 – Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
Acts 7:49 – Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Acts 7:50 – Hath not my hand made all these things?
Acts 7:51 – Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Hello readers, hope you are going well today. It’s a rainy day here in Adelaide, South Australia. Today we are talking about what got Stephen stoned. Acts 7 contains Stephen’s defense of himself. This was a man of God who was dragged into a kangaroo court to be tried for blaspheming God and the law, for speaking against Moses and against God. Right off the bat, the best defense for your life will be God’s word. He had never done those things they accused him of, they made out he was against God… but he was the only one who knew God out of the whole bunch. His sermon is in Acts 7, it’s amazing that he’s on trial, and in it he’ll preach a sermon that cuts so deep to home it ended up with them pelting him with stones in their madness and fury. Ever been so angry at someone because of God’s word? Because of their saltness and lightness? We only get to second generation humanity and it happened with Cain killing Abel. They talked… then Cain killed him.
You have to read Stephen’s sermon for yourself. But they drag him in to be tried for blaspheming the holy place and the law. And Stephen goes through history, from Abraham through to Moses through to David and Solomon. It’s worth reading again and again, and wait for God to reveal his word to you. What got Stephen stoned? He ended up talking about how they had the tabernacle, and then how David wanted to and Solomon did build the house. But he said God doesn’t dwell in a physical house. He’s the Creator and you’re trying to put him in a box? How we like to have God in a little box like an instant genie. These guys had religion but they’d missed what it was all about… and so completely missed it that they’d missed it all the way from Abraham, who they’d made an idol out of.
To help understand what Stephen was saying, and the crux of his message, let’s remember the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus spoke (it’s found in Luke 10, more recommended reading). In this parable, there was a man heading to Jericho who was set upon by thieves, wounded, stripped, left for dead. So he’s lying there desperately needing assistance. And he’s in luck! Along comes a priest, along comes a Levite… here are these guys, religious, going to church as it were… and you’d think them, being the Christians they are would live out their belief and have compassion and stop and help the man? But nah, they go on the other side of the road, pretend not to see, or they’re too good to help, and they walk on… lest they be late for church where they can pray to God, and offer sacrifice and speak about the law. Well that’s nice isn’t it? You’ve left a guy that needed help, that’s dying, so you can go to church? You see, that’s how religion is, and that’s what these guys talking to Stephen had. There was no internal reality whatsoever to it all.
You see, here is the crux of Stephen’s message. God doesn’t want to dwell in a box, he wants to dwell in you. He wants to change your life. He cares about who you fundamentally are. It wasn’t enough God dwelling in their midst in the wilderness, God must change you. They had God dwelling in the tabernacle, and outside they’re dancing around a golden calf and fornicating. Think about how stupid that is. How inadequate it is… which is why it needed to be changed, and was in Christ. If the glory of God filling the earthly man made temple was so immense, how much more so the glory of God dwelling in you? His Spirit coming to dwell in you, making you a new person? It’s not enough for God to be in the midst, he’s got to be in you. He that HATH the Son HATH life. These guys are trying Stephen, a man who’s preaching the gospel and actually doing good in his life… and he’s being tried by guys that have no fruit at all in their life, no evidence of anything other than jealous, bitter, resentful, selfish and murderous inner reality. God’s not in their house. And they’ve missed what salvation is all about. Salvation is about a changed life, not spiritually devoid religion. It starts with forgiveness, it continues with a new birth, it culminates in a new person who’s perfectly in the image of Christ. Remember that image of God we were created with… that same image that was so catastrophically marred by sin, by disobedience… well that image is restored in Christ. That’s what a Christian should be… Christlike. That’s why they called them Christians.
You wonder why Stephen got stoned? He shows them their entire life is a lie. Their very cause is a joke. God’s word can really expose us, and it cut them to the heart. They were MAD. Abraham is our father. We have the law. We keep it. We will fanatically defend it. Yet you don’t know the God you claim to serve. You are the ones that opposed Moses, you are the ones that turned back to Egypt, you’re the ones who killed the prophets, you’re the ones who killed Jesus. They had all that stuff, all that religion, yet no Spirit of God. The Bible says but Solomon built him an house. That’s wonderful isn’t it? But God desires to dwell in you. His tabernacle is with men. You see, the failure of the law was that it couldn’t create a new person. So while do’s and don’ts, as good and holy as they were, were necessary… they couldn’t change that part of us which wants to do evil, which sins constantly. So laws were imposed, but it just made us more sinful, increasing and increasing the sin, that’s what Paul wrote about in Romans 7. God’s interested in who you fundamentally are. Jesus took it from religious observance to the heart level in the sermon on the mount. What good is it God dwelling in a box over there while you’re everywhere else sinning. And furthermore, if he’s the God who created all things, you’re really going to confine him to a house u make out of wood and stone?
They had the temple, but no internal reality… which is what it all was about. The entire dialogue between God and man was about Jesus, who would save them, forgive them and make them a new creation. God wants to fix our sin problem. And if you ever got saved, you are now the house of God. Not a house built in a location that you visit now and then, but God dwelling in you. Hebrews 3:6 – But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. That’s why your actions in your life are important. How can you be a temple of the living God, yet live in sin? How can God be in you, yet you want to fornicate, to drink, to lie, to cheat, to steal? How can the God of the Bible be in you, yet you live a life denying his word, disobeying his word, hating his word, rejecting his word? These guys were going to the temple to sacrifice, to do offerings, to pray, to look good and noble… and meanwhile they are planning to murder Jesus? See how stupid it is? Look at who they are and what they’re doing. They’re manipulative, they’re liars, they’re consumed in envy and pride. They’ve missed the whole point from Abraham to now. Stephen rubbished their religion. They’d built their entire life on a vain, pretentious, empty, dead… spiritually void religious system. He talks about how they resisted the Holy Spirit. Moses gave the law, they never kept it. They rebelled against him and it. Whenever the prophets had come, they killed them. Jesus exposed them, they killed him. That’s resisting the Holy Spirit.
God’s not interested in your rubbish or my rubbish. They had religion in the desert, but what were they doing, murmuring, complaining, rebelling, lusting. God’s dwelling in the tabernacle… doesn’t it make it all a joke? That’s why it needed to be done away with. They weren’t changed. There had to be something better than this. Salvation couldn’t come from a set of commandments written on stone imposed on sinful flesh. We need a new heart, a new spirit… the law that they worshiped, that they couldn’t keep… it couldn’t do that. It wasn’t designed to do that even. There’s a better law now. A law given based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who satisfied the law on our behalf. Who paid for the sins under the old law. God makes a new covenant with humanity, a new covenant in which he comes to dwell in us, in which he writes the law in the fleshy tables of the heart. That’s a new person folks. That’s being adopted by God. Abba Father. Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. When you believe on the gospel, Jesus comes to dwell in your heart. He makes a Holy place in you, he dwells there, you become spiritually alive. You no longer have to live a life of sin, you have power to overcome. That’s what God is interested in… your heart. Sacrificing bulls and goats, keeping sabbaths, building temples… what is that if you’re still a slave of sin in your mind and heart?
This is what got Stephen stoned. God wants to change you inside. He doesn’t want to dwell in a house which you visit every seven days. God wants to dwell in your heart not be put in a man made building. Where’s the internal reality which you now can have through the risen Christ? So under the law God dwelt in a temple, but under the new covenant God dwells in you. That’s better? The house really meant nothing, they were as evil as anything, it was just dead religion. Stephen exposed it, and that’s why they stoned him. These spirit filled words didn’t find a home just like from Abraham’s day. No home in a dead, truth rejecting, sin loving heart. They refused that glorious ministration of the spirit spoken of in 2 Corinthians 3. Salvation is a new birth. Furthermore, receiving the Holy Spirit is just the firstfruits of our salvation. The Bible says we are now the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. There’s a glorious future ahead, that’s why Stephen had the face of an angel, even as the rocks were flying. If you are born again, you have received incorruptible seed, and just like a seed falling into the ground, what that seed turns into is something completely different to what the seed itself looks like. Read 1 Corinthians 15 for more. But the whole creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God the Bible says. The future belongs to people with the Spirit of God, the people born of God, the sons of God.
Stephen got stoned because of God’s word. He got stoned because their religion system which they’d made an idol of got exposed for the dead religion it was. It hadn’t changed them at all. They were wicked and sinful… and they refused God. I mean… they murdered Stephen. They had nothing on him. They refused the Holy Spirit. You know the gospel it what brings the new birth. Tell people about Jesus Christ… that’ll change someone. But they said nuh uh. They said no to the Holy Spirit. They instead crucified Jesus. And they were about to stone another man of God bringing God’s word to them. Salvation is a new birth, it’s forgiveness of sin and a new life through the power of the Spirit of God, that same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead. This dialogue sums up humanity as a whole… dead inside despite an exterior. God’s interested in your heart condition, who you really are. But heaven forbid God come to dwell in us right? That’s a little close to home. We’d rather him in a house we visit every so often and leaving him there? It’s entirely possible to live your whole life missing the point, to have a legacy of missing the point. Jesus said, ye must be born again. You have to be forgiven of your sin, and you have to believe on Jesus Christ. Salvation is in him, that’s what all this law and temple and Moses and prophets was about. It’s about Jesus Christ, who’s come to save you from your sins. That mob murdered Jesus, they murdered Stephen… there was no new life or real life there… just dead religion. And God’s word, the Holy Spirit, exposing that is what got Stephen stoned.
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Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 32 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)
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