INTRO: For weeks the question the high priest asked of Stephen has been coming repeatedly to my mind. Are these things so? I think that is a very good, relevant question! Now, I recognize that Stephen was in a hostile, ugly situation. But he had been preaching Christ very publicly and his preaching met with unkind opposition. In fact, his opposition decided to inflame greater hostility by accusing him of virtually the same things which the false witnesses said of Jesus! (v.14) Are these things so?
I. DID JESUS SAY HE WOULD DESTROY THE TEMPLE?
A. Mt 24:1,2 He did refer to temples destruction
1. did not say Hed destroy it
2. we know He referred to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.
B. Jno 2:19-21 He spoke, too, of his death, resurrection
1. and His Jewish hearers totally missed the point
2. in fact, the disciples must not have grasped the significance of the statement (note v.22)
3. Mk 14:56-59 accused of saying something He did not say ... twisted His words to fit the need!
4. Jesus never said Hed destroy the temple
C. What, then, was Stephen preaching, teaching?
1. something must have given rise to the false accusation manufactured against Him
2. no doubt he was preaching the risen Christ!
3. note Acts 4:33 and 17:18 ... central to preaching Christ is the fact that His is risen
4. did these suborned witnesses, or others, recall the charges made against Jesus and how effective they had been?
D. The point here?
1. it was not so that Jesus had said such a thing
2. but He did speak of His resurrection; and the apostles were witness of therisen Christ; and the disciples preached of the resurrection of the dead!
3. Stephen went on to say - Acts 7:47-50 ... the physical temple was not Gods dwelling place
4. but what Stephen preached was the risen Jesus!
II. DID JESUS OPPOSE THE LAW OF MOSES?
A. Mt 5:17,18 Not to destroy, but to fulfill
1. never once did Jesus speak against Moses
2. to the contrary, He was careful in observance of the law and the revealed ordinances
3. I think always of Lk 4:16
B. Yes, He opposed the developed religion of His day!
1. Mt 15:1-3,9 they had found a way around the law - and He condemned them for their dishonoring the law by their developed tradition
2. or Mt 23:1-7,13 He called the leaders of this quasi Mosaic system hypocrites
3. no wonder they opposed Him, wanted Him dead
C. But He never spoke against Moses, the law
1. indeed, He referred often to the law and to the propriety of it ...
Mt 7:12 - 22:36-39
2. He insisted that people observe it - Mt 8:1-4
3. but He was a threat to devoted hypocrisy
D. What might Stephen have been saying?
1. note Acts 7:37 ...Him shall ye hear
2. no doubt He preached Jesus ... the Messiah
3. and the establishment wanted none of it
4. are these things so? no, they were not but the truth was Jesus is risen; Jesus is that One Whom Moses said we should hear
CLOSE: It is the risen Jesus who says to you ... Come! False witnesses have come and gone. Jesus lives. So, Heb 7:25. Are you ready to come to the Father?
Cecil A. Hutson
24 September 2000
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)