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Bible Lesson Outlines

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Adult Sunday School | Sunday Evening Service | Wednesday Night Mid-Week Service

Adult Sunday School

GETTING TO KNOW BIBLE CHARACTERS

Stephen: First Christian Martyr

Lesson 9: New Testament Character

Text: Acts 6:5-15; 7:1-60

Introduction:

All that is recorded in the New Testament about Stephen is contained in Acts 6:5-15; 7:1-60; 8:2; 11:19 and 22:20. He was certainly one of God's "spiritual giants," and his gracious ministry was suddenly cut short by martyrdom. We think of him, quite rightly, as the first of the Christian martyrs. Many have followed in his footsteps; indeed many are following in this train by laying down their lives for the sake of the gospel.

Stephen was one of the "seven" (Acts 6:3) selected to "wait on tables" (Acts 6:2); but it is interesting to note that almost immediately after this choice had been made, "Stephen did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people" (Acts 6:8). Like so many whom God used, and of whom we read in the book of Acts, Stephen was a man who was "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom . . .and grace . . . and power" (Acts 6:3, 8). There are seven important truths which emerge from the record of his life and ministry.

 
  1. THE GREATEST SERVICE FOR GOD, AND ONE IN WHICH EVERY BELIEVER CAN SHARE, IS TO SHINE FOR HIM, (Acts 6:15).

    Not all of us can preach, perform miracles, and contend for the faith like Stephen, but all of us can shine for the Lord, as he did. This is a most gracious ministry that is within reach of every Christian. Moses experienced the blessing of a shining countenance - in Exodus 34:29, 30 and 35; and of our Lord we read that He was transfigured upon the holy mount (Matthew 17:2). We have all met Christians whose faces have literally shone with the glory of the Lord, but what is the secret of a shining countenance?
    2 Corinthians 3:18 has the answer.

  2. SPIRIT-FILLED WORKERS ARE ALWAYS MIGHTY IN THE SCRIPTURES, 2 Timothy 2:15.

    In Acts chapter 7, Stephen gave a complete survey of Jewish history. What a living illustration he was of 2 Timothy 2:15! Whenever God has a servant whom He is greatly using, you will find that the servant is one who feeds on and who is filled with the Word. And to be filled with the Word is the way to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to be filled with the Holy Spriit is to be filled with the Word. It is a privilege of every believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The important thing is our capacity for the Holy Spirit. A "babe in Christ" may be as truly "filled" as a mature believer; both may be filled, but the capacity of the mature believer is infinitely greater that that of the "babe." The only way to mature is to feed upon the Word of God, and thus this is also the way to a greater capacity for His fullness (Colossians 3:16).

  3. FAITHFULNESS TO GOD AND PERSECTUION ARE INSEPARABLY LINKED TOGETHER, Acts 7:54, 58-59.

    Stephen was determined to be faithful to God and to declare all the truth, as we learn from Acts 20:27, and this resulted in his enemies becoming enraged. But Stephen knew that the Lord had said that the pathway of obedience and service would by no means be easy (Matthew 5:10-12; John 16:33; Acts 5:41; Philippians 1:29 and 1 Peter 4:12-19). The important thing is to be in God's will and to be submissive to Him.

  4. TRUE FAITH ENDURES IN TRIALS THROUGH SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE, Hebrews 11:27.

    Moses did just that (Hebrews 11:27) and Stephen did the same (Acts 7:54, 58-59, and verses 55-56!). Paul and Silas were able to pray and sing praises to God even when they were suffering in prison. They proved the sufficiency of God's grace to uphold them (Acts 16:22-25).

  5. A CHRISTIAN IS ONE WHO IS LIKE CHRIST, CHRIST-LIKE, Galatians 2:20

    A Christian is one who possesses Christ, and to possess Him to become like Him (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). Stephen was like his Lord; he was meek and lowly and he prayed for those who despitefully used him (Matthew 5:44; 11:29). In his death, like Jesus, Stephen called upon God (Acts 7:59; Matthew 27:46). Are we like Jesus?

  6. THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS IS THE SEED OF THE CHURCH, Acts 7:58.

    One of those who watched the stoning of Stephen and listened to his testimony and his dying prayer was Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7:58; 22:20); and there is little doubt that the whole incident wrought deep conviction in the heart and conscience of this young enemy of the gospel. Thus the death of Stephen was fruitful in Saul's conversion (Acts 9:1-17).

  7. TO THE BELIEVER, DEATH IS BUT A FALLING ASLEEP, Acts 7:60.

    Note the last three words in Acts 7:60. He had already committed his spirit to the Lord (verse 59), but it was his body which fell asleep. Stephen was "away from the body" and "at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Death equals sleep. How beautiful, for sleep means rest after toil, and freedom from fear, sorrow and all the strains of life. In sleep we pass from one day to another, and for the Christian, death is the short passage from earth's little day of trouble to Heaven's eternal day of glory!


Sunday Evening Service

THE PEOPLE GOD USES

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

FOUR PRINCIPLES THAT WILL MAKE ONE USABLE

  1. THE PEOPLE GOD USES ARE COMMON PEOPLE
    1. Ordinary people are used by God.
    2. Obedient people are used by God.
  2. THE PEOPLE GOD USES ARE CONSECRATED PEOPLE
    1. They have a personal relationship with God.
    2. They are rely upon God.
  3. THE PEOPLE GOD USES ARE COMMITTED PEOPLE
    1. They are committed in spite of obstacles.
    2. They are committed in spite of opposition.
    3. They can see and take advantage of opportunities.
  4. THE PEOPLE GOD USES ARE COURAGEOUS PEOPLE
    1. They are willing to accept the risk.
    2. They are willing to accept the ridicule.
    3. They are willing to accept the results.

Wednesday Night Mid-Week Service

IT IS LATER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN!

Text: 2 Peter 3:1-10 (Romans 13:11b); "for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."

There are not too many things you can actually count on. The stock markets have their ups and downs. The economy could be doing better. The prospects for peace in the world are distant. Preachers, churches and ministries are continually straying away from the Lord and causing confusion and doubt. In fact, if you live with your faith in men, ministries, and money, then you are going to live a very disappointing and discouraging life. Jesus is coming and you can take that to the bank. Let me show you some reasons why that is true.

  1. THE ASSURANCE OF THE SCRIPTURES, vs. 1-2

    1. The Bible is a perfect book - 2 Timothy 3:16. It is the absolutely perfect revelation of God's will to mankind. You can count on the Word of God!
    2. The Bible is a prophetic book. Throughout the Bible, there are prophecies presented and fulfilled, over and over again.
    3. The Bible is a preserved book. God will see to it that none of His words fall to the ground, Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 5:18; 1 Peter 1:25; Romans 4:21.
  2. THE IGNORANCE OF THE SCOFFERS, vs. 3-7, 10

    1. The doubt, v. 4. They deny the reality of Christ's coming.
    2. The denial, vs. 4-5. These scoffers base their doubt on their denial of God's revealed truth.
    3. The discovery, vs. 4-7. Why are men so quick to deny the plain teachings of the Scriptures? Notice what the Bible has to say in verse ten. The elements, "the elementum" means the "smallest part." Examples: Oxygen, Nitrogen, Sodium, Water, the atom, the earth. Verse seven says "reserved unto fire" or "reserved with fire." In the very building blocks of creation God placed the elements essential to bring about a fiery end to this world.
  3. THE PATIENCE OF THE SAVIOR, vs. 8-9
    1. God is punctual. God always shows up exactly when He is supposed to!
    2. God is patient. The reason God waits is to allow lost men and women ample time to repent and to turn to Him.
    3. God has promised. He will come again, just as He said He would, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
Conclusion:

These truths should stir the hearts of God's people and make us want to get as close to Jesus as we can get so that in the time remaining, we might be used by Him to touch this world. There are multitudes all around us who have never received Jesus as their Savior. You might be the one to reach them.

Jesus is coming! That is one thing you can take to the bank.


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Richmond, VA