A Power-full Sermon

“Are these things so?”


Stephen stood before a crowd of people, all waiting with hushed expectancy to hear his answer to the high priest’s question. The religious leaders couldn’t allow a man who spoke with wisdom and grace and power, who performed great wonders and signs because he was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, to continue to damage their legalistic control. And so they trumped up some false accusations of blasphemy and dragged him before the council.


“Are these things so?”


The high priest asked a few simple questions—had Stephen been spreading lies about Moses? About God? Had he been speaking against the temple and the Law? These were serious charges indeed.


Stephen stood calmly, and as the crowd watched him, his face “was like the face of an angel.” His countenance reflected the presence of God.


Stephen spoke. Beginning with Abraham and God’s promise of offspring and land to a childless wanderer, he reminded his audience of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. Next, the story of Joseph recalled God’s ability to give favor and freedom to one who was delivered a captive—sold unjustly by those who were envious of him—to a place and a people which would eventually become the Israelites’ master. As he told of Moses, he invoked the memory of captivity, miraculous deliverance, and of wandering in the wilderness, relying on God’s provision; it was Moses who spoke to God, first in a burning bush, later on a holy mountain.


He spoke of God giving His people the living word, the Law. He spoke of Joshua leading them into the Promised Land as God drove their enemies out. He spoke of David—lover of God and loved by God—an imperfect man who wanted to build a permanent dwelling place for God. He spoke of wise Solomon and his fulfillment of David’s dream when he built the great temple.


Most importantly, Stephen proclaimed the words of Isaiah:

Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Did not My hand make all these things?


In Stephen’s time of personal crisis, he reflected the presence of God because he rehearsed the power of God. 


Have you ever experienced a moment when you are called to defend your faith or your actions? When questioned, Stephen’s default response was to recount the Israelites’ great history as God’s chosen people, a people who could name promises kept and wonders performed. He could stand confidently in the face of opposition because he knew, in his mind and in his heart, that the same God who had done all of that was the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. The same question is ours today, and we must be ready to answer with the assurance which comes from meditating on God’s power.


“Are these things so?”

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