Saturday, May 21, 2016


For the week beginning Sunday May 22, 2016

(Remembering GOD’s faithfulness)
 (Acts 7)

In Acts chapter 7, verses 2-53, Stephen delivers the longest recorded speech in the Book of Acts. It was an Oration that would lead to his death, and caused him to become the first Martyr in the Christian Church. His speech enraged the Jewish religious leaders, and caused “hatred’s insanity” to rear its ugly head again, like no other time since the recent Crucifixion of CHRIST.
Stephen’s long and eloquent speech refuted the three most basic pillars that a first century Jew revered most.

·        First of all, he refuted their belief that their land, the “Promised Land”, was the only land good enough to be deemed holy. He reminds them that GOD’s work often took place outside of the “Promised Land” (i.e. Mount Sinai; Exodus 3:5). He also reminded them that, wherever GOD is, it is there, that is considered to be “Holy Ground” (Acts 7:2-36).
·        Secondly, Stephen refuted their belief in the superior power of Moses, and his hand-delivered laws. He points out to them that even Moses foretold of a coming PROPHET who would be greater than himself, and he told them that, when HE comes, HE should be the one that they listen to (Deuteronomy 18:15). He also reminds them how the Israelites even rejected Moses, and embraced idols, just as they had rejected JESUS, and killed HIM (Acts 7:37-43).
·        And finally, he refuted their beliefs about the Temple. The Jews saw the Temple as a symbol of GOD’s past workings with Israel, and the only place by which GOD could dwell among them in the present. They could not see GOD dwelling among them in the person of JESUS CHRIST, and neither could they recognize the work and presence of the HOLY SPIRIT among them. As a result, they had no problem, not only killing JESUS, but they had no problem killing any of GOD’s many messengers HE had sent among them over the years, who, were only armed with GOD’s eternal truth (Acts 7:44-53).

And so we see that, Stephen had not only knocked down “the three greatest pillars of the Jewish Faith”, but he had also exalted JESUS by proclaiming HIM to be the MESSIAH. And that is why JESUS, Stephen, all of the Old Testament Prophets, and most of the New Testament writers and thinkers, had to die.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “witness” is the same word from which the word “martyr” is derived in the English language. That word is “martus” (mar-toos) and it means not just to witness with words, but, in the biblical sense, it means to witness with the giving of one’s life for CHRIST, and literally using one’s whole body and life to deliver GOD’s message to HIS people, and, to the world.
And so, what I said in one of my earlier commentaries becomes necessary to be repeated here. When we say we are witnesses for CHRIST, we are really saying that we are ready to die for CHRIST on a moment’s notice, without giving it a second thought, just as Stephen and many others have done, since the infancy stages of Christianity. If we are not ready to do that, then, we are quite literally, “false witnesses” in the biblical sense. And so, “professed Christians” need to be careful what they say and do under the watchful eye of GOD.
What we say about our belief in GOD must be reflected 100% in our actions and behavior in life. Stephen was a “true witness” for CHRIST, and that is evidenced in his allowing himself to become the first martyr, after JESUS, for the sake of Christianity. Without a doubt, Stephen was able to see the theological implications of “Justification by Faith”, and, “the fulfillment of the Law in JESUS CHRIST”. He also was able to discern that, if the Gospel was intended for the whole world, Jews and Gentiles, then GOD must have surely intended for “the Law of Moses” to be a temporary arrangement.
It is the opposition of both the willing, and, the unwitting components of satan that true Christians must endure. We know that, for JESUS, the only way back to the glory of Heaven was through the Cross, and so it is with those of us who follow HIM. With open eyes, JESUS accepted the circumstances of the Cross, so that, whosoever believes in HIM will not perish, but rather, will always have and enjoy, “Everlasting Life”.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. We, as Christians, need to come to rest in this thought involving Physics, because it also applies spiritually, especially when we first begin our Christian walk. The more we act like a Christian in society, the more opposition satan is going to send our way. We have to make ourselves ready and stay strong by studying GOD’s word, by prayer, and, by associating and fellowshipping with other Christians.
We will also receive opposition from our own “sin nature”, as we fight to win the battle within ourselves between reason and passion. However, by continuing to fill ourselves with the Word of GOD, by prayer, and by allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to work within us, soon our Christian walk will move from being a thing of struggle, to being a thing of peace.
We must pray constantly and earnestly to GOD for wisdom, strength, and courage in facing the pressures of opposition from the forces of satan, who is very busy trying to steal, kill, and destroy the lives of GOD’s people. We must pray also for GOD to grant us the boldness of Stephen in our application of HIS Word in our everyday life, as we struggle to overcome this world, just as JESUS did before us. And we must prove to the world, through our behavior, all along the way, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, May 6, 2016


For the week beginning Sunday May 8, 2016

Acts 6:1-7

Racial hostility and ethnic disputes are not problems of opposition that were born during the infancy stages of our nation’s existence, but rather, they are problems that have been around since the infancy of human existence. In Acts chapter 6, verses 1-7, Luke gives us a vivid description of just such a case of “ethnic opposition”, which led to the birth of the “Deacon concept” in the Christian Church.
Here in this particular passage, we see rumblings of discontent involving “Greek speaking” Jewish believers, who were being discriminated against by “Hebrew speaking” Jewish believers. The Hebrew speaking Jews were unfairly distributing food, showing favor to their own respective “widow population”. In order to resolve these disputes, the twelve Disciples of CHRIST called a meeting of all the current believers.
At that meeting, they cited that they, as Apostles, needed to spend their time preaching and teaching the Word of GOD, not administering a food program. They called on the believers to choose from among themselves, seven men, who were full of the HOLY SPIRIT, and wisdom, and put those men in charge of the food distribution program. And so we see that, even when we work in a domestic capacity in the Church, we must still be as serious about CHRIST as we would be if we were pastoring the Church.
This idea presented by the apostles pleased the people of both groups, and they chose from among them, Stephen, a man full of faith and the HOLY SPIRIT, Philip, who later went on to preach the Gospel from Samaria to Caesarea, Procorus, Nicanor, Timmon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch, a Gentile convert, first, to the Jewish Faith, and then later, to Christianity.
The Apostles then ordained the men, and prayed for them while laying hands on each of those individuals. This action freed up a wealth of time for the apostles, and afterwards, GOD’s message was preached in ever-widening circles, and the number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem. Many Jewish Priests also converted to Christianity during this time and the Church begin to position itself for greater growth throughout the Roman Empire.

Acts 6:8-15

With that said, let us now focus on one of those seven men, who was chosen that day to serve in the Church at Jerusalem, the one who is called, Stephen. Stephen, whose name means “wreath”, or “crown”, was a man who was full of GOD’s grace and power. He performed many amazing miracles and signs among the people of Jerusalem. In fact, his ministry, arrest, and trial are very similar to that of our LORD, JESUS CHRIST. And like anyone whose life is patterned after JESUS in this world, opposition arose against Stephen one day in the form of a group of men from the “Synagogue of Freedmen”, a Temple in Jerusalem that was dedicated to the Jews who were former slaves of Roman citizens.
These men were also called “Libertines”, and, they came from Cyrene and Alexandria in northern Africa, the province of Asia, and Cilicia, Paul’s home country, where Tarsus is located. They had all converted to “Judaism”, following their release from slavery.
Now apparently, these men tried to debate against Stephen, and were not able to prevail against him in a public theological debate forum, and so, they began to conjure up lies about him, falsely accusing him of blaspheme against Moses, and, against GOD, both offenses punishable by “death by stoning”.
Their accusations aroused the crowds, the elders, and the teachers of religious law against Stephen, and as a result, he was placed under arrest and brought before the high council. These “lying witnesses” spoke of the time when they heard Stephen re-iterate the misunderstood words of JESUS, when HE said HE would destroy the temple, and change the customs of Moses. Of course these words that they spoke of were taken way out of context, and in fact, had been totally perverted.
Whenever we side with CHRIST JESUS, we automatically put ourselves in the position to be opposed by the world. JESUS HIMSELF warned of this in the Gospel of John (John 15:18-25), after HE had taken HIS twelve apostles into private teaching shortly before HIS crucifixion. He told them that, “When the world hates you, remember it hated ME before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you” (John 15:18-19) - NLT).
JESUS went on to tell them, that, “Since they persecuted ME, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to ME, they would listen to you! The people of the world will hate you because you belong to ME, for they don’t know GOD WHO sent ME. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates ME hates MY FATHER too….This has fulfilled what the Scriptures said: “They hated ME without cause” (John 15:20b-25) (NLT).
In the Greek, the word used for “World” is “Kosmos”, and it is from that word that we derive our English word “Cosmos”. In the spiritual sense, “it is that complex intertwining of sinful desires that shape our world of “lost humanity”. When we choose the “Christian Walk”, we automatically become strangers to “worldly behavior”. We are no longer permanent residents of this earth, but rather, we become citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the Laws of GOD, just as they were to Stephen and many other “true witnesses”, must become paramount to us, also.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website