Today we take a close look at the beginnings of Stephen’s discourse before the Jewish religious leaders. Stephen had become well known for preaching the Gospel with such power that the Jewish leaders could not resist his wisdom and Spirit (Acts 6:10). So in order to silence him, false witnesses were brought in to accuse Stephen of various forms of blaspheme (Acts 6:11ff). Being brought before the Jewish ruling counsel Stephen’s response was not so much a “defense” as it was a damning condemnation against the Jews for their long history of rejecting God’s message and messengers.
Stephen first calls Abraham to the witness stand as an example of who God calls and how men are justified. Abraham was considered the father of their faith. Yet Stephen directed by the Holy Spirit presented a strong case for salvation by grace through faith rather than via obeying the Law of Moses or Jewish customs.
“What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,” Romans 4:1-5
May we never forget God’s method of calling and saving. God’s sovereign election is by grace through faith. It is now. And it always has been.