Stephen had a clear, distinct sound come forth as he gazed upon Jesus Christ in glory. He spoke and His sound exalted the reality of a risen Savior. This sound was antagonistic to a religious Pharisaical mindset. They gnashed their teeth with furious frustration while stopping their ears, unable to listen to the sound of heaven.
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. Acts 7:54-58 NKJV
Stephen spoke truth, confronting contradictions with every word.
“You stiff- necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it (Acts 7:51-53 NKJV)
Then he lifted his eyes and saw the Lord. That enraged the religious system and contradicted their sound. The religious system in this time lived in an atmosphere that refused to truly SEE or to truly HEAR. These words came forth as light in the darkness. The darkness could not comprehend it and was enraged by it so it caused them to react by stopping their ears. They did not want to hear. They refused to hear.
The sound of heaven empowered Stephen’s words. Stephen’s eyes focused on the revealed glory of God. He could not deny the preeminence of Christ. He could not do anything other than speak the sound of heaven itself. Every fear paled in light of God’s glory. Fear simply faded in the presence of love. He could not do anything but speak. And, in the face of imminent death, He focused on Jesus.
Let me bring this into today, into my own life, perhaps with a spiritual application. When speaking forth the marvelous freedom of grace in Christ, I confront the contradiction that exists within a religious sound. What does this sound do? Even today? It gnashes its teeth trying to defend its doctrinal position with accusatory words on social media. Then it gets worse. When the sound can’t be handled, it closes its ears and rushes forward to basically try to stop you and kill your voice through slander and opposition on all sides. Its goal is to kill or keep us silent. Yet, how can we not bring forth a sound that flows in the glory of Christ? In continually exploring, studying and praying through this grace message, I can only say, “Yes.”
As I continue to spend time in the Lord, studying Scripture, worship, and praying in the Spirit, I am not being tossed around by wave after wave of constant Christian noise. I don’t lose my focus on Christ in me. I discern the sound of love, grace, freedom, mercy, abundant life in Christ and so much more in everything I listen to in this time. Let us discern the sound of today. Listen carefully to hear whether it is bringing you life in the Spirit of death.
As I encountered a grace awakening over these past few years, after a long time being in the mix of everything charismatic, prophetic, experiential, I began to turn to solid teaching that would enhance my life in Christ in truth, in grace, in Good News, in life, in New Covenant. It was a new sound at first and I was a bit apprehensive as religion, even in the form of the charismatic or prophetic stuff, tried to stifle me and pull me back in various ways. I kept thinking, kept searching, and kept finding Jesus around every turn, in portions of Scripture that opened my eyes to see something fresh and new.
Is Jesus really that good? Yes.
What was I thinking all these years – performing for Him, trying to get His attention, trying to add on things to my salvation in order to grow in Christ?
Grace is solid, real, sure and true but let me say that it will confront contradictions within first and foremost with the purpose of revealing Jesus Christ in and through you. Along the way I read some great books and learned from some great people that you may be interested in at this time.
Paul Ellis blog – Escape to Reality
Paul Ellis – The Gospel in Ten Words
Bertie Brits – Dynamic Love Ministries
Andrew Farley – The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church
Andrew Farley – God Without Religion: Can It Really Be This Simple?