SHOW THEM SIN, GIVE THEM GRACE
51 (E)“You stiff-necked people, (F)uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. (G)As your fathers did, so do you. 52 (H)Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of (I)the Righteous One, (J)whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law (K)as delivered by angels and (L)did not keep it.”
Stephen was recounting how God has moved in history by reviewing the Old Testament to the people. For the clincher, he told the people how great God is and how God has been faithful and the exchange He gets for being God is that they resisted the Holy Spirit.
Ouch!!! I felt like he was talking to me. With God’s love and faithfulness, why can’t I fully obey. Why do I still act like a stiff necked uncircumcised child of God?
It took God years to finally get through me. It is when I understand that HIS LOVE is unchanging and unfailing and unconditional – that did me. His love transformed me. His love makes Him great. What moved me to repentance is His great love and His awesomeness!!! On the other hand, the people during Stephen’s time reacted in a different way:
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.
When confronted with sin, how do we react? When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, how do we respond? Do we move in pride or humility?
55 But he, 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 he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And (O)falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The gospel is offensive, I think we can never do anything about that. The gospel points out how we are sinful, weak, helpless, dependent people. It shows us our need of a Savior. It goes against the mindset of the world – that we can help ourselves.
To my fellow pastors and preachers, preach the WORD boldly. Don’t be ashamed to call for repentance and point people to Jesus. SHOW THEM SIN BUT GIVE THEM GRACE.