Sermon Overview & Discussion Questions: "First of Many"

Overview of the Sermon:
Luke delivers to us in Acts 6:8-8:4, the story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and how God begins to send His gospel to the gentiles. Stephen was a man who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit (6:5) and grace and power (6:8), passionate about teaching how all of the scriptures point to Jesus. In the temple, he comes under trial from the priests who accuse him of blasphemy, and ask what he has been teaching. His speech traces 3 themes throughout the Old Testament: how the land, the temple, and the law of God all had a temporary role that ultimately pointed to the Jesus the Savior. After accusing the Jewish leaders of rejecting God’s word and prophets throughout Jewish history and then finally killing their own Messiah, they break out in a rage and brutally stone Stephen to death. Just before he dies, he cries out to God for the forgiveness of the sins of those killing him, the chief of whom was a man named Saul, who will never forget this moment, and whose mention is a foreshadowing of the spread of the gospel to the nations. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How are you growing in your passion for the news and implications of the gospel in your life?
  2. How do you struggle with others' opinions of you and how might you reside more deeply in Jesus?
  3. How does this passage bolster your confidence in Jesus and give you courage as you seek to follow Him in a hostile world?
  4. We see in Acts that evangelism was normal for Christians, no matter the consequences. How can we encourage and pray for each other in this privilege today?
  5. Is there hostility you are facing right now that you could ask a friend in your community group to pray for?