Acts 7:51–60 (NKJV)
51 “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
Stephen summarizes his message with an indictment against the Jews, who have rejected the message of God through the prophets, and have rejected the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ. He calls them stubborn and full of sin, resistant to the Holy Spirit. He even calls out their ancestors to expose a long tradition of rejecting the very message of the angels if it did not suit their purposes.
54 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!”Acts 7:54-60
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. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen got his point across. The reaction of the council, jeering at him, baring their teeth like rabid animals, then running at him, eventually stoning him, was a litany of rebellious acts of their rejection of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They killed the messenger, they threw the word of the Lord back in His face. They begged for judgment. Yet, in all this, the servant of the Lord did not revile, did not rebuke, but simply looked up to the Lord, asked to be received in heaven, and asked the Lord to forgive his murderers. This meek and kind spirit could only have come from God. This peace in the midst of terror is a testament to the staying power of God in the life of a true believer.
Which reaction will you embrace? When God brings truth home to you, even when it convicts you of the weakness in your own life, will you embrace His forgiveness and peace, or will you stiffen your neck and reject the chastening of the Lord. Be sure that grace is available to you, but do not push it away too long. Don’t allow time to run out on your forgiveness or your salvation. Break the hold of generational sins and be delivered! Lay aside the tedious traditions that claim divine origin, but have lost their efficacy long ago. God is looking for people who–when cut to the heart with conviction–will fall before Him in repentance and be healed.