Community Group Questions: 1.22.2023 (Acts 7)
- Read again Acts 7:54-60. Discuss the "three sentences" Stephen says.
- Think about the response of the Sanhedrin to Stephen and contrast that with Stephen's response to them. How does knowing that Jesus is for you and your great defender push against your heart when your response resembles that of the Sanhedrin?
- In Acts 7:51 Stephen says,
51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
Stephen makes a connection between the promise of the Older Testament and the fulfillment of that promise in the Newer testament when he talks about thier "heart and ears are still incircumcised." In other words, they are still unacceptable before the Lord because they are resisting him in their hearts and ears. The proof of this he mentions in vs. 52 as he connects their response to him with their ancestors response to the prophets and the Righteous One.
Following Jesus always starts with what is going on in our hearts and minds. It is why doing more, being more, and setting up your own standard of being acceptable to the Lord will never be "enough". God's first intention is for us to see him for who he is, to accept his grace driven by his love, and to then live in light of both.
Consider this question: What are ways and means we can cultivate a heart that is in sync with God's love and his ways?
- Stephen sees Jesus in Acts 7:56 standing at the right hand of God. If you remember the Apostles creed, we say that Jesus "sits at the right hand of God". Both are meaningful but discuss what Jesus standing before Stephen communicates to Stephen and to us.
- Read Acts 7:60 again. This is tough! What are the things that keep us from living a life of forgivness? How does meditating on the love of Christ for us and our world shape our understanding of and ability to forgive?
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