I just want to change the world. That’s it. Nothing more. So… who’s with me?
Have you ever considered the life of one of the boldest preachers in history? He was of such significance that God gave him a place in Scripture, a testimony for all time, because of his great faith in Christ.
I want to challenge you—and you pastors in particular. I want to challenge my own heart to become more like this solitary proclaimer of God’s word, this witness and illumination of a courageous man of God, this single-soldier battalion of the truth. I want to become like Stephen.
Here’s what it says of him:
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (Acts 6:8-10)
How? What was his secret? Where did Stephen garner such a particular place in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ? Well, there are two things he was – and two things he did – that will help us understand what it will take for you and me step up to that singular role God has given to us.
What was he?
First, Stephen was a man “full of God’s grace.”
A man full of God’s grace is a man who understands and knows the great chasm between humanity and God, and who knows that the only means of crossing over is by the Divine hand of mercy. To put it bluntly, Stephen knew himself as a sinner and knew that it was only in the grace of Christ he had redemption. But, it’s to the word “full” that I draw your attention. Filled up, completely covered, and abounding with God’s grace. Is that your description? This grace that Stephen knew became the fullness of his life, the very essence of who he was and the expression of all he desired. When you are “full” of something, you are dominated by that thing, overwhelmed with its presence and only complete when it is real.
Second, he was a man “full of God’s power.”
A man full of God’s power is a man who is dominated and driven to do all that God desires and finds God’s strength to be the only source and supply needed to accomplish His grand purpose. Stephen could do “great wonders and miraculous signs” among the people because he relied on the only power in life that could make any difference at all—the power of God. Do you do this? Have you recognized the purpose of God in your life, and do you rely on His power to accomplish the mission? I fear that there are too many who have such a small view life that they never need rely on God’s power for anything. It’s easy to live in the human capacity for existence; it takes God’s power to live boldly beyond the limits of this temporary experience. And, let me say this: you will never experience God’s power working in your life until you step into a life of faith that actually needs it.
What did he do?
First, Stephen spoke with wisdom.
Ah, wisdom! What a concept – to speak with wisdom the words of God. No diatribes, no renditions of vulgar human parlance, nothing but the clear rendering of God’s word. If anyone will ever change the world, it will not come with the voice of the fool. Angry rhetoric and worthless rants have become the conversations many have fallen into. But God will use that man or woman who will determine to actually know what they’re talking about – that man or woman who will speak with true wisdom and not bombastic irrationality. If you want to know what wise speaking is like, just read Acts, chapter seven. It is the message Stephen proclaimed to the Sanhedrin.
Second, Stephen spoke by the Spirit.
There are times when it seems that the words simply flow out. And then there are times when I fight for every syllable. Which is from the Spirit of God? Both and neither. Ease of speech is no indicator of God’s Spirit guiding your words. And carefully plotting every word is no hindrance to the Spirit’s leading. The one true indicator that you’re speaking by the Spirit of God is whether or not you’re speaking the truth of God’s word. Only the Word of God is the definitive authority concerning the working of the Spirit. Too many proclaimers of messages hang upon the world’s concepts and mentalities and never venture into the great power of God’s word. But the Holy Spirit will only speak through you when you open your mouth to proclaim God’s truth.
Now’s the time, my friends. Will you take the challenge that I spoke of earlier? Will I? I want to. And if God is looking for a volunteer… then I raise my hand!
For His Glory,
Michael Duncan is a multi-published author, including From Vision to Victory and Shadow Remnant. He is a former co-host on the Alive in Christ radio network and serves as a pastor in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He is a keynote speaker and conference presenter and can be contacted at authormichaelduncan.com. Sign up for Michael’s newsletter at his website and download “A Manifesto on Revival” free!