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The Résumé of An Excellent Disciple
Stats: 4,637 words / Reading Time: 23.19 mins

Published: Wednesday 15th July 2020

The Résumé of An Excellent Disciple is read 1.5K times on CentreNDL.org 1.5K

The Résumé of An Excellent Disciple

A Case Study of Stephen

The goal of today’s message, is to examine something around the life of Stephen which I believe would be of benefit to us as disciples today. Acts 6 and 7 happens to be some of my favorite chapters of the book of Acts, and the reason for that is because of the account of Stephen that was documented there. I have read this chapters over and over again, and I have actually lost count really. Those chapters gave us an insight into what it takes to be an excellent disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, and what made Stephen to have such a great impact within the body even at that short period that his name appeared.

 

Download Podcast: THE RÉSUMÉ OF AN EXCELLENT DISCIPLE

 

Stephen happens to be the first martyr among the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now to die for the cause of Christ was not something that was completely strange to the disciples because Jesus had earlier told them that such a thing would happen. One of such statements was recorded in the book of John 16:1-4. Jesus said:

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things, I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. “And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

 

So, Stephen happened to be one of such incidents that was recorded in the New testament. He was not originally part of the twelve apostles that Jesus called, and that was why his name didn’t feature among them. He must have been part of the people who believed along the line and then ran with the vision of Christ. The Book of Acts chapter 6:9-15, and chapter 7 provided us with what indeed happened that God Stephen killed that early in the work. I think it would be fine if we start from that account before we now dive into other matters.

 

9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

Acts 6:9-15

 

A great debate had ensued between Stephen and certain men of Alexandria, Cyrene, Cilicia and Asia about Jesus, about their religion and beliefs. It appeared Stephen had said something like “Jesus was going to destroy their temple and made less of the law of Moses.” Anyway, whatever Stephen said must have really gotten into their bones and marrows. Now, when it appeared that debate was not going in their favor, they decided to accuse Stephen of speaking blasphemy, a sin punishable by death under the law. And so, in verse 15, Stephen was taken before the council to be judged of blasphemy.

 

When Stephen got before the council, Acts 7 revealed to us what transpired: “then the high priest said, “Are these things so?” One would think Stephen would be afraid and then begam to beg for his life, because to be accused of the sin of blasphemy is as good as one is gone. Instead, Stephen begam another historical journey into the history of the Jews, telling them how God began His journey with their forefathers to their own time. But at the end of it all, the entire story that Stephen told to make them see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ Jesus, did not seat down well with them. And in Acts 7:54-60, the unthinkable happened!

 

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!” 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’s Resume

Now, let us go to the heart of the teaching, because that is where we are actually going. What were the things that made Stephen so persuaded about the message of Christ, to the point that his life was taken because of it?

 

Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts 6:1-8

 

GOOD REPUTATION: An excellent disciple must be a man, a woman of good reputation. One of the responsibilities that Christ has given us is to represent Him well in this world, and there is no way we would be able to efficiently represent him if we have our reputations dented, because the world sees us most of the times by the things we do more than the things we say. 2 Corinthians 3:1-2, apostle Paul says: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

 

You cannot claim to be a disciple of Christ and your reputation is nothing to write home about. Having a good reputation is seen in people talking well about you. Friends, acquittances, neighbors et cetera, must have their testimony of you as beautiful and not the other way round. You can’t say something like “I belong to God therefore I don’t care what people say about me.” No! What people say about you matters a lot if you are going to be an excellent disciple. In Acts 16:1-2, look at what the people say about Timothy: Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

 

Now, it is not as if you are looking for people’s commendations, that is not what I am saying here. What I am simply saying is that your behavior and demeanor before men is of good reputation. The moment people begin to say “oh; that man is a pastor?” “oh, that woman is a deaconess?”, “if that man could be a pastor, then the devil himself is a saint.” The moment people utter such statements about your discipleship, then something is fundamentally wrong about your reputation. It is not enough that we have a good reputation before God alone, we must also have a good reputation with the people. Apostle Paul said in Acts 24:16 (TPT): That’s why I seek with all my heart to have a clean conscience toward God and toward others.

 

Characteristics of Good Reputation

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV)

 

FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND POWER: An excellent disciple must be full of the Holy Spirit. When you are full of the Holy Spirit, power will come. In Acts 1:8 (NIV), Jesus said to His disciples: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Power in that context, isn’t talking about physical strength to do physical activities. It is simply talking about “Dunamis”, which is the power of God. Jesus demonstrated this power in Luke 4:36. The Bible says: Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

 

Apostle Paul also said something concerning this power in 2 Corinthians 4:7: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. Effective witnessing of Christ cannot be done outside of the Holy Spirit and the power that He supplies. As a matter of fact, Jesus compelled His disciples to never begin the work until they are filled with the Holy Spirit: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (4-5)

 

It is through the Holy Spirit that we become effective disciples of Christ. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night in John 3:2(NIV) and said: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” The assignment that God has committed into our hands cannot be done without the enduement of the Holy Spirit and power. So, an excellent disciple must be full of the Holy Spirit, and how do you become full of the Holy Spirit? By being filled with Him all the time.

 

WISDOM: A disciple needs wisdom to reveal the knowledge of the wisdom of God to the world. 1 Corinthians 2:7 tells us: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.” Our responsibility is to disseminate the wisdom of God and this we cannot do if we lack this wisdom itself. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 says: But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” Christ became wisdom for us in order for us to manifest it.

 

BOLDNESS: To become an excellent disciple, you cannot do without boldness. Stephen’s boldness before the council in testifying about Jesus was something to be emulated. It takes boldness (and not strong face) to declare the knowledge of God among unrighteous and dangerous people. The reason a lot of people are passive disciples today is not because they don’t have the knowledge of the word of God, no! It is because they simply lack the boldness to declare it. It took boldness for the apostles in the book of Acts to declare the word of God, even amidst strict opposition and persecution.

 

In Acts 4:13,29-30 & 31 the Bible says: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. You cannot claim to have been with Jesus or walk with Him and you won’t be bold to declare His knowledge. The people that saw them eventually attributed their boldness to the fact that they had been with Jesus. In Verse 29-30, the disciples prayed thus: Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.

 

They prayed for boldness because it is a vital part of the work. Verse 31 of that chapter also documented thus: And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. So, from those Scriptures, we can deduce that boldness is a vital ingredient of becoming an excellent disciple.

 

FULLNESS IN FAITH: Stephen was full of faith. The Bible says in Acts 6 that we read that And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith.”  No wonder Stephen left such an indelible mark in the hearts of people because he channeled that energy of faith in the right direction. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. (verse 8)” To be an excellent disciple and to make great impacts for God, we need faith. No wonder Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 11:21-22 to have faith in God. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.

 

I believe you have been blessed!


Thanks for the gift of your time, I am Obayomi Abiola Benjamin!

Feel free to share your thoughts or testimony in the comment box below. I promise to respond to them as soon as possible!


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Word of Confession: (Optional)

Lord Jesus, I confess to you that I have sinned against the LORD God - in the rebellion of my heart, I have disappointed your expectations on my life. I have fallen from Your grace and followed wrong influences around me. Today, I retrace my steps back to you - and I ask that in your mercy you accept me as your son and give to me (again) the promise of the Father - the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, please, come and make my heart your home, and from there rule in the affairs of all men. In Jesus Name I have prayed.



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Discipleship is not about followership in ambiguity unto mediocrity!


Published: Gboyega Adedeji | Monday 11th May 2020


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Discipleship is not about followership in ambiguity unto mediocrity!
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  Discipleship is not about followership in ambiguity unto mediocrity!
  Discipleship is not about followership in ambiguity unto mediocrity!
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My name is Abiola. I hold a Master of Science Degree in Real Estate Management (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), I am an inspired Writer, an Editor at Fridayposts.Com. I have written and published over 150 articles ranging from Spiritual Development, Relationships, Politics, Real Estate and Self-Development. I am also the DirectorSchool of Marriage at Centre for New Dimension Leadership, Abuja, Nigeria

I am married to Olabisi Obayomi and we are blessed with a wonderful son, Jason and a beautiful daughter, Jayden.


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