Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Testament: The Martyrdom of Stephen


Hi blog readers! I have some pretty epic things about happiness to tell you about, but I'm still formulating them and deciding which ones to share. In the meantime, you get a glimpse into my homework/testimony/religion. In my New Testament class, one of the requirements is to do a weekly "student choice" activity. We can do a short essay, a podcast, a powerpoint, or a blog entry, among other things. And being a fairly avid blogger, I chose to blog this week.

One of the things we read this week was the martyrdom of Stephen. His final testimony is found in Acts 7: 51 - 60. It's a pretty powerful testimony, and I encourage you to read it yourself in its entirety. But in summary, Stephen says some pretty powerful things. He calls the religious leaders out on resisting the Holy Ghost, and mentions that it's been going on for generations. He calls the wicked rulers "betrayers and murderers" for having put to death the prophets and the Son of God.

Ouch.

This would be a really uplifting story if his words got through to "fertile heart-soil," but as the title of this blog entry would imply, the story serves more as a warning and testament. Those Stephen spoke to were "cut to the heart" by his words, and stoned him to death.

Stephen's story is similar to another ancient prophet's...that of Abinadi. The story of Abinadi is found in Mosiah 17: 7-20 in the Book of Mormon (if you'd like to learn more, you can obtain a free copy of the Book of Mormon here). Both men were straightforward in their message, and fearless in their deliverance. Both called upon God in their very final moments. Both men were killed for their testimonies.

Something I've often wondered about is whether Abinadi and Stephen knew what they were getting into. I wonder if they knew they weren't going to get through to the people, and taught them anyway. We know that one person listened to Abinadi (Alma, who ran away and wrote everything down, bless him). And someone must have done the same with Stephen. But in wordly terms, both men were "failures." The people didn't listen. They didn't repent. They continued to kill the prophets and reject their message. That can pretty discouraging.

But maybe that's not what they were supposed to do. Sometimes I think having men like Abinadi and Stephen are evidence of a merciful God...a God entreating us to turn back to Him. To give a final warning before He must be just. Almost equivalent to a parent telling a child that if they don't eat their vegetables, they're going on time-out. Sending a Stephen or Abinadi is like a parent counting to ten before giving the punishment they said they would. God does not punish us because of spite, just like parents don't (or shouldn't). He does it because justice must be served, or God would cease to be God.

Which makes the Atonement of Christ so incredible. If we repent, Jesus' sacrifice already paid the debt owed to justice. And we can receive mercy.

Man, the scriptures are awesome.



As an interesting side-note, the language in the book of Acts provides some important insight on the nature of the godhead. Acts 7:55 tells us that Stephen was "filled with the Holy Ghost," looked up into heaven, and saw "the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct persons. The verses in Acts contains some compelling "textual evidence." =)  (If you'd like to learn more about LDS beliefs about Jesus Christ and the godhead, click here.)

3 comments:

Mrs. Pingel said...

You are my idol.

Well, you, and Jesus.

Thanks for the lesson :)

Obat Asam Urat said...

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alle interessanten Geschichten
und gut im Lesen

Obat Asam Urat said...

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