Sermon Summary - Jesus Made The Temple Obsolete - Acts 6:7-15
Jesus Made The Temple Obsolete - Acts 6:7-15
Is your Christianity mainly external rituals and outward performance or is it an internal reality? Here’s a theory on a phenomenon in younger evangelicals who are gravitating more towards high liturgical, ritualistic churches: the reality of Christ crucified and raised from the dead has been gutted of its depth and joy by seeker-sensitive, watered down “evangelical churches”. What is it that they are missing? The reality and depth of biblical truth permeating their souls by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is absolutely true that God did set up external rituals, but only as precursors to the reality that was to come, namely Jesus. Stephen understood this, preached this, and argued it from the Scriptures. This angered the non-regenerate religious people so much that it got Stephen killed.
Stephen preached that Jesus was the fulfillment of Moses, the Law, the customs, the temple, and the sacrificial system, rendering those things unnecessary now that the reality has come.
Why does Luke record that they put forward false witnesses (Acts 6:13) if that’s what Stephen was actually preaching? Because it is false to say that Stephen was a blasphemer who spoke against Moses and against God.
Stephen (not an apostle, but one of the seven chosen in Acts 6:3) was given by the Spirit the ability to perform signs and wonders. He is one of only 3 non-apostles who Luke records as performing signs and wonders. Stephen is a Hellenistic (Greek) Jew, who grew up outside of Jerusalem, and now finds himself in a debate with other Greek-speaking Jews in the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Acts 6:9). The Jews could not beat him in debate, or with Scripture (Acts 6:10), so they planned and plotted to stir up the crowd to drag him before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:12).
They say that Stephen said Jesus will destroy the temple in Jerusalem. Did Jesus ever say anything like that? See Matthew 26:59-63, Mark 15:29-30, John 2:18-21. Jesus was connecting destroying the temple with His death. Question: was Jesus only referring to His physical death and resurrection? No, He meant both the temple of His body and the physical temple, which was representative of the sacrificial system. Jesus is the reality to which all of the happenings in the temple pointed (Heb. 7:20-25, 9:11-12, 9:24-26, 10:10-12). The temple is not the place to go to see and to experience the mercy and the glory of God; Jesus is (Rev. 21:22-23).
While Stephen was saying similar things, did he take it further and say that Jesus will destroy the temple and sacrificial system (in the future)? Stephen knows that the actual dismantling of the temple is coming, and its purpose has passed away. Notice that Luke points out that a great many of the priests were coming to faith (Acts 6:7). While the false witnesses twisted what Stephen was saying to make him out to be a blasphemer, it was not false that the temple system was to be destroyed, and Jesus would change the customs that Moses set up. Luke knows this. 2 examples: the circumcision issue (Acts 15:1), and unclean foods (Acts 10:13).
Conclusion: Do you want to experience the transcendence of God, with holy awe and wonder? You don’t need the temple, the sacrificial systems, or the priesthood. You just need to believe, and go on in Christ’s community hearing the word of God and the gospel with an open and humble heart, receiving the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
More in Pastor Joe's blog
March 19, 2019Sermon Summary - From Death to New Life in Christ - Acts 9:31-43
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February 26, 2019Sermon Summary - Jesus is the Son of God - Acts 9:19-22