|Icon of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Still today lots of Christians are afraid to accept what Jesus told about himself and his heavenly Father. They prefer to continue in the thought of the early Christian leader Athanasius who many years after the disciples of Christ castrated their ideas.
Looking at Stephen his process we may find comparisons in more recent centuries with the persecution and killing of those who spoke to expose the false teachings the churches developed about humans having an immortal soul and the teaching of the Trinity, a word foreign to Scripture. It was Athanasius, who is celebrated in many Christian communities today as a saint, who in various writings defended the teaching that the Son and the Holy Spirit were of equal divinity with God the Father and so shared a three-fold being. (See Athanasian Creed)
Stephen was one of those men who was not afraid to give a reply and gives those gathered around him, a long history lesson of all the follies of belief and actions in the past and how God worked through faithful men to fulfil his purpose.
Like him we should show others how God has sent a man to the world to declare the Works of God. But this son of man who is the son of God was killed like other prophets, who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, were persecuted and killed. (Acts 7:52).
Like today we can see that mots people think only about themselves and want to have all the advantages the world has to offer, and as such exclude the world of God, the reaction of the accusers of Stephen was totally human, totally self-centred! Their minds were blind to the ways of God.
The Holy Spirit gave Stephen a vision of “… the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said,
‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (verses 55,56).How long before we see such a vision – and then realize it is more than a vision: it is reality – and the words of the two angels to the astonished disciples we read in Acts 1 come true,
“This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (verse 11).Our minds cannot comprehend this event, yet it will happen, over 200 scripture passages testify to this.
Finally look at what we read on April the 27th, in chapter 3 and Peter’s testimony about the return of Jesus,
“whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:21).
Stephen and his friends did believe in the man he had followed and which we also should follow and believe, because only by accepting who he is and what he did we shall be able to come under the grace of salvation.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life”.For the Gentiles God offered also a solution to become children of God, becoming part of the people of God who may enter the Kingdom of God. for being able to come under that blessing they only have to accept this sent one from God, who is the son of God. He gave his life as a lamb but was taken out of the dead as an example for what can happen to us. His resurrection is there to look at as our liberation out of death and the Way to a new life for us all. We should be pleased to find him now sitting at the right hand of God, being a mediator between God and man. His intercession for us even now before the throne of God The Father should convince us of his importance for us and how heavens are opened for us.
Dare to step away from the false teaching of a three-headed god and come to the same believe as St. Stephen and the early followers of the Nazarene teacher Jeshua, the son of man and son of David who, when the heavens opened up above him after his baptism, God declared to be His only begotten beloved son.
During May we will start reading the heart-stirring prophecies God gave through Isaiah – some of these will enable us, in a spiritual sense, to “see the heavens opened”. How long now before we literally see this?
Preceding article: It happened on May 2nd 295