“Our fathers had a tabernacle of testimony . . .” Acts 7:44
The great men and women of faith throughout scripture all displayed a quality to their faith, in their communication and actions. Without exception, the giants of faith had all gone through an earth-shattering realization of their own inadequacy and the discovery that their personal faith didn’t begin with them. Indeed, their faith had roots.
Stephen’s faith was not a free-floating belief that glided through the surface. Rather, his faith belonged to the past and, therefore, was relevant to the present. From the patriarchs, and the prophets, to the poets and preachers, he was a link in the far-stretching chain of faith.
So are we. We are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses. Those behind us lived in unflinching faithfulness and deep belief in the faithfulness of God. They sometimes stumbled and struggled, but they kept trusting in the faithful God. Those beyond us now live in eternity in the land they sought and believed God would lead them to.
Why, then, should we live in the shallow end of momentary, emotional-based faith? What right do we have to disassociate ourselves from the rich history of Christianity? History is there for us to be informed, inspired by both the agony and responsibility of faith.
It was Stephen’s roots of faith that influenced his convictions and ultimately his sacrificial actions. Looking back at the greats, we learn that they lived because they could not do otherwise. They spoke and acted because they believed. Stephen’s sermon was a rearranged script designed not to offend. His words were rooted in history. His words were sparked by flashpoints of the living altar of Abraham and Joshua.
Stephen reaches back, not to rhetoric, but to the roots of his faith. He tells them what God has done and what he wants to do. From person to person, from age to age, the Gospel goes on.
What’s keeping you from being Stephen today? You have God’s Word, go live in bold confidence of those who have gone before you.