RECAP Acts: Now Stephen . . . Opposition Arose


From now until the end of the month we will be re-releasing highlights from our Wake-Up Call Acts journey together. Join us on December 1 when we begin our new series celebrating Advent—Protagonist by Matt and Josh LeRoy. 


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 6:8–10 (NIV)

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.


Four words to keep in mind from today’s text (at least four). They reveal a pattern we have already begun to see as the Holy Spirit grows the church.

Now Stephen . . . Opposition arose

It’s critical to understand the bigger picture here. Were we to get a birds-eye view of the first-century church, everywhere we spotted the activity of the Holy Spirit we would also witness the opposition stirring. The same remains true to the present day. We must understand the real enemy is not the Jews, the Freedmen, or any other human being. Listen to how the apostle Paul will later describe the battle.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:10–12).

Human beings must indeed be held accountable when they serve as the willing yet often unwitting agents of darkness, but they are not the ultimate opponent. Evil is real and everyone remains susceptible to being drawn into its strategies. While evil is no match for the Holy Spirit, only those who learn to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” have any hope of standing against and overcoming it. The big lesson: as much as people may willingly or unwittingly align themselves with the “enemy,” people are never the enemy.

One more piece here. It is important to understand the difference between “resistance” and “opposition.” Resistance is a good, needful, and helpful thing. It often comes from wise people who aren’t trying to stand in the way but whom the Holy Spirit often deploys to refine a project or planned initiative. Opposition is of another order altogether. It sometimes takes discernment to tell the difference. Here’s a couple of tells in discerning the difference. Resistance will most often speak directly to you. Opposition will readily go behind your back. Resistance openly and graciously confronts. Opposition secretly conspires. Resistance refines the direction. Opposition attacks the person. 

This core dynamic of Christian discipleship consists of the crisis and process of learning to be “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power,” who is the Holy Spirit. One more key piece of information: THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL ALWAYS LOOK LIKE JESUS. We simply cannot learn or comprehend how the Holy Spirit works apart from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. And this will not happen apart from immersing ourselves in every detail we can grasp from the inspired accounts we have of his life as revealed in the four Gospels.

We are about to witness a case study, a high-definition demonstration of how all of this works out in a human life. Prepare to be astonished.

Remember in Luke 12 when Jesus said, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

We are about to see this unfold in vivid detail. Ending where we began today:

Now Stephen . . . Opposition arose . . .


But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

Enough said.


Lord Jesus, I am your witness. 

I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness. 
I receive your love and release my selfishness. 

Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen. 


Have you been in situations where you discerned the difference between resistance and opposition? How have you experienced the difference? Journal that out a bit today. How have you dealt with opposition? How do you tend to deal with conflict? Why? 


Today we will sing “There’s Within My Heart a Melody.” It is hymn 144 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

6 Responses

  1. Who was Stephen in the Bible? The apostles (sent ones) tried to put him in the role of a “table server.” But in reality, Stephen, the first Christ-follower to be killed for his faith, was a Spirit-led man of God who refused to be defined by a religious role. In spite of the assignment that he had been given, Stephen was so “full of God’s grace and power” that he “performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Even though he had been confined to the role of “table server,” the Spirit gave him wisdom “as he spoke.”

    Today “layman” is a religious role that creates multitudes of passive Christian spectators. They sit in rows on Sunday mornings waiting to receive wisdom from one man’s talk. However, if they would speak up in the meeting, as they are told to in 1 Corinthians 14:26, like Stephen, the Spirit would also give them wisdom as they speak.

    I’ve heard a lot of Sunday talks, but I remember almost nothing about them. However, when I have preached, the Spirit has given me much wisdom as I spoke. My wife and I have hosted hundreds of Christ-focused meetings where anyone present could speak as they felt led by the Spirit (as in 1 Corinthians 14:26). We have witnessed amazing wisdom being given to people “as they speak” and we have seen their faces shine like an angel’s.

    Stephen was on to something! It’s time to step beyond any religious role that you have been assigned and to boldly speak up about Jesus as you allow His Spirit to lead and direct you.

  2. To have one’s Spiritual eyes opened during this present season of darkness is to have the ability to discern how deep and vast the opposition is that we, the Global Church are now facing. It’s literally everywhere. If we take the time to wake-up to what’s transpiring in world around us, we can readily see that the tactics of the enemy of our souls haven’t changed one bit from the birthday of the Church up until now. We can clearly see it, when he tries to deceive the Church through Ananias and Sapphira, through the daily feeding of the widow’s controversy, and now external opposition from Christ rejecting Jews. Satan’s playbook never varies. It’s either external opposition from cultural foes of the Church or internal strife intended to divide the Church into competing factions through deception. I’d say that in regards to the latter, he’s been quite successful. I perceive that I’ve been called to attempt to share these truths with other believers in an attempt to alert all to what’s happening, so that we can respond appropriately.

  3. Eph. 6:10–12 explains the soul (sole) reason the world (people) steal, kill, and destroy. Each human soul is so valuable and worthy that the evil of darkness is fighting to keep our souls from God while God’s love draws our souls to Him.
    Behind the scenes, evil lurks. Evil plots and temps and uses people who think their actions are for good. Jesus references this from the cross.
    Luke 23:34
    And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

    For those who are in Christ, evil’s authority matters not because…
    1 John 4:4
    Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

    Stayin 💪’ n Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

  4. Because opposition to the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ is guaranteed, spiritual discernment is a SG that I’ve prayed for to receive. We really need to know what we’re up against.

  5. Stephen’s Spirit-led speaking

    Jesus told His disciples: “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit.” As opponents spoke against Stephen (a table server, not a preacher), “They could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.” That’s Spirit-led speaking!

    When we’re speaking from God’s Spirit, He gives us wisdom “as we speak.” Words, ideas, and statements flow out of us without our having to prepare them ahead of time. This happens in casual conversation all the time. However, when it comes to talking about Jesus, we’ve labeled that preaching, formalized it, and limited it to a professional pastor who almost always prepares it ahead of time by studying and writing with his mental abilities.

    The “wisdom” from typical sermons is quickly forgotten. (Ask someone to tell you what the last sermon they heard was about.) As Stephen passionately spoke from the heart about the risen Jesus: “They could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”

    People need to hear the wisdom that God gives as we speak, not the results of our own ability to study, memorize, and systematize religious ideas. They need to sense that it’s not us speaking but the Holy Spirit speaking in and from our heart. For that to happen, we need to say whatever is given to us by the Spirit at that time.

    So, does that mean that sharing the Gospel with others, testimonies, and sermons shouldn’t be prepared ahead of time? Actually, it means that we should change the way we prepare. We should prepare our heart to be always connected to and open to the inner flow of the Holy Spirit, instead of preparing and scripting the exact words that we are going to say. That’s what Stephen did! That’s why he was so powerful.

    Will you (whether you call yourself a preacher or not) began to set aside formal oratory and begin to (like Stehpen) spontaneously talk about Jesus from your heart in the moment? If you will, you’ll begin to experience wisdom that God gives as you speak. Try it today. Spontaneously open your heart and freely talk about Jesus the way you talk about your favorite things. Let God’s Spirit-led speaking flow from within you.

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