“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
By Pastor Robert Clancy .... What will He say to you on that Day of Judgment? Most Christians would agree that it is desired by all that the Lord Jesus will say unto you the same words from the parable of the talents “Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.” (Mathew 25:21)
Let’s look at the word faithful a little closer shall we;
Full Definition of FAITHFUL
1 obsolete : full of faith;
2 : steadfast in affection or allegiance : loyal
3 : firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty : conscientious
4 : given with strong assurance : binding <a faithful promise>
5 : true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original <a faithful copy>
So to be Full of Faith is the same as being Faithful. We must also keep our eyes steadfast upon the Lord. Today I want to look at the story of Stephen to elaborate my point here today that we can know what it is needed to being faithful or full of faith.
Acts 6:3-4 “ Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Ok here we see that a need arose among the brethren, so the apostles then decided to gather the disciples to choose seven men that they could appoint to take care of this need, that they could keep in prayer and the study of the word. The community chooses, but the Apostles ordain, so they when looking they must be of honest report, men free from scandal, that were looked upon by their neighbors as men of integrity, that might be trusted, well spoken of for everything that is virtuous. They must be full of the Holy Spirit and not just honest men, but discreet, judicious, men of ability and men of courage that are full of wisdom.
This is a high call even for today’s standards, so it is likely that they were such that that had sold their estates and brought the money into the common stock; those were fittest to be trusted with the distribution of it who have been most generous in contribution to it. So in laymen terms they could be trusted as they put their money where their mouths were or put their faith into action.
Seems like a high standard for such a small task and it may seem so to us today with the standard decreasing and lack of character, but the standard was always high in appointing people to offices in the early church.
Acts 6:5-6 “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.”
The first name is Stephan who is described as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, full of fidelity, full of courage for he was full of the Holy Spirit and His gifts and graces. He was an extraordinary man, and excelled in everything that was good; his name signifies a crown. Then the laying of hands by the Apostles, which is an act of ordination, a transferrable authority and responsibility to execute the office.
Acts 6:8 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”
Stephan, no doubt, was diligent and faithful in the discharge of his office. Being called to that office, he did not think it below him to do the duty of it. We must be prepared to be faithful with the little, that the Lord may bring a greater anointing to help be faithful with greater responsibilities in our Christian walk. Wonders and signs are not an exclusive characteristic of apostolic ministry for Stephan was not an apostle, but he was full of faith and power. It would seem to me that Stephen has set a great example for us and especially ministers of the gospel in the five fold ministry today. Genuine humbleness and meekness is not a characteristic seen much these days in the Christian world sad to say, because everyone is in competition with each other. How many people are insecure and get jealous quickly these days in the church?
Those that are full of faith are full of power and will work wonders, because by faith the power of God is engaged for us. By faith we are emptied of self, and so are filled with Christ. (Hallelujah I love that one!) Being so he did great wonders and miracles among the people, openly, and in the sight of all; for everything Christ did was in the open for the strictest scrutiny.
We then see this man that stands before those in the synagogues testifying. Testifying of your faith is not just a matter of saying the right things. Witnessing is a spiritual battle that requires the wisdom and the Spirit working in the witness in which was being used throughout the interrogation and false claims against him.
Acts 7:55-56 “ But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
See the strength of grace in Stephen. As his persecutors were full of Satan, so was he full of the Holy Spirit. When he was chosen to public service, he was described to be a man full of the Holy Spirit, and now he is called out to martyrdom he is still the same character. Those that are full of the Holy Spirit are fit for anything, either to act for Christ or to suffer for Him. When the followers of Jesus Christ are for His sake killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter, does it separate them from the love of God? No as it was this day with Stephen. Thus he looked above the power and fury of his persecutors, and did as it were despise them. They had their eyes fixed on him, full of malice and cruelty; but he looked up to heaven, and never minded them. He looks up to heaven where only his help comes from making his way open. Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father is standing there to witness against his accusers and to receive him into the kingdom.
Acts 7:59-60 “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
God has promised that He will be with His servants whom he calls to suffer for Him. It is good for dying saints to look up steadfastly to heaven; “O death! Where is your sting?” Those that are full of the Holy Spirit will look steadfastly to heaven, for there their hearts is. If we expect to hear from heaven, we must look up steadfastly to heaven. Those that are full of the Holy Spirit will stay faithful and full of faith until the day the lord calls them home.
Hebrews 11:5 ”By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; [a] for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Here scripture tells us that by faith Enoch was taken by God, because he was full of the Holy Spirit, faithful and he kept his eyes steadfast onto heaven.
We must learn then to be possessed by the Holy Spirit in you, through you and around you 24/7. We must be possessed by the Holy Spirit, and not merely in possession of the Holy Spirit. There is no limit to the possibilities of such a life, because it has God behind it, in the midst of it, and through it. I see Christians from time to time very slack, cold, and indifferent; but after they get filled with the Holy Spirit they become ablaze for God. Then someone comes along and puts out their fire. I believe that God's ministers are to be flames of fire; nothing less than flames; nothing less than mighty instruments with burning messages, with a heart full of love, with such a depth of consecration that God has taken full charge of the body and it exists only that it may manifest the glory of God. Even to the point of death they lift their heads and look steadfast to heaven for that is where their help comes from, it comes from the Lord almighty.
Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Let us all be like Stephen who was faithful till the end that we may always be rapture ready, full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit. Are you going to make a decision today to be more faithful and allow more of the Holy Spirit to take over your life?
Prayer to Holy Spirit
“O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.”