Was the Death of Stephen Unnecessary?
The title that heads this article may sound strange, but the actions and philosophies of some merit our consideration of such a question. It is true that we live in a country where we enjoy religious freedom. It is not against the law to preach Christ, in our country; whereas, it was against the law of the Jews for Stephen to preach Christ. There is a vast difference between the attitude of the officials in government in Stephen’s day; and the attitude of the officials in government in our day. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t just as much a difference in the attitude of Stephen and the attitude of most preachers today. I don’t mean denominational preachers but those who claim to be gospel preachers. How many “gospel preachers” do you know that would use the plain language that Stephen used in his preaching? Stephen said, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” (Acts 7:51-53). Every person who claims to be a gospel preacher needs to examine those words very carefully. We need to ask ourself the question: Would we preach like Stephen did? Would we say what the said or would we water it down and soften it up? Would we reason that it would not be using good judgment to preach the way Stephen preached? If Stephen had used some of this good judgment that we are inclined to think about, he might not have been stoned to death. Couldn’t Stephen have used a little more of what we call diplomacy and possibly saved himself from being stoned to death? Sometimes I wonder if what we are doing, when we talk about good judgment and diplomacy, is excusing ourselves for compromising the truth. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not recommending that we do not use good judgment.
Could you image Stephen or Paul or Jesus Christ keeping quite when matters of truth are at stake? Would they excuse themselves from speaking out against unscriptural practices under the pretense of using good judgment or diplomacy? Preachers who never say anything against church support of human institutions, church sponsored recreation, church sponsored ball teams, and kindergartens should certainly ask themselves these questions. Also, preachers who are afraid to say anything about worldly practices, immodest apparel, and etc.
The Sunny Hill Bulletin, May 25, 1972