The other day a friend and I were having a conversation about how we would react to different situations (murder of family, rape, torture, etc...). I was reading Acts 7 today and Stephen hit home big time. Acts 7:54-60, 8:1.
Stephen is being stoned for claiming Christ, more or less, and this is his response while being stoned. (7:59,60 and 8:1)
"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he fell to his knees and cried out, 'Lord do not hold this sin against them.' When he said this he fell asleep. And Saul was there giving approval of his death."
To me there are a few cool things going on here;
1. Stephen is a baller and getting stoned for not being bullied and keeping the faith.
2. Stephen did not assume that he had 'worked' his way into heaven and in his final moments pleaded for his spirit to be received by Christ. (v.59)
3. He begged for the mercy of his persecutors. Knowing that they were not followers of Christ, therefore they did not know the severity of the sins they were committing.(v. 60)
4. Once he asked for the forgiveness of his wrongdoers he fell asleep. -- he did not die brutally but rather fell asleep while being stoned then died peacefully!
5. Saul was a witness of the death of Stephen, he was there listening, observing, and most importantly in favor of the slaying, literally cheering on the death giving it approval. Its crazy that Saul hears this plea to God from Stephen (who is faithful to God up until the very last stone which causes his death) and then in chapter 9 he, Saul, makes the conversion to follow the teachings of Christ
I just thought this was cool and wanted to share it.