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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Pelichowski

February 2024 (A Tombstone Sermon)

FBC Gallatin,

After recently preaching both Paul’s personal self-understanding as the chief sinner in his account of his former persecution of the church in 1 Timothy, followed by Stephen’s tombstone sermon he preached right before he died, I’d like to leave us with a few bit picture take homes from these accounts that are relevant to us today.

First, if you struggle with regret, I think you have a fellow Christian example of someone who also struggled greatly with the horrendous regret of the Apostle Paul approving the mob murder of Stephen prior to his conversion. And you may not think you can ever get beyond some big sin of your past, and if anyone should have been haunted by their past sin, it was the apostle Paul who gave the go-ahead for Stephen’s brutal pummeling with large rocks after his tombstone sermon. However, notice in 1 Timothy 1 that Paul did remember his persecution of the church, but the memory of his own sin led him to a even greater reliance and joy in the savior of sinners in his own justification through faith in Christ. If you have regrets, bring your sin to the foot of the cross, God knows your sin and guilt, that is why God sent his Son to die for your sin and your guilt. Find rest and peace and joy in the knowledge of your sin being covered. And move forward like Paul to serve God as the chief sinner wanting to tell other sinners about the chief savior Jesus Christ!

Second, the Christian life is no walk in the park and faithful Christian ministry is often met with intense opposition. I think we can see from Stephen’s situation, that good and faithful preaching and ministry does not always lead to a happy, easy, or popular life and ministry. I mean, just think of the foundation of our Christian religion for that prime example, Jesus was the most faithful preacher and did the most profound and powerful ministry and that led him to mobs wanting him dead just like mobs wanted Stephen dead. We need to judge the fruit of people’s ministry based on biblical faithfulness, not popularity at any given time because both Stephen and Jesus would look like utter failures in ministry after Jesus was hanging there on that bloody cross, and Stephen laying in a pool of blood after his sermon response didn’t go quite like most preachers would hope.

Third, Satan loves to ruin churches and preachers and faithful ministry and he does it oftentimes by influencing other people opposing faithful ministry. We saw at the end of Acts 6 that some religious Jewish people “disputed with Stephen,” and that when they “could not withstand his wisdom” they devolved to different sinful tactics. What did they do? Acts 6:11 says “then they secretly instigated men who said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” So when they couldn’t stamp out Stephen naturally themselves, they had to move to other tactics of slandering Stephen to stir up the crowd. They lied and gossiped about Stephen because Stephen was a faithful believer, not a blasphemer. These opponents were blasphemers, though they flip it and put it all on Stephen to make him look really bad to others. Acts 6:12a also said “And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes…” and in verse 13 it says “they set up false witnesses” to spread more lies and slander about Stephen all to get others against him. All of this was a clear smear campaign against Stephen and it should have been obvious to those around but the hearers of the gossip did not stop the speakers of it and it led to Stephen’s death. The high priest is said to have listened to the gossip and asked if it was so playing into the Devils schemes basically putting Stephen in a lose lose situation from a human perspective. If he answers he doomed because the damage is already done, if he says nothing he’s doomed because the crowds want blood… Now God was providentially working good in Stephen’s martyrdom and caring for Stephen along the way, but the crowds should have never listened to these slandering gossips, and the high priest of course even more so should have not given ear to the lies but they did and it led to them sinning greatly by murdering Stephen in response to unsubstantiated gossip.

There are of course more things we learned from these two accounts in the sermons, but hopefully these additional thoughts might encourage us to further apply the Word which is what God wants us to do continually in our lives. Let us all continue to hear and heed the Word week in and week out and let it mold and transform us in weeks and moths and years ahead.


Pastor Daniel Pelichowski 

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