Supernatural Forgiveness (Acts 7:60) - Radical

Supernatural Forgiveness (Acts 7:60)

“And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ “And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
(Acts 7:60)

This completes the stoning of Stephen, the moment when the first Christian martyr that we know of in the Book of Acts. The follower of Christ, Stephen, who was stoned for proclaiming Christ, and what are his last words? They’re exactly what Jesus’s words were on the cross. What did Jesus say? “Father, forgive them for the do not know what they do.” Jesus is looking at this people who have crucified him, and he says, “Father, forgive them.” That’s the whole point of the cross, right? Jesus is dying for sinners who have rebelled against him. For sinners who deserve judgment, he is dying for their forgiveness. So that was what Jesus did on the cross, what Jesus said on the cross, so now here’s Stephen. Rocks are being pelted at him. Until he dies, like rocks, stones, thrown at him. So what does he do? He falls to his knees and he cries out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Ah, the spirit of Christ in Stephen is so evident here. As he faces death at the hands of his persecutors he is praying for them and for their forgiveness. Ah, for this spirit of love and compassion and care and forgiveness in us.

God, teach us to love like this. Teach us to love people who would hurt us, people who have hurt us. God, we pray that you would keep us from the root of bitterness, unforgiveness, in our hearts. And I would just ask each of us who are listening right now before God is there any unforgiveness you are harboring towards someone else? Someone even who has harmed you? Would you ask God for their forgiveness? Would you ask God that he would have mercy on them? God would help you to be a reflection of his mercy even to them. God, we pray that you would teach us to forgive.

Teach us to love. God, I pray for persecuted brothers and sisters right now who are being persecuted. God, I pray that you would given them the spirit of Christ, that which we see in Stephen here. Help them to love their persecutors. God, we pray that their persecutors would come to know you. God, we know this story. There’s Saul orchestrating this whole thing. And Saul becomes Paul, becomes the great proclaimer of the gospel to the nations. God, do that in some other persecutors today, we pray. God, we pray that you would turn people who are persecuting Christians today into proclaimers of Christ. Oh God, cause that to happen somewhere, some places in the world. Please cause that to happen today. Forgive them. Show your mercy to them. Change their lives, we pray. Oh God, we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters who like Stephen are facing this. We pray for each one of our lives who when we are harmed or hurt by others help us to forgive, to care for, to love even those who have or would hurt us. Only your spirit, Jesus, can do this in us. So please produce this supernaturally in us, we pray. In your name, amen.

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David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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