Stephen–Forgiveness Unleashed

Chuck and Kitty Porta

Stephen stood, facing a religious leadership group filled with unbridled hate. In about an hour, that hate would express itself with a brutal stoning and Stephen would die and go to Heaven.

He had been saved for about four years, an integral part of the first church, a first fruit of the culture of that church. He now faces the greatest trial, and test for his heart and faith. He has been called to the place of the first martyr of the first church.

Acts 6 records the growing climate of confrontation, with the last verse in the chapter showing us Stephen’s heart status. He was in the eye of the storm. He was at peace, rest, supremely confident, and ready to unleash a prophetic word for the ages.

Acts 7 is a record of that message. He is clear, articulate, anointed, and bold in his declaration.

Stephen faces Paul, and others like him, who love Moses, Law, and the temple. Stephen loves Jesus Christ, Grace, and has the revelation of the new temple, built by the Spirit, called the Body of Christ. Stephen knows the deep, full, implications of the work done at Calvary by Jesus Christ. A new creation was started at the Cross, with a new leader, the last Adam.(1Cor 15)  He is fearless that day in his prophetic declaration of New Covenant truth and reality.

In short, Stephen knows the New has come the Old is over. Paul believes he is a blasphemer like Jesus Christ, so Paul believes the Old is wonderful and the New must die.

At the conclusion of his Acts 7 message, Stephen receives a vision of Heaven, the Glory, and Jesus standing to welcome him home. He declares, with a cry, what he has seen.

With this last prophetic challenge, the mob stop their ears from hearing, and their rage is unchecked. Stephen was dragged from the Council chamber, down a narrow street, and thrown over a small cliff to a pit. Stones are gathered and outer garments are  placed at the feet of Saul/Paul, who spurs them into action. Stone after stone begin to pummel the young man. Quick bruising turns to open gashes and severe wounds, and his blood flows easily. Some of his bones are broken and some break through his skin. Internal material from his head and body begin to emerge. Stoning is very painful and brutal.

Half conscious, after so many blows, he stumbles to his knees and releases a pray for the ages. With his final breath he speaks; “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59-60)

A prayer of forgiveness is released by Stephen, a prayer for his murderers, a prayer for the eternal ages.

LORD HELP US ALL TO FORGIVE

Please read and prayerfully meditate on Acts 6/7

Publisher’s note: Please contact Chuck for information on the Life of Stephen that he teaches. It explores the church culture that formed the heart of this amazing young martyr.

Toxic–The Issue of Forgiveness

Toxic--the Issue of forgiveness


A believer will get in serious trouble with God, if forgiveness is received for personal sin and then forgiveness withheld when it should be extended.

Over many years, I have observed the dead-end trap of unforgiveness. It results in hardness of heart, severed relationships, and bitterness. Hebrews 12 has a serious warning of bitterness, and its power cutting off the power of grace in our lives.

The Problem of Hurts

Everyone gets hurt by others; there are no exceptions. The painful hurts to the heart bring a person to the brink of a life-changing decision. If we forgive, release the offending party, proceed into deep worship, the result will be freedom, joy, and a major step into the heart of Jesus Christ. If we live in unforgiveness, the resulting path leads to a dark path and a dead end.

To live in a condition of a hard heart means we allow someone else’s sin to keep us in bondage. It is a sophisticated trap of the enemy. The offending party may never come and ask for forgiveness. If we wait for them, we let them dictate the condition of our heart. We must resist and refuse someone else’s sin to keep us in an emotional prison.

The Glorious News

The glorious good news of the gospel is that in Jesus Christ, through the shedding of His Blood, we can be forgiven. Our sin penalty, past, present, and future has been paid in full, because of the Blood. God extends to the dead and unworthy sinner, forgivenesses, freedom, and a life of increasing joy and liberty. Unforgiveness, on our part, is a great detour off the spiritual road of life and peace.

When sinned against, go to Jesus Christ and His throne of grace, bow deeply and give Him your pained and troubled heart. He can and will give you the divine ability to forgive.

He can release into your spirit, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they do.” He speaks that way always, from the Cross of Calvary to around the world. True forgiveness is rooted in Christ, it is the outflow of His divine life from our born again spirit.

Two Examples of Forgiveness

During WW II, Cory and Betsy Ten Boom were arrested and put in prison for their ministry to the Jews during the days of Nazi terror.  Betsy was cruelly treated by a harsh, demonized, prison guard. The treatment resulted in her death.

Later, Cory would be set free from prison, resume her life, which grew into an international ministry and testimony of Jesus Christ. She recounted her meeting the guard responsible for her sister’s death. She agonized, in her painful memories and hatred toward the guard. She also testified of her breakthrough into the heart of His grace, her powerful forgiving encounter with the guard and the release it brought to the guard and her.

In 1989, our firstborn, Carolyn was hit head on by a drunk driver, less than two miles from our home. The Lord spared her life, the car was totaled, and mom and dad were left to move on. Later, during the trial of the driver, we had a private meeting with the driver in the office of the presiding judge. He was a broken man, embarrassed, teary, and vulnerable.

After going over a few points regarding the accident, we each forgave him and released him.

It was a powerful moment in the room. Later in the courtroom, the judge recounted our time in his office, and declared his wish that everyone in the courtroom could have  experienced the drama and life in his office, that day. JESUS PREVAILED AND WON.

I pray that all who read this short admonition will come into the deep joy of divine forgiveness. Forgiveness for your sin, and the life giving joy of extending forgiveness to others.

Grace, grace,  and more of His abundant grace.

Foundational Scripture Behind Forgiveness

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.

So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.

Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35

Photo credit to felix-koutchinski-QARM_X5HWyI-unsplash