20190630 Sunday Worship Sermon
“Face of an Angel” (Acts 6:8-15)
The English word, face, originated from the Latin word, “facies,” which means a plank of wood.
The face was only considered as a physical appearance.
But, in fact, the face plays a much more important role than just being a shape.
Face portrays one’s life.
Koreans especially considered that the face reflects one’s personality or character, not just a shape or a physical appearance.
Our face portrays our character, personality, and even the states of the soul.
What’s worrisome these days is that expressions of joy and peace are gone from many of our faces.
We live a hectic life, and as a result, we’re missing out the light and grace on our face.
You know, Abraham Lincoln, he had many episodes about the face.
Abraham Lincoln was not a handsome man.
Some people say that he grew a beard in order to hide his face.
One day, Abraham Lincoln was delivering a speech to the National Assembly.
A congressman from the opposite party pointed a finger at Abraham Lincoln and shouted out loud that Abraham Lincoln is a hypocrite who has two faces.
Abraham Lincoln replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”
There is another episode as well.
You probably all know, Abraham Lincoln said “every man over forty is responsible for his face.”
It does not mean that you have to be handsome or pretty.
It does not mean you have to wear make-up.
Lincoln believed that whatever people have on the inside is reflected on their face.
I think that is true.
Then, as Christians, how should our face be like?
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul said, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”
What we should portray on our face is joy, gratefulness, and praying.
Let’s go back to today’s scripture.
Look at Acts 6:15.
“And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel...”
It is said that Stephan’s face was like the face of an angel.
It’s such an interesting expression.
What does it mean to have a face of an angel?
When we see a handsome or beautiful movie star or model, we say that they look handsome or beautiful.
But we don’t really say that their faces are like the face of an angel.
Then, what does it mean to have a face of an angel?
Well, the Bible does not explicitly explain what it looks like to be like the face of an angel.
So, it’s hard to say, but I think faces like the face of an angel are bright faces that make others feel peaceful.
So, people who have peace and joy on the inside are the ones who can have faces like an angel.
I hope all of us here have faces like an angel.
I hope all of us have faces that are bright so that other people can see that we believe in Jesus Christ who gives us joy and peace.
I’d like to share a story about when I was living in Korea.
I was waiting for my friend on the street.
A stranger came to me and asked, “are you a pastor?”.
I was so shocked, so I asked him, “how did you know that?”.
Then, he said, “you look like a pastor.”
Do you agree?
Do I look like a pastor?
Well, I don’t’ know.
By the way, the stranger asked me to buy something.
Obviously, he approached me to sell something to me.
Again, having an angel’s face does not mean wearing make-up.
We can have it without make up.
If we don’t know how, we will have to learn it from Stephan’s story.
When life gives you a hard time, how can we maintain an angel’s face on our face?
If you look at the beginning part of Acts 6, there was a conflict at the church.
Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.
So, apostles chose seven men of good standing and full of the Spirit and of wisdom to take care of that matter while they continued to devote to prayer and serving the word.
One of the chosen men was Stephan.
Stephan must have prayed hard and played a peacemaker role in order to resolve the issue.
The conflict got finally resolved.
And the church became a peaceful place again, full of Words of God.
That was not it.
Stephan did great wonders and signs as well.
In Acts 6: 8 it is said,
“Stephan, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”
Yes, Stephan was full of God’s grace and power.
And God used him to do great wonders and signs.
Some people did not like it though.
They tried to complain to Stephan. Let’s look at verse 9.
“Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephan.”
Look at the word, Freedmen.
Freedmen are people who came back to their country after being freed from slavery from Roman soldiers.
They came from different parts of the world like Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia.
They stood up and argued with Stephan.
But this many people could not withstand Stephan though, because of the wisdom and the spirit with which Stephan spoke.
Then, they started using physical force.
They instigated people and slandered Stephan.
In verse 11, it is said,
“We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
They confronted, seized, and brought him before the council.
They tried to kill him, condemning him.
The council was a place where it could happen.
Jesus was also crucified at the council.
Let’s look at verses 13-14.
They brought false witnesses and had them say,
“This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.”
Doesn’t this scene remind you when Jesus was accused before being crucified?
It’s very similar.
If you look at Acts Chapter 7, Stephan was eventually stoned to death.
Imagine you were there.
People are staring at Stephan who got falsely accused.
How would he feel?
How scary would it be?
But, how was he?
The Bible says, “his face was like the face of an angel.”
Yes, this is the power Stephan had.
In this situation, Stephan still had an angel’s face.
Isn’t this amazing?
Our face expresses one’s state of mind.
Our face changes its color and expressions according to one’s state of mind.
But then, how did Stephan have such a peaceful face that’s like an angel in such a situation?
Well… when people make compliments like, “you are the best,” we can have a bright glowing face.
But, in a situation where you’re falsely accused and about to be judged to be stoned to the death, it’s hard to have an angel-like face.
How was that possible for Stephan?
I think it’s not about his personality or characters.
Of course, it’s not about his courage.
It was not something that was possible due to his efforts as well.
Then, what made Stephan’s face be like an angel’s face at the scene?
A hint is in today’s scripture.
Verse 8 says, “full of.”
Stephan’s life was full.
Being full means over-flowing.
Stephan had an over-flowing life.
In Stephan’s life, what was over-flowing then?
Acts Chapter 6 explains five different things that Stephan was full of.
Verse 3 says that he was full of Sprit and wisdom.
Verse 5 says that he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
And verse 8 says that he was full of grace and power.
Yes, wisdom, faith, grace and power are gifts from being full of the Holy Spirit.
Stephan was full of gifts from the Holy Spirit.
We all need to be full of these gifts as well.
We know that we need to be.
But, do we really have overflowing gifts from the Holy Spirit?
We want to be full, but we are not.
Maybe, we’re not even near there.
Maybe, we are so dried.
We do have the Holy Spirit in us, but we are not full of Him.
We do have faith, but we do not have a big faith.
We do have wisdom and power, but they are not over-flowing.
But Stephan was full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, faith and power.
It was not just full, but over-flowing.
And this is what made him have a face like an angel.
Maybe the reason we do not have joy or peace in us is because of the inner side of us.
Maybe on the inside, we do not have grace of God, faith or wisdom.
Gordon MacDonald’s book, “Ordering Your Private World,” introduces a syndrome called, “the Sinkhole Syndrome.”
Residents of an apartment in Florida saw roads sinking out of their window.
Cars and the grass sank along with the roads.
And the apartment was about to be sunk as well.
This sinkhole phenomenon happens because people continue getting ground water up during a drought.
As water goes out, a whole is made under the ground.
When it cannot stand the ground pressure, the ground collapses.
Gordon MacDonald points out that this phenomenon is just like us in this generation.
Things are fancy out there.
But, inner sides of us are empty just like the sinkhole under the ground after people get groundwater.
We try to fill our empty hearts.
We learn something new or make hobbies and try enjoying them.
We make money, go shopping, or try to gain honor in an effort to fill our empty hearts.
But you know what?
Our hearts will never be satisfied with such things.
One day, we will realize that we are sinking little by little.
And we will be discouraged and disappointed by the futility of life.
Brothers and sisters, the empty hearts will not help us have an angel’s face as well.
So, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Remember Stephan’s angel-like face and what made him to have such a face.
We need to be full of God.
Characters in the Bible are all full of God.
They are full of His Spirit.
Being full of His Spirit brings us power.
It is important to be redeemed.
But we should not be satisfied just with that.
If you are worried about something every day, even though you’re redeemed, your life has no power though you have life.
Disciples in the four Gospels and disciples in the Acts are the same disciples, but they have a major difference.
Do you know what it is?
Disciples in the four Gospels were with Jesus and learned from Him, but, at the end, they betrayed Jesus.
When Jesus was crucified, they ran away with fear.
But they had changed after the Crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
They could courageously spread the news that Jesus is risen.
What made them change?
Yes, they got the Holy Spirit.
They became full of the Holy Spirit and it changed their life.
In the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit is explained in two different ways.
First explanation is in John 4.
When Jesus talked to the woman of Samaria, He said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life…” (John 4:13-14)
Jesus said that water from a well will not fill you up forever.
It will make one be thirsty again.
However, Jesus said, that the water that He gives will not make one be thirsty again because it is a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.
This water is the Holy Spirit.
Second explanation about Holy Spirit can be found in John Chapter 7.
Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water…’” (John 7:37-38)
Here, “Rivers of living water” means the Holy Spirit.
Believers will have over-flowing rivers of living water in them, which is the Holy Spirit.
And this fullness will make our face like the angel.
So, we have to ask for the Holy Spirit.
We have to ask to be full with the Holy Spirit.
But brothers and sisters, all of us already have the Holy Spirit in us because the Holy Spirit is with us once we are saved.
The problem is that we are not full of Him because of our own greed, desire, thoughts and persistence.
We need to realize once again that we cannot have face like angel if we are full of ourselves.
We need to be full of the Holy Spirit.
We need to let Christ live in us so that our face, words, actions and life can be like the angel.
The Holy Spirit is our life and the power.
Our dried life needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
We need to let the Holy Spirit be filled in us like the flowing rivers of living water.
Brothers and sisters, we need to pray for that so that we have wisdom, faith and power that the Holy Spirit gives and the face of an angel.
I pray all of us to be God’s people who are full of the Holy Spirit and have the face of an angel. Amen.