“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”
When I lived in school accommodation in the middle of the Sussex countryside, it was almost impossible to pick up terrestrial television. Being a bit of an EastEnders fan, this was very painful to me! In order to keep up with goings on in the square, I succumbed and bought Sky TV. I was amazed (and still am!) at the number of channels available, although in reality I still only watch two or three. One of the programmes that I have got into, though is ‘24’. Its plots are totally unbelievable, but it makes for gripping television. Jack Bauer is always moments away from death, but always manages to overcome his enemies, save the world, and walk away from his adventures relatively unscathed.
The same could not be said for God’s agents on earth. In his speech here in Acts, Stephen remarks to the Jewish leaders that every prophet that God sent to his people was persecuted – by God’s own people. This was real life, not some far fetched story – God sent his agents to tell of the coming of Jesus, and they, too were killed. Then, in the ultimate rejection of God, they even killed Jesus, the Righteous One.
Stephen’s explanation is that God’s people killed his messengers because they resisted the Holy Spirit; they were not open to God’s plan for humanity. They knew God’s law, but failed to obey it. They did not recognize the signs or listen to the words that God sent them. Their resistance of the Holy Spirit led them to kill Jesus, and completely reject God. There was no hope for them.
In Mark chapter 3, Jesus warns that “whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Christians often worry if they have committed this sin, but just by having this worry proves that they have not. Those who do not listen to God, who reject the Holy Spirit’s work, and turn their backs on Jesus are those who are guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. For every other sin, there is forgiveness.
Be thankful today that Jesus saved us from our sin. Be aware also, though, of those around you who reject the Holy Spirit. Share your faith with them, and pray for them.