We saw that the Vision of the church, as it began in the wake of Jesus' ascension, was to boldly proclaim Christ and His resurrection, even at the risk of personal freedom and safety. The Apostles chose to obey the Lord rather than the commands of men to stop preaching. Another dimension of the early church was to pass on the role of ministry to another spiritual generation. Just as the Apostles had started as Disciples, or followers, of Christ during the three year earthly ministry, so they developed disciples to continue following Christ...so that the message of salvation through faith would continue. The first prominent disciple of the Apostles was Stephen. He was one of several men selected by the Apostles to minister to the church in practical ways so that they could minister the word in spiritual ways. Along the way, Stephen matured in faith and developed deep roots in the truth. The book of Acts says in chapter 6, verse 8 that Stephen was a man "full of God's grace and power" who "performed amazing miracles and signs among the people". It is interesting that he was not one of the original Apostles but he was a disciple and he had matured to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.
It occurs that the early church showed that Vision was a challenging call to proclaim Christ no matter the cost. Becoming a disciple was no less daunting. Stephen was called as a disciple to this Vision and, unlike Peter and John, who had been punished but spared, Stephen was stoned to death as he testified to the purpose of Christ's life, death and resurrection.
Is our Vision today so different? Are our disciples today called to any less? What do you think?