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William Andrew Dillard

Who was Stephen in the New Testament? Why is he mentioned? He must have done something that is so right. Think with me for a minute.
Stephan is mentioned first in the list of six men filled with the Holy Spirit whom the first church set aside as deacons to relieve the apostles from administering material things. Acts 6:5.
The name “Stephen” is spelled practically the same in both English and Greek, indicating it is one of those words that is transliterated rather than translated. It means “A Crown,” or “That which surrounds.” Most of the time “crown” designates a headdress made from gold, of a monarch or other important individual, perhaps with many inset stones, and designates the wearer as one with great authority and/or responsibility. As a headdress, it symbolically indicates that which surrounds the head or the occupation of the mind. This the way it is used often in the scriptures.
Often Paul referred to the churches as his crown of joy and rejoicing. He told Timothy that God had a crown of righteousness laid up for him. He spoke of the crown of glory and honor. Solomon said grandchildren were a crown to old men. Of course these were not literal headdresses, but the certainly did occupy the mind, and told the story of life.
But the most telling crown of all time is the crown that Jesus wore on Golgotha. It was made of thorns, and symbolically portrayed the awfulness of our Savior’s experience on our behalf. The pain of his head was so real, but not so severe as the pain of his mind and heart as He bore our sins.
Now, back to Stephen. His being full of the Holy Spirit tells us the things of God, and goodness was predominate in his mind. He preached most effectively, and worked miracles among the townspeople. When warned to stop it, he refused to do so. At his trial, he preached one of the longest and most thorough messages in the New Testament, recorded in Acts chapter seven.
Stephen was stoned to death by a group of religious hypocrites. But heaven was looking on, and allowed him to see that it was. In death, he became the first of millions of Christian martyrs.. He remained true to the faith, and gave a testimony that Saul of Tarsus could not shake, and won the incorruptible crowns of glory, righteousness, and life. He would not be deterred by the forces of evil, and folks that is so right! What is the crown you are wearing?

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William Andrew Dillard

The crown jewels of England are sometimes referenced as the wealth of stability to royalty, and in some measure, to the country itself. I suppose it may be compared to Fort Knox in the U.S. Most have seen pictures of the vast supply of gold bars in the vaults of Ft. Knox, but have never been there to see it in reality. Although the currency of the U.S. is no longer backed by gold, its presence remains a stabilizing factor in the economy.
However, the crown jewels of England, while stored in the Tower of London under heavy guard and extremely thick walls, are treated differently. They are the possession of the state and are loaned to royalty for special events. As a matter of fact, pieces are often carried out for special purposes quite regularly.
It was the privilege of my wife and me to view a large display of those jewels. The occasion did not produce wonder or lust, rather an amazement, and some disappointment. Not being all that familiar with the precious metals and gems, their value could only be appreciated in words of the guide. The five to eight-pound crowns seemed extravagant nonsense, and so highly impractical. That certain crowns had been worn by ancient monarchs put some people in awe; to the rest of us it was “so?” A virtual mountain of silver and gold would not have excited me too much. However, one thing was apparent: the pure content of silver and gold by an occasional film of dross. It was a reminder that, after all, those things are mere elements of this world, and they will pass away.
On the other hand, there is silver and gold that will not pass away. It is the silver and gold of a righteous life. Paul spoke to the church of the Living God at Corinth about this treasure of life in I Corinthians 3:16-19. It is the silver, gold, and precious stones that will survive the judgment fires of God in the day that all of us face: the Judgment Seat of Christ. In that day everything unrighteous will be the victim of Holy Fire as will all else, but what survives the fire is not wood, hay, stubble (unrighteous deeds) but gold, silver and precious stones (righteous acts of life).
In that judgment fire, another great benefit is realized. The gold, silver, and precious stones have all the dross removed: not for a little while to then recollect it, but forever. What a day that will be!
God made a promise to His people through the prophet Isaiah says, “And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away thy tin:” While He spoke of things He would create on the condition of their repentance, He has made much greater and brighter promises to us concerning the day when He will take all our dross away! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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