During the early days of organizing the church, seven men were chosen to be deacons by the Christians in Jerusalem. One of the men chosen was Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit who was destined to be the first martyr for the cause of Christ.
The story begins in the 6th chapter of Acts. Indication is given in the Scripture that Stephen was unanimously chosen to stand before the apostles and receive their blessing, and that subsequently the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. But soon a group of dissenters disputed with Stephen. But they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.They secretly induced men to say that they had heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God. And they stirred up the people, and they seized him and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who accused him of speaking damaging words, saying that Jesus would destroy "this holy place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us." But Stephen then delivered a long explanatory sermon on how God had brought His people to this point in their history: namely the advent of Jesus Christ, his Son Acts 6:5-53 (paraphrased)
When the mob heard Stephen say, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!", they stoned him to death as he called on God sayng, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried,"Lord, do not charge them with this sin!" thus echoing the prayer of Jesus before His crucifiction, "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do."When Stephen had said this, he fell asleep.
Reading this sad story ought to remind us that following the Lord is often fraught with danger, maybe not now with physical danger, but with subtle influences and threats that may prevent our wholehearted embracing of the Truth that sets men free and for which the Son of God died on the cross. No one in his right mind ever clains it is easy, but it is now, as it was then, worth anything and everything it costs. All through the ensuing ages, good people have put their lives on the line to follow our Lord. And all of us must be willing to do that very thing still. It never comes without cost, but nothing on earth is worth as much as our steady allegiance to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. No price is ever too high to pay.