In the Book of Acts, we find Stephen, the church’s first martyr or man to die for his Christian beliefs. His story and firm determination to witness for Christ are outlined in the 7th chapter of Acts. From his actions, we can surmise that Stephen believed that since Jesus was willing to die for him, he was ready to die for the cause of Christ. As we review his story, we must ask ourselves, would we be able to take such a firm stance for the cause of Christ? As opposition and persecution increase against the true church, we might all be put to that very test.
Stephen the deacon
Stephen was not one of the Apostles. The Bible does not even list him as one of the disciples of Jesus during Jesus’ time on earth. Who exactly was he? In Acts, chapter 6, Stephen is presented as one of the deacons of the early church. He is among those who were chosen to attend tables where collections were received, and distributions to the people were made. The criteria to be selected were, according to Acts 6:3, that they had to be men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and full of wisdom. Stephen not only met these criteria, but he also exceeded them. Acts 6:8 says that he was an influential teacher and a worker of miracles.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
Stephen angers the synagogue leaders
During one of Stephens’ teaching sessions, he aroused the anger of a group of members of the synagogue of various churches. They became angry because they could not resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke. They took him to the council, setting up false witnesses who accused him of blasphemy against the law and the synagogue, choosing his words out of context. But the 15th verse says that as he sat in the council, his face appeared as though he was an angel.
When Stephen was allowed to speak, speak, he did. He reviewed the full account of the story of the Jewish people from Father Abraham, through the Jewish people’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, all the way up to their wickedness and unbelief at the time that he spoke. About the 51st verse of the 7th chapter of Acts, Stephen’s tenor changed. As he began to confront them about their wicked ways and of the fact that they betrayed and murdered Jesus Christ, the Just One, they could not bear it. Grown men, according to the 54th verse, rushed him and started to bite on him with their teeth!
Stephen receives a miracle
But at the same time that these men were physically assaulting Stephen for his brave and bold stance, a miracle began to unfold for him. Stephen saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus as he stood at the right hand of the Father. In the midst of this most traumatic and chaotic of times, in the 56th verse, Stephen cried out
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.
The Heavens opened!
The Heavens opened! Stephen, moments before he was stoned to death by a crazed crowd of men who were so upset by his words of truth that they covered their ears, was given a glimpse into that beautiful and glorious place where he would spend eternity. The Heavens opened. Stephen was given a “seer’s experience” just before he died. But many are unaware that the experience of “seeing” into the supernatural continues to be experienced by people today.
Seers and Prophets
A seer is a prophet who not only hears from God, speaks when he is used by God, but also one who “sees” into the supernatural realm. As I get older in the Lord, I am experiencing more dreams, visions and “seeing” encounters. As God continues to have me give up things in the natural realm, He replaces them with things in the spiritual realm. The experience that I am about to share was the first “seer” experience that I’ve had. Some may not believe the experience that I had was of God. I am fully aware of that. But that is OK because when God confirms a matter no man’s affirmation is necessary. I was there, and I know the truth of the experience. I, too, saw the Heavens opened, and I was given a glimpse into Heaven. As we approach the End Times, I believe more and more encounters will be reported concerning Heaven and Hell. God is trying to help every man and woman to understand that the supernatural is real and He is providing as many people as possible an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
My first “Seer” experience
I repented of my sins in November 1974 when a young man, a doctoral student at a seminary came through our new housing development and offered us a Bible Study in our home. We agreed, and, after the first session, I became angry because he asked me if I knew that I would go to Heaven if I died that night. I was upset because I did not know that I would go to Heaven for sure. I felt that he did not have a right to ask me such a personal question. But, the truth of the matter is, it forced me to realize that I did not know that I would go to Heaven when I died. I discontinued the Bible Study, feeling that his question was “none of his business.” What he did not know, though, was that his question brought me under conviction. After he left, I repented of my sins and gave my heart to the Lord. I was saved at that moment.
After I was saved, I began to search for a church home because I had an intense hunger for the more of God. Before the Lord brought me to the church where I am a member today and where I was filled with the Holy Ghost, I visited several churches and Home Bible Groups. I was looking for an answer to the longing inside my heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that I was searching for the Holy Ghost.
I went to a particular Home Bible Study one night and the leader of the group prophesied to me and said that I would have to leave my husband and walk alone. I immediately rejected what he said and actually became angry (I had a lot of anger issues) because I felt that he was trying to break up my home. I never went back again. But there was something about the way that he spoke to me that frightened me. I was afraid that he just might be right.
The Heavens Opened
That night I prayed before I went to bed and asked the Lord to tell me if that gentleman was telling the truth. I wanted to know if I really would have to leave my husband to follow Christ. That just didn’t make any sense to me. I fell asleep with a heavy heart.
In the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened, and I sat up in the bed. I looked at my pillow and saw myself asleep, but there I was, sitting up. It was as though there were two of me: one sitting up and the other sleeping. I reached over and pinched my arm to try and determine if I was dreaming. I felt the pinch, and I saw my arm move, but there I was, still lying in bed. I looked up, and suddenly my ceiling opened up, then the sky and the clouds and I was looking into Heaven. I thought the scene that I saw was maybe a picture that I had seen somewhere, but I didn’t know when or where I had seen it. The scene was flat like a picture.
The still scene becomes animated
I blinked my eyes, attempting to get a better focus, and suddenly there was movement in the scene. I saw a figure standing and leaning casually against the high back of a throne seat. There were many, many, many people behind him in white robes with golden belts and they began to move about. And then I saw a figure seated. I could not see his face, so I tried to re-focus my eyes so I could get a better look. Just as I felt that I was about to see the face of the One who was seated, He lifted His arm, and the massive sleeve of His robe covered His face.
Jesus spoke to me
I began to cry because I wanted to see Him so badly. Then the most amazing thing happened. The figure who was standing moved closer to the edge of the scene and spoke to me directly. He said these words, “Freda, he’s right”. I knew that the person speaking to me was my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
He knew my childhood name
The love that I felt when He called me by my childhood name was overwhelming. Jesus spoke to me and answered my question. I struggled with all my might to get up to where He was.
The reality of his words struck me
Then I thought about what had been said. He said the gentleman who said that I would have to leave my husband was right. I immediately rejected the answer because it did not make sense to me. The moment I rejected His words, the sky, clouds, ceiling all closed, and I fell back into my body.
Determined to live for the Lord
What Christ spoke to me in the vision came to pass. In less than two years, I was rejected and alone with a child to raise on my own. During this painful time, however, the Lord was with me. My relationship with Christ deepened and I am more determined than ever to live for Him. I am happy and content today with the new life that Christ provided for me.
The Heaven doors opened for me, and I was blessed to see a glimpse of the place where Stephen went when he closed his eyes in death. I, too, plan to make Heaven my final destination. I am sharing my prophetic experience so that others will know that the whole Bible is right. God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all real, and so are Heaven and Hell. There are some individuals alive today who know from personal experience that Heaven is real. It is also a fact that we will spend eternity, either in Heaven or Hell. I encourage everyone to choose Jesus, choose life, and choose Heaven.