A sermon for people who don’t want to hear it.
AUGUST 22, 2023
A sermon for people who don’t want to hear it, on this edition of Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He doesn’t want to be your guru, and he’s not trying to be your mother. He just opens the Bible and gives you the simple truth that will make you free. Steve’s a lifelong broadcaster, author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re looking at Acts 23:12 through 22. And I’m not going to read it to you again. I read it yesterday, but it’s an interesting situation. Some very bad people have made a religious vow to kill Paul. And Rome had to step in because Paul was a Roman citizen. I mean, the Tribune got together as troops, and they protected the apostle Paul to make sure that he got to Rome, where Jesus had promised he would be able to make his witness. Now, in the Book of Acts, we don’t read about Paul’s death. And most scholars believe that he got to Rome, that he made a witness, that he was set free, and then he made another missionary journey north, eventually came back to Rome, and eventually was executed in Rome. But that’s not in the Book of Acts. What we get is up to the point of Paul being in Rome. And as we move to the end of the Book of Acts, we’re going to look at that particular situation. Now, let me tell you what we’re going to do the rest of this week and maybe in the next week. I’m going to preach a sermon to people who don’t want to hear it. I have done that on several occasions. I remember one time on Cape Cod in Hyannis Port CRU, the staff of Campus Crusade in those days, rounded up every derelict, every person who didn’t want to come, everybody they could find in Hyannis Port and put them into an auditorium and said, All right, Brown, talk to them. I would have rather been at the dentist. I thought, I didn’t sign on for this. So, I decided I was going to confess my sins. And I ended up doing that. And believe it or not, they listened. Well, if I had a chance, there are 40 people who have taken a religious vow to kill the apostle Paul. They obviously were not successful in this particular text because Rome intervened. But if I had been there, and after all, they were religious, and I’m religious, We maybe could get together and when they had failed I would say let me preach a sermon to you and they would not be happy about it. But I would and I’m going to tell you what I would say to them, some religion is good and some religion is not so good. These guys had gotten in with the religious establishment, had made a religious vow to do what they thought was God’s will and that was to murder somebody. That’s not God’s will. That was not from God and they needed to hear a preacher to tell them why that wasn’t true. And so, what I’m going to do over the rest of this week and into next week is to tell you what I would say to those 40 people, if I was there. And the first thing that I would say to them is that they had not considered the fact that all which is done in the name of God is not of God. I recently read a one volume short history of the Christian faith. If you were to go into my library, you would see that several shelves are filled with books multi volumes of Christian history. I love reading Christian history. But the problem is, when you read a five volume set, if you read Kenneth Scott Latourette’s one volume, that’s almost a thousand pages, and you miss some important things that every Christian ought to know. And that is that it’s not very pretty, frankly. It is in some cases, not pretty at all. It’s really, really bad. And when I read this one volume, less than 200 pages of Christian history, all of a sudden, all of the bad stuff was in one place, and I began to see that not everything that was done for Jesus was done for Jesus. Not everything that was done in the name of God was not for God. There was great confusion. And if I were sitting there with those 40 guys, I would have preached a sermon and said, Are you crazy? God didn’t tell you to do that. Did you have a nightmare? Are you smoking something? Is something wrong with you? In Matthew 15:7 through 9, this is what Jesus said.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”
In another place, Jesus points to the emptiness of man’s religion. Matthew 22:29.
You were wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.
II Peter 2:1.
But false prophets also will arise among your people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies.
Why am I saying this? Well, I’m saying it to straighten out these 40 guys, but I’m saying it to straighten myself out too. And maybe you. Contrary to a lot of sophisticated gibberish, there is true religion and there is false religion. And the Christian is under a mandate to discern the difference. A number of years ago, at a ministerial relations committee meeting of my denomination, the subject of Presbytery wide pulpit exchange came up. Within the context of that discussion, not being able to remain silent. I made this statement. I’m in favor of this exchange, however, I think that it is important that our church be allowed to remove itself from the exchange if we cannot accept the preacher that you assign us. People were shocked because that is not a nice thing to say. But the truth was, I had a responsibility for the church where I was. And I didn’t let just anybody into the pulpit. I one time, before you knew who he was, knew Max Lucado. And I loved him even in those days and thought God’s hand was on him, and it really was, and we had lunch, and I said to him, Max, I think the people of my church ought to hear what you have to say, and he was a part of a denomination that said that anybody who wasn’t a part of that denomination, couldn’t be saved. And I said to him, but it’ll be cold in a hot place for you before I put you in my pulpit, if you don’t think I’m saved. And Max just sat back and roared. And in fact, we did, years ago, did a Key Life rally at his church in Texas. But I have a responsibility to make sure that if I have people, come and teach the people over which God has made me a sub shepherd, I have a responsibility that I affirm the truth of what they say. And why is that? Because you’ve got to be careful. And you know this is true. A lot of weird stuff is done in the name of God. A lot of people who are way off Biblically, think that they are doing God’s will. A lot of people, maybe even good people sometimes, from the world’s standards, do really bad things. Sometimes, I get questions from people who are like that. Can God save somebody who’s gay or lesbian or transgendered? I have strong views on sexual morality, but that question is not a godly one. Because God only saves sinners. And as Paul said.
I am the chief of sinners.
And so, when we justify saying things and doing things that are not Biblical, and don’t reflect God’s love, you may be very, very religious. I suppose that’s good, unless it’s wrong. You think about that. Amen.
A sermon to 40 would be assassins. You are not going to hear that anywhere else. And yet it’s a sermon to you and me too, isn’t it? Thank you Steve. And still so much more to discover here in Acts 23, hope you will join us again tomorrow as we resume that journey. Where do you draw the line on grace? How do you know if you’ve gone too far? Well, Steve addresses those questions in his book Three Free Sins, but he also spoke to them in a talk on his Three Free Sins Book Tour. We would love to send you that full talk on CD for free. You in? Then call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. Or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the Three Free Sins CD. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card. You can include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 to give safely and securely. That’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.