A story with a happy ending.
OCTOBER 14, 2021
A story with a happy ending. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it to the sixth chapter of Acts. We’ve been looking at the first potential catastrophe in the church. In fact, given that this was in Jerusalem, the mother church, which would be the source of the growth of Christianity throughout the world. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said.
Go into all the world.
In Acts 8:1, they finally did, but they were forced to, they were doing just fine in Jerusalem. Things were happening. People’s lives were being changed. Marriages were being saved. And even some of the priests had become believers in Jerusalem. So, they were saying to themselves, everything is fine. And so, there was a persecution and the Christians were forced out of Jerusalem. But it was important, what was going on in Jerusalem. Depending on how big you’re gonna make the building, the foundation has to go deep. And this building was going to eventually sweep the entire world and become as it is today, the largest religion in all of human history, dwarfing every other religion. Okay. They had to go deep. I mean, the foundation had to be solid, but they couldn’t just sit around in Jerusalem forever, singing Kumbaya. So God sent a persecution and the persecution spewed the Christians into a obedience, going into all the world and making disciples. But it was important that they get it right Jerusalem. And Luke makes that clear in this sixth chapter of Acts, because he’s talking about church division. And if you’ve been listening over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the extreme wisdom going on and what could have been a major tragedy and could have been that which stopped the Christian growth in the rest of the world. So, this is important, but the stories God writes, have happy endings and a happy ending is found in the seventh verse of the sixth chapter of Acts. After all the division, all of the politics, all of the repentance, all of the problems Luke writes.
And the word of God increased, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Oh my. You want to say no, no, no way. After this? After these problems, after this kind of division, how did that happen? I’ll tell you how it happened, because God is sovereign and he takes our messiness and our rebellion and our sin, and he uses a us anyway. God does, as he pleases, Ron Dunn used to say, and he does it right well. And so, every circumstance is a part of a piece. A music piece, a theme, if you will, or a puzzle piece, for the whole picture, God is doing it well, and he’s doing it right well now. And he’s doing that in your church. I know. Listen, I’ve been doing this for a very long time. I used to say that I’d be more happy in a bar than I was in a church, but that’s a lie. That’s not true. I can’t think of anybody, I’d rather be around other than God’s people. Now, 10% of them are, I call it the 10 90 principle. 10% of them are angry and condemning and guilt producing and greedy and mean, and 90% of them will make your cookies and they’ll pray for you and they’ll love you and they’ll forgive you also. Gloria Gaither straightened me out one time. We were talking about gay and lesbian issues, and I’d been spending some time with some people with that particular proclivity. And I’d listened to their stories about the hate that had been directed at them. And I was kind of angry about it. I just said the church has not been very good in this. And Gloria said, Steve, that has not been my experience. And I was, you know, I talk all the time. I got silent and I listened. She said, in the church, most people are kind, they really are. They’re loving and they’re gentle and they’re forgiving and they’re not like the way you described. And as soon as she said it, I got it. And not only did I get it, I taught it to students in the seminary. Now, I tell students that that 10%, the mean ones shouldn’t remain the same people forever, or you’re not doing it right. They need to move from the 10% into the 90%. And, they do, believe it or not because God does as he pleases and he does it right well. I don’t know what you’re going through in your church right now or in your personal life. Maybe you think that God will never use you again cause you messed it up so bad and you’ve sinned. Maybe you look at your church and you think there’s no hope for this place. Man, we’re so mad at each other, I don’t know if we’re going to have to close the doors of the church. I know. It’s always been true. Life is messy and relationships are messy and my life is messy and sinful. And the church’s life is messy and sinful. And still, and still bottom line.
And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly.
You can’t stop it. We’re like weeds. You can’t get rid of us because, because you see, we are his servants. We serve him and through all of this, and this is the hopeful, happy ending of this potential tragedy in the first seven verses of the sixth chapter of Acts. It’s going to be okay. It really is going to be okay. This battle is going to be won by Jesus. If you’re looking politically at our nation, both Canada and here. If you get depressed, if you’re worried and I’m all of those things, I go back and read and rejoice.
And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly.
I have a friend who has the same name that I do and lives in Washington state. And we met 30 years ago and haven’t seen each other in 30 years, but we write. And we’re friends, and he’s one of the best writers I’ve ever seen. And he talked in an e-mail that I got this morning from my friend Steve, about how depressed he was, with what’s going on and our nation and how good it’s being called to evil, and evil is being called good. And it seems like we’ve lost the, lost the battle. And then in the rest of the letter, and it was a long one, he began to talk about some things that were happening in Washington state. And, they’re amazing. Christians are getting together, they’re organizing, they’re beginning to make an impact in elections, they’re beginning to speak up, they’re beginning to say I cannot be silent. And when I finished his e-mail, I was better. I’m a cynical old preacher. And when I wrote him back, I said, Steve, every time I get a message from you, I’m less cynical than I was before you sent it. You know why? Because he’s Biblical. Because he gets it, no matter how dark it is, and no matter how depressed we are. And no matter how many times we think we’ve won the, lost of the battle, bottom line.
And the word of God increased, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly.
Don’t thank me. I was glad to help, cause I’m in the same place as you are. And I need to remember that happy ending, because God only writes stories with happy endings. You know, I’m running out of time here. I don’t, I guess I could sing or something or I have a closing prayer to fill in the time. I’ve got enough to do that, but not enough to go forward. So, let me tell you what we’re going to do next week. Tomorrow, we’ll have Q&A with Pete as always. But next Monday, we’re going to come back to the book of Acts, and I’m going to introduce you to one of my closest friends. In fact, he’s so close as a friend that I was named after him. Can you believe that? His name is Stephen. And he’s the president of the first board of deacons and he puts his pants on the way you do. He has the sin you have. He is not any more wise than you are. And God used him to change the world. You too. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Great week here in Acts 6. And next week, we’ll continue our exploration by getting to know a very significant person in the early church. Please join us tomorrow for Friday Q&A. We have some fascinating questions on tap that Steve and Pete will answer for you on the air. So, here we are, mid October and you have probably already heard me mentioned the 2021 edition of Key Life magazine. It has some dynamite articles by Robin DeMurga, Chris Wachter, and yeah, of course, Steve. Want to remind you that it’s still available for a limited time, but listen, we also have a digital magazine, completely different content, that’s out now. That one features a very important article from Steve called Wolves in the Church, along with pieces from some of your other favorite Key Life voices. Get your copy of our digital magazine for free, right now at keylife.org/digitalmagazine. And for our print magazine, just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for the magazine. If you would like to mail your request, send it to
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