Be kind…but don’t you shilly-shally.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2023
Be kind…but don’t you shilly-shally. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of Key Life.
That was Steve Brown, and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at Paul’s defense in the 24th chapter of the Book of Acts. He’s standing before Felix, who is judging him, and he’s presenting his defense. Sometimes, I hear Christians say, never defend, and most of the time, we shouldn’t defend. Most of the time, I have a friend, Dan Bush, who teaches a seminar called Undefended. And he talks about the great power that comes when we recognize that God is our defender and we don’t have to defend ourselves. But there are exceptions. Sometimes, a Christian needs to defend himself or herself with the truth. And that’s what the apostle Paul is doing here. He is not manipulating, somebody told me recently about a man who wasn’t very well educated but he wanted to serve Jesus and he asked the minister what he could do to help. And the minister gave him a list of ten names and explained to him that the ten were prominent people, but they never came to church anymore, and they never gave anything to the church. And he said to this new Christian, he said, see if you can do something about it. Shortly after that, he got, the minister got a check for $1000, but he also got a note. Dear preacher, enclosed is a check to make up for missed contributions. I am so sorry for missing worship so much, but be assured that I will be there next Sunday and every following Sunday. I will not, by choice, miss worship again. Sincerely, M. B. Jones. P. S. Will you please tell your secretary there is only one “T” in dirty and no “C” in skunk. In other words, the guy had not manipulated, he had simply gone out and spoken truth, to these dirty skunks. Well, we got to be kind, got to be loving, but he was right that he did not manipulate. Let me show you something else about the apostle Paul as he was dealing with a crazy world. Notice that Paul emerged from this trial, with his convictions still intact, Acts 24:26 through 27.
At the same time, he hoped that money would be given him by Paul, so he sent for him often and conversed with him, but when two years had elapsed.
In other words, Paul refused to use a bribe. And you might note that in his defense, he refused to change his convictions. He, and we’re going to see something about this next week, but he refused to set aside what he believed to be true in order to be accepted and get what he wanted. We’ve got to be careful about that, too. I was listening to a talk show not too long ago, and the guy who was being interviewed was asked what can people of faith do to make a difference in this culture. And you know what he said? He said, join a church and support it. It’s the most important thing that you can do. In other words, don’t shed your convictions. Don’t nod your head and smile when people say really dumb and awful things about God. Don’t try to be with the cool kids. I heard Bill Gaither say one time that the most dangerous thing a Christian can do, is to want to hang out with the cool kids. There’s certain things you simply can’t compromise. The gospel is filled with convictions and the apostle Paul knew that and he knew that whatever he said before Felix, the judge, he could not in any way compromise the truth that he had been taught. Listen to me, once you see truth, you can’t un-see it. And if you can’t un-see it, you ought to speak it. And if you speak it, you ought to speak it clearly, so that it is understood. And you need to speak it, you need to speak it with the conviction of one who knows the truth. Tony Campolo is my friend. You know that. You also know that Tony and I don’t agree on anything, except Jesus. We spent a long time with a national syndicated television program called Hashing It Out, where I was the conservative and he was the liberal. He called me my, his right wing, wacko friend. And I called him my left wing, wacko friend. And we tried to demonstrate how you can love one another. And Tony, and by the way, he’s going through a really tough time. And if you, I talk to him every two or three weeks, and if you, if you think of it, say a prayer for he and his wife, Peggy. Because it’s a hard time right now. They’re going through some very difficult physical issues. And it’s hard. At any rate, Tony went to a gay and lesbian convention and when he got up to speak, he said to them, he said, I’m here because I love you. And I’m here to say what you’re doing is wrong because it’ll kill you. And at that moment, Tony broke down and began to weep. You know what happened? He got a standing ovation. I know, I know, Tony’s changed some of his views. He’s still my friend and I still love him. But he refused to set aside his convictions in order to be liked by other people. Do you do that? Man, I do sometimes. Sometimes I say things that I don’t believe. And I go places I shouldn’t go. And speak to people I shouldn’t speak to, in order to be accepted by the cool kids. And I want you to know, after looking at this particular chapter, and a lot of other in Scripture, I decided I’m not going to do that anymore. Let me give you a quote from Albert Einstein.
Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution
you’ve heard this
came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth. But no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors in the days gone by, who proclaimed their love for freedom, but they like the universities, were silenced with a few short weeks. Only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for the suppression of truth. I never had any special interest in the church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the church alone had the courage and the persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess what I once despised I now praise.
Is that cool or what? You know, we don’t get a chance to change the message that God has given us, and it is clear. And a part of that message is our own sinfulness and our own failure and our own need for a Savior. Luther said.
The message of the gospel is that we are great sinners, and Jesus is a great Savior.
But there’s more to it than that. There is revelation of truth about what God says is right and what God says is wrong. There is revelation of truth that God is a God who is loving.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.
There is truth about integrity, truth about honesty, truth about being who you say you are, truth about the world and how the world works, truth about how God would have his people live. And we don’t get a vote on that truth. And one of the dangers of our culture today, is that we want to be accepted, we want to be praised, we want to be admired, and sometimes you can’t speak truth and have all that too. You think about that. Amen.
Be kind, but don’t shilly-shally. Thank you Steve. What a dynamite week of teaching from here in Acts 24. Remember, you can re listen to any of these episodes at keylife.org also, a good place to drop by if you just want to maybe share it with a friend. And tomorrow you’ll want to join us again for Friday Q&A. On tap for Steve and Pete tomorrow, this question, how do you deal with Satan? A good question, be sure to tune in for their answer. Well, I think you would agree that while we as Christians may be right on issues of salvation and theology, we often miss the less articulated truths of humility, love, and forgiveness. Well, that premise was actually the basis of Steve’s book called Talk the Walk. We took a portion of that book and created a special booklet that we would love to send to you, for free. To claim your copy, just 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 booklet. Or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for the Talk the Walk booklet. Finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you consider supporting that through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. 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.