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Believe it or not, failure is a gift.

Believe it or not, failure is a gift.

AUGUST 9, 2023

/ Programs / Key Life / Believe it or not, failure is a gift.

Steve Brown:
Believe it or not, failure is a gift. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers sick of phony religion and pious clich├ęs. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. If you’ll open your Bible to Acts 21: verse 17 through the 23rd chapter of Acts and verse 13. Now, that’s a long text, and I’m not going to take the time to read it all, but it’s an important text, and I fully expect you, because I’m going to test you on this material. I fully expect you, before the sun disappears, before you go to bed, that you will read that entire text, Acts 21:17 through 23:13. This is the end. This is the grand finale. This is a big deal as we move to landing the airplane in the Book of Acts. Now, we’re not finished yet. We, I’m a preacher. I’ve got a lot of things to say for these final chapters. But this is the beginning at the 17th verse of the 21st chapter of Acts. of the grand finale. Have you ever had one of those days when nothing would go right? When everything you said offended somebody and everything you did turned out wrong. Not too long ago, a man called me and said that all in one day, his wife left him, he lost his job, his father disowned him, and his kitten died. Man, I thought, you know, that’s really bad, we need to pray and we did. But if you had one of those days kind of like that, well, Paul was kind of like that. Paul has just completed his third missionary journey. And as we get into this text, we’ll see the results have been nothing less than fantastic. One of the few people you can say, because he lived, the world was different. Churches had been established all over the Roman Empire. Thousands of people have been drawn to Christ. He had survived some of the greatest persecution any man has ever been called to survive. And now, he’s coming home. He’s coming home to the mother church to receive the well earned commendation of the leaders of that church. Now, he’s coming to the cradle of the Christian church, Jerusalem, to bask in the warmth of Christian fellowship, to be with the people he knew and loved. Starts pretty good. Look at verse 17 through 20.

When he had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received him gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God.

Oh man, what a one, no, right after that it turns. And it goes bad, and it goes really bad. And he was excited about it, have you ever been excited about something and have someone drop a bomb in the middle of the excitement? I have. Starts good, and then the acid starts. As I said, because I don’t have time to read these chapters, let me tell you what happened. With the suggestion that you read it for yourself. After Paul had told his story to the elders in Jerusalem, the elders said, that’s wonderful, Paul, but we have a problem here. Let us tell you about it. Somehow, a rumor has gotten started. Now, if you want to do something about that rumor, you can help out four men who have made a vow to God and can’t afford to pay that vow. You would be wise to pay it for them. Paul shaved his head and he went to the temple thinking that everyone would then accept him. And the opposite happened. They thought that he had taken a man, the Ephesian, into the temple. who was a Gentile, and they weren’t happy with it. A riot ensued. I mean, Paul was a riot looking for a place to happen. And Paul was almost killed. A Roman tribune had to intervene and took him to the barracks for Paul’s own protection. The tribune thought that Paul was an insurrectionist, so Paul wanted to straighten out the whole mess. And when he mentioned the word Gentile, they turned on him again. Again, the Tribune had to intervene, had Paul arrested, and was about to beat him when Paul mentioned a small fact that was really important, that he was a Roman citizen. And the tribune said, you’re what? He said, I’m a Roman citizen. The tribune tried Paul before the Sanhedrin, that turned into a fight, and Paul was again arrested. Now, what we’re going to be doing, and I’ve just kind of given you the context of the whole thing. Paul is going to end up in Rome, and he’s going to get there through a long list of failures. And we’re going to see what you do when you fail. Let me tell you something, if you haven’t failed big, you haven’t lived big. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t seen God’s hand. If you haven’t failed and seen how this thing was going to work out, then you’ve missed God’s great blessing. We’ll talk about it, but for now, you think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Failure is a gift. That’s just one of the takeaways we find here in Acts 21:17 through Acts 23:13. Thank you Steve. And still so much more to discover as we round this corner toward the last stretch of Acts, very exciting. Hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. Where do you draw the line on grace? How do you know if you’ve gone too far? 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. Take a listen to part of that, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer. Here’s Steve.

Steve Brown:
One of the things you need to know about the 23rd chapter of Matthew is that it reflects the problem with the church and with those of us as individuals. And Jesus is really harsh in this passage. The thing that you need to know is that the Pharisees and the scribes, particularly the Pharisees, are the closest to us, as you’ll find in the New Testament. They were evangelical Jews. They believed in verbal plenary inspiration. They believed in miracles. They believed in eternal life. They believed in angels. So, if you’re looking for a grouping in the New Testament, the most like us, it would be those of us who are traditional, and orthodox, and evangelical because we’re like them. And that’s why when you read the 23rd chapter of Matthew, you wince. Or I do. Because he’s talking about people who really love God. You say, well, Steve, why is he so hard on them? He’s so hard on them because you don’t kick and beat a dead horse because we are the people where there’s hope. We’re the people with a message that would change the world, but somehow it’s gotten layered over and over and over until people can’t hear the radical nature of what we believe. I’ve been a Christian longer than many of you have been alive. And the hard thing about being a Christian for a long time Is that the passages that ought to cause us to go, I can’t believe that, it can’t be that good. That cannot be true. We don’t see those anymore We read them over and we yawn and that’s why Jesus was so upset in the 23rd chapter Matthew. Let me read some of this to you.

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works. For they say and they do not do, for they bind up heavy burdens. After all that Jesus has done for you, if you love Jesus, you would serve him better. They bind up heavy burdens hard to bear and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.

Goes on

Woe to you, Pharisees, whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, filled with decay on the inside.

Now, I need to say that at the end of this very chapter is the place where Luke tells us Jesus looks out over Jerusalem and he weeps. And Matthew says, Jesus says, oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem. Oh church. Oh evangelical Bible believers. Oh solid Christians, how often I would have gathered you as a mother hen would gather her chicks, and you would not.

Matthew Porter:
So good. But that was just a taste, right? Get that full talk on CD for free by calling 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. 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 or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 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.

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