Coming to Christ is two choices.
DECEMBER 15, 2021
Coming to Christ is two choices. Let’s talk about them on Key Life.
If you’re sick of guilt and manipulation. And if you’re looking for an honest and thoughtful presentation of Biblical truth, you’ve come to the right place. This is Key Life with the founder of Key Life Network, Steve Brown, keep listening for teaching that will make you free.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re looking at the eighth chapter of Acts and we’re talking about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. And we’re looking at evangelism in just a little bit different way. You know about evangelism and that we’re here for them. And if you’ve been in the church very long, you’ve been taught how to share your faith. The only reason you were taught is because, well, you could have done it anyway, but you were afraid to. And so, if somebody teaches you, you think you now know when you knew even before. I’ve never understood week long courses in evangelism. I mean, it’s not brain surgeons stuff. You just say, Jesus loves you. You don’t deserve it. Tell him. Come to him and he’ll accept you because of the Cross. You know, that really is it, it’s that simple, it’s profound. It’s kind of an ocean where elephants swim and a little pond where children can play. It’s that simple and it’s that profound. But enough of that, we’re not talking about so much the normal stuff of evangelism, but we’re looking at this conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. And we’re looking at some things that we ought to pay attention to or to which we should pay attention, for you, English teachers. And the first thing we saw, is that it was an event, but it was a process. This isn’t something that just happened out of a blue, God had been preparing the Ethiopian from the moment he was born for this very event that took place and is described in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts. It’s an event, it’s a process, but it’s also an event and you have an event in your life. Go, remember where he found you, remember how dark it was, remember the meaninglessness and the guilt you felt and the no hope that was a part of it. Remember where he found you, that’s your story. It’s not all of your story, but it is your story. And it’s the witness that you give to the world. Now, let me show you something else about this eighth chapter of Acts and the Ethiopian. I would have you notice that the conversion involved two choices, one was God’s choice and the other was the convertee’s choice, the Ethiopian. The Ethiopian made a choice and God made a choice. The interesting thing to note about this story is that Philip was not going to be on this road to Gaza. I mean, there was no chance of a snowball in a hot place, he was going to encounter somebody like this wealthy and influential and powerful Ethiopian, but God made a choice about the Ethiopian. Made sure that Philip was there, he directed him. Philip presented the gospel and then Philip was gone. So, God made a choice, didn’t he? I mean, God didn’t have to send Philip. God didn’t have to prepare the Ethiopian. God didn’t have to work things out so that it came out this way. But he did because God had made a choice. In fact, God had made up his mind about this Ethiopian before the Ethiopian was ever born. And then there’s another choice, the choice that was made by the Ethiopian when he said to Philip, is there anything to prevent me from being baptized right now? And so, the Ethiopian made a choice. Now, both of those choices are important. And both of them are taught clearly in Scripture. And as a matter of fact, they contradict each other. You say, are you saying the Bible is wrong because it’s contradictory? No, it’s just that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his ways are higher than our ways. It’s just that there’s more to it than that. And we can’t understand it. Are you free and responsible? Yes, you’re free and responsible. You are making the bed, you have to sleep in. And you’re in that bed because you made that bed. You decided a lot of things, good decisions and bad decisions. And one of them, if you’re a Christian, was that you decided to come to Jesus, but you need to know that when you got there and we’re going to talk more about it tomorrow, that when you got there, Jesus was standing and saying I’ve been expecting you. And I knew you would be here right now at this time in this place. And you say, but I thought I was free and Jesus says you are. But what you’re saying is that you planned this and it was going to happen this way. And Jesus is gonna say, I did. And then you’re going to say, would you please explain to me how you can be sovereign, plan everything, every molecule and at the same time, I can be free and responsible in the choices that I make. And Jesus would say, I don’t have the time and you don’t have the time, but someday we’re going to have eternity. And in eternity, we’ll have all the time in the world for me to explain to you something that is so complicated, so difficult, so convoluted, so counter-intuitive that a finite mind just can’t grasp it. Meantime, just trust me. I love you. Is that okay? You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown, continuing to teach us about evangelism through the lens of the events described in Acts 8. We’ll continue our exploration tomorrow. Make sure you join us then. As you may know, we also have a talk radio show called Steve Brown Etc. A while back on that program, we interviewed author Dane Ortlund about his book. The book is titled Gentle and Lowly, named of course, for how Jesus described himself. In that conversation, we explored what the Bible really says about Jesus’ heart towards sinners and sufferers. Take a listen to part of that episode, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.
When we talk about Jesus’ love and grace and mercy, is there a but, like he’s had it with you. This is the 70th time that he’s forgiven you. He’s not going to do it again. There’s always that shadow of doubt.
Dane Ortlund: It’s how we’re all spring loaded and hardwired, isn’t it? I mean, I roll out of bed in the morning and that’s the God that I think is there waiting for me. I think that when his own body parts, his own people tick him off. That’s when he’s most drawn toward us, which is the opposite of how we tend to think about who he is, but that’s what actually his heart is.
That’s where he finds his joy, isn’t it? In forgiving and redeeming.
Dane Ortlund: If we take the New Testament seriously, we are his body. He’s the head, we are the different body parts. I mean, if I break a finger, I’m going to care for it, tend it, want it to be healed, deal tenderly and gently with it. And that would be a joy to me to do that. So, we tend to think that Jesus, what he really likes to do the most is correct us, judge us, exhort us, get us flying right. But, the Puritans convinced me that actually the Jesus of the Bible is what he loves most. As you just said, Steve, his deepest joy is almost scandalous, is to love and embrace into his heart, his messy in the present, not just in the past, people. I have lived most of my life viewing Jesus as way over there. I’m certainly not living a halo kind of life. And here’s where for me, the rubber meets the road. Jesus Christ ongoing, persevering. I know enough theology to get by at this point, I’ve done the seminary classes and so on. Read the Bible through many times. When I sin, I know better. It’s one thing for a total pagan to sin. So, I have a lot of trouble, believing that Jesus is infinitely patient with me. I tend to view him as, okay Dane, I’m giving you a thousand mulligans, but at some point, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, you’re gonna run out and that mountain of mercy will be, the stockpiles getting less than less, and because at this point you should know better. And I think what is so, so, so hard for me to push into my heart, but which is staring at me right there in black and white in the pages of Scripture, is that you’d never actually get to that point with him, on the contrary Dane, as you go through life, sinning and doing stupid things, that stockpile of mercy grows with every passing sin. I think that’s what Romans 5:20 and 21 means. So, his enduring perseverance with me, his patience with me. I’ve sinned a lot since the publication of that book. I mean, this is, I need this. So, I just really, really want to believe myself and tell other believers he’s not going to run out of mercy. He’s not going to finally throw in the towel. He is with you to the end. And I will never do those things with a heart softened and transformed and loved if Jesus isn’t like this, it’s only in the wake of being struck by the wondrous heart of Christ that I will ever, a little bit in a healthy way, not a legal way, begin to do what you just said, Steve, love others and obey the Lord, which I want to do.
You are going to love Dane and you are going to love this episode. So let us send it to you on a CD for free today. No strings attached. Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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