Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
SEPTEMBER 29, 2020
Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Let’s talk on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He’s an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life, a program all about God’s radical grace. We’re committed to bringing you Bible teaching that’s honest, straightforward and street smart. Keep listening to hear truth that’ll make you free.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at Galatians two and we’re talking in the larger sense about the gospel. And this is a part of two times we’re going to spend in this second chapter of Galatians. One looking through a telescope, down at the gospel, the big picture of the gospel. And then when we finish this, we’re going to going to get a microscope and look at the gospel all in an effort to define what it is. Now we have seen that Paul says in the second chapter of Galatians, that the gospel is universal. conveyed, continued, conspicuous and compassion. And it’s also consistent, look at Galatians 2:14
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live as a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
What was Paul saying? He’s saying you’re not consistent. Now, I know and I think it was Emerson who said that
Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
My late mentor, Fred Smith put it this way that
Christian maturity was to have a high tolerance for ambiguity.
And I get all of that. But as a matter of fact, down deep, in a solid way, the Christian faith is consistent. And it creates consistent people. The thing about the Bible is that it’s a meta-narrative. And one of the rubrics of post-modernity is that there is no meta-narrative. There are a lot of mini-narratives that explain the little things in community, but there isn’t one big story, one philosophy, one view that takes everything into account and explains it. Oh yeah, there is. And it’s biblical, it’s a Christian worldview and it comes together in an absolutely amazing way. I remember one time when Ruth Graham was in the back seat of our car and we were going to lunch, my wife and I with Mr. and Mrs. Graham, we weren’t good buddies, but they worshiped sometimes at the church I served, and so I got to know them and I love it both. And their passing adds a major attraction to heaven. But, my wife Anna brought up a really difficult thing she was dealing with in scripture and Ruth Graham got out her Bible and started thumbing through it. And she said, I like hard things, cause I like going into the word and finding the answers. That is where you find the answers. I mean, it explains a lot of things, about which most people have questions. And the reason our culture is in such trouble these days is because they don’t have a Christian worldview. They have a Utopian world view, they have a socialist worldview, they have a capitalistic worldview. And some of those things are good, but they don’t explain. They’re not consistent. And there are in consistencies all over the place. And that’s where Christians have an advantage, that we have a stable meta-narrative. We have a story that is true. A story that takes into account everything in the world. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not superficial. We don’t have cheap answers to every question. But it is a worldview that is consistent from Genesis to Revelation. But what is important here in terms of the gospel is that it produces consistent people. One of my early mentors, when I was a young pastor said, and he said a lot of things that were wise, his name was John Stanton. And he said, Steve, don’t tell people that you’re a pastor, but if they find out don’t let them be surprised. Now that was a good statement, but I don’t believe it, not in the way he meant it. He was saying, and this was a lot of years ago, you gotta be good and a obedient and faithful and not sin too much, so that when people find out that you’re a pastor, they won’t be surprised. And there’s something to that, but it’s more important that that consistency be in forgiveness and grace and mercy and love. You know, I want to create quick questions in pagans minds. I want to live in a way that they don’t know what to say when they find out what I think and what I do and who I am. But the place, I don’t want them to be surprised, in fact, I want them to say, Oh, I get it, is in my Christian faith. I’m not perfect, but I’m forgiven. Is that cool or what? I’m no longer in bondage I’m free and I am dangerous and they’ll say, Oh, I get it, a consistent life. And therefore of course consistency and what’s right and wrong and what’s true and untrue. The gospel is that. It is consistent and it creates consistent people. Let me show you something else. I’d have you note that the gospel is not only Catholic, conveyed, continued, conspicuous, compassionate and consistent. It is also candid. Look at that 11th verse,
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him do his face.
In the 14th verse,
When I saw they were not straight forward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all.
I don’t know about you, but almost all of the criticism I have directed at me and I got a lot, I get second hand. Lots of times the criticism is justified, but there’s something in me that rebels against someone telling me what someone else thinks about me. Not too long ago, I was going to speak at a college campus and got a call from the chaplain. And he was obviously nervous. They already advertised, I was going to be there, so it was too late to withdraw the invitation and I can be controversial in some circles. He said, Steve, your ministry has meant so much to so many people. When anybody starts that way, get ready, because what follows is not going to be, and then he began to talk about some of the bad things that have been said about me. And he said now, don’t get me wrong, these were not mean people. And I wanted to say, give me their names, would you? We can work this thing out, but he wouldn’t, if I had asked. And I was at another college and one of the students said, Steve, do you know what they say about you? And I said, no, and I don’t want to know what they say about me, but I do want to know when they say it to me. One of the manifestations of the gospel is that it is candid. Let me tell you something 90% of the relationship problems in the body Christ could be solved if we love loved each other enough, to be honest with each other, not unkind, but honest with each other. And what makes it possible for that to happen, let me tell you, the fact that we’re forgiven and that nobody can be self-righteous about anything. Did I recommend Brandt Hansen’s book to you? If you haven’t gotten it, go out and get it right now. We interviewed him and he’s a friend of mine. The book is The Truth About Us and it’s about self-righteousness. He’s a funny guy. He’s one of the most popular radio personalities in America and he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known. So every other page of the book, The Truth About Us had me giggling, but every other page had me convicted because self-righteousness is so very dangerous. How do you fix it? You fix it right with the gospel. The gospel says you are not righteous. You are not good. You deserve absolutely nothing from a Holy God. But, do I have a deal for you? You can be forgiven. And when you get that, you get the essence of the gospel. I pray the Lord’s prayer because it makes me feel I did what I was supposed to do.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
When you’re forgiven, you can forgive and you can forgive to the degree to which you’ve been forgiven. That makes you candid. You think about that. Amen.
That was Steve Brown, teaching us from Galatians two, about how the gospel is consistent and candid. We’ll continue with our exploration of this chapter tomorrow. Will we learn another word to describe the gospel that also starts with C, tune in and find out. Well, as Steve just mentioned, one definition of maturity, is being comfortable with ambiguity. Okay. That said, there are times when we need answers, because the questions we’re asking are big. Like is the Bible true? Is God really there? Why don’t I feel a certain way? If you’re asking these types of questions, there’s a mini-book, we’d like to send you for free. It’s called Faith and Doubt: When Belief Is Hard. Get your copy while supplies last, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also request the mini-book by emailing Steve@keylife.org. If you’re mailing us, send your request to
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