Crazy…crazy like a fox.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2023
Crazy…crazy like a fox. Let’s talk about it, on this edition of Key Life.
This is Key Life, here to let Christians know that God isn’t mad at them. Keep listening and you’ll hear that because of what Jesus has done, you’re welcomed home into the family of God because of His radical grace, free from the penalties of sin and never alone in your suffering.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at Paul’s defense in the 24th chapter of Acts, before the Roman ruler Felix. The charges have been brought by a hired gun lawyer, and Paul in most of this chapter simply makes his defense before Felix. And we’ve seen some things. He had a simple truth. He refused to compromise. He was free, but there’s something else that I want you to see that’s kind of cool, and I don’t want you to miss it. I would have you notice that when we stand before a crazy world and make our defense, we’ve got to be as innocent as doves, and as wise as serpents. The apostle Paul was extremely shrewd. Now, if you read this text again, and I’m not going to read it to you again, Paul makes a reference that seems kind of out of place. Why did he do it? What was it about? Paul said it was about the resurrection and believing that people live forever. Now, that didn’t have anything to do with his defense. But why did he say it? Because there was a major division among the Jews over that particular doctrine. If you read the 23rd chapter of Matthew, you’re reading Jesus’ comments negative about Pharisees. And evangelicals are kind of like Pharisees. We’re about as near as you can get to that, if we compare ourselves with the New Testament people. The Pharisees believed in angels, we believe in angels. The Pharisees believed in verbal plenary inspiration, and we believe in verbal plenary inspiration. The Pharisees accepted the Bible as God’s word, and we accept the Bible as God’s word. The Pharisees believed in miracles, and we believe in miracles. So, when you read the 23rd chapter of Matthew, don’t read it before you go to bed because it’s extremely negative. Jesus calls the Pharisees whitewashed tombs. So, that’d be kind of like us. And Paul knew that. And Paul knew that the Sadducees and the other Jews did not believe in immortality. But Jesus had come back from the dead and said we could too. And when Paul makes reference to that particular fact, he is driving a wedge between his adversaries. Now, that sounds like a very, very smart preacher. And that’s what the apostle Paul was. You know, one of the things that we need as people in the church is to be wiser than the people who aren’t in the church. More balanced than people who are not in the church. Shrewder than people who are not in the church. My late mentor, Fred Smith was often asked, and by the way, there are people who say that I make up Fred in order to say really weird things. I did not. He’s in heaven now, and if you want to know something about Fred Smith, go to BreakfastWithFred.com BreakfastWithFred.com but he was often asked, can you be a Christian and be successful in business? That used to drive Fred nuts and he would say, I don’t know how you can be successful in business. without being a Christian and Fred then demonstrated that in his business dealings and his work with people. And he was maybe the wisest man I have ever known, that ought to be a mark of a Christian. And you see it in the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul knows when to speak, he knows how to speak, he knows what will offend people, he knows what won’t offend people, he has the truth and he knows it. And he knows how to present it to get results because he’s street-smart. Christians are sometimes not so street-smart. I mean, we sing our hymns and pray our prayers and then lose our businesses. One time a businessman that Fred knew, lost a major corporation, they went bankrupt. And he came to Fred and he, and while he was going bankrupt, every other sentence was praise the Lord. And he came to Fred and he said, I don’t know what happened. Fred said to him I’ll tell you what happened. God was showing you that you’re dumb. God was showing you that you thought your praise the Lord’s would be a substitute for good business practices. God was showing you if you start another business quit referencing Jesus and get on about the business of doing business. Now, there’s a lesson in that for us who are Christians. And there’s a lesson in what Paul said before his accusers. When he brought up the resurrection, he knew exactly what he was doing because he was street-smart. He knew this is going to divide them and while they’re fighting, I’m going to get away. That in fact, well, there’s some more details that we’re going to get into later, but that in fact is what happened. It was a street-smart Christian who stood before Felix and who brought his case. When we stand before the world, we need to make sure that we’re street-smart too. We need to pray that God would make Jesus words an admonishment, a part of our life. Lord, make me innocent as a dove and as wise as a serpent. You think about that. Amen.
Well, it’s Wednesday, and sometimes when I have some extra time on Wednesday, I answer a question or two. Pete will be in on Friday, as always, and we’ll spend the entire broadcast answering questions. And I say it all the time, but I really mean it, we love your questions and we love to talk about them and think about them. And sometimes if we have time, we even do research, but we do love your questions. You can send them to
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Alright, this is in reference, this is an e-mail in reference to such passages as I John 5:5, which reads.
Who is it that overcomes the world only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
In Revelation 2:7
‘To him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
And this writer of the e-mail says Jesus promises everlasting life in the kingdom of God to him or her who overturns, overcomes. But what does it mean to be an overcomer? It’s not what you think. In fact, everything that you’re thinking right now is not what the Scripture is teaching. We are so works oriented, so oriented to the view that the harder the work, and the harder you work, the better and the higher the reward we will receive, and God turns every bit of that on its head. Please note, in the first passage or verse that you quoted, I John 5:5, who is it that overcomes the world? The person who doesn’t smoke, drink, or cuss, or hang out with people who do. The person who obeys all the rules and all the commandments. The person who is always faithful and obedient, that’s what it means to overcome. That’s not what the text says. Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is the overcomer. That’s it. You know why? Because at that point, you have imputed to your own account the righteousness of Christ. It’s called imputation, and it’s called his overcoming. He is overcome by you, and all you’ve got to do is to lean on him, and to lean on him hard. And then something really wonderful begins to happen. When you do that, all the stuff that you wish you could be Begins to take place. You find that you love people who are unlovable more than you did before. You find yourself being faithful, more faithful than you’ve been before. You find yourself involved in obedience when you weren’t that way before. But that has nothing to do with overcoming. Overcoming was a gift that he gave you, and those things that come because of that kind of overcoming never get settled. I mean, you don’t receive perfection because God knows that if he gives you an inch, you’ll take a mile and become self righteous, or at least I will. But try and remember that it’s not about us and the gift we give to God, it’s about God Himself and the gift that He gives to us. That’s the gospel. That’s what this thing is all about. That’s the good news to which He has called us. You are victorious. You are an overcomer because he is. Hey, Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.