God may not be who you think he is.
AUGUST 29, 2022
God may not be who you think he is. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus in the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers because life’s hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Our host is seminary professor and author, Steve Brown.
Thank you Matthew. And we’re glad you’re here with us. And I hope you had a great week-end and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. Matt Heard, you know. Me, you know. But we very rarely get in the studio together to do something together. And we’ve decided to do it during this week. And it’s going to be a great week for a lot of reasons. We’re going to be looking at a play. We’re going to be looking at Scripture. But mostly we’re going to be looking at God. So, even though it feels a little bit different, you stay with us because it’s going to be worth it, as we discuss a God who is different than most people think. Matt, thanks for taking some time to spend the time with me.
Matt Heard: I’m looking forward to it. While we’re on speaking terms, this is really good for us to pick this week.
Matt Heard: We’re on speaking terms this week.
That’s true. And you should thank me for spending time with you too.
Matt Heard: I do. I do. I just, I’ve got to get you a card.
Listen folks, we’ve been friends for so many years that we’re not even going to tell you how many, but we both love the same God and we’ve seen the same things. And we’re going to talk about it this week. Now, I’ve got an Old Testament text and Matt has a New Testament text, and we could have pick from hundreds of texts to make the one point that we’re going to make this week on Key Life. And that is the lavishness of God’s grace. So, let me read my text and then Matt will read his, and then we’re going to talk. This is from the 103rd Psalm where the Psalmist says.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
And we could read the rest of that Psalm, but that’s enough. So, you read your New Testament passage.
Matt Heard: This is like the dueling Testaments. So, the passage that I’m going to share with all of you is from Ephesians chapter one. And it’s about that same characteristic of God that Steve was just reading from, from the Psalmist. You see it over and over. And in church, we hear this word grace a lot. And the question is, do we really believe it. And, so often, it’s more of a religious word in our vocabulary that we bring out every now and then to throw something in there that sounds super spiritual, as opposed to something that we treasure. And so, this is going to mess with us even more because as Paul unpacks that, I’m going to pick it up in the middle of this first chapter of Ephesians. He’s been talking about God’s plan and his determination to get us home. And he says in verse six.
He’s doing all this to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves. And in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace,
and here we go.
that he lavished on us.
I’m going to read that phrase again.
In accordance with the riches of God’s grace, that he lavished on us.
And he didn’t do it capriciously, he didn’t do it happenstance, he says.
He did that with all wisdom and understanding.
So, this was very intentional.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the times reached their fulfillment, to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
So, there’s something about that fulfillment in which God has interrupted our hopelessness and this agenda that he’s got of restoring all things, to bring us back to him through this whole process that is defined by grace. And, you know, I think Steve, so many times people, they know the word, they know the sound of the word, but they don’t know the taste of the word.
So true. And when they finally get it and understand, so many people say it can’t be that good. He can’t be that kind. He can’t be that merciful. He can’t be that gracious. And there are Christian leaders who then play on that amazing grace, by saying but, and then they have a whole list of things usually having to do with God’s discipline. If you get out of, if you get out of line, I’m going to break your legs or give you cancer. And so, we live in fear that God is angry because he has every reason to be angry. So, that’s why we’re going to talk about this week. Now, we’re going to do it in a kind of funny way. There is a, I saw you preach this sermon, at a church here in Orlando recently, and it was built around a play and a film called Babette’s Feast. And then in your book, life with a capital L, you spent a whole chapter talking about that particular play. So, I want you to tell us a little bit about it, and then we’ll be referring to it this week, as we refer to the Scripture that we just read.
Matt Heard: Great, the word, and as we’re journeying through this week, kind of have that word lavish in your mind, that Paul uses there in Ephesians chapter one. The root is perissos. Perisseuo is the word that he uses there, and it means abundant and overflowing and super abundant. You could go on and on, and it appears a number of times in the New Testament, just about how powerful grace is. And so often we don’t get it. Well, there’s a story. I saw a play and first read it and then saw it performed called Babette’s Feast, that Steve, you just mentioned a second ago. And it’s a play about extravagance. It’s a play about challenging our scarcity mentality with an abundance mentality. It’s written by a woman named Isak Dinesen, who a lot of people know her from the film Out of Africa, that was a book she wrote, and then they made a film out of it. She lived in the early part of last century. She was Danish and had several pin names, but she wrote this short story for the lady’s home journal. Actually, a friend of hers had bet her that she couldn’t get a story published in the lady’s home journal. And she, this is the story back in the fifties that came out of that. And it’s about a sleepy little fishing village on the Northern shore of Norway, where there was this religious sect, that had been in existence for a long time. A guy they called the Dean had founded it long ago and he since has passed away when the story starts, he’d passed away about, somewhere, we’re about to celebrate his hundredth anniversary in the play, but he had left his, the leadership of his sect to his two daughters, Martine and Filippa, and they were named after Philip Melanchthon and Martin Luther, I mean, that shows you how deep this this story goes. And, they were cultivating and that’s, I’m using that tongue in cheek because cultivating sounds like you’re growing something. There wasn’t a whole lot of growth happening in this community. They were actually kind of guarding it. It had shrunk by the time the story opens, to about 12 people. And these are people that always dressed in gray and demurely, and they didn’t like anything extravagant, anything fancy, the things of the world were to be shunned because in their mind this whole religiosity was preparing them for heaven. Now, there’s a kernel of truth in that, which is often the case, when we go down a rabbit trail that doesn’t glorify God, nor fulfill the ultimate purpose of the gospel, but the problem was, is that they had partitioned so much, their spirituality from their humanity, that the two, the twain shall never meet. And it was something that was suffocating them as a community, which is part of why in their legalism and all of their stifled living, that it was shrinking in the way that it was. And so, that’s the setting that we’re about to unpack this week, where there is a lavish meal prepared, but it surprises them. And I’m looking forward to exploring that a little bit further.
And as we explore Babette’s Feast, we’re going to see things about God in Scripture, that are so important to remember. And we’ll be referring to the play and the short story, and we’ll keep you up to speed. And of course, we’ll be referencing Scripture as we talk about God. But this week is about the God that we can’t believe really exists, who loves us and lavishes his grace on us without reservation. Babette’s Feast, that’s a different Key Life program. You stay around. And you think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve and Matt. That was our friend Matt Heard. Love this topic of the lavishness of God’s grace. And we’re going to do this approach all this week. Very cool stuff. Hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. Well, of all the books of the Bible, there might not be one that captures such a range of emotions as Psalms, anger, joy, fear, sadness. Well, recently on Steve Brown Etc, we sat down with Pastor Dane Ortlund, the author of In the Lord I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions Through the Psalms. In that conversation, Dane talked about how the Psalms remind us that our God welcomes us, no matter what we’re feeling. This was such an encouraging conversation with Dane that we put it on a CD that we would love to send to you for free. 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 CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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