God teaches his people…always.
MARCH 24, 2022
God teaches his people…always. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown, and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We finished talking about the first half of the 11th chapter of Acts. We just studied it. And the question was, how do you know when the church is moving in the right direction? How do you know when you’re moving in the right direction? There’s some helpful teaching that God gave us through Luke in the book of Acts in the first part of the 11th chapter Acts. Now, let’s look at the second part of the 11th chapter of Acts. And I’m going to start at the 19 verse and read to the end of the chapter. Luke writes as follows.
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who oncoming to Antioch, spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them to all remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And the large company was added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large company of people. And then Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians. Now in these days prophets aimed down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
One of the things that you’ll notice in Scripture and it’s everywhere, is that God teaches his people. He doesn’t say, I want you to do my will. And when we ask, what is it? And he says, I’m not going to tell you. I mean, he tells us. That’s what this Scripture is there for. He deepens us. He draws us to his son Jesus, he makes us different. And I might say, and I’ve said it a number of times, you’re going to get better. So, quit worrying about. I never met a Christian who didn’t want to be better than he or she was. And the problem is, we work so hard about it and worry so much about it and are so anxious about it, that we don’t get better. And that’s the problem. You don’t have to worry about it. God’s making you like Jesus. When Paul said to the Galatians.
I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet Christ lives in me.
That isn’t a commandment. It’s not a law to follow. It’s not a rule. It’s a fact. If you’re a Christian, Jesus, his Spirit is in you and you’re going to get better, not only are you going to get better, he’s going to teach you things you never knew before. He’s going to put in your mind thoughts you never thought before and send you to people, you don’t even like. That’s what God does with his people. Now, we don’t do it perfectly. That’s what grace is for. That’s why Jesus died on the cross for us, but without work, without a lot of planning, without a lot of worrying about it, you’re going to get better because God deepens his people. And that brings up another question, how does he do that? Well, that’s not always the good news, but he does do it. So, that’s what the text I just read to you is about, Acts 11:19 through 30. And we’re going to look and see how God deepens his people. The first thing, and Luke starts with it and I don’t like it, but it’s a fact. Notice that God deepens the Christian and teaches the Christian with persecution. Oh man, Acts 11:19.
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word of the Lord.
And so, God uses persecution. I get worried sometimes when, when people think too highly of us, sometimes I have spoken truth in places of unbelief and I’ve had people say that’s wonderful. I am so glad you told me that. And then I have to discern whether they’re being nice or whether they are being drawn. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, if they’re just being nice, they shouldn’t be because the truth that I speak when it’s from God’s word will in fact be offensive to people who want to be God and don’t want to worship God. I mean, this stuff is not something that a narcissist likes to hear. It’s not the kind of stuff that somebody who wants to be their own God, to be autonomous, to be their own person, to sing with Frank Sinatra, I did it my way. People like that, don’t like to hear the truth. And so, the church, when it is lauded and praised and lifted up and has all the money and the power and the politics goes their way, when that starts happening, I start getting worried. My late mentor, Fred Smith used to say, and I love the way he says things. If you want to know about Fred Smith, you should go to BreakfastWithFred.com. I’ve been accused of making him up, so I could say weird things, but he was the wisest Christian I ever knew. And he used to say when the path between Washington and the church is well-worn, I begin to worry. So, we’re in a cultural time right now, when the church is not liked by a lot of people. They say were homophobic and that we’re racist. And all we’re doing is listening to what God says and his love, which is universal. And we’ve seen what God says about race. God has been very clear in those kinds of things, but they don’t like us. And that bothers me. We don’t have the power we used to have. The path to Washington isn’t as well-worn, as it used to be. People, talking heads say bad things about us all the time. They don’t like us at all. They try to close down our schools. They try to thwart any plans that we have. Isn’t that awful? No, that’s good. Because if you didn’t meet the devil this morning, you were probably going in the same direction. And so, when you see that people don’t think that you’re wonderful. And instead think you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny, that may be a good indication that you’re walking with Christ. Now. I’m not suggesting that we go out and offend people. We’re still supposed to manifest the winsomeness of the fruit of the Spirit. But with all of that being said, when we do the best we can and we are as kind, as compassionate and understanding as we possibly can be, still, there are those that won’t light the truth that we speak. Jesus didn’t lie to us. We spent months studying the gospel of John. And you’ll remember there that Jesus said, if they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they don’t like me, they’re not going to like you. Deal with it and face it and you’ll be better off. And so, that goes back to the first point that we’re getting from this text, that God’s going to make you better. He really is, quit worrying about it. God’s gonna make you better. And one of the ways he does it, is with persecution. When people don’t like you, don’t become a martyr over it. Thank him for it. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Another great week spent plumbing the depths of Acts. We’ll resume this journey next week, so be sure to join us for that. And tomorrow it’s time again for Friday Q&A. Tomorrow, Steve and our friend Pete Alwinson will tangle with this question. Does God listen to the prayers of unbelievers? Now, that is an interesting question. Make sure you join us tomorrow for the answer. Hey, here’s another question for you. A little less academic, a little bit more personal. Have you ever felt like the church no longer meets your needs? Well, for a lot of Christians, it’s a very relevant and timely question. It’s also a question that Kendra Fletcher explores in her article called When the Church Can’t Meet Your Needs. You will find that piece in the current issue of Key Life magazine, along with articles from some of your favorite Key Life voices, like Chad West, Pete Alwinson and yes, of course, Steve. Get your free copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org to ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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