God’s stories always have happy endings.
AUGUST 11, 2022
God’s stories always have happy endings. 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’re going to finish up today. And I’m glad to be finished with it cause I don’t like this text. It’s the last few verses of the 15th chapter of Acts. And then we’re going to get over into the 16th chapter of Acts. And we’re going to look at some teaching on gifts and how they’re used in the church, but we’ve got to finish this and actually today is a lot better than the other days we’ve talked about this particular text. It’s Acts 15 versus 36 through 41. And it is the story of how too mature, obedient, stalwart, courageous leaders can’t stand each other. And they can’t minister in the same room. And God included this so that we could be encouraged when we go through this kind of hard stuff in the church. Now, if you’ve been listening, you have noted that there is the fact of separation, that you just, why do you think we, Jesus prayed in John 17, the high priestly prayer. In fact, that’s Jesus’ prayer. The other one, Our Father, who art in heaven… is the disciples sprayer. But in John 17, Jesus prays a lot of cool things. And one of the things he prays for is that we would be one, all of us, charismatics and dispensationalists and Calvinists and Baptists and Presbyterians and Episcopalians and Roman Catholics and Orthodox and liberals and conservatives and, and goes on and on and on. We, everybody who belongs to Jesus, belongs to everybody who belongs to Jesus. And Jesus prayed that we would all be one, but Jesus knew that wasn’t going to happen until he returned. And that is going to happen someday because God’s stories always have a happy ending. But you’ve got to look at the middle of the story when it’s hard and dark and difficult. Maybe that’s where you are right now in your life. You’re going through hard stuff and it’s dark and it’s difficult. Let me tell you something you need to remember. God has your back. Nothing has happened to you that’s an accident. God is good. He’s good all the time. He is sovereign and he’s sovereign all the time. He’s writing the script, he’s putting the story on paper and every story that God writes ultimately has a happy ending, but you’ve got to look at the part before you get to the happy ending and that’s what we’ve been doing this week. And so, we looked at the fact of separation and then we looked at the process of separation. Man, you’ve got to nip it in the bud when it starts, because you end up not even knowing what you’re fighting about anymore. And then we looked at the remedy of separation, how it does fix something. People say war never settles anything. Well, yeah, it does. Somebody wins and somebody loses, now that doesn’t make me pro war. I lean in the direction of pacifism, but war does settle things, a fight to the death does settle things and in a very smaller way, separation sometimes is necessary. And sometimes it does settle things, but we’ve got to look also at the result of separation. And now, we turn to the good news. Now, I don’t want you to misinterpret what I’m going to say next. So listen very carefully. In Roman 6:1, Paul has just said that we have sinned so that we might experience grace.
What shall we say then,
are we to continue in sin that grace may abound, by no means. How can we, who died to sin still live in sin?
And so, Paul is teaching in Romans 6, that sin has a place, that sin has a happy ending, that sin sometimes is what God uses to bring us to himself, to humble us and to give us a good witness because in the seventh chapter of Romans, the next chapter, Paul gives an amazing confession of his own struggle with sin. So, God honored the ministry of Paul and God honored the ministry of Barnabas and Paul, even after what happened in Acts 15. We don’t have to say much about Paul. It’s obvious that Paul’s ministry was honored, but let me tell you how God honored, I mean, Paul wrote much of the New Testament. Throughout the rest of the book of Acts, we’re not going to hear much about Barnabas, if anything. But we’re going to hear a lot about Paul and we’re gonna see how God had anointed Paul in a wonderful way, but frankly, Barnabas becomes a secondary character in the story. And so, we have to take a little bit of time to look at what happened to Barnabas. In Colossians 4:10, you find that Paul is once again with John Mark in prison. In I Peter 5:13, you find that Mark is with Peter in the closing days of his life. Mark wrote the gospel that bears his name in our Bibles. And so, God did some really neat stuff with Mark, but what you’ve got to understand is that the reason he did need stuff with Mark is because Barnabas was a son of encouragement, because he understood God’s grace, because he understood that if you mess it up one time, it doesn’t mean you’ve made a permanent job of it. Barnabas was a man who came along side his nephew, John Mark. And John Mark was used in an incredible way. In II Timothy, even Paul says to Timothy, Hey, bring John Mark with you cause he’s very valuable to me. Paul could never have said that, if Barnabas had done what Paul had done and had set John Mark aside. And so, every time you read the gospel of Mark, every time you read what God has done in his life, don’t forget Barnabas. He was the anchor. He was the forgiver. He was the gracious leader. He was the teacher who helped John Mark along. He was the man that God used in an incredible way. That’s the point. It’s just this, God is in the business of taking the worst in us, the miserable failures and using them to his glory. You can apply that in a practical way. Perhaps your sin isn’t the sin of separation. Perhaps it’s something else all together. And you think that God can never use you again. You would be surprised how often I get letters from people who say, God can never use me. He’s through with me. He set me aside and it’s so sad. I don’t, I, I hate it and I wish I had done differently. I wish I had acted more obediently. I wish, I just wish it had not happened. And then I always write or in a phone call or in an e-mail, will say something very pastoral and kind, like are you a fruitcake? Are you crazy? Are you off your medication? That’s not true. God is never through with you. He never says I’ve had it with you. He’s never said, I can’t, you surprise me. I had such high hopes for you and you messed it up. How could you do that to me? That is never a message that comes from the God of grace that is revealed in Scripture. And how do I know? I know it because of Acts 15. I know it because what happened in Acts 15, it’s an amazing, and it’s a wonderful story and it applies to you and it applies to me. The Bible teaches time and time again, that God weeps over our failure because he knows we weep over our own failure. And God then constructs a monument to his glory. Our prayer should always be not dissimilar from the prayer prayed by the Westminster divines. They prayed.
O God, we beseech thee to guide us aright, for we are very determined.
You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Remember if you missed any of this week’s episodes, you can stream those anytime you want for free at Keylife.org. Oh, and you’ll also find transcripts there too. That’s pretty cool, right? Yeah, I thought so. And be sure to join us again tomorrow for Friday Q&A. Tomorrow Steve and Pete will answer this question, “Is the God of the Old Testament a different God?”. All right, tune in for that one. Hey, here’s a question. How did we get from a simple carpenter to a rich and powerful ecclesiastical structure, from the joyful message of God’s acceptance to our need for discipline and to correct and control, from the love to angry convictions. Guess technically, maybe that’s three questions. Listen, Steve talks about this in an article called For Heaven’s Sake: Lighten Up! You’ll find it in the 2022 edition of Key Life magazine, along with pieces from Chad West, Kendra Fletcher, and Pete Alwinson. 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 [email protected] to ask for that magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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