Great theology is always written in jail.
OCTOBER 3, 2022
Great theology is always written in jail. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Being adopted into the family of God is not about doing more or trying harder. It’s about being welcomed by God because of his radical grace, free from the penalties of sin and never alone in your suffering, that grace is what Key Life is all about.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end. And I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re joining us or just joining us, we’re in the middle or heading toward the barn, as a matter of fact, as we study the book of Acts. And we’re up to the 16th chapter of Acts. If you’ve been with us a while, you’re aware that I introduced you to a very old friend of mine, her name is Lydia. And she was the first convert in Europe and an amazing lady. And I’m glad that you were able to meet her because one of the joys of my life is to introduce friends, to friends. That’s what my late mentor used to do. He said he would rather introduce friends to friends than almost anything else. His name was Fred Smith and he networked in an incredible way. One time, we had 25 guys meeting in a hotel in Houston to do nothing, but sit around, have a good time and talk. And we became friends for years. In fact, we wrote each other and we talked to each other and the relationship got deeper. Well, I hope that happens when I introduce you to some friends in the book of Acts. And Lydia is one of those. Now, in the rest of that chapter, beginning at the 11th verse, no, the 19th verse. We’re just going to spend some time going through the chapter and I’m going to be the tour director, and I’m going to point out some things as we go into Philippi. Before we do that, let’s pray. Father, we come into your presence so thankful for this high and holy privilege. They told us that if we were good enough and we studied the Bible enough and we prayed enough and we were nice enough, you would welcome us. And we tried, but couldn’t pull it off and had decided to leave. And that’s when we heard your voice, welcome child, welcome. And we came running and we’re never going to leave because you invited us. Father, thank you that you didn’t check our purity level before you did, that you accepted us exactly the way we are, that you knew about us, our secrets and our sins and our fears. You knew about the loneliness and the emptiness, and you called us to yourself and we praise you and we worship you. Father, there are people listening to this broadcast who are going through a hard time. I lift them before you and ask that you would meet them at the point of their needs. And Father, there are others who are having a great time, meet them at the point of their laughter. Remind us that you’re the God of every circumstance and that you’re our Father. And then Father, as always we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast, that you would forgive him his sins cause there are many, we would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Now, if you were listening last week, we started covering the last part of this chapter, the 16th chapter of Acts. And just as a reminder, it is an interesting kind of situation and it has to do with money. There was a lady who was weird, probably demon possessed, suffering from dementia. And she was a slave girl and her owners were making a bucket load of money on her weirdness. They were charging people for things she would say to them. And the people would say that it came from a supernatural source. She followed, and if you were listening last week, you know this. She followed Paul and his entourage around shouting listen to them, these guys are from God. And that’s a cool thing to happen, except it can become quite irritating. So, Paul turned, challenged her, got the demon to go, healed her, led her to Christ. And she was whole and a new creation in Christ. And that meant that the income source of the con artist was then cut off. It’s always about money. And so, they got upset, took Paul and his friends before the judge and said they are interrupting the way we do things in this place. They’re causing division, they’re revolutionaries and we must do something about it. And so, they were thrown into prison, shackled, as a matter of fact. And we’re going to start there, but the first thing you ought to know is that theology is best, when it’s written in prison. You know, that’s the problem. Our theologies are written in studies that are nice and warm and beautiful. Our theologies are written in seminaries. If more of us went to jail and wrote our theology from there, it would be far more profound. And by the way, I’m not throwing rocks. I’m talking about me too. I have yet to go to jail except to visit others. Jesus said I didn’t have to, but for me to be a little nicer or I might end up there and have to write my sermons from jail. I suspect they would be better if I did that. Okay. Let’s start at the 25th verse, interesting thing happened.
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.
They were in jail, remember that. Singing in jail, that would be the title of a good sermon.
And the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s fetters were unfastened.
How about that sports fans? Listen, I don’t care how deep the hole is or how dark the jail or the prison is or how painful your experience is, don’t forget about God. I am a Calvinist and we Calvinists don’t believe God answers any prayer. Whatever you’re going through, deal with it. You’re going through a divorce, deal with it. You’re hurting, deal with it. God’s sovereign. You’re not. You’re house is being foreclosed on, deal with it. God is sovereign. People don’t like you, deal with it. God is sovereign. I want you to know I’ve repent of that. I’m not going to do that anymore because I believe that God is in the New Testament in general, the Bible in general and the Book of Acts in particular, a wonder working God, don’t forget about God. These guys are in jail. What are you going to do? Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been singing hymns. I would’ve been cussing and spitting at the unfairness of it. I might even tell God, you don’t love me. If you loved me, you, I wouldn’t be in this jail cell. I’m not as spiritual as Paul and his friends, they were singing hymns as they were in shackles. And, frankly, I don’t know why there wasn’t much hope, they didn’t have any power, they didn’t have a super human being that would walk in, kill off all the bad guys, unlock the cell doors, and release them. They didn’t have any of that. They were nobodies and they were nobodies without power. You ever feel like that? Sometimes in our culture, we Christians feel that way. We feel there’s no hope, we’ve lost the battle. I remember a young man, his name was Israel, by the way. And we’re still friends and I love him more than I can tell you. But Israel, shortly after he became a Christian, wanted to see me. And I said, why is that? He said, we lost. I said, what do you mean, we lost? He said, I had a dream last night, and Satan won. And I was up walking back and forth in my bedroom, saying, oh, spit, we lost, we lost. And I said to him, Israel, we’re never going to lose. We’re never going to lose cause we’re on the winning side. And Paul and his friends knew that in their hearts, that’s why they sang the hymns in jail. They didn’t know what God was going to do, but they know He was going to do something. And you don’t know what God’s going to do in your life either, but let me tell you something, he’s going to do something. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming our tour of Acts, today guiding us into the last section of Acts 16, where Paul and Silas are in jail. We have only scratched the surface of that amazing story. So, be sure to join us again tomorrow and for the rest of the week. Have you heard of this word deconstructing, as in someone is deconstructing their faith? Are you wondering what that means, exactly? I know I was, but then on Steve Brown Etc, we hung out with author Trevin Wax to discuss Deconstruction and How to Show God’s Love to Those Who are Experiencing a Crisis of Faith. It’s an encouraging and very practical discussion. And if there’s anyone in your life going through this, it’s going to help you a lot. Can we send you that conversation on a CD, for free? If so, just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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