History is his story.
AUGUST 21, 2023
History is his story. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Welcome to Key Life. I’m Matthew, executive producer of the program. Our host is Steve Brown. He’s an author and seminary professor who teaches that God’s amazing grace is the key to a life of radical freedom, infectious joy, and surprising faithfulness to Christ.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, if you’re just joining us, you’re coming in at the sort of end, we’re getting there, of our very long, many month long study in the Book of Acts. And we’re up to the 23rd chapter of Acts, which is a part of the grand finale of the apostle Paul in the Book of Acts. And, this week, and probably next week, we’re going to be looking at Acts 23:12 through 24. And we’re going to be talking about religion. Some religion is good, and some religion, not so much. People say it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something and you’re sincere about it. That’s not true, and we’re going to see why as we go through the next week or two from Acts 23, the 12th through the 24th chapter. Before we go there, let’s pray. Father, as we study your word, put it in our minds so that we will be thinking Christians. Keep us from being superficial and silly. And then put it in our hearts, so that we may not be hard Christians. And then put it in our hands and feet and our vocal cords, so the world can hear the laughter of the redeemed. Father, you know everybody who’s listening right now, some in hard places, some in soft places. Remind us that you’re sufficient and present in the laughter and the tears. And then Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast, forgive him his sins because they are many, we would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Now, if you’ve been with us the last two or three weeks, you’re aware that the apostle Paul should have been greeted in Jerusalem, with a pat on the back and a you go bro kind of statement from the leaders. But that’s not what happened. They had a problem. And there was division, and there was hostility, and there was anger. And what Paul thought was going to be a victory tour turned out to be a major failure. And now he’s on his way to Rome because he was a Roman citizen. If he had not been a Roman citizen, he would have been in really hot water. But he was a Roman citizen, and he claimed it, which meant he could go to Rome for trial. And then, as a part of that, and I’m going to start reading at the twelfth verse of the twenty third chapter of the Book of Acts.
When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed the apostle Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.
Now, when you read a verse like that, don’t use it as a reason for anti-Semitism. As a matter of fact, if you’re a Christian, that’s only because of some Jews. If you’re a Christian, it’s only because your Messiah was Jewish. If you’re a Christian, don’t assume things that were true of particular people, just as some things are true of particular Christians and are bad, don’t assume everybody is that way. Most Jews didn’t know the name of Jesus. Most Jews did not call for his sacrifice. Most Jews were faithful, God loving people, doing the best they could in exactly the way you do. But anyway, we got a bunch of them, have gotten together, and have vowed to neither eat nor drink until they killed the apostle Paul. And there were more than 40 who made that pledge. And then continuing at the 14th verse.
And they went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves By an oath to taste no food, that we have killed Paul. You therefore, along with the council, give notice now to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” now the son of Paul’s sister heard of the ambush. So, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. And Paul called one of the centurions and said. “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called out and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.” the tribune took him by the hand, and going aside, ask him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more about him. But do not yield to them, for more than forty of their men lie in ambush for him, having bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink, till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.” so the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of this.” then he called two of the centurions and said, “At the third hour of the night get ready, two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix, the governor.”
Wow. You read that, man, you realize that Paul was living on the edge of absolute disaster, as in dying. But don’t forget what we saw last week. Jesus had promised, and Paul knew that whatever happened, he was going to get to Rome. You know, there are a lot of unique things about the Christian faith, and one of the major points of divergence between Christianity and most other religions is the fact that the Christian faith is grounded and tied to time and space. In other words, the Christian faith is an historical faith, working itself out in the currents of history. A Biblical faith is a faith which reflects the fact that God owns history. that he called an historical people, the Jews, to be his people, to work out his ways in the context of the real world. A Biblical faith is a faith which says God acts not in an ethereal way, but in space and time. A Biblical faith is a faith which sees God as not up there somewhere, or out there somewhere, but a God who has entered man’s history. Identifying with man and his sin, hanging on a cross as a ransom for many. A Biblical faith which sees history moving in God’s conclusion in history, when Christ will return in power and glory. Other religions can talk about nirvana, or the mystical all pervading force of God, or the prime mover of original laws, but Biblical Christians talk about a concrete God who is there, who cares, who is concerned with the currents of history, and is working his purposes out, not just in the hearts of Christians. Although that, but in the nitty gritty of history. The Biblical Christian can speak quite properly by saying, history is history. Why are you saying this? I’m saying that because this chapter gives credence to what I just taught you about history. And I’m saying it because we’re living in a fairly dark time right now, and it’s very easy because Christians are not in favor to think, Oh man, this is coming to an end, it’s over, the church is going to die, we’re in trouble, God’s work is going to come to an end. Don’t you believe it even for a second. I’m not a prophet and I can’t prophesy about what’s going on in our culture, but I know it’s bad. I know it’s crazy. I know it’s weird. And I know it’s difficult. But I also know that God is in the middle of it. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown. And we’ve been slowly working our way through the Book of Acts. Today, getting into Acts 23: verses 12 through 24. Some exciting things happening here. Hope you’ll join us as we resume this journey tomorrow. The gift of addiction gift. The gift of addiction. Those, those words don’t really go together, do they? And yet, when our helplessness, including addiction, drives us to turn to God and admit our need, well, we experience the greatest gift of all, His presence, His kindness, His forgiveness, and His peace. My good buddy Erik Guzman writes about this in a special mini-book called The Gift of Addiction: How God Redeems Our Pain. Get your free copy of that mini-book 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 mini-book. Or to mail your request go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for the free mini-book called The Gift of Addiction: How God Redeems Our Pain. And finally, you and I may go on summer vacation, but the bills here at Key Life do not. So, if you value the work of Key Life, would you support that through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. And as always, if you can’t give, we do understand. But if you would, please do pray for us, okay? Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.