If it doesn’t hurt some, you’re probably doing it wrong.
NOVEMBER 15, 2022
If it doesn’t hurt some, you’re probably doing it wrong. Let’s talk, 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 the God’s amazing grace is the key to a life of radical freedom, infectious joy, and surprising faithfulness to Christ.
Thank you Matthew. We are in the 18th chapter of Acts and we’re looking at why Paul was successful in Corinth. The most salient thing about Paul is that he went to the poor and the needy and the sinful and the marginalized, and that’s always good soil for the gospel because people like that know their need. People who are rich and powerful are generally self righteous and don’t even know their needs. And so, Paul was very smart to go to the right people at the right time with the right message. But that doesn’t explain it all. A lot more is going on here. And so, we’re looking at some of the other reasons why the apostle Paul was so successful when he went to Corinth and was such a failure in Athens. First we saw that Paul didn’t go there alone. He went, Luke tells us in that 18th chapter of Acts to Priscilla and Aquila. And then Silas and Timothy joined and pretty soon they had a team. And that was one of the reasons they were successful. Look, if you’re going to stand for Jesus, make sure you’ve got a friend who stands with you. If you’re going to, if you’re in a college classroom and you’ve got an unbelieving professor making fun of your religion and you’re going to stand up and speak a word for Jesus, you make sure that two or three others are going to stand up and speak a word for Jesus too cause that professor’s going to eat you alive. If you’re doing random evangelism, don’t go by yourself cause it doesn’t work. God gave us to each other for each other, for his work. And so, Paul knew that. In Athens there was no Aquila, there was no Priscilla, there was no Timothy, there was no Silas. Paul was doing it on his own and he was a miserable failure. And then secondly, we saw that in Corinth, he came to stay, Acts 18:3, Acts 18:11. He didn’t leave. He preached the gospel. He saw the fruit of the gospel. He saw people becoming Christians all over the place. And he said, I’m not going anywhere cause these guys need some guidance, some formation, some help, some discipleship. And so, Paul stayed and we as Christians need to do that too. We deliver babies and leave them in the hospital. And that’s one of the reasons the church is so shallow. Don’t leave. When you are successful and people come to Christ because of something you said or did, be their friend, come alongside, say you’re stuck with me until Jesus returns, and that will bear great fruit because you can’t have a church filled with new Christians, leading other people and building churches filled with new Christians. Both spiritually and physiologically new babies need parents who will be there until maturity takes place and success takes place. The apostle Paul knew that. Let me show you something new. Thirdly, not only was Paul with others in Corinth, not only was he there to stay, and this is going to surprise you, but in Athens there was no opposition. And in Corinth they tried to kill him. You say, man, if you’re trying to urge people to serve Christ, that’s not the best way to do it. But look at Acts 18:5 through 6.
When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with preaching, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads!”
And then in the 12th verse of Acts 18.
But when Gallio the proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack upon Paul and brought him before the tribunal.
If you didn’t meet the devil this morning, you’re probably going in the same direction.
I’ll tell you, I tell students when I teach in seminary that they should have, if they don’t have 10% of the congregation angry at them at any given time, they’re doing it wrong. Why is that? Cause if you didn’t meet the devil this morning, you’re going in the same direction. One time John Wesley was going to one of the preaching gigs that he had on horseback. And some ruffians came along and they mocked him. And then one of the bullies got a rock and threw it at Wesley and knocked him off his horse. And they were surprised when they looked down and he was kneeling and he was saying, thank God I thought I was doing something wrong. What was he saying? Listen, this gospel produces opposition. Be careful if everybody thinks you’re wonderful, Jesus said, be careful if they beat a path to your doorway, be careful if you become too popular. Now, I’m not suggesting that you become a jerk. Christ needs to be the offense, not us. And too many Christians think it’s them. No, we should be winsome. The Fruit of the Spirit should be present in us. There should be kindness and civility and love and all of those things, but if Jesus is right, then the people to whom you bring Jesus are wrong and they’re in trouble. And if you think they’re going to be happy about that, you’re smoking something, you shouldn’t be smoking. As a matter of fact, the world does not like us. And Jesus said that they will treat you the way they have treated me.
In this world you will have tribulations.
What was he talking about? He was talking about Christians not being liked. Everybody that I know is upset cause we live in a post-Christian era in the States. They say the churches are in serious trouble. Many are closing, we don’t have full congregations anymore. And I go, yeah, and they say, isn’t that bad? And I say, no, that’s good. That’s how you get down to the muscle. That’s where the muscle is, in fact I believe in the States and also for you guys in Canada, we’re looking at what’s going to be another Great Awakening. It’s not going to be the way the others have been. It’s going to be different. It’s not going to have a straight bend to it, it’s not going to be the kind of awakening where everybody gets nice and reads Christian books and goes to Christian movies. It’s not going to be that kind of awakening, but it’s going to be real. And it’s going to blow your socks off. And it’s going to be by people who no longer play games. And God is going to use that in an absolutely amazing way. But one of the real reasons I believe we’re close to an awakening is because increasingly they don’t like us. They don’t like us at all. There was a time in order to be elected, a politician had to nod in the direction of the church. That’s no longer true. In fact, in some places, politicians can’t get elected unless they say bad things about the church. That’s awful. No, that’s good because if there’s no opposition, there is no power. If there’s no power, the gospel message can’t be heard. We used to teach assertiveness training for Christians in our Born Free Seminar when we were teaching that around the country, that made some Christians upset. We don’t need to be assertive. Yeah, we do. And if you are not ticking somebody off, if you don’t have people who don’t like you, if you don’t have people who don’t think you’re a fanatic and a weirdo, then you’re not doing it right. I’ve got no problem with me. I mean, there are a whole bunch of people who don’t like me, a whole bunch of people who think I’m some kind of fanatic, and every time I think about it, I think about Jesus and he says, I told you. So, you just didn’t listen. So, the apostle Paul wasn’t alone, but also the apostle Paul faced opposition and that opposition in effect said to the apostle Paul, you’re doing it right, don’t you shilly shally, don’t you back off, be kind, but don’t forget the truth I’ve called you to speak. You think about that. Amen.
If there’s no opposition, then there’s no power, a challenging but needed word there. Thank you Steve. We will continue our exploration of Acts 18 and its lessons tomorrow. Sure hope you’ll join us for that. Say, are you an early Christmas decorator? I’m talking like you’ve already decked the halls with boughs of holly or do you look at those folks like they’re crazy? Well, wherever you land on that continuum, we all certainly feel it approaching in our hearts. That’s why however you prepare for Christmas, we want to offer you a new way. It’s a free booklet called Christmas Meditations, and it’s a newly reprinted collection of Steve’s writings on the real meaning of Christmas, the Incarnation of God in Christ. The booklet also includes Scripture and devotional questions to help you quietly focus and reflect on the impact of Christ’s coming. Get yours 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 booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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