If we’re right and they’re wrong, they’re in trouble.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2021
If we’re right and they’re wrong, they’re in trouble. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth, that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at, starting at the 17th verse of the fifth chapter of Acts through the end of that chapter. We’re looking at an incident that is just plain amazing. I’ve read it to you, and I’m not going to take the time to do that again, but if you haven’t been here this week, the disciples are in prison for having preached about Jesus. An angel comes and miraculously gets them out without unlocking the doors. I don’t know? I have no idea how they did that. And then the angel tells him to go back to the temple and do what they got arrested for in the first place, a kind of redundant action. And they go back back before the court and then Gamaliel who is a rabbi, who by the way, got grace before Jesus. And he said, you ought to leave these people alone, if what they’re doing is of God, you can’t stop it. And you could end up, you could end up being opposed to God and you don’t want to be there. So they let them go. They beat them and let them go. And the whole text ends with the disciples rejoicing, because they were honored to suffer for Christ. It is a really great story as you look at it. And yesterday I posed the first question. Why in the world were these religious leaders so upset with these unlearned, common disciples who should not have posed any threat to anybody? Why do they want to stop them so quickly? And we saw that the first reason was jealousy and envy. And we saw that the calling of Christians in the world, is to be so free and so joyous and so authentic and so real that the world is jealous. And that they come running to Jesus, because they want, what we want. Jealousy is a sin, but it’s also a blessing, if you happen to be on the right side of it and the jealousy draws you to Jesus. And then there’s another reason going on here. And it’s the same reason religious people have been angry throughout all of history, because these guys were messing with their power and their money and their prestige. My late mentor, Fred Smith used to say that he got very worried when the path between the church and Washington became too well worn. He made a very good point, and the point was this, when we’ve got the power and the money, when we’ve got the prestige and the leverage, the natural human proclivity is to protect it. And that’s what you see going on here. Frankly, and I don’t like it any more than you do, Christians are not held in high honor in our culture. We’re accused of all kinds of things that are simply not true. I watch the news the same way you do, and I’m concerned. And I’m really concerned, because things seem to be going into the dark and nobody even knows it. I’m with you on that, when people call love, hate and hate, love. When, well I could go on, you know exactly what I’m talking about, when you see all of that happening, the first thing you realize, is that we’re not in charge anymore. The first thing you begin to see, is that we don’t have the money anymore and we don’t have the power anymore and we don’t have the prestige anymore. And that’s bad. No, no, no, no. That’s good, because when you lose all of that, you have to do it Jesus’ way. And that’s not half bad, that way is super natural. That way, is a wow way, because when God acts, everybody goes, “Wow!”. And so, you see what’s happening in this particular text, are religious and powerful and moneyed people, protecting their power and their money. Oh my, it is a dangerous thing for Christians to have power. It is a dangerous thing for the church to have money. It is a dangerous thing for the church to associate with the cool kids. It is a dangerous thing for the church to be accepted. We’re not supposed to be accepted. Jesus said, if they did it unto me, they will do it unto you. If they hated me, they will hate you. And you see it happening before your eyes. So, it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, when we lose the things for which we might sell our souls. I, when you’re old, and I’m old as dirt and I’ve been around a very long time. I can remember the early days, when I joined the enemy. And, it turned out to be my family. I thought I was an intellectual, and I graduated from just this side of wacko, liberal seminary, and I didn’t believe much. And then God whacked me upside the head, I had a little girl in my family that God intervened and healed in a miraculous way. He put brothers and sisters around me, who were intellectuals, I just thought I was, and they ate my lunch. He put me in positions that I couldn’t fix, with problems that I couldn’t make right. And then he revealed himself to me and I joined you guys. I joined the enemy, as it were. And in those days that was not, I mean, that was a career buster. And you got to remember, this is a long time ago. We, as Bible believers had the little churches on the corner, the shacks sometimes in shopping centers. I mean, we had nothing. And, when I joined up with Christians, it was very clear that I was never going to be able to serve a big church. I had a friend who told me, I was crazy. He said, you’re going to ruin your entire career. But, you know, but you know what I did? I did it anyway. And it was, and it was a good thing. Now, let me tell you something else that happened. I got invited to be on the board of a major Christian magazine, that when I was in graduate school, was not a major Christian magazine. In fact, nobody read it. They used to put stacks of those magazines in the library and students could get them free and nobody ever got them, because nobody ever cared. There was another magazine called Christian Century. And that’s the one that everybody read, because it was liberal and we were liberal. The other magazine Christianity Today was nothing and nobody cared. And then, and then it changed. I mean, the Jesus movement was a great awakening and a bigger awakening than the one under George Whitfield. It swept the country. Our colleges, all of a sudden were full. Our seminaries had to turn people away, because so many people wanted us to study for the ministry and to serve Jesus. It was an amazing and wonderful time. And that was when we got the money. That’s when our books started selling. That’s when our churches became mega churches. That’s when, that’s when we won. I’ve been through all of that. I’ve been through every bit of it. I was on the losing side and I was on the winning side. I was on the side of the nobodies and I was on the side of the cool kids. And sometimes, and I said this when I was asked to be on the board of a very successful magazine, I said to the board members, I remember the days when we had nothing and sometimes I wish we could go back, because in those days you very often heard the soft sound of sandaled feet. In those days, we had nothing but Jesus, and we found out that that was enough. And so, as we get stuff, we want to protect stuff. And that’s what’s going on in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts. I mean, these were the leaders, they were held in high view, by the people. They had the money and the power and the buildings and the training, and they wanted to protect it. And so, when these guys come along and they’ve been with Jesus and their passionate, and the leaders notice that the people are listening to them, that lives are being changed, that cripples are throwing away their crutches and blind men or throwing away their beggars cups, they think to themselves. If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose it. Sometimes, the best blessing in the world, is losing it. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That’s another great week of exploring Acts in the books. Of course, if you missed any episodes or you just want to listen again, be sure to visit us at keylife.org and don’t miss tomorrow’s Friday Q&A. Tomorrow, Steve and Pete will field this question. Will we sin in heaven? Wait, it feels like a trick question. Well, tune in tomorrow to see what that’s all about. So, have you ever watched a movie and there’s that scene where the character turns and sees somebody near them and they ask, how long have you been there? Well, right now you may be suffering through some tough scenes of your own. Someone you love is sick. Your child is in trouble. You lost your job. Your spouse left you. And while Jesus did tell us these things would happen, he also promised he would be with his people in their suffering. So when we turn and see Jesus, we don’t have to ask how long he’s been there, because we already know. He’s been there the whole time. If you are suffering, we would love to send you a mini-book Steve wrote called When Life Falls Apart. Get your free copy today by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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