In the end we win.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2021
Steve Brown: In the end we win. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Matthew Porter: 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.
Steve Brown: Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the fifth chapter of Acts. And we’re going to land this plane today. We’ve been talking most of this week about persecution and where it comes from and why we have to face it. It goes with the turf. Now, thankfully they don’t hang us on crosses anymore. Well, in some places it’s that bad. Do you know more Christians are being killed, as we speak, persecuted and tortured, then you will find in the New Testament, right now in our time. But at least in Canada and in the United States, nobody has nailed us to a cross or tortured us or done those kinds of things. But we have been rejected. They’re trying to cancel us. They’re trying to make us be quiet. And we can’t. And we saw, if you’ve been listening, that there is a correlation between following Christ and the rejection that you’ll get. We saw that God helps you, when you go, he’ll go with you. If you don’t go, he’ll still love you. But if you go, he’ll go with you. And that’s how you fix your lousy devotional life. And then we’ve seen that you shouldn’t be afraid to be afraid, because the disciples were afraid. And then we saw that it’s very important that we’re persecuted for the right reasons. Our prayer is Jesus, make me winsome, make me kind and wise and compassionate and gentle and generous and forgiving. And if they really get ticked, may they get ticked at Jesus and who he is and the truth that he speaks. Now, there’s one other thing. And then we’ll move to the next chapter of Acts. When you’re persecuted, try to remember that you’re on the winning side, your response ought to be in a sense, just plain pity. Look, if you will, at the 38th verse. Now, this Gamaliel talking and it’s in the court and he’s giving advice about what ought to be done about these Christians. And then he says this.
“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
Oh yeah. That’s exactly the truth. What these disciples were beginning and it was small. It hadn’t swept the Roman empire. It hadn’t taken over cities and towns. It hadn’t swept the world and it had not yet become the largest religion in the history of the world. That is the Christian faith, by the way. None of that had happened. These were a group of uneducated, common men who had seen the truth and couldn’t get away from it. And so, they were refused to be canceled and they knew that Jesus said.
I will come, let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
And in John 14, Jesus was clear about the promises. And then he was clear about how this whole story was going to be ended. And you know what’s going to happen? We win. Well, that’s not the best way to put it. That’s pretty arrogant. We don’t win. He wins. And you want to be on his side, when he blows the whistle on the shooting match and says, it’s over, because in the end, we know how this is going to end. It really is. And we need to remind each other of that. Dave O’Dowd is my beloved friend of many, many years. He was an elder in the church. He was on the staff of Campus Crusade a lot of years ago, in Boston, when I was serving. We still get together for lunch and we love each other a lot. But when I was a young pastor and just beginning to understand what the Christian faith was all about, just beginning to become Orthodox. And to believe the word. And even teach it, even if I didn’t know what it said. There were people that weren’t happy with me, and I’d get kind of depressed and down. And I can’t tell you the times that Dave would say to me, Steve, don’t forget Jesus is coming back. Oh, I can’t tell you the times when just the remembering of that. We’re going to land this plane and it’s going to be fine. So our response to the world that hates us, our response to the world that would like us to go away and be quiet. Our response to the world is not what mine was, when the Miami Herald, when I was in Miami and serving a church in that area, the paper, the local paper, called a meeting of clergy. And they had been quite critical of Christians and they wanted to do some PR. Those were the days when papers were doing a lot better than they are today. And so, they called a meeting of the clergy to see if they could smooth over some ruffled feathers. And the editor literally said this to us. He said to us, if you guys would do what you’re called to do, serve the Christian community, serve your churches, then you wouldn’t have this kind of thing that you’re reading in the paper about Christians. And I raised my hand. And I, and I said, what you’re saying is if we’ll be quiet and leave you alone and never speak in the public square that you’ll leave us alone, that’s not going to happen. Now, I was very arrogant and self-righteous when I said that. And I repent of it, even now, when I tell you what happened. But in this sense, I could have been a lot kinder. I could have said, listen, we love you guys, but you know, we’ve got this thing with Jesus and we just got to speak. And so, if that’s all right with you, we’re going to do that. And, it’s alright with us, if you say bad things about us. Now that would have been a powerful testimony. I just was too young and too arrogant to do it, but make it your testimony. And you can make an impact, because you know how this thing works out. Ephesians 6 teaches that we’re surrounded by a lot that we can’t see. And Hebrews 12 says, since we’re surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we ought to remember that as Christians, we ought to remember that this story has been finished and ended, before we were ever born, before the foundation of the earth, and we win. And so, we need to be compassionate and kind to those who won’t. Well, I’d like to spend more time on this chapter, but let me read you what we’re going to be looking at next week and maybe I’ll make a comment. I probably won’t have time. The first verse of the sixth chapter of Acts.
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from you seven men of good repute, full of his Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
And thus the first board of deacons was formed in the church. And do you know why it was formed in the church the first time? Because they were fighting, that’s why. Because there was division, that’s why. And next week we’re going to spend a lot of time, just looking at that particular text and some of the things that will be helpful to us when the church is divided in our time. We have this crazy thing about the early church. We want to go back and be like the early church. No, you don’t. They were as messed up as you are. And they fought more than Presbyterians. They, they were, they were like porcupines trying to figure out how to kiss each other. And it was not very pretty. And we need to remember that. So next week we’ll talk about it, but just remember they were human just like you and God used them in the way he can us. You think about that. Amen.
Matthew Porter: Thanks Steve. That wraps up another week of discovering God’s truth here in Acts. Of course, if you missed anything or just want to listen again, be sure to join us at keylife.org. We’ll continue in Acts soon, but first, tomorrow it’s Friday Q&A, always a good time when our friend Pete Alwinson swings by, so make sure you join us tomorrow. So, I don’t know if there’s an official spectrum of hard times, but if there were, over on the left-hand side, it might say something like inconvenienced or uncomfortable, but the much darker right-hand side of the spectrum, that would be labeled suffering. Are you suffering? Is someone you love sick or dying or maybe you’re that person, maybe your child is in trouble or you’re suffering financially or in a relationship. Jesus did tell us we would experience suffering, but he also gave us a promise that he would be with us in our suffering. Well, Steve wrote about all of this in a mini-book called When Life Falls Apart. And we would love to send it to you today, for free. So, 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 the mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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