I’ve met the enemy and it’s me…and you.
JANUARY 4, 2023
I’ve met the enemy and it’s me…and you. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it in the 19th chapter of the Book of Acts. And I finished telling you all I know about the first few verses of that. We’ve been talking for the last week and a half about the importance of truth, a Biblical doctrine of getting it right. And we’ve seen that when you don’t get it right, you’ve got a knowledge problem. And a knowledge problem leads to a grace problem. And a grace problem leads to a power problem. And we sometimes forget the great power that has been granted the church. I was talking to you yesterday about reading Eric Metaxas’ book, Letter to the American Church. You ought to get it, you might not agree with all of it, but man, that book has kept me awake at night. We in the church, have allowed the culture to dictate how we define ourselves cause they don’t like us, we are determined to stay within our walls and not say anything. A friend of mine used to say back in the days when Russia was a different place. Said in Russia, they don’t have freedom of speech and they don’t say anything. In America, we have freedom of speech and we don’t say anything either. So, what’s the difference? Well, Eric says in his book that it’s time for Christians to stand up and be counted, and throughout the book he uses Bonhoeffer as an example of something really horrible, that went wrong in Germany under Hitler. The church was silent and even worse than that, a lot of times the church, not the confessing church, but the mainline church became identified with the Third Reich. And Eric says that we’ve got to be very careful in America, to speak truth and to speak it clearly and to be aware of the power that God has given us. Mary Queen of Scott’s one time said this.
I fear the prayers of John Knox more than an army of 10,000 men.
I wish our leaders would say something like that about us, but get it right. Doctrine is so important, and once you see truth and you understand it, you can’t not see it and not understand it. And you are required at that point to say something. All right, enough about that. Let’s look at the next text, are verses 8 through 10 in that 19th chapter. And for the next week or two, we’re going to talk about, believe it or not, when not to present the gospel. And you say, well, we’re always supposed, no, we’re not. We’re not always supposed to present the gospel. Sometimes we’re called to remain silent, and I’m going to show you from this text, starting at the eighth verse of the 19th chapter of the Book of Acts.
And he entered the synagogue and for three months he spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God. But when some were stubborn and disbelieved, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
Now, before we get too heavily into the subject of when not to present the gospel, I want to make one observation on God’s priority in any city. The first thing Paul did in Ephesus was not to engage in a program of evangelism. He didn’t start a mass communications ministry to reach the people of Ephesus. The first thing he did was to disciple believers and God always, are you listening? God always begins with the church, before he goes anywhere else. I’ve met the enemy and it’s me and the enemy is you. As believers, we are the place where revival and awakening needs to take place. I’m always hearing people talking about the need for another great awakening in America, and I agree with that. In fact, every day of my life, I pray that God would pour out his Spirit on our dry and thirsty land. I know that we need something, morals are at an all time low, the crime rate is at an all time high. We need an awakening in this country. But let me tell you something, before God does anything with a nation, he does stuff with his people who are a part of that nation. Let me say that again cause it’s really important. Before God does anything with a nation, he first deals with God’s people who are a part of a nation. I don’t pray, well. I pray for revival and awakening and the difference is revival takes place in the church, it has to do with believers. Awakening takes place outside the church and it has to do with everybody else. And so, join with me. Pray that God will do something with his people and pray that then, once we have repented and run to him, that he will pour out his Spirit on our dry and thirsty land. I believe he’s about to do just that. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Today, we continued forward here in chapter 19 of Acts getting into verses 8 through 10. And of course, we just set the table in this short time, so be sure to join us again tomorrow and we will start digging in. Well, Steve touched on this, but we sometimes do have some mixed up ideas about evangelism. The fact is it isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. Well, Steve spoke about this in a sermon called The Death of Evangelism. Take a listen to part of that sermon, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer. Here’s Steve.
In the 12th chapter of John, Jesus says an amazing thing. He says this.
If I be lifted up, I’ll draw everybody, all people, to myself.
Last time I noticed that hadn’t happened, and there’s some answers for why it hasn’t happened. Maybe Jesus was wrong, which is highly unlikely. Or maybe, maybe we’re doing it wrong, do you think. And so, this morning we’re going to talk about doing it right and it’s very important you throw out everything you’ve learned about evangelism. May West said to one of her enemies, your mother should have kept the stork and thrown you away. Well keep Jesus, but throw everything else away. How come it’s not happening? How come everybody isn’t in this church or a church like this in this city? How come everybody’s not been drawn to Jesus who was lifted up? Well, let me tell you, first thing you ought to know is that evangelism dies and it doesn’t work when we forget what evangelism really is. Please note the text, the text says that we have to work at being new creatures. Doesn’t say that. Says you’ve got to pray a lot and read the Bible and go to church and be spiritual and smile so you don’t hurt your witness, so you can be a new creature. No, it doesn’t say that. It says this, it says you are a new creature. As Christians, we have to learn the difference between petition and praise. Petition is when you ask for money. Petition is when you ask for healing. Petition is when you ask that your marriage be healthy or that you find a wife or a husband. Praise is something you’ve already got. You are, did you ever think about this? You are a new creation. You can’t change that. That’s what you are. Please note we’re a new creation, and please note in the text that the apostle Paul says not counting their former sins against them. No, it didn’t say that, there’s no former in there, are you crazy? D.T. Niles said.
We’re beggars telling other beggars where we found bread.
But we don’t believe that, we think we’re former beggars telling people who are beggars where they could find bread. We think, we like to say, well, we know some former beggars and we used to be good friends with them. You don’t have to be a beggar anymore cause we’re going to tell you how you don’t have to be a beggar. Or we say, of course we’re not beggars never have been, but we don’t want you to be, so we’re going to tell, don’t do that. We are beggars now, extremely needy, extremely sinful, telling other beggars who’s got the bread, that’s what evangelism is. And it’s so, now let me tell you a principle. The principle is this, there is a direct correlation between people seeing Jesus and you taking off your mask. Pete’s been teaching us that we’re here for them. You know what they’re like? You. Some of them are as ugly as you are. We don’t even know their names, some of them are as good looking as you, some have got money, some of them are poor, some dress nicely, some don’t dress nicely, some are needy, some are lonely, like us. Some are afraid like us, and we don’t go as a former beggar, we go as needy people and show up, and that’s what evangelism is.
Mm. Truly a classic sermon, in fact, we put that entire thing on a CD and we can send that to you for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to key life.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the CD called The Death of Evangelism. Oh, and one more thing before you go, would you partner in the ministry of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card. You can include a gift in your envelope. Or join the growing number of folks who donate safely and securely through text. How do you do that? It’s easy, just pick up your phone and text Key life to 28950. That’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.