Jesus has a heart for the world.
JANUARY 16, 2023
Jesus has a heart for the world. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We are here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. Steve invited our friend Justin Holcomb to do the teaching this week. Justin is an Episcopal priest, an author, and professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Thank you Matthew. We’re going to do something a little bit different this week and you’re going to love it. As you know, we’ve been studying the book of Acts, well, for the last 18 years. And we’re closing in on the end of that. And we’ve got some things that we want to do. And so, I’ve asked my beloved friend Justin Holcomb, Dr. Justin Holcomb, and he’s written a book on the book of Acts. He’s a scholar, a seminary professor, a Canon in the church, and bunches of other good things. And I’ve known him since he was a kid and he had hair down to his belt. And now he’s a scholar, PhD, brilliant and used in an amazing way, but I knew him when. And so, I’ve invited Justin to spend a week with me and we’re going to look at an overview of the Book of Acts. Now, we’re going to set aside, after this week, we’re going to set aside Acts for a little bit because I’ve recently had a book published. I’m going to keep doing it until I get it right and we’re going to spend a few weeks on the themes of that book, Laughter and Lament. And then at the end of that, assuming everything works the way that we think it’s going to and it never does, we’ll return and wrap up the last two or three chapters of the Book of Acts. Justin, I know how busy you are. Thank you for taking time to come in.
Justin Holcomb: Anytime I have the chance to hang out with you, and because you’re my friend, but before you were my friend, you were my seminary professor. So, you’re a voice still in my head, 25 years ago. It was 25 years ago, actually it was 27 years ago, you started being my professor and then graduated 25 years ago. So, it was a long time ago.
Oh that is, and it seems like yesterday.
Justin Holcomb: So, the chance to do this with you. This is something I would’ve dreamed about as a seminary student, and I’m thrilled to be here with you.
And as you may know or may not know, Justin is one of the voices of Key Life, and you’ll be hearing from him quite often. And I want to just set aside the Acts thing and tell stories about you.
Justin Holcomb: No.
But I’m not going to do that. His parents,
Justin Holcomb: Some of those were confessions too, by the way.
Oh. I mean, there’s so many good stories, but we won’t go there because we’re here to discuss God’s word. You love the Book of Acts?
Justin Holcomb: I love it. It’s an amazing book in, I’m not pushing books, but I did a Bible study on Acts. It’s called Acts: 12 Week Study. And it’s in a whole series from Crossway where they did a 12 week study on every book of the Bible. And I had to dive in on the deep end of Acts, and for like a year or so and I loved it. Acts is, there’s things in there that I didn’t notice till you kind of dive into it. Same thing you’re noticing as you’re doing this.
I’m noticing things as we’ve gone through this series that I hadn’t seen before and they’re amazing. And they are powerful. It’s a great book. And I think probably, and we were discussing off air, some of the things we’re going to be talking about. And we decided to start with God’s passion for the world. You know, God’s people were pretty small, pretty focused, we’re it and nobody else kind of thing. And that happens to evangelicals too. We get the idea that God stops outside the walls of our churches and as soon as they get doctrinally a little bit different, they’re not a part of us. But Acts blasts that to smithereens.
Justin Holcomb: It’s impressive. Yeah, it does because the story of Acts is God’s grace and mercy flooding the entire world. In the entire Book of Acts there’s the whole structure of the Book of Acts is actually, comes from Acts 1:8 that.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria and to the end of the earth.
So, you actually have all of Acts, is organized according to Acts 1:8, right there. So, it’s a geographical expansion. We see a picture of this, there’s four outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and you look at who was in each group, and that shows us a picture. It’s not just geographical, but there are different people groups, the first group were Jews in Acts 2, and then in Acts 8, it was Samaritans who were
kind of Jews.
Justin Holcomb: kind of Jews. They were considered, I mean, this is a crude way of saying it, but this is how they were treated. They were treated like half breeds. I mean, it was, so that was shocking that the Holy Spirit, meaning that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them that they’re equals to the Jews who believe in Jesus. And then you have Gentiles in Acts 10 and 11, which is unbelievably shocking, this is not just for the Jews, or it may be the Samaritans, but the Gentiles? And then Acts 19, it’s the followers of John the Baptist. These people didn’t even know everything that Jesus did yet. They were like in a time warp. And so, there’s this beautiful picture of that. Then you have verses like Acts 2:39 that this is from Peter.
This is for you and for those that are far off.
And that’s a beautiful statement for
It really is.
Justin Holcomb: this message for those who are far off. And then you have two other ones. You have Paul in Acts 13 versus 46 and 47 saying.
I want to go where, to the Gentiles. I’m called for the Gentiles.
And he’s hearkening back to Isaiah 49:6. This has been God’s plan since the Creation, is that his image, his images and his glory would fill the world. And so, Paul picks up on Isaiah 49:6 and says, I’m going for them. And then the very last verse of Acts says, it has Paul in prison, living in Rome, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Here he is in Rome, like the very last verse is, it’s there, he’s, the gospel’s been proclaimed. So, you just see this ever magnifying expansion that God wants everyone to hear this great news that in Christ he was reconciling the world to himself. And that’s all throughout Acts, and it’s the people groups. Not just geography, but people groups. And that’s what’s so shocking to us cause that blows up the circles we draw around people who are just like us.
You know, that has amazing implications for us today. You know, I really believe that we’re sitting on top of what’s going to be another great awakening. And for a number of reasons. One is we’re so messed up and we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel and we don’t know what to do. And Paul had taught that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. And so, the weaker we get, the more the odds are that God’s going to do something. So, I think we’re going to see that, but I think what it’s going to do is going to blow a lot of Christian’s minds because it’s not going to be like Whitfield and Edwards. It’s not going to be like what he’s done in the past. It’s going to be with a bunch of weird people with tattoos saying and doing things that we just don’t find acceptable in the church. And when that happens, and I believe it’s going to happen, read the book of Acts. The feelings you are feeling are the same ones that they had in the Jerusalem conference as, you’ve got to be kidding, not them. And Peter’s reaction on the roof of that house, I ain’t eating that stuff, man.
Justin Holcomb: It’s filthy. It’s unclean.
It’s unclean. And you know, we do that in the church. We have a tendency to draw circles and some people are out of it, and some people are in, and God does not draw circles.
Justin Holcomb: And that, there’s a, it’s a fancy word, so if I say the word, people think we’re smart, Steve. So, there’s a thing called the homogeneous unit principle. And it’s a principle that people like to be with other groups like themselves. So, homogeneous meaning same people. So, we all draw circles around ourselves. We draw circles around ourselves, politically, theologically, ethnicity, culturally, age. We all draw circles. And what’s amazing about the Scriptures, is that if you look at Revelation 5, who’s worshiping the slain lamb on the throne? People from every tongue, tribe, nation, and people group, and language. And then what’s, what’s in our past, that’s our future. That’s God’s people’s future. And what’s our past, is Acts. What’s our past is a bunch of people from different languages and ethnicities and cultures. And as we get into it, looking at other themes, I mean, it’s shocking to see. I mean, and who did Jesus minister to? You have, I mean, the people that were some of the most faithful were women who were not treated as equals.
Justin Holcomb: And they had the best things to say about Jesus and Gentiles, especially Gentiles centurians people that everyone would’ve hated. They’re the, they’re the pinnacle of faith. And so, when you talk about this coming revival, I pray for it and hope is the case. I remember hearing about my parents converting in the seventies during the, that revival of the Jesus movement.
Justin Holcomb: And it was similar to that.
Justin Holcomb: Churches had to get used to people showing up in cut off jean shorts and tank tops and beards halfway down their chest and tattoos everywhere. So,
That’s so true.
Justin Holcomb: It could be a beautiful thing.
You know, I was a pastor in Boston at that time and I wore a collar and the clerics and all. It was a Scottish Presbyterian church. And these kids came in with the tattoos and the long hair and it, and it was so obvious that Jesus had done something in their lives that we couldn’t deny it, but we didn’t have to like it. And I can remember sitting behind the big column near the pulpit when they would give their testimony. And I would say, God, make sure you clean up their language, please. So, on this first overview of the Book of Acts, we have seen that provincialism is a sin. And if you’ve got it, repent of it because God is getting ready to do some big things with some very weird people. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve and Justin. That was Steve Brown and our good friend Justin Holcomb, having a fascinating conversation about the book of Acts. And great news, this was just the start. Justin will be here to the next three days as well, so make sure you join us and you know, maybe even tell a friend. Let me ask you a question. Are you a jerk, I am. Well, recovering jerk, and I’m not alone. In fact, it happens to a lot of Christians. Chad West discusses this phenomenon in an article titled Be Not A Jerk. You’ll find it in the new 2023 edition of Key Life Magazine, along with other great pieces by Jenni Young, Kendra Fletcher, and Steve. And bonus In the magazine, you’ll find details on a very cool new subscription service called Key Life Book Box. All of that is waiting for you in the 2023 edition of Key Life Magazine. Claim your copy 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 the magazine, and if you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find all our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. Finally, would you prayerfully consider partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? You can 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 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 we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.