“Jesus said, ‘Let your yes be yes and your no be no.'”
SEPTEMBER 6, 2023
“Jesus said, ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no.'” Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers sick of phony religion and pious clichés. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re looking at the 24th chapter of the Book of Acts. And that’s where the apostle Paul, after causing numerous riots, all kinds, everywhere he went, And he was just being faithful to God, he caused a riot. And the people that were the most angry at him were the religious establishment. And the apostle Paul is finally being brought to court. There’s a lawyer that represents the accusations, who manipulates, who lies, who’s hustling a buck. And the apostle Paul, with great civility and balance and understanding, the apostle Paul presents his defense before Felix. And we’re asking the question, what do you do in a crazy world? And we are looking at the way Paul handled a crazy world. And the first thing is that he refused to manipulate, he refused to manipulate the judge before whom he was standing, that’s Acts 24:10. Paul just makes a statement. He says, I’m here, you’re a judge and I’m pleased to be standing before you. The lawyer had tried to manipulate Felix when he came before him and flattered him. If there is a sign of being Christian in our time, it is that we refuse to manipulate people to get what we want from them. And that ought to always be clear and up front. I don’t know if you remember, but a major Christian organization used to have these forms, questionnaires that they went out, and the questionnaires had absolutely no reality to them. They were thrown away as soon as they were filled out. But we used, and I did myself, we used those questionnaires by opening with this statement, Hey, I represent an international Christian organization. And we’re trying to understand religious views in our culture. And then there were a series of questions that you asked. You listened and wrote down the answers. But the only reason for the questionnaire was to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I was using one of those questionnaires and the person I was using it with said, what are you going to do with this when you’re finished? And I thought, actually, we’re going to burn them. Actually, it doesn’t matter what you say. Actually, I’m trying to get it under the name on the Lamb’s Book of Life. And I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get that to happen. I, of course, didn’t say that, but that was the last time that I used those questionnaires. We need to let our yes be yes, and I didn’t say that, Jesus did. And our no be no, and I didn’t say that, Jesus said it. And that means we don’t manipulate. We simply say, I’m here, I love you, I’ve got some good news if you’re willing to listen, period. I have a friend whose business is billboards, and he has done quite well in America, but he loved Northern Ireland, and he wanted to do something about the divisions between Protestants and Catholics. And the hatred and the death that was going on. So, he took out billboards all over Northern Ireland. And you know what they said? They said, I love you, is that okay? And it was signed, Jesus. That’s our message. I have strong political views. I have strong philosophical views. I am the most opinionated person you’ve ever known. But if I try to win the argument instead of winning the soul, I’m going to violate the way we deal with a crazy world. How do we deal with a crazy world? We do it by not being crazy. We do it by speaking the truth, lovingly and kindly, without any manipulation, without any effort to force people to come. I remember when Mr. Graham had been criticized, he was in England at the time, for using Just As I Am at the end of the Crusades. And as you know, a lot of people came forward while the choir was singing Just As I Am. And one of the newspaper articles criticized Mr. Graham for manipulating with the music. You know what he did? Because he believed exactly what I’m teaching you, he decided he was going to stop using Just As I Am. So, he told the choir to be quiet, and he invited people to come forward to take a stand for Christ. to see their life changed. And in the silence, hundreds and hundreds of people came forward. Do you know what happened the next day? The same person who had criticized him for manipulating with Just As I Am, criticized Mr. Graham for manipulating with the sound of footsteps of people coming forward. But his effort was to be commended. We must always be careful when we present the gospel. We can’t do it with lies or manipulation or flattery. We simply present the good news to people who want to hear it. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. How do we deal with the crazy world? Well, part of the answer is to not be crazy ourselves. We’ll have more insights from Acts 24 tomorrow. Hope you will join us then. So, here’s something that I think the apostle Paul would back me up on. Religion can make people weird. It can make us weird if we’re being honest. And when we’re being religious instead of living in the grace we have, it can make it challenging for unbelievers to see Jesus. Well, Steve spoke about this in a sermon called Grace in Freedom, based on Matthew 12:1 through 14. Take a listen to part of that message, and then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer. Here’s Steve.
Now, before we do anything else, I want to say something that’s kind of radical. If you’re going to be free, it means being normal. I mean, these guys were hungry. They weren’t trying to make a statement. They weren’t making an obscene gesture to the Pharisees. They weren’t saying, we are free, look at us. They were simply hungry and they ate the grain. Today and it’s the little “L” of the law, there would be people standing around. You can’t do that. It’ll make you fat and give you cancer. And Jesus’ response to the little “L” would be exactly the same it was to the big “L”. Something about religion will make you weird. Did you hear about the lady who went to the hospital? Was going to have major surgery and she had an out of body experience while she was on the table and she saw God. She said, God, am I going to die? He said, oh no. You’re going to live for 42 more years. So, she came back into her body, recovered, was doing well and she figured if she was going to live that long, she ought to have some things she’d been meaning to do in her life. So, she had a tummy tuck and facelift called in a hairdresser and they changed the color of her hair and she was looking good. Then when she was released from the hospital, she was walking across the street and she was hit by a car and killed, when she got before the throne, she said, why, you lied to me. Why? You told me I was going to live for another 42 years and God said to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t recognize you you know, we have this spurious really stupid thing about we’ve got to smile and be joyful and pure and obedient so that we don’t hurt our witness. Let me tell you something, that doesn’t help your witness, nobody is ever drawn to Christ by that stuff. They’re drawn to Christ when they see how screwed up you are, how real you are, and how much Jesus loves you. I’ve been saying to congregations that if you guys knew that Jesus was coming back on Thursday, I know what you’d do. You’d pray and fast and repent. You know what I’d do if I knew he’s coming back next Thursday? I’d get drunk, and not only that, I’d buy a Mercedes, and I’d run up the credit cards. There’s some neat stuff I’ve been meaning to get. I mean, if I knew he was coming back on Thursday, I didn’t have to pay it back. Man, I knew, and the reason you’re shocked, and the reason I’m so pleased, is that Jesus likes me more than he does you. What I just said is so important that we say to the world, listen, go get a beer and drink it. I don’t drink. I’m a teetotaler, but if you like beer, don’t get drunk, but drink it in front of an uptight Christian. And go to a movie that isn’t a Christian one and read a novel that doesn’t have Jesus in it and, and live your life so that uptight Christians doubt your salvation. Be normal, just be normal, be who you are. And I think that’s what’s going on here. I mean, these guys are hungry. You’ve got a problem with that. They’re hungry. So they got some food and they ate and the Pharisees went ballistic. Well, that’s from me, not necessarily from the text, but I think it’s true. And I thought I ought to say it anyway.
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