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Keep it simple.

Keep it simple.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2023

/ Programs / Key Life / Keep it simple.

Steve Brown:
Hey, keep it simple. Let’s talk about that, on this edition of Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
That was Steve Brown. He’s an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life, a program all about God’s radical grace. We’re committed to bringing you Bible teaching that’s honest. straight-forward, and street-smart. Keep listening to hear truth that’ll make you free.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the 24th chapter in our study in the Book of Acts. And we’re looking at the defense of the apostle Paul before the Roman ruler Felix. And we’ve noticed some things about that. First, we notice that Paul refused to flatter or manipulate. He knew that Felix was a turkey. He knew that Felix was in trouble with Rome. He knew that Felix had done some really bad things. And whereas the pagan lawyer who had been hired as a prosecutor against Paul flattered Felix, the apostle Paul refused to flatter or manipulate. Look at the 10th verse, he simply said.

And when the governor had motioned him to speak, Paul replied, “Realizing that for many years you’ve been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.”

In other words, Paul could have added a lot of flattering words there that weren’t true, but he refused to do that. He wanted his case to stand on its own. And then secondly, the apostle Paul refused to compromise his convictions, Acts 24:26 through 27.

At the same time, he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So, he sent for him often and conversed with him.

And there is no reference to the fact that Paul gave him money or changed his message in any way. As we are confronted by a crazy world, that ought to be exactly the same with us. I remember one time when I was involved in a building program, and a wealthy man in the congregation called me one day, and he said, Pastor, I want to give you a gift. I said, well, that’s good. What’s the gift? He said, it’s a Cadillac. And I said, what? You’re crazy. And he said, no, no, no, it really is. It’s only two years old and I’ve driven it and I have serviced it. And it’s a very good car and you’re going to love it. And I said, but I can’t do that. And he said, well, come over and sit in it and see what you think. And I said, I’m not doing that either. And he said, why aren’t you doing that? And I said, I’m not doing that because that would be too close to my price. And I’m trying to raise money for a building program and it’ll really look great in terms of my PR for me to be driving around in a Cadillac trying to ask for money for a building program. And he laughed and he said, okay, I respect you for that. You know, as we deal with a crazy world, be careful where your price is. Be careful, not to compromise. Be careful to hold your convictions no matter how offensive it is to others or how much it costs you. And then thirdly, and this is kind of new, I want you to notice that Paul acted with very simple truth. Throughout this text you will notice that he just presented the facts. That’s all. As honestly as he could. That would be nice if we did that. As you know, I’m political. I’m to the right of Genghis Khan. And I wish that Jesus would allow me to share my political views on this broadcast because frankly, they’re better than yours. Actually, they’re really not, but he won’t let me do it because he said the message of the gospel is a simple statement.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

And that was the message that Paul had for the religious leaders and for the secular leaders, it was a simple message, a simple message of truth. And when we mix theological discussion, about which the world cares nothing, when we mix our politics, our sociology, our own views about anything else, we make a mistake. I’ve got the truth, the simple truth, and if you want to hear it, I would like to tell you about it. Back in the early days of Campus Crusade for Christ, one of my friends was on an airplane and sitting next to a businessman. And they got to talking, and my friend, who was a staff member of CRU, used to be called Campus Crusade for Christ, said to this man, “Have you ever heard of the four spiritual laws?” And the guy began to laugh, and he says, “What is with you guys? Over the past week, you’re the third person to ask me that question.” and my friend laughed and said, “Let me tell you what the four spiritual laws are about. They’re about God’s love for you and willing to give your life meaning with a God who entered time and space and died on a cross for you because he knew your name.” The message is that simple. And when we waver from the simplicity of the gospel message, we make a horrible mistake when we live in a crazy world. And fourthly, I would have you note that Paul acted with freedom. I love this, throughout this text, and the one we’ll consider when we look at our excuses for not defending ourselves, I want you to know the freedom with which Paul acted. Look at the 10th verse.

I cheerfully, Paul said, make the defense.

Listen, Paul was not up for a parking ticket. This was serious business, he could lose his life and he said, I cheerfully make my defense. In other words, I am so free, I am so without the bonds that others live with, I am so alive and so filled with mercy and grace that I can stand before the court and make my defense with a freedom that is incredible. I think I’ve told you before about the man who was going on a train across India. And it was an overnight train trip, and there were thieves on that train, and he had everything he owned in a suitcase, and he put it in the rack above his head, and he decided, I’ve got to stay awake all night or somebody will steal that suitcase. About three o’clock in the morning he just couldn’t keep his eyes open and he closed them for just a second and drifted off. And when he opened his eyes, the suitcase was gone. You know what he said? He said, thank God I can now go to sleep. That was true of the apostle Paul, he could stand before the ruler who could take his life from him and he could do it cheerfully because the suitcase was no longer there because he had followed Christ and he was now free to say what he thought, to be what he ought to be, and to stand before a crazy world with a simple message of the gospel. You know, we’re in the same way. We are so busy protecting our stuff, protecting our reputation, protecting our things, that we forget that when we die, they’re all going to be gone. They’re in a suitcase that simply won’t last and Christians ought to be the freest people on the world, in the world, and do you know why? Because we shouldn’t care. One of the good things about being old is that I don’t care so much anymore about what people say to me. Now, Jesus has something to do with that too, but a lot of it has to do with age. I spoke at a graduation ceremony at a university recently, and I said, you ought to listen to me because I’m old, and only old people will tell you the truth. And the reason they’ll tell you the truth is they don’t give a rip, and I don’t. So, listen up to what I’m going to teach you today because it is very important. You know, Christians ought to be that way all the time. There’s an incredible freedom, and it comes from what Paul said in Galatians.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.

How do you define yourself? How do you deal with a suitcase? When you follow Christ, are you doing it with freedom because you just don’t care what others think, or what they’re going to do, or whether or not they accept your message? That’s where Paul was, and that will make Paul a dangerous adversary. And if we can get over our fear, and our stuff, and get that, it’ll make us dangerous too. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
And thank you Steve. As we’re starting to land the plane, we’ve been exploring Acts 24 and the defense of the apostle Paul. Simple, cheerful truth over elaborate flattery. Might be worth a try. More from Acts 24 tomorrow, don’t miss it. You know, speaking of our communication to unbelievers, we as Christians are often right on issues of salvation in theology, but, knew there was a but. But sometimes we miss the less articulated truths of humility and love and forgiveness. Well, that premise was actually the basis of Steve’s book called Talk the Walk. We took several passages directly from that book to create a special booklet that we’d love to send to you for free. It’s the first time we’ve offered this booklet in more than a year. So, claim your copy right 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 that booklet. To mail your request, go to to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for the Talk the Walk booklet. And one last thing, if you value the work of Key Life, would you consider supporting that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or you can now gift safely and securely through text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. 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.

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