Let your past be steel in your present.
JANUARY 10, 2022
Let your past be steel in your present. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Welcome to Key Life. I’m Matthew, executive producer of the program. Our host is Steve Brown, he’s an author and seminary professor who teaches that God’s amazing grace is the key to a life of radical freedom, infectious joy and surprising faithfulness to Christ.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end. I hope you got to rest. That’s what God told you to do. And if you didn’t do it, you were disobedient. He said, just be still, come apart and rest a while. And that’s a gift that he gives to God’s people. And so, I hope you had a good week-end and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, we’re looking at the book of Acts and we’re spending a lot of months studying this magnificent book. And we’re looking at the ninth chapter of the book of Acts, and we’re looking at the past of the apostle Paul. And, before we turn to that again, which we started yesterday or last week let’s go before the throne. Father, we come into your presence and we praise you. Not just for all you’ve done and you’ve done so much. We praise you and worship you because you’re worthy. Sometimes we forget that if you had never loved us, if you’d never come, if you’d never saved us, if you’d never forgiven us, if you had never promised us eternal life, you’re still God, the sovereign Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of all that is, and you are worthy of our worship. But you did love us, you did forgive us and we want to say thank you. Father, you know, everybody who’s listening to this broadcast, the hard places and soft places. Come alongside when the tears are there and when the laughter is there too, Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast, that you would forgive him his sins because they are many, we would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Okay. We’re looking at the past of the apostle Paul and we’re looking at the second part of the 19th verse of the ninth chapter of Acts. And I’m going to read it to you one more time. We read it last week. And this is what Luke writes.
For several days Saul was with the disciples in Damascus. And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, “He’s the son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is this an off the man who made a havoc in Jerusalem of those who called on this name? And he is come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket. And we needed to come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Cesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied.
Now, what we see going on here is how God uses the past and how God uses the past of the apostle Saul. We saw that his past, when it changed, made him not popular with his enemies. He joined the enemy, joined the other side. And the religious establishment said to themselves, he’s going to destroy what we’ve spent generations building. And so they tried to kill him. So, if you think by becoming a Christian, everybody’s going to like you, you’re crazy. In fact, if what you say is true, what they say is not true and they’re in trouble, I have never seen that time, when Christians are hated anymore than in our time. I read an article by Dr. Mann in First Things magazine, and he said, Christian scholars are sure that if their scholarship is pure and really deep and profound scholarship, they will be accepted by pagans on the playground of scholars. And he said, it’s never happened and it’s not going to happen. So, deal with it. That’s true. Now, you’ve got a bunch of new friends. It’s not as if you’re going to be lonely, it’s not as if the world’s come to an end. But you’ve got to remember that following Christ is not the pathway, okay, to winning friends and influencing people necessarily. And that’s what the apostle Paul discovered about his past. And then we saw that the most important thing that he discovered about his past is that he was forgiven. That’s the gospel, isn’t it? You know, we write books on it, lots and lots of books. There is a pile of theology built around the gospel. The gospel can be very, very complicated, but at the bottom line, the gospel is simple. You’re forgiven. If you belong to Jesus, you really are forgiven. And this text makes clear that something changed in the apostle Paul, and what changed was his forgiveness. In fact, being forgiven made him bold. Being forgiven made him free. Being forgiven set him on fire. Being forgiven made him dangerous and it will make you dangerous too. Remember it, you’re forgiven. Yeah, that. You’re forgiven. It’ll free you up and make all the difference in the world. Now let me show you something else about the past. I would suggest that Paul’s past became the steel to strengthen his present. Look at the 22nd verse.
But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Now, when you read the Jews, that doesn’t mean that guys who live next door, it doesn’t mean the Jews who worshiped in the synagogue, it doesn’t mean the average run of mill Jewish citizen in Jerusalem. He’s talking about the power brokers, the people in charge, the empire builders, and we’ve still got those today. And you have to be very, very careful. So, they wanted to kill him, they wanted to get rid of him. But the 22nd verse said Saul increased all the more in strength. Where did he get that? You, well, we’ve seen that he was forgiven and that’s a powerful way to get strength, but I’ll tell you where else he got it. He got it from his past. All that had happened to him, the bad stuff and the good stuff, the killing and the blessing, the learning, the growth. All the ways he had been trained, sitting at the feet of rabbis, all of that was a part of God’s plan and God was not going to waste a bit of it. He was gonna take every bit of that and use it for the kingdom. I was trained in broadcasting and spent a good deal of my career, making money in secular broadcasting. Actually there’s more money there than there is here, but this has a better retirement plan. It’s called eternity and it’s cool. So, I’m not complaining, but you know, I made some really good money when I was in commercial broadcasting. And then, God took everything that pagans had taught me and they taught me a lot, took all of the training I had received, all the expertise that I had in broadcasting, the ability to time things, to do commercials, to look at a microphone as a person and to talk, all of that training for all of that time. God whacked me up the side of the head and said, that’s nonsense, except when you use it for my glory. And that’s what happened with the apostle Paul. God took his past, took it and made him something in the present because of his past. Are you ashamed of your past? Don’t be. God was using that to make you what he wants you to be today. Do you sometimes just go on a guilt trip. You stop it. You’re forgiven. Your past as bad as it was, was a gift from the God who loves you. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown teaching from Acts about the past of the apostle Paul. Dark and difficult past for sure, but also forgiven and redeemed. More to discover tomorrow. Hope you’ll join us then and for the rest of the week. So, with the start of a new year, our thoughts naturally turned to reflect on the past a bit. And if we’re honest about our past, we’ll find we have a lot in common with Paul, sins, mistakes, struggles. So, the question becomes, what do we do about our past? And many would reflexively respond, ah, just forget about your past. Let’s move on, man. Let it go. Well-intended cliches, but cliches, nonetheless. So, back to Paul, what did he do with his past? Well, all of this is ground covered by Steve and one of his classic sermons called What About the Past? It is so good. And I know it’ll bless you. So, if you would let us mail it to you on a CD, for free. Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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