Let’s get ready to rumble!
JULY 28, 2022
Let’s get ready to rumble! On this edition of Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth, that God isn’t mad at you? Keep listening, Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. Well, we finished a long series on that church meeting in Jerusalem. And, you know, I’ve got a confession to make, even when I’m teaching or reading Scripture about a church meeting, I wince. I mean, you have no idea how much I hate church meetings. It’s one of the good things about what I do now, as opposed to what I did most of my life. I went to more, if I got a dime for every church meeting I’ve attended, I’d be rich. I could, I wouldn’t be driving a Honda, I would be driving a Mercedes. I just want you to know that. And you’re saying, well, Steve, other than that, what do you think about church meetings? Well, not much, but they’re important. And we learned a lot as we spent our time in the first verses of that 15th chapter of Acts through verse 35. Now, something, I shouldn’t even say this, but something I’m more comfortable with, a rumble, a division, a fight. And, I know, I’ve repented and Jesus let me know that that’s not a good thing to be if you are a Christian. But we’re gonna look at the last verses of the 15th chapter of Acts. After all of this love and wisdom, listen to what happens. And I’m going to start at the 36th verse, and Luke writes this.
And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaim the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” And Barnabas wanted to take with them. John called Mark. But Paul thought it best not to take with him one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
How about that? I mean, if I were God, I wouldn’t have included this in the book of Acts. I mean, we don’t need to air our dirty laundry in public, but in fact, God does that all the time. Last Sunday, I was preaching in our church. Sometimes our pastor asks me to preach and I love to do it cause I love those people. And we’re doing a series on the Psalms and he wanted me to do the 51st Psalm. And if you’re aware, that’s the confessional Psalm of David. In fact, they titled the sermon, The Psalm of Failure. And I said, this isn’t a Psalm of failure. That would be like saying the sinking of the Titanic was a boat accident. I mean, David had done some really bad things, adultery, killing, maybe even sexual abuse. And here we’ve got his words written in this Scripture, pouring out his heart, repenting, and asking God to forgive him. And, you know, I thought then you could have left that part out. I mean, David, after all was a man after God’s own heart. And then I thought of the beginning of the church, it started with a con game and one of our forefathers said, lied about his wife, said he, she was his sister. So, she could sleep with the king. And then, you’ve got Jeremiah, the wuss. He’s called the weeping prophet. That’s not cause he was weeping for souls, he was weeping not because of souls. He was weeping because he was scared. And then you move into the New Testament. It doesn’t get a lot better. Peter, who’s the rock of the church, years after the resurrection of Christ, was a hypocrite. And he is called a hypocrite in the Scriptures. Paul does a confession in Romans 7. We, you know, we could go on and on and on. God has this proclivity to reveal to us the dirt. Why does he do that? Cause he loves us, that’s why. If we got the feeling that the Christian faith was only for good people. And Jesus specifically said it wasn’t, that it was only for good people, we would be discouraged. Somebody said that on the Cross, Jesus was hung by, hung between two thieves. One thief was there, so we wouldn’t presume. And the other was there so that we wouldn’t despair. God’s been doing that all along. And so, you’re reading the book of Acts. We’re getting this love and joy that’s taking place. Tremendous growth, people coming to Christ, miracles happening, and then you hit the last part of the 15th chapter of Acts. And it’s a church fight. And the Greek here doesn’t mean they had a mild disagreement, and then saying Kumbaya together. It doesn’t, the Greek here means this was a whopper. I mean, they didn’t like each other. They were upset at each other. This was a major division in the early church. Why does God do that? He does it cause he loves us, that’s why. Listen to me, I’m gonna give you some advice that you need to take. Do you have books in your library that are biographies of famous Christians? You say, yeah, I love those. Do those books tell you about the sin? Do they tell you about the darkness and the difficult struggles of doubt that the people, the famous Christians had? Listen to me, if they don’t burn those books cause they’re not helpful because you’ll get this idea that you have to be like them, perfect. And nobody is. And if they don’t tell you about John Wesley’s horrible marriage or George Whitfield’s anger or Augustin’s refusal to acknowledge his son or, and I could go on and on and on, if they don’t tell you about that, it’s not helpful because this is for sinners. There’s a wonderful story about a priest in an Episcopal church who was serving the Eucharist, communion and people were coming forward. And there was an elderly lady who came forward and she knelt. And as she knelt, it was obvious she was agitated. It was pretty obvious to the priest that she was thinking about her sin. And so, she backed away from the communion rail and the priest stuck the cup in her face and said, take it woman. It’s for sinners. It’s for you. Aren’t you glad? And aren’t you glad that God loved us enough to tell us the truth about the people we might worship if he didn’t. It’s not a good thing to worship at anybody’s altar, except God’s altar. It’s not a good thing to create super heroes when there aren’t any. Now, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people that have done amazing things that God has used their obedience, their faithfulness has flowered into a mighty tree. It’s, I’m not saying that, but I’m just saying that we all struggle. Every one of us, that’s what the incarnation was about, not the sin. We’re all sinners, all of us. Jesus was not that, but if you don’t know that Jesus struggled with loneliness and fear and difficulty, then you haven’t read the Gospels. The temptations of Jesus were, well, a lot of things, but they were a manifestation of the real humanness of Christ who came into a world where it’s hard for everybody who lives in it. A world that has pain and suffering and doubt and loneliness. And you’ve got to remember that. And so, God, in his word, loves us enough to tell us the truth. Thus, we have a passage in the book of Acts, and we’re going to talk about it next week of two guys, godly men, anointed men, men that God had used in incredible ways. Men that God had set apart for his people, who would touch the entire world. And these two godly, wonderful, spiritual Christians. Well, they couldn’t stand each other, that’s what. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That’s another fantastic week of studying Acts in the books. Remember if you missed any episodes, listen to them anytime you want at keylife.org or on the Key Life app. Also tomorrow, Friday Q&A. Tune in to hear Steve and Pete field an intriguing question about the virgin birth. So, when I say the word agendas, what do you think of? Maybe it’s neutral, like the agenda for one of the meetings that Steve has been talking about, but what if I say hidden agendas? Eh, different vibe, right? The hard truth is that we all have hidden agendas. We don’t have our act together. And the pressure to act like we do is, frankly overwhelming. The good news is God invites us to drop our masks and discover how his love and grace propel us into the real relationships we thought we’d never have. Steve talks about this in a special booklet called Hidden Agendas based on his book of the same name. Get your free copy of that booklet 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. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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