Let’s talk about the normal Christian Life.
OCTOBER 26, 2021
Let’s talk about the normal Christian life on Key Life.
That was author and seminary professor Steve Brown. And this is Key Life. We’re all about radical grace because of what Jesus has done, God’s not mad at you. Keep listening and that message will set you free to live a life of joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. If you were here yesterday, you know that we’re looking at Stephen, my friend Stephen and his martyrdom for Christ as a young man. God was using him in a mighty way, signs and wonders, Luke tells us in the text. He was a man of great wisdom and filled with the Spirit and he was the first president of the board of deacons. Now, if you’ve been with our says we’ve been studying Acts and we have seen how the early church had growing pains. And in those growing pains, they had fights and divisions. And we’re going to see that happening again in the book of Acts. But one of the divisions was over the people who were being cut out of the help that should be given by the church, to the widows in the church. And the Greeks, weren’t getting their fair share of the Hellenists. And so, the apostles got together and they prayed and you know all of this is, if you’ve been with us. They got together and they prayed and they decided that they were going to devote themselves to teaching. Listen man, what was going on was incredible and somebody needed to instruct the new disciples. Peter preached one sermon, and 3000 people in Jerusalem came to Christ. Now, how do you have a new members class with 3000 people in it? I mean this, and it was increasing and it was getting bigger and bigger and they didn’t know what to do with it, how to handle it. And then they had this division and something good happened. They appointed seven guys who became deacons and they oversaw the funds and they oversaw the goods that were delivered to the poor and needy in the church. And the apostles devoted themselves to preaching and studying and teaching. I mean, there were so many new Christians, they didn’t know what to do with them. I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I was a pastor in the Boston area during the Jesus movement. And most of you don’t remember that, but that was a genuine, great awakening across America. Hundreds of thousands of mostly young people had come to know Christ. They had mass baptisms and that was happening in Boston. They say that every major revival in America has started in New England and it starts there because it’s so cold. And God, in order to get a fire warm enough to touch anybody has to get one in New England that sizzles everybody. And there was a fire man, all of a sudden our old dignified, I wore a collar in those days, very decently and in order church on the suburbs of Boston got inundated with young people who were coming in droves. And I didn’t know what to do with them. So, I could identify with what was going on. And this was a wise move on the part of Peter and the disciples. And probably the wisest thing they did was Stephen, they had been watching him for a long time. They had seen how God had used him. They had seen his leadership abilities, that he was articulate, and at the same time he was human. And they made him the leader of the board of deacons. And you say way cool. Well, you don’t want to be the leader of the board of deacons if it leads to a courtroom and your execution. And that’s what happened to Stephen. He was executed and we read that text yesterday. Now, I want to show you some things about Stephen because he’s an old friend of mine. And the first thing you need to know about him is that he’s a normal Christian, just like you. I’ve been kidding about why I like Stephen so much because I’m his namesake. My name is Stephen too. And, the name Stephen comes from a Greek word that means, what means literally the wreathe, but it refers to a crown, to great honor. And I said, that would be me, but it’s not. It is of Stephen and it is in a sense, me too. I was created in the image of God. He found me when I couldn’t find him. He came to me, he made me his adopted son. I don’t live in the servants quarters. I live in the big house. I have been given great honor and forgiveness and affirmation by the same God who gave that to Stephen. One of the things that we do that isn’t good, is that when we write biographies of famous Christians, we take out the doubt, we take out the dark, we take out the sin, we take out the failure and you know what that does to the average Christian? It makes the average Christian feel, I can never be used by God because I’m just not that good, just not that spiritual. I love Christian biographies, when they talk about, for instance Spurgeon going through months of depression, so much so that he couldn’t even preach. You say no, not Spurgeon, yeah Spurgeon, the greatest Bible expositor in the last 300 years. And I could go down each of them because I’m following the pattern of God in Scripture. Moses was no great shakes. And this whole thing was started by a con artist. And, one of our forefathers lied about his wife and said it was his sister, so she could sleep with the king. This goes, and then you’ve got David, you’ve got Jeremiah who’s scared. And you move into the New Testament and Paul says that Peter was a hypocrite. You’ve got divisions, you’ve got Paul bragging and knowing that he’s sinning and then stopping and saying, I’m talking like a fool. And to continue, what’s God doing in all that. There’s a prostitute and the lineage of Jesus. You say no, that’s not. Yeah, her name was Rayhab. And I could go on and on and Acts is like that too. Acts is the record of very normal Christian people like you and like me, who were highly valued by the King and were used in an amazing way. And you know who got the credit? He got the credit. And that’s true of Stephen too. Everything you read about Stephen and everything we’re going to talk about, when we talked about Stephen, is available for you. If you have those biographies that never tell you the dark side, burn them because they’re not real. Real people are flawed people. Real people are sinful people. Real people are people who say dumb things and do dumb things. Real people are people who can’t even get close to being perfect. And yet, for some reason, and maybe it’s because that’s all he’s got, for some reason, God picks normal people to do his work. And he does amazing work through them. So, if you don’t know enough, welcome to the club. If you’re not good enough, welcome to the club. If you’re not committed enough, welcome to the club. If sometimes you think God is through with you, welcome to the club. He’s not, he takes people like you and me, and he uses them in great ways. I think I’ve told you that a physician told me once at a Bible conference where I was speaking and teaching and he sat on the front row and looked puzzled and he said afterwards, he said, Brown, I’ve been listening to preachers and missionaries for all my life. And they all say, they’re sinners. And then he started laughing and he said, you know something, you’re the first one I ever believed. And I said, bingo, you’ve got it. And you’re a sinner too. And we can walk together because we’re loved by the same person. And affirmed by the same person. And called by the same person. And his name is Jesus. And that of course is where Stephen is coming from. Don’t get this idea that the apostles or the first president of the board of deacons had a halo painted over his head in his portrait, there was no halo. He was somebody who struggled the way you struggle and the way I struggle. But his heart belonged to Jesus. He said to Jesus, I’m not good, but I’m yours. And I’ll be yours until the day I die. And you can do with me as you please. And when that prayer is prayed, he pleases to use normal people like you and even me. After all, my name is Stephen. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. More about Stephen from the book of Acts tomorrow. Will you join us again then? It wouldn’t be the same without you. By the way, if you’re enjoying this series, like I am, there’s a free booklet, we’d love to send you. It’s called Through the Eyes of Grace: Acts & Romans. It covers early church leadership, the Pentecost, the fellowship of believers, persecution, all of that. In addition, you’ll get Steve’s overview of Romans. You’re going to love this booklet and it’s free, but you have to claim it to get it. So, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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