Speak truth to power.
OCTOBER 12, 2023
Speak truth to power. I’ll explain, on this edition of Key Life.
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free, and Key Life is here to bring you Biblical teaching that encourages you to never give in to slavery again. Our teacher on Key Life is Steve Brown, he’s an author, broadcaster, and seminary professor who’s sick of phony religion.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open it to the 28th chapter of Acts, and this is the final chapter. There is a 29th chapter of Acts, but that’s the one that you write, and we’ll talk about that later. In this 28th chapter, Paul is shipwrecked in Malta, and some really good things happening. It’s a vignette, and people came to know Christ even in a stopover where Paul was. And then in the next verses, Paul gives, or Luke gives a travelogue of their journey to Rome. And then starting at the 17th verse.
After three days
And they reached Rome, when they came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself with a soldier who guarded him, and he was waiting for his trial. And then at the 17th verse.
After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me and wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar– though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
Oh man, you talk about the barn door being open. Now Paul had an opportunity not only to defend himself, but that wasn’t even the issue. He knew that he could end up being executed in Rome, and as a matter of fact, years later that’s exactly what happened, tradition says. But he had a chance to defend himself and to present Christ to people who knew absolutely nothing about Christ. I one time ended up having a ministry to churches that had lost their way, and to the pastors who were there. In the middle of a ministry, I served in a church in the Boston area, I had a major spiritual awakening in my life, and we saw revival take place. And that church had been served by pastors in the past and a denomination that, and I’m not going to spend much time on it, but that had been less than faithful. And then other pastors heard what happened to me. And I told them, and they said, would you spend some time with me so we can see the same thing happening in our church? Well, that’s where, that’s where Paul was. They had heard bad things. The people in my church had heard bad things about Bible thumpers and fundamentalists and they didn’t want that to happen in their church. But they were willing to listen, and they and I grew together. What happened in that church was absolutely amazing. We had no mission program, and then we got a mission program, and then it doubled, and then it tripled. We had a missions conference, and none of us had ever gone to a missions conference. Dr. Moffat, who was a well known missionary in Korea, I may have told you this. In the middle of this, and I’m learning, I’m just now beginning to understand what the truth is, and I called him up, and I said, Dr. Moffat, I understand that you believe in Jesus and believe the Bible, and if that’s true, I’ll send you some money. Dead silence on the other end of the line. And he said later, when he spoke to our church, it was the strangest call he had ever gotten. And I said, and Dr. Moffitt, if you’ll give me the name of some other missionaries who believe the Bible and trust Jesus, I’ll send them some money too. Our Sunday school group, kids started coming from the universities around Boston. And then the Jesus movement happened, and it was incredible what happened in our church. And do you know what was so good about it? I was speaking to people, who hadn’t heard the truth, the truth that I just learned myself. Do you have a neighborhood where you have no Christian brothers or sisters to back you up? That’s bad. No, that’s good. Do you have friends that are unbelievers? And you just can’t believe that you can say anything about Jesus to them without losing their friendship. That’s bad. No, that’s good. Because when it’s fresh, and when it’s open, and when you’re authentic, people will listen, and lives will be changed. For a number of years, I taught a course at the seminary where I was a professor, and we titled the course Communicating to Post Moderns. Now, everybody knows that post modernity is not a good thing. It’s nihilistic, it doesn’t believe in truth, it doesn’t, it does great damage to young people and I could go on and on and on. But there were some good things and God was in charge of that cultural shift in our country. In fact, for the first time in a long time, Christians were on a level playing field. It used to be that in order to get a hearing from unbelievers, you had to have degrees, you had to have accomplishments and a list of them, but now that’s no longer true. I used to tell students, if you’ll go down to the downtown area of Orlando, take your tie off, and sit down and listen, they’ll listen to your story, and you will be surprised. We live in that kind of age right now. And so, if you’re in the neighborhood where there aren’t any Christians, if you’re in a business where there aren’t any Christians, if you have friends and none of them are Christians, what a tremendous opportunity God has given you. So, set aside your self righteousness, confess your sins, and talk about Jesus and the cross, and see what happens. It will be the same thing that happened to Paul in the city of Rome. He got there, the religious leaders had heard bad things about this Jesus thing, but they were willing to listen and they’re still willing to listen. If you’ll set aside all of the stuff that props you up with your religion and just be normal, be authentic, talk about your sins, talk about your forgiveness, talk about God’s great mercy. And then Luke continues.
When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus, both from the Law of Moses and for the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers, through Isaiah the prophet: these people honor me with their lips, but not with their heart.
Or the exact quote.
“‘Go to this people and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see, but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes have been closed; that they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and turn, and I should heal them.'”
Oh man, some believed, that’s still true. And some didn’t believe, and that’s still true. Be like Paul. Bloom where you’re planted. Paul ends up in Rome, and that was the last place he thought he would ever be. He had gone through a shipwreck and went to Malta, and he had never heard of Malta before, but wherever he was, he smelled like Jesus. Make sure that you do too. You think about that. Amen.
And thank you Steve. That wraps up this week of teaching on Acts and almost wraps up this entire series on Acts. Join us next week for the grand finale. And remember, you can stream all of our episodes anytime you want for free at keylife.org and be sure to tune in tomorrow for Friday Q&A with Steve and our good friend Pete Alwinson. On tap for tomorrow. Everything you ever wanted to know about Eutychus, but were afraid to ask. Well, you’re a smart person, maybe you know the answer to this. What’s the difference between patriotism and quote unquote Christian nationalism? I sure didn’t know. Well, fortunately, on Steve Brown Etc. we recently talked faith and politics with author Paul D. Miller. It was fascinating and challenging, and we would love to send you that entire episode on CD for free. If we could do that, just call us right now and let us know at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org to ask for that CD. To mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Paul D. Miller. And finally, 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 just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter, just text that to 28950, then follow the instructions. 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.