Study the Scriptures. I promise it will make a difference.
NOVEMBER 9, 2021
Study the Scriptures. I promise it will make a difference. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
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.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at my friend Stephen. And I haven’t taken the time to read that entire seventh chapter of Acts. You ought to do that before you go to bed tonight. It’s an amazing sermon and it’s not a nice sermon. I mean, he decided, they’re going to kill me anyway. I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory. And so, he absolutely is in their face and they don’t like it. And they kill him. You ought to read that it’s an amazing sermon. I sometimes would tell students to read it and to do likewise. But we’re looking at Stephen, he was the first president of the board of deacons, that should have been a great and high honor, and he should have lived his life fully, patted the heads of his grandchildren and died in his bed, an old man. But that’s not what happened. And it seems to me, if I were God, I would use a gifted man like that. I mean, I’d keep him around at least a little while longer, but that isn’t what God did. And we’re going to see as we go along and check what happened with the apostle Paul, what happened because of Stephen’s martyrdom because of his death. You want to call your friends when somebody like Stephen dies and you want to say to all your pagan friends, come and watch a godly man die, just so you know. And Stephen was hanging tough and he had seen God’s glory. Now we’ve seen some things about Stephen that were important, but I want you to see one other, nah, two or three others. One is, as you read the sermon of Stephen, the first thing you’re going to notice, and this is the seventh chapter verses 1 through 50. You’re going to notice how over and over and over again Stephen quotes Scripture. The Scripture was where he stood. I mean, he was saying in effect to the religious leaders, I didn’t make this up. This is from God. Now, as you know, I’m an old guy and I’ve been teaching the Scripture. I’ve been a Bible teacher, most of our lives. In fact, I am at such a point that, and this isn’t anything religious. I can hardly, people talk about having a Christian worldview. Well, I have a Biblical worldview. I can hardly think of thought without thinking of a text and it’s not because I worked at it. It’s because I saw the Bible as God’s word. And a love letter written to me and a lot of other people, and I spent time in it. And then I was called to teach it. And I’ve been teaching it for a hundred years. And I can’t even think of thought without first thinking of a text, Christian worldview. And that’s what Stephen had. Stephen was so literally, and this is the reason they elected him the first chairman of the board of deacons. Stephen was immersed in Scripture. He makes at least 69 reverences to Scripture in this one sermon. And, because he stayed in the word, but truth had power, got him killed, but the truth had power. I remember early on when my early mentor, John DeBrine and he died this past year and I miss him a lot. But I’d said to John, you know, I’m going to be a Bible teacher. He said, of course you are, that’s what you’re called to do. The problem was I went to a graduate school of theology where Scripture was not central. What was central was social ethics. So, I knew about politics and I knew about social ethics, but I didn’t know what the Bible said. And you know what I did? When I decided, and God had done something to me that was major. He really changed my life, the people in that church wanted a new pastor and they got one without having to have a pulpit committee. I climbed into the pulpit, a new person because I was a Bible teacher, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea what the Bible said. And so, I started teaching the Gospel of John because I heard Billy Graham say to new Christians, you ought to start in the Gospel of John. And so, I started in the Gospel of John, listen to me, and this is almost totally true. I stayed one or two verses ahead of that congregation. I’d read the verses and I’d tell him what I thought it meant and how they could apply to their lives and how I was going to try to apply it to my life. And God began to do stuff. I’m glad I didn’t get stoned, but a lot of people were angry with me and left the church, but I kept preaching and more people kept coming until it was almost a revival. The church had been empty, they couldn’t pay their bills, they had been fighting, they had a fistfight in the narthex of the church. When they called me, I said, tell me some of your problems. And they said, we don’t have any. You have got to watch, listen, if you’re a pastor and you’re looking at a new church, you have got to watch the pulpit committees, they lie a lot. And when I got there, I wasn’t sure whether I was there to have the funeral for the church or to see God come and do something. Well, he did something and all I did was read a verse and tell him what it meant. Read another verse and told him what it meant. By the time we got through the Gospel of John, the church was packed, the mission program and there wasn’t a mission program until then started and then it doubled and then it tripled, the Sunday school started exploding. And man, I was just amazed because I was doing nothing but telling them what I had discovered by studying the word. And, I’ve remembered that and I’ve seen that kind of pattern repeated over and over again. It’s the power of the word. Years ago, I went to the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, when Jim Kennedy was the pastor there and I attended the Evangelism Explosion Seminar. I learned there how to share my faith and never forgot the things that Jim Kennedy and his staff taught me. I was living at that time in Boston and drove the whole way down so I could learn how to do it. A lot of good things happened during that week, but one of the things that happened, was that somebody had a question because Jim quoted so much Scripture. He said, Dr. Kennedy, what if we’re witnessing to people and they don’t believe in the Bible? They think it went out with their grandfather’s spats, they don’t believe a thing that’s in the Bible. What do you do then? And then I’ll never forget, and I’ve probably told you this before. Jim said, if a thief breaks into your house and is getting ready to open the safe in your living room. And you’ve got a 38 and you’re pointing at him and you say, listen, leave my house now cause I’m going to shoot where you’re standing. And what if the guy says, look, I don’t believe in guns. Well, he said, of course, then you just put it away and let him take whatever he wants to take. And he said, no, you pull the trigger. And it’s the same way with Scripture. And it really is. There’s power in truth because it’s God’s truth. It’s embedded into the universe. It’s the reality we stand on. And Stephen in all of those occasions was quoting Scripture. And I’ll tell you something, one of the reasons that God used that sermon in such a way wasn’t because Stephen was articulate or because he used the right illustrations. It was because he quoted God’s word. I didn’t say this. God said it. Alright, now I want you to notice something else. I’d like to talk a little bit more about that because it’s so central to what I do, but fifthly notice that Stephen had been granted courage and I could make another point out of it, but I’ll combine them. He not only was given courage, he was given dying grace. You can find that between 50 and 51 in this seventh chapter. And it’s very clear that when you do what God gives you to do, you’ll find that you have courage that you didn’t know you had until you did it. Let me repeat that. When you do what God told you to do, you’ll find that you have courage to do it, that you didn’t think you had before you did it. That’s so true. Man, we are called to stand and it’s harder today to stand than it has been in the past. I mean, sometimes we just want to keep our mouth shut and not say anything, not point out that we’re going in the wrong direction, that there is a God and he’s in charge and we’re not God, so quit trying to pretend we are, etc, etc. I understand that. People think I’m confrontational and I am, but it, but it’s taken a long time to get there. And it was out of the soil of fear and wanting to be loved and wanting to be accepted. Then I decided I’m going to tell the truth and I did. And then I had the courage that I didn’t know that I even had. Hey, you think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. So much good stuff here in Acts seven, and the banquet will continue tomorrow, as we explore and discover and enjoy God’s truth. Let me ask you, what’s something that’s easy for you to do? Juggling, remembering birthdays, for me it’s making dad jokes. What’s something hard for you to do? For me, it’s just about any kind of math. Well, one thing that’s easy for most people is giving thanks, when things are going well. But when things are bad, when there’s pain, when there’s unexpected disappointment, mmm harder right? Well, Steve has actually addressed that challenge in a message called The Principle of Praise. If what I said just grabbed you, then you are the one we would like to send this CD to, today. Would you do this, please call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. And ask for the CD called The Principle of Praise. You can also e-mail your request at [email protected]. If you would like to mail your request, sends it to
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