The Bible doesn’t assume goodness. You shouldn’t either.
FEBRUARY 10, 2022
The Bible doesn’t assume goodness. You shouldn’t either. Let’s talk, on 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. Alright. After a lot of introductory comments, more than I had planned, we’re looking directly at the 10th chapter of Acts. And the first thing you ought to notice, and we’re talking about racial prejudice in particular, prejudice in general, division and hatred. And we’re looking at this text to find out some things that God would say to us about that particular subject. And the first thing I would have you note, and I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating, is that the Bible does not assume goodness on the part of Peter and we shouldn’t either. If you are familiar with the book of Galatians chapter two, 11 through 13. You know, Peter’s, you know, he’s already repented, he’s had breakfast with Jesus, things have changed, he’s now the head of the church. He’s doing really, really good things. And then we see an example of the worst hypocrisy that you can possibly imagine and that’s after conversion. And so, that brings us to a principle and it’s one of the solutions to where we are right now. We cut nobody slack. And the reason we cut nobody slack is because we have lost our anchor, which is a clear Biblical revelation that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Except no, no, there is no except, it’s universal, it’s everywhere. And it has to do with you. Now, I am the exception because I’m ordained after all. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything, and if you start to approach the division and the hatred that we’re experiencing in this country, with I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m righteous, you’re unrighteous. I’m pure, you’re impure. I’m good, you’re evil. Then at that point, there is no hope. You can’t go anywhere from there. That ends every discussion. It ends every consideration. It ends the possibility of ever having reconciliation about anything, anytime, any place. So, you’ve got to start there and that’s where you start. It’s the doctrine of radical and pervasive depravity. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re as bad as we could be. Each morning, I thank God that I wasn’t bad as I wanted to be. It doesn’t mean that we’re, that everything we do is horrible. That doesn’t, this means that our actions, our thoughts, our motivations are tainted and they’re tainted by the Fall. And once you get that about history, about church history, about your church, about the members of your church, about the members of your community, and more important than all of that. When you get that about yourself, you’ve got the key to almost everything. You know, one of the tragedies in our country, and this is true in Canada too, is that we’ve lost our roots, the roots that give us value and meaning and make the difference in our nation. It makes us better, sometimes. It makes us kinder and more compassionate and forgiving. I remember, and I think I’ve referenced this before, when Bill Clinton had gone through his trial before Congress. And somebody came to him, well, it was a reporter and said, are you going to forgive those who have brought you up for impeachment? And president Clinton said something in those, and by the way, this is not a political statement. You know, I’m to the right of Genghis Khan politically and sometimes I’m wrong. But what he said on that occasion was so amazing and so powerful and almost everybody didn’t notice. He said, those who need forgiveness, must forgive. That’s powerful. And I don’t care who said it, it’s powerful. And it’s something that every Christian knows is true. Those who need forgiveness, will forgive. And not only that, those who have received forgiveness, will forgive to the degree, to which they have been forgiven. That’s a corollary of another principle. You can’t love until you’ve been loved. And then you can only love to the degree to which you have been loved. And so, we see that happening in this text, as we study the 10th chapter of Acts. Peter had done things that nobody ought to do. He had been arrogant and self-righteous, he had promised Jesus that when everybody else turned away, he would stand. He, he said, look, they’re all a bunch of wusses. They’re gonna run, but you’ve got me and I’ve got a sword and I’m going to stand with you. And you can almost see the tears in the eyes of Jesus, when he says, oh Peter, before the rooster crows, you will have denied me three times. Something was going on in Peter. And so, when division takes place as described in the 10th chapter of the book of Acts. And all the unclean foods, that would be lobster by the way. All the unclean foods were placed in front of Peter and God says eat. And Peter says I’ve never eaten anything unclean before. And they go through that scenario three times. God was reminding Peter. Peter, don’t forget. He reminds us to Steve, don’t forget. Jane, don’t forget. Polly, don’t forget. Sam, don’t forget. Jeremy, don’t forget. What’s he saying? Listen, and Luther said it, we’re great sinners and Jesus is a great Savior. And if we’re going to do anything, about the racial problems in America, it starts at that place, with sinners who know they’re sinners, who know they need to be forgiven and who because of that, are willing to forgive others. Oh my. We have some horrible, horrible things that have happened racially. And, they’re not altogether different, than the horrible things that were happening in the 10th chapter of Acts. I mean, real injustice, real hatred, killing and torturing. It’s just awful. But, if you know you need to be forgiven and that it could have been you, then you’re able to forgive others. Will Campbell has a wonderful book called Brother to a Dragonfly. Will Campbell is an amazing, and has been an amazing and wonderful servant of Christ, but way out of the box, when he had finally decided, in fact, he resigned as a member of the staff of the National Council of Churches, to come to the south. And he resigned from the National Council because there was so much self righteousness and he decided he was going to do something to reconcile. And so, he started reaching out and he would write to his brothers and sisters who were African-Americans, then they got it. Maybe the reason they got it because they had suffered so much. Maybe they were wise because of what they had gone through, but whatever they accepted Will Campbell. And then Will Campbell told them he was going to the white citizens council and do some work there and they laughed at him and they said, that’s not going to work. He said, why? They said to him, Will, you don’t understand. That’s a mean bunch of people. And they hate us and they hate you because you love us. What are you going to do? How are you going to get them to listen? And Will Campbell said something really important. He said, I’m going over there and I’m going to wash the bed bans of their sick. Whoa. And that’s one of the reasons, and by the way, you can’t wash the bed pans of the sick, if you are arrogant or you think you’re something else, or you think you’re pure and without sin. And so, the first step is an amazing step that was taken by Peter. Peter is coming into a situation of great prejudice of which he had himself participated, all of his life. And then God allowed him to see himself, the betrayal, the cowardice, the running away, the times he had failed. That’s why, what happened in the 10th chapter of Acts is so important. And listen to me, it can happen here too. You think about that. Amen.
And thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown wrapping up his week of teaching on acts 10, still so much to explore here. And we will resume that exploration soon, but tomorrow we’ll change gears a minute to have Friday Q&A. Of course that’s when Steve and our friend Pete Alwinson tackle the challenging theological questions you’ve sent in. Always, always a good time. Hey, well, if you didn’t know, Key Life’s mission is to get you and those you love home with radical freedom, infectious joy and surprising faithfulness to Christ as your crowning achievement. Radical grace is central to this ministry because I don’t know, it’s central to the gospel. It is the gospel. If you’d like to learn more about what that means, we have a booklet that we would love to send to you for free called Radical Freedom: Surprising Faithfulness. It’s a newly reprinted excerpt from Steve’s classic book on radical grace, A Scandalous Freedom. And I know it’s going to bless you. Get your copy now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org to ask for that booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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