The devil won’t leave the church alone.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
Steve Brown: The devil won’t leave a church alone. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Matthew Porter: This is Key Life, with our host, author and seminary professor Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru, he’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
Steve Brown: Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it to the sixth chapter of Acts. And we’re looking at a situation, I’m not going to read the text to you again, but you can read it for yourself. It’s just a few short verses, verses one through seven. And in those seven verses is an incredible amount of wisdom, insight, and honesty about the church. They were having a church division. And, you know, the church was all of a sudden, a universal thing, the Hellinists, which would be those that were dispersed among the Jews. And those who were natives to Jerusalem had a division over not getting enough stuff. And so, the apostles dealt with it and in the text it says, and what they said pleased the whole multitude. Dear friend, that’s a bigger miracle than the virgin birth. Have you ever been in a church meeting, when everybody was pleased with what was going on. And so, the apostles performed a lot of miracles, but there was one miracle here that was major. All the people thought what they said about what ought to take place was wonderful. And when I read that, I thought, man, I’ve never heard of that happening in the church before. The truth is that the devil doesn’t like that church. You know why? Because Jesus does. Let me say that again, the devil doesn’t like that church, and oh yes, there really is a devil. I used to say metaphorical personification of evil, but that’s when I was young and I thought I was an intellectual. The devil doesn’t like the church because Jesus does, not only does he like the church, the church is his bride. The church is the focus of the entire operation of the universe from the beginning of creation. And if I were old slew foot, the one place I’d want to mess with, destroy, disrupt, get into trouble. The one place I would devote a considerable portion of my time and effort would be in the church. And you ought to know that, if you’re a part of the church and you think we’re going to sing Kumbaya and walk off in the sunset together. Then you will believe anything. The church is a place, and there’s, I have a pastor friend who fell, and his mother said to him because God was honoring his ministry. You know, there’s a target on your back. And that Satan has a gun and he’s pointing it at you, and my friend got angry. But in fact that was exactly true. That’s why we have to cut slack for each other. It’s why we have to recognize that church is messy. That’s why the church has to have more forgiveness than ecclesiology. That’s why it’s so important that when we come together as porcupines in a storm and try to hug each other, we got to know that it’s going to hurt. And so, the first thing you ought to note about that text, is the very fact that Luke spends these verses telling us about a division. Let me tell you something, Malcolm Muggeridge said in his book, Jesus Rediscovered. If you’re not familiar with Malcolm Muggeridge, you ought to be familiar with him. He was probably during his lifetime, the best known person in all of the British Empire. He was the editor of a very famous magazine. He was on television all the time and he was an agnostic. And then late in his life, he came to know Christ and it changed everything. And that’s when he wrote the book Jesus Rediscovered. And in that book, he says a lot of good things, but let me tell you one of them.
One of our time’s larger ironies, ecumenicalism is triumphant just when there is nothing to be ecumenical about. The various religious bodies are likely to find it easy to join together only because believing little, they differ about little.
That’s true, man I’ve been on both sides of that issue. I was a liberal for a long time. I mean, I was at a graduate school of theology and they were this side of wacko and I bought into all of it. And when I think about those days, there was very little to fight about because I didn’t care. There was very little division in the church because we didn’t care. There was very little political problems in the church because, well, if you don’t believe much, you don’t have much to fight about. But if you really believe this and it’s true and you think we’re going to join the hands and walk off in the sunset together, you’ll believe anything. And I rise up and call Luke blessed, simply because he gives us this incident. And he says there was a division in the church between the local folks and Jerusalem and the Hellinists. And then you ought to note in this particular text that it’s an illustration of I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 and Romans 12, where they teach about the gifts, the diversification in the church, note what he says.
Well, they said.
And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching of the word to wait on tables.
Now they weren’t saying that waiting on tables wasn’t important, it was very important. They were simply saying that we’re better at teaching because where we’ve been and what we’ve done and the things we’ve experienced than we are at waiting tables. My brother Ron, and he’s in heaven now. And I, he was my best friend and I miss him a lot. After all these years, he was the district attorney in the 28th congressional district in North Carolina. And he had the highest conviction rate in the entire state. In fact, I really think he would have been the governor, if he had lived. And he, as I said was my best friend, but he lived with us one summer. Our mother sent him to live with us because he was moving toward marriage and mother wasn’t that happy with that fact. And she thought me, the older brother could talk some sense into him. Just the opposite happened, he saw our marriage and how solid it was, and it caused him to want to be married even more. At any rate, he had a couple of jobs. The first job he got really paid well because he was a waiter in a fancy restaurant where the tips were really big, but he kept spilling stuff all over the place and causing all kinds of problems and saying the wrong thing. And they liked him, but they couldn’t keep him. And so, the owner of this fancy restaurant said to my brother, listen Ron, we like you a lot, but you are not a waiter. You can’t do this work, you simply don’t have the skills or whatever it is to make a good waiter. So, go into vinyl repair or something else, and they fired him. Well, that’s what’s going on here in the book of Acts. The disciples weren’t saying that waiting on tables was not a good thing. Somebody had to do that. And the service, Jesus had said, the servant will be the greatest among you. So, they weren’t contradicting what Jesus said. What were they saying? We’re not very good at this, but we’re pretty good preachers. We’re not very good at washing dishes, but we taught good. We’re not good at doing some of these menial tasks and they’re important, but given that we’re the apostles and we spent time with Jesus and he commissioned us. We don’t have time to do some other things that are important. And so, we’re going to preach and we’re going to find somebody else that will do some of the other things that need to be done in this church. That was so wise and it was so Biblical and so clear in Scripture. We got a lot of questions here at Key Life. As you know, Pete comes in and he’s going to be in for the entire week next week, and you don’t want to miss it. But Pete and I answer questions on Fridays. And if you listen to Friday’s programs, you know that we often will play questions, the actual voice of the person who asks a question on our phone lines. And one of the things that I say very often, look, don’t, when you call up and you ask a question, don’t preach, we’re the preachers, you’re the one calling up to ask a question. Besides we’re not going to change our views. We’re the preachers. You’re the one asking the question. Try to remember that. What was I doing, well in a minor way, teaching Acts 6 and Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. You think about that. Amen.
Matthew Porter: Thank you Steve. Like Steve said, not everyone is good at waiting, but hopefully you’ll be able to wait until tomorrow because that’s when we’ll resume our exploration here of Acts 6. Oh, by the way, did you catch that announcement about Pete teaching next week? We’ll be sure to remind you again before the week is out.
Knowing makes me feel important and smart and in control. Certainty is a heck of a drug.
That’s just a small snippet from an article called You’re Probably Wrong, by Chad West. In the piece, he points out the dangers of placing too much importance on knowledge, really thought provoking stuff. And you can find that article in the 2021 edition of Key Life Magazine, along with other great articles by Robin DeMurga, Chris Wachter and of course, Steve. Grab your free copy, right now, by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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