The proper care of new Christians.
JANUARY 14, 2021
The proper care of new Christians. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. Alright, we’re gonna get into a new text. I sort of introduced it yesterday, in saying that the apostle Paul was kind of like a father and there were a lot of new Christians in the church at Galatia. And he says some things that are important for all of us to remember, when people come to Christ for the first time. And they’re young immature Christians, maybe not even young in years, but young in terms of their walk with Christ. I served a church one time in the Boston area and we had a young man in the church who had come to Christ and he was an engineer at a CBS station in Boston and he built our studios and did a lot of stuff for us at the, and then he decided to go to Bible school and become a pastor. And there was an elder in that church, a leader, by the way, who didn’t know Christ. And, I told him, yeah, he resigned every other day because he got angry at something. I finally accepted the resignation and he was not happy about it, cause he wanted me to ask him to come back. And I said to him, you know what Ken, your problem is you don’t even know Jesus and they made you an elder. And that’s a tragedy in this church. I thought shoot, I’m going to get fired, but I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory and you know what he did, he started crying, Oh my, he started crying and he said, you’re right, can you help me? And we sat there and I didn’t have to go into much, man, he was ready and he fell on his knees and prayed the sweetest prayer you have ever heard. And a new name was added to the Lamb’s Book of Life. Now, the reason I’m telling you this is because when the young man I was telling you about before, who had been with CBS, decided to go and study to be a pastor. We gave him a set of commentaries from the church to kind of say goodbye and thank you for all you’ve done for this church. And you know, who presented the commentaries to him, this elder. And I’ll never forget what the elder said. And he was an old man. And my friend who had worked with us was a very young man. And the elder said to him, when he handed him the commentaries, son, you’re older than I am. You’ve been a Christian and a lot longer than I have. It’s brand new to me. But I want you to know I’m going to be praying for you, as you go off to study to serve God. Well, that was good. You know, God listens to the prayers of new Christians. He really does. And Paul is dealing with that sort of thing, as he says, I’m going to start at the 12th verse of the fourth chapter of Galatians.
Brothers, I beseech you become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and through my condition, though my condition was a trial to you, you didn’t scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God as Christ Jesus. What has become of the satisfaction you felt? For I hear you witness that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. For a good purpose, it is always good to be made much of, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, with whom I am again and travail until Christ be formed in you! I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
What’s going on in that passage? Well, the apostle Paul is a father. There’s a sense in which that’s true of a pastor or a priest, you know, they do. If you’re a Protestant, you don’t call him father, but there is some of that, even young pastors that goes on in the church. And so when Paul writes this to the church in Galatians and I’ve done the pastor thing, most of my life, I read it and I get it. I get where he’s coming from. I know the pain that he’s feeling, you know the hardest thing about being a pastor. It’s watching people slip into the darkness, you know they were running so well and doing so good and walking and then rejoicing, and then you’d turn around to talk to somebody else and you turn back and they’re gone and it’ll kill you. Well, that’s what Paul was seeing going on here. These people had come into the church, they’d started up, they’d take a new Christians who didn’t know any better. They hadn’t, they hadn’t been, been with Jesus long enough to understand what was going on. And they bought into nonsense and they left the reality and the joy of their experience with Christ and that broke Paul’s heart. Now, we’re going to spend a good deal of time looking at what Paul said to them and analyzing it. But before we do that, let me go down one or two side roads. First thing you ought to note in the words that I just read to you, the supernatural working of divine appointments, Galatians 4:13.
You know it was because a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first.
Oh man, that happened to Jonah too. You know, he didn’t want to go to Nineveh. I mean, whales, when they swallow you or big fish, deposit you on a shore in a country, you didn’t want to go to, you know you better do what you do there, because God set it up. Well, the same thing happened to Paul at Galatia. We don’t know what his physical ailment was, some have suggested it was blindness or epilepsy. Nobody knows, but for some reason he landed in Galatia, and he figured, well, I’m here, I’m in this hospital bed or wherever he was. I can’t do anything else. So I think I’ll talk about Jesus. I have friends, that pagans want to leave the hospital, because they begin talking about Jesus and leading doctors to Christ and nurses to Christ and cleaning people to Christ. Well that wasn’t happening with Paul, Paul’s in Galatia. And he said, I got nothing else to do, cause I can’t, God arranged it, so I’m going to talk about Jesus. And that’s why he preached the gospel to men. In II Corinthians 12:7, Paul speaks of what he calls a thorn in the flesh. And this may be exactly what he was talking about. Even in the text, there are three possibilities. First note that in the 15th verse, Paul says that the Galatians would have plucked out their eyes for Paul. Some have said that Paul’s thorn in the flesh, was it his eyesight. And he uses that imagery, because it was appropriate in this particular setting. Secondly, some have suggested that Paul was an epileptic, in the 14th verse, Paul says,
You did not scorn or despise me.
What does that mean? Well, if you’ve ever been around anybody who suffers from that particular disease, you know, when the seizures happen, things are not very pretty. In fact, they’re very scary. And Paul said you didn’t despise me. Thirdly, there have been those who have suggested that Paul had malaria, and they use the 13th verse to defend that position. In that verse, Paul says that he preached the gospel because of a bodily ailment. If you’ll examine Acts 13:15, you’ll note that Paul did not preach in Pamphylia, even though there was a large population. Let me tell you why some have suggested that he didn’t preach there, because along the coast, there was a serious problem with malaria. And these scholars suggest that Paul contracted malaria. Nobody knows, don’t let anybody kid you. I know, I’ve got a deep voice and if I can say anything with authority, people think I know what I’m talking about. Scholars are that way. They’ve got degrees, but they don’t know. Nobody knows, but I’ll tell you what we do know. And we know it for a fact. The apostle Paul had an appointment that he didn’t even know about at Galatia. And he didn’t even know why he was there or what this was all about, but he was there. He knew God was sovereign and there was a purpose. By the way, God does appointments for you like that too. Hey. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Steve Brown there wrapping up this week’s exploration of the book of Galatians. Remember if you missed any of these teachings, you can access them for free anytime at the new keylife.org. And don’t forget, tomorrow is Friday Q & A. Hope you’ll join us then. Wouldn’t be the same without you. Well, recently on our other radio show, Steve Brown Etc, we spoke with author Morgan Snyder. Morgan talked to us about how men were designed to become a King, and listen, all fine and good, but wait, I actually want to talk to the ladies in our audience, whether it’s your husband, a brother, a father, a son, a friend. You probably know a Christian man who tries really hard to be good, but can I tell you something? It’s hard and help and encouragement from others goes a long way. That’s why I want you to call us right now to get your free copy of our conversation with Morgan Snyder. Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email your request to [email protected]. By mail, write us at
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