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There’s a revealed process of separation.

There’s a revealed process of separation.

AUGUST 9, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / There’s a revealed process of separation.

Steve Brown:
There’s a revealed process of separation. And I’m going to show you, 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. We’re looking and I’m not going to take the time to read that text to you again, but it’s, you might want to keep your Bible out. I’ll be referring to it as we go along, Acts 15:36 through 41. To recap, in that text, Paul and Barnabas, great leaders, obedient Christians, solid guys, people that you would follow through a wall, people who were the bedrock, the anchor of the early church can’t get along. They had a fight and they couldn’t work in the same room. And so, they had to separate. And the first thing we saw about that, is that you ought to see about that in Scripture. If you’re a new Christian and you think that Christians get along and sing Kumbaya around the fire all the time, you just haven’t been paying attention. And so, what we see taking place in Acts 15 is something that often takes place in the church. One time Paul Reese was talking about a Korean church. Paul Reese was the great missionary statesman of another generation, but he talked about, they got into a major fight in this little church. And they were throwing chairs at each other and the police were called. And above all of the noise of the fight, you could hear a Buddhist policeman shouting out, will you folks act like Christians? Well, sometimes acting like Christians, doesn’t work. And when it doesn’t, sometimes you have to separate. And that’s what’s going on in this particular text. Somebody one time, and I think I’ve told you asked Ruth Graham if she believed in divorce? And she said, no, I do not, but I do believe in murder. Sometimes some things are worse than staying together. And so, let me show you something else. I want you to note, in these verses, not only the fact of separation, but look at the process of separation. Now, you’ve got to button down your seatbelt cause we’re going to go in a number of different places to see this. But once you see it, you’ll understand some things about human nature and about Christian human nature that are very important. In Acts 13, John Mark, you will remember, we talked about that a long time, decided he liked this mother’s cherry pie better than he liked serving Jesus on the mission field. And so, one night he rolled up his sleeping bag and he headed for home and his mother’s cherry pie. Now, we find out as we follow this story through Acts, that the apostle Paul was ticked, but Barnabas not so much. And you know why? Cause Barnabas was his uncle, that’s why. And besides, Barnabas’s name means son of encouragement. And so, Paul had a tendency not to cut slack sometimes. Barnabas almost always did cut slack. So, in Acts 13:13 there’s a leadership change. And you’ve got to take that into account too. Up to that point, it had been Barnabas and then Barnabas and his company, and then Barnabas and Paul. But in that passage in Acts 13, it changes and it becomes Paul and Barnabas. In Galatians 2:11 through 13 more insight into the Jerusalem conference. Paul says that at the Jerusalem conference.

Even Barnabas swayed.

Galatians 2:13.

Even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity.

What had happened here? Well, Paul in later years understood. And you’ll find that wisdom in the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the 26th verse.

Be angry

and he could have inserted and it would’ve been true. I’ve been there. I’ve done that.

Be angry, but don’t sin.

I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

Do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.

Okay. You’ve got all of that Scripture under your belt, let me show you something. This is how it works. Let’s assume that you and I have an argument about the price of peas at the church supper. Then the next week we have an argument about the color of the molding in the fellowship hall of the church. And you give in. And then, because we’re elders in our church, we have an issue that comes up in an elders meeting, about whatever. You and I have a major, big disagreement about that particular issue, and we refuse to compromise. What’s going on? Listen, it’s not that issue, we’re still fighting about the price of peas and the church color in the fellowship hall, but that thing kind of grows. As it grows, it causes all kinds of problems. That happens in marriages too. And in all kinds of relationships, when we have fights in marriages, it’s rarely about the issue we’re fighting about. In relationships, it’s rarely about the issue we’re fighting about. For instance, in a marriage, you’ve got a serious disagreement about where you live or how to raise the children or whatever. And then one night somebody leaves the top off the toothpaste tube and the third world war breaks out over a toothpaste tube. What’s going on? Well, it’s not the toothpaste tube. It’s all that went on before. And you see that happening here too. Now, how do you fix that? Well, you fix it at the beginning. You don’t let it fester. You don’t let a root of bitterness begin to get in. Once you recognize the process, you are able to stop it at its beginning. For an alcoholic, for instance, it’s a thought, it’s the smell, it’s the one drink, and then you’re south. I mean, I’ve talked to a bunch of people that are alcoholics and they tell me every time, you’ve got to stop it at the very beginning. You, have the thought, boy, I could get through this better, if I had a drink. And then you smell some beer and then you say, well, I know I have a problem with booze, but I can stop at one drink. So, you have drink and then you have two and before you know it you’re plastered. That process works in all kinds of things. You have a relationship and you’re irritated. You think about it for a long time, then you start playing with it and then you have an explosion. Process for hate, she looks like my mother-in-law. Two, she’s probably a really bad person. Three, starting to look for things to prove what you just believed. And then confirmation and reinforcement. You see it going on all the time. And it certainly goes on in the church. And it goes on in this particular situation with Paul and Barnabas. I think that God has allowed us to see the other sections of Scriptures, so we can do some homework on our own and see what was really going on here. Now, because this is God’s stuff, it has a happy ending. And before we finish with this text, which may be this week, but it may be next week. I’m going to show you the rest of the story. So, I don’t want you to get depressed or down or say what’s the use in trying, because nothing’s going to work out because it does work out when God’s involved and God uses the process being described to you, just described to you. He uses the process, believe it or not, to glorify himself. He does that all the time. He does that with our sin. He does that with our disobedience. He does that with the times we fail. And you say, how does he do that? Because that’s your witness, Paul and Barnabas, when this gets resolved, had one dynamite witness. People are always saying to me, Steve, you ought to do better, you’re hurting your witness. And I want to say, are you crazy? My sin is my witness. I mean, if I don’t, if I’m not upfront and honest about it, then I don’t have any witness. And so, Paul and Barnabas would be speaking in a local church, years later. They’re old guys now and they know a lot. And before they start speaking, they hug each other. And then they turn around and start laughing and say, Hey guys, let us tell you our story cause it’ll help you. It does, you know. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thanks Steve. It is so interesting that this blowup between Paul and Barnabas is documented in the Bible, but how wonderful for us that it is because that conflict is not the end of the story. More good stuff tomorrow. Hope you will join us then. Well, recently on Steve Brown Etc. we sat down with pastor and author, Dane Ortlund. Dane’s new book is called In the Lord I take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions Through the Psalms. And we had such a wonderful conversation all about the Psalms and how they remind us that our God always welcomes us, no matter what we’re feeling. We put that whole conversation on a CD and I know it will bless you to hear it. Could we send you that CD for free? If so, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to

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