Trouble in River City.
MAY 17, 2021
Trouble in River City. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
Key Life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. Because life’s hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Our host is seminary professor and author, Steve Brown.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open it to the sixth chapter of the book of Galatians. We’re going to be spending today and probably next week, talking about trouble in the church. There’s trouble, trouble in River City, from Music Man, but there’s a lot more trouble in the church than you would believe. In fact, when we finish studying Galatians, I’ve decided, and I’ve started reading through it, to go to the book of Acts. And we’re going to spend some time looking at, believe it or not, a troubled church. We have this tendency to say, I wish we could go back to the early church. No, you don’t. I mean, it was worse then than it is now, but they were closer to the source, and they did it right. And you got to go back to some fundamentals in the church. And so we’re going to spend some time doing that in the book of Acts, when we finish Galatians. But this is kind of a good introduction, to when we finish Galatians, because Paul is talking about trouble in the church. Now, the first thing we’re going to do is pray. And then I’ll read you the text and then we’ll get down and talk about it. Father, we come into your presence, as a part of your family, a church, a bride that you loved, where someday there will be no spot or wrinkle, but Father, you don’t, you know that it’s not that way all the time. Father, remind us that we belong to each other, remind us of your love, remind us that we’re responsible for each other. Father, you know the people who are listening right now and the hard places and the soft places, the laughter and the tears. And Father, you’re the God of every circumstance. And we’re thankful that you’re sufficient in every circumstance. As always. Father, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast, forgive him his sins, because they are many. We would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Alright, I’m going to start at the 25th verse, the last verse of the fifth chapter, because it goes with this text, and then I’m going to go through the 10th verse of the sixth chapter of Galatians. And if you have a Bible, and you’re in a place where you can open it, or your iPhone, or your Android phone or your pad or whatever, you might want to follow along.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-interest, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brothers, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks that he is something, when he’s nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each man will have to bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share all good things him who teaches. Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we don’t lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
That would be the church. Now, before we go dig in to some of the problems that were going on in the church in Galatia. Let me go down one side road. And it’s interesting. There is no such thing as a perfect church, look at Galatians 5:15.
But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you were not consumed by one another.
Why did Paul say that? Because that’s exactly what they’re doing and never would have mentioned it, Galatians 5:12.
I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves.
Let us have no self conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.
Why did he say that? Because that’s what was going on. One of the first things about the book of Galatians, if you take the time to read it, and we have done that for the last many, many weeks, the first thing one notices, is is that the churches were having some serious internal and relational problems. There’s a myth going on that there was something very spiritual about the early church, and there really wasn’t. And when we study Acts, as I told you, we’re going to find out that’s true. I’ve been, I’ve been doing this for a very long time. When I was a young pastor, I would look, read the magazine articles and the books and listen to the sermons of famous and great pastors. And one thing that happened to me, and I would say, I hope I can be that way. One of the things that happened to me as I got older, and God made it as a gift, and I don’t know why he did it, maybe to keep me from having too many heroes. Every hero I ever had, God has destroyed. And you know why? He did that, because he knows that it is blasphemy to worship at any alter, except his alter. But I was doing that, and I was looking, I was looking for heroes. I remember the first time, my late friend, John DeBrine told me that Donald Grey Barnhouse, the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, was jealous of Billy Graham. And man, I about fell on the floor. I said, John, don’t tell me that, that’s not true. He said, Oh yeah, that’s true. And he said he was accused of a lot more. And there were some areas that he needed to work on. Did you think that Jesus didn’t die for Donald Grey Barnhouse, or even for Billy Graham? I said, well, no, no, I really don’t, but they didn’t need it as bad as I do. And he said, yes, they did. And then later on, as I got older, I served on the boards of a number of ministries and was able to get to know some of those heroes and in every situation and every place, when they told me their stories and they began to talk about what they were going through and some of their struggles. People do that to me, because they think nobody could be worse than me, so I’m safe. And I began to see that God has given us a church filled with sinners, Martin Luther said.
We are great sinners, but we have a great savior.
And if you forget that you get into kinds of trouble, all kinds of trouble. I was a pastor on Cape Cod, that’s where I started. And I looked back on those days with great fondness. Ellie Vasel once was asked, what was his favorite city in the world? He said, Jerusalem when I’m not there. Well, where’s my favorite place on the world, it’s Cape Cod, when I’m not there. Memory has a way of blotting out the bad and magnifying the good. At any rate, I remember the earthy and honest Cape Codders who had lived there all their lives. One was asked, what do you do in winter by one of the tourists? And he said, without smiling, we fumigate. At any rate, the newcomers to the Cape are always talking about restoring the Cape to its original pristine position. And one of my friends in the church that I serve said, they don’t know what they’re talking about. It was awful in the old days. You know, we had muddy roads and cattle everywhere and things that cattle produce everywhere. And it was just, it was an awful place, and we didn’t like each other and he went on and on and on. And that’s kind of true with the church too. You know, we look back to those days when everything was right and people loved each other and the world was being won to Christ. And everything had changed and the body of Christ was what the body of Christ was supposed to be. What, are you crazy? I mean, are you a fruitcake, that’s not true. You read the book of Galatians and you began to see, that they were struggling and that they were struggling with some serious issues in the church. And the church was in some kind of trouble. Now, it’s worth the say in passing that when Paul encountered that at the church at Galatia, he didn’t beat him over the head. He talked about grace and freedom. And in fact, that’s how you fix all of it. It seems counter-intuitive. It doesn’t seem to be the right way to go. You ought to get a gun or a whip or something, but what Paul talks about is grace, the freedom that we’ve been given in Christ, And as you talk about that, the Holy Spirit takes it and softens you and makes the church better. Well, be that as it may, don’t have pipe dreams about the past. Okay? They struggled just the way we do. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown, talking about trouble in the church and teaching from Galatians 6:1-10. Yeah, our church problems are nothing new, kind of encouraging in a weird kind of way, more to explore and discover in Galatians 6 tomorrow. Make sure you join us then. So I’m not asking for a show of hands, but answer this one on your own. Have you ever had questions? I mean, like big questions, even doubts things like does God exist? Am I really forgiven and free? If all of this is true, why don’t I feel different? Well, Steve is no stranger to doubts and questions. And he wrote about those things and the mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. In it, he explores the reasons behind our doubts and explains how we can rest in faith. Maybe we send you this mini-book for free? Let us know by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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