When in doubt, go back to the beginning.
JUNE 7, 2021
When in doubt, go back to the beginning. Let’s do that on Key Life.
Welcome to Key Life. I’m Matthew, executive producer of the program. Our host is Steve Brown. He’s an author and seminary professor, who teaches the God’s amazing grace, is the key to a life of radical freedom, infectious joy and surprising faithfulness to Christ.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great weekend and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. Today is a beginning, and it’s the beginning of something that’s going to take a very long time. Wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus returned somewhere during this study in the book of Acts, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to study the beginning, when things are in doubt, and they are, it’s a good thing to go back to the beginning, to remember and be glad. And so we’re studying Acts for the next few months. And, I can hardly wait to tell you some of the things I’ve discovered. Before we start, let’s pray. Father, as we come into your presence, we are absolutely amazed that we’re here. How can a finite sinful human being, stand in your presence when you’re a sovereign, totally sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent King of Kings. And yet we’re here. And we remember the blood of Christ, and we’re so thankful that we’re covered. Father, you know the people who are listening to this broadcast right now, and you know the hard places, come alongside and be the promise comforter. And Father, remind us again that you’re a God who laughs, who participates in our tears and in our parties too. 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. Okay. If you have your Bible open it to the first chapter of the book of Acts, where Luke, and we’re going to be talking about him a lot, writes as follows.
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them and during forty days and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” so when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you, at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And he said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons, which the father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the end for your earth.”
Oh my, that’s a good place to start. And I would commend Luke for having done that. Now we’re beginning, as I said, a series in this book of Acts. And we’re going to be here for a lot of months. One of the most exciting stories ever written, the story of how God took a group of frustrated, empty, frightened, unlearned, common people, sinners, needy and turn the world upside down. Every morning of my life, I think about what’s going on in our country. And I think the only hope is that God intervenes. And so I think about Acts. And I say, Lord, do it again. Do it again. We interviewed my friend Os Guinness on our talk show recently. He has written a book called The Magna Carta of Humanity. And he shows the difference between the French revolution and the American revolution. One was anti God. One was pro God. One was human centered and the other was God-centered. And Jewish, went back to the beginning and Torah, and it has been a successful revolution and we’re in danger of losing it. He said that, we don’t need to talk too much about how to make America great again, we got to go back and find out why it was great in the first place. Well, that’s kinda true about the book of Acts. When things get confusing and they do, when they get hard and they are, when we get afraid and we sometimes get afraid, it’s good to go back to the beginning, to the time when God started all of this. They weren’t any different than you, they were sinners. And we’re going to see that as we go through the book of Acts. They were afraid just as we are afraid, they wondered what God was doing. And, we need to remember they’re just like us and look what God did with them. Maybe we can say, God, do it again. Do it again. When I was a young pastor, I was being invited to speak in a lot of places. And I got invited to be one of the major leaders in an organization that was an ecclesiastical organization calling the church back to its roots, that had become a pretty controversial kind of organization. And I was getting a lot of advice from a lot of friends who said, Steve, don’t do it. You’ll hurt your reputation, they are a mean bunch, and you don’t want to be associated with them. And I honestly didn’t, I didn’t want to cop out, I didn’t want to be a coward. I wanted to stand. I had a friend when I was young say, I don’t know where you’re going to be in 20 years, but wherever you’re going to be, you’re going to be waving a flag for something. And that’s true, so I didn’t know what to do. I was young and I was flattered and then hurt with the criticism. So I went to see Dr. Addison Leach, he was married to the Through Gates of Splendor, Elizabeth Elliot. And, they had a wonderful marriage. Ad was, Addison leach was just delighted with what God was doing. And I called him. He didn’t know me. And I said, he was the Dean at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. And I said, Dr. Leach, you don’t know me, but could you give me about 10 minutes, if I drove up to the seminary and we could talk. And he said, I know you, I just wrote a blurb for your first book. And I almost fainted dead away. I remember the first time he told me to call him Ad and he was going to call me Steve. And I could hardly wait to tell my wife, he was a great C.S. Lewis scholar, great scholar, at any rate, I spent that time with him and it turned into an hour or two, and I’ll never forget what he told me on that occasion. But one thing that he said is that Steve, you’re confused, when you read church history, it sounds like those guys knew exactly what they were doing and went about doing it. They didn’t know what they were doing anymore than you do. They said, God lead us right, because we’re confused. They said, God, please guide us, cause we don’t know where we’re going. God come alongside and use us in any way you see fit. And I remember Ad saying, that would be a good prayer for you to pray. And so as I start in the book of Acts, I think about Ad Leach’s comment to me on that time. And one of the reasons that we’re going to be studying the book of Acts, we need to remember. And it is a salient point and so important. These are not saints with halos over their head. They were frightened like you’re frightened. They were confused as you’re confused, but they said to God, we’re available. We’re here. You do with us as you please, you can kill us if you want to kill us. You can make us known if you want to make us known. You can let us serve in the background and that’ll be fine, but we’re yours and we’re nobody else’s. And so as we go through the book of Acts, that would be the prayer I want you to pray. That would be the prayer that I, we’re living in some pretty difficult times. And frankly, if Christians become cowards and back off and refuse to speak the truth, we’re going to be in trouble. We’re the only ones with the light, just as in the first century, these Christians were the only ones with the light. And we must not cover it up in our time, using as an example their time. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. So exciting to be diving into Acts. And as Steve mentioned, we will be exploring this book for quite a while. Today, we took a look at Acts 1:1-8, and we will drill into that further the rest of this week. Hope you’ll join us again tomorrow for that. Here’s something you probably have heard Steve say, but you also just know it from your own experience. We all struggle at times with doubt, with self-righteousness, with a whole laundry list of sins. That’s why as Steve teaches that while truth and convictions are important, we also desperately need both an orthodoxy of truth and an orthodoxy of love. He spoke about this subject in a sermon titled Church “R” Us, and you can get that full message on CD 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 CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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