When it gets dark enough, you can see the light.
APRIL 7, 2022
When it gets dark enough, you can see the light. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. That’s what Key Life is all about. So if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. Open your Bible, if you will, to the 12th chapter of the book of Acts, as we talk about God’s ultimate sovereignty in the midst of a very bad situation. You know, most Christians talk about God being in charge. In fact, I wrote a book early in my ministry titled If God’s in Charge… In other words, if God’s in charge, these things are true, but we, but we don’t sometimes see how radical and how important that is. When one of the Covenanters son was beheaded, they brought the head of his son to his cell. And he saw that and fell on the floor and began to weep. And then he got up. Brushed himself off and said, it’s the Lord. Blessed be the will of the Lord. That’s crazy. No, actually it’s not. It was tragic. It was sad. It was dark. It was painful. It was a major loss. But what he said was a statement of truth and the power and the impact of the Covenanters was a part of that. Well, that’s going on in this 12th chapter of the book of Acts. We’ve talked about Herod and how evil he was and how he had killed James. And we saw that the first thing that you can say about this text because God was in charge, James was dead, verses one through two.
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword.
Oh my, that is bad. That’s awful. But, but God is good and God is in charge. Everyone probably, most of you have heard of J. Hudson Taylor. He was the founder of the China Inland Mission and was used in amazing and wonderful way, a powerful way, as one of the great missionary statesman in history. But I’ll bet you don’t have the slightest idea who Dr. Charles Gutzlaff is. Let me tell you about him. He founded the first missionary enterprise to China. And you say good for him? No, actually it was not good for him. He appointed national pastors who were conmen. I was going to maybe go into some details here, but they were, they were conmen, who ended up in the opium dens. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Gutzlaff died in Hong Kong, knowing that he had been swindled, his life had been wasted, that his death was for nothing and it was bad. It really was. But let me tell you the rest of the story. Dr. Guztlaff who because of the inspiration behind became the inspiration behind Hudson Taylor, had it not been for him, there would never have been an overseas missionary fellowship. No Watchman Nee, no Hudson Taylor, his work to do his best and fail was not over when he died. In fact, as Wesley said, God buries his workman and he goes on with his work. Hallelujah. And he did, he did with Dr. Charles Gutzlaff, that’s the way God’s sovereignty works. You can’t see it all the time. You don’t know all the time and sometimes you simply have to accept it on faith. Victor Hugo’s John Val jean said when he was dying, children, I can no longer see clearly, think of me a little. I know not what is the matter with me, but I see the light. When it gets dark enough, you can. But sometimes it has to be really dark. And so, you know, I always tell people when they’re dealing with their friends, Christian friends who are going through really hard times, the death of a loved one, to not quote Romans 8:28. All things work together for good to those… and I say, don’t quote that, I mean, they’re going through a tough time and if you do it, you try to make light of their pain and their pain is real and their loss is real and tragedy happens and that deserves tears, not clichés. Now that doesn’t mean that Romans 8 28 isn’t true. It’s just, there’s a time for everything. And that’s not a time to quote Romans 8:28. But a good time later, it’s a good thing to remember. Okay. Let me show you something else. And this is kind of skewed too, because God is sovereign, the sovereign Creator, Ruler and Sustainer, because God is in charge, James was dead, Peter was in prison, but don’t forget that Peter was sleeping, verses four and six.
He proceeded to arrest Peter
talking about Herod
He proceeded to arrest Peter also. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison.
Then verse six
The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers bound with two chains and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.
Now I don’t know about you, but that probably wouldn’t be a term for me to take a nap. I don’t know about you, but I think I probably would’ve stayed awake that night. I mean, it would be hard to sleep with chains on your wrists and your ankles. And two big brutes of guys who were perfectly capable of killing me anytime they wanted to. Of knowing there was a king sitting on the throne who didn’t like me and was probably going to execute me the same way you executed my brother James. If I knew all of that and I was in prison, I’d be scared to death and listen to me, I certainly wouldn’t be sleeping, but Peter was sleeping. Can you believe that? And all that mess, he was snoring. William Ridgeway tells of a country preacher, who said that the most comforting words in the Bible were these, it came to pass. Ridgeway said, you mean to tell me that is the best you can do? Yep, he said, it didn’t come to this day, it came to pass. And Peter knew that. I pray sometimes, Lord, could you give me that kind of faith that teaches me to rest in you and to sleep when everything looks dark. There’s an old German legend and it’s been used by thousands of preachers as a sermon illustration forever.
A German baron built his castle on the Rhine. Hung wires from crag to crag. And when the wind blew those wires created the music. After finishing his job, he waited, but there wasn’t any music. But one night a hurricane crossing the Rhine to fury came and the lightning came and the thunder rolled. The baron went to the door of his castle in fear to view the storm. And that’s when he heard the music.
When it gets dark enough, you can see the light. I told you about a book and I’ve just turned the manuscript in, so it’ll be out sometime this year. Laughter and Lament: the Touchstones of Radical Christian Freedom, we don’t talk enough about lament. In our worship services, we sing songs of praise and how God’s gonna knock down every barrier and is gonna stand with us. And how he blesses us and those things are all true and we need to sing about them. But at sometimes during the worship service, we need to stop and allow people to cry, to cry over to the darkness of loss and death and pain and cancer and rejection and loneliness. A place to be sad, a place to walk in the dark. And as my late friend Larry Crabb said, that is the place where you meet God. That’s the place where he always comes. That’s the place where it all gets real. And so yes, God is sovereign. Even when it looks bad, you can sleep cause when it gets dark enough, you can see the light. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That’s another rewarding week of exploring Acts in the books. Remember to visit us at KeyLife.org anytime to listen to these episodes for free, plus there’s a load of other great resources there for you to discover and enjoy. And of course, tomorrow is Friday Q&A that’s when our friend Pete Alwinson swings by and together Steve and Pete answer the challenging questions you’ve sent in. Always a good time. Don’t miss it. Say, speaking of Pete Alwinson, Pete has written a dynamite article called Why is God so Unpredictable? Because let’s face it, God does not always do what you expect him to, but there’s more to that story. You can find that article in the 2022 edition of Key Life magazine, which as it happens, we would be happy to send to you for free. Just 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 magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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