You can win an argument and lose a soul.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2023
You can win an argument and lose a soul. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He doesn’t want to be your guru, and he’s not trying to be your mother. He just opens the Bible and gives you the simple truth that will make you free. Steve’s a life long broadcaster, author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, we had a general observation before we get down and we all feel guilty. We’re going to look at the reason we don’t follow Paul’s example. He was not defending himself. He was presenting Christ, and he thought that his day in court was a wonderful opportunity to do that. Let me tell you something, I believe that God’s will in our lives is almost always circumstantial. You say, what do you mean by that? Well, I don’t mean it was an accident. I mean that God ordains circumstances in our lives, whether it’s with Paul in court, or whether it’s an opportunity with friends, or a door that opens where he will use us and guide us in the direction in which we should go. Paul was not trying to win an argument, and we saw that in the overriding observation of Paul’s defense. He was presenting Jesus Christ. You know who I miss? I miss Jim Kennedy. The long time founder and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. I loved him, and we were friends for a whole lot of years. Started off, but that’s another story, kind of rough. But it ended up being a soft place for both of us. But early in the birth of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, there was a movement called Evangelism Explosion, and God used that to win people to Christ, millions of people. all over the world, and they had a seminar at Coral Ridge, and I was at the time, serving in a church in Boston, and I decided I was going to go to that seminar. And a part of that particular seminar was to visit visitors who had visited the Coral Ridge Church. who had dropped in, filled out a card, given their address, and then those of us who were taking this seminar had an opportunity to go and visit them, and to say we represent Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, and we wanted to thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. That was good. And then they would teach you how to present the gospel in a way that would make a difference in those people’s lives. I remember, I went with another pastor and an elderly lady who was a member of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. And we went to an apartment where some young people had come and visited the church. It was kind of a three’s company, two girls and a guy, who live together in that particular apartment. And we came in, and they invited us in, and we sat down, and we made chit chat. And we told them that we represented the church, and we were so glad that they visited last Sunday. And then the boy said this, and I’ll never forget. He said, I used to believe that nonsense. I don’t believe it anymore. Well, there’s something in me that when somebody says something like that, I get irritated. And frankly, I talk good. If you and I are going to have an argument, I’m going to win it by and large. If I argue with an unbeliever, generally I win those arguments because I have a glib tongue and I talk good. So, when he said that, it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. And I said, son, tell me what it is specifically that you didn’t believe and that you now call nonsense. He was kind of taken back, and he began to tell me. And I began to, as it were, eat his lunch. I mean, when I finished, he was just speechless. And then I turned to the girls that were in the apartments. And I said, let’s us talk. And the young man, you could hear him audibly saying, whew! And when we left that apartment, I was kind of proud of myself. I mean, I had done well. I had defended the Christian faith in a way that, and I said to the pastor and the elderly lady who was with us, they will never laugh at the Christian faith again. And I’ll never forget what the elderly lady said. She said, no, they really won’t laugh anymore. But they don’t know Christ either. And you blew it. Oh man. We blow it a lot, don’t we? Not the apostle Paul. Paul was not defending himself, he was presenting Christ and the truth of that. Now, I want to take some time and look at this particular chapter and combine these other chapters where Paul is defending himself and to ask a question. The question is this. Why do we not defend the Christian faith in the way the apostle Paul defended it? Well, first, we don’t do it because we’re afraid of what people would say about us. In Acts 26:24.
And as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you’re crazy; your great learning is turning you mad.”
Paul knew that was going to be said, and Paul didn’t care. He didn’t care what the king or the ruler Festus thought about him. Do you care about what people say about you? John 15:18 says this and this is Jesus speaking.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
Paul said in I Corinthians 1.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Many of them said of Jesus, “He has a demon, and he is mad; why bother listening to him?”
Guys, that’s our heritage. It really is. And if the world speaks well of you, Jesus said, you’ve got to be very, very careful. You know, we do care what other people say, don’t we? I do. I can’t tell you how often in my own life I have sanded down the message, backed off on its offensive side, not spoken the truth because it mattered to me what other people thought about me. I’ve repented of it repeatedly and I am doing better on it. It’s called sanctification, but I’ve still got a long way to go. My prayer is often this to the God of the universe. Oh Father, you told me that they wouldn’t like me when they liked me too much. Make it right with my witness so they won’t. You know, if people like your being a Christian. And as you know, in our culture today, we’re not in favor. A lot of progressive, absolutely hate religion in general. And they hate the Christian faith in particular. Isn’t that bad? No, that’s good. In fact, that’s really good because they have begun to understand the message that we speak. Listen to me. If what we say we believe is true, those who don’t believe it are not right. And not only that, they’re in trouble. And if they don’t understand that, then we haven’t spoken it clearly. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you ought to beat people over the head with a Bible or be offensive, but it has to be a witness that points to Jesus as the only way. And saying that he has come because he loves you, and all you’ve got to do is to run to him. That’s what the apostle Paul did. And as you read through all of these chapters of his own defense, it is quite clear that Paul did not give a rip about what people thought about him. The apostle Paul was kind, he was gracious, he was shrewd, but he was clear about the truth of the Christian faith of which he is a part. And we need to do that too. I’ve given that quote often, I heard it recently from a talking head who said.
If you want to deal with our culture in a proper way, the best thing you can do is to join a church and be a part of it.
I agree with that. I want to give some nuance to it, but I agree with that. We make a statement every time we go through the doors of the church, and it’s important. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Today we continued our unhurried tour of Acts, but we also made some stops along the way at John 15:18, I Corinthians 1:18 and John 10:20. Still more to discover tomorrow, hope you will join us for that. Well, I want to tell you about a sermon Steve gave. He titled it Grace in Freedom, and here’s the CliffsNotes version of the premise. Being a free Christian who gets grace is nothing more or less than being normal. And when we’re not, it hurts us and our witness. Religion can make us weird. So, live your life with such freedom that uptight Christians will doubt your salvation and live your life with such freedom so that every fanatic is offended by your very presence. It’s powerful stuff, but listen, that’s just a taste. So, get your copy of that sermon on CD for free right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. Or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD called Grace in Freedom. And finally, if you value the work that we do here at Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or you can give safely and securely through text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.