You have to die to experience dying grace.
NOVEMBER 10, 2021
You have to die to experience dying grace. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at Stephen and I just couldn’t leave all this stuff about deacons and leadership and politics and the church and evangelism, without saying some personal things about Stephen that were very important. We noticed yesterday if you were listening and you never listen to me. We were talking about how Stephen was absolutely immersed in Scripture, 69 times in this sermon, he quotes Scripture. It was the truth. I remember Grady Wilson, he’s in heaven now, but he was a early associate of Billy Graham. He famously said, Lord, you honor Mr. Graham, and I’ll keep him humble. And he did. He walked with him forever. And, I sometimes had Grady at the church I was serving to preach for us. And I loved him and I miss him and I hope he gets to preach in heaven. He was a very effective evangelist in his own right. But God led him to be the one who held up Mr. Graham’s arms. And he did that for years and he did it in a wonderful way. But when he preached one of the things that he said, often he would hold a Bible in his hand and he would say something controversial and then he would stop. And he would say, I didn’t say that God said it. Maybe three or four times in every sermon he would say, I didn’t say that. I wouldn’t have said that, God said it. And that’s exactly what Stephen did. He was saying in effect, I didn’t say all this, God said it, so deal with it. Scripture is very important as the rock on which we stand. And then I mentioned yesterday and talked a little bit about it, how he was given courage. If you look between 7:50 and 51, this is a man of great courage, Stephen. You got to do what God tells you to do, and once you do it, you’ll find out you have courage that you didn’t know yet add before you did it. That’s been true throughout my life. And then he was granted dying grace. In his death, he looked up into the heavens the Scripture says in Acts 7. And he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he saw the glory of God and he died. What’s going on there? It’s something that I don’t know if I could give you a verse and chapter on it in Scripture, but I’ve seen it. I’ve been doing this for so many years and I’ve stood by more deathbeds then you can possibly imagine. And when a Christian dies, it’s different than when a pagan dies. It really is. That doesn’t mean that Christians liked dying or that they’re happy about dying. My dear friend Richard Shankweiler was asked by his pastor and he died this last year, was asked by his pastor what he would like for him, the pastor to pray for him, Richard. And Richard said, ask him to give me five more years. I get that. Christians aren’t happy, but something happens, when it comes your time to go home, there will be a peace. There will be a rest. There will be a time when you’ll let go and go home with joy. It’s called dying grace. And as I said, I can’t think of chapter and verse to give you, but well, I could. Right here in the seventh chapter of Acts, that’s what Stephen got. He got dying grace. Let me tell you what John Hus said before he was martyred.
I write this in prison and in change expecting tomorrow to receive sentence of death, full of hope in God that I shall not swerve from the truth nor give in to those who are forcing me to give false witness, but I will stand for him.
Where do you get that courage? That’s called dying grace. And there are countless examples of it in church history. And they’re examples of it in my history. Having dealt with death for so many years that I can’t even count them anymore. And then there’s one other thing. And then we’re going to turn to Paul and see some of the effective witness stephen had. Notice that Stephen gave love and forgiveness when he was, as it were on his death bed. That’s the 60th verse where he like Jesus said, Father, forgive them for what they’re doing. Now, I don’t know if I would have done that. I mean, if I’d had the courage to preach the sermon that he preached and it had considerable anger in it, I think I’d let that anger go over to my death as they were killing me. And I think I’d probably say, I hope you all roast in hell, but you know, I wouldn’t because that’s the gift of death too. When Jesus is involved that deeply. And he always is at that point, his forgiveness and his love is incredible. And it’s deep and it’s profound. I wonder, I one time was at Gordon-Conwell College for a let’s get religious week. And, I met a girl who had been raped. And her advisor said, you know what she did while she was being violated that way, she was praying outside and verbally for the man who was doing it. Where does that come from? It comes from Jesus. And if Stephen could do it and she could do it, you can do it too, with those who drive you up a wall. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown, continuing to guide us through the story of Stephen. More to discover here in Acts 7. And so, we shall resume our exploration to tomorrow. Sure hope you’ll join us then. So, I don’t know if you caught it. I hope so. But a few weeks ago we had an entire week of teaching on Key Life from our friend, Matt Heard. He’s a pastor and he’s an author. Well recently, we also spoke with him on our talk radio show, Steve Brown Etc. Take a list of the part of that conversation, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.
Matt you use a German word. It’s S E H N S U C H T. Would you tell us how to pronounce it and then tell us what it is?
Matt Heard: Sure, sehnsucht is how to pronounce it as best as I can get. I learned the term through CS Lewis, but what it means is longing, deep hunger, yearning, longing, thirst. We all have it. Every, every image bearer has this eternity embedded in our hearts and it’s a deep longing. And, it’s not a longing to be an NBA basketball player or a concert pianist or to be owner of a restaurant, it’s longing for things like significance and intimacy and goodness and truth and beauty and resolution and justice and the list goes on and on. And we all have those. You don’t hear them talked about a lot in church, but Hollywood knows the list well because any movie that’s grabbed us is keying in on a lot of those longings for belonging for a sense of, the whole justice longing is there. Well, Lewis, he said from when he was a little kid, his sehnsucht was there, his longing for something more. He says the first recollection he had was when they moved to outside of, to this new home, Little Lea, is the name of the home. A lot of C.S. Lewis fans will know, and he remembers when he was six years old, standing outside, they moved out basically in the suburbs and he was looking at the distance at the Castlereagh Hills. And saying my words, not his, but those Hills, evoked something in him that they would not satisfy. And he said throughout his journey, this leaving the church, going into atheism and dealing with the occult and sensuality, and then coming out of that and the deism, theism, and then ultimately becoming a follower of Jesus. And in that process saying he was the most reluctant convert in all of England. He said the thing that was consistent was his sehnsucht, his longing. And it’s that thirst that the woman at the well had where Jesus says, you know what you’re thirsty for, you’re not going to get in what you’ve been up to. And so, you know, a lot of people, especially in our culture now, they’re not waking up asking how can I get to heaven and be forgiven of my sins, but they are waking up to say how can I thrive as a human being? How can I address these longings? But we all have the same longings, different ones of us are emphasizing one longing more than the other, where we differ is what we’re doing to satisfy them. And so, that’s I think what is pinpointed in the gospel? What Jesus is putting his finger on, is not, Hey, do you want to be religious, but Hey, do you want your thirst addressed? And make sure you understand what’s you’re thirsty for is something that’s eternal. It’s living water. People say, I don’t want to be more fully human, I want to be like Jesus. Well, there’s a little bit of church history that would question that because what you’re saying is that Jesus wasn’t fully human. He was the most fully human person walking the face of this planet when obviously different in the sense that he was fully God. So, that whole notion of separating our spirituality and our humanity and saying, you know, if the spirituality is going up, the humanity is going down and the humanity is going up the spirituality is going down. That could not be further from the truth. You know, Jesus discipled, John, John discipled a guy named Polycarp, Polycarp discipled a guy named Irenaeus. And in the second century he wrote this treatise called Against Heresies. And he’s the guy that said the glory of God is man fully alive. And God is most glorified when we are being what we were originally created to be. So, that whole notion of the more spiritual I am, the more fully human I can be is what the Scriptures teach and not the opposite.
I don’t know about you, but I need that kind of encouragement. That’s why we’d love to send you that entire conversation on CD for free. Get your copy right now by calling 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, just send it to
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