You’ve got to watch it because religion will make you weird.
JUNE 14, 2022
You’ve got to watch it because religion will make you weird. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life with our host, author and seminary professor Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru. He’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it to the 14th chapter of Acts, as we continue with our study in the book of Acts. And we’re looking at the first 19 verses of that 14th chapter of Acts. And as you read through it, one of the things that it doesn’t say in the text, but I told you about yesterday, that you ought to remember is that Lystra where these events took place is, there was a woman there, by the name of Eunice. And she heard the gospel and became a powerhouse of the young church. And she had a son and his name was Timothy. Yeah, that Timothy. The Timothy that is referred to in the Scriptures, the companion of Paul, the young man who was Paul’s protégé. And the hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the world. Augustine said.
If I am thy child, O God. It is because thou didst give me such a mother,
Caruso said, that the most perfect singing was the singing he heard from his mother when he was a boy. And my mother was very strong, really strong. She had to be because she had a hard life, but I can remember her reading Spurgeon in the morning and the Bible in the evening. And in-between making sure that we understood the truth of the gospel. We, and I said this yesterday, and I’m going to say it again. We live in a culture that sometimes denigrates motherhood. Stop it, that’s the most important job on the face of the earth. I don’t know a single person who has been used by God, who’s been successful in life, who has stood up and been counted for Christ who doesn’t, I can’t, there are exceptions, but there aren’t many who doesn’t point back to a mother who was faithful. And so, we’ve got to, we ought to make Mother’s Day a big deal. And a bigger deal than we do. Well enough about that. As you read this 14th chapter of Acts, you begin to see how religion can make you weird. Now, we’re seeing some folks who are religious and who get into fights, and then we’re going to see some folks who are worshiping at an altar other than God’s altar. And we’re going to talk about why people do that. It’s shallow and it’s silly. I’m probably the most religious person that you know. I do religious broadcast, I preach religious sermons, I teach religious students to be more religious, I write religious books, I do religious things and I hang out with religious people. And if you want to know why I’m so messed up, now you know, because there’s a difference between religion and the Christian faith. The Christian faith and it’s been said so often that it’s a cliché, but it’s true. The Christian faith is not religion. Religion is what we do to please a God who is not easily pleased. The Christian faith is what God has done to us and for us and on our behalf. And he offers it as a gift. Christianity is a relationship, a surprising and amazing relationship, but it is. And when I go about my religious doings and that’s all I do. I keep that in the back of my mind, because it is the source of balance and wisdom. Now, I’m not going to take the time to read that 14th chapter again. You might want to be referring to it, as we go along, but there is something that happens and it’s in our DNA. We are quite religious, almost everybody I know is quite religious. Even the atheists are quite religious. If they weren’t, they would never mention their atheism, it would be like Santa Claus. And so everybody I know is religious, but most of that religion is built on the flesh. In verse 11, this is what Luke writes.
And when the crowd saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.”
No, they haven’t. Paul put on his pants the way you do. He was scared the way you, he was a sinner. He said.
It is a saying worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the chief of sinners.
So, something going on here. And what’s going on is something that is fleshly and shallow and silly. Now let me, let me just pause for a moment and say something about what the Bible says about what being fleshly is. When the Bible talks about the flesh, it’s talking about a Gnostic controversy. The Gnostics believe that everything of the flesh was evil. Therefore you dealt with it in one of two ways. You fulfilled the flesh or you denied the flesh. The Gnostics for instance, and we don’t have time to spend a lot of time in it, but for instance, they denied the crucifixion of Christ. Some of them said that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, but God left Christ on Calvary, because the flesh was awful. And a God of the universe simply wouldn’t associate with that sort of thing. Now, when I talk about the flesh, I’m not talking so much in a theological or Biblical sense, but in the sense of how we let our emotions, our desires, our lusts, our greed, our sin be that which motivates us to be more and more religious. And that’s what’s going on here. As you see it, the people look at Paul and Barnabas. And Paul has just spoken words of healing to a man who was born a cripple and had never walked. And Paul said, stand on your feet and walk. The man stood. And he walked and the crowd saw it. And they decided to bow down to make an altar and to put Paul and Barnabas on that altar because they were doing really, really cool things. That’s the flesh, that’s the flesh when you go to church because the building is so beautiful and because of the preacher looks like a movie star and because of the choir sounds like something from Sister Act. You go to church because they’re good business contracts at church and you can increase your wealth. If you’re a politician, you go to church, so you can get votes. If you’re and I could go on and on and on. What does that have to do with God? Doesn’t have a thing to do with God. Doesn’t have a thing to do with the reality and the depth of true religion. Religion brings joy, but it’s serious business and it’s not so superficial as to create a God who will meet all of my needs and will fulfill the desires that I have in my life. Somebody said that we have created God in our image and there’s a tendency to do that. We make him into a nice, wonderful gentleman who is concerned with our happiness always and says, you run out and play and have a good time. That’s not God, that’s the flesh. That’s our creating a religion to fit our desires, that’s shallow and that’s superficial. And that’s what’s going on in the 14th chapter of Acts, when Paul heals, people go wow, that’s better than a movie. And then they build an altar and they bring sacrifices to offer them to the apostle Paul and to Barnabas. And that is natural. And that is wrong. Why do you walk with God? C.S. Lewis said, talking to an atheist.
I want you to know Freud said, we create God after our image. He said, if I were going to create a God, he wouldn’t be the God of the New Testament. He would be a lot nicer, a lot kinder and would give me more stuff than the God who really exists.
That was profound. And that was good. And that’s what we’re seeing in the 14th chapter of Acts. We’re seeing the creation of a new religion with a new God who is more to my liking. You think about that. Amen.
Religion will make you weird, boy, is that ever true. Thank you Steve. So much happening here in Acts 14. And we’ll get back into those events tomorrow. Hope you will join us then. Well, as Steve read today, even the so-called heroes of the Bible, like Paul, were still a flesh and blood human beings, like us, people who struggle. And you know something that I sometimes struggle with? Praying, sometimes it’s just hard. That’s why I want to tell you about a CD called The Tenacity in Prayer. It’s a conversation between Steve and our friend Pete Alwinson based on Steve’s book called Approaching God. If you ever find yourself reluctant to pray, afraid to pray, maybe you just don’t know what to say. Then get your copy of this CD right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also drop an e-mail to Ste[email protected] to ask for that CD. By mail, send your request to
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