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God's Not Mad at You
“How can I be Christian without being neurotic?”

“How can I be Christian without being neurotic?”

DECEMBER 31, 2021

/ Programs / Key Life / “How can I be Christian without being neurotic?”

Steve Brown:
“How can I be Christian without being neurotic?” We’re going to tell you, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Key Life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus in the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. Life’s hard for everyone, so grace is for all of us, but there is a lot of confusion about how grace applies to real life. So, here’s seminary professor and author, Steve Brown and Pete Alwinson to answer your questions.

Steve Brown:
Hey Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man. How you doing?

Steve Brown:
Doing good. Happy New Year.

Pete Alwinson:
Happy New Year.

Steve Brown:
It’s not yet. This is New Year’s Eve.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. But it’s coming.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, but it’s not. Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
Real quick.

Steve Brown:
You know, at my age, I haven’t seen new years in 10 years. You know, we get people that stay up just so they can be up at midnight. And when I was young, I did that a lot. As I get older, I don’t care what happens at midnight.

Pete Alwinson:
Tomorrow’s coming.

Steve Brown:
Tomorrow is coming, no matter what. You make a lot of New Year’s resolutions?

Pete Alwinson:
You know, I’m a goal setter. I am a goal setter.

Steve Brown:
I know you are.

Pete Alwinson:
I do that. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And so you know, I’m the least goals centered person you have ever met, whatever your hand finds to do, for heaven’s sake, just do it. And see what happens. And God wired us differently and we’ve done okay.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, I mean, you haven’t been overly self-righteous against me on that, so.

Steve Brown:
Nor you, me. As you know, that’s Pete Alwinson, he comes in on Fridays and we spend the entire broadcast answering your questions. And we love your questions, by the way. You can send them to Key Life Network in the States.

P.O. Box 5000

Maitland, Florida 32794

If you live in Canada, it’s

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

Or you can send your question to Steve@keylife.org. Or if you’ve just got a minute and you’ve got a question, pick up your phone and 1-800-KEY-LIFE. And follow the instructions and they’ll let you record your question and sometimes we’ll put your voice on the air. And don’t forget if you can help us financially, we would appreciate it. Most people are not able to help us financially. So, when you do you help them. And be as generous as you can, if you can, if you can’t, say a prayer for this ministry. And if you can, I promise we’ll be as faithful with your gift as you were in giving it. Pete, why don’t you lead us in prayer and we’ll get to some of these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Alright. Our Father, we do come into your presence today on this Friday, grateful that we belong to you. Father, there’s been so many things that happened this week that surprised us, or we just didn’t understand. And so, we come to you and we recognize that you know the end from the beginning, that you’re the Alpha, the Omega, and that we need you far more than we even understand. We thank you that we’re your children and that you will lead us and guide us in the way we should go, that you’ll counsel us with your eye upon us every step of the way. And so, we give you the challenges that we have. And many listening right now have great challenges in their life. And so, Lord, we ask for your work, your encouragement in our lives. We thank you so much for our spiritual leaders. And, even now, as we think about this week-end coming up, we ask that you would just fill them with grace and freedom and power as they communicate to us, the gospel. Be with our priests and pastors and teachers, leaders, worship directors, and all those that will lead us as a body of Christ into your presence. We give you honor and praise. Pray that you’d bless Steve and this whole ministry here at Key Life, the many voices of Key Life. May your name and your gospel be advanced throughout the world. We pray in Jesus’ strong name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Amen. Pete, let’s go to our phone lines.

Caller 1:
I know you said that God’s not mad at us, if you’re a Christian. But I’m wondering if that’s true, which I think I believe that. But it’s hard to know how to pursue righteousness without becoming neurotic.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, you’re right. And that’s what happens to me. And I’ve noticed this happened to Peter on occasion too. You know, the way you do it is you recognize Biblically what God teaches about righteousness. First, is the imputed righteousness. You don’t have to be righteous because God you’re clothed in the righteousness of Jesus,

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
one of the great reformation doctrines. And secondly, to do what God wants you to do. And, we know exactly what that is, the Scriptures are very clear. Some things are right. Some things are wrong. Some things are good. Some things are bad. Some things we should be obedient to. Some things we shouldn’t. And I think you recognize that the law first convicts you. Like, you’re turning neurotic, stop it. It lets you know your need for grace. And then secondly, it’s kind of a guide to let you know how you’re doing when you come along. Now, when you mess that up in any way, you become, you go crazy. You, you, you become rule based. I’ve got to do this and if I love Jesus, So, deal with it Biblically and you’ll get better and you’ll rise up and call me blessed.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s great. I think, I think you’re right. You’ve got to start out with the imputed righteousness that comes to us through faith. And that’s the kind of righteousness that Paul said, that’s what he wanted. I want to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship, that flows after you have, if you really know that you have the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
So, when you mess up, you can just say, well, I really blew it there. Lord, help me process this.

Steve Brown:
That’s right.

Pete Alwinson:
And help me. You reconstruct my life in a righteous way that honors you, but you don’t have to have it right today. You know, I mean, it takes time. He helps you. He helps you grow bit by bit.

Steve Brown:
Especially if you’re not ordained the way we are, you know, you guys, you really can. And that’s why the question is so profound. Christianity can make you weird.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And Satan loves to take the truth, to twist it. And then to put it in a different order, to make us neurotic.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Yeah. Either to go toward license on the one hand

Steve Brown:
That’s right.

Pete Alwinson:
or to that extreme neuroticism on the right. You know, we’re just neurotic, legalistic.

Steve Brown:
So, use it properly and know that you’re loved. You’re loved completely. You know, there are times, have you ever been thankful for your sin?

Pete Alwinson:
Yes. Because, because

Steve Brown:
I know.

Pete Alwinson:
when you see it, then you say, I don’t want to keep going that way.

Steve Brown:
That’s right. And also you, God gets glorified cause you get forgiven.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
And so there’s a sense in which God, and this helps with neurosis too, to know that everything that happens to you, everything you do is not a surprise to a sovereign God.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. He loves us.

Steve Brown:
Alright. An email, Pete made me read this one. I have appreciated your message for a long time because I needed it, however, when I found out that you were a Calvinist. And what that meant. I almost had a breakdown. Do we have a real choice? Not determinism.

Pete Alwinson:
I love it. I love it. Well, that’s a real misunderstanding of the idea of what Calvinists or the reformed faith teaches.

Steve Brown:
That’s true. Have you ever had, people. And I would say to the person who wrote this e-mail, have you ever had people say to you, I just found out that you’re a Christian and I almost had a breakdown because the Christians I know are condemning and mean. You can’t be a Christian. Well, that’s how I felt when you said that about a Calvinist. Calvinists are not, Calvinists have a tendency, and I’ve got to say this by way of repentance and confession, can be a mean bunch, but you can be too. But don’t judge that. Calvinism is simply saying, God’s sovereign. Do we have a choice? Of course we have a choice. We’re responsible. Is God absolutely sovereign. Of course he is. And then you say, explain that. And I say, I can’t. God’s ways are not my ways and his thoughts, not my thoughts, but both those things and J.I. Packer, who’s a Calvinist. J.I. Packer taught that in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. So, if you get a Calvinist who doesn’t believe in any freedom whatsoever, then that’s not a genuine Calvinist.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
That’s that somebody that got the Bible wrong. If you get an Armenian who says, God hides his knowledge of us, so we can be free. He’s not right either, or she’s not right either. So, do some checking. I know at least two wonderful, sweet Calvinists. Well, I know more than that.

Pete Alwinson:
Of course you do.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, of course.I know you. You’re sitting here.

Pete Alwinson:
I’m nice and sweet, but you know, the reality is, is that sin, we don’t, what we don’t understand is the nature of sin. Sin kills us. And so, God has to be aggressively involved in our redemption or it’ll never happen. And that’s really why grace is such a powerful.

Steve Brown:
It really is. And, and I love this. I think the person who asked this question, I would like a lot.

Pete Alwinson:
I bet you would.

Steve Brown:
That’s the kind of question that I was asked about. You know, I’ve had people ask me so often and I bet you have too, why are you Calvinists so mean?

Pete Alwinson:
You know, no, I haven’t actually, but

Steve Brown:
Oh, I got it. Well, go ahead.

Pete Alwinson:
Well, cause I hung out with you and you’re not mean.

Steve Brown:
Well, if you can get my wife to say that, we’re in, that’s going to work. Talking about that, this is a good question. Did Jesus ever have fun or was he always busy doing God’s work? Those don’t mutually contradict each other, doing God’s work. If Jesus didn’t have any fun, does that mean that having fun or having hobbies or enjoying leisure time is sinful?

Pete Alwinson:
So no, the answer is no, but did Jesus ever have fun? I, I think so. I think he

Steve Brown:
I do too.

Pete Alwinson:
had joy at a deep level. And I think he had a good fun and playful times with the disciples.

Steve Brown:
I agree. And there are a lot of comments that are made in Trueblood’s book, the Humor of Christ. Which isn’t haha laughter, but it’s irony that Jesus was funning with his disciples and when we read it, we don’t get that. And they didn’t just stand around and pray and, and do ritual and read the Old Testament. I mean, they were together all the time. They joked and had a good time. And if there had been a golf course, I’m sure some of them would have played golf. So, don’t make Jesus into something that he’s not.

Pete Alwinson:
Right. Yeah. And leisure. I mean, I think we specialize in leisure, in our Western culture today and maybe put too much emphasis on.

Steve Brown:
I agree. I agree with that. But do remember that the first miracle Jesus ever did was to save a party, by making wine.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. And he hung out a lot with people and I’m sure they have a lot of fun.

Steve Brown:
Hey, we’ve got to go. But first thing, before we go. Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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