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“How do you know what is universal truth and what is not in the Bible?

“How do you know what is universal truth and what is not in the Bible?

MAY 27, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / “How do you know what is universal truth and what is not in the Bible?

Steve Brown:
How do you know what is universal truth and what is not in the Bible? Let’s talk, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
This is Key Life dedicated to the message that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better God will still love them anyway. That teaching raises a lot of questions, so here’s author and seminary professor Steve Brown, along with Pete Alwinson from ForgeBibleStudy.com with answers to the Bible, that’ll make you free.

Steve Brown:
Hey Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man. Happy Friday. You’ve got a glow. Are you preaching Sunday?

Steve Brown:
No. Well, I don’t think so. You know, we’re recording. Are you speaking anywhere this week?

Pete Alwinson:
No. I am not.

Steve Brown:
You don’t know?

Pete Alwinson:
No.

Steve Brown:
We’re recording this. We record it ahead of time. We don’t know what we’re going to be doing this week.

Pete Alwinson:
Usually I, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s within the ballpark. You know.

Steve Brown:
That’s true. That’s Pete, by the way. And he comes in as you know, every Friday. And we answer questions and we love your questions. And go to ForgeTruth.com. Trust me on this. You’ll be glad you did. And you can ask your question by dialing 1-800-KEY-LIFE, 24 7, recording it, and we’ll put your voice on the air. Or you can write to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794

in Canada

P.O. Box 28060

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

or you can e-mail us at [email protected] And if you can help us financially, please do. We’re a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And those are organizations that oversee our financial practices. And we were honest before those organizations were even formed. We’ll be faithful with your gift and we’ll use it for the glory of God. And we also understand if you can’t, do say a prayer for this ministry, Pete, speaking of prayer, why don’t you lead us? And then we’ll get to questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Yes. Let’s pray together. Our great God, we do come into your presence today on this end of the week, on Friday. And we lift up your Holy Name. We thank you that we can stop for just a minute and remember that you are the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Savior. And there’s only one, we honor you and Lord Jesus we thank you for all that you have done in our lives and that you never change and you never change toward us. I pray that you’d be with our friends and those who are listening right now. Lord, you know the issues that we have in our lives. You know relationships that are, that need to be straightened out, the jobs that are needed, of the bills that have to be paid. You know the health issues that we’re facing right now. And we pray that you would be honored and glorified. We pray that you’d help us Lord in a powerful way. And then take this time of Q&A and use it Lord to answer some questions and continue the great work that you started in us and use our pastors and priests and leaders this week-end, as we attend worship and pray that you would bind us together with brothers and sisters in Christ. We commit this time to you now. In Jesus name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Pete, this first question is interesting. How can we determine what practices in the Bible are cultural? And there are obviously places in the Bible that are, and what ones are to be applied universally to our lives today and their place. How can you tell the difference?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. That’s not an easy thing sometimes.

Steve Brown:
No, it’s not.

Pete Alwinson:
It involves some good Bible study.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
So, I would say initially, and then you can clean up the mess here. That, you know, you’ve got the Old Testament, New Testament and some of the Old Testament practices have been fulfilled by New Testament ones. Certainly in the work of Christ. So, circumcision is replaced my baptism. Passover is replaced by the Lord’s Supper. So, we don’t do either one. We can’t, you know, we can do those Old Testament ones.

Steve Brown:
There’s a universal implication to the final revelation of those particular things.

Pete Alwinson:
Right. So, that would be one way of looking at some of those things.

Steve Brown:
And sometimes in the Bible, the Bible itself will speak in a clear cultural way to particular issues. For instance, if you find a cultural thing, like you have to wear a hat, if you’re a lady to church, Or women can’t ask questions at church. They’ve got to ask their husbands when they get home. Or women can’t speak. And then you find that violated throughout the New Testament and other places, then you go bingo, that’s cultural.

Pete Alwinson:
There was some cultural practices,

Steve Brown:
We don’t have to apply that in a universal way. And then common sense plays a part in it too.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s good. That’s good. What about a topic like fasting, where the New Testament, as far as I know, it’s not really commanded in the Old Testament, it’s done and it’s not commanded in the New.

Steve Brown:
No, it’s not, except in Jesus and there’s some question on that text.

These don’t come out except by prayer and fasting.

And there’s some question about whether the original text said exactly that, but you’re right. It doesn’t say much about it, but fasting can be a great thing to do.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
But when you go after your brother, cause he or she, or your sister is not fasting because they’re not following God’s law the way you are. Then you’ve applied something universally that was never meant to be applied universally.

Pete Alwinson:
Right, right. I think that’s good. So, we have to, so grace can help us as we apply these things.

Steve Brown:
Oh sure.

Pete Alwinson:
And reading the Bible carefully and then using common sense. I like that.

Steve Brown:
That’s right. I agree. And that’s true. And you’ll find that there are lots of illustrations of this throughout Scripture. The major one is the one you mentioned at the beginning. The ceremonial practices that have their fulfillment in Christ.

Pete Alwinson:
Right. So, we don’t need to do the animal sacrifices anymore because Jesus is the Lamb of God who’s taken away the sins of the world. Now, do we need to do a phylacteries Bible verses hanging down from headbands.

Steve Brown:
No, but if you want to, you go ahead. This is a question and I guess a lot of people ask it, but don’t want to be known for the burden. Does God want us to be happy? That’s an e-mail.

Pete Alwinson:
I think so. I think so, but I don’t think that’s the highest good. I think happiness comes and he didn’t create all things good and then say, have a miserable life. You know, sin. I think he created the perfect world for a great life and then sin entered in. But, so many people point out happiness depends on happenings. And, there’s a lot of happenings in life that are downright distressing.

Steve Brown:
Exactly. But, and you know, there’s this view, and it’s fostered in a lot of Christian teaching that God stays up all night, worrying about how to make us happy the next morning. And there are a lot of things that are a lot more important than that.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. Holiness, for instance.

Steve Brown:
And that is the path to happiness, by the way. You know, we have this idea that, you know, and I’ve said it a thousand times that if you liked it, it was a sin. And if you didn’t like it, it couldn’t have been a sin. And, we have that mentality in the church and I think God, as you said, he really is into our welfare and our goodness and our joy. Good heavens, he created heaven for us and that’s going to be a place of great happiness. So, God is into happiness, but don’t make that, as you said, the main point of your religion, how to be happy. How to be happy, though fat. How to be happy, though scared.

Pete Alwinson:
I mean, there’s so much in Scripture, of suffering and how to get the gospel out to a broken world that really opposes us, is not easy.

Steve Brown:
This Pete is a question that we’ve answered a lot of times, what Biblical and practical advice can you give for choosing a church home?

Pete Alwinson:
Well, that’s important, isn’t it?

Steve Brown:
Yeah, it really is. It has to do first with truth, doesn’t it?

Pete Alwinson:
It does. And so, you need to find a church that really is teaching the Bible and taking the Bible for what it is, not superimposing their interpretation on it, but really trying to explain, exposite the Bible.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, I would add too, there must be an understanding of redemption and forgiveness and grace and mercy. Too often, religion can make people weird and they become legalist and judgmental and condemning of others. And if you get into a church and the people in the church look funny because you have long hair or you’re not wearing a tie or you have jeans on or you smile funny, leave, run as fast as you can, because that’s not a good church for you to be a part of. And then one other thing, a church, no, two other things, where Christ is exalted and people do their best to love each other.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Yeah. And, a church that is pursuing the Great Commission, trying to reach out to others, beyond mission. So, there really are a lot of things. I’d say, read the New Testament. And get a feel for what the church was like, but it was, there’s no perfect church. Right.

Steve Brown:
Not in the New Testament.

Pete Alwinson:
Not in the New Testament. So, you’re not looking for perfection. And you’re not looking just for great worship, although that’s important, you’re not looking for great sermons, although that’s important. So, it takes time. I think what we’re saying, is it takes time to visit different churches and do some prayerful evaluation of them.

Steve Brown:
It’s true.

Pete Alwinson:
You are in a sense shopping for the next church home that you will be in.

Steve Brown:
You know, just as an aside, you and I both have had an experience that we never had before. We both have been looking for a church. You know, it used to be, I’d give this advice in a flippant way, but it wasn’t existential to me. I wasn’t doing that, but for a variety of reasons, And I think Biblical ones. And you, for one reason, you founded that church and you were there 25 years. And you didn’t go looking for another church, while you’re the pastor of one church. So, all of a sudden you’re out there looking for a church too, and this isn’t as easy as people make it, is it?

Pete Alwinson:
It really isn’t. That’s a great point, Steve. And, a good reason for trying to resolve things where you are, if you’ve got some agita, some frustration at your local church, rather try to go deeper there, than to think, well, I’ll just move to another church. It’s not always that easy.

Steve Brown:
No. And it’s not a supermarket, it’s a fellowship of believers. And for both of us, that was hard. I don’t ever want to do that again. I’ve told my present church, you know, you’re stuck with me until Jesus returns or I die. Whichever comes first, cause I’m not leaving. And I don’t care.

Pete Alwinson:
I know, it’s a very difficult process and that’s why it’s important not to overestimate how easy it is to shift fellowship.

Steve Brown:
It really isn’t. I really understand after all these years, what these people who have asked that question, were going through. Well, speaking of leaving. It’s time for us to leave too. Will you do this next week?

Pete Alwinson:
I’ll see you here.

Steve Brown:
One other thing before I go. Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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