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God's Not Mad at You
“How do you separate the message from the messenger?”

“How do you separate the message from the messenger?”

DECEMBER 4, 2020

/ Programs / Key Life / “How do you separate the message from the messenger?”

Steve Brown:
How do you separate the message from the messenger? The answer to that and other questions on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Key life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus and 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:
Thank you Matthew. Hey Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man. How you doing?

Steve Brown:
I’m doing really good, moving into Advent, all of that stuff. You know, I used to just dread that when I was a pastor, but you know, I’m getting better.

Pete Alwinson:
You’re less anti, you know, Christmas now. Huh?

Steve Brown:
I really am man. You know, the more I look like Santa Claus, the more I like it. Actually Christmas day and Christmas Eve are my favorite times of the year. Even more so than Easter. I just there’s something warm and good about it. So, we’re in that season.

Pete Alwinson:
Yep.

Steve Brown:
I heard a message this morning from one of the guys that does consumer protection. He says that you, if you haven’t shopped for Christmas before now, it’s too late. Because they’re going to jack up the prices this year, the closer you get to Christmas. Wow. So you’ve done all your shopping, right?

Pete Alwinson:
Um, I haven’t even thought about it. You know, Christmas Eve. I always kid the guys tonight, you still got a couple hours, you can go out shopping for your gifts.

Steve Brown:
Do it quick and you can get it cheap.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Steve Brown:
Hey guys, that’s Pete Alwinson you ought to go to ForgeTruth.com. Pete has two or three, has three groups that meet in the Central Florida area. And if you live near here, you ought to be part of that. And the day will come when that’s going to be a lot bigger than that, and a lot of other places, and we’ll let you know. Anyway, go to ForgeTruth.com, check it out. And Pete, as you know, comes in and we answer questions on Fridays. And we love your questions. You can dial 1-800-KEY-LIFE anytime you want, and hit the right button and record your question. And sometimes we put that on the air, or you can write to

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

In Canada, it’s

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

Or you can email us at Steve@keylife.org. And all of those places are places where if you could help us financially, you can do it. And we’ll be so glad and be faithful with your gifts. So many people aren’t able to help us financially, only about 10% of those who were ministered to by this ministry. That means that 10% constitute a band of, I started to say brothers, but a band of heroes who stand behind their brothers and sisters. If you can do that, do it. If you can’t, we understand, do say a prayer for the ministry. Pete, why don’t you lead us in prayer and then we’ll get to some questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Alright. Our great father. We come into your presence today and we worship you. We praise you. We honor you. We lift you up. We stop at the end of this week, and remember just for a second that you have been large and in charge of the whole week. But Father, frankly some of the times we didn’t think you were. And we confess our sins, for those times that we thought you’d abandoned us and left us alone. And some of us might feel that right now, we pray that you would enable us to remember that you said you would never leave us nor forsake us, that you love us, and you would be with us always even to the end of the age. And so we trust in you and we pray that your spirit would, would lift us up, help us to have a great end of the week and a great time of worship, help us to have our minds and hearts open to what you want to say to us. Through our pastors and teachers, and we pray for them right now. We pray for our spiritual leaders, our deacons, elders, worship directors, our staff at our churches. Lord, give them your grace and use them in our lives to lead us and speak to us, your people. Thank you for Steve for all those who do so much behind the scenes here at Key Life. We just commit this time of Q & A to you right now, as we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Pete, this is an email question. How do you separate out the value of good solid grace filled teaching from the fallen pastor, the teacher himself?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, that is a very important question.

Steve Brown:
Well, you don’t,

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
you know, but don’t listen to a teacher who doesn’t affirm that he’s a fallen teacher, and in need of grace, probably more than you do. You know, Jack Miller used to say the most repentant person in the congregation should be the pastor.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, it should be. And why is that? Why did Jack say that?

Steve Brown:
Because there’s a tendency when they shine that light on you and put you six feet above the other people and give you a microphone to magnify your voice, you begin to think you’re a facsimile of God and you start speaking like you are the example of everything good and pure in the world. And you’re going to help these poor benighted people to be good the way you, and nothing will destroy, now I’m not saying that if you’re a preacher or a pastor you ought to get in the pulpit and confess your deepest and darkest sins.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
I wouldn’t ask that of anybody else, but I think that, I one time,
and then I want you to comment on this, but I one time was a little church in Birmingham, Alabama, and my kids were going there. They, and they wanted me to come and I did, and I sat on the back row and they were so happy about the grace that was being taught by the pastor there, and it still is, Altadena, it’s a wonderful church.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And, the pastor was just beating up on people for their sins, and he went on and on. And I said, you know, this church is alive, but I don’t know why. That’s sure not a very helpful message. I feel like I’m dirt. And, then in the middle of the sermon, he stopped and began to weep. And he said, God just spoke to me. And he said, I’m more guilty of all of those sins than anybody in this congregation. And I said, that’s it.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
That’s where the life comes from. So, solid grace filled teaching ought to be exampled by solid need for grace preachers and teachers,

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
because there’s no exception.

Pete Alwinson:
Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good. And we do see pastors who fall, who sin grievously, and they’re no longer in the limelight. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is in I Timothy 3 and Titus chapter 1, there’s qualifications for elders, pastors, and, and it’s not that you’re perfect, but you have to be on the grow. And like you said, there’s got to be an authenticity where there’s a resonance between what you’re teaching and who you are. But that is not to say that any pastor is perfect. And so, so if we are disqualified, we’re disqualified, but you know, the amazing thing about that is that Jesus still loves us and his sacrifice covers our sins.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, that’s good stuff.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God brings salvation to everyone who believed: first of the Jew, and then to the Gentile.

That’s Romans 1:16, the problem is, and this is from an email from a writer. The problem is I am ashamed of the gospel. Like Isaiah. I am a man of unclean lips. I have a deep, underlying anger in me. Sometimes it comes out in the form of unkind and unclean words. I love Jesus, but if I share Jesus, how do I answer the question? How can a follower of Jesus act like you do? Or if Jesus is real, why are you still like this?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Wow. I love the auth, now there’s some authenticity there. Huh?

Steve Brown:
In fact that may be the basis of the strongest witness you can make.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. He can segue right to this, I love Jesus, I’m forgiven, but I’m still a mess.

Steve Brown:
Oh yeah. And maybe in the midst of that sort of thing. You know, we have a dozen opportunities, the best witness we make is not our goodness. I’ve never seen somebody come to Christ because they looked at somebody else and they were perfect or good.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
Maybe it comes just from that very point of saying, you know, I had a, I had a lady in a church I won’t serve who, actually she slept with a man. And she was devastated, because she had never done anything like that. She came into my office and just wept and she said, Steve, I’m so ashamed. What should I do? I said, go tell him you’re ashamed. She said, what? I said, go tell him that you violated something very important in your life, but that Jesus still loves you. And you want to apologize. And she said, I’m not doing that. And I said, oh yes, you are. And you’re going to see something unbelievable because you do it. And she did exactly that. She went to him and said, I’ve got, I got to ask your forgiveness. Um, I violated the very essence of who I am and I’m so ashamed and I want you to forgive me, but, and then she laughed and said, but Jesus still loves me. And he’ll love you too, because you did the same thing and he came to Christ.

Pete Alwinson:
Isn’t that something.

Steve Brown:
That’s a powerful witness.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s a powerful witness. I mean, we’re sinners showing, you know, other centers we’re beggars showing other beggars where we found bread, you know, and, and this guy, I think he’s saying I’m not ashamed of the gospel. I don’t think he’s ashamed of the gospel, I think he was ashamed of his own behavior.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And of course you are, that’s called conviction.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s exactly right.

Steve Brown:
And the thing is that, you know, I often tell people in the pulpit, I’m a sinner and I just want you to know about it. And I’m a real sinner. And the only reason I’m telling you that, is that when you find out, I don’t want you to lose your faith in Christ because of that.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
That’s powerful stuff.

Pete Alwinson:
What Paul says, I used to do all this stuff, but I, but, but now I am what I am because of the grace of Christ.

Steve Brown:
That’s right. And he also said, I am the chief of sinners and he confessed it in the seventh chapter and Romans.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. We probably would, as we talked to our friends about Jesus would do better, if we would have prefaced any of our comments by telling them, hey, I needed Jesus.

Steve Brown:
That’s the, you know, Pete, and that’s one of the things that makes me so sad. That’s the essence of the Christian faith. You know, when we should see that joining a church isn’t a time when you tell the world how good you are,

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
but just the opposite.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
The church is a gathering place for sinners. And we sometimes, that’s not the message that we send

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
and we become judgmental and narrow. And our peacock feathers fly in the breeze. I’ll tell you if I were pagan, I don’t want to be a part of a church like that.

Pete Alwinson:
I wouldn’t want to be a part of a group of self-righteous people. And I don’t think most churches are, but I think they think we are, but I don’t think we are.

Steve Brown:
Yeah. I think there is a bum rap. We’ll address that another time.

Pete Alwinson:
Alright.

Steve Brown:
Speaking of time, it’s over. And Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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