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God's Not Mad at You
“Please explain the law to me.”

“Please explain the law to me.”

OCTOBER 9, 2020

/ Programs / Key Life / “Please explain the law to me.”

Steve Brown:
Please explain the law to me. We’ll do it, 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:
In 30 seconds or less, please explain the law to me. Well.

Pete Alwinson:
Explain the universe, give me three examples.

Steve Brown:
Right. That’s Pete Alwinson, by the way. And he comes in on Fridays and he’s been doing this for years. And we just sit down and we love it, because we get to talk about your questions. Mrs. Graham, Ruth Graham said to me one time that she loved hard questions. She was sitting in the backseat of my car and she had her Bible open and somebody to asked a question, she said, cause they drive me to the word.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
Well, your questions drive us to the word too. So, feel free. You can call 1-800-KEY-LIFE, 24 seven, record your question. We sometimes put that on the air, your actual voice. Or you can write

Key Life Network
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 could email your question to Steve@keylife.org. And if you can help us financially, please do. We promise we’ll be faithful with your gift. We’re a not for profit organization. We’re a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. So you can rest assured that we’ll be ethical with your gift. So help us, if you can, if you can’t say a prayer for us, Pete, say a prayer for us, and then we’ll get to these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Alright. Alright. Our great God, we do come to you right now and we praise you. It’s Friday. You’ve been in charge. You are in charge. You’ll always be in charge, but sometimes we feel that either we’re in charge or that everything is in chaos. And so we come to you and we pray that you would just allow your gospel to sink into our hearts, help us to rest in the work of Christ and to rest in you and to trust you. And Lord, you know our needs, we have many financial, work-related, relational and you know, each of us where we’re at right now, exactly what we need, cause you know everything. And so we bring our requests to you and we pray that you would bring your power, your mercy and your grace to bear in our life. Help us to understand your great love for us. And thank you for the weekend Lord coming up, we pray for our pastors, teachers, leaders, worship directors. Father, we ask that you would enable them to be so taken by your love and by your grace that they would be able to communicate it in a powerful, creative, life-changing way to us, so that we then live freer and more powerfully in the world around us. We commit the time of Q & A to you right now. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Amen. This really was the question. It’s an email question. Can you please explain the law.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And you know, your comment, what was that about the universe?

Pete Alwinson:
Define the universities. Give me three examples.

Steve Brown:
But, you know, it is a confusing area.

Pete Alwinson:
It is.

Steve Brown:
We were talking to Jeremy Birdsall, who’s the producer of this program. And he said, what I would like to hear is a discussion of the law in the light of the new covenant. That’s legitimate too.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
Alright. Let’s kind of say some things about the law

Pete Alwinson:
Ok

Steve Brown:
and then we’ll, we’ll move on. What kinds of law are there?

Pete Alwinson:
Well, you know, theologically, you could think of the ceremonial, civil and moral law.

Steve Brown:
Explain those.

Pete Alwinson:
Well, so if we think of the Old Testament as containing, how the ceremonies that God has put together for Israel, for instance, in Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers, he said, these are the ceremonial laws I want you to carry out, how we do redemptive work in the Old Testament, the sacrifices, the feasts of remembrance and the ceremonies that look ahead. And so there’s the ceremonial law that is fulfilled in Jesus. And then there’s the civil law, which we find is for how God said, okay, you’re Israel, you’re a nation, this is how I want you to conduct your affairs. The ceremonial law is wrapped up in that too, but the civil law has other aspects, like what if my donkey, you borrow my donkey and it falls into a hole on your property. How do you adjudicate those kinds of things?

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
So this is important civil law. And then the moral law is sort of infused all through all of it.

Steve Brown:
Yeah

Pete Alwinson:
And revealing God’s attitudes and values and ethics on all issues.

Steve Brown:
The heart of God.

Pete Alwinson:
The heart of God. Right. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
It really is. And the law, you know, if you talk to an Orthodox Jew, and I have.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Oh yeah.

Steve Brown:
And ask him, what’s the best gift that God has ever given you. You know what they’ll say?

Pete Alwinson:
Holy Torah.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, exactly. the Law of God.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
So it is a gift.

Pete Alwinson:
It is.

Steve Brown:
But it’s a gift in a particular way, in the light of the new covenant. Paul calls, the law a tutor.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
What does he mean by that?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. That’s, isn’t that fascinating? How the law prepares us for Christ, for the need for a savior, because it shows us well, there’s not one of those laws of the Old Testament, I mean there’s so many of them. You can’t keep them. And when we see aspects of the civil, ceremonial and moral law, I can’t do that, I need help. I need a savior. And when the moral law affects our hearts, we see that we can’t save ourselves.

Steve Brown:
And probably we ought to address one more thing about the law, and the law’s not just the 10 Commandments.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
It’s throughout all of scripture. I mean, it’s in the New Testament and the Old Testament.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And if you don’t have a systematic, Biblical understanding of scripture, it’ll kill you.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
I mean, you’ll open your Bible and put your finger on a passage and say, good heavens, I’m going to jump off a bridge. I can’t do all of this.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And that’s the point.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
There’s a kind of disagreement, though not a deep one about the third use of the law.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And that third use has to do with guiding us in terms of how we should live, making us better than we are. Luther didn’t have much use for that.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
Luther said the law has one purpose, it’s to scare the spit out of you,

Pete Alwinson:
yeah.

Steve Brown:
to let you know who you are, so you can run to Jesus and be justified and live by the gospel. And there’s something to that, but there’s something to the other also.

Pete Alwinson:
Right. Yeah. I love the second use of the law, because it shows us how to live.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
And when you connect grace with that,

Steve Brown:
Yeah. You can do it.

Pete Alwinson:
You can do it. At Jeremiah 31:31 says that God would eventually put the law on our hearts, and now in the new covenant, that’s what’s going on. The Holy Spirit is taking the law of God and actually flushing it out in our life. So it’s not a condemning force. It’s a guiding force, and for guys like me that didn’t have a dad teaching us how to live. The law shows, alright this is how to live.

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
Now you do it.

Steve Brown:
And forgiveness, when we don’t. So that’s not the issue anymore.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
It really isn’t. I know what’s right. And I know what’s wrong. And I know what’s evil and I know what’s good. And Christians do. We know,

Pete Alwinson:
But you wouldn’t know that without the law.

Steve Brown:
No, if it weren’t for the law, I wouldn’t, and then he’s written it on my heart.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
So I know it that way too.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
So, we’ve got a question since we’re on this subject, another email question on repentance. Some people say that repentance is just an attitude. Others say, no, it means you’ve got to change. What is repentance?

Pete Alwinson:
Well, how do you define it?

Steve Brown:
Well, I define it in the first instance, but I illustrate in the second. The first instance is yes, it is an attitude, you know, I used to have a book by Mother Basilea, the founder of the sisters of Mary in Darmstadt called Repentance.

Pete Alwinson:
Okay.

Steve Brown:
And it still sits on my shelf. For years, I couldn’t read it. Cause, I couldn’t change. I mean, there were things about me that were besetting and I couldn’t change them. So I didn’t read the book, it made me feel funny, but then I discovered that repentance isn’t change. It’s God’s methodology to change you, if he so pleases. So, it does start with an attitude, it’s metanoia, it means a change of mind.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
So, technically repentance is saying to God, you’re right, I’m wrong. I get that. I repent. I agree with you. It’s what Bill Bright talked about when he talked about spiritual breathing, it’s breathing it out, the sin an attitude of saying, Oh man, I’m so sorry. But, as we walk the life of repentance, things begin to change.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Because as you, as you really say, I see your perspective on this.

I turned, I turned from it. I have a different, but I am powerless to do this by myself. And so empower me. And, and I will, as Paul says, discipline myself for the purpose of godliness, I’m going to exert some effort in this. But I, but I’m dependent upon your working and that process is so healing because grace is in the mix.

Steve Brown:
Exactly. It really is, it’s the safety net of all of that.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, it’s right. And you stop being condemning to yourself.

Steve Brown:
And, and I think, and I don’t think this is necessarily Biblical, but I can find illustrations of it, that there are three kinds of sin. There’s some sin. I’m not going to use a cuss word anymore and you just stop.

Pete Alwinson:
Right. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
And then there’s a second kind of sin. that’s besetting. I’ve been struggling with anger my whole life, and I’m better, but I’m still struggling. It’ll come back and bite me and I’ll hurt people. And then the third is the obsessive sin, that I can’t do a thing about. I mean, and it’s often sexual. It’s often, issues to do with our past. And I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know what to do about it. And in all three cases, God loves you and you’re forgiven. And that grace will be the methodology that God will use, maybe not quickly or yesterday, but you’ll begin to see that things are turning in the right direction.

Pete Alwinson:
That is right. Grace is mysterious

Steve Brown:
Yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
in how it unpacks our transformation. It’s an energizing power.

Steve Brown:
I know it is.

Pete Alwinson:
Incredible.

Steve Brown:
It’s how I became a spiritual giant.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s exactly right.

Steve Brown:
You know, you know how you do become a spiritual giant? In quit trying to be a spiritual giant.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah.

Steve Brown:
You’re not good at it. And you can’t, you can’t pull it off. So once you recognize that, that’s called repentance.

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

Steve Brown:
And at that point, the Holy Spirit kicks in and grace kicks in, and your loved and you can go get a milkshake,

Pete Alwinson:
You know, that’s so true. It’s a really authentic place to be. It’s the way to be, rather than try to play a game with yourself and others that you got it all together.

Steve Brown:
You going to show next week.

Pete Alwinson:
I’ll be here, man.

Steve Brown:
You’re a good man. Charlie Brown. And we’re out of here. Key life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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