Principles, not promises.
OCTOBER 18, 2023
Principles, not promises. I’ll explain, on this edition of Key Life.
If you’re sick of guilt and manipulation, and if you’re looking for an honest and thoughtful presentation of Biblical truth, you’ve come to the right place. This is Key Life with the founder of Key Life Network, Steve Brown. Keep listening for teaching that will make you free.
Thank you Matthew. Yesterday we spent some very dull time talking about the nature of the Book of Proverbs. And I know, it’s necessary. If you’re going to start studying a book of the Bible, you ought to know some of the technical stuff surrounding it. Frankly, we don’t know a lot about Proverbs. But I told you everything I knew, and I’ve read all the commentaries, so it’s everything they know, too. But there’s one other question that needs to be examined before we get into the actual study of Proverbs. And that’s the nature of this book. And I want you to listen very carefully, because if you don’t understand this, you’re going to get into trouble, and people do that all the time with the Book of Proverbs. Listen, Proverbs is not a book of promises, it’s a book of principles. Proverbs is not a book of laws, it’s a book of lessons. There is a very great danger of making Proverbs into laws and thus reducing the Christian faith to moralism. A mother once in tears said to me, Steve, God is not faithful. He told me that if I brought up my child in the way he should go, he would walk in it. That hasn’t happened, and I’m about to lose my faith. Well, she had misused the Proverb. It wasn’t a promise, it was a principle of the way things work. In fact, if you aren’t careful about the nature of Proverbs, you will become a moralist or you will live a life of denial. Remember not promises but principles. One time at the church that I once served, we had a building program. And I’ve said this often, if you have a pastor who’s been through more than one building program, and you should go to another church because there’s something weird about that pastor. I did it once, I’ll never do it again, and during the building program, everything bad happened. The building committee resigned, people were angry at me, we had money problems, we had construction, it went on and on and on. And we had a staff meeting one morning and during that time, Robert Shuler, back in the days when he had the Crystal Cathedral, was giving out to people who contributed to that ministry little pins. And the little pin was a gold pin, and it said, God will. During the staff meeting, one of the staff members, in fact Cathy, who still works for Key Life said, we ought to give out little pins too. And I said, are you crazy? She said, oh no, they’ll have little, instead of saying God will, it will say, maybe he will and maybe he won’t. Well, you’ve got to do Proverbs like that too. If you make it into a promise and you say that God did not honor his promise because it didn’t happen the way he promised, it’s not a book of promises, it’s a book of principles. And as you go through Proverbs, these are the principles that generally work in life. This is the way the world works, this is how Christians become street-smart Christians. Now, let me give you, I mean, let me give you some of what the book of Proverbs is about in a kind of focused way before we get down and look at the verses. First, I want to suggest that the very existence of the Book of Proverbs says something about the nature of God, and that is that he is interested in all of life and not just what happens in the church. In the book of Proverbs, you’ll find things on sex. You’re going to find things about money. You’re going to find things about how you cook, how you live, what you say. Proverbs 1:1 through 4.
The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
We have this proclivity as Christians to divide life into what is religious. and sacred, and what is secular, what is God’s concern, and what is not God’s concern. For instance, we think that if we give God an hour a week, which would be the sacred part. He’ll leave us alone for the rest of the week, which is the secular part. If nothing else, the Book of Proverbs suggests that it is involved and concerned that God is with all of life, with no exceptions. He is the Lord of everything. There’s a wonderful story by Sherwood Wirt, where he’s shaving and God, and he says, cuts himself, and he says, Oh God, and in this little book, God said, Yes, what is it? And all of a sudden, he begins a conversation with God that started with a shaving cut. And the rest of the book is this conversation about all of life. Let me tell you something, God is concerned with everything you do, every place you go, every part of your life. It’s no surprise that Billy Graham in the midst of the New York Gigantic Crusade, before he went out into the crowd said, Lord I can’t find my hat, would you find it? Mr. Graham knew that God was concerned with everything, even the hats. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown leading us on a different kind of guided tour through Proverbs. Are you enjoying this new series? I know I am. And we still have one more day to enjoy it this week. And as it happens, that would be tomorrow. Hope you will join us for that. Well, I love words in the English language, but there are some words that get confusing for me. Adverse and averse, similar but different, right? Disinterested versus uninterested. And then there’s patriotism versus this thing called Christian nationalism. It can get confusing. Fortunately, we recently spoke with author Paul D. Miller on Steve Brown Etc. about this. Take a listen to part of that show, and then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.
Paul D. Miller: But I do speak to my students regularly about the importance of in their careers of honesty, integrity, courage, truthfulness. And these are all true things, and it’s true that it’s good for their careers, also good for their lives. And, students love this stuff, they know that they need to hear these kinds of messages. And I’m very happy to be there for them. And to be the voice, I hope, of some reason.
Paul, quick story. When I was a kid, I was walking through the woods, and accidentally stepped on where a bunch of hornets lived, and they swarmed me, and were stinging me all over the place. And the only way I can, only comparable experience I can align with that is the last time we had Eric Metaxas on and all the people who responded, it was just literally stepping into a hornet’s nest there. So I just, I want to further kind of parse what you’re saying because what he would say is the idea of voting on your values. And saying these things matter to us, we want to be vocal, use our vote and our voice to see these values put into action. Is that stray into Christian nationalism? And if Christian nationalism still falls beyond that, where’s that crossing over point?
Paul D. Miller: Yeah. Can we vote our values? A great question. And to prove that I’m academic, my answer is. It depends.
You are in politics.
Paul D. Miller: Yeah, and to further prove it, I can give you a three fold answer to this.
Paul D. Miller: Pardon me if this turns into a lecture.
It’s alliterative. I’m in.
Paul D. Miller: I think the answer is yes. We can vote our values, but there’s a couple of questions I want to ask. Number one, the way that we vote our values, does it end up discriminating against a person or a group? Right? A hundred years ago, Protestants voting for their values thought it was super important to ostracize Catholics from public life. It was just, it was widely held universal consensus that it’s dangerous to entrust Catholics with political power. So, they advocated for their values to keep the Catholics out. Today, are we, on purpose or inadvertently, keeping another group out? Right, so that’s a question we should ask ourselves. Second test would be, are our values administratively and logistically possible to enforce at the point of law? So again, 100 years ago, prohibition, Christians got together and passed a constitutional amendment to ban the sale and transportation of alcohol. Terrible mistake. It was a, it backfired spectacularly, right? The, the nation rejected it. There was armed gang warfare on American streets for a decade. It was just a really bad idea. But today, are there any things that we advocate? That are good things, but might not work as a matter of law. I hear people calling the ban pornography and I agree that pornography is evil, but I’m not persuaded that there is a way technologically or logistically or legally to actually criminalize the entire industry. We can talk about cyber zoning or whatnot that would make sense, but I just, I don’t think we can make that happen as a point of law. Third point is this about recognizing the different jurisdictions that God gave to government and God gave to the church. Right. Sometimes called separation of church and state. I know Christians are a little wary about that language, but I think it’s clear in Scripture. God made government, gave it one charge to uphold order and justice. He created the church to regulate the right worship of himself. And we need to be careful about respecting those boundaries. So, I would not actually advocate a prayer in public schools. I think prayer should be led by ministers of the gospel, not by Caesar and public employees of public schools that’s Caesar and Caesar makes a really bad Sunday school teacher.
This was such an interesting episode with Paul D. Miller. We would love to send it to you on CD for free. If that’s okay, then just call us and let us know at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. Or to mail your request go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Paul D. Miller. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you consider supporting that work through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or you can now give safely and securely through text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter text that to 28950 then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.