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The regulative principle.

The regulative principle.

AUGUST 24, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / The regulative principle.

Steve Brown:
The regulative principle. I’ll explain, on this edition of Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
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.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it to Acts 16:6 through 10. Now, let me explain what I’m doing because we have a very clear indication of God’s will, when a Macedonian vision is given to Paul and a Macedonian man says we’re in trouble here, come and help us. And because of that vision, Paul knew exactly what to do and where to go. And he immediately set out for a Macedonia. Now, that is clearly God’s will, but because the subject has come up, I’m spending some time apart from this particular text, in talking about the ways you know, God’s will. And once we finish that, and there are five of them and I’m just sharing, you know them, but we all need to be reminded occasionally. We’re talking about how do you know God’s will, from a number of different Biblical texts. And once we finish that, I just can’t ignore that question. And then when we finish those five things and looking at them, we’re going to go back to this text and we’re going to see some important things that are happening in this particular text in Acts. All right. We saw yesterday that the first place, that you go to determine God’s will is the Scripture. And we looked at II Timothy 3:16 through 17. That hasn’t always been true with me. I graduated from a just side, this side of wacko graduate school in Boston, and I didn’t believe the Bible and it became very clear to me, even though I was ordained, I didn’t know what I was go doing. I didn’t know how to go about it if I knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t. And I felt kind of lost and I realized I didn’t have a guide. And that the seminary hadn’t prepared me for all the stuff I was encountering as a pastor. And so, because of a lot of different circumstances that I don’t have time to go into, I knelt down by my desk in this study, in that church, near Boston. And I said, God, I don’t have any authority. And from now on, by faith and I put my hand on the Bible, this will be my authority. And if you say it, I’ll do it and believe it as best I can. And not only that, I’ll teach it. And I meant that when I did and it changed everything, it changed everything. I didn’t even know what the Bible said. I knew about social ethics. I knew about social justice. I knew about politics. I knew about sociology, but I didn’t know much about the Bible. So, in those days I started in the gospel of John cause I’d heard Billy Graham say that’s where a new Christian ought to start. And I decided I was going to teach it. I didn’t even know what it said. And so, I would read a verse and tell that congregation what I thought it meant. Then I’d read, and I only stayed two or three verses ahead of them. And I learned so much and saw so much and understood so much that I had never seen or understood before. And it changed my life. And then after that, I became a Bible teacher because I’m still discovering what God says in the Bible. I have a friend who says this, the Bible is very clear about some things you ought always to do. And the Bible is very clear about some things you are always not to do. If it’s not in either of those lists, you’re free. I like that. The Bible says some things you’re ought to always do. And the Bible says some things you should never do. And if it’s not in those two lists, then you are free. In the circles where I run I’m reformed and Presbyterian and a Calvinist, by the way. But don’t draw conclusions to that that aren’t justified. I’m not angry. Okay. I’m just right. No, and don’t send me letters. I am kidding around, but in our circles we have a thing called the regulative principle. And you say, what in the world is the regulative principle? Well, it says that if the Bible doesn’t specifically mention something that ought to be included in worship, you can’t include it in worship. In other words, if the Bible doesn’t specifically mention an electric guitar, then it’s verboten within the church for worship. Now, they don’t look very often at the last Psalm. I mean, they don’t like tambourines either, they don’t like shouting and raising your hands because that is simply not proper. But the regulative principle often becomes a principle where somebody decides what they did in the 16th century. Somebody said, if you’re a Presbyterian, you better do it right the first time cause you’re going to be doing that way for the next 500 years. There’s something to that. But with all of that being said, when you look at Scripture, the Scripture lets you know some things you ought to do always. You’ve got to love me. Okay. And I’ve got to love you. And the Scripture doesn’t give us any wiggle room about that or forgiveness. And the Scripture says, there’s things you should never do. Read the Ten Commandments. And if it’s not in either one of those lists, you’re free. But always check the Scripture because you would be surprised at the things God makes clear. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thank you Steve. Hope you’re enjoying this exploration of Acts 16, as much as I am. We’ll pick it up again right here tomorrow. Don’t miss it. So, if you could only pick two words to describe the book of Psalms, what would they be? Well, how about the words raw and real. Recently on Steve Brown Etc. we sat down with pastor Dane Ortlund, the author of In the Lord I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions Through the Psalms. In that conversation, dane talked about how the Psalms remind us that our God welcomes us, no matter what we’re feeling. Take a listen to part of that episode, then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer.

Steve Brown:
What does make the Psalms different?

Dane Ortlund: You called them raw and real at the top of the show, Stephen, that’s so, so true. To state the bloody obvious, human beings are sick and weird. And to go through life and trying to make sense of life, the Psalms give us actual words, not pious, nice, doctrinally, tight things, but words for our heart, to complain to God, to pray to God, to pour our hearts out. And, the Psalms come way down, deep into my actual existence, messy up and down existence, with forgiveness, reality with God, with a language for my tears. And, so when you say they’re the most raw and real book of the Bible, Steve, you are so right. I am so, so thankful that the Psalms are in the Bible. The Psalms refuse to try to pretty up or cosmetically look better. And the misery that all of us at any given time are walking through, we’re all trying to navigate. What in the hell, is what we’re thinking. Why is there so much hell going on in my life? I’m painting a smile over it. I’m just trying to stay alive. I’m trying to stay afloat emotionally, maybe my marriage is barely hanging on, or I’ve got some kid going haywire, or people are attacking, I’m stuck in some sin. The Psalms are God grabbing us by the messy, muddy, dirty scruff of the neck and stuffing our faces in who he is, who he actually is in the pain. That’s where he is, actually that’s where God loves to be with you, that’s where you become a real Christian. When you’re connecting your pain and your anguish and your sin with God in the present time, not in the future, once things improve. The touchdown that the Psalms are trying to give us, where they’re trying to take us, the end is not crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s theologically. Though that matters big time, but it’s actually to grab our heart and to calm us down and to say, you know what you are actually going to be okay because of who God is, in spite of who you are. I mean, it’s the one book of the Bible written to God. No other book is like the words are talking to God. So here’s, it’s all God’s words, 66 books, God’s words. One of them is not only God speaking to us, but also giving us words to speak back to him. And as you say, there is no human experience that we walk through, that is unaddressed by the Psalms, that falls outside of someplace in the Psalms where we can speak these words back to God. Words he’s given us, that give voice to almost in a sense, in a healthy way, let us vent what we’re going through. As I think there’s a lot of truth to that. And so, what we have is a book of the Bible, where we can, our hearts are being enlarged and deepened and in a right and healthy and doctrinally right, but not unemotional way being given words, pleadings to speak to God. It’s a massive, flashing, neon sign to us about what God must be like, what he must be like. If you want to say, I’m going to give you my word and the biggest book in that word is going to be me letting you speak where you’re really at to me, even though a lot of the reasons you’re in anguish and in pain is your own stupidity. Nevertheless, I’m gonna give you words in your sin and in your pain, whether it’s coming from other people or your own foolishness, I’m going to give you words to speak back to me. And so that you and I can have as John Owen said communion with God, communion with the triune God. He doesn’t say, oh, you’re really messy down there. Okay. Let’s give you a one week time out and then you can come back to me. He says, no, why don’t you just go to the Psalms. And let’s immediately right now have open fellowship one with another. So, it’s a beautiful reflection of God’s own heart.

Matthew Porter:
This was such an encouraging conversation, so encouraging in fact that we put it on a CD that we would love to send to you for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to

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

If you’re in Canada, send your request to

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

Just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Dane Ortlund. And finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? You could give by charging a gift on your credit card or including a gift in your envelope. Or join the growing number of folks who give safely and securely by texting Key Life to 28950. That’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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