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The Balanced Word of God

February 24, 2017
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We must be acutely aware of the extreme and fringe elements in our churches across America that do great harm to the cause of Christ. The enemy has masterfully used those who would propose Bible doctrines and preferences in the extreme. In other words, Satan has been extraordinarily successful in tainting sound Bible doctrine with man-made opinions not clearly evident in God’s Word. Many of us feel that we could be “guilty by association” if we go too far in any one direction that seems to support these positions. In the rest of this article, we’ll look at several points of Bible doctrine where our thinking and worship is being limited/impacted because of the extreme and fringe elements found in our religious institutions.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Holy Spirit – I believe that the extremes of emotionalism and the charismatic movement are having a negative impact on the way that fundamental Christians relate to and worship the Holy Spirit. We are so concerned not to sound like and look like those extreme elements, so not to be cast as one of them. Make no mistake, I believe that tongues have ceased in the modern age of Christianity and human-generated emotionalism has no place in our worship. While I disagree with their extreme positions, I also think that many are brothers and sisters in Christ. This is assuming, of course, that they have repented and have trusted in Christ alone for their salvation. However, what I disagree with is the human-generated “animation” that is often associated with what they call the complete and total filling of the spirit. I also disagree with any new doctrinal teachings, revelations, and other unusual practices and ordinances not clearly evident in God’s Word. Unfortunately, the effects of disassociation from this extreme and emotional element has left a crater-sized void when worshipping a Creator God in spirit and in truth. God has given us a body, mind, spirit, and soul for the glory of His name. He has also given us emotion with which to worship Him. The Holy Spirit is on an equal plain with both the Father and the Son. I believe that the Holy Spirit can generate great sensitivity and emotion as we worship the Savior. We need to talk more openly about the Holy Spirit and embrace the Spirit of God on an equal footing. We must not be shy about giving the reverence, glory, and praise to the Spirit’s working in our lives. We serve one God in three separate and distinct personages.

“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalms 32:11)

“Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

Looking back in history, we can see how Satan has managed to reframe our thinking on the Holy Spirit. During the “Great Awakening” period of the early seventeen hundreds, God was working miracles throughout New England, starting with a stirring message (along with much prayer) from pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards from Northampton, Massachusetts. He preached the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which shook people to their core and to the realization of their need for a Savior. People were genuinely and authentically crying out to God for redemption and relief from the burden of their sin. There were guttural utterances from those being convicted during that timeframe where no one would deny the power of the Spirit of God. Most of these converts went on to live dedicated Christian lives for the glory of God. However, Satan could not let this stand. He had to encroach God’s throne and bring the human element to what started out as a Spirit led undertaking. There were soon many irrational, bombastic, and satanic demonstrations in the services that did not originate from our Lord. Men and women began to defraud the Spirit’s working with human-generated cries, screams, and demonstrations that took the focus from His Spirit and put it squarely on the machinations of man.

Why are we so afraid to embrace the power, joy, and emotion of God’s Spirit? Why do we feel the need to relegate our praise and worship of our Lord and Savior to an occasional amen? Even then, we must make sure that we don’t shout it too loud and be pigeon holed as one of them! Christians have the spirit of the living God residing inside of us. We must be careful not to allow Satan to maneuver us into a position where we are not able to fully express the joy of what it means to serve the great “I AM.”

God’s Blessings – When Christians earnestly honor, obey, and serve a Risen Savior they should expect to have blessings in this present world and beyond. What is wrong with believing that God will bless you for your obedience? How many “If-Then” scenarios do we see in the Word of God? “If you obey my Word, then you can expect blessing from above.” We do not obey with the motives to receive untold blessings and material riches, we simply obey because God has told us to and we do so by faith. Our obedience shouldn’t spring from a lustful and degenerate heart craving the riches and glory of this present world. No. We obey as an act of selfless worship. Herein lies another of those extreme examples of how Satan has twisted a foundational truth about obedience and blessing. In the extreme we have coined what is called the “prosperity gospel.” There are some who would have you believe that financial success and wealth is always the will of God for believers. I disagree. I do not believe that God looks at all Christians in a robotic fashion and suggests that they should have wealth and prosperity. God takes each of us down the paths of life that will mold us into His image. If that path includes financial success and wealth, then so be it. If that path includes being part of middle-America or those who are less fortunate, that is okay too.  Unfortunately, once again we allow the extreme positions of the health and wealth (prosperity) gospel to paint us into a corner where we are afraid to suggest that God is blessing us in a material fashion. How dare we suggest that God is blessing us with wealth (spiritual and material) as we are obedient to Him and His word? Doesn’t that mean that God is being partial to one group of Christians over another? No, it does not. It simply means that the trials, joys, temptations, and circumstances of life will be varied and different for all of God’s children. No Christian walk is an exact carbon copy. When we are blessed with spiritual and material abundance, we should give God the honor, praise, and the glory due His name. Who else are you going to thank for His abundant provision? We should not be shy about giving God the glory for wealth and riches! It doesn’t mean that you believe in a “prosperity gospel.” It simply means that you are giving praise where praise is due!

When I read the Bible about being blessed and rewarded for my stewardship and obedience, I take it at face value. The error of teaching about health and wealth in Christian circles comes with the motivation and heart condition of the believers in question. If their obedience springs from a pure heart before the Lord and He is blessing them with material abundance, then we should give thanks!

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Fellowship – What joy it is to fellowship with other Christian believers! The importance of that horizontal covenant bond and relationship that helps build one another up in the faith can’t be overstated. God uses people to impact the lives of others. He wants us to share in the joys and trials of life and to be helpful to those in need. I think that we would all agree that ministering to the needs of church members is a vital function of the local body. We also know that where God’s name is being magnified and His Word is being lived out, that Satan is in the background trying to destroy everything that is pure, right, and good. Enter in the extremes of a social gospel message.

In this extreme environment, the church body becomes one big play date. Everything starts to revolve around the social functions of the church and not around the foundational issues of preaching, teaching, and prayer. This extreme works diligently to keep the masses happy and preoccupied with the latest and greatest social event on the calendar. Some would even say that it is party time! In the end, there is very little satisfaction derived from a social gospel approach. With this approach the proper alignment between the social, family, spiritual, and workplace are seemingly incongruent and disparate from one another. In reality, we need a balanced approach to fellowship with proper goals and objectives leading the way.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

God’s Grace – If it wasn’t for God’s grace, mercy, and longsuffering nature I would be headed for an eternity in hell. There’s no other way to put it. His grace is sufficient for all that put their faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. We also know that he is a God of love and that everything that we do here on earth should be done with an eternal view in mind. We should be mindful of His unmerited favor every moment of every day. Each thought, decision, passion, and action should be taken with the grace of God foremost in our minds. However, what happens when the grace of God is taken to the extreme and there is little room for His righteous judgment, justice, and accountability? Doesn’t a grace only position leave out much of the Bible? Isn’t there as much about God’s righteous judgment in the Bible as there is about grace, love, and mercy? Why, then, gravitate to a more user-friendly version of God’s Word vs. the whole counsel of God? This answer is one of convenience. The answer is not wanting to be held accountable to Godly standards and forsaking the pleasures of this world. When standards and accountability are introduced, commitment and selflessness must quickly follow. Seems like the world (along with many Christians) wants to take a ride on that roller coaster of fame, fortune, and fun with little-to-no accountability for their ungodly ways. Christians must never fail to embrace righteous judgment, justice, and accountability in balance with the grace of God.   

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8)

God’s Law – On the opposite end of the spectrum of grace we find those who cling to a very legalistic interpretation of the Bible. With legalism comes a very long list of do’s and don’ts. In the extreme, the legalists are so concerned with the letter of the law that they have unknowingly created a works-based form of worship that they would vehemently argue against in the abstract. However, in reality, it is merely a type of ritualistic and formalistic works-based worship. This form of worship saps the strength and vitality of the working of the Holy Spirit and brings us to a cold, judgmental, and lonely place where there is very little company. It doesn’t take long for these types of churches to either shrink in size or disappear altogether.  

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

God’s Sovereign Nature – What a blessing that God saw fit to save me at the beginning of time with the foreknowledge that only a Creator God can have. The Bible clearly tells us in Romans that He predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son! I take this at face value and believe Him at His Word.  

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)

On the other hand, man also has a responsibility to call upon the name of the Lord. Man must choose to cry out to be rescued, while freely and willingly accepting that blessed gift of salvation.  He has been given a free will to either accept or reject that wonderful hope for tomorrow and turn from his sins. However, the extreme elements in the Hyper-Calvinist tradition would have you believe that there is an elect in God’s church and that man’s free will would have nothing at all to do with His divine plan. This position fully discredits and disavows much of the teachings of the Bible (see below). In my humble opinion, there is much room to allow for the mystery of God’s Word when trying to understand both the Calvinist and Arminian points of view.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Balance – Yes, what we need all across America is balance, straight from the Word of God. While God Almighty has given us many straight forward principles, promises, commands, and warnings, He also has left a lot of room to maneuver. Unfortunately, man in turn takes that maneuverability, freedom, and liberty and twists it into human-forms of Bible doctrine. We systematize, organize, and intellectualize man’s opinion of unclear scripture to the extreme. Man has built entire denominations and religious sects as a result. That is the point of this article, to stay clear of the extreme of man’s machinations in areas unknown, but to embrace the liberty we have in Christ Jesus and the balance found in God’s Word. Never allow the extreme positions of man to deter you from seeking the whole counsel of God! 

“And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.” (Joshua 10:25)


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