Ditches ~ A Call to Biblical Balance

Over the last several years as I have observed and dealt with extremes on both sides of the theological and philosophical spectrum, I have come to determine that BALANCE is what we need most today.  In speaking with a seasoned evangelist the other day, he gave me some godly advice. The advice was that there are ditches on both sides of the road. The road is Biblical Christianity, it is defined in  Philippians 2:12–13 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

We are saved by grace and now God’s desires us to do His will, to participate in His work, obey His commands (yes commands to the believer) and follow His son in discipleship… then we see the other side of the issue at hand and that is, it is God that does this work through you. He empowers us for the work, he provides for the work, He enables us to do this work and according to the verse above, God even gives us the desire to participate in His work.

The ditches on either side of this road are the wrong focus on US.  We will either over focus on our good works, morality or good deeds, trying to please God in our flesh, creating commandments God never intended for the believer, or we over focus on our perceived freedom in Christ, and abandon clear Biblical principles for Christ-like living, in favor of a false grace.  The swing to performance for acceptance leads to the ditch of an overabundance of standards, rules and regulations supposedly making the believer more accepted or approved of by God. The swing to freedom at any cost leads to a practice of lawlessness, of grace without truth. The ditch on this side of the road is willful ignorance of God’s Words and commands, believing or espousing that there are no commands relevant to the believer.  Both are exaggerations of grace and truth. Both sides mistake extremism for passion.

Finding balance is the key. Finding balance… that takes prayer and reliance upon God and not cow-towing to man; on either side of the road.

If you have ever played darts you will have a good idea of just how hard this balance can be.  The balance is God’s bulls-eye.  God’s way to the sanctified life.  God’s Word in action.  When learning to play darts you will inevitably miss the mark.  If you are right you try to compensate on your next throw to the left; or to high, then down and so on.  The trouble is that often that compensation is way off the mark in the opposite direction.

I know of many Fundamental churches that are operating from the ditch of legalism. They are responding to a liberal theological (not a philosophical or contemporary) mindset that descended upon Christianity some 50 or 60 years ago.

The Fundamentalism of the past rightly published the Fundamentals, they stood for the Word of God being God breathed in the original languages, they stood for the authorship and reliability of the Scriptures as we have them.  They stood against the watering down of doctrine and against ungodly compromise.

Sadly many churches didn’t stop there, many got too close to the edge of the road in their zeal.  Ruckman, Riplinger, and others in that vein were influential in this travesty and division of orthodox Christianity.  Other churches embraced the culture of 50 years ago mistaking 1950’s American culture for Biblical doctrine. They established traditions and standards that the Bible can be made to seem to support.  In some cases as has been often observed; Jesus Himself wouldn’t be allowed to preach in these pulpits.  An example of this is Sunday dress.  While it may be good to dress well for church ( I myself wear a suit every Sunday), the practice of Sunday dress has it’s roots in materialism, covetousness and pride.  Early Baptist churches resisted the concept of dressing up for Sunday.  While the wealthier denominations were focusing on dress, the Baptists and Methodists focused on meekness and sobriety.  The verse “dress your best for Jesus” is not found in the Bible, but some think it actually is.

Then there is the other ditch.  In the same way that the early Fundamentalists resisted the falsehood of the early liberals, many churches and believers today that have seen the twisting of what was good into a nightmarish beast of legality that is destroying grace and joy and peace may also overreact.  These churches will if they are not careful (I dare say if we are not careful) find themselves in the ditch on the other side of the road; a place where Christianity is not challenged by the Word of God, and where the Word of God takes a back seat to feelings and false spiritual superiority claiming that they are the only relevant church.  A Christianity where worldliness is not denied, cross bearing is not understood and LIFE is not truly practiced; a church where liberality becomes license.   An example of such an extreme is the complete lack of separation from the worldliness that we have been delivered from.  A consumerism mentality simply trying to draw a crowd at the expense of truth. An edginess that itself becomes the new standard of what is acceptable thus these edgy, relevant churches become what the hate.

To be honest, in my experience, churches that are leaving behind traditionalism and formalism have a greater focus on the Word of God and a higher respect for it.  The temptation however is to throw away the good with the bad and to become radical in a way  the God doesn’t approve of.

So what shall we do?  How do we find and maintain Biblical Balance? Let us be careful expositors of God’s Holy Word. Let us learn from history and from those that have gone one before us.  Let us cling to the book of books.  Let us never sacrifice the Word for our will; whether that will be disposed to false grace or false standards.

God Bless


4 Responses to “Ditches ~ A Call to Biblical Balance”

  1. Bruce says:

    The thoughts presented do cause a thinking of the mind, there is quite the cross section found in today’s “christian” churches, even in the Baptist relm. Music, dress, denying of fleshly desires, modern idols, and so on. The balance cannot be set forth in any church setting.(because then we serve the church and the churches standards…see the Catholic profile). Faith as recieved by God and sealed by the Holy Spirit and it is personal. We try to find a group of fellow belivers who we can serve with, but then we end up sharing our faith with them, that can cause people to adopt rules of faith based on anothers convictions. They enjoy a faithful friend and figure that if it is faithful to them or good for them then it must be a spiritual act I must incoorperate in their own life. If one has a relationship with someone they know there are no rules. A married man understands he took an oath to forsake all others, but that does not convert to thou shall not commit adultry, it is because they love their wife they forsake all others. Our love for Jesus and what he did for us is the reason we abandon the pursuit of the world. Now that being said that does not mean that christians are exempt from finacial gain. or worldly posessions. God may provide these to believers and as good stewards we have a choice to use it appropriatly..or choose to use it inappropriatly in sinful desires. We do the things we do because in the scruptures we find who God is and what he enjoys from us…FELLOWSHIP, out of fellowship we learn what God enjoys, and because we love Him we adopt and adapt our lives, as much as humanly possible, to reflect Godly living here on earth.

  2. Pastor Davis says:

    Thanks for the comment Bruce! There certainly is quite a bit of variety and I think that this is good for the body of Christ. We should all be a lot more tolerant of those that don’t share our opinion, but do share sound Biblical Doctrine. This may come in another post later;-) I agree with you as far as giving as much room as possible for the Holy Spirit to move and guide the individual, but that part of that guidance comes in the form of the community that you are a part of.

    We are also very much in the same mind when you talk of the motivation of the Believer, the knowledge of God, deepening fellowship with Him being the impetus of change in our lives.

    God bless you bro!

  3. CrazyDave says:

    I told you I would stop by..Good post Eric, though I tend to disagree a bit..

    Reminds me of this post I did a while back

    http://www.blogster.com/crazydave/pot-holes

    CrazyDave

  4. Kevin J O'Meara II says:

    Thanks for this great post. I can liken this to walking on a balance beam. The road that a Saved believer is called to walk, the staright and narrow. Which without proper balance would be competely impossible. With the human condition we are incapable of this balance which makes this narrow straight path impossible for us to walk. Still in our own ambitions we attempt to walk only to find ourselves tripping, and just before we fall a hand comes to grab us. The Savior Jesus Christ which has us in His hand never lets us go, and the Father which is greater than all has Him in His hand and never lets Him go.

    I believe that proper balance is contained by following the scripture, and as my Pastor put it how can one be balanced without following the precepts of what the Word says. Not what we like to interpret in our words what the Word says adding our own convictions into the process onto anothers account.

    The job of the preacher is to preah the Word through understanding what the Word says according to the whole definiton, seeking the answer through prayer, supplication, and study through only God’s will. How easy it is however to beleive that it is God’s will to add something as trivial as telling a brother or sister in Christ to refrain from going to the movies, for example. There is not one scripture verse that says thou shalt not watch a movie, or even the rating of the movie. Yet, I have heard good men of God from the pulpit tell you to refrain from going to the movies forbidding the leaders from partaking in fellowship at a theatre. How easy it is to get our own ideas, or what God is specifically speaking to us about, and as a preacher to stand before the congregation, and spew out our own intelect.

    God has blessed the ones who stand and preach to grasp the Word of God through the Spirit of truth in a way to boldy preach in His will to others. How easy it is to have pride about that blessing, and curse ourselves with it, by adding in our own will into the mix.

    Thank you Pastor for this post. I pray for you, and I hope that I may always live according to God’s will. Please pray for me so that when I am before a church preaching, and serving where God would have me serve, I could remember the words the Spirit spoke to my heart today, holding fast to His calling on my life.

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