People seem to have a tendency, when they encounter a viewpoint with which they disagree, to adopt a polar-opposite view. One look at American politics will tell you we do this politically, but we also do it morally, theologically, and doctrinally. I think this tendency is putting many souls in danger and is driving a wedge into the Lord’s church. It seems to me, what we really need is some biblical balance.
Please understand, I’m not advocating a moderate view – I’m advocating a biblical view. That biblical view, it seems, is often found somewhere between the two extremes on many theological issues.
What are your favorite passages?
We have a tendency to develop a skewed and extreme viewpoint because we develop our theology around a few of our “favorite passages.” When someone says, “This is my favorite passage, it absolutely changed my life,” a little red flag goes off. Not that this phrase is necessarily wrong, but it often indicates a person has developed their entire theology around one passage of Scripture.
Remember this, if everything we needed to know could have been summed up in one passage, God probably would have done it that way. But that’s not how He did it! He gave sixty-six books, “for our instruction” (Romans 15:4). Obviously, we have to “rightly divide” (2 Timothy 2:15) the word, to know how each passage applies to Christians today; but at the same time, we must remember, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, emp. mine).
Most of us agree that the totality of Scripture is harmonious and there are no contradictions. So if a passage doesn’t seem to fit your viewpoint, you either don’t properly understand the passage or your viewpoint is wrong! If you find yourself pitting one Scripture against another, you need to stop and rethink what you’re doing. It is easy to take an isolated verse or chapter and make it mean whatever you want it to mean, but if your entire theology is based on a handful of your favorite verses, you probably have a skewed theology.
Your job is to readjust your thinking to be in harmony with God’s word, not to readjust God’s word to be in harmony with your thinking!
What are your views about God’s grace?
“Grace” seems to be one of those words over which we are divided. Some seem to believe grace is something only given to those who don’t need it – perfect people. Others seem to believe grace means God tolerates Christians continuing to live in sin. The first group seems to say, “You and I are the only two people going to heaven…and some days I’m not so sure about you.” The second group seems to say, “If you believe in Jesus, you’re going to heaven, ‘so eat, drink, and be merry!'”
The difference can be seen in the fact that some people like to quote the first part of Romans 6:23 by itself, “For the wages of sin is death.” And other people like to quote the second part of the verse by itself, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If your view of grace is that only perfect people receive it, you don’t understand biblical grace. And if, on the other hand, your view of grace soothes your conscience about your worldly behavior, you don’t understand biblical grace either.
How do you interact with people?
Some people seem to think we should never voice our disagreements. They think we should simply “live and let live,” tolerating everyone and everything, without question. Other people seem to be dogmatically arguing and fighting with each other all the time. Isn’t there a way we can disagree with one another and do it, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2)?
After all, if you believe I’m wrong and I’m going to hell, I would hope you would do what Paul did when he “opposed [Peter] to his face, because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11). And wouldn’t you want me to tell you if I thought you were wrong? Can’t we teach, encourage, and admonish one another in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1)?
Why must we either be completely tyrannical or completely passive? Isn’t there a biblical balance?
Will you help bring biblical balance to the church?
I confess, I have not always been biblically balanced. I want to be more balanced in the future. Will you help me? Will you join me? I hope that together we can encourage one another to see what God loves and what God hates. I hope that we can let the world know what we stand for, and not just what we stand against. I hope we can tell people the truth and tell them in love (Ephesians 4:15).
I love you and God loves you,