Friday, October 10, 2014

A Balanced Spiritual Diet

His word was good, but it seems to be his only word.
I was listening to a very well-known TV preacher who was, in his usual way, giving a wonderful message about how God wants to bless His children, help them to succeed, and “be all they can be.” His message was good, but something troubled me about it.  Then I realized what bothered me. It was not that his word was bad, but rather that it was his only word. He seems to feed his flock one philosophical principle while omitting other important facets of God’s word.

No one truth can be our foundation.
The whole Bible must be our foundation. We must not take one truth and lay it as the foundational principle upon which we set the Bible and all our philosophy. We err and open ourselves to distortion and even potential deception when we make any one doctrine or truth to be THE foundation, and then try to interpret all other truths and doctrines through that filter. The whole Bible must be the foundation for our belief system. Making one particular truth to be our foundation will “black-out” all verses and legitimate truth that might seem to contradict or be other than our “pet” doctrine.
Your “pet truth” may be good and have its place in nourishing the Christian to balanced growth. But when you try to make it THE foundation by itself and the standard by which you accept or reject all other Biblical truth, you will automatically end up ignoring, rejecting, or discarding other necessary and genuine facets of Biblical truth. You will find yourself avoiding necessary and good Bible verses that convey truth necessary for balanced growth and proper understanding of the complex and often perplexing and paradoxical experiences of life.

Don’t Leave out the “others.”
For example, Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter and lists many heroes of faith. Verses 32-38 describes two groups of believers whose faith carried them through vastly different and contrasting categories of experience. The first group (verses 32-35) by faith subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, out of weakness were made strong, turned to flight the armies of aliens, and received their dead raised to life again. The second group (verses 35-38), referred to as “others,” were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection, had trials of cruel mocking, and scourging, chains, and imprisonment. They were stoned, slain with the sword, and afflicted. This chapter makes it clear that everyone in both categories obtained a good testimony before God in that they all acted in faith.
So, therefore, I cannot make my foundation to be only the faith that gives me what I want and always makes me comfortable. I have to set the whole Bible as my foundation which presents to me the faith that moves mountains, heals the sick, and raises the dead, but also which gives me strength to face and endure various trials, persecution for Jesus’ sake, and the tribulations that come with the spiritual warfare in proclaiming the kingdom of God on this earth.
  
“Therefore, I will remember you from the land of the Jordon (valley) and from the heights of Hermon.”  Psalm 42:6
To be fully trained we must have an obedient heart and be faithful from the valley pit to the mountain peak and everywhere in between.  
We are encouraged by those who have lived the full range of experience, who have known the glory of the miraculous presence of Jesus, and who also have been tempered and seasoned by the fires, testing, and disciplines of obedience over time.
 I am encouraged and strengthened by those who can speak eloquently of the mountaintop and yet richly of the valley, by those who can encourage me in my valley without despising me for being there, and who can rejoice with me on my mountain without envying my experience.

The Bible speaks of faith for success, healing, and answered prayer. It also speaks of faith for endurance and tribulation. The truths don’t contradict each other; they speak to different aspects of reality. They don’t balance each other, but rather together they balance you. There are a number of other Biblical examples I could give that illustrate the fact that the whole Bible must be the foundation. Every truth and principle must have its place. God has designed it so we cannot divorce the truth from HIM who is the truth and who spoke it. We need the Holy Spirit to help us “rightly divide the word of truth” that we may apply it properly. While we are blessed by our favorite and current revelation we must not neglect or deny the rest of the Bible.

“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20: 27

2 comments:

Fran.mingo@twc.com said...

Billy, good word, clearly explaining what some would see as the Bible contradicting itself. Even more valuable, knowing that you have been in the valley and on the mountain. Gonna pass this on!

Billy Long said...

Thanks, Fran. I do appreciate you and Daniel, and have tremendous respect for the ministry there. Such a blessing to have you and Daniel as friends and fellow-laborers in the kingdom.